December, 2004

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The Tech-Support Generation: "But the only thing that amazes me now is how crappy it actually is."

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Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Meanwhile, while the red states home-school the next generation...: "They spoke to a lot of Indian government people and the message from them was very clear, and in a nutshell it was this: We don't much care about America. He said they were very polite but almost indifferent."

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Check out this map of Generic Names for Soft Drinks by County (not a random sample, although I can't figure what sort of responder bias you get on soft drink naming conventions)

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Monday, December 20, 2004

How About Not 'Curing' Us, Some Autistics Are Pleading: "'What they're saying is their goal is to create a world that has no people like us in it,' said Jim Sinclair, who did not speak until he was 12 and whose 1993 essay 'Don't Mourn for Us' serves as a touchstone for a fledgling movement."

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Sunday, December 19, 2004

A Bronx Curbside Whisper: 'Hey, Need a Tuneup?': "He keeps a stack of his clients' business cards. One is a plumber, another a lawyer. Then there is the candy wholesaler whose fuel pump went bad on a trip to Boston. He paid Mr. Martinez $400 to fix it. Recruiters from auto repair shops visit the street from time to time, looking for potential hires, but Mr. Martinez is quick to rebuff them. He makes enough on his own, he says - about $40,000 a year."

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Panic! How it Works and What To Do About It: "People get a message stating, ‘There are a lot of interesting things on this disk, but I seem to have misplaced my glasses, so I can't read it right now. Would you like me to utterly destroy all your work for the last year?’ Oh, I’m sorry. That’s not actually what it says. It says, ‘Disk damaged. Initialize?’ Too bad people don’t have a clue what ‘initialize’ means. In a single click, they greatly reduce or eliminate the possibility of recovering their information through a wide variety of available software and hardware options. Anyone writing messages like the above needs to be initialized."

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Saturday, December 18, 2004

Mountain Lions Move East, Breeding Fear on the Prairie: "There are also rumors across the Midwest that state game agencies -- sometimes using black helicopters -- are secretly planting mountain lions in farm country. Before the Marshalltown meeting began, these rumors danced around the community center." - get your tin foil cat hat

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The Gadget Gap / Why does all the cool stuff come out in Asia first?: "Unlike in the United States, where consumer electronics is an overwhelmingly male-driven industry, the critical vector in the propagation of keitai culture was its embrace by adolescent girls. That this demographic drives the market is no coincidence. Like many Japanese marketers, NTT DoCoMo had determined that i-Mode would live and die based on whether teen fashion queens adopted the handsets as the season's must-own accessories."

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Friday, December 17, 2004

The end of the world: "So there you have it. The apocalypse is the locomotive of capitalism, the inspiration for revolutionary socialism, the bedrock of America's manifest destiny and the undeclared religion of all those pseudo-rationalists who, like The Economist, champion the progress of liberal democracy."

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Thursday, December 16, 2004

My friend Lesley just started a weblog. Right now she's collecting Nativities Which Should Not Be™.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Back to the Future: "Cornering quickly requires skill, bravery, experience and an intimate relationship with your car. It depends on an ever-changing set of variables. It is, in short, the most fun you can have in a car. So what’s holding these hugely horsed cars back? Weight."

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Give Me Centrism or Give Me Death: "The Black Crowes: Their first album sold more than five million copies, which is precisely the right number. Stoned people like this band, drunk people think they’re okay, and sober people hate the overwhelming majority of their catalog. This all makes perfect sense."

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Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Shaking Up Trade Theory: "Other economists, however, such as Leamer and Rodrik, believe that in the new global economy, advantages from these kind of micro-level specialties will be fleeting. After all, if the U.S. is better at aerospace research, there's no reason why China couldn't quickly ramp up college grads in that area, too. It's already doing that in telecom and servers."

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Friday, December 10, 2004

The Long Tail: "The problem with MP3.com was that it was only Long Tail. It didn't have license agreements with the labels to offer mainstream fare or much popular commercial music at all. Therefore, there was no familiar point of entry for consumers, no known quantity from which further exploring could begin."

