Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist

Archive forMarch, 2006 | back to home

28 March 2006

Me on Brussels’ main square

Originally uploaded by David and Delphine.

My wife and I returned yesterday from our last short break as a twosome (for visitors who didn’t know, we have a boy due on or after April 22nd). There’s a small photo album here – warning – it may not be safe for the sensitive to view at work as it contains a picture of ‘comedy’ breasts made of chocolate. Gotta love that Belgian sense of humour!

P.S. I have edited my R hand navigation bar (which has, I like to think, something for everyone – do check it out periodically). The latest thing I’ve added is a feature I think is really handy – Send me an Odeo which is just a quick and easy way for you to record and send me a voice message if you have a microphone on your machine – even easier than typing a comment! I think this or something like this is likely to replace many of the normal ‘social’ comments – where friends just want to say “that’s funny” or “congratulations on your upcoming child” but don’t need to send a link or contribute anything lengthy or deep. It’s free to use and to add to your own site (no I have no relationship to the company!).

I have also provided a link to make it easy to bookmark this site using any of the dozens of ‘social bookmarking’ services out there (including del.icio.us and my personal favourite, Netvouz).

23 March 2006
Filed under:Arts Reviews,Humour & Entertainment at8:57 pm

My wife had the radio on in the background and I half-heard some swing-sounding music. It wasn’t a swing standard, but something about the tune was strangely familiar. I listened to the words – “Today is gonna be the day / That they’re gonna throw it back to you”… Wait a minute – isn’t that by… Oasis? Yes, it turns out that one of the most popular pop tunes of the mid-90s here in the UK was being covered by Paul Anka (!) Well, I can’t say the result was bad but I found it very difficult to listen to – my memory of the original was clashing in my head with the remake.

22 March 2006

Originally uploaded by Central Scrutinizer.

As BoingBoing points out this is a condo developer trying to cash in on the ‘coolness’ of the word. Too bad they didn’t register the domain on their poster (myblog.com).

Incidentally, in the five years I have had this weblog nobody has offered to buy this domain. I have no idea why. By now I figure I might as well keep it (though feel free to make absurdly generous offers!)

20 March 2006

One of the New York Times’s most emailed articles is, surprisingly, one about early 20th century music history, and in particular an archive of wax cylinders now available free online so we can all hear the kind of things our grandparents or great grandparents liked to listen to (well not my grandfather – he was strictly a classical music guy!).

While I am on the subject of new links, may I remind you that you can see a categorised selection of my bookmarks here – 529 of them now and the number is growing all the time. To see every weblog post I made tagged with “Useful web resources” click on the link above this text or just click here. My “Broadband content” category includes audio and video-related postings…

10 March 2006

As you may know I have written a book about managing email and to go alongside it I produced a companion website and a “category” on this weblog for my latest discoveries about email tools. That category has not been very busy of late but it seems someone else is picking up the slack. Email Overloaded (by someone who sells an email organization product) is a weblog completely devoted to more effective email management so you might want to subscribe to it if you wish I wrote more about email.

3 March 2006
Filed under:Humour & Entertainment at1:01 pm

This anecdote from Dispatches from a Public Librarian (published by McSweeney’s Internet Tendency) falls into the category of “you can’t make this stuff up”.

Last week, I received a call from an elderly woman wanting me to settle a bet between her and her son. She wanted to know what countries in Europe the Great Wall of China went through and what was the year Reagan tore it down. When I explained that the Great Wall of China was still mostly intact and that she probably meant the Berlin Wall, she replied coolly, “No, hon, you see, the Berlin Wall is just the part of the wall that goes through Berlin.” I put on my best geography-teacher hat to try and explain the Great Wall of China was, in fact, exclusively in Asia. She replied, “I’m pretty sure you’re wrong. What would be so great about tearing down a wall in Germany? It’s not even that big of a country.”

1 March 2006

In a recent New Yorker he looks at phenomena once thought to be normally distributed that are actually distributed according to the “power law” – for example ‘problematic’ homeless people, corrupt cops or polluting cars. In other words it turns out that in these cases a hard core cause most of the trouble, which calls for different public policy solutions – for example, giving a lot of help and support to the most ‘undeserving’ of the homeless (eg drug-addicted and/or mentally ill people). The argument here is that they cost the system so much anyway when they ‘go wrong’ that you can spend quite a lot on them and still come out ahead if their self-harming behaviour can be curbed.

Someone I know who has worked in emergency rooms was less sanguine. They suggested that these ‘lowest of the low’ were so damaged that they simply do not respond to any interventions and that public policy interventions should instead be used to help the large number of homeless people who are (as Gladwell points out) just ‘passing through’ homelessness in order to ensure they don’t return to that state.

P.S. Gladwell now has his own blog and has posted there about the power law article.