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Shit Worth Reading: June 1st, 2012
Shit Worth Reading: June 1st, 2012
06/01/12 at 03:30 PM by Jason Tate
I filled up my Reeder with a bunch of stuff worth sharing in just over a day this time, damn - that went fast - so, here's what I have for you today ... hopefully everyone has a great weekend. Try and get outside a little bit.

"Very interestingly, we find that Andromeda galaxy does appear to be coming straight at us."
We'll be long dead - but this is very interesting. - JT
The Bourne Legacy

I am definitely interested in this one. I love the Bourne Trilogy (need to re-watch those), and I like Renner a lot as well. - JT
This Joke Will Never Get Old

AT&T has updated their international travel data plans (following Verizon doing the same thing). On the surface, it’s a good move, the new packages are certainly a better bang-for-the-buck. But let’s be real: they’re still a colossal rip-off.
Fear and Loathing and Windows 8
But it could also be insecurity. To me, it feels like Microsoft is in a quiet panic. When Apple says the era of the PC has ended, I think Microsoft may believe it even more than Apple does. Smartphones eat away at messaging, tablets compete for browsing and game-playing, and who knows what will come next. In the new device markets, Microsoft is an also-ran. I think Microsoft feels it must find a way to leverage its waning strength in PCs to make itself relevant in mobile.
∞ It’s the Little Things
What I have found is that by doing this I am incrementally making my life more enjoyable each and everyday. It really is the little things that count, because if you improve enough of the little things (and the big things don’t suck) then pretty soon you are going to have a lot of great things going for you and thus you will be happier.
iOS 6
Rene Ritchie wrote a very in-depth piece on some of the things Apple could improve on with iOS 6. He didn’t just look at elements of the current OS, but also what Apple could learn from Android, webOS and Windows.
→ iAd’s Hopefully Long Future
In fact, the performance of iAd has grown so solid over the past 6 months or so that I recently dropped all other advertising platforms from Audiobooks (previously I’ve integrated with MobClix, Admob, and Adsense).
Kickstarter Responds To Hidden “Failed Project” Claims
“The original poster was correct in noting that we don’t have a browse area for projects whose funding was unsuccessful,” he wrote. “This isn’t to ‘hide failure,’ as the original post said, it’s because it would be a poor user experience (there’s no action that anyone could take) and it would expose the creators of unsuccessfully funded projects to unnecessary criticism from the web (those projects would be prime for trolling).”

“Most unsuccessfully funded projects come up short because of a lack of interest in the project or because their creators didn’t promote it enough, not because of the Kickstarter page itself. Success on Kickstarter comes down to making a video, pricing things reasonably, and telling people about the project.”
Pew: 8% Of U.S. Online Adults Now Use Twitter Daily
Overall Twitter usage has actually remained pretty stable since early 2011 (the slight changes over the last year are safely within the margin of error). What has changed, though, is the number of daily active users, which increased from 4% in May 2011 to 8% today.
Cricket Will Sell The First Prepaid iPhones In The United States Starting June 22
They revealed earlier this morning that they will start selling the iPhone 4 and 4S sans contract starting on June 22, making them the first prepaid carrier in the country to do so.
Gartner Report: Apple Turns Over Its Inventory Once Every Five Days
So a typical company in manufacturing might do 8 inventory turns. Samsung does 17. Dell, which practically invented hardcore electronics supply chain management, does 36. Apple is doing 74!
Opt-In vs. Opt-Out
That’s a bogus argument. If they really feel this way, then Firefox should present a modal dialog that forces every user to choose a Do Not Track setting before they can do anything else. Nobody likes those sort of dialogs, of course. People launch Firefox because they want to browse the web, not to fiddle with settings. That’s why default preference settings matter so much — everyone knows most users never change the defaults.
‘Superman Didn’t Even Make His Own Logo’
This week’s episode of The Talk Show, America’s most-starred podcast (because one star is still a star), with special guest star John Moltz, the acclaimed author of A Very Nice Web Site.
Wired: ‘In Ad Network Nightmare, Microsoft Making “Do Not Track” Default for IE 10’
Years ago I had the idea that if Microsoft really wanted to destroy Google, they should have released a version of IE with a built-in on-by-default ad-blocker that included Google ads in its blacklist. They could have killed Google back when IE had an overwhelming majority browser share. Sure, there would have been a nasty legal fight and Microsoft probably would have lost it, but it would have taken years to litigate and I’ll bet it would have been less expensive to Microsoft than what they’ve flushed down the toilet on Bing over the years.
Speaking of Presidential Politics
The official portrait? Really? REALLY? - JT

→ Google to head Apple off at the pass by holding 3D Maps event June 6th, just before WWDC
This will play out the same way it always does: big competitor announces something the week before an Apple event to try to take the wind out of Apple’s sails, then Apple releases something similar or better, and everyone forgets about the competitor’s announcement.

