Thursday, September 18, 2014

Senators opposing net neutrality rake in more campaign cash

Ars Technica reports Senators opposing net neutrality rake in more campaign cash "Of the nine senators—all Republicans—opposing net neutrality as of Tuesday, they averaged $140,255 in contributions from both categories, the data shows. Of the 15 senators who favor net neutrality, they averaged nearly $100,000 in contributions. Thirteen of the senators are Democrats and the two others are independent."

This is interesting to me. Since it's divided down partisan lines is this saying money isn't the issue? If money was the root of the issue, wouldn't the ISPs just give more money to the Democrats and Independents and "win" their votes? Is a difference of $140K vs $100K (on average) enough to swing a vote? Seems like the party platforms, for or against big business regulation, is the real deciding factor here. Maybe as big businesses the ISPs more generally favor Republicans and they know that with the filibuster they don't need the support of any Democrats to block new legislation.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Obama! A Modern U.S. President (musical spoof)

I'm not sure how I missed this from four years ago.

New Programming Jargon

Jeff Atwood lists New Programming Jargon "I've collected the top 30 Stack Overflow New Programming Jargon entries below, as judged by the Stack Overflow community. Enjoy."

  • I like the term Yoda Conditions
  • Pok√©mon Exception Handling is a wonderful term for something not wonderful
  • Egyptian Brackets is a cute term for K&R style
  • Heisenbug I've heard of before (maybe even used)
  • Fear Driven Development is a great term for bad management
  • Ninja Comments might be my favorite
  • Rubber Ducking I've definitely done

MacArthur Foundation names 21 new 'geniuses'

MacArthur Foundation names 21 new 'geniuses'. The only two names I know are cartoonist Alison Bechdel (her book Fun Home is amazing) and Joshua Oppenheimer who made the extraordinary documentary The Act of Killing.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Y Combinator Releases Its Curriculum as a Stanford Class — And Online

Y Combinator Releases Its Curriculum as a Stanford Class — And Online "The 1,000-minute course will also be made available online and will include appearances by well-known investors and entrepreneurs. Peter Thiel will give a lecture on monopoly theory, and Marc Andreessen and Ron Conway along with Ben Silbermann of Pinterest will talk about how to raise money. These are based on talks that the same speakers have made at Y Combinator class dinners over the years in Mountain View, Calif. They’ll be posted on Altman’s personal website as well as on iTunes and YouTube, rather than in one of the existing ‘MOOC’ online education platforms."

The Eruptions of Iceland's Bardarbunga Volcano

In Focus shows The Eruptions of Iceland's Bardarbunga Volcano "In southeast Iceland, the Bardarbunga volcano system, located under Europe's largest glacier, Vatnajoekull, has been rocked by hundreds of tremors daily since mid-August, prompting fears the volcano could erupt explosively, wreaking havoc on air traffic once again. An eruption of Bardarbunga, the largest volcanic system in Iceland, has the potential to be even more disruptive than the 2010 eruption of nearby Eyjafjallajokull. Scientists are closely monitoring the site, as lava continues to spew from fissures, earthquakes rumble underfoot, and nearby glacial ice appears to be melting, possibly signaling explosive interaction between lava and meltwater. [14 photos]"

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Schizophrenia Is Actually Eight Distinct Genetic Disorders

Schizophrenia Is Actually Eight Distinct Genetic Disorders "New research published in the American Journal of Psychiatry suggests that schizophrenia is not a single disease, but rather a group of eight genetically distinct disorders, each of them with its own set of symptoms. The finding could result in improved diagnosis and treatment, while also shedding light on how genes work together to cause complex disorders."

Hear Tracks From the Original Score for '2001: A Space Odyssey' That Kubrick Replaced at the Last Minute

Hear Tracks From the Original Score for '2001: A Space Odyssey' That Kubrick Replaced at the Last Minute "Film buffs are familiar with the story surrounding 2001’s iconic score. For those who aren’t privy, the story goes that Kubrick hired North, who he had collaborated with twice prior to the release of 2001, to compose the score. However, as he began editing using the classical backdrop that is now inseparable from the film, he found himself unable to part ways with the guide. To make matters worse, North was kept in the dark about the issue, and attended the premiere expecting to hear his hard work set to Kubrick’s masterful vision—sitting through all 161 minutes, only to learn that his score was abandoned in full, must have been demoralizing to say the least. Mondo Creative Director, Justin Ishmael sheds some light on the importance of the release, 'Alex North's Music For 2001: A Space Odyssey is beyond just an important piece of musical history, it is one of the best 'what ifs' in cinema history."

