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


Sunday, November 18, 2012

How to maintain privacy now

Although I wish the article would go into better detail, this article gives a good overview of many steps I would recommend.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Conservatism and why nothing's changed

Really enjoyed this David Frum article addressing the calls of "Socialism" that led up to (and ultimately didn't win) the recent American election.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Cloud storage Achilles Heel

Unfortunately, when you upload your information to a server outside of your computer, the US doesn't think you have any expectation of privacy.  Of course, you can encrypt that data, but it's still sad to see and something that's going to prevent widespread cloud service adoption.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Endorsement based on Climate Change

Really surprised by Bloomberg's endorsement.  I don't know that the recent hurricane was caused or worsened by global warming, but this could potentially be the biggest instance of a climate-based endorsement pushing a major election.  That could make it the most important news item all year.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Romney's Zombie advocacy

At first I thought "no way" and then Joss Whedon of all people said "way."

Monday, October 22, 2012

Again, not Microsoft

I had recently considered switching my email over to Microsoft's web email service ever since they updated their email client, added new features, and have a better overall privacy reputation than my Google service (including the Blogger service this is getting posted to).  Unfortunately, Microsoft backed off that policy today, to more or less match Google's.  Very unfortunate.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Debate scripted as much as possible

I found this amusing, although -- if memory serves -- much of it seems directly related to the Obama-McCain town hall meeting, where McCain looked a uncomfortable or stood in places that looked weird on TV.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Wired Infographic on US Military activity since 9/11

Fascinating stuff.  I had no idea how little a presence was in Afganistan and how much defense spending has spiked. (thanks silver)

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Trampire? Really?

An outstanding article giving a breakdown on a celebrity breakup I don't care about to talk about something I do: how young women view themselves in a culture increasingly hostile to mistakes and rape victims.  One that's also blindly ignorant of the creepy double-standard we have for men in the same position.

Also odd see something of a gossip wet blanket from the Huffington Post, frequently a sensationalist Hollywood vampire.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Animal adoption

Two very sad dog rescue stories that really got to me.  Dogs that may seem to have behavior problems as a result of abuse can still make great pets.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Last Apple product I'll ever buy

Definitely agree with this article by Slate.  Apple owns something that's cool but not exactly complex or revolutionary, and they are going to choke the industry by grabbing up stupid, obvious patents.  As the author points out, Apple just patented the steering wheel and no other car can have one.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Gillian Anderson is a good actress

... because you can only deliver the same line so many times and (as far as I remember from the series) give it the same gravity each time.  Well done, Gillian.  Of course, when you watch them strung together, it looks pretty silly:

If I ran one of the late night talk shows I'd invite her on, play this, and ask her to make some more creative recitations of surprise, such as:
  • Zounds!
  • Mi sangre es baile! (Spanish for "my blood is dancing").
  • Holy poundcake, batman.
  • Oopsy daisy!
  • This turn of events is also unexpected

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Romney evidently wins in 2012

At least one source with a strong reputation is putting Romney over the top for 2012.  Interestingly, former President Clinton is now campaigning for Obama -- someone who beat a popular president (and war hero) because of a slow economic recovery.

Pretty vs. Cute

Today, an analysis of the various terms around attractiveness.  While I'm not a huge fan of the show this came from, I've referenced this conversation in some way on too many occasions over the years.

Also entertaining: mistakes from the show.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Beating Brothers Circus

Years ago, I heard that circuses like Ringling Bros were mistreating animals.  Then I recall hearing that they had taken real pains to turn things around and make a big PR push that this just wasn't the case.  And now this.  Obviously at this point I'd rather take my kids to a UFC fight: at least they're out in the open about their violence.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Skyrim OST @ work

Unlike a lot of Ambient / Classical Music I listen to -- I found the Skyrim game soundtrack remarkably work-friendly.  It's active but not distracting and, after like the first few minutes, has no words.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Eye strain solutions

[Note: the following should not be construed as medical advice as I am not a doctor.  I only provide an example of something that worked for me.]

Reading from an LED screen a great deal lately, I ran into some problems with eye strain a while back.  Symptoms included:
  • Inability to focus on what I was reading
  • Constantly trying to refocus
  • Feeling dizzy and sometimes gross
Fortunately rather than blowing a wad of cash with some eye doctor to tell me the same thing, a good friend had the same issue and correctly (it seems) diagnosed it as eye strain.

Here are the fruits of my research:
  • EyeLeo freeware - really helps by just interrupting your work every so often to encourage you to take breaks, do some eye exercises.  They're annoying but they definitely work.
  • F.lux (freeware) - lowers the blue color that your brain associates with morning.  Over the course of a day, it gradually lowers the color temperature so that you can sleep better at night.  This also reduces eye strain.  Needs to be disabled for any kind of color-sensitive work.  Alternately, you can buy some clip-ons that do basically the same thing:
  • I bought some goofy big eye strain-prevention clip-ons.  They work well so far and help out with night driving as well (I often get blinded by headlights).  I say goofy as they're not very small, but they are dramatically cheaper than other versions I found (most were upwards of $50).

