critical reading for the rude

lexisnexis new

What do we think of LexisNexis Academic Search (beta)?

I can’t seem to find any indication about what the EasySearch does for default searching… it just says it lets you ‘search just like you can on the Internet’ or somesuch.  What does that mean?  Does that mean search the way Google searches, or the way Yahoo! searches?  Is it like an Excite meta search? What’s it doing?  Is it a default AND-ing operation between each term, or a default “exact phrase” operation?  The tutorial didn’t clear this up for me…


April 30, 2007 Posted by | info sci, search | Leave a comment

sousveillance hurts 2

You know, on second thought, if anybody takes pictures of me “against my wishes”, I might, myself, respond with anger and agression.  Mr. Miller admits he was arrested by the Miami police “after taking photos of them against their wishes.”  (I don’t know the law, but it sounds wrong to arrest him for this, given…  When did it become a crime to take a photo?)  But get some common sense, man.  If the cops clearly don’t want their photos taken and you insist on doing it against their will, you may have to rumble.

April 30, 2007 Posted by | blogs, geo/pol | Leave a comment

search wikia talk

Jimbo Wales posted on the Search Wikia mailing list that a big announcement is due out soon (possibly today, says he).  The chatter on the list is sometimes interesting, but there’s a goodly shot of talk-about-the-talk-on-the-list.  One contributor and another trading jabs (that’d be Seth and Jimbo, by the by)… So.  What Search Wikia?

Read the wiki content page here, and brainstorm sheet here.

Some highlights of discussion:

  • True visual searching?
  • Mediated search, but how?
  • Taxonomy vs. folksonomy (again)
  • Query forms that rank what the searcher values as authoritative?

So we wait.

April 30, 2007 Posted by | info sci, search | Leave a comment

sousveillance hurts

Police officers do not like being photographed, at least not when this guy does it. Sousveillance isn’t any kind of instant fix like “oh, you’re recording this? well we’d better all be on our best behavior,” you know. It’s not a reverse pan-opticon, where we all watch the authority and the authority stops doing naughty things. It’ll take many more years and tears and plenty of diligence… maybe a live webcast library for people on the streets, recording their encounters in real time… but the blade cuts both ways.  We’ll all have to start wearing disguises to hide the fact that we make so many trips down to the local (whatever spot you go to that you don’t want folks knowing that you go to).

My name is Carlos Miller and I am a writer, reporter and photojournalist who was arrested by Miami police after taking photos of them against their wishes, which was a clear violation of my First Amendment rights. I have pleaded not guilty to the nine misdemeanor charges they conjured to justify their arrest. My trial begins May 7th.”

This is not something that regular folks or the state is going to just give you. Nobody’s ready for this particular future yet. This is just a whiff of what losing control of your personomy feels like. We like our privacy, all of us (but do you actually get privacy when your on public time, in public uniform?), and we’re wary about where the line blurs.

But, hey. Keep trying if you want to.

April 30, 2007 Posted by | blogs, geo/pol | 1 Comment

AIDS awareness + betel nut

{UPDATE: it occurs to me to ask, anybody know if betel is legal in the States?  Anybody know where I could find them if they, um, are? E-mail me if ye do knw.} 

Betel nuts are good. Sure, they give you lip cancer, make your teeth red, stain the sidewalks up so horrible that it looks like blood from scooter wrecks everywhere… but they also give you a hot charge that rises from deep in your shoulders and throat and rushes up through the top of your head. Its like chewing tobacco, drinking a beer real fast, and downing a pot of coffee all at once. ‘Tis lovely, if you have the taste for it.

China Post has this:

Health officials want to turn the scantily clad women who sell betel nuts at stands along Taiwan’s roadways into anti-AIDS campaigners.

Betel nuts, chewed as a mild stimulant, are popular among truck and taxi drivers — and vendors often compete by staffing roadside sales booths with young women in bikinis, translucent blouses or nurses’ uniforms with miniskirts.

The government plans to have the women give their customers boxes containing condoms and an AIDS warning, Yang Shih-yang, an official at the Center for Disease Control, said yesterday.

“Research done from Africa to Himalayan countries has proved one thing: The AIDS viruses are spread along the highways,” Yang said. He was apparently referring to truckers and cab drivers engaging in prostitution or sex with multiple partners.

April 30, 2007 Posted by | geo/pol, writing | Leave a comment

$175, but still

PC World had:

…XO is not designed for modern office use, but for three universal traits that every kid has in common: learning, socializing and creating, Bender said.

That is why the XO’s desktop page shows a graphic map of WiFi signals up to 2 kilometers away, allowing all the XO laptops in a village to share drawings, notes, photographs, and musical compositions. The mesh of laptops could also share a single Internet connection, allowing them to use a distant ISP or a single schoolhouse server.

