Critical Section

Thank *you*, Carly

Wednesday,  02/10/16  10:15 PM

After yesterday Carly Fiorina saw the writing on the wall and has suspended her campaign. After some early momentum last Fall she never connected with voters and dropped off the main stage of contenders.  I was an early fan, partly because she was a businessperson, not a politician, but mostly because I liked the blunt way she took on Hillary Clinton, the Obama administration, and the pervasive liberalism of the mainstream media.  I will say I did not agree with all her positions and in particular her strong anti-abortion stance.  Still I hope that she stays in the national picture; it's possible she might even be a vice presidential candidate, if it is deemed helpful to have a woman on the Republican ticket.

Today Carly sent a Thank You email to those who had registered as supporters:



From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for everything you've done for this campaign. For standing with me, for fighting with me. For your generosity, for your support, and for your faith. Thank you.

This campaign was always about citizenship—taking back our country from a political class that only serves the big, the powerful, the wealthy, and the well connected. Election after election, the same empty promises are made and the same poll-tested stump speeches are given, but nothing changes. I've said throughout this campaign that I will not sit down and be quiet. I'm not going to start now. While I suspend my candidacy today, I will continue to travel this country and fight for those Americans who refuse to settle for the way things are and a status quo that no longer works for them.

Our Republican Party must fight alongside these Americans as well. We must end crony capitalism by fighting the policies that allow it to flourish. We must fix our festering problems by holding our bloated, inept government bureaucracy accountable. Republicans must stand for conservative principles that lift people up and recognize all Americans have the right to fulfill their God-given potential.

To young girls and women across the country, I say: do not let others define you. Do not listen to anyone who says you have to vote a certain way or for a certain candidate because you're a woman. That is not feminism. Feminism doesn't shut down conversations or threaten women. It is not about ideology. It is not a weapon to wield against your political opponent. A feminist is a woman who lives the life she chooses and uses all her God-given gifts. And always remember that a leader is not born, but made. Choose leadership.

As I have said to the many wonderful Americans I have met throughout this campaign, a leader is a servant whose highest calling is to unlock potential in others.

I will continue to serve in order to restore citizen government to this great nation so that together we may fulfill our potential.

Thank you again for all you've made possible.


It's a nice message, but as the father of four daughters I thought the words about feminism were particularly apt (highlighted in blue).  "A feminist is a woman who lives the life she chooses."  Or I suppose a man who supports women who are this kind of feminist :)

I know I'd rather my kids end up being like Carly, a self-made woman who became CEO of one of the largest companies in the world, then ran for President as a person rather than a woman, than like Hillary, a woman who succeeded by being the wife of a successful man, and is making a point of running as a woman.  Thanks, Carly!


the day after

Wednesday,  02/10/16  08:56 PM

New Hampshire primary resultsThe day after (the New Hampshire primaries): wow, I can't believe Bernie Sanders actually beat Hillary Clinton (yay) and by 20 percentage points (double yay).  And wow, I can't believe people are still supporting Donald Trump (boo), and Jeb Bush still has support too (double boo).  Sort of a regression to the mean from Iowa, I guess.  Next up is South Carolina...

If you want an example of the sort of weird thinking people put into their support for a Presidential candidate, here's Jason Kottke: the symbolic President.  He's actually planning to vote for Hillary Clinton because she's a woman, and presumably voted for Barack Obama because he's [partially] black.  I like Jason (usually), but that is not deep thinking.

And this: the left has two huge advantages, and I have no idea how we overcome them.  The third advantage is shallow thinking, apparently.

Scott Adams tries to explain: the Thinking Filters.  He also tries to explain why he was wrong about Rubio, and fails (after explaining that we would think so).  Some of what he's written about Trump is interesting, but it is starting to feel more like random hammers hitting nails than actual analysis.

DiSaaSter 2016Mark Suster: the resetting of the startup industry.  "Much has changed in the past four months of the technology startup world and how outsiders value the business."  Regression to the mean.

