Critical Section

Archive: January 22, 2021


Archive: January 22, 2020

solar system changes

Wednesday,  01/22/20  11:21 PM


solar system changes

xkcd, of course

Well this is a great start on an interesting concept, but:

  • Don't merge Jupiter and Saturn.  They are both super cool and have amazing moons, and having two of them means twice as many.
  • I prefer Uranus to Neptune.  But agree we only need one.
  • Pluto is a planet!  It orbits the sun.  Instead of making it a moon - we already have lots of them - I'd add a mirror anti-Pluto on the other side, synchronized.  And a weird spacetime hypertunnel between them.
  • Finally, we need more stuff out of the plane of the ecliptic.  How about a planet that orbits the sun but goes around its poles?
  • And of course ... more cowbell.

What do you think?


head food

Wednesday,  01/22/20  11:30 PM

Grace SlickFilter pass...

OMG, White Rabbit Grace Slick vocals only.  Best. Voice. Ever.  Just gets better and better and if you don't have chills by the end, you're not alive.

Who is #2...  Karen Carpenter?  Barbra Streisand?  Aretha Franklin?

World population living in extreme povertyCapitalism in action.  Can your economic system do this?

Venezuela collapses, Colombia rises.  Exhibit #437.  Do we have to keep doing this experiment, when will the science be settled?

While I was not blogging, Vin Scully retired after sixty-seven years of being the best baseball announcer, ever.  He made some amazing calls ("and look who's coming up..."), but this is one of the best: he takes down an entire economic system between pitches.  "Socialism, failing to work as it always does. This time in Venezuela. You talk about giving everybody something free and all of a sudden, there’s no food to eat. And who do you think is the richest person in Venezuela? The daughter of Hugo Chavez. Hello."

Dilbert on climate science.Dilbert on climate science.  Pounds the nail directly through the wood.

From 6/1/17: Paris was yesterday.

From now: Australia's eco-fundamentalism turns to ashes.  If you'd like, you can "s/Australia/California/g".  Fires burn until they run out of stuff to burn.  Climate has nothing to do with it.

Matt Ridley: A menagerie of fallacies.  A beautiful collection, and well worth visiting from time to time...

statistical distribution of people's understanding of statistical distributionsThis is fantastic: a statistical distribution of people's understanding of statistical distributions.

University of Chicago: "we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own."  Clearly at the opposite end of the spectrum from many universities; good for them.

Kansas State: "As a general rule, there is no right to not be offended."  Indeed.  I am frequently offended by those who think there is.

Department of Education?  Why?  Just another brick in the wall.

Marshall headphones ... feed your headThis filter pass brought to you by Marshall headphones.  Yes they look cool, but listen to Tommy on them with a candle burning and you'll see your entire future.  Feed your head...


Archive: January 22, 2019


Archive: January 22, 2018


Archive: January 10, 2017

we're going to make some history today

Tuesday,  01/10/17  08:40 PM

Ten years ago, today:

Steve Jobs introduces the iPhone, Jan 10, 2007

"we're going to make some history today"

Well that was true.  Wow.

Notes on rewatching:

  • Hehe, Macs running on Intel, how amazing.
  • iTunes Store ... 5M songs per day.  Of course, no app store yet!
  • Zune, we hardly knew ya.
  • Those old iPod ads were the best.  Those white earbuds.
  • Apple TV!  Who can remember, it was introduced at the same time.  Nice hobby.
  • 22 min in ... every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything.
  • Who wants a stylus?  Nobody wants a stylus.
  • iPhone runs OS X.  Really!?
  • Sync with iTunes.  Yep the first iPhones required a computer.  Quaint.
  • 3.5mm headphone jack.  "All your iPod headphones fit right in."
  • Accelerometer.  Weird to think turning your phone sideways didn't used to do anything.
  • "To unlock my phone I just take my finger and slide it across."
  • "You had me at scrolling."
  • "The killer app for a phone is making calls."  Hehe not any more.
  • Random access voicemail.  Another breakthrough we now take for granted.
  • First public call was to Jony Ive.  Of course.  "It's not too shabby, is it."
  • SMS texting pre-iMessage.  Hardly ever see green anymore :)
  • Pinch to zoom - big ovation.
  • Yahoo! Mail.  Yay.  Biggest mail service in the world.  That was then.
  • Realtime stock updates...  APPL was up $2.40 during this keynote.  Heh.
  • "I want to show you something truly remarkable" ... Google Maps on iPhone!
  • Calling Starbucks: "I'd like to order 4,000 lattes to go please" ... so great.
  • It's my pleasure to announce ... the CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt!  This was before Android :)
  • "You can't think of the internet without thinking of Yahoo!"  Um ... yeah.
  • Launch network Cingular.  Remember them?  Eleven days after AT&T had bought them!
  • Love that anecdote about Woz and the TV scrambler at the end.
  • Wayne Gretsky: "skating where the puck is going to be".  Yep.
  • Finally, can I just say, that version of IOS looks so much better!
  • Pretty much the best tech product introduction of all time.  The benchmark.