April 30, 2007 Posted by | geo/pol, green, info sci | Leave a comment

interview: Shivanath goes polar

note: this was briefly at my old blog. here it rightly resurfaces from March 6th or so.



Shivanath: hahahahahah

Woody: back again

Woody: haha!

Woody: crazy drunk magician. Working from the top of the world.

Woody: can’t you get a tickeet for that?

Shivanath: oh god

Shivanath: I’ve been drunk for three days

Shivanath: well, started saturday

Shivanath: and sunday

Shivanath: and monday

Woody: i’ve bottled a new batch of homebrew beer this week

Woody: i’ll raise one to you

Shivanath: awright

Woody: maybe we aim for a few days from now for the intrveiw..

Shivanath: well, you could do that

Shivanath: or we could try and bang out a three question micro interview while I’m running this hot

Woody: sounds good too

Woody: okya

Woody: here we go.

Shivanath: (reality is bending *hard* – talked to an Icelanding MP tonight and also a developer of Eve


Woody: Question 1

12:25 AM

Shivanath: aye

Woody: How’s your magickal practice changed since our last interview?

Shivanath: that’s almost a year ago

Shivanath: it’s been an insane year

Shivanath: the key is really that I got involved in a tantric relationship with somebody I personally identify

as an old tibetan lama-type being and the resulting energy generated really pushed out an enormous amount

of my potential into the world

Shivanath: and, hopefully, one day, hers

Shivanath: so that manifestation through relationship this time propelled me into an intimate relationship

with the deepest power structures in the United States

Shivanath: I did a round of work for the military, the red cross, and hopefully one for the marines, all

centered on humanitarian relief and disaster response

12:30 AM

Shivanath: this is really key: inside of the US Govt. and particularly the US military there are a lot of nice

people trying to do the right thing

Shivanath: I took this wad of compassionate energy and handed it to them and they’ve made very good

use of it so far, and that has surprised and delighted me.

Shivanath: One side effect has been that I haven’t had much time for my regular practices of old: it’s all

been Karma Yoga this year.

Shivanath: How’s that for an answr?

Woody: I think that fairly answers Question 1.

Woody: Question 2.

Woody: What the hell are you planning to do about the global economy? Hahahaha.

Woody: Hahahahahaha.

Woody: Seriously.

Shivanath: I’m hiding in Iceland and possibly considering how to protect the poor from it crashing.

Shivanath: let’s start with the basics: it’s all built on fractional reserve banking and that might not actually

be stable

Woody: That have anything to do with last year’s work?

Shivanath: it might, in fact, build an entire economy on a “belief bubble” that there will be money there

when you need it

Shivanath: that the gamble will continue to pay off

Shivanath: fractional reserve might just be a ponzi scheme

12:35 AM

Shivanath: so, why Iceland: answer – I’m not ready for India.

Shivanath: Now, the last year’s work… here’s the key question: who is sustainable?

Woody: the Sami?

Shivanath: The global poor, who are professional organic farmers largely living on their own ancestral

lands, farmed the same way as their forefathers ninety generations ago, free of all pesticides and fertilizers

because they cannot afford them?

Shivanath: Or us westerners?

Shivanath: Precisely: it’s the old cultures who are sustainable, and the new cultures that are at risk.

Woody: But how can you feed 6 billion (or 8 billion) with agricultural techniques requiring huge amounts of

arable land per capita?

Shivanath: You can’t.

Shivanath: But these techniques work, even to this day

Woody: No more herds for the Laplanders…

Shivanath: How much would the population drop in nations like China if they went back to their

agricultural practices of old? I’m guessing not that much: a factor of two or three perhaps.

Shivanath: And possibly not at all because, actually, you can do *incredible* things with techniques like

biodynamic farming: still organic, but high tech organic.

Shivanath: Double dug raised beds, for example, have yields high enough to talk about feeling a family

from a sixth of an acre. Think about that.

Woody: So it’s sustainable ribofunk.

12:40 AM

Shivanath: Bingo.

Woody: Question 3.

Shivanath: Ribofunk was one of the greatest science fiction movements that never quite happened, and

we should have a lot more of it. We need biological futures written for us.

Shivanath: yes. Q3?

Woody: What’s working behind the scenes of the big Anglophone political happenings over the next two

years? Which archons are pulling which strings in 08, for instance?

Shivanath: ooh

Shivanath: Gods.

Shivanath: OK, here’s how I see it. The *only question* that matters in 08 is “is it a fair election, or is it

decided by fraud again?”

Woody: Yeah.

