Nate Silver’s Braying Idiot Detractors Show That Being Ignorant About Politics Is Like Being Ignorant About Sports

Nate Silver has been predicting since June a decisive Obama victory in the upcoming election. Silver uses statistical modeling as the basis for his opinion, not rhetoric or anecdote as do many analysts. Naturally, Silver has been enduring a mounting backlash for months.

Silver has been wrong in thousands of small ways, but he's been noticeably correct in predicting the outcomes of many major political races, including the 2008 election (he only missed one state in his predicted Obama victory) and the midterm races.

Come next Tuesday, we'll see exactly how accurate and precise Silver's models are.

P!ink's 'Try' Video, and How It Fights the Unrealistic Female Body-Image Standard

If you haven't already, check out P!ink's official video for 'Try', off her The Truth About Love LP:

Aside from being a fantastic song, look at P!nk. She's a far cry from the emaciated fashion models we see in magazines and TV. She's heavier, muscular and athletic, clearly the product of her gymnast background. She doesn't only look the part, but she can do the part as well.

I talk about this with my wife all the time: a real woman, capable of real power and physical prowess, beats the 900 calorie-per-day 'ideals' we have shoved into our retinas.

While P!nk is by no means naturally unattractive or unconditioned, she nonetheless shows a bigger, stronger version of physical appeal -- one that's so much more realistic (and healthy) than the alternatives.

The Folly of Trying To Talk Somebody Out of Something They Enjoy

Stated perfectly by one of the guys who inspired me to start blogging in the first place:

“Trying to talk somebody out of the stuff that they enjoy in life is like trying to talk them out of their faith or their sexuality. It’s a pointless exercise that can never be anything but acrimonious and will only highlight unnecessary amounts of difference about things that ultimately don’t really matter. Buy the steak you like, worship the god you love, neck with the people that you treasure and don’t worry about the numbers.”

-- Merlin Mann, from Episode #91 of Back to Work

Nation Suddenly Realizes This Just Going To Be A Thing That Happens From Now On

Scary and prescient article from The Onion, which I'm convinced is the Jon Stewart of print media: funny-rag veneer with a great deal of smarts and truth underneath.

Sony RX100 Test Shots

Here are some casual, off-the-cuff test shots from the Sony RX100. These are out-of-camera JPG (imported into iPhoto, and then back out at maximum quality), with no in-camera or post tweaks applied whatsoever. Most of these were shot in iA (Intelligent Auto) except the golf snaps, which were shot in Scene Mode/Sports Action.

If you have any questions, ask away and I will try to answer them.

Excited Train Guy

This guy utterly loses his shit upon seeing these two 'heritage' trains. I understand getting excited, but this...this is up there with the double rainbow guy.

Also of note: he calls himself a foamer which is a pejorative for 'railfan', or train enthusiast.

Can Carb Refeeds Boost Stalled Weight Loss?

Mark Sisson:

Short answer: Yes, I think there is something to the lowish-carber’s occasional carb and calorie fest. Its relevance to a given individual depends on that person’s metabolic situation, of course, but I wouldn’t dismiss it out of hand. Check out my previous posts on leptin and carb refeeds and weight loss to get an idea.

When I started paleo and a CrossFit regimen, I went from 18% bodyfat to around 11% in the space of six months. From there, the fat crept up a bit (to around 13%), and strength/performance numbers stayed flat.

Only once I allowed myself a pretty liberal re-feed once a week did things get moving again.

Low-carb is great, but monitor your physical requirements. If you have high output demands, don't skimp on intelligently timed carbs, or you'll wind up where I did: immune suppressed with adrenal fatigue and a low white blood count. This is especially true if you're hitting your glycolytic pathways hard.

Give your body what it needs.

Apple Wants to Wipe Google Off the Map with iOS 6

Daniel Eran Dilger:

Apple is not only disconnecting its native iOS 6 Maps app from Google's servers, but will also redirect all third party app requests to its own mapping servers, immediately taking the majority of mobile maps traffic away from Google as it forges new strategic partnerships for mapping.

Apple's new mapping software in iOS 6 marks an attempt by the iPhone maker to further marginalize its rival, Google. By taking away a significant source of traffic, Apple hopes it can help push Google quite literally off the map.

Apple's forthcoming Maps application in iOS 6: the feature nobody requested.

Google Maps on iOS was certain getting stale -- noticeably feature-poorer than Google Maps on Android -- but people just wanted an updated, better Google Maps on iOS. Nobody I've talked to is asking for Apple to ditch Google outright and provide a version 1.0 Apple maps solution in its stead.

I understand Apple wants to marginalize Google. Apple views Android as a stolen product, a derivative of Apple's vision and work, and Jobs made it clear that he'd maintain outright war with Android until his last penny was spent.

