opinion quickie

America’s Decline

Coronavirus Brings American Decline Out in the Open:

The U.S.’s decline started with little things that people got used to. Americans drove past empty construction sites and didn’t even think about why the workers weren’t working, then wondered why roads and buildings took so long to finish. They got used to avoiding hospitals because of the unpredictable and enormous bills they’d receive… They grumbled about high taxes and high health-insurance premiums and potholed roads, but rarely imagined what it would be like to live in a system that worked better.

The most immediate cost of U.S. decline — and the most vivid demonstration — comes from the country’s disastrous response to the coronavirus pandemic.

You speak to an American, they’re convinced America’s the greatest country in the world. If you ask them why, they’ll throw out all manner of things, and indeed, there’s many things that are pretty good.

However, if you looked at America over the last 6 months, particularly as coronavirus has set in, as an independent observer you’d be hard put to say the trade-offs are worth it. It’s amazing if you’re rich in America; it’s terrible if you’re poor. I don’t know about you, but it’s not quite the balance you’d like to be living with.


A Love Letter to Australia

First Dog on the Moon writes a love letter to Australia:

Hello Australia, I have always loved you.

There isn’t space here to list everything as Australia takes up a lot of space.

I love standing still in the bush when it is pushing 40 degrees…

I love watching Test cricket. With the sound on the TV off and the ABC radio on…

Geez we can be funny buggers though. I love that. And the way we talk, I reckon if the science could work out a way to weaponise an accent, Australian voices could blast a hole in the moon. Yeah nah

I love the fact that everyone’s taken to be equal, how we talk about our leaders as Bob and Paul and Johnny and Kevin and Julia and Tony and Mal, none of this formality nonsense.

I love how “She’ll be right,” is a legitimate attitude to just about everything.

Love this peice.

quickie tech

Amazon makes the checkout chick redundant

I mean, even more so than previously:

I wonder where people are going to get the money to pay for these fancy computer monitored grocery stores.

politics quickie

Did George Lucas predict the current political environment?

A bit more US-centric, but this gives me the shivers:

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, paralyzing political divisions threatened democratic governments. Disputes over free trade, and the free movement of people and goods, were a big reason. Stymied by polarization and endless debates, the Senate proved unable to resolve those disputes.

As a result, nationalist sentiments intensified, leading to movements for separation from centralized institutions. People craved a strong leader who would introduce order — and simultaneously combat growing terrorist threats.

Think we’ve already got Senator Jar Jar Bernadi here in Australia…



Putting space into perspective

“Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mindbogglingly big it is. I mean you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”


The New Devil’s Dictionary

A guide to the terms of modern living:

tab (n.): Something opened, then closed, then opened again, then closed again, for eternity.

social (n.): An app or website that simulates what it might be like to interact with other people.

Instagram (n.): A persistent reminder that people you know can afford more expensive restaurants and better vacations than you.

So much to cringe and nod at.


First Kiss

Twenty strangers meet and kiss on camera for the first time.

I’m amazed how intimate some of these get for a first kiss between strangers.


House of Cards Opening: West Wing Edition

Spoilers for Season 2:


Now imagine if these characters had been written by Sorkin instead… Hmm.


Reinventing the Smoke Alarm

Nest, who recently reinvented the thermostat for the 21st century, are at it again with the smoke alarm:

To improve safety, Nest had to find a way to thwart false alarms, which lead people to tempt fate by disconnecting their units. The company’s solution is the pre-alarm heads-up. Nest Protect detects the problem before it reaches alarm-triggering levels and informs you, deploying its reassuring yet authoritative prerecorded human voice. Users can forestall the full-scale siren of the alarm with a wave of a hand under the device. This “gestural hush,” detected by motion sensors in the smoke detector, gives them some time to deal with the offending situation. When the air returns to normal, the voice delivers an all-clear message and the device glows green.

Sounds fantastic. Want to see more of this kind of innovation coming Australia’s way.


Nintendo announces 2DS

New from Nintendo:

The new Nintendo 2DS system gives you all the features of the Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo 3DS XL, minus 3D viewing. And the price makes the world of Nintendo games even more accessible.

Did I miss something where Nintendo didn’t have a dual-screen console beforehand? Or where they can’t just implement this in software? And now the 2DS doesn’t fold up like all the dual-screen consoles before, meaning it needs something to protect the screen.

This kind of product profusion from Nintendo (DS, DS lite, DSi, DSi XL, 3DS, 3DS XL, and now the 2DS) points to a company that’s lost its way. The Wii U has gone into obscurity less than 6 months after its release. Truly sad.