29 December 2006

So you're new to (Waltham, Cambridge, or Arlington, MA) [for a co-worker]

Here are some things that have fared us well on this side of the Charles River, and some which haven't. Certainly, you can use Zagats, Boston.com, Improper, etc. to find stuff in Boston. But what about over here?

Japanese Food
First, locate the Porter Exchange, a Japanophile's haven adjacent to the Porter Square T-Stop. It has a grocery store and several tiny specialized eateries (noodles, sushi).

Bluefin (Cambridge): In the Porter Exchange. Decent-quality and affordable sushi. I like the sashimi bento.

Toraya (Arlington): Near Blue Ribbon BBQ up Mass Ave. This unassuming sushi joint is my favorite, especially the thoughtfully-prepared and very tasty sashimi bento that's only available during lunch. Arrive before noon on weekends to avoid crowds.

BBQ: Blue Ribbon (Arlington) vs Redbones (Somerville)
There's an age-old rivalry between Blue Ribbon BBQ and Redbones. I prefer Redbones, esp. either the massive "holy cow, I just ate a barnyard" all-you-can-eat lunch combo (which you'll find if you go out of your way to ask them for the lunch menu which oddly isn't default at lunchtime), or the St. Louis / Memphis rib combo.

We like the ever-crowded Dali (Somerville) for tapas, though the pricing makes it best for parties of >4.

Atasca (Cambridge) serves up our favorites: pork w/clams, salt cod, shrimp w/tomatoes and goat cheese, and tripe. (That's four dishes, although I'd be willing to have it mixed together.)

Avoid: Summer Shack (Cambridge @ Alewife)
J-Fav and I think it's funny that an overpriced, mediocre seafood place like the Summer Shack could have won so many honors for value and family quality. Augh! Stay away! (Not "hah, hah" funny, but "Mulder, could you look at this?" funny, as J-Fav would say.)

Goings-On Magazine
Look for the Improper Bostonian, a free glossy hipper-than-thou magazine that appears weekly those - uh - free magazine cubby streetside things. It is full of new restaurants, museum exhibit openings, and concert listings. Unfortunately, it's also full of itself.

Sandwiches and Fresh Bread
We love the sandwiches at High-Rise Bakery, which has several locations (Cambridge x 2, Boston). Unfortunately, it has earned the nickname "High-Price," as J-Fav calls it, and is usually swarming with a weekend crowd of people looking very... entitled. Gosh darn it, though, it has great food.

Pancakes / Diners
You've already met our favorite, the Deluxe Town Diner (Watertown). I enjoy the short stack of chocolate chip pancakes and then go into a coma.

Contemporary Art
Three recommendations:

HamburgersHands-down, I love just about any burger at Mr. & Mrs. Bartley's Burgers in Harvard Square. (No restrooms, though!)

Poetry-Only Bookstore
You never know when you'll need just the right edition of a particular Gertrude Stein piece. Or not. In any case: the Grolier Poetry Book Shop (Cambridge, in Harvard Square).

Game Store
Hundreds - I mean hundreds - of games of all sorts from around the world: The Games People Play (Cambridge, btwn. Harvard Sq. and Central Sq.)

I can hear my friends laughing, as my attempt to list things-to-do-'round-here is as unlikely as finding Jacques Cousteau at a rave. But, hey. (People, feel free to suggest more.)


Holiday Photos

J-Fav, Toby, and I returned from some holiday travel to our families (with a new and miraculously small Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T10).

Last night we hung out with the Fergusbergs, playing Pictionary and making LED Throwies. As those of you who know them would have guessed, they applied this stuff to create the latest in fashion. Here are some photos of Toby and our luminous creations.

This reminds me of a much better version of those "How big is the Earth compared to the Sun?" illustrations in our dusty old elementary school science books.

Drink the Kool-Aid
"10 Ways to Build a Cult-Like Following" (Mind Power News)

Happy Holidays, everyone!


19 December 2006

Puzzles, Physics, Music, and Road Rage

A Joke
Heisenberg was out for a drive when a police officer pulled him over. "Do you know how fast you were going?"

"No," Heisenberg replied, "but I know exactly where I am."

Speaking of Heisenberg, here's the only puzzle I ever wrote. Some people solved it in just a few hours, if that.

Do you like puzzles? Marvel in retrospect at the many instructionless visual, auditory, and tactile problems of the 2003 MIT Mystery Hunt, co-organized by several of you dear readers and J-Fav. Commentary on several years of the Mystery Hunt by John Owens.

The puzzle Art Gallery makes me laugh. Some of you are pictured...

Harvard String Theorist and Biologist
Google video (free, streaming) of Charlie Rose interview: Lisa Randall and Edward O. Wilson.

Bad Drivers, Beware!
As seen on CNN, Platewire posts your complaints about bad drivers and their license plate numbers. Here's the Mass. page.

Evolution Textbook Stickers
Oy, vey.

Casino Math
From the Univ. of Las Vegas, Nevada. Learn about the odds.

New Music for You
Six months later, I still love Pandora.

Hang with me for a sec here. Over the six months, I've clicked "bookmark this song" for a variety of brash electronica, soothing ambient stuff, and pop. You can listen to snippets of each by clicking the little arrow "play" button at my publicly available profile. There are many artists here -- like "Jaya Radhe", which sounds to me like a mix of Enya and Indian music -- or "Come Alive" which never fails to improve my mood -- or good ol' raunchy and loud Primus, which was perfect for being in the office on a Sunday.

Yes, most of what I've bookmarked is trance electronica, which is what I bet permeates optics and electronics labs. J-Fav calls that my "thump thump beeping" music.

Tribute to New Orleans
Music video for U2 / Green Day's "The Saints are Coming." Give it a chance.


13 December 2006

Holiday Optics

[Written in 2006]

J-Fav is on the road with Toby tonight, leaving me to my idle devices. Bad! This gives me too much of a chance to procrastinate (i.e. think about optics) while my subconscious figures out what holiday presents to purchase.

See, it goes like this.

Every other night, I take Toby on a stroll up and down picturesque Mass. Ave. here in Arlington:

We pass many storefronts with Christmas lights in them. They make pretty reflections between the panes of glass - at least, that what I think they're doing:

You can make out at least four images of "copycat" bulbs for each "initial" bulb. Not only that, if you look closely, there are little microbulbs within each copycat. What's up with this? Let's start with the copycat bulbs.

The initial image of the bulb.

This is the situation, as seen looking down from the sky. The lightbulb, A, is illuminating its surroundings; you're the observer at the bottom. If you draw at least 2 rays leaving the bulb, your eyes (wherever they are) perceive the bulb where those rays intersect. As you'd expect, the bulb looks like it's where it is! (Actually, as you probably guessed, that's slightly inaccurate, but I'll bore you with that later.)

You've noticed that although glass looks clear, a fraction of light striking it bounces off like a mirror. What happens when some of the bulb light reflects off the far window pane?

Light striking the distant pane bounces off toward your eyes at a different angle. If we follow two rays again -- the solid blue one and the dotted blue one -- you see that they exit the near pane as if they were originating from a phantom bulb, B.

So how do you get the other phantom bulbs? It seems like they're created by multiple bounces between the insides of the two panes of glass! Check it out:

The green lines show you where the several-bounce rays are ejected from the near pane. Tracing those back for both eyes shows you where phantom bulb C looks like it's coming from.

Yes, this is an opportunity to hear myself talk, but at least now I can stop wondering if the images are due to bounces amongst the panes of glass or within the panes of glass (which is where the microbulb images are probably from).

