Archive: march 2004
Yeah, I'm back. Unbelievably, except for a brief post a month ago to say I was alive, I have now not posted for six weeks. But I'm back...
So the big big news, in an otherwise big news day, was yesterday's announcement by NASA engineers that Opportunity has found "strong evidence" that Meridiani Planum was wet. And not just damp; "Liquid water once flowed through these rocks. It changed their texture, and it changed their chemistry." To me this is not surprising, but it is amazing, on several levels.
First, if we go on to discover that Mars held (or indeed holds!) life, this will be seen as the first harbinger. That would be amazing. Unbelievably amazing, actually. But even if we don't discover such evidence, what's amazing also is our ability to detect and interpret this evidence. The Earth is roughly 5 billion years old. Homo Sapiens are roughly 150,000 years old, a mere blip. But only in the last twenty years or so have we had the technology to send robots to another planet which can probe for this kind of information, and transmit it back. That's amazing. And the geological knowledge that enables scientists to interpret this information, with confidence, is amazing as well.
What a great time to be alive!
If you haven't posted for a while - for a long while - you tend to want to do two things: first, you want to make your first post back "big", like it can justify the time you spent not posting, and second, you want to catch up.
I don't know about "big"; I was just really busy and fell out of my daily habit of blogging. It wasn't like I was creating this amazing post for you the whole time :) But as far as catching up, I have over 300 posts saved in my RSS reader which I've flagged for posting. I won't subject you to all of them, but it has been an eventful eight weeks...
In order of importance:
The Mars Rovers
Boy was that something, watching "NASA TV" when Opportunity landed. If you haven't watched this movie which shows how the Mars landers make it to Mars, please do so; it is nothing short of amazing. Really helps you appreciate that these robots are an amazing technical achievement.
Cruft in space; BBC reports
"NASA scientists say hundreds of computer files that have accumulated on the Mars rover Spirit may be the cause of problems that have crippled it.
This isn't Mars related, but it is space related, so I'm putting it here; The Hubble [Space Telescope] sees 'most distant object'
. "It is so distant its light must have set out when the Universe was just 750M years old to reach the Earth now.
" That's amazing, 750M years is practically time zero.
In more non-Mars space news, New Scientist reports Life could be tough on acid Europa
. "Far from being a haven of ice and water and an ideal spot for the search for alien life, Jupiter's moon Europa may be a corrosive hotbed of acid and peroxide.
Wired reports ESA's Rosetta Mission Under Way
. "Europe's Rosetta space mission, aimed at landing on a comet in search of secrets of the history of the solar system, began its 10-year voyage after the spacecraft separated from an Ariane rocket early Tuesday.
" Mark your calendars!
If Mars Rover Opportunity was a teenager and had a blog, this is what it would be like
. "I got to drive today! It's so cool! I didn't think I'd ever be allowed to go out on my own. NASA is so protective sometimes; it's like they wanted to keep me swaddled in airbags forever.
" Okay, that's cute.
Hey, we have a new planet
! Please join me in welcoming Sedna
to the Solar System. Well, okay, so she's a bit small (3/4 the size of Pluto) and a bit far away (currently 8.5M miles, but at times, 80M miles, in fact "standing on the surface of Sedna, you could block the entire sun with the head of a pin held at arm's length
The War on Terror
Eight weeks. Wow, a lot has happened, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in the Middle East, and in Europe. I'd put the Madrid bombing and the subsequent defeat of Spain's President Aznar at the top of the list. In my opinion this looks worse than it was, I think Aznar was already unpopular and the Socialists might well have defeated him without the bombing. I have a hard time believing the Spanish people voted for Zapatero thinking it would reduce terrorist activity in Spain. Stephen Den Beste doesn't, though.
- Stephen Den Beste suggests the Palestinians are Up Against the Wall. And subsequent events have proved him right.
- At least 56 dead in Iraq suicide blasts. And then, Hajj stampede: 244 pilgrims dead. Interesting how CNN reports the former as a huge tragedy (presumably one which could have been avoided by alternate U.S. decisions), while the latter is merely a Muslim ritual. No mention of how many people would have died if Hussein were still in power, either.
- Citizen Smash considers the al Qaeda memo captured by U.S. forces in Iraq: Please Send Help. "America… has no intention of leaving no matter how many wounded nor how bloody it becomes." You bet.
- Adam Curry visits Iraq, and blogs about it.
- Command Post: Mass Graves Report. "So far, 270 mass graves have been found which contained the remains of 400,000 Iraqis." Amazingly, this is under-reported in the mass media, as is the fact that zero people have been killed by Hussein's government since the U.S. occupation. Sigh.
- Glenn Reynolds notes: Bush seems to be falling victim to his own success. We have been so successful in the war on terror that the country doesn't see it as a war anymore. Consider the following, if you were told on 9/12/2001 that by this date:
- The Taliban have fallen
- Iraq has fallen and has become a bastion of free press in the Islamic world
- Libya had given up its WMD's
- North Korea is in multi-lateral talks about WMD's
- A majority of the leadership of Al Qaeda are dead or in custody
- Pro-democracy rumblings are going on in Iran
- Arafat is isolated
- Many convictions of domestic sleepers or Al Qaeda members (Portland, NY etc...) and finally
- NO SUCCESSFUL TERROR ATTACKS ON U.S. SOIL
And all of this has cost less than 1000 dead American soldiers. You'd be thinking "not bad".
- Tony Blair gave a great speech about the Iraq war, Command Post blogs it. Read it. The tradition of great oratory in British politics is wonderful, I wish our politicians were so eloquent.
- New interim constitution for Iraq. And here's Stephen Den Beste's analysis...
- Zapatero is pulling Spanish troops out of Iraq. So be it.
- President Bush gives a great speech: No Neutral Ground. "There can be no separate peace with the terrorist enemy." I disagree with him on so many things - gay marriage, for example - but on this, the biggest thing, I agree with him completely.
The Presidential Campaign
Amazingly, eight weeks ago Howard Dean was the leading Democratic candidate for president. Now he's an also ran, and John Kerry is the man. Jim Ladd likes him, but I still don't know... Charles at LGF notes Kerry's record, little doubt what he thinks. Meanwhile John Edwards came and went. (Although he might resurface as Kerry's VP.)
Daschle's and Pelosi's response.
BigWig gives the recipe for a third party candidacy
. At the time I agreed with him, but the steam seems to have seeped out of the Dean balloon. If he became a third party candidate at this point, I believe it would barely elicit a yawn. Except from Democrats, who would treat him as they're treating Ralph Nader.
Jeff Jarvis: Change and Fear
. "The reason Howard Dean (with Al Gore) lost is that they ran a negative campaign. But the problem wasn't that they were negative about other candidates. It was that they were negative about America.
