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

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Right On!

Show me an empty desktop, I'll show you an empty mind...

Saying Yes to Mess

IT is a truism of American life that we’re too darn messy, or we think we are, and we feel really bad about it. Our desks and dining room tables are awash with paper; our closets are bursting with clothes and sports equipment and old files; our laundry areas boil; our basements and garages seethe. And so do our partners — or our parents, if we happen to be teenagers.

This is why sales of home-organizing products, like accordion files and labelmakers and plastic tubs, keep going up and up, from $5.9 billion last year to a projected $7.6 billion by 2009, as do the revenues of companies that make closet organizing systems, an industry that is pulling in $3 billion a year, according to Closets magazine.

This is why January is now Get Organized Month, thanks also to the efforts of the National Association of Professional Organizers, whose 4,000 clutter-busting members will be poised, clipboards and trash bags at the ready, to minister to the 10,000 clutter victims the association estimates will be calling for its members’ services just after the new year.

But contrarian voices can be heard in the wilderness. An anti-anticlutter movement is afoot, one that says yes to mess and urges you to embrace your disorder. Studies are piling up that show that messy desks are the vivid signatures of people with creative, limber minds (who reap higher salaries than those with neat “office landscapes”) and that messy closet owners are probably better parents and nicer and cooler than their tidier counterparts. It’s a movement that confirms what you have known, deep down, all along: really neat people are not avatars of the good life; they are humorless and inflexible prigs, and have way too much time on their hands.

In the semiotics of mess, desks may be the richest texts. Messy-desk research borrows from cognitive ergonomics, a field of study dealing with how a work environment supports productivity. Consider that desks, our work landscapes, are stand-ins for our brains, and so the piles we array on them are “cognitive artifacts,” or data cues, of our thoughts as we work.

To a professional organizer brandishing colored files and stackable trays, cluttered horizontal surfaces are a horror; to cognitive psychologists like Jay Brand, who works in the Ideation Group of Haworth Inc., the huge office furniture company, their peaks and valleys glow with intellectual intent and showcase a mind whirring away: sorting, linking, producing. (By extension, a clean desk can be seen as a dormant area, an indication that no thought or work is being undertaken.)

His studies and others, like a survey conducted last year by Ajilon Professional Staffing, in Saddle Brook, N.J., which linked messy desks to higher salaries (and neat ones to salaries under $35,000), answer Einstein’s oft-quoted remark, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk?”

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Not the PC view of warming

Love Global Warming - Forbes.com: "What's wrong with mild winters, anyway?"

Blizzards vs Hurricanes?
Deaths from cold vs heat?

Is there a "upside" to climate change?

Sunday, December 17, 2006


Ah Ha

He Thought, She Thought - New York Times:

"Q: As a professor of neuropsychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, you’ve drawn some strange conclusions about “The Female Brain,” to borrow the title of your debut book, which argues that a woman’s brain structure explains a good deal of her behavior, including a penchant for gossiping and talking on the phone.

The hormone of intimacy is oxytocin, and when women talk to each other, they get a rush of it"


Your book cites a study claiming that women use about 20,000 words a day, while men use about 7,000.

The real phraseology of that should have been that a woman has many more communication events a day — gestures, words, raising of your eyebrows."

More on Freeman Dyson

Interview posted Feb '98 but still timely.
A good read

6.02: features: "Freeman Dyson's Brain
By Stewart Brand

Stewart Brand talks to the deepest futurist alive - and the most trustworthy."


By 2040, Greenhouse Gases Could Lead to an Open Arctic Sea in Summers - New York Times:
"New studies project that the Arctic Ocean could be mostly open water in summer by 2040 — several decades earlier than previously expected — partly as a result of global warming caused by emissions of greenhouse gases."

The Cost of an Overheated Planet - New York Times

"“Setting a real price on carbon emissions is the single most important policy step to take,” said Robert N. Stavins, director of the environmental economics program at Harvard University. “Pricing is the way you get both the short-term gains through efficiency and the longer-term gains from investments in research and switching to cleaner fuels.”

Some academics see an analogy between a global warming policy and the pursuit of national security in the cold war. In the late 1950s, American military spending reached as high as 10 percent of the gross domestic product and averaged about 4 percent, far higher than in any previous peacetime era. A Soviet nuclear attack was a danger but hardly a certainty, just as the predicted catastrophes from global warming are threats but not certainties."

