Saturday, February 12, 2011

Potpourri CLIX

Between the day job and the conference, my mind's been all over the place, so if you don't think my links and reads and thoughts don't quite all fit together, you're probably right.

IMF is one of our biggest beggars. If they're asking for a different currency, you know something is awry.
From Tracy:
  • John Irving, business inspiration? Yep.
  • An online, collaborative writing tool. Looks interesting, but most writers will tell you that writing with other people is a pain in the neck. It's much easier to just put down what you want to say. Any group document is inherently a compromise or series of compromises, not all of them good.
From Lin: an article about the challenges of interstellar travel. As I put it to Lin:

I'd say he hits the problems of interstellar flight dead on. Star Trek notwithstanding, we have no way to travel faster than light. The author actually understates the case. According to relativity theory, as objects accelerate closer to the speed of light, c, their mass becomes nearly infinite due to dynamics that elude me. Pick up Arthur C. Clarke's "The Songs of Distant Earth" for a realistic portrayal of the interstellar travel engineering problem. (The realism of his characterization or sociology are another matter.) We are, I'm afraid, a long way from warp drive. It would be nice to have something, though.
From my space/libertarian friend Berin, a statement about "Do Not Track" legislation:

WASHINGTON D.C. — The following statement can be attributed to Berin Szoka, President of TechFreedom, regarding legislation introduced today by Rep. Jackie Speier that would require the Federal Trade Commission to establish standards for a “Do Not Track” mechanism and require online data collectors to obey consumer opt-outs through such a tool:

Implementing “Do Not Track” without killing advertising won’t be easy. Just as consumers need to be empowered to make effective privacy choices, so too must publishers of ad-supported websites be able to make explicit today’s implicit quid pro quo: Users who opt-out of tracking might have to see more ads, pay for content and so on.

Government cannot design a “marketplace for privacy” from the top down, nor predict the costs of forcing an explicit quid pro quo. It would be sadly ironic if the same FTC that has agonized so much about the future of journalism wound up killing advertising, the golden goose that has sustained free media in this country for centuries.

The market is evolving quickly here, with two very different “Do Not Track” tools debuting in Internet Explorer and Firefox just this week. Ultimately, it is the Internet's existing standards-setting bodies, not Congress or the FTC, that have the expertise to resolve such differences and make a “Do Not Track” mechanism work for both consumers and publishers, as well as advertisers and ad networks.
Other stuff from Lin:
  • It's been awhile since I've seen one of these, but it bears repeating: thank our military.
  • An intriguing article on the interworkings of science and big universities. The article asks a good question: the universities need science, but does effective scientific research NEED to be performed in a university environment? Before the 20th century, most research was privately funded--think Thomas Edison or Bell Laboratories.
  • An editorial on "who fed the tiger" (China). Uh, that'd be us. Or rather, corporate America and their political allies in the White House (Bush I and Clinton). We were told through the '80s and '90s that free trade with the West would moderate Communist China and make them more like us. What happened instead is that it made the Chinese government richer, not more moderate, and while we were selling them the rope with which to hang ourselves, they got a bunch of manufacturing jobs--and technologies--exported to them from the U.S. of A.
  • The Navy now has its own carrier-based drone. I wonder if the human pilots pick on the radio-control jockeys for missing that first arresting wire.
  • I really liked this one: an obituary for Roger Milliken, a businessman of the old stripe--the kind we're told doesn't exist anymore, so we must depend on government to "take care of the workers." Mr. Milliken's bio will show that such is not always the case.
  • An analysis of the Obama Administration's National Security Space Policy. To be fair, I haven't finished reading the Policy yet (it's sitting on top of the pile at work), so I can't comment on the author's arguments. However, I did promise Lin some more thoughts on war in space. Short version: space war would devastate all nations' access to space. Orbital debris of all sizes can whack useful payloads at speeds of up to 20 km/seconds. Without access to space, even basic services like weather or communication satellites would be lost, and we'd be back to 1950s-era tech in some areas.
  • Reviewing the state of the world via statistics.
From Kate Down Under: the latest roundtable newsletter on the Battle of Midway.

From a friend who will remain nameless for his own protection, but his attached commentary was too snarky not to share: "Another cleverly disguised study supposedly aimed at helping men but secretly proving women are nuts."
And I think I'll end there. At a conservative estimate, I'm processing well over 100 ISDC-related emails a day. N-U-T-S, but making serious progress. Should be a cool conference!

1 comment:

lin said...

The committee that was created to design a better horse produced the camel. Collaborative writing is a euphemism for “cluster gathering.”