Wednesday, February 25, 2004

The Creatures From the Sandwich Shop - Behind the singing rodents in the Quiznos ad. By Seth Stevenson

Have you seen the Quiznos ad with the rodent thingies? I 've seen it multiple times now, but the first time I encountered the ad, I instantly thought of Joel Veitch's Rather Good. Being the IP/Copyright person that I am, I instantly wondered if Veitch was involved, and if he wasn't, if he should have been. Anyway, while checking my hotmail today I came across precisely what I was looking for: Slate's ad report card for the advertisement.

What did I learn? Well, the rodent things are called spongmonkeys. And both Quiznos and Slate's ad report card folks have received a lot of feedback related to this particular ad. People either love it or hate it. Personally, I liked Veitch's work, so I like the sub ads. They're quirky, and the spongmonkeys are cute in a very odd, twisted sort of way. What I didn't learn, exctly, is if/how Veitch was involved in the creation of the ad. Nothing is stated anywhere on the main page of his site, but dig a little deeper into the FAQ, and you see that indeed, he states this is his work. Good deal.

- posted by laurie @ 2/25/2004 09:58:00 AM (0) comments

The Power of the Blogosphere

This Maariv International article is yet another example of the power of the blogosphere, and of the consequences of not understanding, to pinch a bit from Laura Gurak's Cyberliteracy, the speed and reach of the internet.

The blurb at the beginning of the article sums it up nicely:

"Minutes after the internet diary ('blog') of MK Ehud Yatom went online, surfers began to post stinging comments about his role in the bus 300 affair * After several hours, the blog vanished. * Yatom: 'I have no idea what a “blog” is'. Evidently not."

Some background:
What happened on Bus 300? from the Jerusalem Post.
Oh, and just in case you're not up on Israeli government, "MK" is Member of Knesset: see the Knesset or Israeli Democracy.

- posted by laurie @ 2/25/2004 03:41:00 AM (0) comments

The flowering of love: Strangers from Midwest send bouquets

Aww, now this is really sweet. And goes to show that, despite W's speechifying yesterday, some of us are less concerned about activist courts, and more concerned with compassion and consideration for our fellow men and women trying to celebrate commitment.

The flowering of love / Strangers from Midwest send bouquets: "Fueled by one oft-forwarded e-mail and a Web-log, callers from across the country have flooded San Francisco's flower shops, asking for bouquets to be donated to random same-sex couples waiting in line to get hitched"

For all that I certainly am more coastal in experience and upbringing, I do have to say that, overall, the Midwest is a nice place to live. Alex Halavais (on whose blog I discovered this link) says this shows there are some very cool people in this country. I agree!

- posted by laurie @ 2/25/2004 03:15:00 AM (0) comments

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

I am so p'd off!

I was dong things around the house this morning, TV on in the background for niose, when all of a sudden, breaking news - and there's Pres. Bush. I sat down and watched, growing more and more horrified, as he made his case for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. I'm still pretty worked up about the whole thing, so specific rebuttals will have to wait until later. If you'd like to see for yourself what Bush said, the Washington Post offers a Transcript: Bush Backs Amendment Banning Gay Marriage

I so fundamentally disagree with his prespective, I don't even know where I would start if I cared to argue my own position. I don't see how it is possible to look at a ban on gay marriage and not see human and civil rights issues of all kinds.

**edit** Scott's got a concise, cogent response.
Ooh, my activist tendencies have gotten all riled up again. Anyone want to go protest?

- posted by laurie @ 2/24/2004 10:22:00 AM (0) comments

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Owie, and a quiz you should take . . .

Even though this is my second post today, I've actually spent minimal, minimal time in front of the computer today. I woke up this morning with a headache that I've been describing as "ungodly," for some reason. Nothing has helped very much, except seclusion in a dark room or napping, during which times I am less aware that my entire head plus significant portions of my shoulders and back are just excruciating. My eyeballs are throbbing, and there have been somewhat vertiginous moments, some spinning, etc.

