Thursday, 26 June 2008

Meta

The adventure of the disappearing pajamas

Pajamas Media “disappears” a story?

Two days ago, I followed a link at Instapundit:
detail from Instapundit screenshot

The link (in burgundy in the screenshot), points to:
http://pajamasmedia.com/rogerkimball/2008/06/23/encounter-bids-the-new-york-times-farewell/

...a Pajamas Media opinion piece by Encounter Books publisher Roger Kimball.  In it, Kimball announced that his company had decided to stop providing review copies of its new publications to The New York Times, and gave his reasons.  First (if I recall correctly) because of the Times’s penchant for giving unfairly unfavorable[1] reviews to anything contaminated with the least taint of conservatism.  Second, because the explosion of alternate channels of publicity (along with the Times’s decline) means that a Times review today is no longer as valuable for attracting readers as used to be.  In the comments, one of Encounter’s authors chimed in, and in passing (but, I’m sure, fully intentionally), mentioned two of his own books.  Both titles piqued my interest, but at that point I was interrupted, and had to close the page.  However I did make a mental note to get back to it later, so I could add them to my want list.

That was two days ago.

This evening, my mental note percolated to the surface.  So, back to Instapundit, scroll down to the link, click on it, and get... the Pajamas Media home page.  Well, things like that can happen. Sometimes “permalinks,” well, aren’t.[2]  Perhaps Glenn got the wrong one.  Scan the page... Hmm... don’t see anything that looks like the article I read.  Gee, it was only a couple of days ago- surely it can’t have scrolled off already!  Let’s try the browser’s search:  Find "Kimball".

PJM home page screenshot (partial)K-Meleon finds one "Kimball" on the home page.  This one:
Encounter at 10: The Power of Ideas [video]
Encounter Books authors Victor Davis Hanson and Andrew McCarthy and publisher Roger Kimball discuss the perils of conservative publishing with PJM's Roger L. Simon.  The publishing house today announced a new policy vis-a-vis the New York Times.
Which is a video, not the piece I read.  But look, the words “New York Times” in the last sentence are a link, a link which points to the same address as the Instapundit link, an address that no longer works.

One last try.  Poke "Roger Kimball" into the PJM searchbox.  The results: The video above, and several other items dating from April 19th or before.  But “Encounter Bids the New York Times Farewell,” which was posted on June 23rd– and which I read– appears to have vanished.

Perhaps there were some second thoughts.  Could be that, on reflection, the time for burning bridges with the Times hasn‘t come yet.  That dying tiger can still do a lot of damage, especially if your business is as dominated by liberals and leftists as the book trade.  Or perhaps some of Encounter’s other authors were heard from, authors surprised and dismayed by an announcement that came from out of the blue, without warning.

Maybe the article should have been more politic.  Better if there’d been more nuance.  Perhaps better if it hadn’t appeared at all.

Well, Kimball and Pajamas can do whatever they want.  But it seems to me that making articles disappear ranks right up there with the frequently-condemned (e.g., over 600 results for the BBC) “stealth edits” practiced on the web by the legacy media.  The malleability of the internet is a strength, but also a weakness: With dead trees, whether it’s an intemperate screed or a “Dewey Defeats Truman” howler, once it’s published it can’t be taken back.

If we who write on the web are to maintain our integrity, then, along with our prides and triumphs, our embarrassments and errors must remain visible.  It may be uncomfortable, but it’s honest.

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[1] unfairly unfavorable (my term)- characterized by ad-hominem bashing, emotional appeals, and arguing off the point; as opposed to fairly unfavorable, being unfavorable while remaining intellectually honest in the process.

[2] For example, some “permalinks”actually point to the most recent of a series of posts.  Often this variant is not obvious.

