Archive for December, 2006

As you were warned, my poem “Song of Joy” came out today in the News and Observer‘s Sunday Reader. The print version looks really nice and the Sunday Journal section is full of interesting photographs from the past year. The downside is that the online version totally ignores the stanzas. You’d think by now that the folks there would have worked on their templates — it’s been several years now and the templates are aging — or they would have fixed the problem — the problem has persisted for several years.

Here’s what you see at the News and Observer site.

And here’s a version I fixed and uploaded in about three minutes so it’s the right way — damn it!

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Saw Kirk Ross of Exile on Jones Street (no known relation to Kirk or to the street) at the John Edwards return rally at Southern Village. Kirk has the early report here with video at his Carrboro Citizen site.

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Why do Germans think this is funny [Dinner for One on YouTube] and why do they watch it every New Year’s Eve?

Well, Same procedure as last year?

Yes, Same procedure as every year.

Or will there be a different procedure in future years?

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Just added the wonderful North Carolina Miscellany to my RSS feeds. I should have done this a long time ago. The Miscellany, a product of Wilson Library’s North Carolina Collection, is full of regular posts discussing new and upcoming books on North Carolina topics, state history in the news, treasures from the stacks of the North Carolina Collection, and general “Tar Heelia.”

A regular treasure trove amongst the treasures of ibiblio. On-going since June 2005.

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On Marketplace, I’m quoted first as saying that we all want instant gratification from our purchases (of course the book kiosk then is not as good as getting a text on a good electronic reader if one were to ever exist) and I say that the 2 million books available to OnDemandBooks (all from the public domain) are not enough.

Is a collection of 2 million titles really too few?

As you might have guessed, there was more to the conversation than met the ear. What you heard was skillfully taken from about 30 minutes of nuanced conversation. No nuance in a piece that short. No blame for that. What I said is that ODB’s kiosk holding those particular titles wouldn’t be competing so much with a publisher like Knopf or Doubleday or Crown, but with Dover’s dollar books and Penguin Classics.

I love the public domain books, mostly from the golden age of writing in the 19th century, as much as anyone. But I also know that the book market is highly skewed toward titles from within the last 75 years and within that highly skewed toward the most recent titles — those of the last few years.

Like it or not, that’s how we read. The book may be a Civil War book, but we’re more likely to buy the latest E. L. Doctorow (out this past year) or the slightly older Charles Fraiser (already in paper and already reissued with a movie tie-in cover) than to buy say Grant’s Memoirs (and this is an exceptional book). Now think of the titles in the public domain that you would never buy if any occur to you.

The “long tail” power of Amazon is that you can get all three books there and more. You can get the books that refer to those books and those which those books refer to themselves. You can build a library if you desire that is fairly deep, if narrow, very quickly and with collective expertise.

Availability is a major part of satisfying the market. Customer support during and after purchase are also major. Whether provided by smart staff or by smart computer programs. Support makes the sales and the second sales.

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Local Tech Wire and WCHL are reporting that Google is in discussions with NC Dept of Commerce about opening a Google in the Lenoir (Caldwell County) area. But the Google quote shows that it’s far from a done deal:

“We are evaluating a number of sites, including one in Lenoir, N.C., as possible locations for new technology infrastructure to support the strong and growing demand for our services,” said Barry Schnitt on behalf of Google. “We appreciate the efforts of the state and local governments to work with us through the evaluation process and hope to have additional details to announce in the coming months.”

The Local Tech Wire story also mentions a larger installation planned for the Charleston, SC area.

This post is a follow on to Fred’s post of about a week ago.

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Bloggers on the forefront of the Edwards announcement and campaign (from Greenespace and from EdCone and from Scoble)

UPDATE: I took a call earlier this afternoon from Dan Siler of WCHL 1360 am. It was for Sally whose great blogpost is at Greenespace above), but she insisted that I do the radio bit. Dan and I talked about the net.savvyness of the Edwards campaign. Yes the campaign is net.savvy. Yes Edwards himself is aware of how important it is to have people involved in all kinds of ways. Note, I say, that his announcement combines not only YouTube, bloggers, MySpace, etc, but also some good old fashioned barnstorming to significant places. Does the accidentally leaked announcement mean the campaign is not so net.savvy? (asks Dan). I think the leak helped the announcement, which was pretty predictable, become a slightly bigger story. Accident? Perhaps.

