Thursday, June 30

Thursday GoogleSat

+ Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong

+ The place where The Channel Tunnel trains go underground in England. MNot much to see from space, but the Wikipedia article was interesting.

+ Desert Farming in Libya with water from the
Great Man Made River.

+ The British Territory of Gibraltar is a small place.


+via B/t thought...
Ten years of chilled innovation. Stanford Law professor Lawrence Lessig weighs in on the Grokster ruling. [He argues 'activism', which seems to be the standard criticism of all judges these days, no matter what side you're on...]
RIAA sues 784 more file swappers. Meanwhile, the recording industry wastes no time firing off another round of lawsuits.

+ My opinion, in contrast with Judge Souter's, is that the RIAA and MPAA are greedy money-grubbers and I wish I were in a position to boycott them and encourage others to do so, but I'm not willing to forego all of the movies and music they control. You could conclude that the best way to fight them would be to steal and 'share' more. I can't get conclude that. Part of me wishes I could.

+ Cringely says the Sup Ct ruling isn't that bad. He's a little more sanguine than I am about the studios coming up with a decent  digital distribution method. He also predicts that the Web 2.0 will be about APIs: 'For example, Google Maps plus accident reports for insurance companies, or Amazon plus eBay plus Froogle for purchasing departments.' Not revolutionary. Probably right.

+ Remember I said I didn't care about Steve Job's Stanford speech? I still don't  Don't care about David Foster Wallace's Kenyon College soeech, either. However, this kottke post has links to some funny graduation speeches which I do care about:

Conan O'Brien's Harvard Class Day 2000 speech
Will Ferrell's Harvard Class Day 2003 speech
Jon Stewart's William and Mary 2004 commencement address

+ On a much more serious note, also via kottke, the Iraq War Casualties Map. I assume the desired effect is horror. Well, I resist that feeling, but the map can also be used to take stock of the price these young people have paid. An Iraq civilians casualty map would also be somber.

Wednesday, June 29


+ I stayed up too late flying around in Google Earth. Wow, that thing's cool. Mt St Helens in the Sightseeing folder was especially cool.

+ U.S. military says can defeat nuclear-armed N.Korea. OK. But here's a question for you: what does S.Korea want?

+ I got a hookup with some old Trip Shakespeare albums and man am I diggin' them! Remember when Josh in 'Clueless' wore one of their shirts? (bet it was Paul Rudd's) That was cool!

+ Proposal to build a hotel on Justice Souter's property. A little over the top, but pretty funny. Was it just me, or did the Supremes rule on Monday for for the establishment and against the little guy in every case on Monday? I disagreed with most of the rulings (though, I'm admittedly, not very knowledgeable, probably not even competent to judge, really, but, hey, I have an opinion... and a weblog!): against Grokster, against the reporters, for the cable companies,

I happen to agree with the Court's rulings on the Ten Commandments (context matters), and the right of cities to annex property (it's the one referenced in the link above.)

Tuesday, June 28

'Til Tuesday

+ Well, I finished 'Blink' last night and I'm not satisfied. It's too short by half! Some of it was really inspiring and I'd like more of that. From a Fast Company article:

The "useful" that Gladwell advocates in Blink is the idea that we can teach ourselves to sort through first impressions to "figure out which ones are important and which ones are screwing us up."

+ Hmm. Google says their personal search history will return better results over time. I believe them, but I am curious how they work it. I'm usually logged in to Gmail anyway, and I have search history turned on. I wonder if I'll see a difference...

+ Matthew has a funny gag ad combining Hummer and Abbey Road.

+ Google Earth is out! Stop reading this and run over there!

Monday, June 27

Monday, Monday

+ They're trending up... The Cubs beat the White Sox twice over the weekend. And Prior had a good day.

+ Whoa. I had such a long comment on Jaq's 'should I read Jane Austen?' post that I think I'll re-post (most of it) here:

as i was saying, i can answer you by editing your own words:

WHAT??!! Put down the worn copy of The Illuminatus! Trilogy and start reading her now, dummy! She's right up the alley of a romantically-inclined fellow like [your]self.

start with 'Pride and Prejudice'. if you want more, read 'Emma' and 'Persuasion'. 'Sense and Sensibility' would be next, though it's her 1st novel and a little flatter.

movie-wise the 5 hr BBC P&P is non pareil. 'Persuasion' and 'Sense and Sensibility' are both very good. neither recent version of 'Emma' is good (i'm comparing all of these to the books). 'Clueless', on the other hand, (which not many people know is an adaptation of 'Emma') is really smart and fun. in fact, we felt like the Paltrow 'Emma' was trying to be period 'Clueless' and didn't really succeed.

my favorite thing about Keira Knightley is that she looks like Natalie Portman (bet it's yours, too). she doesn't draw me to a movie.

on the other hand, i would like to see Bride and Prejudice, a Bollywood mashup. Incidentally, it has a Keira Knightley number of 1 because the director, Gurinder Chadha, also directed 'Bend It Like Beckham'.

