Proof that the 70s sucked

A recent Slashdot thread about the death of the CD lead to the usual postings from various people over the age of 30: “Well of course music nowadays is rubbish, not like it was when I was in college, those were real songs, now it’s all boy bands and disposable pop, bring back prog rock, I miss vinyl…” I happen to believe that’s a load of cobblers. There’s interesting music to be found in any year, it’s just that most people stop seeking out anything new and interesting, and allow their tastes to ossify.

USA! #1!

The Observer: A shocking 37 million Americans live in poverty. That is 12.7 per cent of the population — the highest percentage in the developed world. They are found from the hills of Kentucky to Detroit’s streets, from the Deep South of Louisiana to the heartland of Oklahoma. Each year since 2001 their number has grown. Under President George W Bush an extra 5.4 million have slipped below the poverty line.

Didn’t listen, did you?

November’s layoffs were the biggest since 2002. Meanwhile, job growth has been averaging about what’s needed to keep pace with population growth. Hence overall, unemployment is still increasing.

How a lie becomes a fact

Step 1: The RIAA issues a press release claiming that the “equivalent” of 421 CD burners were seized in a raid on music pirates. Step 2: The Register follows up, noting that only 156 CD burners were seized. They contact the RIAA, who explain that some of the CD burners were quite fast, so the RIAA statisticians decided to count them as more than one burner. Step 3: CNN blithely reports from the press release, claiming that 421 CD burners were seized.

E-mail spam statistics

The WSJ has an informative article on spam that has some actual statistics. In particular, a typical response rate is 0.0023%, and the scum can make a profit with response rates as low as 0.001%.