Politics, open government, and safe streets. And the constant incursion of cycling.

Category: Tech Page 2 of 10

View From the Top of the Burj Al Arab

I saw this under construction, but it wasn’t from *this* perspective:

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Amazing.

Bing v. Google

As someone who has repeatedly warned against putting all your eggs in Google basket, I’m always interested in hearing about ways to diversify beyond the GWorld.     James Fallows gives it a whirl.

Bonus material, inspired by his article:

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That’s Passion Pit’s Sleepyhead.  Most recently seen backing the Palm Pixi commercials.

HP Doesn’t Care About Black People!

Don’t ask questions, just hit play:

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This guy needs his own show, doesn’t he?  But seriously, the reason it doesn’t track is grounded in a completely legit technical issue (concerning contrast), which HP says it’s addressing.  You kinda wonder about a QA process that never brought this to light, though.

Friday Notes. Sorta.

I was going to link to Mike@Blueweed’s excellent The Tyranny of Quaint with a bit of mocking about how he needs to write more, but I think I need to take some Windex to this glass house, first.  So, here goes:

Remember, no matter what happens next Tuesday, “it’s good for conservatives“:

There is nothing, nada, zilch, zero, nothing, that is bad news for conservatives. When they win elections, it proves we’re a conservative country. When they lose, it proves it. When we pass health care bills, it proves it. When we lower taxes, it proves it. When we raise taxes, it proves it. Everything proves it always.

Always.

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Of course, Democrats do have a pretty solid claim on the suckage:

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) has proposed a variety of ideas on how to advance the [DC voting rights] bill. But the reaction from party leaders, as the Web site Politico reported, seems to be “forget it.” No doubt Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), looking ahead to his own tough reelection battle, sees no gain in irritating the powerful gun lobby. In fact, Mr. Reid voted for the Ensign amendment, making it easier for other Democrats to follow suit. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says that she’s looking for opportunities to pass the bill, but to date that hasn’t involved pressing members to put principle ahead of political interests. President Obama, who sponsored voting rights legislation as a senator, has done nothing on the issue.

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This man built a Pan Am 747 First Class cabin in his garage.  I’m not saying it’s okay, but I understand.

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There are, in fact, clever people with a sense of fun in DC.

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Aww, are “good white people” are under threat in the US?:

Here’s one of the “questions” asked in the poll, tailor-made for Fox News Channel:

Federal Communications Commission Chief Diversity Czar Mark Lloyd wants the FCC to force good white people in positions of power in the broadcast industry to step down to make room for more African-Americans and gays to fill those positions.  Do you agree or disagree that this presents a threat to free speech?

It’s worth noting that this question only elicited 51 percent support.

Hilarious.

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The willingness of Redskins fans to support an organization that does this continues to be beyond my grasp.   I’m not a football – or really even a sports – fan, but I moved to DC right after Jack Kent Cooke died in 1997, and haven’t been able to escape Redskins news since then.  And you know?  It’s been uniformly shitty the entire 12 years.  Why, people?

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Former Murky Coffee owner, tax cheat, and douchebag extraordinaire Nick Cho finally got booked on tax charges.

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If you ever leave me again,
I’ll down a bottle of
baby aspirin:

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Update: Wait, forget that crap copy.  Go here and enjoy the extraordinary talents of Subtle Sexuality’s  fabulous KELLY KAPOOR (and erin hannon).

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Readability helps with exactly that.  I like it.  Very much.

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How the public lost out on the battle between Big Pharma and generics.   It’s a short but informative look into one of the many battles with big consequences for the costs of health care.

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I find my stuff in the most interesting places.  (Okay, it’s probably not that interesting to too many people beyond me, considering the dearth of entries.  But still.)

