Fun Japanophile blog Pink Tentacle has a series of 19th century stereoscope views with the dual views scanned and overlaid in a animated GIF. This yields a very reasonable color (probably hand tinted) 3D facsimile of life in pre-industrial Japan. Fascinating! (I would not suggest viewing this if you have any epileptic tendencies...)
I find this clip incredibly poignant. A man who believes we can still talk about it meets one who's drawn battle lines. In many ways, an archetypal representation of our society in this final year of the 'aughts'.
And here I was taught in school that 'progressives' were in favor of breaking up trusts and big companies. Now being 'too big to fail' is a ticket to becoming a taxpayer-subsidized arm of the government. Somewhere, the meaning of 'progressive' changed a bit. Just like movie zombies, the best thing to do with these is to blow them to bits, and give those a decent burial.
Update: Nearly half the top execs at the Zombie Seven have already left since June. Good luck with getting decent people to back fill. If it isn't clear from above, I regard the Original Sin as being the bailouts. That extra-legal deviation from standard bankruptcy proceedings not only diminished investor confidence in every sector touched, but is the direct cause and excuse for this abrogation of contracts. Obama's (and Bush's) shillings come dearly, and we'll be paying for them in taxes, inflation, and reduced trust in the market for years to come.
If you're trying to keep up with the rapid progress in synthetic biology or genomics generally, here's a nice get-you-up-to-speed primer (PDF) from Scott Mohr. Dating from mid-2007, it only contains one of three sections advertised in the front matter, that on 'Molecular Biology for Novices', but that's 73 pages of reasonably dense material right there.
I grew up on "Blue Book Biology" a 'few years' ago, and amazingly it's still in print, in its ninth edition. That plus the intervening years of perusing the odd Scientific American (more recently, American Scientist) article left me able to follow things like the Church and Venter talk, but lacking confidence that I had the whole story. Mohr's piece is a good level set for those with similar aging or informal backgrounds. What's interesting is that the understanding of what is going on in the cell hasn't changed that much from my high school BSCS days, but the understanding of how it happens has grown immensely more sophisticated and - increasingly - modifiable.
Of all the sins in his list, the most deadly is the mental habit of evaluating every move by its impact on the former core business. Not only does it cripple the formation and success of internal ventures, but it forms an obvious constraint that the entrepreneurial minding can alleviate by leaving and setting up in competition. Temple talks about the Rocky's difficulty in retaining its Web staff against recruiting from 'pure plays', the lesson transfer to other industries and markets.
Russ Beattie lays a deserved smackdown on Yahoo's new ad campaign and 'mission statement': "To be the center of people's online lives." Yet another bland marketing makeover on the wish buried in the heart of every cableco, telco and erstwhile portal out there - to 'own the customer'. But the slogan, and the associated ad campaign so far as I've seen it, fail to make the case that an Internet user - maybe we ought to say customer - should go along with that idea. This is an expensive burnishing of a brand that's lost significance to a population now largely used to finding their own way around the intertubes. Just what are you offering us, Y!hoo? Russ' post gives examples of mission statements that propose values for the customer, and offers a suggestion for Yahoo. Management should contemplate on that, and the fact that they've gotten their behind kicked by a company that was short on media budget, but long on value actually delivered to users.
If you've any interest in geonomics, synthetic biology, or engineered evolution, you should check out the nearly six hours of lectures sponsored by Edge.org, presented by Drs. George Church and Craig Venter (mostly the former). Unless you've been following these areas month-by-month, you're out of date. Progress in gene sequencing has accelerated to a 10x improvement per year. Venter and others have figured out how to borrow naturally occurring mechanisms to aid the assembly of much larger artificial genomes. Results are being obtained in days that would formerly take months, or were in the realm of science fiction. If you haven't time for the whole thing, try segment four for the densest presentation of new developments, though you'll need some prior background to keep up. This one of the best up-to-speed briefs you're ever going to find for free. Hats off to the Edge guys.
It appears the type of folks who formerly bought GM and Chrysler products don't appreciate being forced to support them, and the Prius crowd aren't interested in changing their buying habits to rescue the UAW. Who knew? While it's a shame to watch even more taxpayer dollars go down the rat hole as the auto bailouts fail, it's probably worth the cost as an object lesson to those who want to substitute rent-seeking for actually serving customers well.