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the four universal graphs

the unseen apollo 11

post-postmodern computing

german WWI grave designs

kopfschmerzen decaf

This is my 2002 journal.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Also available: 2001 2001 2000 1990s 1980s

Everything on this page:
Copyright 1985-2002 by Thane Plambeck, except where obviously not.

31 May 2002
Two five letter words



28 May 2002
The Universal Graphs

In today's New York Times, "A Sudden Host of Questions on Bell Labs Breakthroughs", by Kenneth Chang:

In a ski slope in Utah in March, Paul Grant and Rick Greene made a bet—about superconductors.

Dr. Grant and Dr. Greene, who had been longtime colleagues at the I.B.M. Almaden Research Center in San Jose, Calif., had debated all day a sensational scientific report that molecules of carbon shaped like soccer balls had been turned into superconductors—materials that carry electricity with virtually no resistance—at surprisingly warm temperatures.

Dr. Grant doubts the findings. Dr. Greene said he thought that they they would be verified.

Last week, Dr. Grant sent an e-mail message reminding Dr. Greene of the wager, because the lead researcher of the experiment was Dr. J. Hendrik Schön, the Bell Labs scientist who is now the center of a scientific misconduct investigation. Nearly identical graphs appear in several of Dr. Schön's scientific papers, even though the graphs represent different data from different experiments.
Where is the surprise here? Anyone who has ever used PowerPoint knows every idea, no matter how complex, can be explained using an appropriate combination of the four universal graphs representing growth, limitation, hierarchy, and exchangeability.

23 May 2002
The Unseen Apollo 11

The trouble with epoch-making events is that they tend to be represented over and over in the media by the same images and catchphrases. Over time, even history's most astonishing events and greatest heroes are reduced to platitudes.

For example, who can think of anything Martin Luther King said except some portion of his "I have a Dream" speech.

The Apollo 11 moon mission in July 1969 has been similarly reduced to a few images:

To remedy this situation, I provide this selection of photographs from the Apollo 11 mission. Many of them are blurry or have some other problem with them, and I've included some of the frequently used ones also, but I think they convey a little bit of the wonder.

21 May 2002
Repeat, Reassure, Resume

Life presents many challenges. How can we overcome the objections or complaints that are inevitably to be found blocking us from our goals?

Telemarketers and customer service representatives know that it is a three step process:

1) [Repeat] "Yes, I understand you think new aluminum siding is too expensive and not needed for your home..."

2) [Reassure] "...however, I can assure you that price is not really going to be an obstacle..."

3) [Resume] ", let me tell you a little more about what we're talking about here with this siding..."
Together with the trick I learned in graduate school, which is to answer questions about things you don't know by instead talking at length about things you do know, what you have here is a useful pair of tools for getting through the day.

You can thank me later.

18 May 2002
Post-PostModern Computing

I put together a little page on the subsequent fortunes of the founders of PostModern Computing Technologies, Inc which was a computer software company I helped start in 1991.

7 May 2002
Not an Albanian kind of mistake

Mr. Milosevic then produced a leaflet handed out in Kosovo after the NATO bombing started in March 1999 supposedly signed by Mr. Rugova and endorsed by the Kosovar army, in which Kosovo Albanians were called to leave for Macedonia and Albania. Mr. Rugova dismissed the document as a forgery and pointed out a number of linguistic mistakes "we don't make in Albanian."
—The New York Times, 7 May 2002
Rugova continued:

(Note added 9 May 2002) I have a strong conviction that it should be possible to write something funny here. However, I've decided that my first attempt at doing so is not so funny after all. Soon, I'll try again. Sorry for the trouble—Thane.