Thursday, November 29, 2007

Alameda Shoutout

I really like this game, and I like it even more because ALAMEDA is a word on it.

Feed some people.

Spam Prevention

I had never seen this method of spam prevention before.

Generally the site prompts you to enter in the characters that are distorted in a picture file (the bots can't identify what the picture is of even though it's a picture of text). I've never liked these because it's often very difficult to tell the difference between a zero and an oh and so forth. Sometimes they're even case-sensitive and that creates a hash of problems with V's, X's, and other letters for which the only difference between upper and lower case is size...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Monday, November 26, 2007

California's DMV is Hip

California's Department of Motor Vehicles has a YouTube account and a Myspace profile to educate drivers of all ages about traffic safety.

I think that this is smart.

Thanksgiving Recap

I spent a wonderful and relaxing Thanksgiving up in Redding California.

I tried to go for a run after resting for a week only to discover that my foot still hurt. Diagnosis: stress fracture.

So 6-8 weeks of biking and swimming are in my future.

I got a membership to the Embarcadero YMCA which is an amazing facility. For $49 a month (and a $25 registration fee) I get access for 16 hours a day to a gorgeous facility with all of the usual weights and cardiovascular equipment and a 25m swimming pool. It even has a beautiful - if a little oily - view of the Bay.

I biked for an hour this morning (30 miles) and got in a quick lift before heading to work.

A blog post of mine is on my work's website and can be found here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Potential Australian Prime Minister's Chances at Winning - Do They Wane or...Wax?

(Watch the gentleman to the left of the speaker)

I honestly don't think that this will harm Kevin Rudd's chance of becoming Prime Minister. If anything, it humanizes him in such a way that will endear him to the Australian people. Bear in mind that I know nothing of Australian politics or - more importantly - Australian voters, but in that eating things that one has picked out or off of one's body is universal, so too are certain sentiments held by voters.

Therein lies the dualistic hypocrisy of the political process.

People always lament how they want our elected officials to be "a regular gal/guy." Then when that gal or guy does something wrong - regardless of how benign or unrelated to their professional duties - they are judged against a higher standard than any regular person would be. The reason for such a dualistic application of 'justice?' They're the ___________ (insert their official title here)!"

Meaning that of course they should be held to a higher standard.

There are a few reasons why this might be reasonable.

I read a book in college - and I'll try to find it and post the title and author - in which the author argued that elected officials should be held accountable for indiscretions that are unrelated to their official duties for a couple of reasons. First is that in so far as an office is imbued with any symbolic importance - as is certainly the case with the Presidency but to a lesser extent other offices as well - any actions taken by the person in that office reflect upon the office's symbolism.

The phrase, "The Presidency is bigger than any one man" (which is a hackneyed phrase whose knees might be replaced if Hillary wins next year) highlights the validity of holding the President to a higher standard. For example, if the President is an alcohol-abusing-coke-head, that reflects poorly upon the office. Furthermore, because the President is the national figurehead, such behavior also reflects poorly upon everyone in the country - whether they voted for him or not.

Engaging in illegal or embarrassing acts also makes elected officials susceptible to being blackmailed. This is a more logically compelling reason.

There was a third reason but I've forgotten it.

Anyways, like I said originally, I don't think that this is going to harm Rudd's chances of being elected.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Quantum Suicide

Pretty cool stuff.

Walking to Work

Pretty interesting blog.

I might write more when I've had some time to read it.

Right now I've got to check some RSS feeds.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Canadian Supreme Court Rules Against Granting Asylum to American Deserters

I think that the Canadian Supreme Court is right to rule against providing asylum to deserting American soldiers. Although I almost certainly would have dodged the draft by traveling to Canada if I had been of age at the time, there has been no draft for the Iraq conflict/occupation.

There hasn't been a draft since 1973.

I realize that socioeconomic factors prevent the United States armed forces from being totally voluntary. I realize that because of this, underprivileged minority groups make up more of our armed forces than their proportion of the population would suggest.

That having been said, the thousands of soldiers that are deserting to Canada at one point made the decision to become soldiers. They may have made that decision long before any of the current miring conflicts in the Middle East had even been considered, but they still made it. In many cases, through ROTC scholarships and other imbursement programs, these soldiers have been provided tens of thousands of dollars for tuition in exchange for their service.

