12

2005-12 posts.

  1. A Charlie Brown Christmas tonight. RE: Animated. Comics. Funny. Life. Personal. TV.
  2. TV.Yahoo.com done me wrong. RE: Cyber Life. Profanity. TV.
  3. Microsoft should patch everything. RE: Cyber Tech. Firefox. Microsoft.
  4. More pharmacists withold emergency pill. RE: Health. Politics. U.S.A. (America).
  5. AJAX the great (but not cousin to Achilles). RE: Cyber Tech. Google. Programming.
  6. Cool Google Maps. RE: Cyber Life. Geography. Google.
  7. Super Moine/Monks. RE: A14+. Animated. Funny. Profanity. Violence.
  8. Good dog DNA, good dog. RE: Engineering. Health. Science.
  9. Microsoft Live is a latecomer. RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Geography. Google. Microsoft.
  10. Constructed and persisted realities. RE: Faith. Flow. Life. My Creation. Philosophy. Rambling. Science.
  11. The real Bizarro Superman. RE: A14+. Comics. Crude. Funny. Images. NSFW. Profanity. Q09.
  12. Yahoo! bought del.icio.us. RE: Cyber Life.
  13. Build a snowman online. RE: A04+. Cyber Life. Flash. Make. Play.
  14. Clinton: Bush is flat wrong on Kyoto. RE: Conservation. U.S.A. (America). World.
  15. Folksonomy needs more people. RE: Cyber Tech.
  16. A programmers bookshelf. RE: Programming. Words.
  17. Digital art tips. RE: Art. Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Images.
  18. Unbearably cute. RE: A02+. Cyber Life. Funny. Images.
  19. 50 coolest sites by Time magazine. RE: Cyber Life.
  20. Skype wiggling in. RE: Skype. eBay. Communication. Cyber Tech.
  21. Java slipping. RE: .NET. PHP. Java. Programming.
  22. Narwhal nooky. RE: Nature. Science.
  23. Top 10 sys admin truths. RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Funny.
  24. How to Make a Chicago Hot Dog. RE: Chicago. Food. Q10.
  25. A 9/11 move by Oliver Stone and Nicholas Cage. RE: Movies. Politics. U.S.A. (America).
  26. My philosophy blurb. RE: My Creation. Philosophy. Rambling.
  27. Digging for hydrogen gold. RE: Conservation. Engineering. Science.
  28. Google Homepage API now available. RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Google. Programming.
  29. Multicore coming. RE: Cyber Tech. Engineering.
  30. My next computer. RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech.
  31. Google blip. RE: Cyber Tech. Google.
  32. Possible Wikipedia reactions. RE: Cyber Tech. Open Source. Wikimedia.
  33. Firefox extensions I use. RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Firefox.
  34. Refactoring the Internet. RE: Cyber Tech. Engineering.
  35. Mirosoft drops Mac IE. RE: Cyber Life. Mac. Microsoft.
  36. Pedophiles and webcams. RE: Cyber Life. NSFW. Sex.
  37. Retouching activity. RE: Culture. Cyber Tech. Images.
  38. The Medical Malpractice Myth by Tom Baker. RE: Health. Politics. U.S.A. (America).
  39. Ownership society. RE: Politics. U.S.A. (America).
  40. Wikipedia founder edits himself. RE: Cyber Life. Wikimedia.
  41. Intelligent Designed banned. RE: Faith. Science. U.S.A. (America).
  42. The China game. RE: China. Economy. U.S.A. (America). World.
  43. NSA good old days. RE: Flash. Play. Politics. U.S.A. (America).
  44. Digital Universe, an alternative by a Wikipedia founder. RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Wikimedia.
  45. The 4th what?. RE: News. Politics. U.S.A. (America).
  46. Alexa makes indexed data available. RE: Cyber Tech.
  47. Find 800 numbers. RE: Communication.
  48. Metadata too helpful. RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Google. Microsoft.
  49. Happy Holidays!. RE: Comics. Culture. Faith. My Creation. Philosophy. Politics. Science.
  50. Some videos via Google. RE: Food. Funny. Play. Science. Video.
  51. Good and Bad Procrastination by Paul Graham. RE: Productivity. Flow. Life. Pscychology.
  52. Sleeping and napping. RE: Flow. Health. Productivity.
  53. Hela, HeLa. RE: Culture. Health. Intelligent Design. Science.
  54. Less Embarrassment. RE: Cyber Life. Education. Flow. Life. My Creation. Rambling.
  55. Num Sum. RE: Cyber Life. Math.
  56. Google acquisitions. RE: Cyber Tech. Google. Money.
  57. Favorite fonts of 2005. RE: Fonts. Typography. Cyber Tech. Design.
  58. CSS image switching. RE: CSS. Cyber Tech. Images.
  59. Hacker's Diet. RE: Funny. Health. Science.
  60. Web 2.0 by Paul Graham. RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Economy. Google. Microsoft. Web2.0. Wikimedia.
  61. Family over time in photos. RE: Images. Time.
  62. Getting it right. RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Folksonomy. Popularity.
  63. You are beautiful. RE: Art. Images.
  64. Advanced sidewalk drawings. RE: Art. Images. Play.
  65. Extreme Thinking. RE: Flow. Mind. Productivity.
  66. Science nuggets. RE: Science.
  67. Peace on Earth increasing. RE: Life. Martial. Politics. U.S.A. (America). World.
  68. Online offices. RE: Free Libre. Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Free Gratis. Productivity.

2005-12-06t22:37:44Z | RE: Animated. Comics. Funny. Life. Personal. TV.
A Charlie Brown Christmas tonight

Tonight they're showing "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (20:00 in Chicago on ABC). This will be the first time for my kids.

You're a Good Magnet for Holiday Ads, Charlie Brown [ChicagoTribune.com/....]

"It is ironic that something so totally noncommercial has become so commercial," said Doug Stern, chief executive of United Media, the licensing arm and syndicator of the comic strip that still runs in 2,400 newspapers five years after Schulz's death.

A gregarious animator from Los Angeles who had worked at Walt Disney Co. on such classics as "Pinocchio" and "Bambi," Melendez impressed Schulz by not embellishing his characters, instead taking care to duplicate the flat look and feel of the comic strip. The resulting black-and-white commercial of Linus and Lucy inspecting Ford's line of 1962 Falcons preserved the characters' sweetness, with Linus knocking his little cartoon fist on the Falcon's simulated wood side panels for good luck.

In December 1965, the first viewers tuned in to see snowflakes gently falling on a frozen pond. Charlie Brown and his friend Linus trudge through the snow with ice skates slung over their shoulders. They stop at a brick wall.

"I think there's something wrong with me," Charlie Brown confides, his round head cupped in his hand. "Christmas is coming, but I'm not happy. I just don't feel the way I'm supposed to feel."

To cure his depression, he consults with Lucy at her 5-cent psychiatric booth. She ultimately tells him: "Let's face it. We all know that Christmas is a big commercial racket." Then she lowers her voice: "It's run by a big Eastern syndicate, you know."

"Well," Charlie Brown says defiantly: "This is one play that's not going to be commercial."

The exchange was an inside joke for Schulz, who some believe intended the "Eastern syndicate" to refer to United Feature Syndicate, which still owns the copyright to his characters. Just as Charlie Brown vowed to direct a noncommercial play, Schulz was vowing to do the same in his Christmas special.

2005-12-07t16:14:54Z | RE: Cyber Life. Profanity. TV.
TV.Yahoo.com done me wrong

Yesterday I was looking forward to watching "A Charlie Brown Christmas" with my kids for the first time. So I went to Google, looked up "TV listing", and the first to come up on the list was Yahoo! TV [tv.yahoo.com]. It said that the show was on at 8pm. I checked to see that I was logged in to Yahoo and that they knew my time zone. So I emailed my wife, I posted in my blog about the show and showtime. I finished working and went home. My wife and I got the kids excited about watching the show. We made sure we ate dinner, brushed our teeth, and that the kids were wearing their pajamas before 8:00. Finally we settled down at 19:53 CST —I had the two older kids on my lap— and we turned on the TV.

The show was just about to end! My jaw dropped! (Internally: WTF! WTF! WTF!)

The kids were disappointed but not as much, I think, as I was. Yahoo had my personal information (including my address and CST as my time zone) and I had customized my personal listing for my specific TV/cable service provider, and yet when I go to Yahoo! TV, it gives me the TV listings for the EST time zone?!?! That's wrong. My personal listing should pop up when I'm signed in. I shouldn't have to do an extra click.

Lesson learned: Do the extra click. For Yahoo! TV, use the "personalized listing" to see channels for your specific service provider and your specific time zone (unless you happen to live in the EST time zone). Peace.

2005-12-07t21:57:18Z | RE: Cyber Tech. Firefox. Microsoft.
Microsoft should patch everything

At first I thought it was a silly question (and all sorts of answers/excuses popped into my head), but on second consideration: Why not ask for something unreasonable?

Why can't Microsoft just patch everything? [blogs.zdnet.com/Ou/index.php?p=135&tag=nl.e550]

If smaller software companies can patch all of their bugs serious or minor, why can't Microsoft just patch all of their vulnerabilities with their massive army of programmers and massive budget?

Even though Firefox has been hit with many more vulnerabilities compared to IE, Firefox proponents can take the high road and claim victory because at least their vulnerabilities are patched. If we look at Secunia's database for Windows XP vulnerabilities, we see that 22% of the vulnerabilities are unpatched.  Although most of these issues are minor or moderate, the most serious one is "highly critical".

2005-12-07t21:59:33Z | RE: Health. Politics. U.S.A. (America).
More pharmacists withold emergency pill

I read this article and I decided to bring the up issue of "pharmacists who refuse to give out emergency birth control" with my co-worker because his dad is a pharmacist. His opinion was that if they can't do their job, then they should do another job. This was pretty much my opinion. If they want to preach then they should become preachers.

While we were on the topic he expounded how in the old days pharmacists could give out drugs without a doctor's prescription. So even though pharmacists need years of graduate level training, pharmacist's are now just guards, date checkers, and pill counters? Are doctors taking more classes on medication that the pharmacists used to? Are the doctors checking for drug interaction?

Ill. Pharmacists Withhold Emergency Pill [ChicagoTribune.com/...]

Walgreen, based in Deerfield, Ill., put the four on leave Monday, [a Walgreen's spokesperson Tiffani] Bruce said. She would not identify them. They will remain on unpaid leave "until they either decide to abide by Illinois law or relocate to another state" without such a rule or law. For example, she said, the company would be willing to help them get licensed in Missouri and they could work for Walgreen there. Walgreen policy says pharmacists can refuse to fill prescriptions to which they are morally opposed -- except where state law prohibits -- but they must take steps to have the prescription filled by another pharmacist or store, Bruce said.

2005-12-07t22:25:06Z | RE: Cyber Tech. Google. Programming.
AJAX the great (but not cousin to Achilles)

Last week it hit me that when Google Maps came out, they had actually showcased at least three innovations in one shot. These are three great features that put them steps ahead of the others (like Yahoo! Maps or MapQuest) who have been serving up maps on the webs for years.

  • A GUI (graphical user interface) using drag instead of click.
  • Their GIS (geographical information system) app could display user added metadata.
  • AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) retrieval for a faster experience.

