There Is No Cat

As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly

Saturday, June 28, 2003

The Return of Comical Ali

Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, the former Iraqi Information Minister, also known as Comical Ali, has resurfaced! He was interviewed by Abu Dhabi TV earlier this week. He looks like he's aged about 20 years, but he's still spouting nonsense, claiming that the Americans had interviewed and released him, and that everything he said during the war was based on "authentic sources - many authentic sources".

The Americans deny having held him, but say "He is an interesting story teller and we look forward to hearing what he has got to say."

Maybe now he can follow up some of those offers, like hosting talk shows and the like.

Posted at 11:12 AM
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Friday, June 27, 2003

Kucinich Komix

So far, I like Howard Dean in the Presidential race, but Dennis Kucinich has some clever supporters, too. Like this guy, who makes Flash animations about the issues of the day and publishes them as Kucinich Komix. Check out the one about tax cuts in particular. Good stuff.

Posted at 12:08 AM
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Thursday, June 26, 2003

It just works

I grumble about Apple a lot lately. I look at the new Finder in Panther and think, "That friggin' Jobs, just when I thought they couldn't make it worse, they did...." I piss and moan about the Dock in OS X. Most of all, I continue to use OS 9, despite having a relatively new computer that's perfectly capable of using OS X. But sometimes I have to admit that they still do some things right.

Our network at home has been flaky this week. It happened with the onset of a heat wave. The long, cool spring this year finally convinced me that the reason our cable modem occasionally blinks out is that the cable run to my office goes through the attic, and when it gets hot, it gets really hot up there and does something to the cable that causes the signal to go out of spec for what the modem needs. The modem is usually fine in the morning, but when I get home, it's a goner. Yesterday, with the temperature outside in the mid-90s, it took until 11 pm for the attic to cool down enough for the cable modem to be able to sync up.

I gave up and moved the cable modem, the router, and the Airport base station downstairs next to the TV, where the cable run doesn't go through such hostile territory, and tonight, we went over the CompUSA and got an Airport card for the G4 upstairs. First off, the fact that a tower model has a built-in slot for the card is a wonder of foresight on Apple's part. Second, the process of opening the machine to install the card is a wonder of simplicity; you just open a latch and everything you need folds right out. Then when I rebooted the machine, it recognized the card, reconfigured the TCP/IP settings to work with the new network interface, and connected to the net via the base station downstairs. It just worked.

It just worked. What a radical concept in the computer world.

Good thing, too, because I had a deadline tonight on a project, and couldn't afford to spend the evening troubleshooting. Nice that I didn't have to.

I still hate what I've seen of the new finder in Panther (and the old one in Jaguar, for that matter). But they do such a nice job of integrating the hardware and software that it's going to be tough to leave.

Posted at 11:42 PM
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Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Reclaiming the Public Domain

This is very encouraging. Lawrence Lessig received a respectable hearing from a number of Congresscritters in Washington today over his proposal to reclaim the public domain by requiring a nominal fee (currently $1) to extend copyright beyond 50 years. Even Mary Bono (R-Disney) listened to him and was willing to consider his argument. And Lessig's proposal has found a sponsor, Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), who recently became (probably) the first Congresscritter to ever post to a blog, thereby demonstrating cluefullness above and beyond. Lofgren held a press conference today to announce that she was introducing the bill. I suppose it'll take a few weeks before it has a number that other Congresscritters will understand.

I signed the petition; now I'm going to have to contact my Congresscritter and suggest that he co-sponsor Lofgren's bill. He's generally pretty clueful, even if he never answers my letters.

Posted at 11:50 PM
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Tuesday, June 24, 2003

A Fifth Estate of Lapdogs

Dan Gillmor fears for the future of the profession of journalism in America, and with it, for the future of America in general.

If this article by a BBC correspondent in Washington is to be believed, he's absolutely right to:

[T]he US media have not covered themselves in glory in recent weeks. And I am glad to be able to report that the Bush administration is properly grateful. I went to see the Vice-President make a speech a few nights ago. He finished with a reference to the war in Iraq, telling his audience: "You did well - you have my thanks."

