Critical Section

Archive: February 22, 2019


Archive: February 22, 2018


Archive: February 22, 2017


Archive: February 21, 2016

Going Gaga over Bowie

Sunday,  02/21/16  11:04 AM

A Saturday night filter pass ... wow, it's all happening ...

2016 Grammy's: Lady Gaga's tribute to David BowieDid you watch the Grammy's?  Yeah, me neither.  I love music, but I don't necessarily love all of today's music, and I especially don't love today's music's culture.  But.  If you, like me, did not watch the Grammy's, you must still watch Lady Gaga's incredible tribute to David Bowie.  A wonderful performance, and the technology was out-of-this-world.  The Thin White Duke would have loved it...  and he probably did.

Good to know: Lady Gaga's robotic keyboard had some help from NASA.  When they're not making space travel posters, they're helping musicians create cool performances.  Our tax dollars at work.

NASA: astronautI don't know whether it was the travel posters, Lady Gaga's keyboard, or [more likely!] the success of The Martian, but NASA have been inundated with astronaut applications, 18,300 of them.  Mine is somewhere in that pile, but I'm not sitting next to the phone.

Virgin Galactic VSS UnityMeanwhile in the real world of space travel, Virgin Galactic unveils the new Space Ship Two (named the VSS Unity).  You might recall their previous SST broke apart during an October 2014 test flight; they've regrouped, and now this is the vehicle they hope will enable them to take people into space.  (Where by space, they mean, about 100km up, not necessarily visiting moons and planets...) 

I rate a "space flight" by Virgin Galactic significantly more likely to occur than a manned mission by NASA...

So ... today we had the South Carolina primaries, and as expected Donald Trump won, but as perhaps not expected Marco Rubio finished second, and Jeb Bush dropped out.  At the conservative Powerline Blog, Scott Johnson regards this as bad news (because Trump remains ahead), while John Hinderaker sees reasons for optimism (because Rubio is emerging as they alternative).

And Scott Adams finds reasons for humor ... the Pope vs Donald Trump:

Scott Adams: the Pope vs Donald Trump 

Speaking of humor, wow, Steve Martin performed stand-up last night for the first time in 35 years.  Would that I could have been there...  I've searched YouTube in vain but so far no video of the performance has surfaced.

how a sewing machine works!You might find this interesting (as I did), how a sewing machine works.  This sort of ancient mechanical magic is always cool, right?  The problems that people were able to solve without computers before computers...

Chris Nuttall on publishers raising e-book prices: Reshuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic.  "I recall a story from the night the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank. The crew, realizing the ship was in trouble, started launching lifeboats, but the passengers were largely reluctant to believe that the unsinkable ship could actually be sunk. Accordingly, the first set of lifeboats were largely empty. Unsurprisingly, as the ship continued to sink below the waves, there weren't enough lifeboats to take the remaining passengers."  The value of a book doesn't come from its production cost, but people will balk at paying the same prices for e-books as hardcovers...

And here we have a breathtaking fairytale home worthy of a Hogwarts wizard.  The woodworking on those floors is definitely wizard-ly magic :)

fairytale house worthy of a Hogwarts wizard


Apple HAL

Sunday,  02/21/16  06:47 PM





Archive: February 22, 2015

Sunday,  02/22/15  10:04 AM

Megan at CCAWell it all worked out perfectly in the end yesterday - an amazing trip, with great results - but there were some disturbances in the force, for sure.  Wow.

That's Meg at right, awaiting the tour.

welcome to the jungle, cello styleLoved (!) this ... an impressive cello cover of Guns N' Roses 'Welcome to the Jungle'.  Most surprising thing about this was realizing this song dates back to 1987.  Wow.

So tonight we have the Oscars ... which means many should be reading this: How to accept an Oscar properly.  I always thought John Wayne set the standard.  Honestly upon rewatching that, and looking at the stars, their dress, and their class ... how the mighty have fallen.  Few among tonight's award presenters or recipients can rise to that standard.  But they can at least try!

Racism in America: some minorities are more equal than others.  So if I read this correctly, Asians need SAT scores 140 points higher than comparable whites (to receive admission to Princeton), while hispanics only need scores 185 points lower, and blacks 240 points lower.  How can this be anything except blatant racism?

