Critical Section


Monday,  12/29/08  11:15 PM

A beautiful day today, and a great way to start one of my favorite weeks, the last of the year.  (Of course with Christmas and New Year's on Thursdays, it kind of throws off the "week between" thing, but still, this *is* that last week.)  Not much going on at work, fortunately, which makes it a good week for quiet reflection...  (...today's subject, considered at some length over the course of a two-hour ride, what I do well...)  And of course there's hanging out with the kids, with school out, and eating, and watching football...

NFL logoSpeaking of football, there were some excellent games yesterday; first Carolina squeaked by New Orleans on a last second field goal, and then minutes later the Vikings eeked out a win over the Giants on another one.  And that setup a great Dallas / Philadelphia game, with both teams playing to get into the playoffs ( the Eagles romped over the Cowboys).  Not to mention Miami over the Jets, in New York, with Chad Pennington outplaying Brett Farve, and then the topper; the Chargers dominating the Broncos (yay, LT looked like LT again).  Great stuff.

By the way, this weekend there were a million examples why the Ten Yard Line is the most important in football.  So many times players are tackled inside the ten, leaving a first-and-goal, leading to a field goal.  If they get stopped outside the ten, the team mostly scores a touchdown, with or without a first down.  I can't wait for this to become "known"...

Twitter fail whaleMy Twitter experiment is going the way I thought...  the signal to noise ratio is not only low, it is impressively close to zero.  Even the most interesting people are not interesting all the time, spontaneously, with no thought.  You get a bunch of tweets from one person, and none from another, and the vaunted 140 character limit seems to encourage irrelevance rather than brevity.  So far, not so good...

Heathkit receiverI think I might have linked this before, but it is so cool; the Heathkit Virtual Museum.  When I was a kid I helped my dad make quite a few Heathkit devices, and boy do I remember that fondly.  I also remember gazing through their catalog and dreaming about making my own stereo system; I still think that would be cool.

I've been discussing the decline of print media quite a bit, but this isn't anything new; delightfully, my friend Gary sent me a link to a Time Magazine article on The High Cost of Publishing...  from 1954!  "The day of easy money [for newspapers] is gone . . . Some newspapers have shrunk, and more have died than we like to talk about. More will shrink and die if we do not meet our present-day problems."  The difference then and now; then circulation was increasing, and the problem was production costs, now it is plummeting, amid no-cost competition online.

the Fastnet lighthouseNot all the print media are in trouble; The Economist seems to be thriving, and published some great "think piece" articles in their year-end double issue.  Like a lovely feature on the Fastnet lighthouse, "the teardrop of Ireland” - a farewell to familiar shores for mournful Irish émigrés....

battling bad behaviorAnother print publication earning its keep is The Scientist; their latest issue has a fascinating investigation on Battling Bad Behavior; basically, how do you convince people to do what's in their own best interest?  An interesting subject with deep implications for Unnatural Selection.

And then there is Velonews; their overview 2008, the year in cycling is great.

Seems Scientific illiteracy is all the rage among the glitterati.  Perhaps they should spend more time with print media :)

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