Post Gazette Plus Moves Forward

Google Love Sept. 2009

Time for the end-of-quarter Google Love post, hot on the heels of Google's 11th birthday. These are the search terms where recent blog entries get some decent results.

YMMV; Google is on a bunch of different server farms, each running a subtle variety of algorithms, and each updated on different schedules. Google is not monolithic. To say that term 'widget' has a z rating in Google is a statement of probability.

Anarchist Bomber, #1 in google.
ayn rand labor, 1
integrated tour de france, 1
G20 Pittsburgh Police, 1
post gazette plus, 1 (i'm a bit pleased at this)
ravenstahl bunker, 1
Search vs Finding, 1

Ayn Rand's Father, 2
northism, 2
Politicians Play Solitaire, 2
Ayn Rand Labor Unions, 3
women in the tour de france, 4
eliminating airline delays, 5
Dread Lord Zober, 5

Ayn Rand Affair, 7
Ayn Rand and John Galt, 9

G20 Afterglow: Breaching the Event Horizon

Looking over the city at sunrise Friday, wondering if there'd be columns of rising smoke, and there wasn't: Priceless.

Drove into the city Saturday to attend a BaconPalooza at Shadyside's Harris Grill, with some uncertainty about what we'd find on The Day After. We found Pittsburgh, same as it ever was.

We did learn that it's a tactical error to drive through Bloomfield during their Little Italy days; my GPS wasn't clever enough to avoid that. The streets were crowded with booths and businesses and the Sons of Italy, with nary a black hoody or zip-tie handcuffs in sight.

The BaconPalooza was as advertised; we had shrimp-n-bacon, bacon perogies, bacon wings, bacon sushi, and a few slices of a Bacon Explosion (which was really good). We had bacon cupcakes from CoCo's Cupcake Cafe, also excellent. We did not venture into the chicken-friend bacon.

We met Pittsburgh blogger Mr. BaconPants, who unfortunately does not have his signature trousers for sale yet, but hopes to shortly.

We realized we had a shopping target of opportunity, so we went to the Apple store on Shadyside's main drag to get some replacement ear buds. There was a queue of people standing in the rain to eat at Pamela's. We saw plywood sheets on a few storefronts but there was no other indication that on Wednesday, people weren't certain what Thursday would bring.

In the week prior to the G-20, PghComet cleverly pointed out that anticipating the G-20 was like being at Nags Head and wondering where the hurricane was going to hit.

To me, the G-20 seemed like an event horizon; all planning, concern, etc. went as far as Thursday, and no further. Now we're over the horizon, and there's a day or so of the "sweet spot" familiar to survivors, followed by a too-quick return to the nagging details of life: money, health, politics, war, plumbing, logistics, car pools. Here we go Steelers, here we go...

There were a few blog posts during the G20 and the "sweet spot" that I really liked:

Best G-20 Burgh Photo/shop

Originally seen at ThatsChurch, from Burgher Magnus Patris' blog, we have this:

It's an excellent bit of work. Only Pittsburgh can turn a Greenpeace protest at a world economic conference into the backdrop for a sports discussion.

The G-20 is a lot like Death

The approach to the G-20 was a lot like Death.

It's unavoidale, it's going to happen, and there's uncertainty — except for those people who are absolutely certain, and even among that population there's conflicting views. They can't all be right. Somebody must have the wrong expectation. It's not personal.

It could be a big bad thing; it might be a pleasant, nice thing. Everybody's got their own theory, ranging from Cassandra to Pangloss. You don't get to see what it's going to be until you put some skin in the game and wait for The Time.

The G-20 has come and gone. Turns out it was not a disaster. It was probably a good thing for the city. An 8 out of 10.

My compliments to the organizers, and to all the people who stayed home.

REST is Polymorphic CRUD

I've been trying to evangelise REST a bit lately and have had mixed success. There is cautious interest. But there are also huge conceptual hurdles to be overcome. Pete Lacey said it best about enterprise IT folk when it comes to REST: They Can't Hear You.

One architect looked at the definition of a service interface I proposed and thought it a bit "bland". Perhaps it just needed a big WSDL file, lots of XML and SOAP faults!

Another common reaction to REST when it's presented is that "it's just CRUD", with the implication that it's just too fine-grained to be used to create good business services. I've been struggling to explain that just because REST uses four HTTP verbs that correspond roughly to CRUD operations, it doesn't necessarily mean that REST is a CRUD approach to manage data at a very low and detailed level. The resources on which the verbs operate can be arbitrarily coarse-grained. But what has eluded me so far is a succinct term that can drive the point home.

