September 2011

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“If you don’t like the news, go out and  make some of your own,” Scoop Nisker says. (I first heard him say that when he did news for M. Dung‘s morning show on KFOG in 1985. Great show. Sorry most of you missed it.)

The same goes for words. Today I wanted one for advertising mania, so I made one up: advertimania, which I’ll define, provisionally (though simply), as excessive enthusiasm for advertising. If it succeeds, it may one day deserve an entry here in Douglas Harper‘s brilliant Online Etymology Dictionary.

Why not advermania? Because it’s already used by many advertising sites (hyping advertising, of course), while “+advertimania” comes up with no results on Google or Bing. (The ‘+’ makes the engines cough up results only for the intended word.)

Let’s see how long it takes for either engine to index the find.

[21 minutes later…]

Tweeted this:

@dsearls Doc Searls
New word: Help me see how long it takes for Bing and Google to index that entry, made 1 minute ago.
20 minutes ago via web

Then came this:

aswath 41 Aswath Rao
@dsearls Bing got it via this Twitter; Google has not yet
5 minutes ago

Now Bing shows nothing with the + sign in front of “advertimania”. When I take that away, it has this:

ALL RESULTS  1-3 of 3 results· Advanced
Advertimania 26 minutes ago

Sep 28, 2011 · “If you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own,” Scoop Nisker says. (I first heard him say that when he did news for M. Dung‘s … · Cached page

Doc Searls (@dsearls) on Twitter

  • 4,405 tweets ·
  • Cambridge, Mass ·
  • Following 1,574 others

Writer with ties to Linux Journal, the Berkman Center at Harvard and CITS at UCSB. – New word: #advertimania: Help me see how long it takes for Bing … · Cached page
Please Review My Site: – BioRUST Forums

Please stop the adverti-mania. (Infraction + Reported + A PM to Tamlin. Damn, I’m evil) @profitbysearch: I like the site, but I think the layout is a bit too busy.

 forums.biorust.comCached page

Meanwhile Google has this:

Did you mean: +vertimania

Search Results
[Doc Searls]: Advertimania.
[Doc Searls]: Advertimania.

Bing wins, folks. (But right now I can’t see this, because there’s some funky html I copied and can’t fix. Grr.)

Logan Airport’s free wi-fi isn’t doing the job. (Latencies up to a second and a half, 7% packet loss.) In fact, the only reason I can continue with this post is that I’ve switched to my iPhone’s “personal hot spot,” which turns AT&T’s 3G data network to wi-fi I can use. On Logan’s connection I couldn’t do anything over the Net, other than that ping test.

Now on AT&T’s 3G, I’m getting a “D+” grade from, but I’m also able to function over a connection it rates at 2.67Mbps down and .67Mbps up. I’m only here for an hour, so I can live with that.

But I also have to live with knowing that the data is costing me $25/mo. for 2Gb, plus $10 for each additional 1Gb. Or is it $45 for using the tethering (as I am now)? And it’s a pain in the butt to keep worrying about whether I’m running up a big bill. (Never mind that I’m going to Canada, where I won’t use any telco data, thanks to onerous “roaming” charges if I try.)

Just here in the States, there’s a tug-of-billing-plans between Apple and AT&T. What started as $25 for unlimited data (very Steve Jobs, that simplicity) is now this:

Data Plans
Data will allow you to access the internet, surf the Web, and check email.
Data 200MB 2GB 4GB and Mobile Hotspot**
Additional Data $15 per 200MB $10 per 1GB $10 per 1GB
Per Month $15 $25 $45

** Tethering allows you to share the 3G connection on your iPhone with your Mac notebook or PC laptop and connect to the Internet. When your iPhone is tethered, you can still send and receive data and make phone calls.

Very telco, that; though not nearly as complex as it would have been if Apple weren’t a party to the deal.

My point, however, is about clouds. If we’re going to “live in the cloud,” as we are so often told, we’re going to need better routes than rented beanstalks that fray and fail.

By the way, I don’t begrudge AT&T making money. In fact, I’m happy for them (and Apple, and anybody in the Net infrastructure business) to make money, and want to encourage them to build out as much capacity as they can.

I just know how telcos work, which is primarily as billing systems and secondarily as plain infrastructure. We also pay for other utilities — water, electricity, gas —but in less sphinctered ways. And un-sphinctered service is what we’ll need if we really are going to live in the clouds.

[Later…] Dig David Scott WilliamsRain From the Cloud Doesn’t Fall in This Desert, and his comments below. I especially like “drinking the milkshake of the cloud internet through my coffee stirrer,” which links back to that same post.

Open connections are as important as having roads, water and electricity. In too much of the world — and remarkably, too much of the U.S. — the long- promised “information superhighway” still isn’t paved.

