Max Headroom once again proves prescient

Surely you remember Max Headroom (which is still not on DVD). One of the myriad ideas in a series stuff with them was the idea of “blipverts”–short, concentrated ads designed to work in a future of 500 channels and people trying to avoid ads by any and all means. (Like I said, we’re living in a Science Fiction Present).
Anyway, Miller High Life has decided to do a series of one-second commercials. for the Super Bowl: Blipverts!
Let’s just hope no one explodes…

Dr. Tyson on Midmorning MPR–I get a question on again

Midmorning on MPR: Dr. Tyson
Readers of this space know that I listen to MPR complusively, and that they encourage online questions to their guests.
Today, Dr. Tyson of the AMNH’s Planetarium “The demoter of Pluto” was on at 9am. I threw a couple of questions at him, and they picked one to ask him.
My question came up at around the 48 minute mark of hour one, but its a fascinating conversation that is complusively listenable.
(FWIW, I asked about a theoretical idea–if Mars were put in the Kuiper Belt, by the “clear the orbit” test, it might not be a planet. Would it lose its planet status? Dr. Tyson gave an illuminating and thought provoking answer.

For Nearly Half of America, Grass Is Greener Somewhere Else; Denver Tops List of Favorite Cities

Pew study on cities
A new national survey by the Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends project finds that nearly half (46%) of the public would rather live in a different type of community from the one they’re living in now — a sentiment that is most prevalent among city dwellers
The Top three cities in the survey are Denver, San Diego and Seattle.
The bottom three cities are Detroit, Cincinnati and Cleveland.
Minneapolis is just above these three, and Kansas City, fifth from the bottom of the list of 30 cities.
The five least popular big cities — Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Kansas City and Minneapolis — are all in the Midwest. These attitudes reflect what government data indicate about the nation’s migration patterns: Americans are leaving the Northeast and the Midwest in favor of the South and the West.

Dudley succeeds Geithner as NY Fed Head

New York Fed Names William C. Dudley President
NEW YORK–William C. Dudley was named today to serve as president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. His appointment by the board of directors of the New York Fed, succeeding Timothy F. Geithner who was sworn in as Secretary of the Treasury yesterday, was approved by the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.
Stephen Friedman, chairman of the New York Fed’s board of directors and of the search committee that selected Mr. Dudley, said, “We were fortunate to have an exceptional slate of candidates for the post. The board is very pleased with the selection of Bill Dudley. His deep economics background, extensive working knowledge of the markets and hands-on policy making role make him an outstanding choice to succeed Tim Geithner.”
Denis M. Hughes, deputy chairman and a member of the board search committee, said, “Bill has led our Markets Group at a crucial time and helped conceptualize, develop and manage many of the Fed’s responses to extraordinary financial conditions. Under his leadership, the New York Fed will continue to work closely with the Treasury and the Board of Governors in dealing with the economic situation we confront.”
Mr. Dudley, 56, was executive vice president of the Markets Group at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He was also the manager of the System Open Market Account for the Federal Open Market Committee. He oversaw domestic open market and foreign exchange trading operations and the provisions of account services to foreign central banks. Dudley expanded the Federal Reserve’s contacts with the buy-side investment community and through the Bank’s Treasury Market Practices Group was active in pushing forward the implementation of new best practices.
“I am honored to have this opportunity to lead an institution of such high quality–its people and their collective commitment to the public good are exemplary,” said Bill Dudley. “The New York Fed, standing at the critical intersection of the financial markets and the banking system, has a leading role to play in assisting in the reform of the architecture of the U.S. and global financial system to ensure that what has transpired over the past year can never occur again.”
Prior to joining the Bank in January 2007, Mr. Dudley was a partner and managing director at Goldman, Sachs & Company and served for a decade as the firm’s chief U.S. economist. At Goldman he held a variety of positions including senior foreign exchange economist. Prior to joining Goldman, his work focused on regulatory and payments issues as a vice president at Morgan Guaranty Trust Company and as an economist in the financial studies department at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. He has been a member of the Technical Consultants group to the Congressional Budget Office and a member of the Economic Advisory Committee to the New York Fed.
Mr. Dudley received his doctorate in economics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1982 and a Bachelor of Arts degree from New College, Sarasota, Florida in 1974.
Mr. Dudley and his wife, Ann E. Darby, reside in New Jersey.

