Efforts to understand, improve, or do less harm to the world around me.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Governing to that one dude in the back

A great example of using good reasoning and culturally effective terminology with a strong emotional appeal as well as brevity and style. This usually powerful gesture that in this case will strongly impact and change the minds of only 0.0003% of the population: the one that watches Star Trek religiously. (thanks Kim)

Good news -- bad news

First the good news: a teenager in Ontario isolated a bacteria that will break down plastic bags considerably faster than several hundred years. This appears to be something that could be done on a broad scale, which may dramatically reduce landfill waste. (Thanks to Mark for this one.)

Next, the bad news: Bisphenol A -- a topic I've been following for a long time should have been banned long ago. The villains according to this article are the Weinberg Group, Sunoco, and Sciences International. Although these people have no business in the civilized world, what's much worse is what this situation implies about the rest of us:

"Humans are terrible at reacting to subtle threats: We fear the unknown, the immediate, but not things which harm us slowly in subtle ways." (source)

If this is true and global warming is true (so far the vast consensus is yes), we're in a great deal of trouble.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Health care = 9/11

Watch Neil Cavuto throw his back out reaching too far to connect health care and terrorism.

The train of logic:

Nationalized health care => more doctors => hiring doctors from outside the US => some of the doctors are Muslim => terrorists are Muslim => nationalized health care is a breeding ground for terrorists

I think I can do this in fewer steps:

Cavuto hates big government => nationalized health care means bigger government => Cavuto will attack big government with bad slippery slope arguments and no evidence.

Jindal stimulus refusal Fail

I have no idea if the economic stimulus will work, but I don't understand why that would justify its refusal. Successively, how would a refusal then justify its acceptance?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tanning beds = slow arsenic poisoning

After a leading dermatologist called tanning beds "death beds," I took a careful look when tanning was compared to arsenic.

The article makes a false equivalency: tanning itself is not the same as rat poison, but instead eating small amounts of rat poison for years.  That's still unsettling.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Songs that make me hate life

A list of songs I hope desperately not to hear when I'm somewhere I can't escape.
  • Creed - My Own Prison. The video for this song is almost too horrendous to link to. Its like a dog threw up on a velvet painting of a dog throwing up on a velvet painting. I hate most everything by this band.
  • Apocalyptica - I Don't Care. I'll admit its catchy and the distortion is excellent, but the repetition ultimately makes it torturous. Don't worry -- he doesn't care about my opinion. He doesn't care. He don't care. He doesn't care. He don't care! (and repeat)
  • Blue October - Dirt Room. Like the band -- but the torture/revenge themes just grate on me over time ("I want to cover you in ants, bees and honey then take a picture for the cover of our album"). No thanks. For contrast, here's a GOOD breakup song.
  • Matchbox Twenty - Push. The lyrics and repetition ("well I will well I will") drive me fucking batty. Ugh.
  • Foo Fighters - Big Me. I like the Foo Fighters, but this song blows. Its a great example of a song made radio-worthy purely by a great music video, and why MTV hurts music as a whole.

David Cross on bad music, especially Creed.

Signs that sales position might suck

Taken from actual online posts:
  • The product or service you're selling is murky, yet still somehow has a "billion dollar market"
  • Job posting looks like it was written by someone who can't type: "P/T job / with flxble hrs. Comp and a + - but not req'rd."
  • Phrases that don't mean what they say:
  • "Unlimited compensation" = you make commission
  • "Help educate customers" = you cold call people
  • "Strong phone experience" = you cold call people
  • "Some of our top sellers earn $____ per week" = you will probably earn a lot less because you don't take caffeine intravenously.
  • "You'll love this job" = a generally better experience than getting kicked in the nuts
  • "Pleasant working environment" = free donuts

Recent coffee shop jokes

  • You know they used to make a "dot com" bubble tea, but they stopped because everyone got laid off.
  • They make an optimist and pessimist drink here but its really the same thing: a rip off.

The next Kitchen Sink

Put the work of a lot of software developers together into a big, portable package again.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Meat vs. veggie

Is being a vegetarian really healthier? Depending on what illnesses you might be prone to genetically, the answer might be different for you.

If you don't have any predispositions in any direction, the article is a strong proponent of balance in your diet.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Why Apple sells iPhone ringtones

Someone pointed out that its not easy to get a ringtone on an iPhone, something that should be fairly easy and automatic like so many things with iPhone. It plays music, it has a phone -- what's the problem? Unfortunately, this is the old assumption that the iPhone is really just a computer with a phone hooked into it, but Apple isn't a computer company anymore. Now an online music retailer, ringtones are big business for Apple, accounting for millions in sales every year. They couldn't sell the iPhone and not sell ringtones in keeping with intellectual property of the artists.

Additionally, when you are an industry leader, you create money-making standards, like only playing a tiny handful of YOUR audio formats, using a hard-to-access file system, and having non-standard USB connectors. By contrast, the competition puts out players with standard connectors, plays a long list of formats, and you can search through the device just as if it were a USB drive. That's the type of thinking that makes ringtones something to be paid for.

That said, by and large I hate ringtones. I do not want to hear your rap-music-in-a-paper-cup-sounding bullshit. If you make a ringtone out of a recent top 40 song, you are a tool. A soft beep or low ringing noise is as much as I want to hear but if you just put it on vibrate, that'd be great.

Image credit

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Dr. Seuss style

  • Tepid rapid vapid habits terribly trouble helpful rabbits.
  • Crushing dishing wishing facts need the help of some snuggly cats.
  • Versions turning the worst of life's urge the purge of excessive trifles.
  • Cake in the way of the temple today make shake and display some aging dismay.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Problems of legal music

The ethics of file sharing are an issue I've been wrestling with for some time, but meanwhile I've been looking at fully legal options:
  • Internet radio - there are some terrific sources but this has progressively gotten more annoying, ironically from the often totally unique tracks. When you hear something you absolutely must have, its often not really available due to the pervasive nature of remixes. Often they can't be found through any means legal or otherwise.
  • Recorded radio - using Screamer (for Windows) provides an automatic recording function that will grab any net radio stations you listen to.
  • Commercial services with free sections - Several free and fully legal sources. (Thanks to Kimberly for this one.) iTunes doesn't exactly come with a catalog of free files like Amazon, but there are several sites that attempt to cover free music through Apple's service.
  • Unique formats - paradoxically, higher quality music is often more openly available than MP3 format music. If you don't mind converting your audio from a high quality, large file size format to something that will play on your portable, you can get quite a selection. This type of audio, known as "lossless," or near-perfect quality audio available, presumably comes from music enthusiasts who record concerts and collaborative music projects that have no clear owner. (Many retailers are gradually jumping on this bandwagon.)
  • Tip-Jar albums - Radiohead and NIN both have notably given away albums that encourage people to pay what they think is appropriate for an album. Gradually more artists have been trying this method.