Tuesday, October 30, 2007

» Google’s new mantra: Making the Web a better platform for all | Between the Lines | ZDNet.com

» Google’s new mantra: Making the Web a better platform for all | Between the Lines | ZDNet.com:

"“In the next year we will make a series of announcements and spend hundreds of millions on innovations and giving them away as open source,” said Vic Gundotra, the new head of Google’s developer programs. Google believes that innovation on the Web has been lacking. XML and HTTP Request were innovative technologies in 1998, but it took until April 2004 for an application, Gmail, to really take advantage of them, Gundotra said.

The initiative to gift Google’s technology to the Web community at large comes from co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. “Google was born on the Web. Larry and Sergey and the rest of Google built Google on the Web and with open source. They want to give back,” Gundotra said.

The idea is that by making the Web a better platform, through open sourcing core software technology, innovation will accelerate and improve the overall Web experience for all. But the Googlers are not being purely altruistic.

“It also makes good economic sense. The more applications, the more usage. More users means more searches,” Gundotra said. And, more searches means more revenue for Google. The goal is to grow the overall market, not just to increase market share."

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A picture of the E8 root system

A picture of the E8 root system

The E8 root system consists of 240 vectors in an eight-dimensional space. See what is E8? Those vectors are the vertices (corners) of an eight-dimensional object called the Gosset polytope 421. In the 1960s, Peter McMullen drew (by hand) a 2-dimensional representation of the Gosset polytope 421. The image shown below was computer-generated by John Stembridge, based on McMullen's drawing.

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Is mathematical pattern the theory of everything? - fundamentals - 17 November 2007 - New Scientist

mirrored on techbus

GARRETT LISI is an unlikely individual to be staking a claim for a theory of everything. He has no university affiliation and spends most of the year surfing in Hawaii. In winter, he heads to the mountains near Lake Tahoe, California, to teach snowboarding. Until recently, physics was not much more than a hobby.

That hasn't stopped some leading physicists sitting up and taking notice after Lisi made his theory public on the physics pre-print archive this week (www.arxiv.org/abs/0711.0770). By analysing the most elegant and intricate pattern known to mathematics, Lisi has uncovered a relationship underlying all the universe's particles and forces, including gravity - or so he hopes. Lee Smolin at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (PI) in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, describes Lisi's work as 'fabulous'. 'It is one of the most compelling unification models I've seen in many, many years,' he says.

That's some achievement, ... [just open up a little patch of design space and see who surfs in]

see also n-category café article

Discover: Map: A visualization showing the structure of scientific knowledge

To show how information builds up and flows among scientific disciplines, Columbia University computer scientist W. Bradford Paley, along with colleagues Kevin Boyack and Dick Klavans, categorized about 800,000 scholarly papers into 776 areas of scientific study (shown as colored circular nodes) based on how often the papers were cited together by other papers. Paley then grouped those nodes by color under 23 broader areas of scientific inquiry, from mental health to fluid mechanics.

1 Social Scientists Don’t Do Chemistry

The bigger a node is, the more papers it contains. Heavily cited papers appear in more than one node. Black lines connect any nodes that contain the same papers; the darker a link is, the more papers the connected nodes have in common. These links create the structure of the map and tend to pull similar scientific disciplines closer to one another.

2 Birds of a Feather

Paley refers to his map as a “feather boa”—the feathers being gently waving strings of key words that uniquely define each node’s particular subject matter. In tiny type, the word string “percutaneous tracheostomy, material review, autoimmune pancreatitis, and dialysis catheter,” for example, swirls off a node in the infectious disease area. Unlike the carefully calculated placement of the nodes, the team’s arrangement of the word strings on the page was left mostly to aesthetics.

3 The Road to Knowledge

The map doesn’t show the road to breakthrough discoveries, but it can be used to determine which areas of science are most closely connected to one another, as well as which are the most—and least—intellectually vital and productive. Advances in mathematics are few. Medicine, on the other hand, dominates the lower half of the map.

4 No Science Is an Island

…except maybe organic chemistry. One might assume that this bane of premed students is closely tied to medicine, but the map shows that the route from organic chemistry to health care requires more than one pit stop through fields like analytical chemistry, physical chemistry, biology, and even earth sciences. In fact, all of chemistry is a bit of an inside job. The links between the nodes of different chemistry disciplines are darker than other links because the disciplines tend to contain the same papers.

5 The Friendster Element

On the map, computer science is linked more closely to social sciences like psychology and sociology than to applied physics. “If you trust it for a minute, it does make intuitive sense,” Paley says. Social networks like Friendster depend heavily on software programs, while social scientists frequently rely on computers for statistical analysis.

