moldybluecheesecurds 2

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

This is journalism - and the NY Times got it

Welcome (and Welcome Back) to FiveThirtyEight - "Instead, there seems to be something about politics that can make the rational parts of the brain turn off. FiveThirtyEight was designed to be the antidote to that. For readers just becoming acquainted with FiveThirtyEight, the blog is devoted to the rational analysis of politics, and sometimes other data-rich subjects. In Congressional and presidential elections — for which there is a lot of high-quality data available — this will sometimes take the form of quite explicit forecasts, like Harry Reid having a 42 percent chance of keeping his seat in Nevada (hypothetically) or the Republicans having a 20 percent chance of winning the Senate (again, hypothetically). In other cases, it simply means trying to prioritize objective information over subjective information in dealing with issues in the news."

This blog debuted during the 2008 elections and is the most coherent, fact-based election analysis you can get. Read it. Daily.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rubber Made from Chewed Gum Could Replace Plastic : TreeHugger

This could be a gum game-changer...

Rubber Made from Chewed Gum Could Replace Plastic : TreeHugger: "Designer Anna Bullus read the statistics of the gum problem in London -- that the government spends 150 million [pounds] annually to clean up gum, over 30,000 pieces of which end up stuck to Oxford street alone each day -- and she decided there must be a better way to deal with the problem. So, she headed to the laboratory and came up with a way to transform chewed gum into a useful rubber that can be made into anything from toys to boots. But she's starting out by making chewed gum into discrete but identifiable waste bins for used gum."

FOX News hates the mosque, and helps fund it

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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Monday, August 23, 2010

Where you vote can affect how you vote

Miller-McCune Online: "The researchers suspected voters who had to walk by classroom doors or rows of lockers to cast their ballot would be more likely to vote for the school-funding measure. The numbers showed their hunch was right: “People who voted at schools were more likely to support raising taxes to fund education (55.0 percent) than people who voted at other polling locations (53.09 percent).”"
The article also notes that the closer your polling place (or more convenient it is to you) the more likely you are to vote. It highlights a Colorado county that created 32 "Vote Centers" closer to areas of travel. Voter turnout increased "significantly."

Saturday, August 21, 2010

What 3G really means

Ksplice: "“Oh, I’m sorry sir. We’ve changed the labeling of that model. That phone doesn’t have true 3G. It doesn’t say that on the back any more. If you like I would be happy to sell you the next model, the SCP-6400, which has true 3G.”"

  • What Sprint sold as “3G” in 2002 (1xRTT voice), it rescinded later that year and relabeled the phones.
  • What counted as “3G” for Sprint in 2003 (1xRTT data), isn’t any more either.
  • What in 2004 constituted “true ‘third generation’ (3G)” to Cingular/AT&T, the company had retroactively downgraded to 2G or 2.5G or 2.9G by 2007.
Read more.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Freedom of religion

If Catholics can build churches near playgrounds, then Muslims should be allowed to build a combination mosque / community center in New York City, even if it is two blocks from the former World Trade Center. 

On the principle of freedom of religion, that should be enough.  But the irony is that this proposed building, Cordoba House, was intended to promote cross-cultural understanding and counter extremism.

Here's the original story about the community board vote to approve the center. 
And here's a nice quote from the folks who want to build this and why they chose this location:
When Khan’s organization found a vacant property on Park Place, the former site of a Burlington Coat Factory that had been damaged by airplane debris on September 11, 2001, the potent symbolism of the site also became a compelling rationale for the project. “We decided we wanted to look at the legacy of 9/11 and do something positive,” she explained in an interview. Her group represents moderate Muslims who want “to reverse to trend of extremism and the kind of ideology that the extremists are spreading.”

So, who's the extremist here?  The Muslim organization wanting to promote moderation and worship, or the people like Newt Gingrich who suggests that every American Muslim must be held accountable for 9/11?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Turning off the Free Wifi

TreeHugger: "Coffee shops were the retail pioneers of Wi-Fi, flipping the switch to lure customers. But now some owners are pulling the plug. They're finding that Wi-Fi freeloaders who camp out all day nursing a single cup of coffee are a drain on the bottom line. Others want to preserve a friendly vibe and keep their establishments from turning into 'Matrix'-like zombie shacks where people type and don't talk."

I'd think a decent compromise might be to limit free wifi access to 30 minutes. After that, you have to pay (or buy more food/drink). That allows casual patrons to take advantage, but not someone who wants to freeload all day.

This Would Beat Pumping Water in the BWCA

Super Cheap Nanotech "Tea Bag" Cleans Water Instantly (Video) : TreeHugger: "Could a simple 'tea bag' of carbon and antimacrobial fibers that costs just pennies be the solution for quickly filtered drinking water on the go? Scientists from Stellenbosch University in South Africa hope they've found the solution to drinking water problems in rural African communities. Lacking water sanitation services, the communities can turn to a simple water bottle that uses cheap, removable sachets to clean their drinking water. And comparing the clean water solution to tea bags isn't far off -- they're using the same material that go into producing bags of rooibos tea."

Monday, August 16, 2010

In this family we take the philosophies of Ayn Rand seriously

Our Daughter Isn't a Selfish Brat; Your Son Just Hasn't Read "Atlas Shrugged".:

"I'd like to start by saying that I don't get into belligerent shouting matches at the playground very often. The Tot Lot, by its very nature, can be an extremely volatile place—a veritable powder keg of different and sometimes contradictory parenting styles—and this fact alone is usually enough to keep everyone, parents and tots alike, acting as courteous and deferential as possible. The argument we had earlier today didn't need to happen, and I want you to know, above all else, that I'm deeply sorry that things got so wildly, publicly out of hand.

Now let me explain why your son was wrong.

