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Understanding Engineers, Take 9 >>>

Thursday,  04/01/04  11:06 PM

James Lileks is even more penetrating than usual: 

Kerry: I mean, there are countless numbers of things that we could be doing to enhance the world's view of us and to minimize the kind of anger and ...

Lileks: We stopped pretending we would ratify Kyoto.  We only spent $15 billion on AIDS in Africa.  We did not take dictation from Paris.  If we had done these things, it would minimize the world’s anger.  Is the world angry at Russia, which spends nothing on AIDS and rebuffed Kyoto?  Is the world angry at China, which got a pass on Kyoto and spends nothing on AIDS for other countries?  Is the world angry at North Korea for killings its people?  Angry at Iran for smothering that vibrant nation with corrupt and thuggish mullocracy?  Angry at Syria for occupying Lebanon?  Angry at Saudi Arabia for its denial of women’s rights?  Angry at Russia for corrupt elections?  Is the world angry at China for threatening Taiwan, or angry at France for joining the Chinese in joint military exercises that threatened the island on the eve of an election?  Is the world angry at Zimbabwe for stealing land and starving people?  Is the world angry at Pakistan for selling nuclear secrets?

Read the whole thing.  Right now.

This was predictable: Saudi Arabia pledges to fight rising oil prices.  Yeah, right.  Uh, so who sets those prices? 

Ed Ring in AlwaysOn: Gerrymandering must go.  "Because of gerrymandering, everything the U.S. Congress and every state legislature does is overwhelmingly influenced by representatives who got there by winning their primary, not their election."  Another bad side-effect of two-party politics... 

There are so many April Fools pranks on the 'net, you pretty much can't believe anything you read today.  One of my favorites is the latest from TidBITS...  And here's a nice summary.  Gizmodo has one too

Doc Searles got fooled properly.  After reading about Google's Gmail announcement, he posted "Look at all the people who didn't get this joke".  Then he got a phone call:  "Doc?  Yes.  It's not a joke.  You're kidding!  No.  It's not a joke."  But Doc was wrong, it is a joke :) 

Google did have an April Fools joke; they're hiring for their lunar datacenter

Final Google note: John Battelle notes Google's S1 filing (for an upcoming IPO) includes this detail: "The employee stock option plan, long believed to be the impetus to a public filing, has been dumped in favor of a private shadow equity plan modeled after the Economist magazine. 'It's the only magazine we read that hasn't put us on the cover,' Page explained. 'We kind of hoped this hat tip might change that.'"  [ via Mark Frauenfelder

Timothy Sandefur recalls Richard Feynman: "Today on the freeway, I drove behind a car whose license plate was 3SVD543.  Can you imagine how small the chances are of that happening?"  A perfect illustration of Littlewood's Law of Miracles, and the role of sequence in determining probability. 

After posting this, I saw Bigwig's post with the same thing.  What are the odds? :)

Speaking of life in the universe, NASA is hosting the third annual Astrobiology Science Conference.  The Scientist notes: "The conference, which drew more than 700 participants, focused on three questions: 'Where do we come from?' 'Are we alone?' and 'Where are we going?'"  So how small are the chances of finding extraterrestrial life?  After we find it, the probability will be 1

If you're interesting in virtual microscopy (you know who you are), you might find Apparent Magnification interesting. 

Here we have the Hall of Technical Documentation Weirdness.  Amazing and not Photoshopped.  For example, what do the elevator buttons at left do?  The mind boggles.infinite five 

A great math joke, from Joi Ito: 

John Gruber takes on Eric Raymond: Ronco Spray-on Usability.  "UI development is the hard part.  And it’s not the last step, it’s the first step.Exactly.  I know UI design isn't for everyone, but this is exactly like managing people; many engineers can't do it, so they assume it is easy and worthless. 

If you're a blog newbie, you might enjoy Kinja, "a weblog portal".  This is some kind of online aggregator.  I don't think this will be much of a thing; desktop aggregators are really the way to go.  Kinja is to blogs as Hotmail is to email. 

This might get me to watch TV: Masters of Disillusionment.  "Last year, the show took on topics as varied as creationism, bottled water, secondhand smoke, and alien abductions, in each case setting out to set things straight."  I love it.  Now adjusting Tivo, stay tuned...