Some people think that "AJAX" is just the latest hype word and that it is simply an acronym for a suite of technologies that have been used together for a while now (like LAMP = Linux/GNU OS, Apache, MySQL, and PHP/PERL/Python), but it's not. Sometimes a buzzword isn't hype. I thought it was an illusion that several sites seemed unusually fast but now it's not a shock once you realize they're using AJAX. AJAX saves trips to the server thus making a web app do what Thomas Edison said: "Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits". I can easily see many site become 50% to 1000% faster.

Here are just a few links on AJAX.

2005-12-07t22:46:26Z | RE: Cyber Life. Geography. Google.
Cool Google Maps

See some nice customized Google Maps at Cool Google Maps [coolgooglemaps.blogspot.com].

2005-12-07t23:01:05Z | RE: A14+. Animated. Funny. Profanity. Violence.
Super Moine/Monks

Sweet innocent Christian monks? Or mighty defenders?

Super Moine [supamonks.free.fr/mov/Movie_Supermoine.mov; SuperMonks]

2005-12-08t16:02:27Z | RE: Engineering. Health. Science.
Good dog DNA, good dog

Dog really is man's best friend. Apparently certain breeds are prone to diseases like cancer and blindness, so comparing the DNA of different breeds makes it easy to find the genetic source of the weakness, and this knowledge can help find similar weaknesses in humans.

Dog DNA May Lead to Cures [technologyreview.com/...]

"It’s 50,000 times easier to find these genes in dogs than in humans," says Elinor Karlsson, a graduate student at Boston University and the Broad Institute, who analyzed dog genomes for the project.

2005-12-09t17:44:07Z | RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Geography. Google. Microsoft.
Microsoft Live is a latecomer

I've been fiddling around with Microsoft's Windows Live [live.com]. Once again Microsoft is late to the party. Windows Live Local [local.live.com] is so freakishly like Google Local (aka Google Maps) [maps.google.com]. No doubt Microsoft may introduce an innovation or two but whenever Microsoft tries to copy Google apps, they make bad imitations. (MSN Search is a glaring example.) It reminds me of the ad campaign about Counterfeit Mini Coopers [counterfeitmini.com]. MS maps stutter: They zoom weirdly and they pan slowly. A side by side comparison of the two is startling. Didn't Microsoft notice it before they released it? Or do they care that they?

There is one nice bug. In Microsoft Internet Explorer, panning is done by holding down the mouse button and dragging for both Google and Microsoft. Panning in Mozilla Firefox also works the same way for Google. However in Mozilla Firefox the panning for Microsoft is done by holding the mouse button down and dragging for a short distance, then you can release the mouse but the map still thinks you're holding the mouse down. I think the effect was unintentional by Microsoft but it's a hair easier on my poor finger muscles.

2005-12-09t19:51:20Z | RE: Faith. Flow. Life. My Creation. Philosophy. Rambling. Science.
Constructed and persisted realities

I've been ruminating over several ideas that I've blanketed under "constructed realities".

Often in my life I start connecting some thoughts together, but my schedule is busy and I end up exploring the thread intermittently. Then I try to wait for a decent gap in my schedule where I can work out and write down the thread, but then the gap never arrives and sadly sometimes the whole chain of thought disappears. On the other hand sometimes I take a small gap and record some of my thoughts. I call the results of these shoveling sessions my "ramblings" or "scribbling".

Of course this is simply a lame excuse for bad writing and half-formed thoughts!

I've previously explored just a bit about how everyone perceives reality using some sort of object model. Some people are aware that they are using an object model but some people think they are seeing reality. This is in one sense related to Plato's allegory of the cave [W], but in my exploration, I am not particularly concerned about theoretical views about metaphysical reality or epistemological knowledge.  What reality is, what we can know of it, philosophical skepticism, scientific skepticism, evil demons, matrices, etc. are not concerns. See  Rather I am merely exploring a pragmatic model. What if I were comfortable with the concept that reality is encapsulated, that we don't know its true nature even though we can interact with it. What if we don't have the capability to know its true nature any more than a blind person can know color or a fish can comprehend alphabets?

Not much really. We already go about making models and constructing realities:

  • Some of us try to pierce into the true nature of reality —and we create models and construct realities while doing so.
  • Some of us are concerned about beauty and truthfulness —and we create models and construct realities while doing so.
  • Some of us are more instinctive or apathetic —and we create models and construct realities while doing so.

What about the non-sentient or things without consciousness, self-awareness? It seems that they participate in "reality" and have no concern about constructed realities. Quite possibly the ability to construct realities is like a definition for sentience (Latin, sentire, "to feel", sapere, "to know"). A dog may miss its master but a plant may crave the sun. Is the former in a constructed reality and the latter in real reality?

What is the distinction between a constructed reality and real reality? A slap in the face is real reality, but a slap in the face by a spouse who has caught you cheating is a real constructed reality, but a slap in the face in a sentence such as this is a constructed constructed reality.

Another thing that seems related to the constructed v real reality issue is the concept of persisted realities. Other words like quality, value, essential, serious, "standing the test of time", appeal, axiology, etc. could also be used but let me just use persistence for now. It seems that a reality will persist if it is either real or truthful. A rock is is not truthful , but it is real (a real reality), and hence persists. A good song is truthful, but it is not real (a constructed reality), and hence tends to persist in a constructed world. A bad song is not truthful, and is not real, and hence tends to not persist in a constructed world. The distinction is between real = true versus beauty = truthful. So then it seems that when John Keats read "Beauty is truth, truth beauty" on a Grecian urn, I would have read "Beauty is truthful, the truthful beautiful", but then I'm not a famous poet.

Anyhow one of the reasons I didn't jot down this post sooner was that I felt compelled to do a little write up on Logic (which, by the way, is an entirely new part of my website). The logic was easy (after all I got an A in logic in college), but the topic of reasoning was what caught my eye. It seems that there are people who want to say that besides deductive and inductive reasoning, there is a third major kind of reasoning: abductive. However after reviewing the topic, I think there are still just two major kinds of reasoning but that inductive reasoning needs some bullet points.

Here is a quote from my own section on Logic:

Reasoning is the act justifying statements. This may involve using and abusing logic —after all, logos, ethos, and pathos form the foundation of rhetoric. Here are the two primary means of reasoning:

  • Deductive reasoning (de- = "from; off; away; apart; away; out") The conclusion is at least as specific as the premises. This is non-amplicative in that it does not add knowledge, but instead only gives information logically from what is known. Deductive reasoning eventually utilizes some assumption of a priori fact.
    • EG: The sun rises everyday. Tomorrow is another day. Hence, the sun will rise tomorrow.
    • EG: I created function sum(x,y) = x+y = z. I know x and y. Hence, I know z.
  • Inductive reasoning (in- = "in; into; within"). The conclusion is more general than the premises. This is amplicative since it creates new knowledge, new a priori knowledge. This requires a posteriori knowledge. There are two levels:
    1. Collecting data and predicting behavior. Let me call this pattern reasoning.
      • EG: I have seen the sun rise every day. Tomorrow is another day. Perhaps the sun will rise tomorrow.
      • EG: I have collected the temperatures (T) of gases at various pressures (P). It seems that T is proportional to P.
      • EG: Given a sufficiently large population P, and having collected different values of attribute A for its various members. Given a particular member M of the population P. Hence we know that M has a probability for various values for attribute A. This is statistics and Bayesian probability.
    2. Collecting data and predicting behavior with an explanation or hypothesis. This is often called abductive reasoning (ab- = "away from". Aka presumptive reasoning). Of course coming up with a hypothesis is just another step —the next step might be to see if the hypothesis can be used to deductively predict things. Abductive reasoning is so important that it is often stated as the third primary kind of reasoning (besides deductive and inductive).
      • EG: The sun is hot and moves. Perhaps a god Helios drives a fiery chariot.
      • EG: T seems to be proportional to P. Perhaps increasing T excites molecules and makes them move faster.
    3. Collecting data and creating something that is truthful and appealing if not necessarily true. Note that such creations are still subject to testing because otherwise nonsense or worse is created. Let me call this creative reasoning.
      • EG: Any great creative fictional work —including some works that weren't intentionally fictional— has been tested by many people.
      • EG: Cooking, sewing, dancing, racing, fighting, etc. must be experienced and evaluated.

The recognition of a pattern and jumping to a conclusion is intuitive and inductive even though some of us may be able to go back and show a deductive line of reasoning. Trial and error is also used in obtaining knowledge but then we're wandering into epistemology again. Induction requires exposure to related data as well as seemingly unrelated data.

If you follow deductive reasoning down through the three levels of inductive reasoning, there seems to be a trend from mechanical to creative, or from real to beautiful. Clearly such a trend from mechanical to creative is important in fields such as artificial intelligence. It is also clear, that advancements and new ideas need not only deep study in particular fields but a lot of cross-field explorations, hence the importance of systems theory. It is also an interesting connection between logic, metaphysics, epistemology, and, surprisingly, aesthetics. (The fourth major field of philosophy, ethics, might be included if you consider good behavior as truthful and beautiful).

FYI: As far as I know, bulleting inductive reasoning into three kinds and ordering them in that fashion is my own original idea. So are the names of pattern reasoning and creative reasoning.

As I've implied, human beings are very good at constructing realities and that we do it all the time, but I want to stress the importance of merely being aware that we do it. This idea is so widely applicable that I'm just going to ramble a bit and jot down some applications.

Games are constructed realities too. I also like the definition that games are a series of interesting choices and that many many things are actually games, but the definition is not important. Good games are truthful. There is a quality to a good game that satisfies, and once a good game is experienced, many desire to have another good game unfold. Fostering and enabling good games is a big business that includes sports, video games, martial arts, and more typical toys and game. Players of games are well aware that these are constructed realities. The rules of football are fabricated as much as a cyber game.

Sexuality is real in the sense that there are real bodies and genitals, but for human beings sexuality is largely a constructed reality. A man may construct a reality where women are sex objects and he may have a hard time seeing women as anything else on a regular basis. A more sophisticated sexual person may see sexuality as one dimension of character, interaction, etc. If anything the multi-dimensionality of a sexual partner, the complexity of story may enrich sexual encounters.

Getting out of bed. When you're waking up, you're half in another reality. Sometimes the other reality is compelling and you may have a hard time getting out of bed.

"Eighty percent of success is showing up." -Woody Allen. This applies in many fields since data is collected by mere presence. A lot of times I work simply by looking at stuff and playing with it.

Computers and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are all about constructed realities. What I find interesting is that computers can be tools by humans for induction but the computers themselves are purely deductive. Inductive computers, robots, and AI is the key.

Politics deals with constructed realities. Facts occur (statements, events, reports, polls, etc.) happen, but politicians are notorious for spinning facts, "framing" issues, timing news releases, planting talking points, etc. It's all fair game.

Art and stories are clearly constructed realities. While realism is important, I think that truthfulness is far more important. EG: An ordinary photo versus a soulful painting. Of course other factors such as topically matching the audience, timelessness, novelty, design factors (like unity and rhythm), etc., contribute to the ranking of the quality of a work.

