Tuesday Topsight, September 30, 2008
New site logo -- what do you think?
Spam spam spam spam: C Sven Johnson has a post up today at Futurismic that's definitely worth a look: When 3D Spam Got Old. It actually takes place in the Superstruct future, but does a good job of describing what the world looks like when spammers get into your home fabber.
I can remember the first “fab spam” outbreak like it was yesterday.
Ever walk through a field and come out on the other end with burrs clinging to your clothes? Well, imagine something like those little burrs spilling out of your home fabber. Embedding themselves in the shag carpet. Attaching to an angry cat. Perforating your foot.
If you bothered to look closely, you might even have seen the maker’s mark … right beneath the words “Firewall Protection Software” or “Network Security Services”.
In a constantly-networked world, the most powerful decision you make is to shut off the connection.
It's Alive! Alive!: Take a look at this map of the growth of Walmart across the US, from 1962 to 2007. It's the most powerful argument I've yet seen for treating the study of markets as a form of epidemiology. It's a flash animation, so give it a minute.
Walmart's dominance rests on three key factors: cheap oil; cheap labor; and limited transparency. All three of these factors have been called into question, and at least two are very likely to go away in the near future (cheap oil & limited transparency). Cheap labor may take a bit longer, but it's probably not long for the world, at least priced in dollars.
Of course, the fabbers referenced above may end up being the final coffin-nail for companies like Walmart.
I wonder what the map of this giant's collapse will look like.
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians: Well, not yet, but with the north pole turning into a big pond, Santa & company will be looking for new digs. Where better than Mars, where the Phoenix lander has now detected the presence of snow falling in the thin air.
A laser instrument designed to gather knowledge of how the atmosphere and surface interact on Mars has detected snow from clouds about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) above the spacecraft’s landing site, the researchers reported. Data show the snow vaporizing before reaching the ground.
“Nothing like this” has been found before on Mars, said Jim Whiteway of York University, Toronto, lead scientist for the Canadian-supplied Meteorological Station on Phoenix. “We’ll be looking for signs that the snow may even reach the ground.” No photographs were taken of the purported snow.
Mars Phoenix is at the planet's south pole, and the long Martian summer has now turned to autumn. It's likely that the lander will go quiet before conditions would allow snowfall closer to the ground.