“links” Category

Lulu, the Men Rating App

Deborah Schoeneman wrote a good profile of a men rating application called Lulu, which allows women to “review” men much like Yelp after having gone out with them:

Mr. Brockway has since gotten several more reviews (#DudeCanCook), none quite as glowing as the one written by his girlfriend, but he nonetheless has an exceptionally high 9.8 ranking. “There’s nothing I can do about it except be the best person I can be,” he said, adding: “It inspires guys to be good and treat girls the way they should be treated. Like angels.”

Not all men are so magnanimous about their presence on Lulu, of course. Last summer, Neel Shah, a comedy writer, was at a bar in Los Angeles on a date with a woman who pulled up his profile. “She started reading me these negative hashtags and I was like, ‘Uh, this is awkward,’ ” said Mr. Shah, 30, whose profile has been viewed 448 times and “favorite” eight times for an average score of 6.7. His hashtags include #TallDarkAndHandsome and #CleansUpGood, along with the less flattering #TemperTantrums and #WanderingEye.

Even in the best light, I find this idea—that an application like Lulu “inspires” men to be “the best person” they can be, through the threat of getting a poor review—to have the same problem that “inspiring” people to be good by threatening them with an eternity of torture has: are you really a good person if the central reason you’re doing it is to avoid something negative for yourself?

Lulu, and Lulu’s backers within the article, are lauding something that attempts to control people’s behavior by public shaming and the literal threat of not being able to get a date as a step forward in civility.

That’s gross enough, but I think it’s worse than that. Neel Shah goes on to describe how one reviewer (isn’t that word alone repulsive in this context? A reviewer of the desirability of a person?) said that laughing at his jokes may take some effort, which is a benign enough comment on its own. But it isn’t on its own; that comment is a public comment on someone’s sense of humor meant to be used for deciding whether to date them or not, and it contributes to an overall numerical ranking for them. Not only does Lulu attempt to publicly shame people (and laude them!), it also attempts to quantify things that are inherently unquantifiable. How do you reduce a person’s desirability down to a one through ten score?

December 18th, 2013

Will China restart the space race?

Glenn Reynolds thinks China’s Moon mission could touch off a new space race, and that would be a good thing:

So if the the Yutu rover finds something valuable, Chinese mining efforts, and possibly even territorial claims, might very well follow. And that would be a good thing.

What’s so good about it? Well, two things. First, there are American companies looking at doing business on the moon, too, and a Chinese venture would probably boost their prospects. More significantly, a Chinese claim might spur a new space race, which would speed development of the moon.

In the foreseeable future, the only realistic path toward humanity moving farther into space is through the private sector. If China making a territorial claim on the Moon is what it takes, then I’m all for it.

December 18th, 2013

“Inequality isn’t ‘the defining challenge of our time’”

Ezra Klein:

That doesn’t mean inequality isn’t hurting growth. It just means it’s difficult to find firm proof of it. But if inequality really was the central challenge to growth, would proof really be so hard to come by?

December 18th, 2013

Webydo – Professional Website Design Software (Sponsor)

My thanks to Webydo for sponsoring this week’s RSS feed.


Webydo enables professional web and graphic designers to create, publish, and manage pixel-perfect websites without having to write a single line of code, and provides them with the freedom of creativity to focus on what?s important &mdash the DESIGN.

Webydo is made by designers, for designers and is the only solution for website creation with a built in CMS (content management system) and DMS (design management system). Webydo also gives you the option to directly bill your clients, brand Webydo as your own, and provide full cross-browser capabilities. What’s more, with Webydo, you can efficiently create a responsive website with complete cross-browser capabilities as well.

Webydo is revolutionizing the way web designers create and work with clients, as the community of 30K designers has the power to vote on the future of which features should be added to this powerful and intuitive website creator.

Experience the freedom of creativity with Webydo’s professional online design software today for free.

Sponsorship by The Syndicate.

December 18th, 2013

The Rocketeer

Michael Belfiore’s excellent profile of Elon Musk:

Thinking it would be pretty cool to land a plant-growth experiment on Mars but finding the cost prohibitively high, Musk started his own rocket company to bring the price down.

