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Kudos to Dave Winer for updating the XML-RPC spec to remove the ASCII limitation on string values. This brings the spec up to date with common usage, and makes it officially possible to include non-English text in XML-RPC transactions.

More kudos to Seyed Razavi for getting Dave Winer to do it. I tried and f…


Road Trip

BOOM! The first thunderstorm of the summer. The lightning is so bright you can see colors in the landscape - green grass, black tree trunks, and millions of raindrops caught motionless in the strobe light. And BOOM!

Tomorrow I head to Québec with my mother; we're going up way north of Québec city, to a lake called St. Jean, where (it is whispered) temperatures are below ei…


Center for Hellenic Studies

I'm writing this on a northbound train, headed back to Vermont after spending three days (and three air-conditioned nights) at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, DC.

The Center for Hellenic Studies is the kind of place that would launch a thousand classics careers, if only more people knew about it. Picture an ivory tower, sliced int…


NITLE Blog Census

The NITLE Blog Census - young but daily growing!

Here's a little chart of the growth in the census since we started crawling in early May. The red line is the offical blog count on Technorati, for comparison.

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For the past few weeks, there have been large strikes taking place in France. The proximate cause of the strikes is a proposal for pension reform and school decentralization, but there is a lot of history involved. For a while, it looked like the June school exams would have to be postponed, although teachers worked out a compromise with the government at the last minute. Nevertheless, the st…


Blog Formats

Sam Ruby is suggesting a fresh start for a weblog log format. As Lord High Poohbah of the NITLE Blog Census, I endorse it to the hilt. And I even have a name in mind - let's call it "RSS XP".…



Here's a great illustration of why it's bad to rely on metadata alone.

There's a nice project out there called GeoURL. Bloggers figure out what their coordinates are, and include that information in a META tag in their weblog. This information consists of a latitude/longitude pair.

Students of Murphy's Law will instantly see the potential for mayhe…


En Grève

For the past few weeks, there have been large strikes taking place in France. For a while, it looked like the June school exams would have to be postponed, although teachers worked out a compromise with the government at the last minute. Trains get cancelled, school gets cancelled.

I considered sitting down with an old issue of the Nouvel Observateur, a glass of Liberty wine, and som…



[Note: I'm going to disguise some proper and place names in this post. Please don't take it personally]

In 1997, I moved for a while to southern France. I had conned my way into a fellowship to spend a year doing landscape painting, and the only condition attached to it was that I had to leave the country. Reasonable enough, I thought.

I started out in Scotland, gradually drifting…


MSN Boycott

Let the world know you are participating in the Microsoft crawler boycott - add your name to the MSNBOT boycott page!…


Microsoft Boycott

Martin Remy takes issue with my call for a boycott of the Microsoft search crawler.

On the practical level, he questions the effectiveness of such an effort:

Maybe I'm missing some subtle intended effect here, but on the surface this seems a bit like withholding my listing from the phone directory out of…


Guar Gum

Huge platters of sushi followed by Cointreau cake and ice cream. Truly we live like kings.

We stopped in the supermarket on our way home to pick up the ice cream, and found an incredible, out-of-control sale: three Breyer's ice cream cartons for the price of one!

Well, that was too good to pass up. But I was puzzled by the profusion of vanilla flavors (and voracious shoppers ha…


Cormac Twomey

Cormac Twomey is a nice guy. I met him at this year's Emerging Technology conference, and we geeked out on search engines several times. He and his company are big believers in RDF, they have a nice demo search engine of medical data, they don't seem to be evil. Cormac is a compact and friendly guy, you wouldn't think twice about introducing h…


Winer on Microsoft

Dave Winer claims a scoop - Microsoft is out to unseat Google. I would refer Dave to a post I wrote last month, where I mentioned that MS is actively recruiting for a Google killer. Not to mention that Microsoft has made no secret of their new search efforts.

Meanwhile, here…


Boycott MSN

Microsoft is now crawling the web for its new MSN search service, the one that is going to try to put Google out of business. (via Jeremy Zawodny's blog).

Ordinarily, I'm all for diversity in search engines. But Microsoft is a special case - the company is a monopolist, and it likes to extend its reach. With forty billio…


Piotrek Sus is a Hoax

News flash! Marysia Cywinska-Milonas has been investigating the Piotrek Sus story and says it's a hoax. Read her full (English) post for the details!…


Piotrek Sus

I looked at the "Top 25 Blogs" links over at the blog census yesterday and was surprised to see a Polish blog had risen to the #6 slot. Usually a non-English blog in the top 10 means that a template site has slipped through my filters. But a closer look at the blog turned up somet…



It's a cool and lovely day in Brandon - overcast, humid, trying to decide if it wants to rain. "Migraine weather", according to the better half, who sees sparks and auras and knows all about migraines. The cats are asleep together on a pile of fresh laundry, I'm eating bad cold pizza and enjoying the rare delight of a Saturday without the buzz of la…


NITLE Blog Census

The NITLE Blog Census page is now live. I'll probably keep fixing it up, but there's enough material already present to amuse the jaded eye for a minute or two. Go check and see if your blog is on the A-List - I've filtered the rankings to remove the kinds of non-blog sites that clog the …


Old Bloggers

Dave Winer worries about definitions:

A thought occurred to me during the closing panel at yesterday's conference. When asked for a show of hands of people who care what a blog is, three peoples' hands shot up: David Weinberg…


EU Vote

Thank sweet God in heaven, Poland just voted to join the European Union!…


Polish Election

Over in Poland, a nail-biter of an election. People are voting in the referendum to join the European Union.

The outcome of the vote isn't in doubt, but what is in doubt is whether the voter turnout will exceed 50%, making the referendum binding. Things don't look good right now - after a full day of voting, the turnout is 17% and change (here's a little 06.02.2003

Lessig Petition

Lawrence Lessig and other have launched a petition to try and save the public domain. The basic idea is clever - require copyright owners to pay a token sum ($1) fifty years after the publication date. If the copyright owner doesn't pay, the work goes into the public domain.

This preserves the rights of copyright holders who are still making money off of their work, while permitting o…


First Birthday

I started this site a year ago today. Happy Birthday, weblog!

Thanks to everyone who has read this site in the past year, whether on purpose, via Google, or through a URL typing accident.

At Idle Words, we know you have a choice of content providers, and we greatly appreciate your business.

Please help yourself …


Bush And Iraq

They make a desolation and call it peace.

Even Nicholas Kristof thinks the Bush regime lied to us about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Bush says his WMD claims are vindicated because we found a suspiciously clean trailer, free of any biological agents.

It boggles my mind that two years after weapons-grade …

Idle Words

brevity is for the weak

Greatest Hits

The Alameda-Weehawken Burrito Tunnel
The story of America's most awesome infrastructure project.

Argentina on Two Steaks A Day
Eating the happiest cows in the world

Scott and Scurvy
Why did 19th century explorers forget the simple cure for scurvy?

No Evidence of Disease
A cancer story with an unfortunate complication.

Controlled Tango Into Terrain
Trying to learn how to dance in Argentina

Dabblers and Blowhards
Calling out Paul Graham for a silly essay about painting

Attacked By Thugs
Warsaw police hijinks

Dating Without Kundera
Practical alternatives to the Slavic Dave Matthews

A Rocket To Nowhere
A Space Shuttle rant

Best Practices For Time Travelers
The story of John Titor, visitor from the future

100 Years Of Turbulence
The Wright Brothers and the harmful effects of patent law

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Every Damn Thing

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