Can you remember what was in your pocket on that day?  I proudly carried a Palm Centro.

I don't care what you say, that was a better time.  (...more history...)



Archive: January 22, 2016

possible undiscovered planets

Friday,  01/22/16  09:01 PM

The inimitable and most useful xkcd weighs in on possible undiscovered planets:

xkcd: possible undiscovered planets

makes clear the relationship between a planet's size and distance, and our ability to find them
I love that the distance scales go down to "birds that got into my house"



To Scale: the Solar System

Friday,  01/22/16  09:39 PM

A perfect video to accompany the preceding post about possible undiscovered planets,
To Scale: the Solar System

On a dry lakebed in Nevada, a group of friends build the first scale model of the solar system
with complete planetary orbits: a true illustration of our place in the universe.

The new Planet Nine discovered by Caltech researchers would not have fit in this desert
as it is 20 times further from the Sun than Neptune
or about 140 miles at this scale



Archive: January 22, 2015


Thursday,  01/22/15  10:00 PM


Google Glasses?



Thursday,  01/22/15  10:13 PM

the Hubble Space telescopeI can't really believe this, but the Hubble Space Telescope is now 25 years old.  Wow.  Slashdot has a nice thread about the camera that changes the universe.  What's weird is that it didn't work very well at first, until scientists figured out how to correct the images with software.

Powerline: At last, the kind of inflation Americans care about.  "Over the years, some have argued that not having to care about politics is a luxury that Americans are able to enjoy because of our stable democracy and effectively guaranteed freedoms. There is some truth to that. Still, it is hard to believe it is a good thing that sports arouse more passion, attract more attention, and are more often the subject of intelligent discussion than politics."

the Hobbit, the movieThe Hobbit: the Tolkein edit.  In which nine hours of bad moviemaking are converted into a single four-hour film which is faithful to the book.  "The investigation of Dol Guldor has been completely excised, including the appearances of Radagast, Saruman and Galadriel... The Tauriel-Legolas-Kili love triangle has also been removed."  Seems like a great watch.

So, Apple paid $10B to developers in 2014, via the app store.  That means this ecosystem is now bigger than Hollywood, the ecosystem of major movies and their distributors.  That's ... amazing.  This ecosystem is also growing faster and has more successful players in it, at more layers.

An interesting subject: blockchain scalability.  Many of us have a vague idea of how Bitcoin "works"; it is a public ledger, with a fixed number of slots, and we can all bid to buy one of the slots.  But how big can it become?  How easily can each node compute the validity of the blockchain, and what will happen as the system scales?  Great read.

John at Desk: Seasons of silence.  "When building a product you can often find yourself in long stretches of relative quiet, where you're just heads-down building and there isn’t much more to tell or to share."  Indeed.

ZooBorn: East African Black RhinoZooBorn of the day: a baby East African Black Rhino, the first born in captivity for eighteen years.  Yay.  And boy is she cute.  Few things are less cute than a full-grown rhinoceros, and yet, few things are cuter than a baby one...


hello, ello?

Thursday,  01/22/15  10:42 PM

So, apparently, it's time for ello:

I signed up for the beta a few weeks ago, when there was some buzz around ello, but now I can't honestly think of any reason to join.  Are any of you members?  What's it like?




Archive: January 22, 2014

famous movie quotes, charted

Wednesday,  01/22/14  09:45 PM


how awesome is this?
(click to enbiggen and see the whole chart)



Archive: January 6, 2013

checking in after ten years

Sunday,  01/06/13  06:01 PM

Happy 2013!Greetings blog friends, and Happy New Year.  Yes, it is 2013 (yay!), and yes, it has now been over a year since I've posted regularly over here; I'm posting daily on my Facebook, and it's all public, so if you'd like please subscribe to me over there.  I know, I know, it's not the same - and I'm not ruling out returning to more or less daily blogging - but I have no immediate plans to do so.

I did want to check in because it has now been ten years since I started blogging.  Wow.  During that time I have posted 2,618 entries incorporating 7,556 pictures, and they're all still  online and accessible.  I like having that history, and love being able to go back and see what I was thinking around a given time.  (For example, during last fall's presidential election, it was so cool to visit blog posts from October 2008 and October 2004.)  You might be interested to know this blog is entirely home grown and lives on a server in a closet of my house, and yes, that server is a Pentium II from 1999, and yes, it is running RedHat Linux 8, and yes, it is stable as hell.  Old technology for an old blog :)

I do still intend to recover from my extreme Yak shaving and come out the other end with a blog I can completely maintain via email.  As I've shifted more and more of my daily spelunking to my iPad this has become more and more pressing.  Or speaking of pressing, I could move the whole thing to WordPress... hmmm.


