Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Breaking News: Boris Yeltsin was a Drunk

If there were any questions as to why relations with Russia have become noticeably more difficult since Bill Clinton left office, it could be the foreign policy of the Bush administration.

...Or it could be that Boris Yeltsin likes to walk around the U.S. in his underwear.

I guess we'll never know.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

No Such Thing as "East Coast Bias"

One thing that is consistently brought up when critiquing the sports media is the concept of an 'East Coast Bias'. I've long held this to be less a stereotype and more of a truism. I have found today that this concept is false. Kind of. Deadspin (one of the most vitriolic websites in all of sports) had the writers of the now defunct FJM website on as guest editors. They enlightened me today with their deconstruction of multiple articles claiming the greatness of Derek Jeter (and his deservedness of the AL MVP ----- baseball, people).

It became clear to me (combined with the knowledge that the BBWAA gives writers in each city hosting a MLB franchise two votes) that an 'East Coast Bias' does not exist. In its place, there is merely a lack of rational, well-crafted sports writing on the East Coast.

At least in baseball.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Newcastle United Football Club and Relegation

Following a team through relegation has its upside: you get to see your team win. Solid consolation.

Newcastle somehow got crushed by Leyton Orient in the preseason, but now that the league has started, they lead the table with 13 points (4-1-0).

UPDATE: ESPN360 offers a wide variety of live sports online, from Eurobasket to Australian Rugby. The Football League (the second highest league in the UK) is available, and access is free on college campuses. I can watch Cardiff City play Newcastle United Sunday morning legitimately and for free.


One of my favorite comics is released as a film tomorrow. It's called Whiteout. There aren't any tights.

Mercury News suggests it's among the worst films of all time.

The Orlando Sun doesn't have anything good to say either.

I liked the comic because Greg Rucka made the protagonist stunningly vulnerable. She is not some superhot action hero; it's not Charlie's Angels. She's a normal person doing a job. She does not come through the experience unscathed, emotionally nor physically. Her motivations are complex and feel realistic as she gets pulled into something a little over her head.

Apparently whatever was good in the comic was ditched for the film and replaced with a shower scene.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Why The Webapp Model Has Already Won

Users might have mixed feelings about webapps vs. desktop apps, but developers do not.

Desktop apps, your men are already dead.

Friday, September 04, 2009

David Goldhill's Health Care Piece in the Atlantic

Ok, health care discussions are hitting overload, they are getting dull and wearing everyone out. But I always like a piece that takes a viewpoint outside of those most prominently discussed and argues that viewpoint carefully.

How American Health Care Killed My Father

I wouldn't say the article is controversial, it just argues that the health insurance industry creates perverse incentives, and discusses some reasons for that. It is interesting that this is widely acknowledged, yet not the target for reform.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

People are Strange: Reason #2

A Bank of America branch manager in downtown Tampa Bay, Florida refused to cash a man's check because he would not submit a thumbprint (standard operating procedure for BoA).

The man was born with no arms.

Note: The worst part of the situation was the refusal by the bank's manager to admit wrongdoing. The extended article from the St. Petersburg Times notes the bank manager stating (paraphrased) "We offered him two alternatives to the thumbprint - open an account or bring your wife in".

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Disney Buys Marvel

Well, Disney is buying Marvel.

The day Wolverine teams up with Mickey Mouse in a wacky crossover is coming.

Android Developer Fears Poverty, Loneliness

Larva Labs posted sales numbers for its apps, comparing the viability of the Android Marketplace with the iPhone App Store. Conclusion: Unlike the untold riches to be found in the App Store, the $60/day they get from Android is not helping them buy "that summer home."

First, it should be noted that Android only has 1/5th the market share of the iPhone, and it has been out for under a year (the iPhone was released in June of 2007). So all of these complaints should be taken with a grain of salt when looking forward. But even assuming this is a fair assessment of the long term...

1) $60/day might not let you retire, but as passive income off a simple JAVA game tossed out in a few weeks? It's nothing to sneeze at.

2) There are probably plenty of folks funneling money into overvalued apps in the iPhone App Store, but it isn't obvious to me why these sort of disposable games deserve a summer home's worth of compensation.

Larva Labs listed some shortcomings of the Android Marketplace contributing to their struggles. Among their concerns: it is hard for users to find pay apps, since there are so many highly rated free apps dominating the Android Marketplace.

This did not immediately strike me as a massive problem. If you are producing what others gladly produce for free, you should not expect extravagant returns. If highly rated free software is dominating the platform, wonderful. People who own Android-capable devices get entertained for free, and the fine minds at Larva Labs are suddenly available to address second rate problems of the world, like curing cancer.

Despite the clear advantages I see in this aspect of the Android Marketplace, the commenters remain overwhelmingly sympathetic to Larva Labs. One commenter echoed frustration with the Android Marketplace, because it was far too easy for users to receive a refund on his products. (The Android marketplace allows a 24 hour period after installing an app to completely remove it and request a refund.) So the Android store encourages devs to make apps people actually want to keep using, rather than novelties that will be used once. Here again I think a virtue is being mistaken for a flaw.

Larva Labs closes with a bit of a threat: "I’m sure Android will be on a lot of phones at some point in the future, whether it’ll be possible to target it profitably as a small developer I’m not sure."

If not, guess we'll have to tough it out with all those highly rated free apps. Maybe one of those will synthesize a tiny violin.