Does this move ever work?
The Girl With The ANSI Tattoo (via david)
“Shocked moviegoers will have been left wondering why a genius-level hacker would outer-join to the Victims and Keywords tables only to use literal-text filter predicates that defeat the outer joins.”

Laughed way harder than I should at this. - JT
Why Spencer Tipping Left Google
I think Google+ is an effort that does not deserve the engineering minds at Google. This is mostly a personal bias. I see Google as solving legitimately difficult technological problems, not doing stupid things like cloning Facebook. Google, in my opinion, lost sight of what was important when they went down this rabbit hole.
Link: Social lubricant
Within days, friends of Mr. Bergus started seeing his post among the ads on Facebook pages, with his name and smiling mug shot. Facebook — or rather, one of its algorithms — had seen his post as an endorsement and transformed it into an advertisement, paid for by Amazon.
The shapes of CSS
I am such a fucking nerd. - JT
∞ Google park the self-driving car and fix FeedBurner
I can appreciate why Google is working on all kinds of new technologies like the self-driving car, but I think it’s time to fix some of the things it’s been ignoring for a long time. The big one for Web publishers is Feedburner.
Adjusting volume
For people with mild OCD we’re always trying to make sure the volume level is set at an even number – say 14 or 28. Some people need it to feel even “more even” at 10 or 20.
Rentzsch: Mac App Store vs. Buying Direct
Good piece by Wolf Rentzsch, evaluating both the pros and cons of buying Mac apps from the App Store versus direct from developers. He makes a strong case that the new sandboxing rules that went into effect today tilt things in favor of buying direct. I agree, but I’d say that’s true only for power users. For typical users, I’d argue that the sandboxing rules make the Mac App Store even more compelling (albeit at the expense of severe headaches for developers).
iOS 6 to Bring Systemwide Facebook Integration
TechCrunch reports that iOS 6 will include system-level integration of Facebook, similar to the integration seen with Twitter in iOS 5.
Why used televisions are often overpriced.

If the zombie apocalpyse is nearing — and some recent news suggests it is — you might want to investigate zombie insurance.

