Prehistoric Skull Helps Complete the Human Story

Interesting article about a prehistoric skull found in North Israel may finally prove that Neanderthals and modern humans lived together.

“It is the first direct fossil evidence that modern humans and Neanderthals inhabited the same area at the same time,” said paleontologist Bruce Latimer of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

“The co-existence of these two populations in a confined geographic region at the same time that genetic models predict interbreeding promotes the notion that interbreeding may have occurred in the Levant region,” Tel Aviv University anthropologist Israel Hershkovitz said.

I love discoveries like this. It makes me wonder if we’ll ever really know the full story of how we came to be.

Happy National Good Day Day

good day

Today is National Good Day Day. What is National Good Day Day, you may ask. Well, my dear friend, it is a day we celebrate every year in honor of the most perfect South Central day ever observed, on January 20th, 1992.

Murk Avenue breaks down the clues of Ice Cube’s “It Was a Good Day” to pinpoint the exact day the song took place..

“went to short dogs house, they was watching Yo MTV RAPS”
Yo MTV RAPS first aired:
Aug 6th 1988

Ice Cubes single “today was a good day” released on:
Feb 23 1993
Read more

How White Flight Ravaged the Mississippi Delta

This article is absolutely fascinating and depressing at the same time. St. Louis has experienced its own form of White Flight with folks moving from the city to county,1 which, to this day, still keeps the area pretty segregated, a point that was seen quite vividly with the Michael Brown case.

After emancipation, plantation owners relied upon sharecroppers to grow and harvest their crops. To keep the system in place, white leaders studiously kept out industries that might lure their laborers away from agriculture, as historian James Cobb reported in his seminal book about the Delta, The Most Southern Place on Earth.

  1. Or even further West with St. Charles, Lincoln, and Warren counties experiencing explosive growth over the past few decades

Ripping DVDs and Blu-rays

Jason Snell at Six Colors wrote up a great article on how he rips DVDs and Blu-rays.

This article came at the perfect time as I’ve been contemplating getting an external Blu-ray drive for my Mac Mini. Currently, I’ve been ripping some DVDs (using Handbrake) as I’ve been converting my gigantic collection to files that I can play back on my TV via Plex and my Roku. It takes about 20-30 minutes to rip a DVD on my Mini and the fans blow like crazy almost the entire time. That has been one of my biggest concerns with getting a Blu-ray drive. My concerns seem to be valid after reading this from Snell’s article:

Video files take a long time to encode. Even on my 5K iMac, this three-hour HD baseball game will take more than two hours to encode. Be patient, or let your encodes run overnight.

Now, I’m not ripping three-hour baseball games, but I do have some movies that go on three hours, or even longer. If my fans blow like crazy for 10-15 of the 30 minutes of a DVD rip, I can’t imagine what will happen if I try to rip a Blu-ray and encode the video for a couple of hours 1. Should I even bother or should I just re-purchase (or otherwise acquire) those movies in a stream-able format? I’ll have to browse around and see if there are Mini owners that are ripping Blu-rays without long term negative consequences to their Minis.

  1. Or longer as Snell was doing it on his new, suped up Retina iMac and I have a 2012 Mac Mini

The ’90s Tech Industry is Back

The Verge has an interesting article, Facebook is the new AOL, that discusses how the tech industry of the 1990s is back.

The 90s were a decade of excess and mistakes and excessive mistakes. The rollicking good times of the 90s ended with the dot-com collapse of the early 2000s, the memories of which continue to shape the industry today.

So it’s worth noting that the broad outlines of tech in 2015 look surprisingly like the late 90s. The major players are set up the same, the fights are the same, and the mistakes will almost certainly be the same…

2015 will be defined by the Revenge of 90s Internet: media and tech giants flirting with each other, dominant players throwing their weight around, and portals, portals everywhere.

The article does a good job of comparing the major tech giants today with the ones of yesteryear. Facebook as AOL. Apple as Sony, Qualcomm as Intel and Google as Microsoft. The two that really hit the nail on the head for me are Apple as Sony and Google as Microsoft. That being said, some of these comparisons may just be skin deep. I think companies like Apple and Facebook are in much better positions than there predecessors. Perhaps that’s the point of the article. The companies of the ’90s could do no wrong and no one saw the downfall that would be not far off.

Stopping Data at the Border

Another article in the never-ending war against net neutrality and the fight against privacy.

The ITC recently gave itself the power to rule on data as it crosses US borders, as a result of a complex 3D printing case. If the ruling holds, it could have huge implications for the way data moves across the global web, and give the MPAA the site-blocking powers it’s been grasping at for years…

If you shipped in a boatload of Expendables DVDs, the ITC would have no problem stopping it at the border — so why not an ISO file? The technical mechanisms for blocking that file in transit would end up looking a lot like site-blocking, and the memo goes on to explain why targeting consumer-facing ISPs would be their best strategy in the wake of a favorable ruling by the Federal Circuit. It’s still unclear whether copyright would fall under the same rules (the current ruling may only apply to patents), but if it does, it would be Hollywood’s best legal channel for blocking sites in transit, supporting the same ISP-based blocking regime that was proposed by SOPA.

Giving the MPAA power to block sites because of the content on the sites is a slippery slope, one that should make everyone uncomfortable.

SNL’s Serial Spoof is Absolutely Brilliant

This past weekend SNL took on the popular podcast Serial with a brilliant digital short. Cecily Strong does a great impression of host Sarah Koenig. The spoof investigates the story of Kris Kringle, an elf who allegedly leaves presents in people’s homes. Watch it below.