Supreme Court justice Clarence ThomasAt least one Supreme Court justice agrees with me: Clarence Thomas, the second black justice, is now leading the national debate on race.  "His opinions are rooted in the premise that the 14th Amendment - guaranteeing equal rights for all - cannot mean different things for different people."  Does not seem especially controversial, but yet in 2015, it is...

This is excellent: what's useful about the long lines at the California DMV?  In which an independent game developer used people waiting in line to test his games :)


space probes

Sunday,  02/22/15  11:10 AM


This is so cool: the website tracks all space probes currently active in and around our solar system.  (Well, all human space probes, anyway :)

From this you can learn that ... Voyager 1 is the furthest from earth, but Voyager 2 was launched just before it, and that only one probe has visited Uranus or Neptune (in 1979), and that DSCOVR, the most recently launched (by SpaceX!), is destined for the infamous L1 point between the Earth and the Sun.

And that there are only 29 such probes in existence.  Or depending on your point of view, that there are 29! probes.  How many of these could you name?  How many do you recognize?


Archive: February 22, 2014

Saturday,  02/22/14  10:16 PM

Lego Steve JobsQuite a day, in which my little eyesFinder team was buzzing about a new application for our technology.  Stay tuned, not quite ready to share.  But it does have me quite excited!

Love this: Lego Steve Jobs.  Iconic!

Mihir Garh, the world's most extraordinary hotelHere we have the world's most extraordinary hotel, Mihir Garh, in the middle of Rajasthan’s Thar Desert in India (as voted by the readers of Lonely Planet).  I'm sure there was extraordinary competition.  On my list to visit :)

What if cash was a new currency like Bitcoin? "Cash is a 100% anonymous and untraceable payments technology. It is like a weapon of mass destruction launched against law enforcement."  Hehe.

Amazon coinsBut: Amazon's virtual currency now works on Android phones and tablets.  When this first came out it was pre-Bitcoin (or at least pre- my awareness of it), and pre- my having read "the everything store", and I tended to discount it.  No longer.  This could be most interesting.

Ukraine, by languageHave you been following the situation in the Ukraine?  I am uneducated on the issues but most interested; Ukrainian president flees as opposition seize the palace.  Powerline wonders Can Ukraine survive? in a post which suggests a Czechoslovakian-style breakup of the country, into a western-leaning Ukrainian-speaking faction, and an eastern-leaning Russian-speaking faction.  This would involve splitting the capital city of Kiev in two.

The map at left shows the prevalent language, Ukrainian in pink, Russian in blue; Kiev is right on the dividing line, the Dnieper River.

Tesla Model XTesla confirms huge battery factor plan, and will ship 35,000 cars next year.  So be it.  I love Tesla and their cars (!), and wish them all the best, but I kinda miss having a unique vehicle.  If they're too successful I'll end up having just another car on the road.  Same thing happened to me in 1992, when I was the first on my block with a Lexus Couple :) 

Actually I think the most important news from Tesla is that they've delayed shipping their Model X SUV, shown at right.  That's going to tip them from a niche into the mainstream.

Of course, Tesla's most disruptive product may not be its cars (it may be its battery technology...)  The headline writer is making the usual mistake of confusing "disruptive" with "important", but it's a good point anyway.

Glasshole?!Google offers us tips on how to avoid being a 'glasshole'.  "Respect others and if they have questions about Glass don’t get snappy.  Be polite and explain what Glass does and remember, a quick demo can go a long way."  I will need these as I will have a Glass myself, soon.

Honestly I can't wait to get thrown out of a movie theater :)  Stay tuned.

Tim Bray is leaving Google.  Best of luck to him.  Interesting that they wouldn't have a place for him as a telecommuter.

Om Malik is leaving GigaOm.  Huh.  And becoming a VC.  Double huh.

Dave Winer nails it: Why people like Facebook: "because when they post something there, they get responses from people they care about."

ZooBorn: Baby TamanduaI've neglected my role as a ZooBorn repeater, but this little guy got my attention: a baby Tamandua.  Awww...


