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.: October 2006 --> October 2006

October 2006

» A collection of old gardening books are now available online for free, courtesy of Google.  [ 10.02.06 ]

» Dan Goodsell's fabulous collection of 50s and early 60s Commercial Animation Art from Ray Patin Studios. / (1) Comments / [ 10.02.06 ]

» Kakutaro Taira is a 99-year-old Japanese chef who still cooks at his restaurant. "I feel so happy whenever a customer praises my cooking. I'll hang on as long as I'm alive and kicking." Kakutaro Taira, proprietor and head chef of Ozeki, a traditional Japanese restaurant. (via mn)  [ 10.05.06 ]

» Newman's Own Restaurant. His official title is "Director of Opinions" but he sounds to me a little like "Chief Curmudgeon".  [ 10.05.06 ]

» Operational upgrades from a gate agent's perspective or "How to Get Upgraded to First Class". (via rc3)  [ 10.05.06 ]

» The NYTimes recently ran this article on a trial that seems determined to rival Jarndyce vs Jarndyce.

They were charged with murder in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, where the clocks sometimes seem to serve a decorative function. [...] Lawyers have asked to seal the case; invoked the Federal and State Constitutions; alluded to Roe v. Wade, Brown v. Board of Education and Plessy v. Ferguson; asked for joint trials; asked for separate trials; asked for psychological tests; asked to withhold the results of those tests; and then asked for new psychologists. [...]
Justice, when it arrives, comes by famously slow means, and the Brooklyn courts offer no special chariot. And defense lawyers often stall as a tactic, knowing that witnesses can disappear or forget details, and that the passage of time, in general, is bad for prosecutors. But the case of People v. Nixzaliz Santiago, through a series of redundant arguments and colorful court filings, has elevated inaction to something approaching spectacle, on display every few weeks with no end in sight.

 [ 10.05.06 ]

» Simple tips for smarter searches: go to the library. / (1) Comments / [ 10.05.06 ]

» Cher! She was one of my role models when I was a teenager—surprised? I'll bet you can't guess who the other one was. / (10) Comments / [ 10.06.06 ]

» Yesterday I posted a link to a former United Airlines employee's outline of the criteria for upgrading customers to First Class. That post got me to thinking about social media, and how it really works.

I posted the link because it was interesting to me, and I thought it would be of interest to some of my readers. My source for the information was, one of the very early weblogs. Rafe Colburn, the editor of, is a programmer, and he's been posting his views on programming, politics, and American culture since I started reading blogs. I think Rafe is smart, and I enjoy reading his thoughtful views on politics (which I would describe as "left-leaning moderate") as a reality check to many of the more "party line" views I find on other blogs. He frequently posts tidbits like this one. I just ignore his posts on programming.

Here's what Rafe said about that Flyertalk thread:

This post must be worth a million dollars to United Airlines. In one fell swoop, he disabuses airline customers of the notion that being a nuisance at the gate will help you get upgrades, and more importantly, that the handing out of these upgrades is completely arbitrary. Instead he confirms that the best way to get free service from the airline is to be a loyal customer who gives the airline lots of cash. The airlines make all their money on loyal customers who give them lots of cash, so this is the best kind of publicity they can get.
No marketing information on all of the airline web sites in the world could convince me of the value of attaining an elite status and then sticking with that airline as well as this one forum posting has. Such is the power of the Internet, where one authentic voice can outdo all of the marketing dollars a company can spend.

For those who are interested in figuring out how social media can help them affect their service or product, that point by itself is worth pondering.

But, I'd like to point something else out. When I saw that post, I instantly posted the link to my own blog. Based on my Technorati rank, I have a larger audience than most bloggers do, but it is still very small compared to the most popular blogs, and teeny compared to mass media audiences. From tracking my statistics, I can predict that about 500 people will see that post today; about 1500-2000 people will see it over the course of a week; and a miniscule proportion of all of those people will click through to read the forum. Depending on how interested my readers are I would expect that 20-30 people will click through today, and that by Monday morning about 60-80 will have clicked through to read the thread. (I could be way off: approximately 3 people click through any given article I post about torture—go figure.)

