I’ve figured out our foreign relations problems…

The political pundits are all arguing over the cause Americas loss of respect in the world’s eyes. Is it our hawkish executive office? Is it religious tension stirred up by extremists?

No. It’s the crap we export. This is the way Irish people see America in the grocery stores over here:

Rolling Rock, the Pinto of beers
Rolling Rock: the Pinto of Beers

Rolling Rock beer and Fetzer wine.

Think of it in micro-terms: America is New York and Ireland is New Jersey… all the garbage alcohol gets shipped here.

My favorite podcast

There is a whole mess of entertaining podcasts out there and one can spend hours finding entertaining ones. I have a list of my top podcasts but there definitely is one that sits at the top of my list. But before I go on, I’ll give a brief explanation of what a podcast is.

A podcast is a lot like a radio show you can listen to whenever you choose. Technically it’s little more than a blog post with an audio file attached, but the combination of software and hardware out there has made it very easy to get into subscribing to a large number of progarams. A huge benefit of blogging software is it provides a simple mechanism to an author to publish their work and for readers, a simple mechanism to know when there is new work to be found (last time I talked about blog reading software or “RSS Readers” was 2004 , I think I’ll need to share my findings on that later). But I digress, for more details I point you to Wikipedia for a detailed description.

Back to my original point, my absolute favorite podcast. If you are a regular listener of NPR on the weekends you may have had the occasion to listen “Wait wait… don’t tell me!”. It’s a news quiz with a panel made up of a rotating cast of humorists, authors and comedians. Think of it as one part daily show, one part Ben Stein and four parts high-larious. The absolute best way to get a feeling for it is to listen to the show (which you can do with or without being a podcasting geek). Recently they put out a “best of” show which is a great way to get an introduction to the flavor. Just go to the show page for July 8th, 2006 and click the “listen to the whole show” link. One bit of advice: when it asks you what media player you want to use, don’t select Real Player, it’s evil (and I don’t say that just because Microsoft makes the other choice, I say it because I honestly think the Real Player is crap).

For those of you who use an RSS reader or a Podcast aggregator to download programs automatically, be sure to check out the rest of NPR’s podcasts, they have a lot of quality programming available.

This is the oddest piece of spam I’ve seen yet.

There’s no URL, I have no idea what it’s selling, it was in plain text (i.e. it didn’t have a web beacon to probe for receipt) and… well… it is just plain weird.

“I’m not going into the Zone. What instructions do you have?”
As simply and as quickly as that, Kirk Maynard Gull spread his wings,
forty miles per hour! And under control! If I dive from five thousand feet