Critical Section


Thursday,  01/15/09  10:51 PM

Greetings, all...  and there appear to be more of you, wiring my posts into Twitter and into Facebook seems to have encouraged some additional linkage and clickage...  excellent, and welcome...

So today was a good day, slept in, solved a tricky technical issue with SecondSlide's plumbing, and otherwise moved the world forward ever so slightly...  and did some work on a DICOM proposal I'm presenting in San Francisco on Monday.  It was a beautiful day here (sorry for those of you out East, I'm not gloating just stating a fact :) and I managed to enjoy it.

So let's see what's happening out in the blogos, shall we?

California Lottery logo - $14B to educationI have been ruminating on what I'm calling "the Lottery effect".  This is when there is something people do which benefits "everyone", even if "everyone" does not participate.  Playing in the Lottery is an example - everyone gets more funding for schools, even those of us who don't play - as is, making a lot of money (paying taxes) or discovering something useful (sharing an idea).  Philanthropy is definitely like this.  Overall it seems as if the more ways we have of leveraging the activities of a subset for everyone, the more valuable our society.  More as I have more...

MRFM microscopyWant to know how lame the NYTimes has become?  Check out this article, A breakthrough in Imaging - a new way to see a virus.  It describes an interesting new technique called MRFM which enables researchers to make extremely high resolution images of extremely small things like viruses.  So far so good.  But check out this correction: "Because of an editing error, an article and a headline on Tuesday about an advance in microscopy overstated the significance of the advance.  Researchers at IBM captured a three-dimensional image of a virus using, for the first time, a technique called magnetic resonance force microscopy; it was not the first time a three-dimensional image of a virus had been made.  The article also described the basic structure of the DNA molecule incorrectly. That structure is based on nucleotides, not proteins."  Riight, an editing error.  Really what we have here is that the reporter didn't know DNA is based on nucleotides instead of proteins, and didn't know (and couldn't be bothered to find out) whether this was the first time a 3D image of a virus had been captured.  Clearly the Times' readership educated the paper, and they subsequently posted a correction.  Sad, really.  And they didn't even run a relevant picture with the story!  They could have easily found IBM's press release and picked out a diagram of the MRFM in action, as I did above right.  Sad, really.

atmospheric CO2Want to learn about global warming?  Really?  Then check out Global Change and Energy: A Path Forward (PDF) by Paul Dimotakis in Caltech's Engineering & Science magazine.  He sets politics and sensationalism aside and honestly examines global warming from a scientific standpoint.  This is the best analysis I've read, by someone who really understands the underlying science.  (The punch line: global warming is real, it is exacerbated by human activity, and it isn't as bad as Al Gore thinks.)

Meanwhile, with crude oil at $35/barrel, giant supertankers brimming with oil are resting at anchor or slowly tracing racetrack patterns through the sea, heading nowhere, waiting for the price to rise.  "The ships are marking time, serving as floating oil-storage tanks. The companies and countries leasing them for that purpose have made a simple calculation: the price of oil has fallen so far that it is due for a rise."  Interesting, huh?  Just six months ago oil was nearly $150/barrel.  What will it be six months from now?

Carol Bartz, new Yahoo CEOSo I'll be the millionth person to note Carol Bartz being named as Yahoo's new CEO.  I have to believe this is a good thing, she has an excellent track record.  Several people I know who know Autodesk think she'll be successful.  I'm rooting for her, we all benefit from a healthy and innovative Yahoo competiting with Google and Microsoft.  Now we just need someone to lead AOL out of the woods...

Engadget has a nice comparison between all the smartphone vendors: What Apple could learn from Palm's webOS.  Despite the title they talk about RIM and Android also, and note what Palm can learn, too.

1958 Maserati 3500GTTTAC reviews the 1958 Maserati 3500GT.  This car was born the same time I was; I think it has aged better :)

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