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

Friday, March 31, 2006

Music to My Ears

Interesting piece on Music vs Language

WSJ.com - Science Journal:

"More evidence that the brain has dedicated, inborn musical circuits is that even babies have musical preferences, finds Sandra Trehub of the University of Toronto. They listen longer to perfect fifths and perfect fourths, and look pained by minor thirds.

If music is indeed an innate, stand-alone adaptation, then evolution could have nursed it along over the eons only if it helped early humans survive. It did so, Prof. Mithen suggests, because 'if music is about anything, it is about expressing and inducing emotion.'

Particular notes elicit the same emotions from most people, regardless of culture, studies suggest. A major third (prominent in Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy') sounds happy; a minor third (as in the gloomy first movements of Mahler's Fifth) provokes feelings of sadness and even doom. A major seventh expresses aspiration. The absence of a third seems unresolved, loose, as if hanging, adds jazz guitarist Michael Rood, 17 years old.

The fact that listeners hear the same emotion in a given musical score is something a Neanderthal crooner might have exploited. Music can manipulate people's emotional states (think of liturgical music, martial music or workplace music). Happy people are more cooperative and creative. By fostering cooperation and creativity among bands of early, prelanguage human ancestors, music would have given them a survival edge. 'If you can manipulate other people's emotions,' says Prof. Mithen, 'you have an advantage.'

Music also promotes social bonding, which was crucial when humans were more often hunted than hunter and finding food was no walk on the savannah. Proto-music 'became a communication system' for 'the expression of emotion and the forging of group identities,' argues Prof. Mithen.

Because music has grammar-like qualities such as recursion, it might have served an even greater function. With music in the brain, early humans had the neural foundation for the development of what most distinguishes us from other animals: symbolic thought and language."

Ethanol Pro&Con

Of note on the following.
Conversation with a contact at a major ethanol company (private) that when Kleiner Perkins met with them, they were pretty clueless about the prospects and problems.

On the Ethanol Bandwagon, Big Names and Big Risks - New York Times:

"VINOD KHOSLA was a founder of Sun Microsystems and then, as a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the Silicon Valley venture capital firm, he helped a host of technology companies get off the ground.

These days, Mr. Khosla, 51, is still investing in technology, but much of it has nothing to do with the world of network computing in which he made his name. He is particularly excited about new ways of producing ethanol — the plant-derived fuel that, he says, could rapidly displace gasoline. 'I am convinced we can replace a majority of petroleum used for cars and light trucks with ethanol within 25 years,' he said. He has already invested 'tens of millions of dollars,' he said, in private companies that are developing methods to produce ethanol using plant sources other than corn."

Counterpoint by Peter Huber in Forbes (copyrighted material)
Now the green-energy crowd is touting cellulosic ethanol. This is a blunder, one they will regret more than any of their previous blunders. It will level forests, destroy wetlands and disrupt ecosystems all around the globe.

Or at least it will if the enabling technology ever becomes economical. And it might. Even a Republican President, in a State of the Union address, resolved to develop the technology "for producing ethanol, not just from corn, but from wood chips and stalks, or switchgrass."

The green logic is simple: Use carbohydrates to replace hydrocarbons. Farmers and the lumber industry generate copious amounts of cellulose-rich waste. America has lots of spare prairie, which grows grass. Gather the waste, harvest the grass and renewable biomass can replace dwindling supplies of crude. The global warming problem is solved, too, because plant growth pulls carbon out of the air.

In fact what lies ahead is an environmental debacle. Corn contains sugar, and sugars are easy to turn into ethanol. Just ask Anheuser-Busch (nyse: BUD - news - people ) or E. & J. Gallo. But to get a high-grade fuel out of wood, stalks or grass you have to take apart cellulose, a much tougher molecule. Some microbes and fungi can do it. So can cows, but only by filling their massive guts with those same microbes. And they do it inefficiently, and make quite a mess.

But the grass-to-fuel boosters don't plan to use cows. They plan to build chemical refineries that do the cow-gut thing much better. The key technical challenge is cheap production of huge quantities of robust, cellulose-splitting enzymes. Biochemists and genetic engineers could well find ways to deliver.

