Monthly Archives: November 2012

Twitter’s descent into the extractive

Budding entrepreneurs built apps that made life better for everyone. Better, in fact, than many of Twitter’s own attempts. They competed for attention on a level playing field and the very best rose to the top. Users saw that this was good and rewarded Twitter with their attention. Twitter grew.

Unfortunately this inclusive world was not meant to last. From the beginning, an extractive time bomb was ticking. One billion dollars worth of eagerness for return. Hundreds and hundreds of hungry mouths to feed in a San Francisco lair.

Twitter’s successful march over the dead bodies of developers, who contributed greatly to its success, continues.

Nobel Prize winning biochemist says ALL biofuels are “nonsense.”

Clearing rainforests in the tropics and converting them into oil palm plantations is highly dangerous because the underlying layers of peat are oxidized and much more CO2 is released by the oxidation of organic soil material than can be fixed by the oil palms…it would be even much better to reforest the land used to grow energy plants, because at a 1% photosynthetic efficiency, growing trees would fix around 2.7 kg of CO2 per square meter, whereas biofuels produced with a net efficiency of 0.1% would only replace fossil fuels which would release about 0.31 kg CO2 per m2 upon combustion!

It would be difficult to get stronger evidence for inefficiency of “biofuels” than brought by this scientist.

Internet censorship in Russia: Lurk no more

ON NOVEMBER 11th Russian internet-users began to notice that Lurkmore, a sometimes funny, often vulgar website with a cult following, was no longer accessible. Lurkmore is a user-generated encyclopedia, a Russian-language wiki Wikipedia focusing on obscure internet jokes and memes, or what its co-founder, Dmitry Homak, calls “the kind of stuff said by the characters on SouthPark”.

Modern barricades are made of torrents and cat pictures.

Life in the Universe

We are used to thinking of intelligent life, as an inevitable consequence of evolution. But the Anthropic Principle should warn us to be wary of such arguments. It is more likely that evolution is a random process, with intelligence as only one of a large number of possible outcomes. It is not clear that intelligence has any long-term survival value. Bacteria, and other single cell organisms, will live on, if all other life on Earth is wiped out by our actions. There is support for the view that intelligence, was an unlikely development for life on Earth, from the chronology of evolution. It took a very long time, two and a half billion years, to go from single cells to multi-cell beings, which are a necessary precursor to intelligence. This is a good fraction of the total time available, before the Sun blows up. So it would be consistent with the hypothesis, that the probability for life to develop intelligence, is low. In this case, we might expect to find many other life forms in the galaxy, but we are unlikely to find intelligent life.

A bit dated, but nevertheless fantastic lecture by Stephen Hawking on artificial intelligence and the likelihood of intelligent life in the universe.

Molyneux and Fucking Kickstarter

Molyneux and Braben have both used the same marketing trick too. Braben goes back to the space games we always wanted him to return to. Molyneux returns to the god games. They’re both saying “HEY GUYS, WE’RE GIVING YOU WHAT YOU WANTED! NOW LET’S DO THIS THING TOGETHER!” It’s a trick. Or maybe Molyneux would call it “an experiment”. What happened to good old fashioned investment, guys? You know, where we gave you some money and shared in the risk and maybe actually fucking GAINED from it somewhere down the line? What happened to THAT experiment?

Somebody is less than impressed by the return of game creators famous for their accomplishments from 20 years ago.

A Year in Jail for Not Believing in God? How Kentucky is Persecuting Atheists

The law states, “The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God as set forth in the public speeches and proclamations of American Presidents, including Abraham Lincoln’s historic March 30, 1863, presidential proclamation urging Americans to pray and fast during one of the most dangerous hours in American history, and the text of President John F. Kennedy’s November 22, 1963, national security speech which concluded: “For as was written long ago: ‘Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.’
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It’s good to keep in mind this Democrat-sponsored bill when discussing piousness of the Republican Party.

Skills Don’t Pay the Bills

The secret behind this skills gap is that it’s not a skills gap at all. I spoke to several other factory managers who also confessed that they had a hard time recruiting in-demand workers for $10-an-hour jobs. “It’s hard not to break out laughing,” says Mark Price, a labor economist at the Keystone Research Center, referring to manufacturers complaining about the shortage of skilled workers. “If there’s a skill shortage, there has to be rises in wages,” he says. “It’s basic economics.” After all, according to supply and demand, a shortage of workers with valuable skills should push wages up. Yet according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of skilled jobs has fallen and so have their wages.
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The lack of qualified manufacturing workers suddenly becomes much more subtle issue than it may seem on the surface.

Alone Together, Again

I owe my life to technology.

I first realized it in my early twenties. Everything important around me at the time, I’d found on Craigslist: my girlfriend, my job, my apartment. It was a powerful realization: I could sit down with my laptop and, in a matter of hours or days, change my world in both superficial and fundamental ways.

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Read on, that conclusion is less depressing than it seems.

Really beautiful piece by Alex Payne.

The “thank you” that changed my life

Today, I have the career that I couldn’t even have dreamed of coming out of college. Being able to work for myself, do the things that I love, and still have time to write and give talks is truly a blessing. And all of it, every single piece, can be traced back to a simple “thank you” I emailed to John Franklin in 2004. If I hadn’t sent that e-mail, I wouldn’t have been introduced to Jim Minatel, which means I wouldn’t have written Professional JavaScript for Web Developers, which means Yahoo! would never have started using it and I never would have written Professional Ajax, which means I never would have been interviewed by Google, which means I never would have met Eric Miraglia and Thomas Sha, which means I never would have worked at Yahoo!, which means I never would have met Adam Platti, Bill Scott, Nate Koechley, or Havi Hoffman, which means I never would have started giving talks or writing for O’Reilly, which means I never would have been able to start a consulting business, which means I never would have been able to attempt a startup.

Nicholas Zakas tries to make an argument that being nice pays off. I’m unsure if it stands comparison with Steve Jobs’ success, mentioned in the beginning of the article.

Tragedy, shame and outrage as pregnant Savita dies in Irish hospital because of Catholic dogma and political cowardice

Thankfully, the Irish people rejected this uncaring amendment, and instead passed two amendments to allow pregnant women to travel outside of the state for an abortion, and to allow people to distribute information about abortion services in other countries.

By the way, if you are not from Ireland, yes, you read that correctly. In 1992, the Irish people held a constitutional referendum to allow women to travel outside of the state.

The history of abortion law in Ireland. The article was triggered by a recent tragic death of a woman that was refused the procedure.