Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Freelance translators, translation services and translation jobs

The Internet changes everything. Of course it's not a big deal anymore, but I saw this site offering Freelance translators, translation services and translation jobs

I remember ten years ago working as a freelance Japanese translator, making what I thought was big bucks back then -- on the order of $50/hr, as I recall. Nowadays, between the much better machine translation tools and sites like this, I bet it's very hard to get that sort of money any more.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Blazing a path to very old age

Blazing a path to very old age: "Dr. Robert Butler, a longevity expert at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Besides the Leisure World Cohort Study, other large, ongoing longevity studies in the United States include:

The Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging: This is the longest-running study of human aging in the United States, begun in 1958 with just a small group of male participants. The study is now following more than 1,400 men and women, ranging in age from 20 to 90 and older. So far, the study has found that older people cope more effectively with stress than young adults and that personality seems to stabilize after age 30.

The New England Centenarian Study: This research project, begun in 1994, currently involves 1,500 people, including centenarians, their children and siblings. The study has so far determined that Alzheimer's disease is not inevitable and that at least 50% of centenarians have first-degree relatives who also achieve very old age.

Exceptional Longevity Family Study: This is a new study funded by the National Institute on Aging that will collect health and genetic information from more than 3,000 long-lived volunteers in the United States and Europe and their descendants. The study will look for genetic links to the major diseases as well as examine the influence of personal health habits."

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Buy marijuana at Target!

I am not making this up:

Check out this page from Target.com

Tankless hot water heaters

In Japan, people don't have big tanks for hot water; the water is heated on the fly, whenever you open the faucet. I always wondered why people don't do that in the U.S. also. Turns out others are wondering the same thing, as this NYTimes article shows:

NBC to make 8-part miniseries on 9/11 commission book

NYTimes publishes an interview with Graham Yost, the writer of an 8-hour miniseries based on the 9/11 commission book.

I'm wondering how Hollywood and others will eventually get involved in making the definitive documentary/movie about this. You could imagine very dramatic reenactments, but will they go that far?


JC Penny is selling diamond-like jewels, "made by science". Are they the new synthetic diamonds mentioned in Wired last year?

No. Those gems are made by Gemesis, in Florida, and Apollo Diamond in Boston. Moissanite is different.

From HowStuffWorks:

In 1893, Nobel Prize-winning French scientist Dr. Henri Moissan discovered minute quantities of a new mineral, natural silicon carbide. The mineral was located in an ancient meteorite found in the Diablo Canyon in Arizona. Later named "moissanite" in honor of Dr. Moissan, this mineral's supply was too limited for jewelry use.

More than a century later, Cree developed a process for producing large, single crystals of moissanite. In 1995, a master diamond cutter observed samples of the silicon carbide crystals and suggested to the founders of Charles & Colvard that, if properly cut, the crystals could make a beautiful jewel. Charles & Colvard recognized the mineral's potential. They also realized that in order for the moissanite jewels to be used, they would have to be manufactured -- there is essentially no natural supply for this stone. In 1995, Charles & Colvard partnered with Cree (a NC-based R&D lab) to develop larger gemstones for Charles & Colvard to use in the Cree colorless development program. In conjunction with Cree, Charles & Colvard is the exclusive worldwide manufacturer and marketer of lab-created moissanite gemstones.

Friday, November 26, 2004

NYTimes: State of Iraq

The New York Times publishes a handy Fact-based update on the current state of Iraq.

(Click on the image to see the details)

Note that although the percentage of people who say the country is better off since the war is largely unchanged from last year (about 40%), those who are optimistic about the future remains high too: 65%.

Also note that on many other dimensions life is greatly improving: in the past six months oil revenue is up 25%, telephone subscribership is almost double, electric production is up, etc.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Yahoo! News - Government Uses Color Laser Printer Technology to Track Documents

Cool! Apparently most color laser printers include a special chip that prints tiny, near-invisible yellow dots throughout the page that can be used to identify the printer manufacturer and serial number: Yahoo! News - Government Uses Color Laser Printer Technology to Track Documents

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Americans and Evolution

A recent Gallup poll shows that One Third of Americans Say Evidence Has Supported Darwin's Evolution Theory, the same number who also believe that every word of the Bible is literally true. Another third say it is one of many theories and is not supported by the evidence.

I was surprised to see that George Gilder, normally a pretty thoughtful guy, is one of those.

