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Archive: December 26, 2004

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Sunday,  12/26/04  11:40 AM

Okay, time to get back into the swing of blogging...

I hope you all had a terrific Christmas.  I did; spent the weekend doing very little, hanging out, playing with my kids and their toys, eating, watching football.  Doesn't get much better than that!  It is even raining, which is great, who wants nice weather for Christmas?  Of course, I do have to get back into bike riding...  My New Year's Resolution is not looking good.  I'm at 206, just about exactly where I was when I started.

Ann Althouse on the insidious plot to replace "Merry Christmas" with "Happy Holidays".

iPod for RadiologyThis is pretty cool: iPod helps Radiologists manage medical images.  "The iPod is not just for music any more. Radiologists from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and their colleagues at other institutions from as far away as Europe and Australia are now using iPod devices to store medical images."  Radiologists are lucky because their images (X-rays and CT scans) are approximately the same size as ordinary high-res photos.  Pathologists are not as fortunate; virtual slides tend to be two or three orders of magnitude larger.  I doubt displaying a 20GB image on an iPod Photo is helpful :)

Dave Winer suggests a nextgen iPod will hook up to satellite radio.  The xPod?  Hmm...  Not compelling for me.  But then, I haven't found podcasts to be compelling either...

Wow, read this: the story behind Apple's graphing calculator.  "It's midnight.  I've been working sixteen hours a day, seven days a week.  I'm not being paid.  In fact, my project was canceled six months ago, so I'm evading security, sneaking into Apple Computer's main offices in the heart of Silicon Valley, doing clandestine volunteer work for an eight-billion-dollar corporation."  I love it.

Sony wireless speakerHere's a user report on wireless speakers; I bought a pair of Sony wireless speakers a couple weeks ago for Holiday partying and they work great.  Good sound, and the effect of having music in several rooms is terrific.  Bass is lacking a bit, but not really needed for White Christmas :)  The batteries seem to last a long time, several hours at least.  Note that each speaker has a subwoofer and two tweeters (L and R); so if you have two speakers, it means you can play music in two different places.  My only problem was placing the transmitter properly; my stereo is in a low built-in wooden cabinet, and I had to place the transmitter up to a shelf to avoid signal interruptions, especially when the room was full of people.  Anyway these things work; a great technology.  And during the summer they'll be great poolside!

The Register reports Auto makers to create car-to-car wireless networking.  Excellent.  Another part of the caravans idea is becoming reality!

"Konica" in the 2004 Sydney Hobart raceHey guess what!  The great blog Sailing Anarchy ("where the status quo blows") has an RSS feed!  Yippee.  And they have great pics of the Rolex Sydney Hobart race, which started yesterday.

"Nicorette" surfing in the 2004 Sydney Hobart raceBy the way, here are more great pictures of the yachts in the race.  80' maxi boats surfing like dinghies!  These machines are just beautiful. 

This is what I want to do when I grow up; travel the globe racing sailboats.  Before I visit Titan, that is :)

Is 2004 the breakout year for space entrepreneurship?  Could be.  Certainly the X-Prize winning flight of SpaceShipOne, coupled with new commercial spaceflight legislation and the Bush administration's Vision for Space Exploration have given private spaceflight new life.  And early next year we have the SpaceX launch.  Maybe 2005 will be the breakout year!

There's been some interesting coverage of a potential asteroid collision in 2029.   Asteroid 2004 MNA is currently given a 1/233 chance of hitting the Earth.  Uh, make that 1/62.  No, looks like 1/45.  (The trend is disturbing.)  Well, that gives us 24 years to plan.

Huygens probeMeanwhile, Huygens is on its way!  "The Huygens lander, built by the European Space Agency, separated from Cassini shortly after 10 p.m. ET, under the watchful eyes of U.S. and European control rooms in California and Germany, without any problems reported.  On January 14, if all goes as planned, the $600 million probe - about the size of a Volkswagen Beetle - will descend through Titan's thick atmosphere and parachute toward the surface, taking pictures and scientific measurements all the way to touchdown - or, possibly, splashdown, because scientists aren't entirely sure what to expect under the moon's heavy clouds."  How exciting!

John Battelle: A look ahead.  "Last year I did pretty well with my prognostications, mainly because I chose carefully.  This time, I'm feeling a bit more reckless.  A year from now, I am sure I'll be scratching my head - what was I thinking? - but then again, that's not such a bad place to be."  Here's the one I think is most important: The long tail will become the talk of the "old line" media world.

Thank you, Steven Den Beste.  One of the really great long-form bloggers, he's apparently suffering from a degenerative disease.  Too bad, for him, and for us.  I haven't removed the old U.S.S.Clueless from my aggregator yet, hope springs eternal.

Mark Pesce on Bittorrent: Out of Control, the Sequel.  "Hey, Hollywood!  Can you feel the future slipping through your fingers?  Do you understand how badly you've screwed up?  It's said that the best sequels are just like the original, only bigger and louder.  Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves for one hell of a crash. This baby is now fully out of control."  Yep, stay tuned :)



Sunday,  12/26/04  11:54 PM

A major research institution has recently announced the discovery of the heaviest NEW chemical element yet known to science.  The new element has been tentatively named Governmentium.

Governmentium has 1 neutron, 12 assistant neutrons, 75 deputy neutrons, and 224 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.  These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.  Since Governmentium does not have electrons, it is therefore inert.  However, it normally can be detected as it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact.  Governmentium has a normal half-life of 4 years; it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places.  In fact, Governmentium's mass will actually increase over time, since any reorganization will cause some morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.  This characteristic of moron-promotion leads some scientists to speculate that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration.  This hypothetical quantity is referred to as "critical morass".

...thanks to my colleague Martin Stuart :)

P.S. In sailing there is always a desire to have the densest possible material for keel ballast.  For years lead was used, but more recently in high end yachts the denser and far more expensive material depleted uranium is used.  (This also has the side benefit of yielding lots of radioactivity jokes for the crew.)  Lead has an atomic mass of 207, Uranium has 238.  So Governmentium at 312 would be far denser.  Of course anything ballasted with Governmentium might have too much inertia to move at all...


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About Me

Greatest Hits
Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Unnatural Selection
On Blame
Try, or Try Not
Books and Wine
Emergent Properties
God and Beauty
Moving Mount Fuji
The Nest
Rock 'n Roll
IQ and Populations
Are You a Bright?
Adding Value
The Joy of Craftsmanship
The Emperor's New Code
Toy Story
The Return of the King
Religion vs IQ
In the Wet
solving bongard problems
visiting Titan
unintelligent design
the nuclear option
estimating in meatspace
second gear
On the Persistence of Bad Design...
Texas chili cookoff
almost famous design and stochastic debugging
may I take your order?
universal healthcare
triple double
New Yorker covers
Death Rider! (da da dum)
how did I get here (Mt.Whitney)?
the Law of Significance
Holiday Inn
Daniel Jacoby's photographs
the first bird
Gödel Escher Bach: Birthday Cantatatata
Father's Day (in pictures)
your cat for my car
Jobsnotes of note
world population map
no joy in Baker
vote smart
exact nonsense
introducing eyesFinder
to space
where are the desktop apps?
still the first bird
electoral fail
progress ratches
2020 explained