Sorry for the long comment/post. You inspired me!

+ Dorothea has a post about life after academia. It could pretty easily be applied to 'what to do if your chosen career path comes to an abrupt end'. Makes me want to look up Herminia Ibarra's Working Identity (discussed briefly here ).

+ That BTK killer sure sounds sick. Chilling and gripping at once...

+ In light of the negative ruling today, EFF's ideas about P2P and artists making money. (via B/t thought...)

Sunday, June 26

Everyday is like Sunday

+ States Bar Teen Drivers Using Cell Phones. I'll be surprised, given the statistics, if we don't see the driving age raised at least a year in the next 10 years.

+ Cubs Activate Mark Prior. With Prior and Wood getting healthy, the Cubs are in decent position to shoot for the postseason.

+ O'Neal Adds MBA to His NBA Title. As much as I dis O'Neal, props to him for getting his MBA.

+ Stoops Set to Get $3 Million Bonus in 2008. They love their football in OK. Stoops is a good coach and a great guy. Given the market, OU is doing the right thing.

+ New post on twinlog to warm up the Blogger Images rig. We've been creating super heroes on the UGO HeroMachine. Here's my contribution:

I came up with the idea for a big, bald, tough guy. Then I picked the kilt. Then Blackwatch Plaid. Then the name. Wil picked the wolf and his name. Who knows where our collaborations will go from here?

Saturday, June 25

Saturday night's alright

+ I've seen the name Fischerspooner around, but never listened to their stuff. Saw this link for a video from the new album. I sure like it. Have to look into these guys... some more...

+ Equal time: Since I'm usually on the side of 'sharing' intellectual property more freely, here's a small balancing post: Tom writes about reasons why Brazil might not want to break AIDS drugs patents.

+ When preparing for a new Marriott hotel near Edgewater Park in Coralville (the growing up place of the inimitable Mr Jason Streed, they found a prehistoric (ca. 1800 BC) campsite.

Friday, June 24


+ Woo hoo! Blogger has integrated image posting now! This will be even better than Hello.

+ Jaq's got a point:

I think the real media bias is not to the liberal or to the conservative, but to the stupid.

Thursday's links, a little late

+ Alright, I'll link it: AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes. Two of the top 3 by Brando. Dude could deliver a line. Plus, is it just me, or are most of the top lines delivered by men? Does that mean anything?

The kottke comments
The top 400

+ I'm not linking them all, but now that Google Sat has expanded, Google Sightseeing is posting lots of international sites - you know, Eiffel Tower, the Pyramids, the Forbidden City, stuff like that.

+ Google Wallet is coming, but it's not what they thought (that is, not a PayPal attack). (via kottke)

+ Loooong article on Hillary's chances to win the Democratic Presidential nomination and the ensuing race. A poll of Repub and Dem insiders with comments. The comments run the gamut, so you just have to pick who you think is right. I like Hillary fine, but I don't think she can be a centrist, 'it's the economy, stupid', I feel you pain and value your values (and, like you, don't live them out), (Bill) Clinton Democrat. Therefore, I think she might win the nomination, but I don't think she could win the presidency. And if the Democrats are serious about winning, they better someone else and line up behind him (I use that last masculine pronoun advisedly, though not preferentially).

Wednesday, June 22


+ Doggoneit. The solar sail crashed.

+ Iran/Watergate mashup by DJ Tom B (can't name it Iran-Gate for obvious reasons). Combining three of my current interests, a mashup of the election in Iran and the 1968 US presidential election by Tom.

+ Speaking of those interests, this quote from Tom in a subsequent post evokes Nixon in a frightful way:

And you see this in foreign affairs: the Bushies are simultaneously the realpolitik types who are unafraid to rely on dictators and the Wilsonian types lecturing the Egyptian and Saudi leaderships on becoming more democratic.

Tom goes on to say:

I honestly think ["Republican Carter" administration] captures what most Americans will vote for in 2008: not too aggressive, not so ambitious as Bush, but focused on encouraging positive change that's defensible on moral grounds. I don't see the Democratic contender yet who can deliver that, but I suspect there are several on the Republican side who will.

I think he's right on here, and you know I'm far from desiring another Republican administration. What I really want is a more competitive Democratic party, one that isn't reduced to the filibuster as their only weapon (though I don't begrudge them it, as I implied yesterday). Stronger Dems would improve the whole field, right?

+ Lord have mercy. Tom reviews Kristof's latest NYT op-ed on rape in Pakistan. To prove a rape a woman has to have four male witnesses. The chances of mustering four male witnesses asymptotically approaches zero. What a horrifying situation. And Pakistan is our (nominal) ally in the Middle East.

