Archive for January, 2012

Angry Bishops

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Apparently, one of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act says that health care institutions and insurance agencies need to make contraceptives available. As you might imagine, there has been an outcry from Catholic hospitals and universities who claim that this runs counter to their moral stance on contraception.

Well, as I see it, your devout Catholic students or employees won’t take advantage of it anyway. And those who aren’t shouldn’t be bound by your moral code. As for the argument that “this means our employees will be paying insurance premiums that indirectly pay for someone else’s birth control, and that’s just wrong”, you’ve got to be kidding me. Figure out a way to excise all of the abhorrent things that my taxes pay for from my annual bill, and then we can talk.

Hiriko

Friday, January 27th, 2012

One of the biggest problems with cars in congested urban areas is finding enough space to park them. MIT Media Lab has come up with an ingenious solution, as they so often do – the Hiriko prototype actually folds itself up to fit into a third of a traditional parking spot. Check out the video.

Research Works Act

Friday, January 27th, 2012

A new bill introduced in the House, the Research Works Act, aims to shut off public access to research done with public money. From the article:

Let’s break this down. Publicly funded research being undertaken by researchers who are often themselves (in Australia almost exclusively) also publicly funded, is written up and submitted to a publisher. The publisher sends it back out to the academic community to peer review the work, for no charge. Many of the editors of journals are also academics who again are doing the work gratis. The publisher then adds the journal design to the article and publishes it, charging disproportionally large subscription fees for access to the work. These fees are paid by university libraries, again, with public funding.

Open access funding rules such as those of the NIH, Wellcome Trust, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and others simply allow the taxpayer – who has paid for the research and the majority of the publishing process – to have access to the findings of that research. But publishers claim that open access is hurting their profit margin.

Unsurprisingly, the sponsors of this bill have received significant campaign donations from the academic publishing industry. Same as it ever was.

Childhood Recipes

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

It’s funny how taste and smell are such powerful memory triggers. I have a box of recipe cards that belonged to my mother, and there are a few things in there that were staples of my childhood – her recipe for chicken and rice, in particular.

This is what it feels like every time we make one of those recipes for dinner.

A Newt Beginning

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

South Carolina voters (260 odd thousand of them, anyway) spoke out loud and clear yesterday. Yes! They wanted a president who could handle being married not once, not twice, but thrice! Yes! They hated the liberal elite media! Yes! They wanted a “President Newt”!

We both voted in the primary yesterday; 30 mintes before the polls closed we had a drink, drove down the street to the elementary school, and executed some hard core democratic process.

Neither of us voted for Newt.

Watching Mr. Gingrich (Really? “President Gingrich?”) on Face the Nation right now, and I couldn’t help but wonder if he actually used his 2nd wife’s ABC interview to his advantage. I’m not enough of a conspiracy theorist to say that he planned it this way, but it seems awfully convenient that she came out with these seemingly career-ending accusations 2 days before the primary, and he manages to turn it around in the last debate, transforming the primary into a moratorium on the news media, and winnng. Strange times.

The Next Chapter is Apparently 11.

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Its official today. Eastman Kodak, the most famous name in the photography world, is bankrupt.

And in 100 years, it’s likely that schoolchildren visiting one of the numerous cultural and artistic contributions made by George Eastman to the City of Rochester will ask, “What’s a ‘Kodak’?”

Open a Padlock With a Coke Can

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Well, I wish I’d known about this technique the last time I forgot my gym lock combination.

Snow Cones

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

The West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission spent almost $12,000 on snow cone machines to aid in homeland security efforts. No, really, they did that. Your tax dollars at work!

Wiki-Blackout

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

As you may have heard by now, Wikipedia will be conducting a voluntary blackout tomorrow, January 18th, to protest the SOPA and PIPA legislations. From the offical release:

“We depend on a legal infrastructure that makes it possible for us to operate. And we depend on a legal infrastructure that also allows other sites to host user-contributed material, both information and expression. For the most part, Wikimedia projects are organizing and summarizing and collecting the world’s knowledge. We’re putting it in context, and showing people how to make to sense of it. But that knowledge has to be published somewhere for anyone to find and use it. Where it can be censored without due process, it hurts the speaker, the public, and Wikimedia. Where you can only speak if you have sufficient resources to fight legal challenges, or, if your views are pre-approved by someone who does, the same narrow set of ideas already popular will continue to be all anyone has meaningful access to.”

Hotel

Friday, January 13th, 2012

200 Chinese workers assemble prefab parts into a thirty story hotel — in fifteen days.

Check out the video. It’s pretty awesome.