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Guest Post - technical, maybe boring.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.28.13

Lw writes: Graphenes are amazing. If people can work out how to synthesize them reliably, then they could provide cheap, durable, flexible efficient solar panels.

They are metallic-- the pi electrons don't form a perfect delocalized network of aromatic rings, but close enough to form a half-metal. Every electronic structure paper that I read about these makes me a little sad about leaving physics.

Roll them up (in principle, nobody can do this reliably yet on any scale) and you get nanotubes, light and very strong. Make a tiny little torus out of the nanotube and the magentic properties are really interesting. Buckyballs, discovered in the 80s by people looking at soot, were a precursor, are themselves. Novel forms of carbon, like finding five dollars in the street.

Heebie's take: New ideas are addictive. I've linked it before, but it's really the best. I like to sing "The brain is just a fascinating place to get lost in."


 

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Creepy ass-crackers

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.28.13

Have you been following the Trayvon Martin trial? Rachel Jeantel, the friend who Trayvon called, testified that Trayvon said he was being followed by a "creepy-ass cracker", and so the media is falling all over itself trying to get the medal for repeating the word "cracker" the most times.

Gawker clears a few things up:

Is "cracker" a "racial" term? Yes, it means "white person." Therefore it is "racial."
Is "cracker" an offensive term? Well, let's put it this way: if you are the type of white person who is greatly offended by being called a "cracker," you can always take heart in the knowledge that the Confederacy went down fighting bravely. They'll never take that away from you, by god.
Does the philosophical question of whether or not "cracker" is a "racial" term have any real bearing whatsoever on whether or not Trayvon Martin deserved to be shot and killed? No.

There we go!

Via Oudie, elsewhere


 

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Ok lawyers, explain this one

Posted by Ben
on 06.27.13

The Reader reports that Olson's hearing had gone as poorly as his attorney might have expected, with Judge Howard Shore, who is presiding over the case, granting Deputy City Attorney Paige Hazard's motion to prohibit attorney Tom Tosdal from mentioning the United States' fundamental First Amendment rights. "The State's Vandalism Statute does not mention First Amendment rights," ruled Judge Shore on Tuesday.


 

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Guest Post - Showbiz Interviews

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.27.13

Lw writes: Coming full circle on attntion, Orson Welles talking with Henry Jaglom near the end of OW's life. My dad, also overweight, resembles the photo of OW. I keep thinking that showbiz memoirs would be interesting, but I haven't liked any that I've read, self-serving and ghostwritten. Has anyone read Cameron Crowe's conversations with Billy Wilder?

H.J.: Warren Beatty was just saying that TV has changed movies, because for most of us, once you're in a movie theater, you commit, whether you like it or not. You want to see what they've done, while at home ...
O.W.: I'm the opposite. It's a question of age. In my real moviegoing days, which were the thirties, you didn't stand in line. You strolled down the street and sallied into the theater at any hour of the day or night. Like you'd go in to have a drink at a bar. Every movie theater was partially empty. We never asked what time the movie began. We used to go after we went to the theater.
H.J.: You didn't feel you had to see a movie from the start?
O.W.: No. We'd leave when we'd realize, "This is where we came in." Everybody said that. I loved movies for that reason. They didn't cost that much, so if you didn't like one, it was, "Let's do something else. Go to another movie." And that's what made it habitual to such an extent that walking out of a movie was what for people now is like turning off the television set.

Heebie's take: I think Showbiz Kids might be one of my very favorite Steely Dan songs.


 

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Marketing

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.27.13

Parodie writes: Here's an interesting article arguing that we should regulate marketing, perhaps particularly interesting because the author spends a lot of time thinking about how to spread ideas and encouraging people to innovate, market, and ship stuff.

We ban accounting that misleads, and we don't let engineers build bridges that endanger travelers. We monitor effluent for chemicals that can kill us as well. There's no reason in the world that market-share-fueled marketing ought to be celebrated merely because we enjoy the short-term effects it creates in the moment.

Perhaps interesting for Unfogged?

Heebie's take: First, marketing is already slightly regulated - "truth in advertising" is the one that springs to mind. Also, you can't put cigarette commercials on TV or show people actually drinking alcohol, and you have to list side effects when you advertise prescription drugs. But I think that's the extent of it.

I have a (possibly irrationally) deep hatred for marketing. I think the utter uselessness of the entire industry for society just drives me nuts. It's all giant peacock pageantry, under the guise of helping the free market run more smoothly. Obviously there are worse industries, but marketing really sticks in my craw.

(Also, I'm having trouble placing Seth Godin exactly, but I know we've come across him. None of his books look familiar.)


 

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By and on Packer, on and by Silicon Valley and Tkacik

Posted by Ben
on 06.26.13

By Packer on SV; on Packer by Tkacik.

