When
· Naughties
· · 2004
· · · November
· · · · 09 (4 entries)

Live Radio Mmmmmmmm · I’m sitting here trying to work, but distracted because we have the CBC turned up on the good radio through the big speakers, listening to In Performance; tonight it’s the Edmonton Symphony playing the Eroica. The sound is extraordinary; get the mixers and dubbing and multi-tracking out of the way, hook up the microphones to the broadcast gear and turn on some good receiving hardware, and it does a better job of putting you in the room with the orchestra than most recordings do. Highly recommended.
 
Politocolinguistic Militancy · Scanning the BBC news before breakfast, I read that U.S.-Pakistan relations are improving, and that this “coincided with an army offensive against suspected militants that officials say has left 17 dead.” I am doubly-irritated; first, at the current usage of the word “militant” (chiefly by the governments of the U.S. and its allies) meaning “someone whom it’s OK to kill” (or in this case, whom it’s OK to kill on suspicion). A militant is someone who is taking up arms in support of a cause: historical examples would include George Washington, Charles de Gaulle, and Simón Bolívar. Militants, historically speaking, are sometimes considered admirable people; particularly when up in arms against corrupt, oppressive, military dictatorships. Like, for example, the government of Pakistan. Which isn’t to say that everyone fighting against General Musharraf is a fine person. But when the Americans or Israelis or Saudis or whoever equate “militant” with “license to kill”, that’s offensive on a bunch of levels. And as for being on good terms with the current Pakistani regime... America has historically got very poor results from propping up enemy-of-our-enemies dictators, but keeps trying. Follow the link and look at the picture, which kind of says it all, for me.
 
Post-and-Poll · The arrival and insanely-fast growth of syndication/RSS technology brings a New Thing to the Internet. Until recently, there was only one messaging architecture known to work at Internet scale. That was store-and-forward, as in how email works: I send my message to a computer near me, which stores it and sends it to another computer near you (with retries and so on as appropriate), which stores it, and you retrieve it from that computer. Syndication has proven that a different model, post-and-poll, scales up too. It works like this: I post some data which contains either messages or message pointers to a public place, and you poll periodically to see what’s new. The difference is that store-and-forward supports anybody-to-anybody message traffic, while post-and-poll assumes separate communities of senders and receivers. People who are designing message interchange frameworks that might need to become Internet-scale should consider this, and be careful of architectures that don’t fall into one of these two baskets, because nothing else has yet been shown to work. [Update: Somehow I forgot to credit Mark Hapner of Sun who pointed all this out to me, presenting it as something obvious, not a discovery; but then I realized that it hadn’t been obvious till he did so.]
 
New Spam Flavour! · When I picked up my phone this morning it beeped “text message waiting” at me. Two in fact, which, run together said: Stock Buyers Alert: Ticker: XXXX|Current: $0.051 - 194.1% increase on 11/08/04. Details: Newly listed. High Growth Potential. Large emphasis on Rent-to-own program with high return on lease investments. Let’s see, here we have a penny stock (i.e., usually a scam) based on rent-to-own (i.e., exploiting poor people), touted in a new spam flavour. What’s not to like? So, in a probably-futile attempt to nip this new evil in the bud, I called the telephone company to complain, and the friendly, helpful lady knew all about it. “The one about the stocks? Me too.” It turns out that basically everybody in their network got it, they hadn’t figured it out, they were working on it. If I could cue doomful impending-peril music at this point, I would.
 
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