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Articles: 2008 February

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Page 1

American Idol 2008 Week 2: The Girls
Wednesday, 2008 February 27 - 9:48 pm
More of the 70s.

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Posted by Ken in: television

Your People Are Causing a Disturbance
Tuesday, 2008 February 26 - 10:15 pm
So I had another birthday recently. That makes me officially older than dirt. At least I still have a beautiful and thoughtful wife.

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Posted by Ken in: life

American Idol 2008 Week 2: The Guys
Tuesday, 2008 February 26 - 9:29 pm
It's 70s night.

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Posted by Ken in: television

Wednesday, 2008 February 20 - 10:01 pm
I think have the flu. It might be just a cold, but it's starting to feel awfully flu-ish.

I even got the damn vaccine shot. But apparently, this year's vaccine only protects against 27% of the flu strains out this year (it's typically 70% to 90%). They just plain got it wrong... and I can tell you, if there's a 73% chance that a typical person will get the flu, that translates to like 143% for me.

Buh. Someone send me some orange juice.
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Posted by Ken in: life

American Idol 2008 Week 1: The Girls
Wednesday, 2008 February 20 - 9:57 pm
They're "in it to win it", says Ryan.

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Posted by Ken in: television

Obama Wins 10th Straight; McCain Widens Lead
Wednesday, 2008 February 20 - 9:31 am
Barack Obama handily won primaries in Wisconsin and Hawaii yesterday. He has extended his narrow delegate lead over Hillary Clinton. CNN estimates his delegate total to 1301, compared to Clinton's 1239.

Meanwhile, John McCain won in Wisconsin and Washington, extending his delegate lead to 918-217. Mike Huckabee continues to refuse to withdraw from the race; still, McCain is all but ignoring Huckabee and instead is focusing most of his attacks now on the Democrats.

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Posted by Ken in: politics

American Idol 2008 Week 1: The Guys
Tuesday, 2008 February 19 - 9:53 pm
Here we go.

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Posted by Ken in: television

Blu-Ray Wins
Friday, 2008 February 15 - 11:39 am
Wal-Mart is expected to drop the HD-DVD format in favor of Blu-Ray soon, joining Netflix and Best Buy in backing a single high definition media standard. That's it, folks... the war is over; Blu-Ray wins (at least, until physical media is dropped altogether in favor of downloadable content).

So just to be clear: a superior technology that's more expensive and backed by Sony wins out over a widely available cheaper alternative.

Somewhere, the inventor of Betamax is chuckling.
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Posted by Ken in: techwatch

American Idol 2008: It Has Begun
Thursday, 2008 February 14 - 12:17 pm
Well. We've got our top 24 contestants for American Idol Season 7.

Unfortunately, only half of them have received any significant air time on the show. The rest are virtually unknown. It's hard to handicap the contestants without seeing a little more of them.

But with that being said, my early money is on these contestants:

Amanda Overmyer. She's this year's resident rocker. She can belt it out, she's edgy and unique, and she seems genuine. Best comparison to previous contestants: Gina Glocksen from Season 6. Possible weakness: ballads might be tough for her.

Michael Johns. He's ruggedly good-looking, he's got a good voice, and he's got that Australian accent going for him. Best comparison to previous contestants: Ace Young from Season 5. Possible weakness: might have a tendency to choose "safe" songs.

Syesha Mercado. She's pretty, she impressively fought through hoarseness during the Hollywood auditions, and she's got some soul. Best comparison to previous contestants: Nadia Turner from Season 4. Possible weakness: a tendency to sound old-fashioned.

Ramiele Macrowon Malubay. This might be a stretch, since we haven't heard much from her, but tiny and cute goes a long way. Best comparison to previous contestants: Jasmine Trias from Season 3. Possible weakness: it'll seem weird seeing anything but pop songs come from her mouth.

I'll be able to provide a much better evaluation once we get through live performances with all the contestants next week.
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Posted by Ken in: television

Obama, McCain Win Potomac Primaries
Wednesday, 2008 February 13 - 10:30 am
Barack Obama swept to victories by large margins in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. yesterday. John McCain won all three primaries also, but Huckabee came close in Virginia; McCain won 50% to 41% there.

Hillary Clinton's deputy campaign manager stepped down yesterday. Clinton is counting on victories in Ohio and Texas on March 4 to prop up her campaign. Prediction: if Obama wins either state, this race is all but over.
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Posted by Ken in: politics

Obama Gains Ground; Huckabee Wins Kansas
Sunday, 2008 February 10 - 8:24 pm
Barack Obama handily won primaries in Louisiana, Nebraska, Washington, and the Virgin Islands today, closing the delegate gap with Hillary Clinton. Obama has lots of momentum on his side; on Clinton's part, she has disclosed that she had to lend her campaign $5 million of her own money, and today she replaced her campaign manager. Uh-oh, Hillary.