Even discounting the advance payment of soldiers in the form of scholarships and tuition reimbursement, soldiers are paid for their service. Although warfare certainly a more serious instance, it can be likened to any other professional refusing to do their job. Although I've never enlisted or undergone basic training, I would imagine that it is made explicitly clear that as American soldiers, they will be expected to deploy wherever the commander in chief chooses.

The third of the three primary areas of responsibility as outlined in 10 U.S.C. § 5063, originally introduced under the National Security Act of 1947 is that the marine corps is responsible for "Such other duties as the President may direct."

Furthermore, the oath of enlistment sworn by soldiers in all branches of the armed forces is:

"I, (state your name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. (So help me God)."

(Note that the last sentence is not required to be said if the speaker has a personal or moral objection, as is true of all oaths administered by the United States government)

At least with the case of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, he remained at his post and refused to be deployed rather than deserting. Lt. Watada made the argument that it was his duty to oppose the war. Whether or not you agree with his reasoning, he is fulfilling what he sees as his duty as a soldier.

Soldiers that desert can make no such claim.

For a more full discussion of this topic, take a look at the thread on TalkLeft

Thursday, November 15, 2007

"Late Night" with Reed

Normally at this time on a weeknight, I'd be asleep. Lame, I know, but I run every morning at 6, so I try to go to bed at around 10:00 p.m.

This morning I didn't run because I think I'm developing or have developed a stress fracture in my right foot. The top of my foot hurts considerably when I run or walk. My plan is to take a few days off and see if it gets better. If not, I'll go to the doctor and take some time off from running and just swim.

But back to why I'm up so late.

It's not that I'm not tired. I'm exhausted. I'd like to go to sleep. I can't.

I have a pie in the oven.

It's a pumpkin pie that I'm baking for an office pie-baking competition being held tomorrow. This is actually the second pie I've baked tonight but I was afraid that I'd ruined the first one so I started making the second before the first was done baking. I didn't realize that the "easy-bake" pie filling that I'd bought already had water mixed into it so I added more milk than was needed. As a result, the pie filling was the consistency of soup rather than of custard.

As it turns out, it turned out. The first pie was delicious. Oh well, I guess that means my coworkers get one pie and I get the other!

Anyways, I know that the following quote has already been thrown around the blogosphere more than a few times today, but I thought I'd add my two cents:

"The fact is that (Moulitsas is) not a journalist in terms of someone who knows how to do reporting, someone who reflects balance in what he portrays. To the contrary, he engages in the kind of hyperbole and extreme statements that are represented by that crass and I think offensive statement that he made about those dead people. But you know what? I think that’s just what’s going on in journalism. I think that there’s more and more opinion, less and less people who know how to do the job. All you gotta do is shout, say something on the blog that offends and attacks the other side and suddenly you have the credentials and you’re said to be a journalist. I think it’s a great lie.”

- "Liberal" FOX news commentator Juan Williams

I got it from Talk Left ( It was linked there from (

All I want to say is that even if that's what blogs do - which is an enormous concession - shouting something on a blog, even if that something offends and attacks the other side, allows the other side to respond. There is reciprocity. I don't know whether or not it makes you a journalist, but what is a rose by any other name? Would the discussion be not as enlightening? Would the issues raised be not worthy of consideration? And would each side not gain insight into the other?

I don't think it matters if you call the person a journalist, blogger, or something in between. All that matters is the advancement of the public discourse.

Blogging is a conversation and - in my opinion - is the most effective way to achieve that level of discourse. Although I have enormous respect for most of the journalistic community (and hope perhaps one day to join it) journalism isn't necessarily a conversation. Most journalists are far harder to reach than most bloggers and thus it is more difficult to have a conversation with them.

That doesn't mean that both journalists and bloggers, even if they merely "offend and attack" the other side, can't start the conversation. Even if they don't themselves listen to the responses, others will. And so we can stand on the shoulders of giants (or perhaps of giant assholes).

Irony, Thy Name is AdWords...

Yesterday after work I was messing around with the various customizable features offered by Google Blogger. It is that experimentation you have to thank for the link to my YouTube videos, my bio, and some news feeds to the right of the blog. On a whim, I signed up to host some "highly targeted ads" powered by Google's AdSense - lauded to be the best thing to happen to advertising since the Budweiser frogs.

Receiving notification this morning that my page had been approved to host ads, I scrolled to the bottom to find this carefully targeted, highly topical advertisement.

Well played, Google, well played. Although unless Marion Jones is checking the blogosphere on articles about herself, I don't expect many click throughs...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Doping in Sport Article in the New York Times (Part 3)

My response to Susan Wessling:

Dear Susan,

Thank you very much for your prompt reply.

