February 5, 2008
Well, I just found something new. What would you say if you could have a completely customized radio station, that played only the music you selected and other music similar to that? What if that station, unlike something like iTunes, still kept you up to date with new releases and introduced you to new artists that are your kind of music?
Well, it sounds like a pipe dream to most. Yet I just found a site last night that fits all those requirements. Pandora is a free internet radio station that is customized to a listener. Tell them you like an artist, and they’ll play music from that artist and those like him/her. Add a few artists together, and you can have a station that plays your favorite styles of music, with a self-correcting feature that allows you to rate music you like and don’t like to refine your selections.
It’s powered by a group called the Music Genome Project, musicians who rate music based on a wide number of factors about the type, style, vocals, instruments, beat, etc present in the tune. From this and some software algorithms, they are able to link artists together based on those factors and help listeners find new artists.
For most radio listeners, this isn’t a big issue. If you’re a “Top 40″ type, you have no trouble finding music like what you already listen to, because it’s blared out on every third FM station, in the mall, in movies, and everywhere else. For someone with more eclectic tastes like me, though, it’s a lot more difficult. I’ve tried to look through amazon.com’s recommendations, but they don’t give you the opportunity to really evaluate an artist by listening to them for a while. Pandora allows me to do that.
For example, I’m a big fan of the sort of folk/blues genre. An artist that I’ve listened to quite a bit over the last few years, simply after hearing one of his songs on an acoustic compilation, is Chris Whitley. I own a few of his albums, but had no way to really found other music like his, until now. Today at work I put his name into Pandora, and over a couple of hours, had found a few potential artists and songs to pick up on iTunes.
I have a feeling that over the next few weeks, I’m going to become a lot more familiar with the workings of Pandora. After all, if a radio station where I’m the general manager fails to satisfy me, I have nobody to blame but me!
Hat Tip: Atlas Blogged
And for those of you who haven’t heard of Chris Whitley, here is the song that I first heard that got me listening to him:
August 6, 2007
Last week, my old boss jokingly asked me why I was selling pharmaceuticals on the internet. It seems he’s been getting emails from a “Brad Warbiany” (with rotating hotmail email addresses) trying to sell him medications to increase the size of his… confidence.
This appears to be one issue with having a unique name that is easily found on the internet that I hadn’t considered. I now have spammers using my name to peddle their wares. And frankly, that’s the last thing I need, especially if it’s widespread enough that someone who actually knows me is getting this spam.
But I don’t know what to do about it. I doubt I could find whoever is responsible, and even if I did, I doubt they’re in the USA. I’m not sure I have any recourse to stop these guys. About the only thing I can think of is to contact Microsoft/Hotmail and see if there’s anything they can do about it.
April 20, 2007
Last night I was listening to XM Radio online, Channel 47 (Ethel). This was while I was reading, so it was probably already well after midnight. I heard a little promo (they don’t have commercials, but they do occasionally have segues), and it took my attention away from the book.
Ethel Channel 47: Delightful tunes, even if you’re stoned.
All of a sudden the statist brainwashing I got in public schools kicked in… “Are they really allowed to say that?!” Then I realized it’s XM, but I was still surprised they had the cojones. Of course, then as I started to settle back into my lawless personality, I was pretty impressed… Even if they’re not allowed to say it, good for them! After all, when the FEC was considering regulating blogs under campaign finance rules, I pledged that regardless of what laws and regulations they imposed, I wouldn’t stop blogging. If they wanted to come after me, they could come after me.
But I thought about it a second… XM radio, along with the internet, and the rest of the “new media”, is a sign that they’re losing control. Not XM, of course, but the FCC and regulatory establishment. They can do all they want to punish Viacom for letting a breast be shown on national TV, and they can fine Howard Stern, and 15 years ago, that would have been enough to actually put a stop to a lot of that activity. But now, they’ve been outflanked, and people are getting used to having the ability to choose for themselves what to listen to and read.
Don’t get me wrong, that’s a dangerous thing for the government to accept. And they’re not going to take it lying down. They’re going to try as hard as they can to get their regulatory hands into the new media. But I think the arguments they used back in the days when they were regulating TV and radio won’t work. People aren’t as willing to submit to the government as they once were. The regulators can’t claim that bandwidth is limited on the internet. And there are too many voices out here that are willing to be loud and fight.