Musk is building a space exploration company while much of the technology industry—the self-described home of “disruptive” “innovation”—is building a better way to sext and sell ads.

That might be a little glib, but it’s also largely accurate. How can you not love someone who’s not only built the best electric car in the world, started a successful solar company, and whose motivation story for starting a space exploration story is that he wants to see humans visit Mars?

December 12th, 2013

DNA Encodes Two Kinds of Information

Researchers discovered that DNA encodes two kinds of information, not just one:

Since the genetic code was deciphered in the 1960s, scientists have assumed that it was used exclusively to write information about proteins. UW scientists were stunned to discover that genomes use the genetic code to write two separate languages. One describes how proteins are made, and the other instructs the cell on how genes are controlled. One language is written on top of the other, which is why the second language remained hidden for so long.

There’s still so little we know about how life, and how intelligence, works. If we are just now discovering something as fundamental as what kinds of information DNA encodes, then our understanding of how DNA passes down meaning across generations is inherently dim. Along with a very incomplete understanding of how the brain (not just human brain) functions, both in the micro and macro level, biological life remains very much a mystery.

December 12th, 2013

North Korea Executes Kim’s Uncle

North Korea executed Kim Jong Un’s uncle, Jang Song Thaek, just days after he was removed from power. Here’s the PRK’s press release:

However, despicable human scum Jang, who was worse than a dog, perpetrated thrice-cursed acts of treachery in betrayal of such profound trust and warmest paternal love shown by the party and the leader for him.

From long ago, Jang had a dirty political ambition. He dared not raise his head when Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il were alive. But, reading their faces, Jang had an axe to grind and involved himself in double-dealing. He began revealing his true colors, thinking that it was just the time for him to realize his wild ambition in the period of historic turn when the generation of the revolution was replaced.

Worth reading.

December 12th, 2013

Atlassian’s agile guide (Sponsor)

My thanks to Atlassian for sponsoring this week’s RSS feed.


What’s the point of an agile standup meeting?

Gone are the days of 30-minute status meetings where most people are half-asleep or pecking away on their laptops, oblivious to what’s being said. Agile standups are the leaner, more efficient cousin of status meetings where attendees actually stand up. On our feet, we’re more focused, attentive, and concise. It’s science!

Whether you need robust tools for planning and tracking projects, communicating with coworkers, deploying products, or just some general tips on how to run an agile shop (and how to run them Rong?), Atlassian is here to offer you the tools and advice you need to get the most out of your agile practice.

Sponsorship by The Syndicate.

December 12th, 2013

“Please stop live tweeting people’s private conversations”

Nisha Chittal:

Not to be the Grinch, but can we consider for a moment the fact that live-tweeting and broadcasting another person’s private conversations to the internet for our own entertainment is actually pretty creepy?

It’s not just creepy. It’s creepy at best, and a passive-aggressive, disgusting form of bullying at worst.

December 3rd, 2013

Ponnuru On the Contraception Mandate

Ramesh Ponnuru:

From reading the New York Times, you might think that religious conservatives had started a culture war over whether company health-insurance plans should cover contraception. What’s at issue in two cases the Supreme Court has just agreed to hear, the Times editorializes, is “the assertion by private businesses and their owners of an unprecedented right to impose the owners’ religious views on workers who do not share them.”

That way of looking at the issue will be persuasive if your memory does not extend back two years. Up until 2012, no federal law or regulation required employers to cover contraception (or drugs that may cause abortion, which one of the cases involves). If 2011 was marked by a widespread crisis of employers’ imposing their views on contraception on employees, nobody talked about it.

Characterizing opposition to government-forced provision of contraception by employer-provided health insurance plans as an “imposition” of religious views is almost Orwellian; the only imposition being made here is by the government and supporters of the measure, such as the Times’ editors.

December 3rd, 2013

Pencils.com (Sponsor)

If you’re anything like me, Pencils.com is like being let loose in a toy store.


At Pencils.com, we believe that creativity is the greatest of all virtues. And, with our selection of unique, high-quality pencils, notebooks, and creative tools, we’ve got everything you need to unleash yours.

Whether you’re a pencil nut who knows all the brands (Caran d’Ache, Blackwing, Faber-Castell, we stock them all), or a casual doodler looking for something to inspire you, there’s something for you on Pencils.com. Combine that with our legendary customer service and fast, reliable shipping, and you’ve got some serious creative potential.

