Critical Section

Archive: January 22, 2018


Archive: January 22, 2017


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 22, 2013


Archive: January 22, 2012


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.

© 2003-2017 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 22, 2008


Archive: January 22, 2007


Archive: January 22, 2006


Archive: January 22, 2005


Archive: January 22, 2004


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?


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?