Even so, I sat down to see if I could find any good online bibliographies for a topic I am currently researching, and found a quiz that E. apparently took earlier today. The quiz is entitled, "Yankee or Dixie," and assesses your northernness or southernness based on your responses to dialect-related questions. Now, I grew up in one of those border states, technically south of the Mason-Dixon, but a state that few (if any) southerners would call southern. Maryland is definitely an in-between kind of place, though urbanization has definitely had an impact on the D.C. Metro area. Anyway, having grown up in an in-between environment, and with family members who grew up in distinctly southern areas, but having also spent formative portions of my life in Southern California, I was curious to see how I scored.

With a range from 0% being totally Yankee to 100% being totally Dixie, I scored a surprising 69% - decidedly Dixie. I think it was the "roly-poly" question, along with admitting that a group of people is addressed as "y'all," that really pushed me over the Mason-Dixon and down into Dixie. Hmm. Anyway, I'm off to dark-room seclusion again, to ponder regional dialect - perhaps I'll dredge my long-term memory for relevant discussions from Keith Gilyard's "Ethnic Rhetorics" seminar, which I took in the Spring 2001 semester at Penn State.

Even in moments of pain and suffering, I'm still a geek, and proud of it. G'night.

- posted by laurie @ 2/21/2004 08:48:00 PM (0) comments

And another one bites the dust

Related to an earlier post, and also to a few posts over at ScotMcGerik's blog (this one and this one specifically), is the following chronicle of yet another workplace/blog conflict. Link is to the main blog page - archive links seem to not be working, but check out the Feb. 20 entry from Invisible Shoebox:

"Paperback Writer is gone, but, we hope, only temporarily. Miss JenJen turned up at work on Monday morning to find the CEO waiting for her. Someone had come across her blog, in which she discusses her workplace - infact, her hatred of her workplace - and had sent the URL out in an all staff email. The CEO told Miss JenJen that she was fired and then she was escorted from the building. Luckily, she had already resigned and really, it was probably this decision that lead her to writing as freely about her collegues as she did. But Ii's a horrifying prospect. Fired because of your blog...

Paperback Writer II coming soon, I hear."

- posted by laurie @ 2/21/2004 10:58:00 AM (0) comments

Thursday, February 19, 2004

When Strong AI Gets Wacky

So I am taking this course called "Philosophy of Cognitive Science" this semester. It's been good so far. The class is mainly organized around computational versus connectionist models/philosophies of cognition (with a bit of eliminative materialism thrown in at the end: I want to learn more about this!). For class today we're covering philosophically-based objections to computationalism, and boy, are there some good ones, especially when strong AI is the object of critique. Strong AI includes some wacky perspectives, my friends. Consider this gem, found in John Searle's "Minds, Brains and Programs" (reprinted in Minds, Brains, and Computers, ed. R. Cummins and D. Cummins): apparently, in 1979, J. McCarthy stated that problem-solving machines, even simple ones (his example is a thermostat) have beliefs. Searle's reaction (circa 1980)? "Anyone who thinks strong AI has a chance as a theory of mind ought to ponder the implications of that remark. We are asked to accept it as a discovery of strong AI that the hunk of metal on the wall that we use to regulate the temperature has beliefs in exactly the same sense that we, our spouses, and our children have beliefs, and furthermore, that 'most' of the other machines in the room - the telephone, tape recorded, adding machine, electric light switch - also have beliefs in this literal sense" (144-145).

Wha? Um, I'm with Searle on this point - and many others.

Now, contrast that to the abovementioned eliminative materialism, a perspective in which the very existence of beliefs is rejected: there are no "beliefs" in a connectionist model, and therefore they don't, can't exist. If nothing else, the dichotomous and extreme positions being staked out will keep my noodle busy this semester!

