VnutZ's Articles, Page 2 of 71

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09 May 14
Newspaper

Barefoot Running - Beneficial or Hype?

Running barefoot became more popular in western culture with the introduction of the “five finger” shoes from Vibram. The company recently lost a class-action lawsuit attesting their shoe’s campaign was based entirely upon false hype. A large part of the barefoot running movement was based on the idea that the human body evolved the way it did, running barefoot, and is therefore most adept at doing so. And, of course, the record breaking runners from Africa tend to run barefoot as well. But recent studies began to cast doubt on the idea showing that essentially people who haven’t been running that way, aren’t getting any benefit from doing the switch.

08 May 14
Newspaper

Russia Ramps Up Censorship and Speech Control

It always starts small and innocuous. Russia begins with a simple measure to ban profanity in media such as music, television and movies. Not too big a deal, but definitely a control mechanism nonetheless. Additionally, the country is going to initiate control measures over the Internet, starting specifically in the blogosphere by requiring real name registration presumably to enable future squashing of dissent. One of the country’s bloggers comments, “On the one hand, the Russian government says the Russian people are the best. On the other hand, it doesn’t trust the people.”

08 May 14
Question

Monica Lewinsky Emerges

Almost two decades ago, the Monica Lewinsky / Bill Clinton affair was the big news in the United States leading up to a presidential impeachment. Obviously politics and society have changed significantly since then. So when Monica re-emerged in a recent Vanity Fair article talking about the incident from long ago, it makes one wonder a few things …

  • Coincidentally timed to weaken a Clinton 2016 campaign?
  • Looking to self promote?
  • Does America care about this sort of thing anymore?
07 May 14
Question

Vitamin Supplements?

Do you take vitamin supplements?

There are certainly all kinds of vitamins and minerals the body needs, there’s no doubting that. But the doubting camps have been beating this drum for years – 2013 and 2011 were the most recent occurrences. I myself hadn’t really noticed until last year’s news recurrence, but it did make me wonder what the OmniNerds thought on the matter.

07 May 14
Question

Autonomous Vehicle Ethics

I came across an article on Wired today that I found somewhat interesting regarding ethics and autonomous vehicles. Essentially, if an autonomous vehicle determines that a crash is unavoidable … how should it be programmed to handle the situation? This one is somewhat akin an earlier OmniNerd discussion including the Trolly Problem. The difference, however, is that decision is made on the fly by a subjective human whereas an autonomous vehicle will be following a deterministic set of rules that basically determines who is least valuable. Does that qualify as pre-meditated murder? Would programmers be liable?

06 May 14
Newspaper

Epic Violin Battles of History - Stradivaris vs Modern

When it comes to violins and aficionados, the Stradivaris instruments are considered the de facto standard for exquisite sound. Or are they? A study involving professional violinists allowed each to play on twelve different instruments that included a collection of new and old – with five Stradivaris mixed in. The musicians were blindfolded and permitted to use each violin for an hour in a concert hall. In the end, although the sample size was small, the results favored the newer, modern violins over the classic Stradivaris.

24 Apr 14
Newspaper

Limitations on Longevity

How old can human beings really get? Discounting the ridiculous math of the Old Testament, the current human limit is about 122 years old. One old woman that lived to 110 donated her body to science so that her longevity could be studied. Researchers determined that it may be our stem cells that limit how long we could live as there are only a finite supply of them and over time, as they stop regenerating, so too do the body’s repairs. They believe humans begin life with about 20,000 blood stem cells and it was found in her body, at the time of death, she was literally down to 2. The researchers found their approach unique to looking at somatic mutation (non-cancerous) and believe the discovery may imply that an injection of fresh stem cells could prolong and rejuvenate our bodies.

