Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Cultural Heritage


Click here for an amazng article about Rush, their connection to Ann Rand, and a quick bio on Geddy Lee. (Did you know that Geddy Lee got his name from his mother's Yiddish-inflected pronunciation of "Gary"??)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Dark Cystal 2

It's coming!! It's really going to happen!

Animation director Genndy Tartakovsky, who created Star Wars: The Clone Wars, will direct Power of the Dark Crystal, the much anticipated sequel to The Jim Henson Company’s 1982 classic fantasy film. The film will combine CGI effects with traditional puppets.

Set hundreds of years after the events of the first movie when the world has once again fallen into darkness, Power of the Dark Crystal follows the adventures of a mysterious girl made of fire who, together with a Gelfling outcast, steals a shard of the legendary Crystal in an attempt to reignite the dying sun that exists at the center of the planet.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Star Wars TV show!?!?

Not sure if this source is reliable, but I hope so!

Star Wars creator George Lucas has agreed to make 100 episodes of a new Star Wars TV series covering the years between prequel Episode III and IV,
concentrating on the rise of Darth Vader's evil empire. Series producer Rick McCullum told the Daily Mirror: "We're very excited - we just got confirmation George Lucas has committed himself to writing the Star Wars TV series.

None of the films' actors, from Ewan McGregor to Carrie Fisher, will be taking part. But Anthony Daniels, who played C3P0 will appear.
"We will be using Anthony as C3PO because there is such a thing as loyalty."

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

MBA's May Be a Marketing Liability

AdAge.com, March 21st...According to a survey of marketing executives from 18 underperforming companies (7% less growth than average) were twice as likely to have been recruited out of MBA. programs than executives from out-performing companies (6.2% faster growth). 90% of executives from underperforming companies had MBA s vs. only 55% at outperforming companies.

This headline is misleading. Twice as many underperforming companies participated in the survey than out-performing ones. According to some, underperforming executives, particularly ones with MBA s, spend more time filling out surveys for this kind of study and are therefore more heavily represented, skewing the results.

Still, this survey makes it clear that it doesn't take an MBA to be sucessful. Apart from the positives of higher education, an MBA may negatively narrow one's career focus or cause professional complacency, while other non-MBA's stay hungry and aggressive in the workforce.

My favorite line in the article: "Not all master’s degrees appear worthless in the study. Just M.B.A.s."

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Possibilities of Google

Just think... in 20 years, Google may be able help you find anything. Here's a possibile scenario:

Friday, March 17, 2006

Drugs For Grandmas

New York Magazine has an amazing article about a new structure for prescription medicine. This is a truly revolutionary, innovative, and well thought out piece of design work.

I'm always amazed by these small but significant changes in the disposable items we take for granted. And which company is championing this revolution? Target!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Some KickAss Viral Marketing

Can you find the references to all 75 band names?

Click here for an interactive version. I also have the answers, if you're a cheater...

By the way, this is a clear example of Virual Marketing, a piece of branded entertainment that consumers enjoy and then forward on to their friends, and then their friends, and so on. It's an idea linked to an advertisement that makes you want to share it with others. This concept builds on the evolutionary concept of Memetics, which looks at how ideas replicate themselves through different individuals. But that's a different blog...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Sadly, No More Whammys


Peter Tomarken, the host of the 80's game show "Press Your Luck" (Big Bucks! No Whammies!) and his wife Kathleen were killed Monday when their small plane crashed into the Santa Monica Bay soon after take off. Even more tragic, the couple was on a volunteer flight for Angel Flight West, a non profit group that provides free air transportation to needy medical patients. The couple was flying to San Diego where they were going to pick up someone who needed to be transported to UCLA medical center. Ugh, dying while doing a good dead. That is horrible. It is being reported that Tomarken was piloting the plane when it suddenly experienced engine trouble. He turned the plane around hoping to make it back to Santa Monica Airport, but sadly, there was not enough time. The plane went down in about 19 feet of water.
Source: AP

Monday, March 13, 2006

Early Problems in Iraq

An amazing piece in yesterday’s NY Times. The basic priniciple is that by rushing into Bagdad and securing the country, we never really got the bad guys. After we declared "victory," they came back and started an urban guerilla-war.

