why do republicans hate air traffic controllers so much?

Far more veteran air traffic controllers than the government expected have retired since the Bush administration imposed a contract on their union on Labor Day 2006, new data show.While veteran controllers bail out in unprecedented numbers and air travelers experience record delays, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a series of all-is-well pronouncements about its work force.

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association, by contrast, has produced a stream of warnings about safety risks to the public from overworked controllers in major air-control centers it says are understaffed.

During September 2006 — the month before fiscal 2007 — 97 controllers retired, compared with the 39 the FAA predicted, according to the Transportation Department inspector general, who said the jump “was a result of the breakdown in contract talks.”

That month began with the FAA ending an impasse in negotiations by imposing a contract with new work rules, including staffing cuts, a dress code and a 30 percent cut in the pay of starting controllers. The agency tossed out staffing levels negotiated in the 1998 contract and targeted all 314 control facilities for staff cuts ranging from 9 to 26 percent.

From the Seattle Times

Apple announces iPhone/iPod Touch SDK coming in February

Apple – Hot News
Third Party Applications on the iPhone

Let me just say it: We want native third party applications on the iPhone, and we plan to have an SDK in developers’ hands in February. We are excited about creating a vibrant third party developer community around the iPhone and enabling hundreds of new applications for our users. With our revolutionary multi-touch interface, powerful hardware and advanced software architecture, we believe we have created the best mobile platform ever for developers.

It will take until February to release an SDK because we’re trying to do two diametrically opposed things at once—provide an advanced and open platform to developers while at the same time protect iPhone users from viruses, malware, privacy attacks, etc. This is no easy task. Some claim that viruses and malware are not a problem on mobile phones—this is simply not true. There have been serious viruses on other mobile phones already, including some that silently spread from phone to phone over the cell network. As our phones become more powerful, these malicious programs will become more dangerous. And since the iPhone is the most advanced phone ever, it will be a highly visible target.

Some companies are already taking action. Nokia, for example, is not allowing any applications to be loaded onto some of their newest phones unless they have a digital signature that can be traced back to a known developer. While this makes such a phone less than “totally open,” we believe it is a step in the right direction. We are working on an advanced system which will offer developers broad access to natively program the iPhone’s amazing software platform while at the same time protecting users from malicious programs.

We think a few months of patience now will be rewarded by many years of great third party applications running on safe and reliable iPhones.


P.S.: The SDK will also allow developers to create applications for iPod touch. [Oct 17, 2007]

Cafe Juanita

From Anthony Bourdain’s Blog

If you’ve been performing very well as a novice sous-chef at Daniel Boulud’s Restaurant Daniel, and then, suddenly, make a horrible botch of even one Saturday night, you’re probably not going to be around next Saturday. Restaurants of Daniels caliber aren’t allowed to have a “bad night”. The food at a “top” chefs establishment is expected to be exactly as good, day in, day out, every day and every night, whether the chef is there or not. At that level, at those prices, with that level of expectation, where customers have booked months in advance, often traveling hundreds if not thousands of miles, it takes only one bad dish, one messed up plate, for people to start buzzing about the place going downhill — particularly in this era when half your customers seem to be food bloggers.

This is a lesson Cafe Juanita should have known already, but unfortunately could not remember. The east side of Lake Washington is a culinary desert compared to Seattle. There are a few bright spots amongst the sad chains, and Cafe Juanita is thought to be one of them. We’d eaten there a couple of times previously and felt that their food was pretty good, but overpriced. We wouldn’t have considered it for a special occasion unless it was for a friend on the east side. Then it came to our anniversary this year which happened to be on a bad night for fine dining, Tuesday. I felt pretty good when I was able to get the reservation at Cafe Juanita.

We arrived and they gave us a table right next to the fireplace. This would have been lovely except for the fact that as a result of our table, I was facing a large picture window which was facing a bend in the road. I asked if we could move to another table, but I was assured that we were at the best table in the place. As darkness settled, I was getting blinded every few seconds. Finally, N, had to watch the light move across my face and move her head to put my eyes into shadow. Not very romantic.

Our food itself ranged from OK, to downright inedible. For a three course meal at $100+ per person, this is inexcusable. As I said, our prior experiences had been ok, if not stellar. At this level, it doesn’t make sense to give a restaurant another shot once they’ve messed up. It is too expensive.

One bright spot was the wait staff who were very friendly and helpful. After returning a plate uneaten, however, there was no questioning of our satisfaction, offers of a different selection or refund on the bill.

We’re done with you Cafe Juanita.

Cafe Juanita in Kirkland

Edith Macefield is my new hero

Old Ballard’s new hero digs in as retail project envelops her home
Photo from Karen Ducey of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Karen Ducey / Seattle Post-Intelligencer

I used to drive by this house every day. Before they were building condos on the site, there was some warehouse that complete surrounded her and was later abandoned. You’d see her out front sweeping the sidewalk as the warehouse fell into decay. Then they tore it down and started building yet another ridiculous Ballard condo building in the middle of a sad industrial zone and I was happy to see her house remain as the construction got started. It’d be cool to have the house marked as a landmark to old Ballard or something.

