Monday, June 29, 2009

Elton John to Perform at Michael Jackson Funeral:
Will Re-work "Candle in the Wind" Yet Again

Candle in the Wind 2009
Goodbye Michael J.
Everybody knew all too well
How you molested little boys
And now you'll burn in hell.
You grew up near Chicago
And you daddy whipped your behind
He handed you a microphone
And he made you sing your lines.
And it seems to me you lived you life
Like a pop star in decline
Still struggling for a melody
And some words to rhyme
I'm glad I didn't know you
When I was a little kid
Your legend burned out long before
Your lifetime ever did.

Full blog post...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Raptor on the Road

The power was out for an hour or so after today's refreshing thunderstorm, so we were out on the front porch for a while and noticed this guy across the street on a neighbor's porch, trash can, and eventually up in a tree. It was hard to get a decent photo, but these are the best:

Raptor on the Road

Raptor on the Road

Raptor on the Road

Raptor on the Road

We've seen various "raptors" in Audubon Park - which isn't unusual - and that's apparently just a loose catch-all term for a wide variety of hunter birds, including falcons, eagles, hawks and condors. We have a big bird book some friends gave us when we were feedings some Monk Parakeets in the backyard, and the closest I could figure was that this was a Cooper's Hawk or something similar. That's one of several types of birds apparently commonly called a chickenhawk, which is what our neighbor said he used to call these when saw then as a kid. One of the others, the Sharp-Shinned Hawk is also sometimes called a chickenhawk, and the WikiP picture of it looks more like the pictures of what we saw.

Full blog post...

Michael Jackson Dies and Twitter Fries

I was almost willing to concede that Twitter was a useful new type of communication/news tool during the post-Iran election protests, counter-protests, and government crackdown over there, but just almost: everything still seemed to be second-hand - reports of what CCN, MSNBC, and other cable news networks were showing, and links to different news website. But Michael Jackson's death yesterday seemed to show all the shortcomings of Twitter - nothing new was to be found through Twitter but everyone seemed to want to use it to say nothing new.

I made a few screen captures. This first one is from 5:53pm Central Standard Time.

Michael Jackson Dies and Twitter Fries

It was taking a long time for any search to run, and when I searched the provided "trending topic" nothing was found. I'm not sure how twitter generates the "trending topics", but I figure they're suggested searches based on common text in some threshold of tweets - they're not manually suggested by read people, are they? So something seemed screwed up early on.

This second screen capture was from about an hour later.

Michael Jackson Dies and Twitter Fries

The hashtag search for #michaeljackson took about five minutes to load (and other web sites were loading normally, so it wasn't my connection); the most recent tweet listed was an hour old and about ten minutes later when I took this screen capture, the "more results" listing was up to over 10,000. An hour's worth of tweets queued up? "Real-time" my ass.

In the middle of all this, someone decides this is the perfect time to resurrect what is apparently some old net-rumor that Jeff Goldblum has also died. This image is from 8:24pm CST:

Michael Jackson Dies and Twitter Fries

This is about 10-15 minutes after that twending topic loaded and new results - rumors, denials, requests for confirmation and the link to the same fake news story on some joke web site in New Zealand or somewhere else down under - are also well over 10,000 and, as the image shows, the most recent one for this hot topic was from two hours ago. (The tweets do not actually re-load even as the as "more results" thing updates itself.)

Then at 9:47pm CST, Japan and the rest of Asia are just waking up and Twitter is really screwed. My page was loading but anytime I searched for anything this is what I was getting:

Michael Jackson Dies and Twitter Fries

Luckily I had saved the #michaeljackson hashtag search saved because about forth-five minutes later:

Michael Jackson Dies and Twitter Fries

there's no "trending topics" on Twitter anymore!

At the peak last night, there were about 100 tweets PER SECOND for #michaeljackson, by my rough estimate. Wayyyyy too many to follow. And eventually Twitter had, it seemed, finally "up scaled" its servers or whatever and wasn't hanging up and taking minutes to search for specific hot queries and "trending topics". So was this just a case of Twitter servers not being as quickly "scalable" (or whatever the jargon is) as they had hoped they would be?

Full blog post...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Poster for 2010 CALI Conference

I had thought of this movie and poster earlier because of what year the next CALI conference will be in, but I couldn’t figure out how to make the tagline relevant. But when the location for next year’s conference was announced at the today’s end-of-conference plenary, I had my tagline, but calling it “relevant” is a long stretch. Below the jump...

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Pretty dumb, but its just a proof-of-concept. Need a better tagline. “The Year we Make WHAT?” What techspeak or legal education jargon will work with that? Probably nothing. But because it will be the 20th CALI conference, the eventual logo should incorporate something like this:
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Full blog post...

