Check out my new gig over at the AOL family of weblogs: Blogging Stocks. I willl be working on mostly Starbucks and Time Warner, with a few other posts about things when I just cannot resist.
Archive for June, 2006|Monthly archive page
Samuel Pepys used to get up at four. That’s four in the morning! Link
Although Palm/Rim sounds like something that should only be attempted by an expert …
Life did not imitate art on Sunday when this town where Gabriel Garcia Marquez was born and first heard the ghost stories that would inform the "magical realism" of his novels, rejected a proposal to change its name to honor him.
After the polls closed in the late afternoon, Sanchez said
more than 90 percent of the votes cast were in favor of the
proposal. "But turnout was not high enough for the vote to
count," he conceded.
Spent a lot of time today in a cafe playing with my Blackberry, adding some stuff to it, and generally cramping up my thumbs. Being back at a fullsize keyboard right now sure is fun. One thing I learned: never put an underscore in your webpage title if you can help it. Requires pulling up a special screen and all on a PDA.
Does Our Desire for a Higher Power Lead Us to Overestimate the Chances for Finding Other Intelligent Life in the Universe?In Uncategorized on 06/23/2006 at 01:23
From the editorial material:
"[The author] questions the common modern scientific reasoning that life converges
on intelligence, and intelligence converges on one science valid
everywhere. He ends the book by agreeing with Stephen Hawking (usually
a safe bet) that intelligence is overrated for survival in the
universe, and that we are most likely alone."
Say what you will about the Ten Commandments, you must always come back to the pleasant fact that there are only ten of them.
- H. L. Mencken
At an hour-long lecture last week at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Dr Hawking said the late Pope John Paul II once told scientists they should not study the beginning of the universe because it was the work of God.
And the Vatican responds:
Said [spokesman] Donohue: "There is a monumental difference between saying that there are certain questions that science cannot answer” which is what the Pope said – and authoritarian pronouncements warning scientists to back off.
In Blink, Gladwell describes our "adaptive unconscious" as a "giant computer that quickly and quietly processes a lot of the data we need in order to keep functioning as human beings." Could he possibly get any vaguer? That sentence could easily have been written 50 years ago, back when Freud was still cool and computers were the size of refrigerators. What Gladwell never mentions is that the "big unconscious computer in our brain" is actually composed of many different brain regions, which are only loosely interconnected. Our "blink" decisions aren’t simply a by-product of some invisible mainframe in the head. Rather, they emerge from a continuous dialogue between our many different neural parts, some of which we are consciously aware of, and some which we aren’t.
Ever wonder what a David Lynch-produced cable talk show would look like? Probably like this: YouTube – memories.
(My favorite element is the piano player silently mime-ing the keys with a skeletal grin plastered on his face).
A lot of blogs have commented on Stephen Hawking’s statement that we need to move into space to better our chances for survival as a species. (Here’s one that also includes a famous – unused – and to me disappointing-sounding Star Trek treatment: Bryce Zabel: Spaced Out: Hawking Colonies & Re-Booting Star Trek).
How about let’s not? (At least let us consider not doing it for this reason.) I don’t see how a Mars colony would have any better chance of survival long term than any other scenario. To make a species viable, I suspect you’d have to have a few million inhabitants. These Utopian colonies are presumably always made up of the best and the brightest, and therefore insulated from the problems they are meant to move away from, namely war and environmental abuse, or runaway tech like an engineered virus. That seems to presume a very rosy view of the future of the race, as if transplanting a few humans to another planet will magically make them a better species. It may be easier to plant a few small groups of humans on Mars and the Moon in the next 40 years than it would be for us to collectively agree to solve the global economic crisis in the next 40 years but these colonies would likely fail.
We like to talk about how the Earth can become uninhabitable but that does not make Mars or the Moon more habitable by comparison. Nuclear winter or global warming could be sever enough to wipe out all major life forms on this planet, but not all life. Just as happened 65 Million years ago, when the dominant species were wiped out, life continued to evolve in other forms including primates. A few small colonies of humans could survive on the less-habit-able Earth in bunkers than they could on Mars in bunkers.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t colonize Mars. But we should do it for fun, or adventure, or hubris, or to make money, or for any of the other reasons human beings like to do things. Let’s just not kid ourselves that we have a better chance there than here. We will be bringing our sole predator with us. Wherever you go, there you are.
Saw X-Men the other day and am scratching my head as to why it got such tepid reviews – at least considering that the first two were better reviewed. I enjoyed this, and cannot agree with the sentiment that it this installment relied too heavily on special effects at the expense of character. To the contrary, I thought the big action last act worked because of everything that had gone before. This wasn’t a generic action climax, and sympathy was built for all three sides of the war. Magneto’s final fate (well temporarily final fate, anyway) carried additional resonance because of his specific behavior towards other mutants earlier in the film. I would have liked more Rogue but then I always want more Rogue. And I still stand by my belief that if X-Men has to be a movie franchise (instead of an HBO series as it should be) these movies capture the spirit of the Marvel Multiverse Sturm and Soap Opera just about as well as any movies can. Kelsey Grammer was pitch perfect as Beast, and Halle Berry actually had stuff to do in this one. The digital erasing of two character’s wrinkles for the early flashback scenes was seriously creepy however.