I don't know how many readers Rafe has, but I would guess that his readership is roughly the size of mine, though he probably has many more programmers reading his site than I have reading mine. Let's pretend that 150 of the people who read my site also read his. Together, Rafe and I, with our modest audiences, have put that link in front of some 3000 people, and generated about 120 clickthroughs from interested readers.

One or two other bloggers may have picked up the link from Rafe, and one or two may pick it up from me, and their (likely smaller) audiences have also generated a small percentage of click-throughs. Some readers may email it to their friends. Incrementally, the word about this site, and this specific forum, will spread.

Also note that sometime yesterday, Google and Yahoo! and many others indexed my site, and Rafe's site, and from now on I'll receive visits from people who are on the Web searching for information on upgrades. The vast majority of my site traffic is not to my blog—it's to archived posts and essays, and the lists of resources I've put together on various subjects. That traffic comes primarily from search engines. People referred by search engines are (I would judge) highly likely to click through links, because they are actively looking for information on a specific topic.

This is a long post about a simple blog entry, but I really think the journey from the Flyertalk forum (mavens!) to (maven/connector—and a trusted source to his readers), to my site (maven/connector/trusted source) and then into the Google database (connector) vividly demonstrates the way social media spreads information and gets it in front of the people who are likely to be most interested in receiving it. / (3) Comments / [ 10.06.06 ]

» A new survey shows that 56% of all gamers in the US play games online, and that 64% of them are female. Related: The disconnect between game design and women gamers. / (2) Comments / [ 10.06.06 ]

» Calling the Rebecca's Pocket Brain Trust: I'm looking for clear and especially useful resources on educational blogging, particularly for the Middle School to High School range. What would you recommend for a teacher who is new to blogging who wants to introduce her students to blogging? / (8) Comments / [ 10.06.06 ]

» A new report from The American Academy of Pediatrics states the obvious: children thrive with more free time.  [ 10.10.06 ]

» 100% awesome: The Happy Boat, a farmer-made amphibious vehicle.  [ 10.10.06 ]

» I have a new hero: Nkeonye Okafor, 205-pound offensive lineman for the Houston, Texas-area Bellaire Cardinals. "At first, I was kind of hesitant to hit her. I thought it was a joke, but she's been out here with us all summer, and she works just as hard as everyone one else — so why not?" Kenard Ihaza, one of Okafor's teammates. (via rc3oi)  [ 10.10.06 ]

» A new study shows that women who are ovulating tend to dress more provocatively or more fashionably than at other times of the month.  [ 10.10.06 ]

» R.W. Apple: 10 Restaurants That Are Worth the Plane Ride.  [ 10.11.06 ]

» Snack makers pledge healthier snacks in schools. Food manufacturers are even developing healthier snack items to meet the new standards, but they have limited influence: vending machine sales are usually sold by independent contracters.  [ 10.11.06 ]

» What is your library worth to you? Calculate your monthly usage, and assign a dollar value. At an average of 2 books borrowed a month, and about 4 interlibrary loans a year, I'm getting a value of $37.50 a month. (via wl) / (1) Comments / [ 10.13.06 ]

» The Feline Protection and Enhancement System. (thanks, lizard!)  [ 10.14.06 ]

» "This project aims to identify examples of information graphics from popular culture or professional publications that have impacted individual scholars. It also aims to capture a cross-section of scholarly contemplation in image form across disciplines."

"All 1,943 Cornell Faculty were asked to respond to the following question: Of the many charts (graph, map, diagram, table and ‘other’) you have seen in your life, which has been the most important, remarkable, meaningful or valuable?."

I haven't gotten through all of them, but I found these to be especially notable, all for entirely different reasons:

I saw this figure as an undergraduate student...and was amazed how Whittaker was able to show all terrestrial vegetation on one 2-D figure knowing only temperature and precipitation. Joseph Yavitt, Natural Resources.
The Tree of Life.... Based on an analysis of rRNA sequences, this...tree...puts the evolution of all life in perspective. Dan Buckley, Crop and Soil Sciences.
One wouldn't ordinarily think of this image as a graph, but it presents a plausibility argument about how perception is done.... The question is: How do we perceive and understand the shape of objects around us. James's image tells us, in ways much easier than any experiment could, that texture gives us sufficient clues..... James Cutting, Psychology
Obesity trends among adults. Carol Devine, Nutritional Sciences.