2012 revisited!

Sunday,  01/06/13  07:14 PM

Something new...For the past ten years I've had the annual ritual of updating my blog's navigation bar with "this date in" links for the prior year.  As I added '12 to the list it occurred to me, there's not much there; I did my daily posting on Facebook.  Boo.

On 9/11 this year I posted my usual remembrance and on that occasion also paused to revisit everything that had happened in the past year. That was a pretty cool list to have (for me anyway).  So in lieu of having personal history in my blog archive, here's that list again, updated...

2012 revisited:

So what's next? Well, I'm still living on Westlake Island, and still working for Aperio. But I do have some cool new projects cooking, and I'm totally excited about 2013...

Please stay tuned and I'll keep you posted!


Archive: January 13, 2012


Friday,  01/13/12  11:57 PM

Well I'm moved.  And I now have FIOS!  And I like it; it's seriously faster than the DSL I had before.  And after two days of unboxing and messing around and running cables and configuring routers and ... whew, my servers are back up, and the bits you are reading right now came from deep inside a closet of my new house.  Yay.

my new blogstation

Also yay: the Tivo HD is up and online via FIOS without any problems.  And the AppleTV is up and running too, with HD movies now streaming in realtime.  All good.

I shall have more to say "soon" - assuming I ever get back to blogging, that is - please stay tuned...


Archive: January 22, 2011

happy day

Saturday,  01/22/11  09:20 AM

Today I am happy.  I have no particular reason to be, and yet it is so.  Yay!

Cold? Ice cold!So, do you think it's cold?  "The current temperature here in the Minneapolis suburbs is ten degrees below zero. The high today was three or four degrees. Last night it got down to twenty below zero."  It is a balmy 75F here, perfect for bike riding, which I plan to do later this afternoon...

Verizon's first iPhone commercialThe first Verizon iPhone commercial.  Interesting that they don't even show the phone!  Everyone knows what an iPhone is ... wow.

So, are you sitting down?  Holding any sharp objects?  Okay ... I am getting a Verizon iPhone.  For testing apps, of course :)  Stay tuned.

Greg Mankiw has a plan: "The essence of the plan is the federal government writing me a check for $1 billion. The plan will be financed by $3 billion of tax increases. According to my back-of-the envelope calculations, giving me that $1 billion will reduce the budget deficit by $2 billion."  Obamanomics 101.

Lawyer attempts to curtail the speech of a website headed by a First Amendment Law Prof.  "This is a Well Thought Out Plan."  I love it.

it took me two minutes to get this screenshot :)So, can you do nothing for two minutes?
I almost made it :)

Jeff Atwood: 24GB of memory ought to be enough for anybody.  Nah.  Too much ain't enough ;)

Brad Feld: the wave of iPad purchasing has just begun.  I believe this.  It seems the iPad is the computer for the rest of us, where "rest of us" means people who don't like computers :)  John Dvorak gets it wrong, again.  And Apple's App Store downloads top 10B.  That's a B.  Wow.

the Encinitas boat/housesThe incredible boat houses in Encinitas.  I spend, like, half my life within two blocks of these boat/houses; they are right near downtown, where I work out, do Yoga, and have dinner while down at my office.  Amazing that I didn't know about them before.  Stay tuned for a picture or two :)

Here we have Gourmet Ice.  I am not making this up.  But they are.

bioluminescent creatures - amazing!Wired: Eight beautiful bioluminescent creatures from the sea.  Wow, these are amazing.  Just when you think you've seen it all, you realize "it all" is so much more than you thought...


China's selection

Saturday,  01/22/11  08:22 PM

This is pretty amazing - an interactive graph of fertility vs life expectancy for different countries.

On the left is 1960, and on the right, 2008.  The X axis is life expectancy, and the Y axis is fertility.  Each ball represents a country, the diameter is proportional to the population.  The pink ball is India and the blue ball is China, the green ball is the United States.  You can see the precipitous decline in China's birthrate caused by their "one child" law.

[Update: if you click through, you may notice the colors are different; seem to be chosen at random?]

Now we just have to add measured IQ, and you can get scared by Unnatural Section.

© 2003-2020 Ole Eichhorn


Archive: January 22, 2010

week of 1/18/10, redux

Friday,  01/22/10  09:39 PM

rain and wind and ...Wow what a week, sorry I've been gone...  meetings all day and all night all week.  And rain!  Man, have we had rain; I've lived in Southern California just about my whole life and I can't remember water falling from the sky like this.  NO possible way to ride, so I've had lots of eating and not much exercise, and I'm a bit grumpy about that...  still it wasn't a bad week, in fact some parts of it were excellent...

...but enough about me, because it's all happening!