The site has some clips. The second one is for the space station docking sequence. It's interesting but I think Kubrick's choice is better, juxtaposing something old and something new made space travel more relatable. Still that could just be my bias for something that's now very familiar.

Tesla prevails in top Massachusetts court over direct sales

Reuters reports Tesla prevails in top Massachusetts court over direct sales "Massachusetts' highest court on Monday threw out a lawsuit seeking to block Tesla Motors Inc from selling its luxury electric cars directly to consumers in the state, enabling it to bypass traditional dealerships."

"The law "was intended and understood only to prohibit manufacturer-owned dealerships when, unlike Tesla, the manufacturer already had an affiliated dealer or dealers in Massachusetts," [Justice Margot Botsford] wrote."

Having just bought a car, I really don't understand how the dealer model is still valuable.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Why Google is Hurrying the Web to Kill SHA-1

Why Google is Hurrying the Web to Kill SHA-1 "There is a larger issue here: there's no reason that fixing security issues should be so aggravating. A big reason why websites and Certificate Authorities are dragging their feet on updating to SHA-2 is because it means reissuing certificates, and everyone hates replacing SSL certificates."

"A SHA-1 push like this should have started years ago. Any annoyance at Google for amping up the pressure should be channeled towards the Certificate Authorities instead, for allowing nothing to happen for so long."

Charlie Rose Interviews Tim Cook

Tim Cook was on Charlie Rose Friday. Cult of Mac describes 14 things we learned from Tim Cook’s revealing interview with Charlie Rose. Part two of the interview airs tonight.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Bombing People Isn't Like Casual Sex

The Intercept says Bombing People Isn't Like Casual Sex

"In the Obama administration’s first air attack in Yemen, for example, nearly a half dozen Tomahawk cruise missiles packed with cluster munitions and launched from a U.S. war ship slammed into a Bedouin village. While a Yemeni government inquiry determined that 14 suspected al Qaeda members died in the attack, 41 innocent people were also killed, including nine women and 21 children. The highest levels of the U.S. and Yemeni governments then collaborated to keep the details of the strike from the public by lying and saying the strike was carried out by Yemeni forces. Since that time, the Obama administration has launched more than 60 strikes in Yemen and killed dozens more civilians. The most recent attack came Thursday, just hours after the White House announced its new war on ISIS."

Double Standard: After Going Easy on Ray Rice, Prosecutor Torments Single Mom

The Intercept writes Double Standard: After Going Easy on Ray Rice, Prosecutor Torments Single Mom

"From time to time, the American public gets a glaring reminder that the elite play by their own set of rules. A county prosecutor in New Jersey, James McClain, is offering up a prime example: After going easy on NFL player Ray Rice for violently attacking his girlfriend, he’s throwing the book at a single mother of two for having the wrong paperwork on her gun.

The mother, Shaneen Allen, spent 40 days in jail and faces a minimum three-and-a-half year prison sentence. The 28-year-old was arrested last October for not knowing that her legal gun permit in Pennsylvania is not recognized in New Jersey. Allen was pulled over for a traffic stop and could have never mentioned the gun. But Allen was forthright in telling the officer about her weapon. Allen figured she had nothing to hide. She had no criminal record and only purchased the gun to protect her family after being robbed twice in the past."

"So despite punching and dragging his wife on camera, and despite being generally inappropriate for a diversion program under the advice of state law, Rice was allowed to avoid jail time, aside from being booked and released the same night. And despite being charged with a non-violent offense and being especially appropriate for diversion under state law, Allen spent more than five weeks behind bars and faces felony charges."

This is really ridiculous.

Has Expanded Replay Worked Well In Baseball?

FiveThirtyEight examines Has Expanded Replay Worked Well In Baseball?. "As of Sept. 7, there had been 1,130 challenges. Of these, 529 (or 47 percent) resulted in a call being overturned. Managers initiated 83 percent of the challenges, umpires 17 percent."

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I'm most surprised that 19 Hit by pitch calls have been overturned. How does that work?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Ashkenazi Jews Linked To Group Of Just 330 People From Middle Ages

Ashkenazi Jews Linked To Group Of Just 330 People From Middle Ages "A genetic analysis shows that all of the Ashkenazi Jews alive today — of which there are more than 10 million — can trace their roots to a group of just 330 people who lived 600 to 800 years ago."