Archive: February 22, 2013


Archive: February 22, 2012


Archive: February 19, 2011

blogging while high, again

Saturday,  02/19/11  11:07 PM

blogging while highOn the road again... starting with a whirlwind one-day trip to Orlando, to attend the HIMSS conference, before spending the week with Aperio's sales team in Vista.  I am presently high above ... Arizona? ... en route; thank you Delta for the WiFi.  Whew.  (Does this count as cloud computing? :)  I did manage to have a productive morning; cranked out some stuff I've been waiting to finish for weeks.

Please do not mention the word "compliance" to me.  Just ... don't.

And so I am off!  And meanwhile, this:

federal spending vs jobsPowerline: what the house did last night.  That graph of federal spending vs total jobs is rather scary.  So much for the stimulus, huh?  And meanwhile we are left with a crushing debt.

Wired in 1997: how to save ApplePretty amazing: A detailed follow up to Wired's "101 Ways to Save Apple" from 1997.  I remember that issue well, and I remember thinking "why does everyone always have so much advice for Apple?"  And it is still true today; even now, as the most successful tech company on Earth, everyone is always telling them what to do.  Even me :)

Apropos: Apple in the Sky with Diamonds: A cloud-based safe deposit box.  I love the title (!) but also the discussion; so many people are now saying that the next iPhone/iPod whatever will not have local storage, but will instead rely on cloud servers.  I don't think so.  Apple is all about the product experience, and accessing your information "in the cloud" is a lousy experience.

The AOL way claims its first victim: Engadget editor Paul Miller resigns.  Wow, too bad.  I love Engager, I hope this doesn't mean the start of a slow decline, but I fear it does...

is this how the Escher Waterfall Machine works? (clever!)So, is this how the Escher Waterfall Machine works?  You have to see the linked video, pretty amazing, even if it isn't "real".  How cool is that?  (BTW the reverse engineering is clever; even if it isn't right, it's a good guess!)

cutest ZooBorn ever? : a baby TapirWow this could be the cutest ZooBorn ever: a baby Tapir.  Awww.

Oh, yeah, we survived the invasion!  In fact it all went amazingly well.  A great group of kids had a great time.  How great is that?


Archive: February 22, 2010

never get mad

Monday,  02/22/10  08:40 AM

A parable told me by a Spanish friend and partner:

A young man set out to find the best examples he could for living.  He heard of a man who was older than the hills themselves, living quietly in peace with his surroundings.  He sought far and wide for this man, and finally found him.  "Oh father," he said, "I wish to learn all I can.  Please tell me, what is the secret to your long life?"  The old man studied him for a long moment.  "I never get mad."


Archive: February 22, 2009

at the tour: Palomar Mountain!

Sunday,  02/22/09  10:35 PM

Today I visited the final stage of the Amgen Tour of California, which started in Rancho Bernardo and finished in Escondido, passing over mighty Mount Palomar in the process.  In all my time watching professional cycling races this might have been the best, even including the Vuelta stages in Spain.

My day began early as I drove all the way around the back way to Lake Henshaw, parked, rode up the South Grade of Mount Palomar (took me an hour), stationed myself at the top, watched the riders come up the hill (took them 30 minutes), cheered as Jens Voigt and Levi crested the climb in first with a break of eight, then watched the peloton come through (over the course of about ten minutes), then rode down the East Grade of Palomar following the peloton back to Lake Henshaw, then got in my car and drove around the back way to Escondido, then parked just in time to run to the finish area and watch the race finish as Franck Schleck won.  And then hung around for the podium ceremony etc (watched on a jumbotron) and oogled the cool bikes and pretty girls.

I took a bunch of pictures, please find them here:

2009 Amgen Tour of California, stage 8, Palomar mountain

And following are some selected ones, for your viewing pleasure...  (click each to enbiggen)

approaching Palomar from the back - because 76 will be closed
approaching Palomar from the back - because 76 will be closed

my base - Lake Henshaw Resort
my base - Lake Henshaw Resort

the South Grade is closed!...
the South Grade is closed!...

