Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Signs of life in the Illinois GOP

I’m not sure what to make of the fact that the thing on my blog I’ve been asked about most in the last month is “what the $*!@ is the GOP doing on your blog?” For those that haven’t noticed, Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross’s office has been advertising on this site for a little over a month. (In case that doesn’t count as a disclaimer, here’s a disclaimer: Tom Cross is advertising on this blog.)

But… but… I’m a Democrat! Why is a Republican advertising on my blog? Well, that’s what I wondered, too. But their money’s as green as the next guy’s, and I was experimenting with Blogads anyway, so, what the heck.

Well, this post from the other night about their political technology strategy might give you a hint as to why I’m interested in what they’re up to:

I’ve said it before, but I was at a White Sox game and I talked with a guy named Brian Timpone from 1871 Media. He basically said that “we’ll (GOP) never have the built in troops of Union Goons to go out and do our organizing, but we can out-smart them by using the advantages of the net”.

I’ll ignore the slam on unions (I was just best man in a friend’s wedding, he’s a union member in NYC, and let’s not forget that our policemen, firemen, teachers, and many other citizens are union members) and focus on the real point: if Tom Cross and his staff have anything to say about it, the Illinois GOP will soon get its act together and start organizing.

They have some enormous advantages already (largely a result of starting early) and are asking many of the right questions. I had lunch with Jake Parrillo and Jason Kueper last week. Jake is Cross’s head of tech strategy, and Jason is an intern who was one of Howard Dean’s Perfect Storm volunteers in Iowa. (For those wondering from that link what Jake’s notes on my advice meant: read Interface. I wrote up a review of Interface here — it’s definitely worth a read, whether you’re a political junkie or not.)

Jake knows they don’t have all the pieces in place yet. But they’re working on it. And their tech strategy isn’t the only thing they’re paying attention to; after the March primaries, every Democrat in DuPage got a congratulations letter from him.

Bottom line: I like Jake. He’s smart, young, and eager to figure out what he doesn’t know. And if a candidate can be judged by the people woh work for him/her, then Tom Cross is a candidate to be taken seriously.

Fortunately for Illinois Democrats, all indications are that things will get worse for the GOP before they get better.

Now if only the Democrats could get their act together, then we might actually make, you know, progress.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Clifford Chance Closes San Francisco, Los Angeles offices

Forgot to post this last week: Clifford Chance, a firm I’ve written quite a bit about in the past, announced that it’s closing its San Francisco and Los Angeles offices.


Interestingly, Tower Snow is staying put for the time being.

Law & Order: Law Firm Identity Theft

What in-house paralegal hasn’t dreamed of making the big bucks? What in-house staffer hasn’t secretly wished to rake in the dough that those overpaid lawyers make?

Well, here’s one who did what any other frustrated paralegal would dismiss as, uh, ridiculous: steal a law firm’s identity and pocket $600k in the process.

Former posts about law firms and illegal transfers of cash here and here.

Reporters and CW

Quite a post over at Campaign Desk that shows what a difference four years makes in how certain individuals are portrayed in the press.

On Politics, Advertising and Hitler

In the comments, Jason asks says: “No, this isn’t some fictional story or vast right wing conspiracy, it’s an ad that has pointed out just how crazed the extreme Left has become.” He’s referring to my comments about the much-discussed Bush ad (web only) in which they show Hitler interspersed among many Democrats denouncing President Bush.

First off, let’s kill the “only the Left is so depraved as to use Hitler for cheap political gain” meme. A good collection of some nuts on the right who’ve been peddling in the same ridiculous comparisons is here.

Does this make the inclusion of Hitler (for any purpose) OK? No. (And for the record, Jason: I never did, nor ever would, condone such actions. I’m disappointed that I even have to say that, but there you go.)

Pure and simple, the ad is terrible. It doesn’t convey the message it intends to convey, it can mean many things to different viewers (depending on their political background) and it paints the President in a bad light. (They’re hoping that you’ll disagree with the messenger and therefore discount the message. Unfortunately, these things have a way of sticking, regardless of who says them.)

Interestingly, the ad now includes 20 seconds of introductory text that tries to address the ad’s shortcomings. I don’t think it makes the ad any better, but at least it resolves some of the ambiguity of the imagery.