- posted by laurie @ 2/19/2004 12:27:00 PM (0) comments

Candidate Compatibility

A few weeks ago, Kara blogged about the Presidential Match Guide. I blogged about a similar site several months ago, but I think this one's a bit better (and I can't find the post, for some reason). Anyway, like Kara (and the people who responded to her post, for the most part), I, too, am 100% in agreement with Kucinich. My results are as follows:

Kucinich: 100%
Sharpton: 89%
Kerry 84%
Dean: 81%
Edwards: 75%
Bush: 1%

Um, on that last one, I'm boggled where even 1% of agreement comes from. Whatever the case may be, it looks like I'm going to be voting for Kerry come November, as the candidates with whom I am most compatible are, um, not doing too hot in the primaries, to say the least. Oh, dear, am I worried about this election!!!!

- posted by laurie @ 2/19/2004 07:59:00 AM (0) comments

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Guess who's at it again?

InfoWorld, among many other sources, is reporting yet another wave of suits in RIAA goes after 531 more file sharers. John Doe suits were filed in PA, GA, FL, and NJ. These 531 individuals were identified only by IP address, as was the case with the 532 suits filed last month in the wake of the Appeals Court ruling, which has limited the RIAA's ability to subpoena user information from ISPs.

The EFF is making some good objections to RIAA tactics. Whether they will do any good or not remains to be seen.

How many more of these do you think the RIAA will file?

- posted by laurie @ 2/18/2004 10:31:00 AM (0) comments

Professors blog away in the classroom

One more blogging link, and then I'm off to finish getting ready for my own blog-using class, where we are going over the finer points of comma usage (among other stimulating grammar topics - commas at 8:30 in the AM are scintillating) and beginning the instructions unit.

The Stanford Daily covers blogging at Stanford:

"Program in Writing and Rhetoric (PWR) Lecturer Christine Alfano said that she thought it was fitting to incorporate blogging into her E-Rhetorics class because of the class’ focus on electronic rhetoric and digital media. For her class, students post a message once a week about their research or thoughts on the material."

- posted by laurie @ 2/18/2004 04:29:00 AM (0) comments

When Journalists Blog, Editors Get Nervous

This Editor & Publisher article takes an interesting look at journalists and blogging, and while the topic has been covered before, this article does a good job of looking at different types of journalist-bloggers (those who blog openly and those who are a bit more covert in their practices) as well as the different editorial positions/policies regarding off-the-job blogging. There is quite a wide range here, and this article points out the differences quite nicely. As with other articles discussing journalists' private blogs or the private blogs of other types of workers, the moral of the story seems to be that your personal, "private" blog is anything but, and as a weblog writer, you've got to be aware of this. Makes sense, but it seems not to have taken hold with some people, still.

Nice snippet on the covert blogger journalists: "Some keep their blogging secret from their managers, or at least try to. They resent being told to live to a standard of near-absolute objectivity even when they're not on company hours."

The author also points out that many media workplaces still do not have policies that specifically address personal weblogs - but suggests taking a look at a new ethics policy due out next week from the Poynter Institute for Media Studies.

The Poynter policy:

"We ask Poynter employees and contributors to keep their Poynter role in mind as they pursue personal publishing. ... In the case of Poynter employees, Poynter asks that they avoid personal publishing that would compromise their ability to fulfill their Poynter responsibilities in the seminar room or in Poynter publications. Such conflicts would diminish their value to the consumers of Poynter publishing and, as a result, to Poynter."

The author finds the language a good middle ground - I'd tend to agree, though I am sure that there are some who would still find this stifling.

- posted by laurie @ 2/18/2004 04:16:00 AM (0) comments

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Computer Woes

Our computer has been acting very, very strange as of late. It is a good three years old, and therefore we could use an upgrade, to be sure, but at the moment, affording said upgrade isn't very feasible. So we're stuck with the old monster, and neither one of us has the expertise to diagnose and/or fix the poor ailing computer.

Recent symptoms of the strange ailment (or ailments, more probably) that plague the desktop include:

The last two truly boggle me. Never mind the fact that, with a working CD-ROM drive, more diagnostic tools would be available to me, and I could also try and re-install the OS. But for the time being, that's out of the question, and I am a very frustrated computer user. Oh, and a really pissed-off Windows user.

