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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Who Likes Congress?

Answer: No one!

A bit old, but I'm sure public opinion hasn't improved...
(via ChartPorn)



Maybe everyone's finally figured out our Congressmen aren't working for us...
Growing wealth widens distance between lawmakers and constituents


"One day after his shift at the steel mill, Gary Myers drove home in his 10-year-old Pontiac and told his wife he was going to run for Congress.

The odds were long. At 34, ­Myers was the shift foreman at the “hot mill” of the Armco plant here. He had no political experience and little or no money, and he was a Republican in a district that tilted Democratic.

But standing in the dining room, still in his work clothes, he said he felt voters deserved a better choice.

Three years later, he won.

When Myers entered Congress, in 1975, it wasn’t nearly so unusual for a person with few assets besides a home to win and serve in Congress. Though lawmakers on Capitol Hill have long been more prosperous than other Americans, others of that time included a barber, a pipe fitter and a house painter. A handful had even organized into what was called the “Blue Collar Caucus.”

But the financial gap between Americans and their representatives in Congress has widened considerably since then, according to an analysis of financial disclosures by The Washington Post.

Between 1984 and 2009, the median net worth of a member of the House more than doubled, according to the analysis of financial disclosures, from $280,000 to $725,000 in inflation-adjusted 2009 dollars, excluding home ­equity.

Over the same period, the wealth of an American family has declined slightly, with the comparable median figure sliding from $20,600 to $20,500, according to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics from the University of Michigan.

The comparisons exclude home equity because it is not included in congressional reporting, and 1984 was chosen because it is the earliest year for which consistent wealth statistics are available.

The growing disparity between the representatives and the represented means that there is a greater distance between the economic experience of Americans and those of lawmakers.
"...
(Washington Post)

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Things... Lots of Things

Yes, terrible name for a post, but obviously I've ceased to care about post titles.
"Form follows function", right?


First World Tweets: Christmas Edition
=(
(via TDW)



Curiosity Rover Lifts Off for Mars
I love spaceships...
(APOD)



Best thing about driving in the snow:
If only it was followed by a hyperspace jump to your destination... instead of spinning out into a ditch.
(via /Film)

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

DJ Earworm - United State of Pop 2011 (World Go Boom)

DJ Earworm just released his annual mashup of songs!



It's different, apparently:
"I’ve made some changes in the song selection process this year.
In efforts to better reflect the year, I have a system that draws from the weekly charts from throughout 2011 that ensures that all the late-breaking hits (such as “We Found Love” & “Sexy and I Know It”) are included in the 2011 mix.
" - DJ Earworm


And the list of songs:

Adele – Rolling In The Deep
Adele – Someone Like You
Black Eyed Peas – Just Can’t Get Enough
Bruno Mars – Grenade
Bruno Mars – The Lazy Song
Britney Spears – Till The World Ends
Cee Lo Green – F* You
Enrique Iglesias – Tonight (I’m Lovin’ You)
Foster the People – Pumped Up Kicks
Jennifer Lopez – On The Floor
Jeremih feat. 50 cent – Down On Me
Katy Perry – Firework
Katy Perry – E.T.
Katy Perry – Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)
Lady Gaga – Born This Way
LMFAO – Party Rock Anthem
LMFAO – Sexy and I Know It
Lupe Fiasco – The Show Goes On
Maroon 5 – Moves Like Jagger
Nicki Minaj – Super Bass
OneRepublic – Good Life
Pink – Raise Your Glass
Pitbull – Give Me Everything
Rihanna – S&M
Rihanna – We Found Love

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Visualizations and Infographics

Hope you all enjoyed your Christmas weekends!
And for the lucky few that are still on winter break/shutdown... I hate you.

To make me feel even worse, here is graph on where the US ranks among other countries in terms of PTO/holidays:

Surprise! France isn't first!
(via Neatorama)



The 10 Worst (or Best) Cereals in in terms of Sugar Content:

The others I could do without, but I love my classic Cap'n Crunch.
(via TDW)

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve Present: Videos!


POV: Motorcycle gets hit by a truck

(via Barstool)


Bad Ass
Movie based on the trials and tribulations of Epic Beard Man.

I'd pay money to see it.
(via TDW)

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Shit Girls Say


From the creator of the Twitter account, now in a whole new media!



Merry Christmas!


Time lapse holiday shopping
Hope you've finished!

(via Neatorama)


True statement
There are never more Jedis than around Christmas.
(lamebook)


And enjoy this pair of NYC dancers:

Nothing spectacular, but oddly mesmerizing.
(via Business Insider)


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Everyone Loves Tim Tebow

No, not really.
But now that the Pats beat him, I can make fun of him even more.

Two videos of Tebow-ness:

Singing before the game:

0:36 is the best.


