Ramblings

Usually drunken.

Want to keep track of the ramblings without visiting the site all the time? Well, subscribe to our RSS feed. Don’t fret and don’t frown, learn how to subscribe in mail (for OSX) or subscribe in iGoogle.

Next 10

Brilliant.

Jul 10, 2009, 1:17 pm by Lew

i want itI saw this and I thought of paul. this matters.

A[nother] Challenger Approaches

Jun 11, 2009, 8:16 pm by Paul Stiverson

A little less than a year ago I commented on Cuil, a search engine that was trying to compete with Google for a slice of that money cake that Google has been nomming on for quite some time. Now Microsoft is throwing their hat in the ring too… again (there has always been an MSN search engine which sucks). They recently unveiled a new service called Bing, which I predict—like Cuil—will not be able to squeeze out a toe-hold on the search market. Alas, Microsoft is sidestepping the primary error that Cuil made, they are advertising the shit out of Bing, and they are doing so in markets that appeal to the internet savvy—or at least internet aware—crowd. This past week they had a live Hulu broadcast of “Bing-a-thon”, which starred a hostess from G4 (Olivia Munn). I didn’t watch it because I fucking hate Microsoft (and I forgot when it was on), but the adverts made it out to be a hilarious and raucous event. I’m sure it was nothing more than a drawn out advertisement, but if Microsoft is willing to pay for me to watch Arrested Development and Stargate SG-1 by buying up ad space on Hulu then I’m not going to stop them.

Now, what does Bing have going for it? Well they make themselves out to be more than a search engine, instead it is a “Decision Engine”. I’m not entirely sure what that is supposed mean, but there is probably some functionality that facilitates decision making, how useful it is/will be is yet to be seen. Bing also features a fancy looking front page which juxtaposes the minimalist Google front page quite nicely. I really can’t help but notice how similar Cuil and Bing are in their logotype (see below), both names are short, set in sans-serif, and both feature a color changed ‘I’ glyph (or at least a color changed part), and finally they (like this site) are set entirely in lower-case. I wonder if their choices are somehow related.
Cuil logo vs Bing logo

Hulu Adverts

May 25, 2009, 11:27 am by Paul Stiverson

Sprint’s Now Network

According to an interesting commercial which is appearing on Hulu these days, Sprint’s Now Network privacy policy needs some revision. Apparently they want potential customers to believe that they monitor and scan emails, text messages, tweets, locations, and… well everything else that their customers are up to. Interesting gambit, lets see if it works out.

Ketel One Vodka

Ketel One’s new ad campaign which is appearing on Hulu features a bunch of manly men (think people acting like Barney from How I Met Your Mother) purporting that drinking other vodkas is not manly because they come in “Delicately painted perfume bottles.” They end the ad by saying “Gentlemen, this is vodka”, while at the bottom of the screen they flash “DISTILLED FROM WHEAT. 40% ALC/VOL”. Yeah, real manly, vodka distilled from wheat, why don’t you ‘real men’ try drinking some real vodka made from potatoes.

Axioms: Meta-Nature's Candy

Feb 24, 2009, 11:16 pm by Paul Stiverson

The following is a guest post made by my roommate, Tim.

Sometimes in philosophy and math, it becomes requisite to acknowledge that certain "facts" are unverifiable. Assumptions are made, and arguments use these assumptions as a starting point. There's not a question of them being right or wrong, as they're either "self-evident" or just light from the proverbial void. I point this out in reference to a statement that "2+2=4" is "always completely verifiable". It's not that it's a bad assumption to make, but it's being somewhat abused to make a point about morality or birth control... or something.

Let's start with what doesn't have anything to do with scientific fact (in this case, because it isn't scientific). Firstly, the afore-mentioned "2+2=4" is a special instance of what is called the law of identity (e.g. a = a). For certain arguments, this so-called law has been used as the assumption upon which various blitheringly stupid arguments have been made (see: Ayn Rand). Basically, science doesn't enter into it. Science is all about figuring things out based on empirical observation (called "a posteriori" knowledge), and the law of identity is self-asserting, not based on experience (called "a priori" knowledge), but draws its truth value from the claim itself. 2+2=4 is neither a scientific claim nor a scientific fact.