Were these troops or government officials he was addressing? Neither, in fact: the occasion was the annual dinner of the American Radio and Television Correspondents Association.

It's all very, very cosy. No wonder the BBC table was No 148. Next to the lavatories and the emergency exit.

Go read the whole thing. It starts out with an exploration of a recent encounter between Donald Rumsfeld and noted British journalist David Dimbleby. Dimbleby won that particular sparring match. It's no wonder that papers like The Guardian and The Independent and the BBC's excellent news site report that such a huge percentage of their visitors come from America. What ever happened to the idea of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable? Our own press is failing us, and we need alternatives.

Posted at 2:11 PM
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Monday, June 23, 2003

Go to the window, open it, stick your head out and yell

Another reason I don't write about politics here is that when I discuss the matter any more, I tend to get shrill and incoherent because I'm just so freaking furious about what the Republicons are doing to my country. I will never, ever, ever, ever forgive the Republicon party for impeaching and trying Bill Clinton for getting blowjobs. For eight years, the shrieking voices of the wingnuts on talk radio stoked a fire that nearly toppled the government in a coup, all because they never recognized Clinton as the legitimate President of the country. Then they proved that they didn't recognize that a Democrat had any right to be elected by stealing the election in 2000. They sent Congressional staffers to Florida to riot to prevent votes from being counted. Then once the usurper had been installed in office, he's proceeded to destroy everything that makes America unique. He's bankrupting the government so that all those horrible programs like Social Security and Medicare will have to be axed because we can't afford them any more. Poor people get their measly share of tax relief cut so that the rich can half a fraction of a percentage more of their handout. Inequality increases, and the poor are left to die while the rich build walls around their communities to keep out the rabble. Our allies are told that they alliances work one way, our way, or they can be frozen out forever. Goodbye, Gerhard. People, even American citizens, are declared "foreign combatants" and held with no rights on the decision of one man. We did away with that King shit 200 years ago, but now we've got Mad King George making all the decisions, and it just makes me so angry I could spit. I try to write coherently about it, and all that comes out is grrrrrrrr arggghhhhh frazzzbottt frinking blojglobs!

So I don't write about politics.

Which is why I admire someone like Adam Felber, who can channel his outrage into humor. I wish I could do that. There was a time when I could crack wise about politics. Now I think I'd rather crack heads.

I think Howard Dean, who announced today that he's running for President, is the only candidate who understands just how angry rank-and-file Democrats are. Or, as another Howard once put it, we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it any more.

Posted at 10:21 PM
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If you gotta ask, you'll never know

Once or twice a day since creating Da Funkidator, I get an anguished note from one of its users, pleading for enlightenment. "Please, oh Oracle of Funk, tell me, why, in the name of God Almighty and all that is right and true, is my feed funky? I use only valid RSS 2; surely my use of xxx (which is valid XML and RSS) couldn't possibly be the cause of my fall from grace!" To which I can only reply: funk is a cruel and harsh mistress. The ways of Da Funkidator are opaque and mysterious. Only after great study and divination can one expect to understand the nature of funk, and even then, one may be wrong.

Or you could read this comment by Michael Bernstein on Phil Ringnalda's blog and you'd have a pretty good idea of what makes RSS funky.

For those few of you who don't get it, Da Funkidator is a joke, a pointed one perhaps, but still a joke. I had hoped it would by my humorous contribution to displaying how absurd it is to assign the characteristic of funkiness to RSS feeds. For most, it seems to have worked that way. Dave Winer even stopped posting items about how this feed or that feed was funky for a few days. I ascribed that to coincidence but hoped maybe it had something to do with the ridicule his practice had garnered, something I hoped Da Funkidator had contributed to. But he's back to his old tricks today. I agree with Mark Pilgrim that his cracks are FUD, needlessly spreading doubt and uncertainty throughout Blogistan. They're confusing people. They're making some people think that they or their tools are doing something wrong when they're doing no such thing.

