Archive for January, 2010

For one thing, the smartest people do not necessarily make the best political choices. William F. Buckley once famously declared that he would rather give control of our government to “the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.” Bruce Charlton, a professor of theoretical medicine at the University of Buckingham, recently coined the term “clever sillies” to describe people who hold wacky political views seemingly because of—rather than despite—their high intelligence. Conservative writer John Derbyshire has also observed that political naivety exists at both extremes of the IQ distribution, not just the lower one. The reason is that brilliant people can sometimes be so consumed by abstract philosophy that they forget common sense.

Read the full article here.


It’s the “Bell Curve” argument all over again.

There’s no way to really answer this.  It’s clever writing and fun with stats, but it’s a bogus argument.  a) impossible to really categorize political beliefs in such binary way b) there are so many behavioral factors involved in your belief system that it’s hard to draw a cause strong enough to justify the distinctions here.

Fun read but fairly useless.

Unless it’s true.

I’ll leave the last words to the article author:

The bottom line is that a political debate will never be resolved by measuring the IQs of groups on each side of the issue. Even if certain positions tend to be held by less intelligent people, there will usually be plenty of sharp thinkers who take the same side. Rather than focus on the intellectual deficiencies, real or imagined, of certain politicians and their supporters, people should strive to find the best and brightest spokesmen for the opposing side.

There is a certain devilish fun to contemplating the intelligence of liberals and conservatives, but it should have no effect on how we think about issues. Political debates would be better without it.

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Get Obama’s transcript here:

We face big and difficult challenges. And what the American people hope – what they deserve – is for all of us, Democrats and Republicans, to work through our differences; to overcome the numbing weight of our politics. For while the people who sent us here have different backgrounds and different stories and different beliefs, the anxieties they face are the same. The aspirations they hold are shared. A job that pays the bill. A chance to get ahead. Most of all, the ability to give their children a better life.

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4-8 weeks max before someone puts linux on iPad.

Maybe I should do it?  I did, after all, invent the LiPhone several years ago.

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HP Slate vs iPad

Perhaps a more apples to apples competition is HP/Microsoft vs. Apple for the yet to be valuable category of “tablets”.

The HP Slate and Apple iPad devices are remarkably similar.

Here’s the Slate:

Here’s the iPad:

That’s right… the same basic concept and function.

you know why Apple will sell more than HP?  Marketing.  Look at how Apple polishes everything up from the product design to the silly video.

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It’s on….

digital books just got way more interesting.

Here’s the big differences between the devices and services:


Basics: Low powered device that can run for days without a recharge.  Black and white epaper / eink screen.  3g connectivity.  Ability to add storage via SD card.

Pros: Closest thing to a real book out of all the devices and digital book ideas.   Amazon ebookstore is huge.

Cons: single purpose device.  read books.  and make sure the books don’t have pictures, diagrams or anything other than text.

Get Specs Here


Basics: Similar to Kindle.  It’s a slightly more functional kindle.  Has a nice color screen for media browsing.  Books through Barnes and Noble.

Pros: Nice feel to the device.  Color is nice.

Cons: Single purpose device.  BN ebookstore is not as robust or easy as Kindle bookstore.

Get Specs Here


Basics: Apple’s fully featured tablet.  Basically a decent computer with eBooks reader software.

Pros: Multi purpose device.  Can actually compute.  Beautiful screen.  Possible to have nice reading+interactivity.

Cons: Battery life is more like a phone, less like a book!  Glossy screen.  Not quite as “rugged” as kindle.

Get Specs here.


Kindle and Nook are around $250.  Entry level iPad is $499.

Pricing on all of these are within $150or so.  Amazing that iPad is that low.  Almost impossible to pick a single use device that costs as much.


For me, what wins is the best book/publication selection.   Amazon is really hard to beat in that area.

Prediction – Kindle app on iPad pretty quickly!  I think Amazon will have to give up on the Kindle if it doesn’t come out with something the publishers want to push hard.  You can’t beat Apple at hardware on a grand scale.   not yet.

