masala: the international spice
Flavor your world with masala

Sunday, July 25

O'Reilly: Shut Up!
-from Doonesbury
(view full strip)

It's Showtime for 'Outfoxed' (see review)
"Outfoxed - Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism," an anti-Fox News Channel documentary, has topped the best-selling DVD list on, beating out pre-orders for the widescreen edition of "Star Wars Trilogy" and Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ."

The controversial project, which portrays Fox News as a slanted and right-leaning news organization, skipped a theatrical release and its DVD went on sale online on July 13.

The most powerful sequence of the film is Bill O’Reilly’s on-air interview with Jeremy Glick, the son of a Sept. 11 victim. Glick attempted to explain his opposition to Bush’s post-attack foreign policy; an enraged O’Reilly interrupted and browbeat his guest, even asserting that his father “would not approve of this.” Later, O’Reilly claimed Glick had “accused President Bush of knowing about 9/11 and murdering his own father.” Glick, of course, had said nothing of the sort.

Complaints Cause Southern Papers to Drop Doonesbury
Conglomerate drops column despite 15 newspapers voting to keep. The publisher of the Anniston Star, a paper that was forced to drop the popular but controversial column, called the move "wrong, offensive to First Amendment freedoms."

Friday, July 23

How Honest is Mumbai?
A reporter dropped six wallets across the city. Each carried Rs 300, an expired railway pass, a fake photo identity card (that had the address and cell phone number of the reporter) and a telephone diary, which also carried the reporter’s name and number.

Two of the six wallets were dutifully returned. All the wallets were picked up by men. Several women spotted them, some even hesitated but none of them picked up the wallets to either steal or to return.

Wednesday, July 21

Duke Gives IPods to Freshmen
Duke University will give each of its 1,650 incoming freshmen a free iPod this fall
as part of an initiative to foster innovative uses of technology in the classroom,
the school said Monday.

Duke wants to experiment with creative academic uses for the devices. The school
will preload the 20-GB iPods (retail price, $300) with freshman-orientation
information, an academic calendar and even the Duke fight songs before handing
them out to the incoming class Aug. 19.

Students also will be able to use the devices to download course content, recorded
lectures, foreign language lessons, audio books and music from a special Duke
website modeled after iTunes. The school will supply voice recorders for some
classes, enabling students to record notes while working in the field.

What is the Power of Internet Mobs?
A few weeks ago, Wikipedia—an "open content" encyclopedia where anybody can
write or edit an entry—produced its 300,000th article. At 90.1 million words,
Wikipedia is larger than any other English-language encyclopedia, including the
latest edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, which has only 85,000 articles and 55
million words. This is all the more impressive when you realize that Wikipedia came
into existence a little more than three years ago, and not a single contributor has
been paid. Every word was written by volunteers, an enormous army digging out a
massive anthill, grain by grain.

Yet the process has its flaws. When the mob tried to draw a few simple pictures, it
couldn't. The group agreed that a television tube should be represented by empty
space, but it couldn't generate any other details. An attempt at drawing a face
produced an even more shapeless mess. The only partially successful picture was
a goat: At around 4,000 votes, it looked pretty goatlike, and at 5,000 votes the
mob revised it to make the horns curvier. But after 7,000 votes the picture
decayed into a random jumble of pixels, as if the group could no longer agree on
what a goat should look like. Mobs, it seems, can't draw.

Saturday, July 17

Games can keep you
alert at work.

Games at work may be good for you
Playing simple computer games at the office could improve productivity and
job satisfaction, research suggests.

A round of Solitaire could be used as a strategy to break up the day and help
people work more effectively because it gives their brain a break from complex
work tasks.

Simple computer games like Solitaire and Minesweeper have social advantages
because they are fun, they provide distraction, involvement, and elements of
competition against yourself and others, he says.

More from Professor Jeffrey Goldstein

Friday, July 16

Richard Stallman
Richard Stallman
played a big role in
developing the GPL.

Toward True Open Source
Crafty proprietary users can make use of GPLed code without distributing their
changes, but the GPL stops others in the open source community from re-using your
code. Why restrict your friends for the sake of non-working measures against your

This is where BSD and MIT-style licenses come in. These are licenses that,
basically, say you are completely free to re-use the source code anywhere you like,
even in proprietary software, as long as you give credit to the original authors.

Put simply, BSD-style licenses knock down the community's gates and let everyone
use open source code for whatever they like. Here's the ultimate test of freedom:
can I use GPLed code in my BSD-licensed program? Can I use BSD-licensed code
in my GPLed program? (No I can't, and yes I can).

