Critical Section

Archive: February 15, 2008

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Friday,  02/15/08  07:20 AM

Valentine's chocolateYes, I did have a nice Valentine's Day, thanks for asking.  Shirley made a fantastic dinner (filet on puff pastry with Fois Gras) which we enjoyed with a '94 Mayacamus Cabernet, and then we had some delicious Sauternes (with chocolate) while re-watching Hitch.  I hope yours was as nice.

Meanwhile, it's all happening...

Henry Waxman swears off earmarks.  "'We have a problem in Congress,' Waxman said. 'Congressional spending through earmarks is out of control.'"  Good for him.  He's the congressman for the district adjacent to mine, and generally a good guy.

Cycling news has a nice preview of the Tour of California which starts tomorrow.  Go Levi!

There is ongoing fallout from ASO's decision not to invite Astana to race in the Tour de France; you can read more here.  I am beginning to think this decision wasn't as political as I thought; they are really scared of having another scandal.  Two years ago Floyd Landis won, then was disqualified later for doping (a finding I still dispute), and then last year Michael Rasmussen was pulled while leading, and many other riders were disqualified during the Tour.  I guess they felt they had to do something to show they were serious.

The whole Second Life experiment in building a society is pretty interesting.  They began 100% libertarian, but it seems more and more regulation is being imposed, to combat various tragedies of commons.  "Does this mean the Lindens are rejecting libertarianism as a failed experiment? Maybe. Just as likely, they're doing this mainly in preparation for the time when the Second Life servers will be open sourced. That's when the libertarians will move their unregulated banks, controversial sex, and other banned content to adjoining nations."  I look forward to the Darwinian competition between worlds :)

Meanwhile in First Life (the real world), Rowan Williams has shown us why multiculturism must be abandoned.  I fully agree.  Its starts out sounding good, but by the time you end up with separate schools, separate courts, and separate laws, it breaks down completely.  Kind of like the situation in Second Life, but with actual pain and suffering.

Indiana JonesAre you ready for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull?  I am!  [ via of all things, TechCrunch ]

TTAC: The insider's guide to speed enforcement, aka what to do when you're pulled over.  If you're me, knowing this is important :)

Philip Greenspun on Internet Software Patents.  "In the Internet software patents that I've looked at, a pattern has emerged. Someone takes a fairly standard business process and says 'I'm the first person ever to have done this with a computer' and patents it."  Repeat after me: patents are bad, copyrights are good.

I can see why they would do this, but yuk - Google toolbar hijacks 404 pages.  This is better than ISPs doing it, somehow, but it feels icky.  I don't use the Google toolbar anymore, and this kind of creepy nannyism is part of the reason (modern browsers have a built in search bar anyway, so you really don't need it).

BTW Firefox Beta 3 version 3 is out.  I've been using Beta 3 for a while, and it works great.  The only downside is that some plugins are incompatible, or say they are incompatible; you need another plugin to disable the compatibility checks :)


Friday,  02/15/08  10:27 PM

Spore!Wired: Why Spore will be huge.  "Imagine all the possible interactions. You might have people creating creatures just to put them into movies. And you might have hardcore gamers just playing the game and exploring space. But then they might come across those characters, who've been pollinated into their worlds automatically. And then they'll click on the creature and be able to see who made it, and bring up the Sporepedia then and there to see what else this person has done, and they'll be able to watch their machinima on YouTube, right in the game."  Okaaay.

Salmonella in 3DThis is cool: Fighting lethal diseases with 3D snapshots of their pathogens.  "These cheery loops and swirls may look like confetti, but don't celebrate. It's a close-up of deadly Salmonella typhimurium, just one of a set of protein blueprints drawn from some of the most lethal diseases on the planet, killers like cholera and anthrax. The idea: If you can get a good look at the proteins, you can find places where other molecules — aka drugs — can latch on and exterminate the bugs."  Excellent.  And the bugs are even cool looking.

I wonder if Spore is going to allow pathogens to be designed :)

From the ESA website: Titan’s surface organics surpass oil reserves on Earth.  "Saturn’s orange moon Titan has hundreds of times more liquid hydrocarbons than all the known oil and natural gas reserves on Earth, according to new Cassini data. The hydrocarbons rain from the sky, collecting in vast deposits that form lakes and dunes."  Excellent news - just one more reason why I want to visit Titan!

Speaking of space - and hydrocarbons - here's an interview with Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX (private space travel), and Tesla (electric cars).  Also my ex-CEO at PayPal and an all around amazing guy.  Oh, and he has five kids under the age of five :)

Bentley BrooklandsKind of the anti-Tesla: TTAC reviews the Bentley Brooklands.  "If you're a student of serious horsepower, hand-stitched pampering and tightly focused branding, Wakefield's luxury car liturgy will be music to your ears."  Not to mention, it's beautiful!

eSkeptic: Journalist Bites Reality.  "To argue that a decided sloppiness has crept into journalism or that the media have been 'hijacked by [insert least favorite political agenda]' badly misses the real point; it suggests that all we need to do to fix things is filter out the gratuitous political spin or rig the ship to run a bit tighter. In truth, today's system of news delivery is an enterprise whose procedures, protocols, and underlying assumptions all but guarantee that it cannot succeed at its self described mission. Broadcast journalism in particular is flawed in such a fundamental way that its utility as a tool for illuminating life, let alone interpreting it, is almost nil."  Sad but true; a great article, please read the whole thing.  [ via Tim Oren ]


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Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Unnatural Selection
On Blame
Try, or Try Not
Books and Wine
Emergent Properties
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IQ and Populations
Are You a Bright?
Adding Value
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The Emperor's New Code
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Religion vs IQ
In the Wet
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
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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?
still the first bird
electoral fail
progress ratches
2020 explained