+ Ugh. I hate to read stuff like this:

The Old Core spends more than a quarter trillion on ag subsidies to its own farmers each year, more than three times the money it collectively provides the Gap in Official Developmental Aid (ODA). The World Bank estimates that if all such subsidies were removed and trade barriers eliminated, the in-kind transfer to the Gap would be in the range of $100 billion in income-just like that.

Who would you rather bet on? The corrupt governments of Africa or the farm households there? Which do you think will get you a middle class faster?

Tuesday, June 21

'Til Tuesday

+ Democrats playing politics with Bolton - W.House. This makes me furious. Like the President isn't playing politics with that statement, or by trying to ram through nominees. Heck, maybe the problem is he isn't playing politics enough - isn't willing to make compromises or try to work with the other party. He won't move. They ask to see memos. He won't budge. If he won't play ball, why should they? It makes me crazy...

+ Google May Expand Into Online Payments. I read about this somewhere yesterday. Something that isn't in this article is that Google already handles a small number of payments through its ad service. They might have a fair amount of infrastructure that they can (as usual over there) scale up.

+ Jaq's got a post taking Wal-Mart to task, which you know I have to link.

+ Google Sat expands:

Today Google quietly updated its map service to add high-resolution aerial photography for much more of the globe than the previous limited coverage of North America. New additions include Scotland, Iceland, Kuwait and many, many more.
+ Question to myself: If you're so opposed to GTD, why are you so obsessed with it?

Answer to myself: Don't you think 'obsessed' is a little exaggerated?

Anyway, I did take some cues from Space-Age Wasteland on GTD with gmail (note: if you want or need a gmail account, just ask. I've got 50 invites.). What I needed, since I'm not messing with a calendaring program anymore, is a good tickler system. One of the readers of SAW (Stark Raving Calm), posted about using futuremail as a tickler. But you have to log into it separately (though he's supposed to be adding an email-only interface). So one of SRC's readers (Canadian Urban Eskimo) created an email-only tickler system. It's pretty easy. you could even just forward emails from Gmail (or any other system) to it with the proper scheduling code in the subject and it'll come back to you at the right time.

OK, it's all kind of arcane if you're not very interested. But if you ARE interested, it might be useful to you...

Monday, June 20

Today's links

A lot in here...catching up from a weekend of not bloglining.

+ Matt's got some great ideas about combining iTunes with podcasting and free download offers. I wish it would happen, but I doubt it'll be in this new version of iTunes.

+ Salaries of America's favorite TV dads (via B/t thought...via Fark)

+ '
The average American spends more on lottery tickets than on reading material or movie tickets.' (via Brad)

+ Matthew has another funny guide on how to skip parts of 'Attack of the Clones'. Contains this important criticism (which I'm sure Jaq has a way around, like Captain What's-his-face could have dismantled it):

Skipping this scene is also essential if you want to avoid entry #3 in the litany of Wrongheaded Star Wars Revisionism; namely R2-D2 CAN FLY WTF DON'T YOU THINK THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN USEFUL IN EPISODES 4-6??!!

+ It's time for the Summer Moon Illusion . 'The lowest-hanging full moon in 18 years is going to play tricks on you this week. .. Moons hanging low in the sky look unnaturally big. Cameras don't see it, but our eyes do. It's a real illusion.' (via kottke)

+ Today's sign that the Apocaplypse is upon us: you can get Spray-On Mud to give your SUV the rugged look.

+ I'm seeing Steve Jobs' Stanford Commencement Address linked everywhere today. I know I'm not the only one who doesn't care...

+ Getting Things Done is everywhere. I don't really want to get (much) more done. I want to simplify. I want to focus. Heck, while we're dreaming, i want to be passionate about something. I'm intrigued by the Sisyphean organziation of GTD et al (ie, I read the posts. eg, Here's some guys less-intense-but-still-very-organized implementation)(how many Latin abbreviations can I use in this sentence?). But I haven't really been tempted to try it. i've got issues that I need to deal with that are much more important than GTD.

(nb (ha! another one!): There is no implied criticism of you if you want to Get Things Done.)

+ Oh how I wish the radios in our cars had simple RCA audio in jacks. This would be really easy, right? Surely with all the iPods and flash players this will become a standard feature, right? I sure hope so. Anyway, this dude installed his own. Our 95 Prizm is essentially a Corolla rebadge, so maybe I could do the same thing (with a little help from someone a little more handy, like Brother Ryan or Dad).

+ Remember that Google News grid I posted the other day? Here's a similar deal with that's really cool, too.

+ This dude took his laptop apart, mounted the screen in a picture frame and uses it to run slideshows-as-art on his wall.

