Critical Section


week of August 10, redux

Sunday,  08/16/09  03:53 PM

The world's busiest week, bar none.  I went directly from vacation, hanging out, relaxing, to back-to-back days filled with back-to-back meetings.  Barely rode.  Didn't blog.  Barely ate.  Drank.  A little.

Koyaanisqatsi - life out of balance?Koyaanisqatsi - Life out of Balance.  My work / life proportion, always skewed, has finally become a problem, on both sides.  I must think about this.  When... I... have time.  But first I must blog!

Ron Hart: Obama discovers that heath care reform is a hard sell.  "If Obama has his way, his health care plan will be funded by his Treasury chief who did not pay his taxes, overseen by his Surgeon General who is obese, signed by a president who smokes and financed by a country that is just about broke.  What possibly could go wrong?"  It would be funnier if it wasn't so true.

Powerline: Back in the USPS.  The postal service is a poster child for a government agency that can't compete with private enterprise.  Imagine if we couldn't have FedEx and UPS?  Weird that Obama uses this analogy, but fails to drawn the obvious conclusion from it.

never, ever, feed the plant...Gerard Vanderleun: Never, Ever, Feed the Plant.  "Confused about health care, stimulus, bailouts, and the coming tsunami of taxes and regulations?  One simple answer:  Never, ever, give governments more money or power."  I fully agree.  This is the simplest explanation of why I am [have become] a conservative.

Ha!  Ann Althouse wonders is Hillary Clinton Secretary of State or First Lady?  It is quite clear that her decision to accept nomination as Secretary of State was a mistake; she's been hidden and ineffective, overshadowed not only by President Obama but ex-President Clinton on the world stage.  Pretty different to Condoleezza Rice, for example.  (She should have run for President!)

An old post from Robert Scoble (just popped into my RSS for some reason), he wonders: Real time systems hurting long term knowledge?  "Whew, OK, now that I’m off of FriendFeed and Twitter I can start talking about what I learned while I was addicted to those systems."  He learned a lot about those "systems", but I'm going to say, not much from them.

A new study says Twitter is [at least] 40% pointless.  "Pear Analytics tried to categorize 2,000 tweets, and found that 40.55 percent of them fell into the 'pointless babble' bucket."  Worse than that, of the 60% that were not pointless babble, most were links pointing to pointless babble.  The actual content level on Twitter is desperately low.

is my blogosphere an echo chamber?Related: I'm a little worried that my slice of the blogosphere is an echo chamber.  A new study comes out about Twitter, and everyone I read links to it.  That isn't very useful, I'd much prefer that everyone I read links to different things, to get the maximum "fan in".  I might have to look for more sources.  Huh.

Related: Facebook acquires Friend Feed.  (For a lot less than many might have thought.)  So be it; this will not affect me one whit.  Scoble says FriendFeed will be Facebook's R&D department.

Dave Winer is worried: Scoble, your blog still loves you.  "It's time to use the web again to store our ideas, and instead of relying on Silicon Valley companies to link our stuff together, let's just use the Internet."  That's exactly what I'm doing right here, and you're a part of it!

Uh, oh.  Windows XP SP3 runs browsers 14% faster than Windows 7 RTM.  Crap.  I was really hoping Win7 would be at least as fast as XP.  Guess not.

Technology Review: An Operating System for the Cloud.  The business strategy behind Google OS.  Fascinating.  [ via Slashdot ]

the Elephant Trunk nebula - photography which is out of this worldPhotography that is out of this world.  And... amazingly beautiful.  Shown at left is the Elephant Trunk nebula... doesn't it look like a scene from a science fiction film, with an alien being walking towards us?

differential gear: how it works, a tutorial from the 1930s...This is massively cool: a tutorial that shows how a differential gear works, from the 1930s... long tail content at its finest.  BTW I knew how these things worked, sort of, but this explanation helps make it clear :)

Cycling news: Michael Rasmussen hopes to ride the Vuelta.  Yay, the chicken is back!  Let's hope anyway, stay tuned...

