Google Reader / Space Shuttle / Podcasts
Saturday, May 9, 2009 1:32:24 AM
I consider myself to be be somewhat average when it comes to browsing the internet but I've noticed something recently, Google Reader takes up way too much of my time. It is too interesting. I have 175 sites that I follow on it and when I'm away from the computer (namely, when I'm sleeping), the unread articles pile up quickly, the most it's been is roughly 500. Of those 500, I'll probably click through to 10-20 of them. This process usually takes an hour to make and by that time, probably another 50 articles appeared in Google Reader so the process continues for another 20 minutes or so. What I'm basically saying is that Google Reader is too good of a product, it keeps me entertained for hours on end, on top of the news, and the podcast functionality is A+ quality (I'm listening to "All Songs Considered" from NPR right now with it actually) but it just takes up too much of my time. One possible solution would be to drop some subscriptions or drop some whole tags. The tag that I'm most likely to drop is likely the "Opinion" tag which consists of feeds from the LA Times, the NY Times, and the Washington Post. Actually, I'm going to delete that now. OK, I took a little bit off the top of the monolith of my Google Reader. Need to drop some of the "News" tag feeds too, which 80% of which is either the BBC News feed and the NY Times tag. BBC News posts too many items, NY Times makes a better feed with a wide variety of stuff from all sections of the newspaper, including blogs which is quite neat, but the best feed in my news tag is likely "Slate" which posts very neat articles and I probably click through about 20% of them which is an astounding percentage relative to nearly everything else that is posted on Google Reader. Anyway, I'll have to do something with that later on, I'll see.
I did mention that Google Reader's podcast functionality is top notch and it is. So I guess I should talk about some of my favorite podcasts. My favorite podcast is likely "Dan Carlin's Common Sense", which is a politically independent guy who talks politics and just uses common sense when talking. It's like an hour long op-ed which I almost always wholeheartedly agree with. It's really a great podcast and more people should listen it. My second favorite is also by Dan Carlin, which is "Dan Carlin's Hardcore History". This podcast talks about history in simple terms and talks about history in different ways from the norm. My favorite was likely the one talking about historical figures and their substance abuse problems which was out a long time ago (I listened to it in the summer of 2008) but it remains a good one. Due to the amount of work that goes into each podcast, "Hardcore History" isn't updated that much but it's good. Another favorite is "The Oddist" which a friend of a friend makes. It's entertaining though I mainly just listen to the news segment and drop it once the interview starts. I also like the podcast "More or Less" made by the BBC which talks about statistics in the news which is interesting. A similar program is "The World in Words" put out by PRI which talks about language in the news, and other interesting words and their origins. Another favorite is "All Songs Considered" which is a podcast from NPR that covers new music and usually features independent artists which I much prefer to having pop music forced down my throat. My last favorite podcast is the "NPR Shuffle" by NPR which has a few stories from "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered". What I like most about "NPR Shuffle" is that it is put out daily while the others I mentioned are weekly or worse.
Anyway, I've been thinking about the next subject for a while but I'm going to say it for the first time now. The space shuttle was stupid. There, I said it. Seriously though, I don't get the point of it. Why send up 151,205 lbs of orbiter when that weight could have been useful payload? I'm not against reusable space craft, exactly the opposite, but why pay the cost of having to lift wings/tail to orbit when a parachute could do everything at a fraction of the cost? Oh, but the shuttle can land on a runway! Yeah, a couple worldwide when a parachute could land practically anywhere in the world. And why pay for reusable tiles (which I do not consider to be reusable, the tiles themselves may be reusable but if hundreds of man-hours are required to inspect them after every flight, their reusability is not free, see "Ship of Theseus". Would using new tiles every flight be more expensive than inspecting them? I do not know) but throw away the external tank which is almost in orbit anyway? The external tank is huge, is nearly in orbit (the hard part), and quite strong. Those are just the obvious things that any one can notice but I'd imagine that the tank could be modified to create a habitable place. This is not a new idea, I'm not that smart, more can be read at wet workshop. Anyway, I've turned lazy so this is the end.