It's starting to feel 2008-ish again, featuring a presidential election year and a major economic meltdown.

professional peloton blows overThis you have to watch: impossibly strong winds stop professional cyclists cold.  Yes the entire peloton comes to a standstill with riders falling off their bikes etc.  Wow.  I thought that only happened to me and my friends :)

From John at Desk: the customer is right (and wrong).  "The customer is right about the experience today and wrong about what the experience will be tomorrow."  I think that's right.

One year of Apple World Today!  Congratulations to them.  My advice, should they choose to take it, is to concentrate on features and analysis, and leave the news to big sites like Engadget.  That's what makes John Gruber and MG Siegler worth reading.

FirewatchNoted: Firewatch could be the prettiest mystery you play this year.  It could be the only mystery I play, too, but "pretty" and "interesting" have me pretty interested.  The trailer looks great.

Ark Royal, science fiction by Christopher NuttallReviewed: Ark Royal, the first of a new science fiction series I've started to read, by Christopher Nuttall.  So far I like it a lot, reminds me of the Hornblower series but moved from the oceans of the 1800s into space.

Oh, and Christopher has a blog, too.  (Sample: In Contempt, about the Sad Puppies fiasco around the Hugo Awards for science fiction.)  Subscribed!

To be read: Free Bitcoin textbook from Princeton.  "It's over 300 pages and is intended for people 'looking to truly understand how Bitcoin works at a technical level and have a basic familiarity with computer science and programming'."  Huh, stay tuned.

So be it, New Hampshire is over, and we're on to the next.  Onward!



Monday,  02/08/16  09:53 PM



(Still not quite as bright as the Galvanick Lucifer :)



Amazon support: not helpful

Monday,  02/08/16  09:08 PM

We all think of Amazon as a company that cares about their customers and wants us to find the right products, right?  Well...

Amazon support not helpfulAmazon is first and foremost a book store, and their Kindle ecosystem has transformed publishing.  Furthermore their "recommended for you" algorithms have set a high bar for e-commerce sites everywhere.  So finding Amazon's "Kindle Books recommended for you" should be easy, right?  You just visit, sign on, and poof there they are!  Nope.

I challenge you to find Kindle Book recommendations linked anywhere on the website.  It's there, but you won't be able to find it.  Today I was trying to find it, spent a good ten minutes clicking around, and then figured I might as well just ask.  My first attempt was to chat with an Amazon rep.  Here's how that went:

Initial Question: Hi can you please help me find Kindle Books recommended for me?

02:45 PM PST Adam(Amazon): Hello Ole, my name is Adam. I'm here to help you today.
I understand that you want to find Kindle books for you. No worries, I'll do my best to help you with your concern, Ole.

A member of our Kindle team will be the perfect person to help you with this. Please hold while I transfer you. One of our Kindle Specialists will assist you shortly.

02:46 PM PST Jeff(Amazon): Hi Ole, Thanks for contacting Amazon. How can I help you today?
02:46 PM PST Ole Eichhorn: Hi can you please help me find Kindle Books recommended for me?
02:47 PM PST Jeff: A member of our kindle specialist team will need to help you with this. Please hold while I transfer you. One of our kindle specialist representatives will assist you shortly.

02:48 PM PST Ina(Amazon): Hello, my name is Ina.
How may I help you today?
02:48 PM PST Ole Eichhorn: Hi can you please help me find Kindle Books recommended for me?
02:49 PM PST Ina: What kind of Kindle books are you referring to?
02:50 PM PST Ole Eichhorn: Any kind of books. You have a page of Kindle books recommended for me and I cannot figure out how to get there

(long pause)
Hi are you still there
02:50 PM PST Ina: Yes.
02:51 PM PST Ina: One moment.
02:52 PM PST Ina: Are you referring to the Recommendations that can be found on your device?
02:52 PM PST Ole Eichhorn: Not on my device ... on your website
02:53 PM PST Ina: One moment.

