"History is a wonderful thing, if only it was true"

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Flight School

Notes on Flight School, Scottsdale, following PCForum
David (Isenberg) asked about it, prodded me to make post notes (and I decided to post date to make them fit better chronologically)

Night before George Butler previewed IMAX film on Mars (rovers etc)

AM - on private aviation

Focus seemed to be mostly on systems for organizing private flight and scheduling.
Had some good talks with one of the presenters the night before so started to "tune out" on the panel. We had talked some about optimization issues. Some may apply to his company “Corporate Clipper” which will essentially rent space on other’s private craft.
How do you maximize use of airtime, minimize ground time?

Essentially, was on moving "high value" staffers in timely matter between points where there are not great connections

Say you need to get a techie to Tulsa or Tupelo or from Tulsa to Tupelo, or Terra Haute for that matter.

My experience (from negotiations some years ago with retired head of Raytheon) that they build a bunch of planes in Wichita, but you can't fly there (easily). Note that negotiations were mundane (food company stuff not high tech).

Lead speaker was FAA, snore
I really didn’t need to know history of flight safety, rules and regs. etc, but I’m not in that business.

Basically, if you have an aircraft, you can fly friends and family, but you can’t sell tickets. BTW friend just bought his own Piper fixed gear high wing single engine plane.
Interesting comparisons with auto industry. Point that planes don’t change, they are constantly refurbished. Cars are used and junked, planes aren’t (oversimplification).

Somewhere along the line there was some discussion, which I only really “got” later, about advances in avionics, and use of such developments as GPS to give you a similar sense of “where are you” to driving a car. Being able to know, to within a few feet, you are greatly refines flying.
Also on avionics – the demand for uptime.
Can’t have Windows in the cockpit (as MuSoft Windows and the blue screen of death – could really be death, not just you but those in the schoolyard below you).

Back to systems, Ed Iacobucci seemed to be really into scheduling issues.

A session on new aircraft.
Someone, maybe David Isenberg referred to them as Million dollar SUV’s

Not my league.
But sometimes I’d like to be able to afford a flight on someone’s Private Craft (another “PCForum”?)

My ears did prick up with thoughts of private flights coming down to “commercial” rates (suspect it means full price 1st class)
Note that I fly 1st class but by using my miles to upgrade after buying coach.

George Dyson put up great clip of Startrek the TV series with “Dyson Sphere” segment.
Personal chuckle was when Esther slipped Freeman in buffet line ahead of me and we chatted – “the crew couldn’t see the sphere on their sensors, but your point was that they would be bright in the IR, he smiled and said ‘of course’ “

Freeman did nice lunch talk – some on Project Orion (see Amazon)
“The Physics worked” and there were plans to put dozens on Mars by ’65. Apollo was dead end (I agree, chemicals just don’t work for long term, essentially dead end technology)

Afternoon was fun, on space stuff

VC’s going “spacy”
Well, someone has to take the risks.
I did not see any potential, other than maybe “Carbon Designs”
Before space elevators, they’ll be developing materials for consumer products – the ubiquitous golf club shafts and tennis rackets

Aldo Ressi tried to lead talk on “Why go?”
Zubrin of Mars Society was twitchy and sort of pushy
Aside – Aldo buttoned holed me last year (several sheets to the wind) about space travel and “aliens”
He’s on the XPrize board

Then George did one on How to go?
Interesting talk about “space elevator” (Freeman is skeptic).

Talk about China – and that they will push us to achieve.

Later some stuff about “tourism” – shall we say “Pie in the Sky”
There were some interesting conversations about where the boundary should be between “private enterprise” and public efforts/
For now, Govt is looking at “near space” being turned to the private sector, maybe out to L5, eventually to trans-lunar.

Last was NASA announcing series of prizes, patterned on X-Prize
Centennial Challange
This is interesting
The principal that govt. agencies can’t always (make that maybe almost never) make the right plans, but set goals and let others shoot for them. This also leverages budgets. You only pay the winner, many spend on the R&D shooting for the prize.


