Stale Thoughts and Broken Links

Old posts from my weblog.

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Science News: Science News of the Year.

"Despite its tragic events, 2001 should also be remembered for its scientific achievements. We list here some of the most important ones."

University of Arizona News: Java Jolt.

"Administration of a simple stimulant, caffeine, in a dose that most adults readily consume daily, ameliorates memory impairment arising from time-of-day effects in older adults. The fact that these effects are easily reduced is probably good news for older adults, and vindication for those of us who live with a coffeepot always at the ready."

Scientific American: What is a blue moon?

"J. Hugh Pruett, writing in Sky and Telescope in 1946, misinterpreted [the Maine Farmers' Almanac definition] to mean the second full moon in a given month. That version was repeated in a broadcast on National Public Radio's Star Date in 1980, and the definition has stuck!"

Nature: Funniest joke found.

> I must admit that I'm particularly fond of the British pick.


Once again, The Wall Street Journal gets the really important story ->

WSJ (subscription): Must Clothing Labels Be a Pain in the Neck? Legal Rules, Costs Make Tags Cutting Edge.

"The clothing label, once regarded as an incidental wisp, is finally making its mark -- often a welt on the wearer's neck."

> I thought I was the only person irritated by those things!

Somewhere on the area bike trails yesterday during an altercation with my five-year-old, he nailed me with this gotcha:

"You can't leave me! You love me! If you didn't love me, you wouldn't give me bedtime kisses!"


Boston Herald: Ringing debate over origin of `Jingle Bells'.

"`Jingle Bells' was what you might call pre-Civil War rock 'n' roll. In its seldom-heard original form, it's about having a flashy vehicle, driving it too fast and using it to pick up girls."


We took to kids to visit Santa yesterday ...


I am so PO'd about this anti-piracy stuff. I missed this little gem the other day ->

Mercury News: Universal to release copy-protected CD in U.S.

"Universal Music is the most aggressive in its anti-piracy efforts, saying that all of its CDs will be copy-protected by mid-2002."

> Argh! These people just don't get it! I've got a mostly-empty 60 Gbyte hard drive in an armoire in my den. I'd like to fill it with medium-high quality MP3's.

> I don't care about their shiny plastic. If the record companies would offer their catalogs online in a format I can control, I'm sure I would buy 50 songs a year. And some day I'll have two teen-age boys who will want to fill their portable MP3 players with crap. At, say, $3.00 a song, that would be a pretty good profit.

> More thoughts on this ->

Salon: Don't steal music, pretty please. Record companies will make big, big money online. They just need to learn to let go.

"Remove the incentives for people to steal, rather than imposing more technology that treats customers as would-be shoplifters.... [I]ronically, the more anti-theft hurdles [are] crammed into the legal products, the more attractive the pirate alternatives become."


WSJ (subscription): Music Copyright Protections Threaten Users' Ability to Enjoy.

"The problem is that record companies don't seem to want to sell you music anymore. They want to lease it, collecting rent checks in perpetuity. People who fail to keep up on their payments may well find that their music collections have evaporated. You can see this trend in new online music services that seek to offer legitimate alternatives to file-sharing services -- but put all sorts of limits on when and where you can listen to songs. It's also apparent in new copy-protected compact discs that redefine the idea of `owning' a CD."

Scientific American: The Gas between the Stars. Filled with colossal fountains of hot gas and vast bubbles blown by exploding stars, the interstellar medium is far more interesting than scientists once thought.

"... are stars really the main source of power for the interstellar medium? The loop above the Cassiopeia superbubble looks uncomfortably similar to the prominences that arch above the surface of the sun. Those prominences owe much to the magnetic field in the solar atmosphere. Could it be that magnetic activity dominates our galaxy's atmosphere, too?"


Via /usr/bin/girl (whom you should really visit first, because she has instructions):

Snowball Fight.


Tom Farmer and Shane Atchison of Seattle have an issue with the Houston Doubletree Club Hotel.


eToys is back online!

(I guess it has been for a couple of months, I just didn't know it.)

WSJ (subscription): Returns to the Internet, And Steps Up Promotional Efforts.

"KB, a closely held retailer controlled by Boston's Bain Capital, recognized the value of the brand, and this summer acquired the defunct company's assets for $54 million. KB soon concluded it would be wise to preserve as much of the old eToys as possible."


Dow Jones: Exactly how Twin Towers to be replaced not decided.

"Silverstein [the real estate mogul who owns the 99-year lease on the World Trade Center] emphasized that he believes the office space must be replaced so that the 100,000 jobs that were lost in the tragedy can be reinstated and $47 billion in gross wages generated in downtown Manhattan can be restored."


Man, last night's LSU game was GREAT! ->

ESPN: Mauck replaces Davey, leads Tigers to SEC title.

"`If someone would have bet me that we would have lost Ro and Toe in the second quarter and still would have come from behind to win the ballgame, I wouldn't have believed it,' offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher said. `You would have taken all my money.'" ...

"`Everyone dreams about doing it,' Mauck said. `But for it to actually happen is something that is very, very special to me.'" ...

"`He did a fantastic job for them,' Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer said. `We saw him on film during the week and we knew that he was mobile. But I couldn't believe his poise. We hit him a lot and he kept getting back up. He showed a lot of composure in a big time game.'"


Whatever happens in tonight's SEC championship, the LSU football coach has earned my respect with this quote -

CNN Sports Illustrated: Vols-Tigers will definitely look different this time around.

"Saban says he remains opposed to a playoff [system for the college championship], citing the added strain on the players.... `Our players have finals next week. There are other things for them to do, they're not professional football players.'"


Greenhouse warming on Mars -

Nature: Mars takes its cap off. Mars' polar ice caps are slowly melting.

Science News: Human-cloning claim creates controversy.

"Only 3 of the 19 eggs undergoing this procedure actually started to divide. One reached the two-cell stage, another the four-cell stage, and the third egg developed into six cells." ...

"The cloned embryos didn't even survive to the eight-cell stage, in which they would have started to make use of genes."


I had an interview in Austin on Monday. I took my family along for a little weekend trip, and it was quite an experience.

First, the weather wasn't very cooperative -- it rained all day Sunday. Monday morning our hotel didn't have any water, so we had to check into another hotel to take showers. Both children got sick, and my five-year-old threw up all over the back seat of the car. On the way back Monday evening, there was such a thick fog that we had to stop and spend the night in a Motel 8. (The next morning I found out that there was a Ramada 200 yards further down the road.) I was late to another interview in Houston on Tuesday morning.


Time: Reinventing the Wheel.

"It was Arthur C. Clarke who famously observed that `any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.' By that standard, Ginger is advanced indeed."

Doonesbury: A Salesman from Tacoma.


CNET: More Ginger details may be coming.

"`Good Morning America' anchor Diane Sawyer said earlier this week that the show will reveal what Ginger -- also known as IT -- is next week on the show. Judging from Sawyer's comments, Ginger watchers expect the segment to air Monday. ABC, the network that hosts the show, is running a guess-the-identity-of-Ginger contest."

Walter Kessinger

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