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Posts from the ‘Current events’ Category

Stop SOPA/PIPA

We definitely need anti-Intellectual Property theft legislation. Just not this legislation.

See where your members of Congress stand on SOPA, and contact them.

Where Have All The Cell Phones Gone?

You may have recently heard about this:

If the National Transportation Safety Board has its way, cellphone use of all kinds behind the wheel ā€” from texting down to talking hands-free with a headset ā€” will be illegal in all 50 of these United States.
Mashable

This is being spurred on by an August 2010 crash in which a teenager was sending a text a minute and caused a large pileup that killed two people.

Because of this, the NTSB is recommending the banning of all cell phone use by drivers within a vehicle.

Say what now?

texting

This seems like a drastic overreaction to me. The kid was texting, not talking on his phone. That’s a pretty big difference. The kid was an idiot, no doubt. But completely banning cell phones from cars goes too far.

Now, I’m all for restricting cell phone talking to hands free devices. I have one in my truck that has helped me a ton. But besides letting people talk on the phone, there are at least two good reasons for not banning cell phones from cars.

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The Netflix Debacle

Good grief, Netflix.

I admit I was a little shocked when they raised their prices by 60% with no warning a couple of months ago. Who wasn’t? That’s a big price jump. But when I heard their reasoning and evaluated exactly what I’d still be getting for my money, I realized it was still worth it. Managing all those DVDs while securing all those film companies’ licenses has got to be pretty expensive. I resigned myself to continuing to be a supporter and happily paid my first full $16 this September.

netflix envelope

Then, this happened. I’m sure most of you have heard the “news” already, but for those who haven’t: in order to allow both sides of their business to “grow and operate independently”, Netflix is splitting into streaming-only Netflix and a separate, DVD-only company, Qwikster. The whole announcement was buried deep in a “We’re sorry, please forgive us” email from Netflix Founder and CEO Reed Hastings, amid numerous claims that this actually fixes everything and let’s all be friends again.

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“If You Want To Humble An Empire…”

I’m not going to pontificate on September 11 here – I think there was plenty of that over this weekend. Instead, I’m just pointing everyone to two related links I think are poignant and do the day justice.

1. Nancy Gibbs, who wrote the amazing TIME piece just days after the attack, describes how it came together.

2. The New York Times released this series of tapes from air traffic controllers and emergency responders before, during and after the attacks. They’re a very moving inside look at exactly how it all went down.

P.S. Also, if you get a chance, pick up TIME’s special edition for the 10-year anniversary. It’s very good, as always.

Back To The Start

Check out this video (an ad for Chipotle), for a couple of good reasons.

1. The music is excellent and interesting: a Willie Nelson cover of a Coldplay song (“The Scientist”).
2. The stop-motion animation is ridiculously awesome.
3. It has a great, though controversial, message about modern agriculture, organic food and sustainability.

Detractors (according to my quick scan of YouTube comments) say this is not an accurate description of our modern agriculture system. But, according to my viewings of numerous documentaries on the subject like Food Inc. and The Future of Food, the video seems to get it pretty spot on (though no one is claiming that perfectly round pigs actually get crushed into perfect cubes…oh wait.)

What do you think? Does eating organic matter? Or is it all a load of crock?

The Ultimate Ego-Trip

You’ve probably heard of the Palm Islands, a massive, man-made archipelago in the Persian Gulf, shaped like a series of palm fronds and lined with luxury condominiums.

You’ve also probably heard of The World, another man-made archipelago, this time a series of private islands shaped like individual countries and together making a large world map. Rich individuals can buy any “country” they want and do whatever they want with it.

The World

These two aquatic projects showcase the glamour and excess of the United Arab Emirates, especially the city-state Dubai, where these luxury monstrosities are located. Although the UAE, and Dubai specifically, experienced the 2008 economic crisis just like the rest of the world, and its housing market is stagnant just like ours, this oil-producing economic giant still knows how to live large. Just take the Burj Khalifa, the current tallest building in the world and frontrunner in the “Buildings That Could Be From The Emerald City” contest.

Burj Khalifa

But not to be outdone, Dubai’s sister city-state to the south, Abu Dhabi, has taken up some ridiculous projects of its own. Mainly, the largest act of graffiti tagging ever.

Sheikh Hamad bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, a member of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family, has inscribed his first name on his own private island in the Persian Gulf. And when I say “inscribed”, I mean “dug mile-deep trenches that can be seen from space”. Check it out:
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