Have you had your fill of stories about the horrors of North Korea? Or are you, like me, drawn to this incredible train wreck of incompetent governing? Koreans are among the most intelligent and productive people on earth (average IQ 105), and South Korea is a triumph of capitalism (per capita GNP $9,700). But as this Q&A with Philip Gourevitch illustrates, North Korea is a disaster. And a dangerous one...
Sometimes you read things that have lots of facts, or contain a lot of great analysis, and you feel informed by them. Other times you read things which just make you think. In the latter category I came across a wonderful article by Katherine Boo in the print version of the New Yorker called The Marriage Cure. Fortunately for you, I found the same article, sans pictures, on the website of the New American Foundation. This article chronicles two poor black women in Oklahoma City, where a new project is attempting to teach women how to get and stay married. The theory is that singleness, and especially single parentness, is a root case of poverty, rather than a consequence. Really fascinating and thought provoking, I encourage everyone to read it.
Space Review: Is there a business case for RLVs (reusable launch vehicles)? it all comes down to cost. Making a launch vehicle which can be recovered and reused is much more expensive, do you get the cost back over time? The space shuttle is a clear counter-example, and every other attempt to build RLVs has failed. However, the new model of suborbital RLVs might work, wherein the launch vehicle has two parts, a reusable "airplane" which gets you to the upper atmosphere, and then a non-reusable "rocket" which goes the rest of the way into orbit. Many of the competitors for the X-prize are using this architecture, including Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne.
The NYTimes has a nice survey of string theory. I'm not a physicist, but I don't think they're on the right track. This is just too complicated to be a "theory of everything". It is kind of like the way physicists used a complicated system of epicycles to explain planetary motion, before Kepler's ellipses. In the end, W=UH, and string theory is too U.
PVRBlog reviews Snapstream, software which turns your PC into a Tivo-like PVR. It sounds like this software really works, but I wonder if this category of product will ever replace stand-alone PVRs. Entertainment on the PC always suffers from the "locality" problem; PCs are in the wrong place in the house for sitting and watching. I suppose you could stream the video from your PC to your TV over a wireless network.
BW article: Music Pirates, You're Sunk. "The recording industry's new onslaught against individual file traders won't win it any friends, but it sure seems to be working." After reading the article I disagree with the "it sure seems to be working". There is no evidence that consumers are buying more CDs in stores as a result of this action. So unless "working" is defined as "consumers disliking the RIAA", it is definitely not working...
Rageboy: The difference between Decoration and Art. Rageboy is always worth reading - he writes at night when he should be sleeping, and it shows :) - but I pretty much disagree with the point. I actually would rather visit the Louvre than a monster truck rally.
A company called Seamless Display has developed technology for seamlessly combining multiple displays in video walls. Cool!
Doh! Man steals GPS tracking device. Now that's stupid.