South Grade - open for bikes!
... but not for bikes - up we go!

crowds line the route all the way
crowds line the entire route
the higher we go, the thicker the crowds

at 4,000' - just 1,200 left :)
at 4,000' - just 1,200 left :)

stunning views of the valley below
the views of the valley below are stunning

a Livestrong snowman
snow - yikes!
and even a snowman in a Livestrong jersey

the KOM summit
the KOM summit (not the top however)
massive crowds - an amazing scene

Ole at the KOM summit
yay me! - at the KOM line

the real top of Palomar
and here's the real top of Palomar...

plenty of snow at the top
plenty of snow at the top - and it is cold

amazing panorama from San Diego to Oceanside
an amazing panorama from San Diego to Oceanside
the Coronados, San Clemente Island, and Catalina are all visible
(this one you really have to click to enbiggen)

the peloton comes up the valley floor
the peloton rides up the valley floor!

there's a breakaway with eight riders
there's a breakaway with eight riders
they are charging up the hill at amazing speed

the break reaches the top
the break reaches the summit
four Saxo riders have Levi Leipheimer isolated, but he's right there

the break goes up and over
up and over - four Saxos, Levi, a Liquigas rider, George Hincapie, and two Garmins

Christian VandeVelde leads chase group
Christian Vandevelde leads a chase group which includes Lance Armstrong
the peloton is shattered and dribbles over the top

Floyd Landis' group
Mr. Floyd Landis' group
I was hoping he'd attached on his mountain, but he didn't have it

descending with the peloton...
I'm descending with the peloton!
they soon drop me, but it was cool
(and watch out for that snow runoff)

the finishing corner in Escondido
descend to Lake Henshaw, hop in the car, take the back way to Escondido
and here I am at the finishing corner!

the finish line is a zoo
the finish line is a zoo!

the finishing order flashes on the jumbotron
the stage results flash up on the jumbotron
congratulations to Frank Schleck and Vincenzo Nibali almost won another

Lance and Levi celebrate
Lance and Levi celebrate
Levi wins his third consecutive Amgen Tour of California, pretty impressive
and Lance is baack!

And so Franck Schleck wins the stage, and Levi wins the GC overall for the third consecutive year.  This was by all accounts the most difficult, strongest, best attended Amgen Tour of the four, with strong momentum carrying it into next year.  What will we see?  Who knows.  I've even heard talk of making it two weeks - now that would be cool.

One thing I really want to go back and mention is Floyd Landis.  Yeah, it was cool to see him back in the peloton, and yeah, he hasn't ridden competitively for two+ years and was a bit off form, and yeah, he definitely didn't have the strongest team.  But don't forget for one minute he is riding on an artificial hip!  I mean, how cool is that?  For a professional athlete to be in competition at the top of his sport with an artificial hip is amazing.

All in all it was an amazing experience.  I've spent the last three days in full-on "cycling mode", I need to go back to normal now :)


back to reality

Sunday,  02/22/09  11:44 PM

So it is Sunday night, I had a wonderful few days immersed in cycling, both pro racing and my own, and now I have to go back to real life.  (Cycling is not real life, unfortunately...)  And real life, at least the larger world outside my own little life, is sucking pretty hard at the moment.  Consider...

The crisis of credit, visualized (+part 2).  If you want to understand what's going on, watch this.  It is 11 minutes, but it doesn't feel that long, and it really explains exactly what's going on very well.  And you'll notice that while it explains the problem, it does not give a solution :(

crisis of credit visualized, part 1/2  crisis of credit visualized, part 2/2

One interesting side note, compare the graphics used for the "good" family with those used for the "bad" family.  Wow.  The good family has two kids.  The bad family has four kids, the parents smoke, and they're overweight.  What an amazing comment...

The WSJ quotes a reader: "Now that those of us who have been making steady, on-time payments on our mortgages for years will be paying off others' mortgages through our taxes, can we claim a tax-deduction for our neighbors' mortgage interest too?"

BofA, City shares fall on nationalization fears.  Drudge links this with the headline "to seize or not to seize".  This just feels inevitable to me now, the government is going to nationalize banking, and it isn't going to be pretty.  This is the only solution I see to valuing all those "toxic assets".

Omaba thinksMark Cantor is glad we have a president who thinks.  Sure, but we had one before too, and now we have one without experience in one of the worst crisis we've faced for many years.  And the current prognosis is poor.

