Critical Section


Tuesday,  01/01/08  08:11 PM

I'm going to have to be ruthless with the 200 or so items I have saved up to post about...  nobody wants to read a bunch of old news, least of all you.  Still some of this stuff is genuinely interesting.  I'll try to sprinkle it in among the new stuff.

One of the more interesting ideas from 2007: How to keep Brown alive.  Since discrimination based on race is illegal - and clearly should be, whatever the good intentions of those involved - maybe we can use income, socioeconomic status, or other factors as proxies?  Or perhaps we should go all the way and use performance on standardized tests?

I should mention parenthetically that Slate and Salon continue to be two of my favorite websites, despite the fact that I disagree with most of what is written on them.  (For similar reasons, The New Yorker continues to be a favorite magazine.)  Public discussion of these issues seems important.

Global dimming?  At first I thought it was Unnatural Selection - the idea that the world is getting dumber because of differential birthrates between smart people and dumb people - but no, merely the idea that sunlight is being blocked by pollution.  That might be happening - in fact it might be a result of the Unnatural Selection kind of global dimming - but it isn't quite as interesting to me...

One of my favorite thinkers is Jared Diamond.  In 1987 he published as essay: The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race.  The mistake?  Agriculture.  Which led to many things, including - ta da - Unnatural Selection...  Maybe the end result will be a carbon tax on babies?

My 2007 "rolling a boulder uphill" award goes to Michael Newdow, who has been trying to get "under God" removed from the Pledge of Allegiance since 2000, arguing that it violates the separation of church and state.  Courts have ruled in his favor twice in the meantime, but the rulings have been overturned on technicalities.  It doesn't seem like our biggest problem, but on merit you have to say he has a point.  Next up: taking "in God we Trust" off our currency. 

It would be cool to see a Presidential candidate sworn into office using a copy of Godel, Escher, Bach instead of a Bible.  But don't hold your breath. 

Still, the Economist notes an increasing number of [admitted] atheists in America, believe it or not.

Google celebrates the 25th anniversary of TCP/IPGoogle is celebrating the New Year with a new logo - celebrating the 25th anniversary of TCP/IP.  Interesting that they'd use RJ25 jacks, though, instead of coax cable.  All I can say is, there's no place like 127.0.0.0.

John Dvorak, tech curmudgeon: 2007: The Miserable Year in Review.  I agree with all his points, but not his conclusion; it was not a miserable year in tech at all, he just picked the low points.  What about iPhone or the OLPC?  Or the Wii, or Kindle?  I guess "best of" is in the eye of the beholder, but we can all agree on "worst".  That would be Vista...

panda baby!Found on Digg: the cutest thing you'll see all day.  (The development of a baby panda, seen at right.)  Un-bear-able.

Music news: album sales plunge 20% this Christmas.  I'm shocked.  Meanwhile Apple is preparing to launch video rentals on iTunes.  Will this be the end for DVD sales?  Yes.  Interestingly, it is being reported that the rentals will be time-limited.  That implies unbreakable DRM.  And as we all know, "unbreakable DRM" is an oxymoron.  Paging dvd jon...

Of course most consumers are sitting out the high-def war between blue-ray and HD-DVD... they're waiting for high-def video downloads.  My prediction for 2008: this isn't going to end like the VHS / beta war, with a clear winner, it is going to end with both sides losing to an attack from below, courtesy of the 'net.

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