A lot of people interpret this as more proof that Americans are stupid, but I disagree. Americans are skeptics, far more suspicious of "the establishment" than you might think. How many people who consider themselves to be "open-minded" or "scientific" can really explain the principles of Evolution? Admit it, you can't explain natural selection at a microbiological level, and you ultimately rely on your trust that the "experts" are right. This Gallup poll just says that one third of Americans want a little more proof before they blindly trust "experts".

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Hillary is born again!

While visiting the Holy Flame Pentecostal Church of Little Rock, Ark, Hillary told parishioners that

As you know, I consider myself an evangelical Christian, really a Christian conservative, if you want to know the truth, so it's nice to be 'home' again in the South, which I really consider my quote-unquote home even though I live in New York most of the time.

Quoted in the National Review, from the "Light the Lamp" newsletter for the church [but I couldn't confirm this on line]

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Marc's Voice: AppleCafe and MediaBar

Marc Canter, founder of Macromedia, writes his history of AppleCafe and MediaBar, mentioning

But this guy Amelio (or was it Spindler?) just insisted on poo-pooing all over the Apple brand and consistently acted like an idiot. Oh yah, and that guy Satjiv Chahil as well.

I worked for Satjiv at the time, in Apple Japan marketing, and boy do I remember those days! I think Apple Cafe made more sense in Tokyo than it did in the U.S., but people forget that Japan tends to go from fad to fad. The Japanese like new ideas because they're new, and I think Apple execs often forgot that. When a whole bunch of important Japanese musicians and actors tell you they love your idea, it's easy to think it's because you're onto a great idea, when in reality you're just the flavor of the month to them.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Default Password List

Hackers, check this out: an exhaustivedefault password list for just about every router, OS, server package you can think of.

Of course many of these are relics of the good ole days before serious viruses and bad-guy hackers showed up and ruined it for everyone. Most modern security-conscious SW requires you to change the default password upon setup.

Free music downloads at Garageband.com

www.garageband.com : just announced a deal with MSN Music, making hundreds of thousands of songs free to download.

Most of it is probably crap, I bet, but this is ultimately a very good idea. Some of the most dedicated musicians are doing it for the love, not money, and this is the only way some of them will get recognized.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

MSN Messenger inside scoop

Mess with MSN Messenger: msn emoticons nicknames skins download addons bots

A place where all they do is discuss MSN Messenger secrets.

World-Wide Media eXchange: WWMX

World-Wide Media eXchange: WWMX is a project partially sponsored by Microsoft Research where people post photos from various locations around the world. You get to see real people at various locations around the world.

Note: so far there don't seem to be (m)any images from Mercer Island.

Shocking news! Democrats outnumber Republicans in academia

The New York Times > Education > Republicans Outnumbered in Academia, Studies Find

Two new studies show that professors at Stanford and UC Berkeley are overwhelmingly Democrats -- by at least 9:1.

Possible reasons:
1. Federalist Papers points out that a "small republic" can become dominated by a cohesive faction that using majority voting to outnumber and oppress the rest.

2. Lakoff thinks it's because academia attracts people interested in "helping society as a whole", which tends to be more consistent with Democrats' values. This is Robert Bork's view also.

I think that no matter what the explanation, it's bad news when academia is no longer a place where ideas are debated from all sides.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Review of basement biotech kits

Kevin Kelly, of Wired Magazine, lists his favorite biotech hobby kits.

Note the reference to Biotech Hobbyist magazine. A great idea, although unfortunately it appears to be an online publication from UCSD.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Peak Oil and the decline of civilization

This week's Barron's has an opinion piece by Charles Maxwell, an energy analyst at Weeden & Co. He repeats the "Peak Oil" argument and describes the consequences:
Barron's Online - The Gathering Storm: "Our country's leaders have three main choices: Taking over someone else's oil fields; carrying on until the lights go out and Americans are freezing in the dark; or changing our life style by deep conservation while heavily investing in alternative energy sources at higher costs."

I'm skeptical of these conclusions because (1) the changes will be gradual, thereby giving the economy time to adjust, and (2) the adjustment process includes development of alternatives that become economically viable only when oil prices go higher.

Still, the consequences are dire enough that I would be interested in hearing thoughtful counter-arguments.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Best election map

Here's the best map I've seen yet, from Robert J. Vanderbei:

The shading represents the proportion of Bush vs Kerry voters, and the "mountains" indicate the population.

Liti holo - hologram kits

Liti holo - hologram kits

$99 homemade holograms.

