Inadvertent Metadata Collection from a President George W. Bush Talk

I have to admit that I don’t listen to NPR’s news programs that often. I’ve found them to be far too intertwined with the DC political class. Yet, from time to time, I inadvertently collect their signal. So it was this morning.

I was somewhat surprised to hear an interview with former President George W. Bush. It reminded me of an event I attended earlier this year, where the former President spoke for just under two hours. More conversation than speech, the event was illuminating, particularly the comments on isolationism, immigration and economic growth.

Sponsored by a “too big to fail” bank, the event was off the record. Yet, in keeping with the times, I did collect some metadata. I have not searched the metadata, just collected it.

The NPR interview [here, here and here.] reminded me of the most interesting appearance data. Collected by a table mate, a “liberal democrat from New York” – “I’m no fan of Obama”, I found the metadata to be a fascinating look at the dynamics of President Bush the 2nd’s eight years in office.

## Metadata:

The administration official referenced most often by the former President was Condoleezza Rice. Ben Bernanke & Henry Paulson’s names were uttered not a few times while former Vice President Dick Cheney merited a single mention and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s name failed to enter the conversation.

First Look on metadata.

Metadata ##.

A few photos and a panorama from the George W. Bush Presidential Library.

American Telcos & The Apple SIM

I have long wanted to give T-Mobile a try. GSM, the CEO’s populist rhetoric and an attractive international roaming scheme (does it work?) attracted my attention.

That said, I’ve been reasonably happy with AT&T’s LTE service, particularly while on travel demonstrating apps to clients. Not to mention doing the same while seated in the passenger seat of a car at speed on an interstate.

I’ve been an AT&T wireless client for some time, since the arrival of the iPhone. Yet, I have become increasingly annoyed at their efforts to gouge us with fees, contracts and what appears to be an assumption that customers are thieves. “You must have an active account before I can give you a SIM card (for an iPad)”.

I’ve learned, now that all of my devices are unlocked, to keep their hands away from ANY changes to my account.

Further, AT&T (& Verizon) has a terrible track record on customer privacy.

And, both firms have mastered the art of political cronyism. Such tactics have a very high price. A lawyer friend, after dealing with the telcos mentioned that she “hates capitalism”. I corrected her: cronyism.

Enter Apple’s SIM.

My recent purchase of an iPad Air 2 (from Apple) offered what I thought was an opportunity to give T-Mobile a try and, if displeased by the service, switch back to AT&T (I did not consider Sprint after chatting with friends who have tried their service).

I turned on T-Mobile’s service using the iPad’s simple cellular data signup service. The first few days were uneventful. T-Mobile offered reasonable LTE service at my office, a client’s facility and home. The signal strength appeared to be less robust than AT&T’s, but the service was adequate. I further used T-Mobile’s LTE service for a four hour meeting, without issue.

Unfortunately, the next day’s four hour meeting was quite disappointing. T-Mobile only offered 4G (3G) service. LTE was nowhere to be found. Note that my geographic locations were identical on both days. The service ranged from unavailable to reasonable during my second meeting.

This experience was unacceptable. Back to AT&T.

Not so fast.

I “thought” that I could add an AT&T data plan to my iPad Air 2′s Apple SIM (yes, I know it is only one way when on AT&T. That is, AT&T locks the iPad’s SIM card…).

Unfortunately, AT&T “won’t activate an Apple SIM previously used on another network“.

Rather than simply adding a new plan to my iPad, I had to visit an Apple (or AT&T) store to obtain an AT&T SIM Card. I could have started with a new Apple SIM card, but one has to pay $5.00 for it while the AT&T SIM is “free”.

The Apple retail employee was friendly enough as I relayed the time waste and hassle factor that lead me to seek a new SIM card. “Yes, but it’s better for us”. Indeed, the Apple SIM certainly solves some (inventory) problems for Apple. Unfortunately, improved cellular choice and performance awaits the entry of another strong player to the US market. The AT&T and Verizon oligopoly needs a big push.

T-Mobile is not it, I’m sad to say.

Related: The $200B broadband scandal (now $400B).