And so how did you feel last Monday?  Blue?  "Today is officially Blue Monday - the most miserable day of the year.  A combination of Arctic temperatures, Christmas debt and the next pay day feeling like it's months away leaves many of us depressed and unable to face work."  Huh, who knew?

News of the week was of course Scott Brown's incredible victory in Massachusetts, a Republican elected to fill "the Kennedy seat"!  I guess it really was the people's seat after all, and they proved it.  John Hawkins reviews five memes which were destroyed.

Ann Althouse had a great suggestion for what Obama should have said about the election.  "We won't agree on every issue... But we do agree that we love America equally, that we're concerned about the future of this country, and that we will do our very best to address big problems... The American people expect us to rise above partisan differences, and my administration will do its part...."  Those were of course the immortal words of George W. Bush, after the 2006 elections gave the Democrats a majority in the Senate.

Bush: miss me yet?Gerard Vanderleun asks the question: Are we better off now than we where a year ago?

Conservatives certainly are; as the review on Hot Air shows, it was a good week: Brown's victory, healthcare's defeat, Supreme Court's first amendment ruling.  Charles Krauthammer says it was his best week since spring break :)

The always-interesting Dave Winer has A breakthrough for the NYTimes.  "I’m not paying to read the Times.  I used to, but I don’t anymore.  It’s not like buying the latest gadget from Steve Jobs.  Paying the Times to read their stuff doesn’t give me sweaty palms.  But blowing a few bucks to get my thoughts into the flow alongside theirs, now that’s something I’d pay for."

Home Sapiens timelineInteresting: Humans were once an endangered species.  "Scientists from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City in the U.S. have calculated that 1.2 million years ago, at a time when our ancestors were spreading through Africa, Europe and Asia, there were probably only around 18,500 individuals capable of breeding (and no more than 26,000). This made them an endangered species with a smaller population than today’s species such as gorillas (approximately 25,000 breeding individuals) and chimpanzees (an estimated 21,000). They remained an endangered species for around one million years."

Here we have Ten celebs who give PETA the middle finger.  Don't get me wrong I love animals - medium rare, with a wine reduction sauce :)  seriously I do love animals and I think animal cruelty must be avoided, but raising animals for fur and food doesn't raise my ire, somehow...  it is what it is.  PETA seems to have moved beyond reasonableness.

In the run-up to Apple's iTablet announcement next Tuesday (!), one recurring theme is the likely impact on Amazon's Kindle.  As a preemptive strike Amazon have opened up their platform somewhat, and ZDNet wonders Can the Kindle work as an App platform?  The move makes sense, but I wonder how successful this will be - seems like a virtue of the Kindle is its simple focus on being an electronic book, period.

BTW I have the same reaction to iPods; I do have an iPod Touch and I like playing with it, but for actual listening to music I much prefer my four-year old iPod nano, with its simple focus on being a music player, period.

iSlate: will Apple's tablet have a multitouch *back*?Interesting iSlate speculation: will it have a multitouch *back*?  Who knows, we definitely await this announcement with great interest :)

Joel Johnson: Show and Sell: The Secret to Apple's Magic.  "When Jobs reveals the company's next product, there's a critical difference: It exists."  I think there a little more to this - it's cool, and it exists - but the point is well taken.

the Palm Pre PlusThe Palm Pre Plus reviewed.  "So why choose the Pre Plus on Verizon? To answer that question, you have to figure out if you believe in the potential of webOS devices; Palm doesn't have the fastest phone, or the phone with the highest resolution, certainly not the biggest app selection, and it doesn't have a massive community behind it.  What it does have, however, is a brilliant platform with huge potential to change the way you work and live with your phone."

Isn't is amazing how Bittorrent just works?  You try all this stuff for downloading large files, and it all doesn't really work, ever.  And then you try Bittorrent and BAM you are downloading 5GB datasets at 300K for hours on end.  My hat is fully off to Bram Cohen.

YouTube HTML5 playerWill this be important?  YouTube launches HTML5 support.  Seems to work just fine in Chrome.  I sure won't miss the shenanigans required to get Flash to run, the <embed> inside an <object> and all the rest...  stay tuned!

Once in a blue moon MSDN magazine has an article which has useful information; at year-end we had a blue moon, and sure enough here it is: Web Application Request-Response Testing with JavaScript.  Way cool.

Popeye admits to spinach useA sad note: Popeye admits to spinach use.  "Popeye finally came clean Monday, admitting he used spinach when he delivered a savage and unlikely beating to romantic rival Bluto in 1998. Popeye said in a statement sent to The Associated Press on Monday that he used spinach on and off for nearly a decade."  Sad, really.

ZooBorn: a baby GibbonZooBorn of the week: a baby Gibbon.


