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

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Food for Thought

Good, if somewhat lengthly piece on nutrition vs food, cover story Sunday NYTimes Magazine:

Unhappy Meals - Michael Pollan - New York Times:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy. I hate to give away the game right here at the beginning of a long essay, and I confess that I’m tempted to complicate matters in the interest of keeping things going for a few thousand more words. I’ll try to resist but will go ahead and add a couple more details to flesh out the advice. Like: A little meat won’t kill you, though it’s better approached as a side dish than as a main. And you’re much better off eating whole fresh foods than processed food products. That’s what I mean by the recommendation to eat “food.” Once, food was all you could eat, but today there are lots of other edible foodlike substances in the supermarket. These novel products of food science often come in packages festooned with health claims, which brings me to a related rule of thumb: if you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid food products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a good indication that it’s not really food, and food is what you want to eat.

Monday, January 29, 2007


Ethanol: A Risky Business:
"Washington seems poised to help producers of the alternative fuel prosper, but risks from commodity prices to politics leave investors leery"

Corn prices up, squeezing margins on cost side, Saudi's to hold down oil prices (targeting 50's) squeezing on the sales side.

Capacity glut coming.
Issues with transportation and corrosion of pumps and fuel systems.

Not for Me


POLITICS: Why true geeks carry guns - Valleywag

Guess I tend to fall in the Libertarian/Centrist area.
Note on firearms, back in my early teens, I was NRA ranked "Expert" working on Distinguished...

But haven't shot a round for years

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Homage to Russell Chatham

An artist who's work I love.
Inspiration to do simple digital photos like the one above.

Misty, hazy or snowy full of atmosphere.
Such as these : CHATHAM FINE ART

A few other shots from today, only a couple are "Chatham-esq"
Winterscapes - a photoset on Flickr

BTW - above shot was 12:30, a few miles away in "Snowbelt"

A "Not so Perfect Mess"

Well ...

CBS Sunday Morning
Bill Geist interviewed the author and toured various offices at CBS
A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder--How Crammed Closets, Cluttered Offices, and On-the-Fly Planning Make the World a Better Place: Books: Eric Abrahamson,David H. Freedman:

Whole point being, that, to a point, "messy" offices are more "effective" offices

And THIS is after a couple of days of filing and tossing.
Taking a break for the weekend

Morning View

Early ice

Bit of "abstract" but actual digital photo
Bottom, "foreground" is snow, next is ice, followed by open water, then snow/clouds obscuring the far side of the lake.

Shot around 9:12AM 1/16/07 of our "Front Yard"

No No No it Ain't Me Babe

Although Shirley may sometimes think I look this rough...

One of my favorite writers. In part, I'm likely influenced by the fact that until not long ago (couple years?) he lived "just up the road"

Currently about a 3rd of the way through "True North" - only reading when at out "Cabin" as it seems fitting.

PATAGONIA, Ariz. — Jim Harrison, author of rugged, outdoorsy books like “True North” and “Legends of the Fall,”...

Follow the link - nice little profile of a giant writer

Pleasures of the Hard-Worn Life - New York Times

Blog Because

No entries for the last week or so, been busy.

Meetings, conferences, travel, mo-meetings, mo-travel (back home) then back into massive file cleaning, office "cleaning" (which involves going through what seems like a year's worth of mail, magazines, paperwork accumulated in "the Cave"... some filing, some tossing - which sometimes is mearly tossing into another pile), and such.

And some snow.

If weather holds (more snow) planning to get out and both photo (my favorite time of year for this) and snowshoe/ski.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Virtual Hype

Haven't posted about "virtual worlds" for a while, a bit too busy with the "real world" for now.
Some prior ... Looney Dunes: Worlds of Wierdness ?

Cruising through Valleywag, Silicon Valley's Tech Gossip Rag
BTW Valleywag is a pretty good read.