Science and Religion both satisfactorily examine and influence your constructed reality: thunder and harvest, thoughts and habits, heaven and hell, past, present, and future, but science tries to be secular and free of a mystical basis (besides math :), whereas religion a mystical basis. Furthermore, religion has historical and cultural fixations, whereas science honors its scientists but honors their ideas even more.

Sci-Fi possible future thought experiment:

What if there was a catastrophe large enough to threaten humanity but not wipe it out? What if we had a very long dark age? What if  a meteoroid struck earth that put us into survival mode for a very long and dark age? The science camp would eventually reconstruct itself (since it is built upon empirical evidence and reasoning), but all the names such as Newton, Einstein, and Darwin would be lost. The religion camp would also eventually reconstruct itself (since it is built upon human experience and enlightenment), but all the names such as Abraham, Jesus, and Mohammad would be lost. Scientists today could live in such a rebuilt future (happy that the fundamental ideas remain), but many of the religious today would have problems accepting such a future without their familiar mystical people, cultural and historical textures. On the other hand many Buddhists might be fine because some Buddhists are more like philosophical than mystical.

I do not want to leave the impression that the two constructed realities of science and religion cannot co-exist. Religion can be very pragmatic and satisfying. Socially religion provides a framework for births, marriages, poverty, sickness, funerals, and other important life events that are truthful and helpful. Science usually has no conflict with the ideas of religion —no more than science would have conflict with a truthful (realistic or not) work of art. More important than religious conflicts with science over cosmology or natural phenomena, is when religion becomes a mystical tool for unethical behavior.

 


  • Science is all about building a constructed reality that is constantly and objectively tested against the real in open discussion. Religion also
  • Science usually has no conflict with the ideas of religion —no more than science would have conflict with a truthful (realistic or not) work of fiction. Religion has nothing to fear from science as long as religion remains truthful (if not necessarily realistic).
  • Science is all about freedom: reproducible empirical evidence and testing and logic and reasoning is rock solid invincible because its open and free.
  • Religion and science both examine and influence your constructed reality: thunder and harvest, thoughts and habits, heaven and hell, past, present, and future, but science tries to be secular and free of any mystical basis (besides math :), whereas religion has a mystical basis. I do not see a conflict with science/rationality/empiricism against religion/spirituality/experience. Both camps seek to be truthful, both seek to satisfy.

Science is particularly productive with abductive reasoning while religion is productive with creative reasoning. This is one of the draws of this topic for me, especially in light of this silly resurgence of Intelligent Design. I do not see a conflict with science/rationality/empiricism against religion/spirituality/experience. Both camps seek to be truthful, both seek to satisfy. Both camps live in constructed realities. Both have a past knowledge base, a present practice, and a desire to persist into the future. The issue I think lies in persistence.

Science usually has no conflict with the ideas of religion —no more than science would have conflict with a truthful (realistic or not) work of fiction. Science is all about freedom: reproducible empirical evidence and testing and logic and reasoning is rock solid invincible because its open and free. Science and religion both examine and influence your constructed reality: thunder and harvest, thoughts and habits, heaven and hell, past, present, and future, but science tries to be secular and free of any mystical basis (besides math), whereas religion has a mystical basis. Science is not against goodness, or marriage, or ethics, or spirituality, or politics, or fiction, or tastes, or holidays, or religious freedom, or feelings, or creativity, or art, or most truthful-based constructed realities. Science is only concerned about building its reality-tested constructed reality.

2005-12-09t20:29:54Z | RE: A14+. Comics. Crude. Funny. Images. NSFW. Profanity. Q09.
The real Bizarro Superman

NSFW because I had a hard time stopping myself from snorting. Very funny stuff. I love the reuse of original art.

Superman Origin Comics [jaypinkerton.com/blog/archives/001320.html] [via metafilter.com/mefi/47449]

[COMIC: Suprman's babyhood]

2005-12-09t20:31:11Z | RE: Cyber Life.
Yahoo! bought del.icio.us

They must have done a good job of proving the concept.

Yahoo! bought del.icio.us. [blog.del.icio.us/blog/2005/12/yahoo.html]

2005-12-09t21:14:09Z | RE: A04+. Cyber Life. Flash. Make. Play.
Build a snowman online

Simple, kid consumable, Flash activity.

Snowfun [kilogramme.co.uk/snowgallery/]

2005-12-10t03:55:27Z | RE: Conservation. U.S.A. (America). World.
Clinton: Bush is flat wrong on Kyoto

Yes human induced climate change is real and doing something about it, like Kyoto, is helpful not  harmful.

Bush 'Flat Wrong' on Kyoto [wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,69800,00.html?tw=rss.TOP]

Former President Clinton told a global audience of diplomats, environmentalists and others Friday that the Bush administration is "flat wrong" in claiming that reducing greenhouse-gas emissions to fight global warming would damage the U.S. economy. With a "serious disciplined effort" to develop energy-saving technology, he said, "we could meet and surpass the Kyoto targets in a way that would strengthen and not weaken our economies."

Clinton, a champion of the Kyoto Protocol, the existing emissions-controls agreement opposed by the Bush administration, spoke in the final hours of a two-week U.N. climate conference at which Washington has come under heavy criticism for its stand. Most delegations appeared ready Friday to leave an unwilling United States behind and open a new round of negotiations on future cutbacks in the emissions blamed for global warming. "There's no longer any serious doubt that climate change is real, accelerating and caused by human activities," said Clinton, whose address was interrupted repeatedly by enthusiastic applause. "We are uncertain about how deep and the time of arrival of the consequences, but we are quite clear they will not be good."

In the real work of the conference, delegates from more than 180 countries bargained behind closed doors until 6:30 a.m. Friday, making final adjustments to an agreement to negotiate additional reductions in carbon dioxide and other gases after 2012, when the Kyoto accord expires.

2005-12-12t15:41:30Z | RE: Cyber Tech.
Folksonomy needs more people

All these folksonomy and popularity sites are interesting but they have a long way to go. The problem isn't the technology, rather the problem is that they're not popular enough. There are many popularity and folksonomy sites, but even the most popular of these (like del.icio.us or Flickr.com) have such a tiny portion of the general population. EG: If you look at the del.icio.us/popular/ links, there is a heavy computer tech orientation. That might be fine for the people with that orientation, but what about the general populace? Perhaps Yahoo's recent buy out of del.icio.us will bring the masses to folksonomy and then we can get links that are of greater interest to everyone instead of just tech geeks. Even tech geeks might like that.

2005-12-12t22:55:56Z | RE: Programming. Words.
A programmers bookshelf

Pretty nifty but it would be better if they had links to online versions of the books.

A Programmers Bookshelf [simtec.co.uk/appnotes/AN0017/]

2005-12-12t22:57:08Z | RE: Art. Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Images.
Digital art tips

I love open source and sharing. Here are some digital art techniques, tips, and how-tos.

Art Technique [epilogue.net/art/tech]

2005-12-12t23:00:11Z | RE: A02+. Cyber Life. Funny. Images.
Unbearably cute

One of the most sickeningly sweet things I have ever seen.

Cute Overload [cuteoverload.com]

At Cute Overload, we scour the Web for only the finest in Cute Imagery. Imagery that is Worth Your Internet Browsing Time. We offer an overwhelming amount of cuteness to fill your daily visual allowance. Drink it in!

2005-12-12t23:06:44Z | RE: Cyber Life.
50 coolest sites by Time magazine

I almost didn't post this because most of the links are obvious but I had almost forgotten that these links may not be as obvious to others.

50 Coolest Websites [time.com/time/techtime/200406/news.html] or jump right to the entire list.

2005-12-12t23:13:37Z | RE: Skype. eBay. Communication. Cyber Tech.
Skype wiggling in

The telephony thing (aka voice over IP) never quite took off. I was hoping that Google IM would do it but they haven't yet. Anyhow the point is moot because Skype (skype.com and Skype [W]; owned by eBay.com) is making it happen. This should get big soon and impact the already hurting land line industry.

One of our co-workers was in Asia and she patched in to a teleconference from her hotel just fine. Now my co-workers are hooked.

Skype has four major services:

  • Skype. Lets you talk to other Skype users via computer. Sound quality is as good as regular phones. Free.
  • SkypeOut. Let's you call regular phones via Skype. Fee.
  • SkypeIn. Gives your a real phone number that you can answer via Skype. Fee.
  • Skype Voicemail. Voicemail for your Skype. Fee.

2005-12-13t22:05:28Z | RE: .NET. PHP. Java. Programming.
Java slipping

They're not saying Java is dead, but that it's fading.

Java? It's So Nineties [businessweek.com/technology/content/dec2005/tc20051213_042973.htm] [slashdot.org/...]

Reports by Evans Data Corp., which does annual surveys of the activities of software developers, show Java use is slipping as LAMP and Microsoft's (MSFT) .NET technology gain traction. In North America, the percentage of developers who use Java as one of their principal programming languages declined to 47.9 in Evans' fall survey, vs. 51.4% in the fall of 2002. The same surveys show that while Java use is climbing in Asia, it's on the decline in Europe. Meanwhile, .NET usage increased to 54.1% from 40.3% in the same period in North America, and exceeded Java use in Europe and Asia. In a different survey series, the use of PHP in North America grew to 36.1% this fall, from 26% in the fall of 2003. It grew almost as quickly in Europe and Asia. "There's more competition out there," says Evans President John Andrews. "These other technologies are catching hold. They're biting away at [Java's] share."

2005-12-13t22:16:58Z | RE: Nature. Science.
Narwhal nooky

Silly me. I thought they were rapiers for rubbing backs.

Horny and sensitive! [metafilter.com/mefi/47566]

The narwhal, often termed "The Unicorn of the Sea," has a really odd tusk. It's long, spiraled, and there's only one of 'em per animal. Its purpose has been disputed for ages, but at long last, it seems that the answer has been found. And it's pretty damn cool.

[PHOTO: A Narwhal salute]

2005-12-13t22:45:47Z | RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Funny.
Top 10 sys admin truths

Oldies but oh so true. A fun, good read too.

Top 10 System Administrator Truths [misterorange.com/2005/12/top-10-system-administrator-truths.html] [slashdot.org/...]

SPOILER (on my site the following is faded out):

Here's the short list without the details.

  1. Users Lie
  2. Email is the Lifeblood of Non-Techies
  3. Printers Suck
  4. Cleanliness is Godliness
  5. Backups are Crucial
  6. Switches and Hubs (Usually) Die One Port At A Time
  7. No One Ever Got Fired For Buying Microsoft
  8. Politeness > Brevity
  9. Know Your Needs
  10. The Holy Grail of Tech Support is the reboot.

2005-12-13t23:31:53Z | RE: Chicago. Food. Q10.
How to Make a Chicago Hot Dog

Beautiful, beautiful. The how-to got every detail in. I love how they mention no ketchup multiple times. I, of course, have been at the source (the Vienna factory near Damen and Fullerton) many a time.

[SIGN: Chicago Vienna Hot Dog]

How to Make a Chicago Hot Dog [wiki.ehow.com/Make-a-Chicago-Hot-Dog]

It's so good that I'm going to copy the whole thing:

Steps:

  1. Gently steam a poppy-seed hot dog bun until giving to the touch, but not soggy.
  2. Place a Vienna Beef hot dog (steamed or charred) into the bun.
  3. Coat hot dog in a thin layer of yellow mustard.
  4. Sprinkle with chopped onion (grilled or raw).
  5. Spoon relish over onion.
  6. Lay three sport peppers lengthwise.
  7. Garnish with tomato wedges, crisp pickle spear, and celery salt to taste.