Shivanath: Now this could go either way. Gore in 00 asked for a recount only in districts where they

thought they could gain votes which was completely dishonest and undemocratic and he deserved to lose for

that, even if it was the wrong thing for the country (which it was) and even if the other side cheated more (which

they did. Investigate the 100,000 people taken off the voters roles by falsely declaring them felons.)

Shivanath: The 06 elections appear, by and large, to have been fair

12:45 AM

Shivanath: possibly because it isn’t that important

Shivanath: (i.e. it wasn’t for the presidency)

Woody: Interesting points.

Woody: Okay. That’s my 3 questions. Unless you’ve got something else you want to add.

Shivanath: but also possibly because somebody back in there waved the big stick at both sides and said

“knock off the electoral fraud or we’ll publish what we know” or some equally effective threat.

Woody: Hahaha.

Woody: Now who’s holding that stick??

Shivanath: The other thing is that the Libertarians are massively on the march and I think we’re going to

see an incredibly reformed, lean and dangerous Libertarian presence in 08. My guess is that it’ll be inside of

the Republican party – a “get back to our real values” movement – rather than coming from the

Libertarians, and that this will constitute the first really new American political movement since the 1960s.

Shivanath: And we are ripe for it: their issues are now all of our issues, because we’ve all been stripped of

our constitutional rights to such a huge extent.

Shivanath: As for who’s holding the stick? Who killed Kennedy? Who protects the Federal Reserve.

Shivanath: THEY DO!!!

Shivanath: <laughs>

Shivanath: My guess is that deep inside of what we think of as The System there are about half a dozen

bright guys who know where the bodies are buried and take responsibility for keeping the show on the rails,

and that through an invisible power network – not yer Illuminati shit, or anything quasi-Masonic like Skull and

Bones (you know both Bush and Kerry were members, so Skull and Bones effectively captured the 04 election

before it was held.)

12:50 AM

Shivanath: No, I think those men (and they certainly are) hold power by consistently being right.

Woody: Yeah, but who do they party with?

Woody: What’s their favorite drink?

Woody: And how do they keep passing the baton, decade after decade?

Shivanath: What I learned from my adventures in government is that being trusted in power is an

incredibly powerful edge: a lot of the senior people I dealt with were incredibly nice and it made me realize that

there’s a powerful selective pressure among competitors in the Government arena to push the most honest

people to the front of the line.

Shivanath: If you’re a total bastard, and another total bastard you’ve tooled over time and time again in

your fights gets the Big Prize, he’s going to rip you to pieces.

Shivanath: So the Nice Guys find that the total bastards push them up to leadership roles because that

effectively protects the total bastards from each other.

Shivanath: And I’ve seen this: the more senior the people, the nicer they got.

Shivanath: How this jives with Cheney etc. is simple: these people were elected, and that’s a whole

different set of selective pressures than those of the evolutionary forces inside of the beaurocracy.

Shivanath: (and you’re going to have to spell check this, mate, I can’t spell that damn word.)

Shivanath: So, who these men are.

Shivanath: George Kennan was one, certainly.

Shivanath: Architected the Policy of Containment via, among other documents, the famous Long Telegram


Shivanath: Now, this thing right here? This is the closest you’re going to get to a political Mount Sinai


Shivanath: Kennan simply figures out what the US does about the Soviet Union

Shivanath: and then we do it

Shivanath: and it works.

Woody: That’s a sure nuff Working.

12:55 AM

Woody: But you’ve got your un-intended consequences, too…

Shivanath: That moment of genius, of insight likely saved the world in much the same way that the Bomb

Team put a stop to the Third World War by instituting the Cold Peace.

Shivanath: Yes.

Shivanath: Each generation of these, er, “Wizards” leaves loose ends

Shivanath: it’s like doing long division by hand, if you ever did that

Shivanath: on each line you get one more digit of the answer, and a new remainder to divide by the next

number in line

Shivanath: and, well, wanna bet that Reality is Irrational so the sums go on forever?

Shivanath: The great question is “can you get an exact answer?” and the reply to that is usually “when

Meshiach comes.”

Shivanath: (Yiddish for The Messiah)

Woody: Thanks for the chat, Shivanath.

Woody: —-

Shivanath: (wait, not quite done!)

Shivanath: just thinking

Woody: no prob!


Woody: [brb]

keep going!

Shivanath: ok

Shivanath: well, here’s the final paragraph

Woody: (omfg — that Kennan document…)

1:00 AM

Shivanath: The answer is that it depends on the nature of time. If the Christian model of linear time towards

the End Of History is correct, then, yes, sure you can get a final answer.

Shivanath: But as the Greeks discovered, the simplest triangle: one by one right angle, has an irrational


Shivanath: Root too.