Spotted this:

Second Life press hype

Picture 2-2

Linden Lab's virtual world got a
BusinessWeek cover story in May, and hired Lewis as their PR agency in October. This graph, of press mentions of Second Life tracked by Nexis.com, shows the short-term benefit of a press offensive. David Kirkpatrick has a another piece coming out in the next issue of Fortune, we hear. But it's always dangerous for an internet venture when media hype gets too far ahead of audience growth. Benchmark-backed Linden Lab claims 2.7m "residents" of Second Life but concedes only a tenth of that number visit the 3D environment each month.

and I guess this reinforces my own bias

Second Life: French Racists vs. Exploding Pigs - Gawker: "Whatever your politics or personal thoughts about virtual playground Second Life, after reading the following, it will be hard to avoid thinking of the service as little more than a romper
room for retards. "

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Shirley gave me this great GPS dashtop for Christmas, and I've had fun with it.
Still a lot of features to learn and explore.

But here goes the conumdrum:

There is a voice direction feature, with a pleasant "woman's" artificial voice (note that the Air Force found that a woman's voice got a pilot's attention, wonder if they have done further research on women pilot's). Anyway, running errands in town the other day, she (Shirley) wanted me to toggle on the voice directions. OK, but then she wanted me to take a "shortcut" to get home.

I now had two "women" giving conflicting driving directions...every few blocks.
A pair of "front seat drivers" ... what's a man to do?

Needless to say, Shirley won.
But I've yet to find the "easy off" toggle to the GPS voice.

Oil Weapon Cont...

Bush signals move against Shia in Iraq, gains support of Sunni Saudi's... just a guess.

Oil falls under $52 as Saudi eases worries on OPEC cuts - Jan. 16, 2007:

"Saudi's comments rattle oil

Oil minister says curbed supply is working well and 'there is no need to panic' on speculation of an emergency meeting.
January 16 2007: 9:29 AM EST

LONDON (Reuters) -- Oil prices reached below $52 a barrel Tuesday after Saudi Arabia's oil minister said OPEC production cuts were working well and there was no need for an emergency meeting of the producer group.

U.S. crude was 84 cents lower at $52.15 a barrel in electronic trading after trading as low as $51.75. Brent futures shed 47 cents to $52.65.

U.S. crude was barely above a 19-month low of $51.56 hit lost week, which took losses since the end of last year to around 15 percent.

'We took measures in October in Doha and measures in Abuja [in December] and I believe these measures are working well. Inventories in the fourth quarter have come down ... which puts the market closer to balance,' Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said in New Delhi. 'There is no need to panic.'"


Check this out for some insight on co-creator of Blogger and now a foodie:

leahpeah interview with meg hourihan:

"Meg Hourihan of Megnut.com went All Food All the Time in 2006 and is a self-proclaimed food enthusiast."

Creation of innovative technology and tools can be compatible with everyday life.

The Skinny

Interesting perspective on human skin and evolution of brainpower...

Nina G. Jablonski - Always Revealing, Human Skin Is an Anthropologist's Map - New York Times:
"On an evolutionary level, there are three remarkable facts about skin. It comes in colors, of course. Compared to other mammals, our skin is relatively hairless. And it%u2019s sweaty. In the last few million years, humans became the sweatiest of mammals.

Q. Is that important?

A. Absolutely. It%u2019s often said that our large brains are what made it possible for us to evolve from ape to human. But those big brains could never have developed if we didn%u2019t have exceptionally sweaty skin.

It happened this way. There was a tremendous takeoff in human evolution about two million years ago when primates who could no longer be called apes appeared in the savannahs of East Africa. These early humans ran long distances in open areas. In order to survive in the equatorial sun, they needed to cool their brains. Early humans evolved an increased number of sweat glands for that purpose, which in turn permitted their brain size to expand. As soon as we developed larger brains, our planning capacity increased, and this allowed people to disperse out of Africa. There's fossil evidence of humans appearing in Central Asia around this time."

Monday, January 15, 2007

Getting Started

Spending most of the last couple of days doing massive email clean, to be followed (hopefully) with file cleaning.

Anyway,ran across one that helped push me over the edge to get started.