SI.com - NCAA Football - Trinity needs 15 laterals to pull out improbable victory - Sunday October 28, 2007 3:45AM

SI.com - NCAA Football - Trinity needs 15 laterals to pull out improbable victory - Sunday October 28, 2007 3:45AM

Sunday, October 21, 2007

same day self-exemplifcation

Taking video of artist Coygon Robinson, Jr. in his Terrace Street studio, Oakland California, around the corner from Archway School.

I was taking video of the Archway Walkathon and noticed his 'art show open house' sign, so I went up to have a look. I was holding my camera and tripod, all set up, and ended up doing an impromptu interview / conversation with the artist in his studio. Here it is, in two parts:

Part 1 (7:16)

Part 2 (7:44)

click on image to enlarge

ok, 3 parts:

Part 3, Mose T (1:20)

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Open Content Alliance (OCA) - Home

Open Content Alliance (OCA) - Home

Friday, October 19, 2007

NASA - Stellar Fireworks

NASA - Stellar Fireworks

Resembling an aerial fireworks explosion, this dramatic image of the energetic star WR124, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, reveals that it is surrounded by hot clumps of gas being ejected into space at speeds of over 100,000 miles per hour.

Also remarkable are vast arcs of glowing gas around the star, which are resolved into filamentary, chaotic substructures, yet with no overall global shell structure. Though the existence of clumps in the winds of hot stars has been deduced through spectroscopic observations of their inner winds, Hubble resolves them directly in the nebula M1-67 around WR124 as 100 billion-mile wide glowing gas blobs. Each blob is about 30 times the mass of the Earth.

The massive, hot central star is known as a Wolf-Rayet star. This extremely rare and short-lived class of super-hot star is going through a violent, transitional phase characterized by the fierce ejection of mass. The blobs may result from the furious stellar wind that is unstable as it flows into space. As the blobs cool, they eventually will dissipate into space and so don't pose any threat to neighboring stars.

The star is 15,000 light-years away, located in the constellation Sagittarius. The picture was taken with Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 in March 1997. The image is false-colored to reveal details in the nebula's structure.

Image credit: NASA/Yves Grosdidier (University of Montreal and Observatoire de Strasbourg), Anthony Moffat (Universitie de Montreal), Gilles Joncas (Universite Laval), Agnes Acker (Observatoire de Strasbourg)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Interview with Carol Lam

Stanford Lawyer #77 Q & A: Legal Matters with Carol Lam

Whatever one's views on the propriety or legality of the administration's actions, the firings will be remembered as a political blunder—as well as a public reckoning. And this is Lam's main point. She is, even after the events of the past year, optimistic about the future of the DOJ because of the public's attention to the controversy. "For me it's not a loss of faith in the Department of Justice or this country. It's really a reaffirmation and a recognition that we can't take justice for granted," she says.

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TPM timeline

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

shift happens

h/t the letter

duration 8:19

An official update to the original "Shift Happens" video from Karl Fisch and Scott McLeod, this June 2007 update includes new and updated statistics, thought-provoking questions and a fresh design.

For more information, or to join the conversation, please visit http://shifthappens.wikispaces.com. Content by Karl Fisch and Scott McLeod, design and development by XPLANE.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Gore Derangement Syndrome

Crooks and Liars » Krugman: “Gore drives right-wingers insane”
Nicole noted the first few minutes of Fox News Sunday yesterday, and just how angry the conservative Republicans were about Al Gore winning the Nobel Peace Prize. [Noted bloviator] Bill Kristol disparaged Gore and the Nobel prize itself, saying “it’s a prize given by bloviators to a bloviator.” Charles Krauthammer insisted the award goes to “people whose politics are either anti-American or anti-Bush, and that’s why [Gore] won it.”

These pundits were obviously bitter, much the same way National Review’s Iain Murray was late last week, when he suggested Gore share his award with Osama bin Laden, “who implicitly endorsed Gore’s stance” in a September video harangue. (Apparently, to accept global warming is to embrace a terrorist philosophy.)

It led Paul Krugman to ask a good question: “What is it about Mr. Gore that drives right-wingers insane?”

The headline on Krugman’s piece is entirely appropriate: “Gore Derangement Syndrome.” The whole “derangement syndrome” phenomenon stems from an increasingly common problem — when contempt for a leader strays from simple political opposition to irrational, reflexive antagonism. If so-and-so says “day,” I’ll say “night,” even if the sun is shining.

It’s more important to fight the perceived opponent than to make sense.