+ Then I came across a piece by Matthew over at the Morning News that I hadn't seen before. Some funny moments. Can you name all of the games? Have you played them all?

Solar sail

Heard on NPR this morning that The Planetary Society is about ready to test their solar sail. It will launch tomorrow out of a Russian submarine in a converted ICBM.

Launch Time: June 21, 2005 19:46:09 UTC (GMT)

There are solar sail-like representations that you may have seen in 'Tron' (the Solar Sailer) and 'Star Wars: Attack of the Clones' (Count Dooku's ship).

Do you know that solar sails are pushed by photons? This test model will '
have a total surface area of 600 square meters (6500 square feet). This is about one and a half times the size of a basketball court.' Solar sails, in concept (since this is the first trial), accelerate VERY slowly, as you might imagine. 'a solar sail on an interplanetary mission would gain only 1 millimeter per second in speed every second.' But solar sails accelerate CONSTANTLY, carry no fuel, and:

can ultimately reach speeds much greater than those of a rocket-launched craft. At an acceleration rate of 1 millimeter per second per second (20 times  greater than the expected acceleration for Cosmos 1), a solar sail would increase its speed by approximately 310 kilometers per hour (195 mph) after one day, moving 7500 kilometers (4700 miles) in the process. After 12 days it will have increased its speed 3700 kilometers per hour (2300 mph)... Given time, however, with small but constant acceleration, a solar sail spacecraft can reach any desired [non-relativistic] speed.

Where does the coolness stop?!

'All the President's Men' - follow up

I was really impressed with how much leg work they did and how hard reporting was 30 years ago.

At the same time, I wonder if reporters work that hard anymore. Do we still get that kind of quality investigative, dogged reporting? I doubt it.

Are webloggers the new investigative reporters, the cutting edge of the Fourth Estate?

Saturday, June 18

Watergate - Wow! Part 2

Well, I've just finished my Watergate investigation - just finished reading 'All the President's Men'. Great book. Very suspenseful. Watched the movie this week, too, which was just OK. I really should have gotten this post in yesterday, on the anniversary of the Watergate break-in. Part of the fascination of all of this for me is having been born just over 5 months before the Watergate break-in.

I have an 'older' friend who has said a couple of times since the Felt confession that Nixon will go down in history as a great president who basically would have been fine if he hadn't tried to cover-up the Watergate break-in.

I hope that's not true. I hope Nixon won't go down in history as a great president. On my reading, he shaded toward fascism - an arch-conservative who was extremely paranoid and used his power to try to insure its furtherance.

At a minimum, Nixon hired extremely shady people. the Nixon Administration was a culture of illeagality. Agnew was on the take. Kissinger approved wire taps of former aides. Mitchell was a crook. Stans was a crook. I'm a little surprised at how many people who worked with Nixon went on to political fame and fortune: George Shultz, Pat Buchannan, Caspar Weinberger, Alexander Haig. Bob Dole defended Nixon in speeches against the Washington Post.

After he knew about Watergate, he lied to try to cover it up. He never recanted, did he? The dude WAS a crook who tarnished the office of the President.

Chuck Colson has become a high-profile Evangelical. He often has good things to see and his Prison Fellowship ministries have been very important. But for him to come out and criticize Mark Felt for breaking the law in the midst of a 'legal' system that was totally subverted blows my mind. I understand he's concerned about utilitarianism, but I REALLY don't think he's the one to carry this message on this topic.

An interesting article: How Deep Throat Fooled the FBI

Recent comments by John Dean. His book, Worse than Watergate, has a distasteful title

Friday, June 17

Today's links

+ 'interact' correspondent Kurt Graves sends in this cool Google News visual presentation (warning: big. works best on broadband): the page cut up to represent the 'weight' of the news (# of articles), and you can customize it based on the news you want to see. Do you see anything interesting over there?

+ Participatory Culture wants to democrative video. They've made a Braodcast Machine (utilizing torrent technology) and are working on a Desktop Video Player. I don't watch much tv or video, but this could be interesting. I've got my eye on it.

+ We're #1! S.C. leads the nation in speed-related deaths

+ Cringely talks about Osborne and Kaypro this week. Former Kaypro users of the world, unite and take over!

+ John Hardy has a really funny post of a parody of a Chick Tract as sent by followers of HP Lovecraft.

Question: Did the parodier misspell the contraction for 'you are' on purpose as part of the parody or by accident?

Upon Googling I find that Hallis got 'cease and desist'ed. How can that be? You're allowed to parody stuff, right?

Thursday, June 16


Got my Odeo beta invite and I'm pretty stoked. They haven't rolled out the 'Create' tools yet, which I'm most excited about, but I look forward to nosing around over there. Fun email to get first thing this morning.


