Archive: March 22, 2023

blogging while high

Wednesday,  03/22/23  06:08 AM

On my way home from a brief business trip to Atlanta - fun to be "on the road again"; much eating and drinking, and was treated to a nice Hawks game last night - and so I am blogging from 30,000'.  You have been warned...

BTW was even colder in Atlanta than has been in LA ... brrr.  Spring?

In re Global Happiness: GQ: we're thinking about Happiness all wrong.  Are we though?  I think they confuse happiness with contentment.  True they are related, but I claim they are not the same... 

To be checked out: Microsoft bring OpenAI's DALL-E image generator to the new Bing.  So now when I want an illustration for a blog post which doesn't have one, I'll just ask Bing to make one :) 

Related: NVidia's big AI moment is here.  Yep.  They are the "Cisco during dot-com era" hardware of the moment. 

Gratuitous plug for my posts about CUDA...

Related: NVidia partners with Google Cloud to launch AI instances

And so who ordered that?  An aperiodic monotile!  "The authors of a new preprint paper claim that they've discovered what’s called an aperiodic monotile, a single shape that can cover a two-dimensional space with a pattern that never repeats itself exactly."  Penrose tiles were weird enough, this is beyond weird.  And turns out they are an evolution in an entire family of such shapes... 

And finally, here's a cute animal you should know ... the ribbon seal!



the Stratocruiser

Wednesday,  03/22/23  06:59 AM

Sitting in the United Lounge at Atlanta airport I came across this picture, of a United Boeing 377 Stratocruiser.

I didn't know what it was, had to Google (yay, visual search), but it struck a chord.  All those years ago, maybe 60 or so, that plane existed, and flew, and was full of passengers; maybe on their way back to LA from a business meeting in Atlanta.

They would have been dressed differently - nicer no doubt - and would have been thinking differently about different things.  Probably carrying books and newspapers.  Not planning to watch a movie.  Nor blogging while high :)

They would have been chauffeured to the airport and been dropped off at the entrance, porters would have taken their luggage, they would have presented paper tickets, and they would not have suffered needless security theater with long lines and luggage scanners and taking your shoes off.  No taking your laptop out of it's bag :)

The food would have been better, for sure!  The service too.  And the flight would have taken longer; Stratocruisers cruised at 350mph, vs 550mph for the jets of today.  "It could carry up to 100 passengers on the main deck plus 14 in the lower deck lounge; typical seating was for 63 or 84 passengers or 28 berthed and five seated passengers."  The whole experience would have felt more special.

Google tells me the average price of an airplane ticket in 1963 was $41, which equals $323 in today's money.  I would gladly pay that amount for that experience.  (Maybe with generative AI, soon I will be able! - I predict some of the first uses of a 'holodeck' will be time travel into the past...)  Travel+Leisure tells us what flights used to cost in the 'golden age' of air travel.  And they summarize: "Security risks are greater and security lines are longer. People don't wear their best suits to fly anymore. Deregulated, democratized, affordable air travel is very different from the glamorous air travel of those far-gone days, but at least more of us get the pleasure of complaining about it."


Archive: March 30, 2022


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Archive: March 30, 2020


Monday,  03/30/20  10:26 PM


the incomparable xkcd shoots, scores



Archive: March 30, 2019


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Archive: March 30, 2016


Wednesday,  03/30/16  03:59 PM


when left and right become entangled



Wednesday,  03/30/16  11:22 PM

Long day today, up with the sun, gone with the wind...  (she always said I was crazy :)

So tomorrow is the BIG DAY.  You know what I'm talking about, I know you do...  and I know you're excited.  Tune in, 8:30PM tomorrow night, for the live unveiling.  There are people reserving theirs in Australia right now :) 

In re Chirality, yes it is weird.  And how weird is it that space exhibits this property.  Left and Right are *not* like Up and Down. 

A peek behind the curtain: Another climate alarmist admits real motive behind warming scare.  "'One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy.  This has almost nothing to do with the environmental policy anymore, with problems such as deforestation or the ozone hole,' said former United Nations climate official Ottmar Edenhofer.  So what is the goal of environmental policy?  'We redistribute de facto the world's wealth by climate policy,' said Edenhofer."  Oh. 

The NY Times reaches peak cluelessness: Who will become a terrorist?  Research yields few clues.  It would be funnier if people didn't keep getting killed. 

