links for 2009-07-20

  • "The third installment in the highly-successful Transformer movie franchise will feature a world record breaking two-hour explosion. The movie is tentatively titled Transformers Go Boom."
  • "The tension between state and national interests isn’t new: it dates back to clashes in the early Republic over programs for “internal improvements.” Of course, the federal government is far bigger than it once was, and yet in the past two decades we’ve delegated more authority, not less, to the states. The logic of this was clear: people who are closer to a problem often know better how to deal with it. But matters of a truly interstate nature, like the power grid, can’t be dealt with on a state-by-state basis. And fiscal policy is undermined if the federal government is doing one thing and the states are doing another. It’s a global economy. It would be helpful to have a genuinely national government."
  • Windows time is the greatest unit of time ever created.
  • "1. For each day that the high temperature in your hometown is at least 1 degree Fahrenheit above average, as listed by Weather Underground, you owe me $25. For each day that it is at least 1 degree Fahrenheit below average, I owe you $25." Nate Silver offers a challenge.
  • "From studying past solid rocket launch failures, the 45th Space Wing of the US Air Force has concluded that an early abort (up to a minute after launch) of NASA Marshall Flight Center's Ares I rocket would have a ~100% chance of killing all crew (report summary and link), even if the launch escape system were activated. This would be due to the capsule being surrounded until ground impact by a 3-mile-wide cloud of burning solid propellant fragments, which would melt the parachute. NASA management has stated that their computer models predict a safe outcome. The Air Force has also been hesitant to give launch range approval to the predecessor Ares I-X suborbital rocket, since its solid rocket vibrations are violent enough to disable both its steering and self-destruct module, endangering people on the ground." Okay then.
  • Interesting.
  • "While we enjoy freedom of speech, we must still be mindful of what we publish and share. Even if it’s in a seemingly private and protected environment."
  • "Earlier today we reported on a change in how Digg handles URL redirects from its URL shortening service called DiggBar. Users of the service are not happy – links are now sometimes going to Digg’s summary of the story instead of the story itself. The term “Bait and Switch” is being thrown around liberally, and Digg founder Kevin Rose is steering himself right out of the mess."
  • "Many CEOs don't consider their own companies vulnerable to security attacks and are confident in their ability to combat those attacks, says a survey released Wednesday. However, those findings contrast with the opinions of senior executives who report to the CEO. They see their companies as more vulnerable and are not confident they can stop data theft."
  • "The CIT Group, one of the nation’s leading lenders to small and midsize businesses across the country, was close to a deal Sunday afternoon with some of its major bondholders to help it avert a bankruptcy filing through a $3 billion emergency loan, according to people briefed on the matter."
  • "But sometime in the last few days DiggBar has changed this core functionality: clicking on a DiggBar shortlink will send users to’s list of comments about an article rather than the article itself. So, if I linked to using the DiggBar, users would first have to go to Digg’s page about before they could actually make it over here. In short, this is totally ridiculous." Digg is really stupid.
    (tags: digg)
  • "Earlier today we mentioned that appears to have changed the behavior of its short URLs so they no longer go to the source of the story for logged-out users: instead they direct visitors to a landing page on Digg (Digg).com." Digg is redirecting users to the Digg page rather than the link itself.
  • "But in a move to attract hard-to-find evening business, the struggling coffeehouse chain is about to test the addition of wine and beer to the menu at one of its Seattle stores, which it has even given a new name. The first store, which will look very different from a typical Starbucks, will serve a half-dozen kinds of beers and wines — most with connections to the Northwest. A bottle of beer or a glass of wine will sell for $4 to $7, Cohen says. Beer and wine will not be sold to go because of state law, he says."
  • "I recently required a pretty-date function to format some twitter dates; I knew there were already quite a few of these floating around the net; but I wanted to give it a try myself:"
  • "I'm not surprised, and if you think about it, it's very predictable. It's called productivity, and it's what new technology is supposed to do. We used to employ 20 percent of the workforce in agriculture, now it's just 2 percent. That's because of technology. You may say it's bad, but there's also less hunger in the US now than there was then. And there probably are far more classified ads today, now that they're mostly free, than there were when they cost money. It's productivity. It basically a good thing. And as long as we invest in progress it's inevitable."
  • "phpMyBackup Pro is a very easy to use, free, web-based MySQL backup application, licensed under the GNU GPL. You can create scheduled backups, manage and restore them, download or email them and a lot more!"
  • "There appear to be growing tensions between the US military and Iraqi security forces. They have arisen over cooperation and the restrictions imposed on the movement of American forces in urban areas inside Iraq. The Iraqi defence ministry has confirmed the limitations. But reports suggest US commanders have been surprised and frustrated by the new rules, suggesting they could endanger the safety of their troops."
  • "Every time I hear someone say “I’m too busy” to do something, a little puppy dies and I want to stab myself in the eye with a katana blade. I don’t think people realize how good we have it right now: We’re young, we’re only responsible for ourselves, and we can do basically anything we want. If you think about the responsibilities we’ll have in 20 years–or even 5–you start to appreciate that doing almost anything will never get easier than it is now."
  • "A federal appeals court in Manhattan on Friday reversed a lower-court ruling that had allowed the government to bar a prominent Muslim scholar from entering the United States on the ground that he had contributed to a charity that had connections to terrorism. In its ruling on Friday, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held unanimously that the government was required to “confront Ramadan with the allegation against him and afford him the subsequent opportunity to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that he did not know, and reasonably should not have known, that the recipient of his contributions was a terrorist organization.”"
