Monthly Archives: December 2005

Food Force Game

The UN’s World Food Program released a video game this year to promote understanding of world hunger and disaster relief. Players of Food Force take on the task of supplying disaster relief to the imaginary island of Sheylan in the Indian Ocean through six missions. It’s a good twist on exploiting the popularity of video games to reach a demographic not normally associated with charitable giving.

Also worth checking out is the World Hunger Map at the WFP website. And again, do something to help, even just a click a day helps.

Million Dollar Homepage

Came across a story yesterday about this chap in Britain who has made a mint by selling advertising space on his homepage. Alex Tew, a college student from England started selling off one million pixels on his homepage in August. In four months the idea has made him richer than his wildest dreams. The Million Dollar Homepage is exactly that.

Like all great concepts the idea is simplicity itself. The homepage is divided into 10,000 boxes, each made up of 100 pixels.

Companies or individuals are invited to buy one or more box for $100 each – $1 a pixel – and cover it with a logo. When a websurfer clicks on the logo he is transported to the company or person’s website.

This has turned Tew’s homepage into an online version of Times Square, a gawdy collection of logos and advertisements for everything from online poker to rental agencies, mangosteen, water filters, specialty book publishers and absinthe ads to furniture merchants.
The Million Dollar Homepage
The wild success of this idea has even spawned knockoff million dollar pages around the internet. It’s simply amazing what strikes the internet zeitgeist sometimes. Congratulations to Alex Tew for making a fortune on the fickle whims of the internet. All your base are belong to us.

Nadirs of the Earth

Here’s a very cool map showing exactly what is on the opposite side of the world. Two inverse maps, one in black and the other red, show what’s on the other side of the world. For example, it looks like Rio de Janeiro is the closest landmark for what’s on the opposite ends of the earth from Guam. Hmm.

The Art of Nicholas Roerich

Well this is just plain unexpected; a plethora of really cool art by someone hitherto unknown to me. It’s all vaguely unsettling, which is obviously why H.P. Lovecraft was so enamored of the paintings.

Nikolai Roerich (1874-1947) was a Russian painter who traveled through Tibet in the 1920’s painting the Himalayan mountains. His works can be seen at the Roerich Museum in New York City where Lovecraft saw them. They would have a profound effect on Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness.

What is equally interesting is the Roerich Pact, a 1935 treaty for the care and preservation of cultural artifacts around the world. Much as the Geneva Convention lays out the rules for war, the Roerich Pact lays the groundwork for the preservation of cultural artifacts. This is just fascinating stuff for me, especially the association with Lovecraft. That’s just plain weird.

Tibet. Himalayas. 1933 - Tempera on canvas. 74 x 117 cm. Nicholas Roerich Museum, New York

More On Taum Sauk And Johnson’s Shut Ins

Damage from Taum Sauk Upper ReservoirShelley Powers over at Burningbird has several stories about the aftermath of the Taum Sauk Hydroelectric Plant’s dam burst and subsequent flooding of Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park, along with plenty of photos she took on her trip down to Lesterville. She even provides some links to additional sources. Looks like it’s going to be a long time before the Shut-Ins recover from this flood.

Bibliophilia

Via the wonderful weblog Cosmic Variance, here is a good article on former President Clinton’s reading habits.

When we asked him what he was reading, he sighed and mentioned a book on the economic wars of the future, author and title unknown to me.

“Better to read ‘Don Quixote,’” I said to him. “Everything’s in there.” Now, the ‘Quixote’ is a book that is not read nearly as much as is claimed, although very few will admit to not having read it. With two or three quotes, Clinton showed that he knew it very well indeed. Responding, he asked us what our favorite books were. Styron said his was “Huckleberry Finn.”

I would have said “Oedipus Rex,” which has been my bed table book for the last 20 years, but I named “The Count of Monte Cristo,” mainly for reasons of technique, which I had some trouble explaining.

Clinton said his was the “Meditations of Marcus Aurelius,” and Carlos Fuentes stuck loyally to “Absalom, Absalom,” Faulkner’s stellar novel, no question, although others would choose “Light in August” for purely personal reasons. Clinton, in homage to Faulkner, got to his feet and, pacing around the table, recited from memory Benji’s monologue, the most thrilling passage, and perhaps the most hermetic, from “The Sound and the Fury.”

The bit I just love though is the link to a ridiculous Onion story about the erudition and literary tastes of our current president. That’s just too damn funny.

Performancing for Firefox

While I am still giving Ecto a whirl on my iBook, I stumbled across Performancing for Firefox this morning. It’s pretty cool. I’ve been using Camino as my browser for a while now, but all these really cool Firefox plugins are making it hard for me to completely give up on Firefox just yet. And of course Safari is a damn nice browser too – strange position to be in on a Macintosh, a surfeit of fine software available for use.

Lost Mail Update

The PDN ran a story this morning on the mail that was lost over Majuro last week. The USPS here on Guam says that 23 packages or letters bound for Guam were lost in the lagoon after tumbling out the rear cargo door of the 727 hauling the mail.

I’ve been worried about some checks that I wrote, but based on this information it sounds like only mail bound for Guam was lost, not stuff heading the other way. Of course I’m expecting a couple hard drives I won on eBay earlier this month and I’d be pretty pissed if either of those ended up taking a deep drink of seawater.

Testing Ecto

I’m giving Ecto a whirl here, maybe it will spur me to start using WordPress more often and clear up some browser tab clutter.

Hello Ecto

So, I am trying something of an experiment here. Over three years after I started blogging, I am trying out a blog editor instead of using my browser. I’m giving Ecto a whirl for a few days, I’ll report on how it goes. I’m gonna give MarsEdit a shake down as well. So far, I am intrigued…

Green Building Links

As part of my “MetaEfficient”:http://www.gotoreviews.com/archives/metaefficient/ fascination, here’s a fairly comprehensive rundown of green building methods from “Squidoo”:http://www.squidoo.com/buildinggreen/.

Napping Is Good

Saw this little article on the wonder of ‘power naps‘ to revitalize and refresh during the day. Got me to thinking about polyphasic sleeping, supposedly the way Leonardo da Vinci slept. Of course Kramer tried this in a Seinfeld episode with disastrous results.

Ah Seinfeld. I forgot to wish everyone a happy Festivus last week. I certainly had a particularly good Festivus last Friday. It was a Festivus miracle, that’s for sure.

“Orphan” Drugs

Food for thought from the May 2005 Scientific American:

One novel solution to the lack of refrigeration for vaccines occurred 200 years ago, shortly after Edward Jenner discovered that cowpox infection acts as a vaccine against smallpox. In 1803 military doctor Francisco Xavier de Balmis embarked on an expedition ordered by King Charles IV of Spain. With a small team, he sailed from Spain to bring Jenner’s smallpox vaccine to the New World, where Spanish colonies were being devastated by the disease.

To preserve the vaccine, de Balmis harvested it from the 22 orphan children he brought along. He infected one child and waited about 10 days as pustules formed. De Balmis then took the fluid from the lesions and inoculated it into another child, continuing the cycle with successive immunizations. In this way, the vaccine reached Puerto Rico, Mexico and Venezuela. He also taught local doctors how to apply and propagate the vaccine.

De Balmis continued on to Spain’s colonies in Asia — picking up new children along the way and finding homes for the others now vaccinated — before returning home in 1806, while an assistant, José Salvany, reached Columbia, Peru and Chile. “Four or five years after de Balmis, between 100,000 and half a million people could have been immunized,” calculates Guillermo Olague, a historian of science at the University of Granada in Spain. “That marked the beginning of the end of the epidemic.”