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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Tuesday, May 29, 2007
The Washington Post has a book excerpt this weekend: How the Pentagon Got Its Shape. Short answer: to fit on the unusually shaped original plot of land. The long answer is pretty interesting, though.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007
The Onion does it again.
The problem with good satire is that, all too often, reality catches up with it. (See the Art Buchwald quote in the left-hand column that has served as this blog's motto for years.) The Onion has proven this again and again. The latest example:

The Onion, October 2, 2002:

RIAA Sues Radio Stations For Giving Away Free Music
October 2, 2002
Issue 38•36

LOS ANGELES—The Recording Industry Association of America filed a $7.1 billion lawsuit against the nation's radio stations Monday, accusing them of freely distributing copyrighted music.

"It's criminal," RIAA president Hilary Rosen said. "Anyone at any time can simply turn on a radio and hear a copyrighted song. Making matters worse, these radio stations often play the best, catchiest song off the album over and over until people get sick of it. Where is the incentive for people to go out and buy the album?"

Los Angeles Times, May 21, 2007:

Artists and labels seek royalties from radio
By Jim Puzzanghera, Times
Staff WriterMay 21, 2007

WASHINGTON — With CD sales tumbling, record companies and musicians are looking at a new potential pot of money: royalties from broadcast radio stations.

For years, stations have paid royalties to composers and publishers when they played their songs. But they enjoy a federal exemption when paying the performers and record labels because, they argue, the airplay sells music.

Now, the Recording Industry Assn. of America and several artists' groups are getting ready to push Congress to repeal the exemption, a move that could generate hundreds of millions of dollars annually in new royalties.

(via MetaFilter)

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Proxy vote.
The 1994 film The Hudsucker Proxy is generally regarded as the Coen Brothers' biggest "failure." Some argue that's at least partly due to it having the worst movie name of all time. I've always enjoyed it, however, to the point where I bought it on DVD. It's witty, it has a great cast, the visuals are dazzling, and the score by Carter Burwell (with a major uncredited assist from Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian) is wonderful. It's a great homage to old screwball comedies from the past.

I finally found someone else who agrees with me: this blogger thinks it's better than their Best Picture winner Fargo (not sure that I'll go that far). There are two clips you can view at that page. Warning: the second paragraph on that page pretty much describes the entire plot, so if you prefer to be surprised, skip over it. You can watch the clips without having too much spoiled, though.

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Monday, May 07, 2007
Auletta on Mossberg.
Ken Auletta profiles the most powerful journalist in the technology business, the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg. For what it's worth, I agree with Mossberg a lot. (via Romenesko)

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Listening to users.
CNET reports that Microsoft spent months working on a major upgrade to Hotmail that would make it work more like a desktop application, with drag-and-drop editing and message previews. There was just one problem: test users hated it. Not only was it different, it was slow -- particularly for dial-up users.

To their credit -- and it's a shame to have to single out a decision such as this for praise -- the program managers let the users have their way. The fancy desktop-like interface became an option, and another "classic" version originally intended only for older browsers became the new default.

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