Update: Nice comments from Mat Gross about that whole “honor and dignity to the Oval Office” thing.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Easy come, easy go

You may recall that my wife and I were hosting a fundraiser for Barack Obama this evening, and that Barack would be stopping by. What many forget is that in addition to being a candidate for Senate, Barack is also a state senator — and thanks to Governor Blagojevich’s call for yet another special session we received a call this morning that Barack would be unavailable after all, as his senate responsibilities require him to be present for the session.

So we are rescheduling the event, hopefully in the next few weeks. We had 100 people register for the event, so we’re eager to welcome Barack to DuPage County and show him our support. If you’re interested in attending the rescheduled event, let me know.

Friday, June 25, 2004

An anti-Bush ad at...

Wow. Go watch this video (Windows Media Player only). Some of the odd things in this video:

  • It includes images of Hitler in the ad, without explaining why they’re in there. (The images are from one of the many ads contributed to the MoveOn Super Bowl ad contest. Though the ad itself caused a stir at the time, it should be noted it was not actually created by MoveOn, nor did it win any awards. That hasn’t stopped the Bush campaign from airing it repeatedly over the last six months, which raises the question: what’s worse? A hack using Hitler in an ad? Or a campaign ceaselessly running the hack’s video in an attempt to show how offended they are by the hack’s video?)

  • At no time does it explain why the clips of individuals (Al Gore, Dick Gephardt, Howard Dean, Michael Moore) are bad, or why they should lead one to vote for George Bush. The ad lamely ends with an attempt at comparing the rage voiced by those individuals with the “optimism” shown by Bush. If they’re so optimistic, why not talk about what they’re optimistic about? For more on this “optimism” canard, go read Oliver Willis’s comments.

  • The ad actually lays out much of the left’s argument against Bush, and the ad does nothing to counter those arguments. (Gephardt: “This president is a miserable failure.” Moore: “This man led us into a war for fictitious reasons.” Dean: “I want my country back.” Gore: “How dare they drag the good name of the United States through Saddam Hussein’s torture chambers in Abu Ghraib?”) If any of those charges strike you as mildly on target (which, according to the latest polls, is a majority of the country), then you’re not going to be swayed by the platitude at the end of the ad.

  • By interjecting the now famous Hitler ad, the Bush/Cheney ad twice shows Bush in sieg-heil poses, following images of Hitler, and once with English subtitles and Hitler speaking German in the background. Memo to the Bush/Cheney camp: Never, ever show your candidate with a Hitler voice-over. Trust me on this. I suppose the logic here is that the viewer is supposed to understand that it’s the MoveOn people who are so deranged as to compare Bush to Hitler, but that seems a bit subtle for most. Maybe I’m wrong — watch it, and let me know if you think so. This is “I know you are but what am I?” in a presidential ad. No, really.

  • Playing a George Winston-wannabe in the background and throwing “Optimism, steady leadership and progress” on screen do not a warm feeling make. (Reminds me of a Simpsons episode.) After being accused of lying, failing, threatening the lives of Americans, prostrating himself to the Religious Right, encouraging torture… the best they can come up with is, what exactly? Piano? I don’t get it.

Now, in the interest of being fair, the righteous indignation over at the Kerry blog is, well, a little silly. That Bush used the Hitler imagery in his ad is goofy — especially when they were trying to say that it was the left that used Hitler in their ads. So what Kerry’s argument boils down to is this: how dare Bush use Hitler imagery that got from a contributor that tried to show how bad Bush was in an ad attacking me? (No, it doesn’t make much sense to me either.) Bush wasn’t comparing Kerry to Hitler. He was comparing Hitler to, um, Bush. I think.

Is there a Godwin’s Law for political advertising?

Update: Good discussion on this issue at OxBlog, Now That Everyone Else Has One, Steve’s No Direction Home Page, Pandagon, Basket Full of Puppies, and The Lullaby That Keeps You Up At Night (who points out the e-mail the Bush campaign sent out agreeing with the Kerry campaign’s outrage, which, if you’re keeping score, makes this: Bush agrees with Kerry, who’s outraged at Bush’s ad, which is outraged at the Democrats, who are outraged with Bush).

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Quote of the day

“Crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentations of their women… Wait a minute, that’s Conan.”

— California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, when asked by the New York Times to describe “his governing philosophy.”

