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Scripting News, the weblog started in 1997 that bootstrapped the blogging revolution.

Terry Gross blew it Permanent link to this item in the archive.

If you've been reading my blog you know I'm a big fan of the Fresh Air podcast, have been for a long time, since before it was a podcast. I like the way the host Terry Gross interviews people, and because the show is so good, and she's basically a fair interviewer, and a lot of people listen to it, she gets very good, very interesting guests. All around, a lot of positive flow around the show, and I'm a fan. Or I should say I was a fan until three days ago, since then I've not been able to listen to the show, I'm so disillusioned with Ms Gross. Let me explain.

First, what happened three days ago was she interviewed William Ayers, the man made famous by the McCain-Palin campaign as the supposed terrorist who President-elect Obama "palled-around" with. Here's an MP3 of the interview. Before you judge my judgement, listen to the whole thing. It's necessary to get a full appreciation of what I'm going to say.

In this interview, she used the tough "gotcha" style interview, every question designed to evoke a confession. Ayers answered each question like a skilled politician, and walked a very fine line, and held back a lot of things I'm sure he would have liked to say.

In the end she asked Ayers if he wanted to apologize for what he did, if he would be willing to take the "unrepentent" part off the label "unrepentent terrorist," and he refused, and I'm glad he did.

These are complicated issues, and to deal with it in a balanced way would require probably a few books, written from different perspectives. We don't today have a balanced view of the struggle in the US over Vietnam. Not when one person is singled out this way, when so many others are responsible for so much more death and destruction.

The reason I like FreshAir is she doesn't normally do gotcha. Her style is to ask leading questions to get her subjects to tell their own stories. She may ask challenging questions, but only ones her subject wants to answer. Since the Ayers interview she's returned to her original style, interviewing a comedian and a book author. But I can't help but wonder if each of these people has something to answer for too, and she's not asking about any of that.

I definitely sympathize with Ayers, I probably wouldn't have minded if she probed John McCain this way about his involvement in Vietnam. I'm sure he killed a lot more people than Ayers did. And that led me to the other, larger reason I'm unhappy with the interview -- she might not want someday to have someone say she "palled around" with an unrepentent terrorist who attacked his own country. In other words, she may be using us to protect herself. If that's the reason she drove Ayers so hard, I would much rather she had skipped the interview altogether.

After all we've heard about him that's bad, didn't he deserve one chance to tell his story without being presumed guilty? And didn't we deserve a chance to hear that? FreshAir is the place I would have thought we would have gotten that story, and I think there's a good chance that cowardice prevented it. It certainly appears that way, and in journalism, it's hard to respect someone who allows such an appearance to persist.

It's going to be real hard for her to keep me as a fan. Either she adopts the gotcha style and goes after everyone, from clowns to reporters, and I'll tune out for the same reasons I don't listen to other reporters who use that style; or she stays with the softball style I like, but I'll never be able to stop thinking of her as a hypocrite for being so gutless with Ayers.

NewsJunk -- Junkier than ever! Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named nick.gifThere's something about taking a break that gets you ready for more. As the election wound down, the pace of the news rose to a crescendo, then dropped off precipitously. After letting a bit of time pass, my intuition that NJ had run its course was confirmed, so I announced it, and then a few days later, I noted a desire to get back into it, so here we go!

Dual themes, the continuing wind-down of the 2008 election, and the wind-up of the new theme: Our Crumbling Economy, with a hope that crumbling is all its doing! ;->

As with the last incarnation there's a small team working here. We strive for neutrality, NewsJunk doesn't have a voice, it's just links to stories we feel an informed person would want to be aware of. We neither agree or disagree, or agree to disagree, or agree to be disagreeable. Onward!

About the financial calamity we're facing, Joshua Allen put it very well in a comment: "The rest of the world has every right to be bitter. This was primarily caused by the US, and the US will feel less pain than any other nation, because of the reserve currency status of the dollar."

Switzerland may go bankrupt Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Now we're at the point where whole countries are going down.

This is turning into a bloody huge mess. Citibank, too big to fail, and too big to bail, is next.

Read it and weep. Our way of life is on its way out. What does the world look like in its next incarnation? We're about to find out.

Oh my.

We're so studly Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Well, the ProxyPass project met its objective, but not without a few more brain teasers and knife fights along the way.

The goal was to get the OPML Editor running behind Apache, so Apache could serve the static stuff, and the OPML Editor could do the dynamic stuff. The OPML Editor is running only on port 5337 and Apache on port 80. And all this is running on an instance in Amazon's cloud, a.k.a. EC2.

The first problem is that while Amazon is capable of linking a permanent IP address to an instance, so you can host publicly available websites in EC2, the machine doesn't know its public IP address, so when you tell Apache to route requests for the public IP address to OPML it says OK, but it never actually routes anything. I thought "Well this is silly, why does Apache care what its IP address is?" and it turns out it doesn't. Just put an asterisk where you'd put an IP address, and it routes everything. This must have been added after the first release because the docs don't mention it except parenthetically.

Then I had problems on the OPML side, cause now every request, even those that used to come in on port 80, now use port 5337. It turns out some code cares in some very bizarre ways that I never fully understood. Instead I wrote a hack that changes the port to 80 if it came from Apache, and bing everything works. I call this the Indian Jones method after the scene in the first Indiana Jones movie where the hero kills the terrifying giant sword-swinging Mullah by shooting him. It was funny the first time, after that you see it coming and it's not that funny. But sometimes I forget that you can solve programming problems that way. Who cares if your app invites you to a sword fight if you've got a gun?

I was so relieved when it worked that I left a comment with a lot of immature words in it.

Anyway, the headline on this post refers to you, dear Scripting News tech studs, who helped me sort out the arcania of Apache. You guys are the greatest. Thank you.


Last update: Friday, November 21, 2008 at 6:32 PM Pacific.

A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.

"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.

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