'Moral Values' Myth (washingtonpost.com)

Charles Krauthammer does the best summary I've seen on the
'Moral Values' Myth (washingtonpost.com).

The only evidence for 'moral values' as an election issue is a poorly-designed exit poll question. By lumping all 'moral' issues into a single choice, but leaving other issues spread among several choices, 'moral values' becomes the top issue percentagewise. But if you read the answers a different way, the collection of issues related to 'national defense' or 'the economy' were more important to the exit poll participants.

I happen to believe in moral values myself, but too many liberals are trotting this out as an excuse for why they lost the election but it's untrue. "We lost, but at least we we aren't a bunch of crazy Jesusland idiots", they say.

Friday, November 12, 2004

musicplasma.com music, links, related artists

musicplasma.com music, links, related artists

Type an artist name and it does a cluster analysis to give you some other artists that you might like.

The Onion | Nation's Poor Win Election For Nation's Rich

The Onion | Nation's Poor Win Election For Nation's Rich

As usual, the Onion perfectly captures what a lot of people think, but dare not say explicitly: America is full of dumb hicks who are too stupid to see how badly the Republicans are hurting them and of course, how sincerely the Democrats are trying to help.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Solutions to the GLAT

Turns out that one of the founders of Google was an intern at Wolfram Research, the company that does Mathematica. So Wolfram posted the solutions to the Google Labs Aptitute Test.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

More on why Jesusland is so wrong

More on why Jesusland is a stupid, irrelevant concept that says more about liberals than it says about reality:

David Brooks points out correctly that "evangelicals" make up the same proportion of the electorate that they did in 2000. There was no increase in the percentage of voters who say they pray daily.

[T]he same insularity that caused many liberals to lose touch with the rest of the country now causes them to simplify, misunderstand and condescend to the people who voted for Bush. If you want to understand why Democrats keep losing elections, just listen to some coastal and university town liberals talk about how conformist and intolerant people in Red America are. It makes you wonder: why is it that people who are completely closed-minded talk endlessly about how open-minded they are?


No guns in NYC?

Lots of people are reporting on that guy who committed suicide at Ground Zero, apparently distraught over the Kerry defeat.

But wait a second: don't they believe in gun control in NYC? Obviously not if he was able to bring one into lower Manhattan. I would have thought in one of the bluest states of all, they would have passed a law by now that makes it a crime to carry a gun.

see Paul Lewis

MarryAnAmerican - No good American will be left behind!

Hey, what a great idea: MarryAnAmerican - Homepage - No good American will be left behind!

Now that George W. Bush has been officially elected, single, sexy, American liberals - already a threatened species - will be desperate to escape. These lonely, afraid (did we mention really hot?) progressives will need a safe haven.

You can help. Open your heart, and your home. Marry an American. Legions of Canadians have already pledged to sacrifice their singlehood to save our southern neighbours from four more years of cowboy conservatism.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

What is "moral values' and how did it decide the election?

Slate's Paul Freedman offers a convincing case that Terrorism, not values, drove Bush's re-election.

Similarly, the New York Times notes that the exit poll question causing the "moral values" buzz was confusing: it should have been asked as a "personal characteristic", not as an "issue" like terrorism or Iraq.

Personally, I agree with the Economist :

When asked directly about their attitudes to abortion, the responses this time were no different from 2000: 55% said it should be always or mostly legal. On gay marriage, 26% approved and 35% supported civil unions. So it is possible that “moral values” are not just a matter of social conservatism but also code for trust in the candidate, or respect for a man's willingness to take a stand—where Mr Bush won easily. Mr Kerry never quite managed to persuade voters of his leadership qualities.

Michael Moore's response to the election

Michael Moore has posted 17 Reasons Not to Slit Your Wrists, and once again the Blogosphere fights back with a point-by-point rebuttal.

One of the classic Moore misleading statements is about Kerry getting more votes than Reagan. Yes, technically true (55M for Kerry, 54M for Reagan in 1984), but doesn't take into account the 20 years of population growth. Comparing electorate sizes, Reagan got today's equivalent of 67M votes.

John Cross points out that, as a percentage, Kerry did worse than the following presidential losers:

Richard Nixon (1960)
Gerald Ford (1976)
Winfield Hancock (1880)
James Blaine (1884)

Friday, November 05, 2004

More about Ethan Zuckerman

Stuart Berman says exactly what I mean and some things many anti-Bush people can't understand. He responded to Ethan Zuckerman's recent post from a super-blue part of Massachusetts with several thoughtful reasons why an intelligent person might still vote for Bush.