And for far too long, that’s exactly how the right has approached Gore and the science on global warming. The evidence must be wrong, because Gore believes it. The Nobel Peace Prize must be worthless, because Gore won it.

These aren’t arguments. They’re sad and nonsensical temper-tantrums.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Open Avatar Announcement a Great Move

Open Avatar Announcement a Great Move

The announcement today by Linden Labs and IBM that they are working on interoperability in virtual worlds is really good news not just for the 3D web, but perhaps a sign that some companies are getting that "winner takes all" isn't the only way to play the game. First, the announcement, as reported by Steve Lohr in the New York Times story Free the Avatars:

"At the Virtual Worlds Conference and Expo at San Jose, Calif., the two companies are announcing plans to develop open standards that will allow avatars to roam from one virtual community to the next. The goal is let a person create a digital alter-ego that can travel to many virtual worlds, keeping the same name, look and even digital currency.


The logic of the move is impeccable. The growth of the Internet and the Web, after all, has been fueled by open standards. The more people who can communicate, inform and entertain each other freely on a network, the more valuable it is. Economists call this the “network effect.” And the Internet is the network effect on steroids.

"I.B.M. also hosted a meeting on Tuesday in San Jose with a group of companies and some university researchers to discuss open standards for virtual worlds and plans for establishing an organization to promote the technologies needed for an interoperable 3D Internet. The companies included Cisco, Google, Linden Lab, Sony, Intel, Multiverse, Microsoft, Motorola, Philips and others."

Amen to the logic of open systems and interoperability. They are the secret to the internet's ability to create value, changing what had become a zero-sum game in the computer industry to an open ended game that just keeps on creating new value.

And virtual worlds are far more than a game. They are ultimately a simulation layer that can be overlaid on the real world, as well as creating new purely virtual "real estate." (See my 2006 Radar post Google Earth, Sketchup, and Second Life. The story I wrote the other day, mentioning SAP's work with a Swiss property management company to turn Second Life into a platform for sensor-based property management, is also relevant. See also Forterra's "distributed virtual world technology for the corporate, healthcare, government, and entertainment industries.")

Just as the web put an end to the competition between early online communities to be the one-size-fits-all destination, an interoperable 3D web will allow vertical 3D application niches and platforms to flourish.

I look also for the 3D web to interoperate with location-based services. We shouldn't think of this interoperability as being just for virtual worlds. Ultimately, virtual is just another layer on top of physical. GIS folks don't think of maps per se, they think of map layers -- hundreds or thousands of levels of data overlaid on the world. Many of these layers are abstract and virtual. Aren't street addresses actually virtual? Might not other classes of data be anchored to the real world in some way? A company has a physical address, but they also have an address on the telephone network, an address on the web, and many others. Just as a skyscraper reaches into the sky from a single street address, housing thousands of souls at work or at sleep, might there not be virtual towers anchored to physical locations, embracing and extending our world?

There's quite a future ahead of us here. It's silly to try to recreate the wheel (or to own the wagon) when by working together we can build something that is so much bigger. Open standards are a winning strategy.

Friday, October 05, 2007


Thanks for posting the Stewart/Matthews interview. That is a classic, right up there with Stewart's appearance on Crossfire on October 15, 2004 (transcript).

I don't want to bury it with all of this text, so here it is up top:

Fox Reax

A friend was visiting my corner of the blogosphere for the first time shortly after that post appeared at the top of the geebus.

Friend: I was intrigued by the crooked logic piece, but had trouble following so I went to the Jon Stewart link and watched his interview with Chris Matthews and laughed my head off. So I would say my first visit to your blog was successful.

After viewing the Stewart/Mathews clip, I agree that this was a successful first visit from my perspective too, given how highly I think of Jon Stewart's performance. So thanks for posting that, geebus.

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My reaction to the Stewart/Matthews interview:

i did not laugh my head off

i did not laugh at all

i just sat silent and calm

operating my photon reception system just like i do a camcorder at a soccer game

when taking soccer video, one key is to introduce as little additional motion into the frame as possible

there is plenty of motion in the frame as it is

i guess it is a little like archers releasing the arrow between heartbeats

the calmer you are the better

mind you, it's not that i don't think it's funny

karate man cheer his daughter's goals on the inside
so i'm watching jon stewart with my on-board video system

and he's gliding into the box and eluding defenders at will

he's cutting and dodging and having fun, dancing the samba

he reminds me a little of my friend's daughter, in this regard :)

he and his teammates are playing keep away, triangulating, sticking the ball into the net at will


all the rolled-up collections of facts and emergent understanding that jon stewart has on his side

it's so clear to him, he has such a facility, it's as if ... as if ... as if he were pulling the sword from the stone like a hot knife from butter

but it's absolutely invisible to Matthews

who apparently (I haven't read his book myself, the one he was on Stewart's show to talk about) ...

