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Archive: May 17, 2004

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Monday,  05/17/04  12:27 AM

Some unsolicited plugs:

  • Ottmar Liebert.  Watch for La Semana, his new album coming out soon.  It is just excellent.
  • X1.  This fast search tool for Outlook folders and hard drives is wonderful.
  • pickem, a PictureMail replacement for the Treo 600.  Among other things, it fixes the "blue dots of death" problem.  (And if you're a Treo 600 user, you know what I mean.)  [ via Gizmodo ]

Slate considers Election Time in the World's Largest Democracy.  That would be India, of course, and yeah, the recent election was quite an upset.  Fascinating.

Looks like the Indian stock market is upset, too.  Down 16% in one day.  Wow.

60 Minutes ran an interesting story: The New French Revolution.  Muslim women fight back against their unbelievably oppressive culture.  Excellent.  [ via GNXP ]

David Weinberger notes What I look Like I'm Doing (when working at home).  "Apparently, worklife means clicking on a keyboard for 10-14 hours a day."  I have the same exact thing.  My family jokes that they only know what I look like from the back.  Well, at least they get to see me.

Longhorn 3D ExposeExtremeTech has an interesting review: Longhorn In-Depth.  ("Longhorn" is the next version of Windows.)  They have a bunch of screenshots, including one of a new 3D-Expose-like feature.  "Hit Alt-Tab and all open windows align into a 3D stack."  Cool, one of the things I like best about OS X is Expose.  [ via Cult of Mac ]

metal velcro - microscopic viewThis is awesome - NewScientist reports on metal velcro.  "Early tests show that these joints will last far longer than current composite-metal joints, which are held together by adhesives."  Very cool.  First shoelaces get replaced by velcro, now metal welds?

Arsenal make history by having the first undefeated season in English Premier League [soccer] history - 38 matches without a defeat.  Kind of like if the 1972 Miami Dolphins went undefeated in 1973, too :)  [ via Marc Cantor ]

Is a Giant Panda a bear?  Yes, it is.  The Panda's Thumb ran an interesting reader survey on this issue (the readers were wrong!) which features a cool diagram of the bear family tree.  Did you know Walruses are closer to Raccoons than Dogs?

Matt Webb with another amazing ramble.  Definitely not like any other blog.  Interconnected.

John Gruber opines on the mistakes Six Apart made with their Moveable Type announcement.  He links Brad Choate's good overview.  John nails it: "People will not pay for upgrades without features.", and "Pre-announcements are almost always regretted."  In both cases expectations were missed, and that's why people are upset.

Vonage is really hitting mass adoption; now RadioShack is selling their service.  Wow.

 

Is Hell Exothermic?

Monday,  05/17/04  10:19 PM

Here's a good answer to an important question, in our continuing attempts at understanding engineers.  [ courtesy of my colleague Justin ]


(The following is an actual question given on a University of Washington chemistry mid term.)

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law, (gas cools off when it expands and heats up when it is compressed) or some variant.  One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time.  So we need to know the rate that souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving.  We can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave.  Therefore, no souls are leaving.

As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today.  Some of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell.  Since there are more than one of these religions and since people generally do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell.  With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially.

Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.  This gives two possibilities:

  1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.
  2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?  If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa Morrison during my freshman year, that "...it will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you," and take into account the fact that I still have not succeeded in having sexual relations with her, then #2 cannot be true.

Thus, Hell is exothermic and will not freeze.

The student received the only "A" given on the exam.


I'm sure this student went on to become an engineer :)

 

 

Monday,  05/17/04  11:17 PM

Today was the 50th anniversary of the historic "Brown v. Board of Education" decision, which outlawed racial segregation in schools.  The NYTimes marks the moment, observing 50 Years After Brown, the Issue is Often Money.  "As the clamor for integration wanes, the fight for opportunity in the nation's public schools has largely become a battle over money."  This is particularly true in California, where the legacy of Proposition 13 is horribly under-funded [and horrible] inner-city schools.

Josh Marshall makes a talking point: "The one point of solace Republicans find today in the polls is this fact: despite how egregiously bad 2004 has thus far gone for President Bush, and regardless of the broad deterioration in the president's poll numbers, John Kerry is still, at best, only a few points ahead of him.  And in some cases he's not ahead at all."  This is because the war remains the right issue for Bush.  I think Democrats are beginning to understands this, too; as Kerry attacks Bush on Schools, and Kerry attacks Bush on Health Care Costs...

Matt Webb reminds us that relations between France and the U.S. weren't always strained; he found an 1884 article announcing the Bartholdi Statue of Liberty.  "[Benjamin] Franklin believed in the sincerity of the French people, he attested the vast and inestimable worth of their aid, and declared over his own honest hand that they 'expected no return but that of gratitude and friendship'."

Hy-wire fuel cell car chassisWired test drives GM's Hy-Wire fuel cell concept car.  "In addition to a notable lack of floor pedals, the Hy-wire also has no engine."  An interesting experiment.  In addition to the futuristic power source and controls, the car is build on an interchangeable "skateboard" which can serve as the chassis for many other vehicles.

AlwaysOn suggests Mobile Phones: Credit Cards of the Future.  This seems quite plausible to me.  Much more so than passive stored-value devices.

Dave Winer has announced that Userland Software is planning to release the Frontier kernel as open-source.  This kernel underlies other Userland products like Radio and Manila.  A very interesting move, and a wise one, IMHO.  This will give the products a much longer life, with access to more development resources than Userland could give them.  Dave also posted some FAQs.

This is a bit odd: Author Shelley Jackson is publishing her new book, Skin, on the bodies of volunteers.  "Each of the necessary 2,095 participants will be tattooed with a single word from the text."  I hope there aren't any grammatical errors.  [ via David Pescovitz ]

Lego Rubik's Cube SolverAnd here we have - JP Brown's Lego Rubik's Cube Solver.  Amazing.  The technologies here are diverse and tricky; grippers, color calibration, pattern recognition, compensating for backslash, compensating for ambient light – it’s practically the same problem as building a ScanScope :)

Caviar lovers take note: The Meridien Hotel has a new $1,000 breakfast special, an omelet featuring 10 ounces of Sevruga.  C'mon guys, for $1,000 at least make it Beluga.  Some regard this as proof that the economy has turned, I regard it as proof that some people have more cents than sense.

Gwyneth Paltrow gave birth to a baby girl, and as Cult of Mac reports, named her Apple.  The iBaby?  Perhaps her second child will be Banana?

Proof that girls are evil.  There's probably a corollary to W=UH, I need to think about this :)  [ via Dave Winer ]

 
 

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