Ike update

We chose to stay and wait it out. Minor damage to the house -- windblown rain managed to seep through a couple of windows. A tree in the front yard banged on the gutters and bent them and a tree limb off a neigbor's tree struck the screened-in porch supports and there's some damage there. Eletricity was out for about 3-4 hours at 4 AM. It's been completely solid since 8.

Drove around, got some pics, lots of tree limbs down, some trees, awnings at gas stations and the like. Uploaded some of the best to the Chronicle at chron.com. We'll see if they use them. All in all not whole lots of damage on the west side.

Upcoming TV: Morgan Spurlock, Battlestar Galactica, Tracey Ullman

Morgan Spurlock's 30 Days is starting its third season on FX. I thought it had been cancelled after the first 13 episodes. (Wonder what happened to my season pass.) In the show, different people (sometimes Morgan) spend 30 days doing something "unfamiliar and uncomfortable", as the Salt Lake Tribune put it. Morgan will spend 30 days working in a coal mine and living with a mining family; a gun-control advocate will live with a hunter and gun collector and work in a firearms store.

Spurlock also has a documentary coming out called Where in the World is Osama bin Laden? about his attempt to locate OBL. Article about it in the NYT.

Lots of friends are into Battlestar Galactica. Guess it's the final season. I think I'm a little to engaged elsewhere to start watching it, but it looks like it's a kazillion times better than the original Orson Scott Card endlessly-repeated-effects-clips garbagtastic 70s drivel.

Tracey Ullman has a new show on Showtime called State of the Union. Article about it and about her becoming an American citizen at the NYT.

How tough does the middle class have it?

Media pundits tell us the middle class is under attack. Politicians like Hillary Clinton, Ron Paul and even George Bush beat the drum and tell us Something Needs to Be Done. Because of greedy corporations, immigration, rising costs, outsourcing, etc, the standard of living for the middle class is seriously declining, right?

In "Living Large," Drew Carey and reason.tv examine this issue. What they found may surprise you.

Jimmy Carter and George Bush Have a Lot In Common

Jeane Kirkpatrick, who later served as President Reagan's ambassador to the United Nations, wrote in 1979 that the Carter administration had fallen victim to three misconceptions about governments it didn't like, such as those of Iran and Nicaragua: "first, the belief that there existed at the moment of crisis a democratic alternative to the incumbent government; second, the belief that the continuation of the status quo was not possible; third, the belief that any change . . . was preferable to the present government." Bush took those errors and applied them to Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
-- Steve Chapman, from an article in Reason Online

Open Source Pro Applications Have a Long Way To Go

Everyone who is real is running Pro Tools, Logic Pro, or one of a handful of other more genre-oriented tools. The number of pros or high-end types who're facile and productive with those tools who'll give up capabilities, reliability and support for some sort of ethos about the superiority of open source is vanishingly small.

Go to http://apple.com/logicpro and watch the tutorials. Until the free stuff can do that stuff, it's not going to get serious traction among pros. And I think the gap is growing, not shrinking, like Logic Pro's ability to harness together a network of Macs to offload computation for software instruments, integration with DSP and hardware playback and effects cards, dozens of innovative software instruments (not just samples) that model the native instruments, a rich market in third-party soft instruments and plugins, Final Cut Studio integration, Apple Loops, and, like, the thousand pages of documentation that the open source guys (like me) never get around to writing.

I know this isn't popular on /., and there are a few well-known examples where the free stuff has parity or superiority with the proprietary alternatives, like Linux, but open source apps have not made a serious dent against high-end applications like the Adobe tools, music and video production tools, etc, and there isn't much evidence that they're going to anytime soon.

Putin Takes to the Internet

Some 10 years ago, when liberty seemed on the march around the world, many optimists claimed that, contrary to George Orwell's gloomy 1984 vision of a technologically empowered omnipotent superstate, new technologies were actually empowering the individual and subverting central authority. It was argued that, in the electronic age, government control of information would become impossible, and dictatorships would crumble writes Cathy Young in Putin Takes to the Internet.

But dictatorships, like individuals, can be highly adaptable, she concludes, adding Technologies that make it easy to disperse information can be thwarted by technologies that make it easy to track communications. True, even in an unfree society, the Internet can give individuals greater access to unauthorized facts and ideas than a typewriter and a radio. But ultimately, technology's liberating potential would still run into the barriers of society's political structure. Sadly, in the years to come, Russians may discover that the Internet can in fact coexist with an authoritarian regime—and even become a tool in its hands.