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Six Not-so-Easy Pieces

Proof of just how powerful Amazon can be: six years ago, I bought a copy of Six Easy Pieces, a book of class lectures by Richard Feynman. Amazon remembered that, and linked to its sequel (of sorts), Six Not-so-Easy Pieces, it put a link at the top of the home page for me. That’s cool.

Feynman, for those that don’t know, is arguably among the most brilliant minds of the 20th century — some have gone so far to say that he was even smarter than Einstein. Regardless of where he might rank, the bottom line is that he is without question a genius. I stumbled on to Feynman in a rather odd way: first, I read Chaos by James Gleick. Gleick has a gift for making exceedingly complex concepts understandable — and his explanation of things like fractals and chaos theory were like an entirely new universe to me. (To this day I’m disappointed I didn’t read Chaos while in high school, as I likely would have pursued a scientific degree. Oh well.)

A few years later, I saw a copy of Genius, Gleick’s biography of Feynman. Though I had no idea who Feynman was, I had met Gleick at an inauguration event in Washington, DC and wanted to read more of his writing. Written in the same breezy style as Chaos, it captures the brilliance of the man (his intelligence, his sense of humor) as well as the breadth of the topics he contributed to. Perhaps most interesting to me was that Gleick talked about Feynman teaching freshman physics at Caltech.

And that’s how I stumbled on to Six Easy Pieces, the book and 6-CD compilation that includes the actual lectures by Feynman, covering the essential principles of Physics.

I think it’s time to rip those CDs on to MP3s, and make them my next iPod project. Once I listen to them again, I’ll pick up a copy of Six Not-so-Easy Pieces, which focuses exclusively on Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Drinks with Dean

Last year, I was amazed when Joe Trippi recognized me. It gets better.

Friday night, I attended a private reception for Howard Dean that was primarily a “thank you” event for many of us who’d been involved in the Dean campaign from the outset. It was a great opportunity to see folks I hadn’t seen in a while (and, as Hiram noted, the rest has been good for them!). But the big surprise was when I walked up to Howard Dean, to shake his hand and thank him for having run.

Before I could say anything, he caught my nametag and perked up. “You’re the blogger!”

I guess there are worse things to be known as, right?

Dean was in good form: vehement in his support of John Kerry, and at his persusasive best in convincing everyone in the room to help Christine Cegelis in her bid to unseat Henry Hyde. That in particular was so cool to see: seven months ago, I first met Christine as a new entrant into the race who attended our Dean House Party on December 30. She spoke with the crowd, and everyone was excited to see we had a credible candidate running against Hyde. But with no money and no name recognition, how far could she go?

Thanks in part to Howard Dean (who picked Christine as one of the second “Dean Dozen”), the answer is starting to look like it might be “all the way.” Christine just picked up Senator Durbin’s endorsement, has the N.O.W. endorsement (and an upcoming fundraiser with N.O.W. President Patricia Ireland, received the AFL-CIO endorsement this week, and now has a full-time field director.

Dean’s race for the presidency is over. But it was encouraging to see the spirit continuing in other races, and in the many conversations taking place Friday night.

Friday, June 18, 2004

E-mail as a platform - Why Gmail Will Win

Talking with Buzz this morning, he reiterated something he’s said to me before: Outlook is a platform. (Others are on this train too: Anil from Six Apart and Omar from the Hotmail team have both written on this subject.)

This is where I think Gmail will head. And all it’s going to take is for Google to add an RSS/ATOM reader to Gmail. Just like that, they’ll create a killer app for e-mail, enhance their searching algorithms (think of all the rich data they’ll have by aggregating feed reading behavior with search behavior), and start to seamlessly blend the web, messaging and syndication. And if they integrate Blogger into Gmail? Well then you’ve round-tripped searching, browsing, reading, writing – - and further added to the volume of content Google can index.

One last note on Gmail — the invite-only approach to a beta roll-out was brilliant. Not only did it create a feeling of exclusivity, but it is also creating a wonderfully-rich map of connections between the thousands of netizens who are now Gmail users. Think of what that can tell Google, and how they might use it.

Update: Just found an article by Steve Gillmor on this very issue, from last month: Gmail has Potential as Enterprise Platform

Even better would be a link between Gmail’s Conversation View, where threaded messages are collected and stacked together, and related RSS affinity groups.

