Rythan's Ruminations

Unqualified comments and thoughts on the world at large. :)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

U.S. mission in north Iraq: get Kurd and Arab forces cooperating.

I think that things will become more tenuous as soon as U.S. troops are recalled. http://amplify.com/u/72nc

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How do you control duplication with services like Amplify?


Friday, June 18, 2010

TheTrucker.com - OOIDA challenges EOBR rule in court, concerned about future mandates

WASHINGTON — The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has filed preliminary papers to challenge the new electronic on-board recorder rule for Hours of Service that mandates the devices for the worst offenders.

The rule goes into effect June 4, 2012, and EOBRs will be required for carriers that in one on-site review have 10 percent or more HOS violations.

OOIDA, along with three members, William J. Culligan, Adam D. Burnett, and Douglas A. Oldham, filed a petition for review in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit June 2. The notice doesn’t have details; it just states that it is a petition for the court for review of the order and final rule “Electronic On-Board Recorders for Hours of Service Compliance” Docket Number FMCSA-2004-18940, which is the latest FMCSA EOBR rule to date.

But despite the limited wording in the court filing, The Trucker was able to get more information from OOIDA about why they are challenging the rule at this time.

“The challenge is to the current rule only,” said Norita Taylor, media spokesperson OOIDA. “But it’s certainly fair to say our members have expressed concern about future related rules. We are challenging it because our members are concerned about privacy interests, [that] EOBRs do not guarantee an accurate record of a driver’s HOS compliance and they are not economically justified.

“EOBRs only measure when the truck is running and give its location. They do not measure when a driver is doing something else for on-duty time such as fixing the truck, searching for a load, etc. If the whole point of EOBRs is to avoid allowing drivers to provide input into a logbook, then the problem hasn’t been fixed because they still have to provide input.”

In response to an inquiry by The Trucker, an FMCSA spokesman said the agency had “no comment” at this time regarding the challenge to the final rule

In some ways this challenge was a surprise since soon after the final rule was announced The Trucker spoke with OOIDA, which said it had no plans to challenge the EOBR rulemaking.

“The rulemaking as it stands is eminently avoidable for motor carriers if drivers take care of their logbooks and make sure all date- and time-stamped documents match their logs,” said Joe Rajkovacz, regulatory affairs director.

But later, there was a hint of a challenge when Todd Spencer, executive vice president at OOIDA, pointed out during a Congressional hearing in Washington that there’s no data on EOBRs and how they may or may not improve safety.

But Spencer also said OOIDA did not oppose the latest EOBR rule which mandates EOBRs for only the worst offenders, which goes along with what Taylor said, that they were concerned about future rules.

“The point I want to make on EOBRs is that there’s no safety data to show they enhance highway safety,” Spencer said during the hearing. “They can’t tell if a driver is sleepy, they can’t tell if a driver needs to rest, they can’t tell whether a driver is off duty or whether he’s physically handling 44,000 pounds of cargo. They are no more reliable than the paper logs that they would replace.”

Spencer also said they would have a large financial impact because of cost on the small companies.

The EOBR rule that was issued is small considering what some say is coming down the rulemaking pipeline.

On May 20 Dave Osiecki, the American Trucking Associations senior vice president, spoke in Little Rock at the Arkansas Trucking Association annual business conference about EOBRs as they relate to HOS recordkeeping.

“There are three rules coming,” he began. “Well one’s already come. Rule number one was published [in April]. This is a rule that targets historically non-compliant companies, companies that have had some HOS compliance issues in the past. The government believes they need to have all of their trucks with an on-board recorder. This rule kicks in June 2012 so it’s still about two years away.

“Number two is coming later this year and will likely be November/December time period and it will likely cover, at least from a proposed rule standpoint, new carriers, hazmat companies, and bus operators.

“And then the third rule is everybody else. So the big question becomes, when does the third rule hit? And it is a DOT/Congressional race to the finish line on that. DOT will get there. Congress may beat them with the Highway Bill and if the Highway Bill passes before rule number three comes about it will include an EOBR mandate for every truck in this industry. We can almost guarantee that.”

It’s unknown at this time how this challenge may or may not disrupt the two rules that Osiecki says are coming soon.  

Barb Kampbell of The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at barbkampbell@thetrucker.com.

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Sunday, January 31, 2010


Tesing Ping.fm posting using Hootsuite ...

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Seven Bad Writing Habits You Learned in School | Copyblogger

image of a schoolboy

What is good writing?

Ask an English teacher, and they’ll tell you good writing is grammatically correct. They’ll tell you it makes a point and supports it with evidence. Maybe, if they’re really honest, they’ll admit it has a scholarly tone — prose that sounds like Jane Austen earns an A, while a paper that could’ve been written by Willie Nelson scores a B (or worse).

