Saturday, January 8, 2011

Religion and Representation

New York Times

Years ago, my oldest son told me that he thought those in our small Baptist church had all been brainwashed. How else could they believe in the unbelievable? At the time, I was shocked.

Under Siege in War-Torn Somalia, a Doctor Holds Her Ground

New York Times

ON May 5, just after sunup, 750 militants surrounded Dr. Hawa Abdi’s hospital. Mama Hawa, as she is known, heard gunshots, looked out the window and saw she was vastly outnumbered.

Too drunk? Your car won't go along for the ride.

By Ashley Halsey III
Washington Post

The technology developed in the past decade to sniff out terrorist bombs eventually could be used to combat another scourge: drunk drivers.

As National Championship Battle Looms, Oregon Reflects on the 'Toilet Bowl'

Rain-Soaked Game in 1983 May Be Worst Ever; The Last Scoreless Tie in Major College Football Was a 'Joke'

GLENDALE, Ariz.—Decades before the University of Oregon's football team reached this year's national-championship showdown, the Ducks played in a much less auspicious game: the Toilet Bowl.

Asian-Americans and Technology

PEW Internet Project


Friday, January 7, 2011

Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior

Can a regimen of no playdates, no TV, no computer games and hours of music practice create happy kids? And what happens when they fight back?
Wall Street Journal

A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids. They wonder what these parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it's like inside the family, and whether they could do it too. Well, I can tell them, because I've done it. Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do:

Five myths about why the South seceded

By James W. Loewen
Washington Post

One hundred and fifty years after the Civil War began, we're still fighting it - or at least fighting over its history. I've polled thousands of high school history teachers and spoken about the war to audiences across the country, and there is little agreement even on why the South seceded. Was it over slavery? States' rights? Tariffs and taxes?

Dynamic pricing: Internet retailers are treating us like foreign tourists in Egypt

More online merchants are launching 'dynamic pricing' schemes, which adjust prices based on perceived willingness to pay. But just as foreign tourists in Egypt grow tired of being overcharged based on looks, consumers may well object to being singled out based on their Web habits.
By Justin D. Martin
Christian Science Monitor


Fewer things frustrate tourists in Egypt more than skin-dependent pricing. Have Irish freckles? Expect to pay double in a Cairo taxi. An Italian tan? The price of that basalt model of the Sphinx just shot up 200 percent. Have glowing blue eyes? Some restaurants suddenly have no menus and prices are delivered orally. I’ve been overcharged by more merchants in this country than I can tally in Excel.

Bye-Bye, PCs and Laptops

Smart phones and tablets will soon handle the majority of our personal computing needs.
Wall Street Journal

Las Vegas

As inflection points go, the Consumer Electronics Show that kicked off yesterday couldn't be sending a clearer signal: The era of the personal computer is drawing to a close. For an industry gathering that once showcased each new generation of desktop and laptop, this year's show is buzzing with every imaginable flavor of tablet, smart phone and mobile appliance. Welcome to the age of mobile computing.

Navigating the Airfare Maze Online

New York Times

With online travel sites battling with some airlines, where does that leave travelers shopping for flights online? The simple answer is that they’re going to have to do more digging.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

From Papyrus to Gutenberg to Kindle

Those who scorn e-readers should remember the Sumerians and their clay tablets.
Wall Street Journal

Kindle, schmindle, say steadfast lovers of DTBs ("dead tree books"). These readers value books as objects, not just as a means of communicating a story. Perhaps some historical perspective can help them adjust to our new era, when electronic reading devices will be king.

Pesticides Threaten Ant-Eating Tradition in Brazil


SILVEIRAS, Brazil — Jorge da Silva plucked a giant ant from the muddy ground, pulled off its wings, legs and mandible, and tossed it into his mouth like popcorn.

“Tastes like mint,” said Mr. da Silva, 58, with an audible crunch of his teeth.

11 Tricks to Cutting Travel Costs in 2011

New York Times

BARGAIN hunters will need to be craftier when booking a trip if they want to get the best prices this year. It’s no secret that airfares are up and added fees for everything from checked bags to exit-row seats are pushing the cost of flying higher. On top of that, hotel bargains are expected to be harder to come by as business travelers begin to return, diminishing the need for hotels to discount rooms in major cities.


January 4-10, 2011 Free eBooks

Sunday, January 2, 2011

FCC: How to receive a broadcast TV station if it is dropped from your pay TV service

Federal Trade Commission (FCC)

Cable operators and other pay TV service providers, such as satellite operators, carry local television broadcast stations based on contracts with the stations. When these contracts end, the parties generally extend or renew these contracts. The process by which the contracts are negotiated is known as “retransmission consent.” In almost all cases, agreement is reached and stations continue to be carried without interruption. On some occasions, the pay TV service provider and the station fail to reach an agreement, and the pay TV service provider is required by law to stop carrying that station until an agreement is reached. These are private agreements, though federal law requires the parties to negotiate with each other in good faith.

How to Beat the Online Scammers

Wall Street Journal

Your pet's name is a fraudster's best friend.

You may think you're giving up precious little when you tell your Facebook friends that you're dressing your pooch, Puddles, in your favorite color, red, for brunch at Grandma's on Sunday. But you've actually just opened a Pandora's box of risks.

The information consumers willingly, and oftentimes unwittingly, unleash on social-media websites sets off a feeding frenzy among fraudsters looking to steal everything from your flat-screen TV to your identity.

With Air Force's new drone, 'we can see everything'

By Ellen Nakashima and Craig Whitlock
Washington Post

In ancient times, Gorgon was a mythical Greek creature whose unblinking eyes turned to stone those who beheld them. In modern times, Gorgon may be one of the military's most valuable new tools.

This winter, the Air Force is set to deploy to Afghanistan what it says is a revolutionary airborne surveillance system called Gorgon Stare, which will be able to transmit live video images of physical movement across an entire town.

Perfecting Animation, via Science

New York Times

Eitan Grinspun, the director of Columbia University’s Computer Graphics Group, doesn’t quite qualify as hairdresser to the stars. But if you want computer-generated hair (or fur) to look convincingly real when it is twisted, clumped, matted, coiled, soaked, dusty, wind swept, singed — or just about anything else a film director could possibly think to do to it — then Mr. Grinspun is the man to consult.

This Year, Change Your Mind

New York Times

NEW Year’s resolutions often have to do with eating more healthfully, going to the gym more, giving up sweets, losing weight — all admirable goals aimed at improving one’s physical health. Most people, though, do not realize that they can strengthen their brains in a similar way.

Chop, Fry, Boil: Eating for One, or 6 Billion

New York Times

“Revolutionary” diet books flood the market this time of year, promising a life changed permanently and for the better — yes, in just 10 to 30 days! — but, as everyone knows, the key to eating better begins with a diet of real food.

Equality, a True Soul Food

New York Times

John Steinbeck observed that “a sad soul can kill you quicker, far quicker, than a germ.”

That insight, now confirmed by epidemiological studies, is worth bearing in mind at a time of such polarizing inequality that the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans possess a greater collective net worth than the bottom 90 percent.

Computers That See You and Keep Watch Over You

New York Times

Hundreds of correctional officers from prisons across America descended last spring on a shuttered penitentiary in West Virginia for annual training exercises. [Interactive Graphic]