Helping People Starve 
Thursday, July 17, 2008, 05:39 PM
A few short years ago, ethanol (a corn based substance that can be added to fossil fuels and burned) seemed like a solution on the road to independence from foreign oil. Simply take corn, which the country was growing plenty of, and turn it into gasoline.

Today people around the world are starving, and many countries are experiencing food riots as the price of corn and other grains skyrockets. Congress' (and Obama's) solution? The highest ethanol production mandate in history, all of it (of course!) taxpayer funded because ethanol isn't currently economically viable. That's right folks, your tax dollars are being spent on making sure more people than ever starve because they can't afford to buy food.

Now, the NYT reports the most recently American economic casualty of this special interest driven agenda, conveniently located in the economically depressed Mississippi Delta. We'd all like change we can believe in -- and I'm sure the poor folks caught up in the mess certainly believe they lost their jobs -- I'm just not sure it was the sort of change they were looking for.
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Arrogant Apple 
Thursday, July 17, 2008, 03:34 PM
Apple, the maker of the iPhone and other gorgeous products that are wonderfully easy to use, has over the years gathered quite the reputation for arrogance. I grew up using Macs, and still own an Apple laptop, but over the years their business practices have come to grate me more and more.

First, let’s go back to the days of the Mac clone, which Apple used in an attempt to increase market share. Several companies launched with their sole product being Mac clones. As the development of the next generation of processor came into view, excitement built among consumers and business partners. This is when Steve Jobs broke into the picture, shouted “SUCKERS,” and announced to Apple business partners that he would not license the next chip model, the G3 (or the next OS, MacOS 8). Macintosh Clone companies, such as Power Computing, found themselves without a business future and Apple was able to snap up Power Computing for a bargain price.

More recently, Apple fraudulently backdated the dates on stock options granted to executives. What is this fraud? Because when companies give stock as compensation they get a tax write off based on the current value of the stock. If I’m going to give someone 200 shares anyways, why don’t I pretend that I gave them the shares three months ago when stock prices were higher so that I can get a bigger tax write off. The only problem is that this is patently illegal. Interestingly enough, Apple admits Steve Jobs knew about this and even recommended dates, but then contended he wasn’t culpable because he didn’t directly profit from these illegal acts. No, only the company he owns stock in profited.

And now, we have the case of Safari for Windows. Not content to allow users to intelligently choose where or not to install Safari, Apple pops up a “Software Update” dialogue for users who already have iTunes or QuickTime installed. This “update” then updates your computer with brand new software. To make matters worse, Safari has several known critical security bugs, one of which Apple has arrogantly refused to patch. In one security breach known as the carpet bomb flaw, a malicious website can download files to your desktop without your permission. Apple’s response? This is an “inconvenience” that they’ll patch when they feel like, but it’s not a security hole because they say it’s not.
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Does This Make Me Look Fat? 
Thursday, June 26, 2008, 02:37 PM
No, that's not a contributing factor.
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On Deliberately Missed Opportunities 
Wednesday, May 21, 2008, 07:08 PM
The NYT reports that Israel and Syria have begun peace talks, mediated by Turkish officials. This is a major missed opportunity on the U.S.'s part -- mediating peace talks between Syria and Israel would give us a major boost of credibility among Arab states and could help us bring Syria into a useful role in Iraq. Instead, the administration has strongly opposed negotiating with Syria and has been shouting that talking our enemies is appeasement of the same order as Neville Chamberlain's Nazi appeasement (Chamberlain gave away half of Czechoslovakia, which is a tad different than merely talking).
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Thursday, April 10, 2008, 07:16 PM
To its advertisers Facebook, the online social networking site and anti-social time sink, markets itself as intelligently targeting ads based on the information in your profile. I was impressed until, despite being listed as "interested in women," I found two shirtless men to left of my screen inviting me to become their "gaybor." Apparently, I'm not alone in the struggle:
But this morning - hand to God - the bond of trust was broken. I woke up completely baffled to see the following ad on my profile:

"Lonely? Have herpes? Come to the largest dating site for people with herpes! As featured on"

No. No. NO.