The market is shorting Obama's stimulus.  "The election marked a turning point. Investors looked forward to the economic policies crafted by Democrats in Congress and the White House...  Yet, from Nov. 4, 2008 through Feb. 12, 2009, the DJI overall fell 18% - a larger drop than during the Sept-Oct plunge."  The honeymoon is over.

Here's a less nuanced take: Wall Street gives Obama's first month an 'F'.

It was the worst January for the market in 112 years.  Maybe it would have been anyway if McCain had been elected, and maybe it would have been anyway, period.  But when you sit in the big chair, the buck stops there.  And right now, it is not looking pretty...

Whew, sorry, I guess that was a harsh return to reality.  Sucks, eh?


Archive: February 21, 2008

Thursday,  02/21/08  07:26 PM

So about tonight's debate between Obama and Clinton in Texas, can I just say if anything would push me into the arms of John McCain, it is that sort of weak crap, and second, I think Hillary failed to win which is to say Barack won, and thus it looks to me as if it will be McCain vs Obama come November.  Steven Green did a great job of drunkblogging: "Once again, Clinton is asked if she really thinks Obama is unqualified to act as CinC. And once again, she's dodging the question. There's blood in the water, all right - and it's hers. My prediction: Obama will win Ohio and get as-good-as-a-draw or better in Texas. This race is over."  I agree.  Hic.

I would write about the hypocrisy of Hillary and Barack talking about poor downtrodden Americans, but Victor David Hanson already did: Ivy League Populism.  "In these gloom-and-doom narratives by the well off, we less fortunate Americans are doing almost everything right, but still are not living as well as we deserve to be. And the common culprit is a government that is not doing enough good for us, and corporations that do too much bad to us."  This rings so true for me - I am becoming a Republican in my old age!  Who would have thought?

anti=satellite missileDid you ever wonder if Star Wars would work?  Looks like it does; the Navy shot a wayward satellite out of the sky before it could land.  "The missile hit the satellite about three minutes after launch as the spacecraft, roughly the size of a school bus, traveled in polar orbit at more than 17,000 mph."  That's pretty fast for a school bus :)  [ Update: LGF links a YouTube movie showing the hit.  Wow. ]

I love Scott Adams, author of Dilbert, and I love his blog.  But he sometimes misfires badly, usually in connection with politics, which he over-simplifies to the point of absurdity.  Consider Making Decisions, in which he writes "Take the war in Iraq as an example for this method of decision making... I do know for certain that fewer American soldiers would be targets if they left."  Now how does he know that?  We were all targets on 9/11, and could be again if we're not careful.

Levi wins SolvangVelonews' headlines aptly summarize the Tour of California thus far: Astana's Levi Leipheimer takes the lead after third stage of the 2008 Amgen Tour of California, and The Tour of California heads south as the podium battle narrows.  There are now five riders with a chance to win, four of them excellent time trialers: Levi, Fabian Cancellara (13s), David Millar (20s), and Dave Zabriske (21s).  Yeah, I'd say the Solvang time trial tomorrow will be decisive, which is why I'm planning to be there :)

I took the picture at right last year as Levi won the Solvang TT and went on to win the TOC (click pic to enlarge).  I predict the same things will happen again.  Stay tuned!

Speaking of the TOC, here's a great story from a guy who temporarily donated his wheel to help Bobby Julich finish stage 2.  That's really cool.  [ thanks, Adam, for the email link ].

One more cycling note: here's an article on Slowtwitch about CSC's camp in Agoura Hills.  "Bjarne Riis said this was the best Winter camp his team had ever had. Better than Solvang? Yes. Better than the South of France and Mallorca and all of that? Yes, the best. Very good climbs."  Bet your ass - that's my daily stomping ground.  Where else would you live?

Liron Shapira is someone I've never physically met; we've exchanged a lot of email over the years, and linked each other's blogs.  I think he was fifteen when we started, and now he's teaching a course at Berkeley called X-treme Thinking.  Very cool; reading the course notes, it seems like a class I would like to take.  Check it out.

Brad Feld thinks the momentum behind software patent reform is building.  That would be nice.

