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Khaaaaan – RIP

In case you haven’t heard the news, Ricardo Montalban passed away.

JRR Tolkein Interview

The Hobbit

It looks like Peter Jackson may finally get to make The Hobbit. It would be an understatement to say that this is freaking awesome.

Brain Backups

Gordon Bell and others are working on technology that they hope will allow us to make backups of our memories. This falls in that category of being simultaneously cool and creepy.

Engage Your Brain

TED – Technology, Entertainment, Design

TED is a group that brings in people of many views on many topics who talk about big ideas. You’ll hear thoughts on everything from religion to story telling to science and technology and anything else bright people talk about. Some will challenge you to ponder new ideas, and some will infuriate you. All of them have the potential to make you think.

Some recent topics:

Woz on Housing Design?

Steve Wozniak (the Woz), the engineer who actually designed and built the original Apple computer, is getting interested in energy efficient housing. For as much as Apple is known for its design style and simplicity, I wonder how much of that philosophy came from Woz? (I’d wager his is as much an influence as Mr. Jobs.) Like many geek engineers, his idea was born of the desire to “scratch an itch:”

I have a long dream to build my own house in a very energy-efficient approach. That’s going to be very soon. It uses the right kind of wood that serves as a heater and as an air conditioner, combined with some other techniques in how the wood is assembled to operate energy life pressure. You don’t have to add energy into a house after you build it. I love that concept. It’s like the way I used to make computers.

A brief political aside: I like Steve’s approach here. This statement comes close to the way I think about these things, not from the typical Left/Green/Let’s-go-back-to-the-stone-age vs. Right/Consuming/Let-it-all-burn caricatures that we hear in the news every day:

The term “energy efficient” is rather vague. At some level it implies some form of conservation. I have great reservations with that concept as well. One aspect of conservation is to use less so that there is more to go around, either to more people or for a longer time. I disagree with this concept pretty strongly. Personally I want to conserve but I wouldn’t push that concept on others as a “right” way to live. I only want to serve as an example.

Ever the true engineer, he gets to the point that efficiency is the result of good design. I like this. I don’t live life trying to be wasteful. Nor do I go about worrying that I’m a greedy jerk using up everything at everyone else’s expense. When it comes to actually using things, as we must, the goal should not be to regulate everyone’s use, since things still get used, but to encourage people to live in a way that is not wasteful. This idea is not, and cannot be, merely for those who use things. It also has to be a part of the design and creation of things. In other interviews, Steve has commented that his thoughts on house design are similar to the way he used to make computers. Again, it’s about the design:

Simple design. Think about the right way to build something and take a lot of time to get it the best that can be done with the fewest resources used. No waste. Build it right and with few parts it does a lot. Don’t cover things with more and more and more technology for features. Design them in from the start. It starts with the architect, of a home or a computer, working from a knowledge of the building materials and a desire to choose wisely.

One last thought. For as much arguing as there is over consumerism, environmentalism, and conservation, I encourage everyone to think about Steve’s last statement in the article. So many people get into these discussions on a superficial level without thinking through the implications of their positions. Is ethanol really an efficient, “green” fuel source? Are electric cars and hybrids really better than gal-only cars? The answers aren’t as simple as the popular arguments suggest. I’ll let Steve have the last word.

The total formula for saving energy can be quite deceptive. It’s not
correct to say that you are energy efficient when it’s only in one way
but your net is negative. For example, an electric car may use only
half as much, or a third as much, energy as the same sized car using
gasoline. But if it costs $100,000 then you realize that you wouldn’t
spend that much on gasoline over the life of any car. And even using
the car uses some gasoline or coal used to create the electricity, to
charge your batteries. If the car is inefficient in some ways it may
even use more coal per mile but you’ll be telling all your friends that
it uses none. The cost of something is a reasonable estimate as to how
many resources (of the Earth) you used to build the device. Don’t take
your instant opinion on energy efficient technologies to be correct.
Ask a lot of deep questions and hold off until you are very sure.

Wide Margin Greek New Testament

If you happen to be in the market for a new Greek New Testament, the new Nestle-Aland Novum Teatamentum Graece (NA27) is now available in a Wide Margin Edition. If I hadn’t bought a Greek NT last year, I’d pick this up. As is, I’ll have to keep a notebook for any notes I make in the future. Perhaps I need to pick up a Moleskine and keep it bound to my NT.

Get it at Amazon.
Or, get it from the publisher.
(No offense to the publisher, but Amazon is about $22 cheaper.)

(HT: Michael at the BHT)

Three Bits of Random Goodness

Linky Goodness

The inevitable side effect of following too many blogs is that you find too many cool links to share. Most of the time I sit on them for a couple days, and if I still have a passing interest, I’ll pass them along. Sites like Lifehacker and Lifehack provide endless linkage. Sometimes I feel like I’m acting like a mini-feed for them, but that’s ok. They have a lot of good stuff. Today I’ll only pass on two, though.

80 Photoshop text effects
Book discussion: Chip and Dan Heath’s Made to Stick (Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die)
    Here’s the obligatory Amazon link

Virb

Sure, you can find me on Facebook and Myspace, but there is a much cooler social networking site: Virb.

You can find my profile here. If you’re on, add me as a friend. If you’re not on, go sign yourself up, then add me as a friend! I created a brand new group for Anglicans and their friends. See you there.