Waving goodbye to hegemony#

Just a few years ago, America’s hold on global power seemed unshakable. But a lot has changed while we’ve been in Iraq — and the next president is going to be dealing with not only a triumphant China and a retooled Europe but also the quiet rise of a ‘‘second world.’’

HTML5 differences from HTML4#

HTML 5 defines the fifth major revision of the core language of the World Wide Web, HTML. "HTML 5 differences from HTML 4" describes the differences between HTML 4 and HTML 5 and provides some of the rationale for the changes.

Mapping the most complex structure in the universe: your brain#

ATLUM uses a lathe and specialized knife to create long, thin strips of brain cells that can be imaged by an electron microscope. Software will eventually montage the images, creating an ultrahigh-resolution 3-D reconstruction of the mouse brain, allowing scientists to see features only 50 nanometers across.

How can America's rich teach their children the value of a dollar?#

American blue bloods, perhaps, have a strategy for coping with their inherited wealth—wearing the ratty sweaters, pursuing the eccentric hobbies—namely, pretending it doesn’t exist. But this strategy is hardly applicable to any generation that makes its fortune. Members of that generation almost always believe it’s their right to flaunt it, to savor it—they’ve earned it, haven’t they, through ingenuity and hard labor? Yet the newly rich inevitably discover that it’s very hard to have your cake and eat it while raising healthy, hardworking children.


To most conscientious rich people, all you have to say are two words to put the fear of God in them: Paris Hilton.

A very interesting article from New York Magazine.

MacBook Air Developer Note#

This note describes the MacBook Air computer based on the 1.6 GHz or optional 1.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo microprocessor, introduced in January 2008. It includes information about distinguishing features of the computer, including components on the main logic board: the microprocessor, the other main ICs, and the buses that connect them to each other and to the I/O interfaces.

EveryBlock launches#

We aim to collect all of the news and civic goings-on that have happened recently in your city, and make it simple for you to keep track of news in particular areas. We're a geographic filter -- a "news feed" for your neighborhood, or, yes, even your block.

Today we're launching in three American cities: Chicago, New York and San Francisco.

Redefining Genes#

For nearly 50 years, the central dogma of biology has been that genetic information is contained within DNA and is passed by rote transcription through RNA to make proteins. Tiny changes in the information content of the underlying DNA are what then drive evolution. But this information may not be the sole determinant of biological identity. Indeed, it's becoming clear that we do not even know what 'genetic information' means any more—certainly it's not a simple, linear sequence of biochemical 'characters' that define a gene. Even evolution might not be driven solely by the appearance of random mutations in DNA that are inherited by subsequent generations, essentially as Darwin supposed. The central dogma is being eroded, and it now appears as if DNA's cousin, the humble intermediary RNA, plays at least an equal role in genetics and the evolution of the species.

Misreading the mind#

While neuroscience accurately describes our brain in terms of its material facts -- we are nothing but a loom of electricity and enzymes -- this isn't how we experience the world. Our consciousness, at least when felt from the inside, feels like more than the sum of its cells. The truth of the matter is that we feel like the ghost, not like the machine.

If neuroscience is going to solve its grandest questions, such as the mystery of consciousness, it needs to adopt new methods that are able to construct complex representations of the mind that aren't built from the bottom up. Sometimes, the whole is best understood in terms of the whole.

Life After People#

What would happen to planet earth if the human race were to suddenly disappear forever? Would ecosystems thrive? What remnants of our industrialized world would survive? What would crumble fastest? From the ruins of ancient civilizations to present day cities devastated by natural disasters, history gives us clues to these questions and many more in the visually stunning and thought-provoking new special Life After People, premiering Monday, January 21st, 2008 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on The History Channel.

Definitely recording this one.

$90 wine tastes better than the same wine at $10#

Researchers [] have directly seen that the sensation of pleasantness that people experience when tasting wine is linked directly to its price. And that's true even when, unbeknownst to the test subjects, it's exactly the same Cabernet Sauvignon with a dramatically different price tag.

Half of 26-year-old's memories Nintendo-related#

[A]pproximately 47 percent of Jenkins' hippocampus is dedicated to storing notable video-game victories and frustrating last-minute defeats, while 32 percent of his amygdala contains embedded neurological scripts pertaining to game strategies, character back stories, theme songs, and cheat codes. In addition, his entire dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is devoted to remembering the time he did a helicopter dunk from half-court with Shawn Kemp at the buzzer to beat the Charlotte Hornets 82-81 in NBA Jam: Tournament Edition.

It was hard to choose an excerpt for this one. How can you not love The Onion?

More thoughts on the MacBook Air

January 15, 2008

Earlier today, in the "bit" regarding the MacBook Air announcement, I discussed briefly my immediate purchase of it, and I wanted to expound on that a bit more.

For me, the Air will be a secondary machine — a complement to a blazing-fast Mac Pro — and that, I think, is how it's being positioned (if not explicitly); indeed, the dearth of ports almost demands the conclusion. I think I, like most people that have been waiting around for this thing (or some approximation of it) for as long as we can remember, would have preferred something smaller (please, everyone, stop conflating "smaller" with "thinner"), but this will do until that something comes along, if ever.

When it comes to notebooks, the one thing on which I refuse to budge is the keyboard (oh, right, it also has to run Mac OS X) — I want a full-size keyboard, and nothing less. The Air gives me that, albeit flanked by more metal than I wanted or anticipated.

Personally, I probably would have been completely satisfied with an all-specs-updated version of the 12" PowerBook (i.e., I'm totally willing to sacrifice screen real-estate for decreased width and depth), and if they came out with that a month from now I would probably dump the Air in a second. That said, in my case, the whole width debate is probably a pragmatic wash given the way I plan to use the Air.1

Finally, and in light of my consumer electronics track record, I'm taking a lot of flak for not getting the SSD, but like I said before, I just can't justify the additional $1000 for a subsidiary machine; were it my main machine, and I didn't need more than 64GB, I would probably pony up for the next-gen storage. I'm curious to know why they aren't offering a 32GB SSD; I really think that would have hit the sweet spot for a lot of people, including myself.

Notwithstanding everything I've just said, I've a good feeling that come two weeks from now, when this marvel of engineering is sitting in my lap and I'm typing away on it, I'm going to forget all about the fact that it's a bit larger than the dream machine I've had in my head for the last couple of years, and will simply enjoy using it.

  1. I'll likely never use it for anything more than browsing, replying to e-mail, and writing weblog posts, all of which will usually be done with the Air on my lap. I don't plan to maintain photos/videos on it, much less use it to edit them, and seriously doubt I'll ever do anything too processor-intensive with it.   

Apple introduces the MacBook Air#

I was probably one of the first 10 people to order this online as soon as the Apple store went live again this morning. I've been waiting for this thing for almost two years and am really happy it's finally here. That said, I am a little disappointed that there is no 32GB SSD option; the only SSD available -- a 64GB model -- is an extra $1000 (more than half the original cost of the entire machine), which I just couldn't convince myself to spend (even though I know I'm going to regret that decision every time I hear the drive spinning up and down).


"A command line anywhere and everywhere."