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Archived Posts for July 2010

Please note: The posts on this page are at least 3 years old. Links may be broken, information may be out of date, and the views expressed in the posts may no longer be held.
Jul 10

Teaching Koreans some swear words

This is gold:

  9:53pm  •  Culture  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 

Night owls

A study by a psychologist observes that night owls tend to have higher IQs, and appears to postulate that “we must now rely on general intelligence to override our early-to-bed instincts. So those with more of it stay up later.” This is a bit bizarre. Might it be that people with higher IQs simply tend to be in professions which demand longer working hours, so they get used to sleeping later?

Night Lights
Bedtimes and wake-up times for Americans in their 20s by IQ.

Very Dull (IQ < 75)
Weekday: 11:41 P.M.-7:20 A.M.
Weekend: 12:35 A.M.-10:09 A.M.

Normal (90 < IQ < 110)
Weekday: 12:10 A.M.-7:32 A.M.
Weekend: 1:13 A.M.-10:14 A.M.

Very Bright (IQ > 125)
Weekday: 12:29 A.M.-7:52 A.M.
Weekend: 1:44 A.M.-11:07 A.M.

  5:42pm  •  Culture  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 

The art of dying

I encourage you to read this New Yorker article by Atul Gawande. It’s very long and covers a depressing topic, but it explores some interesting and important issues regarding end-of-life decisions. It challenges the notion that hoping and fighting for survival, at whatever physical, emotional and financial cost, may not actually be the best way forward – something which is counterintuitive to patients, their families and their health care providers.

Like many people, I had believed that hospice care hastens death, because patients forgo hospital treatments and are allowed high-dose narcotics to combat pain. But studies suggest otherwise. In one, researchers followed 4,493 Medicare patients with either terminal cancer or congestive heart failure. They found no difference in survival time between hospice and non-hospice patients with breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. Curiously, hospice care seemed to extend survival for some patients; those with pancreatic cancer gained an average of three weeks, those with lung cancer gained six weeks, and those with congestive heart failure gained three months. The lesson seems almost Zen: you live longer only when you stop trying to live longer. When Cox was transferred to hospice care, her doctors thought that she wouldn’t live much longer than a few weeks. With the supportive hospice therapy she received, she had already lived for a year.


Ten years ago, her seventy-four-year-old father, Jack Block, a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley, was admitted to a San Francisco hospital with symptoms from what proved to be a mass growing in the spinal cord of his neck. She flew out to see him. The neurosurgeon said that the procedure to remove the mass carried a twenty-per-cent chance of leaving him quadriplegic, paralyzed from the neck down. But without it he had a hundred-per-cent chance of becoming quadriplegic.

The evening before surgery, father and daughter chatted about friends and family, trying to keep their minds off what was to come, and then she left for the night. Halfway across the Bay Bridge, she recalled, “I realized, ‘Oh, my God, I don’t know what he really wants.’ ” He’d made her his health-care proxy, but they had talked about such situations only superficially. So she turned the car around.
Going back in “was really uncomfortable,” she said. It made no difference that she was an expert in end-of-life discussions. “I just felt awful having the conversation with my dad.” But she went through her list. She told him, “ ‘I need to understand how much you’re willing to go through to have a shot at being alive and what level of being alive is tolerable to you.’ We had this quite agonizing conversation where he said—and this totally shocked me—‘Well, if I’m able to eat chocolate ice cream and watch football on TV, then I’m willing to stay alive. I’m willing to go through a lot of pain if I have a shot at that.’

“I would never have expected him to say that,” Block went on. “I mean, he’s a professor emeritus. He’s never watched a football game in my conscious memory. The whole picture—it wasn’t the guy I thought I knew.” But the conversation proved critical, because after surgery he developed bleeding in the spinal cord. The surgeons told her that, in order to save his life, they would need to go back in. But he had already become nearly quadriplegic and would remain severely disabled for many months and possibly forever. What did she want to do?

“I had three minutes to make this decision, and, I realized, he had already made the decision.” She asked the surgeons whether, if her father survived, he would still be able to eat chocolate ice cream and watch football on TV. Yes, they said. She gave the O.K. to take him back to the operating room.
“If I had not had that conversation with him,” she told me, “my instinct would have been to let him go at that moment, because it just seemed so awful. And I would have beaten myself up. Did I let him go too soon?” Or she might have gone ahead and sent him to surgery, only to find—as occurred—that he survived only to go through what proved to be a year of “very horrible rehab” and disability. “I would have felt so guilty that I condemned him to that,” she said. “But there was no decision for me to make.” He had decided.

