Wow. Thanksgiving is over. It's Christmas time already. Where did 2004 go?
So I know you were wondering - thank you - and yes, I survived my annual brush with death. The house has Christmas lights everywhere. Complicating matters, in their infinite wisdom the gods decided it should be raining while I did this. Standing on a 25' aluminum extension ladder in the rain is not high on my list of fun things to do. However the lights look great, and I am flushed with virtue. I do still have to debug one of my reindeer; how is it that something can sit passively in a garage for 11 months and develop a short? But that's what Sundays are for...
Did you watch the USC / Notre Dame game? Great game for about 20 minutes, and a slaughter thereafter. I really like Tyrone Willingham (Notre Dame's coach) from his Stanford days but of course I was rooting heavily for USC. We don't have pro football out here anymore, so the Trojans are as close as we get. In fact, they look like a pro team, especially on offense.
Looking at the L.A.Coliseum, filled with nearly 100,000 people, it makes me wonder why it is that sports are so appealing. Clearly it is simply a proxy for "real life", but as such it has become so important that it truly is real life. Athletes make much more money than people who do real things like scientists and engineers, and are more celebrated. Fascinating.
Speaking of sports as a proxy for real life, I voted for Pat Tillman in Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year fan poll. You should, too; Tillman exemplified everything that's great about sports. (And this is coming from a big time Lance Armstrong fan; Lance would be an excellent choice, but since he won last year I'd give it to Tillman. I actually think Lance would agree.) Tillman was pretty good at real life, too - selecting him would be a great way to recognize all the unsung heroes serving in our military forces. Tim Layden posted a nice column explaining why he feels the same way.
"In the year 2014, the New York Times has gone offline. The Fourth Estate's fortunes have waned. What happened to the news? And what is EPIC?" So begins a time-shifted transmission from the Museum of Media History. Pretty cool, with great production values, but a bit heavy-handed and preachy. I did enjoy this line: "The New York Times becomes a print-only newsletter for the elderly and the elite". Ironic, because that's what it has become already :)
The central point missed by this video is the completely undirected nature of the 'net. Nobody chooses anything. This is captured perfectly in a New Scientist article: The Blog Revolution Sweeps China. Quoting Issac Mao, cofounder of CNBlog.org: "What is our strategy? We do not have a strategy. But the information flow in the blogosphere has its own Way. The Way is our strategy: personal, fast, connected and networked."
For a more realistic take, see this: NYblogs, the Movie. Obviously not everyone has received The Way. Yet.
Great line from a young woman: "Bloggers? We are French, we don't know." Be sure to watch all the way to the end, you'll die laughing. At least I did.
And in NYblogs, the Sequel, a shoeshine man explains, "Who is it gonna help? The people doing it. Who is it gonna hurt? The publishing companies." He has received The Way.
By the way, I love the format of these posts. This is video blogging, Ladies and Gentleman, coming soon to a PC near you. [ via American Digest ]
The Economist hits a similar note in their reporting of Dan Rather's retirement.
"The bloggers have often been at their most devastating when they have been criticizing the old media for bias. Their favourite target has long been the New York Times." And CBS, and CNN, and ...
Steve Sailer: The Baby Gap, explaining Red and Blue. Woah. [ via GNXP ]
From the December issue of Wired, which I've already applauded: The Dream Factory. "Any product, any shape, any size - manufactured on your desktop!" And made from garbage... Well we can dream, anyway.
And from Wired news, Software Detects the True Artist. "Scholars have had their suspicions that the painting of Madonna and child credited to the Italian Renaissance master Pietro Perugino wasn't really done by him alone. But they could never be sure. Now, a new set of software tools, developed by a Dartmouth College team, seems to confirm the art historians' doubts, showing evidence of at least four different painters working on the canvas." Very cool. Of course, they used feature-based pattern recognition, a tough slog for such problems.
Are you a Mac Powerbook user? Then check out SideTrack. Makes your Mac trackpad as functional as any PC laptop's, as it should be. Excellent.
"Thanks" in 465 different languages. I am not making this up. [ via Halley ]
It's fun when you post something quirky, and people like it. Recently I had two such posts; Solving Bongard Problems, which seems to have attracted an eclectic mix of links, and Referral Spam Be Gone, which definitely struck a chord. I've actually had a blizzard of referer spam hits since I implemented this filter, and it is so satisfying to watch them flail. Some of the spam hits are apparently for a website which sells software for initiating referer spam. I was so impressed by this that I decided to spam them; they're getting a steady steam of hits from me, referring them to my site. I hope they enjoy it :)