Saturday, May 07, 2005


Giveaway: Radio UserLand Kick Start
We adopted a kitten from the humane society nine months ago who thinks he's a dog, and there's nothing he likes more than the taste of a computer book. A stack of them make an excellent scratching post, as I learned when he shredded a dozen copies ofHow to Use the Internet Eighth Edition.

This situation adds urgency to my need to give away more of my books, before they become either out-of-date or drenched with saliva.

I'm giving away four author's copies ofRadio UserLand Kick Start, each in new condition and completely untouched by my catdog.

If you'd like to win one, post a comment on thisWorkbenchentry or write about it on your weblog, linking to itspermalinkso I don't overlook it. I'll pay the postage to anywhere that I can send it for under $10.

Kick Startcovers everything you need to get started with Radio UserLand, an Internet content management and programming tool that makes it simple to publish your own weblog, develop web services, and collect information from thousands of Internet sites. Severalsample chapterscan be read online.

During mylast book giveaway, I awarded an extra copy to the person with the most inventive reason for wanting one. If I can scare up a fifth copy, I'll do that again here.

Give Me an E!
The Texas House has approved legislation toban sexually suggestive routinesby school cheerleaders:

"Girls can get out and do all of these overly sexually performances and we applaud them and that's not right,"said Democratic Rep.Al Edwardsof Houston, who filed the legislation.

Edwards argued that lascivious exhibitions are a distraction for high school students that result in pregnancies, high school dropouts, contraction of AIDS and herpes and"cutting off their youthful life at an early age."

If Edwards hopes to turn the thoughts of teens away from sex, he'll have to restrict a lot more than an NC-17 rendition of"Rock Steady."He seems to have forgotten what it was like after the adolescent change of life known asPeter Brady, which turns the entire world into a lascivious exhibition.

When I was a teen, a legislator trying to protect me from knocking up a dropout would have banned all of the following:

  • The time Laura Dumais fell into my arms and my left wrist inadvertently reached second base
  • Drawing theShe-Hulknaked
  • A breeze of at least three knots
  • Role-playing a female NPC with a charisma score of 15 or better inAdvanced Dungeons&Dragons
  • The scene inThe Sword and the Sorcerorwhere Kathleen Beller had to be lathered in oil to prepare for her wedding
  • Phoebe Cates

Good times.

Close But No Cigar
I publish several web sites that run advertising sold byBlogAds, a broker that has been a financial boon to hundreds of weblogs.

I rejected an ad today from a site that sells Cuban cigars. The site claims that it's legal for Americans to import two boxes, but the language of the site's frequently asked questions page gives me the willies:

The original embargo on Cuban products has been revised by the US Dept of Justice to allow importation of small quantities when returning from a licensed trip to Cuba. This revision was extended to the public who are now allowed to import up to 2 boxes for personal use. There is no formal regulations that outlines the ability for US residents to import Cuban Cigars. There have been thousands of customers importing Cuban Cigars for personal use in the US and there is no history of anyone being prosecuted. Also, it has become a common practice among celebrities, military personnel, politicians and even law enforcement.

AU.S. Treasury brochure on the Cuba embargoseems pretty clear on the subject, stating that Americans can't even buy Cuban products while in foreign countries.

I rejected anabsinthe adlast year over similar qualms. When I saw that Google wasn't selling text ads for absinthe, I decided to adopt the same policy.

A Google search for the phraseCuban cigarsfinds only onecigar sellerin the sponsored ads, and that company won't export to the U.S.

I'd Buy That for a Dollar
A stamp machine at the post office gave me dollar coins back as change -- five Sacagaweas and two Susan B. Anthonys. I gave some to my kids, who had to be convinced they were legal tender, and freaked out a clerk at an Arby's by using one.

"Are you sure you really want to spend this?"he asked, marveling at the golden coin honoring a woman so obscure there'sno record of her appearance. A coin can't be doing very well when people think you spent one by accident.

Last week the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill to crowd out Sacagawea withnew dollar coinsfor each president, beginning in 2007 with the first four: Washington, Jefferson, John Adams, and Madison. I'm setting a task in Microsoft Outlook to corner the market in 2010 on Millard Fillmore, widely recognized as our least accomplished leader.

The earliest a Hillary Clinton dollar will be available is 2017.

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