(long pause)
02:55 PM PST Ina(Amazon): I'm sorry we were disconnected. I can pick up where we left off.
Please click on the link:
02:56 PM PST Ina: Check to see if you are able to locate "Sign in to see personalized recommendations" button.
02:56 PM PST Ole Eichhorn: I am signed in already
02:57 PM PST Ina: Kindly log out and sign in when prompted once you click"Sign in to see personalized recommendations" button.
02:57 PM PST Ole EichhornI am signed in already
Hi can you please help me find Kindle Books recommended for me?
02:58 PM PST Ole EichhornI cannot find the link
02:58 PM PST Ina: Kindly click on the link below:
02:59 PM PST Ole Eichhorn: that is a signon link
02:59 PM PST Ina: Sign in to see the Recommendations.
03:00 PM PST Ole EichhornI am signed in already
03:00 PM PST Ina: Let me connect you to Generalist for further assistance. Please stay connected. Thank you.

03:00 PM PST Amazon: Thank you for contacting Chat Support my name is Shanice.
03:00 PM PST Ole Eichhorn:
Me: Hi can you please help me find Kindle Books recommended for me
03:01 PM PST Amazon: Let me transfer you to our Kindle team.

So that was fun.  Next I tried calling customer support.  The first person with whom I spoke was unintelligible.  I have no problem with people who have learned English as a second language, but in a customer support situation you have to be able to communicate.  When I called back, I was transferred three times between teams.  Finally I was told there is no such link.  I knew there was such a link - I've visited it - so I hung up and tried again.  On my third try, the second rep put me on hold and never came back.

So, what to do?  I decided to spend another ten minutes poking about the site, trying to find the link, and this time I found it!  Yay... here it is:

You might want to bookmark this link because it is *not* easy to find :)


super bored

Sunday,  02/07/16  10:48 PM

Audi super ad: "Commander"So, did you watch the Super Bowl?  (Of course you did!)  And did you think it was amazing?  (No, you did not...)  And did you watch the Super Ads?  (Of course you did!)  And what did you think, any of them stand out for you?  (No, they did not...) 

My friends and I did enjoy the game and the commercials (and the chili and the guacamole ... thanks Kevin!), but we failed to be wowed by any of it.  The two things which stuck out for me were 1) good defense beats good offense, and 2) the Audi ad featuring an aging astronaut driving an Audio R8, with a David Bowie soundtrack.

Wow, another Super Sunday has come and gone.  Onward into the year!

Mark Suster: Why Uber should go public.  Great post and great thinking.  Basically, they should go public because the scrutiny of public markets will force them to improve.  Interesting argument.  Of course you could argue the other way, that the need to deliver quarterly results works against innovation...

Hmmmm..  Retail apocalypse: 2016 brings empty shelves and store closings all across America.  I haven't noticed this myself, but I could believe it is happening without my awareness.  What do you think?

Meanwhile: Aetna joins growing chorus warning about ObamaCare failing.  Yeah, you could see this coming from a long way off.  They're running out of other people's money already.  (Which means, they'll be coming for more of ours...)

Three ways the blockchain will change the real estate market.  This hasn't happened as quickly as I thought, but I still think it will happen.  Especially perhaps in connection with unmapped real estate, like asteroids and planets :)

designer kryptoniteHehe :)



Saturday,  02/06/16  11:14 AM

wisdom can be found in the most unexpected places :)



Thursday,  02/04/16  09:19 PM

dualWhew, what a day.  Please remind me never to schedule an investor update and a software design review on the same day, especially if they're for two different companies.  I survived and actually both went very well, but that was so much fun I might not do it again.  Onward...

Do you think we've reached Peak Trump?  I'm hoping ... yes.  His overreaction to having "lost" in Iowa proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is not Presidential material.

minimum wage impact on jobsHmmm... Minimum Wages Surged In 6 Cities Last Year; Then This Happened.  "Wherever cities implemented big minimum-wage hikes to $10 an hour or more last year, the latest data through December show that job creation downshifted to the slowest pace in at least five years."  Shocking.

That's an interesting article, but Investors Business Daily has a horrible website.  About 4MB of crap loads first, and then you get the only thing you care about ... the article itself.

Glenn Reynolds: 21st Century Headlines: Luxembourg to invest in space-based asteroid mining.  Excellent!  May the force be with them.