Not all English teachers abide by this system, but the vast majority do. Just look at the writing of most graduates, and you’ll see what I mean. It’s proper, polite, and just polished enough not to embarrass anyone. Mission accomplished, as far as our schools are concerned.

But let me ask you something:

Is that really good writing?

I think most good writers listen to the way English teachers want them to write and think, “This isn’t real. It has no feeling, no distinctiveness, no oomph. You’re the only person in the world who would willingly read it. Everyone else would rather chew off their own eyelids than read more than three pages of this boring crap.” And they’re right.

Compare an award-winning essay to a best-selling novel, and you’ll notice that they are written in almost completely different languages. Some of it has to do with the audience, sure. It’s natural to write differently for academics than you would for everyday people. But my question is: who are you going to spend more time writing for?

My guess: everyday people — your family and friends, your blog audience, your boss at work, maybe even a Letter to the Editor every now and again. None of them are academics. None of them want to read an essay.

Personally, I think good writing doesn’t have to be educated or well supported or even grammatically correct. It does have to be interesting enough that other people want to read it. Much of what comes out of high schools and universities fails this test, not because our students are incapable of saying anything interesting, but because a well-meaning but flawed academic system has taught them a lot of bad habits.

Let’s go through some of them.

1. Trying to sound like dead people

It’s a sad state of affairs when the youngest writer on your reading list has been dead 100 years, but that’s the way it is in school.

I don’t know who exactly decides what’s worth reading and what’s not, but they (whoever “they” are) believe in reading the “classics,” and most of those classics are centuries old. What’s worse is that many teachers hold up the classics as examples of what good writing is, and they expect you to mimic those writers with your essays.

Sure, Chaucer and Thomas More and Shakespeare were the stud muffins of their day, but you don’t see them on the New York Times Bestseller List now.

Not because they aren’t good (they were freaking great), but because people can’t connect with them. By mimicking their style, you might make a few teachers happy, but you’re essentially handicapping your writing in the eyes of the public.

If you want to make a connection, you’re much better off studying the hot writers of today — like Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and Seth Godin. Watch what they do, and play with using some of their techniques in your own writing.

Yes, you’ll still be mimicking the work of another writer, but at least you’ll be mimicking something people want to read.

2. Expecting someone to hand you a writing prompt

Looking through the eyes of an educator, I can see why telling students what to write about would be useful. You have a bunch of students who couldn’t care less about your curriculum, and making them write a paper about the assigned readings is a great way to force them to read the material.

Makes sense . . . but it doesn’t make it any less damaging.

One of the biggest challenges of writing is figuring out what to write. Whether you’re writing a memo, an article, or a letter to your mother, the process is always the same: you start out with a blank page, and you decide what to put on it.

Sure, that involves considering what your audience will want to read, but no one but you makes the final decision of what to put on the page. That act of deciding is what writing is all about.

3. Writing long paragraphs

Once upon a time, it was acceptable to write paragraphs long enough to fill multiple pages with big blocks of text.

Not surprisingly, that’s the way most of us were taught to write: long paragraphs, topic sentences neatly organized, lots of supporting evidence in between assertions. It was the “correct” way to write.




Nowadays, most paragraphs should be a maximum of three sentences. It’s also a good idea to include some shorter paragraphs with only one or two sentences, using them to punctuate powerful ideas.

It’s not so much about having a “correct” length as using paragraphs to give your writing rhythm.

4. Avoiding profanity at all costs

I admit it; this is a controversial one. Many excellent writers still hold that profanity has no place in a professional publication, while others curse like a lovable two-dollar, er, paid companion.

The rest of us sit around feeling uncomfortable and wondering whether it’s okay to express ourselves “that way” or not.

So who’s right? Well, I think Stephen King says it best:

Make yourself a promise right now that you’ll never use “emolument” when you mean “tip” and you’ll never say John stopped long enough to perform an act of excretion when you mean John stopped long enough to take a shit. If you believe “take a shit” would be considered offensive or inappropriate by your audience, feel free to say John stopped long enough to move his bowels (or perhaps John stopped long enough to “push”). I’m not trying to get you to talk dirty, only plain and direct.

‘Nough said.

5. Leaning on sources

Most kids I knew hated digging up sources and quoting them in their papers, but not me. No, the sneaky little bugger that I was (and still am), I realized that sources were an escape route from creativity. With enough quotations from other writers, I could fill up an entire paper without coming up with a single original thought of my own.

And I was rewarded for it. From kindergarten to getting my degree in English Literature, I got an A on all but like five papers.

Here’s why: a lot of teachers care more about solid research than original ideas. They don’t want to see daring and inventive arguments, challenging the foundation of everything we hold to be true and arguing boldly for a new worldview. To them, it’s much more important that you understand the ideas of others and be able to cite them in MLA format.

