Tag Archives: corydoctorow

Links for July 26th

AI: Thanks, Assholes.

This afternoon I would like to send a special thank you out to Jenny McCarthy, Andrew Wakefield, Meryl Dorey, Age of Autism and anyone else who encourages parents not to vaccinate their children. It’s just so great what you guys are doing. You’re so warm and fuzzy with your adorable plea to “green our vaccine” and your desire to hold our hand while you, “help the children.” All of your worthless advice is based on your oh-so-cute and imagined mommy instinct, bad science, fear mongering, conspiracy theories or apparently just a plain old desire to f*%$ shit up for the rest of us and now all your tireless work is paying off. You have helped to create a whooping cough epidemic the likes of which we have not seen in 50 years! Way to go. Give yourselves a round of applause.

Sunday Sacrilege: Unorthodoxy

I saw something wonderful at a science fiction convention a few weeks ago. At these events, people often put on odd and extravagant costumes, and I saw one rather obese young man who’d made a minimalist choice: he’d come as one of the Spartans from the movie 300, which meant he was standing in the crowd wearing a red speedo and a bright red cape…and nothing else.

Now imagine this same young fellow at an event at your high school. It would have been brutal. I know; when I was in high school, I was a little poindexter, ostracized, laughed at, and treated like a space alien, and I was treated mildly: being even more different, being the fat kid or the gay kid or the homely kid or whatever excluded you from the Jock Clique or the Heathers or whatever ideal the majority of the student body worshipped meant merciless torment and unremitting cruelty.

Sunday Sacrilege: So alone : Pharyngula

Scientists and atheists do something that many believers find repellent: we shatter their perception of their relationship to the universe. And understandably, they don’t like that.

Whooping cough now an epidemic in California

According to a statement just released by the California Department of Public Health, pertussis — whooping cough — is now officially an epidemic in California.

That’s right: an almost completely preventable disease is coming back with a roar in California. There have been well over 900 cases of pertussis in that state this year, over four times as many as this time last year (and 600 more suspected cases are being investigated). If this keeps up, California may see more cases in 2010 than it has in 50 years.

If that doesn’t anger and sicken you enough, then this most assuredly will: there have been five deaths this year from pertussis as well, all babies under three months of age.

Joe Power, non-Psychic non-Detective: A Clarification « The Merseyside Skeptics Society

From time to time in the world of skepticism, something happens which you really don’t see coming – something totally unexpected. Often, these are positive things – like the media interest in our 10:23 Campaign, or the random discovery that comedy-legend Ed Byrne knows who you are. From time to time, they’re somewhat negative things – like discovering childhood-hero Johnny Ball thinks farting spiders are responsible for the high CO2 levels in the world. And then there are the things that are just utterly unpredictable, out of the left-field, and hard to wrap your head around.

On Friday of last week, I got a phone call. From Ormskirk police. The polite and friendly officer assured me there was nothing to worry about, but that he was looking into alleged threats of violence coming from people on Facebook. Specifically, within the group page of the Merseyside Skeptics Society. And aimed at non-psychic non-detective Joe ‘I’ll just pop to your toilet‘ Power.

The Magnetic Therapy Water Wand: A Debunking from History

the Daily Mail offered its readers, “30 ways to relieve hayfever: From pills to nasal prongs, our guide to beating pollen”.

The article is a pretty good example of everything that is wrong with health journalism. Whilst, no doubt, amongst these thirty tips there is some good and reliable advice, it is also so full of unchecked quackery, nonsense and falsehood that it renders the whole article as unreliable and useless. It serves only as an advertisement for the suppliers of the products, pills and potions mentioned.

One product caught my attention, and it faced some stiff competition from the qu chi bands and ear candles. Magnetic Therapy Ltd, a Manchester based company, is selling something called the ‘Magnetic Water Wand’.

Why the Digital Economy Act simply won’t work

With the passage into law of the dread Digital Economy Act comes Ofcom’s guidelines that are the first step toward rules for when and how rightsholders will be able to disconnect entire families from the internet because someone on or near their premises is accused of copyright infringement.

Consumer rights groups and privacy groups – such as the Open Rights Group, the Citizens Advice Bureau, Which, and Consumer Focus – participated in the process, making the Ofcom rules as good as possible (an exercise that, unfortunately, is a little like making the guillotine as comfortable as possible).

But this isn’t the last word in the copyfight – not even close. Because disconnection for downloaders will only serve to alienate entertainment industry customers

Medical advice for head-bangers

The British Medical Journal investigates the health risks from head-banging and recommends protective gear and “adult-oriented rock”

These cuts won’t hurt a bit. Unless you’re young or poor

This is only the appetiser, not even the first course, just the amuse-bouche to whet the appetite. With a hint of lip-smacking relish for the coming cuts, George Osborne and David Laws today sharpened their knives. There were no expressions of regret, not even a crocodile tear or two for the real suffering they were inflicting. That attitude may be their downfall in the year ahead.