From 2013: John Mulaney on Donald Trump.  "I bet when Donald Trump makes a decision, he says to himself, what would a cartoon rich person do?"  Nailed it.  John Mulaney is so good

Important work: All sixteen Pixar movies, ranked.  #1 is Up, and #16 is Cars 2, and I agree with both.  My biggest issue with this list is putting Toy Story 2 at #9.  That's one of my all-time favorites.  YMMV! 



Archive: March 20, 2015

Iditarod day twelve: DeeDee in Nome!

Friday,  03/20/15  09:29 AM

I'm delighted to report that early this morning DeeDee Jonrowe finished her thirtieth #Iditarod, pulling into Nome in 31st place at 5:10AM, after ten days on the trail.  This wasn't her fastest or her highest place, but she finished with 15 dogs, the largest team still running, and she finished!  As noted earlier she suffered from severe frostbite earlier in the race, during those cold early days along the Yukon (-40F!), and despite being among the leaders into Huslia, the halfway point, was never able to recover.  Congratulations to her for persevering and finishing, wow.

DeeDee signs the finishing register
(note her fingers!)

Speaking of persevering and finishing, I highly recommend Beyond Ophir, a book by longtime Iditarod musher Jim Lanier, which I've been reading as a delightful companion to the 2015 Iditarod.  It chronicles his first Iditarod, way back in 1979, and is a wonderful collection of stories of a life well led in the wilds of Alaska.  Jim is a retired pathologist (!), and this year at age 74 was the oldest musher in the race.  I was sorry to see he scratched yesterday in Unalakleet, due to "musher illness".

And so ends the 2015 Iditarod (for me at least, there are over 30 mushers still "out there", and the Red Lantern Cindy Abbott has only just checked into Unk).  Each year at the end of the race I have this sad feeling of leaving a strange and cool little world and returning to "the real world", until next year.  Onward!

Oh, and some final pictures...:

Ken Anderson in the Nome stretch

Martin Buser mushes down Front Street toward the burled arch

dog tired after 1,000+ miles ... the Nome dogyard

Northern Lights over Nome --- WOW

Onward ... until nextyear!

[All 2015 Iditarod posts]


Archive: March 23, 2014


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Archive: March 30, 2011

Boston views

Wednesday,  03/30/11  11:30 PM

I was in Boston today; the pictures above are a day-and-night panorama taken from my room on the 24th floor of the Cambridge Marriott, looking South over the Charles River toward downtown (click to enbiggen!).  And I am in Woods Hole tonight, attending a conference tomorrow.  All good.  And ... I am blogging ...

A few notes taken on my flight out:

  • Virgin America rocks.  Honestly I go out of my way to fly them.  Comfortable seats, enough room, good food / fast service, WiFi, what more could you want?
  • With Windows 7 Microsoft has finally made Suspend and Hibernate work.  100% of the time when I suspend or hibernate, I wake up again.  And when my battery is just about to die, my laptop hibernates automatically.  I travel with a spare battery, and I can go coast-to-coast seamlessly.  Yay.

The other day I put out an APB for a web prototype designer.  And it worked!  I got a bunch of responses, especially from those I contacted in my LinkedIn network.  Thanks everyone! 

Awesome Apple logo for WWDC 2011.  The interesting thing about this conference is in three years it has morphed from a Mac OS X conference to an iOS App conference.  And demand has grown tremendously for the 5,000 attendees slots in the process. 

This is awesomeIf Angry Birds were a movie (the trailer)...  wow some people have too much time but I am so glad they do :) 

Scott "Dilbert" Adams notes New Words Needed.  Among them labelass, binarian, and masturdebator.  Yeah, you have to read it, expand your vocabulary. 

OMG no!  Jennifer Garner as Miss Marple.  Really? 

Gerard Vanderleun helpfully posts a 2012 Presidential Candidate checklist.  Anyone who can check at least half these boxes would have my vote in an instant. 

Dilbert goes Green.  I love it.  (I'm guessing this will *not* show up on Inhabitat however :) 

This might be the best thing ever: quadrocopter ball juggling.  Yeah just click through you will not believe it; what will they think of next? 

Vanity Fair has an interesting profile of Paul Allen.  Yeah, the *other* Microsoft co-founder has had an interesting and varied career, and has distinguished himself as an investor and philanthropist.  The Paul Allen Brain Institute is amazing for example, as is the Music Experience Project. 

Yay!  A HondaJet update, flies at maximum speed in test (which is 489mph).  This looks like the first ultralight jet which is "real", truly lowering the barrier for adoption.  As much as I like Virgin American,  I can't wait to buy one! 