" I totally agree. Glenn Reynolds has more
Nader to run for president
. Again. Pissing off democrats everywhere. I think Dave Winer is exactly right
: "Nader's run separates the people who 'get' American democracy, and those who don't.
" If Nader keeps Kerry from defeating Bush, then Kerry didn't deserve to win in the first place.
Arnold thinks foreign-born citizens
should be allowed to run for President. He's biased, but I agree; let the best man/woman win. What's so important about where you were born?
Democratic candidates blast Greenspan comments
. "Greenspan warned a House committee that growing federal budget deficits and the retirement of Baby Boomers will require future cuts in Social Security and Medicare to avoid tax increases that would damage the economy.
" The Dems are shooting the messenger; it is what it is, now what are we going to do about it?
Tim Blair says It's All Relative
. As Glenn Reynolds summarizes
: "5.6% unemployment: 'low' under Clinton, 'high' under Bush! Go figure.
The big news in the California primary elections wasn't that Bush and Kerry won - that was a forgone conclusion - but that Arnold won: California voters OK Schwarzenegger's budget rescue
. Suboptimal, but when you're draining a swamp, things are going to stink for a while.
Steven Den Beste nails Kerry as "the tofu candidate", and considers Partial Cures
- More Kerry bashing: check out Kerry vs. Kerry. I'm sure you could do the same with Bush, or with anyone, but it does make you wonder.
Yep, in the last eight weeks same-sex marriage has gone from a subject of discussion to a legal relationship in Massachusetts. Amazing. And very polarizing. This feels like one of those things which is just plain inevitable, the people who are opposed are rolling boulders uphill. I do think you limit marriage to a union of exactly two people, though.
Okay, and there's a bunch of other interesting stuff which happened. I'm probably setting a personal record for links in a post, if not a world record, but here you go:
Adam Curry notes a Goud(a) idea
: "A new Dutch invention can make cars, buses and other vehicles no less than 50 percent more efficient and thus more environmentally friendly
Wired: Camera Phones Help Buyers Beware
. "During the past six months, no fewer than four software firms have released applications to help consumers turn their camera-equipped mobile phones into personal bar-code scanners.
Wired News announced their annual Vaporware Awards
. I don't know why, but game companies seem particularly prone to pre-announce stuff. Software in general is hard
, and the temptation to pre-announce is strong.
A digression, here's some programmer equivalences:
If something is physically impossible, then it is really hard.
If something is possible but you don't know how to do it, then it is hard. Even if, once you knew how to do it, it wouldn't take much time or work.
If you know how to do something, it is easy. Even if it takes a long time and requires lots of work.
If you know how to do something and it won't take long, then it is done.
Keep these in mind when you read software company press releases.
VC superstars John Doerr, Tim Draper, Jim Breyer, technopundit Esther Dyson, and AlwaysOn editor Tony Perkins prognosticate about the future
. My favorite prediction is "Peer-to-peer technology comes back as the web's most fashionable application
". I agree, particularly the combination of RSS with Bittorrent
, a subject for a future post...
So there was this 17-year old kid name Mike Rowe. He decided to start a software company, and named it Mike Rowe Soft
. Microsoft was not amused
China has approved
human trials of an experimental SARS vaccine. Wow. Sometimes you can make progress faster if you don't care so much about the subjects, eh?
Geek humor, courtesy of Tim Bray
: " There's a pirate’s parrot who got a bad case of sunstroke and was heard crowing Pieces of seven, pieces of seven. Which was clearly a parroty error.
David Hornik sees Microsoft at CES, and is impressed
. Have they leapfrogged Apple? Don't know. I am curiously uninterested in Media Center PCs... Why is that?
Ottmar Liebert emailed a link to this California Assembly Resolution
. "This measure would urge the California Building Standards Commission to adopt building standards that promote Feng Shui principles and publish these standards in the California Building Standards Code.
" His comment: "No wonder CA has a deficit :)". Uh, yeah. Does Arnold know about this?
The world's worst working conditions
? "As I write this, there is a window open behind me with a small jet engine outside. This is supplying vast amounts of compressed air to the aircraft undergoing heavy maintenance in the hangar right outside my door. There is a 6-inch diameter air hose going through the office and out the door. All this requires that I sit at my desk wearing a body warmer to keep out the cold, and both ear defenders AND ear plugs to keep out the noise.
" So tell us something important, like how big is your monitor?
CNET ponders patents
. Yeah, they are
offensive. And yeah, they're not going away any time soon...
Speaking of offensive, the RIAA filed 532 more lawsuits
against suspected file sharers. Their PR campaign to win the hearts and minds of music lovers seems a bit misdirected, eh?
I always liked Carl Sagan, until I read this story
finds music you like, by finding music that sounds like music you like
. [ via Scoble
Tivo buys Strangeberry
. Okay, now what? (But I do like Arthur van Hoff, because 1) he's Dutch, and 2) he's smart.
. Or explaining the national debt using Oreos. Too bad it isn't that simple :)
As usual Joel Spolsky is dead on: Please sir may I have a linker
. I, too, have spent countless hours dealing with incompatibilities among modules. Link them all together, and you know it will work. Sigh.
If you did type in links by hand, you wouldn't like this; HugeURL
converts short URLs into very large ones. "TinyURL-like services rips all the semantics out of the URLs you send around, gives a third-party a way of spying on which URLs you're loading, and invites man-in-the-middle attacks.
" Uh, right.
- Proving that great scientists are not necessarily good at marketing, a joint Russian / American team synthesizes atomic elements 113 and 115, and names them ununtrium and ununpentium. Huh?
- S-Train notes R.I.P. Oldsmobile. "A classic GMC brand is about to be put out to pasture. The Oldsmobile 2004 line will be last one." So be it.
- All the Super Bowl ads on one page. Cool. Oh yeah, there was a football game, too. And a good one! Not to mention a halftime show...
- Gapminder - a great source of world statistics. Win bar bets and analyze human development. [ via Joi Ito ]
- Daring Fireball reviews the OmniWeb browser. It seems very cool, and has some great UI ideas that I might incorporate in Aperio's virtual slide products :)
- This is very cool. Zipcar. On demand cars parked throughout a city that you can use as needed. [ via John Robb ]
- Medscape notes: Computer-Aided Detection No Better Than Unaided Radiologists for Mammography Interpretation. Surprising and unfortunate. Those of us in medical imaging have our work cut out for us...
- A happy MythTV user shows the way. Tivo's open source competition. [ via PVRBlog ]
- Oracle makes "final" bid for PeopleSoft. Yawn. Don't they have better ways to build value than to buy and destroy a competitor?
- Sony announces Blu-Ray DVD recorders. These discs can hold 23GB. Cool!
