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Shit Worth Reading: May 17th, 2012
Shit Worth Reading: May 17th, 2012
05/17/12 at 12:51 PM by Jason Tate
While I am trying to brainstorm what I want to do for today's Thursday Discussion, I figured I'd post up some links to things I've found interesting around the internet lately. Maybe a grab that second cup of coffee my body is desperately searching for right now? I'm sort of avoiding all the emails I also know I need to answer.

Battleship / **1/2 (PG-13)
Alien spacecraft splash down in the Pacific where war games being conducted by Allied navies, leading to a battle where a whole lot of stuff is bowed up real good. Similar to the "Transformers" movies, but more entertaining, because of a better plot, good characters, and a kind of inspiring third act. As summer action entertainment goes, not at all bad. Two and a half stars

I agree with Ebert on pretty much everything ... but I don't think I can force myself to spend money on this movie. It looks so bad. Even though it's got Tim Riggins in it. I ... I just can't do it. - JT
Ashton Kutcher Dressed Like Steve Jobs
Hmm, not sure how I feel about this. Ashton ... kinda sucks. - JT
Walt Mossberg on Microsoft’s ‘Signature’ PCs
Microsoft also offers a program that, for $99, will turn users’ Windows 7 PCs into Signature versions, if the owner brings the computer into one of its 16 stores, due to grow to 21 outlets in coming months.

So, basically, you're paying $100 to get all the shit removed from your new computer? Buy a Mac. - JT

The OS X Naming Problem
(Via)

XKCD ... on point. - JT
Samsung Loses $10 Billion in Market Value After DigiTimes Reports Apple Is Ordering DRAM From a Competitor
This highlights the bizarre relationship between Apple and Samsung, where in the consumer space they’re direct competitors (arguably even arch rivals — they’re the only two companies turning a significant profit in the handset industry), but behind the scenes in Samsung’s component supplier business, Apple is their most important customer. I suspect this is what investors are reacting to. It’s not about one order of DRAM; it’s about concern that Samsung is going to lose Apple as a component customer across the board.
Bullish Cross Initiates Rare Buy Rating on Apple
This is only the fifth time Zaky has issued a buy on Apple. He’s four-for-four.
We’re back on the Mac! Sparrow for Mac 1.6 comes with one...
Nice update to my email client of choice, Sparrow. The empty spam button (also on their great iOS app) is a very welcome addition. - JT
Responsive Images and Web Standards at the Turning
I like the proposed <picture> markup except for the tag name. “Picture” is much more specific than “image”, and I bet a very large portion of images used on the web are not pictures. “Photo” would be worse, but “picture” still implies a complete photo, illustration, or diagram, whereas “image” encompasses those plus patterns, textures, gradients, and every other use of image data in use on the web today.
Apple's Data Centers to Be Powered by 100% Renewable Energy
Apple's efforts in renewable energy will also extend to its other data center facilities, as the company previously disclosed that its upcoming Prineville, Oregon data center will be powered by 100% renewable energy. And the new page posted today reveals that the company's original, smaller data center in Newark, California will soon be powered by renewable energy as Apple works to locate and purchase clean energy for the facility, with the capacity scheduled to be in place by February 2013.
How Yahoo killed Flickr: they didn’t understand why people use it
It is a case study of what can go wrong when a nimble, innovative startup gets gobbled up by a behemoth that doesn't share its values. What happened to Flickr? The same thing that happened to so many other nimble, innovative startups who sold out for dollars and bandwidth: Yahoo.

