Frank v. Beilat, No Contest

The top mailing was meant to give me three reasons for firing Barney Frank, but in fact the mailings themselves were 3 reasons NOT to vote for Sean Beilat!

When I picked up my mail today I found a magazine, a fund raising appeal, and four political mailings relating to the elections next week, three of which were targeted against Congressman Barney Frank.  According to the first mailing, Americans for Limited Government believe he “no longer represents ‘us'” and that Nancy Pelosi “has him in the palm of her hand.”  Sean Beilat for Congress sent two mailings.  The first claims that Frank “and his “rich friends… live by a different set of rules,” and  the other that provides three reasons why voters should “fire Barney Frank on November 2,” claiming he caused the financial meltdown, bailed out friends in the financial sector, and accepted vacations from the people who got federal bail out money.

These claims are, at best, exaggerations, some of them outright falsehoods.  They are examples of some pretty intense negative campaigning and an obvious attempt to mislead the public.  Quotations are taken out of context, presented in the mailing to look like press clippings, and topped with the logos from the newspapers’ mastheads so they look like actual published news articles, when in fact they are taken from opinion pieces or editorials.  They are not objective analyses.

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Music in the Clouds

Source: My Grafitis in Tehran (

There was an interesting piece in PC World yesterday about an iPhone app called Cloud Music that allows you to store your music in Google Docs and stream it through your iPhone. Google Docs now allows users to store files of all types, so this app takes advantage of that fact. I’ve yet to play with it, but its an interesting response to the restrictions the Digital Rights Management puts on our music. Since users can share things in Google Docs, presumably they can also share the music in their digital collection, provided it is not protected by DRM measures they are not able to break.

A day before that the American Public Radio program Marketplace had an interesting segment on cloud computing and streaming music, but from a totally different angle. This time it is not the users that uploads and access their own files, but rather rather the users subscribe to a huge digital library of music and stream what they want. Most of these services also offer the opportunity for downloads for users who want to be able to take their music offline. The best known examples of this are and, recently purchased and shut down by Apple. For a monthly fee you can listen to whatever you wan in the order you want. In essence it is a vast online digital library.

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My Ride of June 29, 2010

Here’s my ride from today. Nothing too exciting, though I quite enjoyed it. It was a slow ride and I kept my bike in gear so it was very easy to pedal. The shot in my knee hurt this time, and and I’m not sure why. I certainly didn’t want to aggravate it.

Shaking up Poetry

Poetry Foundation iPhone appGive your iPhone a shake and explore the vagaries of love: its joys, passions, doubts, disappointments, insecurities, and finally the grief it too often brings. Or maybe when you have to spend just a little too much time home for the holidays, you’ll want to deliberately line up “boredom” and “family,” and read what comes up, both to kill time and to remind yourself that you are not the only one bored by your family.  You can combine subjects and emotions deliberately, or you can “spin” the wheels and see what comes up.  There are so many combinations to explore, it seems like you’ll never run out.

I’m talking about a new iPhone app from the Poetry Foundation called, quite simply, “Poetry”.  It makes exploring poetry fun. What I’ve been talking about above is a feature that lines up emotions and topics such as love, nature, family, work and play to give you a list of poems relevant to the combination. The poems are from different eras, but all are fairly short and accessible. And even if you don’t like poetry, I bet you are at least a little curious to read what well regarded, “serious” poets have to say about disappointment or blame and family or, even better, disappointment and love. That’s the stuff of standup comedy, not poetry, right?

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Apple’s iPad, the Review that Isn’t

Yes, I have and iPad and yes, I got it on the day of it’s release.  There are lots and lots of reviews out there, so consult one of them and any of the links in this sentence.  The think I am most impressed with is the battery life, the things I am most disappointed in are those I new and was prepared for; the fact that sites that use Adobe Flash don’t work, for example.

There is one thing I hadn’t realized and am not happy with, however, is the percentage of applications that you have to purchase again it you want the iPad version.  It just seems unfair.  Take for example, the app, “Things,” I already have the desktop program and the iPhone version.  The iPhone version works on the iPad, just in tiny size and small.  I’ll continue to use that. I will not pay another $19.99 for another version.