Mercury from MessingerThe Messenger spacecraft is in orbit around Mercury (yay) and has released the first picture taken from Mercurial orbit (yay). 

Well that's the view from Boston, tomorrow will check in from Woods Hole.  Please stay tuned.



Archive: March 28, 2010

week of 3/22, redux

Sunday,  03/28/10  09:50 AM

And so I am back from a week in Washington DC, an amazingly busy and productive week attending the U.S. and Canadian Association of Pathologists annual conference, squeezing in a couple of DICOM meetings, a visit to the National Cathedral, a visit to the National Zoo, and an unbelievable celebration dinner at which a magnum of 1996 Araujo Eisele was consumed which could possibly be the best wine I have ever had...

(and not to mention back from riding a double century yesterday)

...but while all that was happening for me, all this was happening for you:

Well, the health care reform bill was signed (aka insurance reform), so What Happens Now

My little city of Westlake Village has applied for Google's Fiber for Communities program; the entry included this video to make the case: Why the City of Westlake Village is the right choice for Google's Fiber for Communities project.  Yes, that is Westlake Major Pro Tem Ned Davis dressed as The Flash, alongside current Major Mark Rutherford.  Pretty cool - I hope we are selected! 

Bringing improved support for Flash to Google Chrome.  And so we have Apple vs Google playing out in Flash support too.  No way Apple are going to support Flash on iDevices, but I guess Flash will be everywhere else.  Question is will it matter? 

Hendrik Hertzberg: Some Nukes (making the case for nuclear power)...  Hendrik is an Obama apologist and I often disagree with him, but in this instance he is dead on.  Let's hope we get some change on this issue. 

As you know I love Alex Ross, the New Yorker's music critic, and as another example why I offer Battle of the Bands, his column in the March 22 issue.  "In the space of thirty-one days, from the end of January to the beginning of March, Carnegie Hall held an unofficial orchestral Olympics, presenting thirteen concerts by symphonic ensembles from six states and three foreign countries...  The impulse to pit one orchestra against another is as regrettable as it is irresistible."  I swear I am becoming a classical music (and opera) fan simply by reading Alex' columns ;) 

Tim (XML) Bray is a Sun employee who didn't want to get absorbed into Oracle and so has joined Google, he will be blogging about it from the inside.  A preliminary assessment: Life at Google

Way cool: the virgin flight of Virgin Galactic's VSS Enterprise.  This was a "captive carry", meaning the spaceship itself didn't fly, except as a passenger of WhiteKnightTwo, it's mother ship, but still it was another forward step along the long road to space travel.  Onward! 

How cool would it be to be Richard Branson, who is wealthy enough and energetic enough to start stuff like this?  Really cool :)

The story of bottled water.  Entirely a marketing concept, as most tap water is at least as good (if not better) than bottled water, especially in the United States.  Ironically the people most likely to drink it are "greens" who would be horrified if they understood the environmental impact of bottled water vs ordinary tap water.  Clean plentiful running water is one of the miracles of our civilization. 

With Apple's iPad imminent, a great cluster of articles from Wired: How the Tablet will Change the World.  The main article is great, as is all the side takes; my favorite was Marshall McLuhan's...  On a meta level it is interesting how readily Wired has embraced the tablet as a potential delivery channel, and yet Wired remains a magazine with value as a magazine; although their ads are down I could seem them lasting a lot longer in paper form than, say, Time. 

Pretty nice point from Jeff Atwood: the opposite of Fitt's Law.  It isn't only important to make things users do all the time easy, you want to make things users hardly ever do hard. 

This looks amazingly cool: Photoshop CS5's new Content-Aware Fill.  I use the world's oldest version of Photoshop (v6, from ahem 2001), perhaps *finally* I have a reason to upgrade.  [ via Slashdot

The Tivo Premiere makes its debut, and is reviewed by Engadget.  In the kiss of death department, note this: "Let's talk about that lag for a moment, since it's inescapable: it feels like the entire UI reloads every time you do anything."  Sigh.  A sluggish UI will kill a consumer product faster than anything. 

From Technology Review: the Slow Rise of the Robot Surgeon.  "Robot-driven procedures are popular, but surgeons say the technology isn't evolving quickly enough."  That's certainly one point of view, from another, a slow steady rise is preferable to fast growth followed by pullback when there are problems.  Robotic surgery has tremendous value - my daughter Megan had open heart surgery to repair an Atrial Septal Defect when she was four, done by a surgeon with a robotic arm, and it was incredibly successful - but the challenges are significant, too... 

