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Current Topic: Miscellaneous

Politicans line up to praise new Amazon HQ, but Amazon absent - TechFlash: Seattle's Technology News Source
Topic: Miscellaneous 5:06 pm EDT, Apr 20, 2009

Some of Washington state's biggest political names, including Gov. Chris Gregoire and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, stuck some spades in a ceremonial sandbox today to mark the latest construction phase of's new office campus in South Lake Union. They were falling over each other to praise Amazon and its giant campus project, which represents a rare bright spot in the local economy. Noticeably absent from the event, however, was Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, or any other top Amazon executive for that matter.

Politicans line up to praise new Amazon HQ, but Amazon absent - TechFlash: Seattle's Technology News Source

The link between autism and extraordinary ability | Genius locus | The Economist
Topic: Miscellaneous 9:24 pm EDT, Apr 17, 2009

As she observes, obsessional interests and repetitive behaviours would allow someone to practice, albeit inadvertently, whichever skill they were obsessed by. Malcolm Gladwell, in a book called “Outliers” which collated research done on outstanding people, suggested that anyone could become an expert in anything by practising for 10,000 hours. It would not be hard for an autistic individual to clock up that level of practice for the sort of skills, such as mathematical puzzles, that many neurotypicals would rapidly give up on.

Many, but not all. Dr Happé has drawn on a study of almost 13,000 individual twins to show that childhood talent in fields such as music and art is often associated with RRBIs, even in those who are not diagnosed as classically autistic. She speculates that the abilities of savants in areas that neurotypicals tend to find pointless or boring may result from an ability to see differences where a neurotypical would see only similarities. As she puts it, “the child with autism who would happily spend hours spinning coins, or watching drops of water fall from his fingers, might be considered a connoisseur, seeing minute differences between events that others regard as pure repetition.”

The link between autism and extraordinary ability | Genius locus | The Economist

Long or Short Capital: The Piratery Picture
Topic: Miscellaneous 4:39 pm EDT, Apr 16, 2009

With news that an Indian Ocean piratery firm was taken into receivership by the US Government and summarily unwound (75% of their workforce was executed, literally), we wanted to reiterate our short recommendation for Indian Ocean Piratery.

Long or Short Capital: The Piratery Picture

Lessons In Survival |
Topic: Miscellaneous 4:05 pm EDT, Apr 14, 2009

At the elite Navy Diving and Salvage Training Center in Panama City, Fla., they know how to figure out quickly who will be capable of accomplishing extremely dangerous underwater missions. They take young sailors and tie their hands behind their backs and bind their feet. They put the strap of a dive mask between the sailors' teeth and then throw them in the Olympic-size pool. The challenge is to stay afloat and live. "The more someone struggles," Morgan tells me, "the harder it is to get air and the more tired they get. You just have to inhibit the powerful, incredible instinct to breathe and your anxiety and alarm."

Lessons In Survival |

Twitter, can you be my Zephyr?
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:38 am EDT, Apr  6, 2009

The wisdom and instant gratification of Zephyr instances surpassed anything I had ever seen. It truly worked like magic.

Today, over 16 years later (geesh, I’m getting old) we finally have Twitter. Twitter is getting closer to what we had with Zephyr. It’s still not there. but it has the makings of it.

Twitter, can you be my Zephyr?

5 banks repay $353M in bailout funds - Yahoo! Finance
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:54 pm EDT, Apr  2, 2009

Five banks, including one in West Virginia, have repaid millions of dollars they received from the government's $700 billion financial bailout pot, the Obama administration said Thursday.

The Treasury Department, which oversees the bailout program, said the banks returned a total of $353 million.

It is continued reporting like this that makes XKCD 558 all the more infuriatingly relevant.

...repaid millions of dollars...

They paid $353M, out of the $700000M financial bailout. Or, they have repaid 0.353 B of the 700 B. Wow!

5 banks repay $353M in bailout funds - Yahoo! Finance

Excerpt from The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
Topic: Miscellaneous 1:38 am EDT, Mar 29, 2009

Dr. X was the ideal man for this job because of his very disreputability. He was a reverse engineer. He collected artificial mites like some batty Victorian lepidopterist. He took them apart one atom at a time to see how they worked, and when he found some clever innovation, he squirreled it away in his database. Since most of these innovations were the result of natural selection, Dr. X was usually the first human being to know about them.

Hackworth was a forger, Dr. X was a honer. The distinction was at least as old as the digital computer. Forgers created a new technology and then forged on to the next project, having explored only the outlines of its potential. Honers got less respect because they appeared to sit still technologically, playing around with systems that were no longer start, hacking them for all they were worth, getting them to do things the forgers had never envisioned.

Excerpt from The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson

Pearls Before Breakfast -
Topic: Miscellaneous 3:00 pm EDT, Mar 23, 2009

repeat: The story of virtuoso Joshua Bell playing at a DC Metro station.

By most measures, he was nondescript: a youngish white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. From a small case, he removed a violin. Placing the open case at his feet, he shrewdly threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money, swiveled it to face pedestrian traffic, and began to play

Two years later, this is still a stunning piece of writing (and quite a story). Was worth the time to re-read it. I had not seen the videos before, which include the music.

I'm honest enough to admit that I'm not sure I would stop or notice.

Pearls Before Breakfast -

Devices for a good night's sleep
Topic: Miscellaneous 4:28 am EDT, Mar 20, 2009

Inspire Medical Systems Inc. has begun a human clinical trial of an implantable device that uses low levels of electricity to treat obstructive sleep apnea

Devices for a good night's sleep

The real scandal at AIG is the not the bonuses. It's the payments to counterparties. - By Eliot Spitzer - Slate Magazine
Topic: Miscellaneous 5:30 pm EDT, Mar 18, 2009

Everybody is rushing to condemn AIG's bonuses, but this simple scandal is obscuring the real disgrace at the insurance giant: Why are AIG's counterparties getting paid back in full, to the tune of tens of billions of taxpayer dollars?

The real scandal at AIG is the not the bonuses. It's the payments to counterparties. - By Eliot Spitzer - Slate Magazine

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