The inaccuracy I admitted to above is that these diagrams neglect the fact that light changes direction a little bit upon entering and exiting each pane of glass. The true case for the original bulb A is really more like this, just as the water in a fishtank makes your fishies look like they're someplace else:

Zoom in on this image; the pink lines more faithfully represent where the light's really going. The bulb looks like it's at A', not A.

Still awake? Guess it's time for me to figure out my holiday shopping. This is what I see above my computer screen, over in the living room:



"Why do Santa and Ronald McDonald have a [brand] mythology but not Dave at Wendy's or the Burger King?" (In Brand as mythology at Seth Godin's blog.)

The psychedelic "star gate" sequences in 2001: A Space Odyssey were done using an optical technique called slit-scan photography. Here, someone unwrapped the slit scan imagery to find the source material. They used the technique in Dr. Who, too.

A discussion initiated by Jory Des Jardins at blogher regarding corporate burnout and the effects of having a "spongy" personality: "It's Not Just You."

"Perspective, or Porsche?," exploring symbols of success in academia and industry, by John Maeda at the MIT Media Lab.


09 December 2006

In a handbasket, I tell you...

Tonight's credit card purchases:


04 December 2006

Fast Food Tech, and...

xkcd webcomic
This one is called "Matrix Transform":

Fast Food Technology
On Sunday night, I ended up at merrily entered a new Burger King in Burlington, Mass. and found a new and awful item on their menu: the Quadruple Stacker. Yes, four buger patties, eight pieces of bacon, and a lot of cheese. (No, I didn't get it. But I was also surprised to be offered "onion ring sauce" with my onion rings, a weird creamy horseradish polymer.)

The onion ring box was impressive for two reasons, though. First, they eschewed the McDonald's-ish "I'm lovin' it" slang for some actually thoughtful text on the box, with little arrows to the steam holes and a reminder that the box fits in your car's cup holder. (Perhaps Godin would be proud.)

Second, the box referenced two patents. What could these be? Well, dear reader, they're U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,053,403 and 6,561,414.

These patents read quite differently than the optics- and graphics-related ones I'm usually seeing. For instance, here is how Liming Cai's attorney motivated the advantages of this particular french fry holder to the hapless patent examiner:

Initially, the scoop of the invention is capable of being formed utilizing conventional equipment with the formed configuration of the scoop specifically allowing for nesting of the scoops so as to minimize packing space, resulting in both shipping and storage economies. The formed configuration of the scoop provides a base which is not only readily accommodated within a conventional cup holder, whether in a carrying tray or a vehicle mounted cup holder, but is also particularly formed to provide a stable base for a self-standing scoop.

A significant object of the invention is the incorporation in the scoop of a sealed bottom, eliminating the gaps normally associated with folded paperboard cartons of this type. Thus, the scoop of the invention is particularly capable of accommodating various condiments and flavorings as might be applied to the finger foods supplied within the scoop, for example melt butter on popcorn, salt and pepper on fries of various types, and the like, all without leakage.

You have nothing to fear, of course, unless you are so brazen as to be idly making, selling, or using contraptions that perform exactly this:

1. A food scoop comprising a vertically elongate peripheral wall defining an upwardly opening container, said wall having an upper peripheral edge, and a lower peripheral edge with a bottom panel joined thereto, said upper edge having a first extent of a downwardly concave configuration and a second opposed extent of an upwardly convex configuration positioned higher relative to said first extent, said wall being of a substantially rectangular cross-section adjacent said lower edge and along a predetermined lower height of said scoop upward from said bottom panel, and of a substantially circular cross-section upward from said lower predetermined height along an upper predetermined height to said upper edge, said scoop being of a progressively increasing cross-section upward from said lower edge to said upper edge, said bottom panel having a first pair of laterally spaced coextensive edges integral with said wall along opposed lengths of said lower peripheral edge of said wall, and a second pair of spaced parallel linear edges extending between said first pair of edges and defining therewith a generally rectangular configuration for said bottom panel, said lower edge of said wall between said lengths thereof integral with said first pair of bottom edges being coextensive with said second pair of bottom panel edges and in engagement therewith along the full length of the second pair of edges, and a pair of side sealing panels, each having a base edge integral and coextensive with a linear edge of said second pair of parallel edges of said bottom panel, said side sealing panels overlying and being bonded to said peripheral wall of said scoop for a fixed height upward from said bottom panel.

Bazaar Bizarre
The wacky handmade holiday-time gift fair is back! Dec. 16 in Boston, and elsewhere. It's a fun experience even for a stick-in-the-mud like me.

Never Mind John Galt...
...who is this Caitlin Roran of gmail splash screen fame?


29 November 2006

Return of the Sci / Eng Links

Workin' the emergence theory: MIT Space Time Programming Group. Beal / Bachrach's paper "Infrastructure for Engineered Emergence on Sensor/Actuator Networks." [PDF]

High-Res 3-D cameras / shape measurement: Song Zhang at Harvard.

A list of 100 hackable toys and electronic kits in time for the holidays at MAKE.

List of funny analogies - contest winners, not really high school entries. Hah!
Her vocabulary was bad as, like, whatever.

MIT Amorphous Computing links, such as this page about the formation of patterns in plants.

John Maeda's simple and depressing "Life Countdown." Click, type in your age...


24 November 2006


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

I hope you had a wonderful time with family, as we did here-near-Boston. We ate turkey, many pies, and a wine-and-herb-based gravy from Cook's Illustrated while Toby practiced his new skills of waving and picking up individual Cheerios.

Far be it from me to scold you for staring at your computer screen instead of hanging out with family, but if you must:

Congratulations, Esteemed Family Poet!
My cousin Adriana DiGennaro scores another poetic accomplishment; her "A Woman, a V, a Violet," is the featured poem at Poetry Circle. "Tiger Lillies" in The Aurora Review.

Teaching Kids Science
Toby and I watched Beakman [show 110] teach us how television works this morning; the historic character Philo Farnsworth (an inventor of television) described an image, pixel by pixel, to another character over walkie-talkie who flipped pixels Wheel-of-Fortune style on a giant board. Sure, they could have gone a little deeper (let's do the odd rows first, then the evens) or been a little more complete about who the earlier contributors to wireless TV broadcast are. But we enjoyed it.

Even as a display-industry guy, I'm still trying to understand the real history of the development of television. Some folks figured out communicating information wirelessly (Marconi, etc.). Others figured out how to use cathode rays and phosphor (Crookes' tube), how to generate imagery using a rotating perforated disc (Nipkow's disc and John Logie Baird's commercialized TV), how to improve the image quality, and how to go to an all-electronic receiver using a raster-scanned TV (Philo Farnsworth; wait, what did Zworykin contribute?).

Like this stuff? Check out They All Laughed... From Light Bulbs to Lasers: The Fascinating Stories Behind the Great Inventions that Changed Our Lives (Ira Flatow). You can learn all this and more -- did you know the original blender was a Blendor?

Teaching Grown-Ups Math and Physics
Speaking of which, I miss the thoughtfully illustrated Mechanical Universe series from the Annenberg/CPB project. Vectors, gravity, and relativity, oh my! You can watch them online here. Their relativity episode is probably the only way that I'll ever come close to understanding it.

In Memory
Unfortunately this 200th blog post does have a serious note. I am relaying the passing of friend John Paul Puglisi, a Yalie and Saybrugian who was very well-liked by everyone around him, including his pledge brothers in Sigma Chi. We'll miss you, John. If you knew John, Googling his name will bring you to articles and a memorial website.

