Monday, February 02, 2004

stumbled-upon websites

I found this link a while ago when I was looking for aerial maps (I don't remember why): HomeTownLocator Gazetteer: Census Info, Physical and Cultural Features, Aerial Photos, Maps, Zip Code Data. It's a great collection of sources for information about places in the USA, including census data. It's through this site I found the aerial map, from TerraServer to be precise. Here is what I found (though they're really old):


This is a view of our house on April 12, 1991. That big blob in the middle, next to the red dot, is Stanley's acre. It is now Stanley's half acre, and there are two built-fast-to-sell-fast houses on the south half acre. It looks like an image taken after a neutron bomb was dropped or something as even back in 1991, there was too much traffic on Strawberry Hill Avenue. This shows NO cars. And this date was a Friday, so it show cars bumper-to-bumper. Funny how this view shows how much land a couple of tennis courts take up.


This is a topological map done in 1986. The arrow is pointing to the dot that is our house. See, I'm not kidding when I say we live right next door to a school! Stanley says our house is on one of the highest points in Norwalk (though we can't see the Sound unless, I'm told, we go on the roof). When Norwalk flooded in 1955 (the year of horrific flooding in Connecticut) and destroyed quite a bit of downtown Norwalk, Stanley said the water only came up to near the top of the cellar steps. He said he remembers sitting on the top step looking at it. (We live very, very close to the Norwalk River, which is where downtown Norwalk is located -- if there IS a downtown Norwalk anymore.)

Interesting stuff. Well, look up your own house ... that should be interesting to you ...

dreamanatomy.jpgFrom those whimsical people at the National Library of Medicine, we have Dream Anatomy says: "Drawn mainly from the collections of the National Library of Medicine, Dream Anatomy shows off the anatomical imagination in some of its most astonishing incarnations, from 1500 to the present." An interesting look through one of those "who woulda thunk" collections. If this is not enough, check out Smallpox: A Great and Terrible Scourge.

Find out what Nurse Jones has to say.

What can you do with a Taco Bell that's gone bust? How about an IHOP? Find out here, at Not Fooling Anybody. Dontcha wonder why people devote so much time and effort to sites like this? Whatever. I'm glad they do, because they're fun.

steinerplastics_gottschoschleinsner1953.gifOne of my favorite stumbled-upon sites is the Library of Congress. I just found this exhibit (again?): American Memory. Check out this movie of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake. If you spend even a little time going through these archives, you will realize what an amazing amount of dedication and work assembling these collections online has taken. And the two collections mentioned in this entry (the National Library of Medicine Exhibits from above) are just snippets of what's out there just on government sites alone. I am in awe.

Time to go grocery shopping ...
posted by lee on 02/02/04 at 04:46 PM
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Friday, February 06, 2004

A Handy Dandy President Picker

Can't decide which candidate to vote for? Searching for more information on a candidate? Try Presidential Match. Guess what ... my top match was Kucinich. Somebody tell me again why he's not electable, other than The Media says he's not?

This little test thingie is from AOL News/Time. I read about it in Electablog (by Dave Pell). Nice logo design, colors.
posted by lee on 02/06/04 at 11:01 AM
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Sunday, February 08, 2004

the president as buffoon

We forgot to watch the prez on Meet the Press. I guess that's okay because just reading the transcript upset me so much I expect my psoriasis to flare up any minute now. One of the parts that really bugged me was his talk about cutting taxes for small businesses. Well, how come we paid more taxes last year and will be paying even more this year for our small business? Supposedly he's trying to benefit entrepreneurs. Well, we'd sure like to find out how ... just read it yourself if you missed the show: Meet the Press - Transcript for Feb. 8th

Bushie: ... And I look forward to debate on the economy because I think one of those things that's very important is that the entrepreneurial spirit of this country be strong and the small business sector be strong. And the policies I have laid out enhance entrepreneurship, they encourage small business creation, and I think this economy is coming around just right, frankly.