Shivanath: Root Two, rather.

Shivanath: Now, consider the great mathematical unification: e to the power of -i * pi equals 1

Shivanath: People look at that and say “my god, it might make sense in the end.”

Shivanath: But I think that Chaitin’s Omega Numbers are pretty clear evidence that these pheonmena,

these momentary lapses in the irrational and irreducable comlexity of the universe, are ripples, lines in the

noise of the fractalish underpinnings of life.

Shivanath: In short: we’re going to continue to need benign geniuses to help respond to *change*

because change is life, and I don’t expect there to be a messiah who’s going to come and stop all change and

tehreby solve all problems.

Shivanath: Life will continue, with all it’s cmoplexities, even if a messiah does come and lift us all to some

higher level.

Woody: allright, […]… Are you saying we ought to have Faith?

Shivanath: FINIS

Shivanath: nope: I’m saying that faith is irrelevant.

Shivanath: Change continues, the universe is a complicated place, and we’re blessed with great thinkers

who help us get through it. Smart nations give these people effectiveness by giving them access to the decision

making apparatus. Hopefully America will continue to get that right.

Shivanath: A lot of people thought that the Buddha was going to be the end of history. Nope.

Shivanath: Nor Rama.

Shivanath: The game continues for as long as the Universe wants to play and there is no boredom in the

mind of god that I can distinguish!

1:05 AM

Shivanath: (I will also have to go within five minutes, they are closing this bar, but you’ve got time for one

more round.)

Shivanath: So, yes, I think we need our navigators more than ever, and perhaps a certain amount of faith

is required to assume that these beings get access to the reins: but species karma is very strong, the love of the

human condition directly results in a “magical” collective will to continue The Good Life on this planet.

Shivanath: I think we’ll fix Africa within a generation through intelligent trade, development and enterprise,

for instance, and I hope to personally be on the front line of that process.

April 25, 2007 Posted by | occult | Leave a comment

bayeux animated

Good historical infoviz (from the Norman side, anyways), complete with sea-sickness and beheading:

Found at Dr. Noke’s.

April 24, 2007 Posted by | info viz | Leave a comment

this poor d o j

The Guardian had:

At the White House on Friday, Perino lavished praise on Gonzales. “He has done a fantastic job at the Department of Justice. He is our No. 1 crime fighter. He has done so much to help keep this country safe from terrorists. He has worked determinately to prevent predators from attacking our children,” she said.

“He has worked – they have a fantastic record of fighting corruption in government…”


I’m missing something, if that be true. Ms. Perino must know stuff the rest of us citizens don’t. This is Ms. Perino:

Just wait till 2016… she has a future in politics.

As for Alberto, gee, I really can’t say it any better than the Viking Youth did –> here .

April 24, 2007 Posted by | geo/pol | Leave a comment

Thinkin’ Man’s Meme

How about that. I’ve been having a weird, cagey relationship with the wider ‘Net these last few months, and especially in the last few weeks… but lo and behold I got nodded to for a “thinking meme” tag by Sven Johnson. I liked his other nominations too — in good company, indeed. Thanks Sven. Here’s my 5 nominations:

Tim at Geistweg, for using the Long Now Foundation to throw down a challenge about genocide — and implicitly appealing to us all to help stop it. Between the frequent, serious reminders about the need for social action to stop future holocausts, this is actually a fun blog to read.

Deb Liptak at info2go, for pumping useful, timely info out to the masses of us doddering info-illiterates in the north Texas metroplex. Deb’s newsletters are great, and she’s lately taken a serious interest in ‘government information should be free for citizens’. Good work, there. I always learn something new from her.

Vinay Gupta on What Is and What Is Not, for good music criticism. When you’re willing to take a fresh look at an artist that could too-easily be dismissed as a self-inflated hack, and when you find something new by taking the time to look… yeah, I’ll tip my hat to that.

danah boyd at Apophenia, because she’s serious and generous when it comes to trying to understand and explain youth culture on the new web to the rest of us.

Ulla-Maaria Mutanen at Hobby Princess, for thinking and writing about info/objects like nobody else has. Ms. Mutanen and her crowd are doing more to alter the soft borders between art / craft & information / object than anyone since the Bauhaus gang. Librarians, designers, artists, all should be reading.

If you got “tagged” above, you may write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think. [Optional: there’s also a ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ emblem (silver version or gold version) which you may display.] As Sven points out, tracing the meme back to originating blogs will lead you to many other great thinkin’ blogs!

Ah… for more good reading see also:

Unlocked Wordhoard

Gypsy Librarian

Roger at Kaywa

and CW is always thinking…

April 23, 2007 Posted by | blogs | Leave a comment