Saturday, June 25, 2011

Song of the Day: The Cure - Just Like Heaven

Here's a classic, from The Cure. I was thinking of posting an image of the band, like I sometimes do when I post a song link. But all the pictures I found kind of creeped me out! :) Anyway, enjoy the song!

The Cure - Just Like Heaven

Here's an interesting article, comparing The Cure with The Smiths. One page describes why The Smiths are better and the other argues for The Cure. I happen to be more of a fan of The Cure. From Nerve:
"The Smiths Vs. The Cure" by Mike DiBenedetto and Peter Smith

Bonus tracks:

The Cure - Close To Me

The Cure - Friday I'm In Love

Friday, June 24, 2011

Google Maps Mania

Here's an interesting blog showing new uses of Google Maps. As you know from reading this blog, I'm a sucker for stuff like this.

Google Maps Mania

This blog posts many, many different uses of Google Maps. There are a lot of ways to use Google Maps and I'm constantly amazed at the ingenious uses people come up with.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Unnatural Selection

As the father of two girls, this article from the Wall Street Journal made me very sad.

"The War Against Girls" by Jonathan V. Last

This article reviews this book:
"Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls and the Consequences of a World Full of Men" by Mara Hvistendahl

Back to the article:
"In nature, 105 boys are born for every 100 girls. This ratio is biologically ironclad. Between 104 and 106 is the normal range, and that's as far as the natural window goes. Any other number is the result of unnatural events.

"Yet today in India there are 112 boys born for every 100 girls. In China, the number is 121—though plenty of Chinese towns are over the 150 mark."

"What is causing the skewed ratio: abortion. If the male number in the sex ratio is above 106, it means that couples are having abortions when they find out the mother is carrying a girl. By Ms. Hvistendahl's counting, there have been so many sex-selective abortions in the past three decades that 163 million girls, who by biological averages should have been born, are missing from the world. Moral horror aside, this is likely to be of very large consequence."

"Ms. Hvistendahl argues that such imbalances are portents of Very Bad Things to come. 'Historically, societies in which men substantially outnumber women are not nice places to live,' she writes. 'Often they are unstable. Sometimes they are violent.'"

"In Chinese provinces where the sex ratio has spiked, a crime wave has followed. Today in India, the best predictor of violence and crime for any given area is not income but sex ratio."

"The economist Gary Becker has noted that when women become scarce, their value increases, and he sees this as a positive development. But as Ms. Hvistendahl demonstrates, 'this assessment is true only in the crudest sense.' A 17-year-old girl in a developing country is in no position to capture her own value. Instead, a young woman may well become chattel, providing income either for their families or for pimps. As Columbia economics professor Lena Edlund observes: 'The greatest danger associated with prenatal sex determination is the propagation of a female underclass,' that a small but still significant group of the world's women will end up being stolen or sold from their homes and forced into prostitution or marriage."

"Ms. Hvistendahl also dredges up plenty of unpleasant documents from Western actors like the Ford Foundation, the United Nations and Planned Parenthood, showing how they pushed sex-selective abortion as a means of controlling population growth. In 1976, for instance, the medical director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Malcom Potts, wrote that, when it came to developing nations, abortion was even better than birth control: 'Early abortion is safe, effective, cheap and potentially the easiest method to administer.'"

But this book takes its wrong turns, too, as the article points out:
"It is telling that Ms. Hvistendahl identifies a ban on abortion—and not the killing of tens of millions of unborn girls—as the 'worst nightmare' of feminism. Even though 163 million girls have been denied life solely because of their gender, she can't help seeing the problem through the lens of an American political issue. Yet, while she is not willing to say that something has gone terribly wrong with the pro-abortion movement, she does recognize that two ideas are coming into conflict: 'After decades of fighting for a woman's right to choose the outcome of her own pregnancy, it is difficult to turn around and point out that women are abusing that right.'"

"Despite the author's intentions, 'Unnatural Selection' might be one of the most consequential books ever written in the campaign against abortion. It is aimed, like a heat-seeking missile, against the entire intellectual framework of 'choice.' For if 'choice' is the moral imperative guiding abortion, then there is no way to take a stand against 'gendercide.' Aborting a baby because she is a girl is no different from aborting a baby because she has Down syndrome or because the mother's 'mental health' requires it. Choice is choice. One Indian abortionist tells Ms. Hvistendahl: 'I have patients who come and say "I want to abort because if this baby is born it will be a Gemini, but I want a Libra."'"

The article powerfully concludes:
"This is where choice leads. This is where choice has already led. Ms. Hvistendahl may wish the matter otherwise, but there are only two alternatives: Restrict abortion or accept the slaughter of millions of baby girls and the calamities that are likely to come with it. "

Apple releases iPod

Fascinating glimpse from the past, from Slashdot. I wonder if this "iPod" thing will catch on...
"Apple releases iPod"

Read the comments. Wonderful glimpse into the past, and a great view of human nature.

I happen to be one of those people who never thought about getting one, didn't think I had any use for it. But then I got one as a gift and now I simply can't imagine living without my iPod Nano, 2nd generation (still working, although I've surely just jinxed that).

Furthermore, now that I have several phones that do podcasts I still find myself turning to the iPod to listen. Slimmer, controls I can use without looking at it, long lasting battery. It is a device that does one thing extraordinarily well. It has its quirks*, for sure. Amazing to me, as I type this, that despite those flaws I still find it to be a wonderful device. In other words, everything else about it is really good.

And here's a bonus cartoon for you about the initial cost of the iPod:

* iPod quirks, in my opinion:

1. iTunes is a horrible piece of software.

