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Friday, March 10, 2006
Not So Approving Numbers
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:46 am

Via the AP: Bush’s Approval Rating Falls to New Low

The survey, conducted Monday through Wednesday of 1,000 people, found that just 37 percent approve of his overall performance. That is the lowest of his presidency.

Bush’s job approval among Republicans plummeted from 82 percent in February to 74 percent, a dangerous sign in a midterm election year when parties rely on enthusiasm from their most loyal voters. The biggest losses were among white males.

On issues, Bush’s approval rating declined from 39 percent to 36 percent for his handling of domestic affairs and from 47 percent to 43 percent on foreign policy and terrorism. His approval ratings for dealing with the economy and Iraq held steady, but still hovered around 40 percent.

Ironically, I saw this headline just after reading an e-mail pointing me to the following at Ankle Biting Pundits:

But more that a couple friends of mine on hand in Memphis are considering using the straw poll as a device to show consistent and strong support for President George W. Bush. If just enough people write in the name of George W. Bush on their straw poll ballots, their thinking goes, maybe they can show the snarky media that Republicans are unfazed by its relentless and dishonest negative assaults on the President and his administration.

I think this is a fine idea, and I hope it catches on in Memphis

First off: it’s a straw poll,and is meaningless. Need I remind the audience that Alan Keyes won a Republican straw poll in Alabama in late 1999/early 2000?

As they used to say in Marvel Comics: ‘nuf said.

Really, a write-in to show the media what-for is plain silly.

Second: when a president hits 37% in the polls, that president has far more problems than simply negative press coverage.

Consider the following list of policy items: Iraq, Katrina, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, NSA wiretaps, Dubai Ports World, federal spending, the prescription drug benefit, or social security reform and tell me precisely where one would truly approves of the job that the president has done in the given policy area. Certainly there are divergent views on any single one of those items, but none of them has been a smashing success, and several could be deemed utter failures without much debate.

In terms of Bush’s base, the only areas that one could likely say that Bush probably has truly high, and deep, approval is tax policy and the Supreme Court. Even there there is some debate over taxes in some quarters because of the spending issue and even though the base no doubt is pleased with Roberts and Alito, there is still the lingering bad taste of Harriet Miers for many.

As such, it is ridiculous to place Bush’s political woes at the feet of the press.

Update: James Joyner comments on the poll and notes that Bush’s numbers are bad regardless of which poll one consults.

Filed under: US Politics, Computer Junk | Comments (4) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

Outside The Beltway | OTB linked with Frist Wins Hotline Straw Poll
Outside The Beltway | OTB linked with Bush Popularity Hits New Low in AP Poll
PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » More Bad Numbers linked with [...] ion, a tie from the previous Bush administration low, which also occurred in November. As I noted earlier, this is not the results of bad press, but rather this administration has some very serious pr [...]
Tuesday, March 7, 2006
Amusing
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 10:54 am

Proving that predicting the future is a tad difficult: Click

Update: Gracias to Jay Solo, who points us to Snopes and the debunking of our amusement.

Filed under: Computer Junk | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Friday, February 10, 2006
Good to Know
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 4:46 pm

Via TechWeb: Spyware Barely Touches Firefox.

Plus, Firefox is simply a better browser.

BTW, does PoliBlog (and other blogs) seem to take a few seconds to load? Get Firefox and kiss that wait goodbye: click here.

It’s fast, free, and painless.

C’mon: ya know you want to.

Filed under: Computer Junk | Comments (4) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Saturday, February 4, 2006
More WikiProblems
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:06 am

I have noted my skepticism about WikiPedia in the past and here is more fuel for that fire (for example: here and here).

Via WaPoOn Capitol Hill, Playing WikiPolitics

This is what passes for an extreme makeover in Washington: A summer intern for seven-term Rep. Martin T. Meehan (D-Mass.) altered the congressman’s profile on the Wikipedia Web site to remove an old promise that he would limit his service to four terms.