Also in the news: Alexander Vinokourov won his first race since coming back from his two-year doping suspension.  He, too, is hoping to ride in the Vuelta.  I have a special fondness for Alexander; besides being an exciting rider to watch, always on the attack, he featured prominently in my perfectly incredible day watching a stage on the Vuelta in September 2006, in Granada.  He didn't win that stage - Tom Danielson did - but he took over the lead and went on to win that Tour.  I actually ended up shaking his hand :)

IPO registrations - July-Aug 2009 - slowly returning to normalYay, good news - IPO registrations are returning from the valley of death.  These are registrations, not actual IPOs, but it is a sign that the market is gradually recovering.

podcast station!Wired notes the fifth anniversary of Adam Curry's Daily Source Code, the first really popular podcast.  Yeah back in 2004 podcasting was all the rage, but it never really took off (although it does hold down a solid niche).  Remember when iTunes first included podcasts, how "mainstream" that made it feel?  I wonder how we'll remember Twitter and Facebook in five years?

Dave Winer, a pioneer behind podcasting (originally enabled by RSS attachments), remembers Netscape and RSS.  "Then I did one of the smartest things I ever did.  I surrendered unconditionally."  Another smart thing Dave did was freeze RSS, let innovation build on top of it rather than in it.  I disagreed with him at the time, but he was right.

Classic confusion of correlation with causality: texting makes kids dumber.  (Could it be, dumber kids text more often?  Yes, it could...)  This happens so often in the mainstream media, I should post about this... :)

supermodel Amber Valletta without makeup - beauty is deeper than makeup, apparentlyA wonderful photo essay: supermodels without makeup.  To my eye they are more beautiful this way, more like real people you could sit and talk with...  Fascinating.  [ via Boing Boing ]

Wow, this is too bad: Guitar legend Les Paul dead at 94.  Alex has a Gibson Les Paul, it's beautiful, and she makes it sound just like AC/DC :)

the photo-crashing squirrel!This is excellent: the photo-crashing squirrel.  "My husband and I were exploring Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park-Canada when we stopped for a timed picture of the two of us. We had our camera set up on some rocks and were getting ready to take the picture when this curious little ground squirrel appeared, became intrigued with the sound of the focusing camera and popped right into our shot!"  [ via Boing Boing ]

Unnatural Selection alert: World population projected to reach 7B by 2011.  "A staggering 97 percent of global growth over the next 40 years will happen in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the Population Reference Bureau's 2009 World Population Data Sheet."  What do you suppose will be the average IQ of the new arrivals?  Higher or lower than the current population?  Yeah, that's what I think, too.

methane storm over TitanWeather alert!  Scientists spot massive methane rainstorm over Titan.  "Indeed, the longer researchers stare at Titan, the more Earth-like its processes appear – processes playing out right before their telescopes' and spacecraft's sensors."  You know I'm going to say it, and so I am: I cannot wait to go there myself.

Whether you're going to Titan or just to the beach this weekend, this New Yorker article will help you choose the right sunscreen :)

Indian casino - eyesore in the desertWow, this is interesting: Indian Casinos.  The article is more sympathetic towards them than I am - the whole idea that there are separate laws for different "nations" within the United States is ridiculous - but there is a lot of good information here.  I had no idea that reservations were formed via negotiation, for example; I figured it was some kind of restitution for land which was taken away.  What's sad is that these casinos are the antithesis of everything we admire about American Indian Culture; the quiet solitude and appreciation of nature, for example.  At this point I think we can all agree (Native Americans too) that American Indians would have been better off without reservations at all.  [ via Kottke ]

time travel - could it happen, and what would it look like?Important information: Time-Traveling for Dummies.  "The notion that one version of time travel is more accurate than another might seem ridiculous on its surface, but physicists actually have rather a lot to say about how time travel should work.  Some, in their more fanciful moments, have even devised ways to exploit Einstein's theory of general relativity to come up with 'practical' models of time machines."  I love the notion that IF time travel could exist, there would be iteration between past and present which would eventually result in a configuration where time travel acts to erase itself.  This may already have happened :)

ZooBorn: baby elephant with a blue ballZooBorn of the week: a baby elephant playing with a big blue ball.  If that doesn't bring a smile to your face, nothing will :)  [ via ZooBorns ]

I sincerely hope next week isn't quite as busy, but it looks bad right now.  Please stay tuned!

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