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Tuesday, 24 June 2008

In Passing

One way to make money on DTV converters


From a thread at Consumerist:

They tried this dual deal on me, I passed and decided not to buy, asked them to cancel the transaction.  The next day went to BestBuy only to find Circuit City had claimed the $40 from the Gov card.  Went I went back to the Circuit City, the “manager” said if I didn’t calm down he'd call the cops, then asked me to leave the store.  I said no, go ahead and make the call.  I wasn’t yelling or raving but I was upset.  I’ll never do business at a CC again.  This has to be a corporate initiative of some sort because two other folks I know in this town were treated the same way. - “cybrbkr” at 11:12 PM on 06/22/08
Appears that when you redeem one of those HDTV converter “coupons,” Circuit City presents you with what looks like a charge card slip that reads “The cardholder agrees to the credit card amount shown hereon and agrees to perform the obligations set forth in the cardholders [sic] agreement with the issuer.” (Except it isn’t a credit card, it’s a “coupon.”  That’s what the government calls it.)

So customers wonder why they’re required to sign two charge slips, get suspicious, and cancel the transaction. And Circuit City conveniently “forgets” to reverse the coupon redemption.  And if someone starts asking questions, they threaten to call the cops.

Excellent business model: Get $40, deliver nothing!

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Rants

Taking your liberties, one step at a time


Now it’s California.  (No surprise there, and it took only eight days.)

At this rate, by the time “thuh CHILL-DRUN” are grown up, there won’t be any freedom left for them.

Previously.

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Linkage

Excuse me, but didn’t you used to be...?


“I'm sorry, you can’t transition from Raggedy Ann to Kim Possible with no intervening steps.”

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Linkage

Keeping, bearing, and trusting


“Russ from Winterset” has an excellent essay on original intent and the Second Amendment over at Ace. Money quote:

...confronted with the opportunity to differentiate between different classes of weapons, the framers of the Constitution refused to play that game.  They put an unambiguous right into our Founding Document, and placed themselves at risk to citizens who might rise up to confront their possible future tyranny.  That, my friends, is putting a whole SHITLOAD of faith in the average, everyday American.
Read the whole thing.

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Rants

Net neutrality again- another abuse, is it *finally* time?

Here we go again! Somebody called Nebu-Ad, with the connivance of some ISPs, has been caught modifying web pages:

“There was an extra 133 bytes of JavaScript code being added to web pages being sent...”

That bit of JavaScript code... instructed the browser to load additional script from the domain a.faireagle.com. (
FairEagle is a subsidiary of NebuAd...)
...while forging network packets from third-party sites...
“...even though it wasn't coming from Google, it was identified as being from www.google.com.”

I’m sure all you hackers out there immediately understood the humorous possibilities of hijacking the Nebu-Ad system. Start by using it to inject evil child pr0n onto random web pages, then stand back and watch the fun while the affected site owners (think NewYorkTimes.com, or Whitehouse.gov) try to explain all those embarrassing screen captures to the FBI. If that’s too noisy for you, there’s minor amusement to be had in touching off an IRS investigation of some innocent not-for-profit organization by loading its web pages with a bunch of commercial advertising. And just imagine creating some “extra” web ads for your “favorite” candidate, then tipping off the FEC. Why, the possibilities are endless!

Fun is fun, but enough is enough.  We already know that about 1 percent of web pages are being changed in transit.  There’s already a scandal underway in the U.K. revolving around secret tests (conducted by BT Internet) of a Nebu-Ad-like system that substituted ads while it silently tracked user behaviour.  Before that, Comcast got caught traffic-shaping-by-forging-reset-packets.  And then there are Verizon Communications’ senior vice president and deputy general counsel John Thorne and AT&T’s CEO Ed Whitacre, both of whom have been making “Nice packets ya got there... too bad if something might happen to them” noises in the direction of Google and Yahoo![1]  What’s become obvious is that ISPs can no longer be trusted to simply “deliver the bits.”

Aside from the problem of responsibility– how can a site owner be liable for something on a web page when what the viewer sees is different from what the server sent out?– and the possibility of massive copyright violation– does a modified page consititute a “derivative work”?– there’s also the likelihood of massive breakdown of the web’s advertising model. If ISPs substitute or inject ads willy-nilly, how can a site owner know that his ads are being seen?