Tips:

  • Use only Vienna Beef hot dogs. There is no substitute for those seeking a genuine Chicago hot dog.
  • Use only yellow mustard. Use of ketchup is not recommended.
  • Relish should be of a neon-green hue.
  • Some purists argue that only tomato "wedges" rather than the slices photographed above should be used.

Warnings:

  • Never, never use ketchup on a Chicago hot dog. A purist won't even have a bottle of ketchup in the same room.
  • If you must have ketchup, then have them with your fries. It should not even need to be said, but the fries should be seeping with grease and well salted.

I added that last warning about ketchup and fries!!

2005-12-13t23:32:23Z | RE: Movies. Politics. U.S.A. (America).
A 9/11 move by Oliver Stone and Nicholas Cage

Is America ready for this? I don't know but you knew that it was inevitable.

Oliver Stone Set to Direct a Movie About the Events of 9/11 [movies.about.com/od/cagenicholas/a/911movie070805.htm] [via watchblog.com/republicans/archives/003018.html]

As a Democrat, I should get some brownie points for learning about this from reading a Republican site.

2005-12-14t18:40:25Z | RE: My Creation. Philosophy. Rambling.
My philosophy blurb

I've updated my little blurb on my philosophy in my About Me page. Here it is for archival purposes.

Epistemologically skeptical but hopeful. Deduction & induction, analysis & synthesis. I'm an empiricist, realist, and rationalist, but I love ideas. Nihilism is moot. Beauty is truthful. The singularity will occur because we can't help ourselves. "The Conversation" is important. We're seek to explore, clarify, and satisfy not obfuscate or lie.

2005-12-14t19:29:44Z | RE: Conservation. Engineering. Science.
Digging for hydrogen gold

I think that the odds are good that we'll find real gold amongst all the fool's gold.

The Hydrogen Gold Rush Is On [wired.com/...]

The last two years has seen a boom in hydrogen investment. In 2003, President Bush announced that the federal government would invest $1.2 billion into hydrogen over the next five years. General Motors has said it is spending at least a billion dollars on hydrogen and fuel-cell technologies, and companies like BP, Chevron and Shell are also making significant investments. All that money has spawned a gold rush of inventors, all seeking the mother lode of cheap hydrogen. There's plenty of fool's gold in the dash for the moolah, and marvelous hydrogen inventions are shaping up as the perpetual-motion machines of a new age.

2005-12-14t19:31:04Z | RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Google. Programming.
Google Homepage API now available

This should be fun. Now developers can make new modules that everyone can add to their personalized Google Homepage. I expect some fun ones but I also hope to see some useful ones too.

Google Homepage API [google.com/apis/homepage] and see the directory of some that have already been created.

2005-12-15t16:21:52Z | RE: Cyber Tech. Engineering.
Multicore coming

Soon multicore won't be just for the hardcore.

Multicore Mania [technologyreview.com/InfoTech/wtr_16015,294,p1.html?trk=nl]

Intel and AMD, the top industry rivals, have already introduced dual-core chips for desktop PCs. And that’s just the start of a trend that could bring an important change to PCs: multicore processing. Both of these leading chipmakers hope to pack four cores into desktop PC chips by 2007. And Intel researchers are investigating how to put tens or even hundreds of cores onto a single chip. Both chipmakers and PC makers need multicore chips for an important reason: they’ve run out of performance headroom on existing designs. (For years, chipmakers have added transistors and ratcheted up clock speeds to make processors run faster. But clock speeds can be increased only so much before a chip radiates too much heat inside the PC case.) But why does the average PC user need two, four, or eight cores on a chip? For starters, think multitasking. “I call multitasking the silent ‘killer app’,” says Shane Rau, program manager for semiconductor research at market-research firm IDC. “Today, all the apps we’re using are nickel-and-diming the processor to death.”

2005-12-15t16:22:33Z | RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech.
My next computer

My current laptop works very reliably and I love it, but it has a few problems.

  • The screen hangs on by one hinge.
  • The screen has a few permanent fingerprints.
  • Many of the keyboard keys have been rubbed off.
  • The single USB port is only USB 1.1.
  • The touchpad is disabled. (I did this after discussing it with Dell tech support years ago.)

There's always an excuse to put off buying a new computer. Here's what I want:

  • A huge widescreen that can pitch, yaw, and roll, and is pressure sensitive. Perhaps a way to roll it into a scroll or rod.
  • Massive RAM —perhaps a TB or so.
  • Massive storage space —many TBs.
  • Huge caches.
  • Wireless hyperfast connection available anywhere. Including secure access to massive personal storage.
  • Multicore, multithreading chips and apps.
  • Whatever comes after USB 2 and FireWire 800.
  • Wicked graphic and audio cards.
  • Read and write CDs, DVDs, and whatever comes next.
  • Instant on/off. Like a lamp.
  • More free (gratis and libre) software.
  • Runs at a lower temperature.
  • Retractable full-size keyboard, mice, cameras, scanners, earphone, and microphone —or a better way to do it without them.
  • Everything spill-proof and extremely sturdy.
  • And the whole thing has to be light.

Perhaps put most of it as a nanocomputer in my head. Imagine having perfect memory. I could re-hear, re-watch, re-smell, re-experience, etc. And I could download other stuff too.

However I'm getting a new laptop soon and I would be perfectly satisfied with more RAM and a slightly larger and unbroken screen. I sure hope it is reliable too.

2005-12-15t19:55:35Z | RE: Cyber Tech. Google.
Google blip

2005-12-15t19:32:03Z (11:32 CST). Google Personalized Homepage (GPH) was down for a minute or two or enough time to make me nervous and test it. I'm pretty sure it wasn't my imagination. Google was working, Gmail was taking my login, but GPH was not. It's up now but it still shakes my faith.

I wonder if it has anything to do with their recently added Google Music Search (GMS) [google.com/musicsearch]? The GMS is also accessible via regular Google only for some searches. EG: A regular Google search for "Sting" brings up a link that leads to the GMS search for "Sting"; However, a regular Google search for "Ten Summoner's Tales" does not bring a link that leads to the GMS search for "Ten Summoner's Tales". I like how they just slipped it in there, no beta or anything, as if it's been there all along. (BTW: Non-Google music searches are quite worth too. There's Yahoo! Musci [music.yahoo.com], but Lycos and AltaVista in particular return links to the actual songs as opposed to lins to where you can buy the songs.

In a slightly related matter: Picasa [Picasa.Google.com], Google's free image manager, can manage graphics and video but not audio. This makes me think that Google must have some plans for audio and music, since this is such a hole in Picasa. Why not have a single app to manage your graphics, video, and audio?

2005-12-16t16:43:34Z | RE: Cyber Tech. Open Source. Wikimedia.
Possible Wikipedia reactions

I've been largely ignoring the noise created by the recent Wikipedia class action lawsuit, because I know that the beloved Wikipedia will pull through this. However, finally some interesting solutions are being raised.

The Wikipedia War [technologyreview.com/InfoTech/wtr_16057,308,p1.html?trk=nl]

And this week, a site called WikipediaClassAction.org went live, soliciting feedback and, more significantly, instances of monetary damages caused by Wikipedia. Their goal is to launch a class-action lawsuit against the site. When I called the phone number listed on that site, the person who answered refused to give his name, then rattled off a long series of allegations against Wikipedia. The charges felt specious to me, and were quite vitriolic.

A quick piece of sleuthing turned up a likely explanation: Baou.com also runs an organization called QuakeAid, the Wikipedia entry for which cites some questionable circumstances surrounding the organization and its founders. Furthermore, some of the anti-Wikipedia articles found on Official Wire are written by “Jennifer Monroe,” the same name listed as having registered the domain WikipediaClassAction.org.

Although Baou's actions imply a multi-pronged revenge campaign, some anti-Wikipedians appear to have more reasonable complaints. Daniel Brandt, the man behind wikipedia-watch.org (and also Google-watch.org), says that until Wikipedia drops its policy of allowing anonymous posts and edits, the quality of the site will suffer. “For research purposes you ought to be able to find [authors],” he says. But Brandt, too, has a personal reason to be upset with Wikipedia. He admits his opposition to the site came after he learned that it included a page about him with links he considered unflattering. Brandt was a prominent draft resister in the 1960s.

In any case, Wales [founder of Wikipedia] insists that the vast majority of the articles on the site are correct, and that anonymity isn’t the issue. Still, he's working on other measures aimed at eliminating the possibility of false information being added.

One is a “holding zone,” where contentious information or topics -- those prone to vandalization -- can be queued for review before going live. Another is a community-based rating system, scheduled to go live on January 1, 2006. Wales says he’s also considering soliciting experts to submit ratings on articles, to see how those ratings jibe with the community’s.

A couple of years ago, Wales suggested to the Wikipedia board that they adopt a “real name” policy, similar to Amazon.com’s review system. At Amazon, anyone can review a book; but after the site was hit with allegations that authors were writing glowing reviews of their own books and slamming competitors’ works, Amazon decided that giving people the option to use their real names -- and having Amazon certify it with a “Real Name” logo beneath it -- would lend credibility. The Wikipedia board rejected the idea a few years ago; but today Wales thinks “anything’s possible.”

2005-12-16t17:12:04Z | RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Firefox.
Firefox extensions I use

Just for archival purposes here are the Mozilla Firefox extensions that I currently use. It would be cool to see some of these incorporated into future versions of Firefox. There are of course many other extensions.

Firefox by Mozilla.org. A free (gratis) browser.  Extensions at: https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/ and http://extensionroom.mozdev.org/

  • Must have extensions
    • All-in-One Gestures. Navigate and stuff with mouse gestures.
    • FirefoxView. View pages and links loaded into IE in Firefox.
    • Gmail Delete Button. Awesome but the button is so very close to the "Archive" button.
    • IEView. Open pages is IE via Firefox menus.
    • Leet Key. 'Transforms typed or static text to L337, ROT13, BASE64, HEX, URL, BIN, Morse code, DVORAK keyboard layout and to lower/to upper case functionality.' See the User Manual [leetkey.mozdev.org/user-manual.html].
    • PDF Download. 'Allows to choose whether you want to view a PDF file inside the browser (as PDF or HTML) or you want to download it!'
    • Resize Search Box. Sweet!
    • Sage. A lightweight RSS and Atom feed aggregator.
    • Save Image in Folder. Reduces all that "Save As..." navigation.
    • Split Screen. Adds context menu entries to open the current page in a new split window.
    • Tabbrowser Preferences. Search bar can open in new tab, etc.
    • Tab X. Adds a close button to each tab.
    • undoclosetab. As it says. --> 2005-11-30: Alas! Not available for Firefox 1.5 yet.
    • Zoomy. Toolbar buttons to increase, decrease and reset the text size. --> 2005-11-30: Alas! Not available for Firefox 1.5 yet.
  • Nice extensions
    • Colorful Tabs. As it says.
    • DerBrowserTimer. timer/clock/alarm.
    • Greasemonkey. 'lets you to add bits of DHTML ("user scripts") to any webpage to change it's behavior.'
    • miniT. Tab drag and drop. Wheel through tabs. Double-click on tabs opens new tab. Only Dorando's original miniT is compatible with Dorando's undoclosetab. --> 2005-11-30: Became unnecessary with Firefox v1.5.
    • Mozilla Archive Format. Save web pages as single files (like MHTML).
    • My IP Tool. View local & public IP (in lower right).
    • Sunbird. Aka Mozilla Calendar.
    • Wikipedia. Wikipedia.Mozdev.org. 'The Wikipedia extension makes editing of Wikipedia pages easier by adding a new toolbar to your browser and by providing new menu items in the context menu (right mouse key).'  --> 2005-11-30: Alas! Not available for Firefox 1.5 yet.
    • xscroll. Enables horizontal scrolling by single mousewheel. Not available anymore?