  4:10pm  •  General Media  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 
Jul 10

  stuloh Maybe they should replace Gillard now. http://bit.ly/ayjDFs

  12:48pm  •  Tweet  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 
Jul 10

Show me someone who wants to work long hours and I’ll show you…

FirmSpy excerpted a few parts from this year’s AFR (Law) Partnership Survey. The first one caught my eye:

Third year Maquarie University law student Tanja Maley says she hopes to become a partner in a top commercial firm, and everything else – family included – can follow. “I want a fast city life and I want the long hours”, she says. “I don’t think I’d be satisfied if I wasn’t challenged in that respect.”

Uh… “I want the long hours” and “I don’t think I’d be satisfied if I wasn’t challenged in that respect”? Do third year uni students really think that? Scary.

I dunno. These are the people that end up doing doc review for 80 hours a week. Whatever happened to being intellectually challenged but still striving to maintain some semblance of work/life balance? After all, that tax associate who leaves at 6 is getting paid more or less the same as the M&A dude who leaves at 6… am. If you really want to work those hours, then at least do it in a country which pays you more reasonably than Australia.

  7:05pm  •  Law  •  Tweet This  •  Comments (1)  • 

Goldman Sachs bans written profanity

The WSJ reports that GS has banned swearing in written correspondence, ostensibly as a risk management measure.

Goldman’s no-swearing dictate covers instant messages and texts from company-issued cellphones and emails. Verboten emails could get bounced to the compliance department. Others might be blocked completely, depending on the severity of the language.

There are no set disciplinary measures for offenders, but habitual profaners will be summoned by their managers to discuss cleaning up their language.

Good luck with that. I’m sure that profanity is pretty much a part of the culture. You’d think lawyers were more restrained, but they can be pretty bad offenders too (not so much in writing, but orally).

  6:52pm  •  Business & Finance  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 
Jul 10

GQ Interviews Bill Murray

GQ has an interview with Bill Murray in their August 2010 issue.

Bill Murray famously does not give interviews—he’s sat down for exactly four prolonged media encounters in the past ten years—and when he does, it’s never clear what you’re going to get. You just have to pray he’s in a good mood.

This is interview number five, then.

  7:29pm  •  Culture  •  Movies  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 

  stuloh Today's Groupon has $7 for $15 worth of food at Mediterranean Wraps in downtown Palo Alto: http://bit.ly/cIxaZ2

  8:45am  •  Tweet  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 
Jul 10

  stuloh I don't understand why the Starcraft 2 digital download is priced the same as the physical box copy (which got released earlier).

  12:35pm  •  Tweet  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 
Jul 10
Jul 10

Interstate highway numbering

I was scanning through Google Maps and I realized that there is a method behind the madness of what seemed like random Interstate highway numbering. Behold:

  stuloh Inception: 5/5. A film hasn't made me think that hard since the Matrix. But this was pretty coherent. Movie of the year material for me.

  12:28am  •  Tweet  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 
Jul 10

That’s a lot of chocolate

A hedge fund bought $1 billion worth of cocoa beans last week, leading to rumors it was trying to corner the market and drive prices up. But…

Analysts believe Mr. Ward ended up on the wrong side of a private hedging arrangement with Swiss chocolate-maker Barry Callebaut AG. As a result, Mr. Ward’s firm, Armajaro Asset Management LLP, had to buy about 241,000 tonnes of beans last Friday on the NYSE Liffe, or London International Financial Futures Exchange.

The purchase was the second-largest ever on the exchange – and it was enough cocoa to make five billion chocolate bars. On Monday, reports surfaced that roughly half the cocoa had been sent off to Barry Callebaut and it is expected that most of the remainder will head to other candy-makers who had similar deals with Armajaro.

If you don’t cover a commodity futures contract, you end up owning the underlying commodity.

  8:27pm  •  Business & Finance  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 

  stuloh The Zuckerberg-Ceglia "The Facebook" contract is now public. But as lawyers will tell you, many questions remain. http://bit.ly/bni9J2

  3:06pm  •  Tweet  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 

  stuloh Who cares if Apple's revenue overtakes Microsoft? If I had a business, I'd rather have higher profit and margins than revenue.

  10:32am  •  Tweet  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 

  stuloh Who cares if Apple's revenue overtakes Microsoft? If I had a business, I'd rather have higher profit and margins than revenue.