Friday, September 12, 2014

Woman of 24 found to have no cerebellum in her brain

New Scientist reports Woman of 24 found to have no cerebellum in her brain

"The discovery was made when the woman was admitted to the Chinese PLA General Hospital of Jinan Military Area Command in Shandong Province complaining of dizziness and nausea. She told doctors she'd had problems walking steadily for most of her life, and her mother reported that she hadn't walked until she was 7 and that her speech only became intelligible at the age of 6."

"The cerebellum's main job is to control voluntary movements and balance, and it is also thought to be involved in our ability to learn specific motor actions and speak. Problems in the cerebellum can lead to severe mental impairment, movement disorders, epilepsy or a potentially fatal build-up of fluid in the brain. However, in this woman, the missing cerebellum resulted in only mild to moderate motor deficiency, and mild speech problems such as slightly slurred pronunciation. Her doctors describe these effects as "less than would be expected", and say her case highlights the remarkable plasticity of the brain."

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Gut bugs 'help prevent allergies'

The BBC reports Gut bugs 'help prevent allergies' "Bacteria that naturally live inside our digestive system can help prevent allergies and may become a source of treatment, say US researchers."

The research group performed experiments on mice brought up in perfectly sterile environments and had no bacteria in their gut.

These animals had a strong immune response to peanut - an allergy that can be deadly in some people.

The team then investigated whether adding different bacteria to the digestive tract of the animals had any effect.

Only the Clostridia group of bacteria - which includes some disease causing species such as C. difficile - could prevent the allergic reaction.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

DNA Evidence Reveals Jack the Ripper was Suspect Aaron Kosminski

Britain's The Mail reports Jack the Ripper unmasked by amateur sleuth as Aaron Kosminski

DNA evidence has now  shown beyond reasonable doubt which one of six key suspects commonly cited in connection with the Ripper’s reign of terror was the actual killer – and we reveal his identity.

A shawl found by the body of Catherine Eddowes, one of the Ripper’s victims, has been analysed and found to contain DNA from her blood as well as DNA from the killer.

The landmark discovery was made after businessman Russell Edwards, 48, bought the shawl at auction and enlisted the help of Dr Jari Louhelainen, a world-renowned expert in analysing genetic evidence from historical crime scenes.

Using cutting-edge techniques, Dr Louhelainen was able to extract 126-year-old DNA from the material and compare it to DNA from descendants of Eddowes and the suspect, with both proving a perfect match.

NFL Fandom Map

Sports on Facebook post the NFL Fandom Map for 2014 . "Today we’re releasing a map that shows where football fans live based on which NFL team they “Like” on Facebook. Each county is color-coded based on which official NFL team page has the most Facebook “Likes" by people who live in that county."

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Finding the Real Patsey of 12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave premiered on HBO last night. I watched it for a second time and it certainly holds up. I still think Chiwetel Ejiofor deserved the Best Actor Oscar.

Vanity Fair had an article Finding the Real Patsey of 12 Years a Slave "With 12 Years a Slave putting Solomon Northup’s story in the spotlight, Katie Calautti attempts to discover the fate of Patsey—and learns just how impossible it can be to find one woman when that woman was a slave."

Saturday, September 06, 2014

The Uncomfortable

Katerina Kamprani 's The Uncomfortable are "deliberately bad designs".

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List of Common Misconceptions

Wikipedia has an interesting List of common misconceptions. Here are a few

  • While average life expectancy in the middle ages was low, the average was brought down by infant mortality. "A 21-year-old man in medieval England, for example, could by one estimate expect to live to the age of 64."
  • "There is no evidence that Vikings wore horns on their helmets."
  • " Durum wheat, and thus pasta as it is known today, was introduced by Arabs from Libya, during their conquest of Sicily in the late 7th century" not by Marco Polo bringing it from China.
  • "George Washington did not have wooden teeth. His dentures were made of gold, hippopotamus ivory, lead, animal teeth (including horse and donkey teeth),[27] and probably human teeth from slaves."
  • "Napoleon Bonaparte was not short; rather he was slightly taller than the average Frenchman of his time. After his death in 1821, the French emperor’s height was recorded as 5 feet 2 inches in French feet, which is 5 feet 7 inches (1.69 m)"
  • "Albert Einstein did not fail mathematics in school."
  • "It is rarely necessary to wait 24 hours before filing a missing person's report"
  • "Waking sleepwalkers does not harm them."
  • "People do not use only ten percent of their brains."

