YouTube is broken again, and there's some debate in their forums
whether this latest problem is a bug or a feature. A week ago, YouTube
stopped sending new subscriber emails, so now there's no way to know
who's subscribing to one's channel.
I noticed the problem
quickly. The last email notification I got of a new subscriber was at
19:09 my time on Monday, 16 August. When I checked my email later that
evening, I wondered what was going on. Ordinarily, I'd have expected
anything from 6 or 8 to maybe 15 or 20 new subscriber emails over the
course of the evening. In a typical 24 hour period, I might get 20 or
25 new subscribers--most of those in the evening and overnight--with
maybe only 10 or 12 on a slow day and maybe 50 to 75 on a heavy day. So
I knew something was going on.
The first thing I did was visit
my account home page, where I verified under Email Options that the
send email when "Someone subscribes to my channel" check box was
marked. I cleared that, saved my settings, remarked the box, and saved
settings again. No joy. As it happened, I'd just passed 5,000
subscribers. That was a nice, round number, so I just assumed that
YouTube stopped sending new subscriber notifications once one reached
That's not the case. They've turned off new
subscriber emails for all channels and, despite howls of outrage, they
haven't responded with any explanation. Those who believe YouTube did
this intentionally speculate that they're trying to stop the "sub4sub"
phenomenon, whereby people subscribe to anyone who subscribes to them.
There are channels out there that have 50,000 subscribers but have
posted zero videos. In some cases, they haven't even favorited any
videos, so their channel pages are pretty much empty. Obviously,
sub4sub skews subscriber counts, so it'd make sense for YouTube to take
action to prevent it. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that YouTube
really cares about that. Here's the last new subscriber notification I
received, with the channel name changed to XXX:
XXX has subscribed to you
Want to return the favor and subscribe to XXX? Just visit XXX's channel
and click on the "Subscribe" button at the top.
allow you to connect with other people and be notified when they upload
new videos or respond to others' videos (by favoriting, commenting,
rating, etc). You can control which of your actions are publicly
visible by going to your Sharing settings.
You can see new activity from your subscriptions on your YouTube
it's true that the email doesn't include a clickable link, so if you
want to subscribe to someone who just subscribed to you, you have to
copy/paste the channel name into YouTube. Still, it doesn't appear that
YouTube is discouraging sub4sub. If anything, the converse. Until some
months ago, the new subscriber messages didn't include that second
paragraph. Pournelle likes to quote Napoleon's dictum: "Never attribute
to malice that which can be explained by incompetence", and I think
that's what's going on here. YouTube was fiddling with something and
borked the new subscriber notification emails. Getting that fixed is
obviously not a high priority.
Some people really care about
this, because they send a PM to each new subscriber thanking them for
subscribing, or they post a comment on the new subscriber's channel
page. I've never done that, so I really don't need to know who's
subscribing to me.
I mentioned the TV series Everwood
the other day. That series ran four seasons, from autumn 2002 through
spring 2006. Series 1 was released on DVD in September 2004, while the
program was still being broadcast, followed by an almost five year
delay before series 2 was released in June 2009. Series 3 was released
in June of this year, and series 4 has not yet been released. The
reason for the slow release schedule is the same reason that only
series 1 of Crossing
is available on DVD: music licensing costs. Basically, the RIAA demands
ridiculously excessive licensing fees, making it uneconomic for the
owners of these series to release them on DVD.
I don't know what
the RIAA demands in licensing fees, but I'm sure it's more than the
$0.01 per DVD (or less) that would be reasonable. The Everwood
series 1 DVDs apparently include the music that was originally
broadcast with the programs. That 5-year delay in releasing series 2
occurred because once the producers found out how badly they'd been
raped in music licensing fees for series 1, they rightly decided not to
pay the extortionate RIAA licensing fees for series 2. Instead, they
simply replaced all of the music with tracks that they wouldn't have to
pay the RIAA licensing fees for.
