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Archive: August 2009

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Saturday,  08/01/09  10:46 AM

Wow, August!  I am, as promised, sitting in my Adirondack chair with my morning coffee, enjoying the view and anticipating a nice brunch with all my girls at Boccaccio's on the lake.  And I am, as promised, blogging...

So it turns out, a quick review of my Archive stats reveals I posted 66 times in July, the most in any month ever.  All those TDF posts broke the record... I will slow down now, I promise :)

We'll see if I manage to get on the bike today.  I have not felt as much like riding lately, not sure why.  Perhaps I'm just slowing down after a whole bunch of long rides close together - that would make sense - or maybe just maybe I'm [subconsciously] saving my strength for the 508 in October.  (Or maybe I'm just getting old!)

NYTimes: music sales by sourceAwesome infographic from the NYTimes: Music Sales over time, by source.  The biggest sales were the $16B in 1999 for CDs, it has been all downhill from there; CDs are still the biggest source of revenue, but they're declining rapidly, and online sales are growing, currently at $1B.

Charles Blow: Swan Song.  "The music industry’s deathwatch kicked off about a decade ago, but it seems the vigil could soon be over."

The biggest source of the overall decline is the shift from albums to singles.  When people are buying one song at a time instead of one song + seven bad ones, a lot less music is getting bought.

Listening: BTO, You ain't seen nothing yet.  iTunes humor :)

Trizilla sails!video of the day: Trizilla goes for a little sail.  Wow.  I just can't stop looking at that thing, it is so awesome.  Still want to ride on it someday :)

You guys know, I love Susan Blackmore (The Meme Machine); so now she says we're in the midst of a third replicator (after genes, and memes)... something to do with "digital information".  Huh.  Definitely unclear that this is different in any qualitative way from memes...

Ten words we would all like to see banned from press releases: Leading, Best, Innovative, Revolutionary, Award-winning, Disruptive, Bleeding Edge, Next-generation, Strategic, Synergy.  A good list.  Of these, the most frequently misused is Disruptive, I agree; see what you've done now, Clayton Christensen?

Not good: Silicon Valley unemployment skyrockets.  "Unemployment in the Valley is now higher than it was after the dotcom bust. The job market is so bad that some folks are giving up, quitting the tech industry, and going into healthcare."  Oh no, Mr. Bill!

ZooBorns: little CheetahsZooBorns of the day: little Cheetahs!

Still don't know if I'm going to end up riding, sigh, it is a perfect day for it... stay tuned.  And I hope you enjoy your weekend!


remembering 1984

Sunday,  08/02/09  09:35 AM

Twenty-five years ago!  Wow, guess what, that's when the Los Angeles Olympics took place.  I remember it like it was yesterday, the sense of excitement and pride.  Watching so many events, live! on TV.  Driving around and seeing the banners.  Knowing that my city was showing the world how it should be done.  So what if the Eastern Bloc boycotted?  Their loss.  We did get China instead (as a result of a deal to name Tawain as Chinese Taipei), their first Olympics since 1952, a good trade.

1984 Olympic rowing venue at Lake CasitasMy strongest memory remains watching the rowing events on Lake Casitas.  Every time I ride by that lake - which is pretty often, because it is right alongside route 150 between Ojai and Carpinteria - I think back to those magical days.  I also remember watching Olympic baseball at Dodger Stadium.  Although when I watch the Dodgers today, that seems like a million years ago, at the far edge of my memory.

Time man of the year: Peter UeberrothStars of 1984:  Carl Lewis!  Edwin Moses!  Joan Benoit!  Mary Lou Retton!  Connie Carpenter!  (women's cycling...)  Michael Jordan! (yeah, professionals were allowed in...)  and... Peter Ueberroth!  Seriously he was a star of those Olympics, as was President and ex-governor of California Ronald Reagan...  what's interesting about seeing him now on the cover of Time Magazine as man of the year is remembering how important Time was back then :)  Ah, those pre-internet days... when print mattered.

This was [I think] the first Olympics which was thoroughly televised; I remember filling VCR tape after tape, and watching snippets of all the weird events you'd heard about but had never seen.  Diving.  Weightlifting.  All the track and field events; had you seen hammers thrown or a steeplechase before that?

1984 Olympic torchThis was [I think] also the first Olympics where such a big deal was made of the torch relay; it started in New York and was continuously carried by runners to Los Angeles.  Remember O.J.Simpson carrying the torch up the California Incline in Santa Monica?  And Rafer Johnson running it into the Collesium?  And the incredible spectacle and ceremony of the opening - not quite on technical par with China's last summer, but more amazing because it was all new back then; we had never seen such a thing before.  All those athletes from all those countries, filing into the stadium in their national costumes.

Twenty-five years ago.  Wow.


Sunday,  08/02/09  09:42 AM

Back in the chair, back blogging...  a little overcastey this morning but promise of a nice day.  I did not end up riding yesterday, didn't do much of anything actually (although the brunch was great :)  How's that for boring, someone blogging about doing nothing!

Speaking of blogging, I've noticed a real decrease in the amount of new referrals.  Used to be you'd post something semi-interesting, another blogger would find it, and they'd create a link.  Now people seem to find stuff via search engines and social networks.  My traffic is up but my links are down.  I miss the old blogosphere!

Love, Actually - a great romantic feel-good comedyShirley and I [re]watched Love, Actually last night.  A great movie, on many levels.  Recommended.

AppleTV - the perfect movie-watching deviceI must tell you, more and more we are loving and using our AppleTV.  Not too many people have them - when I mention it to friends and colleagues, there is little awareness - but it's a great solution.  As cheap as any other way to rent/buy movies, excellent quality, and fully integrated into the family room system; you just point and click and poof! watch.  On my network the average delay between ordering and watching is about 5 minutes.

TechCrunch: Why the FCC wants to smash open the iPhone.  "Today there are two different sets of rules for applications and devices on the Internet. On the wired Internet, we can connect any type of PC or other computing device and use any applications we want on those devices. On the wireless Internet controlled by cellular carriers like AT&T, we can only use the phones they allow on their networks and can only use the applications they approve."  It is probably giving Google too much credit to think they bought Grand Central so they could have Google Voice for the iPhone so Apple would reject it so this would happen, but they have to be happy about this result.  Remember they bid on the 700MHz wireless spectrum?  Nobody could figure that out at the time, but you can see where this is going now...

Sounds-like-The-Onion headline of the day: grad sues college because she can't find a job.  This is the logical result of all that political correctness; people are coddled and coddled and when real life hits they can't handle it.

church sign: time to go sailing!Time to go sailing!  The Tillerman notes a church sign on a Sunday, and so concludes...  That's certainly a good option for today.

the beach! - why aren't more people going there?Why aren't more people going to the beachGood question, come on in, the water's fine (and the sand is too!)  Some combination of cooler weather and too many indoor entertainment options are keeping people away, I guess.  That's certainly another good option for today.

A beautiful day (the overcastey-ness is already gone); what will I do with it?  What are you going to do today?


I'm back

Sunday,  08/16/09  10:22 AM

Paris-Roubaix: awesome camera work!
Ole, not blogging :)
Sorry about that - an unscheduled two-week blog holiday.  Started with a long ride to Lake Casitas, revisiting 1984, an incredible week of work in which I assumed some new responsibilities (what was I thinking?), a long four-day weekend with friends at the beach, and another busy week of work, and culminated with a 200K yesterday.  I hate blogging about blogging (yeah, that's what I'm doing right now, I know) so posting to say "I can't post right now" seemed rather lame, but in retrospect I should have; thank you for your concerned emails :)  Anyway I'm back and I have nothing to do today except sit by my pool and blog, so stand by for an onlaught...


revisiting 1984

Sunday,  08/16/09  11:09 AM

The other day I remembered 1984, the 25th anniversary of the XXIII Olympiad (dum dum dum) held in Los Angeles, which to this day is held up as a shining example of what the Olympics should be, for the host city as well as the participating countries and the athletes.  So I thought about that, and I had a beautiful day, and I felt like doing a longish ride, and so... I revisited 1984, in a manner of speaking. 