Doc Searls: The Giant Zero.  "A world without distance."  Most thought-provoking...  Proving once again that he can blog with the best of them :)

Alternatives to Resting Bitch FaceImportant work:  Alternatives to Resting Bitch Face.  In my family (four daughters) "RBF" is a well-recognized and often-used acronym... :)

ion propulsion - the force of the futureNASA helpfully explain:  Ion Propulsion ... What is it?  "Instead of heating the gas up or putting it under pressure, we give the gas xenon a little electric charge, then they're called ions, and we use a big voltage to accelerate the xenon ions through this metal grid and we shoot them out of the engine at up to 90,000 miles per hour."  The Dawn spacecraft uses this technology.

An interesting post from Robert X. Cringely: personal computers approach retirement age.  He quotes himself from 25 years ago:  "Don’t worry; you'll understand it in a few years, by which time they'll no longer be called PCs. By the time that understanding is reached, and personal computers have wormed into all our lives to an extent far greater than they are today, the whole concept of personal computing will probably have changed."  Heh.

Feyman diagram: dualityWell, so much for blogging (yawn), I'm off to bed. 
I think I'll watch Groundhog Day ... again.


no shadow

Tuesday,  02/02/16  08:22 AM

The scene this morning at Gobbler's Nob, Punxsutawney, PA:

And the good news: "'There is no shadow to be cast! An early spring is my forecast!' ... 'Take your jackets off, you're not going to need them!'  Few in the crowd followed that advice; the temperature this morning in Punxsutawney, Pa., was reported at 22 degrees."  Here in San Diego it is 35o, brrrr...

Hope you have a nice day, wherever you are, and whatever the temperature.  And if you don't, well, you can always do it again.  It's Groundhog Day!


electoral fail

Monday,  02/01/16  10:29 PM

You might not know, but the US is about to elect a new President this year.  And you might think that US citizens elect their President.  But you would be wrong.  And therein lies a huge electoral fail.

Instead, US citizens vote for candidates, but their votes determine which electors chose the President.  Each candidate submits a slate of electors, who are chosen at state party conventions or by each party's central committee.  The actual people chosen to be electors don't really matter, because they don't have a choice; they are chosen to be an elector, they vote for their candidate.  So far, so complicated, and so far, no big problem.

The problem comes from the fact that in all but two states, *all* the electors are chosen from the slate given by the candidate who receives the most votes in that state.  (Can you name the exceptions?*)  This winner-take-all aspect means that if the citizens of a given state split their votes 51%/49% between two candidates, 100% of the electoral votes from that state go to the winning candidate.  In practice, this means the vast majority of states and the vast majority of votes do not matter.

* In Nebraska and Maine the electors are chosen by the popular vote in each congressional district.

For example, as the most populous state California has the most electoral votes, 55.  It is virtually certain that the candidate for president nominated by the Democratic party will win the popular vote in California.  So California and Californian voters don't matter.  The second most populous state, Texas, has 38 votes.  It is virtually certain that the Republican Presidential candidate will win in Texas.  So Texas and Texans don't matter.

The map below illustrates the overall situation.  Of the fifty states, which collectively have 538 votes, all but 10 are likely to vote for a particular party's candidate.  Forty states which collectively have 418 votes do not matter, including the states containing the ten largest cities in the US.

The 10 states which do matter include Florida (29 votes), Ohio (18), North Carolina (15), and Virginia (13).  You can expect to see those states get a lot of attention from candidates this year.  In fact, the only reason for a candidate to campaign outside of these states is to raise money.  Get that?  We Californians contribute money to candidates so they can campaign in ten other states where the votes count!

This is the most bizarre and dysfunctional system imaginable.  A huge electoral fail.

So what can be done?  The most logical thing would be to simply add up the popular vote, and declare the candidate with the most votes the next President.  Suddenly California and Texas and New York and Illinois would matter.  But this isn't going to happen easily.  Any change to the electoral laws will be made in the US Senate, where each state has two equal votes.  Smaller states are not going to support a change which strongly lessens their influence.

The next most logical thing would be to have each state behave like Maine and Nebraska, and split their votes in proportion to the popular votes in their state.  (Doing this by congressional districts probably makes sense.)  This would vastly increase the influence of the largest states, and make the whole process more democratic.  And it could be done state-by-state at the state level, without a federal change.