Tom really never cease to amaze me. The latest [source]:

On the second story, it's interesting that the U.S. favors Japan getting a UN Security Council permanent seat but not Germany. I mean, Germany comes totally clean on all its sins of WWII (the reason why it's not on), whereas Japan continues to whitewash its own far too much. Hmmm. Wonder if Germany's opposition to the Iraq War has anything to do with this, as in "forgive Russia, ignore Germany, punish France."

Very interesting.

He's also got an interesting post about world again, kicking off with Japan and 'elder sourcing'. If you're interested in the demographics and economic implications of aging in a global context, you should check it out.

Tomorrow's links today

This title worked so well before, I decided to bring it back ;-)

+ Matthew has a hilarious account of trying to entertain Internet friends (ie, not bosom buddies who knew you BC (before children)). I totally relate. At that age you try to get together with friends and you can't remember it afterwards. Matthew's crush on Mighty Girl goes forward unabated.

+ Have you seen Google Will Eat Itself?

We generate money by serving Google text advertisments on our website With this money we automatically buy Google shares via our Swiss e-banking account. We buy Google via their own advertisment! Google eats itself - but in the end we will own it!

You know I love Google and will at least until the day they topple Micro$oft.

+ Interesting article in the Economist on Ashkenazai (European Diaspora) Jews: Has natural selection contributed to higher intelligence? (via kottke)

+ I really would like to have this keyboard with no labels. When I switched to Dvorak, I learned on a regular keyboard, which meant looking didn't help, and it REALLY helped my touch-typing. Someday, I plan to go back to no labels, at least, if not to Dvorak. And I'll certainly do it for my kids to teach them, when the times comes...

+ Interesting article on Google's 'war' on hierarchy. IMO, the diminishing returns on hierarchy make it a bad investment. If you can just do stuff and then find it later without filing it, or if you can quickly tag it and forget it and find it later, that's the best way to go by far.

So, how does this apply? There are three main places I store digital stuff: gmail,, and interact (here, in this weblog thingy). In addition, I store a few files on my computer (far fewer than I used to). I don't bookmark much anymore. What I need is one search of all of those places. Google Desktop Search is getting there with plugins. It automagically caches my surfing and gmail (including posts that I'm now sending through gmail (thought not for that reason)). There's probably a way to cobble this together now (eg, save all of my links and my weblog to my hard drive to GDS can catalog it), but I haven't really thought about it much, yet.

+ 'One Free Minute is a mobile sculpture designed to allow for instances of anonymous public speech. When you call the cellphone inside One Free Minute, you get connected for exactly a minute to a 200 watt amplifier and speaker. The speech produced by the speaker can be heard clearly more than 150 feet away from the sculpture.' Interesting.

Wednesday, June 15

Today's links: Google Sat edition

I'm torn: if you really wanted these links, you'd subscribe to/bookmark Google Sightseeing. On the other hand, I'm geeked out about it, and you might see something interesting.

+ Olivenhain Dam, San Diego County

The 308 by 2,400 foot Olivenhain Dam appears to be nearing completion in this photo, although it's still under construction (there's a yellow crane at the centre).

As part of San Diego County Water Authority's US$827 million Emergency Storage Project, the dam does not block a stream or river but instead boxes off a 200 acre man-made reservoir (to the north) which will be filled with 7.8 billion gallons of imported water. The project is expected to be completed in 2010 (more information).

+ Earle Naval Weapons Station

This 2.2 mile long trident off the Northern New Jersey shore is actually Earle Naval Weapons Station. Apparently the pier is capable of providing ammunition to nearly every class of ship operated by the United States Navy and Coast Guard and there's a few ships docked in this ground level shot.

+ Camp Pendleton, California

This is a US Navy hovercraft base at Camp Pendelton, California. You can see some of the hovercraft parked up, and there is a massive ramp that goes down to the beach for them to get straight out onto the water. The giant 'GO NAVY' slogan on the tarmac seems to be a common feature on lots of these bases. I found this article about the base complete with a cool photo of a few hovercraft on the tarmac.

+ Incredibly Long Trains

Looks like these trains are stopped at a level crossing on the Burlington Northern railroad track in Wyoming. The Northern one is chopped off by some low-res imagery, but scroll south to see just how incredibly long they are! Amazing.

In the comments, Eric Smith said:

These are unit coal trains, typically 100-115 cars long. These were probably going from/to the Powder River Basin in Wyoming, which is just north of the photo you found. Here is the loading loop, large enough to run one of these trains in a circle.

You can see that the image was taken just after the two ends of the train passed each other, as the black carts are fully loaded with coal.

+ Saint Lawrence Seaway

You don't often see a river running under a river ! This is the Welland Canal, a part of the Saint Lawrence Seaway which is the system of canals that permits ocean-going vessels to travel from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes as far as Lake Superior. You can see the size of of the ships a little further South at the edge of Lake Erie (thumbnail #2), and there's another to the North .