I did a ride from Santa Paul through Ojai and out to Lake Casitas - scene of the Olympic rowing events and my strongest memory, as I was able to watch some of the competition there - and over to the coast at Ventura and looped back to Santa Paula again, about 52 miles.  And I took pictures!

the route: Santa Paula / Ojai / Lake Casitas / Ventura / Santa Paula: 52 miles

at the overlook into the Ojai Valley

made it! - Welcome to Lake Casitas

... there it is ... beautiful open water ...

behind the shells, a poster for the LA84 foundation

1984 Rowing Venue, XXIII Olympiad

the starting line was here, but now just remains a memory

the way we were - what it looked like in 1984

It was a great ride, and a great way to revisit 1984.  I had goose bumps standing there on a barren shore, looking out over empty water, remembering the pageantry and excitement and the noise and the vision of boats flying over the lake.  I remember the finality, the feeling that the athletes had worked so hard for so long for this moment, and win or lose it would all be over for them in a few hours.  History was written, lives were changed.  Including mine.  I hope can revisit 1984 again in another 25 years, stay tuned!


week of August 3, redux

Sunday,  08/16/09  11:20 AM

Man, what a week!  Feels like I didn't have a spare moment... bounced directly from one thing to the next to the next to the next... 

blazing dawn: the way my week started
blazing dawn: the way my week started
Started with a demo for Congressman Darrell Issa, who represents the California's 49th district in which Aperio is located.  He's an interesting and intelligent guy, quite impressive.  After the demo he took a couple of questions, and in five minutes did a great summary of the current state of health care reform and the economy in general...

From there I had many meetings, a quick bike ride, dinner with Nicole and Chris...

And many more meetings, dawn to dusk, including a productive "coolseeking" session with our sales team, and a pleasant dinner over drinks with a friend...

And a midnight bike ride from Carlsbad to Torrey Pines under a full moon...

And many more meetings, dawn to dusk,at which critical decisions were made and strategy was set, and I took on more to do (sigh), followed by a quick ride and dinner with a colleague...

And then a day of work work work in which I caught up from days of meetings.  And a nice dinner with my [extended] family...

And then we were off!  On a wonderful long weekend, with friends in Montecito...

And meanwhile it was all happening:

Bill Clinton with North Korean leader Kim Jong-IlWeird photo of the day / week / year: Bill Clinton with North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Il.  I'm a little confused, which Clinton is the Secretary of State, again?

Jennifer Rubin asks How does a leftist govern America?  I think we're starting to see, the answer is: "not well".  He managed to convince a lot of us he was more centerist than he really is, but we're talking about the man with the most liberal voting record in the Senate, and leopards do not change their spots.

How you know the economy is in trouble: The Hot Waitress Index.  Living in L.A. and working in S.D., I encounter so many hot waitresses that this indicator isn't particularly useful :)  Still the principle is valid.  [ via Kottke ]

Important work: Why most journalists are Democrats.  "Unsurprisingly, self-selection plays an important role in choosing a job...  Journalists self-select based on a desire to help others.  Socialism, with its 'spread the wealth' mentality intended to help society’s underdogs, sounds ideal."  And Democrats are Socialist.  Apparently.

Wow, Scoble posted to his blog!  You are SO unfollowed!  On Twitter, he unfollowed 106,000 people.  That is amazing.  Consider that first he had to follow all of those people, and then he had to wade through all their meaningless blather.  What an incredible waste of time and energy.

aspartame - sweet danger or myth?Cracked: Five things they say give you cancer, and why they're wrong.  #4: Artificial Sweetners: "As for the laboratory rats used in the study, those animals were introduced to amounts of Aspartame so massive they are worthy of song and legend.  To put it in perspective, the rat with the smallest trace of cancer (we're talking like ONE cancer cell) was introduced to the human equivalent of 8 cans of diet soda a day.  The most cancer-tastic rat had about 2,083 cans a day."  I hope they're right; I drink 8 cans of diet soda a day, easy.

Going Google - the gloves are off!Wow, check this out: Going Google.  The gloves are off.  You don't think this hasn't been seen in Redmond?  Wow, a free online alternative to Microsoft Office.  Yeah, maybe the functionality isn't as rich, but it is definitely a Christenenian "attack from below"...

I wonder if I'll ever buy another copy of Office?  I'm happy with 2003, have no desire to switch to 2007, and by the time I need to switch, Google Apps will be ready for me.  Yeah, if I'm Microsoft, I'm worried.

Not a surprise: Dog Bites Man: Schmidt Resigns From Apple Board.  In the wake of Apple's rejection of the Google Voice App, you could see this coming a mile away.

Wired: Adaptive Cruise Control goes Mainstream.  "Engelman is driving, but just barely. The Taurus has a radar-based adaptive cruise-control system that lets him set a top speed and then simply steer while the car adjusts its velocity according to traffic. He's been weaving and changing lanes, doing between 45 and 70 mph—and hasn't touched a pedal in an hour."  Yay!  I've been waiting for this, and now I finally have it.  Well, I could have it, although I don't - yet - in any of my cars...  This isn't a bad article, but as usual the angle is safety, not efficiency.  I grant you, adaptive cruise control is a nice safety feature, but that's not the reason to have it.  A whole bunch of cars in a line using adaptive cruise control use a lot less gas.

Palm Pre ad: creepy or cool?Have you seen the new Pre ads?  TechCrunch wonders What is Palm thinking?  Still, there is buzz; I do believe they are effective...

Ars Technica on why they aren't creepy :)

Related: MyTether turns Pres into hotspots.  A useful app for the Pre!  Albeit an unofficial one...

Just wondering: Why isn't there a Kindle reader for Windows?  It would sometimes be nice to read a book on my laptop instead of carrying my Kindle around...

So I've noticed that Zillow now uses Bing instead of Live.  I guess that means Live is dead?

It's kind of funny, but to Microsoft I bet it is no joke; they spent a fortune on the Live launch.  I remember making fun of it, back in November 2005...

fight cancer and win an Orbea Orca!This is massively cool: Fight Cancer, Win an Orbea Orca.  Go ahead, you know you want to fight cancer, and you know you want to win an Orbea Orca.  So you know what to do...

stainless steel printing!This is pretty amazing: stainless-steel printing.  I want, no I need one of these in my house.  They you buy the plans on Amazon, and you download them into your printer, and poof, solid objects!  Wow, what will they think of next?

Okay, how about this: a camera which contains a built-in projector?  That is pretty cool, and the technology is even cooler; imagine cellphones with built-in projectors...  you just know this is going to happen, right?  It just makes too much sense...

amazing folding bike... and then there's this: a bike which can be folded completely into the space of the wheels' 26" circumference.  Wow, now that's cool.  (Please click through and check out the video!)  Not to mention useful, but I just wonder how well the bike rides.  Probably not quite as nicely as an Orbea Orca :)

Xerox Star UI pictures - from 1981!And reminding us that the more things change, the more they stay the same, here are some pictures of the Xerox Star user interface, from 1981!  I actually used a Xerox 850, which was a slight forerunner of the Star; the thing I remember most, aside from the awesome black and white graphics, was the round touchpad built into the keyboard which was used for "mouse" navigation.  It was a dedicated word processor that stored files on 8" floppys (!) and printed using a daisy wheel printer (!), and it worked great...

ZooBorn: a baby TenrecAnd finally, here we have the ZooBorn of the week: a baby Tenrec.  What's a Tenrec, you ask?  It's a kind of hedgehog, apparently, and a pretty cute one at that!

So be it - that was the week that was...


midnight ride

Sunday,  08/16/09  12:17 PM

midnight moon over Torrey Pines
midnight moon over Torrey Pines
The other night, after a long busy day and a long enjoyable dinner, I decided to take a little bike ride.  Nothing unusual about that, although having had several glasses of Pinot I knew I'd be slow and tired.  Just a few miles, from Carlsbad down the coast a little ways and back.  The moon was full, and it was the nicest possible night; a slight cloud cover kept the heat from escaping, stirred by a little breeze wafting off the ocean.