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The Marketplace bit on On Demand Books ran this morning. Running time less that one minute. The show isn’t chopped so you need to listen (carefully) or advance the stream. The books on demand story starts at 3:33. My one sentence is said at about 3:55 in. And the whole books piece is ends at 4:25 (out of a show that runs 8:24).

UPDATE:
The show is chopped and online and has its own webpage. Very Nice! (and very brief ;->).

Here’s the text (also on the Marketplace site).

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: A vending machine for books — Janet Babin reports from the Marketplace Innovations Desk at North Carolina Public Radio.

JANET BABIN: The machine looks like an elaborate printer. It can produce up to 20 fully-bound books an hour, in any language, all by itself.

On Demand Books is marketing the machine. You can see a demo of it on the company’s website:

[ Demo: "All fully-integrated, automated, and under the control of one computer." ]

Professor Paul Jones at the University of North Carolina says this type of machine will make it easier for bookstores to compete with online retailers like Amazon:

PAUL JONES: One of the things we’re going to see more of is the ability to be able to walk in and have your reading and other interests satisfied right there.

The company says it will have access to more than two million book titles, most in the public domain. But Jones says it will need much more content to become successful.

I’m Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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Michael Galinsky writes to alert us that the film he (and others) made as Code 33 about the search for a serial rapist was expanded when the criminal escaped and was recaptured. Now Code 33, in its expanded version as Miami Manhunt, will run tomorrow (Thursday December 28) at 10 pm EST on A&E.

If you see this and manage to tape it, lemme know. I don’t have cable and can’t see A&E.

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If you’ve been to any NC Blog events, you are aware of how aware of the web, social networks and blogs John Edwards is. He met with podcasters before Podcastercon, with some folks at ConvergeSouth, with others during danah boyd’s visit here this fall, etc. And those who he hasn’t met, Elizabeth Edwards has met. She is very very internet aware; her book will tell you how and why.

Now on the eve of Edwards’ probable announcement of his run for the 2008 Democratic nomination, Robert Scoble announces that he’s joining the Edwards campaign.

I’ve also heard that Matthew Gross is on the Edwards campaign.

All in all this will make for an interesting net.campaign for 2008. Who will be following Edwards onto the net?

Notes: Steve sends “John Edwards on youtube today announcing he will announce tomorrow [YouTube]“ and the BBC and others have noticed that Edwards’ website accidentally had an announcement of his candidacy up already.

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A few minutes ago I was listening to WCOM and noticing an interesting mix of music — some modern country, some North African singing, the Byrds doing the not-often-heard “Tribal Gathering” etc. As the announcer/DJ began to go over the setlist, I was listening to hear what he had to say. The next thing I know he’s announcing a contest. The prize for the first caller is a pair of tickets to the upcoming Chris Hillman – Herb Pedersen concert at the ArtCenter.

I was the first caller. Woo! Woo! Just for paying attention while I was washing dishes.

The show was Roots Rampage and the DJ was Triangle Slim. Thanks Slim. I’m looking forward to seeing Chris Hillman.

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Book ATM?
Just did a little bit on OnDemandBooks with Janet Babin for tomorrow’s Marketplace on NPR.

My 15 seconds may be about the first “on demand books” I saw in 2001 – 2002 when Brewster was getting the Internet Bookmobile going with what looks like an early version of the same technologies.

And a little about the costs to a library of keeping and loaning books.

Then some on non-market production and market opportunities

She’s building the story starting from this Fortune Small Business/CNN story.

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About half of the Teen Spirit DJs are here at WCOM picking up an unclaimed slot. Interesting to hear the off-air chatter of 13 year olds who have become music experts in the past few months. Forget your assumptions about what they will like and what bands they will revere.
Talking Heads and REM get play but also get dissed along with the Smiths, the Ramones, and Radiohead.