Doc Searls message Jan 31, 2005

Exchange :

Just a good chuckle, thought you'd enjoy
Spotted on CNBC ( rare moment with sound on )

"unstable megalomaniac under enormous pressure"

Handwriting analysis of Bill Gates doodles

Damn - glad no-one gets ahold of mine (VBG)

> Thanks. Doing a blog yet? I'll give you credit for the pointers.
Not yet, but several have been prodding me to do so
A bit slow this time of year ( or is it just today ? )

Also have been looking to do something like it for internal use - within a couple
of my small companies ... also have looked at Twiki's ...

I liked Tom Barnett's comments on repository of ideas

Gettin closer to doing so
Till then, will just feed an occasional snippet to the "Big Dog" of Blogs (G)


And so it goes


Oscar Levant : "so little time, so little to do"

Friday, January 12, 2007

Oil Continued

Wall Street Journal reads my blog and fills in more data.

"The price of oil tends to be volatile, and it could bounce back quickly. But if sustained, the decline in prices would have a big impact on everything from the American consumer to the profits of giant energy companies. It also could dent the revenues -- and the political clout -- of major oil-producing nations like Russia, Iran and Venezuela.

A senior official of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said yesterday that OPEC will consider the need for an emergency meeting to weigh what it should do to halt the price slide. OPEC already was cutting back its production sharply, the official said. He didn't specify whether the cartel would consider cuts beyond the 1.7 million barrels a day it has already pledged to remove from the market.

If lower oil prices lead to a reduction in what American consumers spend on gasoline, it would leave them with more money for all kinds of discretionary purchases, such as restaurant meals, movies and vacations. That spending could provide a welcome cushion for the U.S. economy, which is grappling with a sharp downturn in the housing sector. It could also give a boost to airlines and auto makers, which have been hurt by high fuel prices."

But they miss the Geopolitical point of how this plays against Iran, among others. The Saudi's are still the swing producers. How does this fit the Sunni/Shia rift, the Arab/Persian face off?

Not to mention Hugo Chavez, Russia and China.

And what will Congress have to say?
Any help for the oil industry?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Oil Weapon?

Note that all of the following is just a personal guess.

Oil moving down with many causes, from warm winter in the Eastern US (where heating oil is a major market) to Goldman Sachs shifting the mix in their commodity index, to simply unwinding of last year's bubble.

Who wins?

Who looses?
Producers, from Venezuela to Iran and Russia.
Note that oil prices were a major tool used by Regan to put pressure on Russia to end the Cold War. Is the same tool being used against Iran?

(image from WSJournal)

Has the Bush Administration decided to play hardball for the last 2 years it has left?

Upping the ante in Iraq with troop buildup (which will be used to counter Shia militia as well as Sunni's), support for Ethiopia against "Islamic Courts" in Somalia, now adding pressure through the markets to signal Iran and Russia to "play nice."

How does China fit in?
Treasury Sec. Paulson seems to have had some success in currency discussions.
Lower oil prices help China, is there a quid pro quo?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Plate Tectonics

Here I go dating myself ... I can remember when the topic of Plate Tectonics was brought up on (College) Geology class as "unproven" theory. But the faculty bought into it, it just wasn't quite "respectable" yet.

Geology - Long-Term Global Forecast? Fewer Continents - New York Times
"Forecasts of future continental motion developed slowly as offshoots of the theory of plate tectonics, which won acceptance in the 1960s and 1970s, shattering old dogmas of continental immobility. The theory of plate tectonics holds that the surface of Earth is composed of a dozen or so huge crustal slabs that float on a sea of partially molten rock. Over ages, hot convection currents in this sea, as well as gravitational forces, move the plates and their superimposed continents and ocean basins, tearing them apart and rearranging them like pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle."

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Not your daughter's Prius

Bob Lutz was right, the Prius was a great marketing coup ... allows Toyota to sell gas guzzlers (note that although some 200,000 hybrids were sold in '06, that's just 1.3% of the market) :

Toyota Enters the Auto Show With a Swagger - New York Times:

Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times

Toyota introduced the Crew Max, a bigger, four-door version of its Tundra pickup, its largest truck sold here.