So why hasn't this happened?  Well, consider the situation in California.  Democrats control the state.  Would they vote to give Republicans more than 0% say in the next election?  They would not.  Would the Republicans who run Texas vote to give Democrats in Texas more than 0%?  They would not.  So we have a bad deadlock.  The small states won't vote for an overall popular vote, and the big states won't agree to split the vote within their state.  The present situation is suboptimal but locked in by self-interest.

I think the only way this will change is when a President is elected who did not win the popular vote.  The popular outcry against the system which allows that to happen might be strong enough to cause the Senate to change the system.  This almost happened when George Bush defeated Al Gore in 2000, because he did not win the popular vote (it was very close).  If it happens again, I would expect the winds of change to blow. 

In the meantime, we Californians get to watch Floridians and Iowans elect our next President.  Pass the popcorn.

PS... as a separate observation, note the large advantage a Democratic candidate has among the "locked in" states (56 votes!).  The other day I posted a map showing party affiliation by congressional district.  If you compare the two maps, the districts of states which are "in the bag" for one party but which have the opposite party affiliation are the ones which will drive change.  I would expect Republicans to be more interested, both because the present system is not in their favor and because they generally support local solutions over national ones.



Monday,  02/01/16  09:54 PM

Hey, it's February!  Let's celebrate ... with a curious blog post :)

Curiosity selfie - an amazing compositeHere we have a wonderful "selfie" taken by the Curiosity Rover.  (Please click to enbiggen.)  This is a cool picture of a rover on Mars, and then you realize ... who took the picture!  The secret is that this image is a composite of 57 images snapped with the MAHLI camera, which is on the end of the rover's arm.  By combining the pictures in just the right way, it looks like the camera was completely separate from the rover.  Most curious...

Back here on Earth, it looks like Ted Cruz defeated Donald Trump in the Iowa caucuses, with Marco Rubio a strong third, and on the other side of the aisle Bernie Sanders tied Hillary Clinton.  All good news from my perspective, but there's a long way to go.

Alphabet - now the world's most valuable companyAlso, Alphabet passes Apple as the world's most valuable company.  Basically the two leaders in cellphone technology.  Remember when oil companies were the most valuable?  And who will be next?  (SpaceX, after they colonize Mars?)

Meanwhile, the National Debt hits $19T.  Yeah, that's about 38 times more than Alphabet and Apple are worth.  Not good.  And not clear if any of the current Presidential candidates can or will do anything to reverse the trend.

Oh, and Venezuela is on the brink of a complete economic collapse.  That's not surprising, but the article reads like one from the Onion: "Hugo Chávez's socialist government started spending more money on the poor, with everything from two-cent gasoline to free housing. Now, there's nothing wrong with that - in fact, it's a good idea in general - but only as long as you actually, well, have the money to spend."  I love the weird economic editorializing right in the middle of a "news" article.  More proof, if any were needed, that since the smartest people didn't become journalists, journalists are not the smartest people.

coffee!Here's some important work: Ars Technica considers the science behind a good cup of coffee.  And also the health benefits: "Caffeine enhances perception, reduces fatigue, increases abilities to stay awake, and may help improve long-term memory. In addition to the pick-me-up, caffeine is linked to boosting metabolic rate and energy expenditure, and it may reduce the risk of developing metabolic syndromes."  Mmmm...  most curious!




Sunday,  01/31/16  04:45 PM

I've been musing about design and patience.

(I started this blog post last night, then decided I should think about it a little and maybe make it better today before posting :)


Yesterday I was debugging something which required two computers.  Rather than use two actual computers, I decided to use my main computer - a laptop running Windows 7 - and a virtual machine inside my main computer which was running Windows 10.  I happened to have a Windows 10 system because I've been playing with it for a year, tracking new versions from Microsoft and waiting for the inevitable day when I'll have to switch/upgrade from Windows 7.

Win 7 vs Win 10 - so this is progress?As I was doing this, with windows open in both Windows 7 and Windows 10, I couldn't help but notice that the Windows 10 look-and-feel is much uglier and less useful.  Windows 7 features transparency, shading, gradients, drop shadows, and 3D controls which light up when you mouse over them.  Windows 10 features none of these things, just a bunch of flat rectangles with solid colors and 2D controls that sit there until you do something with them. 