When little Aiden toddled up our daughter Johanna and asked to play with her Elmo ball, he was, admittedly, very sweet and polite. I think his exact words were, 'Have a ball, peas [sic]?' And I'm sure you were very proud of him for using his manners.

To be sure, I was equally proud when Johanna yelled, 'No! Looter!' right in his looter face, and then only marginally less proud when she sort of shoved him.

The thing is, in this family we take the philosophies of Ayn Rand seriously...

Read the rest here.

An illustrated guide to using i.e. and e.g.

When to use i.e. in a sentence - The Oatmeal

The bigots die off and things get better

FiveThirtyEight: Politics Done Right: CNN Poll is First To Show Majority Support for Gay Marriage: "A landmark of sorts was achieved today as CNN just came out with a poll showing a 52 percent majority of Americans agreed with the statement that 'gays and lesbians should have a constitutional right to get married and have their marriage recognized by law as valid.' Some 46 percent of respondents disagreed with the statement."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The perfect board game?

Perfect German Board Game Redefines Genre: "Since its introduction, The Settlers of Catan has become a worldwide phenomenon. It has been translated into 30 languages and sold a staggering 15 million copies (even the megahit videogame Halo 3 has sold only a little more than half that). It has spawned an empire of sequels, expansion packs, scenario books, card games, computer games, miniatures, and even a novel—all must-haves for legions of fans. And it has made its 56-year-old inventor a household name in every household that's crazy about board games, and a lot that aren't."

Seen on twitter regarding urban design

It's a good question. There was no green space on the Death Star, but it was certainly dense and mixed-use.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me again and again, and I'm a fscking idiot "[Rep. Paul] Ryan has become the Republican Party’s poster child for new ideas thanks to his “Roadmap for America’s Future,” a plan for a major overhaul of federal spending and taxes. News media coverage has been overwhelmingly favorable; on Monday, The Washington Post put a glowing profile of Mr. Ryan on its front page, portraying him as the G.O.P.’s fiscal conscience. He’s often described with phrases like “intellectually audacious.”

But it’s the audacity of dopes."
Krugman goes on to show how this "plan" involves unspecified cuts of 25% in non-defense spending as well as privatizing Medicare. Oh, and it raises taxes on the lower 95% of Americans to give whopping tax cuts to the top 1%.

I think Krugman's analysis of why Rep. Ryan's sham-plan in getting attention is also worthwhile:

So why have so many in Washington, especially in the news media, been taken in by this flimflam? It’s not just inability to do the math, although that’s part of it. There’s also the unwillingness of self-styled centrists to face up to the realities of the modern Republican Party; they want to pretend, in the teeth of overwhelming evidence, that there are still people in the G.O.P. making sense. And last but not least, there’s deference to power — the G.O.P. is a resurgent political force, so one mustn’t point out that its intellectual heroes have no clothes. [emphasis mine]

For these folks, I think "tea bagger" is appropriate

Massive Censorship Of Digg Uncovered: "A group of influential conservative members of the behemoth social media site have just been caught red-handed in a widespread campaign of censorship, having multiple accounts, upvote padding, and deliberately trying to ban progressives. An undercover investigation has exposed this effort, which has been in action for more than one year.

“The more liberal stories that were buried the better chance conservative stories have to get to the front page. I’ll continue to bury their submissions until they change their ways and become conservatives.”
-phoenixtx (aka vrayz)"

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Boycotting big box stores in favor of a big box internet retailer might not be the solution.

In the news recently, Best Buy and Target have been outed for making big donations to a PAC supporting Minnesota Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. Calls to boycott these stores have arisen, but leave people with the question: where else do I go?

For Best Buy, I have to say that replaced them years ago for me. They have the best customer service of any retailer I frequent and they couple that with better prices than Best Buy, no $30 Monster cables (that only cost $2) and quick shipping.

Target is harder, and one Minnpost writer suggests a solution:

Now that Best Buy has threw some money into MNForward as well, where should people who are not interested in supporting Target or Best Buy turn to buy household items and electronics? David Brauer brainstormed

This seems like a poor choice. Yes, Amazon doesn't give large sums to either political party, but Amazon is just another big box store, but without paying taxes. Since internet purchases remain a tax-free zone, Amazon doesn't contribute to local infrastructure (e.g. those roads that carry their delivery trucks) in the way a local store does. And local businesses provide 2-3 times the economic return on dollar spent.

I don't have a great answer to this, if your goal is to shop not-Target and local, but I'd love some tips.

For Hybrid Cars, a Hybrid Invention - Green Blog -

This is an interesting new tech story about a way to make hybrid vehicles with a combination of batteries and capacitors. Read on for a description of the latter and how it could be an improvement over a battery-only hybrid. "Capacitors store only small amounts of electricity, but they can accept it or deliver it very quickly without damaging themselves. By contrast, lithium ion batteries, the kind now favored for cars, can store large amounts but have trouble delivering it fast enough to allow good acceleration. What is more, they don’t capture energy very well, a problem in electric cars. Electric cars are designed so that when a driver hits the brake pedal, the electric motors switch functions and become generators, converting momentum back into current. But the current flows very fast.

Engineers refer to these two qualities – the ability to store energy, and the ability to deliver it quickly, as energy and power. Lithium ion has good energy storage but poor power; capacitors are the opposite.

So AFS Trinity marries lithium ion and capacitors."

The on-road, straddling subway

TreeHugger: "What if there was a way to get most of the benefits of a subway, but without the costs of digging up all those tunnels? The Chinese company Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment Co. thinks it might be able to do just that with a concept it calls the 3D Fast Bus (which has also been called the straddling bus), and kind of giant bus/train that straddles the street and allows cars to drive right under it."