Critical Section


Monday,  10/20/03  10:37 PM

FuturePundit ponders Human Natural Selection In Taiwan, where there are two girls born for every three boys.  "An obvious consequence is that when the little king passes puberty, he discovers that the girl he liked in high school has gone to USC, probably never to return, while those who remain are being snapped up by other men."  A realtime experiment in artificial selection - with humans!

You know how I like SpaceX?  Their September update is out, including news of their first customer - the DOD!  "This is a significant vote of confidence, as many launch vehicles have no choice but to fly unpaid test launches with dummy payloads.  Overall, the Falcon launch manifest is looking quite promising and I think we will be able to announce both a second and a third customer in the next few months, one of which is international."  Excellent, looks like Elon Musk has another winner.  Be sure to check out the movie of the engine test firing - very cool.

Greg Costikyan is Recasting the Debate on IP.  "Recently, I went to a movie, and was subjected to a spot from some film industry organization, I do not remember which, that featured a fellow who is a set maker for the movies.  He spouted some nostrum about how people who 'steal' movies were screwing him, not the studios.  I was not impressed."  I saw that spot, and had the same reaction.  These guys make union scale, what do they care whether the movie is pirated?  Read the whole thing - good stuff.

Henry Sheehan: LA Crix Nix Pix Prix.  The LA Film Critics Association have cancelled the annual awards show because of the MPAA's ban on screeners.  Excellent.  [ via Roger L. Simon ]

Mirabella VThis is so cool - Yachting Magazine reports Mirabella V will be The World's Largest Sailing Sloop.  These dimensions are hard to grasp; overall length 75 meters (250ft.), mast height 90 meters (300ft.), beam 15 meters (50 ft.).  "She cannot fit in the Panama Canal, nor can she get under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, as the mast would be standing 40ft above the road."  The keel bulb will weigh 110 tons and the draft with the keel fully extended is 10 meters (40 ft.).  Unbelievable.  The owner is planning to charge about £250,000 per week for charter of this yacht.  Okay, back to coding for me!

Mark Frauenfelder relates A Night with Stephen Hawking.  I wish I could have been there.

I'll never forget my first Ernest C. Watson lecture, at CalTech's Beckman auditorium.  The speaker was Kip Thorne, the subject was Radiating Black Holes.  I was a 16-year old undergraduate, and I was in complete awe.  The audience was as impressive as the speaker and the subject; I can remember Murray Gell-Mann sitting next to Richard Feynman.

Scott Loftesness raves about Windows iTunes.  There's a lot of that going around.  "Apple now has a strong cross-platform offering for distributing protected data.  As the early lead in the market, they now have potentials to expand a lot beyond the world they run in."  Yep, in particular it will be interesting to see what they do with video.

Ars Technica has a review which points out some problems.  The Windows world is different from the Mac world...

The BBC reports Apple sold 3 million songs in the three days following the Windows iTunes announcement.  And over 1 million people downloaded the Windows version of iTunes.  Wow.  "'We're off to a great start, and our competition isn't even out of the starting gates yet,' Apple CEO Steve Jobs said."  Oh, yeah, Napster 2.0 launches next Wednesday.

For you Mac-ers out there, OSNews has a nice review of Panther (OSX 10.3).  I'm just about ready to upgrade my iMac from Jaguar (OSX 10.2), looks like it's time...

Maya visualizationIf you're interested in playing with a high-end video modeling / animation / rendering / effects tool, Alias is now offering a free "personal learning edition" of Maya.  You, too, can make 3D images like the one at left.  A terrific way to waste valuable free time!

Alex King posted a comparison of the Treo 600 to the Treo 300.  I was going to do this, but he already did, and did it better than I would have.  Check it out.

Dilbert.com announced their second annual "exuberantly non-scientific Weasel Poll": 

  • Weaseliest Organization: Recording Industry Association of America.
  • Weaseliest Country: France
  • Weaseliest Company: Microsoft
  • Weaseliest Individual: George W. Bush
  • Weaseliest Behavior: Blaming fast food restaurants for making you fat
    (Religious extremism finished a distant second)

Vodaphone "bowlingual" phoneOkay, I know I promised to stop reporting "gadget news", but Vodaphone just introduced a new phone with a 2-megapixel camera - and dog translation software.  The "bowlingual" feature translates dog barks into English.  I am not making this up.  Really.

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