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  • Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. 9:50 am on 11 October 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Utterly predictable (as evidenced by the fact that I did predict it): three major advertising groups have announced that they will ignore the “Do Not Track” header, because of Microsoft’s decision to enable it by default in IE 10.

    How could anyone have failed to see this coming? Advertisers were perfectly willing to honor DNT as long as it was enabled only by the small population of users who care about tracking cookies. Now (at least among IE 10 users) they’d be restricted to tracking only the even tinier population of users who actually volunteer for tracking cookies.

    Unless Microsoft changes their decision, they will have effectively killed DNT. The only way to revive it would be to legislatively require that it be honored (and I fully expect Steve Gibson to endorse that approach). The result could fundamentally undermine the viability of current online advertising business models, which could put a lot of Web sites out of business — or force them behind paywalls.

    I generally accept the premise that Microsoft is not run by idiots, so I’m baffled by why they would do this, when the consequences were so foreseeable. The only explanation I can think of sounds like a conspiracy theory: perhaps it’s all a ploy to undermine their biggest competitor, Google. Google has a lot more to lose than Microsoft, if advertisers are compelled to respect DNT. Perhaps they know that by forcing the issue, they’ll make legislative action more likely, and by making DNT the default, they’ll be taking money out of Google’s pocket.

    At any rate, I’m just glad I don’t use IE. I like targeted advertising.

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  • Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. 10:35 am on 20 July 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    It’s a great story: two armed men try to rob the customers in an Internet cafe, but a 71-year-old man with a concealed-carry permit opens fire on them, sending them falling over themselves as they flee. I don’t know how anybody who hears a story like this can continue to cling to any notion that legal handguns encourage crime.

    However, I’d be interested in Ben’s assessment of the gunmanship of the customer. The security video is a joy to watch; you see one of the thugs threatening the customers, but as soon as he turns his back, the armed customer sees his chance and acts. But I must admit to a bit of unease when I see how close one of the other customers was to the line of fire as he pursued the criminals toward the door. But I have no training and no ability to judge, nor can I argue with the result.

     
  • Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. 10:31 am on 14 May 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Displaying her political acumen, Governor Perdue recently responded to the Amendment One vote by saying that the outcome makes North Carolina “look like Mississippi.”

    It was a foregone conclusion that the Mississippi governor’s office would object to this implied insult. But I was particularly delighted with the angle chosen by their lieutenant governor:

    “Gov. Perdue should know that her administration has a lot of work to do to make her state’s business climate ‘look like Mississippi,’ he told NBC-17. “We are creating an environment which encourages the private sector to invest capital in Mississippi, and I would invite any North Carolina-based company wanting to move to a lower-taxed, less-regulated state to look at our business-friendly opportunities.”

    Just a reminder that, regardless of your position, so-called “social issues” are a sideshow at the moment.

     
  • Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. 11:13 am on 10 February 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Maybe all is not lost:

    • In Carrboro, a protest group calling itself Carrboro Commune occupied a building that has been sold to CVS, because they wanted it to become a “community center” instead. Par for the course in Carrboro. But then:

      Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton went to the site and asked the trespassers, who had built a table and were carrying in containers of food, to leave peacefully.

      “I make barely above minimum wage. The only thing between me and getting evicted is two months’ rent,” a man who identified himself as Johnny Moran told Chilton. “I’m sick of living in a society like this.”

      When Moran described the police as an army between hungry people and the food in the grocery store, Chilton told him, “You’re full of crap.”

      Protesters being told they’re full of crap — in Carrboro.

    • In Cary, the town government has once again been asked to consider lifting its ban on allowing residents to own chickens. But this time, the request is coming from a councilman who previously supported the ban. He’s changed his mind:

      “It just came down to: Who the heck am I to tell other folks what they can or can’t do if it’s not going to hurt me?” Frantz said.

      Libertarian principles — in Cary.

    Hope and change?

     
  • Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. 11:03 am on 25 August 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    I think I want to read this book profiled by John Stossel. Ben, have you ever heard of this Walter Block guy?

     
    • Hober Short 11:41 am on 26 August 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I’ve not, no, but “Defending the Undefendable” is pretty much the motto of modern pop economics. Looks like an interesting read.

  • Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. 9:39 am on 19 August 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    At a recent event in California, officers from the Santa Rosa police department allowed children to touch and handle unloaded SWAT firearms, to encourage them not to be intimidated by the police.

    But locals are naturally outraged:

    Community organizer Attila Nagy, who took the photos, told FoxNews.com that he was concerned it might encourage kids to use guns in the future.

    “My main concern is for kids who handle these things. They’re fascinated by them, and it makes them familiar with guns,” he said.

    Surely we don’t want our kids to become familiar with guns, or with anything else we personally don’t like; it’s much better to pretend these things don’t exist. And of course nothing could be worse than planting the idea in a child’s head that he or she might actually use a gun in the future. We don’t want our children to grow up to be police officers or soldiers, and we certainly don’t want them trying to defend themselves!

     
  • Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. 10:42 am on 30 June 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    A few years ago, I remember commenting that it was a good thing John Lennon was no longer alive. If he had been, I assumed that he would have been a vocal leader of the Vietnam throwbacks protesting the Iraq war and the Bush administration, standing with Cindy Sheehan and shouting inanities through a bullhorn.

    Now we learn that that assumption might have been wrong. In a new Beatles documentary (directed by politically conservative musician Seth Swirsky), Lennon’s former personal assistant claims that late in his life Lennon had become a conservative, a supporter of Ronald Reagan, and embarrassed by the radicalism of his earlier years.