But real life is the opposite.

Go around citing the sources of all of your ideas and people will start avoiding you, because it’s boring as hell.

They don’t care who said what, and they aren’t interested in hearing the chronology of an idea. What they want to hear is a new perspective on a favorite topic.

If it comes from you, that’s fine. If it doesn’t, that’s fine too.

6. Staying detached

We are taught that good writing puts the focus on the subject, not the writer. It’s unemotional. It gives equal attention to opposing points of view, presenting them all without singling out one as best.

And sometimes, it’s true. If you’re a scientist, engineer, or a doctor, then maintaining your role as a detached observer is a great idea.

For everyone else though, it’s a disaster.

Have you ever read the stuff scientists, engineers, and other so-called “detached observers” write? It’s boring! Outside of their exclusive circles, you couldn’t pay people to read it.

If you want people to want to read what you write, then you should do the opposite. Be more like Oprah Winfrey, Howard Stern, Gary Vaynerchuk. They are opinionated, have a unique style, and are prone to emotional outbursts.

It’s no coincidence. That’s what makes them interesting.

7. Listening to “authorities” more than yourself

Who am I to criticize the writing habits you learned in school?

Well . . . nobody.

Yes, I’m a professional writer. Yes, I have a literature degree. Yes, other writers have paid me up to $200 an hour to edit their work, and they’ve been amazed when all I did was correct the above mistakes.

But that doesn’t mean I’m right. In fact, that’s probably the most important lesson you can learn about writing:

No one but you is an authority on your writing.

Not me. Not your English teachers. Not Strunk and White and their highfalutin Elements of Style.

The longer you write, the more you’ll realize that other writers can’t tell you what to do. You should listen to more experienced writers, sure, but never more than you listen to yourself.

Great writers don’t learn how to write by sitting in writing courses, reading writing blogs, or browsing Barnes & Noble for yet more books on writing.

They learn how to write by coming to a blank page, writing something down, and then asking themselves if it works.

If it does, they keep it. If it doesn’t, they don’t. Then they repeat the process until they finish something they feel is worth publishing.

Sadly, most writers don’t know this

They labor under the mistaken assumption that there is an invisible standard of good and bad. And they worry that the Writing Police are going to show up at their door any minute, handcuff them, and haul them off to jail for failing to measure up.

If that was true, you wouldn’t see a single writer walking the street without one of those blinking bracelets around their ankle.

The truth is that you’re in charge. You. The blank page is sitting there, and you can fill it up with whatever the hell you want.

So stop sitting there, silly.

Go for it.

About the Author: Jon Morrow is Associate Editor of Copyblogger and Cofounder of Partnering Profits. Get more from Jon on twitter.

Posted via web from The Great Canadian Pumpkin

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Doctorow: DRM advocates are "the real pirates"

Doctorow: DRM advocates are "the real pirates"

13.10.09 Catherine Neilan

Publishers who continue to use digital rights management (DRM) or other methods to tie readers to a single e-book device, are "bent on the destruction of publishing" and are the "real pirates", according to Cory Doctorow, a keynote speaker at today's O'Reilly Tools of Change (TOC) conference at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

The author, activist and co-editor of the influential Boing-Boing blog urged TOC delegates to "restore ownership to books" and blasted publishers and rightsholders who continue to apply DRM to their content.

Doctorow said: "Digital licensing systems currently employed destroy the bond between the readers and the book."

He said that DRM was a "farcical" way to get money out of readers, adding that "there is no mechanism whereby a retailer of a [print] book can take it away from you", describing a system that this happens as "insane". Earlier this year, Amazon was the centre of controversy in the US when it remotely deleted Kindle versions of 1984 from customers' devices after the edition was added to Amazon's catalogue without the rightsholder's permission.

Amazon last week settled a lawsuit over the fiasco with a Michigan teenager—who had his Kindle notes deleted as well as his e-book—for $150,000.

Doctorow added that ownership was the "most valuable asset that publishers have" knowing that a book "is passed to kids or has come from your parents".

The third keynote speaker at TOC—the first of publishing's pre-eminent digital talking shops to take place in Europe—Doctorow sounded a note of optimism. He said: "The library of tomorrow will better than the library of today. Just stop believing that the pirates in your digital department are right."

digital Home Frankfurt Book Fair DRM Catherine Neilan

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Does 'strengthening diplomacy' warrant Nobel? Americans split

(CNN) -- The decision to award President Obama the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to "strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples" appears to have left some in the United States divided over whether intangible achievements are worthy of such an esteemed award.

iReporter Katy Brown couldn't understand why Obama won the award. iReporter Egberto Willies celebrated it.

iReporter Katy Brown couldn't understand why Obama won the award. iReporter Egberto Willies celebrated it.