On SNL:



Worst thing about him is that I think he's genuinely a nice guy and not just doing it for show. So much easier to hate an asshole...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Song of the Moment: Ray Charles - Georgia On My Mind

While searching for Ray Charles' version of 'A Song for You' for the previous post I came across this video.

Probably my all-time favorite Ray Charles song and makes me well up every time I hear it.

Elton John & Leon Russell - The Union

Somehow I managed to go the entire year without finding out about this album:
Now that I found it, it's definitely one of my favorites of the year and actually the first album in a long time that I'm excited to over and over again in its entirety.
You don't get music like this anymore. The whole album has just an awesome old sound. A mix of

One of my favorite songs from the album: "Hey Ahab"



And a little "making of" video from Elton John:

Listen to Leon sing "A Song for You" (or in that clip at 0:21), there's no question that he had a strong influence on Elton John's song writing/piano playing.

And if I haven't convinced you yet, here's an awesome Rolling Stone review of the album.
Yes, they still actually write about good music and have well written reviews. I was surprised too.

More proof, if you still don't believe me:
Leon Russell's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction and duet with John Mayer


Also, originals are great, but I think Ray Charles' rendition of 'A Song for You' is still my favorite.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

'The American Dream'

And how the Federal Reserve impacts you.
(Hint: it's not in a good way).

(thanks to Mike)

More Videos!


Not sure why, but I love this commercial...
State Farm: Discount Double-Check with Aaron Rogers




I know I've posted slow-motion videos before, but I think this one blows them all away:
Droplet Collisions at 5000fps

(via Neatorama)

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Rick Perry is awful

I'm sure you've all seen Rick Perry's "Strong" ad by now (if not, its right below)


(Also the world's most disliked YouTube video. Even more than Rebecca Black's 'Friday'!)

Anyway, since he says a bunch of awful things in his ad, a new meme has popped up depicting him saying other awful things.

It shouldn't be that funny, but I couldn't help but laugh a some of these:









Thursday, December 8, 2011

Infographics for Your Pleasure

Because I like them.


Increasing American Support for Legalized Marijuana:

"In 1969, less than 20% of the public supported legalizing marijuana. Today, the figure’s around 50% (and growing). And it’s not like pot is the huge generational divide it used to be. Yeah, the young’uns are likely to favor legalization (62% of Americans 18 to 29) but so are their parents, aunts, and uncles (56% of Americans 30 to 49).

State legislators are starting to get it, too. Sixteen states and the District now allow people to use pot for medicinal purposes. Note that the states are clustered almost exclusively on the East and West coasts, unsurprisingly...
"
(via Fast Co)


The Science of Lines:
I've always been a fan of the single-line method.


"The wait feels endless. The checkout line hasn't moved in 10 minutes. Why did you pick this line? But you can't risk jumping into another queue that may be slower. Tick, tick, tick. Maybe you don't even want this sweater. Would it be quicker to bail and buy it at home online?

The retail checkout line may be tedious any time of year, but it is worse at the holidays, when stores are packed and people are more likely to wait it out to meet a Dec. 25 deadline than walk away empty handed.

Several retailers are trying new approaches to get shoppers through more gracefully as online shopping threatens to continue siphoning off sales. Nearly half of U.S. consumers say they plan to shop online this holiday season, up from about a third last year, according to a recent survey from consulting firm Deloitte.

Much of the work grows from more nuanced understandings of how people perceive waiting in line. Shoppers tend to become impatient quickly and fail to take into account key indicators of what may slow down a line. They experience remorse when they feel they've chosen the wrong (i.e. slower) line. And they prefer to choose their own line rather than wait in a single-file line for the next available register—even though that set-up has proven to be faster, research on queuing shows...
"
(WSJ)

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Videos for Your Enjoyment

Because I'm just that nice.


Indian Talent Show: The Warriors of Goja
Just... ridiculous.

My thoughts for most of the video: What is going on??
(via Barstool)



Mythbusters shoot cannonball through homes, not part of the myth


"Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage are hosts of the scientific experimentation show, which airs on The Discovery Channel. The pair was reportedly trying to figure out how fast a cannonball would travel, when it misfired and shot hundreds of feet in the air.

“This cannonball was supposed to go through several barrels of water and through a cinder block, and then ultimately into the side of the hill,” said J.D. Nelson of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department.

Instead the cannonball flew over the foothills surrounding Camp Parks Military Firing Reservation, before spiraling back toward Dublin like a cruise missile.

It flew straight through the front door of a home on Cassata Place, and bounced around like a pinball, flying up to the second floor before blasting through a back bedroom wall.
"
(CBS LA)



David So: my friend Kuong's doppelganger
(thanks to Linda)

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

People's Choice Awards

I recently saw an ad to vote for the 'People's Choice Awards' (I think it was on facebook). I don't normally vote for pop-culture awards, but I thought I'd give it a whirl and see what they had to offer.
In short, not much.

