Looking for a new life streaming service

I have been using storytlr as my life streaming service.  I am very satisfied with it, but it will be closing down at the end of the year and I want, I probably don't need, a new one.  I signed up for FriendFeed, but don't really use it and haven't been impressed by it.  Everything seems just too big, whereas storytlr is simple and elegant.

So if you have any suggestions for cool life streaming services to check out, please post a comment where ever you see this post.  Thanks!

An anthropogenic cause for the Little Ice Age?

A bit out of date, but not many have posted on it, so I will mention Steven Stoll's article The Cold We Caused in the November 2009 Harpers Magazine.  Stoll's article makes the case that the Little Ice Age was caused by the world-wide death of millions of people due to the Black Death.  It is worth reading, but isn't available on-line except behind Harper's pay wall.  However, The Disaffected Lib has excerpts of it.

The key point of the article is to demonstrate that humans have long affected our world's climate and continue to do so with all of CO2 we are pumping into the atmosphere and oceans.  Those who continue to deny that basic fact do so at our collective peril as was pointed out by Peter Watts in his blog post, Because We All Know, The Green Party Runs The World, on the CRU Email break in:

"I went running through Toronto the other day on a 17°C November
afternoon. Canada’s west coast is currently underwater. Sea level
continues its 3mm/yr creep up the coasts of the world, the western
Siberian permafrost turns to slush. Swathes of California and Australia
are pretty much permanent firestorm zones these days. The glaciers
retreat, the Arctic ice cap shrinks, a myriad migratory species still
show up at their northern destinations weeks before they’re supposed
to. The pine beetle furthers its westward invasion, leaving dead
forests in its wake— the winters, you see, are no longer cold enough to
hit that lethal reset button that once kept their numbers in check."

Billion Dollar-O-Gram: money visualizations

David McCandless, at Information is Beautiful, has a great visualization of spending on a variety of things at his Billion Dollar-O-Gram.  It is a great way to compare spending on the Internet Porn Industry with foreign aid given by the world's major nations (about equal) or the total cost of the financial crisis to the US government ($2800 billion) to the value of Africa's entire debt to Western nations ($200 billion).  Enjoy!

The break in at CRU

The Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the UK was hacked and more than a thousand of its member's email messages were posted on-line.  The global warming deniers are jumping on the emails as proof that global warming is fraudulent.  Wired Magazine's Threat Level blog has an informative write-up on it.

RealClimate, a blog on climate science by climate scientists (some of whom had emails that were released), made some interesting points including:

More interesting is what is not contained in the emails.
There is no evidence of any worldwide conspiracy, no mention of George
Soros nefariously funding climate research, no grand plan to ‘get rid
of the MWP’, no admission that global warming is a hoax, no evidence of
the falsifying of data, and no ‘marching orders’ from our
socialist/communist/vegetarian overlords. The truly paranoid will put
this down to the hackers also being in on the plot though.

Instead, there is a peek into how scientists actually interact and
the conflicts show that the community is a far cry from the monolith
that is sometimes imagined. People working constructively to improve
joint publications; scientists who are friendly and agree on many of
the big picture issues, disagreeing at times about details and engaging
in ‘robust’ discussions; Scientists expressing frustration at the
misrepresentation of their work in politicized arenas and complaining
when media reports get it wrong; Scientists resenting the time they
have to take out of their research to deal with over-hyped nonsense.
None of this should be shocking.

It’s obvious that the noise-generating components of the blogosphere
will generate a lot of noise about this. but it’s important to remember
that science doesn’t work because people are polite at all times.
Gravity isn’t a useful theory because Newton was a nice person. QED
isn’t powerful because Feynman was respectful of other people around
him. Science works because different groups go about trying to find the
best approximations of the truth, and are generally very competitive
about that. That the same scientists can still all agree on the wording
of an IPCC chapter for instance is thus even more remarkable.

German laws supporting workers helps their economy plus Utah Phillips on natural resources

Paul Krugman writes about how Germany is hasn't seen as high an increase in unemployment as the US has and that this is due to the laws Germany has to support employment and the subsidies to employers who reduce the hours of their workers rather than lay them off.

He goes on to suggest that the government cannot use monetary policy to get us out of the recession, and for 90% we STILL are in a recession, and the government leadership may not be willing to borrow enough to counter the demand short fall that resulted from the recession.  He suggests creating a new W.P.A. to hire people and reduce unemployment (worked for one of my grandfathers, who helped build the Quabbin reservoir).  He argues against the standard objections:

But these aren’t normal times. Right now, workers who lose their
jobs aren’t moving to the jobs of the future; they’re entering the
ranks of the unemployed and staying there. Long-term unemployment is
already at its highest levels since the 1930s, and it’s still on the

And long-term unemployment inflicts long-term damage.
Workers who have been out of a job for too long often find it hard to
get back into the labor market even when conditions improve. And there
are hidden costs, too — not least for children, who suffer physically
and emotionally when their parents spend months or years unemployed.

Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism adds a bunch of points including:

Krugman does Germany an injustice by failing to contest US prejudices
about European (particularly German) labor practices. If German labor
practices are so terrible, then how was Germany an export powerhouse,
able to punch above its weight versus Japan and China, while the US,
with our supposedly great advantage of more flexible (and therefore
cheaper) labor, has run chronic and large current account deficits? And
why is Germany a hotbed of successful entrepreneurial companies, its
famed Mittelstand? If Germany was such a terrible place to do business,
wouldn’t they have hollowed out manufacturing just as the US has done?
Might it be that there are unrecognized pluses of not being able to
fire workers at will, that the company and the employees recognize that
they are in the same boat, and the company has more reason to invest in
its employees (ignore the US nonsense “employees are our asset,”
another line from the corporate Ministry of Truth).

A different example. A US colleague was sent to Paris to turn around a
medical database business (spanning 11 timezones). She succeeded. Now
American managers don’t know how to turn around businesses without
firing people, which was not an option for her. I submit that no one is
willing to consider that the vaunted US labor market flexibility has
produced lower skilled managers, one who resort to the simple expedient
of expanding or contracting the workforce (which is actually pretty
disruptive and results in the loss of skills and know-how) rather than
learning how to manage a business with more foresight and in a more
organic fashion because the business is defined to a large degree
around its employees.

Both are useful articles and the discussion on the Naked Capitalism article is very interesting.

One last thing, the "employees are our asset" nonsense always reminds me of this Utah Philips story (called "Natural Resources") which appears the album "The Past Didn't Go Anywhere" that he did with Ani DeFranco:

was invited to the State Young Writers' Conference out at Cheney, which
was at Eastern Washington university. And I didn't want to embarrass my
son, you know, and I was gonna behave myself cause I had to live there
then – it was a chore. But I got on the stage – it was an enormous
auditorium; there were twenty-seven hundred young faces out there, none
of them with any prospects anybody could detect – and off to the side
of the stage was the suit-and-tie crowd of people from the school
district and the principals, and the, the main speaker following me was
from the Chamber of Commerce.

Well something inside of me snapped.

And I got to the microphone, and I looked out over that multitude of faces and I said something to the effect of:

"You're about to be told one more time that you're America's most valuable natural resource. Have you seen what they do to valuable natural resources? Have you seen them strip mine? Have you seen a clear-cut in a forest? Have
you seen a polluted river? Don't ever let them call you a valuable
natural resource! They're gonna strip mine your soul! They're gonna
clear-cut your best thoughts for the sake of profit, unless you learn
to resist, cause the profit system follows the path of least
resistance, and following the path of least resistance is what makes
the river crooked! Hmph!"

Well there was great gnashing of teeth
and rending of garments – mine. I was borne to the door, screaming
epithets over my shoulder, something to the effect of: "Make a break
for it, kids!" "Flee to the wilderness!" The one within, if you can
find it.

There is a bit more.  The whole album as well as the others he did are most worth it.  He is still sorely missed.

Patents Schmatents

TechDirt has a summary of a post by Cog at The Abstract Factory about how software patents stifle innovation.  TechDirt's summary / commentary and the post itself, which isn't long, are well worth reading.  I'll leave a few select bits from the post:

His startup recently got sued for patent infringement by a company
that independently developed a product that performs a vaguely similar
function. This other company's product is much less sophisticated, and
their user-facing site is an ugly, user-hostile pile of crap. The term
"search arbitrage" would be a kind word to apply to this other
company's product. And there is absolutely no sense in which my
friend's work builds on any of this other company's technology.

Now, my friend and his partner have consulted multiple IP lawyers
and they've said, "Yep, the law is probably on your side." They have
also said, "You're still screwed." The trial would take forever, the
legal fees would be ruinous, and in the meantime nobody will invest in
a company which has a litigation cloud hanging over it.

So, this sucks for my friend and his partner. More importantly, this sucks for you,
because, having seen the product, I am 100% convinced that you, or
someone you know, would love to have this technology acquired and
integrated into a major site that you use.

Of course the point of the patent system was so that there was an incentive for patent holders to share their ideas in the knowledge that they would be able to profit from those ideas for a limited duration.  However, as Cog points out:

At any software company with competent legal counsel, developers are instructed in the strongest possible terms never, ever
to look at a patent, because the tiniest amount of documented influence
could be used as ammunition in a lawsuit.

As product cycles shorten and the length of patents increase (now at 20 years, but up from 17 years), the advantage of sharing the ideas behind the patent goes to 0 for everyone.

The Supreme Court may rein in some patents, thankfully.  The Swedish Pirate Party has a "constructive and reasoned proposal" for an alternative to pharmaceutical patents.  For me, I think we should just kill software patents and let the software industry borrow from the fashion industry and force software companies to innovate their way ahead of the competition.