  • "When we first started improving our sharing features, our goal was to make sharing as simple and flexible as the rest of Reader. Today, we're pleased to announce that we've made four improvements to give you more sharing control and help you easily find other people's publicly shared items within Reader." New features.
  • "I’m very pleased to announce that effective today we are wrapping up the webOS early access program. We are doing this because today we opened up the program to everyone and released our new public developer portal at This is the culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people here at Palm, and I want to be the first to thank them for making this happen." They need this launched ASAP.
  • "The US military has identified a man shown on a Taliban video as an American soldier captured in Afghanistan. He was named as Pte Bowe Bergdahl, 23, from Ketchum, Idaho. He went missing from his base in a Taleban stronghold near the Pakistani border last month."
  • "And addiction experts agree, marijuana does not pose as serious a public health problem as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. The drug cannot lead to fatal overdose and its hazards pale in comparison with those of alcohol. But at the same time, marijuana can be up to five times more potent than the cannabis of the 1970s, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. And this new more-potent pot and the growing support for legalization has led to an often angry debate over marijuana addiction. Many public health officials worry that this stronger marijuana has increased addiction rates and is potentially more dangerous to teenagers, whose brains are still developing. And officials say the movement to legalize marijuana — now available by prescription in 13 states — plays down the dangers of habitual use."
  • "I recently had the need to build a dynamic form preview tool for work so clients could preview how the text and images would look before submitting the content to be published. I’ve trimmed down the code and removed the database part completely from this example so we can concentrate purely on the JavaScript."
  • "According to the Associated Press as posted by the First Amendment Center, the national motto of the United States, "In God We Trust," will be engraved in the Capitol Visitor Center following a 410-8 vote in the House to approve H.Con. Res. 131. The 410 likely represent a mixture of Constitutional ignorance, blind acceptance of Christian extremist propaganda about American history, desire to push one's religious beliefs on others, willingness to violate one's oath to uphold the Constitution to pander to ignorant voters, and simple apathy. One thing is clear: the 410 are sorely mistaken."
  • "This dramatic skyscape was recorded during the August 2008 total solar eclipse. The Moon's silhouette surrounded by a glistening solar corona hangs above the Jiayuguan Fort along the western edge of the Great Wall of China. Lined-up along the ecliptic plane, all the planets of the inner solar system, Mercury, Venus, Mars, (and Earth!) can also be seen along with Saturn and bright star Regulus, as the Moon's shadow tracks across the landscape. Beyond the Moon's shadow, outside the total eclipse track, sunlight still brightens the sky over mountains on the horizon 30 – 50 kilometers away. Much anticipated, the 2009 July 22nd total solar eclipse will again be visible from China. Planets and bright stars will briefly appear in darkened daytime skies, though a total eclipse won't be seen from the Great Wall. Still, major cities and populated areas lie along the 2009 total eclipse track that begins in India and sweeps eastward across Asia and into the Pacific Ocean." Awesome image.
  • "The UK is working with Brazilian authorities to return more than 1,400 tonnes of toxic waste to Britain, the Environment Agency has said."
  • "It once would have been unthinkable for a company like Microsoft to encourage people to use its brand name so cavalierly. Businesses feared that if their product name became a verb, then it would lose its individual identity." Bing does at least have the potential to become a verb.
  • "Arabic satellite news TV al-Jazeera has resumed its broadcasts in the West Bank, after a ban on it was lifted by the Palestinian Authority (PA). Last week's ban came after a guest on the station accused Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas of collaborating with Israel to have Yasser Arafat killed."
  • "Iran has released on bail the last of the British embassy employees arrested in Tehran in connection with last month's election protests. He was one of nine local embassy staff originally held, and has been charged with inciting the unrest over President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election. The man – the embassy's chief political analyst – is due to stand trial soon."
  • "Even though the application of typography has evolved so much from a century ago until now, the most common use of typography continues to be for ads, store signs, and logos. Below, you will find 50 typographic examples that exhibit a range of artistic styles from the last 100 years or so."
  • "What endures, however, is the spectacle of middle-aged, white Republicans lecturing the first Latin female nominee about the irrelevance of race, gender and life experiences for a judge. Even Mr. Graham, one of the more enlightened lawmakers — a strong immigration advocate and a thoroughly modern Republican — didn’t get it. Instead of raising doubts about the nomination, the Sessions obsession only reinforced the picture of a narrow Republican Party uncomfortable with differences and resisting diversity."
  • "So how does FasterWeb claim to work? Leitersdorf wouldn’t go into the details, saying that’s the company’s secret, but he would say that it uses 45 different techniques to optimize the web. He also said that this is done either on the end of the content provider or the ISP. In other words, the end user doesn’t have to do a thing to experience the increase in web speed. And FasterWeb will work across all the major web browsers, starting with Internet Explorer and Firefox immediately, and expanding to the rest, including Opera, Chrome and Safari, when it’s ready for its widespread release next year." Why would something that happens server side only effect certain browsers. Sounds like smoke and mirrors to me.
  • "Here’s an excellent example of pwnage: when the white supremacist group VNN Vanguard Nazi/KKK tried to host a hate rally in Knoxville, Tennessee, they were foiled by … clowns!" This is such a funny story.
  • "Over the past year, however, as sales of CDs have continued to fall and paid-for downloads from services like Apple’s iTunes have fallen short of hopes, record companies have moved to embrace casual file-sharers. Legal services offering free, unlimited streaming of music, rather than downloads, are proliferating. According to a survey published last week, they are taking some of the wind out of the pirates’ sails." About time the record company execs did something right, though they still want to charge them an arm and a leg.






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