Kirk Cooper goes on to explain his quest to discover how the Facebook ad machine really works, in much greater humor than I could ever summon.
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Thursday, April 10, 2008, 03:17 PM
The Economist talks about post-protest Myanmar and takes the military dictatorship to task, now that the afterglow from opening fire on unarmed Buddhist monks has faded:
But a few months on, the generals appear as immovable as ever... A squall has been weathered, and they can return to what they do best: wrecking their country and making a good living out of it.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008, 02:02 PM
Via Slashdot:
iPhone developers enrolled and active in the iPhone OS 2.0 beta program got a nasty surprise today when Apple inadvertently 'expired' the recently released version. While for a beta program this typically would not be an issue, Apple has yet to release a new deployment of the iPhone OS. So developers like myself who use their iPhone for both actual phone and iPod use are bricked. Of note, this particular expired build is just 11 days old.

"Whooops!" said Apple. Or more likely: "hahaha, SUCKERS!" After all, who wants a bunch of developers with their pesky little applications running around your device, providing features that users claim they "want." I'm APPLE and I tell you what you want.
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Mark Vargas and John Fioretta Are What's Wrong With This Country 
Tuesday, April 8, 2008, 12:45 PM
Mark Vargas' neighbors planted some redwood trees starting in 1996. In 2001 Mr. Vargas installed solar panels, and began complaining that the already existing trees where obscuring his solar panels. In 2005 he convinced the district attorney, John Fioretta, to commence criminal prosecution against his neighbors for violating California's Solar Shade Act.

Not satisfied with merely having his neighbors criminally convicted of blighting the neighborhood with redwood tress, Mr. Vargas is now "consulting his lawyer about filing a civil suit, possibly related to the storm-drain easement." Keep up the good work, Mark.
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Apple Computer's PR Strategy 
Saturday, April 5, 2008, 03:31 PM
Apple Computer is suing the City of New York for trademark infringement. The city's new environmental campaign, called GreenNYC, uses a green apple woven out of an infinity symbol as its logo. Apple, apparently afraid that people might come to associate the company with environmental consciousness and generous support for civic projects, has decided to take the matter to court to preserve their image. Shown below are two of Apple's logos, with the city's logo on the right.

To be clear, I am not some sort of Mac Hater; I own a Mac, grew up on Macs, and love the computers -- I just hate the company and the way they do business. The company is consistently marked by arrogant disregard for anyone other than themselves (including their customers -- the iPhone $200 price drop for example), and a calm assurance that they know what you want better than you do. Take iChat for example, which refuses to allow you to create a "user info" page for when you friends click on you and press "get info." Steve Jobs says you don't want that feature even if you think you. Or the old MacBook that used to catch your pants on fire because Steve Jobs wanted a computer without a fan so very badly. What were you thinking anyways, trying to set your laptop on your lap?

Throughout the multiple iterations of its operating system, Apple has made sport of its loyal software developers, springing massive platform changes with little notice and taunting them to "keep up if you can." If you ever wonder why there's so little non-Apple software for the Mac, the answer it not simply the small market share: it's Apple's general hostility and arrogance towards its developers. Adobe just discovered first hand that loyally developing software for the Macintosh platform isn't going to get you any loyalty in return. The company just explained why the 64-bit version of Photoshop will not be available for Macintosh:
At the WWDC show last June, however, Adobe & other developers learned that Apple had decided to stop their Carbon 64 efforts. This means that 64-bit Mac apps need to be written to use Cocoa (as Lightroom is) instead of Carbon. This means that we'll need to rewrite large parts of Photoshop and its plug-ins (potentially affecting over a million lines of code) to move it from Carbon to Cocoa.

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Friday, April 4, 2008, 01:36 PM
A guy by the name of "Dev Corvin" knocks on blogs while explaining the purpose of his site:
This site is not, however, a "blog" as seems to be popular these days. This site shall not be an outlet for ramblings about my life or my feelings, it will purely be for original, on-topic content.

He also has an interesting look into Microsoft's next version of Windows (via Slashdot).
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