Cornell community members are invited to share their submission at the Mann Library. (via s1a)  [ 10.14.06 ]

»  New research from Cornell University shows a correlation between television viewing during early childhood and autism. Here's the paper. (thanks, jjg!) / (3) Comments / [ 10.16.06 ]

» And today, scientists from Vanderbilt University announced they have found a genetic mutation that raises the risk of autism. They are calling for more research to discover which environmental factors actually cause the condition. / (1) Comments / [ 10.17.06 ]

» Compare and contrast: "On advice of counsel, [Democrat and Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid] said, he gave the Ritz-Carlton Christmas fund $600 in 2002, $1,200 in 2004 and $1,500 in 2005 from his reelection campaign. Federal election law bars candidates from using political donations for personal use. Reid said he did no such thing but will reimburse his campaign "to prevent this issue from being used in the current campaign season to deflect attention from Republican failures."

Warren Buffet to his top managers, regarding ethical behavior: "Let's start with what is legal, but always go on to what we would feel comfortable about being printed on the front page of our local paper."  [ 10.17.06 ]

» How Jim Donald, the CEO and president of Starbucks, manages his time. (via s1a)  [ 10.18.06 ]

» "Eat seasonally" is a mantra of sustainable living, but in the middle of a crowded produce department, that can be impossible to determine—everything is seasonal somewhere. Here's a list of what's in season where, arranged by state. / (2) Comments / [ 10.18.06 ]

» In case, like me, you want to a) support a good cause this holiday season and b) get the cards done early this year.

 [ 10.18.06 ]

» Wikipedia: A list of cognitive biases. (via rw)  [ 10.19.06 ]

» Feast Day Cookbook by Katherine Burton & Helmut Ripperger. (via ml)  [ 10.20.06 ]

» Heh. Rafe's law. "Let's say you've created a new service, like Ning, or a new blog publishing tool, like Mephisto. How do you know if it's a success? Just consider Rafe's Law. If the spammers care about your service, you've made it."  [ 10.20.06 ]

» CDC to hospitals: Wash your hands!  [ 10.20.06 ]

» I thought everyone knew this: decaf coffee has less caffeine than regular coffee but is rarely caffeine free. Listen to your body to tell you when you've had too much.

Oh, also, a cup of coffee has more caffeine than a shot of espresso. A cup of espresso would have more caffeine than the equivalent amount of coffee, but if you really want to wake up, have the drip, not the fancy stuff.  [ 10.24.06 ]

» Wait, what?

Tesco has been forced to remove a pole-dancing kit from the toys and games section of its website after it was accused of "destroying children's innocence".
The Tesco Direct site advertises the kit with the words, "Unleash the sex kitten inside...simply extend the Peekaboo pole inside the tube, slip on the sexy tunes and away you go!
"Soon you'll be flaunting it to the world and earning a fortune in Peekaboo Dance Dollars".
The £49.97 kit comprises a chrome pole extendible to 8ft 6ins, a 'sexy dance garter' and a DVD demonstrating suggestive dance moves.

I can't find it on the website, though. "This should only be available to the most depraved people who want to corrupt their children." Dr Adrian Rogers, of family campaigning group Family Focus. / (4) Comments / [ 10.24.06 ]

» It's going to be light posting for a little while more—I'm spending most of my time off the Web this month. But look for a new Bloggers on Blogging interview later this week. / (1) Comments / [ 10.24.06 ]

» Last year, Jet Blue ignored FAA regulations in a "pilot fatigue test" designed to see if their pilots could maintain alertness while working longer-than-allowed shifts. What an idiotic move. Even if test results show that pilots can safely work more hours—even if FAA regulations change as a result of Jet Blue's testing—what I'm going to remember is that Jet Blue is willing to do safety experiments on unsuspecting, paying customers. (via rc3oi)  [ 10.25.06 ]

» Otavo is social bookmarking with a purpose. My test quest: Where can I find a pair of black leather or suede granny boots with about a 2-inch heel? Can the Otavo community find me a pair?