At this point, I believe that RSS has no future so long as the constant bickering continues. Creating a syndication protocol that isn't called RSS, and that isn't copyright by and tied to a single intransigent vendor, is perhaps the only way to move forward. The ideas behind RSS are compelling, but the current situation is untenable, and harms the chances of RSS to reach its full potential (a point which was very wittily made in the Tim Bray piece I pointed to the other day). Just as Javascript was wrested from the hands of Netscape and Microsoft and promulgated as a formal standard as ECMAScript when their competition made it impossible to use, so too should RSS or its successor.

Dave, all due props to you for your advocacy of RSS over the years and your indispensible contributions to its growth. But you're knifing the baby now. All parents have to know when to let their kids become their own people. It's time for XML-based syndication to grow up and leave the nest.

To anyone who is really concerned that their feeds are funky, don't. Every time Da Funkidator passes judgment on an RSS feed, it also provides a link to the RSS Validator, so you can check your feed on something that actually matters. And to everyone who got the joke and pointed this way, thanks.

Posted at 9:49 PM
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Friday, June 20, 2003

Morality Play

I don't write a whole lot about politics here, mainly because I don't feel I have anything particularly new or insightful to say. My positions and opinions are pretty predictable (ardent Clintonista with a four-year mad-on at the usurper currently living in the White House, leaning toward Dean for his ability to speak clearly and his fighting spirit, etc.), and you can generally read them elsewhere, and better written than I would. One particular writer who consistently impresses and astonishes me is Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo. His current screed about why it's important that the White House lied about weapons of mass destruction to drag us into war in Iraq just floors me. His conclusion is as clear and concise an explanation as I've seen:

Even if the consequences of going into Iraq turn out to be good -- and that seems to be an open question, though I think it was and to a degree remains possible -- it's wrong to have deceived the public to make the policy happen. It's wrong to have damaged the country's intelligence agencies. Let's not even get into the damage that was done to the country's standing in the world. It's also wrong for the political opposition not to say it was wrong, even if the short-term political consequences are uncertain or even damaging.

The Republicons always make hay out of being the party of morality. But their policies have been deeply immoral. They're wrong, just plain wrong. It's nice to see them getting called on it, finally. I just hope it has an effect and doesn't die away at the hands of a lapdog press like every other similar story.

Posted at 11:20 PM
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Can we take it to the bridge?

There's been a lot of reaction to the introduction of Da Funkidator the other day, but I think my favorite is this snippet from a wonderful fantasia by Tim Bray, one of the co-authors of the XML specification.

Mr Safe: Really. Of course, if we need to do some extension work to fit this out for financial applications, that can be done, right?

Tim: Oh yes, two of the popular versions of RSS are set up to allow that (oh, I forgot to tell you about the old "0.9*" versions that a lot of people still use, they don't do extension). Mind you, anyone who uses the extensions risks getting called "funky," but that's OK, they have way-cool pictures of James Brown and I'm sure your PR people won't mind the Bank being called "funky" by the weblogging rabble.

Can we hit it and quit? Can we hit it and quit? Can we hit it and quit?

Posted at 10:59 PM
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Thursday, June 19, 2003

Adventures in The Trademark Zone

Well, I got a very interesting e-mail today. Some time ago, I posted something to There Is No Cat about how I convinced David Weinberger, one of the authors of The Cluetrain Manifesto, to alter the design on JOHO The Blog to accomodate colorblind readers such as myself who had trouble distinguishing between his regular text and his links. Given that David was one of the Cluetrain guys, I thought it would be cute to point out how receptive he was to my suggestions by saying that it didn't take a clue-by-four to convince him.

Did you know that Clue-by-Four™ is a trademarked term?

