Critical Section


Saturday,  05/10/03  10:24 PM

To my mom, my wife, my mother-in-law, and to all moms everywhere:

Happy Mother's Day!

Lately I've been thinking a lot about blogging, and writing.  You'll remember science fiction novelist William Gibson noted he's giving up his blog so he can start working on a new book.  Gibson is an accomplished writer, and your mileage may vary.  I know mine does, the more I write, the easier I find writing to be.  Looking back over my brief four-month blogging history, I'm writing more and [dare I say] writing better.  Also I'm doing more thinking (original writing) and less linking (writing about others' original writing).  Actually my advice to anyone who wants to write is - start a blog!

Ed Cone celebrates the one-year anniversary of his blog with some interesting retrospections about blogging and writing (he's a professional journalist).  "If journalism is the first draft of history, then blogging is sometimes the first draft of journalism."

Ben Hammersly has a cool feature on his blog; mousing over links displays the number of incoming links to that entry.  Ben is the author of "Blogging Hacks"; looks like a must read... [ via Boing Boing ]

There's been a lot of discussion about this story from England; a group of six monkeys was given a computer for a month to see what they would type.  This supposedly to test the claim that an infinite number of monkeys given typewriters would create the works of The Bard.  Obviously six monkeys for a month is not "infinite", and it comes as no surprise to any thoughtful person that nothing much came of it.  Amazingly, some people have drawn the conclusion that this experiment somehow 'disproves' the claim, which is ridiculous.  Monkeys typing are essentially random character generators; if the target document contains X characters chosen from a character set of Y values, there are Y^X possible configurations, and if it takes Z time to type X characters then it will take on average Z*Y^X/2 time before the target is generated.  Fill in variables for a Shakespeare play and monkeys typing, and you get a   l o n g   time.  This reminds me of the way people extrapolate from genetic experiments done over a few generations to 'prove' evolution doesn't work; they just don't get the difference between "a few" and "millions".

Although the six monkeys did not create Shakespeare, they have started a blog...

Leaving blogging, here is a terrific story by Michael Barone: A tale of two Americas.  "One of the peculiar features of our country is that we produce incompetent 18-year-olds and remarkably competent 30-year-olds".  Fascinating and thought-provoking - please read it.

Bang & Olufsen, one of my favorite companies, has created some new high-end speakers which are really cool.  Not only are they beautiful, but they have some really amazing technology.  I love companies that combine great technology with beautiful design - Lexus, Apple, Sony...

Speaking of great technology and beautiful design - check out the Origami Museum.  Many awesome models complete with flash animations which show you step-by-step how to make them.  [ via Usable Design Media ]

Wrapping up - my daughter Alex (9) asks "why do animals live as long as they do?"  Fascinating question.  The subject of another post...

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