Tag: random (page 1 of 2)

The Duck-Cat of Minerva

I want readers to know that I would never, ever link to a Buzzfeed video. Unless, of course, the video included footage of Ifrit. He receives about three seconds of fame — starting at about a minute in.

Netw…. Um, maybe not.

Say networking one more time

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Krugman’s (Probably) Wrong about Apple and Network Externalities

Paul Krugman has an op-ed in today’s New York Times in which he likens the rise and decline of technology companies to Ibn Khaldun’s account of the rise and decline of dynasties: success breeds complacency and soon the barbarians are running the show. This happened, he argues, to Microsoft, which once upon a time dominated the computer industry thanks to network externalities:

The odd thing was that nobody seemed to like Microsoft’s products. By all accounts, Apple computers were better than PCs using Windows as their operating system. Yet the vast majority of desktop and laptop computers ran Windows. Why?

The answer, basically, is that everyone used Windows because everyone used Windows. If you had a Windows PC and wanted help, you could ask the guy in the next cubicle, or the tech people downstairs, and have a very good chance of getting the answer you needed. Software was designed to run on PCs; peripheral devices were designed to work with PCs.

This state of affairs bred complacency and Microsoft failed to anticipate the shift to mobile devices. Now Apple risks the same fate.

Anyway, the funny thing is that Apple’s position in mobile devices now bears a strong resemblance to Microsoft’s former position in operating systems. True, Apple produces high-quality products. But they are, by most accounts, little if any better than those of rivals, while selling at premium prices.

So why do people buy them? Network externalities: lots of other people use iWhatevers, there are more apps for iOS than for other systems, so Apple becomes the safe and easy choice. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

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First-World Nerd Problems: A Nintendo 3DS Bleg

Last week I purchased a Nintendo handheld (on steep discount) for the express purpose of playing Okamiden. Okami is one of my most favoritist games evah; even though Okamiden is basically more of the same, I’m cool with that.

Yesterday we had to buy off the wee one–we did, in fact, have a pretty terrible day from her perspective–so we offered to purchase her a game to play. That led to Animal Crossing: A New Leaf and a complete loss of custody over the Nintendo. So complete, in fact, that she basically bought it from me. Continue reading

The Global Diffusion of Bikeshares (I)

velibEditor’s Note: This started off as two bullet points, but it’s morphed into a surprisingly lengthy piece about Bikeshares.  Blame the easy availability of both picturesque bike rides and cheap wine in Western Europe.  This is the first installment; a second will follow.

At the age of 19, I moved to the Netherlands for a summer.  Like most tourists, I had read about the famous Dutch “white bikes,” a non-locked bike-sharing system that guidebooks were fond of presenting as proof of Dutch civic-mindedness.  The system was simple: see a white bike, take, use, leave wherever.  Of course, there was an alternative course of action, perhaps unforeseen by white bike planners: take, use, spray paint, keep.*  I never saw a white bike.  There are mixed reports on whether the system was ever particularly vibrant; by the 1990s, however, it was gone.**

In the mid-2000s, the solving of the enforcement issue allowed the birth of modern bikeshare systems in western Europe.  These systems relied on locking stations, credit card-secured rentals, and heavy step-through commuter bikes.  They now exist in major cities on five continents, and we’re inching toward exponential growth in both numbers of systems and riders.  Western Europe is increasingly saturated, and bikeshares are spreading to smaller towns, especially in France, Spain, and Italy. North America has been slow out of the gate, but there are established systems in DC, Boston, and Denver.  New York’s Citibikes are finally online. Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, San Diego, and others should be up within the next year.  Though information on bikeshares outside the OECD is bikeshares is minimal, they do seem to be a truly global phenomenon. In Asia, Hangzhou currently has the world’s largest bikeshare with 66,500 bicycles, roughly 3 times the number of Paris’s Velib; Beijing’s currently has 14,000 with plans to expand. Several Indian cities have incipient bikeshares, as do cities in several Latin American countries.

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Brief Observations on Kansas City

I spent most of the past week in Kansas City, MO while my daughter competed at the Tumbling and Trampoline National Championships. If you must know, she did fine. I’m most proud of how she handled herself. She was expected to do very well in one of her events, but she made some mistakes and underperformed. She didn’t let it get to her, however, and we had a great time.

This was the first time I’d set foot in Kansas City. In fact, I’ve never been in Missouri before. I had no idea how cool the architecture is. Kansas City has a number of pre-war landmarks, including Municipal Auditorium, which is simply a magnificent structure.

