links for 2009-11-16

  • "We're getting more of the same from Congress, too. Religion is being given permission to intrude on science once again, with the sanctimonious Orrin Hatch (abetted by a pair of Democrats, Kerry and Kennedy) sponsoring a provision in the mangled health care football to allow prayer to count as medicine. It's specifically a sop to Christian Science, that nonsensical superstition that believes that medicine is a betrayal of faith and that wants to charge sick people money to pray over them…and also get reimbursement from the government."
  • "Even something as simple as a redesign of a website "for a refresh" does not get you a good experience. Building experiences with buzzwords and features are a drug, and if Web and UX professionals don’t have a client intervention soon, more useless websites and products are going to crowd out what few good experiences there are. All projects should begin with this question: Do you know what the problem is, and does this (product, website, application) solve that problem for the people that will use it?"
  • We need a hero and that hero is Sagan-Man.
  • "In this post we have collected 40 recently released free icon-sets for web designers, developers and bloggers."
  • "The Campaign for Reader Privacy today urged its supporters to contact members of the House of Representatives in support of a bill that would effectively ban the government from using the Patriot Act to engage in fishing expeditions to identify the books that people borrow or purchase."
  • "The proposition that the Community Reinvestment Act caused all the bad stuff, because government forced helpless bankers into lending to Those People, has been refuted up, down, and sideways. The vast bulk of subprime lending came from institutions not subject to the CRA. Commercial real estate lending, which was mainly lending to rich white developers, not you-know-who, is in much worse shape than subprime home lending. Etc., etc."
  • "Swine flu has killed nearly 4,000 people in the US, including 540 children, officials said after devising a new counting method. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the new system is based on more precise figures provided by 10 states. The previous estimated death toll from the H1N1 virus in the US was 672. Latest figures show about 22 million Americans contracted the virus in six months with some 98,000 hospitalised."
    (tags: h1n1 health usa cdc)
  • "That doesn’t sound like someone who plans to ever ship something of the caliber of Tweetie, Birdfeed, or Twitterrific. From what I’ve seen of Twidroid, it’s not even as good as Craig Hockenberry’s original version of Twitterrific for iPhone, which was written as a jailbreak app before the iPhone officially supported third-party software. If Android hardware diversity is already a problem for third-party developers, it’s only going to get worse."
  • "The drinks, which combine malt liquor or other spirits with caffeine and fruit juices at alcohol concentrations up to about 10 percent, have become increasingly popular among college students. In a news conference, Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, the agency’s principal deputy commissioner, said their consumption was associated with increased risk of serious injury, drunken driving, sexual assault and other dangerous behavior." Is it the alcohol and caffeine mix or the college student aspect.
  • "For one of my side projects, Leafy Chat, we have just added the concept of user accounts. This includes the need for registration and log in (as well as log out and forgot password and so on). Leafy Chat only requires an email address and a password for both registration and log in, so it would be great to have some clever way to have both forms on the homepage."
  • "An even more striking thing, perhaps, emerges in this second graph, namely that revenues accrued by artists themselves have in fact risen over the past 5 years, despite the fall in record sales. (All the blue bars in the chart above represent revenues that go directly to artists. As you can see, the ‘blue total’ has risen noticeably.) This is mostly because of live revenues, but also because of the growing amount collected by the PRS on behalf of artists, which accounts for a much bigger chunk of industry revenues than most people realise." Record labels are losing the most money.
  • "Apple's ridiculous iPhone app approval process has hit a new low, with rejections for “ridiculing public figures" and using Apple's own APIs to access Apple icons. These are just the latest reasons why the U.S. Copyright Office should approve EFF's effort to legalize jailbreaking of the iPhone—customers and developers shouldn't need Apple's approval before using the software they want."
  • "The message was simple. Babies are good, but not too many; wait two years before having another to give your wife’s body a chance to recover. Nothing in Islam expressly forbids birth control. But it does emphasize procreation, and mullahs, like leaders of other faiths, consider children to be blessings from God, and are usually the most determined opponents of having fewer of them. It is an attitude that Afghanistan can no longer afford, in the view of the employees of the nonprofit group that runs the seminars, Marie Stopes International. The high birthrate places a heavy weight on a society where average per capita earnings are about $700 a year. It is also a risk to mothers. Afghanistan is second only to Sierra Leone in maternal mortality rates, which run as high as 8 percent in some areas."
  • "Do commerical pressures have a negative impact on science? This debate has been raging for so long that it usually raises little more than a shrug of indifference. That is no longer a defensible response. A new report from our organisation, Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR), exposes problems so serious that we can no longer afford to be indifferent to them. The report looks at the impact of five commercial sectors on science and technology over the past 20 years. The damaging influence of two of these, pharmaceuticals and tobacco, has been noted before. But we also looked at the oil and gas, defence and biotech sectors, which have been subjected to less scrutiny. We found a wide range of disturbing commercial influences on science, and evidence that similar problems are occurring across academic disciplines."
  • "Outside economists and energy experts have already criticized a figure within the new report that states oil production can grow from 83 million barrels per day to 105 million barrels per day by 2030. The whistleblower added that the IEA had already dropped its 2030 estimates from 120 million barrels a day to 116 million, and then 105 million. He also said that many IEA members believe maintaining oil supplies at just 90 million or 95 million barrels per day seems impossible."
  • "On Monday, the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission said the agency would write rules requiring Internet providers to do something many of them already say they do: deliver online content without discrimination."
  • "I’ve only tested it briefly, and to be honest, there doesn’t seem to be a notable benefit. In IE, I can see a bit of improvement over the conventional forEach implementation but only if I’m using arrays with 1000+ lengths. I think this would only be useful in situations where you absolutely have to squeeze every inch of potential performance out of your app. Anyway, it’s still pretty interesting, I wonder what other fancy things can be created by using pre-compiled functions."
  • "Is Apple within their rights to reject this app for this reason? Sure. The bottom line is that they can reject apps for whatever reasons they want — that’s the rule that matters here. But was Rogue Amoeba foolish for designing their application this way? No. There’s nothing in the SDK agreement that they’ve violated."
  • "The smartest, most creative TV shows, from “Deadwood” to “Mad Men” to NBC’s own “30 Rock,” tend to be the most expensive to produce. They have large, talented casts, top-notch writers and directors, elaborate sets and generally high production values. If the changes in our viewing habits stanch the flow of money back to studios, producing those kinds of programs may no longer be possible. In their place, we’ll get more junk: dopey reality shows, cookie-cutter police dramas, inane gab fests. The vast wasteland will become even vaster."
  • "The data supports the notion that younger people are more supportive of gay marriage than older people. I also think it’s interesting that, even in states that we normally consider quite hostile to gay rights (the ones at the bottom of the table), there is still a significant age difference: 18-29 year-olds in Alabama, for example, are more supportive of gay marriage than people 65 and older in Massachusetts. So, while we like to think about states as “liberal” or “conservative,” spreading out the data by age tells a much more complicated story." Texas is the last state where support for same-sex marriage falls under 50% for 18-29yr olds.
  • "If Murdoch wants fewer people coming to the and other news sites he controls, blocking Google from indexing those sites is the perfect way to achieve that goal. Just over 25 percent of the’s traffic comes directly from Google or Google news, according to estimates by Hitwise. About 12 percent of that comes from Google News, and another 15 percent from Google search directly. About 44 percent of visitors to the are new to the site, so Google is doing a good job of introducing new readers to the WSJ. But Murdoch clearly would rather have loyal readers than those delivered by search engines. Or at least that is his story, and he is sticking to it. Never mind that in order to get people to pay for content, they first have to be able to find it."






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