I think I've finally found it - "Polymorphic CRUD".

IT folk in the enterprise understand both polymorphism and CRUD, so the combined term should make sense. I want to drive home the point that a verb itself is neither coarse- nor fine-grained, it's how each resource interprets it. Fine-grained resources will interpret the REST verbs as CRUD operations. But more coarse-grained resources can interpret the verbs as any arbitrary business operation.

Accompanied by the appropriate payload, POSTing to the resource "/applications" is nothing but submitting an application. There's no need for a specific "submitApplication" method.

I've also realised that one can clear a process inbox by DELETEing a "/pending" resource, with a standard WebDAV status code in response (207 Multi-Status), indicating that different items encountered different status codes during the batch process.

It's the way the verb is interpreted by each resource that gives it its meaning in that context. Therefore the REST approach is to manipulate business objects of arbitrary size and complexity through polymorphic CRUD operations.

I hope that gets people to go "Aha!"

G-20 Alternative Press, CyOps, Weather

This is apparently being circulated on the Web as a commentary on some protester's perception of Pittsburgh's welcome:

The Paris of Appalachia. You won't see that on Bill Flanagan's website.

There is a G20 Anarchist schedule of events posted online. I suspect it's not a complete list.

There's going to be an Anarchist G20 streaming radio station. Contrary to expectations, Lynn Cullen will not be hosting.

Big march on Thursday.

Friday morning has widely distributed protest activities until 1130, then another march.

Cyber War in Pittsburgh

Geek-wise, you've got to love that they're using a Google Map to coordinate possible protest sites. Web 2.0 certainly provides new tools for decentralized, anonymous coordination of activity. It makes me wonder how (traditional, non-political) criminals are using the new tools for their purposes, because I believe that the unintended effects of a change usually exceed the intended effects.

The web is every con-man's dream, of course, and there's no reason to take this map at face value. It might be misdirection, and if so - it's clever.

Using public infrastructure makes it open to surveillance, interference, and interruption. I think this moves PsyOps into CyOps.

So what's the legal status of online domestic counter-intelligence operations? (Maybe PG-Plus knows.)

G-20 Weather Forecast

The weather forecast is disappointing. I'd been hoping for solid rain on Thursday and Friday.

Flanagan's Folly and Open G20 Questions

I'd like to repeat some value-added content from an earlier blog post. This does not mean that I'm embracing content recycling, or that I'm looking for an easy blog post; it's just that the questions remain open.

These questions matter (to me) because in a democracy, government action doesn't just appear from the heavens as a fait accompli. Decisions are made by elected officials, and implemented by careerists. Nobody shuts down a city without the people knowing who made that decision, and holding them accountable. That's the American way.

The alternative, where unidentified, unelected government agencies/ officials take unilateral action and impose their whims while the hoi polloi "Make the best of it", is totalitarianism. Seeking cover by hiding behind "G20 partnerships" and the Allegheny Conference is a sham.

Flanagan's Folly

Does anybody really believe this was Bill Flanagan's decision? Who voted for Bill Flanagan? What's his authority/ power base/ funding? Can he shut down streets when he wants to, because he thinks "earned media" is good for us?

Who is Bill Flanagan?
  • Executive Vice President for Corporate Relations at the Allegheny Conference on Community Development
  • Publisher of the Pittsburgh G-20 Partnership Web site
  • Host of Our Region’s Business, a Sunday-morning business affairs program co-produced by the Allegheny Conference and Cox Broadcasting
  • Chief Public Affairs Officer for the Pennsylvania Economy League--Western Division, Pittsburgh Regional Alliance and Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce
  • Executive Director of Pittsburgh 250 (the birthday party)

I understand that everybody needs their bowl of rice, but Mr. Flanagan's got some major action going on. He should be the focus of a future Rick Sebak video! Maybe he can get the bike trail completed at Sandcastle.

G20 Questions

I get that some details are tightly held for security reasons; none of these questions are security issues. It's too easy too hide behind "security" and "partnerships".
Philosophically, if we tolerate the (current) totalitarian approach and don't insist on democratic transparency and accountability, we're making the Anarchist's argument for them.

Here's my questions that I'd love to see answered, preferably before the G20:
  • Who actually said "yes" to having the G-20 in Pittsburgh? What elected official is responsible for bringing it here?