...is available with Toyota’s biggest engine, a 5.7-liter V8 with 381 horsepower.

That is a departure from Toyota’s reputation for building fuel-efficient vehicles. And it is far cry from Toyota’s first full-sized pickup, the T-100, whose lack of power and towing capability made it made it merely a pale imitation of those from G.M., Ford and Chrysler.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Hydrocarbons ... Where?

Hydrocarbons from sources other than "living things"?

"Fossil Fuels"?

Below Haze, Saturn’s Biggest Moon Has Lakes - New York Times:

"Finding large bodies of liquid methane and probably ethane on Titan, in lakes or perhaps vast seas, had long been hypothesized, based on telescope observations of that moon’s smoggy methane-rich atmosphere and by the two Voyager spacecraft that passed close some 30 years ago. But the Cassini remote-sensing instruments had failed to detect an ocean, though they and the European Space Agency’s Huygens lander did find traces of the channels where liquids had apparently flowed across the surface."


"Jonathan I. Lunine of the University of Arizona, another member of the discovery team, described in an interview what the lakes probably look like. The methane liquid would be transparent, enough to see the dark hydrocarbon sediments on the floor of shallow lakes. The liquid would be less viscous than water, perhaps like gasoline. Overhead, aerosols, minute particles in the upper atmosphere, presumably cast a dim orange light on the lake. In the dark of winter, one would need a flashlight to walk the shore."

The Bridge Builder

One of my favorite writers, and Esther 's "Daddy"
I fondly remember my few chats at the late great PCForum

The Scientist as Rebel By Freeman Dyson - Books - Review - New York Times:

"In “The Scientist as Rebel,” a new collection of essays (many of them reviews first published in The New York Review of Books), he sounds content with his role as a bridge builder. “Tomonaga and Schwinger had built solid foundations on one side of a river of ignorance,” he writes. “Feynman had built solid foundations on the other side, and my job was to design and build the cantilevers reaching out over the water until they met in the middle.”

Drawing on this instinct for unlikely connections, Dyson has become one of science’s most eloquent interpreters."

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Virtual Values

Lawsuit over ownership of online or Virtual IP, who "owns" your Avatar or virtual real estate?

Virtual Worlds Collide With Real Laws - News by InformationWeek 12/07/06:

"Legal experts and game players closely eye lawsuit against Second Life, which asks courts to clarify the legal status of virtual property "

Friday, January 05, 2007


Following is copyrighted material, but will disappear eventually and I think it's an important point of view.

GM gets targeted as "bad guy" while Japanese Mfg's get a free pass.

Kevin A. Wilson
Getting Zapped


AutoWeek | Published 01/04/07, 2:32 pm et
"General Motors got a raw deal from the makers of the film Who Killed The Electric Car? That’s not just my assertion; it’s that of Toyota Motor Sales exec Ernest Bastien, vice president for vehicle operations, as reported by Mark Phelan in The Detroit Free Press recently. The Dec. 20 story even quotes the film’s director, Chris Paine, saying that, “We let Toyota off the hook for how they subverted the program” in the documentary, released on DVD Nov. 14.

GM’s EV1, said Paine, was the “iconic” electric car while Toyota’s RAV4-EV was basically a conversion on a standard vehicle. Paine owns a RAV4-EV, which highlights another aspect that skews perspective on the issue: GM took the leased vehicles back and consigned them to the scrap bin while Toyota left some of its electrics in the hands of consumers. But Paine claims neither vehicle was “properly marketed,” which apparently means automakers were supposed to convince people that they wanted what they didn’t want.

“Customers are not willing to compromise on things they need,” Bastien told Phelan. “They need cruising range… and they don’t want to wait five hours to recharge. The movie didn’t give any consideration to that fact.”

Neither GM nor Toyota admits to “subverting the program,” but the point is that GM pretty much gets painted as the perpetrator of some great evil for first attempting to meet California’s abortive electric-car mandate—indeed, for striving aggressively to take the lead in the field—and then canceling the program when there was insufficient interest. Other electric-car producers—not only Toyota but also Honda—get a free pass for behaving in essentially the same manner.