BTW : I’m a believer that mankind will move beyond the atmosphere sometime, just as fish left the ocean to colonize the land.

Pretty much, I likely would not have gone to AZ for this, but was there anyway. With spouse along, I tack on a few days to either end of the conference.

Some other posts

Spaceflight industry ready for takeoff - The New Space Race - MSNBC.com

Good Morning: PC Forum 2005: Jeffrey Katz founder of Orbitz

Phil Gilbert | Perspectives in Process: Personal Mobility

CNet postings (note that CNet owns PCForum - and I assume Flight School)
Freeman: let's colonize space for fun

Space elevator stuff

Liftport FAQ

Friday, March 25, 2005

Bobby Short

Well, Shirley and I got to see Bobby near the end of his run, both as singer and his life.
Last October at the Cafe Carlyle

Of Note :
"Another musician who heard Mr. Short at a tender age is funky rocker Lenny Kravitz. "I've known Bobby Short since I was five years old," he says. "He was the person who coaxed my mother into marrying my father." Mr. Kravitz admired Mr. Short's impeccable style -- "the classiest gentleman I ever met in my life." But above all, he loved the way Mr. Short put across a Gershwin or Porter tune. "Bobby Short will remain my favorite artist of all time."

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

A few Notes

Tues late AM at PCForum


Lots of Mac's here
Quick show of hands, I'd guess a third, with a third dell, some thinkpads, and smattering of other devices

Answers range (comments from others) from "independent thinkers" to Higher IQ "Wintells never made sense" to "crashproof"

Panel on Open Source (Mitchell Baker, Kim Polese)
Show of hands on how many use Firefox - by far the majority - 80+% !

Monday, March 21, 2005


A few notes from PC Forum

Sunday was launch
Shirley off with rental car to do some shopping/sightseeing
I showed up at registration at 10:15

Registration at 11:00
Noted that the website had it as 10:00 ... bingo, updated on the fly
That was the first "troubleshooting"

So ... got going
Note : the "travel bags"
Bright red, plastic things

Various comments, such as "for once, when my wife wants to take the bag, I won't argue"
"Where're the guys bags?"
"women asking where are the makeup kits?"
"Barbie Bags"

Will try to get photo later

More "troubleshooting"
Intronetwork.com - was given demo, looks like intersting product
But, during afternoon session, tried repeadly to upload my image (for ID)
Repeated failures - someone else's mug kept showing up - always the same scruffy guy
Not this scruffy guy...

Ran into co-founder(s) in lobby
Walked through the same proceedure
Tried from dot-mac file, from my own machine hosted file - same
"Gold Star" for finding a bug ...

They also have some layout/ergonomics issues

Fixed today

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Imax: It's the Bible vs. the Volcano


Several Imax theaters, including some in science museums, are refusing to show movies that mention the subject - or the Big Bang or the geology of the earth - fearing protests from people who object to films that contradict biblical descriptions of the origin of Earth and its creatures.

Hyman Field, who as a science foundation official had a role in the financing of "Volcanoes," said he understood that theaters must be responsive to their audiences. But Dr. Field he said he was "furious" that a science museum would decide not to show a scientifically accurate documentary like "Volcanoes" because it mentioned evolution.

"It's very alarming," he said, "all of this pressure being put on a lot of the public institutions by the fundamentalists."

and :

People who follow the issue say it is more likely to arise at science centers and other public institutions than at commercial theaters. The filmmaker James Cameron, who was a producer on "Volcanoes," said the commercial film he made on the same topic, "Aliens of the Deep," had not encountered opposition, except during post-production, when "it was requested from some theaters that we change a line of dialogue" relating to sun worship by ancient Egyptians. The line remained, he said.

Mr. Cameron said he was "surprised and somewhat offended" that people were sensitive to the references to evolution in "Volcanoes."

"It seems to be a new phenomenon," he said, "obviously symptomatic of our shift away from empiricism in science to faith-based science."

