Paul Murray's weblog, with news you may have missed and my $0.02 worth on a number of topics.

"You can't make up anything anymore. The world itself is a satire. All you're doing is recording it."
- Art Buchwald

I bet you don't have a friend who's an acupuncturist

E-mail me: pmurray63 [at] (Be patient, I don't check it often.)

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Monday, February 28, 2005
Color photos from World War I.
Color photos from World War II are uncommon enough, but from World War I they're incredibly rare. In fact, I'd have to say offhand that these may be the only ones I've ever seen. (via Daypop)

Saturday, February 26, 2005
New coins.
So did anyone else hear about the impending return of the Buffalo nickel ... as the reverse of a revised Jefferson nickel, instead of the current Monticello. (Here's the original Buffalo nickel.)

Now if they'd only bring back the Walking Liberty or Saint-Gaudens designs...

Superb multimedia.
If you enjoy classical music, you should check out this multimedia presentation of Dvorak's Symphony No. 9, "From the New World." I followed a link from Metafilter and expected to spend about three minutes; I stayed for the entire symphony (about 35 minutes). At the very beginning, I thought it might be a low-rent "Fantasia," but it's not; there's much more depth to it. Highly recommended.

Monday, February 21, 2005
Least shocking news story of the day: Army Having Difficulty Meeting Goals In Recruiting. It takes until the fourth paragraph for the obvious explanation:
Driving the manpower crunch is the Army's goal of boosting the number of combat brigades needed to rotate into Iraq and handle other global contingencies. Yet Army officials see worrisome signs that young American men and women -- and their parents -- are growing wary of military service, largely because of the Iraq conflict.

"Very frankly, in a couple of places our recruiting pool is getting soft," said Lt. Gen. Franklin L. Hagenbeck, the Army's personnel chief. "We're hearing things like, 'Well, let's wait and see how this thing settles out in Iraq,' " he said in an interview. "For the active duty for '05 it's going to be tough to meet our goal, but I think we can. I think the telling year for us is going to be '06."

Friday, February 18, 2005
"This is an ex-parrot!"
Life imitates art in Israel as an irate customer sues a pet shop for selling him a dying parrot:
An indignant Israeli is suing a pet shop that he says sold him a dying parrot, reports the Ma'ariv newspaper. Itzik Simowitz of the southern city of Beersheba contends the shop cheated him because the Galerita-type cockatoo not only failed to utter a word when he got it home, but was also extremely ill. Mr. Simowitz adds that the shop owner assured him the parrot was not ill but merely needed time to adjust to its new environment.

(via BoingBoing)

Wednesday, February 16, 2005
The world's best magic trick ... that never was.
You know the Indian Rope Trick, right? Where a fakir throws a ball of twine into the air, and a small boy climbs up it until he vanishes? Even if you've never consciously thought about it, I'd bet that you're aware of it.

It never existed. It was a hoax that took on a life of its own, according to a new book by Peter Lamont. And the perpetrator went on to become the head of the U.S. Secret Service.

Teller ("the shorter, quieter half of Penn and Teller") reviews the book for the New York Times. The first chapter is also available there; I haven't read it yet, but the review makes it sound interesting. (via BoingBoing)

Debunking the myths.
Three and a half years after 9/11, some people are still spinning conspiracy theories. Popular Mechanics attempts to explaining why those myths are wrong in its March cover story.

I still get forwarded e-mails from people I know with crackpot theories like the ones this article addresses, so I suppose this is a public service. Of course, you'll never convince some people.

Saturday, February 12, 2005
Microsoft in decay?
Michael Malone argues in "R.I.P. Microsoft?" that experienced business reporters like himself develop a sense of when things aren't right at companies ... and that he's getting that feeling about Microsoft:
None of this should come as a surprise to Gates. I remember in the mid-90s he shrugged off the claims that Microsoft was unstoppable by noting that the electronics industry was so cyclical that no company ever stayed on top for long. In that light, Microsoft had a longer run than most. It is still a well-run company, which argues that its fade will be long and slow, like DEC, rather than a sudden death like Wang. And it may yet come back -- there may already be something revolutionary under way in a back lab in Everett or Mountain View -- but, like Yahoo! and Apple before it, Microsoft may have to die in order to be reborn.