Nukes...now that could be real "Warming"!
Likely followed by cooling..."Nuclear Winter"

An alternative view from a major thinker:
Freeman Dyson - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

"The good news is that we are at last putting serious effort and money into local observations. Local observations are laborious and slow, but they are essential if we are ever to have an accurate picture of climate. The bad news is that the climate models on which so much effort is expended are unreliable because they still use fudge-factors rather than physics to represent important things like evaporation and convection, clouds and rainfall. Besides the general prevalence of fudge-factors, the latest and biggest climate models have other defects that make them unreliable. With one exception, they do not predict the existence of El Ni�o. Since El Ni�o is a major feature of the observed climate, any model that fails to predict it is clearly deficient. The bad news does not mean that climate models are worthless. They are, as Manabe said thirty years ago, essential tools for understanding climate. They are not yet adequate tools for predicting climate"


"As a result of the burning of coal and oil, the driving of cars, and other human activities, the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing at a rate of about half a percent per year. [...] The physical effects of carbon dioxide are seen in changes of rainfall, cloudiness, wind strength, and temperature, which are customarily lumped together in the misleading phrase "global warming." This phrase is misleading because the warming caused by the greenhouse effect of increased carbon dioxide is not evenly distributed. In humid air, the effect of carbon dioxide on the transport of heat by radiation is less important, because it is outweighed by the much larger greenhouse effect of water vapor. The effect of carbon dioxide is more important where the air is dry, and air is usually dry only where it is cold. The warming mainly occurs where air is cold and dry, mainly in the arctic rather than in the tropics, mainly in winter rather than in summer, and mainly at night rather than in daytime. The warming is real, but it is mostly making cold places warmer rather than making hot places hotter. To represent this local warming by a global average is misleading, because the global average is only a fraction of a degree while the local warming at high latitudes is much larger.

Regarding political efforts to reduce the causes of climate change, Dyson argues that other global problems should take priority.

"I'm not saying the warming doesn't cause problems, obviously it does. Obviously we should be trying to understand it. I'm saying that the problems are being grossly exaggerated. They take away money and attention from other problems that are much more urgent and important. Poverty, infectious diseases, public education and public health. Not to mention the preservation of living creatures on land and in the oceans."

Looking much further back (likely not caused by CO2):
Black Sea deluge theory - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In 1998, William Ryan and Walter Pitman, geologists from Columbia University, published evidence that a massive flood through the Bosporus occurred about 5600 BCE. Glacial meltwater had turned the Black and Caspian Seas into vast freshwater lakes, while sea levels remained lower worldwide. The fresh water lakes were emptying their waters into the Aegean Sea. As the glaciers retreated, rivers emptying into the Black Sea reduced their volume and found new outlets in the North Sea, and the water levels lowered through evaporation. Then, about 5600 BC, as sea levels rose, Ryan and Pitman suggest, the rising Mediterranean finally spilled over a rocky sill at the Bosporus. The event flooded 60,000 mile² (155,000 km²) of land and significantly expanded the Black Sea shoreline to the north and west. Ryan and Pitman wrote:

Black Sea today (light blue) and in 5600 BCE (dark blue) according to Ryan's and Pitman's theories
Black Sea today (light blue) and in 5600 BCE (dark blue) according to Ryan's and Pitman's theories
"Ten cubic miles [42 km³] of water poured through each day, two hundred times what flows over Niagara Falls. …The Bosporus flume roared and surged at full spate for at least three hundred days."

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tough kid

Mind the Gap
hayden's surgery reveals serious damage--from 04!
by dean adams
Friday, December 01, 2006

Reigning MotoGP world champion Nick Hayden underwent surgery on his injured shoulder yesterday at Dr. Art Ting's Northern California clinic. Ostensibly, Hayden's surgery was to repair the damage done in his Estoril MotoGP crash—where he was taken out by his teammate, Dani Pedrosa—but the prep for the surgery revealed even more damage than that caused by the Estoril spill.

"I guess what I'd like to say is that Americans should really be proud of Nicky for the performance he put in at Valencia, because, my God, I was just stunned to see how badly his shoulder was damaged and realize that he raced on this and won the world championship," said Ting's Rehab Specialist, Tuan Nguyen today. "We looked at it and thought, my God, look at that gap!"

Ting's clinic services virtually a who's who in the racing world, and has done so for over 15 years. Previous racing clients include Eddie Lawson, Michael Doohan, Miguel DuHamel and many, many others.