I've posted this before (I think), but it bears re-posting: a graphic which shows all the aircraft carriers in the world.  You can click through for an interactive enlargement - please do - but the thumbnail makes the essential point, the U.S. has twice as many carriers as the rest of the world combined, and bigger and better ones, too...  no other country comes close.  Russia has one, and the U.K. four [smaller] ones.  When you factor in our edge in the planes which fly off these carriers and the ammo they carry, our superiority is amazing. 

Well this is cool: Boonen to ride Tour of California.  Wow, with Cancellara in the mix, looks like Levi will have some serious challengers this year...  I can't wait! 

Steve Almond: Why it's okay to love Styx.  "They've been slagged as embarrassing, over-earnest, everything wrong with '70s music.  Forget that: This band rules."  Indeed, and if you aren't enjoying them, it just means you aren't listening to them loud enough :) 

ZooBorns of the week: thermonuclear otter pups.  ("They are so lethally cute, we have dubbed them the Thermonuclear Otter Triplets.")



the unGooglable man (NY 3/22/10)

Sunday,  03/28/10  10:28 AM

...I love it...

(I am the opposite, a uniquely Googlable man, thanks to a sufficiently unusual name :)


Solvang Double Century, x3: in 11:53 elapsed

Sunday,  03/28/10  11:07 AM

Yesterday I rode the Solvang Double Century, hard upon my return from Washington DC the day before, and I must tell you I had a great ride.  It was a spectacular day, Spring has sprung, and I managed to break 12 hours elapsed for a double for the first time (11:53!).  Solvang isn't the world's hardest double - about 7,200' of climbing - but no double is easy.  Making this one just slightly more interesting, I broke my rear derailleur cable descending Drum Canyon at the very end, and had to ride the last ten miles in my biggest gear.

I came out of the Washington trip on a total high... and it spilled into my ride.  I loved replaying the week in my mind, all the things which happened; it was an amazing week.  Oh and I replayed the music too; when I ride I am music driven...  it was great.

Some pictures:

the route: 200 miles, 7,200' from Buelleton up to Morro Bay and back
initial climb is Foxen Canyon, final one is Drum Canyon

the peloton gets started in the early morning light

grapes sunning themselves in Foxen Canyon; beautiful!

wow, PURPLE; Spring has sprung on the road to San Luis Obispo

turnaround point in Morro Bay with the famous rock in the background
102 miles down, and it's all downhill from here :)

riding along the beach makes me happy

some amazing seaside vistas in Avilla Beach

climbing Drum Canyon, the world's worst surface
actually broke my derailleur descending the backside

one happy camper with another double under my belt
11:53 elapsed, 10:38 riding time (!)

Onward!  Next up the 260km Tour of Flanders...


Archive: March 30, 2009

Monday,  03/30/09  09:20 PM

I am digging out from a day of status / email / administrivia; just surfacing…  my [oldest] daughter Nicole [who is in the Navy, stationed in Sicily] arrived this afternoon with her fiancé Chris (he seems very nice) and everyone ran off to go shopping.  A bit of a whirlwind moment.  They’re going to be here all week, should be “interesting” ;)

Was just telling a friend...  I keep thinking about this web service idea.  I don’t have it distilled into an “elevator statement” yet and that bothers me; if it is really that great an idea, I should be able to boil it down.  Stay tuned for a ride in the elevator =)

And speaking of elevators, yeah, I know; here it has been one whole quarter and I still haven't done anything about Unnatural Selection exception blog about it.  Does it count that I feel bad about not making time?  Nah, didn't think so...

Daniel Hannan delivers a classic rant: The devalued Prime Minister of a devalued government. Yes you must watch it, and then you must wish that we had our own Daniel Hannan in our Congress. 

Glenn Reynolds has accumulated some links about the Wagoner firing, including James Lileks: maybe I'm old-school, but 'President fires CEO' looks wrong.  The more I think about it, the worse this feels.  The government has no business getting into business.  Would you buy a used car industry from Uncle Sam the car repair man

"Duh" headline of the day: Online journalists more optimistic about the future of journalism than print peers.  I continue to believe that part of the reason for the MSM's negativism in reporting is because their industry is crashing around them.  Bloggers are a lot more optimistic :) 

Wow, check out this picture of the International Space Station with the Earth in the background, taken from the Space Shuttle Discovery.  Just wow.  (click to enbiggen amazingly) 

Microsoft to shutter Encarta.  Pretty incredible.  Launched in 1993, the CD-based encyclopedia quickly put Encyclopedia Britannica and its competitors out of business, but it proved a transitional technology as it too has succumbed to the digital/online juggernaut; now Wikipedia rules.  This is going to happen everywhere information is published, in whatever form; music, movies, books, etc., and not only will the new replace the old, but the new will cost less and make less money, as there is now no premium at all for distribution. 