"So can anyone tell me how this man won the Nobel Peace Prize?" iRepoter Katy Brown wondered, asking whether it had more to do with him becoming the first black U.S. president. "The people who have won the Nobel Peace Prize in the past ­-- I'm sorry but the legitimacy of this award has gone down the drain."

Twenty other Americans have won Nobel peace prizes. Among them, President Theodore Roosevelt won the Nobel Prize in 1906 for negotiating a peace settlement in the Russo-Japanese War, and President Wilson for the creation of and advocacy for the League of Nations.

While the committee's decision to honor Henry Kissinger in 1973 was widely criticized by some, his peace prize was awarded for helping to end the Vietnam War.

The Nobel committee said of Obama: "Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future."

Brown, who goes to school in Kent, Ohio, and calls herself a conservative, said she couldn't believe based on the lack of accomplishments so far in his first term as president that Obama was given the award. Video iReporters mixed on Obama's Nobel win »

" 'SNL' put it best, whether you want to call it a comedy skit or not, this man has done two things: jack and squat," Brown said, referring to this past weekend's "Saturday Night Live" skit that characterized Obama as a man with many promises who hasn't fulfilled them.

"Has he ended a war? No. He's only made matters worse. Has he provided health care for everyone? No. He's just caused a big disaster in Congress.

"And has he even closed Guantanamo Bay, the first thing he [said he would do] when he was in office? No; hasn't even done that." Rollins: Obama must now "earn" Nobel Peace Prize

For others, it's not about Obama's political initiatives. For them, it's more about the message Obama is sending to the rest of the world and the hope he has given them.

"To move a country like the United States -- in the eyes of all countries around the world -- from being perceived as one of the most belligerent Americas ever to one that decides it wants to work with the rest of the world -- that is the real definition of a path towards peace," iReporter Egberto Willies said. Zakaria: Nobel honors Obama's "bold gambit"

Willies, a 48-year-old from Kingwood, Texas, who described himself as a liberal, was proud of Obama's intangible achievements.

"I felt like we were reintegrating back into the world," the software developer said. Obama is more inclusive of other countries. That's important."

Like Brown, Thomas Strom, a 39-year-old salesman from Wallingford, Connecticut, who described himself as a conservative, couldn't grasp the committee's decision.

"Obama hasn't accomplished anything to deserve an award of such stature," he said.

Strom couldn't help but wonder what it meant for future recipients.

"This is almost turning the Nobel Peace Prize into a bogus award," he said.

Matt Milam, an iReporter and Obama supporter from Chicago, Illinois, said while he was thrilled to see Obama win, he understood why some people might question it.

"I'm personally glad for the man, but some people are sitting around scratching their heads. And perhaps there's a good reason. He's still fresh in the White House and yet he's getting the Nobel Peace Prize. Maybe it's just that he's just that good."

And the fact that Obama said he was surprised at the award and humbled, and didn't question it, made Milam support it even more. He compared it to Cuba Gooding Jr.'s surprising Oscar win for his role in "Jerry McGuire."

"He didn't sit there and question it. He didn't sit there and analyze it," Milam said.

Milam hoped that despite what people felt about Obama winning the award, it would serve as an inspiration for the country.


"We need to give each other hope, we need to give ourselves hope," he said.

"It's something to strive for so let's be glad for President Obama."

All About Nobel Peace PrizeBarack Obama

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Friday, October 09, 2009

F.T.C. Proposes Problematic Regulation of Online Free Speech | Electronic Frontier Foundation

F.T.C. Proposes Problematic Regulation of Online Free Speech

Legislative Analysis by Tim Jones

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has published vague new advertising rules that require online writers to disclose whether they've been compensated for product endorsements. The rules are full of ambiguities and double-standards, many of which are summed up on this article in The Atlantic Wire.

Significantly, the new rules place requirements on social media from which traditional print and television media are exempt. For instance, if a blogger publishes a book review, the rules will require her to disclose whether she received a free copy of the book from the publisher. Book reviews in print media face no such restrictions.

When pressed on the rules' discrepancies by blogger Edward Champion, the FTC's Michael Cleland explained that newspapers are more trustworthy than social media because "most of the newspapers have very strict rules about that and on what happens to those products." This is an unsupportable assertion, and one which seems to lie in the now time-worn assumption that the Internet is somehow more conducive to corruption and dishonesty than traditional media. We've heard this story before; it was unreasonable then and it's unreasonable now.

EFF believes that bloggers ought to have the same legal protections and privileges as traditional journalists. We urge the FTC to rethink and clarify the problematic aspects of these new rules.

Related Issues: Bloggers' Rights

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It is completely unfair to impose regulations on Online Media and not Print Media.

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