  • What elected official is responsible for public safety in the streets of Pittsburgh - is it Luke Ravenstahl (city), Dan Onorato (county), or Ed Rendell (state)?

  • Why is Pittsburgh planning on a much smaller police presence than either London or Italy used for their G-20 meetings this year? Who decided to adopt the Rumsfeld Doctrine downtown?

  • Was Pittsburgh the first city offered the G-20, or the eleventh?

  • Will the people/government that agreed to host the G-20 be responsible for the impact of their decision, and reimburse lost salary to low-income workers (voters) who lose days of paid work because of the security zone?

  • Post-G20 Follow-Ups: What actual work was done here, or was this just a photo-op? How many injured, dead, arrested? What's the economic impact of closing downtown? What's the loss of property and/or life in protests?

  • In the midst of a mayoral election campaign (which is supposedly not decided yet), why isn't there a significant discussion along these lines?

G-20, Governance, and YouTube

Self Governance 2.0

The Simpsons and the G20 from Sticks N Stones on Vimeo.

I do not agree with the Anarchist position. I do appreciate a clever communique, and I appreciate an attempt at rhetorical persuasion rather than rioting. This is very well played.

RIP Mary Travers

RIP Mary Travers.

I hate it when people die who were young when I was young.
I'm quite selfish in this; the bell tolls for me.

Nunc lento sonitu dicunt, morieris.
I must admit, they've got me moving closer to subscribing to the Post Gazette Plus. A dollar a week isn't too much, but I'm afraid I may never get out of it, like my ancient AOL account that I'm still paying $4.95 a month for, since 1993-ish.

I feel like a sucker giving up my info and my money for something I haven't seen, and I also feel like these headlines are a bit sensational in order to induce subscriptions. It's like I want to know, but I don't want to feel like I've been played as a chump by the barker teasing with, "hey, step right up, come and see the precious secrets, get your added-value web content right here, right now, for the low cost of only one dollar a week, step right up." Maybe I'm just projecting.

Click here for other Post Gazette Plus posts.

Fascinating, thought-provoking comment by the omniscient Bram Reichbaum, located in the third comment on this blog post:
... But as to the City's reputation, one could make the argument that it is the duty of Pittsburgh (if it is to optimize the G-20 opportunity) to pro-actively become as accommodating, impressive, and flat-out cool as possible for every single one of our audiences, even if we were not that way before.

Besides let's face it, the protesters are bound to be more easily impressed with small local niceties than are G-20 principals and finance ministers, who I'm sure hear song-and-dance routines like ours everywhere they go.

Bram raises the intriguing notion that the protesters are our audience along with the media and the potentates. If nothing else, if the protesters are a younger group than finance ministers (which seems likely), then we'll be making a good impression among people who are going to be around a lot longer.

It's an interesting question. Does Pittsburgh profit by establishing campgrounds and positioning porta-potties and showers? Would we get a better outcome if we were welcoming? Would it move the impact of the protesters out of the City proper, and into the County? How do you police a tent city — and how does that compare to the impact of a distribution of homeless people across the city/county?

WWRFD? (What would Richard Florida do?)

The Answer to Complexity

This sounds trite, but long arguments with colleagues in IT have convinced me that this is anything but obvious and therefore needs to be explicitly stated.

Guys, the answer to complexity is not better tooling.

It's simplicity.

Sunday Reading

I've read two local newspapers and one national paper, and none of these stories are in them, but they're the best reading I've found today:

Goofus and Gallant and the G-20


Gallant welcomes the G-20 because most of the benefits will accrue to his constituents, while the costs and problems will go to the city. He worries about whether Goofus understands this.

Goofus welcomes the G-20 because he's going to get his picture taken with many important grownups.

Gallant alerts people to the fact that G20 expenses are exceeding the budget.

Goofus says, I haven't been told about any shortfall, and he likes it when everybody chuckles politely.

Gallant speaks respectfully to power brokers and looks out for the important details.

Goofus looks out for big airplanes and asks, Is that one from the G-20? Is it?

Gallant pays attention to what others are talking about.

Goofus likes to make vulgar noises and then ask Who Did That?

When I was a kid I read Goofus and Gallant cartoons in Highlights magazine at Dr. Bodkin's office. I accepted them at face value, and as something worth pausing to read while scrambling through the magazine to find the Hidden Pictures puzzle.