For now, though, none of that is obvious. Microsoft is still the dominant company in high-tech, the cynosure of all those things people love and hate about computing, the defining company of our time. It is huge, powerful and confident.

But if you sniff the air, you can just make out the first hints of rot.

I wish I'd read his article about Silicon Graphics ...

Friday, February 11, 2005
Another lightbulb joke.
Rather than forward this via e-mail, I thought I'd just post it here to reward my readers:
Q: How many Bush Administration officials does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: None. There is nothing wrong with the light bulb; its conditions are improving every day. Any reports of its lack of incandescence are a delusional spin from the liberal media. That light bulb has served honorably, and anything you say undermines the lighting effect. Why do you hate freedom?

Thursday, February 10, 2005
The last word about 'Deep Throat' (for now).
I don't want this topic to consume my site, but just a follow-up. Donald Segretti has claimed to a Southern California TV station that he knows who Deep Throat was, that DT is not ill, and that it's not G.H.W. Bush.

So there. Be patient.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005
More on Deep Throat.
In a LA Times column yesterday about jailing reporters who refuse to identify sources to law enforcement, John Dean dropped this tidbit:
Bob Woodward, a reporter on the team that covered the Watergate story, has advised his executive editor at the Washington Post that Throat is ill. And Ben Bradlee, former executive editor of the Post and one of the few people to whom Woodward confided his source's identity, has publicly acknowledged that he has written Throat's obituary.

The Post's Howard Kurtz followed up later that day with this:
How does Dean know this? He's got his own Deep Throat, he says. Woodward wouldn't comment on any alleged illness, and the current executive editor, Len Downie, tells me he hasn't had any such conversation with Woodward.

Kurtz appeared in a live chat on the Post's website later the same day, and this exchange followed:
Could that be a "non-denial denial"? John Dean said Woodward "advised" Downie; he didn't say Woodward and Downie had a conversation. So: does Downie deny receiving any communication whatsoever from Woodward concerning a Throat illness?

Howard Kurtz: Len Downie told me he had no information about Deep Throat being ill, not from Woodward or anyone else. That doesn't mean Throat isn't ill (Downie, unlike Ben Bradlee, doesn't know the source's identity). Presumably he's of advanced age and is not going to live forever. But I was trying to check the one fact in Dean's column that could possibly be verified, and did not get what I consider to be a non-denial denial. I'm told Dean is going to be on MSNBC's Countdown tonight, where presumably he will talk about this very subject.

Keith Olbermann interviewed Dean Monday night on Countdown:
OLBERMANN: Let‘s first establish this issue of the health of the man known as Deep Throat. You wrote, quote, “he is ill” and several news organizations turned that into he‘s near death. How do you know how he is?

DEAN: Well, the piece I wrote was actually about anonymous sources. I just happened in talking to the editor decide that obviously, the biggest anonymous source that history knows in journalism is Deep Throat. I said why don‘t I start with that without getting into when I learned this and how I learned it, this was an undisclosed source that gave me the information that Woodward had reported to Downey that this man was ill.

I don‘t know exactly the words that Bob used. Whether it was that he was ill. That he was in bad condition or what. So when I—I‘m not sure exactly what the phraseology was. But it was clear that he was sometimes, he was not in the best of health. So when I saw that later, not too long ago, that Ben Bradlee had admitted or publicly stated that he had done an obituary, I said my goodness. This is getting closer than I really thought it might be. Because I have not been able to figure out which of my former friends this character may be.

OLBERMANN: You mentioned Len Downey the “Post” executive editor, and did you get a Nixon vintage era, nondenial denial in there? Because it sounded like Len Downey said that Woodward has not advised him that Throat is ill or to make any kinds of plans. Is he parsing circumstances to the best of your knowledge? Is he right and you‘re wrong?

