Critical Section


Thursday,  01/22/15  10:00 PM


Google Glasses?



climbing the Dawn Wall

Wednesday,  01/21/15  10:38 PM

Wow, this is amazing...  Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson just completed the first ever free climb of the Dawn Wall of Yosemite's El Capitan.  It's been called the most difficult climb ever completed.

Jason Kottke describes the whole thing, with links to a video of the climb, as well as the NYTimes awesome interactive map showing the climb itself as well as a huge zoomable picture of the El Capitain, a thumbnail of which is shown above (click to enbiggen).  Incredible!


Wednesday,  01/21/15  10:14 PM

Windows Holographic headsetToday's big news wasn't last nights #SOTU talk, no, it was today's announcements by Microsoft, about Windows 10 and some new augmented reality software called Windows Holographic. (Where is it written that everything Microsoft do has to be called "Windows X".  Anyway.)  It looks pretty amazing.  Of course this tech will be used for gaming, but who knows what else, too?  I'm starting to think shopping - in virtual stores - might be a big application.  Coupled with visual search, of course!

And so, what will Google Glass 2.0 need to succeed?  The commenters on Slashdot have focused on hardware and software answers, as is their wont, but to me the answer needs to take the form of a market opportunity, an unmet need that smart glasses can fulfill. And one beyond gaming.

Astronaut Scott KellyLittle commented on among the #SOTU discussioned, President Obama mentioned the U.S.' "re-engergized space program", and astronaut Scott Kelly, who's about to leave Earth for a one year tour abord the ISS.  Of course, he's going to get there in a Russian spaceship, despite the SpaceX resupply missions.  "Good Luck captain, and make sure to Instagram it!"

may the farce be with youThis is one awesome lightsaber battle.  May the Farce be with you.  Absolutely no movies have spawned as many fan-created sequels, parodies, and tributes as Star Wars.  Can't wait for the next one!

Finn sailor Oli TweddellThis is cool:  My name is Oli Tweddell, and I sail for Australia. For anyone who thinks dinghy racing is not a real sport.  But where are the deck chairs for lounging?

the Frilled SharkAnd here we have the ancient and venerable Frilled Shark, an 80 million-year old design which is still with us.  Awesome.


Captain America

Tuesday,  01/20/15  10:57 PM


your animated GIF of the day

(you're welcome)



Tuesday,  01/20/15  10:26 PM

exploding kittens - the card gameHere we have Exploding Kittens, a new Kickstarted card game from (among others) Matthew Inman of the Oatmeal.  The game has raised over $1M from their target of $10K.  Wow.

I'm trying to figure out, did the thousands of backers want the game, or the perceived coolness of being part of the Kickstarter?

[Update on 1/25: 97,000 backers and $3.8M raised.  Wow.]

On the eve of the State of the Union address (#SOTU), Richard Epstein notes ObamaCare's Slow Death.  "The results are now clear, the Affordable Care Act has done nothing to unravel the past mistakes that in large measure were attributable to excessive regulation and transfer payments."

free wool coatsThis cartoon illustrates the mechanism perfectly :)

With the annual Davos Economic Forum on the horizon, this observation: "it turns out that global warming causes private jets."  Via Instapundit, who asks (as I do!), "where's mine"?

dueling selfiesSmile!  Next up from Blade incubator, a startup to "solve" digital photos.  Interesting, but the article doesn't actually say what "solve" means, or what they perceive to be the problem.  I think finding digital photos once taken is a big opportunity, a perfect application for visual search...

Boeing 777 model made from manila folder piecesExcellent!  Five foot long Boeing 777 replica made from 2,000 pieces of manila folders.  Wow.  Just when you think you've seen it all...



Monday,  01/19/15  10:44 PM


Can't wait for the next one :)



blue Monday

Monday,  01/19/15  10:38 PM

blue MondayBlue Monday.  Is today actually the most depressing day of the year?

At least now we're over the hump :)

Great post from VC Mark Suster: Blogging for the Hell of it, not blogging to stay relevant.  "I used to love blogging ... it feels good to be back."  Hehe, yep, that's me!

government app: please visit to applyWell that should be easy!  "Please visit to begin the application process"  Click to enbiggen and smile :)

Wired asks Why is it so difficult to land a rocket?  It's like balancing a broom just by placing the end of the broom on your hand.

So, today is the last day to buy a Google Glass.  So be it.  This doesn't mean Google have finished with smart glasses, they're simply retooling for version 2.  As you know, I became a Glasshole last March.  I don't wear mine all the time, but it was most useful to see the future.  Especially in the context of visual search :)

Meanwhile, Audi is putting a virtual car dealership inside the Oculus Rift.  Of course they are.  Pretty soon that will be the only kind of car dealership there is.

Tesla Model S P85D on the stripFor the record: Tesla Model S P85D 1/4 mile record set.  10.85s at 126mph.  Wheeee!

And so what will search look like in Mobile?  John Battelle shares a visit with Jack.  In which companies are working to make the mobile app world more web-like.