Three hours later I'd covered 35 miles, including climbing up to the top of Torrey Pines Nature Reserve.  I blame my iPod; it managed to pick the absolutely perfect selection of music, starting out mellow (Carlos Santana, Samba Pa Ti) and gradually working up to cranking just as I was climbing up Torrey Pines (Black Sabbath, Heaven and Hell, and of course on the way down, Supertramp, Take the Long Way Home :)

You get on a bike, you never know what will happen.


weekend of August 8, redux

Sunday,  08/16/09  12:37 PM

relaxing at the Coral Casino beach club
relaxing at the Coral Casino beach club
We took a long wonderful weekend off last weekend, Friday through Monday, stayed with friends in Montecito, hung out at the Coral Casino beach club, ate (a lot!), drank (a lot!), watched the sun set, and had a marvelous time.  Every weekend should be so great.

... and meanwhile, the world kept spinning around us ...

Charles Krauthammer has A better plan for health care reform.  "The administration’s defense is to accuse critics of being for the status quo.  Nonsense.  Candidate John McCain and a host of other Republicans since have offered alternatives.  Let me offer mine: Strip away current inefficiencies before remaking one-sixth of the U.S. economy.  The plan is so simple it doesn’t even have the requisite three parts.  Just two: radical tort reform and radically severing the link between health insurance and employment."  I could go for that; to me, tort reform and divorcing health insurance from employment is exactly the right solution.

the Licorne bomb, equivalent to 57 HiroshimasGerard Vanderleun says it's time for a live demo.  Remembering the 64th anniversary of Little Boy being dropped on Hiroshima.  Wow, sixty four years ago.  Incredible.  "It has been 64 years since the incineration of a city in a second, and we've lost any sense of immediacy about exactly what it means."  People sometimes think conservatives don't care about this.  That's exactly wrong.  Conservatives understand how important it is never to have this happen again.  And are not confused about what it takes to prevent it.

Van Halen - no brown M&Ms!Did you know?  Van Halen had a good reason to ban brown M&Ms in their concert rider.  "The contract rider read like a version of the Chinese Yellow Pages because there was so much equipment, and so many human beings to make it function.  And article number 126, in the middle of nowhere, was: 'There will be no brown M&Ms in the backstage area, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation.'  So, when I would walk backstage, if I saw a brown M&M in that bowl... well, line-check the entire production.  Guaranteed you're going to arrive at a technical error.  They didn't read the contract."  I love it!  [ via Boing Boing ]

flying cat - Alinghi gets transportedThe flying cat: Unbelievable, check this out; what you see here is a picture of Alinghi's new 90' x 90' catamaran, being transported from Lake Geneva to Genoa.  While hung from a Russian Mi26 helicopter!

Did you know?  Free parking costs a fortune.  Who knew?  Yet another reason why public transportation makes sense.

And meanwhile, we have the U.S. Government using tax dollars to pay people to buy new cars!  I'm not making this up, but I wish I were.  As Philip Greenspun notes, "Cash for Clunkers only makes sense if we believe that our #1 problem is that we don’t drive sufficiently fancy cars."  I do believe this is the dumbest government program I've ever heard about, amid heavy competition.

I'm really rooting for Carol Bartz, Yahoo's new CEO; she seems cool and I've heard good things about her, and "we" need Yahoo to remain a viable competitor for Google.  But she kind of lost me with this one: "Yahoo was never a search company".  What?!  C'mon Carol, some of us were alive back then, when Yahoo started, as the Internet directory, the way to search for stuff online...

PS John Battelle calls bullshit.

Google Wave preview - but is it the Web Way?Anil Dash on Google's Wave: the Web Way vs the Wave Way.  Great as an exposition of "the Web Way" in addition to explaining more about Wave than I'd seen elsewhere; somehow it defies explanation, which is a bad leading indicator for future adoption.

casting call for The Black Cat, featuring, um, lots of black cats...A classic picture from Jason Burns, a 1961 casting call for The Black Cat.  I love that they're all on leashes, you know how much they love that...

A very strange but cogent argument: How the Apple Tablet could ruin computing.  Basically it isn't the Tablet per se, it is the fact that a Tablet might use a cellular provider for Internet access (instead of, say, WiFi).  It is true, you can do a lot more with your computer than you can with your smartphone, and that's often because of your cellular provider, not the maker of the handset.  Exhibit A would be Apple's recent decision not to support Google Voice.

Marco Arment takes on Jason Calacanis, in the wake of his Case Against Apple.  "This, unfortunately, is the fate of Calacanis’ piece: he has some good points, but they’re buried in so much off-base ranting and misplaced frustration that it’s difficult to take any of it seriously."  It does make for great theater, however; I found Jason's article entertaining, and Marco's critique equally so :)

the Blue Angels in formationI have two competitors for photo of the weekend, both involving airborne vehicles; first up, at right, please find a great picture of the Blue Angels in formation, courtesy of Scott Loftesness.

helicopter landing in dust, in AfghanistanAnd second up, at left, please find an amazing picture of a helicopter landing in dust in Afghanistan from Michael Yon, via LGF.  I'm not voting between these two, they're both excellent.

Perfect for a long weekend of eating and drinking, with strictly incidental amounts of exercise, Scott "Dilbert" Adams notes Exercise is Useless for Weight Loss.  I think there's a real point here, exercize alone doesn't cause you to lose much weight... there are plenty of overweight cyclists, for example, some of whom put in quite a few miles.  I do think the same mindset that causes you to start exercizing also causes you to watch what you eat; once you care, you care about everythingExcept Epoisses and Pinot, of course :)

ZooBorn: a baby Silvery LangurFinally, our ZooBorn of the weekend: A Silvery Langur.  Most excellently they are born bright orange, and then turn, um, silvery as they grow up :)


planned economy or planned destruction?

Sunday,  08/16/09  02:06 PM

The more things change, the more things stay the same, 1934 edition:

1934: planned economy or planned destruction?

The cartoons of that era where a bit more sophisticated, reflecting their likely readership,
but the folly of spending your way into success was as apparent then as it is today.
(I especially like the "young pinkies" from Columbia and Harvard :)


the beggar next door

Sunday,  08/16/09  02:30 PM

beggar in wheelchair - "I wasn't always this way"Last Monday we all went shopping on State Street in Santa Barbara - school is coming up for the girls, and I actually *like* shopping (believe it or not), and it is a lunch and hangout opportunity, and in the middle of this with all my girls spread around five different stores, while I was standing out on the sidewalk, I encountered a beggar in a wheelchair. 

Actually first I observed the beggar; he solicited money from some German tourists, rather aggressively, and they didn't know what to make of him, and finally gave him some money.  It left me rather ill disposed toward the beggar; here are these tourists, and this is the impression they get of America?

So next he approached me, and asked if I could spare any change, and I said "no", curtly.  And then rather unnecessarily I added "guilt doesn't work on me".  I wasn't in a bad mood, I really don't know why I was so rude, but, well... I was.  He looked at me for a moment, and started to roll away, but then he spun around and said: "You know, I didn't used to be this way.  You think I want to be in a wheelchair?  I just hope you never know what it's like to be me."  And then he rolled away.


Was that a mind bomb.  I spent the next hour thinking about what he said, what it would be like to be him.  I felt terrible, first because I'd treated him so badly, and second because he was right; I had not looked past the begging and the wheelchair and seen a person.  I thought about this as my kids were buying nice clothes in nice boutiques, and we were all smiling and happy.  I'm sure he felt bad too; it is one thing to have to beg, and another to hear "no" after "no", but I'd guess not too many people are downright rude about it.

So we're walking back to our car, and I see the beggar, and he's sitting in a doorway.  And we all walk past him, and I know he's seen me too... and I'm thinking... and suddenly I walked back to him.  "I thought about what you said, you were right", I blurted, "Thanks for what you said.  You made me think."  And I handed him a twenty.  He didn't take it right away.  But then he did, and he said "cool man, thanks."  And I said, "I just hope you never know what it's like to be me."  Meaning, what it's like to be an asshole.  And he smiled, and I smiled.