Wikipedia: General Public License
The user is only required to accept the terms of the GPL if he wishes to exercise
rights normally restricted by copyright law, such as redistribution. Conversely, if a
person distributes copies of the work (in particular, modified versions) while keeping
the source code secret or otherwise violating the GPL, he can be sued by the
original author under copyright law. This is a clever legal twist, and is the reason the
GPL has been described as a "copyright hack".

Sunday, July 11

Cali colored

There's no love for
California in the
Electoral College.

When States Rights = States Wrongs
California and its population of 33.7 million get 55 electoral votes, while the 26.6 million
residents of the 17 least populated states and the District of Columbia comprise 67
electoral votes.

One blogger envisions separating California into 23 new states, the smallest of which
would still have a larger population than Wyoming. The largest state, the state of Los
Angeles, would have 9.8 million residents and be the 8th most populous state in the new

This would have the fortunate effect of giving California 46 senators, and would allow
California senators to more accurately represent the diversity of political opinions held
throughout the state. And allow America to hopefully get a popularly elected Commander
in Chief.

Red/Blue Quiz
More accurate than obvious; I'm a mental moderate.

Friday, July 9

Will He Ever Lose?
Ken Jennings, a software engineer from Utah, has taken Jeopardy by storm.

July 21
The Sports Guy's in Awe of the Jeopardy Guy

Monday, July 5

Ayacucho riots
Rioting teachers set fire to a hotel
in Ayacucho. Educators are demanding
higher wages and accusing the
government of trying to privatize
public schools.

Macchu Picchu
Incan structures at Macchu
. 80% of Peru is mountainous.


so the peruvian airline situation is a mess, but it's
better than riding through ayacucho with the riots.

Aero Continente's founder Fernando Zevallos is on a US
list as a drug kingpin and they've frozen his assets,
but I don't know how that affects the airline if at
all. Seems like a soap opera.

LanPeru has its own problems. On Wednesday, a Peruvian
judge ordered flights of LanPeru to be grounded,
saying it had violated several civil aviation norms
including operating with irregular permits. LanPeru
rejected the court order and has continued its flights
(as you can tell). CEO Vlamir Domic said his airline
would not stop flying, noting several months of
attempts to ground it "have always failed."

The company that filed the suit against LanPeru to
stop flying is connected to Aero Continente.

Violent riots in Peru have scared away many
that were expected to show for the big Copa
soccer tournament. Peru's Chamber of Tourism
said it expected 10,000 tourists for the July 6-25
12-nation event, down from an initial private sector
estimate of 30,000.

So hopefully you're able to navigate the airlines,
avoid the riots, and catch some drinks with crazy
soccer fans. We'll talk to you when you're back in the


[Update: The government passed an emergency stay for
LanPeru, ensuring flights will continue through Copa

Aero Continente's insurance agency pulled its contract
with Aero Continente in relation to the airline's drug issues,
but the Peruvian government filed another emergency stay
to allow Aero Continente to stay in the air through the
end of Copa America. ]

Friday, July 2

Downloads of the Mozilla
browser hit an all time high the
day after CERT recommended
switching from IE for
security reasons.

Feds Warn Against Internet Explorer
The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, known as CERT,
issued a "vulnerability note" saying that computer users should not use
the Internet Explorer browser because of security vulnerabilities that
hackers can exploit to launch attacks on personal computers and
corporate networks.

The security lapses can cause a Web site to make the browser think, in
effect, that it is running a program that violates its security settings. The
Web site can then be used to do anything from recording keystrokes,
which make it easier to steal passwords and credit-card numbers, to
installing pop-up-ad programs.

CERT is suggesting that computer users take steps such as applying
security updates to Outlook e-mail programs and maintaining antivirus
software, and using alternative Web browsers.

Tech Industry Begs for Oversight
Some major computer companies, including Microsoft and Computer
Associates International, issued a report in April that said the Homeland
Security Department "should examine whether tailored government action
is necessary" to compel improvements in the design of computer
software. The report focused on sensitive computer networks such as
those operating banks, telephone networks or water pipelines.

Thursday, July 1

Marcelo Salas

Injury-hit Salas ponders future
'I haven't decided anything,' Salas said. 'I'm
going to unwind, clear my head and we'll know
in the next few days if there's anything new. I'm
not in a hurry or anxious.'

Salas has been linked with Paris St Germain of
France, Real Mallorca of Spain and Mexican
giants America, as well as clubs in Qatar and
Saudi Arabia.