[UPDATE 4/25/2010:   I’ve been using my iPad for several weeks now.  I haven’t turned on my Kindle since I got my iPad with the Kindle software.  There’s simply no need.  I’m amazed by the iPad battery life.  I also didn’t anticipate how useful it is that you don’t need light to read on the iPad.  Like duh!    iBooks isn’t quite good enough to compete with the Kindle store based on inventory but I suspect that will change quickly.]

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Apple iPad

The rumors are finally rumors no more.  The iPad is out.

When the iphone came out it was clear it was going to change phones.

the iPad… hmmmm…. where does it fit?  what does it advance?   what experience does it enhance?

the only obvious thing I see right now is video gaming and ebooks/publishing.

but……  10 hour battery life makes it a tough tough tough thing to compete with good ol’ paper.

There’s a lot of talk about Digital Publishing… new form of newspaper.  I just don’t buy it.  If the browser wasn’t a good medium for newspapers, there’s really no basis to assume the iPad will be.

There’s a killer application in education for this.  It’s actually functional enough to act as a digital library and a computing tool.

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MOON is an extraordinary movie.  A slim 90 or so minutes, 1 main actor, minimal sets and effects and one gut punch of a concept.

Duncan Jones and everyone who worked on this movie deserve a real high five for keeping this subtle and letting the eerie realizations of Sam Bell take center stage.   SciFi/futurism/philosophical benders tend to go over the top and lose their power by setting everything in such a bizarre environment with over the top characters.  MOON does not.

What’s really disturbing about MOON is that this is a plausible future of some sort.  It’s not flying cars, light speed, terminators nor brains in vats powering a super computer.  It’s a future of clunky cloning, functional energy technology, and AI that isn’t all powerful.

I don’t want to ruin the story for folks so I’m not going to go into much detail.  If you at all wonder about what we all think it means to be alive, be a human, be self aware and be free, you will really enjoy this movie and probably be really unnerved by it.

No conclusions.  more questions…

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What do we really mean by human rights? where do these rights come from? what is their source of power?

Russell’s (Son) position:

Though we have produced powerful rhetoric and documents through human history human rights are simply a concept.  They values we create and we choose to live by.  There is no such thing has some absolute, outside of us thing called a human right.  The universe doesn’t have a conscience.  Humankinds evolution from earlier species didn’t somehow magically produce some special rights for us that the rest of the universe can’t enjoy.

Agreeing to some basic rights seems to be a beneficial idea for humankind.  Freedom in all its forms seems to be a pretty darn useful value to live by.  That doesn’t make it some universal truth.

All men aren’t created equal – not in body, not in cognitive ability, not in environment.  That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t treat everyone on equal ground.  Not Equal doesn’t mean better or worse.  I think that’s the confusion that makes people fall back to claiming some fundamental human rights.

Does the fact that human rights spring forth only from man and not the universe, not a god, or some other outside source devalue them? make them less powerful?  No.  In fact, in some sense I think it makes it more powerful.  The fact that billions of people can agree on some basic principles is quite powerful and very empowering.   It actually increases the burden of enforcing it because there’s no faceless being we can blame when these agreed upon rights are violated.

Donna’s (Mother) Position:

Hmmm. Human rights. We’ve assigned a lot of value to the words and far less to those issues we find critical enough to include under the label.

I’ve never operated under the illusion that God defined human rights. Some big thinkers have done that, and others have shunned the notion that there are any universal needs that might rise to the level of being rights we grant and protect.

It seems more important to me to try to answer if our basic needs have advanced as our knowledge as human beings has advanced. Do we add to the list of things we value and protect as rights or are we locked into what we could reasonably provide in the past? Food, clean water, education, shelter, healthcare, equal protection under the law … are these all just things we need and desire or are they rights we identify and extend to one another?

And that pesky little topic of equality becomes so muddy all on its own as we deny various individuals their abilities to become waht they could otherwise be by limiting their access to some basic human needs. We create inequality and then shrug our shoulders and call it inevitable. And we most definitely make decisions about less than equal meaning less than good — and less worthy.