Actually, the last several years have seen their share of tragedy for several warm-hearted, brilliant college friends. Erik Rauch (whose genius and quiet modesty was typified by his working with Prof. Mandelbrot as a freshman or sophomore) and Russ Atkins (whom I knew as the pre-college "Rusty," when he was a 12 year-old programmer and ranked chess star), we'll remember you.


14 November 2006

A silly 199th post

And now for several moments of levity.

A video
"Amateur" by Lasse Gjertsen, a brief video of an "amateur" drummer/pianist pieced together from I-can't-imagine how many clips. I just like it as an art clip. (Dunno if BB reads this blog, but this reminds me of the music video directing style for Art of Noise's "Close to the Edit.") It also reminds me of that wacky clip RLM found of the French horn-honking comedian.

Another video
More oobleck/non-Newtonian fluid madness. A deep vat filled with the stuff - that people walk across. I didn't believe it until halfway though. The video (thanks, NN).

It is always time for McSweeney's Reviews of New Food. Can you find the one written by Safiri? And, there's always the review for "Powerblast Energy Powder."

Here's to hoping I have something deep to say for the 200th post.


05 November 2006

Trying Japanese Instant Noodles, or "Alimentary, my Dear Watson"

Tonight I had unremarkable sushi at a small "bar" within a sort-of mini-Japan in Cambridge called The Porter Exchange. Afterwards, as usual, I went to the grocery store to stock up on things that dear J-Fav tolerates but wouldn't buy on her own: bonito flakes, seaweed, seaweed-based crackers, and two kinds of instant noodles that are a full notch above eleven-cent ramen.

This is my journey as a non-Japanese speaker into the world of multi-packet, fancy-boxed, all-Japanese-language ramen.

I picked up two things: U.F.O., which I've had before, and something new which translates to: "Japanese Style Alimentary Noodle: Ika Yakisoba Ohmori." Eagle-eyed readers will find it in the middle of this page from a food importer.

Alimentary noodles?

Figured I'd sort that out later. The instructions read:

No, really, click on that to see what you're supposed to do.

I thought the answer was cool: boil water, fold up bottom of package, pour in water (and packet of dried... squid? mushrooms?), fold down, and let sit 3 minutes. Then -- and this is the neat part -- fold back the top hinge which reveals a built-in strainer! Hoo-ee!! Pour out the water, mix in some black sauce, stir, and enjoy:

Mm-mm good! (Actually, it was. I'd buy it again.)


04 November 2006


Preprint of 3-D Display Paper
My co-workers invented a type of 3-D display whose imagery is volume-filling and can exhibit occlusion (that is, near objects can block far objects). While this is commonplace in "real life," this is one of the first volume-filling 3-D displays able to pull this off. Prior, quite a few people attested to its impossibility. A photo of the result is at Fig. 6. (Very Winter-appropriate.) I didn't really contribute much to the actual work other than writing it up. Here's the not-yet-typeset manuscript from the Optical Society of America:

O. S. Cossairt, J. Napoli, S. L. Hill, R. K. Dorval, G. E. Favalora, "Occlusion-capable multiview volumetric display," Applied Optics (in press). [link to PDF at OSA site]

Art / Design

Photographer Julia Fullerton-Batten. The folks at Kaliber10000 were right; you get sucked in to her photography.

Postcard Polaroid: put a stamp on a Polaroid.

Pixelsumo design-blog. Today: "draw" furniture in 3-D. Special tag for glitch-art. (nice!) One of my very first photographs was of a color television station whose character generator crashed; alphanumerics everywhere. Must've been about 8.

The Designers Republic. So hip! I didn't know they were able to tone it down enough to do Nickelodeon's neon-orange rebranding. (Click on 'work' and look around.)

Arthur Ganson's kinetic, breathing, eerie, wonderful sculptures.

(The late) Kevin McCormick built a 32-bit processor on a group of breadboards for an MIT class.


31 October 2006

Spooky Turtle Monster

Happy Halloween!

For Toby's first Halloween, he and mom dressed up as the tortoise and the hare (I was referee, with stopwatch + checkered flag). I like his turtle outfit so much that I may require him to wear it on weekends. Hopefully if you click on these they'll be normal-sized.

Crawling around the lunchroom table at Actuality.

NB + RT's spooky binky gift.

Of course, Toby won the race.


29 October 2006

I Have Become a Poster of Web Videos

I thank NB, repeatedly, for pointing me to the first thing that's made me laugh hard all day. And it's 10 pm.

The Rockwell Retro Encabulator. [google video] It consists of a baseplate of prefabulated Amulite, surmounted by a malleable logarithmic casing.

(datasheet for GE Turbo Encabulator)


Corn Starch Holes

Thank you, BM & SB for recommending I watch this video, with mandatory soundtrack + voiceover, of an experiment with.... corn starch. (Turn up those speakers.)

(The UT Austin research page @ the Center for Nonlinear Dynamics.)


27 October 2006

(OMG ROTFL) Why Don't We Do It In Our Sleeves?

What could I possibly do, what could I possibly say, to convince you to click on this link to watch an educational video about the best way to cough? I don't know, but it sure made us laugh at the office today. [coughsafe.com]

Two reviews of the brief clip from the site:

"If this saves one employee one day of work, it's worth its weight in dollars." - Deborah Powell, Industrialist

"Anyone who coughs or sneezes should watch this video." - Ben Lounsbury, M.D. Ear, nose, and throat surgeon


24 October 2006

Confusing Entry in the Fog of Sickness

Not sure this blog will ever win an award for intelligibility, but you're warned nonetheless. I have a cold or a flu that waxes and wanes every 6 hours - here's to the wonders of TheraFlu. (And Airborne, and Advil, and...)

Funky Dinner Challenge
Quick! You have three defrosted pork chops, chicken stock, blackberry red wine, honey, and stuff-from-a-pantry. What do you do?

Somehow I threw together sauteed chops (w/olive oil & butter) and a wine sauce with the above and chicken stock, & reduced it down. Not bad!

Test Your Rap-Q
Daddy Vinn (experimental physicist) called the other day and asked, "Hey, do you know about rap?"

"Why, yes I do."

"What's that song with 'Engine, engine, number 9, on the New York Transit Line, if my train goes off the track, pick it up pick it up pick it up...'?"

answer [iTunes]

I forgot how many samples from that song were also lodged in my head: "You can get with this, you can get with that..."

Perhaps RM can illuminate if I used the nested "'", "?", and """ correctly.

Aap! Global - Alternative Advertising Technology
Aap! Global develops technologies for advertising, such as this animation visible within moving subway cars.

And: "MIT Advertising Lab: blog on the future of advertising."

An Unfortunate (Fortunate?) Ad Placement
Perhaps the folks from the MIT Tech are messing with us, but I thought the placement of our "Got Voxels?" computer programming job advertisement was curious! Heck, it'll get noticed. (page 12)

A Sometimes Funny and Often Prurient Cartoon
The webcomic xkcd:

(Less funny, but instructive: a picture book of Fourier transforms.)

The Dual Scanning Laser Camera

Someone else implemented the stuff from Sen's paper to read the face of a playing card with a camera that wasn't able to see the playing card itself.

CNN.com: "Flat-panels rule, old boob tube all but dead"

According to CNN.com:

By next year, the tube TV will cede its crown of dominance to LCD sets for the
first time, according to the market research firm iSuppli Corp. Sales of CRTs
will fall from an estimated 14.4 million units this year to 10.4 million in
2007, while sales of LCD TVs are predicted to rise from 10.9 million units to
17.8 million.