  10:32am  •  Tweet  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 

  stuloh Huh. Didn't know the Top Gear theme was an adaptation of Jessica by the Allman Bros. Pandora just played it and I was like, that's familiar.

  10:03am  •  Tweet  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 
Jul 10

Evidence that the West Coast is happier than the East

This is a visualisation of Tweets by US state of origin. Tweets were analysed for key words indicating moods, producing this:

The West Coast is generally happier than the East. Californians are much happier than New Yorkers, who seem to be perpetually grumpy. Early afternoons suck for everyone. Also, Californians tweet a lot (not exactly a surprise). Other conclusions.

  10:10pm  •  Culture  •  Internet  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 
Jul 10

  stuloh Come on Gilbert, you got what you want! Give dees people airrrr! @avstand @shanreetan

  5:53pm  •  Tweet  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 
Jul 10

  stuloh I just got a terrible renewal photo taken at the DMV this morning. Not looking forward to getting the new license.

  11:21pm  •  Tweet  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 
Jul 10
Jul 10
Jul 10

  stuloh Ok Sprouts is no longer a viable lunch venue. 25+ minutes to get food to go is just unacceptable.

  12:47pm  •  Tweet  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 
Jul 10
Jul 10

  stuloh Just saw this awesome number plate http://twitpic.com/254izp

  10:24pm  •  Tweet  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 
Jul 10
Jul 10

  stuloh Top 5 in my Fantasy League within 6 pts (1 goal) of each other. Need Dutch clean sheet to win. Don't think they'll get it.

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Jul 10

Paul the Psychic Octopus

He’s chosen Germany over Uruguay, and Spain over Netherlands. Will he go 8 for 8?

No less an authority than Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luiz Rodriguez Zapatero has called for octopus bodyguards.

“I am concerned for the octopus … I am thinking of sending him a protective team,” joked Zapatero on Radio Cadena Ser.

Spanish Industry Minister Miguel Sebastian has called for the creature to be given an “immediate” free transfer to Spain to “ensure his protection.”

Stung by Paul’s “treachery” at picking Spain over Germany in the semi-final, some sections of the 350,000-strong crowd watching the game on giant screens in Berlin sang anti-octopus songs.

The honour of Paul’s mother was called into question, according to witnesses.

  10:23am  •  Sports  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 
Jul 10
Jul 10

Blizzard’s Real ID system

So there’s a huge controversy going down in computer gaming community at the moment. Blizzard has decided to introduce Real ID into its web forums. This is basically a policy to force everyone to use their real names when posting. Blizzard’s main rationale is to prevent trolling.

For a company which has had an enviable track record with releasing blockbuster games, Blizzard appears to have misstepped and the PR backlash has been considerable. The original announcement made in Blizzard’s forums has spawned over 1500 pages of replies (and counting). The news has been reported by the gaming media, as well as mainstream media.

Gamers have used aliases since forever. It’s simply a part of the culture – no one ever really plays games online with their real names. Even when a bunch of friends sit in a room and play LAN games with each other, they still use aliases in game. Stripping this anonymity is something that goes against the grain of the culture.

Concerns have also been raised about online safety – some gamers are not the most balanced of individuals, and the emotions that can crop up in a game can spill over into the real world. There are periodic accounts of gamers who felt they were wronged in a game, take their grievances into the real world and end up finding and stabbing their opponent.

Women also have concerns for their safety, and a poster on 4chan unwittingly demonstrated the point.

I wonder if Blizzard will reconsider? I mean, all this just to prevent trolling?

  7:50pm  •  Computing  •  Tweet This  •  Comments (2)  • 
Jul 10

Korean APM rates in Starcraft

So in Korea, you probably know that they have professional Starcraft gaming leagues. It’s pretty much a national sport, and the best athletes there make a fairly lucrative living. Yes, after watching this video, you will see some justification behind calling them athletes. APM, or “Actions per Minute” is one metric of gaming skill and it indicates how quickly you can press buttons.

During the Starcraft 2 beta, after 30-40 games, I averaged about 30-35 APM, maxing out at 50-60 during bursts of activity. The best Korean professionals can sustain average rates in the low 300s. Watch the video, it’s insane.

  7:23pm  •  Computing  •  Tweet This  •  Comments (1)  • 
Jul 10

Ninja, wat?

  9:31pm  •  Humour  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 

Limbo legend

Watch this guy limbo under a bar that’s as high as a beer bottle:

  9:31pm  •  Miscellaneous  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 
Jul 10

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