If there's any difference in
the quality of the music, we sure haven't noticed it. I'd bet the
replacement music is as good or better than the original tracks. Even
if the original stuff had been "better", whatever that means, the
replacement stuff is more than good enough. The RIAA is pricing itself
out of the market, which is just fine with me. And they're certainly
training TV series producers to avoid using any RIAA-controlled music
in their programs. There are about a million bands out there who'd kill
for the chance to do a work-for-hire gig to make the music for a TV
series. I predict they're going to get a lot more work in the future.
And some of that work will no doubt be re-recording tracks for older
series that haven't been released on DVD because of high music
The RIAA needs a reality check. Their music just
isn't worth much, and certainly not nearly what they insist on charging
for it. There's no way it's worth the $0.79 to $0.99/track that iTunes
and Amazon charge. A track isn't worth even a tenth of that,
possibly not a hundredth. I might be willing to pay $0.01/track for the
perpetual right to use a DRM-free track, and to give it away or sell it
if I wanted to, but that's about my limit. I suspect in reality that's
also about the market limit. If the estimates I've seen of the ratio of
purchased/copied tracks are anywhere near accurate, dividing the total
price paid for the music on the average MP3 player by the total number
of tracks on that player would come to about $0.01/track. So why not
sell it for that and have done with it?
- Barbara and I finished watching series 4 of Dexter
the other night, and agreed that it was disappointing, to say the
least. Actually, I think Dexter started going downhill fast sometime
back in series 3. The writing was uneven at times in series 1 and 2 as
well, but in series 4 it became monotonous, boring, and
far-fetched. We certainly won't be adding series 5 to our Netflix queue.
Incidentally, if you're
wondering how shooting bad guys from a mile away qualifies someone to
receive the Bronze Star for valor, know this. Sniping is an extremely
dangerous activity, for the sniper. The first lesson they teach in
sniper school is to shoot-and-scoot. A sniper who fires more than one
shot, possibly two, without changing locations is likely to come under
attack from artillery, mortars, or counter-snipers. Furthermore, sniper
teams are often forced to operate alone, far from friendly support. A
sniper team is all offense and no defense. The sniper has only his
rifle, which is totally unsuited for a firefight, and his or
her spotter may, at best, have an M4 carbine as a desperate,
last-ditch defensive weapon. If a squad of bad guys had shown up, this
sniper team would have been SOL. But they held their position for 12 hours, and by
doing that they probably saved the lives of quite a few Marines.
Without sniper teams like these, a lot more of our young men and
women would be coming back from the Middle East in body bags. So it
came as a shock to me when I learned several years ago that the
military authorities don't provide our snipers with everything they
need to get the job done. Sure, the military provides the snipers with
rifles and ammunition and everything else they consider "essential".
But that leaves out a lot of small stuff, without which the sniper
teams are less effective.
Several years ago, I came across a
website named Adopt-a-Sniper, which detailed what our snipers needed
and weren't getting. I donated then and a couple times since, but it's
been a while. The site is now AmericanSnipers.org,
and it's a federally-qualified non-profit organization. When I went
over there this morning to donate, I found that they no longer accept
PayPal. They use Authorize.net now, and you can donate securely with
major credit card. Please send them whatever you can afford. These
folks are helping our snipers keep our young men and women alive in the
- From Derek
Lowe's blog, here's a
woman who should be fired, at the least. Actually, I think
she should face criminal charges. It's a shame. She looks like a nice
enough young woman. But the
is one of stupefying incompetence and irresponsibility, not just on the
part of the grad students who caused an explosion that resulted in
serious injuries and property damage. But on her part. Here's the
anything missing? That would be the blast shield, which any
undergraduate chemistry major knows (or should know) is essential when
one is working with energetic materials (AKA, explosives). Even in my
piddly little home lab, I have a blast shield, which is actually a
sheet of polycarbonate thick enough to stop a .44 Magnum slug
pointblank. And I don't synthesize or work with explosives, ever.