Plants won't celebrate if they do. (Consider, by way of analogy, how we humans might feel about a scheme to perfect flesh-eating bacteria, those mercifully rare strep bugs that digest muscles, fat and skin tissue with horrifying speed.) Plants pack their seeds with readily digestible sugar because they want animals to eat them. Most of the seeds get digested, but those that slip through get deposited, prefertilized, in some distant spot, where they grow another plant. Cellulose, by contrast, is the adult plant's armor and scaffold. Voracious animals don't strip every last plant off the face of the earth only because most animals must work so hard to digest what plants are mostly made of.

We humans, however, are exceptionally clever at stripping and exploiting. What we can't eat, we burn in our cooking fires and hearths. Or we burn down trees just to clear space for seed-bearing crops. Or for pasture to feed our cows. Western countries began to curb their appetite for green cellulose only a couple of centuries ago, when they discovered that it's often easier to dig up fossilized forms, like coal and oil. Most of humanity, however, still relies on the fresh stuff.

Now picture a world in which cellulose-splitting enzymes are cheaper than bottled water, and a pint poured into the steel cow behind your hut will quickly turn a hundred pounds of wood chips or grass into a gallon of diesel. However sensibly we Americans might use the enzymes in Kansas, we know where cow-gut chemistry will inevitably lead in rural Burundi, India or China. Sure, a villager will fill the still with waste cellulose first. The enzymes, however, are just as happy to take apart freshly cut wood or grass, and that's what villagers will use instead when they need or want more energy than waste alone can supply. Just as villagers do today when they cook. The one difference is this: When the villager harvests wood or grass today, he can only bake chapatis, heat his hut or feed his cow. With cheap enzymes at hand, he can also power a generator and a motorbike.

History has already taught us what a carbohydrate energy economy does to a rich, green landscape--it levels it. The carbon balance goes sharply negative, too, when stove or cow is fueled with anything but waste or crops from existing farmland. It's pleasant to imagine that humanity might get all its liquid fuels from stable, legacy farms or from debris that would otherwise end up as fungus food. But that just isn't how humans have historically fed whatever they could feed with cellulose.

From the perspective of all things green, cellulose-splitting enzymes are much the same as fire or cow, only worse. Fire and cow consume cellulose, but the process is generally messy and inconvenient, which is a big advantage, from the plant's perspective. To improve on wood-burning fires, or grass-eating cows, perfect the cellulose-splitting enzyme. Then watch what 7 billion people will do to your forests and your grasslands.

Peter Huber is a senior fellow of the Manhattan Institute and coauthor of The Bottomless Well (Basic Books, January 2005).

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Solar Activity to Increase

A more serious note on global warming and a possible factor... solar input or solar variablity.

Aviation Week & Space Technology:
"Space weather forecasters see a stronger-than-usual 'hurricane season' coming up on the Sun, based on past experience and new solar observations.

Beginning next year or in early 2008, sunspots, solar flares and coronal mass ejections should increase 30-50% over the most recent solar cycle, with the potential for corresponding disruptions in space and terrestrial systems. Those include both communications and navigation satellites, as well as power grids and ground-based
communications networks."

Some more material - from wikipedia, sometimes needing a grain of salt.

Sunspot - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Sunspot"

Solar variation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Solar variation"

From NOAA:
NOAA Paleoclimatology Program - Solanki et al. 2004 11,000 Year Sunspot Number Reconstruction:
"Direct observations of sunspot numbers are available for the past four centuries, but longer time series are required, for example, for the identification of a possible solar influence on climate and for testing models of the solar dynamo. Here we report a reconstruction of the sunspot number covering the past 11,400 years, based on dendrochronologically dated radiocarbon concentrations. We combine physics-based models for each of the processes connecting the radiocarbon concentration with sunspot number. According to our reconstruction, the level of solar activity during the past 70 years is exceptional, and the previous period of equally high activity occurred more than 8,000 years ago. We find that during the past 11,400 years the Sun spent only of the order of 10% of the time at a similarly high level of magnetic activity and almost all of the earlier high-activity periods were shorter than the present episode. Although the rarity of the current episode of high average sunspot numbers may indicate that the Sun has contributed to the unusual climate change during the twentieth century, we point out that solar variability is unlikely to have been the dominant cause of the strong warming during the past three decades."

Note the cautionary statement that solar variablity is unlikely to have been the dominate cause of current warming...

But consider this:

Maunder Minimum - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"The Maunder Minimum coincided with the middle — and coldest part — of the so-called Little Ice Age, during which Europe and North America, and perhaps much of the rest of the world, were subjected to bitterly cold winters.

