Thursday, February 26, 2009

Winning the cold war

Gosper tells the story of one of the old minicomputers in the computer history museum, built during the cold war. The Soviets were trying to keep up technologically, and managed to acquire this particular model through devious and circuitous routes. They proceeded to reverse engineer it and build thousands of duplicates on their own, making it the dominant computer of its kind in the USSR.

The US government discovered this and thoroughly chastized the manufacturer for allowing this technological breach.

However, Gosper asserts that the architecture and instruction set were such a loss that the machine set the soviets back further than if they had designed their own machine from scratch, and that the manufacturer instead should have been given a medal for thier indirect assistance to the western world.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Is legalization of marijuana an astroturf by big tobacco?

I see stories on digg and reddit almost daily about how wonderful it'd be if we legalized marijuana. I tend to support it out of libertarian sensibilities, but I'm suspicious about the sheer volume and variety of things I see supporting it online.

I'm sure there are plenty of people who support it, and perhaps the elite posters on digg and reddit just happen to be in that camp. But I can't help suspecting that Big Tobacco sees this as their exit strategy from the increasingly unpopular tobacco industry domestically. Anyone have any evidence for or against that hypothesis?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Over 50% of the world population in the middle class

This article in The Economist is really remarkable! I had no idea so many people in the world were doing so well. The associated statistics are also quite remarkable.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The opposite of happiness is boredom

From 31 laws of fun:

Timothy Ferris: "What is the opposite of happiness? Sadness? No. Just as love and hate are two sides of the same coin, so are happiness and sadness... The opposite of love is indifference, and the opposite of happiness is - here's the clincher - boredom... The question you should be asking isn't 'What do I want?' or 'What are my goals?' but 'What would excite me?'... Living like a millionaire requires doing interesting things and not just owning enviable things."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Why walmart doesn't suck. Also, on careers.

I've had this vague sense for a while, but this article gives some concrete facts in favor of Walmart. Another winner from the NY Post!

And on an unrelated note, I ran across this Kurt Vonnegut quote recently, and it struck me as amusingly true:

“If you can do a half-assed job of anything, you're a one-eyed man in a kingdom of the blind.”