Archive for January, 2007
Short of classical compositions, we haven’t heard anything out of Billy Joel for The Longest Time. One might say he’s maintained a Code of Silence. I’m sure he’s had his reasons, but Don’t Ask Me Why. (OK, OK, enough with the song title puns).
Anyway, today we got a triple whammy:
First, Joel has produced a new pop single called All My Life in honor of his (current) wife, Katie Lee Joel. Not only that, but he’s gone all hi-tech on us:
The Phil Ramone-produced track will premiere February 7 on People.com, where it will be available for streaming and as music for a Valentine’s Day e-card.
It will then be sold exclusively via Apple’s iTunes Music Store from February 20 through March 6, after which it will available at most digital retailers. A commercial CD release of “All My Life” will follow on a date to be announced, according to Joel’s label, Columbia.
Second, Joel will be performing the National Anthem at Superbowl XLI in Miami on February 4th. I have a bootleg recording of him singing the anthem at Yankee Stadium before a World Series game. Let’s just say I hope he does a better job of it this time around.
And finally, there’s a 20-stop tour beginning in February in Jacksonville, FL. Nothing in the NY/NJ area yet, though. Still, I’m Keeping the Faith that Worse Comes to Worst, he’ll play Half a Mile Away from 52nd Street Somewhere Along the Line.
AAHHH!!! I can’t stop! HELP!!!
Star Wars, acted out entirely with HANDS:
Another classic quote from work today:
There is no “i” in “team.” But there is a “me.”
Wow…all these years, and I never noticed the “me?” Damn…
Wil Wheaton: T-Shirt designer.
I gotta admit, this one strikes close to home. Not close enough to buy the shirt or anything, but still, close to home…
I don’t understand this product:
The Sharper Image Dual CD Stereo with Universal Dock for iPod
The handsome wall-mountable Dual CD Stereo features a motorized door that automatically folds down at the touch of a button. Besides CDs, it also plays and charges all dockable iPod models.
Come on! If you have a CD and an iPod in the same machine, that machine ought to be ripping the songs off the CD and synching them to the iPod, so that you’ll never need the CD again. This kind of setup just encourages indecisiveness…
Back in August of 2005, President Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which sent us off to fight in an unfair war based on dubious evidence. Oh, wait – wrong policy. What the EPA actually did was extend Daylight Savings Time by four weeks, beginning in 2007.
So, this year, for the first time, our clocks will “Spring Ahead” on the second Sunday in March (March 11th), as opposed to the first Sunday in April (April 1st) as has been the case since 1966. Similarly, we will “Fall Back” on the first Sunday in November (November 4th), rather than the old standby – the last Sunday in October (October 28th). If you’re curious (as I’m sure that you’re not), this site tells you everything you’d ever want to know about Daylight Savings Time, including a discussion about spelling and grammar. See, it’s actually Daylight Saving Time, not Daylight Savings Time, but (and I swear this is a direct quote):
Nevertheless, many people feel the word savings (with an ‘s’) flows more mellifluously off the tongue. Daylight Savings Time is also in common usage, and can be found in dictionaries.
Just about the only thing that site doesn’t talk about is the effect this has on the world’s computer systems. The whole “first Sunday in April through last Sunday in October” rule is baked into most computers, so a small change needs to be made to each one, and then all the programs that run on them need to be tested to make sure this “small change” doesn’t break anything. Kind of like a mass recall for every computer ever made.
Astute observers (read: geeks) will note that this is similar to the infamous Y2K thing, in that any problems that aren’t caught are going to come to light on March 11, 2007 – no extensions, no exceptions. Luckily, though, the implications of the world’s computers being one hour off are relatively minor, whereas having them be 1,000 years off requires the building of underground bunkers, the purchasing of copious amounts of duct tape, and a deep introspection about our society’s dependency on technology. But, I digress…
I bring all of this up because my boss at work is holding a two-day offsite meeting this week, and wants to talk about our plans for Daylight Savings Time testing at the end of the meeting. All of which led to this rather ammusing e-mail in my inbox:
John had requested that we add Daylight Savings Time to our agenda which means that our meeting’s end time on Friday will be extended one hour, from 12:00pm to 1:00pm. Please adjust your schedule accordingly. Thanks.
OK, that was a long way to go for a bit of irony, but it gave me a chuckle…
UPDATE: The meeting ended at 11:00AM. Don’t you hate it when you mess up the time change like that? SO embarrassing… ;-)
Here’s Robert F. Kennedy Jr. discussing global warming on The Huffington Post:
Last week I saw robins and bluebirds in upstate New York where they don’t usually arrive before April. Crocuses and daffodils were in bloom everywhere. A friend ate asparagus he harvested in the normally frozen Catskills in the first week of January. Turtles in downstate New York, like bears in Scandinavia, forgot to hibernate for the first time in human history.