Someone doctored Sen. Robert C. Byrd’s (D-W.Va.) profile on the site to list his age as 180. (He is 88.) An erroneous entry for Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) claimed that he “was voted the most annoying senator by his peers in Congress.”

On balance, amusing. However, a clear example of the flaws of an open-access encyclopedia (with the Meehan example being the most pernicious).

Some additional examples:

When the Wikipedia entry for Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) noted that he had criticized the president, for example, someone modified it to say that Reid had “rightfully” criticized the president. Someone also recast the state legislative record of Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.), changing a passage reading, “one of her final, failed bills would have made it much more difficult for same-sex parents to see their children in the hospital during an emergency” to the less inflammatory, “Musgrave spent much of her time on social issues, particularly authoring bills to protect children and the traditional definition of marriage, as well as gun owner’s rights.”

And the following sounds good, but not if the goal is research and presentation of accurate information:

“The goal is to give people a free encyclopedia to every person in the world, in their own language,” Wales said. “Not just in a ‘free beer’ kind of way, but also in the free speech kind of way.”

Filed under: US Politics, Computer Junk | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Saturday, January 21, 2006
Lost in Translation
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 2:28 pm

I just spent some time on the phone helping my grandparents (who are in their 80s) hook up a DVD player to an ancient (technologically speaking) TV (with added complication that is hooked up to a DirectTV setup that requires watching normal programming via Channel 22).

After much back and forth and getting an RF Modulator hooked up, we finally got it to work.

However, after all of that they noted that they had the DVD player working, but the name of the movie was onscreen, but it was frozen and wouldn’t do anything. It was, of course, the menu for the disc, but when one is used to only VHS tapes, the concept is quite foreign. It took me a second to realize that there was no reason they should intuitively know what to do with such a menu (and the fact that the DVD player’s remote was improperly setup didn’t help). At any rate, it just struck me as to the degree that as society has become more technologically driven that we acquire a “language” of sorts linked to the way the world works. And just like picking up human languages, the older one gets, the harder a time one has with the techno-language, especially if one is from a generation wherein there was never any initial training in “techno” in the first place.

If one finds a DVD menu foreign, it is no wonder that hooking up the darn thing is difficult. Indeed, in having such conversations, I am frequently struck by the number of assumptions that I make about various electronic devices that someone who isn’t conversant in “techno” would never make, and the difficulty one has in explaining the item-much like trying to explain an idiomatic expression from one language to another. It is rarely a straightforward thing.

And thank Goodness for the internet, as I was able to pull up the manual for their DVD player and a picture of the RF Modulator while I was talking him through the process-otherwise I would never have figured out his remote control problem.

Filed under: Not politics, Computer Junk | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
The Rest of the Story (Techie Version)
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:45 pm

In regards to my router problems mentioned last night, it can now be confirmed: the old wireless router is dead (long live the new wireless router!).

In regards to the problems I was having with the wired router, I discovered (through trial and error with the new wireless router) that despite the instructions, one should set the router for a Dynamic IP Address, rather than for a PPoE. I suspect that had I tried that option with my old Linksys that I would have been able to connect.

Of course that would have been a temp fix, as the wireless network is needed for me to be able to roam the house with my laptop, not to mention the fact that my TiVo network is wireless.

The PPoE thing is odd, because I am sure that when I originally set up my DSL system (having switched from cable due to poor service) that I connected via the PPoE route.

Ah well. All’s well that ends well (except, of course, the annoying fact that a mere power off/on seems to have fried the router. That’s just not right).

Note: Today’s tech tip. If you are using a DSL modem, you may have to adjust the MTU down from 1500 to 1492. If you do, it will save you some headaches…

Filed under: Computer Junk | Comments (2) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Monday, January 9, 2006
Riddle Me This, Techies in the Audience
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:47 pm

I have a DI-514 Wireless Router that up and until yesterday afternoon was working fine. I left for church, and everything was ok, I came home: nada.

The only intervening event is that that power strip to which it was connected was accidentally turned off briefly.