That being said, let's talk about another thing that doesn't have anything to do with scientific fact (in this case, because it isn't fact). It's true that scientists of a sort became aware of a possible health danger exists in the consumption of eggs. Researchers (people who experiment and analyze results) discovered a link between the amount and type of cholesterol in egg yolks and a dangerous increase in LDL cholesterol levels in the human blood stream. The researchers in question work in biomedical science, which at this point is far softer science than something like chemistry, making it particularly difficult to verify the veracity of claims made. At very best, there was fairly compelling evidence that the assertion could be true. The link was popularized, and many people did accept as "gospel truth" that "eggs gon' kill us". This speaks more to the fickleness of the general populus and less to the claims made by "science". As happens with things that may or may not be true, studies have been done that suggest the exact opposite; that eggs in fact lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. The absolute truth of the matter is arguably difficult to pin down, and as long as people keep immediately believing anything published on paper, people will continue to scapegoat "science" for giving us lowly commoners "facts" that later end up not being true. To clarify, the Houston Chronicle's "health" section doesn't count as science, as far as any vaguely accurate definition is concerned.

Now, let's change things up completely and talk about why scientific fact doesn't have anything to do with what was said (in this case, because the term "scientific fact" doesn't make a damned bit of sense). The "facts" (I'm just going to discuss the laws of thermodynamics as the strongest possible objection to my own argument) that science currently possesses are very strong, but no matter how strong they contend to be, there's an implicit assumption that they are correct and that they are just so compelling that they're almost certainly true. I'm not going to disagree, as they are very, very compelling. Despite that opinion/fact, there are various contingencies in which science's strongest facts manage to be actively false (e.g. our context isn't as clear as it seems, there are forces at work we just flatly can't currently see... There are more. But don't take my word for it!).

I've managed to pretty bluntly avoid my real problem with the obviously referent argument. The morality/ethics/religion/science battle royale being waged earlier was convoluted enough that I'm not sure that any of the parties involved were necessarily sure what was even being argued. But I suppose that's content for another headache.

I suppose it's pointless to mention that THIS MATTERS.

Array Brownies

Jan 23, 2009, 2:01 pm by Lew

array cake get!Yesterday was my bday and for the occasion my fiancee made me a delicious and hilarious microarray brownie cake. if you are a bio nerd this is funny. if not then it is jargon. i wanted to share though.

flu vaccine II

Dec 9, 2008, 2:15 pm by Lew

Here is a nice citation about mass flu vaccination Over the last seven years Ontario gave free influenza vaccinations to everyone over 6 months old. The rest of Canada, like the USA, continued population targeted vaccinations. In Ontario the number of influenza related deaths and hospital visits went down dramatically compared to the rest of the country.

The Effect of Universal Influenza Immunization on Mortality and Health Care Use

The results of this large-scale natural experiment suggest that universal

vaccination may be an effective public health measure for reducing the annual

burden of influenza.

I can't find the link but the cdc is adding people 6 months to 18 years old to the targeted vaccination group. Not because they are vulnerable but because school children are a major vector pool for influenza.

broken windows

Dec 1, 2008, 12:32 pm by Lew

For fun last night I decided to install ubuntu linux on my laptop. I used linux before getting to college when certain applications forced me back to windows. I am constantly frustrated by windows. It seems like it never improves. Computers are getting better but windows just gets more bloated. It never runs faster. It seems like there has been no improvement since windows 95, windows just gets shinier and fatter. My windows laptop refuses to shutdown or restart on its own, I always have to hold down the power button. It takes like 10 minutes to boot up. Microsoft in their generosity gives me huge updates every couple days that break competing programs. Blah blah micro$oft blah. Rachel recently got a Eee pc 901 laptop. She put ubuntu on it and it has basically been the best thing since the intertubes were invented. Last night I decided I would go the dualboot route and installed ubuntu on my laptop. And somewhere in the installation I managed to format my hard drive. It must have been during the partitioning. To top it off my bootable cd has an error so I can’t finish the linux installation. This is the second bad iso disc I have made so I decided to order an official copy of ubuntu. So I should be up and running with essentially a brand new computer later this week. Fortunately I backed up my essential documents. I am kind of happy that I get to start fresh with this computer. Though my own stupidity forced me into, and now I really have no choice but become a linux dork. I have no idea where my XP disc might be. It is just as well I think I will be happier when I comfy with linux and no longer need windows. I don’t see windows going well, I will never get vista so it is just as well that I jumped ship now. Though I still plan on getting a mac desktop soon. If operating systems were lovers I would probably have the clap.