Faith Based Science ?
What "pray tell" is that ? (pun very intentional)

Cross Country skiing to Cactus Time

Changes in climate, from skiing on the frozen lake to conference in the desert

Travel day (Friday), good thing that :
1) we chose first class ( cash in those depreciating "points" )
2) Shirley spotted the ½ price book stall (return books within 6 months and you get 50% of the cover back.
I got a copy of Elmo Leonard’s “Be Cool” (sequel to “Get Shorty”

Read it cover to cover between Detroit and Phoenix

Hour plus delay in Milwaukee as first the intended aircraft for the Phoenix leg was still on the ground (bird hit on inbound the night before took out a blade) then wait for a fresh plane to be brought in from Minneapolis, which was being closed due to Blizzard.

Milwaukee may make Lansing look good, the only eartery was Pizza Hut / Brats in the concourse. Dreaded prospect of being stuck there. Apparently the damaged plane was to have headed to Ft.Myers. The plane bound for Phoenix was re-routed to Ft.Myers, I gather that many ( and many familes) were stuck for 4-6hrs. Terminal was beginning to show it.

“Be Cool” Chili Palmer learns the music game.
Amazon.com: Books: Be Cool
On screenwriting :
“I thought you were going to write it,. You said you could go directly to script, skip the treatment.”
“Actually, I think I could. A guy that ran a limo service told me one time there’s nothing to writing a screenplay. You just put down what you to say, then you get somebody to add the commas an shit, fix up the spelling if it needs it. The way this one’s going I think I’ll write it myself.”

“You know, “ Elaine said, “if it doesn’t work you can always make something up,. It’s what writers do. When they’re not lifting ideas from other movies.”

Substitute other blogs for movies

Later, on music and rock categories :

Chili said, “I ask people, what’s alternative? They don’t answer the question, they tell me what radio station to listen to. So what’s alternative?”
“Almost anything now, “Curtis said, “that isn’t hard rock.”
“See? Nobody’ll give me a straight answer.”
“Okay,: Curtis said, “what it is essentially is watered-down rock. Or it could be ballady kind of punk.”
“And what’s punk?”
“Three chords and a scream”
“Come on,” Tiffany said, “it’s way deeper’n that. It started out hardcore, like Bad Religion, then you got straight-edge like Minor Threat and surf punk like agent Orange.”
“It’s all derivative,” Curtis said, “even Seattle. Without Iggy and the Stooges, going back thirty years, you wouldn’t have any of them. You had the MC5 and the Velvet Underground, but Iggy kicked it off with ‘Raw Power’ and that’s what’s still happening. Without Iggy you wouldn’t have the Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads, the Sex Pistols. What’d Bowie do? He covered Iggy. Then and only then you come to Nirvana and Pearl Jam and what passes for rock they now call alternative.”

Chili said, “What about the Rolling Stones?”
And Curtis said, “ that what so much of this stuff today is alternative of, real rock’n roll, the Stones, Aerosmith, Jimi Hendrix, Clapton, Jeff Beck, Neil Young.
Tiffany said she forgot Hendirx
Chili, staying with them, said, “What about Janis Joplin?”
Tiffany said, “That chick, now you’re going way back, ...

Flashbacks to the Grandee Ballroom
(link to Northern Express piece)

I recall Janis from the front row, and Cream on a night it was so hot they were tossing cold water on the crowd, Ginger Baker at the drums with a tub of ice and beers.

Went down to see Paul Butterfield, and the program had changed, Ginger, Jack Bruce and Eric.

Hendrix at Cobo, but nothing like the Grandee.

All in all, made for a long day, left home around 8:30AM, arrived at the room 9:00 PM with 2hr time zone change.

Before Detroit, buzzed through a chapter or so of We Blog, but want to be able to take notes or play online while reading – not something for on an aircraft.

Will recommend the book to Earthy, Paul, PFoods, GTRCF etc.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

on living small - with your laptop

"I suddenly realized that I can thrive with something like 8% of my former possessions. Not that I've lost them . . . they've all been digitized. They got eaten by my laptop."