2005-12-19t16:42:40Z | RE: Cyber Tech. Engineering.
Refactoring the Internet

A refactor of the Internet is also a good excuse to upgrade to IPv6. The idea of taking an evolved system and trying to make it into a designed system is intriguing (and reminiscent of artificial intelligence).

The Internet is Broken [technologyreview.com/InfoTech/wtr_16051,258,p1.html?trk=nl]

In his office within the gleaming-stainless-steel and orange-brick jumble of MIT's Stata Center, Internet elder statesman and onetime chief protocol architect David D. Clark prints out an old PowerPoint talk. Dated July 1992, it ranges over technical issues like domain naming and scalability. But in one slide, Clark points to the Internet's dark side: its lack of built-in security. In others, he observes that sometimes the worst disasters are caused not by sudden events but by slow, incremental processes -- and that humans are good at ignoring problems. "Things get worse slowly. People adjust," Clark noted in his presentation. "The problem is assigning the correct degree of fear to distant elephants."

NSF [National Science Foundation] managers are working to forge a five-to-seven-year plan estimated to cost $200 million to $300 million in research funding to develop clean-slate architectures that provide security, accommodate new technologies, and are easier to manage. They also hope to develop an infrastructure that can be used to prove that the new system is really better than the current one. "If we succeed in what we are trying to do, this is bigger than anything we, as a research community, have done in computer science so far," says Guru Parulkar, an NSF program manager involved with the effort. "In terms of its mission and vision, it is a very big deal. But now we are just at the beginning. It has the potential to change the game. It could take it to the next level in realizing what the Internet could be that has not been possible because of the challenges and problems."

The system functions as well as it does only because of "the forbearance of the virus authors themselves," says Jonathan Zittrain, who cofounded the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School and holds the Chair in Internet Governance and Regulation at the University of Oxford. "With one or two additional lines of code...the viruses could wipe their hosts' hard drives clean or quietly insinuate false data into spreadsheets or documents. Take any of the top ten viruses and add a bit of poison to them, and most of the world wakes up on a Tuesday morning unable to surf the Net -- or finding much less there if it can."

2005-12-19t16:59:37Z | RE: Cyber Life. Mac. Microsoft.
Mirosoft drops Mac IE

As if Mac users needed another reason to hate Microsoft. Or is it really the Mac users rejecting Microsoft? I imagine that when MSIE 7 comes out for Windows, it will be a Bizarro imitation of Mozilla Firefox.

Microsoft drops Mac IE [news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-6000919.html?tag=zdnn.alert]

The minority of Mac users still browsing with Internet Explorer need to consider moving to another browser very quickly, as Microsoft plans to discontinue support for IE beginning Dec. 31.

While IE for Mac will continue to be available for another month after support ends, Microsoft is advising all users to move to "more recent browsing technology such as Apple's Safari."

2005-12-19t18:41:21Z | RE: Cyber Life. NSFW. Sex.
Pedophiles and webcams

I was almost too squeamish to read this but sometimes I read "distasteful" stuff if the issue is important. EG: Sometimes I read Republican content. Gasp But seriously though, I'm pretty tolerant of what an adult or child does alone, or what an adult does with another consenting adult, but kids aren't truly consenting so I don't tolerate adult/child sex or pornography that well.

I teach my kids to be courageous and to explore the world including the Internet, but I also teach them to be street smart and to come to us if there's anything doubtful. I also ask them what's going on too.

Kudos on this "intervention" by the New York Times that led to an FBI arrest of a pedophile.

Pedophiles Enrich and Molest A Boy (Thanks to his Webcam) [metafilter.com/mefi/47714]

Through his Webcam, A Boy Joins A Sordid Online World Justin Berry got a webcam when he was 13. Within an hour of his setting it up, a pedophile found him. More followed. They paid him, and he performed. He earned hundreds of thousands of dollars and lots of gifts, including webcams with better resolution which his new "friends" ordered him from his (presumably now abandoned) Amazon wish list and an apartment from which he could perform and not be bothered by Mom. He soon was persuaded by his "fans" to make lucrative in-person appearances so they could molest him, and he also started his own personal subscription service. More inside...

The MetaFilter thread also pointed out some interesting links:

Candy from strangers [salon.com/tech/feature/2001/08/13/cam_girls/]

Teen webcams have met the e-commerce version of the wedding registry -- the wish list. And the result of this virtual marriage is an online beg-fest that makes it easy to take candy from strangers on the Internet. Kids as young as 15 are getting into the act of asking for handouts online -- toy and books and CDs and, of course, webcams -- so their online fans can get an even better look at them.

Kristof in Cambodia [dailykos.com/story/2005/1/23/11715/4662]

Nicholas Kristof "purchased" the freedom of two Cambodian teen prostitutes, Srey Neth and Srey Mom...and went back, one year later, having given some help from afar, to see how they were doing....the multimedia presentation is a documentary that tells their stories, but decidedly from Kristof's point of view...

2005-12-19t18:45:24Z | RE: Culture. Cyber Tech. Images.
Retouching activity

Lots of interactive fun! Retouching predates computers, but computers made it easier.

However, enjoying beautiful people is similar to enjoying good food: Don't go into the kitchen, you may not want to know how they do it. The same idea applies to other things such as laws or software.

Also some people look better in person than in photos and vice versa.

Retouch [demo.fb.se/e/girlpower/retouch/retouch/index.html] [Flash activity] [via metafilter.com/mefi/47712]

2005-12-19t18:57:49Z | RE: Health. Politics. U.S.A. (America).
The Medical Malpractice Myth by Tom Baker

Medical malpractice is such a polarizing issue so here's a book that has cites many major studies.

2005-12-19t19:25:02Z | RE: Politics. U.S.A. (America).
Ownership society

I'm so hesitant to post anything political these days because so much of it is blatant that they "other side" is doing a much better job of shooting themselves in the foot than anything I might say. That said here's one from the echo chamber:

Bush's Ownership Society: Why No One's Buying [washingtonmonthly.com/features/2005/0512.glastris.html] By Paul Glastris

Americans love the idea of choice—in the abstract. But when faced with the actual choices conservatives present, they aren't buying. The reason is that conservatives have constructed choices that fail to take human nature into account. People like to have choices but feel quickly overwhelmed when they lack the information or expertise to decide confidently, and they turn downright negative when the choices themselves seem to put what they already have at risk. Conservatives were bound to make these mistakes because their very aim has been to transfer more risks from government to individuals so that government's size and expenditures can be cut. That's not a bargain most Americans will accept. They like choice just fine, but they won't trade security to get it.

There are plenty of good reasons, then, for progressives to embrace the idea of designing more choice and individual control into government programs. But doing so means facing down some major opposition—from corporations that don't want to be regulated to liberal interest groups that often oppose choice initiatives. Liberals also have to stop accepting the right-wing proposition that choice and empowerment are somehow inherently conservative ideas. But it's conservatives who face the bigger obstacle. They are committed to a strategy of using choice as a Trojan horse to undermine government, yet it's impossible to make choice work in the real world without strong measures from government. With choice, as with so much else, conservative have mastered the art of winning elections with abstract language voters agree with, even as they push policies voters don't much like. They can't pull that trick off forever. At some point, conservatives themselves are going to have to make a choice. 

2005-12-20t15:46:08Z | RE: Cyber Life. Wikimedia.
Wikipedia founder edits himself

Yes, it's childish, political, and petty —but it's fun. It's the geek equivalent of the celebrity magazines you find at the grocery line. Also there's no real cruelty and Wikipedia is better for it.

Wikipedia Founder Edits Own Bio [wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,69880,00.html?tw=rss.TOP]

Public edit logs reveal that Wales has changed his own Wikipedia bio 18 times, deleting phrases describing former Wikipedia employee Larry Sanger as a co-founder of the site. Wales has also repeatedly revised the description of a search site he founded called Bomis, which included a section with adult photos called "Bomis Babes."

Ha ha! This will only provide more hits for bomis.com.

2005-12-20t22:47:06Z | RE: Faith. Science. U.S.A. (America).
Intelligent Designed banned

Good news! Science and faith are not enemies.

US judge bans teaching intelligent design at school [reuters.co.uk/...]

A [federal] judge on Tuesday barred the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution at a Pennsylvania school, saying in a scathing rebuke to the school board that it violated a constitutional ban on teaching religion in public schools. The ruling by U.S. District Judge John Jones dealt a blow to Christian conservatives who have been pressing for the teaching of creationism in schools and who played a significant role in the re-election of President George W. Bush

Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District [W]

In 2004 the Dover Board of Education passed a resolution requiring ninth grade biology teachers to read the following statement:

The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn about Darwin’s theory of evolution and eventually to take a standardized test of which evolution is a part.

Because Darwin's Theory is a theory, it is still being tested as new evidence is discovered. The Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.

Intelligent design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin's view. The reference book, Of Pandas and People is available for students to see if they would like to explore this view in an effort to gain an understanding of what intelligent design actually involves.

As is true with any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind. The school leaves the discussion of the origins of life to individual students and their families. As a standards-driven district, class instruction focuses upon preparing students to achieve proficiency on standards-based assessments. [5]

2005-12-21t16:10:41Z | RE: China. Economy. U.S.A. (America). World.
The China game

Lately my kids have been playing a game where they check just about everything to see if it was made in China. I knew a lot was made in China but this little game surprised me. It seemed like 95% of the things they checked were made in China.

I also just wanted to jot down some references about China's growth.

Limitless Possibilities [fool.com/news/commentary/2005/commentary05122011.htm]

What's compelling today? China. This country of 1.3 billion people boasts 20-year gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 9.5% and shows no sign of slowing. To compare, the United States -- the most powerful economy in the world -- has posted long-term GDP growth of approximately 3%. Read that again. China is growing more than three times faster than the United States.Moreover, it seems like almost every major U.S. company is tripping over itself to establish market share there.

That's amazing! I thought it was 10% over 10 years but they're saying it's been 20 years of 9.5% every year. That means that $100 invested in China 20 years ago would now be worth $614, while the same amount in America would only be worth $180.

China Says Economy Much Bigger Than Thought [washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/20/AR2005122000498.html]

A new survey of China's economy boosted its official output for 2004 by 16.8 percent by taking into account emerging service businesses, the government said. It said services' share of the economy rose sharply, while that of manufacturing fell. The results show China's mainland replacing Italy as the world's 6th-largest economy, trailing Britain and France. China would jump to No. 4, behind only the United States, Japan and Germany, if it added in Hong Kong, which reports its economic figures separately.