Archive: January 22, 2009

bad news bear

Thursday,  01/22/09  08:26 AM

ripples in a pondThis is a time of bad news.  Not only high-level wow-that's-horrible-but-it-doesn't-directly-affect-me bad news, like the war in the Middle East, but low-level man-I-don't-have-a-job-anymore-can't-pay-my-bills bad news.  More companies are laying off more people than ever; and everyone who loses their job is like a ripple in a pond; their bad news spreads to those around them.   The bad news could be affecting you, your family and friends, your neighbors, your colleagues.  So how do we handle it?

We focus on the stuff that isn't bad news; our health, our spouses and kids, our friends, the sun shining or rain falling.  We pay attention to beauty, to timeless things like stories and art.  We look for reasons to be optimistic; even an unprecedented time of bad news must end someday, and there must be good news woven through the bad.  We focus on ourselves instead of our environmentHappiness comes from liking yourself.  Our circumstances are a big part of how we see ourselves, and so when our circumstances change, we see ourselves differently, and that can change our happiness.  But we adapt.

Some of us introspect, some ponder, some of us blog :)


Archive: January 21, 2008

spaced out

Monday,  01/21/08  01:05 AM

Okay, time to get spaced out!

I have accumulated a number of juicy links about one of my favorite subjects - space, and especially planetary exploration - and here they are, for your clicking pleasure...

  • Hubble's Largest Galaxy Portrait Offers a New High-Definition View.  Wow.  The largest and most detailed photo of a spiral galaxy that has ever been released; it is composed of 51 individual Hubble exposures, in addition to elements from images from ground-based photos. The final composite image measures 16,000 by 12,000 pixels.  And is beautiful, too...
  • NASA's Cassini Discovers Potential Liquid Water on Enceladus.  NASA's Cassini spacecraft may have found evidence of liquid water reservoirs that erupt in Yellowstone-like geysers on Saturn's moon Enceladus.  The rare occurrence of liquid water so near the surface raises many new questions about the mysterious moon.
  • Cassini's View of Jupiter's South Pole.   Cassini took many photographs of Jupiter on the way to Saturn, including this unusual montage of its southern pole. This photograph was made up of 36 separate images, stitched together on computer.
  • Saturn's moon 'best bet for life'.  Saturn's tiny moon Enceladus may be the best place to look for life elsewhere in the Solar System.  That is the view of a senior scientist working on the Cassini spacecraft, which has been studying Saturn and its moons for nearly two years.
  • Titan Descent Data Movie with Bells and Whistles.  This movie, built with data collected during the European Space Agency's Huygens probe on Jan. 14, 2005, shows the operation of the Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer camera during its descent and after touchdown. The camera was funded by NASA.
  • Lakes on Titan!  The Cassini spacecraft, using its radar system, has discovered very strong evidence for hydrocarbon lakes on Titan. Dark patches, which resemble terrestrial lakes, seem to be sprinkled all over the high latitudes surrounding Titan's north pole.
  • Marooned Mars rover returns stunning panorama.  The most detailed panoramic view ever obtained on Mars has been returned by NASA's Spirit rover in time to mark its 1000th Martian day, or sol, on the Red Planet.  A total of 1449 individual images representing 500 megabytes of raw data were acquired for the view, called the McMurdo panorama.
  • Image archive: the top 100 photographs taken by the Hubble space telescope.  Can you choose a favorite?  Mine would have to be the glowing eye of NGC6751.  Absolutely stunning.  And to think how large it is!
  • Mountain range spotted on Titan.  The Cassini spacecraft has spied the tallest mountains yet seen on Titan, Saturn's major moon.  The range is about 150km long (93 miles), 30km (19 miles) wide and about 1.5km (nearly a mile) high.
  • Cassini Finds Lakes On Titan's Arctic Region.  NASA's Cassini spacecraft has found lakes on Saturn's moon Titan.  The lakes are most likely the source of hydrocarbon smog in the frigid moon's atmosphere.  Finding the source of the complex soup of hydrocarbons in Titan's atmosphere has been a major goal for the Cassini mission and is a significant accomplishment.
  • Here's a gallery of the best images taken by Cassini of Saturn and its moons.  Can you choose a favorite?  It isn't easy, but I rather like the movie of Hyperion tumbling toward Cassini.  Totally looks like something from Star Wars.  Can you imaging actually looking out the window and seeing that?  I can...
  • Can Titan be our future home?  Titan is the largest moon of Saturn and the second largest moon in the solar system after Jupiter’s Ganymede.  Titan is also the only moon in the soar system with a dense atmosphere that is even denser than that at Earth.  Studies have demonstrated that the most important and advantageous target in the solar system for colonization is Titan.  Yes!
  • Pluto status suffers another blow.  Not only has it been demoted from planet to "dwarf planet", research now shows that it cannot even lay claim to being the biggest of these.  A study has confirmed that the dwarf planet Eris - whose discovery prompted Pluto's relegation from planet to dwarf - outranks it in mass.  So be it.
  • Here's more information about Hyperion, including some awesome high-resolution pictures.  New images of Hyperion taken by the Cassini Spacecraft on September 26, 2005 will forever change our understanding of this new world. These pictures show a surface dotted with craters and modified by some process, not yet understood, to create a strange, "spongy" appearance, unlike the surface of any other Saturn moon.
  • Though colder than Earth, Titan is tropical in nature.  If space travelers ever visit Saturn’s largest moon, they will find a tropical world where temperatures plunge to minus 274 degrees Fahrenheit, methane rains from the sky and dunes of ice or tar cover the planet’s most arid regions. These conditions reflect a cold mirror image of Earth’s tropical and subtropical climates, according to scientists.