Meanwhile, Huckabee won Kansas, and continues to carry the flag for disaffected anti-McCain Republicans. The puzzling thing is this: does Huckabee actually believe he can win? McCain's delegate lead is huge. How many campaign dollars does Huckabee want to spend trying to track it down? When will he, like Romney, eventually decide that he should step aside, in the best interests of the party?
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Posted by Ken in: politics

Debate on Whether God Exists
Sunday, 2008 February 10 - 8:17 pm
I found this fascinating: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach (best known for his TV show, "Shalom in the Home") engaged the noted atheist author Christopher Hitchens in a debate on whether God exists.

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Posted by Ken in: commentaryinteresting

A New Obsession
Sunday, 2008 February 10 - 7:23 pm
I've recently become totally hooked on Yahoo! Answers. If you're not familiar with this, it's a forum where people ask questions in a broad array of categories, and any idiot with a computer can post answers. Now, I am that idiot.

At first, I starting poking through the computer section, figuring I'd have useful knowledge to contribute there, but there were too many questions like "How do I put pictures on MySpace?" or "My Windows crashed, what do I do?" So I got bored with that.

But then I found the Singles and Dating section. Oh. My. God. It's a match made in heaven: thousands of lovelorn teens and young adults on one side, and my opinionated advice based on decades of dating experience on the other.

True, the vast majority of questions are pointless to answer. A lot of them say things like, "I like this boy in my class, he smiled at me once, do you think he likes me?" What do you say to THAT? "Probably not; it's just a tick."

But there are others. There are the people who are infatuated with their first loves, and don't know how to deal with life without them. There are the poor shy fellas who have never been on a date before, and don't know how to approach women. There are the people who are trying to figure out whether to stay with boyfriends or girlfriends who don't treat them well. These people, I can help... I've lived through all of that.

The best thing? I think these people can actually benefit from my advice. I feel like I can really make a difference. It's cool. Sometimes I think I should do this sort of thing for a living.
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Posted by Ken in: dating

Breaking News: Romney to Exit Race
Thursday, 2008 February 7 - 1:12 pm
A Reuters article cites a "Republican Party source" who says that Mitt Romney will suspend his presidential campaign today.

Judging from blogs and message boards I've been reading, the core of the Republican party is having a tremendously difficult time with this year's campaign. Of the candidates who remained until today, Romney may have come closest to matching their views on the issues that mattered most to them: the economy, and illegal immigration. McCain is widely criticized by conservatives for favoring an "amnesty" program, and has provided very little guidance on what he'd do to help the ailing economy. Huckabee has said that providing social services to immigrants is the responsible Christian thing to do, and has increased taxes on several occasions in Arkansas.

What's a Reagan-era conservative to do with this? The anti-McCain sentiment among many conservatives is so strong, they'd rather boycott the election (or even, egads, vote for a Democrat) than see McCain in office. This includes the shrillest anti-liberal in existence, Ann Coulter, who remarked that she'd vote for Hillary over McCain.

Turmoil. It's the new Republican Party.

Coming soon: an analysis of possible running mates for Obama, Clinton, and McCain.
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Posted by Ken in: politics

Tuesday, 2008 February 5 - 10:56 pm
Google is famous, or perhaps infamous, for its strict hiring standards and its population of brilliant employees. So it was with some interest that I read about a security vulnerability in Gmail. Apparently, if someone manages to steal a Gmail session cookie (by snooping your network traffic), they can impersonate you and access your account.

The reason this is interesting to me is that here on, I was very careful to prevent this vulnerability. I do use cookies so that you can remain logged in to the site, but the cookie is tied to the IP address you're using to log in, so it can't be used by anyone who's snooping your machine or your connection (unless they also manage to grab your IP address). Now granted, I don't use SSL on my site to further protect your connections, but that's just because I'm too cheap to pay for it, not because I didn't think about it.

So I have a security feature that Gmail doesn't. Nothing against all the geniuses at Gmail, but... hey, if I thought of it, shouldn't you have, too?
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Posted by Ken in: site-businesstechwatch

Super Bowl Commercials
Tuesday, 2008 February 5 - 10:44 pm
I went back and re-watched all the Super Bowl commercials. I think this year's crop was unspectacular, overall. I don't think the problem is that our standards are too high: I think the problem is that ad-writers have latched onto tired cliché formulas instead of making anything truly edgy and funny. There were some things that were funny, and some that were clever, but none that had the "wow" factor of, say, Apple's 1984 commercial.