I'm an intelligent person too, educated at name-brand schools. I read the New Yorker, listen to NPR, interact regularly with Kerry supporters. But the arguments of the Left do not persuade me. And part of the reason they lost, I believe, is that very few people on the Left really understand "normal" America.

Update: Ethan Zuckerman saw my post where I dismissively suggested that he was out of touch with the rest of America. He sent me an email, taking some offense at my claim that he had never met a real live Republican. Turns out I was wrong and that he appears to be a sincere and self-critical kind of guy.

Here’s my reply to him:
Sorry for my incorrect characterization of you as someone who has never met a Republican. I know too many well-educated Democrats and “liberals” who were literally stunned by the election results and somehow I pictured you like them, supposedly well-read, open-minded and self-critical, but now completely unable to comprehend the majority of your countrymen.

I spent much of my twenties and thirties living and traveling outside the U.S., and I came away with the belief that you really don’t understand another culture until you learn to enjoy, and in some sense, agree with it.

I don’t know too many Democrats who are up to that. It’s too easy to dismiss the Red State people as under-educated hicks living in “Jesusland”—the sort of caricatures that completely miss the point of why Bush won. Of course, most Republicans have their own equally misguided dogmas, but at least they’ve got political power.

> To: Richard Sprague
> Sender: Ethan Zuckerman

> I think you've slightly mischaracterised my post and offer. I certainly know
> a number of Bush supporters. Until recently, I worked closely with the
> National Security Council and USAID, where many of my associates were Bush
> appointees and supporters. My circle of friends includes the former chief of
> staff for a Republican senator.
> It's not that I've never met a Bush voter, as you dismissively suggest. It's
> that I'd like to see more dialogue between blue-state progressives like
> myself and open-minded red-state conservatives. It's my sense that this sort
> of dialogue is necessary if we're all going to live together and face
> challenges, collectively, as a nation.
> I'm sorry that you appear to feel differently.
> Regards,
> -Ethan

Make your child's art into a steel masterpiece

Here's a company that, for $99, will take your kids silly artwork and turn it into a permanent steel sculpture:

Home Page: "Transform your child�s or grandchild�s artwork into a steel masterpiece for the home or garden. A complex picture or a simple circle is a treasure to preserve forever. "

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Church-Going and Voting Behavior

Virginia Postrel, a libertarian I respect has these thoughts about the election results: Dynamist Blog: Church-Going and Voting Behavior

Quotes a Harvard doctoral paper on why Republicans and Democrats have become so divided on religious values.

Crawling out of the woodwork

They're crawling out of the woodwork, these out-of-touch Democrats who just can't understand how they lost. Ethan Zuckerman is a guy somewhere in Massachusetts who has never met anybody who voted for Bush.

Compare this image (from USA Today):

with this one (from this one from Civic Space Labs):

So many Democrats I know like to look at this and chuckle, but I ask: who is the real extremist here? The USA Today map is the real America.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

George Lakoff

He's mostly known in the linguistics community, but George Lakoff is also now promoting himself as a liberal blow-hard, one of those guys who can explain everything and is never wrong.

He believes that liberals and progressives don't know how to frame the national debate. He's so sure of himself that it never occurs to him that maybe the so-called conservatives are winning because they're right about something more fundamental than "framing". Human beings are genetically programmed for what Steven Pinker calls the Tragic View, and conservatives get it but liberals don't.

Bush's Mandate

Note that today's election results show that George W. Bush won about 58 million votes. That's the most, by far, of any President in history.

Combining with his 2000 total of about 50M votes, that means that over 108M people in two elections went to the polls and said yes to Bush over any other challenger. Compare that to Ronald Reagan's lifetime total of 97M, or Bill Clinton's 92M.

In spite of the record turnout, John Kerry's 54M votes won't even match the number that Ronald Reagan got 20 years ago, when the population of the United States was much smaller.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Online Chess game

My friend Brian Coleman sent this link to an online chess game called Thinking Machine 4.

I have no idea how good it is, but the cool part is that it shows graphically what the computer is thinking about before it moves.

Augmented Reality

Slashdot points to this:


pershino writes "Augmented reality is gaining real world application to take us backwards. The BBC has a story about a European Union-funded project providing tourists with computer-augmented versions of archaeological attractions like Pompeii."

The Augmented Reality Homepage
A bunch of links to VR-type views of various historical sites. Might be interesting for kids.