I’ve been listening to the repeat broadcast of the Howard Stern Show, recorded live in New York as the 9/11 events unfolded. It’s been a transporting experience. The anger, bewilderment, confusion and fear are all there.

I was at our house in Montecito, California when it happened. My sister Jan called right after the first tower was hit, and we watched the rest on TV. Then I switched to the radio and blogged a number of posts through the day. Here they are (in reverse chronological order):

Stars. Just stars. 

Walking back from a meeting at school this evening, the kid and I looked up at the sky, as always. But it was … different. What was that behind the high branches of an Oak tree? A star or an — no, it couldn’t be an airplane. There were no airplanes in the sky tonight. Only stars: a condition we haven’t seen in nearly a century.
“Why aren’t the planes flying, Papa?” he asked. I explained. He asked again. I explained again. I stopped the questioning when the count got to four.
But it won’t stop.

What’s down? 

I get a steady flow of email, up to hundreds per day. But after 5:13 tonight, nothing. Is it just that everybody’s watching CNN now? No idea. Seems creepy.

More perspective 

Here’s Morgan Stanley, which had 3500 people working in the World Trade Center:
Because of the enormous emotional and physical toll that these events have taken and will take among many of our employees and their families…

Close to home 

We just lost power for a few minutes. No idea why.

One answer 

Here’s Eric S. Raymond on our “First Lessons” about terrorism.


Dean points out that today the United Nations opens in New York on the International Day of Peace.


Here are Blogger sites mentioning “World Trade” or “terrorist.”


BBC says the pilots would surely have been killed first, since they would never follow orders to fly into a building. I notice that all four planes involved were 757s and 767s, which have roughly identical cockpits.
Odd how we mull details like these to get a small grip on an immense tragedy. Right now I don’t even want food. Just details.

Now it gets personal 

Our West Coast family members check in fine. One is in Ohio, and will probably drive home to L.A. So far we’re lucky. East Coast, not so sure. I have a cousin who works in the Pentagon. My sister is a retired Navy officer, recently moved from Arlington to North Carolina. “I lost friends today,” she tells me. But who? So far we also don’t know very much about who lived, who died, who’s lost, trapped or worse.
Dave points to a press release reporting the death of Danny Lewin. He was on the American flight from New York to Los Angeles that crashed into the World Trade Center. I didn’t know Danny, but I’ve met him. He was a good guy. According to his bio, he was also a member of the Israeli Defense Forces. I imagine he would have done his best, as a passenger, to stop this thing.
And there were so many others lost today. So many families waiting, right now, for loved ones to call, to show up at the door.

The deepest human substance 

Now is the time to give blood, not take it. Wherever you are, please give some. For New York, call 1 800 933-blood or visit

Declaration of Peace 

One of the surprising things to me about blogging is how much I don’t say. I tend to be a very disclosing guy, but if anything I tend to disclose less personal stuff than I ever thought I would have when I started this thing in 1999.
But today I’ll tell you where I come from on the matter of war.
I am a pacifist. I applied for contientious objector status during the Vietnam War, and I would have served in that capacity if I hadn’t received a medical deferment.
I went to a Quaker college, and have always felt most at home, philosophically and morally, with the Society of Friends. Although I currently attend a Catholic Church, my beliefs are the same.
What happened today brings out the pacifist in me, and the linguist as well. Just about everything we believe, and say, is framed up by conceptual metaphors. In the words of George Lakoff, written at the height of the Gulf War, metaphors can kill.
We have a choice about the ones we use. For the sake of those still with us, and the souls of those we’ve lost, choose your conceptual frameworks carefully.


We hear that 50,000 people worked in the World Trade Center alone. Consider these numbers:
  • 4,435 U.S. soldiers died in the Revolutionary War, and another 2,260 in the War of 1812.
  • Including civilians, 373,458 died in the Civil War.
  • 53,513 combat deaths in World War I, plus 63,195 “other.”
  • 292,131 combat deaths in Word War II, plus 115,185 “other.”
  • 33,651 combat deaths in the Korean War (no “other” listed)
  • 47,369 combat deaths in the Vietnam War, and 10,799 “other.”
  • And for the Gulf war, the respective numbers were 148 and 145.
Here’s another summary.


ZeldmanDeanAdamDaveCamEricAkamaiRichardBrentSusan. Grant.East/WestUltrasparky. QuesoKottkeMegMetafilterEvGlennScoble.
I need to pick up the kid from school soon. This morning he wanted to know why his parents were crying. We couldn’t begin to explain.

Open choices 

What happened today may have been an act of war, but it was also an act of insanity.
Many people we know are dead. Many more are dying. This is a time to open our hearts, our homes, our wallets and our minds.
There is only one sane choice open to us all: What can we do to help?
If there is anything you think I can do, let me know. I just added AIM instant messaging to my suite of contacts. My handle, no longer a joke, is “Celeprosy.”