The Coffee Genome Has Been Sequenced. Here's What That Means For You.

io9 writes The Coffee Genome Has Been Sequenced. Here's What That Means For You. "It's safe to wager, then, that coffee would not be so popular were it not for its caffeine content. And that's what makes the publication of the C. canephora genome so exciting. The researchers, it turns out, have done more than identified over 25,000 protein-making genes in the robusta coffee genome. By examining which families of genes expanded in the course of coffee's evolution, and comparing its genome to those of other plant species, researchers co-led by University of Buffalo genome scientist Victor Albert, were able to, in his words, 'learn about coffee's independent pathway in evolution, including — excitingly — the story of caffeine.'"

Friday, September 05, 2014

The Justice Department's Wall Street Settlement Deals Are Shameful

I really liked Dean Starkman's piece in the New Republic, The Justice Department's Wall Street Settlement Deals Are Shameful. "It bears saying one more time: It’s a disgrace that the Justice Department has failed to bring a single criminal charge against any Wall Street or mortgage executive of consequence for their roles in wrecking the economy, despite having managed to make arrests in the comparatively piddling schemes of Enron and the Savings & Loan flimflam. (The latter resulted in more than 800 convictions, including those of many top executives.) These settlements are wan consolation. The sums being surrendered, for starters, are large only until compared with the $13 trillion or so the public lost in the financial crash—or, for that matter, with the banks’ own coffers. (Citi’s pure profit in the two years before the wipeout was more than triple its penalty.) Not to mention that the money won’t be paid by any parties actually responsible, but by the banks’ current shareholders, who pretty much had nothing to do with the misdeeds in question. And the bulk of the settlements will be tax deductible. For destroying trillions in wealth and thousands of jobs, banks will get a write-off."

But he points out, the real problem is that the DOJ is settling without issuing complaints. Unlike the DOJ, New York’s Department of Financial Services brought a civil action against BNP Paribas and named names.

In announcing the BNP penalty, New York’s superintendent of financial services, Benjamin M. Lawsky, made the following observation: ‘In order to deter future offenses, it is important to remember that banks do not commit misconduct—bankers do.’ Many of his predecessors in white-collar law enforcement also understood the corrective power of publicity. Ivan Boesky and Michael Milken became household names in the 1980s because of the riveting civil complaints brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), an agency that evoked a fear on Wall Street that is hard to imagine today. Robert M. Morgenthau, the legendary Manhattan district attorney, is legendary partly for actually sending bankers to prison, but he also pursued devastating civil suits against wayward financiers. The sweeping white-collar civil complaints that Eliot Spitzer filed as New York’s attorney general read like detective novels; his blockbuster settlement with American International Group was preceded by a lawsuit that explicitly targeted the titan Maurice R. ‘Hank’ Greenberg, to Greenberg’s everlasting fury.

Detailed airing of past wrongdoing doesn’t just put would-be malefactors on notice. It does more than bolster public confidence in the legal system. It can also force structural change. In 1933, the Pecora hearings hauled banking chieftains (including those who ran the predecessors of J.P. Morgan and Citi) before the Senate banking committee to scrutinize their actions before the 1929 crash. These hearings led to the Glass-Steagall reforms and the Securities Exchange acts, the foundations of U.S. financial stability for half a century. Later in the century, the Savings & Loan prosecutions led to the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 that, among other things, effectively disposed of failed thrifts. The Enron debacle was followed by the Sarbanes-Oxley accounting and governance reforms of 2002. Spitzer’s suit against Wall Street banks produced a global pact to reform bogus stock research, and so on. But in the current cases, in which institutions are accused of systematic wrongdoing with historic consequences, the government is letting banks discreetly settle out of court, as if the facts at issue were some kind of fender bender."

I feel the same way about Obama's handling of the rationale for the war in Iraq and torture scandals. Sweaping the past under the rug does nothing good. Nelson Mandela's Truth and Reconciliation Commission should have proved that.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Complete Feynman Lectures on Physics Now Online

This is pretty amazing. The Feynman Lectures on Physics "Caltech and The Feynman Lectures Website are pleased to present this online edition of The Feynman Lectures on Physics. Now, anyone with internet access and a web browser can enjoy reading a high quality up-to-date copy of Feynman's legendary lectures."