2009 CALI Conference is Now History

I know now what our professors are dealing with, since I finally dragged a laptop to a few programs at the CALI conference and when the speaker lost my attention I checked my e-mail, looked up stuff, and tweeted about both the program I was watching and about the tweets from people watching the other programs (I actually have some useful notes and suggested resources from the tweets from people watching the other programs - wow). Based on the many laptop screens I’ve watched at this and other conference for years, this is nothing new (except for the tweeting). But I don’t think I”ll do this during the AALL meeting next month.

But overall I thought the conference was above average in content and usefulness and I have a lot of things to investigate further and tell the faculty and administration about, but the biggest thing I’m taking away from it is that there was no answer to the question of whether Facebook, Twitter, etc., etc., can do something, give our students and faculty something, do ANYTHING critical to our mission of educating future lawyers and supporting our faculty’s scholarly “pursuits” that we’re not doing already with some other set of tools we already have. And in the absence of a “yes” answer, by default the answer to that question would be no.

Oh, and I just thought - there WERE a lot of useful tweets about the content of the conference - but Twitter doesn't archive all tweets forever, right? Surely there's some other website or tool that helps you do that. I don't fell like looking into that now, but I just tweeted about it. Hahahaha.....

Full blog post...

Friday, June 19, 2009

CALI Theme Song?

I’ve always thought that “Information Undertow” by Dada would be a good theme song for CALI.

Hadn’t listened to it in a while, and now I realize its more about media/information saturation in general, but some of the lyrics in the middle come to mind at some many of the CALI sessions I’ve been to over the years:
I picked up a new toy
To get me some quick joy
It's got all the whistles and bells
My friends are all jealous
That's what they tell us
So why do I feel like hell?

I lit up my Apple
Surfed through the shrapnel
Accessed my online babe
She reads Aristotle
Says she's a model
But I've never seen her face

If I got this BLIP.Fm thing to embed correctly, this should be a link to streaming audio of the whole song:

No, not working. I swear I've done this before. Maybe this? -
dada - Information Undertow

Huh, no luck - you can listen to it AT Blip, but via and embedded link, it tries to play and then is listed as "unavailable". But I also found it streamable at

Full blog post...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Videoconferencing is NOT Necessarily Always Eco-Friendly

In the CALI Conference program today, “Videoconferencing Without Busting Your Budget” - which had a LOT of good information - a clip was shown from a professor talking about how videoconferencing (“VC”) was more eco-friendly than taking a plane to whatever meeting where he needed to speak ("the increase in emissions from the speaker boarding and flying an airplane are significantly greater than the electricity used in VC").

If you have to drive a car to your destination, like another professor in a different clip said then, yes, VC is more green. But unless you’re talking about the alternative of flying your private jet to the distant class/presentation/whatever, VC is not necessarily more eco-friendly compared to air travel because any given commercial airline flight to whatever destination is still going to fly whether or not the professor is on it. If empty seats are available the additional fuel expenditure due to the presence of your body and luggage on the plane probably pales in comparison to the environmental cost of videoconferencing for the 20+ students who will have to fire up their laptops and stayed glued to them for the hour or so you are videoconferencing with them: not all of them will have been on their laptop for that hour anyway, and I would bet that the environmental impact of the extra electricity that it takes for them to be on-line with your VC feed is more than the impact of you being an extra body on the airplane. (And even if that flight was overbooked, bumping passengers to other flights will still only result in a slight marginal increase in the total passenger/baggage mass being flown.)

Full blog post...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

CALI Conference 2009 & Boulder via Bike

This bike-share thing in Boulder is great - sponsored by some realty company, there are apparently stations where you can pick up the bikes all around town, including at the two hotels for this year’s CALI Conference. So since I got here early this afternoon, I biked all around and after exploring downtown on foot promptly got turned around and forgot where I had locked the bike up. Luckily it was near the farmer’s market (which has more German sausage and beer than the farmer’s market back home) and the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (which has some great exhibits as well as free admission on farmer’s market days!).

And, belatedly, I saw the Twitter hash tag for the CALI Conference. Call me clueless/newly clued - I see how that can be useful for things likes this - someone tweeted that there is another farmer’s market on Saturday, and noteworthy stuff going on tonight around town. Excellent! I still think its over-rated as a news tool, but it can be worth using at times.
Full blog post...

Bill Hemmerling, R.I.P.

All who loved his art learned a few weeks ago he was at home under hospice care, but it was still sad to learn that Bill Hemmerling finally succumbed to cancer and died Monday.