"Favorite Song" is greatly underwhelming:




Not to mention there are some really random categories...
"Favorite Ensemble Movie Cast"?
"Favorite Animated Movie Voice"?

You can check out the rest (and vote) here.

But one last thing because I thought this category was funny.
You can choose the cast of 'Harry Potter'... or Chloe Moretz


Man, I feel old.

Occupy Wall Street: The Ugly

Alright, so I already wrote brief (perhaps somewhat disjointed) posts on the Good and Bad aspects of the OWS protests.

Now, here's a post on "the Ugly":

"Pay my tuition"

Granted this was posted by the National Review [right-wing group], but unfortunately, I fear that many protesters were/are as uneducated about the facts as this guy.


John Oliver and 'The Daily Show'
I do my part! I vote!


Occupy Toronto Librarian is sad

Too bad they tore down a place that is open to the public, lends books, and where people can meet each other and learn... (Real library, anyone?)


Not that I'm saying the Tea Party is any better...
(via Business Insider)


Oh, and Adam Corolla had some interesting words on "the OWS Generation":
(NSFW- language)

Ass-douches...
But he actually makes a good point with examples of "Mr. Jenkins' car", and the general entitlement problem with the upcoming generation.
(via Barstool)


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Spotify


I've been using Spotify on and off for a few months now (I got my invite from a real Swede!) and I can say that I am almost ready to drop iTunes and become a full convert.


The Good
The thing that has pushed me closer to making the switch is the addition of 'Spotify Apps'. (If you want to add Apps to your Spotify, you will need to download and install an extension found here).

There are only a few apps (see below), but I really like a few of the ones they have.

In particular:
Last.fm - I've been using Last.fm for many years now, and while it's not the most active community (I don't really even use it much), it's nice to have everything sync and check out your listening habits.

Soundrop - I haven't had the chance to use this yet, but it seems like a pretty awesome feature. Similar to YouTube viewing on Google+, you can remotely listen to the same songs with your friends.

TuneWiki - Might be my favorite app so far. Automatically get lyrics for all your songs! It also highlights and scrolls down the lyrics as the song plays. It's not perfect, but you can manually sync the timing and as more people do so, it will get more accurate.


The Bad
Spotify is getting close, but before I make the switch, a few things need to improve.

Smart Playlists - The ability to make playlists based on filters and automatically update would be a big plus.

Song Ratings - I know not many people use the 5-star ratings on iTunes, but I rate all my songs obsessively. On top of that, from these ratings I create smart playlists.

Personal Library Differentiation - Being able to tell which songs you own and and which are "borrowed" from the cloud would be nice, and leads me to my next point...

CD Burning - Another feature that is probably not used terribly often anymore, but one I always like to have. "Mix tapes" are a dying art (and worthy of a whole other post), but I still enjoy making playlists of limited length. Plus, what else are you supposed to give to your crushes? ("I'll make you a mixtape").


Until those things happen, I'll continue using a combination of iTunes, Spotify, and Google Music.
But if you use it let me know what your username is, and feel free to add me ("spotify:user:nwwong"). I don't have many shared playlists, but there are a few up there.


Friday, December 2, 2011

In the News: December 2, 2011 (Part 2)

Continuing the news articles.... (Click here for Part 1)


Mayans 'did not predict world to end in 2012'

Hmm. Guess it was a little premature to give away all my possessions and donate all my money to charity.


"The calendar used by the ancient Mayan civilisation does not predict the end of the world in December 2012 as some believe, according to experts.

A new reading of a Mayan tablet mentioning the 2012 date suggests that it refers to the end of an era in the calendar, and not an apocalypse.

The date was "a reflection of the day of creation", Mayan codes researcher Sven Gronemeyer told AP.

The day also marked the return of a Mayan god, Mr Gronemeyer added.

Bolon Yokte, the god of creation and war, was expected to return, according to Mr Gronemeyer's reading of a Mayan text carved into stone 1,300 years ago.

The date marks the end of one of the periods of roughly 400 years into which the Mayan calendar is divided.

Mexico's National Institute for Anthropological History has also tried to counter speculation that the Mayans predicted a catastrophic event for 2012.

Only two out of 15,000 registered Mayan texts mention the date 2012, according to the Institute, and no Mayan text predicts the end of the world.

"There is no prophecy for 2012. It is a marketing fallacy," Erik Velasquez, etchings specialist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, told Reuters.
"
(BBC)



Tiny 'saber-toothed squirrel' found


"As suggested in the "Ice Age" movies, some crazy-looking creatures roamed the planet millions of years ago. But there is a large gap in the fossil record from about 60 million to 120 million years ago when it comes to mammals in South America. Where were they, and what did they look like?