This article is a must read IMO -- absolutely spot on analysis. - JT
Aaron Sorkin Will Adapt Walter Isaacson Steve Jobs Bio For Film
Insanely great news — but expectations will be through the roof post-The Social Network.
Facebook’s business model
The key question when trying to value Facebook’s stock is: can they find another business model that generates significantly more revenue per user without hurting the user experience? (And can they do that in an increasingly mobile world where display ads have been even less effective.) Perhaps that business model is sponsored feed entries, as Facebook seems to be hoping (along with Twitter and perhaps Tumblr). The jury is still out on that model.
Here’s What Could Kill Facebook
The thread that runs between all these pitfalls is their potential to make Facebook irrelevant. If you can’t access it, its overrun by ads, there’s something better, or it’s simply uncool, Facebook could fade away.
More Google+ In Gmail: Improved Circle Integration, Circle Search and Quick Access To Contact Details
Get out of my gmail, Google+. Get OUT! - JT
Google Just Got A Whole Lot Smarter, Launches Its Knowledge Graph
As Google Fellow Ben Gomes told me yesterday, the company really wants to move beyond just understanding the characters you are typing into its search engine to getting a better understanding of what it is you are really looking for (“strings to thing” is what Gomes likes to call it). To do this, Google is using both its own and other freely available sources like Wikipedia, the World CIA Factbook, its own Freebase product, Google Books, online event listings and other data it crawls, but it is also using some commercial datasets (though Google wouldn’t reveal which companies specifically it is working with here).
Schumer And Casey’s Ex-PATRIOT Act: Details Of How They Plan To Get Saverin’s $67M And More
It’s pretty big: any ex-pat with either a net worth of over $2 million, or an average income tax liability of at least $148,000 over the last five years, “will be presumed to have renounced their citizenship for tax avoidance purposes.” The ex-pat will have to demonstrate to the IRS that this is not the case if it is not. If there is a “legitimate reason” for that person living outside the U.S. no penalties will apply. But if the IRS finds that someone gave up their passport for tax purposes, they will impose a tax on that individual’s investment gains “no matter where he or she resides.”

Saverin looks like such a fucking douche for this move. This time the US lawyer'd up. - JT
Social Media Gurus Push Conversations Over Kudos, And Fail
Success – and a more powerful Social brand – comes via an understanding of how, why and where a brand can generate personal kudos in amongst the flux of daily life and leveraging the best technology available to make it easy and support the cause.
Want To Reach Light TV Viewers? Put Ads On YouTube, Says YouTube
YouTube’s goal was to help advertisers better understand and target messages to this strange beast. The cross-media study with Nielsen looked at how effective ads were across TV, YouTube, and the Google Display Network. (GDN) And not surprisingly, the study found that advertisers can better reach kids who don’t really watch TV by also putting their ads on YouTube and GDN.
The Worst Phones You Can Buy

Rene Ritchie on the Ramifications of a 4-Inch iPhone Display
Lastly, the above is only my conjecture if Apple were to switch to a larger iPhone display. If Apple changes the iPhone display size, this is how I think they’ll do it. I still think that’s a big if, though, and wouldn’t be surprised in the least if this year’s iPhone ships with a good old-fashioned 3.5-inch 960 × 640 display.
Democrats' Odds of Retaining Senate Improve
Republican fortunes have diminished because of retirements and questions about the quality of candidates.
Happy Fake Budget Vote Day
The Senate has not passed a budget since 2009. The reasons are manifold; the reasons are pretty pathetic. Filibusters aren't part of the excuse, because budgets can be passed on 51 votes.

And so, every year around this time, Republicans force votes on multiple budgets in order to embarass the administration and to plant their own flags. Democrats comply with a vote on the Ryan budget, to get Republicans -- none of whom, really, are endangered this fall -- on the record for "ending Medicare."
Pity the Multimillionaire Campaign Donor
Can someone point me to the part of the Constitution that guarantees your free speech won't result in disfavored treatment? Strassel is like an activist judge assigning some new right -- the right never to have to explain yourself if you bankroll a candidate who'll get to write or sign laws.
Just how big can car-sharing get?
So what would happen if car-sharing really caught on? Tanya Snyder points to a new study (pdf) by the RAND Corporation that, in part, looks at the potential for car-sharing in the United States. Realistically, the RAND authors argue, we could see as many as 7.5 million Americans — or 4.5 percent of all drivers — use car-sharing services at some unspecified point in the future. That would be a huge, huge shift, the study notes, but it’s not infeasible. Surprisingly, though, it would have only a modest impact on energy use and carbon emissions.
Obamacare repeal would cost insurers $1 trillion
The figure comes from Bloomberg Government, where number crunchers have taken a look at what happens if the Supreme Court strikes down the Affordable Care Act and its expected expansion of health care coverage to 32 million Americans. They find that, should the Affordable Care Act be found unconstititional, insurance companies will lose $1 trillion in revenue between 2013 and 2020.
The TED talk TED doesn’t want you to hear
“I’m a very rich person,” he wrote. “As an entrepreneur and venture capitalist, I’ve started or helped get off the ground dozens of companies in industries including manufacturing, retail, medical services, the Internet and software. I founded the Internet media company aQuantive Inc., which was acquired by Microsoft Corp. in 2007 for $6.4 billion. I was also the first non-family investor in Amazon.com Inc.”
No, drinking coffee probably won’t make you live longer
When the researchers isolated coffee consumption as a single variable, they did indeed see a drop in the risk of premature death. But when they looked at coffee-drinkers who had those bad health habits, the risk of death was actually higher: Coffee-drinkers are actually more likely to die early because of those habits.
Facebook’s IPO: What does it mean for you?
Why do inside investors get to lock in at better prices? Isn’t that unfair?

