There Is No Cat

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Saturday, April 24, 2004


Every so often, I come across something that makes me think that John Kerry might, just might, be something more than just Al Gore without the charisma. Like, for example, the following:

Kerry's 25 minute speech was interrupted briefly by a small group of protesters who put "flip-flop" sandals on their hands and clapped and chanted that Kerry "flop-flops" on issues.

"I'll make a deal with you," Kerry responded. "I'll send people to George Bush's rallies and they can clap their unemployment checks together."

Sending dozens of Rethuglicans to heckle your opponent: several thousand dollars. Seeing them silenced by a devastating put down by your opponent: Priceless. (Via Change for America.)

Posted at 12:48 AM
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Thursday, April 22, 2004

Broadband monsters are going to eat your radios

The North American Shortwave Association has posted a draft of the comments it intends to submit to the FCC regarding the implementation of Broadband over Power Lines. There has been some notice in the blogging community of the concern of amateur radio operators over this, but hams are not the only people who will be affected should this technology be widely deployed. People who listen to international broadcasts via shortwave radio will likely see their ability to do so largely eliminated. There are over a million shortwave radios sold in the U.S. every year. People use these radios to listen to broadcasts from around the world, gaining access to points of view not available on domestic media. Shortwave radio allows expatriates living in the U.S. to listen to news and cultural programs from their homelands. The variety of music available on shortwave to people who want to explore beyond the confines of the pop music charts and whatever albums Wal-Mart carries is staggering. I've been a shortwave listener for more than 25 years, and the ability to listen to radio stations from around the world has enriched my life immensely. Shortwave frequencies have some characteristics that are not duplicated in any other part of the electromagnetic spectrum, in particular, the ability to reflect off the ionosphere surrounding our planet and thereby travel around the world. To treat this rare and unusual chunk of spectrum as if it was a junk yard is short-sighted in the extreme.

The FCC has already proceeded quite far in the process of okaying BPL. They're proposing to institute rules that assign the responsibility for identifying interference from BPL to listeners, rather than insisting, as has always been done in the past, that the producers go out of their way to prevent such interference. This stands the Part 15 rules that govern interference produced by electrical devices on their head. If this precedent stands, I expect Part 15 rules to be weakened elsewhere, resulting in such a mess of interference throughout the spectrum that over-the-air reception of radio signals may become impossible in large swathes. In other words, say goodbye to free TV.

The FCC is requesting comments on their Notice of Proposed Rule Making. NASWA has information on its site about how to submit comments, as does the ARRL, the organization that represents amateur radio operators.

(Full disclosure: I am on the board of directors of the North American Shortwave Association. I serve as its webmaster, and also do the production work for the monthly paper bulletin published by the club. In other words, I'm neck-deep in NASWA. You can't expect me to be unbiased on this.)

Posted at 4:30 AM
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Wednesday, April 21, 2004

My Evil Friend

Whooo hoo! Log lives!

One of my all time favorite bands, Log, from deep in the heart of Ohio, has been quiet for too long. But there's a stirring on the plains. Old 3C, the label run by head Logger Paul Nini, announces that there's a new album, Log Almighty, coming out by mid-June. My good friend Shirley, who plays bass and sings with the band, has told me for quite a while that there was another album in their future, but I was really starting to wonder since it had been so long. I'm delighted to have my doubts assuaged. (So, Shirley, why did I have to find this out from the web and not directly from you? :-)

Posted at 3:40 PM
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Sunday, April 18, 2004

Getting them in a row

This is what I saw in our back yard this morning. This was taken through our office window, and is a crop of a slightly larger photo. By the time I got the camera outside to try and get closer, the ducks were pretty much gone.

Two ducks in a creek

This is why I wanted to get that telephoto lens, and why I wanted to buy this house....

