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Thursday, September 27, 2012

"Anti-obesity: The new homophobia?"

Old article from Salon, but it came up again in conversation and it's dumb enough that I wanted to share some thoughts.

Simply starting with the subtitle, we're off to a terrible start:
Telling fat people they ought to be thin is about as helpful as telling gay people they should be straight
How are these at all the same??
One is nature (I am among the many that sexuality is something that originates from birth), the other is completely preventable (Stop. Eating.)

He continues for a bit then we get to this:
To a remarkable degree, attempts to cure obesity resemble attempted cures for homosexuality, with the key difference being that while our public health authorities have come to denounce the latter as ineffective, unnecessary and ultimately harmful, they continue to employ the most extreme rhetoric in regard to the former. For example, the goal of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign is no less than to “end childhood obesity within a generation,” that is, to create an America with no fat children in it.
That is exactly the point! We don't want fat people!
It's bad for their own health and it causes healthcare costs to go up (for them and everyone else).
As far as I know, gay people aren't any more or less healthy than the average person (in fact, I bet most are healthier).

I won't quote the entire article, instead you should go read it yourself. Let me know what you think.

But I don't think I'm alone thinking this is just a ridiculous concept.

The ever-offensive, Mr. Ricky Gervais seems to be of the same mindset:


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Comparing Recessions

Here are a few graphs that I thought were pretty interesting from blog of the 'Oregon Office of Economic Analysis':

This one compares job loss to all other economic downturns since WWII:
Obviously the current recession is much worse than any other recession since WWII.

However, when you compare our current situation to some other international periods, it doesn't look so bad:
The alarming part is the shallow recovery path we are on. Although we did not bottom out as low as the Great Depression or other economic downturns, our recovery is going much slower and, in fact, is on track to last as long as the Great Depression. Rather than a very steep recovery, we are tracking much more similar to the 1990s recessions of Finland and Sweden.

But here again, the situation does not seem as dire compared to other crises. Unemployment "only" topped out at around 10%:

So forget all the political talk.

In terms of unemployment numbers:
Yes, it was much worse that we thought and recovery is a lot slower than expected.
No, it was not as bad as the Great Depression or other economic crises around the world.
Yes, we are on the way to recovery.

Don't you just love facts?
(Especially ones that laid out in easy-to-read charts)

(Oregon Office of Economic Analysis via Wonk Wire)

Monday, September 24, 2012

"Kickstarter Is Not a Store"

Kickstarter recently published a post with the same title trying to address the issue of projects being funded, but the creators not being able to successfully manufacture the product (whether it is due to cost, manufacturing, or other restrictions) or deliver in a timely manner.
It's hard to know how many people feel like they're shopping at a store when they're backing projects on Kickstarter, but we want to make sure that it's no one. Today we're introducing a number of changes to reinforce that Kickstarter isn’t a store — it’s a new way for creators and audiences to work together to make things.
To prevent this from happening further, the company has instituted several new changes to project creators' rules and guild lines:

One was:
Creators must talk about “Risks and Challenges” 

Today we added a new section to the project page called "Risks and Challenges." All project creators are now required to answer the following question when creating their project:

“What are the risks and challenges this project faces, and what qualifies you to overcome them?” 

We added the "Risks and Challenges" section to reinforce that creators' projects are in development. Before backing a project, people can judge both the creator's ability to complete their project as promised and whether they feel the creator is being open and honest about the risks and challenges they face.
This make sense, but I'm a bit surprised creators were not addressing this issue already. How were they coming up with their funding goals if they did not already consider potential issues and, more importantly, costs?

But I think this requirement is a good change and should help direct funds to more competent creators who have thought out their products in detail; and divert funds away from conceptual artists, and scammers, who throw up ideas with the hopes of making a quick buck.

The more idiotic policy is the following:
New Hardware and Product Design Project Guidelines

The development of new products can be especially complex for creators and seductive to backers. Today we’re adding additional guidelines for Hardware and Product Design projects.

They are:

  • Product simulations are prohibited. Projects cannot simulate events to demonstrate what a product might do in the future. Products can only be shown performing actions that they’re able to perform in their current state of development.
  • Product renderings are prohibited. Product images must be photos of the prototype as it currently exists.
Products should be presented as they are. Over-promising leads to higher expectations for backers. The best rule of thumb: under-promise and over-deliver.

We've also added the following guideline for Hardware and Product Design projects:

  • Offering multiple quantities of a reward is prohibited. Hardware and Product Design projects can only offer rewards in single quantities or a sensible set (some items only make sense as a pair or as a kit of several items, for instance). The development of new products can be especially complex for creators and offering multiple quantities feels premature, and can imply that products are shrink-wrapped and ready to ship.
This makes no sense at all.
Unless Kickstarter's goals have changed, I was under the impression that it wanted to help creators find funding to create.
How does the company expect the creator to fund these prototypes? Many projects are manufacturing intensive (ex. require plastic molds, circuit boards, etc) and cannot be built within reasonable specifications by hand. Also, the creators may not have the knowledge to create their idea and need funding to hire additional resources to do so.
Requiring working prototypes prevents potentially thousands of products from even being submitted.

These changes were implemented under the misguided impression that the issue was consumer protection; however, the consumer does not need protection in this case. Investing in anything (Kickstarter, companies, stocks, etc) is full of risk. It is the consumer/investor's responsibility to properly research the project and creator. The "Risks and Challenges" section is a good place to start this research, but it is ridiculous to believe a fully packaged, plastic-cased, electronics product could be made with such little effort and so little money.

Of course, this is not all on the consumer. As I mentioned before, the creator needs to do his/her research to find a reasonable target fundraising goal and timeline to production.

I repeat, it should be the users' (creators and consumers) responsibility to improve the success rate of these projects and not Kickstarter's. I can only imagine the new hardware and product design policies harming the overall community.
Eventually, creators will move away from Kickstarter and find another site that enables them to market themselves as openly as they choose. Detailed and accurate presentations of their ideas will be rewarded with well-informed consumers that will want to invest in their concept.

Of course, I am only basing this off the success of a free-market economy. I could be wrong.

(Kickstarter blog via core77)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Muse - Madness

I've been on a music-related post kick lately...

Anyway, I heard the latest Muse song, 'Madness', a while ago and it really reminded me of early '90s U2.

The entire song has a very general U2-feel to it, but specifically The Edge's song 'Numb':

And especially the guitar solo here:

Take a listen to both and let me know what you think.

Let's Ban Corporate Profits! #DNC2012

Peter Schiff reports from the DNC and makes a push to end corporate profits:

Reminds me of that petition years ago to end women's suffrage:

Granted, both are a little sneaky in that they put people on the spot with little time to comprehend what is being asked...
But still, a complete ban on profits??

Just don't forget, this is the party of inclusion and tolerance.
And they definitely don't make generalizations.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Kelly Clarkson's new song

I heard Kelly Clarkson's new song on the radio the other day.
I thought the opening sounded really familiar and finally figured out which song it sounded like.
(It was a little tricky because it was a hidden track).

Kelly Clarkson - Dark Side
Just listen to the intro, I promise you don't have to listen to the whole thing.

The Wallflowers - Baby Bird
Good song, you'll want to listen to the whole thing.

I guess they're not similar enough to make a big fuss about, but it's close...

Anyone else agree?