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I know it’s supposed to be satire, but I kinda wonder if Ken Cuccinelli wrote this.   Cuccinelli is the GOP candidate for Virginia Attorney General, and is such a bigot that even the normally spineless VA Log Cabin Republicans not only won’t support him, but are calling for his defeat.  That link also helps illustrate why I think libertarian support for GOP candidates is misplaced (and that’s putting it very kindly):

No real libertarian has a record (like Mr. Cuccinelli does) of
· Opposition to repealing the state sodomy law, even though it was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court
· Opposition to allowing private companies to offer health and life insurance benefits to domestic partners of their employees
· Opposition to prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation for state and local government employees
· Opposition to allowing local governments to choose what benefits they give their local employees
· Opposition to any kind of legal protections for gay and lesbian couples, even the limited rights embodied in domestic partnerships or civil unions
· Support for banning gay/straight alliances in public high schools
· Support for state funding of abstinence programs

Each one of those stupid little Gadsen flags ought to have an asterisk at the end of “Don’t Tread on Me”, leading to a “Tread On Him, Instead.”  That would be a far more honest and accurate portrayal of the beliefs of the vast majority of “libertarians.”

This Photo Is Lying To You

That’s the title of this article in the latest issue of Outside magazine.  The subject – the manipulation of photos – is something I’ve long thought about, but had given more consideration this year, as I started posting photos I’ve heavily processed.  What made this article particularly interesting to me was the subject matter.  The author created a composite photo of surfing on Oahu’s North Shore that reflected “how surfing feels to me. Not how it is.”  Which is almost exactly the issue I struggled with in composing photos when I was there in March.  The photo above isn’t manipulated in any meaningful way – it’s pretty much the light that fell on my camera’s sensor (there’s a slight vignetting added at the corners).  But it doesn’t really capture the sheer kinetic energy that was at the center of everything, that afternoon.  The manipulated composite in the Outside article?  Does.  So which is really telling the truth?

Thank God DHS Is On The Job

Whatever would we do without them?

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(There’s a fair chance that this was something of a PR stunt by the publisher.  But given the ineptness of DHS, and opportunity to publish the awesomeness above?  I’m comfortable with this post.)

China’s “Green Dam”

could just as easily have been the US’s “Freedom Filter”. And may yet be, if you keep thinking of the children.

More about China’s “Green Dam”.

Doing It Wrong: US, Canada, EU Opposing the Right of the Blind to Read

Once again, we’ve got an ugly illustration that “Big IP” has almost completely captured the US government’s policy positions, resulting in absurd things like this:

Right now, in Geneva, at the UN’s World Intellectual Property Organization, history is being made. For the first time in WIPO history, the body that creates the world’s copyright treaties is attempting to write a copyright treaty dedicated to protecting the interests of copyright users, not just copyright owners.

At issue is a treaty to protect the rights of blind people and people with other disabilities that affect reading (people with dyslexia, people who are paralyzed or lack arms or hands for turning pages), introduced by Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay. This should be a slam dunk: who wouldn’t want a harmonized system of copyright exceptions that ensure that it’s possible for disabled people to get access to the written word?

The USA, that’s who. The Obama administration’s negotiators have joined with a rogue’s gallery of rich country trade representatives to oppose protection for blind people. Other nations and regions opposing the rights of blind people include Canada and the EU.

And what’s the awful thing that the US, EU, and Canada won’t stand for? From James Love:

I am attending a meeting in Geneva of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). This evening the United States government, in combination with other high income countries in “Group B” is seeking to block an agreement to discuss a treaty for persons who are blind or have other reading disabilities.

The proposal for a treaty is supported by a large number of civil society NGOs, the World Blind Union, the National Federation of the Blind in the US, the International DAISY Consortium, Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D), Bookshare.Org, and groups representing persons with reading disabilities all around the world.

The main aim of the treaty is to allow the cross-border import and export of digital copies of books and other copyrighted works in formats that are accessible to persons who are blind, visually impaired, dyslexic or have other reading disabilities, using special devices that present text as refreshable braille, computer generated text to speech, or large type. These works, which are expensive to make, are typically created under national exceptions to copyright law that are specifically written to benefit persons with disabilities…

The opposition from the United States and other high income countries is due to intense lobbying from a large group of publishers that oppose a “paradigm shift,” where treaties would protect consumer interests, rather than expand rights for copyright owners.

Citizens?  They’re just consumers.  Shut up and buy what we want you to.

Wolfram Alpha Launches at 8pm EDT

Check it here.

(What’s Wolfram Alpha?)

Beautiful

Here’s an amazing clip from an upcoming BBC documentary, produced with a super-slow motion camera.  Make sure it’s in HD, and give it a minute to load.  Well worth your time.

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