The new data put China's 2004 gross domestic product, the broadest measure of trade in goods and services, at nearly 16 trillion yuan ($2 trillion). That was up 2.3 trillion yuan ($285 billion) from numbers previously reported. "Based on these figures, we can have even more confidence in our long-term fairly fast and sustained economic growth," Li Deshui, director of the statistics bureau, said at a news conference.

Even more important could be the finding that Chinese consumers are spending much more than previously thought, fueling economic growth and reducing reliance on exports, economists said. Based on the new data, exports fell from 34 percent of the economy to 29 percent, cutting China's "very high export dependency," Jun Ma, chief economist for Greater China at Deutsche Bank, said in a research report. Ma's report said such evidence of strong consumer spending could encourage planners to stimulate even more growth in services, creating new opportunities for foreign investors.

Isn't it nice to find loose change that you didn't know you had? Their $285 billion loose change is roughly ten times their annual military budget (roughly $30 billion or 1.7% of GDP). In the mean time the U.S. has an annual military budget of over $420 billion (4.2e11 USD, or 3.7% of  GDP, or roughly half of all military spending on the planet). Figures via China's military spending [W].

China will look sweet by the time the Olympics get there in 2008.

2005-12-21t16:22:50Z | RE: Flash. Play. Politics. U.S.A. (America).
NSA good old days

O dear. Will the NSA ever regain its wholesome pre-Bush image? Will parents ever lose the fear of being wire-tapped if their kids check out the Kids Page at the NSA [nsa.gov/kids]?

Listening in and Naming Names [metafilter.com/mefi/47772]

Listening In and Naming Names "...The press tends to shy away from covering America's largest and most secretive intelligence agency, fearing precisely the kind of scolding President Bush delivered to the New York Times. But the truth is that the NSA—which has an estimated $6 billion annual budget bigger than those of the CIA and the FBI combined—has a decidedly checkered history when it comes to playing by the rules." And yet, NSA abuse seems not limited to Bush. Now, possib ly, Carter and Clinton also used NSA for spying on civilians. That said, NSA seems also to have been used for non-miltary spying, to help selected American firms compete against rival companies elsewhere. What is curious about this agency is that it is the single biggest intelligence organization in our country and yet so few people know what they do, where they are, what they had been legally allowed to do. If, as we are told, tapping phones is necessary in our fight against terror, why then doesn't the FBI do this? If any mobster worth his blackjack knows not to use phones because they are potentially tapped, why are we told that NSA doesn't want terrorists alerted to our tapping their phones and therefore there ought not to be any discussion of this "strategy."? In sum, my suspicion is that a lot more is going on than we have thus far been told, and that in fact email and the internet are more involved in what is taking place than is phone tapping.

BTW: The MeFi thread points out that Matt Drudge is full of it. Shameful smearing.

2005-12-21t16:58:36Z | RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Wikimedia.
Digital Universe, an alternative by a Wikipedia founder

Digital Universe has potential and Larry Sanger deserves credit but it may be vaporware while the Wikipedia is real and here now.

Digital Universe and ManyOne [metafilter.com/mefi/47765]

Digital Universe , an alternative to Wikipedia, has been launched by wikipedia proposer Larry Sanger. Digital Universe will be powered by ManyOne, a new 3D browser, will include paid experts, a subscription option, and will require real names from contributors. This may or may not be connected to Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales' editing his own bio to remove reference to Sanger as co-founder.

2005-12-21t17:04:35Z | RE: News. Politics. U.S.A. (America).
The 4th what?

In case you (or Bush) have forgotten, here's the 4th Amendment to the Constitution:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

So much for protecting the Constitution [chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chi-0512210141dec21,1,3284631.story]

The facts of this case: In early 2002, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to monitor international telephone calls and international e-mail messages without any showing of probable cause to believe that a participant in the communication was involved in unlawful or terrorist activity, and without obtaining a search warrant from a court of law. This action was a direct violation of federal law and the United States Constitution. The 4th Amendment ordinarily prohibits any search, which includes interception of telephone and e-mail messages, without probable cause and a judicial warrant. Each of these requirements--probable cause and a judicial warrant--plays a critical role in our constitutional scheme. Expansive government surveillance of its citizens (think of Orwell's "1984" or the Soviet Union) can undermine privacy, autonomy, independence, spontaneity, openness, dissent and the general sense of freedom that is essential to a self-governing society.

President Bush believes that whatever he thinks is necessary must be lawful, whether it be domestic surveillance by NSA, or torture, or denying the Guantanamo Bay detainees the protections of the Geneva Conventions. Bush is a man of faith, not a man of law. That is a problem.

2005-12-23t19:09:59Z | RE: Cyber Tech.
Alexa makes indexed data available

It seems likely that some pretty good stuff will come out of this move. You have to love freedom, libre, and transparency.

Roll Your Own Google [wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,69817,00.html?tw=rss.TOP]

Alexa, a subsidiary of Amazon.com that is best known for its traffic rankings, on Monday unveiled Alexa Web Search Platform, a set of online tools for searching, indexing, computing, storing and publishing vast quantities of net data. Alexa claims it's the first time that developers, students and startups will be given inexpensive access to an industrial-scale web crawler -- the same technology used by industry giants like Yahoo (Yahoo Slurp) and Google (Googlebot).

2005-12-23t19:51:01Z | RE: Communication.
Find 800 numbers

This could be handy.

Hard to find 800 numbers [hardtofind800numbers.com]

2005-12-23t22:23:21Z | RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Google. Microsoft.
Metadata too helpful

The article is more specific about metadata in operating and file systems, but is it coincidence that the insinuation of metadata has been on my mind lately too?

  • Windows Vista and Google Toolbar tag hardrive stuff with metadata.
  • Google Picasa and digital cameras tag photos with metadata via stuff like Exif.
  • Wal-Mart, the government, and big corporations want to tag everything with RFIDs.
  • Grocery stores and credit cards have all sorts of metadata on our purchases.
  • Folksonomy sites are all about tagging.
  • URLs are loaded with metadata.

Metadata in Vista Could Be Too Helpful [yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/12/23/147220&from=rss]

Unintentionally shared info via metadata is a security issue but I also have concerns about the "smartness" of these systems. It's one thing to have metadata that is "naturally" or inseparably part of the object (EG: Words in an article.), but quite another to have metadata that is attached to it and shared, especially without your knowledge.

2005-12-24t00:12:40Z | RE: Comics. Culture. Faith. My Creation. Philosophy. Politics. Science.
Happy Holidays!

I've done other annual posts like "State of Money" (near U.S. Tax Day) and "State of Politics" (near U.S. Election Day), but this is my first "State of Faith" (near Solstice, Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Yule, New Year, etc.). I'm not going to organize this post to much in order to get it out in a timely fashion.

In a single sentence: I am a secular naturalist and spiritualist, as well as a nominal Roman Catholic.

Here is my definition of religion direct from my section on Religion:

A religion is a system of faith. Hence, a religion involves two things: faith (belief in a kind of reality) and a system (of moral codes, practices, and institutions).

  • A person who emphasizes faith is spiritual. EG: Dogs and saints without religions are spiritual.
  • A person who emphasizes a system is dogmatic. EG: Convenience believers are dogmatic.
  • A person who emphasizes both is religious. EG: Saints with religion are religious.
  • A person who emphasizes neither is non-religious. EG: Babies and agnostics are non-religious.

I've had a great time exploring religion over the past year and I intend to continue exploring religion. I am thankful for having stumbled upon Portal:Religion [W] this year. Wikipedia is a great starting point for many topics.

Note that the above is just historical information. There is no "war against Christmas" by the Liberals/Democrats. I happen to be a Democrat, but I'm secular and in full support of the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
[COMIC: Tom Tomorrow] [via workingforchange.com/comic.cfm?itemid=20059]

It is not immoral to be curious and to look into the origin and history of Christmas and religion in general. For example some articles like Merry Religious Assimilation Day! [omninerd.com/2005/12/22/news/455] [via metafilter.com/mefi/47818], are merely informative, but admittedly there are other articles that are not only secular but outright belligerent against supernaturalism or unfair practices.

Also contrary to the following comic, secular humanists are just fine with giving gifts. If anything, people of all denominations should be concerned about gift-giving that becomes insincere and commercial.
[COMIC: The Pain] [via thepaincomics.com/weekly051221.htm]

I've taken many a political quiz but this is the first "religious quiz" I've seen. Political quizzes usually have charts with the axes of economic and personal permissiveness (EG: See the political test I took in 2005-11), but this religious chart has Reason/Faith on the y-axis and Scientific/Spiritual on the x-axis.

Here are my results from the quiz What religion do you fit in with? [quizgalaxy.com/quiz.php?id=47]:

You fit in with: Humanism

Your ideals mostly resemble that of a Humanist. Although you do not have a lot of faith, you are devoted to making this world better, in the short time that you have to live. Humanists do not generally believe in an afterlife, and therefore, are committed to making the world a better place for themselves and future generations.

20% spiritual.
80% reason-oriented.

  • I think they have their axes labeled wrong.
    • By Reason v Faith, do they mean degree of dogma? Or degree of naturalism? If the latter, then Scientific v Spiritual would have been a better name.
    • By Scientific v Spiritual, do they mean logical/empirical v intuitive? If so, then Reason v Faith would have been a better name.
  • Note that the percentages they give assume that the middle of the chart is 0, 0. Hence my score is 20, 80, but my wife who fits in with "Spiritualism" scored 60, 60 ("Your ideals are mostly spiritual, but in an individualistic way. While spirituality is very important in your life, organized religion itself may not be for you. It is best for you to seek these things on your own terms.").
  • I don't think the quiz asked enough questions.
  • I'm not sure if the areas on the chart are adequate. Islam? Confucianism? Heathen? I think the Buddhists should overlap to the left.

Happy Holidays to all! I wish everyone peace, courage, beauty, respect, forgiveness, and joy.

2005-12-25t01:03:38Z | RE: Food. Funny. Play. Science. Video.
Some videos via Google

I've been to Google Video of the Day [gvod.blogspot.com] (and other sites like it) but Michael Martine is pretty good and I thought I'd try posting links to some nice video shorts.

Powers of Ten [video.google.com/...; ~9 min] [via gvod.blogspot.com/...]. Zooms out and then back in by powers of ten. Science coolness.

Flexible Girl [video.google.com/...; ~3 min] [via gvod.blogspot.com/...]. Contortionists are always fascinating and painful to watch.

Vintage21 Jesus Video #1 [video.google.com/...; ~1.5 min] [via gvod.blogspot.com/...]. Hilarious! The voices are great and this Jesus is a real jerk.

Run Escape Jump (Extreme Parkour) [video.google.com/...; ~3 min] [via gvod.blogspot.com/...]. Actually I've seen a bunch of Parkour already. It's the new "eXtreme" activity. It's like Jackie Chan jumping, climbing, swinging stuff... or it's like fancy skateboarding without the skateboard... or it's like rock climbing and gymnastics but without any safety equipment.

Documentary On Japanese Sushi [video.google.com/...; ~8 min] [via gvod.blogspot.com/...]. Funny, funny stuff, especially since they mix the truth with fiction.

