Showing posts from July, 2010

Piracy of the New StarCraft II

I just read a review by Matt Peckham mentioning the lack of free "pirated" versions of the long-anticipated game, StarCraft II, which he sums up as: "PC gaming 1, pirates 0".  In his view, "PC gaming" is pitted against players who want to play, but are resistant to being forced to pay $60 or more, in advance, to a secretive corporation, which is part of an even more secretive, corporate, profit-maximizing conglomerate.
Matt's framing of the issue is typical in the business world: profits and abstractions like "gaming" are what matter, not people like gamers.  The largely unspoken assumption in business is that people buy the better product and the maker of that will profit from producing improvements which people want.

In graduate business schools, students are drilled for years on macro economics scenarios and problems which embed the idea that "What is good for GDP is good for the economy, and what is good for the economy is good for p…

Saber Tooth Peacock Hypothesis

Didn't the T-Rex give us any lessons?  Once thought to be primarily a hunter, it is now considered mostly a scavenger.  Now comes a new analysis of the Sabre-Tooth Tiger suggesting the primary use of beefy forelimbs developed to assist in restraining struggling prey.
It strikes me that it would be much more likely for the saber-tooth to use it's powerful forelegs and fangs for, respectively and primarily, fighting and threat displays isn't it? 
After investing all those calories in growing gigantic teeth, why spend even more hauling big forelimbs at high acceleration in hunting chases when scaring off smaller predators who actually conducted the kill would be so much more efficient?  The primary source of calories for similar big cats in Africa today is via this method after smaller cats like hyenas "bring home the bacon". 
If truly effective for hunting, large teeth such as those of the sabre-tooth and powerful forelimbs would seem best suited only for quick ambus…

Science and Magic 001

Science is classically defined as both a method for investigation and a body of knowledge or "facts" revealed by a certain method of inquiry.  Perhaps more fundamentally, both of these can be considered a collection of stories with unique characteristics which distinguish science from other narratives.  After having seen the sun come up every morning in the east and travel across the sky, we've all heard the story that this is a sleight of hand on a cosmic scale with a gigantic Earth slowly turning our point of view.  The story goes: after a colossal burst of energy a zillion years ago, gigantic collection of rocks accumulated, tiny bits of life arose and mistook themselves for the center of everything, until Copernicus claimed the Earth moved and rotated, and over the next few hundred years, that story became the most popular.
In the western, European tradition we like to mock "flat-Earthers" who believe(d) that the Earth was flat, but this would overlook the p…