For those last stubborn holdouts still skeptical about the existence of global warming–e.g., CNN’s chief corporate fascism advocate Glenn Beck, who broadcast another of his denial tirades last week–and to those who exalt the warmer weather as preferable to a snowy winter, consider the impacts on our fellow creatures. Last April an early spring in Wyoming’s Teton Range caused horseflies to arrive early. The young Redtail hawks, who were still unfeathered, were devoured in their nests by the voracious bloodsuckers. Not a single baby Redtail survived to fledge in the Jackson Hole valley.
The recent disruptions to animal and plant behavior are evident to anyone except for ideologically blinded right-wing flat-earthers and Exxon/Mobil’s political and media toadies like Michael Crichton, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.
This was published on January 16, 2007. Ten days earlier, the temperature in the New York area reached 70 degrees (average temperatures for this time of year are in the low 40′s). Everybody was talking about the incredibly warm weather. Many people, like RFK Jr., took the opportunity to link it to global warming.
I blogged about it here:
A single warm winter in a single city proves absolutely nothing about global warming. And to suggest it does is to go down the slippery slope of having to explain why a particularly cold winter in a different year or different city . . . isn’t equal evidence to suggest that the problem has magically disappeared.
Events of the last few days illustrate my point brilliantly. Two days before RFK Jr.’s rant was published, the temperature in Los Angeles dropped to 20 degrees. Soon after that, LAX reported its first snowfall since 1962. Here’s today’s weather map from USA Today (just 3 days after RFK’s rant):
Note that except for Southern Florida, the entire nation is near or below freezing, including single digits in typically-temperate places like Nevada, Utah, and Colorado.
The awful thing about this is that RFK Jr. is right about global warming and its potential to affect our society and our way of life. But because he went off on such a hate-filled diatribe based on evidence that has nothing whatsoever to do with global warming, he opens the door for his opponents to call him an idiot, and further cloud the issue.
Apparently, in today’s politics, it’s not enough to be right about something. You have to seek out and take advantage of any perceived opportunity to bash your opponents into the ground, even if it means bending a few facts to make your point. Some folks will never learn…
Every once in a while, I read something on the web that reminds me to check Google’s Zeitgeist page. Particularly in January, when they produce their End of Year Zeitgeist, the data provides a real, grassroots view of popular culture around the world. Since Google has become so ubiquitous, the number of Google searches for a given item has become a strong barometer of how much people are talking about a given person or event – a kind of a “water-cooler index,” if you will.
Take, for example, the graph above. The (baseball) World Series is relatively popular in the United States in the fall. The (American football) Superbowl is more popular than the World Series, and more globally watched, for a short period of time in the winter. Hence, the green line has a higher peak than the red line. In an Olympic year, the Olympics generate more buzz than the Superbowl and the World Series put together, given their natural relevance to multiple countries around the world, which explains the still higher peak of the yellow line.
Then there’s the (soccer) World Cup. I’ve always heard that it was the most popular sporting event in the world, but HOLY RIOTING CROWDS, BATMAN!, look at the size of that blue line! That’s four times the interest of the Olympics, six times the interest of the Superbowl, and almost twenty times the interest of the World Series!
Ya learn something new every day…
The researchers, whose study appears in the on-line edition of the prestigious journal Circulation Research, created the heart tissue in their lab by sorting human embryonic stem cells that turned into heart muscle cells and growing them together with endothelial cells and embryonic fibroplasts. The culture was carried out in three dimensions on a scaffold made of self-destructing sponge material that the researchers also created in their lab. In the future, they will look into the possibility of implanting the engineered cardiac tissue, with the blood vessels improving the implantation of the new tissue and its connection to the blood system.
The technique is aimed eventually at helping patients who have cardiac insufficiency due to heart attacks.
They say it’s too early to tell how this might be incorporated into an actual human heart, but still – amazing stuff.
Also note that all of this progress comes without significant government funding. Assuming the new Congress gets its way, it’ll be interesting to see if increased government funding makes the progress speed up or slow down…
I just got one of those Dell catalog e-mails, and discovered the
DSM-510 High-Definition Wireless Media Player with Intel Viiv Technology among the ads:
[The DSM-510] streams music, photos, and high-definition (HD) videos to your home entertainment system from your Intel Viiv technology based PC using Ethernet or USB connectivity. It supports high-definition video in Windows Media® Video9 (WMV9), MPEG-2, MPEG-4, and DVR-MS formats able to connect to HDTV with HDMI connection and standard TVs with Composite Video connection.
This sounds suspiciously like what AppleTV does, no? And the price ($181.80) is very similar as well.
Does anyone know if Apple was trumpeting something that has been around for a while now, or if there are real differences between these devices?