And on TV :
"I suddenly realized that I can thrive with something like 8% of my former possessions. Not that I've lost them . . . they've all been digitized. They got eaten by my laptop."


Monday, March 14, 2005

Doc's take on NYTimes

The Doc Searls Weblog : Monday, March 14, 2005

I would argue that the "Times" does have content - some of which is mismanaged and much of which is skewed by an agenda (not that other sources aren't)
Therefore, content, which is packaged and branded.

Deliberate decision by managment

Maybe not the right business model for today ...

More from Doc:
SuitWatch Feb 3, 2005
Beyond "Content": Digging the New Intermediation Business

Can Papers End the Free Ride Online?

The New York Times > Business > Media & Advertising > Can Papers End the Free Ride Online?

Well ... following up on "News Addiction" we have the NYTimes pondering charges to read thier material.

Wouldn't a "News Addict" be a dream market ?

"Newspaper Web sites have been so popular that at some newspapers, including The New York Times, the number of people who read the paper online now surpasses the number who buy the print edition.

This migration of readers is beginning to transform the newspaper industry. Advertising revenue from online sites is booming and, while it accounts for only 2 percent or 3 percent of most newspapers' overall revenues, it is the fastest-growing source of revenue. And newspaper executives are watching anxiously as the number of online readers grows while the number of print readers declines. "

Long electrons, short newsprint

WSJ.com - Real Time : News Addiction ?

WSJ.com - Real Time

Blather about net addictions ... an advertiser's dream ?

Fears about Internet addiction have been around as long as there's been a consumer Internet to be addicted to. It seems like every few months brings a new warning on the subject -- the latest that caught our eye was a Slashdotted University of Iowa study looking at players of massively multiplayer online role-playing games -- those are MMORPGS, in unpronounceable geekspeak.

The study found 10% to 15% of players of such games could be considered addicted, which sounds reassuringly low to everyone except the makers of games like EverQuest and Star Wars: Galaxies. What struck us was that MMORPGS are just the latest segment of online life to spark Net-addiction fears, joining worries about porn, gambling, eBay and other pursuits that lend themselves to a certain obsessive-compulsive repetition. Heck, there's probably some poor soul haunting the Microsoft boards because he's addicted to Windows security fixes.

(For a much-cited overview of various Net addictions, try this from the Center for Online Addiction, along with their Internet Addiction Test. Taking silly quizzes online is, of course, an addiction in itself.)

To be clear: We're not making light of addiction, online or otherwise. And it's not enough to blithely note that porn and gambling were around long before the Net. Yes, these online vices (or pursuits, if you prefer) are old wine in new bottles, but those new bottles are considerably different: The Net simultaneously allows near-instant access, and makes it much easier to hide the problem from friends, family and co-workers. Adding the Net to the mix seems a recipe for making a problem worse and relapses more likely. Try sneaking out to certain precincts of Atlantic City or random public auctions for four hours a night and see how long it takes for someone close to you to set up an intervention. Pursue these things online, and they may never know.

This ability to hide in plain sight is one reason some forms of Net addiction continue to worry us. As a society, we (OK, we should really say "everybody over 25") are still figuring out how the Net fits in with the rhythms of daily life. The Net is weirdly dislocating -- as many an unhappy employer or distraught parent can tell you, it lets people be not at work while at work, or not at home while at home.

But what about people who aren't addicted to online sex or gambling? What about people who seem to be addicted to the online world in general? That's where it gets tricky.

We suspect a lot of these people are addicted to information itself -- they've become keenly aware that oceans of information are constantly washing across the Net and love the fact that they can zero in on the information that concerns them and get updates whenever they choose to. At some point, though, they took this a bit too far: Now they're constantly beset by the nagging feeling that they're missing something, even though they checked all their online information outposts five minutes ago -- and their RSS feeds are humming away. To find these people, all your columnists have to do is look in the mirror: Tim is notorious for under-the-table Blackberrying even when there's beer to be drunk, and Jace often misses a sensible bedtime because he's irritably clicking between Web sites run by folks who've probably gone to sleep.