Periodically my sister J. would call me "Goofus" in response to something I had done, and while I recognized that I was being p0wned, she was generally right.

I gave a talk last year to a group of college students and tried to use a Goofus-and-Gallant allegory in my presentation, and it fell flat on its face - they had no idea what I was talking about. It was like when people talk to me about the Steeler's wishbone defense; it doesn't mean anything.

The times change, everything except for newspapers evolve, and now Goofus and Gallant 2.0 is online with an interactive web presence. You start off with an intro, a story, and a decision, and then you get mouseover advice from both Goofus and Gallant, and you choose your course of action. There's no cartoon presentation, it's text-based, but it's still Goofus and Gallant.

The cartoon-driven Goofus and Gallant is a cultural touchstone for people of a certain age, Boomer Geezers, and there's been some fun with the artifact. Today on Salon and 2PoliticalJunkies we have Tom Tomorrow's This Modern World, with a new "Then and Now with Goofus and Gallant" which does an excellent job of both sending up the original, and making the author's political point-

I'd like to share some (actual and alternative) Goofus and Gallants.

Actual, Genuine Goofus and Gallant

Alternative Goofus and Gallant

21st Century Goofus and Gallant


Explanatory Footnote: Truthers (truth-ers) question the mainstream interpretation of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Adherents of the movement discuss and propagate 9/11 conspiracy theories and call for a new investigation into the attacks. (edit)

Map Geek: Northism, Cognitive Maps, Friday Gallery Opening

I am a map geek, and I most appreciate a map that depicts reality in a new way and helps you to interact/navigate more effectively.

The NYTimes just wrote about people making maps (and art) out of their own travels, using GPS and various software packages. I've been enjoying mapping my bicycle rides for a while.


I just came across the notion of "upside down maps", which demonstrates what maps might look like if we weren't fond of "northism", the assumption that north is at the top of the map. Northism is just an assumption, it doesn't have to be that way.

Originally, East was the primary direction of a map (that's why we say, I need to get oriented). This was due to a few factors - that's where the sun comes up, after all, and Jerusalem was considered the center of the Occidental world for a very long time.

Compasses point north, they say, and that started Northism. Then the lat/long grid was focused on the Prime Meridian in Greenwich, England, and that coordinate system reinforced Northism.

Non-Northist Map of Earth

Here's a map that offers a non-Northist view of the world:

Map of Web 2.0

To kick it into meta, maps are explanations of lacunae, of cognitive space. For instance, this is a map of web social communities:

Do you know how when you meet somebody and they say they're from New Jersey, the response is "oh, what exit"? The author/artist of the above web map comments in his alt-text, I'm waiting for the day when, if you tell someone 'I'm from the internet', instead of laughing they just ask 'oh, what part?'

Map of Humanity

Here's a map of humanity (click for large-size, opens in new window, must be seen to be appreciated). You'll see that Miami, New Orleans, and Amsterdam are on the coast of the continent of Hedonism, on the shores of Sensualist Bay. It's really a brilliant work, weaving cities and literature in a way I haven't seen before (which is the mark of a great map, seeing something in a new way).

Allegorical Map of Success

Kudos to commenter Jim Russell, for pointing out the map of success. (edit)

Pittsburgh Map Gallery Opens Friday

Last weekk the Trib-Review covered the opening of Shaw Galleries, a Pittsburgh antique map and fine art shop at 805 Liberty Avenue. Their Grand Opening Party is Friday, September 11th, 5:30 to 9 p.m. Here's the map from their home page:

Excellent Map Geek Blogs:
The Map Room

Post Gazette Plus: All G20, All The Time

As a news geek I'm loving this kind of value-added coverage, I just wonder how they'll possibly sustain it when the G-20 dog-and-pony show moves on to another venue.

I love this focus, but I really hope they turn to hyper-local news and more boutique-type niche writing. I get that the G-20 is the big gorilla right now, but I'm not sure PG+ is delivering on the premise.


Click here for other Post Gazette Plus posts.



Post Gazette Plus Headlines 9/06/09

It does make me want to subscribe

It looks like very interesting content, but I can't believe they expect me to subscribe to PG+ without giving me a two-day or even a one-day free pass so I can see what it really is. Otherwise, I'm buying a pig in a poke, sight unseen, trusting that this enhanced context (which does look compelling, I've got to admit) is going to continue at this level.

