Sunday, January 29, 2012

Obsidian Wings: There is no barrel bottom to scrape Friday open thread

Obsidian Wings: There is no barrel bottom to scrape Friday open thread

The story shared here is very cool. Clock geeks! The response of the administrators and government was idiotic, though.

Funny How That Works | The Agitator

Funny How That Works | The Agitator


This is one of my favorite recent political stories. One of the things I can agree with Ron Paul on is the utter futility of the "War on Drugs" and how much of our country's resources are being wasted by it. The trend towards virtually everyone being tested is part of that. Notice how a politician attempting to come across as a hard-ass, no nonsense, tough on those lazy welfare bum kinds of Republican suddenly just wasn't all that interested in mandatory testing when the tables were suddenly turned.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Unemployment is also an uninsurance problem

Unemployment is also an uninsurance problem | The Incidental Economist

The incidental economist looks at unemployment and uninsurance. It should be obvious to more people than it is that given our current economy causes many to not have access to health care except for when they have absolutely no choice, which means the ER. Our current rate of un/underemployment is 15.2%. That number still doesn't include those who are employed but their jobs don't have health benefits or they don't make enough to spare their share of the cost from their pay check. That's a lot of people who are uninsured not through any choice of their own.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Planets Just Keep Rolling In

11 New Alien Solar Systems Crammed with Exoplanets : Discovery News

The Kepler telescope and the scientists using it are just an ongoing source of amazing discoveries. The variety of systems is fascinating.

Apple’s iPad and the Human Costs for Workers in China - NYTimes.com

Apple’s iPad and the Human Costs for Workers in China - NYTimes.com

I actually just came across this companion piece to the one about how American can't produce the iPhone.

Apple’s iPad and the Human Costs for Workers in China - NYTimes.com

Apple’s iPad and the Human Costs for Workers in China - NYTimes.com

I actually just came across this companion piece to the one about how American can't produce the iPhone.

5 Fascinating Comments by Chinese Readers About Apple and Foxconn - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic

5 Fascinating Comments by Chinese Readers About Apple and Foxconn - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic

I posted before about the article concerning Apple and Foxconn. Here's an interesting follow up.

5 Fascinating Comments by Chinese Readers About Apple and Foxconn - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic

5 Fascinating Comments by Chinese Readers About Apple and Foxconn - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic

I posted before about the article concerning Apple and Foxconn. Here's an interesting follow up.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Apple, America and a Squeezed Middle Class - NYTimes.com

Apple, America and a Squeezed Middle Class - NYTimes.com

Basically we are being told that the wonders of 21st Century technology depend on a string of factories that depend on working conditions similar to what the U.S. had in the late 19th Century. Look at this recent example of the view from the top of Foxconn. These problems aren't just a problem for Apple, of course. Foxconn makes things for a number of other companies such as Microsoft. But make no mistake, the flexibility that Apple admires so much comes at a real human cost. This is just as true now as it has been in the past. Those who praise Asian companies for what they do never point out one very obvious fact. The working conditions that make it possible for Apple, Microsoft and other businesses to get what they want how they want it are illegal in every First World economy. Do we want those working conditions? How can we possibly compete with them? Even if we followed the suggestions that Steve Jobs made just before his death and that other leaders in the tech field have made would they really hire people here? Frankly, I don't think so. I think you'd still see them begging for H1B immigrants because while they are supposed to be paid the same as Americans and treated the same the system is gamed constantly. But of course this complex problem has no easy answers because for the foreseeable future large publicly held companies in this country view their only mission as maximizing profits no matter the human cost.

This is also posted over at my other blog.

Apple, America and a Squeezed Middle Class

Apple, America and a Squeezed Middle Class - NYTimes.com

Basically we are being told that the wonders of 21st Century technology depend on a string of factories that depend on working conditions similar to what the U.S. had in the late 19th Century. Look at this recent example of the view from the top of Foxconn. These problems aren't just a problem for Apple, of course. Foxconn makes things for a number of other companies such as Microsoft. But make no mistake, the flexibility that Apple admires so much comes at a real human cost. This is just as true now as it has been in the past. Those who praise Asian companies for what they do never point out one very obvious fact. The working conditions that make it possible for Apple, Microsoft and other businesses to get what they want how they want it are illegal in every First World economy. Do we want those working conditions? How can we possibly compete with them? Even if we followed the suggestions that Steve Jobs made just before his death and that other leaders in the tech field have made would they really hire people here? Frankly, I don't think so. I think you'd still see them begging for H1B immigrants because while they are supposed to be paid the same as Americans and treated the same the system is gamed constantly. But of course this complex problem has no easy answers because for the foreseeable future large publicly held companies in this country view their only mission as maximizing profits no matter the human cost.