That's fine and well. I understand that. Jobs felt wronged, and in my opinion, rightly so.

But to remove the world's best and most popular mapping solution and replace it with something that will undoubtedly be immature by way of comparison? To have no web version? To not have walking or public transit directions lest you be kicked into another app?

Makes me nervous. In the mobile world, Apple needs to control its core technologies, and relying on a partner, much less a contentious partner, isn't a long-term fit. Maps is one of those core technologies.

But.

This is one place where Apple can't afford a version 1.0, half-finished product. If iOS 6's Maps is anything like Siri, there will be a cacophony of howls, at which point the question becomes: when can I download the Google Maps app from the App Store, and how can I set it to default? This isn't what you call a PR-friendly outcome.

Going from a mediocre mapping implementation to a poor or unfinished one is not an option. I hope Apple is firing on all cylinders here.

Adderall: A Cautionary Tale

Trent Wolbe, writing for The Verge:

A subtler but probably much more profound effect permeates my cycle of Adderall use. I'd stopped eating. I'd stopped sleeping. I'd stopped getting horny. I'd stopped getting distracted by habits that I normally reveled in, which all seemed good. One day, about five months in, I noticed that I had stopped paying attention to music. My pleasure receptors, which in their normal state constantly cry out for sex, french fries, naps, and Katy Perry, had all become blunted. As a DJ that last thirst was something that sustained me not only spiritually but financially, and its void scared me almost as much as my flaccid penis. If I wasn't the California Gurl-obsessed snack addict I knew, then what the fuck was I?

And to think we give our children this shit.

The Nexus 7 Review: Surprising Words from an Unrepentant iOS/OSX User

Right up front, let me be clear about bias, because that’s a word that certainly gets tossed around after posts like this: I am an unabashed iOS/OSX user. My technology sprawl includes two 27 inch iMacs, a Thunderbolt Cinema Display, a MacBook Air, an iPad ‘3’ and my constantly-conjoined second brain, an iPhone 4S. My experience with Android before the Nexus 7 was precisely this: shit. As in: shitty. Android was clunky, ugly, lag-soaked and had such substandard third-party apps so as to make apps in general a complete afterthought outside of Google’s own. I tried to give Android a fair shake twice, only to run back to iOS’s polished embrace each time. And god, no regrets.

So. That said, what compelled me to even think about a Nexus 7? In a word, the buzz. A ton of Android tablets have been released, and none so much as stirred the slightest wave of interest outside of hardcore Android devotees. The Nexus 7, however, was immediately different. As evidenced by stellar sales and strong reviews, its shine is unmistakeable, even for diehard iOS fans like me. It became clear to me that it was time to take the plunge – again - this time without committing my phone to the platform. And for $199, you’re on the cusp of technology impulse purchase territory – especially seeing how you could turn around and sell it in a red second if you didn’t like it. And something must be clicking, somewhere: as I write this, the 16GB Nexus 7 is sold out on the Google Play store. Even Google wasn’t expecting this much fanfare surrounding its new tablet.

I’m not going to go all The Verge on you and give you the uber-detailed breakdown. If you want that, it’s out there. What I am going to give you is my impression of the Nexus 7 from the standpoint of an entrenched Apple user. Off we go.

Android Itself

Ever since Android got into the mobile game, I thought Google was taking far too long to make attractive its real core competency: its web and web app infrastructure. There is nobody on Earth who knows the cloud like Google, and increasingly, everything is done online. Why couldn’t Google make that value proposition attractive? It’s the world’s web mothership, something that is nearly impossible to build and refine the way Google has through years and hard-fought battles. Look at how Apple is struggling to get iCloud where it wants it.

Google’s failure to launch at a consumer appeal level is a testament to how hard user experience is to get right. Apple lives and dies by it, and Google is only just now beginning to understand. Matias Duarte is doing good work at Google, and the product is better for it.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is the first version of Android that truly comes close to competing with iOS in terms of user experience. It’s smooth, fast, attractive and far more intuitive that it was in earlier incarnations. Things like task switching and notifications are done very well, and I’d say even better than iOS. It’s a joy to use. The overall polish and flow is not quite there, but it’s close to the point where you can no longer look at Android with derision and laugh at the rough edges and laughable lags and hiccups.

Let me put it this way: over a four-day drip to Algonquin Provincial Park in Canada, I used the Nexus 7 exclusively, even with the iPad within arm’s reach. And the funny thing is that I wasn’t using the Nexus 7 begrudgingly: I found myself wanting to use it.

