A lot goes into deciding whether to fire the thrusters for one second.
Dr. Josef Oehmen explains the nuclear accident in Japan:
I am writing this text (Mar 12) to give you some peace of mind regarding some of the troubles in Japan, that is the safety of Japan’s nuclear reactors. Up front, the situation is serious, but under control. And this text is long! But you will know more about nuclear power plants after reading it than all journalists on this planet put together.
A regular reader forwarded me this link, which explains not only what’s happening at the Fukushima plant in Japan, but also, in concise terms, how the reactor works in the first place.
Once you’ve read that piece, you can totally understand what’s going on with the Unit 3 reactor, which subsequently suffered a cooling failure.
Update: Patrick McKenzie on the incredible success of Japan’s disaster response.
Freeman Dyson’s recent New York Review of Books article on information science is one of the most interesting things I’ve read lately. Where else are you going to read about the similarities between Wikipedia and Congolese drum language? These days, the ways that big data is changing how businesses operate is widely discussed. He explains how big data is changing how science is conducted and indeed how biological evolution is moving more toward big data. It’s a must read.
Here’s a must read, or at least must forward, article on climate change from the New York Times: A Scientist, His Work and a Climate Reckoning. Basically it’s a long review of what we know about climate change, how long we’ve known it, and what we can do about it at this point. It also covers the way that climate change deniers work to undermine things that are generally accepted basic scientific facts. The thing that really stood out to me is that the basic mechanism of climate change and the expected results have been well known since the 1960s. Deniers like to say that in the 70’s alarmists worried about global cooling, but the truth is that climate scientists have understood climate change perfectly well.
National Geographic provides the most straightforward and understandable explanation of global warming that you’ll find, using the bathtub as a metaphor. It explains why atmospheric carbon levels are rising and why it’s going to be very difficult to get them to fall.
- Discover Magazine: The Brain: Stop Paying Attention: Zoning Out Is a Crucial Mental State. Neuroscientists explain my usual state of mind.
- FireQuery. jQuery-specific enhancements for Firebug.
- The Zinn-Segaran Experiential Greatness Scale. You never know when this is going to come in handy.
- Bruce Schneier: The Pros and Cons of Password Masking. I think it all depends on the environment in which the password will be entered.
- Threat Level: Judge Acquits Lori Drew in Cyberbullying Case, Overrules Jury. This lady is a hateful loser, but making it a crime to violate a site's terms of service is awfully bad law.
- Shared Equity Mortgages. An interesting idea for people who don’t have enough money to make a down payment on their house.
- Vanity Fair: Todd S. Purdum on Sarah Palin. An awesome article that ran on Sarah Palin just before she resigned.
- Glenn Greenwald: The suppressed fact: Deaths by U.S. torture. In the discussions of torture, the number of people who were waterboarded is discussed frequently, the number of people in US custody who have died almost never is.
- O’Reilly Radar: Radical Transparency: The New Federal IT Dashboard. Pretty amazing application of Drupal.
- O’Reilly Radar: Want A Job? Learn SharePoint, Says Gary Blatt. There’s a whole other world out there I barely know exists.
- Firefox 3.5 for developers. The stuff you need to know.
- Scott Rosenberg: Salon.com IPO: It was ten years ago today. I thought it was a bad idea back then.
- Robert Reich: Why the Critics of a Public Option for Health Care Are Wrong. I’m not giving up on real health care reform.
- FiveThirtyEight: George F. Will Admits Public Option Will Cut Costs. At least half the stuff people are saying about health insurance isn’t true.
- Slate: Why do Iranian police uniforms say "police" in English? I was wondering.
I have no idea where this image illustrating the relative size of the Earth compared to other bodies in the universe came from, but it’s amazing.
I admit, I’m a total sucker for this sort of thing.
There are a whole ton of links in the backlog today.
- xhtmlrenderer: The Flying Saucer Project. A tool to render HTML in PDF format (supports CSS).
- Antonio Cangiano: Ruby’s Biggest Challenge for 2009. A plea for Ruby developers to move to Ruby 1.9.1. Getting all of the libraries and Rails plugins updated is going to be a big job.
- TV Guide: Battlestar Galactica’s Ron Moore Answers Our Burning Questionsm. I totally get the unhappiness with all of the deus ex machina aspects of the series finale, but I enjoyed it anyway.
- Thoughtbot: Testing Rake’s Integration. How to write integration tests for Rake tasks.