Best Ad: Talking Stain from Proctor & Gamble, for Tide to Go. Funny, interesting, different.

Honorable Mentions: Pigeons from Fedex; Stone Circle from; Mouse Trap from Frito-Lay (Doritos); It's Mine from Coca Cola.

Peculiar but Interesting: Follow Your Heart from; Talking Baby from

Pointless and Dull: What Is Love by Pepsi; Fiesta Platter by Taco Bell.

Offensive or Disturbing: Language of Love from Bud Light, for offensive racial stereotyping; Thrillicious from Sobe Vitamin Water, for creepy lizards doing a Michael Jackson dance.

Other ads ranged from decent to forgettable; I liked the Bridgestone ads and the ads, but I was "meh" on a lot of the others.
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Posted by Ken in: television

Super Tuesday Notes
Tuesday, 2008 February 5 - 10:20 pm
As of this writing, Super Tuesday isn't over, but preliminary results are rolling in... and there's no clear winner in either party.

For Democrats, Obama seems to be picking up a lot of votes across western and southern states, whereas Clinton is winning solidly in the northeast. Since Democrats split delegates within states, it's becoming pretty clear that today's results won't decide anything. The exit-poll demographics are interesting: black voters are voting overwhelmingly for Obama; Hillary's strength is primarily coming from white women.

For Republicans, Huckabee is showing surprising strength, leading in a number of southern states. But McCain has taken New York and its winner-take-all 101 delegates, as well as a swath of states across the Midwest. The conventional wisdom is that Romney and Huckabee are splitting the vote among more conservative voters, and McCain is benefiting.

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Posted by Ken in: politics

Monday, 2008 February 4 - 11:20 am
So tomorrow is Super Tuesday, and Wednesday is college football's national letter-of-intent signing day. If there were also a Macworld expo and an American Idol finale happening this week, the Real Kato Universe of Things I Follow Obsessively would absolutely explode.

Fortunately, only two of the four things are happening, and I think I can wrap my head around both at once. In a single blog post, even.

In election news, Obama has erased Clinton's lead in many polls, most notably in the critical state of California. The Democratic race will probably not be decided this week... in a lot of ways, that's bad news for the Democratic party, who will have to continue spending money on primaries instead of saving for the general election.

The Republican party seems to be consolidating behind John McCain, though it'll be interesting to see where Christian conservative voters go if Huckabee drops out.

As far as Michigan football recruiting goes, the big question mark is still whether Terrelle Pryor will come to Michigan or not. Many fans and analysts think he's leaning slightly towards Ohio State; while that wouldn't spell total disaster for Michigan, it would certainly hurt, especially considering that Michigan desperately needs a spread-offense quarterback. Michigan did pick up Justin Feagin, a two-way player who played both safety and quarterback in high school. If Pryor doesn't end up at Michigan, Feagin might compete for the starting job.

Oh, I do have one quick "American Idol" note... did you catch Jordin Sparks singing the national anthem at the Super Bowl? I thought she did a great rendition.
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Posted by Ken in: politicssports

Microsoft to Buy Yahoo?
Saturday, 2008 February 2 - 10:51 am
So. Microsoft wants to buy Yahoo for $44.6 billion.

I can just imagine a conference room full of Microsoft executives, poring through PowerPoint slides about "synergies" and "leverage". At that level, you can see how Microsoft would be desperate to fight Google in the web search and advertising arenas.

But at so many other levels, this is an odd acquisition at best. Yahoo's Linux/PHP technologies won't fit with Microsoft's Windows-based technologies. The two companies have many products that are direct competitors (instant messaging, mail, search, maps); either they'd somehow have to be mashed together, or one would have to be killed off.

Culturally, Yahoo has embraced open source and open web standards. Is Microsoft looking for a way to move in that direction, or to quash it?

If Microsoft were to proceed with this, I think that five years down the road, most of what we know of Yahoo would be invisible or gone. Everything you see would be covered in garish "Windows Live" dressing... exactly the kind of poorly designed, ad-burdened, proprietary, heavy-handed mess that makes people eschew Microsoft for Google and Yahoo in the first place. Analysts will look back at this purchase as an act of desperation... and a colossal, $44.6 billion mistake.
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Posted by Ken in: techwatch

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