“All information can be used against you in some way.”

Carole Cadwalladr:

“All information can be used against you in some way. And we have an entire generation, the first one ever, about whom everything will be known. Their entire youth is being monitored. And we don’t know what that might mean. How that might be used against them. I look at my father who is 80 and he has only known democracy for the shortest portion of his life. And that is why we have to act now. We have the power to change things. I remember how hopeless it seemed, 25 years ago, that it would ever change. But it did. And we did that. We, the people. And that is why it’s up to us Germans to tell this to the world.”
 She is such a powerful, clear, impassioned voice. And it’s obvious that for her, this is personal. “I feel responsible. I feel like I look into one of those glass balls, where others see fog, I see a clear picture and I feel obliged to tell people. These are the tools of a totalitarian system. And just as you cannot be a little bit pregnant so you cannot be a little bit totalitarian without corrupting democracy. And we … in this city … we know where that ends up. We have seen the darkest times, right here.”
 Poitras tells me how she has come to censor herself. “It’s not whether or not they’re watching, but the fact that you don’t know if they’re watching. You’ve internalised in some way this authority of the state.” At the end of the interview, I tell her how Snowden spoke at the Observer Festival of Ideas and how afterwards I and my colleague John Naughton asked him questions via Google Hangouts from my laptop. “Am I on the grid?” I ask her.

Stoughton, Berlin & Copenhagen

“Norwegian shares the same dialect as Danish”. “I will speak Norwegian with someone if you like.”

Building a name, a brand, a product, particularly one that resonates and has legs for the long haul, is work, a great deal of work. It includes playing on a pleasant Sunday evening in Stoughton, for perhaps 200 people.

The venue was built for Agnes Obel.

“Stoughton. I read in Wikipedia that it was settled by Norwegians.”

I listen to Los Angeles’s KCRW occasionally. Some years ago – ah, it was June, 2011, Agnes Obel appeared on their signature show: “Morning Becomes Eclectic”. I found her music interesting and bought a few tracks.

“This is our first time in Wisconsin.”

Glancing through Madison’s “alternative weekly” Isthmus last week, Obel’s name appeared on the upcoming events list. Sunday night. Stoughton. Opera House. Sure.

Obel’s music is not for everyone.

Yet, finding Stoughton, WI listed on her current tour along with Toronto, Minneapolis, Chicago, New York, Cambridge, Montreal, Quebec City, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne tells us ….. something.

I suspect she will be back, playing a larger venue. Oh, Lyle Lovett played at Madison’s Overture Center Sunday evening. $35.50 to $56.00. Obel’s $11 to $22 in Stoughton was the better value. I say that as a fan of both.

Godspeed to Obel’s entourage.

A panorama and a few photos follow:

Thanks to crony capitalism—the unholy alliance between business and government, in which the taxpayer gets bilked—the NFL has “created what amounts to a risk-free business environment.”

Michael Vallo

A chapter on the NFL’s business practices should make even the most ardent pigskin fan bristle. Thanks to crony capitalism—the unholy alliance between business and government, in which the taxpayer gets bilked—the NFL has “created what amounts to a risk-free business environment.” Almond provides plenty of blood-boiling examples, like the NFL’s tax-exempt status—unique among major sports leagues—and the now commonplace arrangement that sees taxpayers fund NFL stadiums while team owners reap the economic rewards. The New Orleans Saints even receive an “inducement payment” of up to $6 million a year just to keep the franchise in the city. That’s on top of the $200 million that taxpayers forked over for renovating the Mercedes-Benz Superdome—they will see none of $50 million to $60 million the team received in naming rights from the car maker.
 Other chapters aren’t as strong. A chapter on race doesn’t seem fully fleshed out and lists uncomfortable questions about race and football rather than going into detail. And the connection between football and violence against women only gets four pages at the end of a chapter focusing on homophobia. The sorry history of sexual and domestic violence in high school, college, and professional football programs deserves more attention.
 The thought of any large-scale exodus of fans is unlikely. TV ratings are up again this season from already astronomical levels. The continued popularity, as Almond points out, is due in part to the way the sports media promote rather than cover the game. “Sports represent one of the few growth sectors for the corporate media,” he observes. “It’s far more profitable to cover football as a glorious diversion than a sobering news story.”