Now whenever I try to connect my DSL modem to the router, the WAN light comes on on the router, but the Ethernet light on the DSL modem does not come on. Also the WLAN light on the router blinks rapidly whenever the router is powered up, which doesn’t seem right. I cannot detect the router via my computer’s wireless card and cannot directly access the router via ethernet cable either.

All the lights come on on the router, but otherwise nothing. Could it be dead? Am I doing something obviously wrong? I have used different ethernet cables, ones that otherwise work to connect my computer to the DSL modem, so that’s not it and I have tried several times to reset the router.

Equally annoying is the fact that I cannot get my old Linksys wired router to connect to my DSL PPoE server. I can access the router via ethernet cable to try and configure it, but it can’t connect for some reason. I have tried resetting the wired router, but it won’t revert to factory settings (I thought starting from scratch would be a good idea, but no go).

Any help would be appreciated. Otherwise, it will be new router time.

Indeed, having typed this out and then having explained the situation to my wife, it seems as if the the thing must be dead, save for the pretty LEDs…

Filed under: Computer Junk | Comments (6) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » The Rest of the Story (Techie Version) linked with [...] of the Story (Techie Version) By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:45 pm In regards to my router problems mentioned last night, it can now be confirmed: the old wireless router is dead (long live the [...]
Sunday, January 1, 2006
More Wikipedia
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 10:54 am

The History News Network has the following article on Wikipedia’s coverage of history: What Is Wikipedia … And How Does It Treat History?

Is is quite interesting and raises the issue less factual accuracy, but of the scope and quality of coverage.

It also notes the degree to which ideological influence affects the content and focus of the articles.

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Thursday, December 29, 2005
More Fun with Wikipedia
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 5:37 pm

I have expressed doubts about Wikipedia in the past (for example), and have some amusing evidence to demonstrate that it isn’t exactly a keen research tool.

I noticed in my referrer logs over he last couple weeks that I have been getting maybe a hit a day from the following Wikipedia article on the TV show Cheers.

Curious, I went to the article to find that the footnote to this passage:

The Finale

NBC dedicated a whole night to Cheers’ final episode. The show began with a “pre-game” show hosted by Bob Costas, followed by the final 98 minute episode itself. Local news then aired tributes to Cheers, and the night concluded with a special Tonight Show broadcast live from the Bull & Finch Pub. Some critics said the episode of The Tonight Show was in poor taste because much of the cast was drunk and were doing silly things on camera—such as a spitball fight between John Ratzenberger and Woody Harrelson.[12]

links to me:

# ^ PoliBlogger (2005). The Last Episode

Which goes to this post on final episodes of TV shows.

In that post the totality of what I have to say about Cheers is:

Cheers: It was ok. As I recall, I was dissatisfied with the way they handled the return of Diane.

While I always pleased to be linked, and am happy for the trickle of visitor being sent my way, I have to say that the referenced material really has almost nothing to do with the content of the paragraph in question.

At any rate, a trivial matter on a trivial topic, but it does show that are reasons why I have my doubts about using Wikipedia for anything of a serious nature. It can be useful for trying to confirm simple facts, although even then I take it with a grain of salt.

Still, to be fair, there was this bit of news from a few weeks ago: Nature: Wikipedia as Good as Britannica.

Filed under: Computer Junk | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
More Wikipedia
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 11:07 am

Writes Jacqueline Mackie Paisley Passey

Um… why are people treating a web site that *ANYONE* can edit as a serious reference source?

Yup.

Yet, it is an ongoing struggle to get my students not to cite the darn thing.