Whether there is a causal connection between low sunspot activity and cold winters is the subject of ongoing debate. Some scientists believe that solar variation drives climate change more than carbon dioxide does ..."


This has been "floating" around the web for a few weeks:
Nice bit of photo-shopery

Guess it's fooled a fair number of folks.

But consider:

Relative size of moon and sun are totally out of whack.

If the moon was truely as close as it appears some of the following conditions would be apparent.

1) NASA would have an easy task of returning to the moon.

2) we wouldn't have to worry about global warming and the melting the polar ice and glaciers, with a resulting rise in sea-level.
Massive tides would clear the coasts.

3) follow on to #2, tidal friction would heat the interior of the earth to such a degree that we'd not have to worry about CO2 and other greenhouse gasses warming the climate ... volcano's would achieve that.
(and note that it looks like the artic ocean has already melted in the image)

4) we'd be able to do without electric lights for part of every month as the full moon would be damn bright! butthe moon looks like it would be in a polar orbit, so maybe I'm wrong in this assumption ...

Interesting work ...

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Dead Tree Stuff

Good stuff from Doc on Newspapers
San Jose Mercury News in particular

The Doc Searls Weblog

I've had friends in the business.

Both started as photographers
One learned computers (I recall his old KayPro) and went on to running systems for KnightRidder, then set up his own company in ... San Diego.
Sadly, passed away some years ago.

Another ended up playing the "Lew Grant" role at a couple of local TV Stations in Mid Michigan ("Lew Grant was a whoose" was Bruce's great line)... ran the News room at both
Quit one when he was asked to back off on a story to please a sponser.

Anyway, they taught me a couple things about the business

1) what I read is referred to as the "News hole" ... the space left over after the ads.

2) prime profit center for local papers was the classifieds.
eBay and others have gutted that.


So we start with ...
Windows Is So Slow, but Why? - New York Times

Vista ... as in something on the horizon, which you may never see, or ... maybe a Mirage?

"As Windows has grown, the technical challenge has become increasingly daunting. Several thousand engineers have labored to build and test Windows Vista, a sprawling, complex software construction project with 50 million lines of code, or more than 40 percent larger than Windows XP.

"Windows is now so big and onerous because of the size of its code base, the size of its ecosystem and its insistence on compatibility with the legacy hardware and software, that it just slows everything down," observed David B. Yoffie, a professor at the Harvard Business School. "That's why a company like Apple has such an easier time of innovation."

Microsoft certainly understands the problem, the need to change and the potential long-term threat to its business from rivals like Apple, the free Linux operating system, and from companies like Google that distribute software as a service over the Internet."

So we get :
Steve Ballmer interviewed in Forbes
"What is up with those goofy dinosaur ads you guys run? Do you like them?

What we’re trying to say is the new stuff is better than the old stuff. And these dinosaur ads, they do the job. I told our ad people, I’m going to start suspending my personal bias about what looks good and looks bad, as long as they can show me research data that supports this stuff."

Oh what a mash-urp

Note that while I've been "exposed" to these ads through many magazines, I had no clue as to who/what they were promoting ... now THAT's bad!

Meltin ...

Ice meltin

Now moves out and back from shore

Depending on breeze (nil today) by feet or yards in matter of min.
Just about 15 min after this shot, ice was almost on shore.

Expect it will be gone soon...

Cool graphic

Graphic of the net "backbone"

If nothing else... cool PDF

ZD Net : "Who owns the Internet pipes?"

PC Forum: Sunday 3/12/06 Opening Session

The following comment did stick with me.
Context being the whole idea of "other lives/Sim's/Avatars/Gaming".

I've been posting about this and how I'm still a skeptic (or just "old").

But I find the dichotomy of mass vs personalized production interesting.
Being a "virtual world" the only cost seems to be one's time.
(any different than blogging ...???)

PC Forum: The paradox of choice | Between the Lines | ZDNet.com:

"Philip Rosedale of Linden Labs (Second Life) followed Schwartz and described how the digital environment of Second Life is more expression. You create things more than pick things. Most things are custom made and most users are custom makers. Esther asks–should Second Life outlaw mass production? Rosedale responded that the cost of goods near zero so less incentive to get to mass produced scale like a Starbucks. 'People are fascinated by the opportunity to create another life,' Rosedale said."