It might have been the best part of a great weekend.  I went from feeling like crap to feeling great in about 30 seconds.  And it wasn't the $20, it was the connection.  I learned something about myself.  From the beggar next door.


week of August 10, redux

Sunday,  08/16/09  03:53 PM

The world's busiest week, bar none.  I went directly from vacation, hanging out, relaxing, to back-to-back days filled with back-to-back meetings.  Barely rode.  Didn't blog.  Barely ate.  Drank.  A little.

Koyaanisqatsi - life out of balance?Koyaanisqatsi - Life out of Balance.  My work / life proportion, always skewed, has finally become a problem, on both sides.  I must think about this.  When... I... have time.  But first I must blog!

Ron Hart: Obama discovers that heath care reform is a hard sell.  "If Obama has his way, his health care plan will be funded by his Treasury chief who did not pay his taxes, overseen by his Surgeon General who is obese, signed by a president who smokes and financed by a country that is just about broke.  What possibly could go wrong?"  It would be funnier if it wasn't so true.

Powerline: Back in the USPS.  The postal service is a poster child for a government agency that can't compete with private enterprise.  Imagine if we couldn't have FedEx and UPS?  Weird that Obama uses this analogy, but fails to drawn the obvious conclusion from it.

never, ever, feed the plant...Gerard Vanderleun: Never, Ever, Feed the Plant.  "Confused about health care, stimulus, bailouts, and the coming tsunami of taxes and regulations?  One simple answer:  Never, ever, give governments more money or power."  I fully agree.  This is the simplest explanation of why I am [have become] a conservative.

Ha!  Ann Althouse wonders is Hillary Clinton Secretary of State or First Lady?  It is quite clear that her decision to accept nomination as Secretary of State was a mistake; she's been hidden and ineffective, overshadowed not only by President Obama but ex-President Clinton on the world stage.  Pretty different to Condoleezza Rice, for example.  (She should have run for President!)

An old post from Robert Scoble (just popped into my RSS for some reason), he wonders: Real time systems hurting long term knowledge?  "Whew, OK, now that I’m off of FriendFeed and Twitter I can start talking about what I learned while I was addicted to those systems."  He learned a lot about those "systems", but I'm going to say, not much from them.

A new study says Twitter is [at least] 40% pointless.  "Pear Analytics tried to categorize 2,000 tweets, and found that 40.55 percent of them fell into the 'pointless babble' bucket."  Worse than that, of the 60% that were not pointless babble, most were links pointing to pointless babble.  The actual content level on Twitter is desperately low.

is my blogosphere an echo chamber?Related: I'm a little worried that my slice of the blogosphere is an echo chamber.  A new study comes out about Twitter, and everyone I read links to it.  That isn't very useful, I'd much prefer that everyone I read links to different things, to get the maximum "fan in".  I might have to look for more sources.  Huh.

Related: Facebook acquires Friend Feed.  (For a lot less than many might have thought.)  So be it; this will not affect me one whit.  Scoble says FriendFeed will be Facebook's R&D department.

Dave Winer is worried: Scoble, your blog still loves you.  "It's time to use the web again to store our ideas, and instead of relying on Silicon Valley companies to link our stuff together, let's just use the Internet."  That's exactly what I'm doing right here, and you're a part of it!

Uh, oh.  Windows XP SP3 runs browsers 14% faster than Windows 7 RTM.  Crap.  I was really hoping Win7 would be at least as fast as XP.  Guess not.

Technology Review: An Operating System for the Cloud.  The business strategy behind Google OS.  Fascinating.  [ via Slashdot ]

the Elephant Trunk nebula - photography which is out of this worldPhotography that is out of this world.  And... amazingly beautiful.  Shown at left is the Elephant Trunk nebula... doesn't it look like a scene from a science fiction film, with an alien being walking towards us?

differential gear: how it works, a tutorial from the 1930s...This is massively cool: a tutorial that shows how a differential gear works, from the 1930s... long tail content at its finest.  BTW I knew how these things worked, sort of, but this explanation helps make it clear :)

Cycling news: Michael Rasmussen hopes to ride the Vuelta.  Yay, the chicken is back!  Let's hope anyway, stay tuned...

Also in the news: Alexander Vinokourov won his first race since coming back from his two-year doping suspension.  He, too, is hoping to ride in the Vuelta.  I have a special fondness for Alexander; besides being an exciting rider to watch, always on the attack, he featured prominently in my perfectly incredible day watching a stage on the Vuelta in September 2006, in Granada.  He didn't win that stage - Tom Danielson did - but he took over the lead and went on to win that Tour.  I actually ended up shaking his hand :)

IPO registrations - July-Aug 2009 - slowly returning to normalYay, good news - IPO registrations are returning from the valley of death.  These are registrations, not actual IPOs, but it is a sign that the market is gradually recovering.

podcast station!Wired notes the fifth anniversary of Adam Curry's Daily Source Code, the first really popular podcast.  Yeah back in 2004 podcasting was all the rage, but it never really took off (although it does hold down a solid niche).  Remember when iTunes first included podcasts, how "mainstream" that made it feel?  I wonder how we'll remember Twitter and Facebook in five years?

Dave Winer, a pioneer behind podcasting (originally enabled by RSS attachments), remembers Netscape and RSS.  "Then I did one of the smartest things I ever did.  I surrendered unconditionally."  Another smart thing Dave did was freeze RSS, let innovation build on top of it rather than in it.  I disagreed with him at the time, but he was right.

Classic confusion of correlation with causality: texting makes kids dumber.  (Could it be, dumber kids text more often?  Yes, it could...)  This happens so often in the mainstream media, I should post about this... :)

supermodel Amber Valletta without makeup - beauty is deeper than makeup, apparentlyA wonderful photo essay: supermodels without makeup.  To my eye they are more beautiful this way, more like real people you could sit and talk with...  Fascinating.  [ via Boing Boing ]

Wow, this is too bad: Guitar legend Les Paul dead at 94.  Alex has a Gibson Les Paul, it's beautiful, and she makes it sound just like AC/DC :)

the photo-crashing squirrel!This is excellent: the photo-crashing squirrel.  "My husband and I were exploring Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park-Canada when we stopped for a timed picture of the two of us. We had our camera set up on some rocks and were getting ready to take the picture when this curious little ground squirrel appeared, became intrigued with the sound of the focusing camera and popped right into our shot!"  [ via Boing Boing ]

Unnatural Selection alert: World population projected to reach 7B by 2011.  "A staggering 97 percent of global growth over the next 40 years will happen in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the Population Reference Bureau's 2009 World Population Data Sheet."  What do you suppose will be the average IQ of the new arrivals?  Higher or lower than the current population?  Yeah, that's what I think, too.

methane storm over TitanWeather alert!  Scientists spot massive methane rainstorm over Titan.  "Indeed, the longer researchers stare at Titan, the more Earth-like its processes appear – processes playing out right before their telescopes' and spacecraft's sensors."  You know I'm going to say it, and so I am: I cannot wait to go there myself.

Whether you're going to Titan or just to the beach this weekend, this New Yorker article will help you choose the right sunscreen :)

Indian casino - eyesore in the desertWow, this is interesting: Indian Casinos.  The article is more sympathetic towards them than I am - the whole idea that there are separate laws for different "nations" within the United States is ridiculous - but there is a lot of good information here.  I had no idea that reservations were formed via negotiation, for example; I figured it was some kind of restitution for land which was taken away.  What's sad is that these casinos are the antithesis of everything we admire about American Indian Culture; the quiet solitude and appreciation of nature, for example.  At this point I think we can all agree (Native Americans too) that American Indians would have been better off without reservations at all.  [ via Kottke ]

time travel - could it happen, and what would it look like?Important information: Time-Traveling for Dummies.  "The notion that one version of time travel is more accurate than another might seem ridiculous on its surface, but physicists actually have rather a lot to say about how time travel should work.  Some, in their more fanciful moments, have even devised ways to exploit Einstein's theory of general relativity to come up with 'practical' models of time machines."  I love the notion that IF time travel could exist, there would be iteration between past and present which would eventually result in a configuration where time travel acts to erase itself.  This may already have happened :)

ZooBorn: baby elephant with a blue ballZooBorn of the week: a baby elephant playing with a big blue ball.  If that doesn't bring a smile to your face, nothing will :)  [ via ZooBorns ]

I sincerely hope next week isn't quite as busy, but it looks bad right now.  Please stay tuned!