- David Burbridge ponders A New Cognitive Elite? David is smart and he is trying so hard to be objective, but the evidence is gently sweeping him into a corner. IQ does matter, and it does correlate to social standing in today's Western societies.
- Philip Greenspun considers the World's Last Tropical Rainforest. "Panama is one of the few places in the world where you don't need a hippie environmentalist to talk up the value of the rainforest."
- Cory Doctorow notes Apple is selling DRMed tracks of silence for 99 cents. Shhhh!
Stephen Wolfram's Opus A New Kind of Science is now posted on the web
, in its entirety. I read it, unlike many others who have an opinion, and found the style rather pompous and the science quite suspect. Check it out if you want!
Halley extols the virtues of Venice Beach
. "The lush California landscape is so exquisite, I can't keep my eyes off it. The boats, the ocean, the shiny cars, the hills, the fruit trees, the Mexican paint colors of naranjas and lavendar -- this state is like a big candy-stuffed pinata I'm wacking open to see more and more sweets and treats inside.
Ottmar relays a great annecdote
. How cosmic became bosnia. As in, "I say, Tarquin, this quiche is rather bosnia.
" Well I guess you just have to read it, don't you!
The Economist: Things Fall Apart
. "What if the dark energy and dark matter essential to modern explanations of the universe don't really exist?
John Robb picks up the thread, Personal Broadcast Networks
. Yeah, they'll be great, but people will use them for watching "reality" shows with good looking people pretending to have sex, not to educate themselves. Sorry.
And Andrew Grumet builds it
! RSSTV, the combination of RSS with Bittorrent. You'll be hearing a lot more
- Adam Curry: tulip field. Beautiful!
- Alpine makes a car stereo that integrates with an iPod. Of course, how logical. Millions like me use a bogus cassette adapter, introducing analog noise into a digital connection. Excellent!
- Comcast bids for Disney. Bye, Bye, Michael...
- Wired: The Russian Nesting Doll of Games. "The object of The Sims, a popular video game, is to keep the characters happy in their daily lives. Now comes a fan-made plug-in that lets the in-game characters amuse themselves by -- what else? -- playing the SimCity video game." Next up - your Sims can have a blog!
- Rafe Needleman asks Do You Want Internet TV? Yes.
- Doc Searles has a great collection of links and discussion from the Demo conference. I like John Patrick: "The reason I know blogging is real is that there are so many skeptics". Blogging? Real? I'm skeptical :)
- The Toronto Star analyzes Steve Jobs' dual CEO roles, Apple and Pixar, and finds them complementary.
- The Onion interviews Arthur C. Clarke. No, it is not a spoof!
- Yahoo ditches Google, and Phil Ringnalda compares their new search engine to their old one...
- Looks like Napster isn't going to make it. "The original big dog in digital music has turned into a pussycat. Roxio's reincarnation of Napster as a subscription music service has produced millions of dollars in losses, shakeups in the executive suites, and now job layoffs." Despite their best efforts to pretend they're cool, they're not cool. iTunes is cool. And that matters.
- Forbes: Five robots that will change your life. My daughter Megan had successful open heart surgery two years ago, the surgeon used a robotic arm. That sure changed her life, and mine!
- Want more disk space? Maybe the terabyte "Bigger Disk" is your answer...
- Here's something you don't see every day. How many horns can you play at the same time? [ via BigWig ]
Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules for Writing
. #10 is "Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
" This blog post would be a violation :)
! "They named their new search engine Google, for the biggest number they could imagine. Today Google's a library, an almanac, a settler of bets. It's a verb. At more than 200 million requests a day, it is, by far, the world's biggest search engine.
David Hornik considers the Treo 600 in Evolution and Product Development
. "Only through trial and error can a company build great products and services that truly meet the needs of their customers.
Michael Gartenberg, writing about RSS vs. Atom
: "The vendors should heed the words of the head of Black & Decker, who once said that customers don't buy the tool maker's products because they need 1-inch drills; they buy them because they need 1-inch holes.
Philips develops fluid lenses
. "Philips Research is demonstrating a unique variable-focus lens system that has no mechanical moving parts. The FluidFocus system mimics the action of the human eye using a fluid lens that alters its focal length by changing its shape.
" Very cool.
Wired: Plastic on Steroids
. "Artificial muscles pump up everything from military gear to drug delivery.
Dave Winer proposes a truce: RSS is Raging
. "So here's the chance to do something good for the Internet, something not evil. Let's go Google, let's go SixApart, it's time to bury the hatchet and move on.
" I hope it works, but I'm not optimistic.
? The company with the cool high-end PCs and laptops? (And monitors?) Well they have a new highest-end laptop out, the "gold"
. Looks awesome!
YourTech reviews EyeTV
, a Mac-based PVR solution. Doesn't sound like a threat to stand-alone devices like Tivo - at least not yet.
The iPod mini sells out
. Engadget notes
: "Say what you want about the iPod mini — that it’s not quite mini enough, that it costs too much, that the colors it comes in are tacky — but Apple has an undeniable hit on their hands.
Finally, as Tom Coates noted: "The secret of successful weblogging is - it seems - never to pause for a moment." Scoble took a blog vacation. A mere week! What a wimp. Try taking eight weeks off, and then catching up in one post ;)
I've not only resumed blogging, I've started a new blog, too! Most of you know, I'm CTO of Aperio Technologies. Blogs are a great way to communicate company news and interact with customers and prospects, so I decided to start an Aperio blog. Please check out The Daily Scan!
Oh, yeah, I decided to use TypePad instead of the home-grown blogging tools I use here. So far I like it a lot. Not as flexible, but a whole lot easier...
The Hubble Space Telescope took an amazing picture the other day - actually it took 11.3 days of exposure time, taken over the course of 400 Hubble orbits. This image - called the Ultra Deep Field - contains about 10,000 galaxies, cutting across billions of light years. "In ground based photographs, the patch of sky in which the galaxies reside (just one-tenth the diameter of the moon) is largely empty."
(click image for full-size interactive viewer)
Be sure to hit F11 to maximize your browser's window so you can see as much of the image as possible.
As usual, I upsampled the image and am serving it with Aperio's image server software.
The other day, in my massive catchup post, I mentioned some crucial engineering equivalences:
If something is physically impossible, then it is really hard.
If something is possible but you don't know how to do it, then it is hard. Even if, once you knew how to do it, it wouldn't take much time or work.
If you know how to do something, it is easy. Even if it takes a long time and requires lots of work.
If you know how to do something and it won't take long, then it is done.
