Bots in review 2008: Here's a collection of vids of some of the most interesting robotic work of the past year. The Japanese are still on the humanoid path, but the diversity of forms from elsewhere is intriguing. If you haven't seen the Big Dog DARPA project, be sure to check it out - it's apparent mannerisms range from gigantic bug to strangely human. The USC reconfigurable components projects is also of interest; up to now robotics hasn't had much 'platformness' - they are all pretty much tailored to single functions.
How to become a newspaper millionaire. Start with a billion. (Rimshot.) The last week has brought us a Russian oligarch buying up the Evening Standard of London, for assumption of debts and one UK pound, and Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim putting $250m of senior debt into the New York Times, helping the Grey Lady keep the wolf from the door, and further diluting the Sulzbergers. Slim's track record when away from his telco and media monopolies is quite mixed. He managed to buy Prodigy just as the Internet was swamping the proprietary online services, and CompUSA as the computer specialty retail channel imploded. Update: More on Slim and the NYT.
It's official. La Niña is back. The reverse of the better-known El Niño Pacific Ocean climate pattern that brings floods to California, La Niña instead brings us drought. With last year already being short of rain, we could well be looking at water rationing and an even more intense fire season this year. This to go with California's economic woes, both micro and macro.
Good luck to President Obama. I didn't vote for him, but I wish him well. May he do better than I have feared. That doesn't mean the political bent here will change. I'll take my stand with Perry de Havilland:
So now is not the time for 'unity' and 'bipartisanship', which is just a genteel way of demanding surrender, it is the time for resistance and the renewal of purpose by those who see the liberty and prosperity that comes from constitutionally limited government as a prize worth any price to defend.
Hopefully, dissent is still patriotic post January 20th.