Dear Radiohead and the rest of the music industry

I applaud you, Radiohead, for doing such a forward-thinking experiment with your distribution for InRainbows. However, you’ve unfortunately made sure that any data you receive from this experiment will be useless. Why? Well, because your website and ordering process are HORRIBLE. I had so many problems getting your website to work that I almost gave up. I’m now concerned that I paid for it at all. I’m scared for the safety of my personal data. Really, it is 2007, get a web designer who knows what they are doing.

Secondly, you also seem to have gone out of your way to make sure that the downloaded tracks themselves are sub-standard. I’d heard that the mp3s you are distributing were at 128 kBps, which would have been ridiculous. I see now that they are at 160 kBps which is just lame. How about 192 kBps or higher? I would have gladly paid $10 for this record at a higher bitrate. Given the bitrate you are distributing it at, I decided only to pay $5. Also, where is the cover art? How about tossing a jpg into the zip file with the album cover? Maybe a text file with some liner notes. Just because you aren’t shipping shiny plastic discs around, it doesn’t mean that all previous ideas with the album were bad.

Hey, here’s an idea. Give the album away for free at 128 kBps, charge a nominal fee ($5-$10) for a 200 kBps or higher bitrate.

How about an optional survey section at the end so that I could have told you this instead of posting it on my blog?

So Trent, and other artists considering following in Radiohead’s footsteps (although they weren’t the first to do this honestly), try downloading the tracks yourself and see how much easier it would be to do something much better for your listeners.

I may just do this with the next Intonarumori album…

Amazon’s new MP3 stores has some onerous restrictions

High quality non-DRMed MP3s cheaper than iTunes! Amazon’s store has really been getting a lot of people excited (including me). While they aren’t DRMing, they have created some pretty crazy legal restrictions in their terms of use. Is this a problem? Not really. Unless they start trying to enforce them.

Amazon’s contract says you “may copy, store, transfer and burn the Digital Content” for personal use. But then it goes further and specifies restrictions, saying you “agree that you will not redistribute, transmit, assign, sell, broadcast, rent, share, lend, modify, adapt, edit, sub-license or otherwise transfer or use the Digital Content.”

Concerned that I was being paranoid, I floated this past Fred von Lohmann, senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, a public-interest advocacy group.

He was surprised by the language and said it appears to enable record companies to pursue a breach of contract if, for instance, you loaned your mother an iPod containing MP3s bought from Amazon.

“It’s sort of like they’re adding another layer of restrictions potentially above and beyond what copyright law would restrict,” von Lohmann said.

Here’s the article from Brier Dudley of the Seattle Times.

Some Ray pictures

Erik 4-A tracked down some old Vassily pictures from 1994/95. I like them because you see Ray smiling and looking strong which is how I will remember her.

Vassily in Georgetown Vassily in a photobooth at North Gate Vassily at the University Sports Bar

Is Apple in trouble?

I was reading this great post from Scoble: Why doesn’t Microsoft get the love? « Scobleizer which was spot-on, but for some reason it got me thinking about Apple instead of Microsoft.

I think Apple is in serious trouble.

  1. The Amazon digital download store is much better than the iTunes store. Not the design or that dumb downloader, but the fact that they are selling high bitrate MP3s for the same price or less than iTunes sells the DRM’d files. Apple might be paying the price for being the ones who made legal downloading of music a reality. Losing the store isn’t a huge issue for Apple’s profit. The store exists to sell iPods, Apple doesn’t make much money on it. However, once you don’t need the store, you don’t need iTunes or an iPod. Apple’s innovation on the iPods will keep this business strong for them, but without the whole ecosystem, they become vulnerable.
  2. The desktop line is stagnating. I’m assuming that there is a reason that Apple hasn’t really bumped their desktop line in a while and I’m also assuming that we will get news soon. However, the GPUs on their highest-end machines are years old, and due to Apple’s locked-in nature, it isn’t a user-serviceable part. Letting this go so long is a problem. I and at least one friend of mine are waiting on new desktops before we upgrade our PPC-based machines. The GPUs in the laptops are better than what we have at the moment.
  3. The iPhone debacle: I think Apple is handling the iPhone all wrong. The phone is a triumph of technology, but even $400 for a phone is a lot of money for the average consumer. The phone doesn’t have enough features or speed on the network to replace serious smart phone competitors and it is still lacking some fundamental features that free-phone-with-subscription-phones lack like MMS and MP3 ring tones.

I don’t think Apple is dead or anything like that. I’m still an Apple fan-boy (as a user, not as a developer), but I think these signs are troubling and Apple can still snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

What do you think?

Downtown Dogs (Chicago)

For those who only think I like only hipster, expensive, restaurants. I give to you Downtown Dogs in Chicago at Rush and Chicago Ave. Whenever I’m back in my hometown and I find myself on the north end of Michigan Avenue, I stop in to this little shop-front hot dog place. I order a char dog (or two) with everything (except hot peppers). I’ll grab a Reader off the rack and listen to ‘XRT on the store’s stereo. It makes me feel like a native-born Chicagoan again. While all the tourists are packing in to Giordanos or any of the other tourist joints nearby, I’m enjoying the true Chicago experience.

Downtown Dogs in Chicago