Scientists have now discovered a quirky little creature from this time period, as reported in the journal Nature. It's called Cronopio dentiacutus, and it resembles a mouse-sized squirrel with proportionally long teeth, although technically speaking it is neither a squirrel nor saber-toothed.

"The reality of exploration and research can sometimes be as strange as fiction that we see in the movies," said Guillermo Rougier, lead author of the study and professor at the University of Louisville.

The extinct mammal, which lived 94 million years ago, belongs to the lineage that has given rise to the marsupials and placental mammals that we know today. It's related to all living mammals, including humans in a remote way. It has been extinct for about 60 million years. Rougier and colleagues examined its unique skull.
"


"Scientists believe was Cronopio dentiacutus was an insectivore, which is common for small animals today. Their teeth seem to be specialized for cutting and crushing; the large canines of Cronopio dentiacutus could puncture through small insects. To give you some perspective on the size of these canines, imagine if one of your front teeth came down below your chin, Rougier said.

Coronpio dentiacutus lived at the same time as small carnivorous dinosaurs, terrestrial crocodiles and snakes with legs. It inhabited the flood plains of Argentina that is now a desert area in Patagonia, where people live on subsistence farming
[random??]

Most mammals were very small, like Coronpio dentiacutus, at that time, said Rougier. It wasn't until big dinosaurs went extinct that mammals grew to be as large as cats and small dogs."
(CNN)

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In the News: December 2, 2011

OK, it's been a while so there are quite a few stories I've been saving up.
Enjoy!
(To reduce the length of the post, I'll be breaking up the stories into two separate posts).


World's Largest Insect
I'm not usually too squeamish about bugs, but this one is making me reconsider my desire to visit New Zealand...


"A nature-lover has revealed how he spent two days tracking down a giant insect on a remote New Zealand island – and got it to eat a carrot out of his hand.

Mark Moffett’s find is the world's biggest insect in terms of weight, which at 71g is heavier than a sparrow and three times that of a mouse.

The 53-year-old former park ranger discovered the giant weta up a tree and his real life Bug's Bunny has now been declared the largest ever found.
"



"There are over 70 types of Weta species in New Zealand but the giant weta has been named the biggest insect in the world because of its weight.

A female giant weta filled with eggs can reach up to 70g or more and the largest of the species are found on Little Barrier Island.

They are usually less social and more passive than other weta.

Their diet consists of plants, other small insects and fruit.

Their size is an example of island gigantism, which is a biological phenomenon leading to a larger size than their mainland relatives because of their isolation and lack of large predators.
"
(Daily Mail)


This story is over two months old, but still worthy of note:
'First Irish case' of death by spontaneous combustion

Coroner: Dr. Ciaran McLoughlin

"A man who burned to death in his home died as a result of spontaneous combustion, an Irish coroner has ruled.

West Galway coroner Dr Ciaran McLoughlin said it was the first time in 25 years of investigating deaths that he had recorded such a verdict.

Michael Faherty, 76, died at his home in Galway on 22 December 2010.

Deaths attributed by some to "spontaneous combustion" occur when a living human body is burned without an apparent external source of ignition.

Typically police or fire investigators find burned corpses but no burned furniture.

An inquest in Galway on Thursday heard how investigators had been baffled as to the cause of Mr Faherty's death at his home at Clareview Park, Ballybane.

Forensic experts found that a fire in the fireplace of the sitting room where the badly burnt body was found, had not been the cause of the blaze that killed Mr Faherty.

The court was told that no trace of an accelerant had been found and there had been nothing to suggest foul play.

The court heard Mr Faherty had been found lying on his back with his head closest to an open fireplace.

The fire had been confined to the sitting room. The only damage was to the body, which was totally burnt, the ceiling above him and the floor underneath him.
"
(BBC)


And not to single out Ireland... Some local idiocy!
Mass. boy faces harassment inquiry for groin punch


"The mother of a Boston first-grader says her son is being investigated for possible sexual harassment for punching another boy in the groin.

Tasha Lynch says her 7-year-old son acted in self-defense. She said Thursday that the other boy had choked her son on a school bus and stolen his gloves late last month.

She tells The Boston Globe (http://b.globe.com/ur6DZ9) her son was just protecting himself.

A Boston public schools spokesman confirms an investigation but refused to discuss specifics of the encounter or why it has been classified as a possible case of sexual harassment.

Lynch says that because her son punched the other boy in the groin, school officials say they consider it sexual assault. She counters that the other boy should be charged with attempted murder for choking her son.
"
(Boston.com thanks to DiP)

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