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Links July 2010

David Byrne gave an interesting TED talk about how changes to architecture drove changes to musical styles [1]. I think he does stretch the point a little. To a certain extent people develop the most complex instruments and the largest music halls that can be supported by the level of technology in their society – people with a hunter-gatherer civilisation play drums because they can build them and can carry them.

The NY Times has an interesting article about paternity leave in Sweden [2]. The Swedish government pays for a total of 13 months leave that can be split between parents for every child. Of those 13 months 2 months can only be taken by the father – and that is likely to increase to a minimum of 4 months of paternity leave after the next election.

Dan Meyer gave an interesting TEDX talk about how the current math curriculum in the US (as well as Australia and lots of other countries that do the same thing) is totally wrong [3]. His main point is that maths problems should be based on real-world use cases where not all needed data is immediately available and there is also useless data that must be discarded. He believes that the most important thing is developing mathematical problem solving skills – basically the things that I did for fun when I was in primary school are skills that need to be taught to high-school students…

The Atlantic magazine has an amusing article by Daniel Byman and Christine Fair about the incompetent Islamic terrorists [4]. In Afghanistan half the suicide bombers kill only themselves and the US government has a lot of evidence of Taliban soldiers practicing bestiality and collecting porn. Islamic extremist groups are staffed by people who are bad soldiers and bad Muslims.

Jon Masters wrote an interesting post titled “What Would Jesus Buy” about ethical purchasing decisions [5]. Jon references The Church of Stop Shopping which isn’t a real religious organisation but a street theatre activist group.

ZeroHedga has an insightful article comparing corporations and the US government to street gangs [6]. The conclusion is that when gangs take over a neighbourhood everyone has to join a gang for their own protection.

Hillel Cooperman gave an interesting TED talk about being obsessed with Lego [7]. He compares Lego fans to Furries and makes a good case for this comparison.

Marian Bantjes gave an interesting TED talk about her graphic art / graphic design work [8]. I’ve never seen anything quite like this.

Business Insider has an interesting article about oil cleanup, it seems that most people who worked on the Exxon Valdez disaster are now dead [9], s opposed to most people who worked in almost every other occupation at that time who are either still working or enjoying their retirement. The current gulf disaster is bigger, will require more workers for the cleanup, and can be expected to have a higher death toll. Some people claim that measures to reduce oil efficiency will impact the economy, how will millions of people who are chronically ill for the rest of their lives impact the economy?

The NY Times has an interesting article on “circle lenses” [10], contact lenses designed to make the eyes look larger. It’s illegal to sell contact lenses in the US without a prescription, but the latest trend is for women to buy them online in a variety of colors. The FDA should probably approve them, it would be better to have the quality controls you expect from a medical supply company instead of having people rely on Malaysian mail-order companies for the safety of their eyes.

Don Marti has written an interesting article about the economic decline in the US, he suggests making pension funds invest in local jobs [11]. Companies are supposed to act on behalf of their stock-holders, but US companies often have the majority of their stock owned by the pension funds of workers but they act on behalf of a small number of rich people who own a minority of the stock. Don’s article was inspired by Andy Grove’s article in Bloomberg about the stagnation in technological development that has been caused by off-shoring the manufacturing [12].

Neil Brown has completed a test release of a new Linux software RAID feature for arrays with multiple redundancy that have bad sectors [13]. When a disk gets a bad sector the current behavior is to kick it out of the array, if you have two such errors on a 3 disk RAID-1 or a RAID-6 array then you lose all redundancy and are at risk of catastrophic failure even though in most cases both disks will still mostly work. With this patch some regions of the disk may be excluded but it can provide redundancy for other stripes. Thanks Neil for your great work here, and all your previous work over the last 10+ years!

The RSPCA has a new campaign titled “Close the Puppy Factories” [14]. Dogs are kept in very poor conditions and forced to churn out puppies for their entire lives to supply pet stores. The RSPCA recommends that people buy puppies from registered dog breeders (not “registered dog breeding companies”) and ask to see the dog’s parents. They also recommend not buying from classified adverts or pet stores. Animal shelters have to euthenise huge numbers of unwanted animals, you can buy a pet dog or cat from an animal shelter for a small fee that covers the expenses related to housing and spaying it – and save that animal from being euthenised!

Maureen Dowd criticises the Catholic Church properly in an article for the New York Times [15]. The Catholic Church officially regards ordaining a woman and raping a child to be equally bad offenses.

Frank Rich wrote an interesting column for the New York Times about Mel Gibson [16]. He describes the destruction of Mel Gibson’s reputation as a symptom of changes in the culture in the US and also links it to the fall of Ted Haggard (who supported Gibson’s most notorious movie The Passion of the Christ).

3 comments to Links July 2010

  • Thanks for the link. I’m not suggesting making pension funds invest in companies that employ people in a state–just that there should be an index-fund-like mutual fund, weighted by employment, and that workers should have the option of selecting it as part of a retirement plan.

  • Erik Johansson

    I really recommend paternity leave, yes it’s a luxury to be able to get paid to take cate your child, but I think I reallywould do this even if I had to foot the bill myself. 8 months with your child every day 24/7 is a great experience but it’s in no way a vacation.

  • Stan Schwertly

    Really wonderful blog, I found it through the Linode Planet and I’m really impressed so far :)! Keep it up!