Yes, it is. The world in general is unfair, and Wall Street even more unfair. You are a big boy now, reading the business section, and it’s time you learned these things.
Boehner’s debt ceiling crisis would be so much worse than you think
That’s not a scenario that looks like August 2011, when the debt ceiling was the only thing on the docket. It’s an economic crisis that looks more like September 2008, when Lehman was collapsing. And in that world, it’s so hard to predict the resulting financial chaos, public outrage, interest group pressure, and political terror that it’s almost impossible to say anything about how the crisis would be resolved, or who might benefit.
‘Too big to fail’ watch
The five largest banks controlled $6.1 trillion in assets before the collapse. By 2012, they controlled assets worth $8.5 trillion. That is to say, they went from being “too big to fail” to being much, much bigger.

I ... oh COME ON. - JT
Boehner threatened another debt-mageddon
Washington braced Tuesday for a replay of last summer’s tense battle over the burgeoning national debt as House Speaker John A. Boehner threatened again to block an increase in the federal debt ceiling without significant new cuts in spending. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and other senior Democrats quickly blasted the Ohio Republican, arguing that his ultimatum could put the nation’s credit rating -- and the broader economy -- at risk early next year, when the debt is expected to hit its $16.4 trillion limit.
Washington should take over Medicaid and let states handle education.
Staring down steep tuition hikes, students at the University of California have taken to carrying picket signs. As far as I can tell, though, none has demanded that President Barack Obama accept a Grand Swap that could protect their education while saving them money. Allow me to explain. When I was governor of Tennessee in the early 1980s, I traveled to meet with President Ronald Reagan in the Oval Office and offer that Grand Swap: Medicaid for K-12 education. The federal government would take over 100% of Medicaid, the federal health-care program mainly for low-income Americans, and states would assume all responsibility for the nation's 100,000 public schools...If we had made that swap...states would have about $92 billion a year in extra funds, as they'd keep the $149 billion they're now spending on Medicaid and give back to Washington the $57 billion that the federal government spends per year on schools.
Catholic bishops are threatening to sue over the birth control mandate.
"The Catholic Church's U.S. hierarchy warned Tuesday that without quick action by Congress, it will sue the Obama administration for mandating that insurance plans provide birth control to women without a co-pay. '[F]orcing individual and institutional stakeholders to sponsor and subsidize an otherwise widely available product over their religious and moral objections serves no legitimate, let alone compelling, government interest,' lawyers for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote in a letter to federal regulators. Several small Catholic universities have already filed suit over the policy...The bishops' notice came in 20 pages of comments submitted to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on a forthcoming rule to accommodate certain religious organizations, such as Catholic hospitals, that were not exempted from the original mandate."
The backlash against standardized testing is growing
The increasing role of standardized testing in U.S. classrooms is triggering pockets of rebellion across the country from school officials, teachers and parents who say the system is stifling teaching and learning. In Texas, some 400 local school boards--more than one-third of the state's total--have adopted a resolution this year asking lawmakers to scale back testing. In Everett, Wash., more than 500 children skipped state exams in protest earlier this month...The efforts are a response to the spread of mandatory testing in the past decade. Proponents say the exams are needed to ensure students are learning and teachers' effectiveness is measured. Critics say schools are spending disproportionate time and resources on the tests at the expense of more-creative learning. They also contend the results weigh too heavily in decisions on student advancement, teacher pay and the fate of schools judged to have failed.
Energy independence is no pipe dream
Every president since Richard Nixon has called for the U.S. to wean itself from needing oil from unstable or unsavory countries. The nation's new-found energy riches are likely to bring that ambition closer to reality in the next two decades, according to many forecasters. It's no pipe dream. The U.S. is already the world's fastest-growing oil and natural gas producer. Counting the output from Canada and Mexico, North America is 'the new Middle East,' Citigroup analysts declare in a recent report. The U.S. Energy Information Agency says U.S. oil imports will drop 20% by 2025. Oil giant BP projects the U.S. will get 94% of its energy domestically by 2030, up from 77% now, as oil imports fall by half...Most enticing, a team of analysts and economists at Citigroup argues that the U.S., or at least North America, can achieve energy independence by 2020.
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