I think I’ve just verified from my monthly stats that the majority of the activity on this site come from search engines and bots of one kind or another. The single biggest visitor, with about 160 visits in March, is the Spyonit.com bot. With luck, those hits are actually bringing a few people in. To everyone, bot and non-bot alike, welcome, and make yourselves at home!
Today’s Easter special: Somebody at Emory Medical School found a free operating room and performed some Marshmallow Peep Surgery. Apparently five of the little guys were joined hip-to-hip and required a sophisticated surgical procedure to separate them. Warning: these pages are quite explicit and not for the faint-of-heart. If you get queasy watching marshmallows bleed, this is not for you. [seen on BoingBoing]
One of the few good things about Oscar season is the bitchy Oscar show reviews. For a scalding run-down on this year’s antics, don’t miss Cintra Wilson’s piece at Salon… Oscars 2002: Somebody make it stop!. An excerpt:
I must warn the world about Tom Cruise. I feel he is an utterly terrifying Superior Life Form, with the power to melt heads and braid spines. His eyes are as hard, shiny and brutally penetrating as diamond drill-bits. The new braces on his teeth suggest that he is erasing all that remained of his tiny imperfections, and he is now metamorphosing into Ultra Super Perfection Man 3000.
Steven Vogel has written another book, bless his heart: Prime Mover: A Natural History of Muscle. He has written several books that focus on the engineering aspects of biological systems, that is, thinking of organisms in terms of their physical design. This is going to be one of the great themes of the 21st century, and he is a real pioneer in the field. Look for lots more books on this theme. In the meantime, considering buying Cat’s Paws and Catapults.
Article in The Atlantic by Jonathan Rauch: Seeing Around Corners. It’s about simulations, complex systems, and applications of systems-based thinking to historical analysis of things like the fate of the Anasazi in the southwest.
Speaking of simulations that help you understand the world, I assume you know that Stephen Wolfram’s book on cellular automata that is going to explain everything is finally coming out in May? Read his Q&A section that has helpful answers to questions like “I want to study your kind of science. Where can I go to do that?” Here he his describing the basic idea behind his book:
What started my work on A New Kind of Science are the discoveries I made about what simple computer programs can do. One might have thought that if a program was simple it should only do simple things. But amazingly enough, that isn’t even close to correct. And in fact what I’ve discovered is that some of the very simplest imaginable computer programs can do things as complex as anything in our whole universe.
Meta-blog that everybody else reads but I just discovered: Virginia Postrel’s Dynamist.com. Her site was popular enough last year to bring in $1490.00 from Amazon tips and book referrals. It won’t pay the rent, but it sure sounds like more than most “tip me” blogs pull.
Digital Biology, a book about synthetic life by Peter Bentley, got a favorable review in the NY Times. There’ve been a number of books published recently along these lines, notably Flesh and Machines by MIT AI and robotics wizard Rodney Brooks, and Creation by Creatures developer Steve Grand. It’s a lot to keep up with, but the Bentley book looks like the best place to dig in.
US Attorney General John Ashcroft is one weird dude. But don’t take my word for it.