Yearly Archives: 2006

Best music of 2006

Here are my picks for best music of the year, including samples of key tracks.

Richard AshcroftKeys to the World
The former lead singer of The Verve, Richard Ashcroft pulled from a variety of styles to make an outstanding CD. The Motown flavored “Music is Power,” the brit-pop “Break the Night with Colour” and the Paul Westerburg-like ballad “Sweet Brother Malcolm” are all excellent songs. The title track is another superb brit-pop song.

sample of Keys to the World by the Richard Ashcroft (mp3)

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Comment spam update

For those of you interested in this stuff…

The raging river of comment spam has slowed to a trickle for me. I have started banning I.P. ranges of the largest offenders, which has helped a LOT. A majority of these are from Asian countries. Not surprising when it’s been reported that a great deal of spam (email and otherwise) comes from internet service providers in that area. Looking at my logs, it’s also interesting that a few are coming from scattered ISPs here in the States. No doubt these are zombie computers, infected with software that is sending out comment and email spams. Is your anti-virus software up-to-date?

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Time’s person of the year is you! (and me too)

Look at 2006 through a different lens and you’ll see… a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It’s about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people’s network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It’s about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.

Sure, it’s a mistake to romanticize all this any more than is strictly necessary. Web 2.0 harnesses the stupidity of crowds as well as its wisdom… But that’s what makes all this interesting.

Bravo. Excellent choice. It really is amazing how the power of the collaborative web has changed things. Here’s the article and links to related coverage.

Fighting comment spam

Starting about a week ago, I’ve been getting over 1000 spam comments on this web site per day. Yes, that is not a typo, I said over one-thousand. The spambots are certainly busy during the holidays, aren’t they?

While the vast majority of these comments have been caught by the anti-spam plugin that comes with WordPress, I’d like to stop them before they are submitted. So, I’m trying a couple of other plugins: Bad Behavior and Comment Policy. The first one blocks spambots by analyzing their requests and comparing them to known offenders, and the second forces you to agree to this site’s comment policy before your comment can be posted (which because of the way it is set up, spambots should not be smart enough to check the box properly).

As always, let me know if you have any problems.

Christmas spirit

I spent a great deal of yesterday evening writing up Christmas cards to send out. As I got to a lot of the names on the list I start to wonder… Why do I have contact with some of these people only once a year? Some I intended to visit, or correspond with a lot more than I have. Where does the time go? It seems like it was just a few months ago when I was writing out my Christmas cards last year.

Holiday Tree at the State Capitol

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Of wallpaper and free time

I spent most of last weekend removing the last traces of wallpaper from my condo, when I stripped it from the downstairs bathroom. Yes, my home is now wallpaper free!

If I were ruler of the kingdom, I would require anyone installing wallpaper to be responsible for its removal. The installers would be required to do that when any future owner of said wallpaper wishes it to be removed. As much as I dislike removing wallpaper, after removing it from my kitchen, and now the bathroom, I’ve become quite good at it. Although I probably shouldn’t admit to that (no, I am not available for outside jobs).

Yesterday I spent a few hours spackling the bathroom walls, and today I painted the primer on. Hopefully I’ll get the final coat of paint on in the next few days.

As I was cleaning the paint brush today, it hit me that I’ve have spent more of my free time fixing up or improving this condo than any other home I’ve lived in. One thing I have come to realize: I would most certainly rather be doing something else. If money were no object…

A powerful truth

I just finished watching Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth. I don’t care what your political mindset is, there is no way anyone can see this film and not agree that global warming is an urgent crisis we need to do something about. As the former Vice President says, this is not a political issue, it is a moral one. If the rise in carbon dioxide emissions continue to increase at an exponential rate, the planet’s temperature will rise along with it. Billions of people will suffer fates similar to the hundreds of thousands of Hurricane Katrina victims.

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Faux News

The Huffington Post has obtained an internal memo from Fox News, which was written the day after the election. From the memo:

The elections and Rumsfeld’s resignation were a major event, but not the end of the world. The war on terror goes on without interruption… And let’s be on the lookout for any statements from the Iraqi insurgents, who must be thrilled at the prospect of a Dem-controlled congress.

I guess the powers that be at Fox News were absent the day they talked about objectivity in journalism school. Be sure and bring this up the next time anyone complains about the liberal bias in the media.

“Fair and Balanced” indeed.

Bob Dylan at the Kohl Center

Last night I went to the Bob Dylan concert at the Kohl Center here in Madison. When you go to see such a legendary performer, you bring a lot of expectations along. After all, you’ve heard those classic songs a hundred times before, in their original recorded form.

Over the past several decades, Dylan hasn’t been one to reproduce the song’s original studio sound in concert, and he certainly doesn’t sing the same way he did twenty (or even ten) years ago. However, the outstanding backing band, and that sometimes raspy voice did have more than their share of shining moments. That was especially true when they performed the bluesy songs like “Lonesome Day Blues” or “Rollin’ and Tumblin'” (a song from his newest and highly acclaimed disc, Modern Times). Musically, another strong moment came when the band opened the encore with another of the new songs “Thunder on the Mountain.”

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