Hope-Weeks was working on a project for Homeland Security that involved
synthesizing and characterizing various explosives likely to be used in
improvised explosive devices. You know, stuff like triacetone
triperoxide (TATP), AKA Mother of Satan. And her lab had no blast
None. That she allowed any work to take place without blast shields is
sufficient grounds to fire her, if not to file criminal charges.
the two grad students involved were incompetent and irresponsible. Yes,
they disobeyed her direct order to synthesize no more than 100 mg of
each compound. Yes, a PI is responsible for lab safety only in the same
sense that a ship captain is responsible for the safety of his ship.
Obviously, she couldn't be expected to be looking over the shoulders of
her grad students every moment. But her lab had no blast shields.
What on earth could she possibly have been thinking?
it could have been even worse. Notice the large jug of heptane near the
left edge of the image. They're lucky they didn't burn down the whole
building. Incredibly, the grad student who caused the explosion is
reportedly recovering from his injuries and writing his dissertation.
They're going to even consider awarding this guy a Ph.D.? That may be
the most horrifying part of this whole horrifying mess.
I've never understood why it's considered not just acceptable but
mandatory to lie to children in some situations. People have tried to
explain it to me, usually with the argument that there are some things
that children aren't capable of understanding, but those arguments
always seemed baseless to me. If a child asks a question, by definition
that child is ready to hear the answer. A child is as intelligent as
the adult that child will become. The child simply lacks data and
The child's question invariably is about sex or
death or religion or some other fundamental issue. I don't think it's a
matter of the child not being capable of understanding the answer. I
think it's a matter of the adults either being embarrassed or not
having a good answer themselves. Someone commented once that I treat
children like miniature adults, and I think that's true. If a child
asks me a question, I attempt to answer it honestly and completely. I
don't duck the question. To do otherwise would be a disservice to the
Back when I was a teenager, I got in trouble for
answering such a question. I was with a large group at a local park for
a picnic or the 4th of July or something. A little kid, maybe 5 or 6,
saw two dogs mating and asked me what they were doing. I told the kid
they were making puppies. The kid just said, "Oh" and thought nothing
more about it. The kid's mother was nearby. She heard what I said, and
she absolutely freaked. She took me aside and gave me hell. According
to her, I should have told the kid the dogs were wrestling. Wrestling?
thought about that the other night when we were watching an episode of
Everwood. The lead character is a single dad. His 10-year-old daughter,
Delia, comes across their 30-something close friend and next-door
neighbor Nina's vibrator. Delia is a smart and curious kid, and
naturally wants to know what it is. I'd have answered her question, and
the inevitable follow-on questions, honestly and completely, and
without a second thought. I guess that makes me unusual. In fact, I
guess it might get me arrested. For telling a child the truth.
As I think I mentioned earlier, my formal connection with Maker Shed
came to an end earlier this year, when Maker Shed decided to
de-emphasize science products. (We're still friends; I'm just no longer
working there.) At the time, they still had a fair amount of inventory
on hand, which they've been selling down since.
The Maker Shed
team has now decided to hold a clearance sale, with all chemicals and
lab equipment priced at 50% off the former prices (which were
competitive with Home Science Tools and similar vendors). If you want
to grab some chemicals and equipment at excellent prices, now is the
time to do it.
prices shown on that page are the original prices. Just add whatever
items you need to the shopping cart and at checkout enter the coupon
and the 50% discount will show up. In
effect, these are wholesale prices, or close to them. The difference
is, you can order one or two beakers or flasks or whatever at these
prices instead of having to order a case of 144 or 288. You won't find
prices this low elsewhere, so you may want to stock up now, while the
getting is good.
The sale runs through 30 September. I no longer
have access to inventory numbers, but I suspect they have a lot of some
items and very few of others, so the sooner you get your order in the
more likely you'll be able to get the items you want.
trick is not to write the object tag with the Flash classid, and to
mind that the src path should not end with a typical Flash identifier
(like .swf). For example try the code with any YouTube video.
FlashBlock developers replied me that they never claimed nor advertised
Flashblock as protective software - they don't intend to fix the issue.
