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Avia S-199 in Israeli Air Force Service

Archive for August 2006

Hooo!

While reading AGW last night (see link in masthead to right), a post turned me onto Hard Gay videos at YouTube.

I was in bed with my laptop and I was laughing so hard, I was surprised that I didn’t wake the wife.

If you’re gay with no sense of humour, you won’t like Hard Gay. Nor will you if you find flamboyant homosexuality disturbing. Otherwise, bust a gut. He’s your everyday Japanese leather boy with a heart of gold. Try not to hurt his HGP (Hard Gay Pride).

I first watched the ramen shop video, so I’ll introduce you to that first as well:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-aiHJgvlTu4

I’ve embedded this clip from YouTube, and you can find other clips there, but I prefer the more comprehensive Bakafish site with even more videos and even translator’s notes.

Once you’ve had your fill, you can read the story of the man behind the sunglasses at Wikipedia. But watch the videos first. Hooo!

How to lose newspaper readers

Newspapers are having a rough go as readers increasingly look to the Web for news. Newspapers have to focus on strengths to keep their readers. That means original reporting and local reporting.

My local paper in Montreal is the Gazette – at least, it’s the major English paper. It relies on newswire reports for international news, which can be ignored if you’ve already read that online. With its columns and original reporting on local news, the paper does an adequate job. Outside of that, the paper offers little of value. Outside of that, any paper without foreign correspondents of its own offers little of value.

In the business section today (p. B7), the paper had an article on research into work-at-home types, sponsored by SonicWALL, and it directed readers to the SonicWALL Web site for further info.

The article is based on a SonicWALL press release from March 1, 2006. That’s more than five months ago, and the information has already been relayed elsewhere online and in the traditional press.

How does printing this article in the Gazette add value? The article was written by a Gazette reporter, Mike King, and not a wire service, but there’s no local angle. At least one part of it is just plain wrong. The workers were not “recently surveyed” – the survey ran at the end of 2005. When did the interview with the SonicWALL VP take place, then? When did King write the article?

This is shoddy journalism. There’s a better use for the column inches, such as the article in the same section on the relative values of traditional phone lines versus Internet-based phone services in power blackouts. That’s topical and important, and it’s in the business section because former Bell subscribers are returning in the wake of last week’s thunderstorm.

It’s this sort of lazy editorship and reporting that will continue to cost a newspaper its readers. Don’t replicate non-local online press-release fodder, especially if it’s five months old.

For the record, as a work-at-home type who has read the SonicWALL press release: no comment.

Placeholder

There’s not much to blog about recently. I continue to do research fror Alex and for Reader’s Digest. I will have to talk to Jeff Rosenthal, which is a lot more fun than the paranormal. He’s a lot like me, except smarter and more industrious and taller.

I devote three classes of JOUR 319 (Computerized Data Accessing) to teaching innumerate journalism students how to understand statistics and graphs. Rosenthal is a professor of statistics who often writes and teaches for the lay audience, and some of his ideas are worth stealing. I love his use of playing cards to demonstrate the importance of understanding P in statistics.

In spec work, I’m up to page 15 of “The Book of Trey”, the equivalent of page 4 in the treatment. That ratio, which I just looked at for the first time, heartens me. It’s more or less just right for a 33-page treatment, maybe a bit long at 123 pages. That will drop with a polish. The writing is going smoothly. The only annoying thing is that I’m having trouble with maintaining voice. It’s frustrating, but again is something I can easily fix on a polish.

Oh, “Sheep’s End” won’t win the Nicholl this year. Shocking.

I have continued collating documents left over from my summer 2000 trip to the IDF archives and I discovered I have complete flight records for 101 Squadron from August 8 to December 31, 1948. That’s cool, but it’s the period from May to July that I’d really like to have. The flight records shed no light on the previously mentioned dust-up at Tel Aviv, unfortunately. The squadron’s only flights on the morning of September 29 were a local Piper Cub with one passenger doing circuits and two flights by Spitfire D-130, a test hop and a photo recon of the area near Dan.

Supplemental nuggets

Nugget A: The DNS problem has finally sorted itself out. In my research to find out what exactly was wrong, I found a few people who had similar issues with other Web sites. I never pinpointed the problem, but I can let go.

Nugget B: I did indeed load those two floppy disks last weekend. One was, as I presumed, the English manuscript of Boris Senior’s autobiography. The other disk had two research papers by Avi Cohen, in Hebrew, one on the Avia S-199 and another on the undercover agents, often Machal (foreign volunteers), who built Israel’s air force.