The same evolution toward dumb simplicity has occurred in OS X, and in IOS, and in Android, and as a result the whole software design ethos has shifted the same way.  You can't write software for Windows without considering what Windows itself looks like, and you want your OS X software to look like OS X.  Your IOS and Android apps have to be aesthetically compatible with their host systems.  This design trend has pulled everything else along; even my Tesla car now has an uglier and less usable interface so it looks more "modern".

I suppose there are people who will argue that the "clean and simple" look is better, but they're wrong.  Clean and simple is all very exciting, but elegant and simple is better, especially when it is more beautiful and more functional.

Why did this happen?  Let's get back to that in a moment...

corporate logo design evolutionUnrelated except in time, I just read an article about a company called Birchbox which is laying off some of their staff.  I looked at their logo, and it's just ... the word "Birchbox" spelled out in all caps.  That's their logo!  But it epitomizes a design trend, look at the evolution of Google's logo.  They went from a colorful word with 3D effects and shading to a flat bland design.  Microsoft have done the same thing.

Does anyone actually think these new logos look better?  No they do not.  They are more "modern" and more consistent with the overall trend toward plain simplicity, but they are not nicer.

Why did this happen?  Let's get back to this...

All through our society, there is a trend toward brutal simplicity and efficiency.  True beauty and elegance are being left behind.  No one designer can be blamed, but there is an overall trend being pushed by our society.

I think the key ingredient now missing in design is patience.

It takes time to design something nice, and it takes a willingness to wait for good ideas.  It takes iteration.  It takes difficult design choices and careful evaluation of simplicity vs functionality.  It takes care, and it takes patience.  And I don't think we as a society value the good design that results from patience.

better Birchbox logosI'm trying to imagine the marketing team at Birchbox, coming up with their logo.  Sure, they could have spent a lot of time and come up with something unique and interesting.  But instead they just wrote out their name and moved on.  They probably even told themselves "this looks cool" but maybe in their hearts knew it wasn't, and that they could have done better.  (I found the possibilties at right in just minutes...)

What happened at Microsoft when they were designing their new "Metro" look and feel?  Did they truly think it was better?  Or did they block something out and just decide it was good enough, and then moved on.  I cannot imagine a scenario where people who truly cared would get rid of shading, drop shadows, and 3D affordances because they thought it was better.  I can imagine that shading, drop shadows, and 3D are difficult to render and require a lot of design decisions, and that it was easier and faster just to skip them.

Note not all design which results in simplicity is laziness.  It took the original Mac team months of work to get rid of a second mouse button.  That was worthwhile simplicity which resulted from care and patience.  Swapping out rendered logos in favor of blocks of primary color is a different kind of simplicity.

So what will happen?  Is this the end of design, or simply a pendulum swing which will come back?

My bet is that good design will never lose favor, and the present lack of care and patience is simply a temporary aberration.  Software user interfaces are definitely trendsetters, and this tail is wagging a large dog.  Soon a little elegance will creep back into designs, it will be valued, and it will trigger a little more.  And a little later we'll have better user interfaces again with shading and drop shadows and 3D affordances.  Maybe even something new (gasp!)

In fact we might have 3D itself, not just a 2D approximation of it!  How cool would it be if you could turn actual knobs to interact with your computer?

It would be very cool.  And I predict it will happen.  We just have to exercise some patience :)


Thanks for reading all the way through :)


known star systems

Saturday,  01/30/16  11:34 PM

This incredible animation shows all known star systems, 685 of them, comprising 1,700 exoplanets:

(please click to play video)

Just a few years ago, this would have been far simpler, and we can only imagine the range of systems which will be known just a few years into the future.  You have to think there will be life *somewhere* out there, right?