DEAN: Well, it‘s either he has a very bad memory because my source when he told me this, had no reason to volunteer this other than the fact that he learned it directly from Downey. So there‘s no reason for him to do it. We may be parsing words here. We may be that Len Downey doesn‘t remember exactly the circumstances, the conditions in which he made this statement. But as I say, it got corroborated to me when you don‘t generally have a former executive editor writing obits to put those in the can to be ready for the day they might be needed.

Friday, February 04, 2005
Not gonna do it.
Now here's an interesting suspect for the identity of "Deep Throat," the secret source for some of Woodward and Bernstein's Watergate reporting: George Herbert Walker Bush:
"Deep Truth" author Adrian Havill explains in a Romenesko letter why George H.W. Bush would have it out for Richard Nixon and talk to Woodstein. "When I presented this theory to Len Garment, a former Nixon aide he demurred, saying that Bush wasn't the type of daredevil to skulk around in underground garages," writes Havill. "Perhaps, but then who would have figured the former President to go skydiving in his eighties."

Whether it's him or not, this comment from Woodward the other day is intriguing:
Asked why Deep Throat would continue to want anonymity now more than three decades after the scandal, Woodward said he could not answer the question because it might help reveal the source's identity.

"When you know who it is, when that story's told, your reaction will be 'now I understand' (why the person wants anonymity). And so to answer that question would lead you down that trail, and that's something we're not anxious to do," he said.

Brace yourself.
Remember the short bursts of optimism that spam might be coming under control? Well, forget it:
An advanced spamming technique could push the volume of unwanted e-mail to new heights in coming months, straining the integrity of the online communication system, according to several top experts who monitor the activity of spam gangs around the world.

Illegal bulk-mailers have been able to deploy massive blasts of spam by routing it through the computers of their Internet service providers, rather than sending it directly from individual machines, the experts said.

More from CNET:
This will cause serious problems for the e-mail infrastructure, as it is impractical to block mail with domain names from large ISPs. Linford predicts that ISPs will see a growth in the volume of bulk mail they send and receive over the next two months, with spam levels rising from 75 percent of all e-mail to around 95 percent within a year.

"The e-mail infrastructure is beginning to fail," Linford warned. "You'll see huge delays in e-mail and servers collapsing. It's the beginning of the e-mail meltdown."

Wednesday, February 02, 2005
Today's snicker.
Apple's iPod is wildly popular on Microsoft's corporate campus in Seattle ... to the point where managers are issuing memos complaining about it and many users have switched to ear buds or headphones that are less identifiable. (The iPod doesn't use Microsoft's software, you see.)
Robert Scoble, who calls himself the "Microsoft Geek Blogger" and is one of the company's most widely read and vocal mouthpieces, sometimes appears obsessed with the iPod.

He recently penned an open letter to Bill Gates about how to build an iPod-killer (first thing: start a blog). "Even I want an iPod," he confessed.

The Microsoft manager said he's heard from several executives who dutifully bought Microsoft-powered players, tried them, failed to get them working, and returned them in favor of an iPod. He went through the same experience, he said.

In case you're wondering, no, I don't own an iPod. I do own an Archos Jukebox Recorder (which is out of production); it's not slick-looking and the screen is too small, but there's no DRM crap on it and I paid a lot less.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005
They never said it, continued.
First We looked at Voltaire ... now it's famous quotations that have been falsely attributed to Winston Churchill.

No respect at all.
This New York Post story is both funny and sad:
Even in death, Rodney Dangerfield gets no respect. The late comedy legend's longtime publicist, Kevin Sasaki, got a call from a booker at CNN last week asking him if "Rodney would be available to share his comments on the passing and legacy of Johnny Carson." Sasaki replied that unless CNN had a new way of linking up to the afterlife via satellite, that would be impossible. Dangerfield, of course, passed away last October. Ironically, his new DVD set, "Rodney Dangerfield — The Ultimate No Respect Collection," was posthumously released last month, and includes clips culled from his more than 70 appearances on "The Tonight Show."

(via TVBarn)