It’s Dot Com

Nov 20, 2008, 12:22 pm by Paul Stiverson

One of my pet-peeves is systemic disorganization1, I prefer for there to be a specific place where every individual thing (or class of things) belongs2. This idiosyncrasy makes me both love and hate the internet—originally there were bins for each type of website: commercial sites, business sites, informative sites, educational sites, sites for organizations, &c. The practice of organizing sites by top-level domain has unfortunately fallen out of practice, and, as a result, the internet has become a mess.

For the most part this isn’t a big deal, but in my romantic view of the internet I see sites organized by fully useful URLs. Rather than “aggielandhelpwanted.com” you could navigate to “aggieland.jobs”, and instead of “producerscooperative.com” you could use “producers.coop”. The best example of somebody using top-level domains correctly that comes to mind is aggieland menus (.info), which—oddly enough—provides information.

I have been able to pinpoint the root of the problem: stupid people; but more pointedly: stupid web designers (or web designers who were unwilling to tell their clients no). As Artemy Lebedev illustrates, the customer rarely knows what the hell they are talking about or what they want, so it is up to the designer (in this case the web designer) to step up and say, “You don’t really want ‘coopertravelagency.com’, you want ‘cooper.travel’”. However, it is rare that the web designer has the balls to tell their customer that they are wrong (for fear of losing business), and rarer still that they have the insight to separate what the customer says they want, from what the customer needs.

I would like to see a return to deliberate categorization of sites, and strict adherence to URL meanings; unfortunately it isn’t feasible to prevent people from abusing the internet. I propose that ICANN adopt a few new top-level domains (like .art for artists, musicians, and the like; and .gen for general shit), start enforcing restriction on new domain registration to categorize them effectively, and disallow the renewal of domains that currently don’t fit in their TLD.

Notes:

  1. Anybody who has seen my room knows that localized disorganization doesn’t bother me so much.
  2. For instance, rather than keeping a jar for all coins I keep a jar for each denomination of coin.

lew's electoral prediction

Nov 4, 2008, 1:44 pm by Lew

real prediction: obama wins all the states plus frMy guess is Obama wins with 344 electoral votes. I think of the toss-up states Obama gets are Virginia and Missouri. Which I predict is the beginning of blue dripping down into southern states if obama is a decent president.

What is your guess/prediction?

posts taste like internet

Aug 19, 2008, 10:19 pm by Lew

I try to enjoy the fine things in life, rather I try to enjoy things finely. Not necessarily the expensive or the rare, just the fine. I just try to enjoy things for what they are. To enjoy the essence, the spirit of a thing. Anything one does for pleasure has a spirit, the thing that is motivating you to partake. I am making a concerted effort to enjoy things purely with an undiluted spirit. With a build up like this you are surely wondering what I am getting at. Liquor and coffee, that is the subject of my musings. Liquor should taste like liquor. Not like a slurpy with booze. A cocktail is liquor with flavors, usually served very cold. The alcohol brings its own flavor and heightens the taste of the ingredients. A cocktail is an experience, a powerful and unique culinary experience. Yes culinary. Cocktails are a great way to experience flavors because many aromatics are soluble in alcohol. It wasn't until I had homemade cocktails that I experienced what a drink can be. A margarita at a tex-mex place is tasty and happiness inducing, but an experience it is not. When I had this revelation admit I started kind of looking down my nose at people who couldn't handle a real drink (by my definition). Then I realized what a hypocrite I am. I drink coffee all day, but with more milk and sugar than a snickers bar. Coffee should taste like coffee, not like candy. I learned to drink coffee at starbucks, where they make coffee flavored milk shakes. Coffee is great for getting you wired, but it is also a flavor experience to savor. I am trying to cut out the sugar and use just a touch of milk. I am enjoying it, my coffee tastes like coffee! Imagine that!

Next 10
Sidebar off | Posts per page: 10 20 30