2006-04 posts.

  1. Barack for sustainability. RE: Politics. Sustainability. U.S.A. (America).
  2. Riverview Tavern. RE: Chicago. Food. History.
  3. Like Tae Bo for swords. RE: Health. Martial. Show Biz.
  4. Fetish map. RE: Quirky. Sex.
  5. Fin the fuel cells. RE: Engineering. Sustainability.
  6. Mac Boot Camp has Windows. RE: Apple. Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Microsoft.
  7. New nukes. RE: Martial. Politics. U.S.A. (America). World.
  8. Avoid the Dan Ryan. RE: Chicago.
  9. 88,000 clicincal trials searchable. RE: Cyber Tech. Health.
  10. Thai Linda Cafe. RE: Chicago. Food. Q2of9. Q8of9.
  11. Link to blog. RE: Cyber Life. Funny.
  12. I am placing more Google ads. RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Google. Money.
  13. Google Calendar here at last. RE: Cyber Life. Google. Productivity.
  14. Google Talk emoticons. RE: Cute. Cyber Life. Google.
  15. Domain name stats. RE: Cyber Life.
  16. Ryan guilty on all 18 counts. RE: Chicago. News. Politics.
  17. Interactive evolution and education. RE: Education. Evolution. Flash.
  18. Gates gives 21e6 USD to Chicago schools. RE: Chicago. Education.
  19. 50 ways to take notes. RE: Cyber Life. Productivity.
  20. F reading. RE: Cyber Life. Design. Usability.
  21. World as TreeMap. RE: Cyber Tech. Design.
  22. Amazon S3. RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Engineering. Programming.
  23. Games now and then. RE: Chill. Cyber Life. Games.
  24. Democrats regroup. RE: Politics. U.S.A. (America).
  25. Green is gold. RE: Engineering. Money. Sustainability.
  26. Feynman video. RE: Science. Video.
  27. Men bamboozled by women --Surprise!. RE: Culture. Saucy. Science.
  28. Use Google to determine gender of unfamiliar names. RE: Google. Productivity.
  29. Brain shut-off caught on film. RE: Brain. Flow. Science.
  30. Green Manhattan Project needed. RE: Engineering. Politics. Science. Sustainability. U.S.A. (America).
  31. Machiavelli test. RE: Philosophy. Pscychology. Quiz. Relations.
  32. Worst President ever?. RE: Politics. U.S.A. (America).
  33. Professional programming. RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Programming.
  34. 10 well designed sites. RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Design.
  35. The sub-glacial lakes of Ka-Zar. RE: Comics. Geography. Science.
  36. Chicago comepeting to make Chinese Zero-Energy building. RE: China. Architecture. Chicago. Engineering.
  37. Google Calendar versus CSG calendar. RE: CSG. Chicago. Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Google. Martial. My Stuff. Productivity. Programming.
  38. Hu's on first. RE: China. Funny. Politics. U.S.A. (America).
  39. Flamewars. RE: Cyber Life. Funny.
  40. Nintendo rules. RE: Cyber Life. Engineering. Games. Play.
  41. Google Map changes. RE: Cyber Life. Google.
  42. Penile pondering . RE: Health. NSFW. Science. Sex.
  43. CIA says Bush knew there were no WMDs in 2002. RE: Politics. U.S.A. (America).
  44. U.S.A. gas price map. RE: Economy. Money. U.S.A. (America).
  45. Better random numbers. RE: Cyber Tech. Math. Programming.
  46. Dragon Scales awesome. RE: Engineering. Martial. U.S.A. (America). Video.
  47. Holographic solar coolness. RE: Economy. Engineering. Money. Sustainability.
  48. Green: thin, smart, sexy, and rich. RE: Economy. Money. Politics. Relations. Sustainability.
  49. United93 movie on 9/11 almost here. RE: Movies. U.S.A. (America).
  50. Design v Art. RE: Art. Design. Rambling.
  51. Adam and Eve and monkeys. RE: Evolution. Faith. Rambling. Science. Video.
  52. Two-way monitors by Apple. RE: Apple. Engineering. Hardware. Invent.
  53. Code Moneky song. RE: Audio. Programming.
  54. Ah, L'Amour. RE: Animated. Relations. Video.
  55. Chinese busts booming. RE: China. Health. Saucy.

2006-04-03t16:41:51Z | RE: Politics. Sustainability. U.S.A. (America).
Barack for sustainability

I'm proud to have Barack Obama as Senator for Illinois. I think he'd make a great President too.

Obama Strikes Out at Bush's Energy Policy [chicagotribune.com/news/local/sns-ap-obama,1,3219313.story]

"Saying that America is addicted to oil without following a real plan for energy independence is like admitting alcoholism and then skipping out on the 12-step program," the Illinois Democrat said. He referred to one of the principal themes of President Bush's State of the Union address Jan. 31.

Rather than a wars against terrorism, drugs, and sex, I'd rather have a wars for sustainability, education, and healthcare.

He accused the president of failing to follow up on his State of the Union statement that America is too dependent on foreign oil. "I was among the hopeful. But then I saw the plan," he said. More broadly, he said, the "administration's record on climate change is almost legendary ... Just recently, this is the administration that tried to silence a NASA scientist for letting the rest of us know that, yes, climate change is a pretty big deal."

2006-04-03t18:58:31Z | RE: Chicago. Food. History.
Riverview Tavern

I just got back from eating at the Riverview Tavern. It's a large place with friendly service, good food, generous portions, and nice prices. The neat thing about the place is that it commemorates a bit of Chicago history. Until I this afternoon, I did not know that the neighborhood used to have a Riverview Park, a great amusement park. The Riverview Park ran from 1904 to 1967 and was in the 0.3 km2 = 74 acre area bounded by Western Avenue, Belmont Avenue, the river, and Lane Tech High School (my alma mater!). All I knew was that was south of Lane was a mall, DeVry Institute of Technology, and a large police station.

Links related to Riverview Park:

2006-04-04t19:29:09Z | RE: Health. Martial. Show Biz.
Like Tae Bo for swords

I watched the little video clip which showed a bit of Mr. Fox's stuff (as well as some Olympic style fencing). Mr. Fox did a lot of flailing but didn't demonstrate any footwork during his routine. There was also someone doing slow stretching in the background. While we have no idea what his actual classes are like, in my experience pseudo-martial arts programs like Mr. Fox, Tae Bo, cardio-boxing, etc. are not very martial but they are usually pretty good cardio-vascular workouts. Generally, I think that the people in pseudo-martial arts programs do it for the novelty and rarely ever cross over to the martial arts programs.

On the other hand: Hooray! for martial arts movies!

Hollywood inspires fitness craze [news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/nottinghamshire/4187871.stm]

Lindsay Watkiss, captain of the Nottingham Cavaliers fencing club, says the biggest problem has become a lack of qualified instructors. He says demand for fencing lessons started to increase when Madonna portrayed a fencer in the James Bond film Die Another Day. He says: "Fencing goes in and out of vogue like most minority sports, so we can be inundated with people when there is a film out like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."

Nottingham fitness expert Ian Fox has cashed in on the craze by devising a new work-out involving replica, foam-coated samurai swords. ... During the routines, which are set to dance music, participants clutch replica swords and perform a series of samurai moves.

2006-04-05t15:22:37Z | RE: Quirky. Sex.
Fetish map

I stumbled upon this chart of fetishes. I find it interesting for several reasons:

  • It has high information density. I think Edward Tufte [W] would appreciate it too.
  • I'm not very fetish oriented and the map makes me feel so normal. I imagine that the map must make those with fetishes feel even more normal.
  • I wonder if it covers most fetishes? And what are some of the other fetishes?
  • I've long held the belief that all sorts of human quirkiness is OK as long as you avoid non-consent and harm. This clearly maps out the danger areas.

[CHART: Map of fetishes] Fetish Map [deviantdesires.com/map/mappics/map81002.gif]

2006-04-05t18:31:29Z | RE: Engineering. Sustainability.
Fin the fuel cells

The thing I love about this improvement is that it's using old technology! Radiator fin! D'oh!

Cheaper Fuel Cells [technologyreview.com/BizTech/wtr_16665,296,p1.html]

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers who developed the new material say it can "dramatically outperform" the material now used to form fuel-cell membranes. Proton-exchange membranes are used in fuel cells to sort protons and electrons, by allowing the protons to pass through them from one electrode to the other, while blocking electrons and forcing them to travel between electrodes via an external circuit, powering a motor or other electronic device along the way.

[ILLUSTRATION: Increase fuel cell effeciencey by finning it!]