I wish you could try before you buy

Salon gives you a day pass. When NY Times Select was running, they'd give you a day pass, and use cookies to make sure you weren't abusing it every day. Web content and crack cocaine use the same formula: first hits are free, and then you're hooked.


Click here for other Post Gazette Plus posts.


Conn. Politicians Play Onan's Game of Solitaire

House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk, far right, speaks while colleagues play solitaire on their computers as the House convenes to vote on a new budget for the fiscal year in the Capitol, in Hartford, Conn., Monday, Aug., 31, 2009. (JESSICA HILL/ASSOCIATED PRESS / August 31, 2009)

The two card sharks have been identified as state representative Barbara Lambert, D-Milford, and John Hennessy, D-Bridgeport. Here's what they look like from the front:

John (Jack) Hennessy, D- Bridgeport CT,
Solitaire playing Legislator
Barbara L Lambert, D- Milford CT,
Solitaire playing Legislator


The card game on their screens is not, strictly speaking, Solitaire — which is a collection of single-player card games — rather, their game is Klondike Solitaire.

Klondike Solitaire, which was originally included in the Windows computers as a "how to use a mouse" training game, is now so ubiquitous that it's become a synedoche for all Solitaire games (synedoche is the term for when a part is used to refer to the whole, such as mustering sailors by calling for "all hands on deck").

What's the Context of this Card Playing?

The nattily dressed lawmaker who is standing in the photo is the leader of the minority party (Republicans). The two Solitaire playing legislators are in the majority party (Democrats). What's really happening is the Minority is delivering a rhetorical screed which will have no effect on the outcome of the day's voting, and two members of the Majority turned to other amusements. The former speaker of the Legislature said, Good thing they didn't pan the camera around the room, they'd have found a lot more Solitaire.

It's not just Legislators

Laptops are a Distraction

It's not fair to put a laptop or a computer in front of somebody and then be shocked, shocked and appalled to find that they're using it as a distraction. Laptops are an addicting distraction. It's like putting jelly beans in front of kids and being surprised when they eat some. With multitasking and ubiquitous computing, work is a struggle against distraction.

Computer Privacy

It's curious that when we worry about computer privacy, we usually think about privacy in terms of what's behind the monitor, not what's behind the user/playa.

This didn't have to happen

The bright folks at 3M provide privacy filters for laptops, monitors, and cellphones (their motto: Practice Safe Text) that would have prevented this unfortunate scandal:

For Laptop-Lugging Luddites

I Wish I was a Post Gazette Plus Subscriber

Click here for other Post Gazette Plus posts.

Who was John Galt? Zinovy Rosenbaum, the Father of Ayn Rand.

Who was John Galt? John Galt is the fictional representation of Zinovy Zacharovich Rosenbaum (born in Breslitovsk, Russia on November 18, 1869), the father of Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum, who later became known as Ayn Rand.

Rand was born Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum in 1905, into a middle-class family living in Saint Petersburg, Russia. She was the eldest of the three daughters (Alisa, Natasha, and Nora) of Zinovy Zacharovich (Z.Z.) Rosenbaum and Anna Borisovna Rosenbaum, largely non-observant Jews. Her father was a chemist and a successful pharmaceutical entrepreneur.

In 1917, Rand was twelve at the time of the Russian revolution. Opposed to the Tsar, Rand's sympathies were with Alexander Kerensky. Rand's family life was disrupted by the rise of the Bolshevik party. Her father's pharmacy was confiscated by the Soviets, and the family temporarily fled to the Crimea. At sixteen, Rand returned with her family to Saint Petersburg.

She enrolled at the University of Petrograd, where she studied in the department of social pedagogy, majoring in history. Her formal study of philosophy amounted to only a few courses, and her study of key figures was limited to excerpts and summaries.

As a "non-proletarian," Rand was "purged" from the university shortly before completing. However, bowing to pressure from foreign intellectuals, the communists relented and allowed many of the expelled students to complete their work and graduate, which Rand did in 1924. She subsequently studied for a year at the State Technicum for Screen Arts.

Ayn Rand's essential life story is about the mobs who took away her father's business and subjected her family to unexpected hardships. In her fiction, her villians are the mob, and her heroes are substitute father figures, who were smart enough and brave enough to beat the unruly crowds at their own game. There are no children in her novels, since they were extraneous to the key story of her and her father.

John Galt is Ayn Rand's literary portrait of the father she wished she had.

Who was John Galt? He was Zinovy Rosenbaum, the father of Alisa Rosenbaum.