I am aware that Professor Wailoo's essay referred to a cloud being cast over Sir Bannister's achievement. Indeed, given that the four-minute barrier for the mile was believed by many to be beyond the ability of mortal man to break, it is not surprising that some people believed that Sir Bannister could not have accomplished the task without the aid of enhancements. As you point out that Professor Wailoo's essay states, the cloud dissipated quickly. I do not disagree with that fact - or with the fact that such a cloud existed. My contention is - and was in my original letter - that while such doubts may have been raised regarding the accomplishments of both Sir Bannister and Marion Jones, those were recently proven in the case of the latter. Sir Bannister was quickly exonerated a half-century ago while Marion Jones is currently being forced to relinquish her ill-got Olympic medals. It is the case of Marion Jones to which I was referring when I made reference to "obliterating the sun" in my original letter.

As I am certain you are aware, one of the dangers of attempting to make comparisons between two potentially similar instances is that characteristics and elements of one story will doubtlessly be applied to the other, even if they are factually outside the realm of similarity. While both athletes' careers may have been clouded, Marion Jones was proven to have used performance-enhancing drugs, disgracing herself, her sport, and her country. Sir Roger Bannister, on the other hand, went onto a "distinguished medical career" and continues to be a champion of the importance of athletics and a role model to athletes around the world. Their pictures should not have appeared together beneath that caption.

While it is refreshing that you "credit readers with enough sense to understand that if they look at only a few parts of a package -- if they don't translate the shorthand by reading the article itself -- they're getting only part of the story," I believe that you are forcing them to shoulder what is ultimately the responsibility of the New York Times - to construe the facts of a story clearly, impartially and without insinuation. By emphasizing the specious similarity between Marion Jones and Sir Roger Bannister in spite of enormous incongruity between their stories, I do not think that you fulfilled your journalistic responsibility. Forcing your subscribers to carefully read the article in order to dispel the false parallels suggested by the accompanying pictures and captions - carefully selected by the New York Times - is an open invitation to misinterpretation and the spread of misinformation.



I'll continue to update as the correspondence progresses.

I've also forwarded these letters to Professor Keith Wailoo, the author of the essay and a professor of history and public health at Rutgers.

Doping in Sport Article in the New York Times (Part 2)

The New York Times' Reply:

Dear Mr Sanchez,

Thank you for writing. How to accurately and fairly illustrate an article is something we consider every day. We are certainly aware that a newspaper page can be read as a form of shorthand -- a headline with few words, a small selection of photos, a caption that has little room for detail. Our goal is balance among all those elements, but we also credit readers with enough sense to understand that if they look at only a few parts of a package -- if they don't translate the shorthand by reading the article itself -- they're getting only part of the story.

In this case, we are comfortable with the balance of elements. In a story comparing past and present, combining similar historical and current photos is a natural choice. And as much as we can, we depict people who appear in the article, so that the caption and the story can work together to tell the full story.

And Mr. Wailoo does, in fact, refer specifically to accusations against Roger Bannister, not just later runners who broke the 4-minute mile: "The cloud over Bannister's achievement dissipated quickly; he brushed aside the charges as ridiculous and went to a distinguished medical career. In 1959, the A.M.A. study concluded that there was little evidence to the specific allegations." So a caption that mentions a cloud over Bannister's feat is both reasonable and accurate. And as you can see, Mr. Wailoo was quite careful to finish the tale -- to make it clear that, as you say, a cloud did not obliterate the sun.

Susan Wessling
Assistant to the Editor, Science
The New York Times

Doping in Sport Article in the New York Times

I was reading an article about a client in the New York Times. In case you were curious, the company's name is Daptiv and the article can be found here: (

After I read Stuart Elliott's article on Daptiv's rebranding, I noticed an article titled "Old Story, Updated: Better Living Through Pills." (

This normally wouldn't have grabbed my attention, but beneath this headline were pictures of Sir Roger Bannister (the first human to run a mile in less than four minutes) and Marion Jones (who recently tested positive and then confessed to years of doping and is being forced to return her ill-got Olympic medals. All five of them!).

Needless to say, I was shocked.

Rather than recapitulate my feelings here, I'll simply post the email I sent to the New York Times.