Related: Josh Marshall on the Kindle and the future of books.  "In our living room we have two big inset shelves where I keep all the books I feel like I need or want ready at hand.  And last night, sitting in front of them, I had this dark epiphany.  How much longer are these things going to be around?"  This is really true; I own a lot of books, and I love them (I think bookcases make great decoration for a room :), but the last twenty books I've purchased were for my Kindle. 

Related: Lala gets an upgrade, still rocks.  My favorite online music distributor :) 

Coming to this a bit late, but congratulations to Levi Leipheimer for winning the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon.  This makes him two for two in one week stage races this year, after winning the Tour of California.  That's speed.  And of course he is on the same team with Lance "broken collarbone" Armstrong and Alberto Contador. 

Technolust: the world's most advanced mixing board.  I have never used a mixing board and don't know the first thing about them, but I love them anyway.  All those screens, knobs, dials, sliders; what could be better? 

Joel Spolsky on solid state disks.  "I did a little bit of benchmarking... don’t take these numbers too seriously since I didn’t run many tests and it’s hard to get everything right.  Boot time dropped from 2:11 to 0:34.  That’s from a cold boot to launching Firefox and navigating to  Launching 6 major applications went from about 20 seconds to about 10 seconds.  In general, the fact that app launching is so much faster makes a huge difference and it was totally worth it.  This little laptop is now the fastest computer I’ve ever used."  I totally believe this; with Windows paging sucking so hard disk speed is more important than CPU speed for most PCs.  I want one! 

Monsters vs Aliens seems to be getting a lot of good press.  Interesting that the batting average of animated movies is so much higher than movies with live actors, isn't it?  They aren't all great, but many of them are and few of them suck.  This one is [apparently] notable for having good characters (and the lead is a woman!) and an actual plot; that alone would set it aside from a lot of the current cinema :) 

Wow, check this out!  53.23 knots in a sailboat!  Yes that is a new world record for a sailboat, and yes that is amazing.  This record was set with a 25 knot breeze blowing, which means the boat was going twice as fast as windspeed to weather.  Wow. 

ZooBorns of the day, Otter pups!



Archive: March 30, 2008

another double

Sunday,  03/30/08  10:01 AM

More cycle-blogging: Yesterday I completed the Solvang Double Century - 200 more miles.  (Yay!)  This was a great ride all the way up the central coast to Morro Bay, and then back down again, with a little climb through Drum Canyon to wrap it up.  Took me 10:58 of riding time, which is pretty darn respectable, and 12:45 overall.  This is over two hours better than I did in the Butterfield Double, and although that one was harder (more climbing), I've made pretty good progress.

Here's me and Mark Burson, my riding partner:

Next up for us is the Hemet Double Century next Saturday (yep; that will be two doubles in eight days).  If we survive that we'll have achieved the California Triple Crown!  After that, who knows...  maybe we'll have to do the RAAM :)


Sunday,  03/30/08  10:59 AM

Sorry for the gap; Friday night I was busy eating, getting ready for the ride yesterday, and last night I was busy eating, recovering from the ride.  Or something... 

Anyway here's what's happening, and yes I am feeling feisty today:

The Economist presents bad news from California.  Check out the chart at right.  Now this is actually mislabeled; it is presented as differential birth rates among unmarried women of different races, but really it reflects differential birth rates between unmarried women of different economic classes (nobody has shown that unmarried birth rates between, say, inner-city blacks and whites are that different).  We can all agree this is bad (for the women and their kids, and for our society), so what can be done? 

AsI have argued before, the main influence on people's decisions to have children is economic.  (The Economist article suggests a societal influence, but if "traditional" values are giving way to more "modern" values; but where do these values come from?)  We need to make it harder for unmarried women to have kids.  Which means we have to reduce child welfare.  It is that simple.

Is the Al Gore solution realistic?  I don't think so.  Although having voted for him eight years ago, I would consider doing so again; certainly over Clinton or Obama.  He would give the Democrats a credible candidate.  I thought Obama was a credible candidate, but this Wright / church thing has him fatally wounded.  Not because of what he did or didn't do, but because of what he hasn't said since

Meanwhile I am reading more about Condi Rice as John McCain's VP candidate.  I liked the idea from the start, and it is wearing well.  With McCain at 72 (admittedly an apparently robust 72) he had better choose someone who could conceivably be President, like Rice...  Her experiences certainly emphasizes both Clinton's and Obama's lack thereof.