Joel Spolsky: Why the Microsoft Office file formats are so complicated.  There are some good reasons, as Joel notes, but also some bad ones; a result of the fact that Microsoft hires smart but inexperienced programmers.  I believe Joel was one of them himself :)


(New Yorker - 02/21/08)

Thursday,  02/21/08  08:12 PM

how Grandma sees the remote


This is so true.


Archive: February 22, 2007


Archive: February 22, 2006

coffee notes

Wednesday,  02/22/06  07:38 AM

Have I ever told you how much I love coffee?  Oh, I have?  Well, sorry, but I must tell you again; I love coffee.  Whew, glad I got that off my chest.  {  I am known in my family for saying, "few things in life are as satisfying as ice cream".  And I stand by that.  But on a cold morning on a ski trip, nothing is as satisfying as coffee.  Good coffee, of course :)  }  Anyway here are a few brief notes made while drinking coffee...

So, there's this new online payment service called TextPayMe which lets people send money to each other with text messages.  "We just want to take over the world in all face-to-face transactions."  Let me just say, as a veteran of the PayPal wars, this is not going to work.  Not because it won't work - I'm sure they'll fix the inevitable problems with security, and fraud - but it won't work because people really don't send much money to each other.  Really.  PayPal has gotten traction as a payment service for purchases, first on eBay, and later on many other websites.  Very little of PayPal's traffic was ever person-to-person, there just isn't that much demand.

Russell Beattie has been playing with TextPayMe, and likes it.

Bonus note: did you know that PayPal started as a service to let people "beam" money from one Palm Pilot to another?  True.  They only added a web interface for sending payments as an afterthought, and then eBayers discovered it as a good way to settle auctions.  The rest is history.

George HincapieYippee.  Big George Hincapie wins stage 2 of the Tour of California, barely edging out Levi Leipheimer for the overall lead.  This is shaping up as a great race.

Have you ever wanted to create a Firefox extension?  You know you have.  Well here's a useful tutorial...

I think this is really cool - the MusicBrainz tagger, a service that let's you identify music by the way it sounds, which then correctly tags your MP3s with the artist, track, album, etc.  This is a great way to fix bogus tagging on random downloads.

Are you a cricket fan?  You probably know that the Indian-Pakistan matches just took place, those countries' answer to Yankees-Red Sox, with national pride thrown in for good measure.  Om Malik reports the matches are available on YourTube, kind of a Napster for video.  So the videos are there, but it is cricket?

Kathy Sierra: The Clueless Manifesto.  "Cluelessness is underrated.  It's the newbie who does something he didn't know was supposed to be impossible.  It's the naive guy asking the one dumb question any clued-in person would diss.  And it's that question that leads to the answer no expert would have found."  Well, sometimes, maybe.  Other times the Clueless flounder exploring paths which experts already know lead to nothing.  I'm generally a fan of experts :)  [ via Robert Scoble ]

Randall Parker notes that you should Let your subconscious handle complex decision making.  What!  That would make you a bit clueless :)


pain relief

Wednesday,  02/22/06  06:44 PM

the source of painI have been skiing for the past few days, with boots which do not like my feet.  Or actually my feet do not like the boots.  How I came by these boots - high-end Technicas, if you must know - is a story for another day.  Anyway it is a fact that there is variation among human feet, and the shape of a particular human's feet may not match the canonical shape for which a particular manufacturer's boot were designed.  And so it was with my feet and the Technicas.  But I digress from the main subject, which is...

PAIN.  Yes despite having a wonderful week of skiing in wonderful conditions with my wonderful kids and wonderful friends, I was in pain.  And hence I had the chance to do an impromptu review of pain relievers.  In the public interest, here are my findings:

On day one I did nothing.  Pain.

AdvilOn day two I took three Advil in the morning.  Less pain, but pain.

TylenolOn day three I took three Tylenol in the morning, and three Tylenol around noon.  The effect of the Tylenol was unnoticeable, basically I had the same amount of pain before and after.

StolichnayaOn day four I took three Advil in the morning, and drank two black Russians at noon.  Way less pain.  I suspect that the Advil was helpful, based on day one, but the Stolichnaya was way more helpful.  As well, perhaps the combination was helpful.  Next time I will begin drinking early in the morning. :)

On day five I took 10mg of Heroin.  Worked perfectly, no pain!  I think?  Just kidding.  I think.  Or was that just a dream?