This is also posted over on my other blog.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

"Oozing" Planet, 55 Cancri E, Seen With NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope

"Oozing" Planet, 55 Cancri E, Seen With NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope

The things that our newer scientific instruments are letting us discover are really just amazing. If we ever do discover a way to have "easy" interstellar travel scientists will be salivating over the idea of an expedition to this planet. However, I do suggest it be automated. :)

Scientists Accidentally Discover Rare Monkey Previously Thought Extinct

Scientists Accidentally Discover Rare Monkey Previously Thought Extinct | NewsFeed | TIME.com

This is great. Can't you just imagine the sense of wonder that these scientists felt when they saw something that they never expected from their simple little research project?

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Megaupload Case Isn't As Simple As Some Say

The Mega empire: Details of the MegaUpload indictment — Tech News and Analysis

There's been a big uproar about the bust of the huge file sharing site called Megaupload today. Many are standing up for them and saying that this is a potential threat to other file sharing sites such as Box and Dropbox. But GigaOm cites the actual indictment in their article and if the claims are true then it's pretty obvious what it takes to get nailed. Emails discussing the transfer of files from YouTube, emails discussing cash rewards for users who upload certain DVDs, executives looking for copyrighted material to upload personally and a programmer who was uploading copies of his own DVDs does not exactly scream "Honest business model.". There's lots of rational debate about copyright, the ability to stop piracy and how much economic harm piracy actually does but it looks like the folks running Megaupload were standing up and screaming "Bust us!!!" as loud as they could.

Omnivoracious: George R. R. Martin Interviews Bernard Cornwell

Omnivoracious: George R. R. Martin Interviews Bernard Cornwell

Now this is a great read, IMO.

Monday, January 16, 2012

What the Right Gets Right - NYTimes.com

What the Right Gets Right - NYTimes.com

This is a pretty good article. What I find interesting is the dichotomy between what the people the writer contacted say the conservatives get right and what I see the current Republican Party actually doing. Not saying, doing.

Paul Krugman Asks "How Fares the Dream?"

How Fares the Dream? - NYTimes.com

Many people don't remember that Martin Luther King not only campaigned for racial equality but economic justice for all. Krugman reminds us of this and looks at how both of these issues stand now. The racism situation is vastly improved but for many Americans their economic situation has declined and there is little sign of that trend changing, unfortunately.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Rise of the New Groupthink - NYTimes.com

The Rise of the New Groupthink - NYTimes.com

Much of what this article points out resonates with me. I do a lot more planning, trouble shooting and support than programming nowadays but when I'm trying to track down a weird glitch on someone's system, actually programming or debugging when conversations are going on in three cubicles surrounding me it can make it tough to focus. If it's difficult to keep a train of thought going or trace what's going on in my own code much less someone else's if there's constant conversation or frequent interruptions.

Black Hole Caught Pulling Trigger on Gas "Bullets"

Black Hole Caught Pulling Trigger on Gas "Bullets"

Let's see...large masses of gas shooting from a black hole at about a quarter of the speed of light. I wonder what would happen if that gas happened to hit a planetary nebula that hasn't collapsed into a star yet. Or how it would affect a system like ours.

Murdoch Does Twitter - Badly

Who is winning SOPA? Read Rupe Murdoch's Twitter feed | Media Maverick - CNET News

When Murdoch rants like this it becomes a bit obvious how completely out of touch he and his empire have become. While it's true that IP holders should be able to protect their rights, they just haven't come up with a decent way to do it. Most of their attempts (if not all) show an amazing disregard for their legitimate customers and/or innocent people who just might get trampled on by over-reaching laws.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

If cutting CO2 is too hard, start with something easier

Scientists Say Cut Soot, Methane to Curb Warming - ABC News

Now this makes a great deal of sense. If one approach is much more difficult but doing something else will help the situation, go ahead with the more feasible action. Cutting soot and methane is easier than cutting CO2 and will help slow the rate of warming.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Why Aren't Computer Programming Languages Designed Better?

Why Aren't Computer Programming Languages Designed Better? | Co.Design

I always find articles like this interesting, in large part because fairly often the comments are entertaining.