I didn't, until I got a cease and desist e-mail today from Joel McClung, the President of Intrax, Inc., the owner of said trademark. Mr. McClung asked me to alter my post to include his trademark notice or to stop using the phrase or else he would sic his lawyers on me.

I told Mr. McClung to pound salt. (Well, I was more polite than that, but I made it clear I had no intention of complying with his request.)

But before I did that, I took a trip through the vagaries of trademark law.

I'm not sure when the phrase "clue-by-four" first came in to common use. It's clear from a search of Usenet through Google Groups that it was heavily used there, particularly in the newsgroups where anti-spammers congregated (such as news.admin.net-abuse.email), by 1997 (Google Groups claims more than 12,500 examples of the phrase). Numerous posts were made with subject lines that called for the application of clue-by-fours to one or another offending spammer. I expect that's probably where I picked up the phrase; that was back when I tried to actively track down spammers rather than just deleting or filtering out their efforts as I do now, and I read those groups regularly at the time. The earliest citation on Usenet that I find is this one from 1992 describing widespread use at the University of Washington of the phrase. Mr. McClung's trademark is dated in 1999, so the common use of the phrase certainly predates his application. I don't know, maybe I picked up the phrase from Simon Travaglia's hilarious BOFH series. This other BOFH page, in fact, sells Clue-by-Fours™, and claims it as their trademark! (I don't think the page is associated with Simon Travaglia, though, and they don't really sell items.) The phrase's first appearance that I could find in The Jargon File, which tracks common use of terms among the computer literate, was in version 4.1.0, published on 12 March 1999, months before McClung's trademark application on 31 August 1999, so surely it was in common use before he trademarked it.

Interestingly, if you search for "Joel McClung" on Usenet through Google Groups, it appears that he has been posting for a long time, going back as far as 1984, which was even before I first participated in Usenet in 1987. The guy is clearly aware of netnews, so I wouldn't be surprised if that's where he discovered the phrase as well.

Mr. McClung's e-mail claimed that my use of the phrase "clue-by-four" would result in dilution of his trademark, which he is planning to use for a device that he is trying to bring to market. The Chilling Effects Clearinghouse has a very informative page about trademark law that covers the subject of trademark dilution. They say that "The Federal Trademark Dilution Act of 1995 (FTDA, 15 U.S.C. 1125) prohibits the commercial use of a famous mark if such use causes dilution of the distinctive quality of the mark." (Emphasis added.)

There Is No Cat has no commercial purpose. It's just a personal weblog. Trademark dilution is aimed at commercial use of trademarks. Therefore, it is not possible for something I posted here, particularly in the manner I posted as described above, to be actionable trademark dilution. Strike one. The fact that Mr. McClung's product has not even come to market yet argues against its consideration as a "famous" trademark. Kodak is a famous trademark. NBC is a famous trademark. Clue-by-Four is not a famous trademark. That's strike two.

The Chilling Effects page also talks about the distinction between primary meaning and secondary meaning of words and phrases. Words that are used in everyday conversation in their primary meaning can be used as trademarks in a secondary meaning. The example they give is "apple". If I eat an apple and then write about it here, I don't have to note that the word is a trademark that applies to computers and music. Computers and music are secondary meanings for the term "apple". In the world I live in, the phrase "clue-by-four" has a primary meaning as a metaphor for enlightenment. Use of the phrase to describe a novelty toy (the description used in the trademark records) would appear to me to be a secondary meaning. The trademark holder cannot prevent me from using the phrase in its primary meaning. Strike three.

Incidentally, while I was at the Chilling Effects site, I submitted a brief version of this tale. I don't know if it meets their threshold for inclusion in their database, or if it would require that I had received a letter or e-mail from an actual lawyer, but that's their decision.

