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missing Ze Frank >>>

Sunday,  01/06/08  10:20 PM

Well, it is raining here, an actual serious storm.  Whew.  Didn't keep me from heading down to San Diego to watch the Chargers beat the Titans today; that was pretty cool.  Yeah, it rained a little, but the crowd noise blew the water away :)  Seriously the game was great, and so were the hot dogs.  And it is raining...

Yay, I've got links!  A few, anyway, my awakening from hibernation has been noticed.  I am always amazed that people haven't completely given up on me, but I guess since it takes no effort to leave a feed in your reader, but effort to remove one, entropy takes over.  Anyway thank you for hanging in there.  I was so motivated by this that I began posting on my Aperio blog, too, after a two year gap.  Whether I can keep it up remains to be seen - please stay tuned...

I get a bunch of magazines, but one of my favorite dead-tree communiques is the quarterly Caltech Engineering & Science.  The most recent issue is devoted entirely to celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of Caltech's Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), which has been the prime contractor for NASA's unmanned spacecraft ever since.  E&S in general, and this issue in particular, always pulls the curtain aside to reveal a slightly different world, where people devote themselves to science and technology and do great things by overcoming great challenges.  I was particularly taken with the article recounting the Voyager project; these two spacecraft, launched in 1977, not only performed the "grand tour", visiting every planet in the solar system, but are still transmitting data today, from the very edge of the solar system.  Imagine 1977 technology, and now imagine the complexity of designing a 30-year mission.  Unbelievably impressive.  The science enabled by the data retrieved by these spacecraft is amazing, too. 

The other day I noted the Mars rover's four-year anniversaries; they are products of JPL, too...

Want to read a comprehensive description of the Theory of Evolution, and why Creationism aka Intelligent Design doesn't count as an alternative theory?  No, I didn't think so; if you're reading this blog you already know this stuff inside out.  Nonetheless this publication by the National Academies Press is pretty amazing, for its thoroughness if nothing else.  You can download a nice summary in PDF form, too. 

BTW one of the things I missed during my blog holiday was the grand opening of the Creation Museum.  This is a link to a great walkthrough by PZ Myers.  Warning: skepticism ahead...  as the Washington Post puts it: "But in this latest demonization of Darwinian evolution, there is a sticking point: For the biblical account to be accurate and the world to be so young, several hundred years of research in geology, physics, biology, paleontology, and astronomy would need to be very, very wrong."  Blech.

Related: Chris "long tail" Anderson wonder's Why Give Away Your Book?  (You might wonder, why would the NAP give away their book, as linked above...)  The answer is simple: in order to get the maximum number of people to read it!  "The biggest challenge most authors face isn't online piracy.  It's not people out there diabolically copying their works and distributing them for free.  In fact most authors (including yours truly) suffer from a different problem entirely -- no one has ever heard of them.  After all, literally hundreds of thousands of new titles come out every year, and only a few hundred writers in the entire United States (if that many) actually live off their books full time.  So, by giving away the book, I hope more people actually read it.

GNXP notes John Brockman is packaging "What is your dangerous question?" as a book.  You can read Steven Pinker's and Richard Dawkins' preface and afterward online.  Cool.

Maybe I should / will give away Unnatural Selection.  If I ever write it.  Stay tuned :)

This is too funny; a genuine Microsoft website gives you 100 reasons why everyone's so speechless (about Vista).  I am not making this up.  Of course, not everyone's speechless; here are 100 things people are really saying about Vista.  

I have tried to figure out where is Microsoft going?  Are they going to resurrect XP?  Come out with Vista 2.0?  Give up?  Honestly I know so many people who are determined never going to "upgrade" from XP to Vista.  I'm one of them.