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A decade of March firsts

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It's March 1, and spring approaches. What was I thinking about in the previous 10 years on this date? Since my blog is now old enough, we can find out:

It's unlikely I'll live until March 1 next year, so that list should now be complete.

Never mind what I've written here recently. These three pieces are far more fascinating, so read them first:

  • Neal Stephenson (via Kottke) reveals why we're still using rockets to send things into space, when more efficient ways could be developed. (Quick summary: blame Hitler.)

  • John Baez (also via Kottke) discusses four great and important catastrophes in the history of the Earth: the formation of the Moon by a collision with another planet 4.53 billion years ago; the Late Heavy Bombardment of the Earth's surface, probably because of gravitational interactions between Jupiter and Saturn between 4 and 3.8 billion years ago; the poisoning of our atmosphere by oxygen after plants evolved photosynthesis 2.5 billion years ago; and the "snowball Earth" global glaciation 850 million years ago.

  • Pioneering podcaster Doug Kaye visited Egypt as a tourist and just got back: somehow he and his wife just threaded the needle of having a completely uneventful Egyptian vacation and being embroiled in the current political turmoil. They witnessed quite a bit, without being in danger themselves. It's quite a story.

Links of interest (2010-09-28)

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Yesterday was another side effect hell, but I managed to visit a few websites in bed between trips to the bathroom:

  • "Even after all these other factors, including education, are taken into account, atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons still outperform all the other religious groups in our survey [of knowledge about world religions]." (I managed 14 out of 15.)

  • The Prime Meridian line at the Royal Naval Observatory in Greenwich, U.K., actually is red, like on maps.

  • "But given the current arrangements, I'm being charged just a little bit less than I pay for paper and getting a whole lot less, and it just doesn't feel like a good deal. Of course, a setup like I'm proposing would leave the publishing industry as we know it in ruins. Which wouldn't bother me in the slightest as long as the authors and editors can still get paid."

  • "Maybe death is a good time to go offline."

  • "But recent budgets have shown a carbon tax deficit: tax cuts have completely swamped carbon tax revenues. While some were concerned that the carbon tax would be a 'tax grab', instead we [have] a carbon tax is that is revenue negative not revenue neutral."

  • "Perhaps 25,000 years ago, a child visited the cave and left a footprint, the oldest human footprint that can be accurately dated."

  • "See, aspiring thief, you just never know what you're stepping into when you hit up a random car on a random street. However badass you think you may be, there is someone on the other side of the robbery. And in this particular case it was someone who escaped the Iranian Revolution as a child; who roamed the world alone for five years because her parents couldn't get out; who watched from a dozen blocks away as the twin towers crumbled; who had just barely clawed her way out of that concentration camp known as late-stage cancer, if only because she was intent on raising her babies, come hell or high water. And all of this before she even turned 40. Can you see how that someone might be way more twisted than you?"

  • I don't buy lottery tickets. Why? Here's a simple lottery simulator, using the U.S. Mega Millions Lottery scheme—but many others, like our Lotto 6/49, are similar. I simulated playing the same numbers twice a week for 10 years. I "won" a total of $50 in that time, "spending" $1040, for a net loss of $990.

  • Worst oil company print ads ever?

  • Charlie Brooker's How to Report the News (video) and Martin Robbins's This is a News Website Article About a Scientific Paper. Those cheeky Brits. And damn if they aren't completely right.

  • "At its best, science fiction can help people better understand science, explaining new ideas and theories in the context of a thrilling, gripping story. And then there are these 10 utterly ridiculous stories about evolution."

  • "To accept something like residential cancer clusters are often just coincidence is deeply unsatisfying. The powerlessness, the feeling you are defenseless to the whims of chance, can be assuaged by singling out an antagonist. Sometimes you need a bad guy, and The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy is one way you can create one."

In case you haven't been following my Twitter feed. You can also look at some of my older entries like this one.

  • The Nicli Antica Pizzeria will finally bring proper Neapolitan-style pizza to Vancouver.
  • People want sofas, not "machines for living." The same for software.
  • Turn any website into a horrifying 1999-era Geocities site with Geocitiesizer. Here's this site.
  • A moving soul tribute to the Hubble Space Telescope (video).
  • Wearing polarized sunglasses can make you think your iPhone, iPad, or laptop has a broken screen, when it doesn't.
  • Why can't all alarm clocks be like this one?
  • Twenty years after the online magazine TidBITS started, here are the stories of how some of the staffers got there. (TidBITS was apparently the first Internet publication to accept advertising, incidentally.)
  • Fifty awesome R&B, funk, and soul records that were samples to launch a gazillion hip-hop tracks.
  • Photos of the last launch of the space shuttle Atlantis. Check out this shot of Atlantis over the Canary Islands too.
  • The original Law & Order TV show has been cancelled after 20 years. Some claim that with declining crime rates, there are more murders portrayed on the three Law & Order programs each year than actually occur in Manhattan during that time.
  • "Slowly disintegrating [Facebook's] social context without choice isn't consent; it's trickery."
  • If you've never tried lutefisk (also known as lipeäkala), don't. It's a Scandinavian "delicacy" consisting of whitefish boiled in lye. Even bacteria won't eat it. It's one reason I'm convinced that many delicacies originate in desperation.
  • Bagpipes are pretty rare in rock 'n' roll songs. Here are the best rock bagpipes ever (video).
  • Everything bad about Canada in one photo.
  • It seems that some people think that dust flecks illuminated by camera flashes are the souls of the dead. Seriously.
  • The honey badger is the world's most fearless animal. There's video of one trying to eat a poisonous puff adder, getting bitten and knocked out for two hours, then waking up and finishing the snake off. Yikes.
  • Here's a way to feel inadequate: a 16-year-old Australian girl just sailed around the world by herself.
  • Inappropriate jazz hands.
  • Holy crap does Google own a lot of servers.