Posted at 10:30 PM
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Two years

Two years ago today, I unveiled There Is No Cat. One year ago today, I wrote up a list of what I considered my best posts in that first year. I was originally thinking I didn't write anything worth reading this past year, but looking through the archives, there are a few things that might be worth revisiting.

The good posts got few and far between as the year progressed. I haven't posted as often, and I haven't posted as well. Life tends to get in the way; I got married and bought a house in the past year. I got a new job, same as the old job. We had major construction done on the house. I got a new camera and started shooting a lot of pictures, perhaps focusing on that more than on writing.

Some times I think I'm burning out on the web after eleven years. So if the gaps get wider in the coming months, I'm just recharging my batteries.

Posted at 12:02 AM
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Thursday, April 15, 2004

Page 23

Found on 2020 Hindsight:

  1. Grab the nearest book.
  2. Open the book to page 23.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

Here goes:

"Look," Rich Armitage responded, "we told the Taliban in no uncertain terms that if this happened, it's their ass.

(Against All Enemies, Richard Clarke. A damning indictment of the Bush administration and their policies to encourage terrorism.)

Posted at 8:46 PM
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Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Our voice is getting weaker

At a time when America's standing in the world is low and getting lower, the American government is cutting back on one of our most effective forms of public diplomacy. The Voice of America, our worldwide broadcaster, has already cut its English-language output from 24 hours a day to 19, and is about to cut it even further, to 14. VoA is one of the most popular radio stations in the world. Its only real competitor for an English language audience is the BBC World Service (okay, this may actually be better phrased that the VoA is BBC's only real competitor, since BBC has a larger audience). The BBC broadcasts around the clock in English. My friend Kim does audience research for the VoA, and he makes the case in this week's Radio World magazine that the U.S. government is making a mistake by cutting back on English. (Good thing George Bush hasn't made a single mistake in the past three years....) In addition to the BBC, other broadcasters who transmit in English 24 hours a day include the Voice of Russia and China Radio International. Deutsche Welle also has a 24 hour a day English language service, but five hours a day of it are only available on satellite and the Internet, not shortwave. If all these other countries feel it's important to reach the world's English-speaking elites, why doesn't the dominant English-speaking country in the world?

Posted at 7:36 PM
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Monday, April 5, 2004

Brewster Kahle does it again

I don't know where I read about this, but this weekend I came across the Live Music Archive. Back when I was young, I was on the periphery of the tape trading underground. One of my brother's classmates was a heavy trader, and he used to let me copy any of his tapes. I wound up with a couple of hundred cassettes of live shows and demos from my favorite bands. I don't see anything by most of those bands in the archive, but some of my more recent favorites are represented. I was delighted, for example, to find two shows by the Ass Ponys in the archive. The Ponys are one of the best live bands I've ever seen, so it's a treat to be able to download audio of some of their shows. Some of the shows are in some oddball formats I never heard of so that they don't lose any sound quality, unlike MP3, so make sure to check out the FAQ. Some of the information there is out of date (MacAmp is no longer available, for example), but by and large it's still useful. I just hope I don't wind up with hundreds of CDs....

Posted at 12:47 AM
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Thursday, April 1, 2004

Another boon for the economy

In these troubled times where so many of our jobs are being sent overseas, it's nice to know that we're all in this together. My friend Rik has started a company, Offshore Executive, devoted to providing leadership for companies at a fraction of the cost of those horrendously expensive CEOs, CFOs, and COOs. As the economy continues to go down the tubes, it only makes sense to recruit leaders with experience of troubled economic situations in places like Argentina. As we see more of the kind of problems with basic utilities like electricity (see California and the entire northeastern U.S.), executives who know how to operated in an environment with unreliable utilities are more and more valuable. And I have to say, it's heartening to see prominent executives like Carly Fiorina and Craig Barrett doing what they say their workers should be doing by putting aside their own personal interests and endorsing the concept of moving their own jobs overseas.

Posted at 7:36 AM
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This site is copyright © 2002-2024, 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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