    I’m not really sure how much stock to put in this report. Fred Seaman is a controversial figure in Beatles fandom; among other things, he was accused by Yoko Ono of stealing some of Lennon’s papers and photos after Lennon died. And even Seaman admits that perhaps Lennon was just being intentionally provocative. On the other hand, when I consider the man Lennon seemed to be at the end of his life, it doesn’t strike me as ridiculous.

    There’s an often-repeated (though bogus) quote that says if you’re not a liberal when you’re young, you have no heart, and if you’re not a conservative when you’re older, you have no brain. John Lennon was a smart guy, and it’s not hard for me to believe that by 1980 (by which time he had been retired from music for five years, and was instead a stay-at-home dad) he had reevaluated things a bit. Certainly he had become thoroughly domesticated, and his final musical work (songs like “Beautiful Boy” and “Watching the Wheels”) revel in the joys of ordinary life, something we’d never really heard from him before.

    Although Lennon died too young, I’ve always taken some comfort from the fact that he had at least attained a degree of contentment and personal equilibrium that had eluded him his whole life. So I must admit that it’s also gratifying to imagine him looking back at his earlier self and cringing a bit (something I can identify with). In short, he grew up.

     
  • Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. 10:22 am on 15 June 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Thanks to Ben, I’m more aware than I used to be of dodgy statistics in news articles. Yesterday’s WRAL story about the local job market struck me as rather egregious:

    While 15 percent of companies say they plan to add workers, another 13 percent anticipate cutting staff, Manpower reported. That net 2 percent of additional hiring makes Raleigh-Cary one of the weakest job markets in the new survey, Manpower said.

    We’re told how many employers are planning to add workers and how many are planning to cut workers, but without knowing how many are being added and cut, it’s impossible to know whether there’s a net gain or a net loss. What if one of the 15 percent is adding 10,000 jobs? What the reporter means by a “net 2 percent of additional hiring” is anyone’s guess.

    It may be that the actual Manpower study says something meaningful, and maybe it is bad news for the local job market. But I think WRAL would have been better off simply reporting Manpower’s conclusions, rather than presenting the misleading illusion of math.

     
    • Hober Short 10:42 am on 15 June 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Yeah, reading the study, it sounds like Manpower came up with a figure for each area that was the percent of companies planning to hire vs the percent planning to fire. Then they ranked areas based on that statistic like it meant anything whatsoever.

  • Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. 1:49 pm on 13 May 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    The New York Times (of all places) has an article about Brad Paisley’s new album, This Is Country Music, and more generally, Paisley’s answer to the question “what is country music?”:

    The latest philosopher to tackle the problem is Brad Paisley, one of modern Nashville’s biggest stars, and greatest talents. In “This Is Country Music,” the title track from Mr. Paisley’s forthcoming ninth studio album, he offers a theory: country is what other pop music isn’t. It’s down-to-earth, not trendy; it prizes realism over artifice; it’s steeped in traditional values — old-time religion, the old folks at home, Old Glory.

    I think that’s basically right, and the article goes on to cite several past Paisley songs that defied country stereotypes — including the song that made me a Paisley fan, “Welcome To The Future.”

    But then there’s this:

    What is absent from “This Is Country Music” is a big risk, like the one Mr. Paisley took with “Welcome to the Future,” the arena rock-style anthem that celebrated Barack Obama’s election. (Mr. Paisley performed the song at the White House in July 2009, one week after its release as a single.) Before “Welcome to the Future,” Mr. Paisley had had 10 straight No. 1 country hits, a record that stretched back four years. But the song stalled at No. 2, snapping Mr. Paisley’s streak. That may have been coincidence, but it’s clear that some of Mr. Paisley’s fans were turned off by a song that saluted the nation’s first black president — and, perhaps worse, a Democrat.

    Um … huh? I guess they’re referring to the third verse:

    I had a friend in school
    Running back on the football team
    They burned a cross in his front yard
    For asking out the homecoming queen

    I thought about him today
    And everybody who’s seen what he’s seen
    From a woman on a bus
    To a man with a dream

    Sure, it’s likely enough that the verse was vaguely inspired by wonder at how far we’ve come, that we live in a time where a black man can be elected president. But in what conceivable sense does the song “salute” Obama, or even really “celebrate his election”?

    In the very next paragraph, the article quotes Paisley as saying “I knew that the song would be misunderstood.” Oh, the irony.

     
    • penaltykillah 8:41 am on 23 May 2011 Permalink | Reply

      It may be a coincidence that WTTF stalled at #2, but what’s arguably not a coincidence? The New York Times calling WTTF “an anthem that celebrated Barack Obama’s election”.

      I liked the “Oh, the irony” btw. If it was me, however, I would end this blog post with this: “Touché.”

  • Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. 10:40 am on 13 May 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    I recall a conversation we had a while back where I was speculating about the possibility that Kindle books could be updated with corrections or revisions after purchase. I didn’t know whether Amazon ever did such a thing, but I knew of at least one example where it was needed: the Kindle version of The Lord Of The Rings, which I bought a few years ago, has some annoying textual glitches (presumably artifacts of file conversion).

    I was surprised and delighted today to find a note from Amazon in my inbox:

    We’re writing about your past Kindle purchase of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. The version you received had missing content and typos that have been corrected.

    An updated version of The Lord of the Rings (ASIN:B0026REBFK) is now available. It’s important to note that when we send you the updated version, you will no longer be able to view any highlights, bookmarks, and notes made in your current version and your furthest reading location will be lost.

    The note goes on to provide instructions on how to receive the update, which it promises I’ll receive within two hours.

    My print edition of LotR, which I bought in 1995, is still on the shelf, and as far as I can tell it still contains all the errors it was printed with. E-books win again.

     
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