10 Back To School Android Apps Not On Everyone’s List

So there are a lot of Android Back to School app lists floating around (like this one and this one) and most pull out the same old “back to school”-esque apps (Dropbox, Evernote, etc..). Now these aren’t awesome apps – they’re just way too common to be “discovered”. Here’s my top 10 list of apps – many you might not have ever heard of. You can find them all in the Market, just search by name:

10. LauncherPro
Because the stock launcher is just not as cool

9. AnyPost
Sometimes you want to shoot a cool picture out to everyone through ping.fm – Twitter followers, facebookees, gchat status watchers, that guy you know who uses buzz, etc..

8. App Protector Pro
So you can let others play with your phone without wondering if they found that sextmessage

7.  c:geo
If you don’t geocache, you might want to start – it’s a fun way to explore your new campus (or your old one).

6. CallTrack
When was the last time I called Mom asking for money? When was the last time I called Mom period?!? Or when Mom says “You never call”, you can reply “Yes, I do, 2 Wednesdays ago about 9 PM”.

5. Google Translate
Know what the foreign kids are saying

4. PicSay
Because funny stuff will happen, and this can add the extra laugh to make your facebook photo post hilarious!

3. StopWatch (
Sometimes you need to time stuff, in lab classes, in real life, etc…

2. ThrottleCopter
A quick game, that’s addicting, and free.

and Jon’s #1 App:
1. 3Banana Notes
Easily sync up stuff on your phone to computer. For example, jot down that hotties phone number while chatting in class, sync it, and later when your phone is dead, you can call her and ask her to bring you to a power source!.

Why Am I Paying For Needless Post Office Renaming?

So here is an interesting thing about our government – they do some strange things out of the public eye that cost taxpayers money. Some of these things are nefarious, and others are just a bit exorbitant but otherwise harmless. Case and point? Renaming post offices.

Each year, Congress finds new and innovate ways to congratulate people. Recognize someone with a special day, or name something after them. Recently I’ve noticed a lot of bills passing that have renamed post offices in honor of people (Specifically, 104 times the 111th Congress has passed such a bill).

Let’s take one in specific, H. R. 4840 which designates the post office at 1979 Cleveland Avenue in Columbus, Ohio, the “Clarence D. Lumpkin Post Office”. This bill is fairly benign. It was introduced by Congressman Patrick Tiberi and co-sponsored by 16 other house members from Ohio, all of whom apparently really liked Clarence Lumpkin.

Now I don’t have a problem with my government patting someone on the back. Perhaps with a Mayor giving a nice certificate to someone, or a small affair back home where people can gather and honor someone for their achievements. What I do find strange is that 104 times these past 1.5 years, congress has had to go through quite a time-consuming process to name a building after someone. I don’t know about you, but I think my lawmakers could actually put that time to good use with laws that I may actually care about, or that might actually affect me. Clarence Lumpkin is a civic activist in the Columbus area. What he did probably affected those people greatly. It never affected me as a person living in either Marcy Kaptur’s or Dennis Kucinich’s congressional districts. It never affected me working in New York City. I’m sure the man made noble achievements but renaming a federal office?

Now I realize this is a bit small to rant on – but it sorta annoys me. Congress members can dangle things out there like this to their constituents without realizing how ludicrous it looks to the people who care. My congressmen should not be spending their time renaming post offices – they should be evaluating flawed government systems, regulating/deregulating as needed, and protecting my interests.

And I’m sorry Reps. Tiberi, Austria, Boccieri, Driehaus, Fudge, Jordan, Kaptur, Kilroy, Kucinich, LaTourette, Latta, Ryan, Schmidt, Space, Sutton, Turner, & Wilson, but even if I were living in the Columbus area, renaming a post office doesn’t “support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic”, and doesn’t show “true faith and allegiance to the same”.

Please stop wasting my money, spent on your salaries, with useless political grandstanding and get to work fixing the problems this country has.

Money for Thought

I recently read and posted on my Facebook a USA Today story (Using The Chronicle of Philanthropy as their source) that Walmart, Beloved Low Price Supplier or Hated Evil Corporation (depending on whom you ask), topped the list of charitable cash contributors, donating $288 million last year. AT&T was second at $240 million, BoA third at $209 million, and down the line (source). A friend of mine from Grad School posted the following comment:

I thought this was an interesting question, so I ran some numbers. Walmart made about $14 billion in profits last year, and donated $288 million in cash, roughly 2%. AT&T, by comparison, made about $8 billion (Info from here, taking income and removing re-investment and dividend payments), donated $240 million in cash, roughly 3%. It’s undeniable that Walmart could donate more, however the difference between 2% and 3% isn’t so huge as to be a glaring difference (e.g., it’s not like Walmart donates 2% and AT&T is donating 6% or 10%), and these are huge numbers here to be sure.

One thing I thought was interesting was that Walmart seems most interested in providing for those who need food, as the article cites, pledging $2 billion over 5 years to combat hunger. This seems to me like one of the best uses for corporate donations today – to help people who desperately need help on a basic level. Donations helping stop hunger, and advance education and personal growth, all rank highly on my most deserved cause list. Donations to political campaigns however? Those aren’t too high on my list.

I bring that up because another philanthropy related piece that came up this week involved Target & Best Buy giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to a politician, Tom Emmer, who isn’t very friendly to pro-gay causes (some might even label him a Bigot). Whatever your view on gay issues, I find it deeply disturbing that companies donate so much money to politicians in general, especially polarizing ones such as Emmer, all in the name of supporting candidates who “seek to advance policies aligned with our business objectives”. Now to be fair, Walmart also shells out a lot of money to politicians, and I’m sure some are just as unsavory as Emmer appears to be. So where do I shop? Do I go to a store with low prices that some feel are set on the backs of their underpaid and poorly treated workers? Do I go to stores with higher prices that aren’t afraid to support a possible bigot in the name of profit? Do I just not shop at all?

