July 25, 2007


Today's "Day by Day" cartoon suggests an interesting possibility.

I've seen questions and comments online which suggest that some people think the info on Google Earth is actually updated in real time. (For instance, once on Ask Metafilter someone asked why they couldn't see the result of some major physical change in their area on the Google photos.)

In reality, it's a big database of pictures Google has licensed, and a lot of it actually is aerial photography rather than satellite photos. Some of the pictures are years out-of-date. (The photo of my place still shows the tree down over the creek, and that was removed last year.)

But Google is a big company, and is growing bigger, and their stock-in-trade is information. They're in businesses where the expected result is effective monopoly due to network effect and shakeout. If Google gets big enough, they might well eventually decide to loft their own spy satellite to take photos for their web site. ...but considering their corporate plot-arc, they're much more likely to get that ability by acquiring someone else who already has it.

Is it time for me to fear Google more than I'm supposed to fear Microsoft? How soon before Google knows more about me than I do? As long as they don't start deploying bionic ducks, I think I'll be OK.

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July 24, 2007

Big Chief Whitebread

It seems there's still intelligent life at the University of Colorado. Big Chief Whitebread (aka Ward Churchill) has been terminated. He wasn't fired for calling the 9/11 dead "Little Eichmanns", he was fired for plagiarism and for lying. He lied about his credentials, he has lied in his research papers, and he lied about his ethnicity. (Which shouldn't have mattered, since it shouldn't have even come up, but it does in this day and age.)

Churchill is the one responsible for the "Known Fact" that the US Army deliberately gave blankets infected with smallpox to a group of Indians in order to kill them off. It turns out that there is no evidence whatever that such a thing happened, but you'll be hearing people (of a particular political persuasion) talking about that atrocity for the next 30 years.

Churchill says he's going to sue. I hope so; let him bankrupt himself in court. Whatever else the University of Colorado may have, it's certain they have more money for lawyers than he does, and he has no case.

This was well deserved -- and much too long delayed. The wheels of academic justice grind very slowly; these accusations (of fabrication of evidence, of lying about his credentials, about plagiarism) came out years ago.

UPDATE: I never learn, I guess. Care to read a comment trainwreck on the subject? (It isn't as bad as many on Metafilter, I must say.)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in People at 08:43 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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July 22, 2007

I do not think that word means what you think it means

Author celebrates his hiatus from blogging which began on Friday by making one post yesterday and four posts today.

In answer to his question about the production values in Shingu my opinion is that they're excellent. They're not at Haibane Renmei level, but nothing else is. but I don't recall any serious characterization drifts in the art, or serious continuity mistakes, or anything like that.

It's true that a lot of the screen caps you've seen were selected carefully, but at least for me the primary consideration was to avoid revealing spoilers. I haven't selected things because they were particularly visually impressive. On the contrary, the most visually impressive scenes in the series are loaded with spoilers, so I've had to skip them.

UPDATE: I've noticed on more than one occasion that when someone makes a post that says, "I am burned out and feel like I don't have anything to say, so I'm going to take a break from blogging for a while", that usually indicates the end of a hiatus, not the beginning of one. (Not always, of course.)

What happens is that for a while you can't work up the energy to make a post. Then as the energy starts to come back, the first thing you post is about how tired you are. The next day you're back at it again.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in People at 03:10 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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July 20, 2007


Here's hoping his gall bladder removal goes well, and that he feels better as a result.

Me, I think he's just doing it for all the ice cream he'll get to eat afterwards. Um, you do get ice cream for a gall bladder, don't you? Seems to me I remember something like that...

UPDATE: And while he's in surgery, they're releasing the final Harry Potter book. Coincidence? Hmm...

Has anyone ever seen Shamus and Rowling together? I bet not!

UPDATE: Shamus is blogging again. That's a good sign.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in People at 10:52 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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July 12, 2007

Gun geeks are the coolest geeks in the world

Case in point. (Hollow point.)