In the same vein, Ken King, Aperio's CFO, points out some important engineering conversions:
- Ratio of an igloo's circumference to its diameter: Eskimo Pi
- 2000 pounds of Chinese soup: Won ton
- 1 millionth of a mouthwash: 1 microscope
- Time between slipping on a peel and smacking the pavement: 1 bananosecond
- Weight an evangelist carries with God: 1 billigram
- Time it takes to sail 220 yards at 1 nautical mile per hour: Knot-furlong
- 365.25 days of drinking low-calorie beer because it's less filling: 1 lite year
- 16.5 feet in the Twilight Zone: 1 Rod Serling
- Half of a large intestine: 1 semicolon
- 1000 aches: 1 kilohurtz
- Basic unit of laryngitis: 1 hoarsepower
- Shortest distance between two jokes: A straight line (think about it for a moment)
- 453.6 graham crackers: 1 pound cake
1 million microphones: 1 megaphone
- 1 million microphones: 1 phone
- 1 million phones: 1 megaphone
- 1 million megaphones: 1 bedlam
- 1 million bicycles: 2 megacycles
- 2000 mockingbirds: two kilomockingbirds (work on it...)
- 10 cards: 1 decacards
1 kilogram 102 grams of falling figs: 1 Fig Newton
- 1000 cubic centimeters of wet socks: 1 literhosen
- 1 millionth of a fish: 1 microfiche
- 1 trillion pins: 1 terrapin
- 10 rations: 1 decoration
- 100 rations: 1 C-ration
- 2 monograms: 1 diagram
- 8 nickels: 2 paradigms
- 3 statute miles of intravenous surgical tubing at Yale University Hospital: 1 I.V. League
- 1 millihelen: amount of beauty required to launch one ship
Offered as a public service...
So, let's see what's happening...
BBC: Beloved Queen Mother Dies. "The former Dutch queen, Juliana, has died at the age of 94 after a prolonged period of illness." A woman who, while Queen during days when The Netherlands was truly a Monarchy, always retained the common touch. [ via Adam Curry ]
Dave Winer thinks we need a Reality mode for TV interviews. Sounds good, but who's reality? Dave's is clearly not mine; "Example. Cheney didn't say things are better in Iraq, only that Hussein is gone and his death squads are too. The void they've created is (remember we're in Reality Mode) certainly as bad as he was, probably much worse." Worse? [ Later: Adam Curry has a different reality from Dave, too ]
Check out daily dose of imagery. Some amazingly beautiful photographs. I like this one a lot. [ via Tom Coates ]
Blogging.la now has 21 bloggers, and lots more activity. If you're interested I built an aggregated RSS feed using rollup.org. Feel free to use it!
Citizen Smash reports on My Interview with Rebecca. Amazing.
Neilsen Hayden: On the Getting of Agents. If I were still writing a book, this would be very relevant. Oh, wait, I am!
Mark Cuban has a blog! The ex-founder of broadcast.com and current owner of the Dallas Mavericks is known for pulling no punches, especially with NBA referees. Check out this post, for example. "This is posted for your enjoyment only and is not to be used for gambling, April Fool’s gags, or coming to conclusions." Yeah, right.
Here we have - Cat Attack. Click on the pic at right to watch the movie. I don't know about your cat(s), but mine would play with this until they drop.
Mark Andressen:Why Open Source Will Boom - in 103 Words:
- The Internet is powered by open source.
- The Internet is the carrier for open source.
- The Internet is also the platform through which open source is developed.
- It's simply going to be more secure than proprietary software.
- Open source benefits from anti-American sentiments.
- Incentives around open source include the respect of one's peers.
- Open source means standing on the shoulders of giants.
- Servers have always been expensive and proprietary, but Linux runs on Intel.
- Embedded devices are making greater use of open source.
- There are an increasing number of companies developing software that aren't software companies.
- Companies are increasingly supporting Linux.
- It's free.
Interesting review of Debugging (the book). The Nine Indispensable Rules:
- Understand the system.
- Make it fail.
- Quit thinking and look.
- Divide and conquer.
- Change one thing at a time.
- Keep an audit trail.
- Check the plug.
- Get a fresh view.
- If you didn't fix it, it ain't fixed.
These all seem really "right", to me. And I would especially point out #6, which is often neglected, and #9, which is invariably true, even when it appears not to be.
And finally we have: Biologist stopped at airport with severed seal's head in luggage. I am not making this up.
I'm really liking my One Year Ago link (over there, on the right).
A year ago today the Iraqi invasion was in full swing, Michael Moore accepted his Oscar, and Matt Webb wondered: "If you had to get rid of a planet, which one would it be?"
A friend pointed out this picture on Fark.
That’s me at the 2001 PayPal Christmas Party, held at the Thomas Fogarty Winery in Portola Valley. That’s Mountain View in the background, and South San Francisco Bay. We brought our foosball table, because, well, that’s what we do.
I do not remember those weird black men on the rods, but then, it was a winery :)
I had no idea this picture existed. To see it in a Fark Photoshopping contest is unbelievable. See where foosball can take you?
Sometimes a picture is worth much more than 1,000 words. Take this one:
The Economist ran a great story recently about global economic inequality: More or Less Equal? These graphs accompany the story.
The graph plots a circle for each country in the world. The X axis is the current  GDP per person, and the Y axis is the growth rate of the GDP per person. Anyone looking at the top graph would conclude that the gap between rich countries and poor countries is getting larger; on average the rich are getting richer, faster. But now look at the bottom graph, where the size of each country's population is reflected in the size of its circle. China and India are poor, but their growth rate leads the world, and they are also the two most populous countries. By considering population, now you might draw the opposite conclusion; that [on average] the poor are getting less poor, faster than the rich are getting richer.
Now notice one more thing - the horizontal red line signifying 0% growth. The countries below this line are not only poor, but they are getting poorer. The large poor country at the lower left is Nigeria, a sad situation if there ever was one. In fact for most of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa (beige shading) the standard of living is getting worse. This is due to AIDS and politics and wars and poor leaders and many other factors. Clearly the third world is separating; Southeast Asia is very different from Africa.
Anyway it is a great graph, very thought provoking. Edward Tufte would love it.
© 2003-2017 Ole Eichhorn
If you're new to blogs, you may be interested in "All About Blogs" on The Daily Scan.
(also, Wired: Why RSS is Everywhere :)
These wooden kinetic sculptures are absolutely amazing: Wood That Works. Great website, too, with flash animations and movies. I want one. Really. Actually I want to be able to make things like this, wouldn't that be cool!
Dave Winer remembers his cross-country trip a year ago. I remember it too, for a different reason; right before he left I posted Tyranny of Email, which he was kind enough to link. And he left that link at the top of his site all week as he traveled to the East Coast. The resulting exposure got me slashdotted, and the rest is history. Actually "Tyranny" remains far and away my most popular post.
