18 April 2013

Virtual Realities

Offspring: There's not enough wood in Minecraft.
Treehugger Mom: Can't you plant some trees?
Offspring: They take too long to grow.
Mom: Well, plant them now and let them get started. Can't you fertilize them so they'll grow faster?
Offspring: I can put bone meal on them.
Mom: Where do you get bone meal? Do you have to grind up the bones?
Offspring: You just use the workbench.

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I have Facebook friends that I've met on the walls of other friends.  Most of them are people I know about otherwise from the strange land of academic publishing, but a few are just ... Facebook friends.  I suppose this is the new normal, but I find it a bit unsettling.

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When you "buy" something, you don't always actually own it.  This has been true for a while in the also strange land of Manhattan real estate, where you don't buy the apartment, but only the privilege of leasing it from the cooperative.

But it's expanding.  If you buy a cell phone on a service contract and the contract expires, you can keep the phone and switch to another provider ... right?  No, turns out phones are "locked" and it's illegal to lock them.  (Al Franken wants to change that law; you can sign his petition if you're so inclined.)

I've commented on this here before, but you also don't own books that you "buy" for your Kindle.  You just get a license to use them until your Amazon account is terminated ... or you are.

Amazon doesn't want you to think of it quite that way.  Here's how they phrase it:
There is no limit on the number of times Kindle content can be downloaded to a registered device, If any Kindle is registered to your account then you'll be able to access the content on any Kindle device. However, Kindle content cannot be transferred to another account. 
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Then there are bitcoins, which are apparently a form of exchange less real than paper money, less real than checks, less real even than credit cards. I don't get it.

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In non-virtual news, here's something to contemplate: David Rosnick suggests that if we start reducine the amount of time we spend at work, cutting back on the work week by half of one percent each year and taking longer vacations (kind of like the Europeans), we could significantly reduce carbon emissions.  Half of a percent of a forty-hour week is 12 minutes.