But have you noticed that each new social networking site wants you to fill in page after page of personal information to build up your profile and make it easier to connect with others using the service? Who has time? I'd either like someone to create a single repository for that information that could be used to update each of these sites at my request, or I'd like new services to offer the ability to scrape information from another one of my profiles instead of expecting me to fill in these forms time and time again. / (2) Comments / [ 10.26.06 ]

» Taxing the oil companies to fund alternative energy research? That's what California's Proposition 87 would do, and the oil companies are threatening higher gas prices if it passes—even though the initiative stipulates that the tax can't be passed on to consumers. / (3) Comments / [ 10.26.06 ]

» Interesting. Google has produced a series of posters for use inside libraries outlining effective use of their tools. / (1) Comments / [ 10.27.06 ]

» At a recent event, I spent some very pleasant time talking film with Barry Mike, managing Director at CRA. (One of his more intriguing suggestions was to recruit a group of people to read Shakespeare s Henry V, then spend a weekend afternoon watching first the Lawrence Olivier film version of the play, and then Kenneth Braunagh's. One is pro-war, one is anti-war, and both are different from the play. Discuss.) Before we left, he promised me a list of 5 "must-see" films, and here it is. "It's a very individualistic, idiosyncratic list. But then, isn't that what every list like this should be?"

  1. Either "Seven Samurai" or "Yojimbo" by Akira Kurosawa. The former is an epic on the scale of Lawrence of Arabia. Unlike, Lawrence, however, it is not psychological. It's more operatic, building slowly to a great crescendo, with an all-too-bitterly ironic coda. The latter is the progenitor of spaghetti westerns (Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dollars is a remake of Yojimbo.) The irony of these Japanese masterpieces is that one of Kurosawa's great influences here is none other than John Ford's great late 1940s John Wayne westerns.
  2. The Maltese Falcon. This remake of Dashiell's Hammett's novel was the breakthrough role for Humphrey Bogart. He creates the role model that has set a standard for two or three generations of "tough guys."
  3. The Apu Trilogy: Pather Panchali, Aparajito, The World of Apu by Satyajit Ray. Okay, it's three films, it's obscure, it's got subtitles. You need to strap on your seatbelt and prepare for marathon trip through a part of India that is fast disappearing. But if you make it through to the end, you'll feel like you've experienced a journey through life itself. Very rewarding.
  4. Some Like it Hot. If you've never seen this 1950s Billy Wilder comedy with Tony Curtis doing a great imitation of Cary Grant, Jack Lemmon at his best, and an iconic Marilyn Monroe, you're missing a classic.
  5. Apocalypse Now. You've probably seen this strange, chopped together epic masterpiece, loosely based on Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. What gets me every time is the combination of Coppola's fabulous visuals with Michael Herr's voice over narration (Herr wrote one of the great masterpieces of war reporting: Dispatches - a must read.)

What's on your list of 5 Must-See Films? / (14) Comments / [ 10.27.06 ]

» I'm excited to share with you the latest in my Bloggers on Blogging series, an interview with Salon's Scott Rosenberg, one of the first journalists to really "get" blogging. In it, we talk about about his new book, the Web as a collective recordkeeper, and the effective uses of online media.

Anyone who argues that, you know, bloggers will on their own transform American politics and usher in the participatory millennium simply because they are blogging is not being serious. Blogs are simply a format in the continuing evolution of the Internet. They make it really easy for individuals to publish. This is a wonderful and valuable thing. Then it's up to us to do something with it. If your goal is to 'speak truth to power,' it behooves you to figure out where the powerful people are and how to get their attention.

 [ 10.31.06 ]

» Si Simmons, the former Negro leagues baseball player believed to be the longest-living professional ballplayer in history, died Sunday at age 111. Here's an older article describing his life and times. "Negroes had a lot of pride. They felt like baseball, that was the greatest thing in the world for them. You had some great players in those days. [...] After a while they were in the big leagues, playing ball, which you thought would never come. But eventually it did come. And that was the greatest thing of my life when I saw these fellows come up and play big league baseball." Si Simmons, reflecting on his life in the Negro leagues.  [ 10.31.06 ]



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