The REAL World of Warcraft ... more

I'd posted some material and links up here:
Looney Dunes: The REAL World of Warcraft

Further stuff.

Lest it be thought that I take sides on the Administration and the war(s), which might be a reading of the links and such in my prior post, I also value the skeptic's view.

John Robb's Weblog

"First, to paraphrase an old drill sergeant: If you are not reading John Robb’s blog you’re wrong."

John is insightful and well read, a great touchstone.

I love this quote :
John Robb's Weblog: American Futures:

"Writing a blog helps keep you at peak loop output. It forces you to spend time in constant reflection despite life in a multitasking world (which is very, very valuable). So your loop doesn't go screaming off in the wrong direction (which almost everyone is experiencing)."

John links to many good resources, some I read anyway, some I learn from him.

Back on the other side of the coin is Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog

Behind (a lot) in reading Tom
John is succinct...Tom is loquacious.
John points to other resources...Tom less so.
John links to other's ...Tom's doesn't.

John is easy to read ... Tom less so.

I read John first.

Now back to reading

Monday, March 27, 2006

More mulling over PCForum

Still haven't reached any firm conclusions ...
Maybe never will

Spent some time reading others posts and came across
Scripting News: 3/12/2006 by Dave Winer

"The questioners line up in front of the mikes, and are called on, one from each mike. The questioner identifies him or herself. The tone at Esther's is very spacy, it's hard to understand what they're talking about, seems unfortunate because Omidyar has so much practical experience (founder of eBay)."

And then to his ideas about an unconference.

And :

"This observation may turn out to be the Fundamental Law of Conventional Conferences."

The sum of the expertise of the people in the audience is greater than the sum of expertise of the people on stage.

(I'd note that I've seen participants cycle from the floor to the dias and back again over the years)
I think PCForum has moved in this direction over the last couple of years.
I attended a session on non-profits (last year?).

But I do think that the nature has changed over time.
As I only attend one conference, in general, I can't really judge if there are more events that are becoming more like PCForum.

The level of intensity seems to be lower, more casual.

Every year there have been panels and speakers better than others.
Maybe the business has evolved to a more mature phase...

The last few years, the conference has gone "WiFi" and this, along with changed work/attention habits undoubtably changes the tone.
Audiance can blog/surf while keeping an ear to the speakers and panelists.

This can actually add to the event, as evidenced by the Nacchio incident (Wireless Bloggers Created Second Conference at PC Forum)

While I ponder, here are some other bloggers:



Ross Mayfield's Weblog: pcforum

Johannes Ernst's Blog

Ted::Talks(): Tech::PC Forum 2006 -Day I

Telematique, water and fire.: Government and our choice

Breakfast and DataMining

One of the most interesting people I met (again) at PCForum was Mr.
Jeff Jonas

"A collection of thoughts and resources on privacy and the information age, injected with a few personal stories."

He'd joined me at breakfast on Tuesday.

After a few comments on having sold his company to IBM, it all clicked.
(this is one of the reasons I value attendance at PCForum ... serendipitous meetings)

Jeff had spoken about 3yrs ago, topic of data-mining.

Excerpt :
"Data mining means different things to different people and quite frankly has become an overused term. And after having seen quite a few data mining definitions, I have concluded the longer the definition the greater the confusion. So what might be the shortest possible definition?

Data Mining = Prediction.


When a government is faced with an overwhelming number of predicates (i.e., subjects of investigative interest), data mining can be quite useful for triaging (prioritizing) which subjects should be pursued first. One example: the hundreds of thousands of people currently in the United States with expired visas. The student studying virology from Saudi Arabia holding an expired visa might be more interesting than the holder of an expired work visa from Japan writing game software.

Applying this line of thinking to the recently reported NSA warrantless surveillance debate, if the surveillance always starts with a predicate (in this setting, phone calls from known Al Qaeda training camps), and then data mining is used for predicate triage … then we are talking about a very useful form of data mining."

My comment - nobody wants to listen to 10MM teens on their cellphones just after school.

Targeted data-mining is useful.

Of note: Jeff got some "fame" for this:
Wired 14.03: Posts: "What Happens in Vegas... "

Release 1.0 / Fresh Produce / Where's Esther?