Economists on the Budget Freeze

Here’s how one economist responded to President Obama’s idea of a spending freeze, which is likely to be a major topic of his State of the Union speech.

A spending freeze? That’s the brilliant response of the Obama team to their first serious political setback?

It’s appalling on every level.

It’s bad economics, depressing demand when the economy is still suffering from mass unemployment. Jonathan Zasloff writes that Obama seems to have decided to fire Tim Geithner and replace him with “the rotting corpse of Andrew Mellon” (Mellon was Herbert Hoover’s Treasury Secretary, who according to Hoover told him to “liquidate the workers, liquidate the farmers, purge the rottenness”.)

That economist is Princeton professor Paul Krugman, winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Economics.
I’m not an economist, but it appears to me that that consensus is that a freeze is more or less cosmetic. It will do little to address the long term deficit issues, and is foolish under these economic conditions. Here’s what The Economist, hardly a bastion of liberalism, had to say. Continue reading

TweetDeck for iPhone Now the Matches Standards of the Desktop App

TweetDeck for IphoneIf you are a contented user of TweetDeck who, like me,  got excited when the iPhone app came out a while back, you probably also like me, found yourself wondering what the iPhone app the desktop app had to do with one another besides branding.  They had the same color scheme and logo, but aside from that there were at least half a dozen Twitter apps for iPhone that were as good or better when it came to interacting with twitter.  There’s a lot of competition in that area.  And TweetDeck for iPhone didn’t interface with Facebook either.  That  was one of the best things about the desktop app.

But now there is a new version.  I’d written the iPhone version of TweetDeck off and was waiting for Seesmic to launch their iPhone app, but I was told I should try it, I did, and it has much more in common with the desktop app than just branding.  Just check out the web page for the app and all the features marked with “new” tags.  You’ll see what I mean.

Oh, and I should also mention that in TweetDeck on the iPhone you can update your status using Arabic script or any other alphabet with characters that still don’t display when used in the desktop app.

I’ve got an iPhone App!

Icon for Africas Islamic Experiences- History, Culture, and Politics

Icon for Africas Islamic Experiences- History, Culture, and Politics

I’ve got an iPhone app! I don’t mean a new app on my iPhone. I’ve far too many of those already. I mean that is I have created an iPhone app…kind of…

What has really happened is that a book I helped edit has been turned into an application. The volume comes, in part, from a conference on Islam and Africa I helped organize as a graduate assistant under the direction of Ali A. Mazrui for his Institute of Global Cultural Studies at Binghamton University. Before leaving the Institute when I began working for NITLE, my colleague and I had edited a number of the conference papers and begun initial steps toward assembling a volume on the topic. But as the book was not to be simply conference proceedings, but rather a truly cohesive collection of essays on the subject, the project wasn’t finished.

I wasn’t sure what happened to the project until Professor Mazrui sent me the book. I later discovered the app by accident when I was searching for applications that might be useful for the teaching of Arabic.

Though I am far from an impartial critic, I found it is an interesting and impressive volume, composed only in part of essays developed from papers delivered at the Islam and Africa conference. Because of this, I can’t take much credit for the book. It was, as Professor Mazrui so graciously acknowledges, a team effort, but it is definitely his vision, engagement and leadership that originated the project and saw it through to its completion.

Why Not Flash for the iPhone?

If, like me, you too often find yourself on sites where you can see very little of the content because Adobe Flash is required, you will not be happy with this news item.

Adobe on Monday announced partnerships with numerous handset operating system makers, including Research in Motion, Nokia, Palm, Google and Microsoft, to bring Flash Player 10.1 to smartphones. Absent from the list: Apple.
–more at AppleInsider

That Flash Players didn’t work on mobile devices was one thing, but now that they are coming to most other devices but not the iPhone, that is annoying. I love my iPhone, don’t get me wrong, but I do give up a lot for it. Until last Friday Media messaging available. But still missing is the ability to tether it as a modem and the ability to switch out SIM cards when I go abroad, among other issues. It should be noted, as the link above indicates, these are issues with the AT&T network, not with the iPhone itself. Only the Flash Player issue with which I began this post is unrelated to the contract Apple has with AT&T as the exclusive provider for iPhone service. Still they are frustrating. So Free My Phone!