Quote of the Day
Apr 26th, 2011 by Ken Hagler

The philosophy of gun control: Teenagers are roaring through town at 90 MPH, where the speed limit is 25. Your solution is to lower the speed limit to 20, outlaw any vehicle that has a round hood ornament or that can carry more than 10 gallons of fuel, require sensitivity training and mandatory annual testing for all licensed drivers, require all vehicle purchases to be documented at a dealership (with a 10-day waiting period), and specify the locks on the garage where the vehicles are stored (with their wheels removed and stored in a locked container on the other side of the home). Meanwhile the most dangerous intersections are changed from stoplights to yield signs, and residential and school zone regulations are tightened with ‘no-stop’ rules so strict that even police cannot stop to set up a speed trap, thus giving the speeders free reign in the very areas they are likely to do the most damage.

Tony B.

Not just Hollywood doing the remakes
Apr 25th, 2011 by Ken Hagler

Hundreds escape from Afghan jail. More than 470 inmates at an Afghan prison – many of them Taliban insurgents – escape through a tunnel hundreds of metres long, officials say. [BBC News]

The original version of this escape made for a really good movie. Sadly, the article fails to mention if any of the escaped prisoners were in the habit of bouncing a baseball off the wall of their cell.

Not so useful in practice
Apr 20th, 2011 by Ken Hagler

Kindle Lending Library comes with strict terms, preserved notes.

Kindle users will soon be able to borrow Kindle books from more than 11,000 US libraries. Amazon made the unexpected announcement Wednesday morning, noting that users would be able to read the borrowed books on any Kindle-enabled device, including older-generation Kindles and apps on iOS, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone, Mac, or PC.

Amazon is working with digital content distributor OverDrive in order to deliver the library books to Kindle users. Although OverDrive offers e-books to a number of different devices in various formats, all the books borrowed through the Kindle Lending Library will apparently be in Kindle format only.

What’s cool, however, is how Amazon and OverDrive are treating any notes or highlights made in the borrowed e-books. Users will be able to annotate and bookmark to their heart’s desire, yet those markings won’t show up for whomever checks out the e-book next. They will be preserved on your account, though—if you decide to check out the book again or even purchase it from Amazon, your markings will remain intact. (It's unlikely, however, that you'll be able to access your markings after you "return" the book, but before you borrow or buy it again.)

Amazon announced in October 2010 that Kindle users would finally be able to lend books to one another, but under strict conditions. The downside is that the book can only be lent to an individual user for 14 days, and it sounds like the terms for the Kindle Lending Library will be at least the same or more stringent. Amazon spokesperson Kinley Campbell told Ars that the lending time will vary by library, “generally 7-14 days,” but that users should check with their local libraries for information.

Although we’re excited about the Lending Library, the lending terms are a bit of bummer. Also, independent book lending services, such as and, still exist for Kindle users who want to swap books online (Amazon restored Lendle’s API access after revoking it a month ago). The Lending Library may be Amazon’s way of “competing” with those services by driving users towards libraries with more restrictive terms.

[Ars Technica]

I don’t think this feature will really make much difference. It’s really quite easy to remove DRM from ebooks. I’ve looked at the selection of ebooks on loan via the Los Angeles library system, with the intention of removing the DRM and reading anything of interest on my Kindle, but I never actually found anything worth reading. Maybe this will make more of a difference some years in the future, when the selection offered by OverDrive is better.

Quote of the Day
Apr 17th, 2011 by Ken Hagler

Left wing – right wing: Same stinking carrion bird in between.

The Ultimate Answer to Kings

I’ll bet she doesn’t know anyone who voted for Nixon either
Apr 15th, 2011 by Ken Hagler

Today in New York Times Navel-Gazing.

From Ginia Bellafante’s
of Game of Thrones, an upcoming HBO adaptation
of a book by the fantasy writer George R.R. Martin:

The true perversion, though, is the sense you get that
all of [the show’s sex] has been tossed in as a little something
for the ladies, out of a justifiable fear, perhaps, that no woman
alive would watch otherwise. While I do not doubt that there are
women in the world who read books like Mr. Martin’s, I can honestly
say that I have never met a single woman who has stood up in
indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from
Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed to “The Hobbit” first. “Game of
Thrones” is boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the
population’s other half.

I have no stake in defending either the fiction of George R.R.
Martin (which I have not read) or the miniseries it inspired (which
probably isn’t the sort of thing I would enjoy). But speaking as a
former Borders clerk: The idea that women tend to avoid this genre
is ludicrous. It may well be true that the evidence of their
interest has not penetrated the book clubs frequented by the
friends of a New York Times critic. Bellafante might want
to consider the possibility that the world is larger than her
social circle.

[Hit and Run]

Out of curiosity, I did a Google search for what Ms. Bellafante might have written about the TV movie version of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon or Earthsea, based on the novels of Ursula K. Le Guin. I found nothing, which isn’t terribly surprising. She did manage to review the HBO series True Blood, based on a series of novels by Charlaine Harris, but has apparently forgotten (or didn’t realize) that Ms. Harris is in fact a woman.

People who have ever set foot in a bookstore’s science fiction/fantasy section, and who are capable of making their own decisions on what to buy instead of relinquishing their book-buying to the collective (or “book club”) like a good little Socialist will probably be aware of the existence of authors such as Mercedes Lackey (one of the most prolific living fantasy authors, and in my opinion the best), Andre Norton, and Anne McCaffrey. Elizabeth Moon, although better known for her science fiction, has written an excellent fantasy novel (originally published as a trilogy) titled The Deed of Paksenarrion. Finally, while she hasn’t written anywhere near as many novels as the preceding authors, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels have certainly made her one of the best-selling authors in history–a fact that you’d think even an employee of the New York Times would have trouble overlooking.

I guess you can always count on the New York Times as a shining beacon of blind intolerance and ignorance.

Weird spellcheck error
Apr 12th, 2011 by Ken Hagler

It’s quite common to see the wrong word being used in a document on the Internet where someone who couldn’t spell relied too much on their spellchecker. Sometimes, though, the substitutions can be quite strange. For example, I was just reading a story that used “comity” instead of “committee.” I can see someone making the opposite mistake, but I’d be very surprised if even five percent of the American people know there is such a word as comity. How does someone manage to use it in place of a far more common word?

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