-- “It is easy to dodge
our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging
our responsibilities.” --Josiah Charles
doesn't override mine. When I visit that page I get the following:
demonstration is designed for FlashBlock only. You
either have no FlashBlock installed, or you
have NoScript set to block flash on sites I haven't whitelisted.)
I tried it on a system with Flashblock installed but not NoScript and
this technique does indeed override Flashblock. Yet another good reason
to install NoScript. If indeed the Flashblock developers don't fix the
problem, that leaves little reason to bother installing Flashblock.
know newspapers are hurting badly for advertising revenue, but it still
pisses me off when I see one of those full-page ads for borderline
fraudulent items. This morning, our paper had a full-page ad for some
$300 "miracle" cooler that supposedly uses 95% less electricity than
air conditioning. The reason, of course, is that it's just a box with a
fan in it. It doesn't actually cool the air unless you use your freezer
(and your electricity) to produce blocks of ice and put those in the
"miracle" cooler. And they don't count the electricity needed to make
the ice. You could instead visit Home Depot and spend that same $300 on
a window air conditioner that would provide more cooling with lower
total electricity consumption and a lot less hassle.
Barbara that it reminded me of the Saturday Night Live routine from 25
or 30 years ago, when Father Guido Sarducci did a fake ad for Mr. Tea,
which was simply a funnel on a stand. You put your tea bag into the
funnel with your cup underneath and poured boiling water through the
funnel. And it was only $19.95. Saturday Night Live posted their own
800 number in the fake commercial, and was stunned to receive a flood
of calls from people who actually wanted to order Mr. Tea.
- Thanks to PZ,
I've found yet
another woman I adore.
This one is apparently a top-tier porn movie star, with 800
movies on her resume. She's an outspoken atheist, a feminist (in the
good sense), and, from the interview, is
(And has a formidable vocabulary; so few people actually use words like
"bloviate" in the course of ordinary conversation.) Reading this
interview immediately destroyed my stereotyped image
stars. I'm not sure why I ever accepted that stereotype. Even before
she died in 1967, I was aware that Jayne Mansfield, the archetypical
1950's "dumb blonde", in fact had an IQ well into the genius range. If
a "dumb blonde" can be a genius, there's certainly no reason that a
porn star shouldn't be intelligent, well-read, and thoughtful. So I've
now added one more person the list of people I'd like to know, but will
probably never meet.
Many of my atheist friends and acquaintances favor the building of the
ground-zero mosque, invariably on First Amendment grounds. I oppose it,
on the grounds that the First Amendment protects freedom of religion,
not freedom of totalitarian political systems. Islam is the enemy of
humanity, and to treat it otherwise, let alone to offer it the
privileged position of a religion in US society, is stupidity that
Someone, maybe it was me, commented that a
rational person can't reason with Nazis; one can only kill them before
they kill him. The same is true of Islamics. And before anyone objects
and starts talking about "reasonable Muslims", there aren't any. None.
Any true Muslim is by definition unreasonable. It's not a matter of
only "radical Muslims" trying to kill and enslave us. That is the goal
of all Muslims. It's a core part of their so-called religion.
lot of my correspondents know people whom they consider "moderate
Muslims", but those are not true Muslims at all. They are apostates,
only superficial Muslims, and Islam has even less use for them than it
does for us. Anyone whose goal is not to kill and enslave infidels like
us is, by definition, not a real Muslim. "Moderate Muslim" is an
oxymoron. How to sort them out? I've said this before. Demand that they
eat a ham sandwich and piss on a copy of the Koran. If they do that,
they're okay. If they don't, shoot the sons of bitches.
American people, by and large, understand clearly what our ruling class
does not. Islam is our implacable enemy. And by "our" I don't just mean
those of us who are US citizens. I mean that Islam is the implacable
enemy of nothing less than Western Civilization. Islam has considered
itself at war with Western Civilization for more than a thousand years
now, and its goal has remained unchanged all that time. They intend to
destroy us, however long it takes. Because Islam is stupefyingly
incompetent, they can achieve that goal only if we're stupid enough or
politically-correct enough to help them.
Here's Pat Condell, who understands what our ruling class does not.