And Amazon is going to produce its own movies and release them in theaters.  Why?  But then that's the question with a lot of things Amazon do, and while some of them don't work out, some of them are amazing.

how a cantilevered bridge worksThese people demonstrate how a cantilever bridge works.  Awesome!  They built Scotland's Forth Bridge in 1890, and it was the world's longest cantilevered bridge for 17 years.


hawks vs pats

Sunday,  01/18/15  11:42 PM

Did you watch the conference championship games today?  They were both played in 50o weather with intermittent rain, and both featured two solid teams with strong quarterbacks and defenses.  But the similarity ends there. 

Seattle over Green Bay in overtime!The NFC game, in which Seattle barely edged Green Bay 28-22 in overtime after coming back from being down 16 points at halftime was a game for the ages, featuring a fake field goal for a touchdown, great field goal kicking, five turnovers by the winning team, a successful onside kick, a wild two-point conversion, and two late drives for touchdowns by the winning team.  Whew.  If you didn't watch that one look for it, you should.

New England over IndianapolisThe AFC game was an old-fashioned stomping, New England thrashed Indianapolis 45-7 in a game which wasn't even *that* close.  Andrew Luck and his dynamic offense could only manage one TD against the Pats, in the first quarter, and the Colts defense couldn't do anything against Tom Brady and company.  Wow.  If you didn't watch that one you probably don't have to.

On the Super Bowl, one more game* to be played this season.  It should be pretty interesting, matching the two best teams in football at a point where they are both playing well and relatively healthy.  I'll be rooting for Seattle but honestly this one will be too close to call.  Pass the nachos!

* Pro Bowl does not count


Lego Hogwarts

Saturday,  01/17/15  11:02 PM

Here we have Lego Hogwarts, painstakingly recreated from over 400,000 bricks.  Wow.  I can't believe the things people can spend time doing, but I'm so glad they do it.  The attention to detail is amazing, and I love the way it is lit up at night!

"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live"



Friday,  01/16/15  10:29 PM

the lying-in-bed desk!I need one of these!  The lying-in-bed desk.  Perfect for blogging!

This is a perfect example; just when you think you've seen it all, you realize "it all" is so much more than you thought :)

SpaceX booster landing: close but no cigarThe other day I noted "close but no cigar", SpaceX's successful launch combined with their unsuccessful attempt to land a booster on a barge in the ocean.  So now they've released video of the crash.  You can clearly see they got the booster to the barge, which was pretty amazing, and failed to land cleanly.  Onward!

The ASO have revealed the list of teams invited to participate in this years' Tour de France.  Director Christian Prudhomme gives a great overview of who was invited and why.  Can't wait ... as every year, but especially this year, should be great!


ch ch ch ch changes

Thursday,  01/15/15  11:05 PM

This is cool: David Bowie through the years:

turn and face the strange


A brief history of UI

Wednesday,  01/14/15  10:27 PM

(click to play)
Via John at Desk, who comments "It’s 11 minutes well-spent."  Agree!


the biggest ocean animals

Tuesday,  01/13/15  11:01 PM

Answering important questions: just how big are the biggest animals in the ocean?

Great chart; please click to enbiggen!

What strikes me is that mammals are the largest animals in the sea, as they are on land.  Clearly a successful strategy for preserving entropy!



Tuesday,  01/13/15  10:38 PM

Keystone pipelineFrequent visitors will know, one of my favorite sites is Inhabitat, a green-focused blog with a lot of interesting stories and pictures.  They also run "green news stories", and this one caught my eye: Obama's veto on Keystone pipeline will likely hold.  I was moved to comment:

"Hi could you please explain to your readers why opposing the Keystone Pipeline is good for the environment?

I’m a serious environmentalist but I’m puzzled by other environmentalists' opposition to this project.

In my view, the pipeline is more environmentally friendly than the alternative means of transporting oil from Alberta to Texas. Perhaps not transporting the oil at all would be preferred, but that’s not on the table. We might as well pick the best way to move the oil.

This seems similar to the equally puzzling opposition that some environmentalists have to nuclear power generation. Perhaps not generating power at all would be preferred, but that’s not going to happen, so if power is going to be generated at all let’s pick the cleanest way to do it.

So what's the answer?  Is this another case, like nuclear power, where environmentalists are on the wrong side of a trade-off, or is there another point of view?


Tuesday,  01/13/15  10:28 PM

fall in love with anyone by staring into their eyesHmmm... to fall in love with anyone, do this.  Where "this" is, answer a series of increasingly personal questions for each other, and then stare into each other's eyes for four minutes.  I guess if you're already predisposed that way - and you'd have to be, in order to try - then maybe this could work.

The shift online continues: Macy's announces massive restructuring.  They're putting a brave face on it - consolidating functions in an effort to streamline operations and provide better service - but they're also closing 14 stores and eliminating 2,200 jobs.

I find it fascinating to ponder where this trend is going to end?  What will Macy's, Nordstrom, etc look like in 10 years?  In 20?  Will we even still have real stores in the future, or will we all shop virtually with an Oculus headset?