- Doug Bowman: Goodbye Google. Remarks on leaving Google. Nice reading for all of us who were never offered a job by Google.
- The Big Picture: Scenes from 30,000 meters above. High altitude photographs taken by a weather balloon launched by Spanish students.
- The Best Pictures from the BOREALIS Archives. Another student weather balloon project.
- Karl Martino: Here’s to dreaming big and doing it. More links relating to the weather balloon project.
- What they make: The highest paid chief executives in digital media. I’m surprised the CEO of Tivo makes more than the CEO of Netflix.
- WoW Insider: Authenticator app coming to iPhones, iPods, and other mobile devices. Blizzard is expanding the authentication options that prevent World of Warcraft account theft.
- FiveThirtyEight: Why AIG Paid the “Bonuses”. Most interesting remarks I’ve read on this topic.
- istartedsomething: Expression Web SuperPreview makes cross-browser testing like moist delicious cake. Seems like a major advance in cross-browser testing.
- Laughing Meme: Streams, affordances, Facebook, and rounding errors. Insightful remarks on the Facebook redesign.
- New York Times: Hadoop, Analytical Software, Finds Uses Beyond Search. I still don’t understand MapReduce as well as I should.
- Antonio Cangiano: Introducing Redis: a fast key-value database. Still looking for the right project to use this technology for.
- The Annotated Watchmen. For after I finish the graphic novel.
- Kurt Cagle: Is Dreamweaver being beaten by Drupal? The real question being asked is whether the features associated with dynamic database-driven Web sites are more compelling than the pinpoint control and top notch user experience of Dreamweaver.
- Pathfinder Development: Keeping Up With The Joneses: Keeping Rails and its extensions up to date. Managing dependencies is generally one of the most unpleasant aspects of any software development project.
- Eric Burke: Ban Software Patents. Yet another example of ludicrous patents.
- Michael Ruhlman: Michael Symon’s Pickled Chillis. Really cool recipe.
- Serial Consign: Desktop Deja Vu. The history of the default desktop picture that shipped with Windows XP.
- useum: Measuring Social Participation in a Science Museum. Useful for more than just museums.
- Wired: The Untold Story of the World’s Biggest Diamond Heist. Looks fascinating but I’m not reading it ’til my Wired comes in the mail.
- High Performance Web Sites: Performance Impact of CSS Selectors. Hard numbers on the varying performance of different CSS selectors. Also a reminder that there’s a lot more we could be measuring that we don’t.
- oobject: formula 1 user interfaces. Incredibly fascinating comparison of the current state of steering wheels in Formula 1 cars.
- PC Pro Blog: I’m sorry but Dreamweaver is dying. Another argument that high end page-based authoring tools are giving way to Drupal.
These links are for the past three days.
- fudgestudios’s bort at master – Skeleton Ruby on Rails project with a common set of plugins already baked in. I need to create a version of this for myself.
- Michael Ruhlman: Anti-Bacterial America. An inspired rant about Americans becoming germophobes and the implications of that transition.
- Aten Design Group: On Becoming a Drupal Development Shop. I’m fascinated by a company tying itself so closely to one tool.
- Jason Kottke: More on Candy Land. Pointers to an interesting discussion on the value of Candy Land as a game.
- The Guardian: Attenborough reveals creationist hate mail for not crediting God.
- rentzsch’s clicktoflash at master. New home of the Safari plugin that blocks Flash movies.
- Al Arabiya: Obama tells Al Arabiya peace talks should resume. The first big interview of the Obama presidency goes to the Arab media.
- Marc Lynch: Obama to Arabs: “what you’ll see is someone who is listening”. Analysis of Obama’s interview with Al Arabiya.
- The CMS Myth.
- mezzoblue: Sprite Optimization. A very cool technique that I just learned about.
- FiveThirtyEight.com: Just Five Red States Left? This is a map we can believe in.
- Media Matters: O’Reilly don’t know much about (WWII) history. Jessica Alba knows more geography than Bill O’Reilly. Not surprising.
- Dr. Saturday: Hug your friendly neighborhood recruiting rankings. In light of the recent articles on talking about how hard it is to project the performance of professional football players based on college performance, it’s interesting that the performance of college teams can be predicted fairly accurately by the quality of their recruiting classes.
- How to Choose Chart Types. Very useful resource for determining which kind of chart to use to visualize data.