Screen

The Nexus 7 doesn’t have a Retina display, and the colors aren’t quite as vivid as my iPad ‘3’, but it’s nonetheless a very nice screen. Text in Instapaper or the Kindle app is sharp and clear, and colors are excellent. Viewing angles drop off about 30 degrees off center, but it’s not dramatic. Nobody outside of hardware nerds would notice.

One issue though: at the screen’s lowest brightness (as governed by auto brightness), the display flickers sometimes. It doesn’t happen every time, nor in every app. It’s bizarre. I’m hoping it’s a software issue. The geek zeitgeist suggests it might be something related to Tegra 3-powered tablets, but I can’t confirm. We’ll see.

Keyboard

Finally, an Android device that doesn’t absolutely need Swiftkey installed.

The Jelly Bean default keyboard is fantastic, and I find I can type on the Nexus 7 nearly as fast as I can on my iPad due to the smaller form factor. I have no delusions about typing two-handed (the Nexus 7 is pretty weak here, even in landscape); instead, I use the device like a giant phone and go at it in dual-thumb mode. It works surprisingly well, and Android’s auto-prediction is excellent. I really wish iOS would give you a ‘suggestion bar’ like Android does. It’s a great touch and real time-saver. In fact, this review was mostly written on the Nexus 7. It’s no iMac with a full keyboard, but its entirely serviceable.

Apps

Here’s the Achilles heel, and it’s a big one.

Outside of Google’s own apps, Android apps are a solid order of magnitude behind what you get on iOS. It’s jarring. Most Twitter clients are garbage (I hated Tweetcaster), so I’m stuck with the ‘official’ Twitter client on Android, a far, far cry from Tweetbot on iOS. In fact, that’s what hits you when you go back to the iPad after using the Nexus 7 – the realization of just how seriously fantastic iOS apps are.

I can’t stress this enough. If you are an app user (I say ‘if’ because I’ve met many Android users who mostly stick to what comes shipped with the OS), you’ll find Android ecosystem is doing okay on quantity, but the quality relative to what you see on iOS is tremendously disappointing. To my eyes, there’s no question top-flight developers are focusing on iOS first.

Android apps have light years of catching up to do, and the ridiculously fragmented Android ecosystem isn’t doing itself any favors. If I’m Google, I’m hoping the success of the Nexus 7 provides a foothold for developers to start creating some truly excellent apps – ones that aren’t available on iOS. If Android is going to win the hearts and minds of the Apple-leaning, it needs quality apps, not just warmed-over remakes of what’s been out on iOS for over a year. It also needs to get a ton of devices on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean as quick as humanly possible, but that’s another story altogether.

Google Now vs. Siri

Siri’s ‘beta-ness’ is growing old, and Google Now just highlights it.

Bottom line: Google Now smokes Siri in just about every test I threw at it. In fact, while Google Now isn’t perfect (there’s no personality, and it doesn’t do quite as well with natural language), it’s far better than Siri on her best day. Google Now is fast, does a lot of its voice parsing on-device, and returns focused Google results under the primary results card for a given query. If there is no primary results card (like you get when you ask, say, how old Nicklas Lidstrom is), you will get regular Google search results, as if you submitted a voice search. Which, in effect, you did.

I think Siri is one of the greatest Apple missteps in recent history, and I wish I could say I liked it more. Between not being available, mis-interpreting my speech, or just flat-out not knowing how to handle a query, Siri is a novelty to me. I use it to add items to a shopping list, and that’s it.

Google Now is a useful tool. See here, here and here to better understand why.

Battery Life

The old Android demon of horrific battery life has been banished – at least for the time being.

The Nexus 7 has battery life equivalent to what I get out of my iPad, perhaps a touch less. I didn’t do formal rundown tests, but what you should know is gone are the days when you could watch an Android device’s battery meter literally decrement in front of your eyes. If battery life is your concern, the Nexus 7 doesn’t disappoint.

Form Factor and Size

The 7.x inch tablet is for real. There’s no denying that.

I find holding and using the Nexus 7 to be very comfortable – the weight compares to my Kindle 3G Keyboard (which is for sale and has been used for about one hour, total – more on that later), and for reading, it’s a dream. The device is easy to pick up, use and store, having the same weight as a thin-ish trade paperback.

You wouldn’t think a few inches would make a difference, but it does. Big time. The iPad seems huge by comparison, and I suspect Apple knows this. I have every confidence we’ll see a 7.x (7.85?) inch iPad this fall, because no way Cupertino lets anyone else capture a nascent market segment.

And yes, the smaller tablet market is something Apple wants. Don’t think otherwise for a second.

Browsing

Chrome on the Nexus 7 is extremely good, but Google hasn’t smoothed the rough edges Apple has with Safari.