Actually, on day five I blogged about it.  And my conclusion: If you are in pain, Stolichnaya > Advil > Tylenol.  Your mileage may vary.


generation Y rocks

Wednesday,  02/22/06  07:14 PM

I am not really in touch with Generation Y.  This would be today's "kids", from teenagers to say mid twenties.  I am vaguely aware that they have an identity, and vaguely aware of some of their values and ideals.  I am vaguely aware of their music, and the sports they like, and the entertainers they like, and stuff like that.  But I am not really in touch.

So today I really came into contact with Generation Y.  And it was cool.

Mammoth mountainI am off skiing at Mammoth.  I have been skiing since I was a kid myself, maybe thirty-five years.  "Back then" there was only skiing.  There was no snowboards, no freestyle.  Skiing competition consisted of racing, and there were two varieties, slalom and downhill.  If you were a great skier it meant you had the longest skis you could find and you could make them turn in big moguls and you could ski down hills with a 50% grade without killing yourself.

But these days there is snowboarding and it is "the sport" of Gen Y.  I was skiing with my kids (Megan, 8, was on skis, but Alexis and her friend Katherine, 12, were on snowboards).  On most of the mountain, skiers and snowboarders are about 50/50, and share the hill.  There is a trend that younger people tend to be on snowboards, but not all, there is a good mix.  As you get to the top, there are more skiers; you have to be a pretty good snowboarder to ski the black diamond runs off the top at Mammoth.  But that isn't the main reason; it turns out that turning in big moguls and skiing down hills with a 50% grade without killing yourself is no longer the goal.  Now the goal is to "get air", and to go freestyle.

Mammoth Mountain chair 4 - freestyleWe were skiing around and we accidentally ended up on chair 4, aka "Roller Coaster", where Mammoth now has a "freestyle area".  Here the demographic changed.  Everyone was young, and everyone was on snowboards.  It was a total Gen Y scene.  Loud music was blaring from speakers all along the run.  There were twenty foot jumps, and rails, and tubes, and a monster half-pipe.  Kids were flying through the air, doing tricks, and wiping out.  The most commonly spoken word was "dude", often with an exclamation point.  (Dude!)  Here the cool thing was getting air, as much as possible, and then doing as much as you can while in the air.  Flips, twists, grabs, you name it.

So now I'm going to generalize, in the manner of a Martian observing Humans.

  • Everyone was "nice".  Really.
  • Everyone was having a great time.  There was competition, and there was flirting, and there was good-natured ribbing, but it was all in fun.  The adrenaline level was high but the threat level was low.
  • Everyone was trying.  Sure there was some posing, and some sitting on the sidelines and watching, but in general it was okay to try and fail.  In fact the only way to learn freestyle skiing is to try and fail, and try and fail, and keep trying and keep failing until finally you succeed.  (Pretty much like getting good at anything, I guess :)
  • Everyone was in shape, and in form, but not vain.  Snowboarding clothes tend toward the baggy and unstructured, but there's no hiding trim athletic bodies of either sex.  It seems you want to look cool, but looking cool doesn't involve looking beautiful or handsome or sexy.  Or at least, not obviously :)
  • And this is the most amazing of all - everyone was listening to rock.  The music playing on the run was rock - Bad Company, Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy, Ted Nugent, even Pink Floyd.  Virtually everyone had an iPod, and virtual everyone was listening to rock.  No rap.  No hip-hop.  Nothing negative.  Just good old fashioned rock 'n roll.  Awesome.

I really enjoyed myself.  There is hope for the world.  Generation Y rocks.

[ Later: Want to know how not really in touch I was?  This post was originally titled Generation X Rocks!  I was off by a whole generation.  Sigh.  Thanks to Dave Johnston for gently setting me straight. ]


Archive: February 21, 2005

Monday,  02/21/05  10:14 PM

I had a good day today, thanks for asking.  One of those days where you clean up a lot of loose ends, and feel virtuous as a result...

