Archive for September, 2007

The worst thing about being a wimp

September 27, 2007

Is that when you back down your enemies will say you didn’t abase yourself enough

BBC NEWS | Africa | Gay bishop move rejected by Kenya:

The Kenyan archbishop said the US church leaders’ comments did not go far enough. “What we expected to come from them is to repent – that this is a sin in the eyes of the Lord and repentance is what me, in particular, and others expected to hear coming from this church,” he said. Correspondents say it was hoped the agreement would help defuse the crisis. But Assistant Bishop of Kampala, Ugandan David Zac Niringiye, says it was “not a change of heart” and showed the church was already split.

The Bishop of Kampala is right about the fact that the church has already split. Too bad he’s on the wrong side.



September 26, 2007

BBC NEWS | Americas | US Anglicans reject gay bishops:

Leaders of the Episcopal Church in the United States have agreed to halt the selection of gay priests as bishops to prevent a split in the Anglican Church. The Church will also no longer approve prayers to bless same-sex couples.

Either they believe, or they don’t.

Gives you a warm feeling

September 26, 2007

Unionbusting Confidential — In These Times:

“I’ve never dealt with unions, and I’m dedicated to making sure that we keep them out of our distribution center,” she vowed. “It’s my mission!”

What fascinates me is the way that the unionbusters even have to sell unionbusting to their clients.

So what’s freedom from disease worth to you?

September 26, 2007

Stem cells from testicles offer organ bonanza | The Register:

US medi-boffins believe they may have developed a new way of obtaining potentially useful stem cells, which could be key to a range of therapies in future. The catch is that they plan to harvest the basic material from human testicles.

I for one welcome our new alien overlords

September 26, 2007

Talking Points Memo | Mattel apologizes to China over recalls:

U.S.-based toy giant Mattel issued an extraordinary apology to China on Friday over the recall of Chinese-made toys, taking the blame for design flaws and saying it had recalled more lead-tainted toys than justified.

In a statement issued by the company, Mattel said its lead-related recalls were “overly inclusive, including toys that may not have had lead in paint in excess of the U.S. standards.

And it will fit in the trunk of your flying car

September 25, 2007

IndustryWeek : New Low Cost Solar Panels Ready for Mass Production:

Sampath has developed a continuous, automated manufacturing process for solar panels using glass coating with a cadmium telluride thin film instead of the standard high-cost crystalline silicon. Because the process produces high efficiency devices (ranging from 11% to 13%) at a very high rate and yield, it can be done much more cheaply than with existing technologies. The cost to the consumer could be as low as $2 per watt, about half the current cost of solar panels.

The back of the envelope says we get 4000 hours of sun a year, so halve that for angle considerations and halve it again for weather, and you get about $2 per thousand watt-hours installed. Or 20 cents a kilowatt hour for a 10-year life. With a little optics and good weather, you could do rather better than that. In the usual parts of the country, utilities should be paying people to install these things on their roofs, since peaking power costs on the order of a buck a kilowatt-hour…

Peter Seibel deserves a helping hand

September 21, 2007

Planet Lisp:

I wrote Practical Common Lisp because I felt that Common Lisp needed a new introductory book that could ease folks raised on other languages into Common Lisp and then show them what it’s really all about. Based on emails from readers, reviews on Amazon, word of mouth in the Lisp world, and the fact that the online version of PCL is the top hit when you Google for “lisp book”, I’ll say I succeeded tolerably well. So imagine my dismay when someone pointed out to me today the Google results for “lisp tutorial“.

As far as the Lisp community goes, he is definitely One Of The Good Guys.

The trouble with Brights

September 17, 2007

Pure Pedantry : Why Pairing Science and Atheism is High-Brow:

In 1922, John Dewey, pragmatist philosopher and champion of Progressive education, wrote an article in The New Republic entitled “The American Intellectual Frontier.” The subject was William Jennings Bryan’s attack on evolution that would later culminate in the Scopes trial. The argument that Dewey made was not what you would think, however. Though he was most definitely part of the the Northeastern liberal establishment at the time, he did not dismiss Bryan’s attacks as indicative of rural ignorance. Instead, he made the argument that while he disagreed with Bryan, liberals had to take him seriously because if they did not they were in danger of making liberalism high-brow. This would have the negative consequence of making liberalism a minority movement by definition and prevent the adoption of a their social program.

What’s scary is that this isn’t a crippling fine

September 17, 2007

McLaren fined $100m for spying | The Register:

Formula One team McLaren must pay a $100m fine and has been kicked out of the constructors’ championship for spying on rival team Ferrari.

The team must also prove its cars contain no Ferrari intellectual property for the 2008 season.


September 17, 2007

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | ‘Super-scope’ to see hidden texts:

…scientists from the University of Cardiff have developed a technique that uses a powerful X-ray source to create a three-dimensional image of an iron-inked document. The team then applies a computer algorithm to separate the image into the different layers of parchment, in effect using the program to unroll the scroll. HOW DIAMOND WORKS Schematic of Diamond facility (BBC) Electrons fired into straight accelerator, or linac Boosted in small synchrotron and injected into storage ring Magnets in large ring bend and focus electrons accelerated to near light-speeds Energy lost emerges down beamlines as highly focused light at X-ray wavelengths Diamond opens for business Professor Tim Wess, who led the research, said: “We’ve folded up a real piece of parchment and then done a process of X-ray tomography on it. We’ve been able to recover the structure where we can see the words that are written inside the document.”

BBC NEWS | Technology | Online worlds to be AI incubators:

On the research side, said Dr Goertzel, virtual worlds also solved the problem of giving an AI a relatively unsophisticated environment in which it could live and learn. “I’m one of many AI theorists who believe that embodiment is important,” he said. “Typing stuff back and forth does not give the AI much to go on in terms of understanding the world around it, or itself or its place in that world.” This desire to embody artificial intelligences led many to robots, he said, but that approach presented its own problems. “Robots have a lot of disadvantages, we have not solved all the problems of getting them to move around and see the world,” he said. “It’s a lot more practical to control virtual robots in simulated worlds than real robots.”