I love Chrome. I know this is blasphemy for Apple purists, so you’ll have to send me a nasty email. Chrome is lighting fast, easy to sync across multiple machines, and has great standards support. Plus, its extension library is wide and deep.

On the desktop.

On mobile devices, Chrome shows its relative immaturity. Certain web pages scroll and zoom just a bit clumsily, and there are some rare non-responding touches and swipes. Don’t misunderstand me: the entire thing is a great browsing experience. Compared to Mobile Safari, though, it’s got a bit of work left to do.

However, the mere fact that I can mention browser quality on Android and iOS in the same few sentences without snide contrast is a first for me. Until Jelly Bean, browsing on Android was nowhere near what you got with Mobile Safari. That’s no longer the case.

E-mail

I’ll just say this: I’ve had problems setting up every stock Android email client with Zimbra, the system I use for work. Every single one has failed outright or worked so weirdly that I had to search for alternative clients – before I rushed back to iOS’s excellent Mail.app.

On the Nexus 7, Google ships the first Android client that I configured to work with Zimbra. Not only did it work exactly as iOS’s Mail.app does, it was almost as easy to set up. Not quite the same, but again: close enough.

Ecosystems

The Nexus 7 is mated to Google’s new Google Play store, which is its iTunes equivalent. And from casual kicking around, it’s quite well done.

But here’s the deal about software entrenchment: if you’re heavily invested in iOS apps, it’s a tough sell to convince someone to duplicate his purchases on another platform. Same applies to Android users who are contemplating iOS: are you really willing to cough up the cabbage again? I know I wouldn’t be outside of just a few key apps (Instapaper on Android, for instance), and that fact alone relegates any Android device I have to second-tier duty, mainly as a reader or smaller, lighter browsing machine.

The problem Google faces with Android is that most Android users aren’t heavily financially invested in apps. I’ve yet to find many Android users who actually pay for any apps, let alone many. For Google, this is a vulnerability: it lends itself to a financially frictionless move over to iOS. You can’t say the same thing the other way around.

Wrap-Up

The Nexus 7 is the first tablet to really make people notice something other than the iPad. Sure, the Kindle Fire had its buzz, and some folks said it was an iPad competitor, but that noise died quickly as the jagged edges of Android and the Fire revealed themselves.

I still don’t think the Nexus 7 is meant to be an iPad competitor – not yet. I see it as an entrant into a fledgling market segment and almost a loss-leading proof-of-concept on Google’s behalf. It’s Google’s own attempt to create a tablet for which it controlled both the hardware and the software, forging a flagship device. If it can gain a consumer and developer foothold, and then some great application support (how about a few top-shelf Nexus 7 exclusives?), we might talk, down the road, of the Nexus 7 (or somesuch model) being a legitimate competitor to the iPad.

Google should no longer be surprised by the demand for this device. The Nexus 7 isn’t perfect (what is?), but it’s the first Android tablet worth noticing – and using. I’ve said before that all Android needs is a real foothold to gather commercial momentum and become dangerous, and perhaps this is it. Will it truly shine as a long-term-use tablet, or will it prove to be the next Kindle Fire?

My money is on the former.

(cp)

Unlocked Galaxy Nexus with Jelly Bean (Android 4.1) Back on Sale

After sales were suspended as a result of an Apple injunction, the unlocked Galaxy Nexus is back on sale at Google Play. It will ship in 1-2 weeks, apparently with Jelly Bean preloaded to skirt the injunction's parameters.

This is the first Android release I think is truly impressive and that can pose a threat to iOS. Google is doing some pretty impressive stuff as it relates to Google Now and voice technology. From what I've seen on the web, Google Now beats Siri pretty handily in most situations. Like this, this and this. (Side note: on-device processing seems to make things so much faster.)

Increasingly, the back-end server capabilities are becoming more important for mobile platforms. Here, Google has more knowledge and pattern/trend data than any other company on Earth.

Here's The Verge's review of Jelly Bean, and it's best I've found.

That Squid on Your Plate Could Inseminate Your Mouth

This study, published in February in the Journal of Parasitology (?!), presents the tale of a woman eating squid who experienced "severe pain" and a "pricking, foreign-body sensation" in her mouth. A doctor found and removed "twelve small, white spindle-shaped, bug-like organisms" from her tongue, cheek, and gums.
Nature can be awful.

30 for 30: Pete Rose

Sad story in that Pete Rose is right: gamblers seldom get second chances. Nonetheless, he seems like he's made the best of his situation and is comfortable doing what he's doing right now. He'd rather be running a baseball team, but there's acceptance in his demeanor. I think this is what wisdom is all about.

Great short film. Watch it over at Grantland.