04 March 2003
 Couldn't resist this story. On the other hand, animal shelters in the US often say that black cats are the hardest to place for adoption (so guess they need that disease resistance for a life on the streets). Personally, I like black cats (or dogs [waves to Dexter and Nellie]). But for now I'll stick with my two calicos. Black Fur Brings Cats Good Luck. Research from the National Institutes of Health points to the possibility that the gene mutation that makes domestic and wild cats black could be related to resistance to certain diseases.  [Wired News]
4:59:02 PM  #   your two cents []
Hmmm, no Apple delivery for me til Friday or next Monday, says the Irish Applestore, so guess I'll simply have to get some work done instead of thinking about playing with the new toys...
4:47:16 PM  #   your two cents []

Mind-boggling news of the day: "President Bush has said that he doesn't believe in evolution (he thinks the jury is still out). President Ronald Reagan felt the same way, and such views are typically American. A new Gallup poll shows that 48 percent of Americans believe in creationism, and only 28 percent in evolution (most of the rest aren't sure or lean toward creationism). According to recent Gallup Tuesday briefings, Americans are more than twice as likely to believe in the devil (68 percent) as in evolution." Read more here on the evangelicalism of America. And we're obsessed with Muslim fundamentalism? Sheesh.

9:17:45 AM  #   your two cents []
Oscar Levant. "What the world needs is more geniuses with humility, there are so few of us left." [Quotes of the Day]
8:59:30 AM  #   your two cents []
Christine Finn meets the old-tech collectors. Who would want to buy an obsolete computer? [Guardian Unlimited]
8:58:24 AM  #   your two cents []
Linux does Windows. Desktop open-source operating systems are ready for prime time and available from Wal-Mart. But if they look and act just the same as software from Redmond, what's the point? [Salon.com]
8:57:41 AM  #   your two cents []

What North American kid didn't grow up singing 'On Top of Spaghetti'? (or has that gone the way of nursery rhymes...). From Boing Boing Blog: Tom Glazer died. Who is Tom Glazer, you ask? He was a silly folk singer who wrote and recorded the classic song "On Top of Spaghetti".

But he was so much more than that. He also performed on a series of (sadly out of print) science records in the late 50s/early 60s that included wonderful songs like "What Is The Milky Way", "What Is Gravity", "Kinetic And Potential Energy", "How Clouds Are Formed", "Thumbnail Sketch Of Atomic Energy" (my personal favorite) and the classic (popularized by They Might Be Giants) "Why Does the Sun Shine?". These songs are probably the best, and kitschiest, example of edutainment ever. You can find MP3s of his work (written by Lou Singer and Hy Zaret) at http://www.acme.com/jef/science_songs/. Who can beat the simple beauty of:

The sun is a mass of incandescent gas
A gigantic nuclear furnace
Where Hydrogen is built into Helium
At a temperature of millions of degrees

8:56:51 AM  #   your two cents []
A typically witty Guardian headline on an interesting story. So what do parents say these days with their toddlers? Eminem lyrics? Silence of the little lambs: talking skills in decline. Children are starting school unable even to recite a rhyme. [Guardian Unlimited]:

He relayed the story told by one headteacher of a nine-year old who had his own room with his own phone and his own computer and television. "This encompasses the view of children as mini-adults," he said. "If you can equip them with everything, you haven't got to spend time with them."

8:50:52 AM  #   your two cents []

MPs take part in the parliamentary pancake race It's Pancake (Shrove) Tuesday (this is why it's sometimes nice to live in a country tied to certain religious traditions...!). Mmmmmmmmm... Tossing pancakes: easy as Pi [Guardian Unlimited]:

Working together, the unlikely alliance have come up with a "flawless" calculation of a pancake's trajectory during tossing, expressed as a formula involving gravity, length of pivot and pi.

The only problem, Asda spokesman Nick Agarwal admitted last night, is that measurements required for the maths have to be taken just before, or even during, the toss. In particular, the calculation of gravitational forces on each pancake requires an individual size and weight assessment.

8:47:46 AM  #   your two cents []

This is not surprising, since home wireless networks have been so much in the news, and it's nearly as many as believe in creationism!: 38 percent of US adults know what Wi-Fi is: And 14 percent of those adults (or 5 percent of all adults) have Wi-Fi in the home. [80211b News]. And there's also this: West Coast cities tops in wireless. A survey sponsored by chipmaker Intel shows that wireless networking technology is growing faster and is more prevalent on the West Coast. [CNET News.com]

8:45:09 AM  #   your two cents []

Roger Needham, the great British computer researcher, Cambridge don and head of Microsoft's Cambridge Research facility, passed away on Friday. I'd been told he was very ill, and am glad his friends got to spend an evening celebrating his life a mere week and a half before he died. I didn't know him well, but I did interview him several times, and twice had the pleasure of being at his head table during dinner, while over in Cambridge for press events. I was flattered that he not only remembered me each time but also some minor details that showed he was far more on top of our last conversation than I was and had a far superior memory! He was quite charming and wickedly funny, yet gentle, and very much his own, fiercely independent man. Travel well, Dr Needham, wherever you are.

"An improvement is something your program will not work with and a bug fix is something it will not work without." - Roger Needham

Here's a piece I wrote on him a few years ago for Salon.com; here's a more recent piece for Wired.com.

12:17:22 AM  #   your two cents []