10 villages were submerged to allow the construction of the Saint Lawrence Seaway, and apparently a few remnants of sidewalks and building foundations can be still be seen under the water in some places!

+ Combine Harvesters

It's harvest time in the fields near Salinas and most farmers seem to have at least one combine working the land. In one of the fields you can see five combine harvesters.

(And that, my friends, drops my saved Bloglines links to 28. Bwa ha ha!)

Tuesday, June 14

Today's links

+ Malcolm Gladwell talks about his peripatetic writing (via kottke). Sounds like a good method...

+ U.S. Mayors Agree to Adhere to Kyoto Pact. I posted about this via Tom a while ago.

+ For the librarian/power library user in your life: Let ELF help you manage your library loans and holds.

+ Tom's latest newsletter is all Q&A. Might be a good entry point if you're interested. A few qutoes:

[Y]ou wage war on totalitarian states if they're weak enough to be had (otherwise you're stuck with containment, which is immoral if you can do better).

The dream would be that China and the United States start to recognize their complimentary regional security interests in Africa, with the U.S. playing more Leviathan when needed and China working more the SysAdmin angle. To me, that's an unbeatable combination of fire power and man power.

I fundamentally reject the conventional wisdom that says globalization diminishes the role of the state. Statistics are clear: the most globalized states features the most regulation, the most expansive welfare systems, and the biggest governments as a share of GDP.

Monday, June 13

I'm it: Books

Brad tagged me on this book survey.

Number of books I own:
far, far too many. Just ask my inlaws, who have a bunch in their basement.

Last book I bought:
> Churches that Make a Difference: Reaching Your Community with Good News and Good Works by Ronald Sider, Philip N. Olson, and Heidi Rolland Unruh

Latest books I am reading:
All the President's Men. Fascinating!
The Letters of JRR Tolkien. I am a total Tolkien geek.
(Next) Blink

Last book I read (and have finished):
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. Very good.

Five Books that mean a lot to me:
The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. Non pareil
Bright Days, Dark Nights by Elizabeth Ruth Skoglund
Disappointment with God by Philip Yancey
The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller. I love comic books and this is my favorite by far.

Tag Five More:

Theology quiz

Brad's got this theology quiz. He and I came out pretty similarly, which is no surprise, since we're licensed/ordained in the same denomination.

Hmm, but it didn't translate very well, and I don't want to retake it. Let's see if I can strip this thing down to something usable...

You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan.
You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavily by John Wesley and the Methodists.

What's your theological worldview?

Sunday, June 12

I'm it: Movie survey

Aaron's back from being a new dad to answer Jaq's tag and then Aaron tagged me, so here we go:

1. Total number of films I own on DVD/video:
16 (+ 6 in the 'I don't really need to keep these, do I?' pile). I'm not counting Christine's or the twins', except for 'The Incredibles', because it's so great.

2. The last film I bought:
'The Incredibles' for the twins.

3. The last film I watched:
'The Secret of NIMH' after having read the excellent children's book 'Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH'. The film was not excellent.

4. Five films that I watch a lot or that mean a lot to me:
  1. 'Raising Arizona' (like Aaron). So funny.
  2. 'The Hunt for Red October'. The only movie I've ever watched again the next morning. I almost never get tired of watching this movie. That goes for none of the other Clancy adaptations, but would for a basically unabridged 'Red Storm Rising', but that would be way too long to watch again the next day, so forget it.
  3. 'Star Wars: ANH, TESB, and ROTJ'. Shaped my childhood imagination.
  4. 'The Incredibles'. Have I mentioned I love this movie? ;-)
  5. 'Lord of the Rings'. Helpful supplement to the excellent novels ;-)
5. Tag 5 people and have them put this in their journal/blog:
(Jeez. I don't really have many 'friends who would write back when two have already done it' on the Blogroll, do I?)
  1. Jason
  2. Brad
  3. From 'Stokes Kith and King', let's try Walter. (Certainly not Macon, since he didn't watch 'Gattaca'* when I insisted over and over that he should ;-)
  4. Eric
  5. Bill H

* Holey mackerel! I knew 'Gattaca' must have meant something, but never put it together until I typed it just now. The title's made up only of letters we use to identify nucleotides in DNA! Google search. But you'd probably already thought of that, right? What can I say... I'm sharp ;-)

Today's links

+ Here's something crazy: I've gotten attached to logging from email. I don't have to log into Blogger, which just makes it one step easier. I can do all the formatting I want. Funny.

+ Brad has a good post on Africa: the debt relief is great. We need the African nations to step up and overcome their sometimes-kleptocracies.