In fact, Gmail would make a great container for an RSS information router. In the same way you can print a conversation in Gmail, I suggested to Brin, you could also print to RSS. “Yeah,” he said, “that’s a very interesting idea.”

Cory Doctorow is a genius

This call to action by Cory Doctorow is the best thing you’ll read all year. If you have any interest in technology policy, business strategy, technology innovation — hell, if you just want to read a smart guy telling it like it will be — then block the next half hour to read this speech by Cory Doctorow.

The speech is one he recently gave to Microsoft, about why Digital Rights Management (DRM) is bad for business, bad for society, bad for artists. Did I mention it’s bad? (Cue Dana Carvey — “It’s bad! It’s bad!”) It’s a clarion call to Microsoft to get out there, do what no other company on earth can do, and to dare to be great.

I sure would have loved to be in that room. The speech is that historic.

Thursday, June 17, 2004


I’ve been playing with Gmail for a while now, and I am impressed. It’s the first time I’ve seen a web app really seem more like an app and less like a website. That’s a good thing, in my book.

Interestingly, they’ve pretty radically changed the typical e-mail interface. What makes it particularly remarkable is that even though they’ve radically changed the typical UI, I don’t think it’ll take any real learning curve to make it useful. And that’s impressive.

Speaking of Gmail, I’ve got a few extra invites. If you want one, let me know. I liked Jonas’s idea of giving them away to people who do worthy charitable work; but given that Gmail invites are being devalued due to Google flooding the market, I figure I can get away with just asking that you say nice things about me.

Goatboy waxes nostalgic about Reagan

Actually, Jim Breuer had nothing to do with this seemingly serious rememberance of Reagan. But it really could have been titled “Hey! Remember the 80s: Ronald Reagan Tribute”.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Rumsfeld must resign

This news will almost certainly seal Rumsfeld’s fate:
Pentagon officials tell NBC News that late last year, at the same time U.S. military police were allegedly abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ordered that one Iraqi prisoner be held “off the books” — hidden entirely from the International Red Cross and anyone else — in possible violation of international law.
“Possible violation”?

Remember: we’re the good guys.

WebVoter - true grassroots organizing

This idea isn’t completely new, but it’s impressive in its scope. The Minnesota GOP has deployed WebVoter, a web-based precinct committee-person organizing system. We had a prototype of this in the Dean campaign, ready to roll once the primaries were done. (Ah, those were the days.) Little did we know that Dean would be done too…

In any event, this is absolutely the future of politics. Give motivated individuals the ability to play a part in the evangelization of the party; the party gets a dashboard view of voting trends, issue analysis and areas where more information/activity are needed.

Wonder when Illinois will figure this out?

Here’s how WebVoter works: If you’re part of the Republican Party’s already identified 60,000 core households, you have received in the mail your very own WebVoter user name and password.

Enter that information, and you are provided with a list of 25 names, some of whom you’re likely to recognize, and their addresses, which you’re sure to know. They are all in your neighborhood.

Those are names of voters not already known to the GOP to be either Republicans or Democrats. The public policy issue that gets them worked up is similarly not known. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to discover the party and issue preferences of your neighbors, and report them to the GOP brain in cyberspace. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune]

Monday, June 14, 2004

Who said that?

Who said this, about which former President?

The years [did] a lot to clarify the strengths of this man. As a candidate for any office, [he] showed incredible energy and great personal appeal. As chief executive, he showed … a great compassion for people in need, and the forward-looking spirit the Americans like in a President. [He] could always see a better day ahead — and Americans knew he was working hard to bring that day closer.

Over eight years, it was clear that [he] loved the job of the presidency. He filled this house with energy and joy. He’s a man of enthusiasm and warmth, who could make a compelling case and effectively advance the causes that drew him to public service. …

People in [his] life have always expected him to succeed — and, more than that, they wanted him to succeed. And meeting those expectations took more than charm and intellect — it took hard work and drive and determination and optimism.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

The next Lincoln Douglas debates?