No word on whether R2D2 has a missing map segment to show more systems :)

[Apropos: an interesting answer to Fermi's paradox*: the aliens are silent because they are extinct.  "In research aiming to understand how life might develop, scientists realized new life would commonly die out due to runaway heating or cooling on their fledgling planets."  Even life on Earth has only existed for a relatively short period of time, cosmologically speaking...]



the three laws of robotics

Friday,  01/29/16  11:27 PM

As usual, xkcd helpfully explains the things you never even thought about :)



Lo and Behold

Friday,  01/29/16  10:43 PM

Greetings blog public, how is everyone today?  I'm doing well, thanks for asking ... a quiet day of coding, in which I discovered once again how much time good design saves ... sometimes ten minutes of thought saves ten hours of coding (at the end of which, you realize you did it wrong... and take those ten minutes to do it right :)  Sigh.

Meanwhile, on the Internets...

Lo and Behold, from Werner HerzogTo be watched: Lo and Behold, a film about "the connected world" by Werner Herzog.  "Featuring original interviews with cyberspace pioneers and prophets such as Elon Musk, Bob Kahn, and world-famous hacker Kevin Mitnick, the film travels through a series of interconnected episodes that reveal the ways in which the online world has transformed how virtually everything in the real world works, from business to education, space travel to healthcare, and the very heart of how we conduct our personal relationships."

Red Sparrow, by Jason MatthewsTo be read: Red Sparrow.  "There are two principal protagonists, and during the first part of the book their stories are told in alternating fashion. Nate Nash is a young CIA agent in Moscow. Dominika Egorova, the niece of a top-ranking SVR official, is prevailed upon by him to work for SVR, and is sent to 'sparrow school.'"

Maximally dumb: Maximum wage.  "Let's say we decided as a society that no private company should have a pay ratio above 40:1. That would lead to a radical decrease in income inequality, and it wouldn't involve a cent of additional taxes...  This would no doubt be fiddling with the natural markets for wages, but we fiddle with these all the time, through progressive income taxes, earned income tax credits, subsidies, and tax incentives.None of which work.

the iPhone 5se?Waiting ... tick tick tick ... iPhone 5se and its place in the Apple universe.  "A new 4-inch iPhone with an A9 processor and Touch ID solves a few problems for Apple, in one swoop. It gives Apple a modern iPhone to sell to people who really do prefer the smaller size, and it gives them a low-end-of-the-lineup model that is technically relevant for another 18-24 months."  Who wants a bigger phone?  (I want my Palm Pre back!)

Mark Suster: Stay focused on your goals, not your critics.  Okay!

house with a rooftop infinity poolThis is so cool: A house with a rooftop infinity pool.  Wonder if it lowers the cost of heating?

There are so many cool houses in this world ... I'd love to take a traveling tour visiting as many as possible.  Seems like something a lot of people would like to do?  On the other hand... maybe we can do it with VR?

Penrose: the Pixar of VRHave you heard of these guys?  Penrose is the Pixar of VR.  "Penrose just wants you to empathize with its characters, to feel something."  I think VR content creation is going to be huuge.

Richard Dawkins disinvited from conference for offending feminists.  The conference was on Science and Skepticism.  I swear the news reads more and more like the Onion every day...  and somehow the irony is lost.

kitten vs tortoiseHeh this is adorable: Kitten fails to impress tortoise.  Click through, it's sure to bring you a smile...


filter pass

Wednesday,  01/27/16  08:35 PM

Spent the *entire* day debugging one silly thing, which ended up being ... silly.  Some days are like that, so be it.  And now for a filter pass...

Trump vs O'Reilly, Fox, KellyI had been slowly warming to Donald Trump, perhaps mostly since I cannot possibly vote for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, while secretly rooting for Ted Cruz; but this whole "I don't like Fox News so I'm not going to participate in the debate" episode has reset me back to zero.  He seems to be proof, if any were needed, that the "average voter" doesn't seem qualified to vote.

In case you were wondering: What went wrong in Flint.  Many things, seemingly.  In the US we have come to take healthy running tap water for granted - despite the huge adoption of bottled water - but this episode shows how technically difficult it can be.

Airstream National Park Centennial editionThis I love: Iconic Airstream gets magnificent revamp to celebrate National Park Service Centennial.  There's something so ... "Americana" about both Airstreams and National Parks.  A glimpse through a looking glass into a bygone era - and one we wish would still be with us.