Excerpt from Esther's writings leading up to PCForum:

Release 1.0 / Fresh Produce / Where's Esther?:
"These are the challenges I'll be exploring over the next few days. In the end, it's that human need for attention - even more than the iffy weather! - that keeps people coming back to ETech and PC Forum and other face-to-face events. There's nothing quite as satisfying as testing your ideas against another sharp mind ready to listen."

Note that the link behind "iffy weather" resolved to MuSoft!

Souce code shows otherwise:
iffy weather!

Does/did Esther have a premonition of impending announcements about delays in the next iteration of Windoze?

And of note, I'd asked Daphne if/when PCForum was going to go "virtual" and commented that it was my Avatar speaking, not the real me.

Well ... it was indeed (a version of) the "real me" and the same "real me" will continue to attend.
If for no other reason than it is (usually) warmer than NW Michigan at that time of year.

Good excuse for "Spring Break"

The REAL World of Warcraft

Posted on WofW at PCForum and later thinking/conversations.
Looney Dunes: Something on my mind ...

Then I read The Doc Searls Weblog : Monday, March 27, 2006 entries on Iraq
Didn't get to all the links, but thoughtful
Here's some more...

James F. Dunnigan.
Author and military historian.
Use to be publisher of Strategy & Tactics
Military board games that I subscribed to back in the 70's

The following led to an "Ah-Ha" moment for me
S&T led to Dungeons and Dragons which led to Worlds of Warcraft.
Full circle.

About S&T: A Quick History

"Strategy & Tactics was originally founded in 1967 by Jim Dunnigan. In its original format, it did not include a game in each issue but focused on existing wargames, design material for games, and hobby news and information. At issue #19, Dunnigan formed Simulations Publications, Inc. (SPI) and began putting games in the magazine. The decade of the 1970's was dominated by SPI games and Strategy & Tactics magazine became the hobby flagship. Unfortunately, the transition from a direct mail order to a distribution model, rapidly rising component costs, and increasing competition combined to sink SPI. SPI declared bankruptcy shortly after issue #89 was published, and TSR, the company made famous by Dungeons and Dragons, took over as the largest creditor. TSR was not known for their wargames, and though they tried to develop a wargame line and continued publishing Strategy & Tactics from #90-#110, they eventually choose to sell off their SPI assets. Strategy & Tactics was purchased by World Wide Wargames (3W) and, later, most of the SPI box game titles were purchased by Decision Games. 3W published Strategy & Tactics from #111 to #139 and then sold it to Decision Games.

Jim later wrote books on "How to Make War" which debunked many weapons and systems
(quite simply ... stuff doesn't work as advertised)
Now he has a website: strategypage.com

Some of Jim's stuff not in mainstream press: call it the Real World of Warcraft
Lessions of Fallujah

Settling Scores vs Civil War

Prospects of change in the Arab World

Note : I ignore most of the ads ...

Subscription site ... but VERY good
My contacts in NY say it's followed on the street.

Articles on how we are in "end game" talks with Iran over future of Iraq.
They (Iranians) are pleased that we took out Saddam, Nuke issue is saber rattling, there will be some sort of arrangement.

"The United States announced March 16 that it is ready to talk to Iran about Iraq. This followed a statement from Tehran that it was ready to engage in a dialogue with Washington on Baghdad. These statements show both sides have agreed to take their back-channel dealings on the issue to the public sphere as a means of achieving their mutual interests in Iraq. This unprecedented move will pave the way for future U.S.-Iranian discussions."

"All wars end in negotiations. Clearly, the United States and Iran have been talking quietly for a long time. They now have decided it is time to make their talks public. That decision by itself indicates how seriously they both take these conversations now."

Administration may well have played it's hand poorly, but I suspect that it's winning... there are more pieces to this puzzle that the daily press gets into.

Islam/Energy/East Asia (China)/South Asia (India)
3D game of chess.
Wheels within wheels.

Other links:
Saw Christopher Hitchens on ABC: he'd coined the term IslamoFacists.
Author of "The Long Short War" and takes it back to Carter Admin OK of Saddam's invasion of Iran.
Trotskyite turned NeoCon ...HitchensWeb
wikipedia bio

Fukuyama's change of heart
wikipedia bio

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Bahama's ?

Clear waters


Lake Michigan from the Empire Bluffs
About 400 ft up from the lake

Wisconsin is about 75miles ... a ways over the horizon.