2005-12-27t17:04:02Z | RE: Productivity. Flow. Life. Pscychology.
Good and Bad Procrastination by Paul Graham

Procrastination is a beloved recurring topic because everyone does it sometimes and it is a pathway to productivity and meaningfulness. Paul Graham has written some nice stuff but is probably most famous for his article on "Hackers and Painters".

"Good and Bad Procrastination" [paulgraham.com/procrastination.html]

There are three variants of procrastination, depending on what you do instead of working on something: you could work on (a) nothing, (b) something less important, or (c) something more important. That last type, I'd argue, is good procrastination.

Some errands, like replying to letters, go away if you ignore them (perhaps taking friends with them). Others, like mowing the lawn, or filing tax returns, only get worse if you put them off. In principle it shouldn't work to put off the second kind of errand. You're going to have to do whatever it is eventually. Why not (as past-due notices are always saying) do it now? The reason it pays to put off even those errands is that real work needs two things errands don't: big chunks of time, and the right mood. If you get inspired by some project, it can be a net win to blow off everything you were supposed to do for the next few days to work on it. Yes, those errands may cost you more time when you finally get around to them. But if you get a lot done during those few days, you will be net more productive.

O, so that's why so many piggish husbands leave all the necessary housework to their wives —because they're too busy concentrating on type-C tasks such as watching the game.

The most dangerous form of procrastination is unacknowledged type-B procrastination, because it doesn't feel like procrastination. You're "getting things done." Just the wrong things.

You can't look a big problem too directly in the eye. You have to approach it somewhat obliquely. But you have to adjust the angle just right: you have to be facing the big problem directly enough that you catch some of the excitement radiating from it, but not so much that it paralyzes you. You can tighten the angle once you get going, just as a sailboat can sail closer to the wind once it gets underway. If you want to work on big things, you seem to have to trick yourself into doing it. You have to work on small things that could grow into big things, or work on successively larger things, or split the moral load with collaborators. It's not a sign of weakness to depend on such tricks. The very best work has been done this way.

I think the way to "solve" the problem of procrastination is to let delight pull you instead of making a to-do list push you. Work on an ambitious project you really enjoy, and sail as close to the wind as you can, and you'll leave the right things undone.

Related:

2005-12-27t17:37:21Z | RE: Flow. Health. Productivity.
Sleeping and napping

It seems that people are concerned about sleep and productivity during the holidays.

How to Become an Early Riser [stevepavlina.com/blog/2005/05/how-to-become-an-early-riser] and Part II. A lot of empathy and good ideas.

The optimal solution for me has been to combine both approaches. It’s very simple, and many early risers do this without even thinking about it, but it was a mental breakthrough for me nonetheless. The solution was to go to bed when I’m sleepy (and only when I’m sleepy) and get up with an alarm clock at a fixed time (7 days per week). So I always get up at the same time (in my case 5am), but I go to bed at different times every night.

After a few days of using this approach, I found that my sleep patterns settled into a natural rhythm. If I got too little sleep one night, I’d automatically be sleepier earlier and get more sleep the next night. And if I had lots of energy and wasn’t tired, I’d sleep less. My body learned when to knock me out because it knew I would always get up at the same time and that my wake-up time wasn’t negotiable. A side effect was that on average, I slept about 90 minutes less per night, but I actually felt more well-rested. I was sleeping almost the entire time I was in bed.

If you have kids, adapt as needed. My kids are ages 5 and 1. Sometimes they wake me up in the middle of the night — my daughter is in the habit of doing this lately, popping into the bedroom to tell my wife and me about her dreams or sometimes just to chat. And I know what it’s like when there’s a baby waking up every few hours. So if you’re in that situation, I say that the rule is to sleep when you can. Babies aren’t very good at sticking to schedules.

Snooze, You Win [mensjournal.com/healthFitness/0601/napping_power.html]. Powerful stuff.

Mednick's most recent research also shows that power naps can lift productivity and mood, lower stress, and improve memory and learning. In fact, Mednick has found through MRIs of nappers that brain activity stays high throughout the day with a nap; without one, it declines as the day wears on. Tell that to the boss next time he finds you passed out at your desk. There is, however, a pitfall in all this sleeping around. You have to carefully time the duration of your nap in order to avoid waking in slow-wave sleep. This can produce what's known as sleep inertia. That's when the limbs feel like concrete, the eyes can't focus, the speech is slurred, the mind is sluggish. Sleep inertia can ruin your day. You must keep the nap to 20 minutes or slightly less, and if you need the extra sleep, wait until the 50-minute mark. This will safely keep you on the power side of your nap.

THE NANO-NAP: 10 to 20 seconds Sleep studies haven't yet concluded whether there are benefits to these brief intervals, like when you nod off on someone's shoulder on the train.
THE MICRO-NAP: two to five minutes Shown to be surprisingly effective at shedding sleepiness.
THE MINI-NAP: five to 20 minutes Increases alertness, stamina, motor learning, and motor performance.
THE ORIGINAL POWER NAP: 20 minutesIncludes the benefits of the micro and the mini, but additionally improves muscle memory and clears the brain of useless built-up information, which helps with long-term memory (remembering facts, events, and names).
THE LAZY MAN'S NAP: 50 to 90 minutesIncludes slow-wave plus REM sleep; good for improving perceptual processing; also when the system is flooded with human growth hormone, great for repairing bones and muscles.

2005-12-27t18:00:50Z | RE: Culture. Health. Intelligent Design. Science.
Hela, HeLa

I became familiar with Hela by reading about Thor in Marvel comics. The Marvel Hela comes directly from Hel (being) [W], the queen of Helheim, the Norse underworld. However, I stumbled upon another Hela [W], which is quite fascinating.

Helacyton gartleri [disenchanted.com/dis/lookup.html?node=1860]

These cells were basically immortal. And they're still alive, even though Henrietta herself died of the cancer on October 4th, 1951. Now, HeLa cells are about as common in biological research as the lab rat and the petri dish, and are still being grown in an unbroken lineage from the cells originally harvested from Mrs. Lacks in 1951. They're used in cancer research because a scientist can perform experiments on them that otherwise couldn't be done on a living human being. They were also used in the development of the Polio vaccine, making Henrietta somewhat of a posthumous hero to millions.

In 1991 the scientific community decided it was, and blessed HeLa cells with its own genus and species: Helacyton gartleri, named by Van Valen & Maiorana. That would make Helacyton gartleri an example of speciation, which is when a new species is observed developing from another. In this case, the development is from a chordate (homo sapien) to something that's more like an ameoba (a cross-phylum mutation), giving us an animal with a mostly human genotype, but which does not develop into a human-like phenotype. Since this event occurred in nature when the papillomavirus transformed Henrietta's cells, and not in the laboratory, it's a strong piece of evidence supporting Evolution (although not one that suggests you could go from an ameoba to a chordate, which would probably take more than one mutation).

2005-12-27t18:41:17Z | RE: Cyber Life. Education. Flow. Life. My Creation. Rambling.
Less Embarrassment

I just noticed a behaviour in myself. I stumbled upon the article Helacyton gartleri [disenchanted.com/dis/lookup.html?node=1860], which is an interesting enough article. So then I did something (which many others do): I checked out the root of the site, disenchanted.com in this case. From there I stumbled upon an interesting article "Faith in the Game" [disenchanted.com/dis/technology/game.html] (I love stuff that evokes Richard Feynman). So then I did something (which many others do): I Googled for the article to see what others had written about it (including metafilter.com/mefi/27903).

The behaviour I noticed in myself was that when I found out that the article was older (2003-07-01) and well commented upon, I was going to skip making a post about it and proceeded to find where I could stash those links on my site. This behaviour is odd because supposedly I am doing this site mostly for myself and that blogging about stuff puts it in a personal chronological perspective. So why was I trying to hide my find? Was I actually embarrassed to post that I've stumbled upon an "old content" even though it was new to me? It seems such behaviour is related to my inherent introversion and my desire to increase efficiency by reducing redundancy. And yet —just like I tell my kids— mistakes, embarrassment, extroversion, excitement, and repetition are all part of communicating, refinement, practice, sharing, teaching, and learning. If you don't have the former, than you risk losing the latter.

2005-12-27t19:55:49Z | RE: Cyber Life. Math.
Num Sum

Create temporary or permanent online spreadsheets that you can share.

Num Sum [numsum.com]

2005-12-27t21:47:33Z | RE: Cyber Tech. Google. Money.
Google acquisitions

Google as a corporation is so much sexier to watch than Microsoft ever was.

Google Acquisitions [seobythesea.com/?p=64]

2005-12-27t21:48:07Z | RE: Fonts. Typography. Cyber Tech. Design.
Favorite fonts of 2005

These are sweet fonts. Now you see why some fonts aren't free.

Our Favorite Fonts of 2005 [typographi.com/001045.php]

2005-12-27t22:14:39Z | RE: CSS. Cyber Tech. Images.
CSS image switching

Another CSS trick to stash away.

Simple(r) CSS Image Switcher [godbit.com/article/simpler-css-image-switcher]

2005-12-27t22:20:49Z | RE: Funny. Health. Science.
Hacker's Diet

Oh these poor suffering geeks! A lovely abuse of logic and numbers, humor and truth. And yet this is more straight forward than many diets and diet books.

The Hacker's Diet [fourmilab.ch/hackdiet/e4]

How to lose weight and hair through stress and poor nutrition

2005-12-27t23:08:17Z | RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Economy. Google. Microsoft. Web2.0. Wikimedia.
Web 2.0 by Paul Graham

Another great Paul Graham article. His three clues about Web 2.0 are "AJAX", "democracy", and "don't maltreat the users", which leads to the common thread of making and using the web the way it ought to be. Lovely how he nails the zeitgeist this post dot com bust era. He gives Java and Microsoft thumbs down, while giving hackers and Google thumbs up.

Web 2.0 [paulgraham.com/web20.html]

As you read this, a whole new generation of software is being written to take advantage of Ajax. There hasn't been such a wave of new applications since microcomputers first appeared. Even Microsoft sees it, but it's too late for them to do anything more than leak "internal" documents designed to give the impression they're on top of this new trend. In fact the new generation of software is being written way too fast for Microsoft even to channel it, let alone write their own in house. Their only hope now is to buy all the best Ajax startups before Google does. And even that's going to be hard, because Google has as big a head start in buying microstartups as it did in search a few years ago. After all, Google Maps, the canonical Ajax application, was the result of a startup they bought.

Another place democracy seems to win is in deciding what counts as news. I never look at any news site now except Reddit. I know if something major happens, or someone writes a particularly interesting article, it will show up there. Why bother checking the front page of any specific paper or magazine? Reddit's like an RSS feed for the whole web, with a filter for quality. Similar sites include Digg, a technology news site that's rapidly approaching Slashdot in popularity, and del.icio.us, the collaborative bookmarking network that set off the "tagging" movement. And whereas Wikipedia's main appeal is that it's good enough and free, these sites suggest that voters do a significantly better job than human editors.

Never make users register, unless you need to in order to store something for them. If you do make users register, never make them wait for a confirmation link in an email; in fact, don't even ask for their email address unless you need it for some reason. Don't ask them any unnecessary questions. Never send them email unless they explicitly ask for it. Never frame pages you link to, or open them in new windows. If you have a free version and a pay version, don't make the free version too restricted. And if you find yourself asking "should we allow users to do x?" just answer "yes" whenever you're unsure. Err on the side of generosity.