2. Apple's instructions, or lack thereof, are maddening. For example, the iPod locks up regularly, always has, and I had to look up online how to reset it. Didn't help me when I was on a long drive, planning to listen for hours, and no idea how to reset the damn thing.

3. The supposedly intuitive controls have a couple gaping design flaws. For example, when listening to a podcast but browsing through others, hitting the play/pause button does not pause the podcast but instead starts a new podcast or song, based on what item is highlighted at the time in your browsing. That is, TWO buttons (center button and play/pause button) do what you DON'T want and ZERO buttons do what you DO want.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Racism is alive and well

Here is a troubling article about the state of race relations in our society. From
"America's New Racists" by Walter E. Williams

You can see where this article is going right from the start:
"The late South African economist William Hutt, in his 1964 book, The Economics of the Colour Bar, said that one of the supreme tragedies of the human condition is that those who have been the victims of injustices and oppression 'can often be observed to be inflicting not dissimilar injustices upon other races.'"

Williams observes that, "Today all that has changed. Most racist assaults are committed by blacks. What's worse is there're blacks, still alive, who lived through the times of lynching, Jim Crow laws and open racism who remain silent in the face of it."

Not surprisingly, the media don't care to report politically inconvenient facts. Reminds us of how they "report" terror attacks, somehow omitting the religion of many perpetrators.
"In many of these brutal attacks, the news media make no mention of the race of the perpetrators. If it were white racist gangs randomly attacking blacks, the mainstream media would have no hesitation reporting the race of the perps. Editors for the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and the Chicago Tribune admitted to deliberately censoring information about black crime for political reasons. Chicago Tribune Editor Gerould Kern recently said that the paper's reason for censorship was to 'guard against subjecting an entire group of people to suspicion.'"

"These racist attacks can, at least in part, be attributed to the black elite, who have a vested interest in racial paranoia."

Williams makes a great point with with this statement:
"Tragically, black youngsters – who are seething with resentments, refusing to accept educational and other opportunities unknown to blacks yesteryear – will turn out to be the larger victims in the long run."

The final observation in the article is also sobering:
"Black silence in the face of black racism has to be one of the biggest betrayals of the civil rights struggle that included black and white Americans."

Is racism okay or not? Why the double standard?

Monday, June 20, 2011

It's good to be king

Why do companies, at the height of their power, lose their edge? How does a company transition from an industry leader to a stale leviathan? Can you put your finger on that moment? Consider Apple. Great marketing company. Great at identifying core customer wants and needs. Great design.

But what about how they take for granted, and even abuse, some of the people directly responsible for their success? Interesting business model Apple has. Are people really okay with this? Consider the following articles.

From Wired:
"For Apple, Yesterday’s Banned Apps Are Tomorrow’s Great New Feature" by Eliot Van Buskirk

"But the army of developers who have created over half a million Apple iOS apps to date perform another valuable function, in addition to making Apple’s hardware more attractive to users and contributing 30 percent of their revenue to the company’s bottom line: Sometimes, they act like a big, unpaid R&D lab for incubating features that Apple can eventually incorporate into its own products — even after banning those same products from its app store (or, rather, App Store)."

The article goes on to describe a couple examples of jerking developers around while stealing their work.

The most egregious example was the WiFi sync feature that Apple recently implemented. From the article: "According to The Register, Apple asked Hughes for his resume while rejecting his app, but really, there was no need to hire him. They could incorporate his app — and even its name and, more or less, his logo — without paying him a cent."

And here is a more personal account of how Apple's smugness manifests itself. To be fair, I don't know how much of this is attributable to Apple. These are two related articles from Violet Blue, about her experiences at WWDC 2011 (Apple Worldwide Developers Conference).

First, from
"WWDC 2011: No Innovation From Apple, Developer Discontent" by Violet Blue;search-results-rivers

"WWDC 2011 lacked innovation and exemplified a monoculture that casts the closing of Apple’s Jobs-era legacy in a light of exclusivity, hostility, and heartfelt angst among those who felt that Apple’s core strength was in its elevation of outsider thought."

And a link from Violet Blue's website, Tiny Nibbles. This is NSFW (that's "not safe for work" for all you kids out there) due to the nature of Violet Blue's website. Nothing objectionable about the article itself but some of the images on her site might offend.

"Don’t Bring An iPhone To A Gunfight: by Violet Blue

"I saw these encounters as examples of the growing monoculture in the Apple community. They represent the crushing sense I have that Apple has entered a new era. After Apple felt entitled to purge their developer community after building a market off their backs – in the interest of making 'innovation' an externality, maybe because it’s cheaper than health benefits – fratty white males of a certain age have come to symbolize the hostility to the 'outsider' that will limit Apple in the years to come."

"For a company that’s always aimed to celebrate the outsider, that’s more than just disappointing. It’s the deepest betrayal of their customer base. My experiences illustrate Apple’s now-institutionalized disconnect with the people who built their products, their loyal fans, and the customers they claim to serve."

"WWDC 2011 lacked innovation and exemplified a monoculture that casts the closing of Apple’s Jobs-era legacy in a light of exclusivity, hostility, and heartfelt angst among those who felt that Apple’s core strength was in its elevation of outsider thought."

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Song of the Day: Tesla - Love Song

Once again, at the risk of sounding old, I'm posting a classic. People, um, "of my generation" will recognize this one.

Tesla - Love Song

Listening to this song brings back memories. It was released in 1989, while I was in college. Really brings me back. See if you agree--if you are of a certain age, that is!