Dan here, reporting back after my first excursion into the land of Snake Oil Suitmen (by this I mean that I just gave my first PowerPoint presentations in front of groups yesterday). I did wear a black jacket, black slacks, pointy shoes and a white collared shirt, but you'll be happy to know that I eschewed the tie. I wear a lanyard with an I.D. on it, and I figure that if you want me to wear that at the office, it should take the place of a tie. Deal with it.
My presentation: Trends on the web and what we intend to do about them. My favorite question from yesterday's sessions: "Where did you learn to use PowerPoint?"
Anyway, I've been so deep into work-think lately that it has rendered me dull, for which I apologize. As a peace offering, here's something obscure yet really cool (via Slashdot): Researchers at the University of Rochester have created a model of phase change in liquids (U of Rochester photo, researchers Eldred Chimowitz and Yonathan Shapir).
Dull, you say? Not hardly.
Phase change is one of the most underappreciated processes in the physical world. It's what happens when water turns to ice or vapor, and vice-versa. In other words, phase change is what happens when a changing variable stops making a thing more that way (hotter, colder, faster, slower, etc.) and causes it to assume a radically different state.
That sudden change of state -- the "light switch effect" -- is an issue in research into everything from fuel cell technology to global climate change. But because the complexity of the change is so enormous, computers have been unable to model what goes on within a system (or, in this case, a liquid) during the transition. In other words, the thing that is the most value to researchers has been the one part of the event that has remained invisible. Until now.
What does this mean for ordinary schlubs like us? That everything just speeded up, again. Duh.
PAT ROBERTSON, CRAZY PERSON: Perhaps the most amazing trait in American culture is our tendency to reward certifiable looniness with celebrity and status, so long as it's backed by inherited money, good looks or claims to Biblical authority.
Which brings us back to our old friend Pat Robertson, last seen here warning Dover, Pa., that God was going to make residents pay for turning out its loony, dishonest, "Intelligent Design" school board. Now Israel is punishing him for calling Ariel Sharon's stroke an act of divine retribution. Pat, who didn't like that Sharon was willing to deal land with the Palestinians, declared last week that "You read the Bible: This is my land, and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he's going to carve it up and give it away, God says no, this is mine."
His punishment: The Israeli government pulled out of a $50 million deal with Robertson that would have allowed the Virginia Beach televangelist to build a Christian theme park near the Mount of Beatitudes, the site where Jesus delivered his Sermon on the Mount, fed the multitudes, etc. Robertson and his partners had planned to call the facility The Galilee World Heritage Park.
Israeli officials went on to say they still like the idea of a Christian theme park as a tourist draw: "The contract is still open," said Tourism Ministry spokesman Ido Hurtuv, "but not to Mr. Robertson."
Better watch out, Mr. Hurtuv, or Pat's gonna slap a fatwah on yer ass!
Anyway, regarding the Galilee World Heritage Park: What Would Jesus Build?
MORE NEWSPAPER LAYOFFS AHEAD -- AND GANNETT TO BUY OUT KNIGHT-RIDDER? Maybe so, points out smart guy Tim Porter. That's pretty awful, but not nearly as alarming as speculation that FOX News owner Rupert Murdoch is scheming to buy up The Wall Street Journal (read this in the past week, but can't find the link... file it under scary thoughts, not solid info).
Meanwhile, Slashdot noted this bit about how Murdoch's minion's were thwarted in their attempts to block out every mention of their rivals by users of MySpace, which Murdoch purchased this past summer. In a refreshing bit of news, the MySpace users revolted -- and won (for now).
IRONY ALERT -- BIRD FLU STRIKES TURKEY: This isn't time to panic (let's face it, it's never time to panic), but it's time to start paying attention again. The number of human cases of H5N1 in Turkey are surprising and worth monitoring, and that's about all I'm willing to say right now beyond this: I've moved Effect Measure back up to a daily read again. The Reveres have had some interesting things to say in the past week.