A time for love and mourning 

Pray, find your loved ones. Give help.
And God help us all.

Maybe because I have it 

Wanted to test out the latest AOL Instant Messenger today, so I downloaded it. But first I had to come up with a name. Searls, Dsearls, Dsearls1 and Zdilmidgi were all taken, by me, in the past. But AOL wouldn’t make them available to me because they had to clear it with the now-dead email address I used when I registered those identities. So I gave up on those and tried all kinds of names, finally going with “Celeprosy.” It took. Haven’t installed it yet, though.

What’s the commercial model for your toilet? Your light socket? Your floors? 

I was asked today what the ‘commercial model’ was for a blog hosted on a home computer. It amazes me that the Net is still being asked to justify itself commercially.
But as long as it is, we need Larry Lessig to rant about it. (Thanks to Tom for that link.)
And while we’re on the blog subject, check out the Lockergnome interview with Evan Williams. I ran into Chris Pirillo at TechTV when I was up there recently. Great guy. And he really does look like that Lockergnome dude in the illo.

Well, obviously 

Says here I’m infatuated with Google search results. Actually, amazed is a bit more like it.
Curious: what real competition does Google have these days? Looking here, it’s as if nobody has even bothered reviewing the matter in almost a year. At this point Google rivals the browser itself as a Web interface. It’s a portal that doesn’t act the part.
Is it making money yet? I have no idea.

Because smart people don’t always do that 

Eric Raymond: How to ask questions the smart way.

Blogging was young then. There was no Twitter, no Facebook. Yet blogging felt, and was, far more social — at least for me — than anything else we’ve seen since.

Some thoughts, ten years later:

  • Yes, everything changed that day.
  • We did go to war, as I expected we would, given the president we had and the mood of the country after being attacked. But the war, billed as one against “terrorism,” has been one of “regime change” in two countries. Since then other regimes have changed that needed changing, without our intervention, and at approximately zero $ cost to the U.S.
  • The cost of going to war has been many $trillions, and has nearly (or perhaps actually) bankrupted the country. There was a rope-a-dope strategy behind the attack, and we took the bait.
  • The U.S. hasn’t been attacked in the same way again, and for that I am grateful.
  • The results of the War on Terrorism are debatable, although they are not much debated.
  • The motivations for the attacks on the U.S., besides “they hate us and our way of life” and similar staples of talk radio, have not been visited at much depth, at least by sources the American people pay much attention to. That anybody might have a legitimate gripe against the U.S. is a question no politician wants to ask. And not many ordinary citizens, either.
  • Many young men and women in my extended family have served in these wars. I am proud of them. I also wish they hadn’t needed to go.
  • The peace movement, in which I played a small part during the Vietnam War, is now dormant. Almost nobody questions the need for war now.
  • The hate we felt for Al Qaeda, the self-appointed enemy that attacked on 9/11, has since shifted to each other. I’ve been alive for a long time, and I can’t remember any period, including the Vietnam War, when it has been harder for political opponents to listen to each other, much less understand what the other is saying. Ad hominem arguments rule.
  • One reason for our uncompromising political posturing and rhetoric is the loss of the moderate center that was held in place by the mainstream media, and especially by the evening network news. Even as late as 2001, we turned en mass to network TV and newspapers for reporting and analysis that at least tried to be unbiased, accountable and responsible to the whole country and not just to partisan factions. Now even CNN looks like an informercial to me.

I can’t shake the feeling that, in ways we don’t want to admit, the terrorists have won something. 9/11 gave us fear, and the will to attack. It changed our hearts and minds.

When I look back on human history, starting with our diaspora out of Africa only a few dozen millennia ago, I see persisting through it all a will to kill and dominate that is hardly diminished by civilization. We have hated and killed The Other for the duration. For all its many virtues, our species remains a violent and homicidal one. We’ve killed others who looked or spoke differently than we do. We’ve killed for land and religion and resources, which included each other, whom we often kidnapped and made into slaves. Even in our own country we killed each other by the dozens of thousands, over differing notions of freedom. (The Civil War is only two generations back on my father’s side. One great aunt, whom I remember well, was twelve years old when Lincoln was shot, and told stories about it. She was born when slavery was still more than legal in the U.S.)

How many people have died because of 9/11, since that day? Have their deaths been worthwhile? Have they bought peace, really? Will anything, ever? I have my doubts, and those started ten years ago today.

[Later…] Deaths in the War on Terror, according to Wikipedia, as of today:

  • Iraq: 62,570 to 1,124,000
  • Afghanistan: between 10,960 and 49,600
  • Pakistan: between 1467 and 2334
  • Somalia: 7,000+

And then,

Total American casualties from the War on Terror
(this includes fighting throughout the world):

US Military killed 5,921[109]
US Military wounded 42,673[109]
US Civilians killed (includes 9/11 and after) 3,000 +
US Civilians wounded/injured 6,000 +
Total Americans killed (military and civilian) 8,800 +
Total Americans wounded/injured 46,000 +
Total American casualties 54,800 +

Draw, or re-draw, your own conclusions. I still don’t have any. Or many. The older I get, the less certain I am of my own opinions, especially about War, the reasoning methods for which which seem to be hard-coded into human nature. In my heart I’m still a pacifist, but in my mind I’m not so sure.