"the world" - an island development opportunityHere we have "The World", 300 islands in the shape of the world, a unique investment opportunity.  Amazing.  You, too, could own California - or France.  Check it out!  [ via Tom Coates ]

"the Posiden" - underwater hotelIn the same vein, here we have "The Poseidon", a five-star $1,500 per night hotel under water in the Bahamas.  [ via Cory Doctorow ]

John Stanforth: Why do we overcommit?  Read it all, but essentially, we are better at measuring tangible resources than we are intangibles like time.  Oh.

Yippee the Economist has RSS feeds.  Welcome to the party, boys.  This is one of the few magazines left that adds value; I look forward to getting updates in between issues.  And stay tuned for links :)

For a typically insightful articles, consider The Economics of Sharing.  "Economists have not always found it easy to explain why self-interested people would freely share scarce, privately owned resources.  Their understanding, though, is much clearer than it was 20 or 30 years ago: co-operation, especially when repeated, can breed reciprocity and trust, to the benefit of all."  There is no such thing as altruism, but enlightened self-interest is another story...

Flash kaleidoscopeThis is pretty cool, a kaleidoscopic use of Flash.  Move your mouse back and forth for extra weirdness.  Kinda makes you want to inhale, doesn't it :)  [ via collision detection, in a link titled "dude" ]

parallel linesIf you like that, you might enjoy this graphic, too.  Just too weird what your brain does after it gets the signal from your eyes, huh?

Thrasymachus at GNXP considers The Flynn Debate.  "Possibilities: 1) The Flynn Effect is based on bad data.  2) The Flynn Effect tracks non-g rises in IQ.  3) The Flynn Effect measures a rise in g. Therefore better environments improve g a lot.  4) The entire concept of g is somehow faulty  5) The entire concept of IQ is somehow faulty."  I like (1), but he likes (3).  I'm pretty sure g is not that tied to environment...

Basketball.  Whoa.  [ Via Jane Galt, via Marginal Revolution, via Ottmar Liebert. ]

Via Dave Winer, Howard Greenstein links the User's Guide to the Brain.  Looks like a cool book, I've one-clicked it.  I have a brain, but I never got the user's guide.  I guess I'm one of those people who never read the manual.  It would be nice to hit F1 for online help once in a while :)


wish you were here

Monday,  02/21/05  10:48 PM

From Steven Wright:

A friend of mine once sent me a post card with a picture of the entire planet Earth taken from space.  On the back it said, "Wish you were here."

Every so often, I like to stick my head out the window, look up, and smile for a satellite picture.

I'm moving to Mars next week, so if you have any boxes...

I have a map of the United States... Actual size.  It says, "Scale: 1 mile = 1 mile."  I spent last summer folding it.  I also have a full-size map of the world.  I hardly ever unroll it.  People ask me where I live, and I say, "E6".

You can't have everything.  Where would you put it?

When I die, I'm leaving my body to science fiction.

tap, tap.  crash :)


Archive: February 22, 2004


Archive: February+22,+2003

Survey Survey

Saturday,  02/22/03  03:25 AM

Welcome to the latest Critical Section feature - surveys...  So let's ask:

Do you like web surveys? 

No - I hate them

Yes - I love them

Uh - who cares?

What's a survey?

  (ended 03/01/03)


Saturday,  02/22/03  08:14 PM

Man, another day of non-racing on the Hauraki Gulf, race 4 was postponed *again*.  I'm having America's Cup withdrawals!

Well, I did it.  I switched, perhaps permanently, to Mozilla for my daily browsing.  Reasons:

  1. It kills pop-up windows.  This will save five minutes of whack-a-mole per day.
  2. It allows me to choose whether to accept cookies on a site-by-site basis.
  3. It supports tabbed browsing - Ctrl-click follows a link in a new tab. 

I'll tell you how I like it - stay tuned.

[Later: already I'm wondering about this.  Despite published reports to the contrary, Mozilla appears slower than IE, and - significantly for me and my style of browsing - it cannot deal with many clicks in parallel.  I have a tendency to read through a page, Ctrl-clicking every link of possible interest, and then I go back and see what I've dredged up.  Seems like at around eight or so concurrent loads, Mozilla balks.  More later...]


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?