Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ants and Traffic Jams

Speaking of collective action (intelligence, anyway), ants can teach us how to beat city congestion. For those interested, Turtles, Termites, and Traffic Jams is an accessible introduction to the study and simulation of natural and artificial, distributed systems.

An African-American President AND a Cure For Cancer In My Lifetime?

It's really only the beginning of the road to any "cure," but still- pretty cool.

Yes. Yes You Are.

Or, perhaps, I should say were.

Department of Duh: Focus on Money Makes People Assholes

A study in Science makes the case that just getting people to focus on money makes them less cooperative and more individualistic. As Bob Sutton of Work Matters summarizes:
Compared to control subjects, those primed to focus on money:
  1. Were less likely to ask others for help
  2. Less likely to give others help
  3. Preferred to work alone
  4. Preferred to play alone
  5. Put more physical distance between themselves as a new acquaintance
I wonder if this sets money-centric people to fail in collective action type problems: A situation in which everyone (in a given group) has a choice between two alternatives and where, if everyone involved chooses the alternative act that is Individualistically Rational (IR), the outcome will be worse for everyone involved, in their own estimation, than it would be if they were all to choose the other alternative (i.e., than it would be if they were all to choose the alternative that is not IR). This is a real problem libertarian friends of mine have never seemed capable of absorbing. Hmmm.

Don't Want To Work?

Count Out. It's sort of like MineSweeper, but easier and faster.

M.I.A.'s Take on "Way Down in the Hole"

Wow, a song that embodies a strange confluence of things I like: Tom Waits, M.I.A. and The Wire.

Not its best incarnation, but interesting nonetheless.

Triumph, The Insult Comic Dog

Sure, it's old, but watching Triumph make fun of Star Wars Fans still makes me laugh.
Part 1
Part 2

Plus, there's a great interview, also old, with Triumph and then the man with his hand up Triumph's ass, Robert Smigel, from Fresh Air. The links to listen are just above Triumph's photo.

Repo! The Genetic Opera

Assasin! Murder! Monster! Oh, I can't wait for this one. Crazy diva Sarah Brightman is even in it!!

No Time For Love Dr. Jones!

If you see me posting, tell me to get back to work.

DOD Wants Pack Robots

The DOD wants robot packs to hunt for meatsacks humans:
The Department of Defense has put out a call: design a pack of robots. A so-called Multi-Robot Pursuit System would be used to "search for and detect a non-cooperative human subject." Each robot has to weigh 100 kilograms or less, act autonomously (with a human squad leader), negotiate obstacles, and provide immediate feedback. The robots would report back to a human operator, and defer to that human when the robot AI determines that a "difficult decision" is required.
Seriously though, I think it is an open question whether this sort of field operations automation is net positive or negative move in comparison with the usual field ops.

The Onion!

Winner of the lifetime achievement award for distractions: The Onion.

As expected, it comes through today.

Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job.

Sprint's Now Machine

Sprint has an interesting advert consisting of a "futuristic" dashboard. It is flashy, amusing and a perfect example of what we too often lack in our information sources, elegance, context and relevance. (via Flowing Data)

As a Rebuttle, Sort of...

I present today's Cat and Girl.

Not To Beat a Dead Horse...

... but WOW! We sure dodged a bullet by not having Sarah Palin as VP. I hope she's ashamed, but she's probably not.

From Carl Cameron at Fox News:
I wish I could have told you more at the time but all of it was put off the record until after the election. There was great concern in the McCain campaign that Sarah Palin lacked the degree of knowledgeability necessary to be a running mate, a vice president, and a heartbeat away from the presidency. We're told by folks that she didn't know what countries were in NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, that being the Canada, the US, and Mexico. We're told she didn't understand that Africa was a continent rather than a country just in itself ... a whole host of questions that caused serious problems about her knowledgeability. She got very angry at staff, thought that she was mishandled.....was particularly angry about the way the Katie Couric interview went. She didn't accept preparation for that interview when the aides say that that was part of the problem. And that there were times that she was hard to control emotionally there's talk of temper tantrums at bad news clippings.
And from Newsweek:
Palin's shopping spree at high-end department stores was more extensive than previously reported. While publicly supporting Palin, McCain's top advisers privately fumed at what they regarded as her outrageous profligacy. One senior aide said that Nicolle Wallace had told Palin to buy three suits for the convention and hire a stylist. But instead, the vice presidential nominee began buying for herself and her family-clothes and accessories from top stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. According to two knowledgeable sources, a vast majority of the clothes were bought by a wealthy donor, who was shocked when he got the bill. Palin also used low-level staffers to buy some of the clothes on their credit cards. The McCain campaign found out last week when the aides sought reimbursement. One aide estimated that she spent "tens of thousands" more than the reported $150,000, and that $20,000 to $40,000 went to buy clothes for her husband. Some articles of clothing have apparently been lost. An angry aide characterized the shopping spree as "Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast."
Thanks to my friend Jami from Not THAT Different for the quotes.


Graph Jam reminds me of indexed.

I like indexed.