Critical Section


Friday,  12/10/04  10:14 PM

I am really anticipating Christmas this year.  Am I going to get great presents?  Hmmm...  I don't know yet.  But I'm going to give great presents, and I can't wait to watch my kids playing with them.  (And to help them play with them :)  More on that after Christmas!

Charles Krauthammer: The Afghan Miracle.  "'Miracle begets yawn' has been the American reaction to the inauguration of Hamid Karzai as president of Afghanistan.  Before our astonishing success in Afghanistan goes completely down the memory hole, let's recall some very recent history."  The transformation has been amazing; if you've ever read Ken Follett's Lie Down with Lions you could never believe the Afghanistan of today.  [ via LGF ]

This is excellent news: Congress OKs Private Spaceflight Bill.  "On the verge of adjournment Wednesday, the U.S. Senate gave final congressional approval to a bill that could open the way for suborbital space tourism.  It would put a clear legislative stamp on regulations already being put in place by the Federal Aviation Administration - and more significantly, allow paying passengers to fly on suborbital launch vehicles at their own risk."  Great stuff.  I can't wait to visit Titan :)

Bram Cohen, author of Bittorrent, considers the declining dollar.  A bit simplistic; I disagree that "this leads to a very strong likelihood that international business will stop being done in dollars."  If that ever happens - which I doubt - it will happen over a long period of time, gradually.  Another over-simplification: "We could cut our military budget to what's actually needed for national security, which in the absence of any serious international military threat is a tiny fraction of what it currently is."  Bram obviously misses the concept ofDeterrence.  Still, I enjoy it when scientific minds turn to economics :)

GigaDial logoI chatted with Andrew Grumet today and among other things he pointed me to his cool GigaDial project, "the podstation factory".  Essentially you setup an "inbox" for podcasting feeds.  You can subscribe to other feeds, and your friends can send feed items into your inbox.  I've only just starting playing with it but this seems like it solves an important problem; podcast feeds are too granular.  I might like a feed, but only like some of the content in it.  With RSS feeds, you can easily see what's there and delete what you don't want, but with podcast items you have to listen to them to find out whether you'll like them, which is a lot more time consuming.  Anyway it looks cool, check it out!

Sky CaptainAlwaysOn considers Sky Captain and the Filmmaking of Tomorrow.  "A dud at the box office, the fall film is nevertheless one of the most important films of 2004.  It heralds a new generation of young filmmakers armed with DV cameras, Macs, and blue screens."  Excellent.  I haven't seen it, but now I want to.

mountain bike wipeout videoThe other day I noted Matt Haughey's post about using a hacked DirecTivo.  He'd extracted a video stream from a mountain bike program, by way of example.  But check out this video (click on thumbnail at left, 7MB AVI), these are some of the most intense wipeouts I've ever seen.  Wow.  Gives new meaning to the phrase "aggressive rider".

Mount Sopris - high resolution pictureThe NYTimes chronicles Tom Swift's New Camera, Ready for Space and Spies.  "With this camera that he concocted out of 60-year-old camera parts, mirrors, a microscope and other items - none of them digital - Mr. Ross has taken photographs on 9-by-18-inch negatives that when slowly processed by hand and digitally scanned contain 100 times as much data as the average professional digital camera." Cool, but the reporter was obviously more impressed than I was.  [ via Xeni Jardin ]

Apparently there is a "big picture" summit at Sandia Labs about this type of technology.  The problems of displaying high-resolution pictures are more severe than capturing them.  Really this feels a bit off the mainstream; capturing data with analog film and scanning it is so 1900s.

rising before shiningDoc Searls posted a great picture, albeit a more conventionally acquired one; Rising before Shining.  "In this order: Venus, Moon, dawn, Santa Monica Mountains, Pacific Ocean, night."  As he says, it puts everything in perspective (in more ways than one).  Awesome!

Lego grandfather clockEric Harshbarger built a working 7' grandfather clock - completely out of Lego!  Pretty cool.  Unbelievable all the details which have to be worked out - check out all the pictures, particularly the escapement.  I mean, imagine building a working clock, period, let alone doing it solely with Lego parts.    Amazing.

Myst RevelationI've been playing a bit more Myst Revelation - continues to be excellent.  The motion graphics in the background are nothing short of amazing - trees blowing around, lights flickering, and when you "turn your head", sound shifts from one channel to the other.  And of course the puzzles are great, too...

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