So to answer my original question, “Did they just say that?!” Yeah they did, and what the hell are you going to do about it, bureaucrat?
April 9, 2007
I’m a radical (surprise, surprise):
You Are 68% Politically Radical
You’re political views are just plain weird. A little far left, a little far right, and a whole lot of radical.
And for all of you who think I’m a right-wing radical, I was only 32% Republican:
You Are 32% Republican
You’re a bit Republican, and probably more conservative than you realize.
If you’re still voting Democrat, maybe it’s time that you stop.
But the fact that I’m 96% Capitalist should help clue you in to what questions I did and didn’t agree with on the Republican quiz:
You Are 96% Capitalist, 4% Socialist
You’re a capitalist pig – and proud of it.
You believe that business makes the world great…
And you’d never be ashamed of being rich!
April 5, 2007
One of the regular readers over at The Liberty Papers is doing a college paper on the similarities between bloggers & pamphleteers. He was looking for an expert to interview, and when he couldn’t find one, he contacted me. With his permission, I’m posting his questions and my answers below the fold.
1. What do you think are the biggest similarities between bloggers today and colonial pamphleteers?
I think the biggest similarity is that it opens communication to the masses. Journalist AJ Liebling once said that freedom of the press belongs to those who own one. While the rise of pamphleteering brought the power of the press to the common man in the 1700’s, blogs have done so today. It is possible, either for free or for a small hosting fee, to provide your ideas to the world.
To understand the similarities between bloggers and pamphleteers, it is also important to understand what they are not. They are not typically authors of scholarly books. They are not typically professional journalists. They are ordinary people from all walks of life with ideas that they want to share, because they think those ideas are important.
The other important similarity is the dynamism involved. Just as it is expensive to write, print, and sell/market a book, it is very inexpensive to do any of these with pamphlets or blogs. Both cover ideas in a much more in-depth manner than a newspaper, but in a much quicker time to print than a book. While most of the mainstream world focuses on the “major” pamphlets and blogs (like Common Sense and Instapundit), though, the world of each was much wider than will remembered for posterity. One book you might want to see if your school’s library has is “Pamphlets Of The American Revolution”, by Bernard Bailyn. It’s was planned as a 4-volume set (although only one has gone to print) containing some of the most influential pamphlets of the time. But the very fact that you could fill 4 volumes simply with the influential pamphlets should clue you in to the idea that the world of pamphleteering filled a lot more space than those few pamphlets which made it into the history books. This is very similar to the world of blogs today. While there are some major blogs out there on the ‘net (a group which The Liberty Papers has unfortunately not yet cracked), there are countless multitudes below of people taking advantage of their ability to publish. Some are great, some are horrible, and most are in between, but they’re all out there in the marketplace of ideas, much like the pamphleteers were before us.
Last, it is important to point out a crucial difference between blogging and pamphleteering, which is due largely to the differences between modern and colonial times. The pamphleteers of the time were writing for readers with a much longer attention span than bloggers can get away with today. I just recently read Common Sense, and it’s a 50-page mini-book. Pamphleteers, of course, didn’t have to compete with driving kids going to soccer practice and what’s on the TV each night, and thus they could afford more room. The blogs of today are mostly short and to the point, and a treatise like Common Sense would likely go unnoticed and unread by today’s readers, much to our detriment.
2. It is said that George Washington read Paine’s “The Crisis” to American troops and it increased motivation for the cause of liberty. In your experience, have there been instances where blogging has helped to unite the American populace in such a way?
It is here that I don’t think blogs necessarily fill the same role as pamphlets. It is here, especially, where the nature of what we describe as the “blogosphere” as a collective entity becomes important. It is rare that individual bloggers write something so profound that it moves beyond a fairly small circle. However, because of the design of the blogosphere, it does have the ability to move a message around quite effectively. When the message itself is important enough, the blogosphere’s linked structure amplifies the message to the point where the American people cannot ignore it.
