Tuesday, August 29, 2006

America: More Like Sweden Than You Thought

TCS Daily:
"In the USA the poor get 39% of the US median income and in Finland (and Sweden) the poor get 38% of the US median income. It's not worth quibbling over 1% so let's take it as read that the poor in America have exactly the same standard of living as the poor in Finland (and Sweden). Which is really a rather revealing number don't you think? All those punitive tax rates, all that redistribution, that blessed egalitarianism, the flatter distribution of income, leads to a change in the living standards of the poor of precisely ... nothing."
Interesting income data that proves, in my view, how ineffective modern nanny states are at improving the lot of the poor (at least relative to free-market capitalism). Via Instapundit.

Monday, August 28, 2006


Originally uploaded by willard_curtis.
this little icon (which will now appear in my sidebar) will automatically add a feed from technoutopia to your windows live homepage. So give it a click if you're a windows live fanboy or fangirl.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Nation Divided Over Piracy

Wired News:
"In Fleischer's world, the Motion Picture Association of America and rights holders are attacking digital technology itself, trying to hang on to an outdated model. 'It's an inevitability that digital data will be copied.... The alternative to peer-to-peer piracy is person-to-person piracy,' he says. While some online pirates take pains to distinguish themselves from those who sell counterfeit DVDs and CDs, he sees such physical bootlegging as just 'a symptom of underdeveloped computer networks.'

When asked about compensation for artists, both men reject the language itself. No artist sits down to 'create content,' Fleischer says. 'Culture has always been heterogeneous,' and money is only one way of rewarding creativity. The idea of a rights holder, like a record label or movie studio, that patronizes and distributes human creativity is, for Fleischer, 'a very strange utopia that has never existed.'"
Another Wired article on piracy; this one covers the growing-by-leaps-and-bounds "Pirate Party" of Sweden -- a political group poised to overtake the green party in terms of parliament representation.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Secrets of the Pirate Bay

Wired News:
"So fast was the Pirate Bay's rebound that some news articles reporting the site's demise went to print after it was back up, recalls Peter. The resuscitated site had a few glitches, but the resurrection was remarkable in that it had never really happened before; when the major American rights holders take a website down, it stays down. The pirates delivered a victory message to the MPAA, and the Swedish equivalent, APB, through the site's reverse-DNS, which now read: hey.mpaa.and.apb.bite.my.shiny.metal.ass.thepiratebay.org."
Great article on my favorite bittorrent site, The Pirate Bay. My favorite quote from the article, and the sentiment that makes the Bay so endearing:
He chose the name Pirate Bay to make clear what the site was there for: no shame, no subtlety. These people were pirates. They believed the existing copyright regime was a broken artifact of a pre-digital age, the gristle of a rotting business model that poisoned culture and creativity. The Pirate Bay didn't respect intellectual property law, and they'd say it publicly.
Viva la revolucion!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Becker-Posner Blog

The Becker-Posner Blog:
"Illegal gambling is a standard example of a radically underenforced, 'victimless' crime ('victimless' in the sense of being a voluntary transaction, as distinct from a coerced transaction such as theft. The gambling laws are underenforced largely because gambling is victimless, which makes detection difficult and also reduces the public’s willingness to devote resources to preventing it. The argument for criminalization is that gambling is an unproductive and often an addictive activity that, by virtue of its addictive character, drives the gambling addicts to bankruptcy."
Great essays on the ins and outs of legislation on internet gambling.

Cambridge in Colour - Digital Photography Tutorials

Cambridge in Colour - Digital Photography Tutorials:
"Digital Photography Fundamentals

* - A Background on Color Perception
* - Understanding Digital Pixels: PPI, Dithering and Print Size
* - Understanding Bit Depth
* - Understanding Image Types
* - Understanding Digital Sensors
* - Understanding Camera Metering & Exposure
* - Understanding Image Noise, Part 1: Concept and Types
* - Understanding Image Noise, Part 2: Examples and Characteristics
* - Understanding Sharpness
* - Understanding Depth of Field"
This is a great site on digitial photography. For example in his techniques section, he explains how one can take several shots at different exposures and then combine them (digitally) to produce a photo that has superior contrast. Emily, this site is right up your alley.

Monday, August 07, 2006

USA running a trade surplus?

The Skeptical Optimist:
"In other words, our assets abroad must be worth a lot more than “the books” would indicate, because there aren’t many other ways to explain why we are earning (net) $30 billion today on foreign direct investment, instead of paying out (net) $210 billion that the “books” would suggest should be the case. For a good illustration of that key point, read the Euro Disney example in the paper.

We’re running a trade surplus"
Interesting thesis.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Survey: Most obese claim to eat healthy - Yahoo! News

Yahoo! News:
"More than three-quarters of obese Americans say they have healthy eating habits, according to a survey of more than 11,000 people.

About 40 percent of obese people also said they do 'vigorous' exercise at least three times a week, the telephone survey found.

'There is, perhaps, some denial going on. Or there is a lack of understanding of what does it mean to be eating healthy, and what is vigorous exercise,' said Dr. David Schutt"

I find this very funny -- also, I know certain [obese] members of my family who are totally convinced that they have very healthy diets (especially compared to my diet).