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Current Topic: Society

'Ringback' tones: Next big cellular thing, or throwback to long answering machine messages? - 11/29/04
Topic: Society 10:07 am EST, Nov 30, 2004

] Ring tones are so yesterday. If wireless companies have
] their way, the next multibillion dollar surprise in the
] cellular business will be "Ringback" tones.
] Instead of the usual dialing noise which people hear when
] phoning someone, callers to Verizon Wireless subscribers
] may soon find themselves listening to a song until the
] phone is answered.
] The service, pioneered by SK Telecom of Korea, is now
] debuting in California and is slated to be available
] nationally by mid-2005.

Clever. Before, you advertised to a crowd how hip you were with your obnoxious ring. Now, you can advertise to your callers.

Is it weird that I would consider this more than ringtones? I like that I have a minimalistic and superfunctional ring(+vibrate); if I could find a more "effective" or functional ringback tone (something that communicated something more useful than the existing), why not?

'Ringback' tones: Next big cellular thing, or throwback to long answering machine messages? - 11/29/04

Bush Plans Tax Code Overhaul (
Topic: Society 11:52 am EST, Nov 18, 2004

Insight into where the tax system may actually go (rather than the wet dream of national sales tax replacing income tax)

] Pamela F. Olson, a former Bush Treasury official in close
] contact with administration tax planners, said the
] president will pursue a tax system where all income --
] whether from wages, dividends, capital gains or interest
] -- is taxed only once. That would mean eliminating taxes
] on dividends and capital gains paid out of fully taxed
] corporate profits. Most investment gains are currently
] taxed at 15 percent.

From an idealistic standpoint, that's not necessarily bad...

] The administration will also push hard for large savings
] accounts that could shelter thousands of dollars of
] deposits each year from taxation on investment gains,
] according to White House economic advisers who have been
] involved with the planning.

And these are probably a Good Thing...

] And any tax reform, according to Treasury Department officials,
] would likely eliminate the alternative minimum tax, a parallel
] income tax designed to ensure that the rich pay income taxes
] but one that increasingly ensnares the middle class.

...because the rich play even more exotic games, and the AMT didn't scale up with wage and investment increases...

OK -- but how to pay for these...

] To pay for those large tax cuts, the administration is
] looking at eliminating both the deduction for state and
] local taxes,

Uh oh...
] and the business tax deduction for employer-sponsored health
] insurance.

Oh shit.
] That would raise nearly $926 billion over five years,
] according to White House and congressional documents.

Eliminating state and local deductions has a substantially disproportiate effect on the blue "United Cities of America", because the local and blue states provide a lot of services that cost money -- we pay more in Pittsburgh than rural PA, because Pittsburgh has to spend more (ok, bad example).

Eliminating Health Care benefits means that all the talk of improving healthcare was bullshit, because now whatever government or private program is going to have to take on a great deal more customers; when business gets a tax break, they might have still had an incentive to provide private health care even in the presence of a public option; with no legislation and no break, only the elite employees and non-profits will bother.

I think we saw this coming.

Bush Plans Tax Code Overhaul (

National Security Day - Home
Topic: Society 8:12 am EST, Nov 17, 2004

Today is National Computer Security Day in Ireland. The message is simple: get up-to-date antivirals, a firewall, and patch your box. A good message.

National Security Day - Home

Thousand Robots: Jeopardy College Tournament Game Won by
Topic: Society 1:06 pm EST, Nov 11, 2004

] His final wager had Alex Trebek scratching his head, but
] Kermin was clearly sending a message to fellow computer
] nerds. His wager:
] $1337

Yeah CMU.

Thousand Robots: Jeopardy College Tournament Game Won by

Don't call them geeks -
Topic: Society 11:57 pm EST, Nov 10, 2004

] So ladies, instead of heading out to the same old smoky
] bars for happy hour this week, consider working it at the
] supercomputing conference.

Don't call them geeks -

F-Secure : News from the Lab
Topic: Society 9:15 am EDT, Oct 28, 2004

] Since we received a large amount of mails from people
] around the world, here is a chart describing the
] availablitily of We will update the list
] as we get more entries.

Technically impressive that they have succeeded at the scale of F-Secure Blog's readership. /is/ actually only accessible from the US and Canada, apparently. How bizarre -- I guess overseas ballots were already sent, and so all the traffic is likely bad or something. Or something.

F-Secure : News from the Lab

Yahoo! News - Americans Getting Taller, Much Heavier
Topic: Society 7:46 pm EDT, Oct 27, 2004

] Adults are roughly an inch taller than they were in the
] early 1960s, on average, and nearly 25 pounds heavier,
] the government reported Wednesday.

Men: 5'9.5", 191 pounds
Women: 5'4", 163.4 pounds

The younger weight categories are even more disturbing.

Yahoo! News - Americans Getting Taller, Much Heavier

Electoral College Calculus (
Topic: Society 1:09 pm EDT, Oct 27, 2004

] Tuesday's election will probably be decided in 11 states
] where polls currently show the race too tight to predict
] a winner. And, assuming the other states go as predicted,
] a computer analysis finds no fewer than 33 combinations
] in which those 11 states could divide to produce a 269 to
] 269 electoral tie.


Electoral College Calculus (

Wired News: American Passports to Get Chipped
Topic: Society 7:04 pm EDT, Oct 21, 2004

] Diplomats and State Department employees will be issued
] the new passports as early as January, while other
] citizens applying for new passports will get the new
] version starting in the spring.

So if you're going to get a new passport and don't feel comfortable with this... act now.

Wired News: American Passports to Get Chipped

Google Desktop Search Download
Topic: Society 3:43 pm EDT, Oct 14, 2004

] Search your own computer.

Google Desktop Search Download

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