This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.



February 2004

AfricaFocus Donations

My dad recently initiated a voluntary donation / subscription for his African issues related mailing list. He is doing it out of pocket right now, not supported by any grants or foundations or anything, so donations would be useful! I sent in a donation as soon as his email about it went out.

From his email to his subscribers:

I am writing to announce a new subscription policy and to request your support. After three months of publishing AfricaFocus Bulletin, I find your messages of encouragement convincing evidence of the continuing need for such a publication. But continuing and expanding AfricaFocus Bulletin and the companion AfricaFocus website also require more tangible support.

Therefore I am asking all readers who are able to afford it, particularly those living in North America and Europe, to make a voluntary subscription payment to support the publication. The payment is not required – in this sense the information you receive will remain free. This is essential to meet the objective of wide availability, including continued service to the estimated 15 percent or more of subscribers who are in Africa, and outreach to students and others outside Africa just beginning to seek out information about African issues.

However, those of you who regularly rely on the Bulletin will be asked at intervals to pay for your subscription. As an independent publication AfricaFocus Bulletin is not subsidized by any government, foundation, or organization. Instead, I am seeking your support as readers to make this service sustainable. The business model is similar to computer shareware for which the creator seeks voluntary payments from those who appreciate the product.

The minimum payment suggested ($10/year) comes out to less than 10 cents an issue. I hope that those of you who have told me you find the information particularly valuable will consider sending a larger amount.

I know most of those who read the stuff I put out are not into following African issues, but if you are even curious, check out his site AfricaFocus, and visit the Support Page.

Well, duh!

Isn’t one of the very first things one learns about doing research involving human sources, even the normal non-classified, non-sensitive kind, that one needs to know the motives of your sources and what their agendas might be in order to evaluate the information coming from them?? This holds for evaluating the information you hear on television news, that you read in the newspaper, and when you are looking things up in old books at the library. Who woulda thunk it also applies when you are the administration of the world’s most powerful country and you are talking to people whose whole lives have been dedicated to trying to arrange the resources to go back to their country and overthrow Saddam? They exaggerated and told them what they wanted to hear to justify an invasion? Oh my gosh!!! I never would have guessed that was even possible!!!!

Exiles’ prewar data assailed
(Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay, Philadelphia Inquirer)

U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that almost all of the Iraqi defectors whose information helped make the Bush administration’s case against Saddam Hussein exaggerated what they knew, fabricated tales, or were “coached” by others on what to say.

Goodbye Angel

I didn’t watch Angel from the beginning, and haven’t been completely religous about making sure to watch all the episodes, but it is one of the shows I’ve watched the last couple years, and I even have some of the DVDs. Goodbye Angel!

It’s Over in Five for ‘Angel’
(Kate O’Hare,

Early Friday (Feb. 13) an announcement was made to the cast and crew at The WB’s “Angel” that this season, the show’s fifth, will be its last. “It’s official enough to know it’s real,” David Greenwalt, who co-created the series with Joss Whedon, tells, “but I haven’t talked to anybody at the network or the studio. I can tell you that it’s real, that it makes Mr. Whedon and myself very sad, that we wish it had kept going and we thought it was only getting better.

(via TivoCommunity)

Skittles and Cheese

The menagerie is now complete. I’ve had Nacho the budgie for years. I got Nala the anole for Christmas. In early January I got Zuri the ringneck.

But Nacho still needed a friend her own size. Last week when I was at a petstore getting crickets for Nala to eat, I was looking in the budgie cage, and saw one spunky little budgy pulling a sprig of millet across the floor, and fighting off all comers tug of war style to keep his millet. I almost got him right there, but was not quite ready. I remembered what he looked like, and decided that if he was still there next time I got to that petstore, he would be coming with me.

So, of course, today I was at the petstore with Brandy and Amy, and sure enough, that budgie was still there! He had a little yellow spot on the back of his head, and a pretty bright green tail, and was smaller than most of the rest, so he was pretty easy to recognize. But there was also a pretty blue guy there too this time.

So I got both.

The green one I had seen initially, is now named Cheese, because he looks very similar to Nacho (except younger and thinner) and so together they will be Nacho Cheese.

The blue one is now named Skittles, because on the way home in the car, he was skittering around in his box the whole way.

Cheese was one of the smaller budgies at the petstore. Skittles is almost a head smaller than cheese! He is a little guy! And they are both really babies. Skittles walked on my hand as soon as we got him out of his box back home though. He seems like a friendly little guy. And cheese is all feisty.

Anyway, this is *IT* for pets. Really!