Ditto for the idea of delivering desktop-like applications over the web. That idea is almost as old as the web. But the first time around it was co-opted by Sun, and we got Java applets. Java has since been remade into a generic replacement for C++, but in 1996 the story about Java was that it represented a new model of software. Instead of desktop applications, you'd run Java "applets" delivered from a server. This plan collapsed under its own weight. Microsoft helped kill it, but it would have died anyway. There was no uptake among hackers. When you find PR firms promoting something as the next development platform, you can be sure it's not. If it were, you wouldn't need PR firms to tell you, because hackers would already be writing stuff on top of it

Web 2.0 means using the web as it was meant to be used, and Google does. That's their secret. The web naturally has a certain grain, and Google is aligned with it. That's why their success seems so effortless. They're sailing with the wind, instead of sitting becalmed praying for a business model, like the print media, or trying to tack upwind by suing their customers, like Microsoft and the record labels. Google doesn't try to force things to happen their way. They try to figure out what's going to happen, and arrange to be standing there when it does. That's the way to approach technology-- and as business includes an ever larger technological component, the right way to do business.

2005-12-27t23:09:07Z | RE: Images. Time.
Family over time in photos

How ruthless and revealing, yet fascinating. It reminds me of the little exercise where I took pen and paper and wrote down the next few decadesand then wrote down the age and education level of each family member. It is much more psychologically effective to do it by hand than by spreadsheet.

Time [zonezero.com/magazine/essays/diegotime/time.html]

On June 17th, every year, the family goes through a private ritual: we photograph ourselves to stop a fleeting moment, the arrow of time passing by.

2005-12-27t23:16:39Z | RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Folksonomy. Popularity.
Getting it right

More ruthless and revealing honesty. Everything is clearer in hindsight, but to share it like this is courageous and generous.

Ari Paparo, the founder of the now defunct Blink.com ruminates over how the similar del.icio.us succeeded where he failed.

Getting it Right [aripaparo.com/archive/001456.html]

This post wasn’t meant as a defense of Blink or my own decisions while I was there. My intent was to show that product design matters. We had more money, more users, a five year head start, and some really, really smart people working on bookmarking in 1999. The bottom line is that we simply didn’t get it right. Some simple innovations like using tags instead of folders, making public the default, building better discovery features, etc made the difference between being an also-ran and a hot acquisition target.

2005-12-27t23:45:28Z | RE: Art. Images.
You are beautiful

Here is an art project that was physical, anonymously interactive, a battle of good v evil, and spanned over time. A nice change of pace.

You are beautiful [you-are-beautiful.com/INSTALLATIONS/cupfence1.html]
[PHOTO: Message on a fence: You are loved]

2005-12-28t00:35:29Z | RE: Art. Images. Play.
Advanced sidewalk drawings

Pretty cool. And to think that it will all wash away with the next rain.

Unbelieveable 3D Pavement Drawings!! [blogs.inthemix.com.au/Anomyst/2287/]

[PHOTO: Sidewalk drawing][PHOTO: Sidewalk drawing from the other side]

2005-12-28t00:36:04Z | RE: Flow. Mind. Productivity.
Extreme Thinking

A nice article about strategies for making your mark.

Extreme Thinking [qinfo.org/people/nielsen/blog/archive/tough-learning/tough-learning-final.html]. By Michael A. Nielsen.

This experiment has been performed numerous times around the world, usually with essentially the same outcome: people get the bar game right, and the card game wrong. One common conclusion is that while people are extremely good at reasoning about social situations involving other people, as the concepts involved become more abstract they find it much more difficult to reason. Their intuition begins to go haywire even in relatively simple situations like the card game. In slightly more complex situations it stops functioning altogether.

First of three principles:

Probably the single most intimidating and paralyzing thing for scientists beginning their research careers is a sense that they are not able to make a significant contribution. Beginning research for the first time is incredibly intimidating. You are expected to say something new and original about how the world functions. How on Earth can you do that, when you’re surrounded by people who know everything you know, and more? Many people respond to this realization with a sort of frenetic paralysis. Often they move frantically around from topic to topic, trying to find something to which they can make a contribution, but always coming back to the fundamental problem, namely, that they feel inadequate to the task. In my opinion, the single most important principle of effective learning is that it requires a strong sense of purpose and meaning.

I believe that the key to developing a strong sense of purpose and meaning is to balance three activities.

  • The first is development of a common understanding with a large group of people, people with whom one is later able to feel a common sense of community.  This is the focus of most educational institutions, from kindergarten through undergraduate degrees.
  • The second is development of abilities which are not common to your community, and which eventually give you the ability to make a unique contribution to your community.
  • The third is making a creative contribution to your community, to something larger than yourself.

 To develop effectively, we need to balance all three of these activities.  Many people – I have certainly been guilty of this - concentrate on the first and the third of these activities.  They find themselves frustrated in trying to achieve the third, simply because they haven’t developed abilities that enable them to make a unique contribution.  

 Second of three principles:

The second principle is that effective learning requires long-term vision. A powerful long-term vision can give you the courage and will to do things important things for your self-development, but that don’t pay off over the short term, and that may even be discouraged by your organization, by your peers, or by your superiors.

You may ask what the difference between the first and second principles is.  The first concerns purpose and meaning, while the second relates to having a long-term vision.  In fact, it is possible to follow either principle without obeying the other.  The difference is that purpose and meaning is about why you do things, while long-term vision is about what you do, and how you do it.   You can develop a strong sense of why you’re going to do something –you might develop a compelling desire to win a gold medal in the 100 meters– but without knowing what you’ll need to do, or how to do it, it won’t happen.  Similarly, you can decide what you’ll need to do, and how, but unless that deep inner desire, purpose, meaning –the why– is present, it won’t happen. Incidentally, this distinction between the first and second principle is ignored in many time-management programs.  Sure, it’s possible to manage one’s time in more effective ways.  But unless you have a deep sense of purpose about what you are doing, you may simply be doing unimportant things, faster.

Third of three principles:

the third principle, namely, that the most effective way of changing your own behaviour is to change your social role, if necessary, by creating social roles for ourselves that reinforce behaviours we want. One of the greatest exponents of this idea was the American writer, scientist, diplomat and statesman, Benjamin Franklin. Throughout his life, Franklin was constantly inventing new organizations and institutions that reinforced those aspects of his own behaviour that he thought most desirable. Perhaps most famously, at the age of 21 Franklin created the “Junto”, a small group of men who formed a society dedicated to their own self-improvement. At each meeting the Junto members were asked questions like “Have you lately heard of any citizen’s thriving well, and by what means?” or “Have you lately observed any encroachments on the just liberties of the people?” The questions were chosen by Franklin specifically with the goal of promoting his own self-development, and the development of others. Of course, Franklin could have addressed these questions himself each week, in his own time. Or he could have discussed it among friends on a regular basis. But how much more powerful it must have been to create an institution dedicated to addressing these questions on a regular basis!

Conclusion:

To conclude, let me summarize the three basic principles I’ve described.

  • The first is that effective learning requires purpose and meaning. This purpose and meaning can, in many instances, be obtained by concentrated self-development focused on developing combinations of abilities that enable us to make a unique contribution.
  • The second is that effective learning requires a long-term vision. In all organizations the short-term incentives neglect critical aspects of our development. By developing and constantly reinventing a compelling long-term vision we are able to ensure that we develop and learn in the most effective ways possible, even when those ways are in contradiction to the established short-term incentives.
  • The third principle is that one of the most effective ways of changing deeply ingrained habits and establishing new behaviour is to either create a social environment that will promote the behaviour we’re trying to learn.

2005-12-29t16:00:37Z | RE: Science.
Science nuggets

I love snacking on science nuggets. Here's are nearly 200 short little articles from a science column in the 1980s. (Just two little bones in the mix: Articles #25 and #166 are marked as "Removed" without further explanation. Some of the articles have several misplaced closing parentheses in them.)

Complete List of Science Corner Articles [physics.uoguelph.ca/summer/scor/clist.html] [via metafilter.com/mefi/47894]

2005-12-29t17:05:57Z | RE: Life. Martial. Politics. U.S.A. (America). World.
Peace on Earth increasing

Yes, in spite of the negativity, this modern age is healthier, better fed, less violent, more empirical, more democratic, etc. than previous ages. This does not mean that there is nothing we can't learn from previous ages or that we can't improve. This article also show that diplomacy and smaller but well funded armies do work.

Peace on Earth? Increasingly, Yes. [washingtonpost.com/...]

It is not surprising that most people believe global violence is increasing. However, most people, including many leading policymakers and scholars, are wrong. The reality is that, since the end of the Cold War, armed conflict and nearly all other forms of political violence have decreased. The world is far more peaceful than it was.

The Human Security Report, an independent study funded by five countries and published by Oxford University Press, draws on a wide range of little publicized scholarly data, plus specially commissioned research to present a portrait of global security that is sharply at odds with conventional wisdom. The report reveals that after five decades of inexorable increase, the number of armed conflicts started to fall worldwide in the early 1990s. The decline has continued. By 2003, there were 40 percent fewer conflicts than in 1992. The deadliest conflicts -- those with 1,000 or more battle-deaths -- fell by some 80 percent. The number of genocides and other mass slaughters of civilians also dropped by 80 percent, while core human rights abuses have declined in five out of six regions of the developing world since the mid-1990s. International terrorism is the only type of political violence that has increased. Although the death toll has jumped sharply over the past three years, terrorists kill only a fraction of the number who die in wars.

What accounts for the extraordinary and counterintuitive improvement in global security over the past dozen years? The end of the Cold War, which had driven at least a third of all conflicts since World War II, appears to have been the single most critical factor.

A major study by the Rand Corp. published this year found that U.N. peace-building operations had a two-thirds success rate. They were also surprisingly cost-effective. In fact, the United Nations spends less running 17 peace operations around the world for an entire year than the United States spends in Iraq in a single month. What the United Nations calls "peacemaking" -- using diplomacy to end wars -- has been even more successful. About half of all the peace agreements negotiated between 1946 and 2003 have been signed since the end of the Cold War.

2005-12-29t19:45:32Z | RE: Free Libre. Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Free Gratis. Productivity.
Online offices

I think online office suites will inevitably become more popular, but they will probably be one tool amongst many. The ability to share, distribute, and corroborate on documents online with just a browser is very powerful. However, online office suites have three big hurdles:

  • Online security.
  • People are invested in and comfortable in current "fat" systems.
  • People do still occasionally work (gasp!) offline.

BTW: While OpenOffice is free (libre and gratis), it seems like it's bloating like Microsoft Office too.

The Web-based Office will have its day [blogs.zdnet.com/web2explorer/?p=20&tag=nl.e550]

I first profiled a Web 2.0 office in early September and since then more web-based office products have surfaced. Peter Rip posted recently that he's now "bumped into an alpha or beta Web-incarnation for every Microsoft desktop product". He says most are AJAX, but some are Flash or Flex-based (both Macromedia products).

My list of Links for Communicating via Computers has grown.

Exploring odd subjects including myself. GeorgeHernandez.com
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