When I used to work as a production editor for computer software and hardware manuals many years ago, I dealt with trademarks all the time. We expended great effort to make sure that the first occurrence of each given trademark was duly noted. As I recall from that time, if you have a trademark, you don't want it to be used as a noun. So, for example, we would never refer simply to StarLAN®; we always referred to it as StarLAN® Network, where the trademark modified the noun rather than serving as the noun. That's how we figured it, anyway. Similarly, Kleenex Corp. always refers to its namesake product as Kleenex® brand tissues, and even takes out advertisements in publications read by journalists to remind them to always use Kleenex as a descriptive term for tissues in their writing rather than as a noun. If Mr. McClung wishes to protect his trademark, he would be well served to refer to his product as a Clue-by-Four™ brand toy novelty or some such locution. He would be better served to consider whether his actions in protecting his trademark might not diminish the goodwill vested in his company.

IMHO, Mr. Joel McClung of Intrax, Inc., would benefit greatly from the vigorous application to his self of the metaphor from which he apparently lifted his trademark for a novelty toy. I hope that some day, he gains enough enlightenment to realize the tremendous irony in threatening people who use the phrase "clue-by-four" in its primary meaning to describe this metaphor of enlightenment.

I'll let you all know if I ever get a followup letter from a lawyer. I'll also let Chilling Effects know.

Posted at 10:43 PM
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Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Funky, Funky!

In recent days, it has become de rigeur in certain neighborhoods of Greater Blogistan to comment on the funkiness of the RSS feeds of various blogs, blog tools, and other RSS infested sites. Such pontification is, unfortunately, limited in the scope of the sites it can cover, however. If the Lord of Funkiness doesn't stoop to your level, how will you ever know if your feed is funky or not?

Research scientists at There Is No Cat, LLC, have been working diligently in recent days, reverse engineering the heuristic analysis upon which designation as "funky" or "not funky" takes place, coding this analysis into an intelligent application that can quickly and scientifically determine if a given RSS feed qualifies as "funky" or "not funky", and designing a simple-to-use interface to this powerful tool. Ladies and Gentlemen of Blogistan, we present Da Funkidator.

Da Funkidator has been extensively tested on numerous RSS feeds across Blogistan, and appears to match the expertise of human judges on the funkiness of any given RSS feed with greater than five nines of accuracy (that's 99.999% accurate for those unacquainted with telephone company jargon). Our research scientists should be proud of their accomplishments. With this tool, it is now possible for the unwashed masses of Blogistan to discover if they are unwittingly harboring a funky or not funky RSS feed.

Posted at 12:57 AM
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Monday, June 16, 2003

The Microstories Project

This is cool: Dale Keiger wants true stories of things that happen on the Solstice this year. That's this Saturday. The stories have to be brief (250 words), they have to be true (Keiger teaches non-fiction writing), and they have to happen on that day. It would be even cooler if the result were distributed as a book, but for a first effort, PDF will suffice. Now all I have to do is hope something interesting happens on Saturday that I can describe in 250 words. Jakob Nielsen is always talking about the importance of microcentent in the Internet age; it'll be interesting to see if years of writing e-mail has led people to be able to compose coherent plots in so few words.

Posted at 9:40 PM
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Sunday, June 15, 2003

Coming soon to a theater near you

I don't know what's more frightening: the closeness to the truth of this particular exposition of the US search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, or the encyclopedic knowledge of the Police Squad movies required to write it. Formidable! (Found via Electrolite.)

Posted at 12:07 AM
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Saturday, June 14, 2003

When they push that button, your ass got to go

Did you ever wonder what life was like for the members of Yo La Tengo when their cover of Sun Ra's "Nuclear War" hit the upper reaches of the singles chart? Yeah, me too. Now you can find out. Hey, after opening for The Beatles, now they're bigger than them!

Posted at 9:26 AM
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Friday, June 13, 2003

Idiot proof or proof of idiocy?

Make something idiot proof, and they invent a better class of idiot. (Found via WebWord.)

