links for 2009-09-02

  • "The Republican National Committee says it will be running this new TV ad in Florida and on selected cable networks starting Sept. 1. It features GOP Chairman Michael Steele touting the party’s "Seniors’ Bill of Rights," which we said last week is a mixture of false, true and misleading claims."
    (tags: politics logic)
  • "Poppy cultivation and production in Afghanistan has decreased sharply, according to a United Nations report. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime says opium cultivation has dropped by 22% in a year and production by 10%. The biggest falls have been in Helmand province, but levels remain higher than three years ago, when British troops began fighting Taliban militants there."
  • "An Iranian news agency says a young man arrested during post-election protests died after being beaten, and not from meningitis as police had first claimed. If confirmed, it would be the first official sign that jailed protesters faced severe abuse, as alleged by some leaders of the opposition movement." I'm not shocked.
  • "Unemployment in the 16 countries that use the euro rose in July to the highest level in more than 10 years, showing that despite signs of recovery, the European economy continues to struggle. The jobless rate in the euro zone rose to 9.5 percent in July, the highest reading since May 1999, from 9.4 percent in June, Eurostat, the statistical service of the European Union, said Tuesday in Luxembourg."
    (tags: eu economy)
  • "You can play the same game with his Biblical scenario in a little more detail and calculate populations at various times in history: the world population was about 150,000 at the time of Alexander the Great, 600,000 when Jesus was born, 5 billion when I was born. As usually happens with these kinds of bogus calculations, our smath professor needs to use an invalid formula and apply it inappropriately to get numbers that only match at the beginning and end of the time period he is examining, but are so low as to be laughable at the earliest times in his history, and that don't match up at all over periods where we have good census data. Leaving death out of his calculations is a tiny omission that makes even that fudged number wrong."
  • "After 18 months of layoffs, plant shutdowns and other declines, the country’s manufacturing sector grew in August, offering another piece of evidence that the economy was pulling out of recession." Good news.
  • "Very few companies hold sound marks, but some of the more famous include: the NBC chimes and the MGM lion." A trademark for a sound, that's stupid.
  • "A Chilean judge has issued arrest warrants for 129 people for allegedly helping to purge critics of former ruler General Augusto Pinochet. The suspects – the largest group so far to face arrest warrants – all worked for the secret police agency, Dina. They are accused of taking part in killings and disappearances of dozens of leftists and opposition activists. Since Gen Pinochet left power in 1990, arrests of his agents have been frequent – often dividing opinion." Wow.
  • "Oil industry allies said the administration was engaging in favoritism and financing propaganda. “These are for-profit companies, and basically the Department of Energy is underwriting their public-relations campaign,” said Daniel Kish, a spokesman for the Institute for Energy Research, a conservative group fighting the proposed emissions caps." It makes some sense till you read this. "The grants were announced by the Department of Energy last week along with $300 million in economic stimulus money awarded to 25 projects to encourage the use of cleaner and energy-efficient alternatives to petroleum. Most of the money will help pay for vehicles that run on alternative fuels or build infrastructure to distribute the fuels." Oh that's right it's a grant and how much tax breaks do oil companies get?
  • "Iranian MPs have strongly backed the defence minister-designate, in defiance of Argentine demands for his arrest over a 1994 bombing in Buenos Aires. Ahmad Vahidi faced no opposition from MPs on the third day of a debate on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's choices for his new cabinet. Interpol has distributed Argentina's warrant for his arrest for an attack on a Jewish centre that killed 85 people."
  • "Last night, we wrote about another developer thoroughly bashing the app store for its inane approval policies. This time it was well known developer Joe Stump, who had an important bug-fix for his company’s game Chess Wars sit in App Store limbo for six weeks. Finally, this morning an Apple representative named Richard called Stump to inform him why Chess Wars was being rejected after the six week wait: the bubbles in its chat rooms are too shiny, and Apple has trademarked that bubbly design. Yes, the App Store has reached a new low." Because that makes sense.
  • "Such randomness has prompted Tesco, the country’s largest grocery chain, to create its own weather team in hopes of better forecasting temperatures and how consumer demand changes with them. After three years of research, the six-person team has created its own software that calculates how shopping patterns change “for every degree of temperature and every hour of sunshine,” Tesco said last month." That's cool and another example of computing power becoming a commodity.
  • "And all I can think is, how did these guys manage to set up a system where people pay to drive traffic from one place on Facebook to another place on Facebook? Even Google hasn’t managed to figure that one out yet. I’ve known they (and MySpace) have done this since launching their ad platforms, but it never really hit home until today how brilliant this all is." Buy an ad on Facebook to send people to Facebook.
  • "Chief Powers expressed his absolute confidence that they will save the Observatory. He said that while it may have appeared over the last day or so that the Observatory was being neglected, that they never lost sight of the importance of Mount Wilson's preservation and it is now their highest priority. He flew up to the mountain yesterday, was delighted with what he found and knew they could achieve success here. There are now 150 fire fighters on Mount Wilson. Not only are the crews from Calaveras County (Cal Fire) back up there, but there are Los Angeles County fire fighters and even a crew from Helena, Montana. They have eight engines equipped to spray fire retardant on structures in addition to the crew engines. Chief Powers told me this army of fire fighters is "not going anywhere. They are very hard working and talented people who will get the job done."" Awesome news.
  • "A Palestinian youth, 15, has been shot dead by Israeli forces in an incident outside a settlement near the West Bank town of Ramallah."
  • "To rephrase: I visited a religious space and took pictures. How ridiculous that anyone could believe in these things! Don’t they know how crazy they look? These stories are ridiculous! These people have no hope! If only they could see things from my point of view, they would see the light."
  • "I recently got my driver’s license and bought my first car. Obviously the next step was getting the car registered, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that WWFSMD was available as a vanity plate! I quickly doled out the extra cash it would cost to have the plate, inspite of my parents objections to the fact that “no one would know what it means.” I say that doesn’t matter, other Pastafarians will. Apparently there aren’t many around my small town, I wonder how many Pastafarians will be in the city I’m going to for college?"






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