Well, maybe a glofish or two later.

I know a lot of people have been asking for pictures. I’ll try to post some photos of the whole bunch before too much longer.


Al has a blog now! Go Al! I am looking forward to all the fun posts. I’ll be adding this to my blogroll on the left shortly.


Is this thing on?

# posted by Albert : 7:11 PM

100 Months of Sam’s Email Top Ten!!!

As many of you know, for the last 100 months I have held a monthly email contest. I kind of can’t believe I’ve been doing this silly thing for a whole 100 months. That is eight years and four months! Wow!

In any case, to celebrate the 100th month of the contest, I took a suggestion made by Rebecca, and created a retrospective on all the winners of the contest during those 100 months. Check it out!

First 100 Months Retrospective

Below is some information on each of the 16 people who over the last 100 months have found themselves at the #1 spot on the monthly email top ten lists.  It is in order by the month the person first made the #1 spot.  Thank you to each and every one of these people for sending email and making my computing life fun over the years.  You guys are all great.  Looking forward to the next 100 months…

If you are reading this, and have not yet won, perhaps now is the time to start sending me more email!

January 2004 Top Ten Posted

A little bit ago I annouced the results to the winners, but they are now public. Here are the results of the January 2004 email top ten contest. (Which was, by the way, the 100th month of the contest!)

January 2004 Top Ten

January was the month that Erica Livingston decided that she really wanted to win the month. She started out the month sending around 30 messages a day. Sometimes less, sometimes more. As the month progressed she started increasing her pace. Then on the 24th of the month she went into overdrive and sent 321 emails in a single day. This compares to the 246 emails she send in ALL of 2003. After that, she started putting the brakes on again as the end of the month approached.

Strategic Voting Bubbles

Coming back again to the difficulties caused by “strategic voting” rather than people just voting for the candidate who is closest to their own views. It just leads to all sorts of heisenbergian effects and distortions of the process. I’m not sure the “bubble” posited below will come to pass, but it might, and is just another example on the process feeding on itself in unhealthy ways.

Kerry 36,000
(Noam Scheiber, The New Republic)

Kerry is clearly benefiting from the fact that people think other people are going to vote for him down the road, which is why they’re voting for him now; they’re not voting for him because he’s the candidate they personally want to be president. As Chait points out, this is classic bubble behavior–you buy a stock not because it’s intrinsically valuable, but because other people are buying it and the price is going up (and you think both of these things is likely to continue). The problem with bubbles, both in politics and in financial markets, is that they tend to deflate just as rapidly as they inflate.

Abulsme vs the Jackal

Now that Rebecca has registered her blog Home-Schooled By a Cackling Jackal on the Truth Laid Bear Ecosystem I’ve added a line for her on my chart of my own Ecosystem ranking. We can see over time how our two blogs fare. Now, I don’t write much that others would want to link to, and I don’t go fishing for links from other people, so I’ll probably just continue to drop. Rebecca may rise. We shall see.

TTLB Rankings Graph

One thing is odd though. Right now both of us link to each other. That should be reflected in our stats at the ecosystem, but right now it shows both of us linked to by nobody. Our links to each other should be showing up! Darn it!

I update this graph periodically (every couple weeks or so) but I don’t usually post to the main blog about it unless something interesting is happening. So if you are interested in the graph, remember to check it occationally on your own.

Now that Reb is on TTLB, next thing will be to get her to add the ICBM metadata to her meta data so she can show up automatically on localfeeds and the various other geographical based systems. If you want to Rebecca, I have your latitude and longitude info! Just ask! :-)

Earpiece Conspiracy

This is kind of funny. Probably just another conspiracy kook, but on the other hand, I could *so* see W doing this! But only in certain situations. Meet the Press is not one of those.

Bush The Articulate – Hearing Voices
(Jay Weidner, Radio Free USA)

Watch the next speech. Notice how he pauses between sentences. His eyes veer robotically left and right. He then begins his next sentence. It is clear to me that these pauses are placed into the speeches on purpose so that the earpiece voice prompter does not get too far ahead of the President. Our beloved President has become an articulate spokesman for the ruinous destruction of our country. Isn’t showbiz grand?

More evidence that Bush wears an earpiece
(Editor, Radio Free USA)

An email to Meet The Press asking whether Bush wore an earpiece during the interview received a lightning quick response from Executive Producer Betsy Fischer: “The President was not wearing an earpiece at any time during the interview.”

(via Anthony Trumbo)

I haven’t actually watched the Meet the Press Interview yet. It is on the Tivo though.