Monthly Archives: May 2011

Lets lunch

Letslunch.com matches interesting people for informal lunches

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2001 a space odyssey

What an awesome film! Amazing how modern the computers seem.

The pacing is slow. Voyages are slow, that is the point. Time to reflect and think. You immerse yourself in this film. The graphics are stunning.

Story one- early man, weak, scared, vulnerable. So strongly portrayed, including limited access to water (because the neighbor monkey troop doesn’t like to share). Until the monolith. Until the idea of “club”, first to kill game for food, then the other troop. The epic moment, after the victory of the waterhole, casting up the bone club, which, as it falls, turns into a spaceship. 100000 years of evolution in one gesture.

And space, he makes it so clear that it is all a long, long fall. Everything is falling at unimaginable speeds.

Much more to say, but no time. Too bad!

"how the west was lost"– Dambisa Moyo

Not the happiest book, and the author misses some essentials.

Her points: look at “the 3 factors” labor, capital, and productivity. In all three, Asia looks good.

Labor- includes their skills and the competative advantage. In the west, it is supposedly our technical skills. The US and UK are really messing up here. I guess she has never heard of Germany.

Capital- In the west, it is diffuse. In China, it is all controlled by the government. So if they want to deploy it to fix a problem, they can. She is overly relying on central planning. Not that this is totally wrong, but diffuse does not mean not available

Productivity– Economists say that productivity growth is the biggest single thing driving economic growth. Asia is making huge gains, the west only small gains. She then argues that the “Is this because “they” are using our technology?” argument is irrelevant. She is correct. Who the heck cares where the gains are coming from. Most of the tools I use to increase my productivity weren’t made by me, that is the nature of social specialization

Morning drive

The Master of the Hirmitoto, a character sketch of a bartender in Japan, told via one scene/setting/visual description (3rd person), followed by two incidents (1st person). The author is a social anthropologist. The punchline is that he hadn’t realized a basic fact about japanese culture; that if you don’t know someones name you call them by a nickname determined by their job.

Caffeine tracker

An app for addicts. Tracks consumption and approximate blood levels. Add nicotine, alcohol, chocolate.

Lets you set target level & uses alerts to help you maintain it.

Is the west history — Niall Fergusson

Niall wrote “the ascent of Money”

In this talk he gives what he was thinking when he wrote his latest book, Civisation. The premise is to remedy flaws in British teaching of history by presenting 6 killer apps which allowed the West to dominate the last 500 years.

The talk is from Friday 4 March 2011

The killer apps are:

competition
science
property owning democracy
modern medicine
the consumer society
protestant work ethic

An intelligent earth

Tim Flannery and Redmond O’Hanlon discuss evolution etc. on Thurs, 10 March, 2011

Tim Flannery is an Australian naturalist who has discovered many species, and was almost there when the Floris hobbits were discovered (he knows the team that did it)

He makes many analogies to fire ants, which by changes in two genes have lost all aggression towards other fire ants. This allows a lone fire ant to walk from florida to Vancouver without being molested (by other ants)– a superorganism.

Tim expands the Gai hypothesis to add that thanks to us, the earth has an intelligence and a nervous system. He likens it to an infant, since the systems are not well connected.

Also the importance of cooperation, which the social darwinists got wrong.

Darwin changed man’s place in the world. Pre-D: a loving caring God made a stage for a morality play which allows us to prove ourselves. Post-D: an uncaring and mostly malicious process produced us and it is a mad never-ending battle for survival.

My question: what comes next?

Word of the day

Malicious compliance

How do we know the rapture didn’t happen?

Lots of people saying the world didn’t end last weekend, which is leading to some dissapointment. But wait a minute, how do we know that the rapture was postponed? What if the rapture happened, but only 10 or so people qualified and no-one else noticed?
Let’s look at some of the events forcast for the post-rapture world
Wars (check)
plagues (check)
famine (check– or at least higher food prices/shortages)
increase in poverty (check)
Great earthquake (check, plus the Iceland volcanos are up again)
Mark of the beast, anyone?

Look, just because you are chosen as a prophet doesn’t mean you make the cut. It’s happened before.

Some app ideas

I.P.  dog-based social networking tool. Users p to leave a message, and sniff to read messages. Messages show user id, status, and a word cloud. Messages fade logrithmically

Augmented Reality Pac-Man. Uses googlemaps to play pac-man in real life on city streets. You choose bike or walking mode.

Hammer. An app to let you use your phone as a hammer. Not for the gifted