- posted by laurie @ 2/17/2004 08:12:00 AM (0) comments

Fine Posting . . .

over at friend Lindsay's blog. See, for example, this fine sassy little punkin entry. I can write seminar papers, and I do ok at conference presentations, but to make scenes come to life like this - the girl's got talent.

- posted by laurie @ 2/17/2004 07:36:00 AM (0) comments

Monday, February 16, 2004

Opportunist microbes lurk in your shower

From this morninng: should you fear your shower - or indoor pools and hot tubs, for that matter?

"Beware the microscopic horrors lurking inside your shower curtain. Billions of germs live in its folds, waiting to come out and infect you if you have a weakened immune system.

Norman Pace, a microbiologist at the University of Colorado, Boulder, gave a Hitchcockian account of the danger in the shower to the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Seattle at the weekend. He analysed the microbes living in the 'soap scum' of five domestic shower curtains, including his own."

*sigh* doesn't anyone think we're going a little bit overboard with antibacterial zeal? and now even my shower's a dangerous place to be.

- posted by laurie @ 2/16/2004 04:49:00 AM (0) comments

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Windows: Generic or Trademark?

Internet News coverage of recent developments in the Microsoft/Lindows dispute over MS trademark on the word, "Windows." Should be interesting to track this as it develops, though developments may be slow in coming. The case has been referred to an appeals court before even hitting the trial phase, but things are looking up for Lindows right now, at least in this country.

- posted by laurie @ 2/11/2004 03:42:00 PM (0) comments

The reunion that isn't

I graduated high school in 1994. That means the dreaded/anticipated 10-year reunion looms on the horizon. Since graduating, I've been kind of ambivalent about the whole concept of a high school reunion. I completed my freshman and senior years at one high school and my sophomore and junior years at another high school, approximately 3,000 miles away from the first. So my high school experience was kind of fragmented, disconnected (not to get too PoMo on y'all). And when I returned my senior year to the high school at which I had completed my freshman year, I found that the two years apart from the friends I had known for a long time, many since elementary school, had made a huge difference. Our lives had taken different paths and, while I still liked them, I didn't feel as close to a lot of them. So senior year was a weird space where I was trying to make new friends - friends that I would have, probably, only until graduation (though some people from that timeperiod became really important in my life, and I still keep in touch with a few folks I met during that initially lonely last year of high school).

Anyway, the idea of a reunion is simultaneously scary, exciting, and absolutely unappealing. I feel like I've done a lot with my life, but I'm also still in school. I don't want to re-enter the judge-and-be-judged scene common in high school, but I'd like to see how people are doing.

All of this might be a moot point, however. I may never have to confront my conflictedness over reunions. Because there is not any information at all about a class reunion on the school website , and there seems to be no one from my graduating class who has expressed an interest in organizing anything. So we're apparently having the reunion that isn't: isn't going to be planned, isn't important enough to anyone to make us overcome lingering Gen-X slacking, just isn't. Chances are I wouldn't be able to go, anyway - but this way, I don't even have to decide.

- posted by laurie @ 2/11/2004 04:46:00 AM (0) comments

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

my monthly post . . .

Seems that way lately, anyway. Yes, it has been a while since my last post. And actually, quite a lot has been going on, but not all of it's blogworthy ( at least at this point).

The need to blog again really hit me over the weekend, though, and considering all that is going on the world of IP at the moment, I don't see any way I can avoid throwing up links, commentary, and probably rants as things develop. Napster at universities, the iTUnes/Pepsi Superbowl commercial (by the way, if anyone taped this, PLEASE, I need a copy), the Grokster appeal, and so on, and so on . . .

I'm off to hold office hours, which I am almost postivie no one will attend, but I do have to at least be there. I just got a stack of papers in to grade, so it's not as if I have nothing to do! I also need to do some work on the lesson plans for the next couple of weeks, as I anticipate them being kind of busy - busier than the semester has been to this point, anyway.

until later . . . (but sooner than next month, I hope :) )

- posted by laurie @ 2/10/2004 09:10:00 AM (0) comments