Good for Google: they're hosting Fitna.  "What Google does now will be an interesting test for a company that claims 'do no evil' as its company mantra. The video is hosted in the US, and we presume with part or full support of the creators of the film negating any copyright considerations, so ultimately it will be up to Google to decide between free speech and global jihad."  This cat is out of the bad, and it is not going back in. 

Meanwhile U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon condemns the film, and claims "The right of free expression is not at stake here".  What a sad tool.

This is excellent: Telling Stories on Maps.  Interesting how iconic the Google Maps look has become, in such a short time... 

Jeff Atwood: I�Unicode.  A great rant about Unicode, UTF-8, and the problems of developing software in a world with more than 128 text characters.  Brings to mind Joel Spolsky's classic: The Absolute Minimum Every Software Developer Absolutely, Positively Must Know About Unicode and Character Sets (No Excuses!). 



how to disagree

Sunday,  03/30/08  01:59 PM

Paul Graham provides a valuable public service with an otology of ways to disagree.

  • DH0.  Name-calling.
  • DH1.  Ad hominem.
  • DH2.  Responding to tone.
  • DH3.  Contradiction.
  • DH4.  Counterargument.
  • DH5.  Refutation.
  • DH6.  Refutation of the central point.

"Now we have a way of classifying forms of disagreement. What good is it? One thing the disagreement hierarchy doesn't give us is a way of picking a winner. DH levels merely describe the form of a statement, not whether it's correct. A DH6 response could still be completely mistaken.

"But while DH levels don't set a lower bound on the convincingness of a reply, they do set an upper bound. A DH6 response might be unconvincing, but a DH2 or lower response is always unconvincing.

I've felt this instinctively, but it is great to see it cleanly laid out like this.  Especially helpful is the distinction between DH5 and DH6.  Often in debate a counter-argument will attack the weakest side point, without touching the central point.  While such an argument might feel convincing - in fact, it might carry the day - it is logically invalid.  Only DH6 really matters. 


Sunday,  03/30/08  09:18 PM

Big week ahead for me - many meetings, much to do, and then at the end of the week Aperio moves into a new building.  Yay! and Whew.  I'm having a Sunday night meltdown wherein I feel bad that I didn't get enough done over the weekend.  That's when you know you're a workaholic.  Not that I didn't know it before, but still.

The Economist: Where angels no longer fear to tread; scientists attempt to explain religion.  "Religion cries out for a biological explanation. It is a ubiquitous phenomenon - arguably one of the species markers of Homo sapiens - but a puzzling one. It has none of the obvious benefits of that other marker of humanity, language. Nevertheless, it consumes huge amounts of resources. Moreover, unlike language, it is the subject of violent disagreements."  Interesting stuff.  [ via Panda's Thumb ]  I think Daniel Dennett's seminal Breaking the Spell does a great job of investigating religion from a scientist's point of view. 

Powerline explains the current fighting in Iraq.  If you don't understand the significance of fighting in Basra vs. fighting in Baghdad (I didn't), you will appreciate this clear explanation.  And you will not get anything like this from the MSM; they seem to equate fighting = bad = Bush-is-bad without further insight. 

Reuters: Zimbabwe's meltdown in figures.  These numbers tell the story of one of the worst governments of all time, amid heavy competition.  [ via Glenn Reynolds ]  Dare we hope that Mugabe will be defeated?  We dare. 

The fascinating inhabitat showcases Sustainable towers in Malaysia.  Beautiful, practical, and environmentally sound...  and still in the planning stages, unfortunately.  But we'll see. 

The Dash Express is now shipping!  A two-way GPS, including realtime traffic information.  How cool is that

Mark Evans ponders Why Original Blog Thought is So Difficult.  Not a deep analysis, but a good question.  I guess there are a lot of linkers out there; I'm one, a lot of the time...  but there are also thinkers, and I'm one, at least some of the time.  I think linkers provide a useful service in that they act as filters for material created by thinkers.  Otherwise why would you read this blog :) 


Archive: March 30, 2007


Archive: March 30, 2006


Archive: March 30, 2005


Archive: March 30, 2004

Tuesday,  03/30/04  10:44 PM

I've kind of ignored Kofigate so far - as have many others - but this is really something.  As William Safire writes in the NYTimes:  "Never has there been a financial rip-off of the magnitude of the U.N. oil-for-food scandal."  Read the article - and then tell me you still think the U.N. is the answer to any problem.

