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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