+ Defective Yeti has his own 'Phantom' edit, with rationales. Hilarious (But maybe not for Jaq ;-).

+ Freecycle's cool and all, but I can't imagine actually wanting to get the emails...

+ If you didn't catch Matt's substitute gig on Lifehacker, he's thrown up all of the links in one post. You will thank me...

Saturday, June 11

Tomorrow's links, today

(LIke the catchy new title? ;-)

I'm trying out a Bloglines subscription to Dilbert, and LOL at this one.

+ I've been meaning to link this for a long time from Brad:

Priscilla Owen, the Texas judge whose nomination to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court is creating a storm in the US Senate (actually it has little to do with her personally -- it's a fight over how much power the Senate minority is going to be allowed), is a part of our extended Covenant Church family. Her Austin area congregation, St. Barnabas the Encourager Evangelical Covenant Church, is completing the affiliation process next month.

I'm in the Covenant, too.

What is is about Brad's blurbs that I just end up copying the whole thing? The sheer brilliance? Brad's Brilliant Blurbs (blowing bubbles, biking backwards (extra points if you can name that book)).

+ Since you are a loyal reader, I'lll let you in on the next big thing:

With Bittorrent and RSS, one can easily create an internet-based periodical broadcast of huge files with almost zero distribution cost. With MythTV and Torrentocracy, one can create a set-top box such as a Tivo or VCR that consumes such a broadcast... It's possible to replace your satellite receiver and DVD player with a cheap PC running MythTV.

Can you tell I'm cleaning out my Bloglines again? >40...

+ This just in from from the Totally Obvious desk: Hispanics Are Fastest Growing Minority

+ Interesting British press coverage of Barnett-cosponsored New Map Game

Today's links

+ Matt has a feature on why companies should put ads in feeds.

+ Funny: Wikipedia:Lamest edit wars ever

+ I link every criticism of PowerPoint because I think we should think about it. So here's the latest: Stop your presentation before it kills again! This one has some helpful diagnostic questions.

+ Cringely
The programming challenge that occupied two Russian PhDs for three years was to schedule the most profitable usage for the three seats available in 40-300 DayJet aircraft operating in a region about 500,000 square miles in size, and to do this all within five seconds.

Then, Cringely asks, what if we applied that software to car pooling?

Wednesday, June 8

Today's links

+ Tony Blair Wins Few Promises From Bush. Wonder if old Tony feels like this relationship is a little one-sided... 'I just give and give and give and I never get anything in return!' 'I can't live...if livin' is without you. I can't give...I can't give anymore!'

+ UI offices, classes mall-bound. See. This is what I've been saying all along. (Well, technically, I've been saying they should use it for a Student Center, but using the mall any way is a step in the right direction for downtown.)

+ And, just to prove that IC isn't perfect, they're letting Super Wal-Mart in.

+ The story of Lawrence Lessig facing his childhood abuse is harrowing and riveting. (via kottke)

+ Great Googley-moogely! If you're interested, chances are you've seen it: the upcoming Google Earth (their adaptation of the Keyhole software they bought) looks amazing.

+ The Beeb is broadcasting Beethoven's Symphonies and then making them available for free download. 1-5 are available today through the 14th. Go Beeb! Gotta' get 'em all!

+ This quote (source) perfectly captures the difference between hierarchies and tags:

Give up on hierarchical categories; these can screw up your tags.

I haven't ever seen it put that starkly. I don't think he was trying to be stark or apply to universal circumstances, but it sure captures my attitude toward tags and hierarchies. Honk if you care ;-)

+ I'll just paste this whole blurb from Brad:

"Bats live in the majority of Iowa homes without the owners even knowing it, said experts with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources." If true, can you imagine how mosquito infested Iowa would be if the bats weren't living in most homes?

Bats: good. Mosquitoes: bad.
If bats are good and mosquitoes are bad, and
If Iowa has lots of bats which eat lots of mosquitoes,
Then, Iowa is good.

Gotcha' in the iron vise of reason. (Incidentally, I gotcha' all in check, too.)

(Yes, I am feeling a little strange today...)

Tuesday, June 7

Today's links

Yankees Lose Again, Fall Below .500. Guess it takes more than just money to win. ;-)

Go Trojans! Our high school won the state tournament in soccer again this year, our third title and our second in the last two years.

They re-opened the little rides at City Park (in Iowa City). I used to love those things. Fond memories...

Expansion Management magazine, the one that ranked the IC School District 5th in the nation a couple of weeks ago, ranked IC a Five Star Knowledge Worker Metro (top 20% in: percentage of the population with advanced degrees and those in engineering and science jobs, number and type of colleges in metropolitan area and amount spent on research and development in the area's universities and colleges). Have I convinced you IC is a great town yet? ;-)

Monday, June 6

Now testing this

Testing emailing posts to my weblog. How does it come out? Does it handle titles? We'll see...