But if this is addiction, a lot of people are trying to addict you, too -- and no one's calling them pornographers. More and more devices are dedicated to keeping you connected by shooting your e-mail to your PDA or your cellphone. "One click away" is no longer close enough for Web sites that now offer RSS feeds or little taskbar icons that alert you when something's changed.

There's no doubt one can become addicted to connectedness -- only you and those dear to you can decide if you've crossed a line somewhere. But before identifying a problem, it's wise to consider how that information junkie would be spending the time lost chasing connectedness. If freed from his addiction, your resident info-junkie might write the Great American Novel, clean out the garage or learn to knit. But he might not: Jace quit home Internet use for a while a few years back, and mostly watched more TV. Is that preferable to gambling away one's savings or obsessively playing Orbitz four-hole mini-golf? Definitely. Is it better than pointless Net surfing? We're not so sure.

When does the pursuit of connectedness become a problem? Got any tales of Net compulsion or thoughts on how to balance online life with "real" life? Write to us at realtime@wsj.com. If you want to share your thoughts but don't want your letter published, please make that clear.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Doc disses Dan and Frank Rich on Dr.Gonzo vs Press

The Doc Searls Weblog : Tuesday, March 8, 2005

Doc quoting Frank:
Anyway, this all comes to mind after reading Frank Rich's latest column (ran Sunday in the New York Times and at other times elsewhere). Some good stuff there:

What's missing from News in the United States is the news. On ABC, Peter Jennings devotes two hours of prime time to playing peek-a-boo with UFO fanatics, a whorish stunt crafted to deliver ratings, not information. On NBC, Brian Williams is busy as all get-out, as every promo reminds us, "Reporting America's Story." That story just happens to be the relentless branding of Brian Williams as America's anchorman - a guy just too in love with Folks Like Us to waste his time looking closely at, say, anything happening in Washington.

Hunter Thompson did not do investigative reporting, but he would have had a savage take on our news-free world - not least because it resembles his own during the Nixon era, before he had calcified into the self-parodistic pop culture cartoon immortalized by Garry Trudeau, Bill Murray, Johnny Depp and most of his eulogists. Read "Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72" - the chronicle of his Rolling Stone election coverage - and you find that his diagnosis of journalistic dysfunction hasn't aged a day: "The most consistent and ultimately damaging failure of political journalism in America has its roots in the clubby/cocktail personal relationships that inevitably develop between politicians and journalists." He cites as a classic example the breathless but belated revelations of the mental history of George McGovern's putative running mate, the Missouri Senator Thomas Eagleton - a story that had long been known by "half of the political journalists in St. Louis and at least a dozen in the Washington press corps." This same clubby pack would be even tardier on Watergate, a distasteful assignment left to a pair of lowly police-beat hacks at The Washington Post.

I'm thinking right on. Then there's this:

Thompson was out to break the mainstream media's rules. His unruly mix of fact, opinion and masturbatory self-regard may have made him a blogger before there was an Internet, but he was a blogger who had the zeal to leave home and report firsthand and who could write great sentences that made you want to savor what he found out rather than just scroll quickly through screen after screen of minutiae and rant. When almost all "the Wizards, Gurus and Gentlemen Journalists in Washington" were predicting an unimpeded victory march for Edmund Muskie to the Democratic presidential nomination, it was Thompson who sniffed out the Muskie campaign's "smell of death" and made it stick. The purported front-runner, he wrote, "talked like a farmer with terminal cancer trying to borrow money on next year's crop."

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Tourism report for Sanibel and Captiva Islands

USATODAY.com - Tide turns for Sanibel and Captiva Islands

Fair assesment of the situation down in Fla post Charley

My own observations, many complexes still recovering, many still closed
Some buildings still "blue bagged" (tarps)
Streachs of beach pretty empty

Also : from local press :

Relief reaction :
USA Today article compliments islands

Concern over critiques
Tourist council in a tizzy over recent flurry of media exposure
Ft.Myers : Nascar and strip clubs - I've been missing something ...