This Will Make Sense Perhaps to Five People
Which is why it's at the end. I threatened Bert that he'd best not plagiarize, since Flavia's plage-dar is active, and then he sang something from some song, or perhaps from a movie, followed by a sea shanty. Look out Bert! Flavia gives me a commission on this stuff!

"Not you Sean, not you!"

Dang, I'm next!


19 October 2006


Hello -

I've been slowing down a bit in posting. After coming home from work, eating dinner with J-Fav and Toby (he sits with us at the table now!), and putting him to bed, we only have a couple of hours together. Sometimes we sit silently, if we're not pelting each other with couch-pillows, surfing the web or watching DVD episodes of "Veronica Mars."

Lately I've been wondering if I should pick a book to work through a few nights a week. (As if I were taking it for a class, doing the exercises, etc. Maybe Hecht & Zajac's Optics, that Maxfield & Maxfield's Abstract Algebra and Solution by Radicals book which Toby likes to eat, or Bamberg and Sternberg's A Course in Mathematics for Students of Physics, bringing together linear algebra, a bunch of calculus I have never seen before but which would let me understand Gravitation, and E&M, actually extending circuit theory to become electromagnitism. (Yes, I'm yet another person who bought Gravitation because it's heavy, imposing, and pitch black. J-Fav digs it. I think.) Looking at the Amazon reviews I feel better for finding the Bamberg book so challenging. Next, I might be ready for Visual Complex Analysis, a wedding present from the Trou-champs (Beachdales?). But what on earth will I do with all this math? Perhaps I just want the "clean thought shapes." Sort of like taking Tums, but for one's brain.)

The run-on sentence police just rang the doorbell, set off some firecrackers, yelled something into a megaphone, and sped away.

(I clear my throat loudly.)

Hey, Toby's 6-month birthday present just came. We thought it required batteries, or as J-Fav announced in her best Metallica imitation, "Ba-ter-ries! Ba-ter-ries!"

I'd like to regale you with a few sci / business links, many of which are from geekpress.com:
  • DNA-based computer plays tic-tac-toe
  • Malcom Gladwell's New Yorker story about a neural network (computer program) that picks Hollywood hits and racetrack winners with amazing accuracy (see the middle of the article)
  • Reuters opened a news bureau in the virtual-reality world "Second Life." Who are these people who have time to sit and play these games? Oh, wait, I'm the one blogging...
  • "SGI emerges from Chapter 11" [fcw.com] They had been delisted from NYSE, probably because $200 video game cards began performing better than their high-end workstations.
  • NBC has two meta-shows about the behind-the-scenes of "Saturday Night Live"-like shows: 30ROCK and Studio 60. I prefer the former. Watch the pilot, free, online! You go, Tina Fey...
  • Thread on Tahnan's blog about Dawkins appearing on the Colbert Report, and the obligatory Flying Spaghetti Monster discussion. (What's the FSM, you ask?)
  • Yale's Prof. Kindlmann's EAS-INFO article, "Virtual Reality or Real Virtuality?" about the aforementioned Second Life. He asks:
I wonder if I might propose a new role for Engineering: as guardian of real reality. Yes, engineers have long resorted to their own simulations, but I'd still like to think of them as grounded in reality, as real-world problem solvers. Or are they already mostly inhabiting the virtual world and smiling wryly at my discomforts?

Or maybe we should dispatch teams of poets into the virtual world, as guardians and enliveners of that domain, before, as an insufficiently unimaginative extrapolation of real reality, it wears itself out and resorts to virtual virtual reality?
Good night and good luck.


"Blogger Beta" offers us room for labels. Let's see if adding names associated with pruient content increases traffic to this site.

14 October 2006

Design Pubs and Firms

Hi -

What a wonderfully crisp New England evening in Boston. I wish it were fall... longer.

First off, "Ted," please inform your fiancee to temporarily break her blog-hiatus and look at the following.

A Very Few Design-Oriented Publications
  • Wallpaper*: "International Design Interiors Fashion Travel" (also on newsstands)
  • I.D.: Industrial Design, Graphic Design (@ B&N)
  • Kaliber10000: [k10k.net] daily-updated website of designy links
  • Design*Sponge: Art, architecture, objects, you name it - lots of photos
  • inhabitat: "Future-forward design for the world you inhabit"

Industrial Design Houses in Boston


09 October 2006

Bully (the game) / "The Cult of Yale"

A Videogame About Bullies
Rockstar Games, the folks who brought you Grand Theft Auto, are about to release a new game: Bully, situated in a prep school.

Give me your lunch money!

And now for something completely different...

Why Harvard Students Hate Harvard, and Why Yalies Love Yale

An article in the Harvard Crimson (November, 2003): "The Cult of Yale."


04 October 2006

(More) Absolutely Incredible Drummers

Drum Solos / Duets
  • Terry Bozzio / Chad Wackerman [QT movie] (Is it just me, or does that drum set look quite... complete? Oh, and; Bozzio is quite the man when it comes to drumming over complex ostinatos.)
  • Carter Beauford [streaming .M3U] (drummer for the Dave Matthews Band)
  • John Bonham! Moby Dick! John Bonham! Moby Dick! [QT video]
  • Philly Joe Jones [video] Nonchalant much?
  • Max Roach with cool hi-hat work. Lucky I got to see him in Sprague Hall in college. Okay, those are two vast understatements.

John Bonham! Moby Dick! John Bonham! Moby Dick! ...

01 October 2006

Better Online Weather Forecast

NOAA Weather
The NOAA has a fast-loading, detail-packed weather forecast site. Go to www.srh.noaa.gov, enter your ZIP code in the upper left, and bookmark the resulting page.

Ever since college - say, 1993 - I've used the Weather Underground [www.wunderground.com]. I finally replaced the bookmark in my browser; the site loads too slowly, has many ads, and hides the stuff I want to see too far down the page.

Google trick: for instant weather, type " weather 06520 " (say) into your Google search window.

(How are ZIP codes arranged?) Ben Fry - zipdecode

Ever wonder how ZIP codes are distributed spatially on the map?
  • Go to http://acg.media.mit.edu/people/fry/zipdecode/
  • Hit the "z" key when the map appears
  • Type the first digit of your ZIP code
  • Type the second digit of your ZIP code
  • ...and so on
  • (I think the delete key works, too, if you change your mind)
I've mention him before, but Ben Fry is an alumnus of Maeda's group at the Media Lab. Some of his many information-visualization projects are here at the ACG site. I like "mario soup" and his "fluid mixing" simulation.

CNN's "Upgraded" Shock Reporting
As J-Fav might confirm, I'm not one for analyzing news sites. But have you noticed over the last few weeks that CNN.com's journalists are embedding sensationalist-sounding links to video versions of news pieces? For example, concerning a recent trial of the Rhode Island club owners (and the 100 victims burned in the club fire during a rock show), CNN.com says:

Shortly before the judge imposed the sentence, Jeffrey Derderian tearfully apologized for the heartache he had caused and recounted the chaotic scene. (Watch Jeffrey Derderian break down as he relives the horror -- 1:16 )

Is that video clip descriptor really appropriate? Here's the story.

Have a good weekend,

27 September 2006

We interrupt this for a Brief Ego Moment...

I appeared in an article within the premier issue of 02138 magazine, a new publication that covers the doings of... well, at the risk of alienating my Yalie home-team friends, I'll let you figure it out. But I think the title of the piece is neat, and I enjoyed working with the journalist, Lindsey McCormack, who asked a lot of questions to understand the technology and the background of the company.


Some Links

Looking Back in Dotcom Time
An early job posting for Amazon.com in 1994.