Posted at 10:58 AM
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Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Pool in hell

I suppose that one reason posting here has slowed down a bit recently is that I've been spending time I would have previously spent blogging playing Blogshares. For a little while, it was really engrossing. But I'm coming to the conclusion that the world just isn't rich enough. It's too easy to figure out the assumptions made in the programming of the site and work them to your advantage. A number of players have figured out how to game the system in such a way as to make a growing balance utterly predictable. If you look at a blog and notice repeated purchased of a share or two, followed by a sell-off of ten or so shares, then more single share purchases, you can be pretty sure the blog has been hit by speculators who are driving the price up. And the price always seems to go up; it rarely seems to go down. There appears to be virtually no risk. If you buy shares in a blog that has a high "P/E" ratio, you may not gain a whole lot, but you're pretty much guaranteed not to lose your nut.

The whole thing reminds me of a story, I think it was an episode of The Twilight Zone, where a pool player dies. He winds up in a place sumptuously outfitted with the finest pool table, best cues, finest chalk, etc. He thinks he's in heaven. He plays, and plays, and plays, and plays better than he ever did in real life. There's no shot he can't make. The balls seem drawn to the pockets as if with magnets. And eventually our pool playing friend realizes that it's taken all the enjoyment out of the game for him. There's no risk. There's no uncertainty. There's no chance. There's no fun. Our friend has found himself in hell.

That's Blogshares.

I think it could use a serious recession. Maybe it's time to dump my shares and invest in blog bonds.

Posted at 7:40 PM
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Monday, June 9, 2003

More problems with spectrum policy

The FCC is entertaining proposals for a broadband service that would run over power lines. Doing this would have the unfortunate side effect of destroying an entire swath of spectrum, including the shortwave spectrum between 3 and 30 MHz which has the unique characteristic of being able to cross borders unimpeded. Unlike satellite signals and Internet connections, countries find it very difficult to stop shortwave signals from reaching their population. If the FCC gets their way with this broadband service, the US may be the first country to succeed at doing this. Other countries like Germany and Japan have investigated providing such service over power lines and concluded that the cost in destroyed spectrum was too high. The spectrum affected would even include a number of television channels; reception of over-air television channels 2-6 could be badly impacted by this. The North American Shortwave Association has a couple of articles that go in to this in more detail and urge people to contact the FCC to convince them not to make this terrible mistake. (Potential conflict of interest notice: I'm the webmaster for the North American Shortwave Association and a long-time shortwave listener.)

Posted at 11:17 PM
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Sunday, June 8, 2003

Now I just need some really good crackers to go with it

The government is now selling peanut butter. Not any old peanut butter, mind you. This is standard peanut butter (New York Times link, registration required), the reference used to define peanut butter, much like the platinum brick in a vault in France that's used to define the kilogram. And now you can get your own standard reference peanut butter for only $425 for a set of three six ounce jars. Such a bargain! Anyone who ever wanted one of those $800 government screwdrivers should snap this right up. And you'll no doubt be delighted to discover that the government takes Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. What, no PayPal?

Posted at 6:32 PM
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Twenty-five minutes solid accordion music

Charlie Gillett's World of Music program on the BBC World Service focuses on accordion music this week. It's mostly from Europe, thereby missing some of the more interesting traditions from elsewhere, but it's still a lot of fun to listen to. And since the BBC is now archiving even its music programs for a week after they're first broadcast, you can listen too.

Posted at 4:10 PM
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Friday, June 6, 2003

Pub or party online?

There has been quite a ruckus going on at Burningbird and Intertwingly, where Shelley Powers is upset that Sam Ruby has highlighted certain of her words, as posted in the comments section of Sam's blog, and labelled them as "flamebait". Shelley claims this is censorship; Sam claims otherwise.

The situation highlights conflicting views of online community. Shelley's claim that she owns her words, and that nobody has the right to toy with them, has a long and well-established pedigree. More than a decade ago, the forums on the pioneering online community The Well had as a basic rule the very words that Shelley uses: you own your words. This was seen as a double-edged sword. First, only you had the right to alter or delete your words. But second, you had to take responsibility for your words, which in an online community are a proxy for action. Such a policy occasionally led to fierce flamefests, long-lived grudges, etc. But the idea that people were responsible for their words also provided incentive to carefully weigh what one said before one said it.