Area hotels running out of rooms
I can believe it - airport was jammed at midnight ... 5 incoming flights ... on a Thursday
Saturday is switchover day for weekly rentals

Friday, March 04, 2005

Tom on Brave, Young and Muslim

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Brave, Young and Muslim

The last couple of years have not been easy for anyone, myself included, who hoped that the Iraq war would produce a decent, democratizing outcome. And even in the wake of the remarkable Iraqi election, the toppling of the Lebanese cabinet and the reforms brewing in Egypt, it is too soon for anyone to declare victory. We're dealing with some very unstable chemicals. But what makes me more hopeful today is precisely what made me hopeful that the Iraq war might work out, and that is the number of Arab-Muslim youth I've encountered since 9/11 who have urged me to keep writing about the need for democracy and reform in their part of the world.

Write On Tom

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Change in the News Cycle

This posting is pretty much a placeholder for ideas that need to be fleshed out later

US Election over
Iraqi Election held and sorting out
"Insurgent" attacks on Iraqi's more than "occupation troops"
Sharon and Abbas talking
Syria on it's way out of Lebanon
Mubarack(sp?)gets the message from Condi and calls for elections

Evening ( and morning ) news shifts back to :
Weather in California, Snowstorms in the East, Sinkholes in Fla. ( acts of nature )
Serial killers ... again, act of nature ? ( bad human nature )
Martha ( act of entertainment nature - a la The Donald )
and ...
Wacko Jacko ( weird human (?) nature )

So we've moved from politics and policy, the debate on the "Bush Doctrine" in the Middle East to ... Entertainment Tonight

Cue up "Happy Days are Here Again"

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Burning State

The Doc Searls Weblog : Saturday, February 26, 2005

This one is so good that I'll just paste it all
Credit to Doc
I sometimes think there are no Californians. There can't be. We're all just visitors here. The place is too temporary by nature: our culture here is just a Burning Man that lasts a few generations instead of a few days.

Stand in Western North Carolina, below the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Then crank the clock back a couple million years. The mountains will be a little higher, the foliage a little different, but the shape will be about the same. Do the same anywhere in California, and the whole place disappears. Everything we see is still in the process of up out of the depths by lithospheric plates crunching against each other. A train crash in slow motion.

Look at redwoods. Why do they grow so tall, with thick bark and short flimsy branches that don't commence in a mature tree until you get past 150 feet of trunk? Because they're adapted to fire. Look at the the state flower: the California poppy. It's ideally suited to soil minted fresh from exfoliated and otherwise destroyed rock. In other words, adapted to earthquakes.

Look where we live. Our house sits on the former contents of a mountain whose face slid seaward in late Pleistocene time. Our hill is a cake of Eocene sandstone rocks and boulders ("fanglomerate") with a frosting of topsoil. In spite of its violent provenance, it's far more stable ground than almost anything in Los Angeles, where the bedrock is mostly shattered and the topsoil comprised of recently deposited alluvium. The latter is easily disturbed and even more easily liquified by rain and then washed away when its sides are exposed. We feel fortunate. Relatively.

As for myself, I'll stick with good old glacial till, hundreds of miles from any known fault or active zone, tucked up near the North American Craton (orginal continent - north shore of Lake Superior)

Sure we get winter, but snow not slides, and we have nice summers with long days and lazy evenings.

Flight School

The New York Times > Technology > Cyberspace to Outer Space, Let's Have a Conference and Go There

Cue ( or is it que ? ) up Frank Sinatra's "Come Fly With Me"
Brief Blurb in Times on Esther's next venue

"Nobody's holding a space conference, so I decided to do one," she said in an interview. "It's not that there aren't space conferences, but nothing as tacky and commercial as we want to be."