Very interesting: today, Barack Obama proposed a series of debates with his Republican opponent, Jack Ryan. From Barack’s letter to Ryan:

A century and a half ago, two Senate candidates from Illinois set an admirable standard for campaigning with a series of debates that captivated the attention of the entire nation. …

I am proposing a series of six debates across our state, including four outside the Chicago media market, so that voters throughout Illinois will have the chance to see and hear us offer our competing ideas and visions for the future. …

In an era when Americans are rightfully skeptical about the quality of our politics, let us set an example Illinoisans can be proud of and give them the kind of campaign they deserve.

This is the very best in politics. Sure, it’s a calculated move on Barack’s part. And yes, I anticipate it will generate a lot of national coverage. And in a state trending increasingly Democratic, a series of debates is likely to highlight just how conservative Jack Ryan’s policies are.

But that’s all beside the point. Elections should be debates. They should be about big ideas, strong differences of opinion.

If Jack takes Barack up on his offer, we’ll all be better off. I’m looking forward to it.

Update: Interesting. Over at Ryan’s site, there’s a similar challenge from Ryan to Obama. Guess we’ll be seeing those debates.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Cegelis fundraiser

Interested in giving Henry Hyde the retirement he so richly deserves? Christine Cegelis is running against Henry, and her campaign is picking up a considerable amount of steam. (Last month she was endorsed by Governor Dean as part of the “Dean Dozen” program.)

Well, if you want to help Christine out, there’s a great fundraiser in a couple weeks. Head on over.

Wednesday, June 9, 2004

TiVo just got a lot more interesting

While we’re on the subject of great deals at, here’s another: the Toshiba SD-H400 is now less than $300. It’s a combination TiVo series 2 and DVD player. I got one for Christmas, and it’s a wonderful combination. The DVD picture and sound quality are spectacular (far better than my original DVD player), and the TiVo series 2 is phenomenal — but only if you use TiVo’s Home Media Option (ordinarily an additional $99 on top of TiVo’s subscription fee).

Well guess what? TiVo announced today that Home Media Option is now bundled with the service, at no additional cost. For either $12.95/month or $299 lifetime, you get all of the normal TiVo functionality, along with the ability to stream MP3s over your home network (stored on your computer, played through your stereo), display digital photos on your TV (my kids’ favorite thing to do), schedule recordings over the web, and watch recordings in different rooms (with multiple TiVos in the house). Me? I guess I’m a bit of a sap for paying $99 when it’s now free, but trust me: it’s worth it. When you can pull up a menu of your music on your TV, click the artist you want to listen to, and then just like that, it’s on your stereo, it’s pretty cool.

Why are they doing this? Because they also announced an upcoming service where they’re adding Internet-based content to TiVo boxes; the more TiVos that are connected to your network, the more valuable their service will be. Smart.

So what are you waiting for? Get the Toshiba and treat yourself to a world of digital goodness. You can thank me later.

(Don’t forget: TiVo to Go is coming. Why not be ready for it?)

Motorola v600 - cell phone heaven

Thanks to all who gave me input a couple weeks back on my cell phone purchase. In the end, I went with the Motorola V600, a truly beautiful phone. It’s now down to $99 at (after rebates), which is a great deal (it’s $200 more if you buy direct from AT&T).

What I love about the phone:

  • battery life. Talk time is 6 hours or more, which is like an eternity after I got accustomed to the less-than-2-hour time on my old Treo.

  • camera. Wasn’t my original goal going in, but the camera is kind of addictive. It’s VGA quality (.3 megapixels), so the photos aren’t anything you’ll put in a frame, but they’re surprisingly sharp and they produce nice snapshots.

  • screen. The color screen is really bright, and displays well even in direct sunlight.

  • bluetooth. I’ll be getting a Bluetooth PC card for my laptop (it’s built in to most ThinkPads, but sadly not mine) which will allow syncing of contacts and calendar info to the phone, as well as Internet access through the phone when I don’t have wifi.

  • quad-band GSM. I’m not traveling all that much anymore, but a phone that will work pretty much anywhere in the world is nice; not only for compatibility but for resale later on.

  • external display. It’s a flip-phone, but the exterior has a 2-line display that shows battery strength, time, caller ID, etc.

I’m doing a lot of experimenting, but if you’re in the market for a new cell phone, this is a great choice. Only downside: I need a better case. The leather case at BestBuy isn’t great, so I’m likely going to get something from MotoPhoneCases.

MRI is negative

Doctor tells us that Robby’s MRI is negative, ruling out all manner of neurological issues that might have explained the various things he’s dealing with. It’s good news. Very good news.