The I, Robot trailer is out. Looks pretty cool. Although it doesn't appear to have much to do with the Issac Asimov books, except for the "three laws" references.
In other news, Sony is setting up an Intelligent Robot lab. I wonder if it costs more to build intelligent robots, or to make a movie about them?
Continuing with robot news, Wired reports Robots invade San Francisco. "Over 400 robots rolled, walked, climbed and strutted their stuff at the first Robolympics." Great stuff. So when do you think the first robot will start a blog?
And in even more robot news, NASA announced that rover Opportunity is sitting on a beach. "We think Opportunity is now parked on what was once the shoreline of a salty sea on Mars."
Tom Coates invents a new people classification system, the 2D Elf-Dwarf Pirate-Ninja scheme. One axis measures style: "Ninja are skilled and proficient, elegant and silent, contained and constrained, honourable and spiritual. Pirates are loud and flamboyant, gregarious and unrestrained, life-loving and vigorous, passionate and strong." The other classifies by method: "Elves are elegant and timeless, conceptual and refined, abstract and beautiful while Dwarves are practical and structural, hard-working and no-nonsense, down-to-earth smiths and makers." What are you?
The red circle is me. I think.
Speaking of classification (we were), is Sedna a planet? Alan Stern has a great article in SpaceDaily which makes a convincing case for "yes". He also proposed a very reasonable litmus test: "a planet is any body with enough gravitational mass to assume a spherical shape, but with too little mass to generate energy as a result of sustained nuclear fusion in its interior." But I also like his daughter Kate's objection to more solar planets: "we will just have a mess on our hands when it comes time to name them all on tests."
Lore Sjöberg: The winner for most fun headline to add and/or remove commas from:
Video Games Make Kids Fat, Violent, Swedish Experts Say
Steve Largent was one of my favorite football players. What's he doing now? Running with wireless.
Scoble takes a look inside Buck's. Yeah, I've been there. One of those places which is famous for being famous, but not much else...
AlwaysOn says It's a good time to be an entrepreneur. That's good to hear! On the other hand, I'd say any time is a good time to be an entrepreneur :)
Ottmar Liebert: A record company executive came to visit. He had a new contract for me. He smoked a fat cigar. He was short, but powerful, and his hands and head were glowing. I sent him away.
Adam Curry will be talking about "Personal TV networks" at BloggerCon II. Boy, if that isn't the Next Big Thing. (You have tried the RSS+Bittorrent experiment, right?)
Wal*Mart opened their online music store! It looks ugly. But they did what they always do, discount. The bar has been lowered to $.88/track.
Cory Doctorow likes Shrook. Yeah, it's my favorite RSS reader for Macs, too. If you use a Mac and haven't tried Shrook, try it!
This, I like. If you are convicted of drunk driving in Ohio, you get a special license plate. [ via Mark Frauenfelder ]
From my colleague Mark Wrenn, in the same vein as engineering conversions:
Two engineering students were crossing the campus. One said, "Where did you get such a great bike?"
The second engineer replied, "Well, I was walking along yesterday minding my own business when a beautiful woman rode up on this bike. She threw the bike to the ground, took off all her clothes and said, "Take what you want."
The first engineer nodded approvingly, "Good choice; the clothes probably wouldn't have fit."
Tonight we have lots of visuals...
Leading off - a QTVR of ice climbing in the Pyrenees. Harrowing and amazing:
Brazilian architect Marcio Kogan designs radical and amazing buildings:
NASA is not only great at building unmanned spacecraft, they're good at making paper models of them, too:
And speaking of paper models, how about these models from Star Wars! Wow:
Makes you want to reach for your scissors, doesn't it :)
One of the cool things on the horizon has been "virtual keyboards" for small devices. Well here you go, a Siemens phone/PDA with a laser keyboard:
Ocean explorer traps cool predators from the ocean bottom, like this deep sea isopod:
Looks like a giant pill bug!
From isopods to iPods, here we have - the iPodrace!
Featuring Santa Claus wearing a Steve Jobs mask, in a Star Wars -style pod racer made from an iPod:
This is really cool - literally!
Mohammed Bah Abba of Nigeria won a Rolex award for his "pot-in-pot refrigerator".
Food that used to spoil in a few days now stays fresh for weeks:
A really cool Japanese water ferry, designed by anime artist Leiji Matsumoto:
And finally, translucent concrete... I am not making this up.
Oops, almost forgot. It's fashion week in L.A.!
Continuing our attempts to understand engineers:
To the optimist, the glass is half full.
To the pessimist, the glass is half empty.
To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.
One of the keys to winning a debate is to keep the discussion to points on which you can win. There are always many different angles to any debate, and picking the right ones is essential. In the same way, winning an election depends crucially on picking the right issues. If the discourse during an election takes place about issues on which you can win, you stand a good chance of winning the election, too.
I think Democrats are making a big mistake by featuring the war on terrorism as an election issue. This is an issue on which they cannot win. I know there are a lot of people who disagree strongly with Bush on this issue. But they are a minority. Furthermore, for those in the majority, this is a "voting issue"; in other words, they will cast their vote based on how they feel about it.
Bush's handling of the 9/11 attacks, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the formation of the department of homeland security, etc., are all open to question. He and his team's record is not perfect. But to a stable majority of Americans, Bush did and is doing a good job. As a "wartime president", people have confidence in him. Democrats may not like it, but they ignore this fact at their peril. The more Kerry and his team attack the Bush record, the better it is for Bush, because they are keeping the debate on a point that Bush can win.
This was born in on me this morning reading about the congressional testimony of Richard Clarke. Clarke has been very critical of the administration, and has said things that could convince people not to vote for Bush. But he has done something else, too; he has kept the war on terrorism at the top of the news pages. And that helps Republicans. Really.
In the wake of the Madrid train station bombing and subsequent electoral victory by Socialists in Spain, I have heard people wonder whether terrorists might attack in the U.S. just before the election, as a way of tipping the scales toward Kerry. I would say this depends on how savvy they are. Because the truth is that any terrorist attacks benefit Bush, by bringing this issue back to the forefront. Even the Spanish bombings had this effect. Suddenly all the bad news about job creation was pushed to the back burners.
Ironically, the job market is an issue on which Bush is vulnerable. There is a structural change under way in the U.S., there are fewer and fewer jobs for unskilled workers. These jobs are being eliminated by technology or are moving overseas into less expensive labor markets, and they're not coming back. There is little any President can do about it but saying so provides a weak defense.
The best thing terrorists could do if they want Kerry to win - and who doesn't doubt that they do (in itself a pretty telling observation) - is to keep things quiet and hope the electoral debate shifts to economic and social issues, on which Bush is much more vulnerable.