It's daytime... almost all day?
The days are getting shorter and night is getting longer. I couldn't locate the elegant "hourglass" diagram of this effect, but here is an illustration (for kids?) of the situations for folks in Alaska. check out the first figure on this page.

Planets? Where?
The crisp weather may clear the air, which is great for spotting planets before it becomes too cold. Check out Sky and Telescope magazine's "This Week's Sky at a Glance" complete with "This Week's Planet Roundup."

9 Months of Gestation in 20 Seconds
On YouTube (found on GeekPress.com)

MIT's Unmanned Micro Swarming Helicopters
You gotta see this. With photo + video. (NewScientist)

Will Your Mattress Weigh Twice as Much in 10 Years Due to Dust Mites?
Find out.

with that....


23 September 2006

Genius Grants / Genius Rappers / "White & Nerdy"

MacArthur Fellows / "Genius Grants"
The 2006 fellows are announced here, each receiving $500,000 paid quarterly over five years with no stipulations on its use.

Want to be a Rap Star? With your iBook?
A few web sites with tips or products for connecting audio inputs (microphones) to the USB port.

Griffin iMic ($39.99)
Reviews of the Roland UA-30 USB Audio Interface [harmony-central.com]
Sound Devices's USBPre Microphone Interface

And here's where to find Cubase SE3 recording / multi-track software from Steinberg Media Technologies (or their Studio Case II software).

A discussion on [macintouch.com] about Mac Audio Recording.

Does anyone have ideas for other inexpensive Mac OS X software for audio recording and simple editing? (For example, taking audio in from a drumset and a microphone.)

Weird Al's "White & Nerdy"
Here's the video on YouTube. Gotta like a rap video that features the Schrodinger Wave Equation. (As usual, YouTube videos play better if you hit "pause," let it load, and then hit "play.") Y'alls.


19 September 2006

A Blog Entry

Hello -

J-Fav and the Toberama have returned from a one-week vacation (well, "vacation") around here, with a brief visit to upstate New York. We enjoyed returning to the contemporary art museum Mass MoCA for the current exhibits; Toby got a kick out of every piece. (Art makes him laugh.) (Like, really laugh.) My folks visited, and we took them to DeCordova to wander around the outdoor sculpture action. Which, of course, Toby laughed at.

I am back now, back in the world of optics, patents, and medical imaging.

I leave you with a few links:

  • Thanks, Scurvey Norvin, for pointing out the "how to speak Pirate" video at the humor site Loading Ready Run. I enjoyed "pimp your seat," too.
  • Not a link, but rather "WTF?". Have you been following today's news in Thailand?
  • The street sign for the Hairpin Turn in North Adams, MA is so unusual that it makes me laugh. It'd make you laugh, too, if I could find it. But I can't. All I can find online is this wonderfully obsessive photo-documenting of the road sign typography of Rt. 2! (Something tells me Jofish will enjoy this.)
  • I... ah, never mind with the links. My iBook G3 running Firefox is feeling slower than a TRS-80. What gives? Maybe it's time for a new machine. This is nuts.

A brief note, worthy of your esteemed examination

My brother points us all to: this hopefully liquid moment.


10 September 2006

The top 35 innovators under the age of 35

Congratulations to Josh Napoli of Actuality Systems for inclusion in this year's MIT Technology Review magazine's TR35, which names the top innovators under 35 from around the world!

Josh is being recognized for his contributions to the development of high-resolution 3-D displays for medical procedure planning, such as radiation oncology. (The complete list of winners.)


09 September 2006

Microsoft makes a school in Philly

[CNN.com] article - Philadelphia approached Microsoft to design a new school system for their students (er... "learners") based on Microsoft management techniques. No library; there's an interactive something-or-other. No books, there's laptops. Here's the story.

I hope someone talks to the Project for School Innovation to pick up on what J-Fav's learned about making inner-city schools successful: parental involvement! For example, the Robert L. Ford School in Lynn, MA.


29 August 2006

Telephone Pictionary and other pursuits

Hello -

Sure, you've played Pictionary; but have you ever played "telephone Pictionary"?

The idea is simple. Arrange your friends in a circle, each with a piece of paper. Everyone composes a different wacky sentence and writes it down. Pass each page to your neighbor. Draw pictures that express that sentence, hide the words by folding down the top, and pass. Write a sentence that interprets the picture you receive, fold the picture, and pass. Repeat until your page comes back to you. Hilarity, I say!

We played this at the BM / SB abode this weekend and I hurt myself laughing.

Perhaps you had to be there, but here is one that continues to crack me up. Pretend you're only seeing a thin row of this at a time, to see how it evolves from "These are the times that try men's souls" to "Stealing carrots is punishable by death, unless..."

[click to enlarge. if you're using Windows, maximize your window, hover your mouse pointer on it, and click that hamburger-looking icon in the lower right to magnify]

I still can't get over that judge/jury comic strip of Mr. Monreal's.

Here's another. Nothing like misinterpreting a homunculus as a man-bird.

[click to enlarge]

I was going to tell you about the movie "Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control," but never mind.


27 August 2006

Panera, Web 2.0, and Toby

The Favalora-Panera Conjecture
If the Starbucks Corporation ran Au Bon Pain, it would be Panera. 'nuff said.

Web 2.0
One of the things J-Fav catches me saying when I'm in a crabby, ironically-not-futurist mood is, "I can't stand all this Web 2.0 stuff." Then she asks, "What's Web 2.0 again?" According to O'Reilly, it's the mass of websites that emerged after the dust settled from the dotcom explosion (the "Web 1.0"). Here are a few nausea-inducing examples from their handy list:

[this on Web 1.0] is like [this on Web 2.0]
Doubleclick -> Google AdSense
Ofoto -> Flickr
Britannica Online -> Wikipedia
stickiness -> syndication
evite -> upcoming.org and EVDB (evite is out??? what's upcoming.org???)

I nearly gagged when I scrolled down for to their "Web 2.0 Meme Map." Speaking of gagging...

And Now for Something Completely Different

This brings us to something much more important: Toby's first non-milk meal! Hooray! As indicated in our raft of baby books, it's time to move your kid to solid foods when you feel bad eating dinner in front of them. Toby watches us longingly at the kitchen table, and even drinks from mom's water glass. So - break out the rice cereal, here comes a life of good eats:

"Hey, mom, that's good stuff!"

Sometimes Toby helps me carry my books downstairs when we go out on the town. Here he's planning on catching up on abstract algebra.

He must've gotten hungry, though; he took the book from me in the park and started eating it! Now we have a wet-cornered math book.

"Mmm, Dad! Those commutative operators sure taste good!"


23 August 2006

Good Will Hunting?

The Fields Medals [NewScientist.com] have been awarded, including one widely-anticipated no-show winner for potentially proving things that have stumped people for a loooooooong time: the Poincare Conjecture. [noticed on GeekPress]

(Okay, movie fans, here's supposedly one of the early "Good Will Hunting" drafts.

Hey, Gerry. Um... Ladies and Gentlemen, we're in the presence of greatness. Professor Gerald Lambeau. Fields Medal Winner for Combinatory Mathematics.


Anyone know what the Fields Medal is? It's a really big deal. It's like the Nobel Prize for math, except they only give it out once every four years. It's a great thing. It's an amazing honor. Okay, everybody, that's it for today. Thanks and... we'll see you Monday? We'll be talking about Freud, and why he did enough cocaine to kill a small horse. Thank you. How are you?


19 August 2006

Toby's Baptism

This weekend, 4-month-old Toby was baptized at J-Fav's church in upstate NY.