Filed under: Computer Junk, Academia | Comments (6) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

Outside The Beltway linked with Wikipedia: The Faith-Based Encyclopedia?
blogs for industry linked with Citing the web
Monday, December 12, 2005
There are Reasons I Don’t Trust Wikkipedia…
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 3:10 pm

Exhibit A: Man Apologizes After Fake Wikipedia Post

Filed under: Computer Junk | Comments (7) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » More WikiProblems linked with [...] skepticism about WikiPedia in the past and here is more fuel for that fire (for example: here and here). Via WaPoOn Capitol Hill, Playing WikiPolitics This is what passes for an extreme makeover in [...]
PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » More Fun with Wikipedia linked with [...] r. Steven Taylor @ 5:37 pm I have expressed doubts about Wikipedia in the past (for example), and have some amusing evidence to demonstrate that it isn’t exactly a keen research tool. [...]
It Was the Weather…
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:17 am

…and technical failure tha caused my outage yesterday. Or so says the Liquid Web Inc. where the server I used is physically housed.

Hopefully that won’t happen again.

Filed under: Computer Junk, Blogging | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Interesting
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 2:00 pm

Firefox 1.5 Adds Answers.com for Quick Reference

I have not yet d/l’d the new version, but new features are always a good thing-and this sounds like something I would use on a regular basis.

Filed under: Computer Junk | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Saturday, November 26, 2005
DVDs: Approaching Obsolescence?
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:05 am

Via NewScientist: Holographic-memory discs may put DVDs to shame

A computer disc about the size of a DVD that can hold 60 times more data is set to go on sale in 2006. The disc stores information through the interference of light – a technique known as holographic memory.

The discs, developed by InPhase Technologies, based in Colorado, US, hold 300 gigabytes of data and can be used to read and write data 10 times faster than a normal DVD.

Well, I should’ve known that DVDs were about to be on the way out when my 80-something year-old grandmother told me the other day she wanted to get “one of those disk players for the TV”.

Filed under: Computer Junk | Comments (4) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

The Florida Masochist linked with The only constant is change
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Administering the ‘Net
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 6:21 am

Via the BBC: US retains hold of the internet

The US has won its fight to stay in charge of the internet, despite opposition from many nations.

In an eleventh-hour agreement ahead of a UN internet summit in Tunis, Tunisia, negotiators
agreed to leave the US in charge of the net’s addressing system.

[…]

The Tunis deal leaves the day-to-day management of the net in the hands of the California-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann), which answers to the US government.

Icann will keep its current responsibilities for overseeing domain names and addressing systems, such as country domain suffixes, and managing how net browsers and e-mail programs direct traffic.

The idea that anyone is “in charge” or has a “hold” on the internet is an interesting one, if not a misguided one. More accurately it would appear that the issue is the administration of internet standards that remains in US hands. Given that it ain’t broke, not fixing it seems to be a very good idea.

And while this sounds laudable on one level, it strikes me as odd on the other, given the lack of many of basic things like sufficient healthy food, potable water and electricity:

One effort which will receive much attention is the non-profit One Laptop Per Child group, set up by Nicholas Negroponte, chairman and founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Labs.

It plans to produce up to 15 million sub-$100 laptops within a year. Professor Negroponte will unveil the prototype at the summit.

Back to the administration of the way the internet works, the BBC has the comments of Paul Twomey, President of ICANN, who notes:

Only in the past three years have diplomats started paying attention to the way the internet is operated.

It is unfortunate, but perhaps understandable, that they have approached it with a “top down” mindset conditioned by earlier heavily regulated industries and political models of addressing international issues.

Central to the discussion is the role of Icann, the non-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, of which I am president.

Icann coordinates, not controls, the unique identifier system that binds the internet together, including all the domain names and protocol addresses.

Icann works according to the existing internet model of cooperation and collaboration, and encourages all members of the global net community, including the technical community, civil society and governments, to become more involved in its development.

And it has worked well.

Indeed.

He also noted:

So what does Icann do? To use a loose analogy, if the internet were a postal system, the Icann community ensures that the addresses on the envelopes work.

What it does not do is determine what should be in the envelope, deliver the letter or decide who can read it.

Sounds good to me-and one fears that a group of international bureaucrats would be less inclined to adopt such a position.

Filed under: Global Politics, Computer Junk | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
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