Interesting discoveries #03

So! A fortnight has passed quickly due to the holidays in between. I wanted to make this post a weekly affair but I have my laziness to blame.

One interesting side effect to writing what I encounter is that it kinda slows me down reading which is welcomed. So these are the key things I discovered and/or rediscovered:

1. Backbone.js

I never had to touch this for a while. Backbone.js makes large JavaScript applications manageable again with MVC methodologies. I implore every JavaScript developer or enthusiast to at least make a todo list with this. More on the website.

2. Lo-Dash

One of the dependencies of Backbone.js is Lo-Dash (or Underscore.js) which promise some improvements. You can more about Lo-dash here. Lo-dash is designed as a drop in replacement for Underscore.js that provides better consistency among browsers. Take a look at this video:

3. Paid subscribers model a success online

Paid subscription model is actually working out for The New York Times. Not that it is expected not to work but that it is working better than expected. Digital subscriptions will generate $91 million this year, according to Douglas Arthur, an analyst with Evercore Partners. The paywall, by his estimate, will account for 12 percent of total subscription sales, which will top $768.3 million this year. That’s $52.8 million more than advertising. Those figures are for the Times newspaper and the International Herald Tribune, largely considered the European edition of the Times. Bloomberg has more.

4. Exporting old people

The question on ethics is called when Germans start to export their elderly to other countries with more affordable healthcare. This move is determined as an “inhumane deportation.” Guardian has more. According to Germany’s federal bureau of statistics, more than 400,000 senior citizens are currently unable to afford a German retirement home, a figure that is growing by around 5% a year.

Artur Frank, the owner of Senior Palace, which finds care homes for Germans in Slovakia, said that was why it was wrong to suggest senior citizens were being “deported” abroad, as the VdK described it.

“They are not being deported or expelled,” he said. “Many are here of their own free will, and these are the results of sensible decisions by their families who know they will be better off.”

5. Humans triumph over turtles

Clemson University student Nathan Weaver set out to determine how to help turtles cross the road. He ended up getting a glimpse into the dark souls of some humans.

Weaver put a realistic rubber turtle in the middle of a lane on a busy road near campus. Then he got out of the way and watched over the next hour as seven drivers swerved and deliberately ran over the animal. AP has more.

Really disturbing case this one is.

6. Superfreakonomics

I finished this book and find it okay. I haven’t read the first book so I can’t compare. It’s interesting to read things from a point of view of an economist. The way the book is written makes it hard to read though — there are just too many thoughts going on. The way one idea leads to another conflicting idea and then the economists brought about their own debates and deductions is somewhat distracting. However it might just be the way the mind works, there’s just too many things to digest. The book is engaging nevertheless. I heard the first book is better though. You can order it from Amazon.

Fined for lighting candles

I saw this in the TODAY paper:

NEA fine overly harsh?

05:55 AM Oct 09, 2010

About two weeks ago, my sister and her group of friends gathered at the East Coast Park to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival.

They lit candles on a park table but their guileless fun cost them a fine of $500 by two officers from the National Environment Agency. In my opinion, these youngsters should have been let off with a warning as they were first-time offenders. The group cleaned the table afterwards. Was there a need for such a harsh punishment to be meted out?

Letter from Joyce Koh

[via TODAY]

While it is indeed wrong to light candles on a park table, a $500 fine is a little too much. It’s nothing to do with the offenders being youngsters, there shouldn’t be a student subsidy for fines. Lighting candles in park during Mid-Autumn Festival is no longer a common occurrence as compared to, say, ten years ago. Either people are less interested in the Festival or that they’re understanding that they are vandalizing public property.

I wouldn’t want someone to light candles on the table in my house. I would be even more offended if someone lights candles on my wooden table and leave the melted wax for me to clean. Incidentally most people do not clean up the candle wax after they are done having fun watching the candles melt in the parks. No one brings a utility knife for such occasions to scrap the wax off. Perhaps the authorities are concerned over this form of littering.

A punishment is justifiable but $500 probably isn’t. Perhaps some sort of mandatory community work would be a better punishment. As for the wax on the table, yes, get them to clean them up with a electrical iron and some paper.

Why I (sort of) stopped reading newspapers

Random note: Don’t buy newspapers, queue up at 7 a.m. and get it for free. And don’t bring home newspaper; disposing them is a hassle. Better yet, get news online and hug some trees at the park.

The amount of hassle involved in obtaining newspaper such is not that worth it if you think about it. How many times do you make an informed decision based on a news event? Hardly for me. I don’t mind getting my news one week late or view a consolidation of news since newspapers are a day late anyway.

My only issue with getting late news is that I end up missing out on the beginning since the news article report only the progression of the event; this makes the news article difficult to understand. I probably need something like a recap that typically isn’t available in newspaper. What I want is probably a news magazine and not a newspaper. We do not have localized news magazines like the fortnightly-published Newsweek.

Furthermore, newspaper reports can be bias; Singapore is ranked 147 out of 167 in the Annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index for 2004. In Singapore, since we only have one English non-tabloid newspaper, there is little competition on who can provide better news coverage. Also, there’s no way to see how objective a newspaper is if there is no other local newspaper to compare with.

These days, I just wait for local news to come to me.

Writing all things positive

R-chan has to submit a short essay of something personal that’s for engineering school.

R-chan says:
i seriously have no idea what to write

KahWee says:
“Regular stay in got morale issue”
write how you think engineering can benefit the society
how singapore could be a hub for engineering and your vision in 2020
you believe that singapore is in the right place and at the right time to become to prime location in south east asia and you wish to be part of this event
Onion laughing emoticon

R-chan says:
where do u get all these?

KahWee says:
i always crap this type of thing mah
Monkey hehe emoticon

R-chan says:
how do you crap all these type of stuff everyday?

KahWee says:
erm.. read more local news..

The local news is probably edited by patriots or optimistic people. On my occasions, I felt we’re living in an all-loving rosy world. I love you, you love me too. Aw…

Good news sells.