Attorney-at-Sea (New Yorker, 8/10/09)

Sunday,  08/16/09  04:15 PM

may it please the court



my blogitorium

Sunday,  08/16/09  04:40 PM

the blogitorium

my blogitorium

Note the essentials: laptop, wheat thins, diet coke.
The adirondack chairs, umbrella, pool, and golf course create the necessary ambiance.

I have now been posting for six hours, some kind of record. 
If you've been able to read it all, congratulations.

Oh, and stay tuned, I'm not done yet...


Cool Breeze 200K

Sunday,  08/16/09  05:31 PM

Wrapping up a maniacal couple of weeks, yesterday I rode the Cool Breeze Double Metric Century (200K).  It was a super ride with great SAG, plenty of climbing (the DM had 8,542’), some nice descents, and amazing scenery. 

the route: Ventura / Ojai / Montecito / Goleta / Santa Barbara / Carpinteria / Ventura
128 miles, 8,542 feet

Adding to the fun, I rode with a group from my club, the Conejo Valley Cyclists.  It's always more fun to ride with other people, especially nice people you know :)  I've posted a gallery of pictures here:

Cool Breeze 200K

And here's a sampling for your viewing pleasure:

CVC paceline heads West from Ojai

the view from the top of Casitas Pass is stunning

lots of up and down in the hills behind Santa Barbara

Hope Ranch is one of my favorite places anywhere
I 'hope' to be able to live here someday...

still smiling - love riding in this area, and the weather was perfect

my next house :)

Rincon Beach - what a great place for a rest stop

The trip through Hope Ranch was worth the ride all by itself – what an amazing area – and then you had the Ojai Valley, Lake Casitas, Montecito, Santa Barbara, and a beautiful ride down the beach to finish it off.  Thank you to the Channel Islands Bicycle Club for organizing such a nice event.

another super century, and another sticker for the top tube :)



weekend of August 15, redux

Sunday,  08/16/09  06:11 PM

Wrapping up my all-day-blogothon, some notes from this weekend.  We're in the home stretch!  Whew.

not home yet :(As James Surowiecki notes, we are Not Home Yet.  The foreclosure situation is still precarious.  Yeah, there's a recovery in some senses, but the core asset for most people is their home, and that value has not yet recovered.

I love this story about Bob Dillon: NY Police want to see some ID.  "'What is your name, sir?' the officer asked.  'Bob Dylan,' Dylan said.  'OK, what are you doing here?' the officer asked.  'I'm on tour,' the singer replied."  Sounds like a scene from one of Dylan's songs, doesn't it?  Too bad it didn't happen on Highway 61.

trizilla flying
Trizilla flying
Trizilla porn - the big trimaran under way.  (Click thumbnails to enbiggen.)  Wow, this has to be one of the most beautiful craft under way...  I can't wait to sail it :)  perhaps you're getting tired of seeing these shots, I know I post 'em a lot, but I must tell you I can't getenough...  James Spithill says 'we've flirted with 50 knots'.

Moths hydrofoiling to weather!I also can't get enough of looking at Moths going to weather on their hydrofoils, how cool is that?  And unlike Trizilla, these are [somewhat] affordable; I could actually imagine having one.  Sailing has definitely gone high tech since I was a kid!

The Business Insider reports on the ten most expensive iPhone apps.  A $180 digital pathology viewer from Interpath was #9 on the list! - and Aperio's server software got an honorable mention.

TomTom has released a navigation app for the iPhone, and it is getting a lot of attention.  But weirdly, because the iPhone cannot multitask, you can't use it while you're using your iPhone as a phone.  This kind of limitation is not found on the Pre, for example.  The press really gives the iPhone a pass on this sort of stuff; single-tasking in 2009 is truly a ridiculous limitation.

Bugatti Grand Sport convertibleNextAuto drives the Bugatti Grand Sport convertible.  "Many delineate wealth simply as The Haves and The Have Nots.  For those who have had enjoyed any sum of money, you know that classifying wealth is not nearly so simple.  There are The Have Nothings, The Have Less Than I Do, The Have More Than I Do, The Have More Than I Ever Will, and The Have More Than I Can Ever Imagine.  The 2009 Bugatti Grand Sport is the ultimate car for those in the last group."  I may be kidding myself, but I think I can imagine having this much money :)

1939 meeting of the Union of British FascistsPowerline: 20th Century London, in photos.  The one at right shows a 1939 meeting of the Union of British Fascists.  Wow.  Although the word "Fascist" has now been discredited, the political philosophy has not; for example it is embodied to a large extent in the Obama Administration's vision for government control over services like health care.

ZooBorn: Meller's Duck chickZooBorn of the weekend: a newly-hatched Meller's Duck.  I have to say it: I'm a sucker for cute chicks :)

And so ends the blogo-marathon.  Onward into the week!


I'm just a singer in rock band

Monday,  08/17/09  09:24 PM

Rock Band 2So last weekend while staying with friends in Montecito, I sang in a rock band.  Which is to say, they had the Rock Band video game, and we all grabbed the "instruments", and I ended up singing.  I blame the Sea Smoke Pinot, under which influence I will do most anything. 

So yes, there I was, singing to the Sweet's Ballroom Blitz, full gas: "ready Steve?, ah ha, Andy?, yeah, Mick?, okay, all right fellows... let's GOOOO", "and the man in the back said everyone attack and it turned into a ballroom blitz", "she thinks SHE'S THE PASSIONATE ONE".  It was pretty ugly, and pretty excellent.

Oh yeah we did some Black Sabbath and some Jethro Tull and even Edgar Winter.  Sadly, I do know all those lyrics, and sadly, I did belt them out at full volume.  Let me just say that I'm glad no recording exists.


my next bike

Monday,  08/17/09  10:09 PM

I have found my next bike.  It is made out of wood, by Renovo, and you tell me this isn't gorgeous:

Renovo R4

Stiff, light, smooth riding...  a perfect frame.  And you know this is going to turn heads wherever you go...  I cannot wait to get one.  I finally have found the right "next bike".  [ via Inhabitat ]


Monday,  08/17/09  10:27 PM

Off to bed, busy day and busier week ahead... but first a teeny bit of blogging...

the social media relationship diagramA perfect description of the current state of "social media", via Doc Searles.  "You’ll notice that blogging isn’t in the diagram.  I bring that up because I think there is a difference between the social media in the Venn diagram and blogging, and that difference is akin to that between weather and geology."  Bangs the nail directly on the head.

Arthur Brooks explains Why Obama's Ratings are Sinking.  "Citizens will put up with a lot - but not with anyone who imperils our future. There is practically nothing that lowers American happiness more than taking away our faith in a better tomorrow."  That's it exactly, it isn't bad enough that his programs aren't working, they're going to hurt us for a long time.

505 planing to weather on San Francisco BayAn awesome shot of a 505 planing to weather on San Francisco Bay, from the Horse's Mouth.  Thank you :)

Great news: the Palm OS App Catalog is now open for submissions.  Stand by for a flood of Web OS apps! :)

Galileo's Armillary Sphere (astolabe) from 1578I love this: Galileo's Armillary Sphere (aka Astrolabe) from 1578.  "At the center of this instrument sits a globe representing the earth. The bands around it pivot on a common center and illustrate the paths of the sun and moon, known planets and important stars."  Of course Galileo's observations were central to discrediting the theory that the Earth was the center of the universe.

Ted Dzuiba makes a great point: Context Switches are Bad, but Stack Traces are Worse.  "The danger here is when you're six or seven levels deep into yak-shaving, and your manager wants to know what you're doing and why."  Fortunately as a manager I understand this, and can accept a high-level summary.  I do think it is good to know what's going on, just to prevent infinite recursion and stack overflows :)

ZooBorn: Piping Plover chickToday's ZooBorn is another cute chick: a little Piping Plover.  Cheers!


week of August 17, redux

Saturday,  08/22/09  11:14 AM

I am back in my blogitorium, happy that another *busy* week is over with, and looking forward to a [relatively] quiet weekend.  I definitely have to change things; my current workload is unstable.  I have so much to do that I can't do it [well], and relentless delegation is my best way out.  Want to help?  Actually you are helping; blogging is sanity-restoring.