Yesterday I wondered:  Wouldn't it be smarter for Bush just to have Condi Rice testify?  Apparently he reads my blog, because Rice to Testify in Public.  I predict this will be a non-thing; she'll be articulate and reasonable as usual, and the issue will fade away.

Hey, wouldn't it be cool if Cheney stepped aside, and Rice was Bush's VP?  No, really, why not?

Here's a funny amateur Bush ad.  Wouldn't it be great if candidates actually ran ads like this?  [ via Glenn Reynolds ]

Bush and Kerry are attacking each other over gas prices.  This is not an issue Bush can win, he should stay away from it, if he can.  And Kerry should work it for all he's worth.  (Despite his plan, ten years ago, to add a $.50/gallon gasoline tax.  A good plan, IMHO, BTW.)  This is an interesting way the Saudis can influence the election; a continuing increase in the price of gas will benefit Kerry.  Bet on it.

Hey, guess what?  Welfare reform is working.  Check out this article by the Brookings Institution, regarding the behavioral changes in never-married mothers during the past recession.  [ via Micky Kaus, who summarizes: "The [welfare] rolls didn't rise in the recession because single mothers kept on working." ]  There is hope yet; you can influence people's behavior with economic incentives.

Okay, now this is cool!  I don't even know how to explain it - it is a spatial "newsmap" constructed from Google News.  Click on any article, and poof, you're there.  You can see which issues are getting the most press, in what general categories, and how "old" they are.  Really amazing.  Bookmarked!  This is the work of Marcus Weskamp.

Jeff Jarvis suggests "reality news".  "Take a bunch of citizen reporters -- moms, grandpas, students, poor people, immigrants, ugly people, webloggers... and send them out on the stories they want to cover to get the answers to the questions they want to ask."  I love it.  Today's media have entertainers, not reporters.

Ziv Navoth: the 5% shuffle.  Or how not to get funded.  "When I invest in companies I want to know that management can explain a day in the life of a customer."

Not just broken, but obliterated...  "Francis Joyon obliterated the monohull and multihull solo round-the-world records - a quiet man performing heroic deeds.  The Breton returned to his home port of Brest, completing his 27,150-mile voyage in his 90ft trimaran IDEC around the world in 72 days, 22 hours and 54 minutes.  This was one of the most significant circumnavigations of all time."  Wow.  Some Frenchman do deserve respect!

dancing Sony QRIO robotsCheck out these dancing Sony QRIO robotsThis is unbelievable.  We're really on a steep part of the curve with the technology in robot control.  Those robots dance better than I do.  (Admittedly, a low bar :)  Now, did the robots make up their own steps?  [ via Mark Frauenfelder ]

David Glauser points out the exchange I quoted the other day with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Hilary Clinton actually took place between Winston Churchill and Lady Astor, the first woman to sit in Parliament.  Another good one:

Lady Astor: Why Winston, you are drunk!
Churchill: And you are ugly, but I shall be sober in the morning!

Another useful engineering conversion, courtesy of Chris Farmer:

  • 1 millihelen: amount of beauty required to launch one ship


Understanding Engineers, Take 7

Tuesday,  03/30/04  10:54 PM

Continuing our efforts to understand engineers:

Normal people believe that if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Engineers believe that if it ain't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet.

This is particularly true for software engineers :)


Archive: March 30, 2003

Sunday,  03/30/03  11:49 PM

Yeah, so I took yesterday off.  Sorry.  But - I'm baack...

Tomorrow marks the three-month anniversary of Critical Section.  Yay!  We have served 10,715 unique visitors, of whom 1,636 have come back at least three times.  Wow.  That is so cool.  Thanks to all of you for stopping by.  I'll keep it up if you will ;)

Here's a new and interesting war blog: Back to Iraq 2.0.  Christopher Allbritton is an ex-AP reporter who raised enough money from his website readers to travel to Kurdistan (Northern Iraq), and he's reporting from there.  Wild.

My post last Thursday about boycotting French and German companies drew some interesting mail, especially from European visitors.  { And how cool is it that my little blog has European visitors! }  Some of the points made in email:

  • Several correspondents pointed out that there are many people in France and Germany who are not anti-U.S. and who support the war effort.  That's great, and I am grateful for the support of anyone anywhere who is opposed to terrorism and totalitarian regimes.  However, the fact is that the governments of France and Germany are anti-U.S. and oppose the war effort, and this made it much more difficult to obtain a diplomatic solution.