So, if we do not define some of our basic human needs and desires as rights, we will doom millions of our fellow men and women to poverty, to pain, to illness, to cold and so on. If we have the ability to lift one another by sharing human values as human rights, I say we do so.

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Is this existence the only life we have?  no after life… no heaven… no hell?  is there karma? is there reincarnation? is there soul? Is there anything other than the 80 or so years most of us will “live”? What are the implications?

Russell’s (Son) position:

This is it.  My 28,105 days are all that I have.  People might remember some version of the things I said or did, others might have photos and videos of some slice of my life and some might carry my genes but I, capital I, will cease to exist when I die.

Based on that, best to live life to the fullest.  That doesn’t mean become adrenaline junkie or find Buddha.  To me it means just do and stop to smell the roses.   Work hard, play hard… be at peace as much as is reasonable. Experience as much as possible.

I like what my grandfather said, “All you leave behind is how people remember you.”  [In the response below, Mom corrects this… perhaps I remembered the quote the way I wanted to… hmmmm]

Donna’s (Mother) response:

So glad to see my father’s words recalled here. I remember them a bit differently, “When it’s all said and done, it’s only the people who will matter.” But that’s really an aside to the question here for me, since I think he was trying to tell me to live for the people and not the stuff after he had spent so many years working so hard to provide me with a good and comfortable life. He wasn’t commenting on his belief in God (which was also one of his deep values) but rather trying to guide me.

Is this life all we have? Is this it? I do not believe this physical life is it.

In fact, the last time I heard anyone say that “this is it” was when my brother and I stood at direct odds over the impending death of our dad — the man quoted by both mother and son herein.

My father was languishing on life support systems having had a very bad outcome from his surgery for pancreatic cancer. He lapsed into a coma shortly after the surgery and showed few — if any — signs that he could or would come out of the coma.

As the hours and days wore on, my brother was determined. If there was one sliver of a chance that our dad would come out of his coma, my brother wanted the life support to continue. I argued that my dad never wanted to be kept alive on life support systems when his quality of life was not likely to be outcome. I wanted his wishes honored. I wanted the machines turned off.

My brother was livid and terrified. He said things like, “Don’t get the flu around Donna, she’ll blow your brains out,” and, “I don’t know about you, but I believe this life is all we get so we have to keep him alive if there is any chance at all for life.”

I was angry, hurt but determined. I answered him, “No, I do not believe this is it. But it really doesn’t matter what you or I believe, what matters is what he (our dad) believes, and he believed in something more. He did not fear death but living a life that was without meaning.”

A day or two later when my brother could be sufficiently convinced that there was no hope for life for my dad and after my dad had then suffered mini-strokes and lots of end-of-life traumas, we finally turned off the machines.

We stood at his beside. A shell of a body that had not shown any tangible signs of life for eight days — my dad was finally to die. In the midst of those sad moments, he turned his head, opened his eyes and fixed them on mine. I reassured him that everything would be all right, just as he had reassured me so many times when I was a little girl. I told him I loved him (as we all did). And he died. The sun was visable for a few moments before the cloud covered filled in the gray skies, and it was over.

My dad was my main teacher in areas of the greater themes of my life, my value system and my overall beliefs, but he was by no means my only teacher.

It is my experience is that the deeper threads of life hold more than I can comprehend or explain without my faith. The wind, a crashing wave on the Pacific shore, a grandchild’s voice, a phrase well-written… or a the love of my father who gave up so much of what he desired to share the fruits of his work with me and to better my life.

I have so much faith in something outside of self.

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“It has, however, presented some issues for our affiliates. Both Jay and the show are committed to working closely with them to find ways to improve the performance.”

from NBC statement.

I kinda figured that was going to be the issue.

How hard was it really to see that moving Leno before affiliate news and late night programming was going to hurt the network?  Sad to say but people have been falling asleep to Leno for decades.  A move back to 11:30pm might not work now that people are getting an extra hour of sleep… 😉

Seriously, pretty shortsighted or naive or….

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