DTS ... Digital Theater SoundGreat news: DTS is making movie and TV dialog easier to hear.  "The neat trick with DTS:X, however, is that it separates dialogue into its own thing that you control the volume of independently from everything else."  Well that would be great!  How often do you listen to a movie at home, and find the volume of sound effects and music to be way louder than the dialog?

Parenthetically, I have a fifteen-year-old Yamaha receiver; in addition to Dolby and all kinds of surround sound effects, it supports DTS.  I have never used this and had no idea what or who they were.  So be it.

From CNN (of all media): Quran has enough justification for militants.  "The fact that the Paris attacks have something to do with Islamic beliefs cannot be wished away either by claims that Islam is simply a religion of peace, or by political correctness, or because we live in an increasingly secularized modern era that often doesn't take deeply held religious beliefs sufficiently seriously."  So given that, what is to be done?  Honest appraisal is helpful, and articles like this are a good start.

As is denunciation by Muslim leaders, like Ahmed Aboutaleb, Mayor of Rotterdam.

SpaceX booster landingClose but no cigar ... the spaceship that almost landed, from Rand Simberg.  "Most reports of Saturday morning’s flight by SpaceX to the International Space Station note that the primary mission was successful, but that the company “failed” to stick the landing...  But to focus on what went wrong is to ignore the many other things that went astonishingly right, and just how close the company came this time to achieving their long-time goal of recovering the first stage of the Falcon rocket."  Missed it by -> that <- much.

Boo hoo: mainstream Windows 7 support ends today.  Kidding: actually, Windows 7 is still supported for another 5 years.  Good, because that's what I'm using every day, waiting for Windows "nine" (10) to be ready.

Apple eyes big improvements for iPhone 6s camera.  This is why stand-alone camera manufacturers are doomed.  The volume of smartphones is so high that companies like Apple and Samsung can afford to invest huge sums in incremental improvements.  Smartphones are already the most popular cameras, and more than good enough for most of us.  And they keep climbing up the market, a classic attack from below.

prime rib!Whew!  Prime Rib regains its place as a restaurant centerpiece.  What could be finer than a nice rare Prime with a glass bottle of Cabernet?


Fairly recent posts:

01/22/15 10:00 PM -


01/21/15 10:38 PM -

climbing the Dawn Wall

01/21/15 10:14 PM -

Wednesday,  01/21/15  10:14 PM

01/20/15 10:57 PM -

Captain America

01/20/15 10:26 PM -

Tuesday,  01/20/15  10:26 PM

01/19/15 10:44 PM -


01/19/15 10:38 PM -

blue Monday

01/18/15 11:42 PM -

hawks vs pats

01/17/15 11:02 PM -

Lego Hogwarts

01/16/15 10:29 PM -

Friday,  01/16/15  10:29 PM

01/15/15 11:05 PM -

ch ch ch ch changes

01/14/15 10:27 PM -

A brief history of UI

01/13/15 11:01 PM -

the biggest ocean animals

01/13/15 10:38 PM -


01/13/15 10:28 PM -

Tuesday,  01/13/15  10:28 PM

01/12/15 10:01 PM -

Monday,  01/12/15  10:01 PM

01/11/15 11:16 PM -

resolved, again

01/10/15 11:50 PM -

Saturday,  01/10/15  11:50 PM

01/09/15 11:04 PM -

of nested CSS selectors

01/09/15 09:34 PM -


01/08/15 09:44 PM -

NASA exoplanet travel posters

01/07/15 10:11 PM -

Je Suis Charlie

01/06/15 09:44 PM -

Harbin ice festival

01/05/15 11:08 PM -

evolution of writing

01/05/15 10:21 PM -

higher ground

01/04/15 09:23 PM -

smart world

01/03/15 10:09 PM -

blogging in the new year...

01/02/15 09:19 PM -

Happy New Year: 2015

12/31/14 12:25 PM -

Happy Old Year: 2014

12/30/14 11:02 PM -

portraits of time

For older posts please visit the archive.


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About Me

Greatest Hits
Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Unnatural Selection
Aperio's Mission = Automating Pathology
On Blame
Try, or Try Not
Books and Wine
Emergent Properties
God and Beauty
Moving Mount Fuji The Nest Rock 'n Roll
IQ and Populations
Are You a Bright?
Adding Value
The Joy of Craftsmanship
The Emperor's New Code
Toy Story
The Return of the King
Religion vs IQ
In the Wet
the big day
solving bongard problems
visiting Titan
unintelligent design
the nuclear option
estimating in meatspace
second gear
On the Persistence of Bad Design...
Texas chili cookoff
almost famous design and stochastic debugging
may I take your order?
universal healthcare
triple double
New Yorker covers
Death Rider! (da da dum)
how did I get here (Mt.Whitney)?
the Law of Significance
Holiday Inn
Daniel Jacoby's photographs
the first bird
Gödel Escher Bach: Birthday Cantatatata
Father's Day (in pictures)
your cat for my car
Jobsnotes of note
world population map
no joy in Baker
vote smart
exact nonsense
introducing eyesFinder
to space
where are the desktop apps?