The zidi retweet #6

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1. On January 1, Xenomorph Records released over 200 minutes of music, including tracks from various experimental artists like Scott Lawlor, Cousin Silas and Oneirich. The compilation is named New Year’s Darkness and is available on a pay-what-you-like basis on Bandcamp. Listen here.

2. The Mothman (shudder), Bessie, Momo and Chupacabra: A Cryptozoological Map of the United States.

3. Some fish get a condition that is similar to the bends. A reusable device would help fisherman release them safely.

4. “It was not until I took part in a performance of the Bach B Minor Mass in 1983 that I came to question the desirability of having a degree of perfect pitch. The so-called early music revival was in full swing at that time and as soon the rehearsal started I realized that this performance of Bach’s masterpiece was, to my ears, in Bb minor. I was going to have to mentally transpose every note down by a semitone. In such complex, often chromatic and swiftly-moving music, the concentration involved in transposing was overbearing.”

5. How did Neversink, New York meet its end? It sunk.

6. “Crickets are surprisingly nutritious. Per hundred grams, they contain nearly the same amount of protein as ground beef and the same amount of iron as spinach, and more vitamin B12 than salmon. In light of the glaring resource-intensiveness and environmental impact of raising traditional meats, crickets have piqued people’s interest because they are so efficient: Pound for pound, the bugs need far less water and feed than chickens and cows. The market now includes competing cricket-protein bars, cricket-based snack chips (“Chirps”), and cricket flour for baking; chefs are offering items such as cricket tacos on menus.”

7. “They’re Watching You Read”.

8. “Devoid of shoppers for years, Bangkok’s New World shopping center is losing the thousands of fish that have more recently called the condemned mall home. An estimated 3,000 fish, brought to the roofless, flooded building a decade ago by nearby vendors in hopes of controlling a burgeoning mosquito population, are being removed by Bangkok Metropolitan Administration staff.”

9. “It may seem like a wasteful act of reckless pollution, but there is a deeper purpose behind this odd method of disposal. Each subway car will be left on the ocean floor, to be assimilated into the ecosystem. Over time, every surface will be covered in life, creating an artificial coral reef system.”

10. American Idol’s Season 11 winner Phillip Phillips wants out of his contract with “the oppressive, fatally conflicted 19 Entertainment, Inc.” His complaint–filed last week with the State of California Labor Commissioner–reads as equal parts procedural vaudeville and artistic caterwauling, often within the same sentence: “Petitioner, after achieving substantial success as a recording artist, frequently requested that Respondent secure for him various improvements to the terms of the Recording Agreement, a typical event in the life of a rising star.” Something tells us that these depositions won’t be as fun as Pharrell’s, but the claim is still young.

11. Jerry A. Coyne–among many others–reports that Andrew Sullivan will retire from blogging. (Didn’t we go through this once already?) Sullivan’s transition from uneasy conservative to heckling contrarian should have been fascinating to watch, but the religious longform, gated content and sometimes deafening pitch of his rhetorical voice became off-putting. I’d like to say that we’ll miss him, but he’ll be back. As to any stress-related health issues, we wish him a prompt and full recovery.

–C.E. Alexander would gladly offer up Book of Constants for an artificial coral reef. In the Caribbean, preferably. But really anywhere.

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The zidi retweet #3

Maybe it’s that those of us in Dallas and the surrounding areas have been watching the news nonstop, but these stories absolutely crooned. Without any more ado, our top tweets of the last month:

1. Easily my favorite: Ultramarathoner Reza Baluchi set out to run the perimeter of the Bermuda Triangle in a 3mm-thick plastic sphere, armed only with a hammock, bottled water, protein bars, fishing gear and a satellite phone. After 70 nautical miles he inadvertently set off his distress beacon and the U.S. Coast Guard picked him up. The idea was to raise awareness for his Plant Unity nonprofit. Visit his website to learn more.

2. “Failures of the Electric Comet Model.”

3. “In April 2003 we formed a charitable group to remake an authentic, playable version of the famous Gold Lyre of Ur which dates from 2,550 BC.”

4. “The Krakatoa explosion registered 172 decibels at 100 miles from the source. This is so astonishingly loud, that it’s inching up against the limits of what we mean by sound.”

5. “The anonymous literary salon in a Brooklyn bar.”

6. Pharrell’s deposition…

7. …which was only slightly funnier than Robin Thicke’s deposition.

8. “CrossFit’s injury rate is about 3 injuries per thousand hours of training. That’s higher than college cross-country or swimming, but lower than lacrosse, field hockey or basketball.”

9. File this one under NSA_mission_creep: “The total would have been $7.9 sextillion. That’s equal to a stack of $100 bills (if that many actually existed) so high that it would go back and forth to the sun 28,769 times.”

–C.E. Alexander is the author of four short stories and zero peer-reviewed articles (unless you count Amazon reader reviews of Book of Constants).

Ray vs. Wal Mart Stores

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By C.E. Alexander

Twenty million customers will visit a Walmart today, and one million Walmart employees will show up for work. Statistically speaking, these 21 million people own about 21 million guns. Enough of them brandish their weapons—and the results are so combustive—that the world’s largest retailer has been forced to write a de-escalation clause into their national theft prevention policy: Continue reading

What does the iOS 7 agreement say, exactly?

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by C.E. Alexander

If you have an iPhone, chances are you operate it with iOS 7. And if you do, you have already agreed to the iOS 7 licensing terms. It’s not as Orwellian as you might fear: the addition of Siri introduced some creepy verbiage about contact information, and Apple makes no warranty whatsoever regarding the performance of iOS 7. And as for 2(d), which requires the user to store only those songs and images for which he or she holds the copyright? If we’re reading it right, it prohibits one of the only things we intend to do with our smart phones in the first place.

But otherwise none of the language is terribly inventive or alarming. Those of us who regularly execute contracts will not be surprised by anything here: don’t use the operating system to break the law. Don’t copy it or reverse-engineer it. Don’t sue Apple for more than $250. Don’t call if it malfunctions. If you disagree with any of these terms, go get a refund on your phone.

For those who would still rather be sure, we have taken the basic outline of the license, stripped away the legalese, and refitted the structure with something a bit more lightweight. The activists in the crowd are encouraged to discuss paragraph 4(c) with Apple directly. How can the user possibly agree on behalf of one contact in their address book, not to mention all of them? It’s an onerous, ridiculous, and vague provision. And it’s way too late for most of us to get a refund. Continue reading