A fundamental value problem. Jeff Nolan has a smart post on why creating an online consortium of newspapers won't solve their problems. RTWT. A newspaper is already a bundle of information of various types, a bundle whose value is breaking down. Putting together a bunch of these bundles into a super aggregation of some sort doesn't fix the fundamentally broken premise. Even creating new bundles sliced along topical lines may be problematic unless there's some fundamental rethinking: The Associated Press is such a topical bundle and it's not exactly covering itself in glory. As Jeff points out, some deeper rethinking about both the cost and product side is required.
Chocolate is love. and it's good for you, too. Put it on the healthy diet list right next to red wine. More proof that your favorite deity wants you to be happy.
Bio-nannies on the march. Our betters in the California Department of Health are taking it taking it upon themselves to send out 'cease and desist' notices to companies providing genomic marker scans direct to consumers. It's less than clear that the laws about 'diagnostic' tests apply to results intended for general information, given that there's no immediate therapeutic intent. It is clear that California state government continues to drive the innovation golden goose to other locales.
While we're discouraging investment. Ever time a US oil refinery goes down for maintenance or due to an accident, the price of gasoline and other products spikes. The refining process runs right at the edge of being a choke point in our energy supply, and any glitch affects the end supply and hence the price point. That might have something to do with the fact there have been no new refineries built here since 1976. Perhaps some fresh investment would be in order. But no, the House Democrats think we should nationalize them instead. What a fine move to send any potential expansion capital running the other way. The Democrats are economic illiterates, or just don't care.
Train travel is a luxury. Trying to turn long distance routes into an alternative to air travel is inherently flawed. Charlie Martin runs the numbers. Commuter rail can make money, if not run by politicians. The long haul routes are for those out for adventure, not for business people on a schedule. Repackage and reprice them accordingly.
alt.singularity A nice catalog of potential technology breakthroughs that could lead to a 'singularity', without requiring either human-equivalent AI or de novo molecular scale nano-engineering. While these two seem to be articles of faith for some singularists, they both have the problem of a very low observed learning rate. Regardless of theoretical possibility, capital requirements and technology path dependency suggest that nanotech will emerge from some combination of carbon chemistry and silicon processing. Human replication seems to be going nowhere fast; emphasizing complementary and symbiotic intelligences in the machine phase seems more the ticket. It's good to see so many other break-out possibilities, given my skepticism on these two.