- A Marine intelligence officer warned after the bloody battle at Nasiriya, the first major fight of the war, the Fedayeen would continue to mount attacks after the fall of Baghdad since many of the enemy fighters were being bypassed in the race to the capital.

- In an extraordinary improvisation, Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi exile leader who was a Pentagon favorite, was flown to southern Iraq with hundreds of his fighters as General Franks's command sought to put an "Iraqi face" on the invasion; the plan was set in motion without the knowledge of top administration officials, including Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence.

- Instead of sending additional troops to impose order after the fall of Baghdad, Mr. Rumsfeld and General Franks canceled the deployment of the First Cavalry Division; 3 years later, senior officers say that canceling the division was a mistake, one that reduced the number of American forces just as the Fedayeen, former soldiers and Arab jihadists were beginning to organize in what would become an insurgency.

Advice from Pop

"If you have a blog, I would take either immodium or pepto bismol....both work great."

New Discoveries and Cut Budgets

The Casinni craft found liquid water on one of Saturn's small moons, Enceladus. New reports show liquid water venting from reservoirs near the surface, perhaps only tens of meters below the frigid crust. Where there's liquid water, there's the possibility of life.

Of course, this couldn't come at worse time for NASA, with 50 percent cuts in 2007 for the astrobiology program, which probes how and why life emerged on Earth and whether life arose elsewhere in the universe.

This is a far cry from President Bush's very vocal commitment to space exploration just a little over a year ago, where he promised to "give NASA a new focus and vision for future exploration" and "extend a human presence across our solar system."

I understand that priorities have changed in the past year, and other situations in the world require more resources. But God Damnit, don't go and make public statements like this and get geeks like me all excited!!

After all, "America is proud of our space program. The risk takers and visionaries of this agency have expanded human knowledge, have revolutionized our understanding of the universe, and produced technological advances that have benefited all of humanity."

Bush is now making it harder for those "risk takers and visionaries" to find a place to work. There hasn't been any real commitment to space since Reagan's Star Wars program. NASA barely made it through the better-cheaper-faster days but still managed some amazing feats of exploration (the rovers, Cassini, Stardust). The only hope we have is that same dedicated and resourceful people that made those triumphs possible haven't themselves lost all hope.

Google Mars

With the new Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter now examing the Red Planet in more detail than ever before, Google is dutifully putting this $720 million -dollar information to good use.

This is amazing!!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Freakonomics vs. Blink

Malcom Gladwell (author of “Blink”) posted a response to "Freakonomics" on his blog today, particularly why “the advent of the Pill in the 1960's didn’t cause the same reduction in crime eighteen years later. In fact, that generation saw a massive increase in crime.”

Of course, now I feel like I have to read Gladwell’s "The Tipping Point." Part of me thinks these authors are cross-marketing their not-so-different audiences just trying to sell more books. True or not, it’s working on me!

What’s even stranger is that I found out about this posting on Steven Johnson’s blog, author of “Everything Bad For You is Good.” And the circle continues…

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Here's a quick explanation of 2 cool branches of philosophy: Phenomenology & Hermeneutics.

"Phenomenology" takes the intuitive experience of phenomena (what presents itself to us in conscious experience) as its starting point and tries to extract from it the essential features of experiences and the essence of what we experience.

Martin Heidegger expanded the study of phenomenology into "Hermeneutics," a method of interpreting historical texts by considering what thoughts the authors must have been having given the kinds of influences they were likely to encounter at that time and in that environment. Heidegger stressed two new elements of philosophical hermeneutics, that the reader brings out the meaning of the text in the present, and that the tools of hermeneutics can be used to interpret more than just texts (e.g. "social text").

Someday, this information may come in handy in my daily life. But for now, it gets stored in the "useless information" file at the back of my brain, right next to the latest episode of American Idol. Speaking of AI, wasn't
Taylor's version of "Takin' It To the Streets" awesome!?! You can't go wrong with the Doobs!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

say "Hado" instead of "vibe"


A Japanese scientist began by taking pictures of ice crystals at close range. What he found was that the crystals would take on the properties of the water from which they came. This leads to the idea that physical items take on the emotional properties that surround them.