Things to observe about the former:

- Josh Cohen feels what he said was distorted by Packer. This is plausible.

- Lots of stuff various SV douchebags say is just repeated without comment. E.g.,

One of the mottoes posted on the walls at Facebook is "Move fast and break things." Government is considered slow, staffed by mediocrities, ridden with obsolete rules and inefficiencies.

Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of the professional network LinkedIn and an investor in dozens of Silicon Valley firms, told me, "In investing, you want to have milestones that go between three and twelve months, to know you're making progress. The government purchasing process is a year plus!"

It's ok to "move fast and break things" when you're breaking a photo sharing app; less so when you're doing things that actually affect people. (Interesting to note that lots of people on e.g. Hacker News find the demanding coding standards NASA uses extremely interesting and—obviously—appropriate, given the circs.) Even various Silicon Valley types have observed that the extremely short timelines demanded by venture capitalists distort what sorts of projects get funded and how they go about their business, generally negatively. Taking your time and being careful isn't obviously something bad.

- In general it had, for me, the feel of a puff piece that doesn't recognize that its targets are actually odious.


 

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Like I Said, Thinking Too Hard About The Intellectual Underpinnings Of Supreme Court Cases Is Just Banging Your Head Against A Wall

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.26.13

As Kevin Drum correctly notes, contrasting the Court's holding in Crawford vs. Marion County Election Board and Shelby County vs. Holder:

So here's your nickel summary. If a law is passed on a party-line vote, has no justification in the historical record, and is highly likely to harm black voting, that's OK as long as the legislature in question can whomp up some kind of neutral-sounding justification. Judicial restraint is the order of the day. But if a law is passed by unanimous vote, is based on a power given to Congress with no strings attached, and is likely to protect black voting, that's prohibited unless the Supreme Court can be persuaded that Congress's approach is one they approve of. Judicial restraint is out the window. Welcome to the 21st century.


 

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De-shirting

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.25.13

On TV, men sometimes take off their shirts by reaching over thier heads and taking hold of their shirt at the top of their back, and pulling it over their head. (Don Draper does, frex.) I don't think I've ever seen anyone perform this move in real life. Anyone here do it?


 

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Decisions

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.25.13

Supreme Court time.


 

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Lutherstadt Wittenberg

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.25.13

Due to flooding, Buck missed a train connection between Leipzig and Berlin, leaving him stranded for a few hours in Wittenberg with nothing to do and no stores open. In the train station with him was a similarly stranded pack of heavily pierced/tattooed late-teen/twentysomethings, drinking beer out of a couple of milk-crates of bottles they'd brought on their trip. Buck being Buck, he wandered over and asked if he could buy one of their beers.

Long pause. Big redheaded kid with an extravagant beard looks him up and down, and says: "Ja. We believe in love and the brotherhood of man. You may have our beer. But first, you will answer our questions." Pause. "What do you think of Linux?"

Buck said Germans his own age made him a little nervous, but the kids are great.


 

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Baby-making

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.24.13

The message that older women may have trouble conceiving is over-stated.

The widely cited statistic that one in three women ages 35 to 39 will not be pregnant after a year of trying, for instance, is based on an article published in 2004 in the journal Human Reproduction. Rarely mentioned is the source of the data: French birth records from 1670 to 1830. The chance of remaining childless--30 percent--was also calculated based on historical populations.

The article goes into why it's hard to conduct good studies on fertility, and why so many of the standard talking points are based on flimsy evidence. And what the actual data shows.

One study, published in Obstetrics & Gynecology in 2004 and headed by David Dunson (now of Duke University), examined the chances of pregnancy among 770 European women. It found that with sex at least twice a week, 82 percent of 35-to-39-year-old women conceive within a year, compared with 86 percent of 27-to-34-year-olds. (The fertility of women in their late 20s and early 30s was almost identical--news in and of itself.)

Anyway, she omits one major point: excessively fear-mongering older women about infertility is a way of reprimanding them for not prioritizing baby-making like a good girl would have.


 

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Guest Post - Activism

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.24.13

Nick S. writes: This is a pretty amazing story of activism.

It's about a group of young undocumented activists who become increasingly involved in direct action -- including being public about their own undocumented status as part of their protests, culminating in a couple of them who decide to intentionally try to get sent to detention centers so that they can connect with and organize among the immigrants being held there.

The article takes a while to arrive at that part of the story, setting up various background elements first, but it really is an amazing story. By the time I got to the end I was moved. There's something remarkable about people deciding to engage in courageous, risky, and very direct action.


 

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Astronaut

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.23.13

What kind of child shall Blume and Sifu have? Shall she be the kind of girl who likes purple and princesses? Or shall she enjoy cooking and sparkly clothes and ballet? Or somewhere in between?


 

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