There have been numerous instances of the blogosphere driving the news cycle, particularly in politics. The most famous is the Dan Rather “fake, but accurate” Texas Air National Guard scandal. Before the world of blogs, such a scandal would have probably gone unnoticed until after the election, and may have even changed the outcome. Instead, a horde of bloggers pounced on the story, and Dan Rather was instantly discredited. Since then, as blogs have become even more widespread, their ability to influence the debate has become even more apparent. Blogs moved word and created debate about the Kelo decision that likely would have gotten unnoticed elsewhere. It was blogs who kept the pressure on when a local woman here in Atlanta, 88-year-old Kathryn Johnston, was killed in a drug raid. It may have been that pressure which resulted in indictments of the officers involved. The effect on politics has been even more profound, as bloggers combed over the public (and occasionally private) statements, histories, and policies of politicians in the 2006 midterm elections, and have already been pounding the pavement in the 2008 Presidential race.
There is a last point, and this is due as much to the nature of the internet in general than necessarily bloggers. The internet itself has allowed people to come together based on personal interests, based on ideology, etc. I can just as easily find fellow libertarians online as I can find fellow homebrewers. While it would be very difficult for me to find like-minded people in the offline world to debate and learn about libertarianism, it was very easy in the online world. Thus, I have access to ideas that a person of my age (28) would have taken another three decades to find without the internet. In this, I’m not alone. The internet has changed the way that information is transmitted, and the implications of that change are currently beyond our ability to foresee. Blogging itself is only 5 years old, and it’s already changing the political and social landscape. Imagine what it might do in another 5 or 10 years!
3. In what way do you think writing for The Liberty Papers and The Unrepentant Individual has made you like early American political writers?
I think the key point, as I see it, is that there are important things going on in the world, and like early American writers, I desire to be a participant in the debate, not a casual observer.
One of the things that has always fascinated me about the Founding Fathers is that they were normal men, on an uncertain course, who ended up doing quite extraordinary things. We idolize them as if they were were a picture of perfection, but when you learn about them, you see just how REAL they were. They had their petty squabbles, they had family disputes. To hear the stories of Ben Franklin’s heartbreak as he had to face the fact that he and his own son were taking different sides in the war for Independence, really hits home that these were ordinary men. Even more important, we look at history as if it were pre-ordained, as if these men knew that they would be victorious in the struggle for Independence. They knew nothing of the sort; they were taking on the world’s most powerful empire armed with nothing more than the force of their ideas and the force of their muskets. They didn’t know they would be victorious, they simply knew that the struggle was worth it either way.
Like them, I am an ordinary man. My education is not in political science or in liberal arts; I’m an engineer. I’ve got plenty of flaws, and I’m not sure whether what I’m doing is having an impact, and if I am, whether that impact will ultimately prove to be futile. There are some days when I think that America is slipping into tyranny and that there are only a tiny few of us who care, or even notice. There are other days when I think that perhaps facing the darkness will be the catalyst to turn America back towards light. I don’t know where the world will be in 5 years, 10 years, or beyond. What I know is that I will not sit idly by and let it all come to pass around me. I want to be a part of it. I may be only a small part, but I will be heard. I think that’s the same feeling those early American political writers had, and that’s what I identify with when I put myself in that place.
March 12, 2007
Got this in an email this morning:
You guessed it ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’ IS GONE!!!
Who originally put ‘In God We Trust’ onto our currency?
My bet is that it was one of the Presidents on these coins.
All our U.S. Government has done is Dishonor them, and disgust me!!!
If ever there was a reason to boycott something, THIS IS IT!!!!
DO NOT ACCEPT THE NEW DOLLAR COINS AS CHANGE
Together we can force them out of circulation.
Please send to all on you mail list !!!
Ugh. I normally don’t give much attention to email forwards, but this one takes the cake. They show a picture of the front of a coin, casually leaving off the fact that the “In God We Trust” is printed on the edge. And, of course, they suggest that “one of these presidents” put the motto on the currency, leaving off that it was first done during the Civil War, so 15 presidents saw a currency without this, and that it wasn’t officially done until 1957, in the height of the fight against “godless communism”. But I guess the facts are but a distraction when you’re trying to whip people into a frenzy.
It’s made even worse when understanding that the US Mint recently mis-struck a quantity of coins that went through the QA process without these edge markings, so a portion of these coins were released without this motto or “E Pluribus Unum” appearing at all.
What does this mean? Well, not a whole lot, really. As with most email forwards, getting careless with the facts allows someone out there to sit around and laugh about how many people forwarded his lie. He’ll see who ends up eventually sending the message back to him, and what an uproar it might cause as millions of unthinking netizens have taken his email at face value.
