Critical Section


Thursday,  06/09/05  09:15 PM

Parental chest beating: My daughter Alexis was named the top science student in her 6th grade.  Whew.  She's going to be a Bond girl - the improbably beautiful nuclear astrobiologist who saves the world.  Way to go, Alex!

From James Lileks, a devastating dose of perspective:

I can imagine in late 2001 asking a question of myself in 2005:

What’s the main story?  The smallpox quarantine?  Fallout from the Iranian – Israeli exchange contaminating Indian crops?  A series of bombings in heartland malls?

"Well, no – the big story today has to do with soldiers mishandling terrorists' holy texts at a detention center."

Mishandling?  How?  Like, you mean, they opened it up without first checking to see if it was ticking, and it blew up –

"No, they handled it in a way that disrespected it.  Infidels are supposed to use gloves."

Oh.  So we lost, then.

Citizen Smash also adds some Clarity.

Abqaiq oil fieldSo this is what running out of oil looks like.  Check out this graph of the Abqaiq oil field in Saudi Arabia, from a report by The Oil Drum.  The green area is oil, and the red area is gas; the large blue areas are water pumped into the well to push up the oil.  [ via Mark Frauenfelder ]

In response to Linda Foley's refusal to either substantiate or retract her charges against U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, journalist Hiawatha Bray is running for the Newspaper Guild executive committee as a write-in candidate.  "Choose Honor."  Excellent, I hope he wins.  [ via Glenn Reynolds ]

Titan in the news: Possible Ice Volcano Found on Saturn Moon.  "The international Cassini spacecraft has spotted what appears to be an ice volcano on Saturn's planet-size moon, a finding that may help explain the source of Titan's thick atmosphere.  Infrared images snapped by the orbiting Cassini reveal a 20-mile-wide dome that appears to be a cryovolcano, a volcanic-like vent that spews forth ice instead of lava."  Awesome.

The 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge semifinalists have been announced.  Of course Team Caltech is one of them.  The goal is to build a robotic vehicle which can travel 175 miles over open desert within 10 hours, navigating and bypassing obstacles without human intervention.  Maybe this year we'll get further than seven miles from the start :)

giant park mirrorsClive Thompson reports on plans to use giant mirrors to reflect sunlight into a park which is permanently shaded by adjacent buildings, in Battery Park, New York.  "The mirrors ... will reflect enough of the sun's rays to keep the park in sunlight year-round, he said, and in some ways will be more effective than broad daylight since the rays can be directed to different spots at different times of the day or season, as needed."  Sounds pretty cool.

David Bryne ruminates on the difference between performed and recorded music.  (Yes, the Talking Heads' lead singer is now a blogger.)  "When music as a product, as a consumable object, is subverted and undermined by technology and by its own success, then maybe we have come full circle.  Maybe if music is no longer seen as an object, but as pure information, data, sound waves, then the object becomes at best a mere delivery device, and we’re back to viewing music as an experience, albeit still one that other people produce."  [ via Cory Doctorow ]

Matt Webb ponders the correspondence between the Web and San Francisco.  "I never realized I was a 'them' until I went to California."  Living in Southern California, I never realized I was a 'them' until I went to San Francisco itself...

Cory Doctorow has seen God in a cup of chocolate, at Hemingway's in Florence, Italy.  "There were medieval princes who spent lifetimes searching for experiences that did this sort of thing to your sensory apparatus.  Whatever they found was nothing so good as this."

Ottmar Liebert comments:  "If they don't run out of chocolate by then I will experience the place in October.  I will give you a detailed report."

house carved to look like booksHere we have a house carved to look like it's made of books.  How excellent!  Even the furniture in the house is hand-carved to look like they're made from books.  [ via Cory Doctorow ]

Pierre-Jean Couarraze - lumiere de l'espritThis reminds me very much of the work of Pierre-Jean Couarraze, who paints books which look like they're made of stone - on canvas.  They're just amazing, you reach out your hand to touch textured stone, and touch smooth canvas...

You know the famous Monty Hall Problem?  ("Do you switch doors after he shows you a donkey?")  Well here's another one which seems to be similar: The Serbonelli Problem:

Of three prisoners, Matthew, Mark and Luke, two are to be executed, but Matthew does not know which.  He therefore asks the jailer ‘Since either Mark or Luke are certainly going to be executed, you will give me no information about my own chances if you give me the name of one man, either Mark or Luke, who is going to be executed’.  Accepting this argument, the jailer truthfully replied ‘Mark will be executed’.  Thereupon, Matthew felt happier, because before the jailer replied his own chances of execution were 2/3, but afterwards there were only two people, himself and Luke, who could be the one not to be executed, and so his chance of execution is only 1/2.  Is Matthew right to feel happier?

I'll let you chew on this one for a bit...

Walt Mossberg relates What the Apple Plan To Switch to Intel Chips Means for Consumer.  "For all but the techiest techies, changing the processor in these machines will be a nonevent, sort of like changing the engine in next year's Lexus cars.  As long as the new engine is at least as fast and smooth as its predecessor, few drivers would notice or care."  So be it.

Russell Beattie's gadget bagYou would have to say Russell Beattie is a gadget freak.  Check out the contents of his "bag" on the way to Mobile Monday.  So, Russell, I have to ask: "what, no Treo?"  Doesn't look like he has a Blackberry in there, either...

 

 

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