Endless Summer - classic (from 1966)Can you believe it?  Summer is over.  The kids are back in school, and everyone is talking about football.  Wow, it was a great summer, but man it flew by... I wanted it to be endless :)

You think healthcare is expensive now? Just wait 'till it is FREEBumper sticker of the week, courtesy of my friend Jim...  There are two known ways to reduce healthcare costs, reduce the expense of liability litigation, and sever the connection between employment and health insurance.  There is one known way to increase healthcare costs, get the government involved.

Microsoft BOBInteresting post: Innovation, the lessons of Bob.  I think the takeaways are pretty good (if not groundbreaking), such as "Never underdeliver against expectations", and "Consumers don't care about strategy".  Not mentioned, "crappy products don't succeed".  Jeff Atwood suggests the only truly failed project is one where you didn't learn anything.

World Bicycle Relief - Million Dollar RideJohan Bruyneel is taking a Million Dollar Ride.

This is pretty funny: TechCrunch: What are these bars on my iPhone?  "Over the weekend I noticed something odd going on with my iPhone: It was working! That is to say I actually had signal in the SoMa district of San Francisco."  And yet - and yet - people love the iPhone.  I'm not saying it isn't a great phone, but I find the level of hype a little weird, given the shortcomings.  I would highlight the lack of keyboard and lack of multitasking as the worst problems, but AT&T's slow and crappy network is also a drawback.

iPhone app: amazing 3D map of ParisAnd the biggest plus of course is all the cool applications.  Check out this amazing 3D map of Paris.  Wow, how cool is that?  I want one for Los Angeles!

Gauss light bulbs - an example of cool packagingTen Awesome Package Designs.  Cool, I love this stuff.  Sometimes the package is cooler than the contents...

In the New Yorker, The Secrets of Magus.  About sleight-of-hand artist Ricky Jay, who, if you've never seen him, is absolutely amazing.  (YouTube has any number of examples of his fine work.)  Definitely you do not want to get into a card game with this guy.  He's also a great actor, and [apparently] an interesting personality...

An interesting question, CNet wonders Does Kindle keep you from buying a book by its cover?  Certainly the cover is less important even if not unimportant.  The same with cover art for iTunes albums.  That is one of the drawbacks of buying online.  On the other hand, you get reviews and recommendations, which are probably more strongly correlated with whether you're going to enjoy the book or music than the cover art :)

Ann Althouse: everybody calm downPicture of the week, from Ann Althouse...  everybody calm down...

the Cosmic Muffin - boat recycled from Howard Hughes' planeAnd here we have the Cosmic Muffin, a boat recycled from Howard Hughes' plane.  You have to love that!

Bummer: Michael Rasmussen will not be racing in the Vuelta this year; he failed to register in time with a team which is racing.  However Alexander Vinokourov is cleared to race, as an alternate with Astana, now we'll have to see whether he is actually selected by the team to do so.  Man, I hope so.  He is a former winner of the Vuelta, after all, and Astana is his team.  On the other hand he did blow it pretty badly by doping in the 2007 Tour de France....

John Scalzi's Guide to the most Epic Fails in Star Wars Design.  Until you see this list, you don't realize how bad they really are, but yeah, they're bad.  "I'll come right out and say it: Star Wars has a badly-designed universe; so poorly-designed, in fact, that one can say that a significant goal of all those Star Wars novels is to rationalize and mitigate the bad design choices of the movies."  I love it.

Ivan Sutherland's Sketchpad, circa 1963This is amazing: Ivan Sutherland's Sketchpad, from 1963.  It does things most graphics programs don't do today.  [ via Daring Fireball ]

ZooBorn: Cheetah cubZooBorn of the week: a Cheetah Cub!

Well that's it for now... then some coding, a little bike ride, dinner with friends, and tomorrow who knows?


how projects really work

Sunday,  08/23/09  10:47 AM

how projects really work

my marketing colleagues point out that marketing got closest to what the customer really needed :)


son of death ride

Sunday,  08/23/09  12:04 PM

In a couple of weeks I'm going to ride a relatively new event called Son of Death Ride, which has the motto "that which doesn't kill us, makes us stronger".  Nice.  This ride is also billed as the toughest one day ride in the U.S.  So be it. 

Here's the ride profile, it is out and back, for a total of 138 miles and - gasp! - 17,352 feet:

son of death ride route profile

That first climb is from 3,500' to 9,000' in 16 miles, which works out to about 7%.  Ouch.  At that summit you'll be 16 miles into the ride, with 122 miles left, and already toast.  I'm looking forward to it already.


weekend of August 22, redux

Sunday,  08/23/09  11:20 PM

Tonight we celebrated Alex' 16th birthday (which isn't really 'till Tuesday), had all the girls home, and it was great fun, much laughing and telling of stories.  Yes I must show off:

my girls, 8/23/09
Nicole, Megan, Alexis, Jordan, Shirley

Earlier I was able to get some work done and for the first time in a while did my "usual" ride around the lake and through Hidden Valley.  All set, ready for another tough week!

But first, a little blogging...

how stupid do they think we are?Rich Lowry: They think we're stupid.  "The Obama team is saddled with a foundering health-care strategy. But it has a fallback plan - relying on the sheer dimwitted gullibility of the American public.  How stupid do they think we are?"  Actually the public are pretty stupid, amplified by a stupid media.  But still, this is not going to fly. 

I actually don't think the Obama team think we're stupid though, I think they think they're right, and that we'll see they are given time.  Unfortunately they're wrong, and we're all going to see it together.  History is not on their side.

Ann Althouse: "Basically, Obama has a big problem. He got lots of people to trust him, chiefly by speaking in vague generalities. It only works from a distance."  And for a short time...

It was only a matter of time:  Tell your story!

Performance - by MC SpandexThis is excellent, Performance, by MC Spandex.  Well done in addition to being dead on and funny.

Avatar: 3D movie teaser trailerAvatar: How James Cameron's 3D film could change the face of cinema forever.  This will be interesting; it seems almost certain that someday all movies will be 3D, and perhaps this will be seen as the pioneer.  The premise behind the movie is pretty cool; humans on Earth have their brains wired into aliens on another planet.  Cool...

47 million year old fossilized jewel beetleAmazing new fossil photos.  Including the 47 million-year-old jewel beetle shown at left.  Wow.

Cool movie about the 505 Worlds on San Francisco BayVia Sailing Anarchy, check out this movie about the 505 Worlds.  How fun would it be to race against 100 505s in San Francisco Bay?

Onward, into the week...  I cannot promise to blog every day, I'll try, but be patient with me if I can't, and stay tuned :)


dot dot dash + week of August 24, redux

Saturday,  08/29/09  11:33 AM

Morse code from Mars :) dot dot dash ...And so another busy week flew by... sorry for my intermittency.  I am settling into my blogatorium, quietly catching up.  It is what it is, for the time being, although I have not drowned and am slowly making my way past the breakers*.

*Something I call the "beach effect"; you are taking on something new, the learning curve is steep, and you keep getting thrown.  Like when you're at the beach swimming; you wade in, the waves break over you, throwing you back, and progress is slow and sometimes negative.  Then suddenly after fighting your way through wave after [unexpected] wave, you find yourself in calm water, beyond the breakers, able to swim.

I sometimes joke about "Morse code from Mars", as a way of characterizing low bandwidth in a business relationship (you call, you leave voicemail, you get a call back in a week, they leave voicemail, etc.).  My blogging is like that right now, I know it; and the latency is bad, too (who wants to read about my comments to something that happened WAY in the past, like, last Monday :)  Still it is what it is, please hang in there with me, because yeah, it's all happening...