Thanks again for all the good wishes. Helped a lot.

Tuesday, June 8, 2004

Back from the MRI

No results to report — won’t know anything until tomorrow. But Robby went under without a problem, spent nearly an hour in the MRI, and came out from anesthesia like a pro. Should hear tomorrow from the doctor.

In related news, I’ve set up a test moblog with TextAmerica — go to the home page and in the right-hand column you’ll see the latest photo from my phone. This is experimental at this point, but I like the ease of use so far…

Monday, June 7, 2004

Update on Robby

I tend not to post overly personal comments here, because the object of this blog (to the extent that there is one) is to participate in conversations about technology, business strategy, law, politics, etc. with others out and around the blogosphere. But I have written a couple things about my youngest son over the past several months, and many of you have been incredibly kind to ask privately about how he’s doing. I figured an update was in order.

Back in December, Robby had a seizure which turned out to be what’s known as a febrile seizure. He had another about a month later (as a result of a bout of pneumonia); ironically enough, the second seizure was considered good news because it confirmed the initial diagnosis and ruled out anything more serious as a cause of the seizure.

Around the same time, we had Robby checked out — as he neared his second birthday, he wasn’t talking. (In comparison with his older brother, who doesn’t stop talking, but that’s another matter.) Though the tendency is to downplay such issues (if I had a nickel for every parent who’s said, “My kid didn’t talk until they were three”!), given his other issues, we figured this was a case where prudence was called for. Sure enough, he was diagnosed with a significant speech delay, coupled with some developmental delays. He has what’s called low tone, as well as a neuro-muscular disorder that affects his speech.

At this point, the good news is that these are all issues that are either treatable or things that he’s likely to grow out of.

About five weeks ago, his right eye started crossing. More than a little bit — it would turn in completely towards his nose, so that you almost couldn’t see the pupil. We took him to an opthamologist, who confirmed esotropia, a muscular condition that affects the eyes’ alignment. He’s now wearing bifocals — fortunately for us, he loves his glasses. (It helps that Robin wears contacts, so she’s been wearing her glasses around the house. I have a pair for driving, and have been wearing them around too.) He’s also got a patch for a couple hours a day, which miraculously he doesn’t complain (too loudly, anyway) about. We go back in six weeks to evaluate his progress.

All of which brings us to tomorrow: hopefully as a precaution, the opthamologist recommended we see a neurologist. So tomorrow we head in for an MRI, and will follow up shortly with a visit to the neurologist who will hopefully rule out any larger cause for his various issues. He’ll be under general anesthesia, which is one of those things you’d rather not have a two year-old deal with but which I’m sure will be fine.

Writing all of this out makes it all seem a bit more overwhelming than it is. He’s a smart and incredibly happy kid, and he’s taken each of these turns in stride — so we’re taking our cue from him (there’s a lesson there, I think). Many, many thanks to all of you who have written over the past several months asking about him (and us) — we’re doing great, and will continue to hope for the best as he grows through this.

Sunday, June 6, 2004

The square root of stupidity is...

Still one of my favorite blog entries, from two years ago today.

D-Day Memorial

The first time I went to Normandy I was amazed that anyone made it ashore on D-Day. Those cliffs are high, and the beaches are wide. It’s humbling.

The American cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer is a must-see, too. []

Add another to your list, should you find yourself in Normandy: the Musée de la Paix in Caen. It’s a singularly powerful testimonial to the heroism, savagery, and sacrifice of World War II, as well as a lasting tribute to those who have dedicated their lives to peace. I was last there in 1991, and still remember it as if it were yesterday.

Reagan clarified the clash of ideas

That’s the money quote from Will Saletan’s latest column at Slate, where he takes the money quote from Reagan’s farewell address in 1989:

“There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.”

Saletan goes on to write, “In clarifying his own views, he clarified mine: I’m not a conservative. If he has done the same for you, this would be a good day to thank him.”

Indeed, I do. While Reagan showed what it was to be a leader, he also helped me forge my own political views. As I neared voting age (I just missed voting for George H.W. Bush in 1988; by the time the next election rolled around, I was squarely in Clinton’s camp), I had Reagan to thank for framing much of the conservative debate.

Thanks, Mr. President. Like Saletan, I’m not a conservative either.