Minimum Wage vs Rent
“There isn’t a single state in the country where it’s possible to work 40 hours per week at minimum wage and afford a two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent.”
What a millionaire’s tax costs the government, in one graph
Liberals were upset when Nancy Pelosi demanded tax breaks for everyone with incomes under $1 million, arguing that the threshold should be $250,000 instead. Now they have more ammunition from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. If the cutoff for tax breaks is $1 million instead of $250,000, Pelosi’s proposal would lose the government $366 billion in lost revenue over the next 10 years, the CBPP points out in a new report, citing new figures from the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation:
Jamba Juice economics
Fluctuations in fruit prices can often wreak havoc on juice-seller — one store owner remembers “a year that blueberries went berserk, and we had to raise prices 45 cents,” Soller’s recent piece, on the economics of iced coffee, is also worth a read.
The Austerity Agenda
So why is Britain doing exactly what it shouldn’t? Unlike the governments of, say, Spain or California, the British government can borrow freely, at historically low interest rates. So why is that government sharply reducing investment and eliminating hundreds of thousands of public-sector jobs, rather than waiting until the economy is stronger?
Why is student debt different from other kinds of debt?
Why are Americans having more trouble paying off student loans, as compared to other kinds of debt? It’s partly because of the types of consumers who tend to have high student debt. They’re younger than those who tend to take out house or car loans, at a time when half of all recent college grads can’t find full-time work. The pool of struggling borrowers also includes college dropouts, who are four times more likely to default on their loans than graduates, having accumulated debt but no degree to improve their employment prospects.
May jobs report: The labor market takes a big step backward
All told, the U.S. job market appears to be sputtering out. In the past four months, the economy has added an average of 137,000 jobs per month. That’s barely enough to keep up with new entrants into the labor force. At that rate, according to this calculator from the Hamilton Project, we won’t get back to full employment until 2025.
A libertarian approach to global warming
Policy-wise, Adler explains, a small-government approach to global warming might include things like: a revenue-neutral carbon tax that replaced income taxes, public prizes for innovation, and the stripping away of regulations that inhibit the adoption of cleaner energy. (I’ve written a fair bit elsewhere on electric-utility regulations that might be worth a peek.)
How the National Spelling Bee got so insanely difficult
Last night, 14-year-old Snigdha Nandipati won the Scripps National Spelling Bee by correctly spelling the word “guetapens,” an obscure French word that describes a snare or a trap. This follows on other spellers taking stabs at words like schwarmerei (to be enthusiastic), ericeticolous (a “heathlike” habitat) and schwannoma (a type of tumor, obviously).
Economy, and Obama, Mired in Down Data
The short version: this is a case where our model’s insight would match the conventional wisdom — the bad economic numbers over the past weeks are sapping Mr. Obama of the edge he might have had on Mitt Romney.
Do we have a cancer epidemic? Or an epidemic of overdiagnosis?
The British Medical Journal recently combed through American data on cancer deaths and diagnoses. It found that, while American deaths from certain cancers have remained pretty constant since the 1970s, the number of cancer diagnoses has skyrocketed.
Why ban soda when you can tax it?
A soda tax no doubt would bring in some cash for the state. Would it equally deter consumption of sodas in the same way as a portion-size ban? That’s a bit difficult to know, largely because we’ve never seen any state or city ban large sodas (more general research on portion size suggests that it is an effective way to reduce consumption of food).
Pop music keeps getting sadder and sadder
Classical music actually went through a similar development, moving more toward minor songs between 1600 and 1900. The changes in pop music modes, the researchers note, have come much faster, over the course of decades rather than centuries.
TAYLOR: Uncertainty is holding back the recovery.
America's economic future is increasingly uncertain. In my view, unpredictable economic policy--massive fiscal 'stimulus' and ballooning debt, the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing with multiyear near-zero interest rates, and regulatory uncertainty due to ObamaCare and the Dodd-Frank financial reforms--is the main cause of persistent high unemployment and our feeble recovery from the recession. A reform strategy built on more predictable, rules-based fiscal, monetary and regulatory policies will help restore economic prosperity...But skeptics ask how a system of policy rules can work when politicians and government officials want to 'do something' to help the economy or feel public pressure to do so...Rules for monetary policy do not mean that the central bank does not change the instruments of policy (interest rates or the money supply) in response to events, or provide loans in the case of a bank run. Rather they mean that they take such actions in a predictable manner.
Retail sales grew in May.
American shoppers increased their spending in May, despite uncertainty over US economic growth and the jobs market, according to monthly sales figures from some of the country’s largest retail chains. Total sales at stores open for at least a year rose 4 per cent last month, according to Retail Metrics, the research group. Sales were stronger than the 1.8 per cent forecast, though below the 5.5 per cent gain made in May 2011. The gains followed a dismal showing in April, when retailers posted what some analysts said was their weakest performance since November 2009. Sales were affected by an earlier Easter and unusually warm weather which brought shoppers to stores earlier in the season, as well as a weaker economic environment. Industry watchers had warned that May sales might again suffer because of some of these factors. But in spite of declining consumer confidence, sales were strong.
A proposed ban on sex-selective abortions failed in the House
The House on Thursday rejected a measure that sought to impose fines and prison terms on doctors who perform abortions on women who are trying to select the gender of their offspring -- a practice known as sex-selective abortion. The legislation, which required two-thirds support to win passage under the fast-track procedure used to bring it to the floor, fell short on a vote of 246 to 168. Republicans did not anticipate that the legislation would pass, but saw it as an opportunity to force Democrats to vote on an issue with appeal among conservatives...Abortion-rights advocates, while pleased with the outcome, slammed Representative Trent Franks, Republican of Arizona, for pushing forward with his bill, known as the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act...There does not appear to be an extensive network of women seeking abortions in order to manage the race or gender makeup of their families.
Student loan debt rose by 8%.
Americans are borrowing more to pay for college while reducing other debt as a weak job market prompts more people to go to school and tuition keeps climbing, new Federal Reserve Bank of New York data show. Americans owed $904 billion in student loans at the end of March, nearly 8% more than a year ago, the New York Fed said Thursday in a quarterly report on consumer credit. That compares with the $679 billion they owed on credit cards at the end of the first quarter. Between the fourth quarter of 2008, when credit-card debt peaked, and the first quarter of 2012, this borrowing fell by $187 billion, or 21.6%, the Fed said. Over the same period, student-loan debt rose by 41.4%, or $264 billion. Student debt is quickly rising, in part due to higher tuitions, but also because alternative ways of paying for college--such as home-equity loans--have dried up. The Obama administration has expanded federal loan programs, which offer student loans at below-market rates.
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