Archive for March 7th, 2012

Some things that have been rattling around that I’d like to point out.

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

A few days ago, the News @ Y Combinator Twitter feed linked to this article, misleadingly titled “24/192 Music Downloads…and why they make no sense”. I say “misleadingly” because the article is actually a very good introduction to the theory of digital audio, touching on such subjects as the human ear and how it works, how we know that humans can hear between 20 and 20,000 Hz, Nyquist sampling, and ABX tests.

ABX is considered a minimum bar for a listening test to be meaningful; reputable audio forums such as Hydrogen Audio often do not even allow discussion of listening results unless they meet this minimum objectivity requirement.

Holy cow! You mean, there are audiophiles out there who actually believe in science and double-blind testing? My faith in humanity is restored.

The Hon. John Gruber pointed out a post by Chris Hofstader about disability advocacy groups (in particular, the National Federation of the Blind) and how they treat corporations:

At last years NFB convention, ebay was the lead sponsor. Guess what? The ebay web site had, at that time, dozens of accessibility problems . NFB took ebay’s sponsorship dollars while ignoring their poor accessibility. Those of us who would say that any group advocating for our community should require accessibility before rewarding a company by splashing its name all over their convention like they were a friend of our population.

It isn’t just ebay: Hofstader points out that the NFB has been harshly critical of Apple (a company that has done a great deal to promote accessibility) while promoting Google’s Android (which, per Hofstader, has poor accessibility).

I’ve been seeing a lot of promotion of something called “Kony 2012”, which appears to be tied to a campaign by a charity called “Invisible Children” targeting Joseph Kony and his “Lord’s Resistance Army” in Uganda. From what I can tell, Kony is a scumbag who recruits children to fight his battle against the Ugandan army. I think he deserves to be killed; and apparently, we (that is, the United States military) have sent forces to kill him in the past. But the whole “Kony 2012” campaign seems to be, from what the supporters state, about raising money and “awareness”. As far as “awareness” goes, what good is that going to do? As far as money, money for what? Hiring mercenaries to kill Kony?

“Kony 2012” may be a worthwhile cause. But before you jump on the bandwagon, I’d like to suggest that you read the “Visible Children” Tumblr blog, which offers an alternative and skeptical take on the cause. (I will point out one problem with Grant Oyston’s entry: Invisible Children currently has three stars on Charity Navigator, not two Edited to add: I misread Oyston: IC has three stars overall, but he is correct in stating that they only have two stars in the specific subcategory of “Accountability & Transparency”.)

TMQ watch: March 6, 2012.

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

TMQ generally does not publish outside of the NFL regular season (though Easterbrook does do a couple of columns around draft time). But as soon as the Saints scandal broke, we were expecting TMQ to say something, because:

  • Gregg Easterbrook has been out in front about player safety issues in the NFL, especially concussions.
  • The scandal intimately involves the man TMQ refers to as “the tastefully named Gregg Williams”.

We’ve been watching Page 2 for a couple of days now, but oddly, the first notice we had that Easterbrook’s commentary was up came by way of Pope Jim the First on his Twitter feed. We’ll get to that in a moment. Let’s get started with this special edition of TMQ:


Pi Day 2012 is coming!

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

We are one week out!

Can you feel the excitement? I said, “Can you feel the excitement?

Just to get everyone pumped up, I’ve added the awesome Wolfram Alpha “Digits of Pi” calculator to my sidebar. No, no, don’t thank me: I’m here to help.

Obit watch: March 7, 2012.

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

William Heirens, Chicago’s “Lipstick Killer”, has passed away at 83, after spending 65 years in prison.

Mr. Heirens’ notoriety stemmed from the separate killings of two women, Josephine Ross and Frances Brown, in 1945. At the scene of the second murder, that of Miss Brown, someone had used lipstick to scrawl on a wall: “For heaven’s sake catch me before I kill more. I cannot control myself.”

Heirens was also convicted of killing a six-year-old girl, Suzanne Degnan. He was arrested while committing a burglary in the girl’s neighborhood, and the police claimed his fingerprints were on a ransom note left at the scene of the Degnan kidnapping. While in custody, he allegedly confessed to the Degnan, Ross, and Brown murders, and pled guilty in order to get three life sentences rather than the death penalty.

When he did confess, his memory seemed ragged. Time after time during the plea bargaining, prosecutors brought up details from The Tribune article, which he then incorporated into his testimony. Mr. Heirens recanted his confession soon afterward and maintained his innocence for the rest of his life while being denied parole or clemency numerous times. He questioned the validity of the fingerprints and other evidence, as have public interest lawyers who supported him.