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Archive: August 11, 2003

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Monday,  08/11/03  09:09 AM

Steven den Beste discusses Ward Connerly's upcoming California ballot initiative, which makes it illegal for any part of the State of California to classify people according to race or ethnicity or national origin.  This initiative has somehow become controversial, despite being drop-dead obvious, but it will probably receive less publicity now that the gubernatorial recall has become such a circus.

peacock's tailDavid Burbridge introduces The Handicap Principle, one possible explanation of apparently disadvantageous features which have evolved in organisms (such as the peacock's tail).  Another is "The Greenbeard Effect", an interesting phenomenon which I should really blog about...  stay tuned...

legally blondeSteve Sailer writes about The Blonde Wars.  (alternate title: "why blondes have more fun".)  Interesting.  Blonde hair is probably a human example of the Greenbeard Effect in action :)

Here's an interesting essay by Charles Murray: Measuring Achievement, the West and the Rest.  Charles is one of the two authors of The Bell Curve, and it looks like he's found another controversial subject.  The tone is a little patronizing, which will put some people off, but he's dead right about the facts, of course, which are that most human accomplishment in the past two centuries has come from "the West".

Scoble reports sharing an airplane with an IT guy from a title insurance company.  "Right now the company is preparing for a major business pullback.  Mortgage rates have gone up six weeks in a row, and already they are seeing business down by 30%.  As rates go up more, that business pullback will get worse."  Yep, and housing prices are going to fall.  There is still a housing bubble left over from the stock market bubble.  It won't pop, but it will start leaking...

Have you ever seen an unassisted triple-play?  No?  Well, here you go...

The DaVinci institute has published an interesting survey on the Ten Top Inventions in Money Technology during the 1900s.  I found #8 ("the smart card") to be conspicuously incorrect; smart cards haven't made any impact at all, and are certainly not in the same class as #2 ("electronic money") or #9 ("the spreadsheet").  I also think they missed PFMs (personal financial managers like Quicken and Money), UPC codes, POS devices (point-of-sale), and [most crucially] electronic trading.

The ScanScope
(click for larger pic)
The ScanScope

Wired reports on 3-D Printing's Great Leap Forward.  This technology is rapidly becoming mainstream.  At Aperio we used a form of 3-D printing called stereolithography to make the molds for the ScanScope's covers (see pic at left).  I'm not sure why the article makes such a deal out of "printing moving parts"; once made, any part could potentially move...  Note also in this article the mention of Therics, a biotech company which prints pillsWhat a great time to be alive!

PVRBlog has a terrific review of Tivo's Home Media Option.  I love my Tivo, but its a Series 1 and hence can't take advantage of this...  Hmmm.  I  might need to break down and get a Series 1.

And speaking of streaming video in a home network, now we have WiMedia, aka 802.15.  This is a wireless protocol for streaming data.  Look for it on the back of your TV, "soon".

Chris Pirillo thinks RSS will replace email for online publishing.  He should know, and I think he's right.  The client software used for aggregating RSS feeds is still a little nerdy, but at some point Microsoft will probably build an RSS aggregator into Outlook and then it will be all over.  (Scoble?)

Brian Duff explains Why We Watch Users.  [ via Scoble ]  Reading stories like this always makes me flinch, they feel so "real".  Could your software pass this sort of usability test?  Could mine?

Did you see this?  Joel posted this a JPEG image , and asked "what's this?"  It struck me as really weird that I couldn't Google to find the answer.  Usually when people say "what's this", I take the "this" and Google for it, but that only works if the "this" is text...

toilet roll printerHere another item to make you expand "everything" as in "now I've seen everything"; the Internet Toilet Roll Browser.  "The product allows you to search the Internet whilst sitting on the toilet and print out any pages you are interested in on your toilet roll."  I am not making this up.  [ via Boing Boing ]

 

Gravity Inversion

Monday,  08/11/03  09:10 PM

Today I was riding my bike, when suddenly I got this weird feeling.  About gravity.

studying gravity?
Einstein biking

When you're riding a bike, gravity is your constant companion.  Every change in incline is apparent.  Frictional changes in the road surface are apparent.  (Bike riders often ride on the white lines bordering the road because they're smoother.)  Temperature changes in the air are apparent.  Everything matters, and the thing that matters most is gravity, and your angle relative to it.

So I'm riding along, and suddenly I imagine that I am motionless.  My bike is pushing the earth underneath me.  The harder I ride, the harder my tires push against the road glued onto the earth, and the faster it moves underneath me.  I start a climb and the earth presses harder on my tires, and gets heavier (harder to move).  I crest the hill and the earth falls away slightly, and lightens (becomes easier to move).  I lean to the right, and the earth spins counterclockwise beneath me.  I straighten, and it stops spinning. 

Very odd.

And then I imagine gravity, not as an attractive force from below, but as a repulsion from above!  It is pressing me away, into the earth.  As I go uphill the force becomes stronger, pushing me into the street.  My tires resist and my legs spin the earth beneath me.  As I go downhill the force weakens, and I'm freed a little from the pressure.  I reach a steep decent and gravity shoves me downward - whee! - and the earth slides easily along under my bike, tires spinning, legs resting.  I begin another climb and suddenly I am pressed back into the street, the earth groans and resists the puny efforts of my tires to push it along. 

Very cool.  All physicists should ride bikes.

 
 

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