So, go ahead and read the story of the $40 pencil, learn about the pencil company that has been around since the French Revolution, and find the perfect notebook to capture your ideas. If you’re in the giving mood, we also have gifts for artists, writers, musicians, and anyone else on your shopping list.

Above all else, stay creative.

December 3rd, 2013

“Obamacare’s Secret Success”

Paul Krugman’s latest column, “Obamacare’s Secret Success,” has this to say:

Still, the facts are striking. Since 2010, when the act was passed, real health spending per capita — that is, total spending adjusted for overall inflation and population growth — has risen less than a third as rapidly as its long-term average. Real spending per Medicare recipient hasn’t risen at all; real spending per Medicaid beneficiary has actually fallen slightly.

He argues (and his title makes explicit) that “Obamacare”—ACA—is responsible for health spending declining. Except all he does is point out health costs have declined, and that ACA may be responsible. And he buries something important in a ho-hum “obligatory caveats” paragraph:

O.K., the obligatory caveats. First of all, we don’t know how long the good news will last. Health costs in the United States slowed dramatically in the 1990s (although not this dramatically), probably thanks to the rise of health maintenance organizations, but cost growth picked up again after 2000. Second, we don’t know for sure how much of the good news is because of the Affordable Care Act.

Acknowledging that he has no idea how much ACA is responsible for declining spending seems rather more important than an “obligatory caveat” in a column titled “Obamacare’s Secret Success” which argues that ACA is reducing health spending. It kind of sort of means that the entire column is speculative.

But it’s worse than that. The CMS estimates that ACA will increase national health expenditures.

November 30th, 2013

Fracture (Sponsor)

My thanks to Fracture for sponsoring this week’s RSS feed. Fracture’s glass-printed photos are beautiful, and if you’re for a Christmas gift, or want to frame your own photos, give them a look.


Fracture prints your photo in vivid color directly on glass. It’s a picture, frame, & mount all in one.

It’s a modern, elegant, and affordable way to print and display your favorite memories. Your print comes with everything you need to display your photo, right in the durable packaging.

Fractures come in a variety of sizes and prices, starting at just $12, with free shipping on orders of $100 or more.

Fracture prints make great Christmas gifts and are the perfect way to fill up empty walls in your new home or apartment. Check it out.

Sponsorship by The Syndicate.

November 30th, 2013

Voila: Ultimate Screen Capture Solution For Your Mac (Sponsor)

My thanks to Voila for sponsoring this week’s RSS feed.


Voila is the most powerful screen capturing software available for your Mac. Voila lets you capture and record content and then easily share it with friends and co-workers or upload it to the web.

Voila is the perfect screen recorder for your Mac. You can easily make high-quality product demos, DIY app simulations, and tutorials. Create interactive content by recording your Mac screen along with audio and all your click streams. Then complete your screencast by annotating your screenshots with professional tools and features. Record like a pro and publish your final project to FTP/SFTP, Tumblr, Dropbox, Evernote, and YouTube with Voila.

Made for Mavericks, Voila is simple and intuitive. With Voila, keep your captures organized and within your reach while enjoying a boost in productivity.

Try Voila today. Download Free Trial.

Sponsorship by the Syndicate.

November 20th, 2013

Lootback (Sponsor)

My thanks to Lootback for sponsoring this week’s RSS feed.


If you’re a web designer, you know how paying full price for resources like stock photos and fonts can have a negative effect on your bottom line. Now there’s a new service that can increase your profits by giving you cash back on these important design components.

Lootback.com has found a way to work with merchants such as Thinkstock, iStock, and Envato to help you save money. Lootback’s featured merchants pay the company a small commission for sending customers their way. Instead of keeping it all, Lootback splits its commission with you. The merchant gets a sale, Lootback gets a commission, and you get a great discount on your purchase; everyone wins.

Not only does it offer effortless savings, Lootback makes searching for your creative assets easier. All your favorite merchants’ products are aggregated into one convenient search feature, so you spend less time looking for that perfect file.

Sponsorship by The Syndicate.

November 12th, 2013