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It worked out great and tasted great too. And I have some left over. I combined the ideas from several recipes to come up with:

1.5 large red onions
4 cloves of garlic
1 pound chorizo
6 medium potatoes
1 can of black eyed peas
1 large sweet red bell pepper
6 or more baby carrots
1 pound of kale
8 cups of water
enough olive oil for sauting

First finely chop the onion, crush the garlic and dice about 1/4 of the chorizo.
Saute in the large pot in olive oil til the onion is transparent.
Next add the potatoes, peeled and diced in about 1/4 inch cubes, with some of the peas and saute for about 2 minutes.
Add the water and bring to a boil then down to a simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
Remove from heat and cool enough to puree. Puree.
Dice the carrots, pepper and the remaining chorizo.
Thinly slice or chop as finely as possible, or as I did use a food processor to shred the kale.
Return the puree to the pot and add the rest of the ingredients (peas, chorizo, pepper, carrots and kale)
Bring back to a boil and cook until the kale becomes tender and dark green — about 10 minutes.
The carrots and pepper will still have some crunch to them and will add texture and color to the soup.

The combination of greens (could have used collards) and black eyed peas will bring you wealth and good luck if eaten on New Year’s Day.

Things I learned for next time: Strip the kale for the stalks before shredding. Perhaps add spices — hot pepper, bayleaf, thyme — that I expected to get from the taste of the chorizo. Add a few of the cooked black eyed peas as garnish near the end for better visual effect. Consider a spicier chorizo to better suit the palettes of this house. Serve with corn bread. I used sourdough which was great, but good cornbread would be perfect with this.

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Colleague Phil Meyer talks about Citizen Journalism in the LA Times in “Reporting’s mass appeal” reflecting on the past and how it will likely inform the present and the future. He ends with a great take away:

“I close every semester by saying, ‘I’ve just taught you journalism as it was practiced in my day. The journalism in your day is going to be different,’ ” Meyer said. ” ‘It’s up to you to invent it, please don’t mess it up.’ “

also cited at the Guardian UK

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Jimbo Wales and Wikia announce a Google search competitor, Wikiasari, while Eric Raymond and Rob Landley map out Linux desktop plans for world domination by 2008. At the same time, librarians in Georgia release their F/OSS solution for library management.

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Had a great bowl of caldo verde at the BBQ Joint yesterday and decided that with a few tweeks that it would make a great New Years pot. So off to the last Farmer’s Market Saturday til March where I picked up locally grown taters, kale, onions, and locally made chorizo to which I’ll add black-eyed peas, sweet pepper and carrots.

Perfect Portugal meets Eastern NC for the New Year.

Will report back later.

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Fred asks if Google really has a Chapel Hill office. Off the blog, there rumor is stronger and based on pizza at the Computer Science department amongst other reliable markers that cannot be linked to.

Have you been to their office? Have you played pinball there? Let Fred know.

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A little over 20 years ago, I saw an Italian movie in Italian called “Il Quartetto Basileus.” I remember the incredible music of the quartet and the passion brought to the music and to the quartet by the young and destructively life engaging new member.

Tonight I saw the movie again. I was entranced by the lighting and by the music again. But the story now that I am the same age as the older members of the quartet who had been together for 30 years to the exclusion of all else. I saw the movie more vividly. The movie is the tale of change in age and of the attraction to life that might be lived on the brink by those who have postponed or avoided joy and risk. Each of the older members of the quartet reacts differently to the young prodigy that has joined them after their original violinist dies. Is the movie life affirming? That I could not say. It is poignant and touching and reflecting life and the costs of avoiding it or postponing it.

Not on Netflix.

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Was mourning the closing of the Daily Grind (for remodeling they will be back) and speculating on what Pepper’s will be like in its new location while working from Jack Spratt’s with Don and Ken when the REM version of Lou Reed’s song, “Femme Fatale,” came on the sound system.

I knew it was familiar. I knew it way back as sung by Nico of the Andy Warhol sponsored Velvet Underground featuring Lou Reed and John Cale.

Sure enough I found a version of Nico and the Velvets doing a live version of the song on YouTube — and a recent version live by Lou Reed in which Lou mocks Nico a little before getting into the song.

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