[ Immediately afterward: Wow, I just saw this item on the Command Post. "Over six in 10 think it is likely terrorists will try to influence the outcome of this year’s presidential election with a major attack on U.S. soil later this year." I'm in that group; regretfully, I don't think terrorists are particularly savvy. ]
LGF makes a placeholder post: moderate Muslims call for restraint and compromise. Maybe this is it: Prominent Palestinians urge nonviolence. But Steven Den Beste is skeptical, and suggests Israel's assassination of Yassin is part of a clever plan.
Noam Chomsky has a blog. Chomsky is fascinating to me; a brilliant man who nonetheless inevitably fails to draw the same conclusions I do (e.g. "the language organ").
George Bush has a blog. So I agree with Bush on many things (not all), and I disagree with Chomsky on most things (not all), but I find Chomsky's blog infinitely more interesting. Why? It is the personal voice of a real person, while Bush's blog is a propaganda mill.
Dick Morris on the Hill: Kerry's Ides of March. "March 2004 gives every sign of going down in history as the crucial month of the presidential campaign. It will, very possibly, be recorded as the month in which Sen. John Kerry lost the election." And this was pre-Clarke.
Great new group blog on evolution and debunking pseudo-science: The Panda's Thumb. In particular, the bloggers seem determined to refute Intelligent Design. Really great stuff, I've subscribed, stand by for lots of links...
Collision detection reports on The Honesty Virus. People behave more honestly online than they do offline. But this doesn't have much to do with morals, apparently it is much easier to be caught in a lie online. Also an NYT essay (registration required). [ via Ottmar Liebert ]
The Supreme Court is hearing the "Pledge of Allegiance" case. I know 9 out of 10 people think "under God" belongs in the Pledge, but I do not. And it isn't because I'm an atheist (I'm not). Separation of church and state is crucial to the U.S. Constitution, freedom of religion is the first freedom mentioned in the Bill of Rights. How can anyone argue that adding "under God" to the Pledge doesn't imply the government is taking a religious position? (BTW, I feel the same way about "in God we trust" on U.S. Currency.)
So the EU has fined Microsoft $613M. Big deal. I totally agree with David Coursey, who notes: Europe, I laugh at you. "If you want to reign in Microsoft you have to be forward-looking, doing something about what Microsoft is or will be doing, not trying to right supposed wrongs that the marketplace has already accepted as a done deal." All those years I hardly ever agreed with David while he was at ZDNet, now he's at eWeek and I agree with him right off.
Lawrence Lessig's new book, Free Culture, is out; "Lessig looks at the disturbing legal and commercial trends that threaten to curb the incredible creative potential of the Internet." I'm looking forward to it.
Eric Sink hits another one out of the park: Closing the Gap, Part I, about sales in small software companies. This is so true: "A good sales guy is someone who is motivated only by money. One of the most dangerous personnel mistakes is to hire a sales guy who cares about anything else."
Microsoft has published a competitive guide comparing Microsoft Office to Open Office. My reaction was "hmm... maybe it is time to check out Open Office". After all, I remember John Patrick raving about it. And then I read Eric Sink's reaction. "When Microsoft publishes a comparison like this, they validate their competitor. OpenOffice.org has never really interested me very much, until now."
A hovercraft vacuum cleaner? "The Airider, which has taken eight years to develop, uses patented aerodynamic technology to create a unique floating action. It is virtually weightless when turned on, and has no wheels, making it suitable for use on hard wood floors." I'm pretty skeptical about the reality of this device; that's a computer model in the picture, not even a prototype.
Tim Oren toasts FOAF. "If you want to spend your own time and money hacking FOAF, I'm all for it. Train wrecks can be highly instructive. Just try making some fresh new mistakes, rather than repeating the old ones." I don't get it either. Why are try so hard to model human relationships, which are about the most un-model-able thing there is?
Oh, and so does Mark Pilgrim, who also toasts Typekey, Dave Winer [of course], and the blogosphere in general. I think Mark wakes up mad. He is smart, though, and entertaining...
Jason Olson: Whidbey + Command Line = Good. So a key feature of the next version of Microsoft's development environment is an integrated command line. What? [ via PDC Bloggers ]
Finally, we now have "two-fisted computing". "Designed to work together with the traditional mouse, 3DConnexion controllers deliver a unique and powerful two-handed work style... Users can pan, zoom and rotate with a controller in one hand while they simultaneously create, edit or annotate with a traditional mouse." So be it.
Another in our ongoing attempts to understand engineers:
A pastor, a doctor, and an engineer were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers.
The engineer fumed, "What's with these guys? We must have been waiting for 15 minutes!"
The doctor chimed in, "I don't know, but I've never seen such ineptitude!"
The pastor said, "Hey, here comes the greens keeper. Let's have a word with him."
"Hi George! Say, what's with that group ahead of us? They're rather slow, aren't they?"
The greens keeper replied, "Oh, yes, that's a group of blind firefighters. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime."
The group was silent for a moment.
The pastor said, "That's so sad. I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight."
The doctor said, "Good idea. And I'm going to contact my ophthalmologist buddy and see if there's anything he can do for them."
The engineer said, "Why can't these guys play at night?"
I made a few changes to the site today; I moved "Blog Roulette" into the navigation bar, added "Greatest Hits", and removed "Sites" from my blogroll. A few other invisible changes behind the scenes, too. As always, please let me know if you notice anything amiss...
The controversy about same-sex marriages took another weird turn, as Benton County, Oregon, has stopped issuing marriage licenses altogether. I am not making this up, I'm not that clever. [ via Citizen Smash, who is that clever... ]
The 2004 Wired Rave Awards have been announced. Big winners: Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings), Steve Jobs (iTunes music store), David Byrne (Powerpoint art!), and Brahm Cohen (Bittorrent). Hard to argue with any of them, eh?
Frequent visitors will know that I like SpaceX and follow them closely. I had missed their December update, which is pretty cool - they formally unveiled the Falcon rocket by parking it outside the FAA headquarters in Washington. Patti Grace Smith, head of the FAA space division said, "Those of us who live and work in Washington know how difficult it is to find a good parking space. So I must say you've done quite well here." Anyway read it all, it is very interesting. This truly is rocket science.
Oh, and the January update is out as well: "We are now entering the final stretch before launch. A lot of work still remains, but the bulk of the development on engines, structures, avionics & guidance, regulatory matters and the mobile launch system is done. There could still be some hidden issues that show up only at the last minute, but, notwithstanding a major setback, we are on track for a maiden launch around the middle of this year." They have already booked a full schedule of 2005 launches as well.