Saturday, June 4

Finally, a cogent, non-jargon Tom Barnett post

If you don't normally read my Tom Barnett posts, please consider reading this one. I will try to de-jargon it and I think it has some really clear thinking in it.

Tom has a great article in this week's newsletter (beginning at the top of p4). First, in light of Memorial Day, he puts our recent combat losses in perspective.

It is useful, in this regard, to remember that America's cumulative losses in combat since the end of the Vietnam War are roughly equal to what we lost respectively on the beaches of Normandy on 6 June 1944 and in Pearl Harbor on 6 December 1941 (i.e., in the range of 2500 to 3000). To note that is not to diminish anyone's sense of loss, which is always profound when a loved one dies in combat, but simply to reassure us that as far as America is concerned war is becoming an ever smaller portion of our reality thanks to such ultimate sacrifices.

Tom addresses the very important Quadrennial Defense Review. If you care about the military, its plans, funding, and the politics surrounding it (in the Pentagon and on the Hill), then you need to know about the QDR. Great power war should now be 'logically considered to enjoy far less priority than' shrinking the Gap (ie, bringing disconnected nations into the global community in a way that improves their quality of life), including the Global War on Terrorism. We must:

demote the concept of great power war from its perch as number one ordering principle of the Pentagon to that of merely hedged-against conflict scenario, meaning we dedicate a certain portion of our scenario planning and force generation against this particular scenario, trusting in our ability to maintain a sufficient hedge against what's out there in potential great power foes...This is not a guns-versus-butter choice, but a submarine-versus-body-armor sort of choice...[Otherwise, we] stock up on platforms we're extremely unlikely to need while denying our boots on- the-ground the equipment they are certain to need.

We will kick ourselves later if we don't make the body armor choice. What are the most likely near-term intervention scenarios? North Korea aside, they're places like Afghanistan and Iraq, places like Sudan and the Balkans and Somalia and Palestine/Israel. We will want to help stop atrocities in these places and to help them get connected up to the rest of the world. If we don't, they will become the new breeding place for terrorists. What's good for the citizens of the old Soviet -Stans and the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa is good for us: a rising standard of living, increasing connection to the rest of the world, and absence of the conditions for growing terrorists.

Tom makes an interesting comparison between shrinking the Gap and policing the American frontier of the 19th century. This is what our force needs to look like to help connect disconnected nations: lots of boots, very mobile (here comes the Cavalry!), fairly autonomous.

Naturally, risk is associated with both sides of this choice. But ask yourself: is it easier to manage the risk of a rising, increasingly developed China or the descent/collapse of failed or authoritarian regimes in the Gap? Which of these two great strategic scenarios of the 21st century do you think we can manage on the side, treating it as a lesser included to which we devote incremental efforts?

Later on in the same newsletter (p10) Tom articulates one of his key concepts for bulding the right kind of police/occupation (which he calls SysAdmin) force:

Here is the paradox to the U.S. military: seed that SysAdmin force and it's very existence will allow you to remain more Leviathan-like. Don't seed that force and you will be forced to do SysAdmin across the dial, and in that evolution you will most certainly lose far more of your warfighting capacity.

What he means here (from previous reading) is that if we will build such a basically no-platform force, other nations of the world will be eager to join us. This is the kind of action they might be able to do. No one can join us in actions that require our incredibly expensive platforms (esp. Air Force and Navy). They can't compare. But if we build the right kind of Army and Marines many nations will want to join in and do their part in nation-building-type actions.

My current thinking on China

+ Rumsfeld warns China on lack of democracy Do what? Turns out Rumsfeld didn't actually warn China. That's not his job. This is a little bit of a case of headlines gone wild. He commented about China. In some ways, it's his job to be cautious about China (especially when he's the civillian boss of so many career military personnel who feel that a SinoThreat is the butter on their bread).

+ President Bush is stuck between a rock and a hard place on China. As a conservative Republican, he is typically a friend to both big business and the military. But you can't have it all on China. Big business (barring defense contractors) wants closer ties with China and a good wroking relationship. Some of the military want us to see China as a near-peer (which is a joke in itself) so we can build our military over against a trumped up version of theirs. Here's hoping big business wins out over the military SinoHawks...

+ Tom says one of the reasons some don't want peace with China is so we can keep a big, bad military funded over against China as spectral near-peer.

Watergate: Wow!

I'm really getting into this Watergate thing. It's interesting in a particular way to me because I didn't live through it in a sentient way (I'd just been born January 2nd, 1972). Most of my news has come through the Post (which requires a free registration). Here's their splash page on Watergate/Deep Throat. Of course, the Woodward article is required reading if you're interested in this thing at all. There are lots of other good links, too, depending on your interest.

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.