You're welcome!


black women voting

Monday,  01/21/08  12:34 PM

Barack and HillaryI saw this headline on CNN this morning: Black women voters face tough choices.  This is about the South Carolina democratic primary, and the two leading candidates are of course Hillary Clinton, a white woman, and Barack Obama, a black man.  The implication is that if you're a black woman, you're torn between voting for someone of your gender, or someone of your race.  But when you take a step back, isn't that a little weird?

All other things being equal, people might favor a candidate who is of their race or gender.  But all things are definitely not equal, every candidate is a unique person with different experience, capabilities, opinions, etc.  Wouldn't those things be more important?  And why is it a good thing for a candidate to share your race or gender?  Is there an implication that they'll make decisions more favorable to you (to your race, or your gender) than other candidates?  There might be something to that, but not much.  Barack hasn't run on a platform of improving things for blacks, and Hillary hasn't featured women's issues in her campaign.  If either did they would risk alienating everyone else, not to mention policies which help one group at the expense of others generally aren't the best ones anyway.

At the highest level it seems shallow for CNN to think that black women voters face a tough choice between Barack and Hillary on account of race or gender.  It might indeed be a tough choice - it is for me, for example, and I'm a white man! - but not because of such a simple association.


Monday,  01/21/08  07:30 PM

Blogging I be...  Yoda I be not.

I saw where Ann Althouse had a similar (although more sarcastic) take to mine on the CNN story about black women voters.  This ties in nicely with Christopher Hitchens article in Slate: Huck's free pass (Why are the media ignoring Mike Huckabee's remarks about the Confederate flag?)  "In this country, it seems that you can always get an argument going about "race" as long as it is guaranteed to be phony, but never when it is real."  That really does seem to be the case.  Any real discussion about race is off the table as being too explosive.

Kind of like what happened with James Watson, the Nobel-prizewinning biochemist who discovered the structure of DNA; he told the inconvenient truth, and faced the consequences.  Even if you disagreed with him, you could have the debate, but in today's environment even having that discussion was impossible.

BTW, if I ever had any thoughts about voting for Huckabee, and I don't think I did, this would have killed them dead.  At this point he is just taking up bandwidth in the conversation, he's no longer a serious candidate.

Gary Kamiya thinks the Republicans are a Dead party walking.  "The GOP candidates are a feeble group of Bush imitators tied to his disastrous war. And unless the surge turns into a miracle, even front-runner McCain won't beat a Democrat."  This is reckless precelebration.  The Republicans might be the Dems best friends, but they are their own worst enemies.

Steven Dubner and Steven Levitt - of Freakonomics fame - consider Unintended Consequences in the NYTimes today.  "Does this mean that every law designed to help endangered animals, poor people, and the disabled is bound to fail?  Of course not.  But... if there is any law more powerful than the ones constructed in a place like Washington, it is the law of unintended consequences."  So very true, most of the time when the government tries to get involved, they don't help.  Ann Althouse notes: "Reading this terrific essay, I thought it should be necessary to acknowledge the famous Ronald Reagan line: "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'""  Absolutely, and well worth keeping in mind as we watch the Presidential candidates promise to get our government involved to fix everything.

One more political note, I often enjoy James Taranto's column in the WSJ.  Today he notes: "This column generally tries to avoid taking shots at Andrew Sullivan, on the theory that it would be unsporting to do so. But a post over the weekend is so crazy that it's worth noting.Here it is, and yes it is crazy.  I've come a long way on Andrew Sullivan, from liking him, to disliking him, to being rather disturbed by him, to ignoring him.  As James says, "Sullivan thus becomes the only person ever to suggest that there's a vast right-wing conspiracy working for Mrs. Clinton."  Blech.

Floyd Landis in yellowLongtime readers know, I'm a huge fan of Floyd Landis, disgraced winner of the 2006 Tour de France.  Velonews carries an interesting interview with him.  You might think he hasn't proven his innocence, I think he hasn't been proven guilty.  Either way it is too bad it lingers...

uncov: failSo this is rather sad: Ted Dziuba of Uncov posted about the Crunchies awards (Crunchies. Ingredients: Fail), and winds up "Oh, right. One more thing. This is the last Uncov. Ever. I have been getting tired of it, and this has been manifesting itself in my writing. After seeing the spectacle at the Crunchies, I think it's finally time to quit."  Noooo!!!!!!!  What will we do without Uncov?  Already "Fail" has become a part of my daily lexicon, and when I use it people know exactly what I mean.  Maybe the Crunchies hangover will wear off, we can only hope.

