Thursday, January 29, 2015

Lifestyle: If You Don't Like It Then Leave

At least, that's the way it should work, but this being an imperfect world, it doesn't.

In the aftermath of the attack on Charlie Hebdo, JJ Charleworth of presents the source of the problem:
[Lois] Keidan (of London's Live Art Development Agency) concludes that today many people “feel entitled, not just to enter spaces and places where they do not necessarily belong, but also to demand censure and closure if they don't like what they find there."
They go where they shouldn't be, look at things they shouldn't be looking at, and then complain that they aren't being catered to in a place that isn't intended to cater to them.

And that's all that needs to be said, in my mind. If you don't like what you see, stop looking at it. Instead, people feel the need to stop everyone from looking at something they alone (or a small selection of people) don't like.

Health: Giving Walmart Too Much Credit

According to an article in Forbes this week, an economic study has proven that Walmart is a leading cause behind the obesity epidemic in the US.

While I'm not disputing the study, and not trying to divert any discrimination away from Walmart and its business practices, I do want to make sure something is abundantly clear:

Visiting or shopping at Walmart doesn't make you fat; it doesn't even give you a predisposition for becoming fat. What makes people fat is a diet that consists of fewer healthy foods and a lifestyle that consists of less exercise.

While Walmart may encourage that sort of thing (I don't know, do they?) fault really rests on the shoulder of consumers who let their appetites get out of control.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Business: Verizon's Supercookies Are Nothing New

It has recently come to a head that Verizon Wireless uses permanent, undeleteable cookies to track their customer's mobile device usage and browsing habits, and then sells this information to advertisers.

This is neither a new concept, nor one unique to mobile service providers.

While in the light of consumer outrage, AT&T and Verizon are promising to systematically discontinue use of "supercookies," it is doubtful that they will stop tracking their customers' behaviors.

Home and business internet service providers also routinely track their customers' internet habits, though less so for marketing purposes and more for bandwidth abuse.

Customers of AT&T, Verizon, and other ISPs, or internet service providers, can have their incoming and outgoing data tracked through the use of port scanning and IP pings to measure and track their website activity even when using a secure internet browser.

Even those who use IP-blockers and VPNs, or virtual "tunnels," can be tracked, though it takes more effort.

One of the largest social networking websites, Facebook, routinely uses cookies to track internet user's activity, even when they're not signed in. Every online news article or news website with a little button for "Share on Facebook" or "Like us on Facebook" serves as an access portal for Facebook cookies.

Using any aspect of the internet carries a risk for some degree of someone tracking your activity. While most of the tracking is not malicious, it is still key to be aware of that such practices are common for any business or organization that provides internet-based services.


"Verizon Supercookies, Which Track Web Browsing, Blasted for Bogus Secruity, Privacy," by Jeff Stone, International Business Times. January 26, 2015 [link]

"Verizon's Perma-Cookie Is A Privacy-Killing Machine," by Robert McMillian, Wired. October 27, 2014 [link]

"How to Disable Facebook Cookies," by Tom Cheshire, Wired UK. December 19, 2011 [link]

"Is Your ISP Spying On You?," by Lincoln Spector, PCWorld. September 3, 2012 [link]

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Music: One Liners Out of Context

According to NY Daily News, Johnny Depp has a problem with actors turning musician. That sounds like a biased slam, seeing as he himself has done just that and finds his own work acceptable.

The truth of the matter is that his line, taken alone as "That whole idea for me is a sickening thing, it's always just made me sick," seems to say just that, but if you can be bothered to hold out until the end of the article, you'll get the real truth of the matter.

Mr Depp continues, "But I hate the idea, 'Come see me play the guitar because you've seen me in 12 movies."

What he's really saying is that he's against the idea of actors encouraging thier groupies on listening to and purchasing their music for no other reason than because of who they are, and not based on the quality of their music or talent.

I myself enjoy Anna Kendrick as an actor, but her rendition of  Pitch Perfect's "When I'm Gone" is merely celebrated pish-tosh. In terms of Mr. Depp himself, well, I'd confess to a bit of a boyhood crush, but not to enjoying his music.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Science: A Moon By Any Other Name

 Earth? Terrible name for a planet. Might as well call it dirt. Planet Dirt.
 - Jetfire, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

According to ABCNews and QI (watch the episode here: UK or non-UK), arguments have arisen on whether Earth's moon is a moon or a small planet. While it is good for all to have a lively debate within the scientific community (that is, after all, what separates science from religion), I have one problem with this whole hullabaloo:

Can we stop calling it "The Moon"?

You're going to confuse a lot of non-scientific people by trying to argue that The Moon is not a moon. Even calling it Luna (though luna is just "moon" in Latin) is better, at least in English-speaking countries.

Or better yet, give it a real name. All of the other moon-ish items in our solar system have names of their own, and not just "moon" is different languages, so the least we could do it honor it with one of its own.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Religion: Intolerance To Blame

According to MSN News, a Catholic activist by the name of Bill Donohue called the attack on Charlie Hebdo "provoked by religious intolerance." Well, Bill, you got that much right, but little more.

"Had he not been so narcissistic, he may still be alive... it would never occur to me to deliberately insult Muslims by trashing [Mohammad]," he goes on to say.

Satirical depictions of political and religious figures isn't narcissism, nor is supporting or working for a publication that does such, and my understanding of Charlie Hebdo's material is that they are generally equal-opportunity satirists. They didn't isolate just Muslim religious figures but instead drew bead on a variety religious figures.

The only religious intolerance I see is from the Muslim and Catholic extremists who support the attack.

Resorting to violence to attack words is... weak. It gives the impression that your opposing side is incapable of generating words strong enough to counter the attack on your own beliefs.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Transportation: Cars Recalled for Human Stupidity

I'm just waiting for a Darwin Award for this one.

According to CNN, Ford is recalling their Lincoln MKC SUV because drivers and passengers can't be bothered to look at what button they're pressing, and accidentally hitting the off button when "reaching for the radio" or changing gears.

And it's just not drivers who are guilty of making this mistake, but passengers too. What are your eyes doing while you're riding shotgun that is more important than paying attention to your finger?