Lake Baikal in SiberiaIan Frazier Travels in Siberia, and writes about it.  Wonderful stuff, a slice of the world you never think about, vast, weird, and largely empty.  To a large extent Russia today is still recovering from the massive distortions of Soviet Russia fifty years ago, and it seems much more time will be required...

Maserati GranCabrio - a four-seat convertible which melts the eyeballsAwesome!  A new Maserati...  having come out with the amazing Quattroporte sedan, and then the lust-inducing Gran Tourissmo, now we have the four-seater convertible GranCabrio.  Wow.

Megan McArdle is Thinking Thin.  In which a reader comment ignites a blogstorm.  "I suspect the only way people will change their behavior is a sudden desire to move up the social ladder.  Being thin and attractive gives you a competitive edge, especially if you live in a city with lots of talented people."  This is so clearly true, and yet a large number of people are arguing it isn't, presumably because they wish it weren't.  Perhaps a side effect of Obamaness is that if only you wish hard enough for something to be true, it might happen.  If wish that were true :)

the line diet - goal-based weight lossThe line diet.  A perfect implementation of the Metric Magic.  You set your goal weight and timeframe, and graph your progress against the resulting line.  And use the difference between actual and plan as a motivator.  I think this really works.  The biggest problem is that there's no gimmick - you have to actually eat less to lose weight :)

Avatar bannerThe other day I noted the trailer for Avatar, James Cameron's new 3D film; apparently it is already the most watched trailer of all time.  Wow.  Word of mouth in action.  I bet this translates into big time box office sales.  I know I want to see it!

I love this: Twelve words you can never say in the office.  Not because they're bad, but because they label you as being out of touch.  One of them is "Weblog"; you would never say that, right?  Nah...

PS a related thing I've found: people who confuse "blog" with "post".  As in, he wrote an interesting blog about that.  You would never say that, right?

the iconic typewriterRick Poyner: Appreciation for a forgotten typewriter.  "I'm struck by how powerfully its form and image embody and express the idea of writing, as does almost any typewriter.  Like the telephone at an earlier phase in its development when it still had a distinct earpiece and mouthpiece at either end of a handle, the fully evolved typewriter is a 20th-century industrial archetype."  True, isn't it?  So many of our icons have evolved from things which aren't in actual use anymore.  Like a desk calendar :)  [ via Boing Boing ]

wave of the week: awesome!Wave of the week, from The Horse's Mouth's wave of the day.  Awesome.  Why do we humans like looking at waves?  Who knows, but it is given that we do...  I bet this one is even more awesome live!

Want to really bend your mind?  Then try this: Quiddity has a Qualia all its own.  In which Eric Raymond does logical battle with Daniel Dennett about whether everyone sees the same thing when they see Red.  The argument insofar as I can grok it is that the specific color Red triggers a specific biological reflex in your brain, based on its inherent properties (wavelength).  I find the argument more interesting for its form than its substance.

Catatumbo lightning stormsWow, this is cool:  Venezuela's continuous lightning storms.  "It's still unknown exactly why this area--and this area alone--should produce such regular lighting. One theory holds that ionized methane gas rising from the Catatumbo bogs is meeting with storm clouds coming down from the Andes, helping to create the perfect conditions for a lighting storm."  Must be hard to sleep, at least until you get used to it.  Who knew?

Alexander Vinokourov is back!Yay,  Alexander Vinokourov is back in the professional peloton, competing in the Vuelta de Espana, which he won in 2006, riding for Astana, the team he founded and led until his doping suspension during the 2007 Tour de france.  We can't look for him to be competitive after all this time off, but we can root for him to attack!

Another blogger tries blogging tweets, and finds it exposes the inanity: Tim Bray: OK, you win.  I am really starting to wonder when the Twitter emperor's lack of clothes will be detected.  It has already lasted longer than I would have thought...

Star Trek lunchboxGreat question: Where have all the geeky lunch boxes gone?  "I’m sure I’m showing my age, but when I walked to school (uphill, both ways), my books were carried loosely in one hand and my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, carrot sticks and potato chips were packed safely away in a tightly clasped, rectangular metal lunch box."  Yep, me too!  I miss 'em...

News you can use: Hack your Palm Pre.  I keep thinking I want to do this, so I can access all the hundreds of unofficial Palm Pre apps, but then I have to admit it would just be for fun, I don't really need anything.  Well maybe a nice RSS reader :)

SpaceX engine and rocket scientistPopular Mechanics: Behind the scenes with SpaceX.  For once, a nice article about the company which isn't about its charismatic founder Elon Musk.  SpaceX is amazing, the first private spaceflight company which really has a chance to make a business out of launching people into space.  How cool is that?

Something of interest (perhaps) to SpaceX engineers: A guide to N dimensions.  "The most intuitive description of a dimension is the oldest one: the number of dimensions a system possesses is the number of independent directions you or anything else can move in.  Up and down count as only one dimension because up-ness and down-ness are two sides of the same coin: the further up you go, the less down you are.  The same connection exists between left and right, and forwards and backwards, but not between up and right, down and backwards, and so on."  Riight.

The funniest joke of 2009: Hedgehogs; why can't they just share the hedge?  Tap tap, crash.

ZooBorn: baby PuduZooBorn of the week: a baby Pudu.  Yes of course as you know, a Pudu is the world's smallest species of deer; even adults look cute, but the babies are adorable.

Whew, all caught up.  Now onward (to more blogging :)


Chickenfoot and the Beauty of Music

Saturday,  08/29/09  11:52 AM

Chickenfoot! ("the peace sign is the footprint of the American chicken")Regular readers know I am a massive fan of Joe Satriani, and an even huger fan of Van Halen, so you could predict I would love Chickenfoot, the new combination band featuring Sammy Hagar, Joe Satriani, Michael Anthony, and Chad Smith (of the Red Hot Chili Peppers)...  and your prediction would be correct!

Yes, of course I have the album (it is GREAT), and yes, of course I have tickets to see them; Sept 27 at the Universal Amphitheater if you must know.  And yes, I am oh so happy that there are still bands out there making this kind of music, even if the musicians are now a bit old for raging on stage (Sammy, you are 60+ man, act at least half your age :)

The music itself reminds me a little of - yes - Led Zeppelin, or perhaps Montrose or Deep Purple or Rainbow.  Some of Satriani's incendiary guitar blazes through, although not enough for my taste, and Sammy is perhaps a little too Sammy, if you know what I mean, but Michael's bass riffs are as strong as ever, and the whole thing just works.  Some great new music from a great new band.

the Tin Alley string quartet entertain us with the beauty of musicWhich leads me to contemplate the beauty of music.  Okay, I grant you the first adjective you would use for describing hard rock like Chickenfoot is not "beautiful", but there is this weird thing that goes on where people find music attractive.  We like hearing it, listening to it, being a part of when it is made, and it is motivating and emotional to us.  There is a connection at a deep level.  Where does this come from?

I have suggested that our sense of Beauty evolved via Natural Selection, an argument I find convincing today.  It was a general argument, separate from any sense, although I guess I was motivated by visual beauty when I wrote it.  Auditory beauty is a little less accessible to me, but on reflection thinking that music is to hearing as abstract art is to vision seems appropriate.  General aesthetic principles like simplicity, elegance, and symmetry are often components of art we think to be beautiful, applying equally to music, paintings, sculpture, etc.  Music has a beat, rhythm, harmony, and melody, each relating to each other, and perhaps symbolizing those aesthetic principles.  Which would imply that patterns in sound are attractive by accident; our brains have evolved to appreciate these elements in any sensory input, and recognize and respond to them whether they occur naturally or synthetically.

Interesting.  I'll have to think about this a bit more.  As I reach for the volume to CRANK Chickenfoot :)


unnatural reproduction

Saturday,  08/29/09  12:56 PM

Unnatural Selection in actionI haven't blogged about Unnatural Selection much lately, but it has been on my mind.  I just came across an old email exchange I had with blog-reader-Dave regarding differential reproduction, and it seems particularly relevant as I've been thinking about family, and children, and grandchildren.  Nicole (my oldest daughter) is 27 now, seriously thinking about getting married, and thinking about having kids, and so we're thinking about having grandkids...  So.