Code readability can be a real issue but often it's because of the coder, not the language. Many years ago I worked on a project in Clipper, a compiled language derived from dBase's programming language. If done properly it made for very readable code that had some syntactic resemblances to Basic. When I came in they'd tried hiring an accountant and teaching her programming since it was an AR module being written. After trying for several days to make sense of what she'd done I went up to the supervisor and showed him the code and told him that it would just be faster to start over than try to make sense of the hash she'd made. He approved it. I honestly hadn't realized you could make Clipper that unreadable.

The idea of Quorum sounds interesting but it is an interesting question as to how some of the more complex structures that programmers have to create to solve some problems could be translated into something resembling English.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The quasicrystal that fell to Earth

The quasicrystal that fell to Earth

This is really interesting. I'd read before about the creation of quasicrystals though I still haven't read anything with real details (That I could still understand, of course.) but this is the first time I heard of the discovery of natural ones. Thinking about it I'm not very surprised that it would be found in meteorites. I wonder if they could also be formed at great depths in the earth.

MLK Day Fact Check - Ta-Nehisi Coates - Politics - The Atlantic

MLK Day Fact Check - Ta-Nehisi Coates - Politics - The Atlantic

Oh, noo-o-o-o! An actual fact concerning some of the rampant inaccuracies that float around the Internet. Ron Paul did not, in fact, vote even once in support of the MLK holiday. It doesn't mean he's a racist but at least it's accurate.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Report says Romney, Gingrich and Perry tax plans add billions to deficit, favor the rich

Report says Romney, Gingrich and Perry tax plans add billions to deficit, favor the rich - Political Hotsheet - CBS News

Is anyone really surprised by this? Their policies fall in line with every other Republican proposal in terms of the inevitable results.

Cogitamus: The Folly of the Paul Apologists

Cogitamus: The Folly of the Paul Apologists

Sir Charles at Cogitamus really nails it when it comes to the problem with some of the presumed liberals like Glenn Greenwald who rage at Obama while claiming that anyone who really cares about civil liberties should actually be supporting Ron Paul more than Obama. First, the arguments against President Obama are exaggerated to the point of caricature. And Paul just isn't really as interested in individual liberty as he tries to pretend.

Silicon wire created 10,000 times thinner than human hair | DVICE

Silicon wire created 10,000 times thinner than human hair | DVICE

The big question, as per usual, is whether they can actually mass produce it to work in devices. But yes, just creating it is very cool.

Gingrich defends food stamp comment – CNN

TRENDING: Gingrich defends food stamp comment – CNN Political Ticker - CNN.com Blogs

Gingrich says jobs instead of food stamps even as he fails to put forth a plan that would actually result in more jobs that would pay enough to accomplish that. Does he really not know that there are people who are working at the only jobs they can find that still need food stamps, can't afford a place to live without help and don't get health care benefits?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Microsoft Replaces 'Flight Simulator' with Free, Fun 'Flight' | News & Opinion | PCMag.com

Microsoft Replaces 'Flight Simulator' with Free, Fun 'Flight' | News & Opinion | PCMag.com

Now this ought to be interesting to watch. Bringing a free-to-play model to a flight game while making it more accessible to the public than its more hardcore simulator predecessor is certainly an interesting twist. I'm going to let them work on it a bit more and then give it a try.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

First Read - Santorum booed in contentious exchange over gay marriage

First Read - Santorum booed in contentious exchange over gay marriage

If anyone had any doubts about how out of touch with the 21st century Rick Santorum and those who share his views on social issues are consider his reception at a college in New Hampshire.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Picturing Winter, a Solstice Celebration | Tor.com

Picturing Winter, a Solstice Celebration | Tor.com

I stumbled across a link to this wonderful post while reading some comments on RealClimate. I really enjoyed looking at these paintings.

Gingrich: Mitt Romney is a liar - CBS News

Gingrich: Mitt Romney is a liar - CBS News

Pot, meet kettle. There isn't one of the GOP candidates who isn't lying about their current opponents, President Obama, or both.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Doctor Who Theme as never heard before

Doctor Who Theme as never heard before

I liked the Doctor Who I was first exposed to in the early '80s with the Tom Baker episodes on PBS. I consider the revival to be some of the best television anywhere. For this incarnation of Dr. Who I have become a fanboy, or darn close to one. I love what this performer did with the theme music in the Comedy Proms. If you like Dr. Who and haven't seen the two times they've done Dr. Who at the Proms as a full show you've really missed something.

WTF? Monthly pet horoscope: January 2012 - NY Daily News

Monthly pet horoscope: January 2012 - NY Daily News

Google, Please explain to me what the hell this is doing under the science category on iGoogle.