"What we found was that Nicky's broken collarbone from 2004 actually never healed," continued Nguyen. "We did an MRI and then looked at it and there was a gap in the old break in his clavicle. The plate was holding it together, but there was a gap between the bones. We also found rotator cuff damage, a labrum tear, and a bone spur on his clavicle."

Monday, December 11, 2006

Hybrid Marketing

Eyes on the Road - WSJ.com:
GM, Toyota Bet Hybrid Green. Even as Sales Cool, Auto Makers Hope They Will Help Branding, Bottom Line
December 11, 2006

"Is the hybrid car moment over in America?

Not if Toyota Motor Corp. and General Motors Corp. can help it. The warring giants of the auto industry are determined to keep gas-electric hybrid vehicle technology in the forefront of their product programs, as well as their corporate advertising and image-building efforts."

and ...
"GM isn't about to do a wholesale conversion to battery-driven vehicles. But Mr. Lutz says that he thinks it's possible that within three years, the lithium-ion battery technology that could make a plug-in hybrid viable just might become available. So if GM wants to take advantage of that, it has to start working today on such a vehicle.

Mr. Lutz says that current gas-electric hybrid technology still doesn't make economic sense, given the high costs of the hardware and the relatively low cost of gasoline. "But it doesn't matter," he says. The image boost Toyota received from promoting its leadership on hybrids is priceless."

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Unclear concept... cont.

Yes, You Can Surf in Cleveland - New York Times: "

“Surfing Lake Erie is basically disgusting,” said Bill Weeber, known as Mongo, 44. “But then I catch that wave and I forget about it, and I feel high all day.”


"The strongest winds and waves come in winter, just before Lake Erie freezes. Waves up to 10 feet have been surfed, but the largest swells are usually chest-high. Instead of curling into a vertical wall, the waves are round like haystacks, and they collapse onto the shore like soggy paper."


Charlie Trotters

Wonderful dining experience. Patty at Earthy Delights got us reservations, and "over the top" service. Comped a generous white truffle shaving on one of the dishes. Shirley went with the Veggie tasting menu, Grand Menu along with the wine pairings. Waiting for our taxi, we got a tour of the kitchens.

Charlie Trotter's is regarded as one of the finest restaurants in the world. For over 18 years, the restaurant has dedicated itself to excellence in the culinary arts. Not willing to ride on its laurels, Charlie Trotter's is continuously forging new directions and has been instrumental in establishing new standards for fine dining worldwide.

The restaurant is recognized by a variety of prestigious national and international institutions. In 1995 Charlie Trotter's was inducted into the esteemed Relais & Chateaux and in 1998 was accepted as a member by Traditions & Qualit� . It has also received Five Stars from the Mobil Travel Guide (one of only two Five Star restaurants in Chicago ), Five Diamonds by AAA and seven James Beard Foundation awards, including 'Outstanding Restaurant' (2000) and 'Outstanding Chef' (1999). Wine Spectator named the restaurant 'The Best Restaurant in the World for Wine & Food' (1998) and ' America 's Best Restaurant' (2000). Chef Trotter is the author of 11 cookbooks, subject of two management books, and is the host of the nationally aired, award winning PBS cooking series, The Kitchen Sessions with Charlie Trotter .

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Lucky Number Slevin (2006)

That time of year ... Winter came yesterday
Woke up with clouds and brisk, by late morning it started snowing, by evening, 6-8inches.

Time for NetFlix
Great movie, needs re-watching
Josh Hartnett, Ben Kingsley,Morgan Freeman,Stanley Tucci,Bruce Willis

Twists to the story
This AM, it's time for the actor's/writer's commentary

Friday, December 01, 2006

Antikythera Mechanism - most interesting

Early Astronomical ‘Computer’ Found to Be Technically Complex - New York Times:

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Published: November 30, 2006

A computer in antiquity would seem to be an anachronism, like Athena ordering takeout on her cellphone.

Decoding the Ancient Greek Astronomical Calculator Known as the Antikythera Mechanism (Nature)

But a century ago, pieces of a strange mechanism with bronze gears and dials were recovered from an ancient shipwreck off the coast of Greece. Historians of science concluded that this was an instrument that calculated and illustrated astronomical information, particularly phases of the Moon and planetary motions, in the second century B.C.

The instrument, the Antikythera Mechanism, sometimes called the world’s first computer, has now been examined with the latest in high-resolution imaging systems and three-dimensional X-ray tomography. A team of British, Greek and American researchers deciphered inscriptions and reconstructed the gear functions, revealing “an unexpected degree of technical sophistication for the period,” it said."