Saturday, June 4

At long last

I've been making notes for posts, but for some reason I haven't been posting them. Hope you're not too disappointed.

+ Fascinating story on new school firefighting in Wired: The Fire Rebels.

Over the last three decades, building materials have changed dramatically. Plumbing, flooring, siding, roofing - most are now made from synthetics. The same goes for the stuff inside the building, like foam rubber seat cushions, plastic computer cases, and nylon carpet fibers. As a result, today's blazes produce two to three times as much energy as a typical fire did in 1980, and most of that energy emerges as flammable gases. Those gases don't escape from newer buildings, which are well insulated and tightly sealed. Fires now project their energy much farther from their cores, making them more dangerous and more difficult to extinguish.

+ The last Wired also had an article on DreamWorks animation saying they can't compete with Pixar on quality, so they're going for quantity. Still, their stock price is falling. Here's a quote for you I keep thinking about:

With a legendary thirst for power, Katzenberg has developed DreamWorks into a high tech version of the old studio system, a centralized organization in which talent is kept under contract and often shuttled from project to project. While Pixar director Brad Bird got to follow his own vision for The Incredibles, DreamWorks offers less room for creative freedom. Katzenberg takes a producer credit (he's usually the executive producer) on nearly every movie and uses at least two directors on each project, sometimes four. He favors the talent he calls the "quiet giants" - directors and storyboard artists like McGrath, Darnell, Tim Johnson, and Conrad Vernon, people he says call the day-to-day shots on DreamWorks movies. "Do I think the world will ever see them as the equivalent of Brad Bird?" Katzenberg asks after viewing the director extras on The Incredibles DVD. "No, but there are other ways of doing things. They just don't have the same ego Brad has."

The irony in this statement didn't strike me the first time I read it.

+ Did you see the Ben and Jerry's Pint Lock? Reminds me of that beer commercial with the beer lock-thing. But this is real!

+ Ego surfing. I'm 2 of the top 10 results under holey moley in this Yahoo search (as of this writing ;-).

+ I'd been waiting for Tom's take on the Base Realignment and Closure process. Short take: he's OK with it. Comment: the subs are going away.

+ Need some hope for the Middle East? Try this Barnett quote on for size (source post, answer # 8):

So many experts in my country fear that Iran will dominate an Iraq that is itself dominated by Shiites, but I think it is the other way around. I think Iran's mullahs have much to fear from a Shiite-dominated Iraq that is democratic. I think a democratic Iraq can have the same destabilizing effect on the mullahs' rule in Iran as the rise of Solidarity in Poland in the 1980s ultimately had upon communist rule in the Soviet Union.

Scary thought (since the post focuses on Turkey): Turkey could easily be the next target of Islamic radicals, especially as Turkey pursues closer ties with Europe. It will be relatively easy to get at, and a 'logical' target.

+ Another cool note from Tom: some US cities are voluntarily signing on to Kyoto (last full paragraph).

+ The developing world will make the stuff for life as we know it now. If the developed world is going to keep up, we'll have to make the stuff for the world as it's going to be.

[P]lan on your retirement funds to support you through 125 years of age, just to be on the safe side. It's been my operating theory in investing for 15 years now.

Whoa. And Tom's 10 years older than me. How long do I get to work productively to build up that kind of retirement? And what does it do to Social Security.

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