In other space news, Wired reports Probe Flotilla to Scour Planets. "During the next decade, space agencies in the United States, Europe and Japan plan to send no fewer than nine unmanned vehicles to planets, comets and asteroids near and far in an attempt to answer as many questions as possible about the nature of the universe. An additional seven spacecraft have already reached their destinations or are on the way." This nice survey describes each of the missions and links their websites. Excellent.
Doc Searles discusses The Cluetrain Manifesto and the generally cluelessness of Journalism (capital J) regarding online publishing, especially blogs. "They crush statues with every sentence they write."
Andrew Gumet unearths Lessons from the 60s, particularly the importance of conceptual integrity when building software. I totally agree with this. Open source doesn't imply anarchy; look at Linux, which has been directed by a small committee of people who shared a vision.
Ottmar Liebert has traded his Audi TT for a Toyota Prius, and loves it. It has even made him nicer :)
He also pointed out this Lexus, a "luxury hybrid SUV". 36mpg in the city!
And not least, he's considering this adapter to interface your iPod to your car stereo. Very cool, now I can finally replace the cassette adapter.
Finally, I doubt this actually happened, but it is funny nonetheless: [ via acidman ]
Senator Hillary Clinton, at a party, walked up to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and told him, "If you were my husband I would poison your drink."
Schwarzenegger replied, "If you were my wife I would drink it."
Continuing our ongoing attempts to understand engineers:
What is the difference between Mechanical Engineers and Civil Engineers?
Mechanical Engineers build weapons and Civil Engineers build targets.
My colleague Steven Hashagen passed along these five photos, the "most spectacular of 2003". They are indeed amazing. Please click on the thumbnails for a full-size picture (use F11 to maximize your browser's window).
The Australian reports: Syria seeks our help to woo US. "Syria has appealed to Australia to use its close ties with Washington to help the Arab nation shake off its reputation as a terrorist haven and repair its relations with the US." Looks like Libya all over again.
And in similar news, "Egypt has stepped in to host an Arab summit after Tunisia stunned the Arab world with a unilateral decision to scrap the meeting it was hosting, citing the reluctance of some countries to embrace democratic reform." So be it. [ via LGF ]
It sure doesn't look like our foreign policy is a failure to me.
Methane find on Mars may be sign of life. Not conclusive evidence, but really interesting, nonetheless. This is getting really interesting.
And you probably saw this already, NASA jet breaks speed record. "The unpiloted vehicle's supersonic combustion ramjet, or scramjet, ignited as planned and operated for the duration of its hydrogen fuel supply, which lasted about 10 seconds. The X-43A reached its test speed of Mach 7." That's 5,000 mph. Wow.
I can't see where I linked this before, but its worth linking again anyway: Andrew Gumet's RSSTV. Essentially he is using RSS to make "suggestions" to his Tivo. So now anyone can publish their own channel, essentially their own schedule of what to record when. Of course the next step is sharing the content as well as the schedule, which is why Andrew is messing around with Bittorrent...
Hey, check this out. Home Media Centre, an Australian company, is selling PVRs based on the open source MythTV! Very cool. Of course this box would be infinitely hackable - not only Linux-based, like Tivo, but open source. No word yet on whether the UI sucks.
This is some strange stuff - "aerogel" - used in the Stardust mission to capture dust from a comet's tail. It is supposedly the least dense solid ever made. It looks like a hologram, but it feels like hard styrofoam. It is 99.8% air, 1,000 times less dense than glass.
Tim Oren eulogizes HyperCard, which was retired by Apple after 16 years. A very cool product which defied description; a combination of GUI builder, scripting language, multimedia authoring environment, and database. I think a Windows-based product with similar capabilities would be a huge hit.
Interested in Lawrence Lessig's latest book, Free Culture? Well, it's free. Easily downloadable via Bittorrent under the Creative Commons license. And it is also available in audio; various bloggers have recorded chapters. Interesting meta-illustrations of the book's ideas :)
This is really cool, a historical archive of Los Angeles in the 1900s. Check out especially If you were living in L.A. a hundred years ago. The clip at right is from an L.A.Times article in 1905 about "Young Hollywood's green fields". I love it! [ via Robert ]
Timothy Sandefur writes about The Beak of the Finch, a terrific book by Jonathon Weiner. I was given Beak at the same time as I was re-reading Daniel Dennett's classic Darwin's Dangerous Idea, and the two books complemented each other perfectly, theory and practice. Highly recommended.
This is really cool: The Importance of Fudgability, from kasei. [ via Mark Pilgrim ] Required reading for all application developers, especially those building systems to automate a human process.
Joi Ito: Isn't it funny/interesting that Wallop, Microsoft's social networking project is built using Flash, XML and SQL while Orkut, Google's social network project is built using .Net and C#?
The OpenOffice meme picks up speed; Tim Bray talks about meeting the developers in Hamburg. "The way that these guys store the data is massively, fiendishly, outrageously clever. You know what this is? This is exactly what the people who invented XML thought they (er, we) were doing it for." I'm going to have to try OO, *soon*...
I have an important erratum for the table of engineering conversions, courtesy of Russell Day. In the original table, I reported:
- 1 million microphones: megaphone
This is unit confusion, the correct equivalencies are:
- 1 million microphones: 1 phone
- 1 million phones: 1 megaphone
- 1 million megaphones: 1 bedlam
Another in our ongoing series of attempts to understand engineers:
The graduate with a Science degree asks, "Why does it work?"
The graduate with an Engineering degree asks, "How does it work?"
The graduate with an Accounting degree asks, "How much will it cost?"
The graduate with a Liberal Arts degree asks, "Do you want fries with that?"
Tonight I attended an organization meeting for Interfaith Inventions, Inc, a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate and to enrich the lives of children through interfaith camps for kids. This organization was formed by my good friend and ex-partner Daniel Jacoby, who passed away recently after a long bout with cancer. A group of Daniel's friends and colleagues are working hard to make Daniel's vision a reality, including a number of religious and business leaders from the Los Angeles area.
"The world is a narrow bridge, and the key thing is, never to be afraid"
I'll be writing more about Interfaith Inventions as we get further along, but in the meantime if you're interested please let me know.
The wrong issue? The other day I wrote about the right issue, and how Democrats are making a mistake if they make Bush's handling of the war on terror a campaign issue. (And it looks like I was right; "Despite a week of negative headlines about how his administration handled the threat of terrorism, President Bush's political position against presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry has strengthened.") So why is Cheney attacking Kerry on taxes? That's the wrong issue. Each side is picking on the other's strength. Fascinating!
Speaking of Bush's vulnerability on jobs' creation (we were), the Economist ran a great article about The Reserve Army. "The unemployment rate is, in fact, a poor measure of economic health." In fact, a poor measure of anything, since the way it is computed is so subjective. Nonetheless, look for this to be a BIG issue in the coming campaign. Why? Because it is the one issue on which Kerry can really nail Bush.