Saturday, June 5, 2004

Photoblogging with Movable Type?

Anyone aware of an easy way to add a photoblog to Movable Type? My new cell phone arrives tomorrow, it’s got a camera built in. I’d like to experiment with setting up a family blog that will have the ability to take pictures and have them uploaded to the blog automatically. I know there are services out there (TextAmerica and Mobog), but I wanted to know if there was anything that ran on top of MT…

Ronald Reagan, RIP

Stephen says it best: “as a kid, Reagan was the very definition of a president.” I was 9 when Ronald Reagan was elected. My family was very much Republican at the time (my Dad worked on George W. Bush’s 1980 presidential bid), and I liked Reagan. I remember playing in Scott Prudhomme’s front yard when Reagan was shot, and then watching his mom react to the TV reports and try to explain to us what was going on.

I loved that Reagan was not afraid to be proud of the country, proud of our ambition, and proud of our legacy. I loved that when you listened to his speeches, regardless of your age, you knew what he was talking about. He was the great communicator. And while his acting background has been the butt of many a joke, I think it was always one of his real assets: he understood what we wanted a President to be. He understood the importance of image, and presentation. And that played in many directions: not just at home, but abroad.

The reality: nuclear war felt like a very real reality in 1980. It’s no longer a threat. Communism was a threat. No more. There were two super-powers, now there’s one.

Reagan left his mark on us, and through his conviction and his vision laid a foundation on which the progress of the next 20 years were built.

I will grieve during his funeral. He was a man who dedicated much of his adult life to public service, something I have a tremendous amount of respect for. While I have many disagreements with the overly conservative principles on which his domestic policy was based, I do not for a minute doubt his conviction or the mark he left on our country.

We have had just 43 Presidents in our history. We lost one today, and he will be missed. This isn’t about politics, it’s about respect for the office and for the man. He served us well, knew when to follow his instinct, and knew when not to listen to his advisors. He was a leader, and on the balance I think we are the better for his leadership.

Cars with Easter Eggs

Just the other day, Ernie complained about his Treo: “I conclude having everything dependent on software (and software upgrades) creates its own set of annoyances and problems.”

True, but there’s also an emerging trend (trend? well, two that I know of so far. Good enough for me) in automobiles that have more and more software: Easter Eggs.

There’s the BMW M3 Easter Egg which lets you cheat an apparent restriction on the car; now there’s word that VW has built in similar cheats for its minivan (apparently a Europe-only model) — presumably not to do a rolling start, of course.

Ernie sees problems. I see a whole industry of cheat code magazines for your cars as gamers grow up…

Reagan's health failing?

Wire reports have President Reagan in failing health. If this is the end, I hope it’s a peaceful one for he and his family. Hard to imagine he’s 93 years old.

Update: is reporting that a spokesperson for Reagan’s family is downplaying the rumors of Reagan’s imminent death. Most interesting, from the CNN report, is this quote from Regan’s wife Nancy, at a recent fundraiser:
“Now science has presented us with a hope called stem cell research, which may provide our scientists with many answers that have for so long been beyond our grasp,” Reagan told an audience in Los Angeles, California. “I just don’t see how we can turn our backs on this.”

Friday, June 4, 2004

Saving money and time with wikis

Marc Canter points to our most recent case study, about Ziff Davis’s gaming division

Total savings for a 50 person team: 25% time reduction in product development, $1m soft cost time savings by reducing group e-mails from 100 to zero.

It’s great when you see customers realizing real, dramatic benefits. Thanks to Marc and others who make us successful.

Thursday, June 3, 2004

D.L. Hughley on his latest movie

D.L. Hughley is in Soul Plane, a movie that’s received, um, tepid reviews.

At the beginning of tonight’s Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, Hughley stated up front: “It was a shitty movie, alright? I could try and defend it, claim I was an artist… but I won’t. My wife wanted to go to Jamaica.”

Now that’s transparency.

Gmail will bring RSS to the masses

Lots of talk lately that e-mail is dead. At the Inbox Event (ongoing, see our EventSpace for a good discussion from today’s panel discussion), many are trying to figure out how to deal with spam.

And the Online Journalism Review writes today that many publishers are contemplating RSS as the answer to their newsletters getting caught up in spam filters.