We threw caution to the wind and outfitted him in his great-grandpa's [correction: great-great-grandpa's] baptism gown - from 1880. It was quite a number:

Here we are, ready to go:

Not being Catholic, I didn't realize how he needed to be facing once it was time for the water-dippin'. After a humorous baby-flipping up on the altar, the priest wet Toby's head...

We present... Tobias John!

(Dear future-Toby: sorry about the gown. But it sure looked awesome.)


13 August 2006

Harvard, Golf, and Drool: Toby's 4th Month

Hello -

Toby enjoyed a couple of weekend outings around his four month birthday:

A Visit to Grandma and Grandpa's
(Or, "In Toby, Veritas.")

(Proof that just the thought of that school fills even babies with discomfort.)

Mini-golf in Old Orchard Beach, ME


09 August 2006

They Know What You've Been Searching, So Be Good for Goodness' Sake...

AOL Search
CNet News article on AOL's briefly releasing a database, tagged by User ID, of what people searched for on AOL. With commentary. (Why do they release this stuff?) "AOL's disturbing glimpse into users' lives"

Studying Ants, for Robots - @ Technion (Israel)
Alfred Brookstein's publications

How to Make the Simplest Electric Motor (10k rpm!)
From Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories

Interview with Carver Mead, one of my Engineering Idols
Interview at Laputan Logic, quoted from American Spectator. Including discussion of his theory of quantum mechanics. (Carver Mead, a friend of the Moore family, coined the phrase "Moore's Law" after Gordon Moore's seminal paper on semiconductor density vs. cost; wrote the textbook on VLSI (i.e. contemporary) chip design; helped found a field of electrical engineering - neuromorphic engineering - that makes biologically-inspired circuitry; founded Synaptics, the firm that probably made the touchpad on your laptop / iBook / iPod / whatever; founded Foveon; etc. Carver Mead is awesome.)

Want to learn more?

  • Video interview @ MIT Lemelson Foundation
  • Wikipedia: Carver Mead
  • His book casting E&M and quantum in one viewpoint [amazon]
  • The book on neuromorphic engineering, in case you want to make a silicon retina [amazon]
  • Mead and Conway's classic VLSI textbook ca. 1979 [amazon]

07 August 2006

Spots, Espionage, ...

Where do Spots Come From? (Quick overview of Alan Turing's answer from "deodands".) Woah, what? Note to self, return to this person's homepage when you want something scientific to read.

Nine Ways to Stop Industrial Espionage (net-security.org)

Nintendo DS game: Rhythym Tengoku (Wired Game|Life)

Nearly-daily rants of a waiter with unusually sycophantic readership (waiterrant.net)

Hey, graphic design lovers: Before & After magazine

Why not read up on Edwin Land, inventor?


03 August 2006

Snakes on a Sudoku

Let us take a minute to praise Francis Heaney, editor-at-large and a guy busier behind the scenes than I realized.

Thanks to Tahnan for pointing out "I want these motherf@#%ing snakes off this motherf@#%ing sudoku!" Snakes on a Sudoku [B&N] [Amazon] (no clue what we're talking about?)

Holy Tango of Literature [Amazon]

Sit & Solve Crosswords #3 [Amazon]


02 August 2006

Tech Links

Multi-Finger Touch Table
Jeff Han's TED2006 talk about this unusual user interface. (Free video, about 10 minutes. In person the TED conference is what... $5,000?)

SIGGRAPH 2006 Emerging Technologies - Most Captivating
Packet Sniffing, or What Are They Browsing on my Network?
Ethereal for Mac OS X. It reconstructs network traffic. Even more interesting is EtherPEG, a free Mac program that listens to what JPEGs and GIFs people are looking at on your network. Creeeepy... (you'll need to type some commands into the terminal window). Here's an example of what was flying through the air at a computer conference.

Okay, that should keep you busy for the next few hours.


29 July 2006

Old School Linkz

Toby's sleeping, J-Fav's out. Time for some links.

We're Here, We're on Fire, Get Used to It
: Brief humor piece on McSweeneys.

Pandora: 12 hours later the free personalized Internet radio station is still great fun. Feel free to check out my stations using favalora (at) gmail.com .

SIGGRAPH 2006: Computer graphics conference, expo, art gallery, and emerging technologies haven. Plus: a teapot exhibit (an explanation for the non-graphics people).

Aside: Grr. On Mac OS X 10.3.9 with Firefox 1.0.7 & Blogger, why do the following two errors happen nearly every time I post? (1) Adding a hyperlink sometimes injects a tiny icon into the composition pane and spew span code gunk into the HTML? and (2) returning to a saved Draft yields nested composition panes with wacko scrollbars?

The Best American Short Stories of the Decade (ed. John Updike): Wonderful presnt from N&R. [Amazon]

The Mind Map Book (T. Buzan, B. Buzan): Purchased @ B&N last night in case there's something to this stuff. At the moment it seems like replacing indented outlines with radial graphs, but the reader is scolded for thinking that. I can see how the added dimensions of color, texture, etc. help the note-maker. Want to try it. Am put off that the word "Map" in the title is followed by a registered trademark symbol.

What a tokhes!
Online reference of common Yiddish words so that I may emulate my grandma for Toby.

Want a turkey leg with that? The only thing better than a symposium on holography is a symposium on holography held in various castles in Wales. The 7th Int'l. Symposium on Display Holography. Blog with photos - of famous folk wearing medieval garb.

Note to self: Watt, S. J., Akeley, K., Ernst, M. O., & Banks, M. S. (2005). Focus cues affect perceived depth. Journal of Vision, 5(10), 834-862.

Illegal Wireless Hotspot Hacks
. Spoofing TMobile, etc. Reason to be cautious when online @ your local cafe.

This is a really good one: Arthur Schopenhauer's "Die Kunst, Recht zu behalten - The Art of Controversy." A list and discussion of techniques to be mindful of when arguing (Generalize your Opponent's Specific Statements, Conceal your Game, Claim Victory Despite Defeat, State a False Syllogism).

Have a good weekend. 90F here in New England.


28 July 2006

(Free) Personalized Radio

Try Pandora, a free website that uses real human music experts in conjunction with fancy algorithms to stream music tailored to your tastes. Tell it an artist name, it picks a few songs, and then you teach it more.

Peter Gabriel? Richard Shindell? Underworld? Sabbath?

Try it out.


27 July 2006

Anthony Bourdain - Quebec

Not much to add tonight other than the extraordinary shock of seeing a family of very-Northern-Canadians sitting on their kitchen floor with Anthony Bourdain, hands and faces covered in blood, devouring what looked like a barely-cooked seal.


Yes, our favorite gourmande, (the Travel Channel's) Anthony Bourdain, did Quebec.

Note to self: Au Pied de Cochon, bastion of foie (website, review), and la Banquise (for poutine, which Bourdain visits "to experience this conceptually nightmarish, but thoroughly wonderful gastronomic trainwreck.") [poutine reviews, incl. Banquise]

I miss Montreal.

By the way - and this always catches my eye when walking down Ste. Catherine - what are those lips on that billboard? Here is a Flickr photo. And another. Canadians? Anyone know?


23 July 2006

Remembering Where I Left Off; or Mind Mapping Software

Would it be helpful to somehow maintain a "sketch" of your mind's wanderings? Would it get you out of the usual repetitive ruts & actually lead to finding and exploring some answers? For example:

  • What should I do with the upcoming free afternoon, weekend, month, professional life...?
  • What fun dinner can I cook?
  • [Regarding problem X], how can I [blah]?
  • What gifts might J-Fav like?