Sam's reaction is an artefact of the sense of place-ness we ascribe to cyberspace, so well discussed in David Weinberger's book Small Pieces Loosely Joined. With the sense of place comes a sense of property. This site is mine, says the logic of this perspective, and you have no right to dirty my rug or spit on my floor.

So we wind up with two different approaches to community. Shelley's implies that the comments section of a weblog is akin to a pub, where any member of the public can come in and say whatever they want. Sam's would instead liken it to a private party in someone's home.

Typically, weblogs allow anyone to leave comments, although it depends on the tools you use to create them. Blogs created with Userland's Manila, for example, require registration before commenting. Blogs created with Movable Type are pretty much open to all comers. By and large, the convention of allowing anyone to comment seems more common. Given this, it seems to me more appropriate to liken a blog to a pub than to a private party. By leaving the comments mechanism open, the blogmaster invites any and all to join him/her in spirited discussion.

I don't know if Shelley or Sam have considered their argument in this light, but speaking for myself, it makes it easier for me to understand each side's positions. I lean toward agreeing with Shelley that what Sam did is not an unalloyed positive thing, but I find it hard to condemn him given what I conjecture to be his assumptions. However, if he wishes his site to be a private party rather than a night at the pub, he may wish to erect barriers to posting, such as registration, to make it clearer to all that the rules are different.

Posted at 8:49 PM
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Wednesday, June 4, 2003

The British learn to serve their beer cold

I love Newcastle Brown Ale. If it's not my favorite beer in the world, it's definitely in the top two or three. But this just seems like an abomination. Absolutely revolting. (Found via Kottke.)

Posted at 11:44 AM
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Monday, June 2, 2003

FCC consolidation affects Blogistan

In case you're confused about the impact of today's decision by the FCC to unleash the corporate running dogs to snap up the remaining tidbits of the media they haven't yet devoured, radio personality and new media mogul Adam Felber spells out the effects consolidation will have on bloggers and their blogs. Felber could turn out to be the lefty Rupert Murdoch of blogging based on the plans he's spelled out so far. I figure maybe that makes Nick Denton Kerry Packer.

Posted at 9:30 PM
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Whiz, with

The New York Times has a lengthy paean to the wonders of Philadelphia street foods, penned by noted food critic (?!?) R. W. "Johnny" Apple (okay, he's really one of their top political reporters). Apple takes on the question of which of the three giants of cheesesteaks is best and concludes that it's Jim's on South Street. I have to say, I love Jim's; the fact that you can buy Vernors Ginger Ale there to wash down your steak is just the icing on the cake that is their wonderful cheesesteak. But then, I haven't tried Geno's or Pat's yet, and my brother, who spent a few months living in Philadelphia, tells me that I really need to. It's been interesting to see in recent years that it's increasingly possible to get a decent cheesesteak outside of the state of Pennsylvania. Around here, most of them until a few years ago were what I always called Camden Cheesesteaks: close, not quite Philadelphia. But I've found a few places here that know how to make a reasonably good cheesesteak. Heck, depending on who's behind the grill, I can sometimes get a decent one in the cafeteria at work. Still, some times it's necessary to get in the car and drive to Philadelphia to get a taste of the real thing.

I can't say I've tried some of the other foods Apple mentions, like pepper pot soup. I've had my fair share of scrapple, though, during my years in college in deepest Pennsylvania (which is also where I gained my jones for cheesesteaks). I don't have much desire for scrapple nowadays, mind you, but it seemed fine at the time.

Posted at 12:12 AM
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This site is copyright © 2002-2017, Ralph Brandi. (E-mail address removed due to virus proliferation.)

What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio


There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

Sylvester (the Dorito Fiend), who died at Thanksgiving, 2000.


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There Is No Cat is a photo Ralph Brandi joint.


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