Facebook Wants You to Vote on Tuesday. Here’s How It Messed With Your Feed in 2012.

Micah Sifry:

On Election Day, political campaigns, candidates, consultants, and pollsters pay close attention to who votes and why—and so does Facebook. For the past six years, on every national Election Day, the social-networking behemoth has pushed out a tool—a high-profile button that proclaims “I’m Voting” or “I’m a Voter”—designed to encourage Facebook users to vote. Now, Facebook says it has finished fine-tuning the tool, and if all goes according to plan, on Tuesday many of its more than 150 million American users will feel a gentle but effective nudge to vote, courtesy of Mark Zuckerberg & Co. If past research is any guide, up to a few million more people will head to the polls partly because their Facebook friends encouraged them.
 Yet the process by which Facebook has developed this tool—what the firm calls the “voter megaphone”—has not been very transparent, raising questions about its use and Facebook’s ability to influence elections. Moreover, while Facebook has been developing and promoting this tool, it has also been quietly conducting experiments on how the company’s actions can affect the voting behavior of its users.
 In particular, Facebook has studied how changes in the news feed seen by its users—the constant drip-drip-drip of information shared by friends that is heart of their Facebook experience—can affect their level of interest in politics and their likelihood of voting. For one such experiment, conducted in the three months prior to Election Day in 2012, Facebook increased the amount of hard news stories at the top of the feeds of 1.9 million users. According to one Facebook data scientist, that change—which users were not alerted to—measurably increased civic engagement and voter turnout.

Miraculous Friends

Genuine, remarkable and fascinating friends have miraculously intersected with our lives.

The panoramas and photos that follow illustrate a delightful, but too short visit with wonderful friends. Simply so much to be thankful for.

The beauty of God’s creation was simply stunning on a sunny fall day.


Tap to view a larger still image:

Left Coast Cellars.

A Homecoming DUKW (Duck) Appearance

The photo was taken at the University of Wisconsin’s 2014 Homecoming parade.

The Wisconsin Dells & the DUKW:

For over 50 years amphibious DUCKS have been the most unique means of touring Wisconsin Dells’ famous rock formations. The DUCKS got their start from a Milwaukee man named Melvin H. Flath. Prior to starting the Duck tour in Wisconsin Dells, Melvin owned a trucking business on 2nd St. in Milwaukee. Right after WWII, Melvin read about some surplus trucks for auction in California. He wanted one, so he journeyed the 2,000 miles at great financial risk to buy some needed trucks for his business. Upon arriving in California, Melvin saw that the trucks being auctioned were the amphibious trucks (DUCKS) and not anything he had envisioned. His disappointment turned to adventure and against all common sense he bought a DUCK.

Two weeks later, Melvin drove the first olive drab half truck/half boat into his Milwaukee neighborhood. The neighbors as well as Melvin’s pregnant wife and three children came out to greet him. He was received, but not with open arms. Everyone made fun of Melvin for wasting good money on a hunk of junk that he could use for what?

Melvin didn’t know at that time what he was going to use his DUCK for. Despite the adversities, he carried on and bought some used Milwaukee bus seats which he installed in the DUCK. He took his buddies with him on it’s maiden voyage out into Lake Michigan. Melvin had never owned a boat before and wasn’t aware it had plugs, so his first splish-splash was almost his last. He made it to shore and quickly learned that this was no ordinary 2 1/2 ton truck.


The DUKW (colloquially known as Duck) is a six-wheel-drive modification of the 2-ton capacity “deuce” trucks used by the U.S. military in World War II amphibious truck, designed by a partnership under military auspices of Sparkman & Stephens and General Motors Corporation (GMC) for transporting goods and troops over land and water, and approaching and crossing beaches in amphibious attacks. Designed only to last long enough to meet the demands of combat, DUKWs were later used as tourist craft in marine environments.