What’s £6.2bn? A mere bagatelle, David Cameron kept saying throughout the election. It’s only a hundredth of government spending, so why the fuss?

Links for April 27th

Giving It Away

The thing about an e-book is that it's a social object. It wants to be copied from friend to friend, beamed from a Palm (nasdaq: PALM – news – people ) device, pasted into a mailing list. It begs to be converted to witty signatures at the bottom of e-mails. It is so fluid and intangible that it can spread itself over your whole life. Nothing sells books like a personal recommendation–when I worked in a bookstore, the sweetest words we could hear were "My friend suggested I pick up…." The friend had made the sale for us, we just had to consummate it. In an age of online friendship, e-books trump dead trees for word of mouth.

Plan to monitor all internet use

Communications firms are being asked to record all internet contacts between people as part of a modernisation in UK police surveillance tactics.

The home secretary scrapped plans for a database but wants details to be held and organised for security services.

The new system would track all e-mails, phone calls and internet use, including visits to social network sites.

Speculative Microeconomics for Tomorrow’s Economy

An interesting article about the Information Economy. Related to my latest OU assignment

50 Incredible Photography Techniques and Tutorials

In this post we present useful photographic techniques, tutorials and resources for various kinds of photography. You’ll learn how to set up the perfect environment and what techniques, principles and rules of thumbs you should consider when shooting your next perfect photo.

Book Review: Questions of Truth: God, Science and Belief

John Polkinghorne's former student Nicholas Beale runs a website on behalf of his mentor, on which questions about religion, and the relation of religion to science, can be posted. This apparently self-published book is a compilation of 51 of these website questions with Beale's and sometimes Polkinghorne's answers. The questions range over creation, the existence of evil, evolution, intelligent design and most of the other familiar old debating points, plus "How does the death of Jesus save the world?", "Why believe Jesus rose from the dead?" and "How much do you need to believe to be a Christian?"

Since these latter questions premise membership of the asylum already, I shall focus just on the various questions that touch on the relation of science and religion

Owning a camera doesn’t make you a criminal

When George Bush pronounced the war on terrorism as the "war on tourism", we thought it was because he was an idiot.

Maybe not, because it seems that tourism and terrorism are the same thing – or at least, they are to some police officers. How else can we explain the harassment of tourists who took photographs of a bus station?

Study finds pirates 10 times more likely to buy music

Piracy may be the bane of the music industry but according to a new study, it may also be its engine. A report from the BI Norwegian School of Management has found that those who download music illegally are also 10 times more likely to pay for songs than those who don't.

40 Amazing Online Photography Magazines

Whatever country we live in, we’re probably all familiar with the well-known photography magazines available in our newsagents and bookstores. The UK has Practical Photography, France has Photo, the Italians have Zoom and the Americans have American Photo. What you may not know is that there are many more photography magazines that are only available online. And some of them are good, very good.

Free data sharing is here to stay

Since the 1970s, pundits have predicted a transition to an "information economy". The vision of an economy based on information seized the imaginations of the world's governments. For decades now, they have been creating policies to "protect" information — stronger copyright laws, international treaties on patents and trademarks, treaties to protect anti-copying technology.

The thinking is simple: an information economy must be based on buying and selling information. Therefore, we need policies to make it harder to get access to information unless you've paid for it.

That means that we have to make it harder for you to share information, even after you've paid for it.

Links for April 1st

Angel star Hallett dies aged 33

Andy Hallett, a singer who gained fame portraying a green-skinned demon on the cult US TV series Angel, has died of congestive heart disease aged 33.

Hallett was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after having problems breathing and died there on Sunday, his agent said.

It follows a five-year battle with the heart condition.

One click from sectarianism

The recent shootings in Northern Ireland show, that in some cases, Catholics and Protestant sectarianism has continued, despite the Good Friday Agreement.

Dividing peace walls, unofficial Catholic or Protestant leisure centres, schools and even bus stops are some of the more visible signs of continued segregation and sectarianism.

Less visible are the multitude of web pages hosted by MySpace, Facebook and Bebo where young people openly brag about buying guns, the cost of ammo, setting up “cells” and going on night-time patrols.

Could my cell phone really bring down a plane?

American Airlines announced Tuesday that it will expand in-flight Wi-Fi Internet service to its entire fleet. The airline, along with Delta and Virgin America, started offering Wi-Fi on select planes in late 2008. In-flight calls, however, are still prohibited. If I can surf the Web, why can’t I use my cell?

