Alexander The Great

November 28, 2008

Republicans Are In Trouble

Filed under: Modern Life — alexanderthegreatest @ 11:16 pm
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WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Republican Party has hit a new low.

Just 34 percent of Americans in a Gallup Poll released Thursday say they have a favorable view of the party, down 40 percent from a month ago, before the election.

What’s worse: 61 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of the Republican Party.

According to Gallup, that unfavorable rating is the highest the polling organization has recorded for the GOP since the measure was established in 1992.

The poll of national adults was conducted on November 13-16 with a three percent margin of error.

The numbers are slightly up from a CNN poll released last week that indicated a 54 percent unfavorable rating for Republicans. Only 38 percent of those polled had a favorable rating for the party.

Meanwhile, Democrats continue to bask in the glow of President-elect Barack Obama’s historic victory on November 4. The Gallup poll suggests that 55 percent of Americans hold a favorable opinion of the Democratic Party, with 39 percent saying they have an unfavorable view. Those numbers are mostly unchanged from a mid-October survey.

As the debate rages within GOP ranks over where to take the party, the poll might offer some guidance.

Most Republicans — 59 percent — want the party to become more conservative, according to the poll. Another 28 percent want it to remain about the same ideologically, while only 12 percent would prefer to see the Republican Party become less conservative.

Independents are split on whether the party should track left or right: 35 percent of independent voters say the GOP should become more conservative, and 35 percent say less conservative.


November 27, 2008

A bit of light humor

Filed under: Humor — alexanderthegreatest @ 10:37 pm


November 20, 2008

The Economy is So Bad – We’re All Nigerians?

Filed under: Modern Life — alexanderthegreatest @ 10:32 pm

Jon Stewart made the joke that our economy has tanked so badly under Bush’s stewardship, that Americans are now writing emails to Nigerians, asking for help smuggling the funds.  (“Don’t fall for it!  It’s a trick.”)

Truth is sometimes almost as strange as fiction.  This is an email that made it somehow through the spam detector

Hello, My name is Jean Malik, employed to work in Iraq as a language translator. I am attached to 1st BN, 68th Amour Reg, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry as an interpreter. As you aware, we were being attacked everyday by insurgents through hostile fire and car bombs. SOURCE OF FUNDS: In April 2003, I and some other crew members in my team discovered $650M USD in Saddam Hussein’s palace. In the process of cross-checking the funds, I and my unit head managed to move away a total sum of US$12 Million dollars cash out of the $650MUSD, mostly 100-dollar bills and was quickly flown out of the war zone as a military cargo. The cargo was later disguised and declared as personal military effects before it was flown to Europe where it is now deposited in an undisclosed FINANCE, SECURITY & TRUST COMPANY. You can as well click on the site below for more details about the source of the funds. The site will give you a bit of idea of our operation and how I came about the fund though the security & finance company where the cash consignments are deposited is not aware of all this information. Unfortunately, my colleagues lost their dear life through hostile fire from the wicked Iraqi insurgents. I therefore seek your! partnership in claiming and receiving the cash consignments from the finance and security firm where the cash consignments are deposited for safety for possible investments on viable businesses of mutual beneficial interest. I will take 60% while you are going to be entitled to 40% for your participation and assistance. I wish to inform you also that it is my fervent wish to leave the United Kingdom as soon as we successfully and smoothly conclude the transaction. Upon your response, I will send you the full details of the Security & Trust Company in whose custody the funds are lodged as well as the modalities of claiming and receiving the cash consignments. But you must assure me and demonstrate it that you can be trusted as I need your unwavering assurances. I am presently in the United Kingdom where I am presently receiving treatment due to injuries sustained after our convoy came under heavy fire in a suburb area of Baghdad. Please reconfirm your full names, address an! d direct phone number immediately so that I can submit the inf! ormation to the finance firm where the cash consignments are deposited for change/transfer of ownership in your favour to enable you claim and receive the funds. I promise you that there is no risk on both sides as far as you follow my instructions and take my advice. The transaction will be concluded under a legitimate arrangement. Respectfully yours, Malik

(Notice the decent grammar, unusual word choices, and downright bizarre use of exclamation marks?)

November 18, 2008

I Want to Film PETA’s Next Commercial

Filed under: Humor — alexanderthegreatest @ 6:57 pm
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This post has two parts. One is to say something juvenile before my wife cracks my head open with a frying pan. 😀 The other, has a bit to do with search engines. We’ll take these in reverse order.

I noticed that PETA is by far the most common term people are using to find my web site. This has been the case for some time now, but there was a spike of about 200 people yesterday, who came to The Great Library by searching for Peta. Now, I just checked Google (segue alert!) and found the video I’ll talk about in a moment, but I’m not on the first page for this search. Nor am I on the second page, or the third, or – well, I gave up at 5 pages.

It’s hard to imagine 200 people clicking search results buried tens of pages deep on the same day, let alone all of them conspiring to do this for the same word! And we’ve just got to the meat of this post. (Get it? There’s the beef!) Keywords have gone the way of the dodo. Not only is searchese expanding to an average of about 3.5 words per query, but, to any aspiring web content writer, aiming for individual words is folly. Unless the word you want to target is such an obscure mixture of Turkish, Javanese, and Yinglish (like Spanglish, a mix between Yiddish and English) that no one will ever search for it. Webmaster forums are filled with people asking how they can rank #1 for terms like “MySpace” and “video” – not only does this waste the content producer’s ill used time, it prevents the public from ever being able to find anything.