Of interest (to me): the rise and fall of the singular they.  Long before it was fashionable, I began using "they" in user documentation, as an accompaniment to s/he; it seemed better than him or her.  Or maybe it's just because I'm Dutch :)

project Monsoon: river-themed street murals which only appear when it rainsProject Monsoon: transparent river-themed street murals that only appear when it rains.  Love it.  And wish it would rain around here, maybe we would see some!

You might have thought One Entangled Evening was futuristic fantasy, and it is, but meanwhile quantum entanglement archived in semiconductor wafers.  Wow.  This new understand is just too weird for my feeble brain.

Related: the 17 equations that changed the course of history.  All of your favorites in there, including E=mc2 and a2+b2=c2, not to mention the Fourier Transform, Maxwell's Equations, and Schrodinger's Equation but what about my personal favorite, W=UH? :)

Also missing: the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.  At least, I *think* it is missing... but I can't be sure.

it's a small world after allThe incredible winners of the "small world" microscopy competition...  the real world is so weird :)

Tim Bray: Vancouver Real Estate - the game of homes.  "Let’s assume that buckets of overseas money are flowing into Vancouver. The conventional explanation — which I find believable — is that the local real-estate is being used mostly just like a bank account; a safer place to put money than under your mattress."  The notion of stored value is so elusive.

Perhaps Apropos: How to pull off a bank heist.  It's not easy.  Especially in comparison to investing in Real Estate.

Good to know: You can explore New York's Guggenheim museum with Google's help.  They've created a "street view" of all the galleries in the museum.  I's cool, but I'm not sure this is actually useful?

1905 Wood electric carOMG how cool is this?  1905 Woods electric car sells for $95,000.  Probably incompatible with Tesla superchargers, but guaranteed to get a spot in front of any restaurant in LA :)

Yawn: Oracle announces Java plugin will be deprecated in JDK 9, scheduled for March 2017.  Is *anyone* still writing Java web applications?  (Another question might be, did *anyone* ever write Java web applications?)  I so remember the promise of Java, way back in Netscape 2, with Kim Polese leading the "Green Team" at Sun Microsystems.  But the promise of "write once, run anywhere" was never realized.

TAG Heuer connected smartwatchWhat does it say about me that this has me interested: TAG Heuer's Connected smartwatch looks like an actual watch.  My current favorite watch is a 40-year-old pre-TAG-Heuer, which not only looks like an actual watch, it is one.  Hmmm...


Fairly recent posts:

02/10/16 10:15 PM -

Thank *you*, Carly

02/10/16 08:56 PM -

the day after

02/08/16 09:53 PM -


02/08/16 09:08 PM -

Amazon support: not helpful

02/07/16 10:48 PM -

super bored

02/06/16 11:14 AM -


02/04/16 09:19 PM -


02/02/16 08:22 AM -

no shadow

02/01/16 10:29 PM -

electoral fail

02/01/16 09:54 PM -


01/31/16 04:45 PM -


01/30/16 11:34 PM -

known star systems

01/29/16 11:27 PM -

the three laws of robotics

01/29/16 10:43 PM -

Lo and Behold

01/27/16 08:35 PM -

filter pass

01/27/16 08:19 PM -

anyone can quantum

01/25/16 11:42 PM -

the song remains the same

01/25/16 07:58 AM -

survey: page width?

01/24/16 10:56 AM -

the immigrant song

01/24/16 08:56 AM - fail

01/23/16 03:44 PM -

a better way to handle passwords

01/23/16 01:21 PM -

Kara (Star Wars episode VIIa)

01/23/16 09:57 AM -

Saturday morning post

01/22/16 09:39 PM -

To Scale: the Solar System

01/22/16 09:01 PM -

possible undiscovered planets

01/21/16 10:33 PM -

Thursday,  01/21/16  10:33 PM

01/19/16 11:59 PM -

self parking

01/19/16 10:50 PM -


01/18/16 10:33 PM -

twin jet nebula

01/18/16 08:45 PM -

open source

For older posts please visit the archive.


flight   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?