The researchers say the new membrane conducts protons nearly three times as well as the currently used material, significantly improving power density. Also, unlike the current material, the new membrane can be easily molded into patterns to increase its surface area. By increasing the area by up to 60 percent, the researchers have further doubled the power density of a fuel cell. Joseph DeSimone, the UNC-Chapel Hill chemistry and chemical engineering professor who heads the lab where the work was done, thinks they can increase the membrane's surface area 20 to 40 times by using different patterns, increasing the power density proportionately.

2006-04-05t20:26:20Z | RE: Apple. Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Microsoft.
Mac Boot Camp has Windows

Sweet! If both Mac OS X and Windows XP could run natively on a "Mac" machine, and I needed a new computer soon, then I would switch back to a Mac. Unfortunately I just got a new computer recently. However, if by the time I need another computer, and Mac hardware will run both Mac OS and Windows Vista natively, then I will indeed switch back to a Mac! It would be quite a joyous occasion because the first personal computer I ever bought with my own money was a Macintosh Classic. It would be the return of the wayward son. <sniff-sniff> TT.

This is an odd win-win situation because I'm sure Apple and Microsoft assume that this will just expand both of their customer bases. However, if anything, this change more greatly effects the hardware manufacturers.

Apple: Windows on a Mac is here [news.zdnet.com/2100-3513_22-6057856.html?tag=nl.e589]

Apple Computer said on Wednesday that it has released a public beta version of Boot Camp, software that enables Microsoft Windows XP to run natively on Intel-based Macs. The software, which will be included in Mac OS X 10.5, called Leopard, is available for download on Apple's Web site. Apple will also preview Boot Camp in August at its Worldwide Developers Conference, the company said.

2006-04-06t15:44:00Z | RE: Martial. Politics. U.S.A. (America). World.
New nukes

When I first saw the headline, I braced myself in case my own head would explode out of anger. On one hand we need to reduce our nuclear stock pile, secure our nuclear facilities, consolidate our nuclear facilities (although I think consolidating from 8 to 1 is risky --we need 2 at least), etc.. On the other hand we need to stay on top of the research, retain our nuclear deterrence abilities, etc.. The real issue is that I don't trust Bush, the Neo-Cons, and the war profiteers to run this show.

U.S. Rolls Out Nuclear Plan [chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/la-na-nuke6apr06,1,6123818.story]

Until now, the nation has depended on carefully maintaining aging bombs produced during the Cold War arms race, some several decades old. The administration, however, wants the capability to turn out 125 new nuclear bombs per year by 2022, as the Pentagon retires older bombs that it says will no longer be reliable or safe. Under the plan, all of the nation's plutonium would be consolidated into a single facility that could be more effectively and cheaply defended against possible terrorist attacks.

The plan was outlined to Congress on Wednesday by Thomas D'Agostino, head of nuclear weapons programs at the National Nuclear Security Administration, a part of the Energy Department. Though the weapons proposal would restore the capacity to make new bombs, D'Agostino said it was part of a larger effort to accelerate the dismantling of aging bombs left from the Cold War. D'Agostino acknowledged in an interview that the administration was walking a fine line by modernizing the U.S. nuclear weapons program while assuring other nations that it was not seeking a new arms race. The credibility of the contention rests on the U.S. intent to sharply reduce its inventory of weapons.

Ah the credibility issue again.

2006-04-06t19:08:05Z | RE: Chicago.
Avoid the Dan Ryan

I've been hoping that I could ignore the reconstruction on the Dan Ryan here in Chicago, but no such luck.

Dan Ryan Expressway Reconstruction Project [danryanexpressway.com] is a very helpful site by the Illinois Department of Transportation. Essentially: AVOID THE DAN RYAN! Repeat: AVOID THE DAN RYAN! The three main alternatives are:

  • Ashland Avenue. Runs north and south at 1600 W.
  • Stony Island Avenue. Runs north and south at 1600 E.
  • Lake Shore Drive. Aka LSD or U.S. Highway 41. Runs along the Lake on the north side.

[MAP: How to avoid the Dan Ryan]

2006-04-07t15:41:53Z | RE: Cyber Tech. Health.
88,000 clicincal trials searchable

Now here's a serious Web 2.0 app. Knowledge, including medical knowledge, should be transparent, centralized but freely distributed. I like how the site has multiple languages and uses Ajax in their search bar.

Doctor Database [technologyreview.com/InfoTech/wtr_16674,308,p1.html]

Sometimes the best hope for a person with a serious illness is to become a subject in a clinical drug trial. Such trials are often hard to find, though, as they're rarely well publicized. Additionally, doctors may not know about the best trial for a patient, because at any one time thousands of studies are being conducted around the world. As a result, finding a useful trial has usually required hours of intensive searching or having a doctor who's conducting an appropriate trial or knows other doctors who are -- or just plain luck. Now an initiative is making information from more than 88,000 completed and ongoing clinical trials searchable through a single website. In late March, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) and IBM announced the IFPMA Clinical Trials Portal [ifpma.org/clinicaltrials.html] that they hope will enable doctors and patients to find potentially useful trials and to make more informed medical decisions based on past trials. To facilitate this, the portal is designed to cut through medical jargon, correct misspelled search terms, and search for results in five different languages.

"We're not just processing through basic indexes like most Web search," says Andrews. While Web search engines such as Google sort through indexed web pages, ranked by title, key words, and the number of hyperlinks connected to a page, OmniFind digs into the body of the text. It pulls in specific information and assembles it into concepts that are useful to someone who wants to search through technical documents. "Instead of indexing words," Andrews says, "we're indexing concepts that are referenced in the documents." For example, when "lung" is searched, the software will also look for the word "pulmonary" in documents and files.

2006-04-07t18:23:48Z | RE: Chicago. Food. Q2of9. Q8of9.
Thai Linda Cafe

I ate there earlier this week. Cool looking place. Even the menus are very textured. The food was moist, fresh, nicely presented, and delicious. There was an "incident" while I was there but they handled it well so I'm overlooking it. Decent lunch specials.

  • Thai "Linda" Café
  • 2022 West Roscoe Street, Chicago, Illinois, 60618. 773-868-0075.
  • Q8of9

2006-04-11t14:35:56Z | RE: Cyber Life. Funny.
Link to blog

This is the funniest thread on blogs that I've seen in a while. Thanks: I needed that.

Blog [highclearing.com/index.php/archives/2006/04/07/4991] [via http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/50817 which also has a fun thread]

2006-04-12t03:37:29Z | RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Google. Money.
I am placing more Google ads

I've been using Google ads on my site since last year ("I've placed Google Ads"). Here's my analysis of using Google ads so far:

  • My biggest requirement, that the ads should not interfere with the consumption of my content, has been met. I barely notice the ads when I use the site —and yet I occasionally spot an ad that I'm actually interested in. Subliminal advertising must work.
  • Ads are so prevalent on the Web that I barely feel guilty about using them myself.
  • I find it silly but delightful to get free cash for stuff I do anyway. Even if the pay is low, it does provide incentive to make good content. I imagine that "popularity" quantified by visit counts or qualified by visitor comments is also an incentive to make good content.
  • Checking up on the reports is pretty fun. I've also started using Google Analytics [Google.com/Analytics], which collects visitor usage analysis via a simple piece of JavaScript. Those reports look pretty fun too.
  • Google's new "link unit" ads seem interesting. Instead of just ads, link unit ads list keywords related to the page. If a keyword is attractive to a visitor, then the visitor can choose to click on the keyword which will open up ads related to the keyword.

Today I've increased the number of ads on my site and I hope they remain unobtrusive and yet occasionally helpful.

2006-04-13t16:18:53Z | RE: Cyber Life. Google. Productivity.
Google Calendar here at last

Google Calendar [google.com/calendar] is finally here! It looks good so far.

  • Nice clean and simple interface.
  • Uses almost the entire screen. No ads... so far.
  • Totally searchable Google style.
  • Selectively overlay different calendars. EG: I usually display my calendar, my family's public calendar, my family's private calendar, and U.S. holidays. The different calendars are also color coded (and you can choose the colors).
  • Various degrees of public and private sharing.
  • Works with the ical standard, Apple's iCal, Yahoo Calendar, and Microsoft Outlook to some degree.
  • Highlight the days you want to display on the mini-calendar.
  • Integrated with Gmail.
  • The "Quick Add" feature let's you add events using natural language. EG: "WarCraft 10:30pm tomorrow".
  • Keyboard shortcuts too [http://www.google.com/support/calendar/bin/answer.py?answer=37034&query=keyboard+shortcuts&topic=0&type=f]. I'll probably use these most frequently:
    • t today
    • d/w/m/x day/week/month/customized view
    • k/j previous/next date range (these Unix like shortcuts never die)
    • / search
    • c create event

Let the hacking goodies begin!