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Facebook "improvements"

About 6 months ago I stopped using Facebook on a regular basis and basically made it into what my MySpace page does: someone could potentially still get in touch with me.  When I made this decision, I was worried that they would hit sort of an idiot threshold and start backing down from a lot of bad anti-user behavior.  Then I would have felt stupid for basically quitting the service.  Fortunately, my decision to leave has been continuously and constantly reinforced, including by their latest move to edit all your contacts' email addresses.

Which is good because every time it gets worse, I feel better.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Nation of Meat Eaters

Fascinating breakdown about US meat consumption.  Oddly even as cattle production is down, somehow we are getting (and eating) more meat out of the animals that are produced.  (Thanks K)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

If you're not buying it

... you're the product.  This was noted recently when Facebook changed their policy to modify your email address listing to an @facebook address.  They want you to use their email so you'll visit the site more, build more ad revenue, and maintain their position.

However, its not just facebook: it's happening right now as I write this in Gmail and post it to blogger.  Is the convenience is worth the price?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Economic casualties of war

It's ridiculous to assume that one party would hurt the economy just to harm a sitting president, but a Guardian article suggests just that.  So many about-face behaviors on the part of the Republicans over the past few years and a focus on the continued spending cuts during a recession at minimum don't seem beneficial.

GMO foods and the "Just Label It" effort

Great overview article of the topic.  I've been following this for a while, but this filled in some blanks for me as well.

If you like you can sign the petition.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Clover lawns? Not with pesticides

The unpleasant story of how marketing and pesticide went after the excellent auto-fertilizing clover plant and its demise due to marketing by companies whose pesticide killed it.  I don't know how true the story is, but at least one article I found corroborates some of the claims.  Additionally, clover does have a bacteria that behaves as a nitrogen-fix, replacing or decreasing the need for nitrogen-rich fertilizers.  I also know if you contact lawn care companies, they think its a weed.  If the article is believed, this is more about chemicals that kill weeds.

More from about.com.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Self-awareness (and gay marriage)

I realize there are legitimate reasons to oppose gay marriage and I'm fine with that; if you have a belief system that doesn't fit into, there's no reason you should make an exception on social grounds.  If however you use the reasoning that children need a mother and a father while you yourself are a single parent, that might not work.

Guy from Back to the Future has a business card

Seinfeld has talked about how actor Wayne Knight who played Newman on his long-running show CONSTANTLY has to cope with people saying "hello Newman" to him, based on a catchphrase from the show.  Similarly, the actor who played Biff from back to the future has developed a frequently asked questions on his business card.

Characters that have one movie or show or public moment and get pegged as those people may not exactly have it rough, but I do empathize.  The whole fun of being famous seems to be recognition and appreciation by a wide audience.  Not dull repetition.

Incidentally, Wayne Knight was a very enjoyable villain on Toy Story 2.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Unique music video

I really don't know how to explain this video (make sure to switch to HD).  After watching it I had that rare feeling (at least visually) I'd seen something almost totally unique.

Evidently it was created by a group called WeWereMonkeys.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Stop the Yellow Pages

Two years ago after months next to the mail boxes, I finally took stacks of Yellow Pages from my apartment to the recycling place.  That's why this article was interesting as well as hilarious.

Their business model reminds me a bit of when the RIAA demanded all personal audio players include an FM receiver: another dead industry unable to admit they didn't transition effectively and now wasting time, energy, and trees.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Boycott Kashi

Found out they're basically lying to their customers.  Really liked some of their products and don't much like getting charged extra for something that has no business costing more.  More on that.

For me there's no end to this boycott and there's nothing Kashi can do at this point to get my business back.  They join McDonalds and (where possible) anything from Monsanto.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

D&B Set

An excellent hip-hop / rap influenced drum and bass set from Pendulum.  I usually don't fall in for this sort of mashup, but this one is so sharp, its something I can't pass up.

Pendulum has gone sort of a different direction since this material (more rock), but this is some of their best work.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Dream shorthand

A few weeks ago, I awoke from a dream and, rather than writing down all the aspects to the dream, I wrote down just a few key points that I was sure would help me remember it later:

Door ajar
Robot trivia
Theater trick
Dame Judy Dench
Spider Man

Needless to say, I have no idea what I was dreaming about or what these things mean.  Still, its entertaining to think of what they might illustrate.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Just Label It effort

Definitely a supporter of this popular push to label genetically modified foods.  The only reason this hasn't been done is because GMO producers think nobody will buy their products.  Whether or not these products are as safe as non-GMO products is something I'd like to be able to decide for myself.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Evidently I have to stop eating things in a can

I am so sick of this -- yet another thing I can't eat anymore because food companies are assholes:

Monday, January 23, 2012

Newt for President? Get ready to invade Iran

I had heard a few things about this, but finally I saw some real background on the story and was just blown away.  What an incredibly bad idea.