Here's the exchange, as relevant today as when it took place in May 2003:


An observation on your thesis for Unnatural Selection.  I agree in general the factors selecting for intelligence have been on the wane in recent history.  However, there may be some countervailing influences going on as well. 

One of them, I suspect, is the increased tendency (at least in western societies) for intelligent males hooking up and procreating with equally intelligent females.  In the past the primary criteria that intelligent, successful males used in selecting their mates did not include innate intelligence.  In fact this attribute was often seen as a liability in potential mates.  Fortunately, this "barefoot and pregnant" philosophy has lost much of its legitimacy (again in western society).  Of course popular culture (as reflected and amplified by the media) still sends women anti-intelligence messages - in effect saying it's much more important to have high biologic and societal quality than it is intellectual quality.


You're dead right about smart guys meeting smart girls.  It really works against regression to the mean.  In fact, you could argue the right end of the bell curve is drifting to the right even as the mean drifts to the left.

Unfortunately it doesn't work against Unnatural Selection, in fact quite the opposite.

When smart guys meet smart girls, they generally wait until they're 30+ to have kids, and then when they do they have 2 or so...  Meanwhile "not so smart" girls don't get married, they just start having kids in their late teens and dump them on society to take care of, and they might have 5+ to boot.  And "not so smart" guys love 'em and leave 'em their chromosomes along the way.  So who's really smart?  From a genetic standpoint, the "not so smart" girl and guy are much smarter, because their genes will be much better represented in the next generation.

The crux of this problem is that "success" is no longer required for successful reproduction.  You could be a prize-winning scientist or a burnt-out junkie, and it doesn't affect your genes' chances of making it to the next generation in any way.  In essence the junkie's kids are paid for by the scientist's taxes.

As I look around the world today I think this is happening much faster than I feared when I first began thinking about it at the turn of the century.  Not only is there differential reproduction within countries - especially outside the U.S. - but there is differential reproduction between countries.  Most of the world's population growth is now taking place in third world countries, supported by first world countries.  Scary.

(sorry Dave that it took me so long to blog this, I hope it is still okay :)

© 2003-2017 Ole Eichhorn


defunct statements (New Yorker, 8/3/09)

Saturday,  08/29/09  01:37 PM

defunct statements

I have files full of them myself


the nature of WHY

Sunday,  08/30/09  12:32 PM

question everything! including the nature of WHYHave you ever thought that of all the interrogative words, WHY is different from the rest?  Think about it; WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, HOW: they all have a factual answer.  But the answer to WHY is always an opinion, it cannot be absolutely factual, even if the answer seems clear.  Interesting...

I wonder WHY that is?


Google Galileo: 400th anniversary of the telescope

Sunday,  08/30/09  12:44 PM

Google Galileo: logo in honor of the 400th anniversary of his telescopeLast Tuesday, August 25, was the 400th anniversary of Galileo's telescope, and [as is their custom] Google celebrated with a custom logo, shown at left, one of their best.

Galileo's telescopeGalileo didn't invent the telescope - that would be Hans Lippershy - but he made it famous by doing something literally heretical: pointing it at the stars.  Prior "spyglasses" had been used primarily for spying on girls enemy warships, but Galileo looked our moon and discovered it had features (gasp!), it was not a perfect unmarked sphere.  That was pretty bad...  but later he found four moons orbiting Jupiter (gasp!) instead of Earth, and then Saturn's rings...  the totality of his observations convinced him the Copernican theory that planets orbited the Sun instead of Earth was correct.


god damned exception

Sunday,  08/30/09  01:07 PM

My colleague Bob was using Notepad++ and encountered this error:

god damned exception

It feels like an entry in a caption contest:

  • Wonder what 1-25 were?
  • I agree with her, exceptions are evil.
  • Is this an exception to being damned, or a damned exception?
  • Crap, not again!
  • Is this a content sensitive error?

Please let me know if you think of any :)


weekend of August 29, redux

Sunday,  08/30/09  06:39 PM

I kind of like posting at longer intervals than daily...  it takes some of the pressure off, and [I think] boosts my signal to noise, always a good thing.  I assume you are not using me as your primary source of late breaking news anyway :)

Relay for Life, Encinitas, 2009: "hope"Yesterday I joined about forty colleagues from Aperio in participating in the Encinitas Relay for Life.  I drove down in 100+o heat to watch our house band play (the "Frozen Sextions"), then did a great ride down around Mission Bay and back in the humid night before taking my walking shift at 1:00am...  As last year the really cool part is nighttime, in the dark, when the walking track is surrounded by luminaria, candles inside paper bags; each either congratulating cancer survivors or remembering cancer victims.  Reading the messages is incredibly moving; I'm tearing up just thinking about it.  I wore a Tiera Del Fuego tee shirt given me by my friend and colleague Daniel Jacoby, who died of a brain tumor five years ago.  And I thought of my father, who died of a brain tumor as well.  Very emotional.  If you ever have a chance to participate in a Relay for Life, do it!; a most worthwhile experience.

I'm in my office, not in the blogitorim, as I'm watching while posting...

And so the Vuelta a España is under way!  And although daily coverage isn't being broadcast on TV in the U.S. (boo!) the awesome Universal Sports are covering it on the Internet (yay!), and you can watch it live or watch video replays of each stage.  How excellent, much better than hunting about for torrents and laboriously downloading them as I've done in the past.  (Note: use this link for a spoiler-free index page; otherwise you'll get news of the stages before you can watch them :)

Fabian Cancellera powers to victory in the '09 Vuelta stage 1 / prologueCongratulations to Fabian Cancellara for winning stage 1 aka the prologue.  He absolutely owns short time trials.  I was really happy (and amazed) to see my boy Vino finish seventh.  Not bad.  All the other GC guys look to be on form, including Alejandro Valverde, who just has to be hungry for some grand tour action after being prevented from riding in the Tour de France this year.

Gerald Ciolek wins a field sprint to take stage 2 of the '09 VueltaCongratulations to Gerard Ciolek for winning stage 2, a flat dash through the Dutch countryside which ended in a field sprint.  He beat Tyler Farrar and Tom Bonnen, not too shabby.  Bogusly Vino didn't stay in the front and lost 18 seconds in a sheared peloton.  18 seconds might not matter, but that was stupid.

One thing that's rather weird about this year's "tour of Spain" is that the first four stages take place in The Netherlands.  Yes you read that right, do not adjust your dial.  We get flat cobbles in the rain for a few days, then blazing heat in the mountains :)

augmented reality... it's coming, great ready :)Scoble notes the new way to look like a dork: augmented reality.  The idea that an application can take advantage of life video and location information to tell you what's happening around you, *now*.  This is going to be huge; right now the iPhone is the main platform for delivery, based on its suitability (camera, internal GPS, etc), but I expect eventually this will be tied into glasses, with a built-in camera and heads'-up display, so that whatever you look like will be "augmented".  You know this will happen, the only question is how soon...

Health Care IT - augmented reality, too!The WSJ ran a nice article about The convergence between Health Care and Information technology; it included a great photo (at right) which is another way to think about augmented reality!

Congratulations to my blog-correspondent-friend Bertalan Meskó for finishing medical school!  A tremendous accomplishment.  He is probably the first MD 2.0 :)

This site closed for your protection.  Awesome.

(I think Chris Muir is really finding his form; it helps a political cartoonist when their views conflict with the policies of the administration in power...)

More Day-by-Day: The trouble with tying healthcare reform to Ted Kennedy.  I'm sorry Kennedy died, but let's face it; his memory is not going to help anyone sell anything, and especially not going to help Obama sell nationalized healthcare.

Lucky the carrier pigeon, with data back strapped on his backI love this: the pigeon protocol finds a practical purpose.  Yeah, I know, cell phones would be better, but how cute is it to think of these guys using pigeons to transmit photographs from the river...

ZooBorns: baby burrowing owlsA perfect segue to our ZooBorns of the weekend, baby burrowing owls.  Ooooo...


(New Yorker, 8/31/09)

Sunday,  08/30/09  06:50 PM

New Yorker 8/31/09 - "no trespassing"

at the border


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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?