Russert: The General Accounting Office, which are the nation's auditors

President Bush: Yeah.

Russert: have done a study of our finances.

President Bush: Um hmm.

Russert: And this is what your legacy will be to the next generation. It says that our "current fiscal policy is unsustainable." They did a computer simulation that shows that balancing the budget in 2040 could require either cutting total Federal spending in half or doubling Federal taxes.

President Bush: Um hmm.

Russert: How why, as a fiscal conservative as you like to call yourself, would you allow a $500 billion deficit and this kind of deficit disaster?

President Bush: Sure. The budget I just proposed to the Congress cuts the deficit in half in five years. Now, I don't know what the assumptions are in the GAO report, but I do know that if Congress is wise with the people's money, we can cut the deficit in half. ... [more unbelievable bullshit]

Stanley said that when Clinton evaded answering questions, at least he had finesse. I was never a Clinton fan -- I didn't vote for him either time, I confess (I voted for Perot) -- but god how I long for him to be the one in the Oval Office. It's going to take years to undo the damage the Pretender has wrought. How can anyone with at least two brain cells to rub together even think about supporting this moron? Particularly if they have children. Especially if they have children -- unless they secretly hate their kids and want them to live in a nightmare world.

The other part that really bothered me was his attempt to explain to the parents of the 530 soldiers who've died in Iraq why this was necessary. He said, in essence, nothing. There is nothing he can say to atone for his murder of 530 Americans.
posted by lee on 02/08/04 at 11:42 AM
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a link to a lot of interesting exhibits

WebExhibits is a gateway to interesting sites (some more complete than others) such as "Calendars through the Ages," "Pigments through the Ages," and "Butter." "Butter" has an article about how to make ghee. Look for the "Art Optics" exhibit -- which is all about the theory that has art historians in a tizzy.
posted by lee on 02/08/04 at 06:25 PM
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Friday, February 13, 2004

bill maher writes ...

Bill Maher has a blog now (saw it on the spotlight section of the MT home page -- brand new blog and it's already up there; how ass-kissing is that?) Anyway, you can try to read his entries -- the type is white on blue and so small it looks like he's paying by the byte, jeez. (Cruddy design.) Sometimes Maher is funny and sometimes his jokes fall flat, but at least he thinks before flapping his jaws. I like him better than I ever liked Dennis Miller (before Miller lost his mind and bent over for the Bushies) and I used to like Miller a lot. Back in the days when HE thought before flapping his jaws.
posted by lee on 02/13/04 at 10:11 AM
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orangeguru // wild visual blogging: pictures are great. The poetry? No comment. An interesting site by Dieter Mueller, who I THINK currently hails from Munich.
posted by lee on 02/13/04 at 10:24 AM
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Sunday, February 15, 2004

cool site

Pablo Picasso : Le site officiel is very nicely designed (I wish I understood French).
posted by lee on 02/15/04 at 10:03 PM
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Wednesday, February 18, 2004

basecamp—finally, a PM tool that’s actually usable

37Signals created a cool, affordable project management tool that we, and our clients, actually use. Check out Everything Basecamp. Even newly launched and missing a couple of things, it's lightyears ahead of MS Project and just about any other PM tool I've tried to use. It's a hosted application, so it's totally fun to see new features just suddenly show up as they finish them. I need to take a half a day and use this tool to plan out, or finish planning out, To-Do lists, Milestones and all, at least five of our major projects. Hmm, that leaves me wondering if there is a master milestone/to-do list in the works ...
posted by lee on 02/18/04 at 05:01 PM
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Google AdSense—a scam?

Today, I received this message from Google:

Hello Lee,

It has come to our attention that invalid clicks have been generated on the ads on your web pages. We have therefore disabled your Google AdSense account. Please understand that this step was taken in an effort to protect the interest of the AdWords advertisers.

A publisher's site may not have invalid clicks on any ad(s), including but not limited to clicks generated by a publisher on his own web pages, clicks generated through the use of robots, automated clicking tools, or any other deceptive software.

