Steve's No Direction Home Page :
If he needs a third eye, he just grows it.
Updated: 10/23/2004; 11:49:05 AM.


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Friday, November 08, 2002

Little Ghost in the Machine

Hubble snaps Little Ghost nebula [New Scientist]
Jeez we live in a beautiful universe. But I don't buy this contention of Ray Kurzwill's on The Edge:

 The universe has been set up in an exquisitely specific way so that evolution could produce the people that are sitting here today and we could use our intelligence to talk about the universe. We see a formidable power in the ability to use our minds and the tools we've created to gather evidence, to use our inferential abilities to develop theories, to test the theories, and to understand the universe at increasingly precise levels.

Just because we live in this universe, doesn't mean that it was "set up" to be that way. Instead, we couldn't live in any other universe. If the universe were different, so would we, and we would be saying that that universe was set up in an exquisitely specific way for us. But then Kurzweill goes on to say something that's really fascinating:

...[W]e don't hear discussion about the role of intelligence in the future. According to common wisdom, intelligence is irrelevant to cosmological thinking. It is just a bit of froth dancing in and out of the crevices of the universe, and has no effect on our ultimate cosmological destiny. That's not my view. The universe has been set up exquisitely enough to have intelligence. There are intelligent entities like ourselves that can contemplate the universe and develop models about it, which is interesting. Intelligence is, in fact, a powerful force and we can see that its power is going to grow not linearly but exponentially, and will ultimately be powerful enough to change the destiny of the universe.

Well worth reading that paragraph and contemplating it (and the rest of the piece).

7:05:53 PM  Permalink  comment []

Oregon votes down measure to offer free medical care for all. - Oregon voters took the advice of the health insurance industry on Tuesday to overwhelmingly defeat an initiative to make Oregon the first state to offer free tax-financed medical care for everyone.
Oregon Health Plan Defeated
Oregon bid for universal health care faces defeat Toronto Star
Newsday - Salem Statesman Journal - KVAL - and 12 related » [Google Health News]
Gotta love that word "advice." Most likely some really expensive marketing and not a little blackmail.
7:02:19 PM  Permalink  comment []

Perl or PHP?

Developer's Dilemma: Perl or PHP?. Speed, quality, price. Pick two. You have no doubt heard that mantra before, but PHP and Perl offer all three. The question is, how do you choose between the two programming languages, which are both insanely popular for Web development? [osOpinion]
Interesting stuff. There are some quotes in here that I don't really buy; I don't for example, think that Perl is better for teamn programming than PHP. If you want to do big projects in Perl, it seems to me that the overhead in management grows really quickly, much quicker than it does in PHP. On the other hand, there's something a ltitle, I don't know, maybe unpolished about PHP. There's a lot of sample code around, and a lot of web sites devoted to it, but it seems to me that a lot of them aren't very good. Still, if I were recommending a tool for a database-driven website, I'd almost certainly recommend PHP.
7:00:11 PM  Permalink  comment []

Standing in the Shadows of Motown

Now this looks really great.

In 1959, Berry Gordy gathered the best musicians from Detroit's thriving jazz and blues scene to begin cutting songs for his new record company. Over a fourteen year period they were the heartbeat on "My Girl," "Bernadette," I Was Made to Love Her," and every other hit from Motown's Detroit era.

y the end of their phenomenal run, this unheralded group of musicians had played on more number ones hits than the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, Elvis and the Beatles combined - which makes them the greatest hit machine in the history of popular music. They called themselves the Funk Brothers.

6:54:03 PM  Permalink  comment []

In a Funk

A couple people (that means half my readers!)  have commented on my lack of posting lately. I hope to do some more over the next couple days, but I've been danged busy lately. I've also been in a funk. First there was the loss of the Giants in the series (I'm now reading the sports pages again), then there was the less-than-hand-slapping that Microsoft got, and finally the dismal performance of the nation at the polls the other day. Of course the last item is most serious, and I'll probably post some more on that later. But they all put me in a funk, and so I've been working a lot anyway. I have to do a lot of work this weekend, too.

On the work front, a couple of interesting things. First, I've been doing more with Python; with no books at hand, and only a little sample code, in less than a day I wrote a script in Python that works pretty hard for me. It talks to a database via ODBC, and uses that data to fetch a lot of images from a web server, then save them to a local disk. It stores info back in the database for each image. Very interesting to code, easy to read, and it works. This weekend, I'm also working on a fun project to move a large, active SQL Server database from one machine to a new, very powerful one. I expect it to go well, and it'll be fun seeing how much of a speed improvement we get from the new machine.

More later...

1:48:31 PM  Permalink  comment []

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