Like the Times-Picayune obituary described (and the video further below documents him accounting first-hand), he had a significant spiritual experience years ago when he had coffee at the Café du Monde in the French Quarter with a man who looked like, and who Bill believed was, Jesus. His simple explanation for coming late in life to creating his unique and often very spiritual art was
“One day when I let God out of the box I built, he danced with me.”
(Endure a sporadic 15 second commercial at the link below and watch the WWL news profile of Bill from a while back:

My wife and mother-in-law found his gallery in Ponchatoula several Strawberry Festivals ago and with her near-impeccable artistic instincts she (my wife, not mother-in-law) insisted we buy what eventually became our own mini-Hemmerling gallery. This being his pre-Jazz Fest poster period, we could both afford them and get a few of his more early, unique pieces, one of which we bought at a festival in Lafayette. That was a hot, swampy day, and I was in my Greg Allman phase but a few years later when the Ogden Museum feted Bill in honor of his aforementioned poster and I stopped by right after work and recently shorn, I waited in line and when I talked to him briefly I described the piece we had bought in Lafayette and he looked at my coat, tie, and buzzcut and said “yes, I remember - you weren’t dressed up and you had longer hair”.

We’re just two among many Hemmerling fans and he was like that with everyone he met, but that’s the special memory of him that came to mind when I learned he was finally at peace and having that second cup of coffee with Jesus...

Full blog post...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Swiss Lawyer Hot-Tubbing Nude with Female Clients!!!

(NSFW image below the jump...)

Well, its just a medieval wood cut, but being a lawyer back in 16th century Switzerland sure looks like it was a lot more fun that it is today:
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Bailiffs back in 16th-century Switzerland were, apparently, some sort of municipal legal officer. But the husband seems to be upset because of the legal matters the wife is pursuing, and not because of the whole nude bathing thing since the tub looks like its on a porch or something else semi-exposed to the passersby with the cart and donkeys.

This was one of many great illustrations in the excellent book by Katherine Ashenburg, The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History. There was no further explanation of whether Swiss bailiffs (who were, apparently, municipal legal officers and not private attorneys) regularly conducted business nude in a giant tub, and the notes didn't have any more information about the "Schweizer Chronik", but this is definitely a subject for further research.

Full blog post...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

"CALI Graphics", not Calligraphy

Got this e-mail, and was about to delete it when I realized it wasn't spam:
Date: Fri, 5 Jun 2009 14:46:24 +0530
From: Pankaj PXXXXXX
Subject: About CALI 2004


As I seen your site on Web, My Daughter very much interested on
Calligraphic, she has done one month crease course as well,

I am very glade, as If you can send me some guide line, which will help
her in same.

thanks a ton.

XXX - Information Technology
Information Technology
Office: +91-22-4434 XXXX
Fax: +91-22-4434 XXXX
Cell: +91-98201XXXX

I think the language barrier was why he thought my page about the 2004 presentation I did on "CALI Graphics: Tips and Tricks":
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(which just says to contact me for the handout - forgot I still had it up) was about calligraphy. He e-mailed me back when I explained that my handwriting sucked and I wouldn't be much help with his daughter's calligraphy:
Date: Fri, 5 Jun 2009 22:32:43 +0530
From: Pankaj PXXXXX
Subject: Re: About CALI 2004

Hi Brian,

Thanks for your reply, Yes you are right I have confuse.

The presentation itself is archived online (Windows streaming video). Forever, apparently. Long after all CALI conference presenters are gone, our archived video presentations will still be on-line.

Full blog post...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

May 2009 Netflix Summary

Everybody tracks their Netflix rentals with a spreadsheet, right? That makes it easy to measure the average time at home for all your movies in a given month and determine the per-movie breakdown of the membership fee. :)

May 2009 Netflix SummaryArrived at HomeReceived at NetflixDays at HomeMonthly Average Days at HomeCost Per Movie
Atlantic City05/0505/2015
Factory Girl05/0505/116
Frozen River05/0505/2015
Wendy and Lucy05/1205/208
The Da Vinci Code05/2105/276
Steal This Movie05/2105/276
Time of the Wolf05/2105/276
Last House on the Left
Sunshine State05/2806/025

Irreversible and Atlantic City were probably the best two out of this bunch. Frozen River was also very good. I was just curious to finally watch Da Vinci Code since I saw Angels and Demons the other day but had never seen Da Vinci Code. The original Last House on the Left is probably pretty deserving of its reputation, but like a lot of notable movies its hard to tell how ground-breaking it was way back then. It made for a good double-feature when I watched it and Irreversible, and luckily I had no grisly nightmares than night.

Full blog post...