Cory Doctorow notes we have Wubi!  "It's an installer package that lets Windows users install Ubuntu Linux like any other Windows app, without worrying about disk partitions and whatnot."  Sounds cool, but I suspect it is a dancing bear; that is, the fact that it does what it does is cool, but not useful.  Still, might be worth a try as an alternative to real work some afternoon :)


Archive: January 22, 2007


Archive: January 22, 2006


Archive: January 3, 2005

Monday,  01/03/05  10:30 PM

Now I'm in San Diego, and it's still raining.  What!  This is Southern California, it never rains here.  Anyway here's what else is happening:

David Hornik's New Year's Resolution is the same this year as it has been every year; he wants to meet great entrepreneurs.  So what makes a great entrepreneur?  One thing.  You must be able to convince others to believe in you.  That's it.  If you can do that, you can raise money, you can recruit people, and you can do anything.  If you can't do that, you'll have trouble raising money and recruiting people, and it won't matter how great your ideas.

vitamin D structureRandall Parker reports Vitamin D could decrease overall cancer risk by 30%.  "A long-term study of 50,000 men by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health suggests vitamin D may reduce the risk of all cancers.  The study, which is still under review for publication, found that men who consumed higher levels of vitamin D reduced their overall cancer risk by at least 30 percent...  a separate study of women is expected to produce similar results."  Wow, 30%?  That's really moving the needle.

I have to report - TivoToGo is live!  This feature allows people to copy video from their Tivo to their Windows PC.  Or course, the video is DRMed.  And I want video to go the other way, from my PC to my Tivo...  [ via George Hotelling ]

Tropical Island dome - Eastern GermanyTropical Island dome - Eastern GermanyHere are some pictures from the Tropical Island dome; a converted zeppelin hanger which is now a beach resort in Eastern Germany.   This building is three football fields long, and taller than the Statue of Liberty.  Wow.

Okay, you knew this was going to happen; the Vonage WiFi phone.  Yep, this is a cell phone, except it's not; it's a cordless phone, except it's not.  Well, it's a working phone and it is cordless, and it's practically free.

Vonage cordless phoneOh, look, another Vonage cordless phone.  Only this one doesn't use WiFi, it has it's own 5.8GHz wireless receiver.  For ten points explain the difference :)

Either way, VoIP is taking over.  It is only a matter of time, now, before analog phones are history.

the hobbit holeFinally, here we have a hobbit hole, inhabited by humans.  "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.  Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort."  Proving once again that just when you think you've seen everything, you realize "everything" is so much more than you realized :)  [ via Clive Thompson ]


two years ago

Monday,  01/03/05  11:46 PM

Now that I've been blogging for over two years, I added another link to my sidebar: Two years ago.  Kind of fun to see what was happening...  Two years ago I had just started blogging, and I posted my plan for my book.  Sigh.  And Steven Den Beste was pondering the [upcoming] war in Iraq...  Double sigh.

Know what would be really cool?  A a link to one year into the future :)

The Great Wave off KanagawaP.S. I also added a link to Amazon's Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund Donation page.  Just in case the urge strikes you to help while you're reading my blog.  I decided to use an image of the classic woodcut "The Great Wave off Kanagawa", by Katsushika Hokusai, depicting a tsunami in 1831.  "Oddly, though it's a sea storm, the sun is shining..."


Archive: January 19, 2004

Monday,  01/19/04  10:39 PM

Man, it is busy out there!  It's all happening...

So let me start tonight with Kerry's (and Edward's!) victories over Dean in Iowa.  They say Iowans don't pick the winner, but they prune the field.  So Gephardt is out, and Dean has lost momentum, if not the race.

Doc Searles, who is an ardent Dean supporter, lets the roots speak.  The results, and the emotions.  He also observes "The best looking candidates won in Iowa...  Kerry and Edwards aren't just the best looking candidates, but the best-talking ones as well.  They are practiced and excellent public speakers.  As message delivery boys, they hit the porch every time.  Dean is an okay speaker.  He's not great."  Is communication important?  Yes.

It is pretty tough to follow "everything" in a campaign these days; Taegan Goddard posted this wonderful quote from Michael Barone: "In the 1980s, I believed that you could cover a presidential election from five rooms--the morning meetings of the two campaigns, where the day's message was set, and the afternoon meetings of the three networks, where executives decided what part of that message would make the evening news...  But today you couldn't cover the 2004 fall campaign from 100 rooms.  Too much of it will be going on over back fences and on the Internet."