Here's a look to the north
Towards the "Sleeping Bear" with South Manitou island offshore

Worlds of Wierdness ?

Starting to get caught up after travels.

Some reflections on PC Forum
Still mulling over the event, not sure if it was as impressive as some past ones
Is it me, the change of venue, from Scottsdale Princess to LaCosta in Carlsbad CA, or the change of ownership (now owned by CNet) ?

Topic of role playing and game-space, in particular Worlds of Warcraft.

Odd set of coincidences … Sims, Games and Avatars.

Sunday session, sat back row center (all the easier to slip out from time to time)
Guy who sat to my left was Robert Carter, CEO of bandalong, which has “3D Avatars” system for IM ( Imstar ). Esther is an investor in this.
Precursor of other incidents ?

Met with new CEO of numedeon.com ( WhyVille) about gaming and education just after PCForum in Santa Monica.

Conversation with Elliott Noss, CEO of Tucowsabout same. He spends time in WofW with his son, as partners in tasks and quests.

Son, Joe had asked questions about WofW at the closing dinner.

Then, when visiting sister, Nancy, she demoed WofW for Shirley and me.
She's been playing since about last Nov.

Shirley gave me book by Jeffery Deaver, “The Blue Nowhere” – about a serial killer MUD player.
Not a particularly good book, a page turner, but too many “Deus ex machina” situations. The “bad guy” is deranged MUD player who can’t distinguish between real world and the cyberworld of games.

Wired : WofW and job prospects :
Wired 14.04: You Play World of Warcraft? You're Hired!

Got home and the Wired issue had Wil Wright (creator of Sim’s) on the cover.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Spring ...

has sprung ?

Well, by the calendar, but we stil have ice on the lake.
Some open water near the eastern shore.

But soon...

Something on my mind ...

Early reflections on PC Forum
Still mulling over the event, not sure if it was as impressive as some past ones
Is it me, the change of venue, or the change of ownership (now owned by CNet... who owns GameSpot)?

Odd set of coincidences
Topic of role playing game-space, in particular Worlds of Warcraft
In rough order/timeline:

Sunday session, sat back row center (all the easier to slip out from time to time)
Guy who sat to my left was Robert Carter, CEO of bandalong, which has “3D Avatars” system for IM (imstar*). Esther is an investor in this.
Precursor of other impressions ?
"...an instant messaging program, compatible with AIM, that allows users to create a 3D avatar, shop, play games"

Founder of 2nd Life was interviewed by Esther on the dias

Tuesday dinner had as panel, founders of FaceBook, Linkedin and player of WofW

Met with new CEO of numedeon.com (Whyville) about gaming and education just after PCForum.
Disclosure - I'm an investor.

Conversation with Elliott Noss, CEO of Tucows about same. He spends time in WofW with his son, as partners in tasks and quests
Son, Joe had asked questions about WofW at the closing dinner.

Sister, Nancy, demoed WofW for Shirley and me.

Shirley gave me book by Jeffery Deaver, The Blue Nowhere by Jeffery Deaver – about a serial killer MUD player.
(a page turner, but flawed with too many "deux ex machina" twists)

Wired : WofW and job prospects : Wired 14.04: You Play World of Warcraft? You're Hired!

Maybe there is a thread here, maybe just that I'm sensitive to the topic since it was a highlight of PCForum.

Maybe it's just time for another cuppa coffee...

Thursday, March 23, 2006

KR finally "gets it"

Interview with an Icon of American M/C racing.

Interview: King Kenny Roberts

Key comment: referring to Honda

It goes back to an old journalist, quite well-known when I was racing. His name was Wilke Rausch. ...he was very influential with the factories in Japan, all of them. And that was his key thing. He said to me one time he liked me, I don't know why. But he said, "Just remember one thing. There's only one motor company in Japan."

I said, "No, you're silly. Yamaha's a motor company."

"No, they're not. There's only one real motor company in Japan. Don't ever forget it." "

Honda all but runs the show, makes the rules, others win almost at Honda's permission.

Suzuki/Kawasaki now merged, parts of larger conglomerates, Yamaha too ... it's symbol is tuning forks.
You won't find Honda ships or pianos...

Monday, March 20, 2006

Spring is Sprung

Vernal Equinox

Wrapping up California visit.
Leave in the morning.

Will likely dive into paperwork and bills before resurfacing for some updates.