What is particularly frustrating about the opposition of France and Germany is that they are Western democracies on the “same side” as the United States in opposing terrorism and totalitarianism.  Of course reasonable people may disagree about the best of course of action, whether continued inspections would have disarmed Iraq and whether military action was required.  But it seems to me that if France and Germany would have supported the U.S. at the U.N., the pressure might have been sufficient to cause Saddam to back down, to disarm, and maybe even to give up power.  The opposition of France and Germany gave Saddam hope that the U.N. would remain divided, and encouraged his continued non-compliance, which ultimately led to war.

  • Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Shroeder may honestly believe their opposition to the U.S. and to the attack on Iraq was in the best interests of their countries, but I don't think so.  I think they were lying.  I think each of them took a position which was in their own best interest as politicians, to become more popular.  Tony Blair on the other hand took a tremendous political chance by supporting the U.S. and almost lost power, but in the end he prevailed and now we have the British side-by-side with us. 
  • I am not sure war was the best answer.  I am not sure diplomacy would fail.  Reasonable people may have reasonable doubts about this.  But I am sure that now we are at war, we have to support our troops and our allies.  And I am sure that France's and Germany's opposition to the U.S. in the U.N. was not constructive, and that their unconstructive opposition reduced the chances of a diplomatic solution and led to war.
  • So - I am actively boycotting French and German companies, this is my way of expressing my opinion.  I also support British, Spanish, and Australian companies every chance I get.  At times like this you find out who your friends really are, and you have to support your friends.  And I encourage all Americans to do likewise...
  • And also - When the situation in Iraq is settled and Saddam is no longer in power, I do not expect France or Germany to have much say in the post-war settlement, nor do I expect French or German companies to get many of the contracts to rebuild the country.  There will be diplomatic and economic consequences to their actions.
  • Finally, I want to correct my statement that Daimler Benz makes Rolls Royces; a correspondent who works for Volkswagen in Germany pointed out that BMW owns Rolls Royce, and Volkswagen owns Bentley.  They are German owned, so don't be buying Rolls Royces or Bentleys!

Canadians are increasingly disenchanted with their government's opposition to the U.S.-led war on Iraq - this new poll suggests Jean Chrétien is losing support.

There is a new Eject!Eject!Eject! entitled "History".  Great as usual.  Please, please read it, it will give you perspective and make you feel good.

Here's something really cool - the Museum of Unworkable Devices.  I love it.  Can you spot the fallacy in the perpetual motion machine at right?

A BBC article says "ET fails to 'phone home'"; a preliminary review of the most promising 150 signals found by the SETI@home project has failed to find evidence of an extraterrestrial signal.  { I am currently ranked 797th among SETI@home users, having analyzed 45,948 results. }

Tom's Hardware has a review of Microsoft's new wireless bluetooth keyboard and mouse which use bluetooth; probably a harbinger of many devices to come.  Actually it is more than a review, it is a great overview of bluetooth.

If you like Wi-Fi, you may like Wider-Fi - Forbes takes a look at new wireless technologies which feature higher bandwidth and longer range.

Jon Udell reviews InfoPath: "the next version of Microsoft Office is, among other things, a family of XML editors".

Business 2.0 notes Internet Mania Returns!  In 2003 eBay is up 33%, Amazon 47%, and Yahoo 51%.  Quoting from the article "the valuations are, to put it mildly, absurd".  Yeah, sadly, I'm afraid there is still air left in the bubble.  Fasten your seat belts.

BlogShares is a fantasy stock market for weblogs.  Blogs are valued by inbound links.  Cool idea!  This meme will probably burn out, but for a while expect to see this a lot:

I'm having a hard time getting excited about the final four.  First UCLA didn't even make the tournament.  Then Stanford and Cal were eliminated, and then Arizona.  I have no rooting interest whatsoever in any of the teams.  I have to admit Kansas gave Arizona a great game, but I felt Arizona gave the game away.  I liked watching Marquette against Kentucky, maybe I'll root for them...

If you watched the NCAA tournament this weekend, I sure hope you did it via Tivo.  The number of commercial breaks was unbelievable.  The commercials were definitely targeting the far end of the Bell Curve.  Junk TV.  Yuk.

Finally - today is of course (ta da!) opening day.  Hope springs eternal.  Play Ball!