So… what’s the most popular new e-mail program? Gmail.

How long before Gmail integrates an RSS reader into Gmail?

Oh wait a minute. That’s right, Google only likes ATOM. So Google will implement an ATOM reader in Gmail, and try to force web publishers to adopt ATOM over RSS.

RSS works. Politics aside, it works. Gmail could implement a simple RSS reader tomorrow and instantly accelerate the demand for RSS from publishers — and render moot all the handwringing documented at OJR.

But they won’t, and we’ll have a standards war emerge, and we the users will suffer…

On Beck and Litigation Consultants

Any man who can work Beck, court technology and litigation consultants into the same post deserves loads of respect. Check out the to see how he did it.

On the local front...

Hiram Wurf reports on the most recent vote of the Naperville City Council, on a vote to widen an intersection not far from my house. Hiram was the cornerstone of the Dean efforts in DuPage County, and was inspired by that involvement to run for local office (County Board). Help him out, spread the word — the County would be well-served to elect Hiram.

Cheney coming to town

Interesting. The conventional wisdom (most recently presented in Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball) is that Illinois will almost certainly elect Barack Obama as our next Senator. I’m helping the campaign out, and certainly hope he gets elected.

But apparently the Republicans haven’t gotten the memo that Barack’s a shoo-in: last month Bill Frist was in town, and tomorrow, Dick Cheney is showing up to raise money for Barack’s opponent, Jack Ryan.

I’m no Dick Cheney (ha!), but here’s a news flash for you: my wife and I are hosting a fundraiser for Barack on June 27th, at our home in Naperville. Barack will be there, and it should be a lot of fun. (If you weren’t fortunate enough to sample my wife’s cooking at one of our Dean fundraisers last year, I assure you her hors d’oeuvres are worth the price of admission alone.)

More details coming shortly…

Wednesday, June 2, 2004

The Call - Become America

I searched in vain for the lyrics to “Become America” by The Call, easily the best band that never made it to super-stardom. I was thinking about Become America lately, in light of President Bush’s comment that the soldiers at Abu Ghraib don’t represent “the America I know,” Dave Winer’s recent comments about America “getting over itself”, and John Kerry’s latest campaign slogan “Let America be America Again” (a nod to Langston Hughes’ poem).

I thought about writing about the song by The Call, then just figured I’d reprint their lyrics here. (If you’re interested in buying the album, it’s not on iTunes but is available at Reading these lyrics in light of the past few months is positively eerie (the song was written in 1997). (That happens a lot with The Call — Michael Been is a gifted lyricist.)

(Political junkies will recall that Al Gore’s campaign song debuted at the 2000 convention was “Let the Day Begin” by The Call, one of their better-known songs but hardly their best.)
When will America, become America
When will America, become America
When will the home we love
Mean freedom for everyone
When will America, become America

When will the killing stop
When the last child has dropped
How long must mothers’ tears
Rain down on streets of fear
When will the home we love
Mean justice for everyone
When will America become America


When will the struggling poor
Walk with their heads held high once more
Children playing on haunted streets
Politicians weave their spell
Promise spoken from the mouth of hell
When will America become America


With their very lives they gave
Soldiers, the young and brave
Shame for the world to see
A mystery to you and me
Angels will keep their watch
Heaven will count the cost
When will America become America


FeedBurner update

In the last 36 hours, FeedBurner reports that more than 1000 unique subscribers have read my RSS feed.

That’s more than double the number of visitors who came to tins through a web browser.

Tuesday, June 1, 2004

Naperville Ribfest 2004

This year’s entertainment lineup has been announced. In our little suburb, check out who’s performing less than a mile from my house:

Not bad. Last year’s line-up included Hootie & the Blowfish (drummer is a Naperville alum), Blondie and Los Lobos.

As in years past, the Naperville Democrats will be volunteering at one of the beer tents (last year’s record, which we fully intend to break: 49 kegs tapped and killed). This year we’ll be there on July 3, when Poi Dog Pondering is performing. (Admission each day? $5.)

Proceeds go to the Naperville Exchange Club, to a fund dedicated to eliminating child abuse and domestic violence.

See you there.

iTunes at the W Hotel

Interesting. W Hotels and iTunes have paired up — stay at the W, get 3 free downloads at iTunes. Plus a three month subscription to Wired.