The issue of advertising– who gets paid– may not be as vital to the web purists as the others, but because it involves massive amounts of money it will most likely determine the direction of any solution.  Site owners, not interlopers, need the proceeds of any clicks on their pages.  Advertisers require reliable site traffic stats when making their buys.  Both fail when ads are silently replaced somewhere downstream.  And nobody wants to be blamed for something they didn’t have anything to do with.

Look for the pressure to come from the advertisers.  Says Google spokesman Michael Kirkland, “We’re obviously aware of this issue and are looking into it.” Here’s hoping they decide to stop looking and start spreading some money in the direction of the boodlers in Congress and the FCC.

Meanwhile, we can all help things along by adding adjuggler.nebuad.com and a.faireagle.com to our HOSTS files.

Elsewhere:
Complete story at The Register
Download Robb Topolski’s report here [PDF]


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[1] Though they poor-mouth their networks’ ability to handle high-bandwidth applications, there seems to be plenty of capacity to monitor their customers’ data for the RIAA and the MPAA.

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Monday, 23 June 2008

Meta

Reporting from the corner of Westfield and Westfield


Indy blog meet:  Good time was had by all, will hopefully have more to follow, as soon as I wake up.[1]

Meanwhile, I’m updating the “Bloggers I’ve Met” section on the sidebar.  A great crowd.

Reports have already been posted by:

James Rummel
Mark Alger (with picture!)
Roberta X[2] (with promise of more to come)

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[1] I’m presently attempting to integrate a New Cat into the O.G. household.  The New Cat is a real love who should fit in just fine, but so far the Current Cat is refusing to give her a chance... won’t even come out from under the bed.  This has led to Much Growling and consequential Loss of Sleep.

[2] ...who mentions a certain “Riparian intersection” in a footnote.  Yep, it’s true:  The corner of Westfield Boulevard and Westfield Boulevard.  (Almost like Greenwich Village, where West 4th Street intersects West 12th Street.)  There’s a picture below the break...
more...

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Friday, 20 June 2008

In Passing

“Do public schools no longer teach critical thinking skills?”


The Anchoress reads the comments to a Washington Post piece and wonders.

Meanwhile, the president of the American Federation of Teachers writes a letter to The Wall Street Journal:

The idea that we could build 25% more bridges and roads by scrapping Davis-Bacon is ludicrous, especially in light of the spectacular example of the $2.4 billion Wilson Bridge renovation project in the Washington, D.C., area, which came in on time, on budget, and paid the workers prevailing wages.[1]





Doesn’t appear they know much about logic, either.




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[1] Wall Street Journal: June 19, 2008: Letters To the Editor: “Davis-Bacon Helps Workers, Society With Higher Wages” by Edward J. McElroy

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Thursday, 19 June 2008

Meta

Reminder - Indy blog meet


Coming up this weekend:

Date: Sunday, June 22
Time: 3:00 pm
Place: Broad Ripple Brew Pub, 842 East 65th Street
Readers/lurkers welcome, too.

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In Passing

HDTV converter picture fuzzy


The government’s program to subsidize purchase of HDTV converter boxes for consumers with standard-definition analog televisions has been a less-than-stellar success so far, according to testimony given to the House Energy and Commerce Committee's “Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet” on June 10th.

While the National Telecommunications and Information Administration reported[1] that more than 16 million coupons– each worth $40, expiring after 90 days– have been issued to over 8½ million households, so far the actual redemption rate is below 50%[7]:

As of June 3rd, 839,966 coupons have reached the end of their 90-day life cycle. Of these, 350,419, or 41.7 percent, have been redeemed.
There’s presently no provision for expired coupons to be renewed/replaced, and no one address can receive more than 2 coupons. So the question is:  Why did over half the people who went to the trouble to apply for coupons, and will (presumably) have no television reception after February 2009, wind up not using them.  While some non-redemptions may reflect upselling by retailers (who are beginning to offer less-expensive sets that receive HDTV, although they display it in less-than-full-definition[2], others may reflect my experience.

more...

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