Old wounds show that Triceratops used its horns for combat

Via Scienceblogs…
Thanks to its trinity of horns, Triceratops has become of the most recognisable of dinosaurs. The sight of two bulls charging at each other and jousting with their horns must have been an incredible one – geeky palaeontologists might get a small thrill just thinking about it. But did it ever really happen? Did Triceratops ever use its unmistakeable horns in combat, or were they simply for show?
Both theories have been put forward, but Andrew Farke from the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Palaeontology thinks that both were probably right. By looking at the pattern of injuries on the skulls Triceratops specimens, his team has found evidence that the dinosaur really did use its horns for duelling, and its giant neck frill for protection. Triceratops was effectively a reptilian knight that carried two lances and a shield on top of its enormous head.

Triceratops is one of the cooler of the dinosaurs, and one of my favorites. It doesn’t surprise me that the horns on a “trike” were functional as well as decorative.
I think I have mentioned elsewhere that there are only four complete triceratops skeletons on display in all of the United States.
I’ve seen three of them (St. Paul,New York and Washington, D.C). Improbably, the fourth one is in Milwaukee.

The shame of my home borough

Three Are Charged in Attacks on Election Night
Like countless other Americans that night, a group of young Staten Island men gathered on Nov. 4 to watch election results, and then took to the streets when it became clear that the country had elected its first black president.
But, the authorities say, they were not out to celebrate. Armed with a police-style baton and a metal pipe, they attacked a black teenager, pushed another black man, harassed a Hispanic man and, in a finishing flourish, ran over a white man who they thought was black, leaving him in a coma, the authorities said.

[…]
According to prosecutors, the men gathered at a “makeshift outdoor clubhouse” to watch the election results on the Internet. Shortly after learning that Mr. Obama had won, they and a fourth man “decided to find African-Americans to assault in retaliation for an African-American man becoming president,” the prosecution papers said.
Having lived on Staten Island for more than 30 years of my life…I am ashamed, but unfortunately not surprised.

My Super Bowl XLIII Pick…

Now that we are in the home stretch of the Super Bowl week(s) its time for
me to make my Super Bowl Pick.
First, let me say that I would pay money to see the scenario envisioned by Gregg Easterbrook., where he once again suggests that Kurt Warner is an alien, the Cardinals could win the Super Bowl with him, and he will be beamed aboard a starcruiser after he gets the Lombardi trophy.
*That* would be cool. I have to admit that even without the alien trappings, the idea of a Cardinals Superbowl win would be one of the most improbable events in 43 Super Bowls. It would be a Super Bowl win for the ages–the year after my Giants made one for the ages by beating the Patriots. Can we be lucky two years in a row??
Unfortunately, I think the “two weeks off” is going to cool the red hot Cardinals, and we’ll get a plodding victory by the Steelers. It won’t be anywhere near as entertaining as one might hope.
Pittsburgh 24 Arizona 16

A prayer for Archimedes

http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/8974/title/A_Prayer_for_Archimedes
Via the Lensman’s Chldren
in the closet of a family in France, passed down from one generation to the next. Its mildewed parchment pages were stiff and contorted, tarnished by burn marks and waxy smudges. Behind the text of the prayers, faint Greek letters marched in lines up the page, with an occasional diagram disappearing into the spine.
The owners wondered if the strange book might have some value, so they took it to Christie’s Auction House of London. And in 1998, Christie’s auctioned it off–for two million dollars.
For this was not just a prayer book. The faint Greek inscriptions and accompanying diagrams were, in fact, the only surviving copies of several works by the great Greek mathematician Archimedes.
This palimpest (one of my favorite words) reminds me, perversely of the movie Prince of Darkness, where a palimpest with advanced mathematics mixed in with Gnostic type theology is a major plot point in the movie.

Gaiman wins Newberry, Minnesota tries to claim him as one of their own

Author Neil Gaiman’s spooky book wins Newbery honor
As you have seen elsewhere, Gaiman’s “The Graveyard Book” has won the ALA’s Newbery award, adding yet award to the ever lengthening list of awards won by one of the best F/SF authors of this generation.
What amuses me is the tendency and propensity for Minnesota to claim people as their own. I’ve noticed that MPR likes to do articles on actors and authors with what they call “Minnesota connections”. (The Coen Brothers get a lot of love in this regard) Gaiman falls into this category–even though he really lives in Western Wisconsin.
Now, if I could somehow get local F/SF authors like Lois Bujold and Lyda Morehouse to the attention of MPR, maybe they could get some press for *their* books. The Wyrdsmiths (the Twin Cities Speculative Fiction Writers Group) has a nice little nest of authors, and before I even knew there was a group, I managed to read books by a number of them.