In another recent development on this front, the U.S. EPA finally signed on with California’s earlier regulatory rules that allow fuel cells in place of batteries to qualify as “zero emissions” vehicles. GM is now striving to become a leader in fuel cell vehicles, employing a lot of what it learned by pushing the limits of electric propulsion technology with EV1. The film suggests fuel cells are a red herring used to kill off battery electrics.

It would have been interesting to hear the opinions of Dave Hermance, the champion of hybrid programs as Toyota’s executive engineer for advanced technology vehicles, on this revival of the electric-car debate. Unfortunately, we lost him Nov. 25 when he crashed his private plane while practicing aerobatics over the Pacific near San Pedro, California. Hermance had worked for GM for 26 years, much of it in the Vehicle Emissions Laboratory, before joining Toyota in 1991. He was passionate about this stuff, articulate, and most importantly in this context, fair and accurate with his facts."

Thursday, January 04, 2007

More Loggin than Bloggin

With mild weather and working through lists of year-end and year-beginning tasks, I've tended to do more time in the woods than with words.

Mid 40's (weather) so it end's up being shirtsleeves for a couple hours of cutting slash (the scrap from logging) and limbing trees. Good exercise (Lord knows I need it) and fresh air. Slinging saw or limber (small chainsaw on long pole), and tossing logs/branches etc.

Winter will return sometime, then it'll be indoors stuff.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Climate Debate

Finally (?) a voice of reason.

While I've been a skeptic on the issue of Global "Warming", over the holidays, I read James Lovelock's book: The Revenge of Gaia: Earth's Climate Crisis and the Fate of Humanity

I'd read his original Gaia work, and have followed his and others writings.

Finally, the picture is becoming clearer.
Mankind's activities are not the primary cause, only a contributing cause.

I may quote from Lovelock's work later, after a re-read, but what I took away is that Gaia has maintained a series of stable, self-reinforcing conditions on planet earth since soon after life emerged.

When the young sun was cooler, the earth was kept warm, as the sun has grown hotter, mechanisms or feedback systems have helped keep the earth cooler, hospitable to life as we know it.

Changes in the "Solar Flux" as well as periodic fluctuations of the Earth's orbit, have led to long term as well as cyclical trends in the Global Climate.

Massive changes in the atmosphere have occurred (large variations in CO2, shift to an Oxygen rich (poisonous) ) but life (Gaia) has adapted.

Now we have a period where human activity, including burning of sequestered hydrocarbons and clearing (often by burning in the 3rd world) of forests. This becomes a perturbation of the feedback forces and may lead to a shift to some other "stable state".

We may indeed face warmer conditions, rising sea levels, but it’s not like this has never happened before. Humans have adapted before, and will again.

Then comes a most interesting piece in today's NYTimes, knocking extremes on both sides of the issue: Middle Stance Emerges in Debate Over Climate

"Amid the shouting lately about whether global warming is a human-caused catastrophe or a hoax, some usually staid climate scientists in the usually invisible middle are speaking up.

The discourse over the issue has been feverish since Hurricane Katrina. Seizing the moment, many environmental campaigners, former Vice President Al Gore and some scientists have portrayed the growing human influence on the climate as an unfolding disaster that is already measurably strengthening hurricanes, spreading diseases and amplifying recent droughts and deluges.

Conservative politicians and a few scientists, many with ties to energy companies, have variously countered that human-driven warming is inconsequential, unproved or a manufactured crisis.

A third stance is now emerging, espoused by many experts who challenge both poles of the debate.

They agree that accumulating carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping smokestack and tailpipe gases probably pose a momentous environmental challenge, but say the appropriate response is more akin to buying fire insurance and installing sprinklers and new wiring in an old, irreplaceable house (the home planet) than to fighting a fire already raging."

Read it.

BTW: Lovelock is in the camp that favors Nukes and dislikes ideas like wind-power as misguided. And kudo's to him for giving favorable nod to technology in the form of communication, such as cellphones, laptops and the internet. Talk, don't travel.