11 Apr 14
Newspaper

Assassins Not So Sexy

Assassins are typically glamorized by movies and television. But sometimes the reality is just plain lame. The recent apprehension of a Baltimore contract killer through an FBI sting has revealed the more mundane side of the murder business. First shattered illusion – weapons transferred in an old shoebox instead of specialized tools in a quality Pelican cases. Second shattered illusion – it only costs $5K and leveraging Baltimore’s poor arrest record instead of the profitable depiction of killing someone to cover expenses, getaways, etc. Third shattered illusion – they lack professionalism as the killers talk like (quote TFA):

07 Mar 14
Newspaper

International Credibility and Ukraine

It would appear the Russians are about to annex the Crimean portion of the Ukraine back into their fold. This is, of course, after they occupied the region and basically took it by force. A CNN opinion article asks some interesting questions about the matter:

  • What does this mean for the United State’s foreign policy credibility?
  • Is this a sign that disarming and trust are truly mistakes?
  • Where are all the peace protestors?
07 Feb 14
Newspaper

Conditions At Sochi

The 2014 Winter Olympics have officially kicked off in Sochi. Journalists were reporting particularly horrible conditions at the venue in the leading days that were indicative of Russia not being prepared. My particular favorite came after the stories of undrinkable water that if restored, patrons were advised, “do not use on your face because it contains something very dangerous.” They’ve also reported on an abundance of stray animals walking throughout the city (and their rooms) which magically disappeared leading many to wonder about Russia’s methods. Despite these reports, the IOC has certainly been lavishing praise on Russia for the rest of their preparations.

09 Jan 14
Page_white_text

Getting Started With Bitcoins

You’ve certainly heard of ‘em … and probably thought it was too late several times before (and are kicking yourself now). But it is still possible to join the Bitcoin bandwagon – you just need to be smart about it. Maybe this time around you won’t have to kick yourself again. I put together a short little guide on navigating the post-GPU mining world (2012-2013) and how to get involved with Bitcoins these days – using mining pools, ASICs and cloud hashing. After all, you probably thought it was either too late or a fad in May and again in December but there are still people out there making decent money. And maybe it still is a fad, but its unlikely at this point that Bitcoins are going away.

21 Dec 13
Newspaper

Budget Plan Shafts Troops

As part of the budget deal that has passed the House and Senate, the military takes a direct shot to the face. The deal includes an exclusion of 1% cost of living raises for everyone less than 62 … with no grandfathering. This roughly equates to a 20% overall loss for service members that are currently retired or even about to retire. Considering the number of troops still overseas in combat, it’s an even uglier shaft to deliver. So much for “Support the Troops” right? The divide between those who know what it means to serve and those being served continues to widen.

20 Dec 13
Newspaper

Kim Jong Un is Batshit Crazy

It really didn’t take long for Kim Jong Un to get the North Korea power bug and allow it to escalate quickly. Right now, he’s using the latest technologies to threaten his southern neighbor, the fax machine. In response to South Korean protests as a mark on North Korea’s dignity, particularly on the 2nd anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s death, the new ruler has promised merciless death via a fax.

Anyway, Kim Jong Un has his censors hard at work erasing the fact that his uncle ever existed. This would, of course, be the uncle he recently executed, presumably in a power play to let his “elders” know where they stood in the hierarchy. If you thought that was crazy, a little over a year ago Kim Jong Un executed one of his generals in a much flashier way. After accusing him of partying during the 100 days of mourning for Kim Jong Il’s passing, the general was forced to stand on a zeroed mortar target whereupon he was obliterated.

20 Dec 13
Question

Duck Dynasty Chewbacca Defense

So by now, whether you wanted to hear about it or not, you’ve most likely been ear raped by friends, family, or colleagues talking about the Duck Dynasty guy suspended by A&E for his anti-gay remarks. You’ve especially been over exposed to this crap if you have a FaceBook account. I’d like to take a different course on this one to expound on the Chewbacca Defense the conservative community is using in support of whoever this guy is – you know, the classic “but its in the Bible” argument.

18 Dec 13
Newspaper

Best Possible 2013 Investments

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Some analysts looked into what could possibly happen if a trader starting 2013 with $1000 was able to make the, now historical, best possible trades each day. They would enter 2014 sitting on roughly $264 billion in cash. The first million would have appeared in April followed by one hundred million in July. From there, it just gets super ridiculous at one billion in August and one hundred billion in November. Each of the trades and their respective effect is documented on the 2013 calendar within the original article. Ultimately, the article caveats that aside from the statistical improbability of such an event ever occurring, that sort of money moving around would simply destroy the market as well:

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