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Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Saving Jesus: "Peter Terpenning, minister at Boulder's Community United Church of Christ, says many Americans want an easy answer to the questions of abortion and gay marriage. But easy answers are in short supply when the problems are complex."

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Linguist Deciphers Uses of Word 'Dude': "Cool solidarity is especially important to young men who are under social pressure to be close with other young men, but not enough to be suspected as gay."

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Mission is over for top astronaut: "John Young, 74, announced his plans to leave the space agency on December 31. Mr Young was the first human to fly in space six times and the only astronaut to pilot four different spacecraft. He flew in the Gemini, Apollo and space shuttle programs."

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Tuesday, December 07, 2004

All that glisters: "Why, then, is gold prospering at a time when inflation is low? Perhaps it reflects nothing more than the fall in the dollar: gold transactions are denominated in dollars, and in euros the rise in the gold price has been anaemic."

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Scientists Make Phone That Turns Into a Sunflower

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Monday, December 06, 2004

User experience types may wish to read Xeni Jardin's rundown of MSN Spaces' brainless automated censorship system.

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Advertisers' budgets hit by growing cost of 'click fraud': "'We used to have a click-through rate of 1 to 2 per cent for each time one of our ads was shown,' said Oscar Jenkins, chief executive of Dynmark, a company that sells bulk text messaging services. 'Then suddenly in October it increased to around 60 to 70 per cent. We had exceeded our advertising budget by 10 in the morning.'"

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Planet Swapping: "Imagine the encounter of two young solar systems by envisioning two circular saw blades brushing past each other while spinning rapidly. When they make contact, their outer edges are buzzed off by the other saw. But in the case of planetary disks, colliding rocks at the edges of the solar systems are pulverized into pebbles, causing particles to be flung in all directions."

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Proposal Would Hit Blue State Taxpayers: "Schwarzenegger's office declined to comment on the proposal. But California State Controller Steve Westly, a Democrat, said it would amount to a hidden tax increase for millions of California taxpayers, who already pay $58 billion a year more to the federal government than they get back in services." - one would think it is neither hidden, nor applicable only to some of California's taxpayers

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Saturday, December 04, 2004

Flash Gordon: "The problem with this logic is that ‘hard-drive players’ and ‘flash-memory players’ aren’t actually product categories. Storage mechanisms are implementation details, not features."

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New method measures emotional quality of daily experience: "More surprisingly, taking care of their children was also among the less enjoyable activities, although people generally report that their children are the greatest source of joy in their lives."

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Whatever: The 10 Least Successful Holiday Specials of All Time: "Prior to broadcast, Mutual Broadcast System executives raised objections to the radio play, noting that 56 minutes of the hour-long broadcast went to a philosophical manifesto by the elf and of the four remaining minutes, three went to a love scene between Santa and the cold, practical Mrs. Claus that was rendered into radio through the use of grunts and the shattering of several dozen whiskey tumblers. In later letters, Rand sneeringly described these executives as 'anti-life.'"

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Friday, December 03, 2004

Electronics gear outsells books on Amazon.com: "While the Seattle-based company sells everything from caviar to apparel, sales of books, music, videos and DVDs represented three-quarters of its $4.4 billion in sales for the first nine months of the year."

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The Tibre


The Tibre, originally uploaded by faisaljawdat.

This is the view of the Tiber River, taken while standing next to my aunt and uncle's house. Alternatively, this is a test of flickr.

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Universal Surveillance Doesn't Make Us Safer: "The extreme example of this is East Germany: the secret police there collected information on most of the country's citizens. Not only did they fail to detect the fall of their country, but no one would hold the country up as a model of security."

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Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Cell phone hangs up on drunken dialers: "A survey of 409 people by Virgin Mobile, a joint venture of The Virgin Group and Optus, found 95 percent made drunken phone calls. Of those calls, 30 percent were to ex-partners, 19 percent to current partners, and 36 percent to other people, including their bosses."

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Those of you who spend too much of your life mucking with PowerPoint may wish to check out S5: A Simple Standards-Based Slide Show System.

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