P.S. Wouldn't it be smarter for Bush just to have Condi Rice testify? She's so smart and articulate, she'll blow everyone away. (And blow the issue away, too.) Whereas by having her not testify, it looks like they have something to hide.
P.P.S. The Command Post reports on military deaths and injuries in Iraq to date. In total about 500 soldiers have been killed through hostile action. Any deaths at all are regrettable, don't get me wrong, but that seems amazingly low. In fact, nearly 200 of the 300,000 or so soldiers in Iraq have died from non-hostile causes (accidents and illnesses).
Victor Davis Hansen wonders: When should we stop supporting Israel?
Dalton Conley in Slate: Two is Enough. "The U.S. government encourages families to have children, as many of them as possible. The pro-child policies are based partly on romantic notions about mom, family, and apple pie, but they also have a rational goal: We subsidize kids so that our next generation of workers is ready to win in the global economy. Problem is, these two goals - more kids and better-prepared kids - are at odds. If we really care about kids' welfare and accomplishment, the United States should scrap policies that encourage parents to have lots of children." Amen.
Hey, this is cool! Aviation Week's current cover story is about SpaceX. Regular readers know this startup - from Zip2 and PayPal founder Elon Musk - is one of my favorite companies. The article has a lot of technical detail and a good survey of the higher-priced launch vehicle competition, especially Boeing. Very positive PR.
NewScientist reports on a robot that can "print" houses. "A robot for 'printing' houses is to be trialled by the construction industry. It takes instructions directly from an architect's computerized drawings and then squirts successive layers of concrete on top of one other to build up vertical walls and domed roofs."
Remember the other day I posted a note about the Airider, a hovercraft vacuum cleaner? That picture was a cad-cam model. Well, the company sent me an email to point out that they have the "real" model coming out this July. See pic at right!
There's a new company called Vapore that makes cool capillary pumps. "A revolution in liquid to vapor technology." And the control software? It's vaporware :)
Mark Pilgrim links Robert Read's How to be a Programmer? I think I've linked this before, but it's worth linking again. Really good stuff.
Have you ever run into a boat with your car? Don't you hate when that happens? I hope the boat was okay. Anyway I happened to see this picture on the web, and couldn't resist posting it. Looks like a perfect candidate for a Fark caption contest...
Today's attempt in our series to understand engineers:
Three engineering students were gathered together discussing the possible designers of the human body.
One said, "It was a mechanical engineer. Just look at all the joints."
Another said, "No, it was an electrical engineer. Look at the thousands of electrical connections."
The last one said, "Actually it was a civil engineer. Who else would run a toxic waste pipeline through a recreational area?"
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!
Check out these dancing Sony QRIO robots! This 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
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 :)
I found this tag lying on the ground. (Click for larger pic.)
I'm thinking it came from Spirit. What do you think?
Following up on my comments yesterday regarding Bush's decision to have Condi Rice testify before the 9/11 commission, Andrew Duthie pointed out this analysis from Michael Novak. I don't know if it was as premeditated as Michael implies, but I do believe Rice's testimony will put a clean end to the issue. Especially now that polls are showing Bush gained on Kerry last week, while the Clarke battle raged in the media.
Well, I guess I called this one: OPEC endorses cutting output. Don't think gas prices are going down, at least not until after the election. Next prediction: when the Kerry camp sees the polls for this week, they'll make sure this issue stays on the front burner.
Air America Radio launched today, "the liberal talk radio network." For some reason most talk radio is quite conservative, and this has been designed as an antidote, with Al Franken headlining. Somehow I don't think this is going to work out; they'll be too partisan, and it will turn into an echo chamber.
David Glauser send me this link, to "the most powerful Diesel engine in the world". 108,000hp at 102rpm. wow, that is torque. And it consumes 1,660 gallons of fuel per hour. The pictures are amazing!
"In case you're interested, according to this article typical nuclear submarine power plant produces over 20000 HP. Jane's is quoted as stating that a Mike class Soviet sub produced about 60K shaft horsepower. And according to this article the Trident (a very large submarine) produces 90K horsepower. An interesting paper discusses the real problem with oil-burning ships - the space needed for the fuel." - David Glauser
Congratulations to Dave Winer for seven years of Scripting News. Quite possibly the oldest living blog, and certainly - on an ongoing basis - one of the most interesting.
So here we have some guys who decided to measure the bandwidth of PEI (Pigeon Enabled Internet). Three homing pigeons carried 1.3GB memory chips 100km in about four hours, for an effective data rate of 2.27Mbps. They note the technology suffers from a few disadvantages: "pigeons are susceptible to hacking, and also subject to interference from cellular towers." I love it.
Who knows if this is an April Fool's joke? Google has announced Gmail, a free email service which comes with 1GB of data storage. According to ZNet, "Google plans to make money from the service by inserting advertisements into messages based in part on their content, effectively extending its AdWords program for presenting contextual ads in Web pages to e-mail." Not compelling.
Yippee - the baseball season has started. I don't normally get excited about baseball until after the basketball playoffs are over (and I don't get excited about pro basketball until after the final four). The Dodgers get going next Monday against San Diego. As usual, we're counting on pitching and defense.
Liron Shapira emailed to correct a crucial engineering conversion. Originally we'd said:
However, as Liron pointed out "the acceleration of gravity near the surface of the earth is 9.8 meters per second per second. Since F=ma, the force due to a kilogram of falling figs is given by F = 1 * 9.8, so it should be 9.8 Fig Newtons." Or put another way:
I'm so glad you guys are on top of this stuff :)
Here's yet another in our series of attempts to understand engineers:
An architect, an artist and an engineer were discussing whether it was better to spend time with the wife or a mistress.
The architect said he enjoyed time with his wife, building a solid foundation for an enduring relationship.
The artist said he enjoyed time with his mistress, because the passion and mystery he found there.
The engineer said, "I like both."
"Yeah. If you have a wife and a mistress, they will each assume you are spending time with the other woman, and you can go to the lab and get some work done."
Return to the archive.
Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Aperio's Mission = Automating Pathology
Try, or Try Not
Books and Wine
God and Beauty
Moving Mount Fuji
Rock 'n Roll
IQ and Populations
Are You a Bright?
The Joy of Craftsmanship
The Emperor's New Code
The Return of the King
Religion vs IQ
In the Wet
the big day
solving bongard problems
the nuclear option
estimating in meatspace
On the Persistence of Bad Design...
Texas chili cookoff
almost famous design and stochastic debugging
may I take your order?
New Yorker covers
Death Rider! (da da dum)
how did I get here (Mt.Whitney)?
the Law of Significance
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
where are the desktop apps?