A Nation of Dunces

I can add nothing to this excellent essay...

Americans are in serious intellectual trouble -- in danger of losing their hard-won cultural capital to a virulent mixture of anti-intellectualism, anti-rationalism and low expectations.

(link) [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review]

05:50 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link

Swedes demand return of heraldic lion's todger

If Europeans wonder why they're sometimes seen as way over the line in political correctness, they need look no further than this emasculated lion as symbol of military prowess.

Disgruntled Swedish heraldists are demanding the Nordic Battlegroup reconsider a decision to emasculate their crest's lion which has seen the rampant beast relieved of his todger.

(link) [The Register]

05:37 /Humor | 0 comments | permanent link

Microsoft Internal Emails Show Dismay With Vista

Un-freaking believable! They might as well try to settle this new suit now, as opposed to waiting for trial and getting shredded. This has got me wondering how many of the higher-ups at M$ actually run the AKAV (Abomination Known as Vista) on their personal desktops.

Microsoft is currently facing a class-action suit over its designation of allegedly under-powered hardware as being 'Vista Capable.' The discovery process of that lawsuit has now compelled Microsoft to produce some internal emails discussing those issues. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has published extracts of some of those emails, along with a link to a a PDF file containing a more extensive email exchange. The emails reflect a lot of frustration among senior Microsoft personnel about Vista's performance problems and hardware incompatibilities. They also appear to indicate that Microsoft lowered the hardware requirements for 'Vista Capable' in order to include certain lower-end Intel chipsets, apparently as a favor to Intel: 'In the end, we lowered the requirement to help Intel make their quarterly earnings so they could continue to sell motherboards with 915 graphics embedded.' Read the whole PDF; it is informative, interesting, and at times (unintentionally) funny.

(link) [Slashdot]

05:17 /Technology | 0 comments | permanent link

Radio host: 'McCain threw me under bus'

You wanna know why political discourse in this country has reached new depths? Read some of this guys remarks - frankly, he deserved being metaphorically thrown under the bus.

A conservative radio talk-show host said that "he's had it up to here" with Sen. John McCain after the GOP presidential candidate repudiated the commentator's remarks about Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama at a campaign event.

(link) [CNN.com]

07:09 /Politics | 2 comments | permanent link

William F. Buckley Jr. dies at 82

And he died while writing. RIP.

National Review founder and conservative commentator William F. Buckley Jr. died overnight in the study of his Stamford, Connecticut home, officials at the magazine said Wednesday. He was 82.

(link) [CNN.com]

06:54 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

Feb. 27, 1812: Rage, Rage Against the Industrial Age

Chant no more your old rhymes about bold Robin Hood,
His feats I but little admire
I will sing the Achievements of General Ludd
Now the Hero of Nottinghamshire
Brave Ludd was to measures of violence unused
Till his sufferings became so severe
That at last to defend his own Interest he rous'd
And for the great work did prepare

For a modern "Luddite" perspective, you might want to check out this fine rant.

The machines are coming to take their jobs away, so the workers resist. A band of craftsmen rally behind the mythical figure of Ned Ludd in a quixotic attempt to halt progress.

(link) [Wired: Top Stories]

07:28 /Politics | 1 comment | permanent link

If IP Is Property, Where Is the Property Tax?

An interesting idea, even if the author gets a bit confused on the difference between patents and copyrights. I just wonder if it wouldn't lead to "copyright squatting" (as in domain squatting) or possibly copyright trolls.

Still, an interesting thought.

With a proper tax system, publishers like the L.A. Times or scientific journals may maintain a copyright for only a year or so before letting the content revert to public domain and letting Google and everyone else utilize the material for its small, but socially significant, remaining value. The human enterprise could continue to build on itself in these creative, sustainable and non-resource-consuming ways, with copyrights only applying to a small subset of this enterprise.

(link) [LA Times]

via Slashdot

07:17 /Copywrongs | 0 comments | permanent link

The Camera May Not Lie, but the Software Does

It's been possible to fake photographs since the advent of the art, but never with this degree of precision. Fake has never looked so good.

The approach being taken by these researchers, that of "tamper-proofing", makes good sense until you consider the consequences in some types of cases: all a kiddie porn criminal would have to do to throw the Canon checksum detection method off would be to modify a few inconspicious pixels, and voila, he'd have an illegal real image that would be detected as a legal fake. And which would probably save him in court from the hard time he deserves.

I'm not sure there are any good answers here: technology has thrown us into a gray area where we can no longer trust our senses, and that's not exactly a good thing at all.

If a photograph seems to good to be true, maybe it is. Photoshopping has made photo manipulation so easy that photojournalism is suffering a credibility crisis.

(link) [Wired: Top Stories]

07:57 /Technology | 0 comments | permanent link

Vikings did not dress the way we thought

Well, she's proved once again that the "Dark Ages" weren't really all that dark at all. And added some interesting speculation about the reason for the fashion changes in the 11th and 12th centuries.

Vivid colors, flowing silk ribbons and glittering bits of mirrors -- the Vikings dressed with considerably more panache than we previously thought. The men were especially vain, and the women dressed provocatively, but with the advent of Christianity, fashions changed, according to Swedish archeologist Annika Larsson.

(link) [EurekAlert!]

07:24 /Asatru | 0 comments | permanent link

Insurance Fears Lead Many to Shun DNA Tests

Can you blame them? The older I get, the more convinced I become that insurance is not a part of the solution, it's the problem.

Afraid of having genetic information used against them, many Americans do not take advantage of its growing availability.

(link) [New York Times]

Update: Need more proof - check here.

17:57 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

Judge Greenlights Suit Against Microsoft Over Vista OS

I'm still looking for anything that M$ did right with this abomination, from design to upgrades and now marketing. The only reason a bomb like this won't kill them is that they're so big they can absorb nearly any loss.

A federal judge approves a class action lawsuit against Microsoft over the way it advertised computers loaded with Windows XP as capable of running the Vista operating system.

(link) [Wired: Top Stories]

07:21 /Technology | 0 comments | permanent link

Compost can turn agricultural soils into a carbon sink

Well, duh!

Applying organic fertilizers, such as those resulting from composting, to agricultural land could increase the amount of carbon stored in these soils and contribute significantly to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, according to new research published in a special issue of Waste Management & Research.

(link) [EurekAlert!]

07:02 /Agriculture | 0 comments | permanent link

IBM Wants To Patent Restaurant Waits

The difference between intelligence and stupidity is that intelligence has its limits...

If all goes IBM's way, it'll soon constitute patent infringement if Bennigan's gives you a free lunch for being inconvenienced by a long wait for your meal. Big Blue is seeking a patent for its Method and Structure for Automated Crediting to Customers for Waiting, the purported "invention" of three IBM researchers, which IBM notes, "could be implemented completely devoid of computerization or automation of any kind."

(link) [Slashdot]

07:00 /Copywrongs | 0 comments | permanent link

A Dearth of Posts

Well, I'm still alive. Just very busy - too busy to post. It also doesn't help much that my big Windows box is slowly dying. I'll try to catchy up over the next couple of days.

06:58 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link

Debunking Six Kitchen Myths

But some of them are - fascinating reading!

Sorry. Some of those things you learned from your grandmother just are not true.

(link) [New York Times]

07:29 /Home | 1 comment | permanent link