Quick Roundup 533

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Everybody Draw Mohammed Day

My contribution appears below, as well as within a small collection at Principles in Practice.

Congressional Indirection

I love beer, so why am I not excited about this bit of news?

House Resolution 1297, sponsored by Rep. Betsy Markey, supports "the goals and ideals of American Craft Beer Week."

"We've got quite a number of microbreweries and entrepreneurs that are creating jobs, and we wanted to celebrate that this is a craft," Markey told POLITICO.
If Congress really wanted to celebrate this craft and see this industry flourish, it would free beer, rather than just talk about what a great thing the state has under its boot.


For anyone who foolishly thinks that his individual affairs are too insignificant to attract the destructive attention of a dictator, Hugo Chavez recently demonstrated the contrary.

You will note that his depredations are hardly limited to the property of Chavez's political foe, although that would be bad enough.
One taking stood out, however -- a 370-acre ranch in Yaracuy state that grows oranges and coffee and raises cattle with 38 shareholding farm workers. The scenic property on an otherwise desolate stretch of highway is owned by Diego Arria, Venezuela's former president of the U.N. Security Council. It's been in his family since 1852.


Chavez's red-shirts finally acted over the weekend, opening the farm to "the masses" in a show of class warfare. Chavista leaders from the National Institute of Lands headed first to Arria's living quarters, rolling over his bed, pawing through his wife's clothing and desecrating a chapel dedicated to the Arrias' late daughter.

For their big photo spectacular, they hauled in 300 or 400 children to swim in Arria's swimming pool, ride the ranch horses and tour the main house -- encouraging the kids to take "souvenirs." Chavez said it was all proof he was "socializing happiness."
So now, El Loco is stealing back yard swimming pools and "inviting" children to trespass and commit petty theft. The article is illustrated with a snapshot of red-shirted thugs overseeing a swimming "party." What a ball!

Gaia Speaks

Ted Turner on the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico:
"I'm not a real religious person, but I'm somewhat religious. And I'm just wondering if God is telling us he doesn't want us to drill offshore," he said. "And right before that we had that coal mine disaster in West Virginia where we lost 29 miners," as well as repeated mining disasters -- "seems like there's one over there every week" -- in China.
It's too easy to write Ted Turner off as a religious freak, or to identify this rubbish as an example of confirmation bias and then move on, but it's more profitable to think for a moment about what Turner is doing here.

Certainly, these events illustrate the hazards of exploiting the earth's mineral wealth. But what would you do if you wanted to make it seem like it is impossible to do this safely? You'd focus on what can go wrong and drop the larger context, which includes the fact that mining and oil exploration can and do occur safely far, far more often than not: Daily, in fact, to the point that most of us take such things for granted, if we think about them at all.

By the nature of news coverage, which focuses on the exceptional (else, it wouldn't be news), Ted Turner looks to many like he has the facts on his side. He doesn't, though, because he is interpreting them incorrectly.

(Tangentially related is an interesting article at Slate on the "junk shots" that might stop the leak, including why they include golf balls.)

iPad or Kindle

If you're considering such a choice, and you want to read around bedtime, here's some food for thought:
"Potentially, yes, if you're using [the iPad or a laptop] close to bedtime ... that light can be sufficiently stimulating to the brain to make it more awake and delay your ability to sleep," said Phyllis Zee, a neuroscience professor at Northwestern University and director of the school's Center for Sleep & Circadian Biology.

"And I think more importantly, it could also be sufficient to affect your circadian rhythm. This is the clock in your brain that determines when you sleep and when you wake up." [link dropped]
That, and the iPad doesn't fare too well in broad daylight, either.

As Seen at Slate

The following comes from a recurring feature called Friend or Foe:
My Husband and I Live With a Slob! How to get rid of a messy, drunken roommate without ruining the friendship. By Lucinda Rosenfeld | May 18, 2010
I reacted to the story by laughing and saying, "Too late!"

Amusing and True Infographic

Via Ask the Headhunter, where a commenter, responding to the question of whether cover letters are useful for on-line job applications, notes:
The right answer to the question depends on the audience. Here's a funny illustration of that. The details are specific to programmers but the overall point is true in any field. [minor edits]
The top part of the diagram is titled, "How the HR department reads your resume," while the bottom is, "How a programmer reads your resume."

-- CAV


: Minor edits.


Mike said...

I'm a lover of most-things-Apple, but I have to conclude from experience that the iPad, like any tablet or netbook, is not optimal for reading. The Kindle/Nook e-ink system is the best electronic option right now because it really does look like you are reading ink on paper. It is beautifully engineered and very easy on the eyes.

Ultimately I still prefer the old "book" system, which is cheap, never needs charging, has an intuitive touch-based interface, and fits on the shelves I have at home, to paraphrase Jerry Holkins of Penny Arcade. Alas, carrying one's collection of books on a plane can be a bit unwieldy.

Gus Van Horn said...

"Ultimately I still prefer the old "book" system, which is cheap, never needs charging, has an intuitive touch-based interface, and fits on the shelves I have at home, to paraphrase Jerry Holkins of Penny Arcade. Alas, carrying one's collection of books on a plane can be a bit unwieldy. "

Yes. Even setting aside vendor lock-in, which I hate about both platforms, I prefer books, at least for actual reading all the way through. (I have gotten to vastly prefer reference books in electronic format for ease of search.)

I have to say that I find the iPad fascinating in a perverse way. There is no denying that it's a technical marvel, but at the same time, whatever utility it has that isn't lost on me seems compromised in too many ways.