And even more people will believe that there’s a sinister plot out there to remove religion from the public square.
I had to respond to this everyone on this email, to set the record straight. But as I’m known to do, I put a little spin on it with this quote from Napoleon.
Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.
Government is, and always has been, incompetent. Now, that’s not to say that the people within government are incompetent, only that the system itself produces worthless and counterproductive outcomes. Our government “forgets” to stamp the edge of coins and lets it through their QA process because there’s no incentive for them not to. Outside of a boycott, those coins are becoming collector’s items, and once the readers of this email forward see the properly-produced coins and read the edge, any potential boycott will evaporate.
If you’re going to boycott this currency due to some worries about a motto, you’re wasting your time. However, there is a very good reason to boycott the government. After all, would you normally patronize a business who has shown anywhere near as much of both incompetence and malice as the government does? Of course, it’s tough to boycott an entity with a gun to your head and its hand in your wallet…
March 6, 2007
…who said I’d never amount to anything.
February 23, 2007
You Are Incredibly Logical
Move over Spock – you’re the new master of logic
You think rationally, clearly, and quickly.
A seasoned problem solver, your mind is like a computer!
Hat Tip: Anarchangel
January 30, 2007
Just something I noticed today…
What’s wrong with this commercial?
Answer below the fold:
Who the hell buys salmon filets on eBay?!
January 13, 2007
Many of you are familiar with Digg.com, a news aggregator site where the actions of the community of readers propel “worthy” stories ahead of the rest. Essentially, they’re designed to separate the wheat from the chaff. Unfortunately, Digg has some inherent biases and a herd mentality that usually forces smaller blogs and news items, despite their worth, to be overlooked. That being said, I have submitted stories there, because free advertising doesn’t have to be incredibly effective to still be worthwhile.
Recently a new site devoted to the libertarian side of the internet has opened. Liberty Loop operates on the same sort of principle as Digg, but the content is mostly libertarian-oriented. It’s also a new site, so submitted stories are more able to rise to the top and be seen than on the larger sites, and based on it’s libertarian theme, the stories are likely to be seen by their true target audience. Check it out, I’ve been browsing a bit already and it looks like there’s some good content over there.
Hat Tip: Hit & Run
December 21, 2006
Or is it…
Looking to waste time? Check this game out, and I guarantee you’ll meet your objective.
Hat Tip: VRB
December 13, 2006
Could blogging be near the peak of its popularity? The technology gurus at Gartner Inc. believe so. One of the research company’s top 10 predictions for 2007 is that the number of bloggers will level off in the first half of next year at roughly 100 million worldwide.
The reason: Most people who would ever dabble with Web journals already have. Those who love it are committed to keeping it up, while others have gotten bored and moved on, said Daryl Plummer, chief Gartner fellow.
“A lot of people have been in and out of this thing,” Plummer said. “Everyone thinks they have something to say, until they’re put on stage and asked to say it.”
Finding things to say has never been a problem for me. My biggest problem has been finding people who will listen.
And this is what Ted Stevens thinks of the internets:
Ten movies streaming across that, that Internet, and what happens to your own personal Internet? I just the other day got… an Internet was sent by my staff at 10 o’clock in the morning on Friday, I got it yesterday. Why? [...] They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the Internet. And again, the Internet is not something you just dump something on. It’s not a big truck. It’s a series of tubes. And if you don’t understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it’s going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.
I hate it when my coworkers send me an Internet and it gets delayed!
Now, I knew there were people less knowledgeable about computers and the internet than my father. I just didn’t know they were in the Senate.
always usually funnier than I am, really gave it a more complete treatment. Responding to Stevens’ question of why the “Internet” was delivered late:
“Maybe it’s because you don’t seem to know jack shit about computers or the Internet â€” but that’s okay â€” you’re just the guy in charge of regulating it.“
Watch below for as hilarity ensues.
December 7, 2006
Alternate Title: How cynicism ruins something sweet.
My wife got an email from her sister (with an admonition to “get on it”) the other day. She made me sit through the sappy forward, and afterwards, I had her forward it to me to teach a little lesson.
The lesson is subjective value. How much does it cost to have kids? From the below email (no clue where their number comes from), it’s about $160K. But the email goes on to tell about all the wonderful things you get for that money… All the experiences you have, that you won’t have without kids.
