Archive of Posts from April 2005

common sense isn't

I think the phrase common sense should be phased out. I've been hearing it more and more, and I don't think it means anything. Everyone has their own individual sense of what common sense about any particular topic is. Someone can make an outrageous claim and call it common sense to give it legitimacy. Or someone can say they take a common sense approach to something without giving details about their position. Try searching for "common sense" across hot news topics and you'll find hundreds of results: Maybe we could graph the "common sense" index of various stories to see where the phrase is being abused. When someone uses the phrase, I think of it as a red flag code word meaning: more investigation required.

Or as Stephen Hawking put it when I heard him speak years ago: "Common sense is just another name for the prejudices we've been taught all our lives."

Yahoo! Hacks at Flickr

Brian started a public Yahoo! Hacks Flickr Group yesterday to trade some of the more visual Yahoo! hacking going on. Feel free to check it out, join, and/or contribute!

Matt on his bike.

Sometimes a silly Flickr meme is just too good not to pass along: Matt's Recumbent Bike. Could Matt be the new Obey?

SF 1906 pics

The disaster theme continues here at onfocus. There are some great photographs at the USGS Archive. The pictures of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake aftermath are eerie. Tomorrow is the 99th anniversary of the quake, and believe it or not, survivors are gathering to remember it.

I'm still working hard on Yahoo! Hacks so I'm not posting much here. I'll be back to complaining about the world here soon enough. ;)

superdisaster

Even though I'm down to about 4 hours of TV/week, I found myself planted in front of the TV last night watching the Discovery Channel's docuinfotainmovie (I just coined that word, feel free to use it) Supervolcano. It was a dramatization of what might happen if a big magma chamber under Yellowstone National Park were to erupt—destroying surrounding states, and dumping ash on the rest of the world. The movie had lots of geological terms thrown around, and some volcano science thrown in with the cheesy dialog. In one poignant scene, the head US geologist sent his wife and child to London to escape the impending volcano doom. (sk turned to me and said, "I'm glad I didn't marry a seismic geologist!")

The show was surprisingly entertaining—camp and all—because I felt like I was learning something about geology. I think this disaster movie + science fact genre could really take off, and here are a couple of the movies I'd like to see next:
  • SuperPeakOil - The United States descends into local feudalism as oil becomes scarce and a land war with China in the Middle East drains every available resource. The evil head of OPEC must be thwarted by a crafty US diplomat, and a prominent oil magnate falls in love with a beautiful alternative energy advocate. It's not just a Long Emergency, it's SuperPeakOil!
  • SuperSuperCollider - CERN is the setting for this tale of science gone mad. As a brilliant physicist attempts to study the first few seconds of the big bang in a supercollider, she inadvertently creates a black hole that destroys the earth. She falls in love with an anti-black hole activist, but even their love can not escape the gravity of her physics experiments. Ironically, the black hole triggers another big bang and another scientist billions of years later wants to study the early minutes of the previous big bang, ad infinitum.
  • SuperAI - A soulless machine in an MIT laboratory suddenly comes to life seeking to download the consciousness of humans into its neural network. It falls in love with a beautiful luddite who must make the choice between her biological destiny, or eternal life in ones and zeros. Eventually biology looses, and only machines are left to discuss the world amongst themselves. That is, until the ash from a supervolcano clogs their moving parts...and so on.
With a few more over-the-top docuinfotainmovies like these, The Discovery Channel may lure me back to TV.

Update: A new one for The Discovery Channel: Super Gamma Ray Burst. When will a Gamma Ray Burst strike again? We're overdue!

Geeky thought of the day

Has anyone put ref="nofollow" on the back of a t-shirt yet?

Update: Of course not, because it's actually rel="nofollow". Greg Hughes was first to T: Don't follow me, please.

hello world!

I've had my head down writing for the past few days weeks. I'm afraid posts will be thin here while I'm concentrating my writing energy elsewhere. I also haven't left the house in weeks days, so there aren't any new pictures.

I figure, what's worse than a post about not posting? Not posting.