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Most ranking levels in Sumo are decided by a rather secret committee. Whether a given wrestler is an Ozeki, or Sekiwake, or whatever, is decided by this dark group.

But advancement to Yokozuna is public and based on a very simple criterion: a lesser rank who wins two tournaments in a row becomes Yokozune.

That's actually nicely self-balancing, because when Yokozuna lose their winning form they're expected to retire. So if there is no current Yokozuna it's very likely that someone will become one. And if there are two or three, it's very unlikely that anyone of lesser rank will advance.

For the last couple of years, since Mushashimaru retired, there has only been one, Asashoryu. He was the youngest man ever to become Yokozuna. And since then he's been kicking major butt. He won all six tournaments in 2005, and four out of six in 2006. At age 27 he already has 20 wins, and barring mischance he'll set records. But out of nowhere, it almost seems, he suddenly got a competitor worthy of him, name of Hakuho.

And in May Hakuho won his second straight tournament, and is now a Yokozuna.

Why is this noteworthy? Because they're both from Mongolia. And in fact, only two of the last six Yokozuna have been Japanese. (And one of those retired only a year after he became Yokozuna.)

I've heard that Sumo is falling in popularity. One claim I heard was that fans didn't like Asashoryu. But I wonder if some of it is racism -- and simple pique.

UPDATE: I was curious about something, so I did some research. Asashoryu became Yokozuna Jan 30, 2003. He was born Sep 27, 1980. So he was 22 years and 4 months old.

Hakuho was born March 11, 1985. He became Yokozuna May 30, 2007. So he was 22 years and 3 months old, even younger than Asashoryu was.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in People at 09:42 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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July 09, 2007

Clever, clever

I think this has to be one of the best blog entries I've ever read anywhere. I'm referring to the text under the cartoon, though the cartoon is also excellent. I've become a regular reader of her comic. It's too bad she doesn't draw more than one cartoon a week, but if that's what it takes for her to keep the quality up, then I'll live with it.

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July 07, 2007

I'm in love

Scroll to the bottom.

And you know what's sad? I'm old enough to be her grandfather. (Well, almost.)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in People at 10:33 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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June 28, 2007


Looks like Brad Bird has another winner on his hands. After his success with The Incredibles the Pixar writer/director has scored 90% on the Tomatometer with Ratatouille.

One problem with movies has been that they all seem to be rehashing the same stuff, again and again, with just enough of a changed paint job so they can't be sued for plagiarism. Let's give Bird credit for coming up with an original idea: a common rat in Paris named Remy wants to become a chef in a 4-star restaurant, and apparently has the talent to do it. So he teams up with a kid named Linguini and they work together. The rat provides the talent and knowledge, and the kid provides hands and acceptability.

As James Berardinelli points out, in one sense this is right out of Cyrano de Bergerac but I think it's enough different to justify being called "original". [Sigh. Make any statement like that and readers will view it as a challenge to find ways of impeaching the statement. Spare me, OK?]

Berardinelli also says that the technical staff at Pixar has upped the bar on rendering yet again. Some of the still frames look pretty amazing, I must say. And they've managed to pull in one hell of a cast. Ian Holm is the villain -- and since he is always outstanding in every role he takes, I'm sure the villain is suitably villainous.

I haven't been to a movie in a real theater since 1999, but I'm tempted by this one.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in People at 06:03 PM | Comments (13) | Add Comment
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June 26, 2007

Links 1

Don is continuing to watch Shingu and has been posting odd frame-grabs which are fun but not spoilers. 1 2 3

I've been having to forcibly restrain myself from posting, "See? See? I told you it was astounding!" in his comments.

Meanwhile, Ubu Roi fantasizes about a pre-production conversation that never happened. And thank goodness it didn't. Can you imagine Harumi with Ikkitousen-sized breasts? Eeeew! Gross!

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in People at 08:33 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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