Critical Section


Wednesday,  01/02/08  08:30 PM

Wow, the first day back to reality.  The New Year has started.  All the Christmas decorations are put away, the garland is thrown out, the tree is dragged to the curb.  The lights are taken off the house (and it is windy - of course - maximizing my annual chance to kill myself by falling off the top of a 25' ladder).  Sad, yet somehow invigorating.  What will the new year bring?

One thing the new year always brings is retrospectives on the old year.  And with the web and blogs, everyone gets their two cents in...  you'd think we never had a year before :)  Earlier I mentioned a few of the high points in tech, and the low point (Vista), but I should also have mentioned the tech enigma of the year, which is Twitter.  Do you twitter?  Do you know what it is?  Do you care?  My answers are no, sort of, and kind of.  So many people think it is important, that I think it should be important, but I can't figure out why or if it actually is.  An enigma to be sure.  If you can shed light on this, please do.

the rare long-whiskered owletNational Geographic: Top ten photos of 2007.  Way cool.  My favorite is the cute little rare long-whiskered owlet at right, although the crocodile with the veterinarians hand in his mouth is pretty amazing.  (Even more amazing, the hand was reattached successfully!)

Macworld in two weeksAs you know, if you're a Macist or simply a nerd, Macworld takes place in two weeks.  This is our biannual chance to guess what Mr. Jobs has in store for the world (pun intended), and to appreciate superior demomanship.  The 'net is alive with the sounds of speculation including new teeny Macbooks with iPhoneular screens (and touchpads) and of course the breathlessly-awaited third-party developer API for the iPhone.  And there are other angles: Fortune discusses How to cash in on the Macworld keynote effect.

Malcom Gladwell is one of my favorite authors (Tipping Point, Blink), and a blogger, and he recently he wrote an article for The New Yorker about IQ and Race: None of the Above.  He works hard to discredit IQ scores - leaning on the Flynn effect, for example - and makes some progress.  The article wasn't accurate in all respects however, as Steve Sailer notes; in particular he completely missed the point of The Bell Curve, by Murray and Hernstein, that measured IQ correlates to many things.  Why is it, when discussing The Bell Curve so many people fail to simply read the book?  It's a good book, and even if you don't agree with all or any of it you should at least read it before criticizing...

So oil has hit $100 / barrel.  [ via TTAC ]  Is this peak oil in action?  "Ira Eckstein, president of Area International Trading Corporation, says you ain't seen nothin' yet: 'This market is really gonna fly.'"  At some point this is going to reduce consumption and increase incentives for alternate energy sources, both good things, but in the short term this is going to make everything more expensive and slow the economy, both bad things.  Stay tuned.

Is it just me, or is spam getting worse and worse?  Yeah, I didn't think it was just me.  Computers keep getting faster, network bandwidth keeps increasing, and software gets smarter, but it is hard to think that this is sustainable.  I could get 5X the amount of spam I get now and probably nothing bad would happen.  (I get around 750 spams per day.)  Maybe 10X, but that would be pushing it.  Certainly 100X the spam would cause problems; at that point it seems likely my entire computing infrastructure would be doing nothing but filtering spam.  And what about 1,000X?  Yet there seems nothing to prevent spam from increasing without limit, since the marginal cost of sending it is [essentially] zero.  I don't know the answer, but whoever finds it will make $big.

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