Putting a price on "Happiness"

WSJ.com - Happiness Inc.:

"One area of research that could have broad ramifications is work being done to put a price on happiness. David Blanchflower, a Dartmouth College economics professor, is a leader in this. He analyzed survey data covering tens of thousands of people in 35 nations, and cross-referenced the results with various economic data such as workers' wages and people's standards of living. He then sought to put a dollar figure on the value of a healthy, stable relationship.

One study that he co-authored found that if you're single or in a miserable marriage, you'd need to earn $100,000 more each year to be as happy as a happily married person. His research also showed that if you have sex just once a month, you'd need to earn $50,000 more a year to be as happy as someone having sex once a week with a monogamous partner.

A potential use of this is calculating damages in divorce proceedings. Plaintiffs could make the case that they should be compensated for 'a loss of happiness' due to, say, a straying spouse. Pharmaceutical companies, meanwhile, have talked to Dr. Blanchflower about using such data in marketing. His continued research, he says, could be used to market erectile dysfunction drugs, or drugs that combat depression.

Just as car makers advertise how much your gas mileage goes up if you buy their car -- and give you the actual data to back that claim -- drug makers could advertise how your happiness mileage would go up if you popped their pill. 'People are treated for mental disorders, they go back to work and they earn wages again,' Dr. Blanchflower says. 'We can see how their earnings go up. But how do they feel about themselves and the world? That has a value.'"

Friday, March 17, 2006

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Dinner @ Doc's

Elliot and Doc next to Doc's famous "infinity pool"

Sorta breaking my unoffical rule of not posting photos of people, but these guys are well enough known...

Great afternoon/evening, one of the highlights of our trip to Calif.
Later joined by Paul Boutin and his wife Christina.

Just wish I had a DVR-style wittism recording device to capture the best lines, such as Paul's "Rising tide lifts all darts" ... or the discussion of "Creative Studies."

Joyce came up with a nice Irish boiled corned beef and cabbage dinner.

Doc was sorely missed at PCForum ...

Venice Beach

We paid a visit to Venice Beach, home of folks my sister calls "wing nuts"
Those who have a found a "Relatively mild" and tolerant climate for their lifestyles. Street people, homeless and the like. One with a plackard "World's Greatest Wino..."
OK ...

Then we had this guy hawking "cheap pizza" ... yum

Well, maybe not today ...

But there was this great wall art

A bit closer : even the windows are painted in.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

California Dreamin ...

Cue up the Momma's and the Pappa's old tune

We're still waitin
Valet here at La Costa says it's "coldest day in Calif History"

Well, just checked my weather widgets and it's all of 2 degrees colder in MAPLE CITY MICHIGAN.

54 vs 52

Will post photos later (should have taken some of Californians frozen on the streets)
Was on the USS Midway - and 1/4 inch hail ... they cleared the flight deck.

Time to unpack

Old and new

Shot of CVN 74 (John Stennis) left and CVN 68 (Nimitz) right from the deck of the Midway.

Rain and ... Hail

Got chased off by the weather

Here's what it looked like over the bow

Friday, March 10, 2006

At the Zoo

Spent the day at the zoo.

Grey, only in the 50's, breezy, some rain.
But it was still nice.

Had not been to this place for just over 50yrs.
That's right ... it's been a while and this dates me
But that the fact jack.

Last visit was '54 with mother and grandmother.

Interesting piece on Ongoing Human Evolution

Still Evolving, Human Genes Tell New Story - New York Times: "Providing the strongest evidence yet that humans are still evolving, researchers have detected some 700 regions of the human genome where genes appear to have been reshaped by natural selection, a principal force of evolution, within the last 5,000 to 15,000 years."

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Does Hillary know about this ?

Not that Dick Morris doesn't have an ax to grind, so take with large grain of salt.

But it seems that George W. isn't the only President with leanings towards a particular Arab country.

Seems that Bill is on the payroll...
Ain't politics grand?




March 6, 2006 -- BUBBA AN AGENT FOR DUBAI?"

Cracks & Tracks

Only got ice on the lake a few of weeks ago (Feb 11th)

Some intreped (foolish?) fishermen still out on the ice.
I decided against the hike across for this year

Pretty loud this AM
Much groaning and popping.

Good clear night, temp dropped into the single digits, snow has good solid crust. But warmer weather approaching.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Urban insights

Once you get past the Times urban bias, there is much good material here.