Dave Winer premiered an RSS feed for political junkies following Dean: Channel Dean.

My favorite way to follow the campaign is The Command Post, which has a 2004 Presidential Election feed.  What a wonderful resource.  I love comparing their timeliness and accuracy against "big media"; they are consistently better.

Martin Luther King Day.  Doc Searles posted a picture of a plaque with this quote:  "Through our scientific genius, we have made this world a neighborhood; now, through our moral and spiritual development, we must make of it a brotherhood.  In a real sense, we must learn to live together as brothers, or we will perish together as fools."  Amen.

Did you know 35 countries have troops in Iraq?  Unilateral action, eh?

Steven Den Beste lauds Japan as an unsung ally.  "Japan has emerged as the second most reliable ally we have."  Who would have thought...

As I was spacing out the other day, I noted a difficulty of manned space missions lies in the need for return. contemplates the Helium-3 found on the moon.  "Helium 3 fusion energy may be the key to future space exploration and settlement."  It could be a "cash crop", or merely fuel for a return voyage, or a trip to Mars...

Yahoo!is cheering again, as are their shareholders; AlwaysOn reports Yahoo emerging from dot-com gloom.  "Yahoo's comeback represents another hopeful sign for the high-tech industry.  As more people get high-speed Internet connections in their homes and invest in portable devices to stay online, tech leaders also are reporting higher profits."  I don't use Yahoo nearly as much as I used to, thanks to Google, but they have a huge variety of useful services.

Apropos, the NYTimes reports Television Commercials Come to the Web.  "Beginning tomorrow, more than a dozen Web sites will run full-motion video commercials in a six-week test that some analysts and online executives say could herald the start of a new era of Internet advertising."  Yuk.  How soon before someone builds a free tool to disable them?

Joi Ito links some excellent articles on writing, including this one: Ten Mistakes Writers Don't See (But Can Easily Fix When They Do).  Really great stuff.

Ottmar Liebert ponders the difference between Musiker and Musikant ("craftsman" and "artist").  "Think of a musician who plays only cover tunes...  Not art, but a lot of craft.  On the other hand a punk guitarist who knows only two or three chords may be an artist because of his vision.  Not a lot of craft, but art.  Very tricky, this stuff, isn't it?"  Then there is Ottmar himself, who is both :)

OpenSynth Neko64 synthesizerIs this the musical instrument of the future?  The OpenSynth Neko64 has a music keyboard, and a computer keyboard.  With dual AMD 64-bit Opterons, 64MB of memory, and MIDI interfaces.  And it runs Windows.

Vertical Hold wonders about Radiohead's desire that their albums be played all in one piece.  "My CD player has a random feature. Am I allowed to listen to the Radiohead album on random play?  If my house were to catch on fire while I was listening to the Radiohead album, would I be allowed to escape certain death if it meant not hearing the whole album?"  If they regard the album as one piece, why not release it that way?  On the other hand, few people play the movements in Vivaldi's Four Seasons out of order.

I love Adam Curry's Quote of the Day series.  Yesterday's was from Eric Hoffer: "You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you."  Indeed.Big Hair!

More Adam: He notes Big Hair is back!  You have been warned...

And finally, the Joke of the Day, courtesy of Citizen Smash: The Cow from Minsk.


The Grand Canyon of Mars

Monday,  01/19/04  11:46 PM

The ESA's Mars Express orbiter has begun taking some phenomenal high-resolution photos of Mars.  This image shows a region of Valles Marineris ("the Grand Canyon").

Valles Marineris (the Grand Canyon of Mars)

(click image for full-size interactive viewer)

Be sure to hit F11 to maximize your browser's window so you can see as much of the image as possible.

As usual, I upsampled the image and am serving it with Aperio's image server software.


Archive: January 22, 2003

Wednesday,  01/22/03  04:25 PM

Sometimes I agree with President Bush, sometimes I don't.  I sure don't agree with his views on abortion.  He needs to read my book.  Which is why I have to write it.  Get busy, Ole!

Steven Den Beste thinks the war will start on 2/1.  Fasten your seat belts 8(

Chinese researchers announced Wednesday the discovery of a feathered dinosaur that glided on four wings.  I love it!  (As physicist I.I.Rabi commented when the neutrino was discovered, "who ordered that?")

Hilary Rosen is stepping down as the CEO of the RIAA.  I used to think she was a dinosaur, but a great article in the latest issue of Wired made me feel sorry for her.  She's been trying to drag the music publishers into the 21st century, to no avail.  There's other great articles about the music industry in that issue, too, including one about Kazaa CEO Nikki Hemming.  The cover story is available online - The Year the Music Dies.

Wow, a Linux powered PDA - from the Penguin-meisters at IBM.

Here's some cool webness from GE.  How do they do that?


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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