Practices such as these are in violation of the Google AdSense Terms and Conditions and program polices, which can be viewed at:


The Google Team

Like I have any control over how visitors click on my ads? Like I even have that much traffic, or even make much money off of them: I never got paid monthly - and Google only pays monthly if your take exceeds $100 per. I don't know how to program automatic clicking robots or whatever else they're accusing me of doing. At any rate, I wrote this to the "AdSense Team:"

You sent the message quoted below [quoted from the message above], but did not tell me what, exactly, happened. I have never violated any of the terms, etc. and if a visitor to my site has done something such as repeated clicks, how can I prevent this? This suspension is extremely unfair especially as you provide no way to appeal it or dispute it or even figure out what is going on. Please let me know what is going on and how my account can be restored -- especially since your ads are still showing up on my websites even after disabling my account--this is not right.

They sent this non-reply:

Hello Lee,

By disabling your account, we feel that we have taken the necessary measures to ensure that invalid clicks will not continue to occur on your site.

We understand that you wish to receive specific information regarding the invalid clicks we have observed. Due to the proprietary nature of our monitoring system, we cannot disclose any specific details of these clicks. We would like to reassure you, however, that we have thoroughly re-reviewed your account data upon receipt of your response and have reconfirmed that invalid clicks were generated on the ads on your site. According to our policy on this matter, we have disabled your account in order to protect our advertisers.

With regards to your question about the ads still serving on your site, there may be a delay of up to 48 hours before all of our servers are informed of the change.

As outlined in our program Terms and Conditions, Google reserves the right to terminate any publisher's participation at any time.


The Google Team

Hmm, so ordinary rules of business don't apply, huh? I sent this reply:

You did not answer my question. You gave a generalized statement about invalid clicks, but never made a specific charge. I'm not asking you to reveal who or from what ISP the invalid clicks came, only to tell me what,
in this instance, actually happened. You disabled my account, yet you continue to serve ads on my sites, without telling me how I'm going to be compensated for displaying your ads on space I own. Nor have you told me whether or not you are going to compensate me for the clicks that were valid -- I am assuming most, and probably all but one, of them were. You also have not told me how I can appeal this decision -- what is my recourse? You also have not told me what I can do about visitors to my site who, for example, may click the same ad more than once -- how can I control this? Don't you have controls in place to handle this -- even my ten-year-old weblog program has controls not to double-count the same visitor ... Am I to assume that businesses should NOT advertise on Google because Google lacks the controls to protect advertisers against fraud? I certainly will let my clients know if this is the case, and that they should either cease advertising on Google or greatly limit their Google AdWords campaigns.

When will I get paid for the January and February clicks?

I'm assuming that Google will screw me over for the bucks they owe me for running all those ads.

If Google can't protect its advertisers from fraudulent clicks, why the hell would anybody run campaigns on the AdSense network? What a waste of money.

What really bothers me about this is that Google has zero accountability. That's not even ethical. And you know, I bet they don't give the advertisers their money back for these allegedly fraudulent clicks. Advertisers are probably told Google can't release their proprietary secret algorithms etc. so "ya gotta pay what we say ya gotta pay." When I ran an AdWords campaign, their click claims never even came close to what my log files were showing me (like they claimed 25 clicks and my log files show only 5 or 6 visitors -- something is just not right!), so I became convinced that the program was laced with too much bullshit non-accountability to waste any more money on.

I wonder how long it will take until Google screws over a critical mass of micro publishers who retaliate by sabotaging the AdSense program. I'm not advocating this, mind you, but I bet it won't take long before this starts happening.
posted by lee on 02/18/04 at 09:17 PM
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Thursday, February 19, 2004

Laurie Lipton Screaming Flowers

One of the stranger home pages I've seen in a while: Laurie Lipton's Official Website. I particularly like The Goblins, on Gallery screen 4. Her stuff is mostly macabre charcoal and pencil drawings.
posted by lee on 02/19/04 at 08:53 AM
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