From why Detroit should be allowed to die to how zoning drives up prices.

Detroit and the like should be allowed to fail as they no longer have a "purpose" or make business sense. The problem is that housing is persistent, it can take 100yrs to decay. In the meantime, houses sell for less than construction cost – therefore are bargains for the poor.

Home Economics - New York Times:

"Edward L. Glaeser grew up on the East Side of Manhattan, went to school in Princeton, N.J., and Chicago, lived for a time in Cambridge, Mass., and Palo Alto, Calif., and recently moved with his wife and young son to a house on six and a half acres in the affluent suburb of Weston, Mass. To Glaeser, this last move has been a big adjustment. For one thing, he is not a good driver, and the new commute has prompted him to leave his house by 6 a.m. so as not to get ensnared in the morning rush hour. For another, Glaeser and the suburbs are clearly an unholy marriage of sensibilities, especially since his new house is bordered by about 600 acres of conservation land. 'I wake up every day, thinking, My goodness, how many units of housing could you build here?' he says."

His suburban problems aside, it looks like he's a good thinker.
Link should be a permalink - suggest one spends a few min with it.

Conclusion on zoning driving prices up :

Boston, San Francisco and Manhattan are obviously becoming rarefied destinations, mostly for America's elites (Glaeser calls the cities "luxury goods"), with housing floating beyond the reach of the young and the middle class. These cities' economies are in the process of becoming boutique, too, accommodating only the most skilled and privileged. Their desire to limit construction and grow not in buildings and population but in prices has, in effect, begun to shape their destiny. "A healthy city is one that has a healthy mix of demographic groups," Glaeser says. "Shutting out your 25-to-40 year-olds? That feels like a bad strategy for urban innovation."

Reinventing the Wheel

Maybe it's more like Dinosaurs mating?
Compete via consolidation...

WSJ.com - U.S. Home:
"AT&T Is near a deal to acquire BellSouth for roughly $65 billion, in an agreement that would give AT&T sole control over Cingular, the nation's largest wireless operator. A deal could be announced as early as Monday."

But is there a brighter side?
Will the FCC view the telco's as Oligopolies and lean against the attempts to fence in the net.

We can only hope...


Is that an Ash Cross on his forehead?
Did Al-Zawahri convert?

What is he giving up for Lent?

USATODAY.com - In tape, al-Zawahri blasts cartoons:
Cairo (AP) — Al-Qaeda's No. 2 leader Ayman al-Zawahri criticized the West for its insult to Islam's prophet, complaining in a video broadcast Sunday on Al-Jazeera that the Prophet Mohammed and Jesus 'are not sacred anymore.'"

Saturday, March 04, 2006


Went to See BrokeBack Mt.

All well and good.
I like Ang Lee's work
I really like Larry McMurtry's work

I have no problem with the theme
Devout and practicing hetrosexual,
the movie was no "threat"

I 've often enjoyed time in the Canadian Rockies
(where it was shot, not Wyoming)

But ... there was an ad before the movie.
Not just one of the "slide show" ads, but a video clip for ...

Come on

Wasn't anyone paying attention ?
Or was it intentional ?

Really had to stifle a laugh out loud...

Confirms my attitude towards collectibles ...

Insight into the hype of the "Collectable Art" Market
Much the same can apply to other items.

Buy what you like, not what others "value"

After Stint of Crime, Art Forger Sells Genuine Fakes:

"After many years as an art forger, both criminal and legitimate, John Myatt has a thing or two to say about the vagaries of the art market.

'Never was there such a load of rubbish talked about anything as has been, and will be, talked about art,' he said, sitting in his kitchen, Van Gogh's beautiful 'Harvest' (a fake, painted by him) on the wall behind him. 'The nonsense, really, is that paintings should be priced the way they are, that a Van Gogh can go for, what is it, $75 million? That's disgusting.'

Former art student, former musician, former impoverished single father, Mr. Myatt for seven years participated in what a Scotland Yard officer called at the time 'the biggest art fraud of the 20th century,' painting fake masterpieces that an accomplice passed off as authentic. But all he really wanted, he said, was a job he could do at home."

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

March(in on)

About 8:30 AM on the 1st
Playing with new camera on beach Sleeping Bear Bay
Shooting towards the passage between the Manitous

Still Winter

Looking foward to working with more pixels...