The language on the web, graphed, is the story of clustering. Most of the content on the English web centers around a not so large list of words. These are saturated. Rather than trying to push a car uphill, use richer descriptions. Don’t bludgen your noun phrase, but instead weave a tapestry around your concept.

Now, on to the pedantic. Have a look at Alicia Silverstone’s naked video for Peta. There’s a vague point being made, that she would rather go naked than wear fur (or cotton, apparently!), but it gets lost in the curves. Honestly, I don’t understand how this advertising campaign makes sense, from a marketing standpoint. I have respect for Peta’s stated goals, but, honestly, nobody viewing these ads is listening to the message. 😀 On that note, I wish I’d been a photographer, instead of a computer programmer, so that I might get paid to keep my mouth shut on these things, and to keep my eyes peeled! I guess the grass is always greener.

I guess it’s no more a secret that sex sells things (and ideas) than it is, that long tail is the future of search engine “optimization” (a silly misnomer implying that web site owners try their darnedest to optimize the performance or reliability of Google’s code base!).

PETAs Message

Turning her back on fur

Running of the bulls?

More PETA Europe

How many of you are thinking about animals, instead of just animalistically?

November 17, 2008

Is Scraping Data Wrong?

Filed under: Ethics,Modern Life — alexanderthegreatest @ 9:23 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

In 1492, the Old and New Worlds clashed in a very dramatic way. Volumes have been written about what followed, so I won’t cover this here. A similar, if less vital, clash is happening today. You’ve heard about California’s “water wars,” but you may not have heard of the scraper wars.

For better or worse (and I’d say it’s for the better), the world wide web is an open technology. This is partly true in the sense that Apache’s code can be downloaded and modified, but the real sense this is true, is the one in which a client makes a request to the server, and the server sends down a response. It’s true that login prompts, captcha forms, and payment walls abound, but this is far from the default. It’s difficult (or at least cumbersome) to program a web server to refuse to serve a client. Prejudice is not the nature of the web.

People with something to say, get on their soap box and say it. This becomes available to the world by default. It’s assumed that this will be consumed by a target market (some restricted demographic of humans using web browsers), but all computers have the ability to make HTTP calls, and do as they will with the replies they find. And therein lies the problem.

You may have found this site through Google’s web search – if not, surely you’ve found another this way. Google uses a “robot”, a wanderer, a spider that crawls the web, copying down what it finds, indexing it for search. Many people object that this violates copyright law, although both the searcher and the found benefit from the arrangement, so nobody complains (apart from book authors) about Google. When others do the same thing, though, people assume nefarious trickery. At best, it might be spam, but, this typically seems to mean plagiarism where a person steal’s someone else’s informational work to profit from cheap advertisements.

Mashups, though, are the definition of “web 2.0”. Ouseful discovered how to use Google Spreadsheets to translate “foreign” HTML to RSS, and then Yahoo for geocoding. Arachnode is an open source (for SQL Server and C#!) home scraping platform. Whether people like it or not, the ability to make use of this great federated data store we call the web is being brought down to the lowly masses. Democracy over data is the future, and it’s in everybody’s best interest to learn to deal with it. (Like the Census.)

November 13, 2008

Bill O’Reilly on the Daily Show

Filed under: Uncategorized — alexanderthegreatest @ 7:14 pm
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The anchor and front man of a fake news network is going to guest on a fake news program.  Bill O seems to be hoping this will help his credibility.

November 4, 2008

End of the Dark Ages

Filed under: Americana,Modern Life — alexanderthegreatest @ 11:40 pm
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We won! And, by we, I mean the American people, and the people of the world. America has said no to torture, disastrous economic policy, cronyism (“Heck of a job Brownie“), wars of choice, and fear tactics.

The biggest landslide of a generation is historic in many ways, least of which might be Obama’s skin. Swing states have swung. Red is vanishing from the map. Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada gave a collective shout of “enough!” Missouri may yet tip – at this writing, it’s too close to call. Results are similar in Congressional and gubernatorial races.

Americans have handed down a mandate – stop this Reign of Error!

Hope is spreading over the world like a sunrise.


“With the world in turmoil and doubt, the American people, faithful to the values that have always defined America’s identity, have expressed with force their faith in progress and the future.

“At a time when we must face huge challenges together, your election has raised enormous hope in France, in Europe and beyond. France and Europe … will find a new energy to work with America to persevere peace and world prosperity.”


“I look forward to meeting with the President-elect so that we can continue to strengthen the special bond that exists between Canada and the United States.

“In the weeks and months ahead Canadian officials and diplomats will be working closely with members of President-elect Obama’s transition team. Ministers in our government look forward to building a strong working relationship with their counterparts in a new Obama cabinet.”


“The New Zealand Government very much looks forward to working with the new Obama administration.

“Senator Obama will be taking office at a critical juncture. There are many pressing challenges facing the international community, including the global financial crisis and global warming. We look forward to working closely with President-elect Obama and his team to address these challenges.”


“President (Asif Ali) Zardari expressed the hope that Pakistan-U.S. relations will be enhanced under the new American leadership that received a popular mandate in Tuesday’s poll.”

Landslide Victory

Landslide Victory!

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