Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Bargain cellular phone update

Since my favorite cellular phone company has changed its rates (a couple months ago), I figured it was time to post an update.

Why is Virgin Mobile (USA) my favorite? Because it's cheap! I don't make a lot of phone calls (I didn't even have a phone before the impending birth of my daughter), so the idea of adding a $40 (or more) monthly bill was a bit unappealing. If you make 27 minutes of calls a month (or less), your bill can be $5/month. And your minutes roll over, so if you make 0 calls one month, you can make almost 54 minutes of calls the next.

The basic per-minute plan is 18 cents/minute. No extra fees, surcharges or taxes. No roaming or long distance charges. (You can look at my previous post to see what the rates used to be, if you're curious. The new rates are a little cheaper for me.)

If you end up using more than 87 minutes in a month, it ends up being cheaper to go with the $6.99/month (+ surcharges + 10 cents/minute). Above that, Virgin has typical monthly plans that give you a certain number of minutes, with expensive overage dings and what-not. At that point, other vendor plans might be more competitive.

But at the low end I haven't found anything that approaches Virgin. If you know different, please let me know via a comment!

Monster's diversity

So I'm posting my résumé to (hello to prospective employers that have googled me), and come across this interesting option to mark myself as a "diversity candidate".

Clicking on the link I see:

Monster is used by thousands of companies that recognize the benefits of workforce diversity. They are actively recruiting qualified applicants from diverse backgrounds including race, gender, 50+ workers, disability status, and lifestyle preference. By selecting the Monster and Diversity checkbox option you will make your resume public to employers searching the diversity and inclusion resume databases.

It doesn't come out and say it, but I think I know what it means: caucasian, heterosexual males under 50 years with no disabilities can be discriminated against. Everyone else is "diverse".

What if an employer wanted to limit searches to causasian males -- that would be wrong, right? Why is it okay to discriminate in the other direction? What would Martin Luther King think, with his dream that people would "not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character"?

Of course, there's nothing stopping a "non-diverse" candidate from checking the box. So maybe that makes it all okay.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

US Aygo in 2008?

Edmunds thinks the US might get the next generation Toyota Aygo, which is even smaller than their Yaris. Cool!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Moby & ethics

Moby says:

ethics only affects what you do if you force your will on other people. That’s when ethics come into the picture. If you force your will on animals, that’s where ethics come into the picture. If you force your will on the environment, I think that’s where ethics come into the picture. If you’re doing something to yourself it’s between you and God and I don’t really think you can apply Judeo-Christian ethical criteria to that, which is where I really really part company with the religious right.

If you want to kill yourself, kill yourself. If you want to get tattoos, get tattooed. If you want to get a first trimester abortion, it’s your body, it’s your fetus, go ahead. It’s between you and God. It’s only when you force your will on another sentient creature that the body politick has the ability to step in and say, ‘No, that’s wrong.’

When exactly does a fetus become a "sentient creature"? When does a baby become one, for that matter?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Nissan Versa review

The NY Times reviews the 2007 Nissan Versa. It likes it well enough, but still likes the Honda Fit better. In any case, having another small car option for Americans is good news.

Are Americans, who have long embraced a bigger-is-better approach to their personal transportation, ready to hug these smaller, friendlier cars?

The prospects seem pretty good, according to J. D. Power & Associates, the market-research company. “It’s irrefutable that the segment is doing well,” said Tom Libby, senior director for industry analysis at an affiliate, the Power Information Network. For instance, sales of compact basic cars — which include, among others, the Aveo, Fit, Versa and Yaris — jumped 118 percent last month compared with August 2005.

Islam's tolerance

anger still swept across the Muslim world, with Pakistan's parliament unanimously adopting a resolution condemning the pope for making what it called "derogatory" comments about Islam, and seeking an apology from him.

"Anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said. (Associated Press)

Mr. Aslam may want to look up the word "tolerant" in the dictionary to fully appreciate the irony of his statement.

Update #1: two churches -- neither of them Catholic -- were fire-bombed in the West Bank

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Iran's Holocaust cartoon exhibit

The Holocaust cartoon exhibit opened last month at Tehran's Caricature House, with 204 entries from Iran and abroad.

The cartoons were submitted after the exhibit's co-sponsor, the Hamshahri newspaper, said it wanted to test the West's tolerance for drawings about the Nazi killing of 6 million Jews in World War II. (Associated Press)

I guess we've passed the test?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Population growth in India an asset

A prime reason India is now developing into the world’s next big industrial power is that a number of global manufacturers are already looking ahead to a serious demographic squeeze facing China. Because of China’s “one child” policy, family sizes have been shrinking there since the 1980’s, so fewer young people will be available soon for factory labor.

India is not expected to pass China in total population until 2030. But India will have more young workers aged 20 to 24 by 2013; the International Labor Organization predicts that by 2020, India will have 116 million workers in this age bracket to China’s 94 million. (NY Times)

See also China aging.

Adult stem cells better investment

Embryonic stem cells might hold the secrets to curing paralysis and brain damage, but they've also garnered plenty of controversy with the anti-abortion lobby because they're harvested from embryos.

However, work using adult stem cells - which are donated by grown men and women - is not only free of such controversy, it's actually much closer to getting effective products on the market.


"Embryonic stem cell research hasn't kept up pace with adult stem cell research," said Dunn. "Adult stem cell research is advancing so far you might not need embryonic stem cells. [...]"

So while embryonic stem cell researchers are experimenting with rats, adult stem cell researchers have moved on to more advanced tests with humans. The embryonic-based stem cell treatments are probably a decade away, but the U.S. market could see its first adult-based stem cell treatments within the next couple of years.