Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Deuteronomy 18:20 “But if any prophet presumes to speak anything in my name that I have not authorized 27  him to speak, or speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet must die. 18:21 Now if you say to yourselves, 28  ‘How can we tell that a message is not from the Lord?’ 29  – 18:22 whenever a prophet speaks in my 30  name and the prediction 31  is notfulfilled, 32  then I have 33  not spoken it; 34  the prophet has presumed to speak it, so you need not fear him.”

(from net.bible.org)

Of course, this passage can also be misinterpreted and lead to religious wars.  However, I do wonder if we would get a few less doomsday predictions…


Read Full Post »

The premise is a decent one.  Make developers show they can code, kind of like a portfolio that an architect or an artist puts together even before they finish college.  Is this a reasonable standard? I do feel like hiring developers feels like hiring blind.

We’ve all lived the nightmare. A new developer shows up at work, and you try to be welcoming, but he1 can’t seem to get up to speed; the questions he asks reveal basic ignorance; and his work, when it finally emerges, is so kludgey that it ultimately must be rewritten from scratch by more competent people.

via Why The New Guy Can’t Code.

Read Full Post »

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act was written in 1998 to protect digital intellectual property, and forbids most attempts to bypass digital security measures.  Every 3 years, the Library of Congress has the ability to create exceptions to the DMCA, thereby legalizing cracking Digital Rights Management.

Excerpt and Link from Ars Technica:

This time, the Library went (comparatively) nuts, allowing widespread bypassing of the CSS encryption on DVDs, declaring iPhone jailbreaking to be “fair use,” and letting consumers crack their legally purchased e-books in order to have them read aloud by computers.

via Apple loses big in DRM ruling: jailbreaks are “fair use”.

The linked post has a great summary.  But the key point has to do with the iPhone, most notably… jailbreaking is officially legal.

Read Full Post »

The whole post is a good read, but the following caught my eye:

A reflection: Is our national medical obsession with chest pain a manifestation of our national anxiety and fear of uncertainty? Of our national terror of death, or our collective unease even in the face of relative security and prosperity? Is it because we’ve subsituted faith for pharmaceuticals?

via edwinleap.com | Sunday morning in the ER.

My answer: yes.   More specifically, we have substituted Science as the religion, humanity as supreme, and have found both sorely lacking.

Read Full Post »

An article trying to interpret behavior while speed dating and making evolutionary interpretations.  The epidemiologist part of me just cringes at the statement below.  The method (randomization) is meaningless unless you have some grasp of the inclusion criteria and the potential biases introduced there.  Specifically, are the type of men and women who speed-date different from the general population?

I think it is fair to say that most people have never speed-dated in their lives.  If I could hazard a guess, I would also say that men who go speed-dating tend to be more shy, and women who speed-date tend to me more extroverted than average.  (I know someone is going to hate me for making generalizations).   I don’t know if these assumptions are true, but any report on science should at least acknowledge that the study has very little to do with “evolution” and is more something that is limited to speed-dating behavioral dynamics.

In recent years, the emergence of speed dating has given psychologists, economists and political scientists new ways to test this and other hypotheses about mating. Because participants can be randomly assigned to groups and have no prior information about other participants, three-minute speed-dating sessions are about as close to a controlled experiment as researchers are likely to get.

via Testing Evolution’s Role in Finding a Mate – NYTimes.com.

Read Full Post »

As China Roars, Pollution Reaches Deadly Extremes

Read Full Post »

I’ve gotten a number of emails, and people seem to be getting excited about a website named blackle.com. I finally decided to look into it, and what I find is a little disappointing.

Don’t get me wrong. Blackle is an ingenious idea… for the founders. It preys on the guilt we all feel as we use more energy and natural resources in order to do what we need to do from day to day. The premise is that by simply changing to a black background, we can each save a little bit of energy each time we use Google. Given how many people use Google everyday, the potentially energy savings are can appear to be high.

Blackle.com is simply a Google Custom Search placed on a black background. Anyone in the Adsense program can get a Google Custom Search bar, and get paid by Google everytime someone uses it. So Blackle is clearly a great way to make some quick cash with only a little effort, particularly if you can get people to use it regularly.

It also preys on our inherent laziness. It’s easy to change our homepage, and so with just a push of the button, we line the pockets of Blackle’s founders.

But is the claim even true? Like all things, not everything is so simple. You will save 5-20% if you are using a old-style CRT monitor,. According to recent data, less than 25% of the web use CRT monitors. If you are using an LCD screen, you might be actually using MORE energy. LCD monitors work by having a continuously on backlight, and energy used to block the light from coming through the LCD screen to our eyes. Some case reports of people testing their own monitors has shown that this energy increase may be measurable. By the way, if you are using a CRT monitor you are also using about 5 times more energy CONTINUOUSLY compared to an LCD monitor. If energy conservation is really your concern, it might be time to switch. LCD prices have come down a lot.

To make things more complicated, the monitor is only a small component of the total amount of energy used when you surf a website. Energy is used by every server, every router, every wire that the data traverses to get to service point and back. So, not only are you sending data packets to the Google search engine server, but also to the Blackle server as well. Google maintains a huge infrastructure of servers placed all over the world so that the closest server will serve up the page to optimize speed. Google also has made multiple efforts to be carbon neutral, and strategically builds server facilities near environmentally friendly energy sources such as hydroelectric power.

Overall, I would only consider using Blackle if you have a CRT screen, and even then I’m not sure it will make much of a difference. I’d suggest that if you feel guilty about the environmental impact you are making on this world (as you should), then I’d suggest getting involved more pro-actively.


Newspaper Articles:

Read Full Post »

NY Times provides us with more interesting content.

More and more South Korean men are finding wives outside of South Korea, where a surplus of bachelors, a lack of marriageable Korean partners and the rising social status of women have combined to shrink the domestic market for the marriage-minded male. Bachelors in China, India and other Asian nations, where the traditional preference for sons has created a disproportionate number of men now fighting over a smaller pool of women, are facing the same problem.

The article actually painted a fairly positive picture, portraying an industry that is trying to help people, with many successful marriages, as opposed to one that takes advantage of people.

I find it fascinating that a traditional homogeneous culture like Korea has taken to cross-ethnic marriages. NY Times sites that the rate of marriage to foreignors in Korea has risen from 4% to 14% in just 5 years since 2000.

Shock and distaste is a natural reaction, although it is worth mentioning that the company portrayed seem to make a real effort to match-and-meet people compared to the days of the mail-order brides from Russia. Also, I find people who criticize these programs to be entirely self-righteous. As long as people make the decision themselves, people seem to choose appropriately in a rational sort of way. The book, Freakonomics cites some interesting data that seems to show that women who choose polygamy do so after a rational (and usually accurate) determination of their available choices.

Duplicate Article – click more


Read Full Post »