But there’s an implicit assumption in this email that you value those things more than money. Or, the more sinister reading is that you should value those things more than money, and if you don’t, you’re cold and heartless. But that’s the thing about value. We all value different things. My wife values european cars, even if they’re overpriced and prone to require repair. I don’t care so much about the badge, but I value economy and functionality, so I’ve got a nondescript truck with a manual transmission and without cruise control. And we’re both happy.
There are a lot of couples who value $160K, vacations every year, and the freedom to sit quietly together in front of the fire, sharing a bottle of wine. Other couples value smelly, loud, demanding rugrats who litter toys all over a house and get deep into things they should stay out of. My wife, for example, loves stinky babies who sit there and do nothing but eat, sleep, cry, and poop. I can do without those first few years, and look forward to the day when I can be the teacher and guide to help my kids navigate life, filling their heads with all the quirks and beliefs that make me such a misfit.
But no matter how many sappy email forwards you send, you’re probably not going to get someone to change their values. At best, you can set up a system (like classical liberalism) where people are free to fulfill their own values, as long as those values don’t conflict with another person’s rights. Values are subjective, and email forwards like this are only sappy to those who share the values.
(sappy email below the fold)
PS – I’m sure when they’re my stinky loud babies, I’ll love them. I’m not that heartless. Just heartless enough that I don’t love yours!
The Price of Raising Children
This is just too good not to pass on to all.
Something absolutely positive for a change. I have
repeatedly seen the breakdown of the cost of raising a
child, but this is the first time I have seen the
this way. It’s nice.
The government recently calculated the cost of
raising a child from birth to 18 and came up with
$160,140 for a middle income family. Talk about
sticker shock! That doesn’t even touch college
But $160,140 isn’t so bad if you break it down. It
* $8,896.66 a year
* $741.38 a month, or
* $171.08 a week
* That’s a mere $24.24 a day
* Just over a dollar an hour
Still, you might think the best financial advice is
don’t have children if you want to be “rich.”
Actually, it is just the opposite. What do you get for
* Naming rights. First, middle, and last!
* Glimpses of God every day.
* Giggles under the covers every night.
* More love than your heart can hold.
* Butterfly kisses and Velcro hugs.
* Endless wonder over rocks, ants, clouds, and warm
* A hand to hold, usually covered with jelly or
* A partner for blowing bubbles, flying kites.
* Someone to laugh yourself silly with, no matter what
the boss said or how your stocks performed that day.
For $160,140, you never have to grow up. You get to:
* carve pumpkins,
* play hide-and-seek,
* catch lightning bugs, and
* never stop believing in Santa Claus.
You have an excuse to:
* keep reading the Adventures of Piglet and Pooh
* watching Saturday morning cartoons
* going to Disney movies, and
* wishing on stars.
* You get to frame rainbows, hearts, and flowers under
refrigerator magnets and collect spray painted noodle
wreaths for Christmas, hand prints set in clay or
Mother’s Day, and cards with backward letters for
For $160,140, there is no greater bang for your buck.
You get to be a hero just for:
* retrieving a Frisbee off the garage roof
* taking the training wheels off a bike
* removing a splinter
* filling a wading pool
* coaxing a wad of gum out of bangs, and coaching a
sports team that never wins but always gets treated to
ice cream regardless
You get a front row seat to history to witness the:
* first step
* first word
* first bra
* first date
* first time behind the wheel
* and first love and first heartbreak
You get to be immortal. You get another branch added
to your family tree, and if you’re lucky, a long list
of limbs in your obituary called grandchildren and
great grandchildren. You get an education in
psychology, nursing, criminal justice, communication,
and human sexuality that no college can match.
In the eyes of a child, you rank right up there under
God. You have all the power to heal a boo-boo, scare
away the monsters under the bed, patch a broken heart,
police a slumber party, ground them forever, and love
them without limits, So . . one day they will, like
you, love without counting the cost. That is quite a
deal for the price!!!!!!!
Love and enjoy your children!
I was talking with a buddy of mine from Chicago last night, nicknamed Sober John (only half of the name is accurate), and he pointed me to a little online story.
It’s a quick read, but if you actually enjoy reading what I write, you’ll probably enjoy this too.
Next Page »