Well, obviously the last one isn’t an option. I need to buy toilet paper somewhere. In the end I guess it comes down to price, for good reason. Shopping at Walmart let’s me keep more of my own money, that I may donate to causes I agree with. It’s less money that I’m giving to them to control and spend, and thus less money going places I potentially might not want it to go. If I shop at Target or Best Buy, I’m spending more money for products that I can usually find of equal quality at Walmart, and more money goes toward issues that I may or may not agree with. In the end, I’d rather control my money philanthropically, so I can be like this guy and freak people out by donating to causes I choose.

Thoughts?

Explain The Appeal of Wrestling / UFC to Me

I had an interesting realization about myself today: I really don’t enjoy watching two people fight each other in any way. And given the popularity of things like UFC / MMA / WWE / Action Movies, I’m wondering what it is I’m not “in to”.

Don’t get me wrong – the point of this post isn’t to bash those who do enjoy watching a good fight, a consenting adult watching two other consenting adults beat each other up is fine in my book. And the point of this isn’t to condemn violence in general – I’m not opposed to using violence when forced by the complete and utter failure of peaceful measures. The point of this post is to merely dissect what people may find appealing about fighting, so that I can try to understand why I, myself, don’t find it appealing. Comments are welcome, especially by my friends who do like to watch fights. Think of this post 50% for me, and 50% to inspire thought in others.

So the best I can tell, people watch fights for a variety of reasons:

  1. They feel a rush, similar to a true adrenaline surge, by watching.
  2. They see it as a competition, with the most competent fighter showing superiority over his or her opponent.
  3. They see it as a call to better themselves physically. Fighters must be in good physical shape, and it is this shape that may inspire others to exercise, eat right, etc..
  4. They enjoy seeing fantastical versions of normality (e.g., action movies)
  5. They just like physical violence in general, and enjoy watching it.

Now I’ll take each of these reasons and explore them a bit.

Rush
A true adrenaline rush is a pretty powerful feeling, as anyone who has ever had one (which I’m assuming is most people) can attest. I suppose it is possible to receive a ‘lite’ version of one by watching others fight, although it would seem to me that if watching fights were to engender anything, it would be an aggressive attitude in the viewer. Watching others, especially in high school, talk about watching WWE, I sometimes saw an aggressive form emerge, which was probably pretty appealing to someone who was smaller in stature, or not as physically confident about him or herself. I totally get this – If I’m self-conscious about myself and my abilities, immersing myself in a televised fight may give me a glimmer of what it is like to be physically dominant over another person. For the 5′ 7” crowd and lower, that is probably pretty appealing.

I’m not physically small though – and while I could really stand to lose some weight in my midsection, my arms and legs are fairly powerful. If I were forced to fight someone, I don’t have any doubts about my ability to put up a good fight against the people I come across on a regular basis (Since I don’t normally run across professional fighters, they’re not any of my concern). Perhaps this is why I don’t feel any sort of rush while watching a fight.

Competition
Competition in wrestling is fairly obvious: The better athlete should win the fight. However I personally believe that you lose a bit of respectability in competition when you can physically prevent others from competing. This is probably why I like Baseball better than Football. In football, one can physically prevent the opponent from competing – in baseball one cannot (e.g., you’d never see the catcher kick the legs out from under the batter as the pitcher pitches, or the guy covering first base physically run toward and tackle the base runner after a hit). I suppose in my mind, competition is best experienced when all sides have an equal chance to perform proactively, not in a reactive manner. Perhaps that’s why I don’t see fighting as an exceptional form of competition.

Physical Betterment
This is probably the easiest for me to dismiss personally. Seeing finely honed fighters popping muscles I didn’t even know I had is pretty damn impressive. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to find a really effective motivator to lose weight personally. It’s sad to say, but I’m being honest – I don’t exercise often and I eat poorly most likely because nothing I’ve run across yet has motivated me sufficiently to overcome barriers (e.g., the joys of sleep, traveling and paying for a gym, etc…). Watching an extreme fighter hasn’t motivated me in this regard, so I don’t seek it out.

They Enjoy Seeing Fantastical Versions of Real Life
In real life, if someone insults you, it is pretty bad form to haul off and hit them. You’ll get in trouble, laws will be broken, parts of you or the other person may be broken, etc… However the world of wrestling and fighting on TV lets you escape from this and imagine a different world. Action movies do the same. For me though, these fantastical versions must be really extreme for me to enjoy them. For example, I don’t enjoy seeing a man strike another man, and the second man fall to the floor. I do enjoy seeing Neo punch Agent Smith through several walls in The Matrix, because it’s SO far out there it really captures the imagination. I suppose for me, it must really be extreme to count as entertainment. I also think this reason explains why WWE is so appealing – it places events into a soap opera-esque story line, which further blurs the line between reality and television.

They just like violence
It’s sorta sad, but I assume some people just really like violence, and the idea of hurting other people. I don’t think I have to explore further their motivations or how this doesn’t apply to me other than to state that I’m mostly a peaceful person, and I don’t wish violence or pain even upon my enemies.

So those are my theories on why fighting is appealing to others, and why it doesn’t appeal to me. I’m really interested in hearing how it appeals to you, and why you watch it (if you do). I don’t really have any desire to be converted, I just am wondering why people find it so attractive!