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Archive: October 18, 2009

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week of October 12, redux

Sunday,  10/18/09  09:56 AM

... man on the run ...WOW what a week.  Man.  I was on the go go go all week, including a board meeting Thursday, flying to Scottsdale on Friday for a day to attend the Academy of Health Sciences' CMO Forum (that was cool, must tell you), and riding the Solvang Autumn Double yesterday (barely made it, but I did, yay).

And so we have a lot to catch up on, pull up a chair, grab a cold one, and let's make a filter pass...

I mostly stay away from online video, and totally stay away from Pajamas' Media political videos, but this one caught my eye: Bill Whittle says throw the bums out.  "We already pay farmers not to farm.  Why can't we pay legislators not to legislate?"  [ via Instapundit ]

Obama's favorite words: Let me be clear.  Okay, okay; we'll let you.

chamber of horrorsEliot Spitzer in Slate: How to stop the U.S. Commerce Department.  "The U.S. Chamber of Commerce - the self-proclaimed voice of business in Washington - has been wrong on virtually every major public-policy issue of the past decade: financial deregulation, tax and fiscal policy, global warming and environmental enforcement, consumer protection, health care reform …"  I completely agree with Spitzer.  His morals might be messed up, but his policies are dead-on.

This TOTALLY PISSES ME OFF: Racism on campus.  "According to the data, not all races are considered equal in the college admissions game.  Of students applying to private colleges in 1997, African-American applicants with SAT scores of 1150 had the same chances of being accepted as white applicants with 1460s and Asian applicants with perfect 1600s."  This is so blatant it is unbelievable.  If we really want to end racism, this would be a great place to start; let's make college admissions colorblind.

the Bobs (from Office Space)Meeting with the Bobs?  Gmail will now make sure you contact the right one :)  Not only a useful feature but the allusion to Office Space is excellent.

the Kindle - has changed readingWhile traveling Friday it occurred to me that within one year the Kindle has become de facto.  I take mine everywhere; it is "my book", and I'm always reading from it, but I don't even think about it as a cool thing anymore.  When I first got it all sorts of people asked me about it, and now they already know what it is and nobody says anything.  You see them all over the place.  Etc. etc.  After all these years and all the talk, Amazon has changed reading.  And it happened poof! just like that.

Exactly the way the iPod changed listening to music.  Wow, what a decade of change!

Oh, and Apple has announced in-App purchasing from within free apps.  This is huge; it means a developer can give away a teaser app which leads to the purchase of the real one.

With all the success of Apple's App Store, it is easy to forget there is a pretty sizeable "black market" of jailbroken iPhone apps out there, too.  Some of them do stuff you can only do from a jailbroken app, such as running in the background, and others are just "unacceptable" to Apple, for whatever reason.  (And in some cases, developers just find it easier to publish through Cydia than through Apple :)  Anyway I just installed 3.1.2 on my iPod Touch, and just re-jailbreaked using Blackra1n, and it was cool.  And BTW you do not need any technical expertise to do this; you run the application and 30 seconds later you are done.

The Evolution of the International Space StationSuperawesome: The Evolution of the International Space Station.  I've always made fun of the ISS, like, why did we do it, but this graphic makes clear why we did it; we had to learn how to build a big thing out of little things out in space.  Seeing this, you realize this is exactly how we're going to make really big things out there, and someday, we will make really big things out there :)  BTW yes it has now been eleven years since the ISS launched, and remember, it was put out there by Russia.

Reggie Jackson and Alex Rodriquez: who's Mr. October?As the Yankees make their way inexorably toward the World Series, Jockbeat asks "who's the real Mr. October?"  Reggie Jackson vs. Alex Rodriguez, in which we discover all it takes is one great game.

Jeff Atwood on the state of solid state drives.  I am sure my next laptop is going to have a solid state drive, for speed if not for the low power drain.  The new technology for storage has arrived, finally.  In fact this is probably going to drive my purchase of a new laptop; my old one has an ATA interface, and all the SSD drives require SATA...

Eco 7 folding bike - the coolest ever!This is by far the coolest folding bike I've ever seen; the first one cool enough that I'd consider riding it.  (Although no clue how well it rides, of course.)  Check out the way those wheels fold up!

Gerard Vanderleun is the co-author of a new book about the Rolling Stones: Let it Bleed.  I've come late to the Stones as a big fan; I never didn't like them, but I didn't really think they were awesome until I saw Shine a Light.

Cake Wrecks - when you leave a picture with the baker on a jump driveThis is pretty funny: Cake Wrecks.  The picture at right shows what can happen if you leave a picture for the baker on a jump drive :)

awesome picture of a whale with a massive school of fishPicture of the week: whale circling a massive school of fish.  Wow.

Rogers Cadenhead notes Readers have never paid for the news: "The real issue here is that online ads aren't generating the kind of revenue that other ads did for decades, so it's an extremely rough time for the industry.  But placing the blame on readers for being cheapskates is extremely misguided. We've always gotten the news at a price much lower than the cost of reporting it."  Just like Music and Books, this industry has been changed forever by technology, and there is no turning back the clock.

Cory Doctorow provides a helpful checklist: why your idea to save journalism won't work.  #1 is "your plan fails to account for: reader's unwillingness to pay for just news". 

Oh, and here's another thing which is changing: Amazon introduces same day delivery.  Wow.  Same day.  One of the unappreciated reasons the iPod took over music and the Kindle is taking over books is the instant gratification.  If Amazon can do this with physical objects, they'll really have something.