Related links:

2006-04-13t23:13:20Z | RE: Cute. Cyber Life. Google.
Google Talk emoticons

I just noticed that Google Talk has started using graphical animations. Google Talk only does a few emoticons but they're all small, briefly animated, and look like what you typed in.

Can I use emoticons? [mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=34056]

Emoticon File Name Type This
angry X-(
cool B-)
cry :'(
equal_grin =D
equal_smile =)
frown :(
grin :D
heart <3
monkey :(|)
nose_grin :-)
nose_smile :-)
rockout \m/
shocked :-o
slant :-/
straightface :-|
toungue :P
wink_big_nose ;^)
wink_nose ;-)

2006-04-14t16:11:40Z | RE: Cyber Life.
Domain name stats

It's not surprising that 100% of all the 2 and 3 letter .com domain names are taken, but it is interesting to know that of the 4 letter and 5 letter ones, 80% and 8% are taken.

Interesting Facts About Domain Names [yafla.com/dennisforbes/Interesting-Facts-About-Domain-Names/Interesting-Facts-About-Domain-Names.html] [via metafilter.com/mefi/50901]

[CHART: domain name distribution by length of name]

I have felt before that  "georgehernandez" is a bit long at 15 letters, but actually I'm not too far from the norm since the most common name length is 11.

[CHART: percentages of common full name already registered as domains]

100% of the top 10,000 last names are taken, but the preceding chart shows that for cross joins of the top 300 first names with the top 300 last names shows that 90% are already taken. I already knew that hernandez.com was taken but it's nice to know that I snatched up georgehernandez.com since George is the 16th most popular male first name and Hernandez is the 29th most popular last name in the U.S. as of the 1990 census [ref census.gov/genealogy/names/dist.male.first].

It looks like "John Smith" was bumped out by "James Smith". "Mary" is #1. "Doe" is only ranked #2117!

2006-04-17t17:57:54Z | RE: Chicago. News. Politics.
Ryan guilty on all 18 counts

This was just announced within the hour. I'm surprised that he got caught.

Ryan found guilty on all counts [chicagotribune.com/news/custom/newsroom/chi-060417ryantrial,0,4525779.story?coll=chi-homepagepromo440-fea]

A federal jury convicted former Gov. George Ryan today on all charges that as secretary of state he steered state business to cronies in return for vacations, gifts and other benefits for himself and his family. Lobbyist Lawrence Warner, a close Ryan friend, was also found guilty on all charges against him in the historic trial. On their eleventh day of deliberations, the six-woman, six-man jury found Ryan, 72, guilty on 18 counts of racketeering, mail fraud, false statements and tax violations. Warner, 67, was convicted on 12 counts of racketeering, mail fraud, extortion, money laundering and evading cash-reporting requirements.

2006-04-18t16:25:05Z | RE: Education. Evolution. Flash.
Interactive evolution and education

There's a very nice bit of education interactive Flash on Evolution: evolution - what next? [johnkyrk.com/evolution.html]. I personally love it.

What get's me is the corresponding MeFi thread: Take that Intelligent Design - It's flash so it must be true [metafilter.com/mefi/50988]. They're whining about the lack of a play button! So here's what I told them:

Quit whining about the lack of a play button you passive TV wimps! It's called "interaction". Here's a little list about educational media (like museum exhibits or flash):

  • It just sits there.
  • It has some text.
  • It plays some audio or video when you click.
  • It does several things when you interact with it.
  • It does variable things but you have to figure out how interact with it.
  • It demands that you learn and practice to use it.
  • It is a real person.

I hope you get the general idea. Of course there are different degrees of quality at each level (e.g. shallow versus deep text), but generally when it comes to educational material: doing, interacting, practicing is vital.

As far as Kyrk's evolution piece, obviously he wants you to take the time to read the stuff. Plus we're talking about time here and getting a sense of the passage of time on cosmic, geologic, and paleontologic scales.

By coincidence, I was poking around human taxonomy and evolution this weekend so his piece is much more interesting for me. Here's a little list I made this weekend for my own entertainment:

  • Domain Eukaryota. A eurkaryote is an organism with a nucleus or nuclei.
  • Kingdom Animalia. An animal does not have cell walls and is a heterotroph that ingests food.
  • Phylum Chordata. A chordate has a notochord (rod shaped backbone like thing) and a muscular tail.
  • Subphylum Vertebrata. A vertebrate has a backbone or spinal column.
  • Class Mamallia. A mammal has mammary glands, hair, and is endothermic (warm blooded).
  • Order Primates. A primate has five fingers, and fingernails. Includes the suborders: Strepsirrhini (non-tarsier prosimians) and Haplorrhini (Tarsiers, Monkeys, and Apes). This split occurred 63 MYA.
  • Suborder Haplorrhini. Haplorrhines, the "dry-nosed" primates include the infraorders: Tarsiiformes (Tarsiers) and Simiiformes (Simians). This split occurred 58 MYA.
  • Infraorder Simiiformes. Simians include the parvorders: Platyrrhini (New World monkeys) and Catarrhini. This split occurred 40 MYA.
  • Parvorder Catarrhini. Includes the superfamilies: Cercopithecoidea (Old World Monkeys) and Hominoidea (Apes). This split occurred 25 MYA.
  • Superfamily Hominoidea. Hominoids are the apes and include the families: Hylobatidae (the Lesser Apes or Gibbons) and Hominidae (the Great Apes). This split occurred 18 MYA.
  • Family Hominidae. Hominids are the great apes and include the subfamilies: Ponginae (Orangutans) and Homininae (Gorillas, Chimpanzees, and Humans). This split occurred 14 MYA.
  • Subfamily Homininae. Hominines include the tribes: Other subtribes: Gorillini (Gorillas) and Hominini (Chimpanzees and Humans). This split occurred 7 MYA.
  • Tribe Hominini. Hominins include the subtribes: Paninina (Chimpanzees) and Homonina (Humans and extinct relatives). This split occurred 5/3 MYA.
  • Subtribe Homonina. Hominans include the following genera, all of which are extinct except for Homo:
    • Sahelanthropus. This genus has a singular species, Sahelanthropus tchadensis. Like a mix between Chimpanzee and human. Controversy. 7/6 MYA.
    • Orrorin. This genus has a singular species, Orrorin tugenensis. Controversy. 6.1/5.8 MYA.
    • Ardipithecus. The size of a Chimpanzee but bipedal and with teeth more like the Australopithecus. 5.8/4.2 MYA.
    • Two genera are both called australopithecines and are considered the immediate ancestors of Homo. Brain cavity: 400-430 cm3.
      • genus Australopithecus. The famous "Lucy" of 3.9/3 MYA was a specimen of Australopithecus afarensis. 4.4/1.7 MYA.
      • genus Paranthropus. 2.7/1.3 MYA.
    • Kenyanthropus. This genus has a singular specimen, Kenyanthropus platyops, which if not its own genus, then may be a australopithecines or a homo. 3.5/3.2 MYA.
    • Homo.
  • Genus Homo. Homos include the following species, all of which are extinct except for Homo sapiens.
    • Homo habilis (Man with ability). Tool user but possibly not of the genus homo. Brain cavity: 590-650 cm3. 2.5/1.8 MYA.
    • Homo rudolfensis (Rudolf Man)
    • Homo ergaster (Working Man). Alternatively, may be Homo erectus ergaster. 1.8/1.24 MYA.
    • Homo erectus (Upright Man). An ancestor of modern man. Includes famous finds such as Java Man, Peking Man, and Turkana Boy. Brain cavity: 950-1100 cm3. 1.25/0.07 MYA.
    • Homo heidelbergensis (Heidelberg Man). An ancestor of modern man. Brain cavity: 1100-1400 cm3. 800/300 KYA.
    • Homo antecessor (Explorer Man). Brain cavity: 1000-1150 cm3. 600-250 KYA.
    • Homo rhodesiensis (Rhodesia Man)
    • Homo cepranensis (Ceprano Man)
    • Homo georgicus (Georgia Man)
    • Homo neanderthalensis (Neanderthal Man). Alternatively, may be Homo sapiens neanderthalensis. Tool user that coexisted in time with Homo sapiens for quite a while. 230/30 KYA.
    • Homo floresiensis (Flores Man, discovered 2003). Halfling size. The last of the other species of the genus Homo. 18/15 KYA.
    • Homo sapiens (Wise Man, modern humans). 200/ KYA.
  • Species Sapiens. Includes the following subspecies, all of which are extinct except for Homo sapiens sapiens.
    • Homo sapiens neanderthalensis (Neanderthal Man). Alternatively, may be of the species Homo neanderthalensis. Tool user that coexisted in time with Homo sapiens for quite a while. 230/30 KYA.
    • Homo sapiens sapiens (Wise wise Man, modern humans). 195/ KYA.
    • Homo sapiens idaltu (Elderly Wise Man, discovered 1997). 160/150 KYA.
  • Subspecies Sapiens. Brain cavity: 1400 cm3 average.

2006-04-18t16:43:01Z | RE: Chicago. Education.
Gates gives 21e6 USD to Chicago schools

Finally Bill Gates has impressed me. It's not his software but his generosity —and its right here in Chicago too. Money spent on education is money well spent.

City dropouts target of grant [chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-0604180273apr18,1,7753675.story]

With many high school dropouts saying they left school because they felt unchallenged in the classroom, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Monday gave $21 million to the Chicago Public Schools system to establish a more rigorous curriculum in city high schools.

The money is a key part of a so-called high school "transformation project," an effort by Chicago school officials to stem high school dropout rates and better prepare students for college. Only 54 percent of freshmen eventually receive a diploma, according to a study by the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago. Of those graduates, 47 percent go on to college, and many Chicago students then need remedial classes to learn things that should have been mastered in high school, officials said.

"I think this is a truly historic day, not just for the Chicago Public Schools and the city, but for the country," said Arne Duncan, CEO of the district, who predicted Chicago's high school effort would be studied nationally.

The Gates foundation has invested more than $65 million in the Chicago Public Schools and $1.3 billion nationally, Vander Ark [executive director of education for the Gates foundation] said.

"The impact of this grant will be long-lasting," Mayor Richard Daley said in announcing the gift at Crane High School on the Near West Side

2006-04-18t20:53:28Z | RE: Cyber Life. Productivity.
50 ways to take notes

These days I keep an actual notepad in my pocket.

Fifty Ways to Take Notes [solutionwatch.com/368/fifty-ways-to-take-notes]

2006-04-18t21:08:59Z | RE: Cyber Life. Design. Usability.
F reading

Stuff we sort of knew, but it's comforting to have it quantified.

F-Shaped Pattern For Reading Web Content [useit.com/alertbox/reading_pattern.html]

In our new eyetracking study, we recorded how 232 users looked at thousands of Web pages. We found that users' main reading behavior was fairly consistent across many different sites and tasks. This dominant reading pattern looks somewhat like an F and has the following three components:

  • Users first read in a horizontal movement, usually across the upper part of the content area. This initial element forms the F's top bar.
  • Next, users move down the page a bit and then read across in a second horizontal movement that typically covers a shorter area than the previous movement. This additional element forms the F's lower bar.
  • Finally, users scan the content's left side in a vertical movement. Sometimes this is a fairly slow and systematic scan that appears as a solid stripe on an eyetracking heatmap. Other times users move faster, creating a spottier heatmap. This last element forms the F's stem.

Implications of the F Pattern

The F pattern's implications for Web design are clear and show the importance of following the guidelines for writing for the Web instead of repurposing print content:
  • Users won't read your text thoroughly in a word-by-word manner. Exhaustive reading is rare, especially when prospective customers are conducting their initial research to compile a shortlist of vendors. Yes, some people will read more, but most won't.
  • The first two paragraphs must state the most important information. There's some hope that users will actually read this material, though they'll probably read more of the first paragraph than the second.
  • Start subheads, paragraphs, and bullet points with information-carrying words that users will notice when scanning down the left side of your content in the final stem of their F-behavior. They'll read the third word on a line much less often than the first two words.

2006-04-18t21:33:38Z | RE: Cyber Tech. Design.
World as TreeMap

This is cool. It is reminiscent of ye olde Newsmap [Marumushi.com/apps/newsmap/newsmap.cfm]. Uses grouping, size, and color to represent three dimensions of data. Of course you could do this with all sorts of data.

World Population Treemap [hivegroup.com/world.html]

[SCREENSHOT: App showing data via Treemap]

2006-04-19t20:19:52Z | RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Engineering. Programming.
Amazon S3

I forgot to post this when it came out but I'm filing and dating it here.

Amazon Offers Unlimited Storage [betaflow.com/2006/03/14/amazon-offers-unlimited-storage/]

To put it simply, S3 is an infinitely large hard drive, available to developers at a dirt cheap price - don’t forget Amazon’s industry leading infrastructure that will ensure speedy transfers and reliability. Developers have the ability to read, write, and delete an unlimited number of files, via SOAP and REST interfaces, up to 5GB in size! So, how much does it cost? Nothing to start! There’s no minimum storage and no startup fee. For storage, you’ll pay $0.15 per GB per month; for bandwidth, $0.20 per GB. That’s merely $15 per month to store 100GB of data, with a $20 charge for bandwidth on your upload.

2006-04-19t20:34:46Z | RE: Chill. Cyber Life. Games.
Games now and then

Even if you get older and don't play the games anymore, they'll still be fun in your memories.

Won't somebody please think of the pixels?!? [metafilter.com/mefi/50320]

The face of gaming. (via /.) A glance down memory lane to 20 years ago, when games looked and felt completely different. Were those old games really as great as our memories tell us? Other than all of our graphical splendor, can we really say that games have had any real new innovation?

[SCREENSHOTS: Karate Champ versus DOA4]

2006-04-19t20:42:27Z | RE: Politics. U.S.A. (America).
Democrats regroup

Such a topic is like candy fo MetaFilter. Whoever wins the U.S. presidential election in 2008, at least it won't be George W. Bush. Stay regroup and act calmly.

Unfucking the Donkey [metafilter.com/mefi/50818]

Advice for weary, wandering Democrats Note to Democrats: "Barack Obama put it exquisitely in his victory speech: "Government can help provide us with the basic tools we need to live out the American dream." Here's a dirty little secret. The Republicans know this. Nothing scares them more than us returning to our simple answers. ..."

2006-04-19t20:48:23Z | RE: Engineering. Money. Sustainability.
Green is gold

Yep, we sustainable folks have been pushing this for a long time, but it's very important to bring the capitalists on board!

Betting On a Green Future [wired.com/news/technology/0,70641-0.html?tw=rss.index]

Venture capitalist John Doerr made his name and fortune with early investments in Netscape Communications Corp., Amazon.com Inc., Google Inc. and other pioneering tech firms that went from scrappy startups to household names. Now Doerr and his firm, Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, are placing big bets on an emerging sector he calls "green technology," one he believes could become as lucrative as information technology and biotechnology.

"It's a strong area for venture capital," said Craig Cuddebach, the network's senior vice president, whose group expects venture capital investment in the sector to double over the next three years. "It's no longer a choice between whether you will be clean or profitable."

Also known as clean technology, the field includes technologies related to water purification, air quality, nanotechnology, alternative fuels, manufacturing, recycling and renewable energy. As prices of more traditional energy sources continue to rise, the global market for clean energy sources such as biofuels, hydrogen fuel cells and solar and wind energy rose to $40 billion last year, according to a report released last month by Clean Edge Inc., a Bay Area marketing firm. The figure is expected to more than quadruple to $167 billion by 2015, the report said.

Doerr sees another major trend: billions of people moving to cities in developing countries. Experts predict the number of people living in "megacities" with more than 10 million people will triple from 2 billion to 6 billion over the next 50 years, he said. "This is the mother of all markets," Doerr said. "As those Asian economies rise, people will move from rural to urban settings. All those people will want the same things that you and I want —clean water, power and transportation."

2006-04-19t21:45:05Z | RE: Science. Video.
Feynman video

I've read and liked Richard Feynman [W] before but it is so totally awesome to see him on video.

"The Pleasure of Finding Things Out" [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6586235597476141009; video; 49:38] [via http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/50977]

2006-04-19t22:18:08Z | RE: Culture. Saucy. Science.
Men bamboozled by women --Surprise!

Yet another study that quantifiably tests something we already know. No wonder there are so many pretty girls in Las Vegas!

Sex cues ruin men's decisiveness [news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4921690.stm]

Catching sight of a pretty woman really is enough to throw a man's decision-making skills into disarray, a study suggests.

The University of Leuven researchers gave 176 heterosexual male student volunteers aged 18 to 28 financial games to test their fair play. But first, half of the men were shown sexual cues of some kind. One group of 44 men were given pictures to rate; some were shown landscapes while the rest were shown attractive women. Another group, of 37 men, were either asked to assess the quality, texture and colour of a bra or a t-shirt. And a third group of 95 were shown either pictures of elderly women or young models. Each group was then paired up to play a game where the men had $10, a proposer had to suggest a split, and the other man accepted or rejected the offer. If the second man accepted the offer, the money was distributed in agreement with the offer. If he rejected it, neither partner got anything. The game is designed as a lab model of hunting or food sharing situations.

The men's testosterone levels were also tested - by comparing the length of the men's index finger compared to their ring finger. If the ring finger is longest, it indicates a high testosterone level. The researchers found that men in the study who had the highest levels performed worst in the test, and suggest that is because they are particularly sensitive to sexual images. 

The researchers are conducting similar tests with women. But so far, they have failed to find a visual stimulus which will affect their behaviour.

So women really are super!

[SCAN: Superman introducing Super-Girl]

2006-04-19t22:25:10Z | RE: Google. Productivity.
Use Google to determine gender of unfamiliar names

Simple brilliance!


If you are dealing with an international contact but don't know if they are a man or a woman, try typing their first name into a image search engine like images.google.com (e.g., "Priti"). Watch out for unisex names, though.

2006-04-19t22:36:41Z | RE: Brain. Flow. Science.
Brain shut-off caught on film

Hey! I switch off all the time! It's called Flow dude.

Watching the brain switch off self-awareness [newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn9019&feedId=online-news_rss20]

Everybody has experienced a sense of “losing oneself” in an activity – being totally absorbed in a task, a movie or sex. Now researchers have caught the brain in the act. Self-awareness, regarded as a key element of being human, is switched off when the brain needs to concentrate hard on a tricky task, found the neurobiologists from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. The team conducted a series of experiments to pinpoint the brain activity associated with introspection and that linked to sensory function. They found that the brain assumes a robotic functionality when it has to concentrate all its efforts on a difficult, timed task – only becoming "human" again when it has the luxury of time.

“The regions of the brain involved in introspection and sensory perception are completely segregated, although well connected,” says Goldberg, “and when the brain needs to divert all its resources to carry out a difficult task, the self-related cortex is inhibited.” The brain’s ability to “switch off” the self may have evolved as a protective mechanism, he suggests. “If there is a sudden danger, such as the appearance of a snake, it is not helpful to stand around wondering how one feels about the situation,” Goldberg points out.

Also, they don't say, but I think the converse is true: If you fall into deep introspection, then your sensory perceptions shut off. Hey! I do that too!

2006-04-20t14:33:53Z | RE: Engineering. Politics. Science. Sustainability. U.S.A. (America).
Green Manhattan Project needed

It would take a visionary leader like an FDR or a JFK to do this.

Needed: An "Apollo Program" for Energy [technologyreview.com/BizTech/wtr_16718,296,p1.html]

Marty Hoffert, retired professor of physics at New York University -- who has been conducting research in atmospheric science and alternative energy technologies for three decades -- argues that only a radical and disruptive Manhattan Project- or Apollo Program-style approach will work.

Technology Review: Why not let the markets work things out?

Marty Hoffert: Business as usual means we'll actually be emitting far more CO2, because we're increasingly turning to coal-burning for our energy. The historical de-carbonization -- which went from coal, to oil, to gas, which emit progressively less carbon -- will be reversed. Natural gas and oil are hitting their peaks. The shift to coal is already happening in China and India. The United States has reached an inflection point. And there's little sign right now that this use of coal will be accompanied by CO2 sequestration. Something else has to take up the slack -- and it's a mind-boggling slack. In 2050, we will need between 100 and 300 percent of all the energy we use right now -- from totally non-CO2-emitting sources. Consider that today 85 percent of our energy comes from CO2-emitting fossil sources.

TR: How should we address the problem?

MH: Entirely new innovations -- potentially disruptive to existing industries -- are needed to wean us from oil and natural gas addiction and to zero out CO2 emissions by midcentury. But we can do it -- there are precedents. Little more than 60 years separate the Wright Flyer from Neil Armstrong's "giant step for mankind." Mere decades elapsed from Steve Jobs' and Steve Wozniak's Apple II to today's lightning-fast laptops, cell phones, and the Internet. John von Neumann, father of the modern computer, believed in the 1950s that only nation-states would be able to afford computers. He would be stunned by our reality.

TR: Won't the high cost of fossil drive the economics for these things to happen naturally?

MH: One problem is that policy analysts working on global warming mitigation are dominated by economists, not engineers, and most don't have any clue that these things are not only possible, but exist in the laboratories today. We hear talk of carbon taxes and that the natural workings of the economics system will generate this technology. The truth is that's not the way it works at all historically. Since World War II, the development of everything from gas turbines to integrated circuits to the Internet were all devised by R&D paid for by the government. We should target the R&D we need to make the energy system sustainable.

2006-04-20t14:50:09Z | RE: Philosophy. Pscychology. Quiz. Relations.
Machiavelli test

According to the test, I'm a "high Mach" since I scored 73 given the range from 0 to 100. I think it's not so much that I'm "evil" or that I think most people are evil, but that I believe that most people have the potential for "evil". "Trust but verify". Besides, if I were truly Machiavellian, would I give the true results of such a test?

Machiavelli personality test [salon.com/books/it/1999/09/13/machtest/index.html]

This survey itself measures only one thing -- whether you subscribe to the ideas of a 16th century Italian political philosopher. But experiments have shown that reactions to Machiavelli act as a kind of litmus test, delineating differences in temperament that can be confirmed with more traditional personality inventories. High Machs constitute a distinct type: charming, confident and glib, but also arrogant, calculating and cynical, prone to manipulate and exploit. (Think Rupert Murdoch, or if your politics permit it, President Clinton.) True low Machs, however, can be kind of dependent, submissive and socially inept. So be sure to invite a high Mach or two to your next dinner party.

2006-04-20t15:27:04Z | RE: Politics. U.S.A. (America).
Worst President ever?

Yep (And sadly half of America voted for him twice). A fairly lengthy look by a leading American historian.

The Worst President in History? [rollingstone.com/news/profile/story/9961300/the_worst_president_in_history?rnd=1145468541266&has-player=true&version=]

[IMAGE: Cover of Rolling Stone]

How does any president's reputation sink so low? The reasons are best understood as the reverse of those that produce presidential greatness. In almost every survey of historians dating back to the 1940s, three presidents have emerged as supreme successes: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt. These were the men who guided the nation through what historians consider its greatest crises: the founding era after the ratification of the Constitution, the Civil War, and the Great Depression and Second World War. Presented with arduous, at times seemingly impossible circumstances, they rallied the nation, governed brilliantly and left the republic more secure than when they entered office.

Calamitous presidents, faced with enormous difficulties -- Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Hoover and now Bush -- have divided the nation, governed erratically and left the nation worse off. In each case, different factors contributed to the failure: disastrous domestic policies, foreign-policy blunders and military setbacks, executive misconduct, crises of credibility and public trust. Bush, however, is one of the rarities in presidential history: He has not only stumbled badly in every one of these key areas, he has also displayed a weakness common among the greatest presidential failures -- an unswerving adherence to a simplistic ideology that abjures deviation from dogma as heresy, thus preventing any pragmatic adjustment to changing realities. Repeatedly, Bush has undone himself, a failing revealed in each major area of presidential performance.

George W. Bush's presidency appears headed for colossal historical disgrace. Barring a cataclysmic event on the order of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, after which the public might rally around the White House once again, there seems to be little the administration can do to avoid being ranked on the lowest tier of U.S. presidents. And that may be the best-case scenario. Many historians are now wondering whether Bush, in fact, will be remembered as the very worst president in all of American history.

Having waved away the lessons of history in the making of his decisions, the present-minded Bush doesn't seem to be concerned about his place in history. "History. We won't know," he told the journalist Bob Woodward in 2003. "We'll all be dead."

2006-04-20t15:35:21Z | RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Programming.
Professional programming

Nice article but I'll bet some schmucks will just use it to merely to improve their job interviews.

What Is A Professional Programmer? [developerdotstar.com/printable/mag/articles/software_professionalism.html]

There's quite a gap between "being able to program" and being a "professional programmer." It took me 15 years to go from beginner to hotshot programmer, then another 10 years to go from hotshot to professional—and I'm still learning. Whatever the path we follow, most professional programmers have in common the fact that they learned to code first and how to be a professional later.

Keywords from the article: Trustworthiness; Teamwork; Leadership; Communication; Updating Skills; Minimizing Risks; Accountability;

What? No stuff about making sure there's no documentation?

I set up a web site, which is completely independent from my day job. The site is called Developing Programmers.com. It is devoted to teaching people how to develop into professional programmers. Since founding the site, I've been presenting the tools and ideas that I think professionals should know about.

2006-04-20t15:42:17Z | RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Design.
10 well designed sites

People have to note the best fashions while they're still in fashion. Me? I'm a content guy. I design only for functionality —unless I'm doing art and then anything goes.

Yikes! Some of this Web 2.0 stuff can get so annoying!

 Top 10 Best Designed Blogs [elliottback.com/wp/archives/2006/04/16/top-ten-best-designed-blogs/]

2006-04-20t16:07:47Z | RE: Comics. Geography. Science.
The sub-glacial lakes of Ka-Zar

Wicked coolness!

Secret rivers found in Antarctic [news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4908292.stm]

Antarctica's buried lakes are connected by a network of rivers moving water far beneath the surface, say UK scientists.

The sub-glacial lakes of Antarctica are regarded as "time capsules" of the period when the continent began to freeze over. Scientists believe any life they contain might shed light on extreme environments on other worlds, such as the ice-bound ocean on Jupiter's moon Europa. The presence of the drainage system may change current thinking on the chances of finding microbial life that has evolved "independently". "The notion that these things have been sitting in the lakes evolving for millions of years probably won't wash," said Professor Wingham.

Yeah, a lot can happen in millions of years --even in Antartica.

[MAP: Antartica and underground lake Vostok]

  • There are more than 150 sub-glacial lakes in Antarctica; Vostok is the biggest
  • At 14,000 sq km, it is about the extent of Lake Ontario and is up to 500m deep in places.
  • Overlying ice layers reveal a 400,000-year environmental record with microbes present throughout the core
  • Many scientists consider Vostok to be a good model for the ecosystems that might exist on Jupiter's frozen moons

I wonder when they'll find the Ka-Zar (a Tarzan rip-off) and the sub-glacial Savage Land hidden by aliens?
[COVER: X-Men meet Ka-Zar]

2006-04-20t16:15:17Z | RE: China. Architecture. Chicago. Engineering.
Chicago comepeting to make Chinese Zero-Energy building

Talk about a small footprint! So China will rake in the dough by not spending money on electricity and the military. Sweet.

Zero-energy Tower Could Rise in Guangdong, China [treehugger.com/files/2006/04/zeroenergy_towe.php]

[IMAGE: Artist's rendition of a Chinese zero-energy building]

A 300-meter tower requiring no net energy to operate could be erected in Guangdong, China. Designed by the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), what is informally known as the Zero Energy Tower is one of three finalists for Guangdong Tobacco Company’s new headquarters, according to Architectural Record. SOM’s hi-tech design would be a revolutionary take on wind power. Integrated wind turbines would be housed on two separate mechanical floors and a sweeping southern façade would sport integrated louvers, calibrated to automatically adjust to the sun’s angle and intensity. "We felt this was an ideal opportunity to showcase how a large building could be designed to utilize energy harvested from the local environment," says SOM associate partner Gordon Gill, who worked on the proposal. ::Architectural Record

Go green Chicago architects!

2006-04-22t01:02:20Z | RE: CSG. Chicago. Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Google. Martial. My Stuff. Productivity. Programming.
Google Calendar versus CSG calendar

I'm the Webmaster at the Chicago Swordplay Guild [chicagoswordplayguild.com] and we've had mildly heated discussions over the site's calendar. The calendar thread has re-emerged since I announced that I made the CSG calendar and CSG classes also available as a calendar feed. Here is the most recent email I sent on this thread:

If you have a Web connected browser, but are otherwise a techie heathen (no insult for Heathenry intended), then you could, right now, click to our website and see the CSG Calendar and CSG Classes in good olde text. Whether you are a member or not, those pages are the quickest ways to see our calendar and classes. You can easily take that information and integrate it into whatever calendar you want --whether paper, digital, biological, etc.

Alternatively, I could generate a visual calendar (with a month or week of days in rows and columns), a la Dave's old app (which, BTW, took way too many clicks, was un-bookmarkable, and often out of synch). However, if you're visual, then you'd want to see the CSG events alongside your own events on your own visual calendar, no? In that case, then you'd have to manually transfer the calendar info into your own calendar. And in that case, you might as well use the good olde text calendars already on our site --they are after all information dense.

But wait! Why manually transfer? That sucks! (I hate re-entering stuff into different calendars or new cell phones.) Why not do it digitally? I might have some incentive to maintain a visual calendar if many people could digitally incorporate it. Well what apps do people use? Microsoft Outlook? Apple iCal? A spreadsheet? One of so many Easy calendars out there? How can you digitally transfer stuff if everyone uses a different formatting standard?

Surprise! The new CSG Calendar is done in the iCalendar standard (ref: RFC 2445 and iCalendar at Wikipedia), the closest thing to a universal computer standard for exchanging calendar data. This is a standard that all sorts of apps can use to exchange calendar data. Besides Google Calendar, you could use Apple iCal, Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Notes, etc. Heck, I'm sure that calendar feed consuming Web 2.0 goodies must be in the make. (FYI: Google exposed the Google Calendar Data API just the other day.)

While our calendar and classes are also available as a CSG calendar feed, but people do not need Google Calendar to use either the good olde pages or the feed.

The new CSG Calendar feed is intended for members and visitors.
  • If anything, a Google Calendar feed is another avenue for making our site discoverable. A Google search for "Chicago Swordplay Guild calendar" will return the good olde text pages on our site, but Google is implementing calendar searching, and this means that people can find out about events that are just on calendar feeds.
  • The CSG calendar feeds are publicly, explicitly available on our good olde text pages. Members and visitors can add the feed to their iCalendar compliant calendar apps with just a few strokes.
Again: You don't need to use Google Calendar. I, on the other hand, dig it and I finally understand why the Mac folks have been raving over iCal. The ability to layer and hide/unhide calendars is incredible --it makes it possible to manage multiple complex schedules with simplicity. Doing it for free, with a browser, with email integration, and having access to all sorts of public calendars are just more pluses.

-George Hernandez

2006-04-22t02:09:00Z | RE: China. Funny. Politics. U.S.A. (America).
Hu's on first

We all know that China is important but there is no real news, just a lot of the usual speculation. I did, however, enjoy this variation of the famous Abbot and Costello skit.

"Hu's on First" by James Sherman [kottke.org/02/11/hus-on-first]

Here are the first few lines:

(We take you now to the Oval Office.)

George: Condi! Nice to see you. What's happening?

Condi: Sir, I have the report here about the new leader of China.

George: Great. Lay it on me.

Condi: Hu is the new leader of China.

George: That's what I want to know.

Condi: That's what I'm telling you.

George: That's what I'm asking you. Who is the new leader of China?

Condi: Yes.

George: I mean the fellow's name.

Condi: Hu.

George: The guy in China.

2006-04-22t02:29:02Z | RE: Cyber Life. Funny.

We all need a periodic etiquette review. (The funny MonkeyFilter comments alone are worth reading.)

Flame Wars and Other Online Arguments [members.aol.com/intwg/flamewars.htm] [via http://monkeyfilter.com/link.php/11634]

Here's a summary:

I'm Passionate; You're Wrong (Instaclick)
I'm Just Trying to Help (Pedantry)
My Soapbox, My Audience (Abstraction)
I'm Right; You're Wrong (Polarity)
You're Right; I'm Wrong (Ego)
They're Wrong; You're Wrong (Transference)
You Mustn't Be Right (Antiprocess)
You're Not Listening (Frustration)
I Thought You Knew (Miscommunication)
I'm Right; You're Deluded (Flamebait)
I'm Right; You're Hooked (Trolling)
I'm Within the Rules (Brinking)

2006-04-22t03:30:00Z | RE: Cyber Life. Engineering. Games. Play.
Nintendo rules

I'm so behind! (I don't even have a gaming console, but I have kids getting to that age soon.) I had no idea that Nintendo was beating Sony and Microsoft so badly. Even worse I had no idea that Sega is hardly even in the game anymore.

Joystiq poll: Waiting for E3 [joystiq.com/2006/04/21/joystiq-poll-waiting-for-e3/] [via http://digg.com/gaming/Gamers_more_interested_in_Nintendo_than_Sony_at_E3]

Take the poll, read the comments at Joystiq and at Digg. The upcoming Nintendo Revolution [W], with its motion-sensing 3D controller seems totally different.
[PHOTO: Nintendo Revolution controller]

2006-04-23t23:16:04Z | RE: Cyber Life. Google.
Google Map changes

I just noticed a couple of things about Google Maps. (These are either new or I never noticed them before.)

  1. Google is finally linking to it as "Maps" instead of "Local". Good! Synonyms can confuse and annoy.
  2. Google has a mini-map in the bottom right. Great! Mini-maps are great for perspective and navigation. I like the mini-calendar in Google Calendar too.

[MAP: Chicago via Google Maps]

2006-04-24t15:13:33Z | RE: Health. NSFW. Science. Sex.
Penile pondering

Some people are just very interested in the penis.

Phallological Museum [metafilter.com/mefi/27250]

The Icelanding Phallological Museum. A museum dedicated to the male sexual organ, with an online gallery of phalluses of many species.
Lingam Gnosis is the 'ancient art of penis reading' - like palmistry, only with penises, which can be classified into alchemical earth, fire, water and air types.
Foreskin.org is an educational site about the male foreskin (with photographs and articles).
(Needless to say, probably not suitable for work).

It looks like the Icelandic Phalllogical Museum also has the phallus.is domain name.

Linked previously :- Puppetry of the Penis. Here's
a short history of circumcision in the US
religious and cultural documents relating to circumcision
;part of Nelson Mandela's description of the circumcision
ritual he underwent at 16.
Circumcision as a rite of passage in Turkey(previously discussed).Some
77 %
of the male population worldwide is
Finally, scroll down a little here to read about the amazing Lifting Baba.

I did further digging around at Wikipedia. In general, it seems that there are no well substantiated health reasons for circumcision. If this is true, then circumcisions are strictly because of tradition, religion, sexual beliefs, etc. I wish I had known this before I (ahem) had to make certain decisions.

Here are some of the related links at Wikipedia. There are, of course, many others.

I shouldn't even have to say it but female circumcision should be avoided all together.

2006-04-24t22:50:06Z | RE: Politics. U.S.A. (America).
CIA says Bush knew there were no WMDs in 2002

Sigh. I am so tired of Bush.

60 Minutes: CIA Official Reveals Bush, Cheney, Rice Were Personally Told Iraq Had No WMD in Fall 2002 [thinkprogress.org/2006/04/23/60-minutes-cia-official-reveals-bush-cheney-rice-were-personally-told-iraq-had-no-wmd-in-fall-2002] [via reddit.com/info/4vum/comments]

Tonight on 60 Minutes, Tyler Drumheller, the former chief of the CIA’s Europe division, revealed that in the fall of 2002, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and others were told by CIA Director George Tenet that Iraq’s foreign minister — who agreed to act as a spy for the United States — had reported that Iraq had no active weapons of mass destruction program. Watch it

Read the full transcript HERE.

2006-04-24t22:58:49Z | RE: Economy. Money. U.S.A. (America).
U.S.A. gas price map

Zoom in for greater accuracy. EG: Illinois is mostly yellow. Only near Chicago is it orange.

USA National Gas Temperature Map [gasbuddy.com/gb_gastemperaturemap.aspx]

[MAP: Gas prices by county]

2006-04-24t23:07:29Z | RE: Cyber Tech. Math. Programming.
Better random numbers

Dated and filed.

Random Number Generation [qbrundage.com/michaelb/pubs/essays/random_number_generation]

Have you ever used rand() or Math.Random() or System.Random or java.util.Random? You could do a lot better. Did you know that these use one of the slowest and least random algorithms available? In this article, I provide C/C++, Java, and C# implementations of two fast, high-quality random number generators, the Mersenne Twister and R250/521

2006-04-24t23:20:26Z | RE: Engineering. Martial. U.S.A. (America). Video.
Dragon Scales awesome

I've mentioned Dragon Skin on this site before, and now they've confirmed that it's awesome stuff. What's not to love about ceramic scale mail?

THE BEST: Dragon Skin [military.com/soldiertech/0,14632,Soldiertech_060420_dragon3,,00.html?ESRC=soldiertech.nl]

Defense Review has confirmed it.  Just as we expected, Pinnacle Armor SOV-2000 (Level III/III+) and SOV-3000 (Level IV) Dragon Skin body armor appears to be significantly superior in every combat-relavant way to U.S. Army PEO Soldier's and U.S. Army Natick Soldier Center (NSC)/Soldier Systems Center's Interceptor Body Armor, which is comprised of the following components: USMC Interceptor Multi-threat Body Armor System Small Arms Protective Insert (SAPI) Level III plate or Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert (ESAPI) Level IV plate, and the USMC Interceptor Multi-threat Body Armor System Outer Tactical Vest (OTV).

The link has some nice videos too.

2006-04-25t14:58:44Z | RE: Economy. Engineering. Money. Sustainability.
Holographic solar coolness

I'm very interested in urban sustainability —I'd like solar or wind or both at my house. Plus Green is Gold! It's a great time to invest.

Holographic Solar [technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=16736&ch=biztech]

The main limitation of solar power right now is cost, because the crystalline silicon used to make most solar photovoltaic (PV) cells is very expensive. One approach to overcoming this cost factor is to concentrate light from the sun using mirrors or lenses, thereby reducing the total area of silicon needed to produce a given amount of electricity. But traditional light concentrators are bulky and unattractive -- less than ideal for use on suburban rooftops. Now Prism Solar Technologies [prismsolar.com] of Stone Ridge, NY, has developed a proof-of-concept solar module that uses holograms to concentrate light, possibly cutting the cost of solar modules by as much as 75 percent, making them competitive with electricity generated from fossil fuels. The new technology replaces unsightly concentrators with sleek flat panels laminated with holograms. The panels, says Rick Lewandowski, the company's president and CEO, are a "more elegant solution" to traditional concentrators, and can be installed on rooftops -- or even incorporated into windows and glass doors. The system needs 25 to 85 percent less silicon than a crystalline silicon panel of comparable wattage, Lewandowski says, because the photovoltaic material need not cover the entire surface of a solar panel. Instead, the PV material is arranged in several rows. A layer of holograms -- laser-created patterns that diffract light -- directs light into a layer of glass where it continues to reflect off the inside surface of the glass until it finds its way to one of the strips of PV silicon. Reducing the PV material needed could bring down costs from about $4 per watt to $1.50 for crystalline silicon panels, he says.

In their ability to concentrate light, holograms are not as powerful as conventional concentrators. They can multiply the amount of light falling on the cells only by as much as a factor of 10, whereas lens-based systems can increase light by a factor of 100, and some even up to 1,000. But traditional concentrators are complicated. Since the lenses or mirrors that focus light need to face the sun directly, they have to mechanically track the sun. They also heat up the solar cells, and so require a cooling system. As a result, although they redirect light with more intensity than the hologram device, "they're unwieldy...and not as practical for residential uses," says National Renewable Energy Laboratory spokesperson George Douglas. Holograms have advantages that make up for their relatively weak concentration power. They can select certain frequencies and focus them on solar cells that work best at those frequencies, converting the maximum possible light into electricity. They also can be made to direct heat-generating frequencies away from the cells, so the system does not need to be cooled. "In this way, you are efficiently using only that part of the sunlight that really matters," says Selim Shahriar, director of the atomic and photonic technology laboratory at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. Also, different holograms in a concentrator module can be designed to focus light from different angles -- so they don't need moving parts to track the sun.

[PHOTO: A holographic solar panel by Prism Solar]

2006-04-26t16:16:29Z | RE: Economy. Money. Politics. Relations. Sustainability.
Green: thin, smart, sexy, and rich

This is important and urgent stuff. We're all "monkeys" and "fools" —everybody trips sometimes— so we really shouldn't blame "the idiots" for ruining the planet or picking Bush. What's needed is sexier message delivery. You know the adages: "The sizzle sells the steak", "Presentation often overrides the content", etc. It's more important to truly communicate and enable change than to feel indignant, unheard, and disempowered.

The Next Green Revolution [wired.com/wired/archive/14.05/green.html]

(Sorry but I'm going to overquote here)

For decades, environmentalists have warned of a coming climate crisis. Their alarms went unheeded, and last year we reaped an early harvest: a singularly ferocious hurricane season, record snowfall in New England, the worst-ever wildfires in Alaska, arctic glaciers at their lowest ebb in millennia, catastrophic drought in Brazil, devastating floods in India - portents of global warming's destructive potential.

Green-minded activists failed to move the broader public not because they were wrong about the problems, but because the solutions they offered were unappealing to most people. They called for tightening belts and curbing appetites, turning down the thermostat and living lower on the food chain. They rejected technology, business, and prosperity in favor of returning to a simpler way of life. No wonder the movement got so little traction. Asking people in the world's wealthiest, most advanced societies to turn their backs on the very forces that drove such abundance is naive at best.

With climate change hard upon us, a new green movement is taking shape, one that embraces environmentalism's concerns but rejects its worn-out answers. Technology can be a font of endlessly creative solutions. Business can be a vehicle for change. Prosperity can help us build the kind of world we want. Scientific exploration, innovative design, and cultural evolution are the most powerful tools we have. Entrepreneurial zeal and market forces, guided by sustainable policies, can propel the world into a bright green future.

Americans trash the planet not because we're evil, but because the industrial systems we've devised leave no other choice. Our ranch houses and high-rises, factories and farms, freeways and power plants were conceived before we had a clue how the planet works. They're primitive inventions designed by people who didn't fully grasp the consequences of their actions.

Consider the unmitigated ecological disaster that is the automobile. Every time you turn on the ignition, you're enmeshed in a system whose known outcomes include a polluted atmosphere, oil-slicked seas, and desert wars. As comprehension of the stakes has grown, though, a market has emerged for a more sensible alternative. Today you can drive a Toyota Prius that burns far less gasoline than a conventional car. Tomorrow we might see vehicles that consume no fossil fuels and emit no greenhouse gases. Combine cars like that with smarter urban growth and we're well on our way to sustainable transportation.

You don't change the world by hiding in the woods, wearing a hair shirt, or buying indulgences in the form of save the earth bumper stickers. You do it by articulating a vision for the future and pursuing it with all the ingenuity humanity can muster. Indeed, being green at the start of the 21st century requires a wholehearted commitment to upgrading civilization. Four key principles can guide the way:

Renewable energy is plentiful energy. Burning fossil fuels is a filthy habit, and the supply won't last forever. Fortunately, a growing number of renewable alternatives promise clean, inexhaustible power: wind turbines, solar arrays, wave-power flotillas, small hydroelectric generators, geothermal systems, even bioengineered algae that turn waste into hydrogen. The challenge is to scale up these technologies to deliver power in industrial quantities - exactly the kind of challenge brilliant businesspeople love.

Efficiency creates value. The number one US industrial product is waste. Waste is worse than stupid; it's costly, which is why we're seeing businesspeople in every sector getting a jump on the competition by consuming less water, power, and materials. What's true for industry is true at home, too: Think well-insulated houses full of natural light, cars that sip instead of guzzle, appliances that pay for themselves in energy savings.

Cities beat suburbs. Manhattanites use less energy than most people in North America. Sprawl eats land and snarls traffic. Building homes close together is a more efficient use of space and infrastructure. It also encourages walking, promotes public transit, and fosters community.

Quality is wealth. More is not better. Better is better. You don't need a bigger house; you need a different floor plan. You don't need more stuff; you need stuff you'll actually use. Ecofriendly designs and nontoxic materials already exist, and there's plenty of room for innovation. You may pay more for things like long-lasting, energy-efficient LED lightbulbs, but they'll save real money over the long term.

Redesigning civilization along these lines would bring a quality of life few of us can imagine. That's because a fully functioning ecology is tantamount to tangible wealth. Clean air and water, a diversity of animal and plant species, soil and mineral resources, and predictable weather are annuities that will pay dividends for as long as the human race survives - and may even extend our stay on Earth.

It may seem impossibly far away, but on days when the smog blows off, you can already see it: a society built on radically green design, sustainable energy, and closed-loop cities; a civilization afloat on a cloud of efficient, nontoxic, recyclable technology. That's a future we can live with.

2006-04-26t18:34:16Z | RE: Movies. U.S.A. (America).
United93 movie on 9/11 almost here

United 93. "September 11, 2001. Four planes were hijacked. Three of them reached their target. This is the story of the fourth."

This movie looks good so far and it has so much potential.

  • Release date: 2006-03-28. This Friday.
  • Directed by: Paul Greengrass

Related links:

[GRAPHICS: United93 design]

2006-04-26t18:41:54Z | RE: Art. Design. Rambling.
Design v Art

There is something beautiful about fashion and design (EG: leoburnett.com and bbdo.com), and I have nothing against candy and fun, but as an introvert I think I appreciate stuff that is much more personal. Something meaningful is not always pretty or cute but it is usually more permanent and is always beautiful.

Art has to move you and design does not, unless it's a good design for a bus.

-David Hockney.

Of course, sometimes you go back and forth.

2006-04-26t18:42:56Z | RE: Evolution. Faith. Rambling. Science. Video.
Adam and Eve and monkeys

Lately I have been thinking about the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, human evolution, and innocence. In one sense the story of Adam and Eve is a simple, silly little story but it is also thoroughly enjoyable and metaphorically rich story. Surprisingly, the Eden story is made more interesting (and not less) by science. The ideas of a Mitochondrial Eve [W] (ca 150 KYA) and a Y-chromosomal Adam [W] (ca. 90/60 KYA) are fascinating and enrich the Adam and Eve story. The idea that there were only 10,000 humans alive ca 75 KYA (Toba catastrophe theory [W]) is astounding and enriches the Eden concept. The idea that we are the last subspecies of the species Sapiens, the last species of the genus Homo, and the last genus of the subtribe Homonina gives you a sense of loneliness. The other subtribe of the tribe Hominini, is Paninina, and we split from them just 5/3 MYA —that makes Chimpanzees our closest cousins.

What happened to the other subspecies, species, and genera? Did we eliminate them (as in we are guilty by action)? Were they unable to adapt to the environment? Were we just lucky? There are many other possibilities and the answers is probably some combination. But metaphorically, the Tree of Knowledge is there in our evolution. We evolved from being ignorant and innocent to having knowledge and ability. While we are ignorant of many things, I think as the sentient species on the planet, our innocence is effectively gone. We cannot claim to be innocent of knowledge. We are responsible now: Our actions and inactions are backed by ability, knowledge, and the ability to acquire more knowledge and ability. By our sentience, we are the namers and the caretakers of this planet and its inhabitants.

Dance, Monkey, Dance [ernestcline.com/dmd; Flash video; 03:~50]. More like a slideshow with audio.

2006-04-27t14:46:51Z | RE: Apple. Engineering. Hardware. Invent.
Two-way monitors by Apple

This is awesome! Anyone who uses a webcam probably immediately notices how the person you're viewing is not looking you in the eye because he or she is looking at the monitor and not at the camera. A two-way monitor wasn't even on my wish list --probably because it's one of those annoyances that we just take for granted. It is, however, one step closer towards my request that they invent a windshield that displays stats (esp. velocity) nearly transparently so that I don't have to look down.

Invention: Apple's all-seeing screen [newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn9059&feedId=online-news_rss20]

The clever idea is to insert thousands of microscopic image sensors in-between the liquid crystal display cells in the screen. Each sensor captures its own small image, but software stitches these together to create a single, larger picture. A large LCD screen filled with image sensors would be ideal for videoconferencing, Apple suggests, as participants would always appear to look straight into the "camera". The technique could also add a camera function to a cellphone or PDA without wasting space, and light from the screen should help illuminate a subject. The more sensors there are, the wider and clearer the image. Sketches accompanying the company's patent show as many sensors as liquid crystal cells in a screen. If some of the sensors have different focal lengths, switching between them would make the screen behave like a zoom lens. Read the full patent, here.

2006-04-27t14:54:40Z | RE: Audio. Programming.
Code Moneky song

Code Monkey [jonathancoulton.com/2006/04/14/thing-a-week-29-code-monkey]. A little 03:07 mp3 song about the programming blues of dealing with users.

2006-04-27t15:00:21Z | RE: Animated. Relations. Video.
Ah, L'Amour

Ah, L'Amour [media.putfile.com/ahlamour; streaming video; 02:15]. "A bitter movie by Don Hertzfeldt". Not really bittersweet either, but this sort of thing hits the spot sometimes. I'm sure a woman could do a similar thing about men.

2006-04-27t15:14:18Z | RE: China. Health. Saucy.
Chinese busts booming

I've noticed all sorts of growth phenomenon with Asians for a while but it's nice to have it quantified.

Tempest in a D-cup as bust sizes grow [today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=oddlyEnoughNews&storyid=2006-04-25T155124Z_01_PEK78827_RTRUKOC_0_US-CHINA-BRAS.xml]

Bra producers have been forced to offer bigger cup-sizes in China because improved nutrition is busting all previous chest measurement records.

"It's so different from the past when most young women would wear A- or B-cup bras," Triumph brand saleswoman Zhang Jing told the Shanghai Daily from the Landmark Plaza of China's commercial hub.

"You...never expect those thin women to have such nice figures if they are not plastic."

The report, seen on the daily's Web site Tuesday, said that the Hong Kong-based lingerie firm Embry Group no longer produces A-cups for larger chest circumferences and has increased production of C-, D- and E-cup bras to meet pressing demand.

The Beijing Institute of Clothing Technology released a report last week saying the average chest circumference of Chinese women has risen by nearly 1 cm (0.4 inch) to 83.53 cm (32.89 inches) since the early 1990s, the daily said.

This phenomenon, it said, was due to women eating more nutritiously and taking part in more sport.

Similar growth in the average height of children prompted a rethink last year in Beijing on the height allowance for free bus rides.

I noticed that the Chinese sizes go from A through E and don't do the silly DD size.

Exploring odd subjects including myself. GeorgeHernandez.com
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