Monthly Archives: November 2006

So much for "unanimous" – an inconvenient truth

Al Gore’s new movie on global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth,” opens with scenes from Hurricane Katrina slamming into New Orleans. The former vice president says unequivocally that because of global warming, it is all but certain that future hurricanes will be more violent and destructive than those in the past.

With the official start of hurricane season days away, meteorologists are unanimous that the 2006 tropical storm season, which runs from June 1 through November, is likely to be a doozy.

(emp. mine)
Can you name a single hurricane from 2006? If not, don’t be too hard on yourself -it’s “the most tranquil season in a decade“.

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Another Putin critic assasinated by radiation

As if you needed more proof that Russia has reverted to a dictatorship, the Brits have found conclusive evidence that yet another Putin critic has been assassinated by radiation.

Security sources said MI5 believes the Russian intelligence services assassinated Mr Litvinenko. Britain made a formal request to Moscow for help in the murder investigation. But Mr Putin left diplomats open-mouthed with claims that the former spy did not die ‘a violent death’.

At a dramatic press conference in London the Health Protection Agency (HPA) revealed that he had been killed by a ‘large dose’ of radioactive polonium 210, and not thallium as previously thought.

Only a speck of it would have been enough to prove fatal once it got into his system, probably by being slipped into his drink or on to food.

Whoever did this must have been expert in the dosage because giving him too much would have caused almost instant death while it took weeks for him to become gravely ill, giving the killer ample chance to escape.

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Put your thoughts on a Starbucks coffee cup!

Starbucks has a “The Way I See It” program that accepts submissions from customers and celebrities to be printed on their coffee cups. You can comment on the random thoughts you found on one of their cups, or submit your own. Most of the submissions are predictably boring. Wouldn’t it be great to see some really great ideas on a cup? Submit yours here.

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The console market

According to market research firm iSuppli, the newly released PS3 game console costs Sony $241-$400 for each console sold. This is not the cost of the system – this is the net loss to the company after subtracting the price of each console from the cost of the components.

Game console makers like Sony and Microsoft take an initial loss for each system sold so they can provide the very best product to the customer. Of course they wouldn’t do this unless they believed that the initial loss would eventually yield a net profit. They make up for the loss in two ways. First, they take advantage of accelerating technology to get cheaper components. For example, while Microsoft initially took a $126 loss for each Xbox 360 sold, it now makes a $75 profit due to the cheaper cost of the components. It’s probable that some of the cost decrease comes from manufacturers who compete for the console maker’s business. Second, they take a cut of the price of every game sold for their system.

Think about the gamble such decisions involve. Microsoft bets on how many million systems will sell at a given performance level to determine whether it will recoup its costs. Hardware manufacturers bet on the success of a given console to decide where to direct their research. Game makers decide which platform deserves years of development time. Consumers, by comparison, face the least risk, but they must also decide which console will be successful and have the games they want. Success is far from guaranteed – consoles fail as often as they succeed, often taking their company down with them. Remember the Sega Dreamcast?

Do you have a sense yet for the excitement of markets? Such strategic decisions are made every day in every industry — to the extent that it is free. Why doesn’t Hollywood make movies about THIS, rather than yet another gang of thieves bickering with each other as they complete yet another caper?

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Ray Kurzweil on C-SPAN

There is an excellent three-hour interview with technologist and futurist Ray Kurzweil available on C-SPAN. Watch now.

This rare three-hour long interview allowed him to discuss his ideas in depth and take calls from the public. The show profiles his many inventions (starting with a videotape of his 1965 appearance at age 17 on “I’ve Got A Secret” with Steve Allen).

It also covers his career, ideas, and recent books, “The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology” and “Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough To Live Forever.”

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Richard Dawkins has some advice

Richard Dawkins offers some advice for students of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, which has an exibit of dinosaur bones that are “3,000 years old.” Watch the video here. More on his site.

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