Rather than starting from scratch each time these questions pop into your head, it might be interesting to resume from where you left off last time.

There is a class of visualization / note-taking software called "mind-mapping" or "thought-mapping" software. WikiPedia describes as mind map as follows:

It is an image-centered diagram that represents semantic or other connections between portions of information. By presenting these connections in a radial, non-linear graphical manner, it encourages a brainstorming approach to any given organizational task, eliminating the hurdle of initially establishing an intrinsically appropriate or relevant conceptual framework to work within.

So, Dear Readers, have any of you used any of - and can you comment on:

Mindfully yours,


20 July 2006

Hey, linguists and ethnomusicologists (or, "What's on the gold record sent with the Voyager spacecraft?")

(This is a lengthy, link-bloated post, but I find a lot of enjoyment in this stuff. You might like taking a few minutes to click around.)

If you built a spacecraft that might be intercepted somewhere . . . out there, what cultural artifacts would you include with it?

The late Carl Sagan headed an effort to include audio recordings of greetings in a multitude of languages, as well as all sorts of imagery, onboard the two Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977. The data were encoded on a gold "record," along with a stylus and visual instructions on how to decode them.

For a short time, a wonderful book and dual-CD set were available in bookstores with all of the imagery, music, and spoken language. I find it fascinating; the first picture is a circle, since it's easy for the (uh) aliens to calibrate their decoders to it. They are taught the symbols of our arithmetic, as well as indications of what a "meter" and a "second" are. From there, they are taught about our biochemistry - DNA - the periodic table, solar system, where babies come from, what our occupations look like, what animals look like, etc. (The scientists used a funny typeface that put weird serifs on the lowercase "h," presumably in case the decoding was noisy.)

It's it neat that this single slide contains enough information to let someone (something?) decode the notation of our basic math? It's like all of second and third grade compressed into one image.

It's still protected by copyright, but you can hear and see samples of it on JPL's website.

  • Multiple language recordings. Greetings from Earth in 55 languages, such as Korean, Burmese, Japanese, and Marathi. The out-of-print CD also has greetings from whales.
  • The globe's representative music. If your library has it, you can hear (and read about the academic struggle of choosing) representitive music of our planet. The songs are listed here - Javanese gamelan, Bach, Chuck Berry... (no, BB, no Aphex Twin).
  • The whole earth, in a few pictures. The illustrations I mentioned that are supposed to paint as complete a picture of our arithmetic, chemistry, biology, and scope of daily lives are sampled here.
Isn't this neat? I wonder if that song is on the record.


18 July 2006

Links (Coffeshop Laptop Squatting, Vinge, a Model Book Review)

People Who Work on Their Laptops in Cafes
Boston Globe article about - as luck would have it - the two cafes I frequent, the Diesel Cafe and 1369 - and how their character is changing because of folks who sit for hours typing away on laptops. Having bought zero or one drinks. Or carrying it in from Starbucks. I found the "forum" (discussion) sort of interesting, too.

"The Coming Technological Singularity"
Those in the Know point to mathematician / sci-fi author Vernor Vinge as a particularly deep thinker about the future of technology. Evidently, his "The Coming Technological Singularity" is a classic (at least as much as something from 1993 can be a classic). It is a 20-minute read, in unformatted plain ol' non-HTML ASCII. Somehow that added to the enjoyment for me.

Here's a snippet:

Well, maybe it won't happen at all: Sometimes I try to imagine the symptoms that we should expect to see if the Singularity is not to develop. There are the widely respected arguments of Penrose [19] and Searle [22] against the practicality of machine sapience. In August of 1992, Thinking Machines Corporation held a workshop to investigate the question "How We Will Build a Machine that Thinks" [27]. As you might guess from the workshop's title, the participants were not especially supportive of the arguments against machine intelligence. In fact, there was general agreement that minds can exist on nonbiological substrates and that algorithms are of central importance to the existence of minds. However, there was much debate about the raw hardware power that is present in organic brains. A minority felt that the largest 1992 computers were within three orders of magnitude of the power of the human brain. The majority of the participants agreed with Moravec's estimate [17] that we are ten to forty years away from hardware parity. And yet there was another minority who pointed to [7] [21], and conjectured that the computational competence
of single neurons may be far higher than generally believed. If so,
our present computer hardware might be as much as _ten_ orders of
magnitude short of the equipment we carry around in our heads. If this
is true (or for that matter, if the Penrose or Searle critique is
valid), we might never see a Singularity. Instead, in the early '00s
we would find our hardware performance curves beginning to level off
-- this because of our inability to automate the design work needed to
support further hardware improvements. We'd end up with some _very_
powerful hardware, but without the ability to push it further.
Commercial digital signal processing might be awesome, giving an
analog appearance even to digital operations, but nothing would ever
"wake up" and there would never be the intellectual runaway which is
the essence of the Singularity. It would likely be seen as a golden
age ... and it would also be an end of progress. This is very like the
future predicted by Gunther Stent. In fact, on page 137 of [25],
Stent explicitly cites the development of transhuman intelligence as a
sufficient condition to break his projections.
Graph Design for Eye and Mind
An upcoming book by Stephen M. Kosslyn about how our knowledge of psychology can improve our ability to make better graphs. [Amazon]

I Wish All Book Reviews Were Like This
I can see my literary friends cringing, but... Here's a passage from a book about medical imaging technology.

[really, check it out]

[no, really, this review will sound dopey without it]


Here's my favorite Amazon.com review of that book:

Direct visualization and personalized self-testing will replace current indirect poke-and-guess diagnostics. Docs will be thrown out of work. "Geeks are at the gates" of medicine.

Man-On-the-Street, Guy-Just-As-Intimidated-and-Ignorant-As-You-Are holds your hand for a walkthrough of medicine's thrilling futuristic Jetsonesque Road Ahead.

Mainly heart attack, stroke, cancer. Snippets on obesity and others.

Various sorts of new digitally assisted internal 3D scanning and modeling methods, automated scan picture interpretation systems, computerized gene screening, etc. Basically it is CAM - Computer Assisted Medicine.

Silicon Valley bravura.


Covers (in passing) the ridiculous Lipitor scam (much better treated in Abramson's "Overdosed America : The Broken Promise of American Medicine").

"Medicine is not vertically integrated or horizontally integrated - it's not integrated at all!"

Would've worked better as a medium-to-long magazine article in say Vanity Fair or Esquire or Men's Health. And some well-chosen pictures would've been worth 10,000 words.

Digital technology (along with money of course) is certainly the god of Kessler's idolatry, that comes through clear enough. This treatment of health care issues is about a quarter inch deep, but not a bad starting point for further amateur reading. Anyway most disease is probably psycho-spiritual - all this other stuff is just business.


15 July 2006


Toby Krupa

Knew I'd break my resolution regarding not posting Toby-photos!

Today, Toby and I headed upstairs to play some drums. (He seemed to like it before he was born; with great predictability he'd kick to Brazilian-style drumming.) Unfortunately, our house is about 90 degrees this summer. He had a lot of fun for the first 20 minutes and then sort of lost it. Maybe, though, it's just that John Bonham is channeling through him.

Here's a brief (but unfortunately long-download) link to a movie of him jamming out.

13 July 2006

notes to self: cool computer art code

This just in...
Man flies through Houston with HALF A BOMB. From the Houston Chronicle (seen on boingboing.net):

The report states that a man with a Middle Eastern name and a ticket for a Delta Airlines flight to Atlanta shook his head when screeners asked if he had a laptop computer in his baggage, but an X-ray machine operator detected a laptop.