My Letter:

New York Times Editor,

As an avid runner and former collegiate track and field athlete who ran the 1500-meter race (the metric mile) I was shocked and upset to see a picture of Sir Roger Bannister prominently displayed beneath a headline regarding athletic drug use. Thinking that there may be substance to the story, I immediately opened and read the article to find that it did not claim that Sir Bannister doped. Nor did the article suggest that Sir Bannister was suspected of doping. Rather, Professor Wailoo's article cites the slew of runners who broke the four-minute mile barrier in the three years AFTER Bannister's monumental achievement as evidence of potential doping.

I do not believe that Professor Wailoo's article was meant to suggest that Sir Roger Bannister made use of performance enhancing drugs. I believe that the New York Times' presentation of the article misrepresented both doctors.

First, by placing that picture of Sir Bannister - one of the most famous in track and field history - next to the story's headline and above the picture of a proven doper, the New York Times effectively imbued the article with the message that Sir Roger Bannister used performance enhancing drugs - something for which there is no proof. A subscriber who neglects to fully read the article will simply assume that Sir Bannister doped.

The second and far more vociferous method by which the New York Times skewed the subject was by the photo's caption, "Drug questions clouded the feats of Roger Bannister in 1954 and Marion Jones in 2000." Beyond the fact that Wailoo's article makes no such claim, there is no evidence that Sir Bannister doped. Even allowing for the flexible nature of the verb "clouded" there is an enormous difference between casting a cloud and obliterating the sun. Evidence has proven that Marion Jones is a dirty athlete. No such evidence tarnishes Sir Bannister's athletic accomplishments and the New York Times should not use misleadingly placed photographs and overstating captions in an attempt to do so.


3:56.44 Personal Best time for 1500 meters. Drug free.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Groovy CDs

A musical mullet, of sorts. Old school on top, new school in the rear. Will CD/LP Hybrids save the compact disc?

Pretty cool, huh?

When the first CDs rolled off an assembly line on August 17, 1982 with a copy of Richard Strauss' Alpine Symphony, most people thought that it knelled the death of the eight-track, LP, and pretty much every form of music that had preceeded it. The obvious caveat to this death is - of course - live didgeridoo performances. Man, you haven't lived until you've heard a tribe of Australian Aborigines go to town on their didgeridoos.

But I digress.

At first sniff, they were right (the people who thought that the CD knelled death, not the Australian Aborigines). The success of the first static CD players in the fall of 1982 was augmented by the launch of Sony's first Discman two years later. By 1986, sales of CD players eclipsed those of record players, and two years later, CD sales outpaced record sales.

But the CD was not perfect in spite of its astronomical rise. Just as the CD had kicked the LP's metaphorical teeth in, so too were the CD's seemingly superhuman, teeth kicked in by the kryptonite-toed boot of the internet in the form of P2P filesharing programs.

Beseiged by Napster and subsequent companies like Kazaa, Limewire, iMesh, Morpheus, and BearShare, sales of CDs peaked in 2001 at 712 million, around the time that peer-to-peer file sharing services became widely popular. Within five years, sales dropped nearly a quarter.

You'd think that would be it. As Ramirez from Highlander said, "there can only be one." It is assumed that once a form of media has asserted itself as the alpha dog, the other dogs will no longer be used to play music. For instance, you don't see many people nostalgically holding onto their eight-track players. So you'd think it'd be the same thing with the even more archaic record players, right?


To quote a master who has straddled the divide between the LP and CD worlds, "Don't call it a comeback, I've been here for years."

That having been acknowledged, LPs are making a comeback for a number of interesting reasons.

1 - You can't mix/scratch with CDs without some really nifty and even more expensive equipment and software.

2 - LPs actually sound better. For an extremely technical explanation of how this is true, see this link ( but let me offer at least part of the answer. The tonal range in the music on most CDs is compressed so that it can be played loudly without sounding distorted. This is great if you want to keep your neighbors awake all night, but in terms of a complete aural experience, CDs fall short.

To come back to the article that inspired this post (as well as to the question raised in this post's title) I think that the CD will be around for at least a few more years. More car stereos are equipped with CD players than jacks that allow people to plug in their mp3 player. Also, the short-term focus of the average consumer will opt to continue to buy CDs for their existing home audio system at the cost of $10 or $20 a pop rather than investing hundreds of dollars in a system capable of playing the music they get online.

Still, the CD/LP hybrid is a cool idea and I would definitely buy one from any of my favorite artists if it meant the ability to listen to a "hidden track." And remember, because you can play them forwards and backwards, that means that there's twice the hidden goodness in every disc!

Now, if I can just find a record player...

Where's the nearest antique store?