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Common Errors in Essay Writing, as Demonstrated by Film Critics, Part 1

Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post settled on a theme for her extremely negative review of the new “The Lone Ranger” flick. Indeed, one might argue that developing a unifying thread is an important part of short-form writing. It holds everything together and provides the reader with a single, if stylized, takeaway. He basic theme? That The Lone Ranger tries to combine too many different themes, tones, and film elements. It suffers from such a severe case of summer blockbuster-itis that it pushes through mashup, beyond potpourri, and into full-blown incoherence. As she writes:

What’s more, despite its impressively staged set pieces, “The Lone Ranger” can’t survive the epic train wreck resulting from its own tonal clashes, wherein mournful scenes of genocide and stolen immigrant labor are tastelessly juxtaposed with silly slapstick humor, and solemn historic revisionism abuts awkwardly with overblown computer-generated spectacle.

Now, you might ask, “what’s so dumb about that?” Why, nothing at all. Except….

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In Honor of Jay Carney

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The State of Political Science

It may, however, be appropriate to point out that the persisting bipolar conflict in the  field between humanists and behavioralists conceals a lively polemic within both camps  and perhaps particularly among the so-called  behavioralists. Among the modernists neologisms burst like roman candles in the sky, and wars of epistemological legitimacy are fought. The devotees of rigor and theories of the middle range reject more speculative general theory as  non-knowledge; and the devotees of general theory attack those with more limited scope as technicians, as answerers in search of questions.

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This Monster Duck is Coming to Eat You. And Your Family Too.

Release the Quackin

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Just When You Thought the Interwebs Were Safe

Someone comes along with a “Call Me Maybe” joke. A mashup of Nine Inch Nails‘ “Head Like a Hole” and the insidious zombie-song of last summer.

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The MOOC Top Ten

I should probably be wary of taunting the coming moopocalypse, but, as everyone knows, I laugh in the face of obsolescence. So, without further explanation, here are my top ten reasons for MOOCs:

10. The “sage on a stage” isn’t just dead… she’s undead and in high-definition.
9. Web 1.0 monetized those eyeballs like nobody’s business.
8. When your acronym is homophonous with “mook” what could possibly go wrong?
7. MMOCs would probably be too much fun to count as college-level education.
6. MIT and Harvard won’t rest until they’ve achieved total world domination… and only Stanford can stand in their way!
5. The tree of education needs to be refreshed from time to time with the blood of a few college presidents.
4. Too many parents live with the curse of empty basements.
3. University administrators are running dangerously short of buzzwords.
2. It wouldn’t be higher education without something to have an existential crisis over.

And, for all my colleagues and students out there:

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An Unexpected Error

Reader Anjali Dayal sends along this image from Foreign Policy (since corrected):

Untitled 2Presumably Mr. Putin has not yet overturned Roe v. Wade.

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Via Ari Kohen, a visualization of the nearest 100,000 stars in Sol’s neighborhood.

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Oh, Shoot! I Forgot Morning Linkage!

I’m now on my sixth day of the sick, so in lieu of a post that requires much thought:

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Ducks Everywhere

The Onion reports on a story of profound importance to readers of this blog.

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Halloween 2012, Nexon Style

We prepare to pillage for candy!

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Pop Music Brings a Lot More Readers than Social Science: Follow-up on ‘Kangnam Style’

Korea_Seokguram_Buddha Now THAT is Korean art – the Seokguram Buddha; I’ve been to see it 3 times

The Internet has slapped down my arrogance. I told myself I wouldn’t write about k-pop, but that post on ‘Kangnam Style’ drove so much traffic to my site and twitter, that here is a response to all the comments. It’s kinda of depressing how my posts on Asian political economy or what-not get little traffic and a lot of yawns, but K-pop brings huge numbers. It’s like those Facebook posts on something you find interesting that no one bothers to look at, but put up a pic of yourself blotto on a beach, and everyone ‘likes’ it.

1. I am not sure K-pop is really ‘family-friendly,’ as one of my commenters argued. I hadn’t really thought about that, but I guess it’s nice to have light, fluffy lyrics instead of gangster rap or Robert Plant screaming that he’s ‘your backdoor man.’ But if you watch the performances and look at the appearance of these ‘bands,’ it is highly sexualized and teasing – and that is obviously far more important the music itself, which just comes from a music machine. These band members can’t play instruments, but they do look like sex symbols and swing around on poles wearing leather boots like strippers. (*sigh* you see why I wanted to avoid writing about k-pop?) Is that what you want the kids watching? What kind of signal does that send?

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More slides from the talk after the fold.

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