I would not have been surprised had the floppies been unreadable, but they’re fine. Not bad for six-year-old fragile media.

Nuggets

Nugget 1: There’s a DNS issue out there. Many but not all Videotron users cannot access 101squadron.com with the domain name, but the IP address-based URL works fine, as does FTP. I myself can get to every other site I’ve tried, and Elvi can get to the domain name from her office. Traffic to the 101 blog seems unaffected elsewhere. This has been going on close to two days.

I’ve heard of other people having trouble with other sites as well. I suspect that there’s a significant DNS problem at one of the core DNS routers, and that’s what Videotron tech support tells me, but I can’t prove anything. If so, a fix should propagate through the DNS network soon.

Nugget 2: I finally got to write some yesterday and finished the first seven pages on the first draft of “By the Book”, which I think I will retitle “The Book of Trey”.

Nugget 3: The man called “Gefen” in the 101 Squadron letter of apology I posted below is Aaron Finkel. For at least part of his service, he told me, he went by the Hebrew name Aharon Gefen. Gefen means grapevine, as in “boray pri hagefen” (creator of the fruit of the grapevine), part of the Jewish prayer of alcoholic consumption. You can’t make this stuff up.

Nugget 4: Brian Chersky sent me photos of his 3/4-scale T-51 (P-51D replica). He admits he “took a few liberties” with the paint job and oversexed it a bit, but it’s still a sweet Mustang.

The real comment

One of the things that many screenwriting experts – including Alex in his books – advise is that you have to decipher the real meaning of story notes. If a reader says a part of a story doesn’t work for Reason A, you have to look and see if Reason B is maybe the problem. Accept the fact that something may be wrong, but look deeper for why.

Dave Michaels a few days ago posted on his blog about people who say there’s nothing on TV. I’ve heard the same from friends of mine, and I think this complaint deserves that old notes treatment.

Subjectively, and perhaps objectively, you can argue that we’re in a golden age of television. Certainly drama is at its historical peak, with shows like “The Sopranos”, “Deadwood”, and “House”. We have novelties like “Lost”, too. You could argue that we’re in a sitcom lull – for every “Scrubs”, there’s a waste of time like “According to Jim”. Some viewers love reality shows; for others, reality shows uselessly take up space. Watch them or don’t, but viewers can ignore reality TV, and the genre is not a direct part of the equation.

There’s little question that there is good television on TV, even on the standard networks. So what is the real meaning behind the comment that there’s nothing on?

I think the real comment is “I can’t find anything on TV.”

This isn’t the ’80s, when you knew what was on NBC every Thursday night. These days, shows switch days and times on whims. “American Idol” is on? OK, Fox’s schedule gets flushed to slot it in on a daily basis. If you don’t watch “American Idol” and the networks promos during the show, how will you know that your favourite show has moved to Wednesdays? The instability of network schedules keeps us from findng and sticking with the shows we think are good.

A related problem is the sheer volume of television. You can lose a show in the modern world’s sea of channels just as you can lose it in a sea of scheduling changes. My DirecTV has 27 slots in its turbo menu. Nine go to my kids. Five go to sports channels. That leaves 13 channels for movies, specialty channels, and standard networks. That’s fewer channels than I get with my basic cable. If I want to cruise more channels, I have to wade into the DirecTV tide, and good luck to me finding something.

Now, one other possible reason for the complaint is that people miss having a selection of funny sitcoms. That’s a legit whine. But the scheduling and channel surplus problems are real, and may explain the popularity of TiVo and other DVRs. A brand new world is evolving out there.

Bonus fantasy baseball update:

I had some trades on the table before our trading deadline, but no one bit. I offered Brian McCann for a closer, Andruw Jones for Juan Pierre and two closers, and Scott Hatteberg for David Eckstein. Ah, well. I can probably finish in the money, but first place is a long shot. I picked up a closer, Francisco “CoCo” Cordero, in the add/drop but his stats will maintain my status quo and not gain me points.

My pitching was horrible last week, and my ERA climbed. It’s really gotta drop. On the bright side, the MLB trades will work out well for me. Hector Luna and Todd Walker will get more playing time and Greg Maddux will have better stats in LA than he did in Chicago. Odalis Perez is starting again, too, and that will add valuable wins. For now, I have 53 points, good for third place.

.292 batting average (1st)
188 HR (2nd)
710 RBI (1st)
75 SB (tied 9th)
4.79 ERA (7th)
1.39 WHIP (4th)
50 wins (tied 5th)
17 saves (6th)

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