This is pretty cool (and pretty unique); Daring Fireball notes Sublime Text, a new text processor for Windows.  "A new Windows text editor with clever original features and a graceful UI.  Never thought I’d write those words.  I’m particularly intrigued by the 'minimap' - a zoomed-out view of the entire file.Almost makes me want to try it.  But...  why?

God introduces new bird: "with 30% more mesmorizing sense of wonder"The amazing Onion shoots, scores: God introduces new Bird.  "THE HEAVENS—In what is being described by advance marketing materials as 'the first divine creation in more than 6,000 years,' God Almighty, Our Lord Most High, introduced a brand-new species of bird into existence Monday."  I love it.

ZooBorn: baby OryxZooBorn of the week: a baby Oryx.  Awww...


Best photomicrographs of the past 35 years

Sunday,  10/18/09  10:52 AM

The best photomicrographs of the last 35 years.



the Reich stuff

Sunday,  10/18/09  02:25 PM

Robert Reich tells it like it is (even if it isn't what we want)Robert Reich speaks the inconvenient (and politically incorrect) truth:

  • A solution in Iraq is going to be tough.
  • Treating more sick people will mean younger people will pay more.
  • It’s too expensive to treat older people at the end of their life “so we’re going to let you die”.
  • If we use government to control costs there will be “less innovation” in medical technology and you should not expect to live much longer than your parents.
  • Global warming can only be tackled by a carbon tax which is going to cost you a lot of money.
  • We’re going to have to pay teachers more for quality education - costing you more - but we have to be willing to fire the turkeys despite the unions.
  • Anyone who does an unskilled, repetitive job will lose it in the near future to outsourcing or automation. And there’s nothing anyone can do about it.
  • A minimum wage doesn’t help as much as an earned income tax credit.
  • Helping people at the bottom earn more is going to cost higher income people more money.
  • Medicare will bankrupt the nation unless something is done and will impoverish the youth.
  • The best way to ameliorate global poverty is to do away with farm subsidies.

Who among us, in all honesty, can deny that any of these things are true?  Okay, maybe these aren't "nice", but if we're going to solve our problems, we're going to have to acknowledge them, even if they're aren't "nice".  Robert Reich has gone from "someone I'm aware of" to "someone I like and respect" with one speech.


space tracks

Sunday,  10/18/09  04:55 PM

This outstandingly cool infographic map from National Geographic illustrates each of the space missions we've undertaken:

space exploration map
(click to enbiggen)

Our moon has been the most popular destination - no surprise - but did you know Venus has seen more spaceflights than Mars?  Nah, me either.  My favorite missions have been the ones to Jupiter and Staturn, and their amazing ecosystem of moons, led by Cassini / Huygens (which of course included Titan).

Interesting to contemplate: someday there will be a map like this for nearby stars we have visited; how long do you think it will take?


double quintuple double

Sunday,  10/18/09  05:09 PM

Yesterday I rode the Solvang Autumn Double, giving me five count 'em one two three four five double centuries for the year.  And so this was the second year in a row I joined the California Triple Crown Thousand Mile club, having ridden at least 1,000 miles worth of double centuries in one year.  Yay me!

This ride was *not* easy, although I have to admit after riding the 508 a couple of weeks ago, I took it kind of lightly.  My biggest problem was "cycling hotfoot"; for some reason (I think worn out shoes) my feet become sore and my toes go numb on these long rides.  It has kind of happened before, and happened pretty majorly in the 508, but it was a huge problem for me yesterday.  I kept stopping and taking off my shoes and massaging my toes; needless to say, I did not post the best time.  However I did finish and overall it was a good ride.

Some pictures:

early morning peloton
yes that is David Goggins at the right

first climb of the day, of many; so far, so good

incredible beauty and solitude amid the slumbering vines
I think this is some of that Santa Maria Pinot, warming up before being picked

climbing Perfumo Canyon (whew!)
an incredible view with Morro Bay's famous rock in the background

Guadalupe and heading for home
the reflective tape on my bike says "I rode the 508" :)

big smile as the end is near
another year with 1,000+ miles in double centuries

A couple of really cool things happened.  First, as a 508 rider you become known by your totem, and several people recognized me and called be "Rocky", and I found I had a bunch of new friends in the ultra peloton.  That was really nice.  I had a nice chat with "Butterfly" (Andi Ramer) and she introduced me to "King Cobra" (David Goggins).  Maybe you've heard of David; he's a Marine and ultra-marathon runner, and does a lot of fund raising for the children of servicemen and women killed in combat.  He's also an amazing athlete, and finished about fifteenth in the 508.  So I discovered while talking with him that he has an Atrial Septal Defect, a little hole between the two upper chambers of his heart, just like my daughter Megan had before it was surgically repaired.  We had a nice conversation about that (before he dropped me on the first climb :)

Later in the ride I paced through a flat section with a couple on a tandem.  So I don't know if you know, but tandems are really fast in the flat; they do suffer on climbs, but can really power along.  Drafting behind them at 35mph through the grapes was quite amazing, knowing that if I ever lost contact I'd never be able to get back on.

The climb up Perfumo Canyon was really something; I found myself literally zig-zagging back and forth across the road to keep moving, I don't think I've done that on a ride before.  Must have been at least 15% for a couple of miles.  At the top we were rewarded with an amazing view of the coast including Morro Bay rock, before heading South back toward Solvang.

And so ends (I think) another year of ultracycling; it is possible I'll do another this year, but I have no current plans.  Take some time to relax and watch sports (and work and travel!), and then it's on to next year!


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this date in:
About Me

Greatest Hits
Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Unnatural Selection
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
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?
still the first bird
electoral fail
progress ratches
2020 explained