Wednesday’s Roundup

I forgot to mention this, but I updated the Links page last week. I got rid of a bunch of dead links, axed some abandoned sites, added some new ones, and re-organized the whole thing. And now… on to the news!

– Apparently the US government has decided that any and all .com domains can be seized.

– I guess at this point we’re little better than Russia… where voter turnout for Vladimir Putin was 107% in some parts of the country.

– I’m a fan of neither Rush Limbaugh nor liberal columnist Michael Kinsley, but Kinsley has this great op-ed piece about the shallowness of the attack on Limbaugh after his Sandra Fluke gaffe:

People have the right not to buy a product or service they don’t wish to buy. Limbaugh’s advertisers are free to transfer their loyalty to Glenn Beck if they wish, and Limbaugh’s critics are free to deny themselves the rapturous comforts of Sleep Number beds.

Nevertheless, the self-righteous parade out the door by Limbaugh’s advertisers is hard to stomach. Had they never listened to Rush before, in all the years they had been paying for commercials on his show? His sliming of a barely known law student may be a new low — even after what he’s said about Nancy Pelosi and Michelle Obama — but it’s not a huge gap.

– And here’s an interview with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson from The Atlantic. I’m a Tyson fan, and generally like his view on American science education and NASA funding. But it’s also hard to argue with this rebuttal of the interview.

– And here’s a GREAT op-ed piece by Philip K. Howard about the need to “clean house” in Washington DC. No, not by “throwing the bums out”, but by overhauling the millions of pages of federal law on the books. For instance, a law have been passed in 1935. Instead of simply removing the old code and replacing it with new code, random amendments to the law were passed in unrelated laws in 1953, 1966, 1973, 1987 and 1998. Trying to keep track of it all is a nightmare. As Howard says, “[r]unning government today is like trying to run a business using every idea every manager ever had.”

– Click it here to read a short piece about the “10 Tech Laws that define our modern world”. It’s interesting!

– Speaking of “interesting”, my homeboys (and homegirls!) at Georgia Tech have converted the seismic readings from last year’s Japanese earthquake in to sound files. It’s cool to actually “hear” an earthquake and all the resultant aftershocks. GO JACKETS!

– Ellie Carter is a 9 year-old schoolgirl from England who is obsessed with airplanes, specifically the U2 spy plane. She wrote to organizers of the world’s largest air show, the Royal International Air Tattoo, asking if they could add a U2 to this year’s show. This attracted the attention of U2 crew members at Beale Air Force Base in California… who gave Carter the VIP treatment. It’s a sweet story you should check out!

– YouTube’s “Content ID System” is horribly broken. Here’s how it works: rights holders like record labels and movie studios submit their works to YouTube so the site can scan and “fingerprint” them. YouTube then takes that fingerprint and scans all user generated content with the aim of getting copyrighted material off the site. Sounds OK so far, right? Well no. You’ve probably heard about people who had videos of their pets or children removed because a radio or TV was playing copyrighted material in the background. That’s Content ID in action. But it’s only gotten worse: a company named Rumblefish recently asked YouTube to remove a video of a man walking around outdoors. No, there was no music playing in the background, or as a soundtrack added by the poster later on. Rumblefish actually claimed to own the copyright to the sound of birds! In the wild. Birds! And, of course, guess who YouTube sides with 99%of the time in such disputes…. Yeah, right. Read more at the linked article.

– Think that print media isn’t dying? Look at the graph in this article.

– Did you think I’d miss the guy who killed his wife with a cannon?

– And lastly… yeah, it’s been done to death… but this video, in which dating couples switch gender roles, is pretty funny:

“We can order more fries…”
“Nah, I just want a couple.”

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