Saturday, April 23, 2005

1-Minute Book Summaries

Whenever I find a book particularly interesting, I try to create a 1-2 page outline of its contents so that I can better internalize and later apply its contents.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting a few of these summaries. Let me know if you find them useful!

Wake Me Up When The Future Is Here

Scientists have been able to induce reversible hibernation in mice. Using the gas hydrogen sulfide, the scientists were able to induce a state of hibernation within minutes. The mice slowed their metabolism down dramatically, from 120 breaths per minute to 10, and dropped their body temperature from a normal 37C (98.6F) to as little as 11C (51F).

While the article mentions many possible uses, as an old-school Sci-Fi fan, I have to take them to task for not mentioning the possible applications to space travel. If hibernation is possible, it may make longer-term journeys to destinations such as Mars and the outer planets a much easier proposition.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Vitrual Worlds, Real Sensitivity

MMOs are being used to deliver cultural sensitivity training--by the U.S. Army. Who says the military doesn't get it? The U.S. Army has created VECTOR, Virtual Environment Cultural Training for Operational Readiness, to help troops be more culturally sensitive in Iraq. If it is successful, I hope that there will be more such applications in the civilian space as well.

Loving Your Work

Walter O'Rourke is a 65-year-old multi-millionaire whose current income from investments exceeds $2 million per year. He has a 140 acre property in Delaware. He owns two homes in Florida. He owns an insurance company. He is also New Jersey Transit conductor.

Obviously, he doesn't need the money. Heck, he owns the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad, a 112-mile stretch of track that runs along the Cheat River in West Virginia. He does it for the love, just as he builds model trains in a 2-storey, 4,000 square foot workshop, complete with 300 foot railroad track.

Walter sums it up best:"I realize that some people, especially some of my co-workers, might see me as a strange duck," Mr. O'Rourke said, feeding his new engine a drop of oil. "But where does it say that a man can't love what he does for a living?"

If you didn't have to work for a living, is there work that you would live to do? I'm on vacation, giving my kids a chance to see their grandparents (editor's note--this was true five days ago, when I first wrote this post. But dial-up issues prevented me from posting until now). It struck me that grandparenting is a lot like working a job that you love. You don't have to do it. But you love it so much that you can't get enough.

Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble

Want another sign that we're in a housing bubble? The proportion of homes being flipped (sold within 6 months of being bought) is at an all-time high. Said one real estate agent and flipper, "Two years ago we had plenty of fixer-uppers. I'm looking for fixer-uppers myself, and I can't find a . . . thing right now."

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Potpourri

No time to post separately, so three cool links:

Playas & Hatas, the new card game of hip hop culture. Lose your job? Go to jail? Gain points. Read a book? Get a degree? Lose points. It would be funny if it wasn't true. Can an MMOG version be far behind? Oh wait, it's already on its way.

An interview with Ray Kurzweil on the upcoming age of transferring human intelligence to silicon. As an added bonus, the interviewer is the redoubtable Cory Doctorow. As I've said before, I think going electronic is the only way we'll beat back the challenge of the intelligent machines.

An unbelievable comic book, using action figures, that shows what happens when The Thing of the Fantastic Four discovers that he's Jewish.

Enjoy!

Jane Goodall's Addiction

BoingBoing points out this Reuters story on a South African chimpanzee that has taken up smoking. The sad fact is that this isn't the only smoking chimpanzee--a chimp in China is busy cadging smokes from zoo visitors.