Stale Thoughts and Broken Links

Old posts from my weblog.

(Click here for posts on geophysics and the energy industry.)


Wired News: 'Happy Mac' Killed By Jaguar.

"Happy Mac, the smiling icon that for 18 years greeted Apple computer users when they started up their machines, is dead.... The demise of Happy Mac has quickly provoked wide-scale mourning among some Apple aficionados who are fond of the icon.

"Conversely, the killing of `Clippy,' Microsoft's annoying animated paperclip help-feature, was greeted with joy when Microsoft announced its purge from Office XP. Microsoft even publicly celebrated Clippy's execution with a website mocking the unpopular paperclip."

"... Apple refuses to comment on why Happy Mac was killed.... "

More mac news --

Wired News: Apple 'Switch' Star Flies High. [Is she stoned?]

"Feiss is featured in an Apple TV ad in which she criticizes her dad's Windows PC for devouring a school paper, an experience she describes as `kind of a bummer.'"


Save Karyn. Help her pay off her credit card debt!

> Amazingly, Karyn has collected nearly $9000 in the past two months.


Science News: Visible Matter: Once lost but now found.

"Never mind about the whereabouts of dark matter, the mystery material that accounts for 95 percent of the mass of the universe. Astronomers haven't even been able to find all the visible matter -- atoms and molecules -- that they know should exist in nearby regions of the universe."

Scientific American: Galaxy Clusters May Be Main Source of Universe's Gamma Rays.

"[One] theory posits that galaxy clusters are the source because matter drawn toward them at extremely high speeds can collide with cosmic microwave background light and excite photons to gamma-ray energies. Now new findings, to be published in the Astrophysical Journal, support the contention that galaxy clusters are the bulk source of gamma rays in the universe."


Last week I gave a technical marketing presentation to a group of three companies who were choosing a seismic processing contractor for some work, and something cool happened. (As if my giving a presentation wasn't cool enough!) After my talk, the exploration manager for one of the companies told me he remembered me from college; we talked a little and realized that eighteen years ago we spent a week together in Big Bend, Texas, on a geology field trip in a van with 14 other students.

In a case of synchronicity, I had been thinking about the trip just the week before, wondering whether certain events really occurred the way I remember them in my hazy memory. Like walking on rocks across the Rio Grande to have dinner in a small Mexican town at a restaurant where margaritas were 25 cents each. Or drinking a beer at "The Window," a cliff in the Chisos Mountains, and sitting on the window "sill" with my feet dangling over an 800 foot drop (which is surely an outrageous exaggeration).

I used to think about that trip every spring, and swear that *next* year I would take some time, visit Big Bend and do some hiking.

I was thinking about Big Bend last week because Green Gabbro published a link to a New York Times article on Lajitas, where I had stayed a couple of nights during my week-long spring-break trip. The article motivated me to conduct some web research on Lajitas; alas, its population has exploded since my trip nearly 20 years ago, and it is now the site of a resort hotel and golf coarse.

Here's a homepage with someone's account of their recent trip to Big Bend.


The Mercury News: The Mac vs. PC debate. Macs have gained ground on the usefulness front.

> I think he hits the mac negatives pretty accurately, but he misses the most important pluses, for me at least:

  • I love having Unix workstations as my personal computers, but I don't want the do-it-yourself headaches of being sysadm for a non-mainstream operating system.

  • I'm o.k. with making a few minor hacks on my system -- like installing the (free and precompiled) Unix X-Windows graphics display interface. With X-Windows, I can remotely run Unix software on big server computers at my office -- usually GUI software that displays on my mac (but not always).

  • I need the choice of commercial software products that comes on a popular platform. In particular, a native version of Microsoft Office is an absolute requirement for me.
> That last point is crucial. I'm always reading that commercial software for the mac is expensive and choices are limited. Not at all! Try looking for commercial software for other Unix platforms.


Reuters: Office rage pushes people to edge.

"The report found 51 percent of women had nearly punched a colleague, compared to 39 percent of the men questioned."


Reuters: Frisbee Pioneer Dies, Ashes to Be Made Into Discs.

"In an interview with the Santa Cruz Sentinel last year, Headrick acknowledged the special power of the Frisbee -- one of the simplest and most successful toys ever devised.... `We used to say that Frisbee is really a religion -- Frisbyterians, we'd call ourselves,' he said. `When we die, we don't go to purgatory. We just land up on the roof and lay there.'"


And now a word from our sponsor --

Vote Democratic: It's your money!

> Turn it down if you're at work. Turn it up if you're not.

British Film Institute: Top Ten Movie Polls.

WSJ (subscription): Healthy Brew: Studies Show Beer May Be Good for You.

"The wine folk seem unperturbed by the encroachment of beer into what was once their exclusive PR domain. `We stand by the studies' that link moderate wine consumption and health, says Juanita Duggan, head of the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, a Washington, D.C., trade group. `And besides, our products will always taste better than theirs.'"

InstaPundit: Question for Saddam.


Bill Pike, Hart's E&P: Taken for granted.

"I'm not one of the guys anymore.... To the hands on the rigs, I was a suit, someone from the office world that had little in common with them or the work they did. They were friendly, naturally, and really nice guys, but I was not part of the club. Long ago, I enjoyed being part of that club. And there are a lot of times I wish I could be part of the club again. Of course, if the rig hands ever heard me say that they would question my sanity, and most likely not in medical terminology."


Wall Street Journal (free reprint): Music to fans' ears: iPod breaks Windows barrier.

"The iPod just gets better and better. No other digital music player comes close. And now it works with Windows, too."


Martin Schwimmer: Urgent Assistance Requested.

"I'm sorry there have been no blog items since Thursday but I was involved in something very important.  Musa al-Mustapha of Nigeria emailed me."

[via Scripting News]

> I've received 71 scam emails so far this year.


Cosmiverse: Scientists Detect "Smoking Gun" of Colliding Black Holes.

"When large galaxies merge, current models predict that their central black holes would sink toward the center of the combined galaxy and form a binary pair.... The mechanism of how these objects collide, however, has not been well understood.... [David Merritt, an astrophysicist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey] believes that when the distance between the black holes shrinks to about the size of the solar system, they start to radiate away energy as gravity waves. This then brings the black holes closer and closer, causing them to spin faster and faster, until they eventually collide in an enormous burst of gravitational radiation."

Scientific American: Why ET Hasn't Called. The lifetime of civilizations in the Drake equation for estimating extraterrestrial intelligences is greatly exaggerated.

"The 60 civilizations in my database endured a total of 25,234 years, so L = 420.6 years. For more modern and technological societies, L became shorter, with the 28 civilizations since the fall of Rome averaging only 304.5 years."

> Well, yeah, but it's not like the level of technology falls back to the Stone Age with every collapse.

Nature: New fight over old map. Debate over oldest map of America flares again.

[Physicist Thomas Cahill of the University of California, Davis:] "There are a million ways to prove something fraudulent, and no way to prove it's genuine."


New Scientist: Unique meteorite crater found under North Sea.

"Phil Allen, a consultant geophysicist based near Aberdeen, discovered the crater by chance. Petroleum giant BP had asked him to look at 3D seismic data from a gas field four kilometres below the North Sea. During his analysis, Allen discovered some unusual features in layers of chalk lying above the gas field, one kilometre beneath the seabed."

Walter Kessinger

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