Here’s what I wrote in Deliberate Explosive Devices last year:

I think there lurks in human nature a death wish — for others, even more than for ourselves. We rationalize nothing better, or with more effect, than killing each other. Especially the other. Fill in the blank. The other tribe, the other country, the other culture, the other religion, whatever.  “I’ve seen the future,”Leonard Cohen sings. “It is murder.” (You can read the lyrics here, but I like thevideo version.)

Yet we also don’t. The answer to Matt’s question — How did we keep from blowing ourselves up for all those years? —is lieutenant colonel Stanislav Petrov, and others like him, unnamed. Petrov had the brains and the balls to say “No” to doing the crazy thing that only looked sane because a big institution was doing it.

We’re still crazy. You and I may not be, but we are.

War is a force that gives us meaningChris Hedges says. You can read his book by that title, (required reading from a highly decorated and deeply insightful former war correspondent). You can also watch the lecture he gave on the topic at UCSB in 2004. The mystery will be diminished by his answer, but not solved.

Still, every dose of sanity helps.

Still true.

Bonus link from Euan Semple.

Rochester, Vermont

My favorite town in Vermont is Rochester. I like to stop there going both ways while driving my kid to summer camp, which means I do that up to four times per summer. It’s one of those postcard-perfect places, rich in history, gracing a lush valley along the White River, deep in the Green Mountains, with a park and a bandstand, pretty white churches and charm to the brim.

My last stop there was on August 20, when I shot the picture above in the front yard of Sandy’s Books & Bakery, after having lunch in the Rochester Cafe across the street. Not shown are the 200+ cyclists (motor and pedal) who had just come through town on the Last Mile Ride to raise funds for the Gifford Medical Center‘s end-of-life care.

After Hurricane Irene came through, one might have wondered if Rochester itself might need the Center’s services. Rochester was one of more than a dozen Vermont towns that were isolated when all its main roads were washed out. This series of photos from The Republican tells just part of the story. The town’s website is devoted entirely to The Situation. Here’s a copy-and-paste of its main text:

Relief For Rochester

Among the town’s losses was a large section of Woodlawn Cemetery, much of which was carved away when a gentle brook turned into a hydraulic mine. Reports Mark Davis of Valley News,

Rochester also suffered a different kind of nightmare. A gentle downtown brook swelled into a torrent and ripped through Woodlawn Cemetery, unearthing about 25 caskets and strewing their remains throughout downtown.

Many of the graves were about 30 years old, and none of the burials was recent.Yesterday, those remains were still outside, covered by blue tarps.

Scattered bones on both sides of Route 100 were marked by small red flags.

“We can’t do anything for these poor people except pick it up,” said Randolph resident Tom Harty, a former state trooper and funeral home director who is leading the effort to recover the remains.

It was more than 48 hours before officials in Rochester — which was cut off from surrounding towns until Tuesday — could turn their attention to the problem: For a time, an open casket lay in the middle of Route 100, the town’s main thoroughfare, the remains plainly visible.

I found that article, like so much else about Vermont, on VPR News, one of Vermont Public Radio‘s many services. When the going gets tough, the tough use radio. During and after natural disasters, radio is the go-to medium. And no radio service covers or serves Vermont better than VPR. The station has five full-size stations covering most of the state, with gaps filled in by five more low-power translators. (VPR also has six classical stations, with their own six translators.) When I drive around the state it’s the single radio source I can get pretty much everywhere. I doubt any other station or network comes close. Ground conductivity in Vermont is extremely low, so AM waves don’t go far, and there aren’t any big stations in Vermont on AM anyway. And no FM station is bigger, or has as many signals, as VPR.

One big reason VPR does so much, so well, is that it serves its customers, which are its listeners. That’s Marketing 101, but it’s also unique to noncommercial radio in the U.S. Commercial radio’s customers are its advertisers.

VPR’s services only begin with what it does on the air. Reporting is boffo too. Here’s VPR’s report on Rochester last Thursday, in several audio forms, as well as by transcription on that Web page. They use the Web exceptionally well, including a thick stream of tweets at @vprnet.

I don’t doubt there are many other media doing great jobs in Vermont. And at the local level I’m sure some stations, papers and online media do as good a job as VPR does state-wide.

But VPR is the one I follow elsewhere as well as in Vermont, and I want to do is make sure it gets the high five it deserves. If you have others (or corrections to the above), tell me in the comments below.

Some additional links: