Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wiki White House

A couple weeks ago, The New America Foundation hosted a panel called "Wiki White House" -- (Comments here from the panel's "token conservative").

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Star Trek videos

Commenter Sebastiaan van M. has a site with a bunch of Star Trek music videos... Check it out.

I don't know if this one is in that batch, but it sure made me laugh out loud:

Star Trek Rhapsody (Ditto) - The best bloopers are a click away


Sunday, January 25, 2009

The 100 Greatest (Non-Fiction) Adventure Books of All Time

Scanning through some stacks of old magazines to purge from my belongings to see what interesting things I might glean from them before they go to the recycle bin or the resale shop -- Here's a good one: The 100 Greatest Adventure Books of All Time as ranked by National Geographic Adventure about five years ago. (Better late than never.) The adjective "adventure" does not mean Allan Quartermain, for instance, but rather IRL figures like T.E. Lawrence, Charles Darwin, Charles Lindbergh, Robert Falcon Scott, Sir Richard Burton, Mark Twain, Ernest Shackleton, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Jacques Cousteau, Theodore Roosevelt, and others. For example:

17. Kon-Tiki, by Thor Heyerdahl (1950) Nine balsa-wood logs, a big square sail, a bamboo "cabin" with a roof made of banana leaves—thus did Norwegian Heyerdahl and his companions set sail from Peru toward Polynesia to prove a point: that the South Pacific was settled from the east. Point proved? Maybe not, but it's one hell of a ride—a daring tale, dramatically told.

(Here's a clip from the Academy Award-winning documentary about the Kon-Tiki)

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Simple Complexity

I love stuff like this. Simple Complexity: An Information Visualization Blog.

Where your bailout money is going:

The odds that you will die of (fill in the blank):

What were those oil prices again?

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Obama images (Obamages?)

So things have settled down a little bit and now Mr. Obama has been hard at work for several days. Like I have been saying, I think this has been a historic event, one that many many many people across America and around the world will remember and reflect back upon for the rest of their lives. However, as I also have been saying, he doesn't get a free pass from me and I am going to be liberal with criticisms when I feel they are merited.

Here are some cool images of our new Chief Executive:

First, the action figure (if you ever want something and you can't imagine that anyone would ever have created it, check Japan first.)

The inspirational leader:

Ready for al-Qaeda:

Now, more conventional shots from the Boston Globe -- More conventional, perhaps, but they are excellent and fascinating -- make sure to check the rest of them out!

Here are some of the famous shots from outer space 9example below).

Here's a good point: ...the GeoEye-1 satellite would be taking images of President Obama’s inauguration from 423 miles up — in space. This could only have worked on a clear day so clouds didn’t block the view. Good news: It was a clear day, and the pictures (above and below) look great.

You know, this guy just seems like he can not lose on the weather... Remember this yahoo who wanted everyone to pray for rain on the night of his DNC speech at Mile High Stadium? It couldn't have been a lovelier summer night. And I can tell you first hand that when he gave his acceptance speech in Grant Park Nov. 4th, it was fantastic weather in the Chicago area... a week later it was freezing.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Open letter to Barack Obama on what to do about Harry Nicolaides

Open message to Barack Obama (for whom I voted) about how he can deal with the problem of Harry Nicolaides.

The facts:
*Tomorrow is inauguration day, which the entire world will be watching.
*In Thailand, it is a jailable offense to insult the King of Thailand. (On which I have commented previously.)
*News reports have surfaced today that Australian writer Harry Nicolaides has been sentenced to three years in prison for insulting the King of Thailand.

Here's what I have to say to the King of Thailand:
*Fuck You! You're a fucking punk! This is the 21st fucking century motherfucker!

Here's what I have to say to President-elect Obama:

*Tomorrow is one of the most important days in the history of our country because of what you have accomplished. You have been a unifying force during some very difficult times.
*Despite this, some people don't like you or trust you. (I wish you would ixnay the tariff talk, but I still like you.) Some people don't like you because they think you are a socialist, and let's be honest -- Some people don't like you because you are black.

Here's what you could do about the above situation:

*Invite the Thai ambassador to accompany you all day Tuesday, sitting right next to you.
*Have somebody start calling every NewsMax contributor they can get their hands on, have them take turns accompanying you all day, and every hour or so give them a microphone for a few minutes. Maybe invite that "Barack the Magic Negro" guy.
*After they've had the mike for a few minutes, read aloud the full text of the First Amendment; maybe invite the ambassador to read it aloud a few times as well.
*Hopefully he will get the message.
*If not, you could always invade Thailand.

OK, maybe I've been too hard on the King of Thailand and the laws about not insulting him. Tell you what - Here's a traditional way of showing respect in my country. I've added some wings on to the side of the Thai Royal Seal. The golden ring is only for added for people we really want to impress.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

What Will Change Everything?

"What game-changing scientific ideas and developments do you expect to live to see?"

That's the question posed here, and you should see all the respondents -- Brian Eno (quite the pessimist), Chris Anderson, Howard Gardner, Kevin Kelly, Michael Shermer, Freeman Dyson, George Dyson, and many many more -- Including the guy whose book I have been reading off and on for past six months, Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Taleb response excerpt: I will conclude with the following statement: you cannot do anything with knowledge unless you know where it stops, and the costs of using it. Post enlightenment science, and its daughter superstar science, were lucky to have done well in (linear) physics, chemistry and engineering. But, at some point we need give up on elegance to focus on something that was given the short shrift for a very long time: the maps showing what current knowledge and current methods do not do for us; and a rigorous study of generalized scientific iatrogenics, what harm can be caused by science (or, better, an exposition of what harm has been done by science). I find it the most respectable of pursuits.

Part of me bristles at that (the notion that having them come to put a chip in my head might actually not be something that is all the way a positive) but then I substitute the phrase "economics" for "science" and I swallow it more easily.

In addition to the index at the Edge site, see my own Wikipedia user page for wiki links to all the participants. (All of the participants who have Wikipedia articles, that is.) I haven't fread all the responses by any means, and I may not end up reading every single one. But, if I find some that jump out, I will excerpt and comment on them here.

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Schrödinger's LOLcat

Clay Shirky talk

From a few months ago (?) - Clay Shirky talks about these kids these days and where do they get all this time to do all this stuff on teh Internet. Very insightful.

Part 1:

Part 2:

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Johnny Cash, Johnny Sokko, Dante's Inferno, History of Internet; State Dept. e-mail

  • Punk covers of Johnny Cash, including streams of the full songs. (WTF! No "Ring of Fire"!)
  • Speaking of which, maybe you can help develop the Johnny Cash idea at Uncyclopedia: Johnny Cash is a smartcard, used pay for entry to any restroom in the North American Union that charges an entry fee.
  • Check out this excerpt of this far out adaptation of Dante's Inferno.
  • AWESOME! - Via Omni-Monster -- A bunch of episodes of Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot on Hulu!
  • Here's an animated documentary on the History of the Internet.
  • LBNL, looks like certain people at the State Department need to start using Diplopedia a bit more. Excerpt: "Department staff hitting 'reply to all' on an e-mail with a large distribution list is causing an e-mail storm on the department's OpenNet e-mail system," says the unclassified cable... ...the result was "effectively a denial of service as e-mail queues, especially between posts, back up while processing the extra volume of e-mails." The cable orders employees to "take immediate action" to ensure they and their colleagues are "aware of the negative impact of hitting 'reply all'" and to delete e-mails addressed to large numbers of people that they might receive in error... ...Officials said the storm started when some diplomats used the 'reply all' function to respond to a blank e-mail sent recently to many people on the department's global address list. Most demanded to be removed from the list while others used 'reply all' to tell their co-workers, in often less than diplomatic language, to stop responding to the entire group, the officials said. Some then compounded the problem by trying to recall their initial replies, which generated another round of messages to the group, they said. We have this same dynamic occur sometimes at my work; I'm not sure if I am comforted or agitated that the State Department does the same thing.

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Saturday, January 03, 2009

Reason #127 why I love my iPhone

Because if Superman, Dr. Mid-Nite, and myself ever run into hostile aliens, we won't have to dig through our pockets looking for a quarter.