Hado is "the intrinsic vibrational pattern at the atomic level in all matter. The smallest unit of energy. Its basis is the energy of human consciousness... 'The Hado of this place is really low, let's leave.' 'That person ha a really powerful Hado.' [This scientist supposedly has] proof that thoughts and feelings affect physical reality... By producing different Hado through written and spoken words, as well as music and literally presenting it to the same water samples, the water appears to 'change its expression.'"

It reminds me of someone's "aura" or a "vibe" you get from a party. It's something that we've always known was there, but may not know where it comes from. Just as in Malcolm Gladwell's Blink, the unconscious mind knows a lot more than we give it credit for.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Why "Crash" Won

I just posted this on Steven Johnson's blog (www.stevenberlinjohnson.com - Steve, you rule). I publish it here for posterity:

"What’s even more amazing about Crash is its demonstration of the complex social network within the Hollywood community. I didn’t think Crash was the best film of the year. It was barely released across the country and didn’t have nearly the culturally impact that Brokeback Mountain enjoys.

What it did have was a huge roster of major Hollywood players ready to be lobbyists for the political race known as the Oscars. If you know Brendan Frasier or Sandra Bullock, you’ll probably vote for Crash for best whatever-the-category-is. What’s more, Lion’s Gate Films sent a DVD copy of the movie to every member of the SAG (Screen Actors Guild) to get the film to the “voters”.

This all makes perfect economic sense. Without having to pay for a huge distribution across the nation or a large marketing campaign, the film now gets FREE promotion as Best Film of the Year, getting more people to buy the DVD and talk about it amongst co-workers/friends, and expose them to the film’s complex threads (the Sleeper Curve getting steeper).

Of course, this is just my opinion, and I’d have to research other films that help prove this thesis. But that’s a different blog…"

The Principia Cybernetica Project

Here's an amazing site about Principia Cybernetica:
(how do you do a damn hyperlink?!?)

“This project aims to develop a complete and contemporary philosophy or "world-view", based on the principles of evolutionary cybernetics, and supported by collaborative computer technologies…we hold that in our time, the age of information, it is systems science and cybernetics as the general sciences of organization and communication, that can provide the basis for contemporary philosophy. Therefore, this philosophical system is derived from, and further develops, the basic principles of cybernetics."

What the hell is cybernetics? And who really needs this? But the same is true for the ancient Greeks. Who really needed Plato or Aristotle? This is a new age of philosophy, a modern view of how humanity tries to make sense of a world changing faster than ever before. This may not last more than a few years, or months, but it’s good to see smart people continuing the discourse.

Devo stands for de-evolution

The NY Times had an article today about a study that found that evolution is stil lgooing strong in today's humans. I wouldn't have assumed otherwise.


"Providing the strongest evidence yet that humans are still evolving, researchers have detected some 700 regions of the human genome where genes appear to have been reshaped by natural
selection, a principal force of evolution, within the last 5,000 to 15,000 years.

The genes that show this evolutionary change include some responsible for the senses of taste and smell, digestion, bone structure, skin color and brain function. Many of these instances of selection may reflect the pressures that came to bear as people abandoned their hunting and gathering way of life for settlement and agriculture, a transition well under way in Europe and East Asia some 5,000 years ago.

Three populations were studied, Africans, East Asians and Europeans. In each, a mostly different set of genes had been favored by natural selection. The selected genes, which affect skin color, hair texture and bone structure, may underlie the present-day differences in racial appearance

The finding adds substantially to the evidence that human evolution did not grind to a halt in the distant past, as is tacitly assumed by many social scientists. Even evolutionary psychologists, who interpret human behavior in terms of what the brain evolved to do, hold that the work of natural selection in shaping the human mind was completed in the pre-agricultural past, more than 10,000 years ago.

"There is ample evidence that selection has been a major driving point in our evolution during the last 10,000 years, and there is no reason to suppose that it has stopped," said Jonathan Pritchard, a population geneticist at the University of Chicago who headed the study."