Tor announces The Gathering Storm

Tor Books is proud to announce the November 3rd, 2009 on-sale date for The Gathering Storm, Book Twelve of The Wheel of Time and the first of three volumes that will make up A Memory of Light, the stunning conclusion to Robert Jordan’s beloved and bestselling fantasy series. A Memory of Light, partially written by Jordan and completed by Brandon Sanderson, will be released over a two-year period.

Authors have lost the plot in Amazon Kindle battle

The Amazon Kindle 2′s release in February was attended by much fanfare and controversy: Kindle customers were delighted to discover that Amazon had upgraded the Kindle’s feature-set so that it could use a credible text-to-speech synthesiser to read the books aloud.

This set off the Authors Guild (an organisation that is also on record as opposing making books searchable through Google, and making used books available through Amazon), who claimed that Amazon was in violation of copyright, since only the rightsholder could authorise an “audiobook adaptation” of a book.

As a point of law, I think that the Authors Guild is just wrong here

Good cop, bad cop, very bad cop

TV show The Wire portrays police, politicians and lawyers working on the wrong side of the law. It’s a break from the norm, says dramatist GF Newman, whose own attempt at showing all sides of the story in 1970s Britain caused uproar. But cop shows still have a long way to come.

I have the first two series of The Wire the watch. Really looking forward to that – along with several series of House, 24, Lost etc, etc, etc…

Bookmarks for March 2nd through March 4th

  • Technology designed to ‘attack’ us | Platform – Open University -

    In a talk at The Open University on Thursday 26 February, Canadian activist, blogger and science fiction author Cory Doctorow stated that technology needs to stop enslaving us and instead start working for us.

    In his talk, which was hosted by the Centre for Research in Computing and was entitled ‘Freedom and technology: who’s the master?’, he pointed out that everyday objects and services, such as laptops and mobile phones, Oyster cards and ID cards – have been designed to ‘attack us’. In other words, they have been designed to stay open in order to capture data about us, therefore making us vulnerable to attack – rather than working for us and keeping us safe from attack.

  • 7 reasons why Apple should make a netbook -

    The economy’s tanking, everybody’s broke and even high-end brands are feeling the pinch. Apple, we’re told, is the BMW of tech – but even BMW is finding it hard to sell its stuff.

    In computing, netbooks are a rare spot of good news in an otherwise bleak market. So should Apple make one?

  • Ten Things You Don’t Know About the Sun -

    It’s a vast, mighty, seething cauldron of energy, and even though solar astronomers have studied it for centuries, there’s a lot about the Sun that’s still not understand. And if they don’t get it, then I’m pretty sure that you’re unaware of one or two things about it too. I’m fuzzy on one or two (or a thousand) things about it myself.

    So here’s my list of stuff you may not grok about our nearest star.

  • I hate Jenny McCarthy – Opinions -

    Model/actress/“mother-warrior” Jenny McCarthy has spent the past several years doing her level best to convince new parents not to have their children vaccinated. To be fair, evaluating medical information using nothing but Jenny McCarthy’s brain must be a little like running an Olympic wind-sprint while dead, but excuses are meaningless; as I’ll note in a moment, the consequences of her intellectual dishonesty are simply far too high to forgive.

  • Was it a kind of bad dream? -

    Art Garfunkel’s Bright Eyes, the biggest UK hit of 1979, entered the singles chart for the first time 30 years ago on Tuesday.

    Entering the lower reaches of the chart initially, the song, written by British composer Mike Batt for animated rabbit fantasy film Watership Down, eventually reached number one on 14 April.

    The song famously features in the darkly psychedelic film after character Hazel escapes death after being shot by a farmer.

  • Muse get classical on fifth album -

    Muse’s new studio album could see them move away from their traditional rock sound to create a more “orchestral”, classical offering.

    Frontman Matt Bellamy said: “There’s some really brilliant songs coming out, some of our best material I think.”

    The follow-up to 2006′s Black Holes And Revelations is expected later this year coinciding with an Autumn tour.

  • WordPress Gallery Tutorial -

    I’ve seen a lot of people who use WordPress asking how to create a gallery similar to the one on Matt Mullenweg’s website (Ma.tt) using nothing but core WordPress functionality. Fortunately, it’s much easier than it looks and with just a few simple steps you can have a gallery of albums and images up an running in no time

  • ‘I thank the universe for the good stuff’ -

    Writer and actress Meera Syal has starred in Goodness Gracious Me and The Kumars at No 42, and has published two novels, Anita and Me and Life Isn’t All Ha Ha Hee Hee.

    The actress, who was born near Wolverhampton in 1963, has spoken to BBC News about religion and spirituality.