A search of the man's baggage revealed a clock with a 9-volt battery taped to it and a copy of the Quran, the report said. A screener examined the man's shoes and determined that the "entire soles of both shoes were gutted out."

No explosive material was detected, the report states. A police officer was summoned and questioned the man, examined his identification, shoes and the clock, then cleared him for travel, according to the report.

Fry / Reas "Processing"

simple computer languge to prototype visual ideas
try the exhibit / samples

See the Internals of Atari 2600 Cartridges
Code and graphics, again Ben Fry
(on Windows? when the hi-res image shrinks, just hover over it until the hamburger-looking icon appears in the lower right. click it to zoom.)

Simon Greenwold is a Cool Guy
Miniature LED animator blocks: "LittleVision"
Cheap webcam / fridge-based 3-D object scanner: "EyeBox"

Peter Cho
I like the dynamic design work of Peter Cho, former Media Lab-ite

A Collection of Links to Advances in 3-D Graphics and 3-D Displays
"Trends: 3D" from "rb" (Hmm, what a neat and simple photo viewer -- try it out, and there looks like a download link in the bottom right)

Boola Boola...

Ah, a blast from the past. The Saybrook dining hall. College is definitely wasted on the young.

g-fav, who needs to remember not to imbibe Starbucks "grande banana coffee-based banana frappachino chip with espresso shot" at 9.30pm

12 July 2006

Dragostea Din Tei

J-Fav's friend introduced us to the spring-of-2004 (?) Moldovan / Romanian pop hit "Dragostea Din Tei" by O-Zone.

According to Wikipedia, it's difficult to translate from Romanian, and several Flash animation parodies and fake translations have appeared on the web. Have a few minutes to spare, and want to see Japanese animation of Ronald McDonald and animals throwing Picasso art at each other?

Well, click right here, my friend, to hear a wacked-out version of Dragostea Din Tei, "Maiyahi" by Ikari. I'm curious what N-h-Movement, R-Bone, B-Fly, and J-Gavel, our linguist friends make of it. (Okay, at least that's a stab at your rap names.)


ps Yeah, I removed the pet peeves.

08 July 2006

A morning's-worth of scientific reading + listening

"Oh, no, not that again. I don't want to hear about computers becoming more "intelligent" than humans by 2030, or whatever."

Here's an abridged text that covers a lot of the same ground as the hefty The Singularity is Near, by Ray Kurzweil. Learn about exponential and super-exponential progress in semiconductors, DNA transcription, and data communication speeds -- and how we should expect computers with superhuman intelligence and future virtual-reality experiences provided by nanobots coursing through our bloodsteam.

However, I'm not comfortable with Mr. Kurzweil's calculations about "the processing power of the brain" from which he extrapolates the date at which a $1,000 PC will be as "intelligent" as a person. (200 computations per second per synapse? Huh? I'm not sure what qualifies as a computation in a neural system, especially when information is transmitted with a variety of chemicals that vary in data-stream character based on your scale of examination -- pulse-coding, spikes, continuous potentials, chemical gradients...).

The online essay will get you the main points of the Singularity idea. An excerpt:
  • We achieve one Human Brain capability (2 * 10^16 cps) for $1,000 around the year 2023.
  • We achieve one Human Brain capability (2 * 10^16 cps) for one cent around the year 2037.
  • We achieve one Human Race capability (2 * 10^26 cps) for $1,000 around the year 2049.
  • We achieve one Human Race capability (2 * 10^26 cps) for one cent around the year 2059.
[Link to Kurzweil's "The Law of Accelerating Returns" at his KurzweilAI.net site.]

Listen to Some Very Smart People this Morning
Whether you believe in the Singularity or not, Stanford hosted a related conference with very thoughtful participants. Speakers included Doug Hofstadter (of GBE fame), K. Eric Drexler (nano-machine technologist) and Max More (the psuedonym, I assume, of a leader of the Extropy Institute which frightens J-Fav to no end).

Listen - for free with and without "network hiccups" - to these insightful and creative folks at The Singularity Summit at Stanford website. I liked that Max More pointed out that super-intelligence is different than super-wisdom; that is, an intelligent being might not be a wise being.

Speaking of... Thoughts
Enjoying Ron Hale-Evans's Mind Performance Hacks, through or about which I found this book: How to Make a Complete Map of Every Thought You Think.

By Lion Kimbro. Isn't Lion Kimbro a cool name?

Making Factories and Computers with DNA
Article from LiveScience here.


ps Rest assured, I stopped watching Rachel Ray a few days after my blog-rant several months ago. Regardless, one commenter pointed me to a pro-RR site that referred to my rant with astonishment. Hah! This is just wacky. Ok, you win. I give up. Rather than wasting my time complaining about RR, I waste my time blogging about links to bizarre science.

04 July 2006

Hem: Half an Acre (of Liberty Mutual commercial)

The beautiful folk piece in the Liberty Mutual commercial of July 4 is "Half an Acre" by Brooklyn folk group Hem.

iTunes link

MySpace link to entire song, streaming


ps I think it's funny that typing "half an acre" into google returns: half (1 acre) = 2 023.42821 m2

pps Hmm, googling "pi seconds in centuries" confirms that it is indeed a nanocentury

ppps Did I ruin the mood of that song yet?

30 June 2006


Thank you for the helpful credit card suggestions. Back to the world of links.

A Troubling but Oddly Captivating Tune
Heard this morning on Boston's WFNX: Panic! at the Disco's "I Write Sins Not Tragedies." (What gives with this stuff? It's over a mellow violin synth background.)

In Portland, OR? Check out McMenamins
This is a fun, artsy, hip reconfigured old school - into a bunch of bars and B&B. It's wacky. McMenamins - Kennedy School. A business trip took me there; one of its restaurants is in an old science classroom with bunsen burners.

"Yahoo" is a Backronym for "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle"
Find this and many, many other explanations for how companies got their names at Wikipedia. "CVS" stands for "Customer Value Stores."

A Song Made Out of PC Sounds
I still think this is neat. (It's a Shockwave file.) (Actually, it appears that it may not be working.)

The Guy in Harvard Square Who Plays that Few-Stringed Instrument and has a Faraway Look in his Eye
Enjoy this collector's item, this sure-to-become-an-heirloom, from hsquaredesigns. I won't credit the artist unless he wants to give up his anonymity.

Did I spell that right?


Like Polaroid Art?
Then check out polanoid.net.

Vik Muniz Rocks the House
Visual artists as talented as he is make me wonder why I bother getting out of bed in the morning. In the gallery, check out "Pictures of Thread" and "Pictures of Chocolate" (around 1995). Yes, that's really thread and chocolate.

Bono is Interesting. No, really.
At least, I think so. I picked up (what one might consider to be a pulp biography) Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas in the airport. Ever since I read Brian Eno's A Year With Swollen Appendices, I gained an admiration forBono, and a sudden liking of U2. Just sayin'.

More Pointers to Edgy Science Books
edge.org has a new list, along the far righthand column of the site.

The Geneva Drive
A neat-o mechanism. Check it out. No, really. Ever wonder how movie film zips through the projector but the image at the screen is fairly stable? It's because the film isn't zipping continuously through the projector. It goes in little jerky steps; each frame is held in place (by something like a Geneva drive) and flashed twice on the screen.

Back with more useless knowledge,

ps Those 11pm - 4am'tween T-Fav bottle feeding times are great for my Nintendo DS "New Super Mario Bros." addiction. Man I love it. And mini-games, too!