Archive for July, 2009


Posted by on Sunday, 12 July, 2009

Photography by Tela Chhe under a creative Commons License


If I ever start a “Politics Ain’t So Bad” blog (Don’t count on THAT!), I’ll go into more detail, but it doesn’t take a political genius to figure out that suicide bombing’s a bad thing. It’s also a frustrating thing because it’s so hard to defeat.

I know it sounds strange, but some undergaduates at the University of Michigan have, supposedly, created a cheap array of sensors that can identify suicide bombers remotely. With more testing, maybe it can be commercialized and sold to the Pentagon at ridiculously inflated prices.


If you’re on a quest for eternal truth, you can skip the scientific journals in which yesterday’s orthodoxy is today’s trash. Established scientific verities like Newton’s laws, are never safe. So, although the idea that moderate drinking is good has had a long run, that “well established” fact is being shot down by a sociologist at the University of California.

But please don’t sober up on my account. Even a casual review of the literature reveals an impressive array of apparent benefits to be had from a LIMITED amount of imbibing.

Besides. You think tea’s safe?


Tea. Let it brew please. If hot tea can damage your throat, what about other liquids such as coffee or soup?


The housing crisis came out of nowhere.

Some crises , like 9/11 and Katrina, just can’t be predicted. Or so claim those responsible. But, you know what? Every single one of these crises WERE foreseen. By someone.

A novel was written about airliners being used as weapons. And editorials were written about the potential for disaster that lay hidden in the levies of New Orleans.

But the foreseeing was over here and the policy making was over there.

No connection.

Science Ain’t So Bad wonders if there’s a way to link up our private prophets with our public authorities?

Could ideas be solicited online? Cash for crash? Could a system be developed for determining the most accurate prediction of a disaster? Maybe, also, a way to call this to the attention of those who can do something about it? Perhaps it could have a board of ombudsmen, each with strong professional ties to particular sectors. How this would work, exactly, I do not know. But I bet there’s a way to do this and I would welcome your thoughts.


I’ve talked about Sepsis before. It’s a very dangerous immune cascade triggered by an infection. Docs need to be quick and lucky-as-crap to avoid losing a patient.

This, from Vanderbilt University University Medical Center could be very important in managing these cases.

Information Technology: GOOGLE CHROME (MORE)

I’ve been discussing Google’s plans for Chrome with Alan Wild, a very knowledgeable IT professional (and friend) in Rhode Island, and a great supporter of this blog. He suggested that I include in this post a recent email.

Me (to Alan):

From more reading, I think I figured out where Google is going with Chrome and it is interesting.

The idea (as I understand it) is this. Google hopes to do something really radical. There’s a lot of talk about computing being done “in the cloud” (on the Internet) instead of on the desktop. And Google already has a lot of apps that are out there which, I suppose, it is now going to bulk up. Its Google Docs might emerge as a full fledged equivalent of MS Office. And so forth.

So I think Google’s idea is to limit the computer to being, mostly, a host for a browser (though it would be able to control peripherals such as printers, CDs, etc.). Pretty much ALL your applications and your data would live “in the cloud”. Obviously, this does move the security issues “out there” too which means that it that it would be pointless to attack your computer with viruses and spyware and it greatly reduces the need for you to buy a powerful and expensive computer.

Before Google can sell this idea, it has to show that its “out there” security can be better than security on your own system. It must have some hot ideas that it plans to announce on that front.


Incidentally, there seems to be some confusion between Android, Googles new operating system for smartphones, and Chrome, its declared-but-not-yet-seen operating system for netbooks, etc.

If I’m right, users of Chrome, will find themselves working on documents “in the cloud”. This if fine for a user who is on a conventional computer or even a wifi-connected box. But, if the user is connect via a cell phone which includes charges for data when you’re working on the WEB, he/she might not be happy about the “cloud solution”.

Android may well offer a different focus then Chrome and it probably should.

The vastness of Google. The smallness of us.

Posted by on Wednesday, 8 July, 2009

Image lifted (obviously) from the real McCoy


Google is a force of nature sweeping though our culture and fundamentally changing us. It’s creative and audacious. And it grows like a fungus.

Its search engine is so widespread that it shocks when, as in China, it is only the number TWO choice behind a national favorite (Baidu, in China).

Its library of books and other materials is galactic in size and is gobbling reading matter like a virtual black hole. And, as an advertising medium, it left its competitors behind a long time ago.

Gmail is dominant.

Of course it is.

Customized by its gadgets and themes, iGoogle is a swiss army knife of a home page and a consistent starting point for the day. No matter where or how you get to the Internet, many – and this includes me – find it indispensable.

Chrome, its fairly new browser, is catching on fast and has added drivers to become a browser/operating system. Microsoft won’t be happy.

Obviously, you Bing Google at your peril.

Google Maps, Google Video, Google News, Google Voice, Google Reader, Google Earth (which will still be “cool” even when the iPhone gets overtaken by something else), Google Calendar, Picassa (photos). And Google Health preempts some of the healthcare ideas currently being slung around Washington

This blog? It’s hosted on Google’s “blogger”. Which is free.

Of course.


Like most of its stuff, Google Docs is simple to use. And free.

With Docs, you’re working in “the cloud” – meaning that your applications and your data are secured on the Internet by your new best friend. And that WOULD be Google – who you, implicitly, trust to do the right thing.

Google Docs consists of Document (word processing), Spreadsheet, Presentation (slides and such) and Forms which offers a way to easily (of course) create interactive questionnaires which can be mailed or added to your own sites. The answers to the questions are combined for you into a nice spreadsheet. And there’s a built-in graphical “summary”.

You can “share” the Spreadsheet, Document, or Presentation you’re working on with others to develop things together in a very natural way.


Don’t be TOO surprised if Google’s Android operating system runs your next phone. It is now proliferating all over the place.

It isn’t practical to list all things Google. Or to explain the potential importance of each of the applications. Without much hoopla, interesting and creative online programs appear in “Google Labs“, migrating, eventually, to the list that starts at the top of the browser spilling onto another long page.


Synergy. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Is Google blessed among American Corporations? Are those who turn their faces against Google doomed to googling in Hell? Is Microsoft the Father, Google the son, and Apple the Holy Ghost? Truly and verily, is Google ubiquitous, omniscient, and all powerful?

Yeah. Probably.

But we seem to be better off for it. Some may fear it, but I am happy to have the benefits and am not complaining.


Getting information has always been important to survival. It’s our edge. Speech defined us. Writing was a good step forward. And Gutenberg’s printing thingee was a big help too.


In a blink, almost all of this planet’s information is (or soon will be) available.

If you know how to Google it.

Google gives us tools. It self-modifies as it grows to work better for us. Nothing else can quite focus and manage the Internet the way it can. Those of us humans who can best benefit from Google’s offerings may be just a little more successful.

Call it unnatural selection?

Whatever it is, Google has become our partner. A co-evolving force of not-quite-nature which is vast, powerful, yet casual and almost informal.


What does it mean for us?

I dunno.

But I’m thinking about it.