Sent at 11:02 AM on Friday R:

has evinced a strong affinity to Thrasymachus, of Plato's Republic fame, the greek god of spin doctors:

Glaucon asks whether justice is good by nature or only by law or convention, and is thus the first participant in the dialogue who turns to nature as his standard. He is a daring man whose desire not to be hoodwinked by common opinions about the good gives him a certain intellectual force lacked by Thrasymachus (the ace Rhetorician).

Thrasymachus is perhaps too concerned with, and dependent on, what men usually hold to be good to look for a standard independent of civil society which might divorce him from it.

And he also is so convinced of the power of art, and of his art in particular, to accomplish whatever one wants that he does not feel compelled to look for the permanent limits and ends which cannot be altered by art.

Glaucon tells the story of Gyges, the shepherd, who discovered a magic ring that made the wearer invisible, and, making use of the ring, deposed his master and exploited his master’s flocks. Glaucon draws the conclusion that if a man could be invisible to human beings, there would be no reason for him to be just in his pursuit of the good.

By means of Thrasymachus’ rhetoric, men believe they can make their acts change appearance, which is tantamount to making them invisible.

Sent at 11:09 AM on Friday R:

the above is quoted or paraphrased from Professor Bloom's interpretive essay

inserting cite for future reference ... please stand by

Sent at 11:22 AM on Friday R:

The Republic of Plato (A. Bloom trans.), Basic Books, Second Edition (Paris 1991), pp. 340-41

[alibris / amazon]

actually, this is fairly verbatim, with only non-substantive edits so i'm glad i fetched up the cite

karate man traffic in ideas

ideas speak for themselves and can defend themselves and can persist across millenia waiting for the logic of human destiny to iterate itself out a better substrate

and avatars like jon stewart

and you
(dear reader)

but, jon stewart, geez, what an epic freakin hero

every generation throws a hero up the pop charts

but this is a different kind of hero, and a different kind of pop chart

pop chart: chart: map: phase space

y'know, i don't want to be fooled by randomness (or just plain foolishness) ...

but couldn't a fella be excused for thinking that there is a new kind of information processing substrate under the sun that is proving to be remarkably conducive to the success of the rigorously truthful strategy?

jon stewart is threading passes around and through thrasymachus doofus-boy matthews' pathetic swiss-cheese defense. it's as if matthews were standing on the field like a petulant playground bully screaming at the ref some ridiculous arguments about why he should be considered to be winning the game, when for all the world to see Stewart's side is playing the beautiful game, joga bonito, fast and fair; and Matthews is just a crybaby defender throwing a fit when shown the red card.

Matthews gets frustrated just like a defender who has gotten burned all game starts playing rougher, throwing elbows, tackling from behind, charging off the ball ...

the frustrated defender's actions depart from the rules of the game (and are increasingly at odds with broader values of youth sports communities, etc.) just like matthews departs from the merits and, flustered and ready to brawl, attempts to spin his way out of his pit, practicing Thrasymachus' ancient art in a pathetic (and self-defeating) attempt to salvage the thesis of his book (which, ironically, is apparently to the effect that Thrasymachus had it right).

at that moment, he is as stuck a pig as i have ever seen on a nationally televised program
(not that I watch many nationally televised programs, so my sample is small)

Self-defeat of this sort is a special kind of self-exemplification, and it makes for good television.

and here's the thing:

he would not be as stuck a pig if he were yet more of a pig

for example, if it were tom delay up there, or larry craig ... they would be saying stuff with no connection to reason at all

matthews is db, don't get me wrong, but he is far more rational than the most gonzo larry craig types

Thrasymachus' strategy, after all, has persisted and thrived

and this makes him all the more a stuck stuck pig

karate man agree with jon stewart that there are "permanent limits and ends which cannot be altered by art," to borrow Professor Bloom's words once again; and further, that they are ascertainable and can't be infinitely spun.

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& Mark Leibowich, NYT Magazine 4.11.2008

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Slashdot | UC Berkeley Posts Full Lectures to YouTube

Slashdot | UC Berkeley Posts Full Lectures to YouTube

mytrip writes to tell us that Berkeley is now using YouTube as an important teaching tool. Today marks the first time a university has made full course lecture available via the popular video sharing site. Featuring over 300 hours of videotaped courses initially, officials hope to continue to expand this program.

Here is one that looks interesting (Guest lecturer Sergey Brin)