Archive for October, 2006


Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

I gather that Glenn Reynolds writes the most read blog in the world, though I don’t recall ever visiting it, until now. Regarding today‘s NYT story on calorie restriction he writes:

Calorie restriction is unlikely to work in humans — and I’m not sure it’s worth it anyway — but drugs that mimic its effects are another thing entirely.

If is unlikely to “work” (I assume Reynolds means “extend maximum species lifespan” as CR clearly does have immediate health benefits) how does he expect to work? If the effect works then a pill will be worth it for many more people than practice, but that’s another thing entirely.

Fortunately the rest of Reynolds’ post makes perfect sense, so I won’t go on, and may visit again.

Calorie restriction and me

Monday, October 30th, 2006

A few months ago reporter Michael Mason contacted me for a story about via my writeup of the first day of CR IV (I still have notes from the other two days and will write them up in the fullness of time). The story appears in tomorrow’s New York Times, now online, as One for the Ages: A Prescription That May Extend Life. Just a few notes on the paragraphs that mention me and accompanying photos:

Mike Linksvayer, a 36-year-old chief technology officer at a San Francisco nonprofit group, embarked on just such a diet six years ago. On an average day, he eats an apple or some cereal for breakfast,

Cereal is pretty much junk food, and whether I eat any is a pretty good indicator of how well I’m doing. I can go for weeks without any, then eat some every morning for a week at work if I’m procrastinating on a project. I skip breakfast more often than not. Natto and garlic (pictured) is my favorite breakfast.

followed by a small vegan dish at lunch.

However, it must be noted that most people practicing CR are not vegan.

Dinner is whatever his wife has cooked, excluding bread, rice, sugar and whatever else Mr. Linksvayer deems unhealthy (this often includes the entrée). On weekends, he occasionally fasts.

I cook a fair amount, too. The dishes pictured are typical of my cooking — more or less random vegetables and vegetable protein mixed together with lots of spices.

Mr. Linksvayer, 6 feet tall and 135 pounds, estimated that he gets by on about 2,000 to 2,100 calories a day, a low number for men of his age and activity level, and his blood pressure is a remarkably low 112 over 63. He said he has never been in better health.

My first estimate was 2,200, which includes some fudge factor, as I know how easy it is to underestimate intake, and I am not super meticulous. But they wanted to go with a lower number.

I am on relatively mild CR. For example, in at least one human CR study the median blood pressure was 99/61.

“I don’t really get sick,” he said. “Mostly I do the diet to be healthier, but if it helps me live longer, hey, I’ll take that, too.”

True, though I learned of CR through life extension circles and that was definitely my initial motivation. It doesn’t really matter to an individual whether CR squares the mortality curve or extends maximum life — only whether that individual gets more healthy years (easy) and yes, perhaps a better shot at hanging on long enough for real life extension technologies.

Regarding the food pictures, the photographer wanted food on plates, but I typically eat multiple servings or from a salad bowl, as in the photograph with me in the picture. The lunch and dinner pictured are low calorie density for their volume. Some people on CR eat a huge salad every day.

The clarifications above aren’t intended as criticisms. Overall the article is pretty good and I was impressed by the amount of legwork and research the reporter and support people put into the story. Seeing a real photojournalist at work was very interesting (picture of two of his cameras I took while he carried the rest of his gear down the stairs), even if I didn’t really enjoy being a subject. Maybe the MSM is worth keeping around after all. :)

There have been several stories about CR published recently. I recommend checking out The Fast Supper in New York Magazine, which features people far more hard-core and interesting than myself.

Also check out the Calorie Restriction Society. I rarely blog about CR, so subscribe to April Smith or Mary Robinson, who do so intelligently (though most people on CR seem to be male).

Better yet, ignore all of the above and contribute to the real fight against aging — from December 2005:

Excepting the very laws of nature (see arch anarchy), aging and its resulting suffering and death is the greatest oppressor of humanity. As far as I know Aubrey de Grey’s Methuselah Mouse Prize/Foundation is the only organization making a direct assault on aging, so I advise giving generously. Fight Aging! is the place to watch for new anti-aging philanthropy.

Addendum: The meal photos left out dessert.

Copyright turns us into technology idiots

Saturday, October 28th, 2006

Or do copyright enforcement technologies attract people who would be kooks anyway?

Obvious case in point: DRM.

Now this from Paul Hoffert, apparently associated with “Noank Media”, commenting on Rob Kaye’s blog:

The Noank counting system is unique. We count usage by ALL players. Players can be time-based, such as iTunes, Windows Media, open source, our own Noank player, or your own favorite. They can be Microsoft Word, Acrobat Reader, Photoshop, or any other application program. The Noank client reports consumption of all content within our catalog on Windows, Mac, Unix, or recent cell phone devices.

Rob’s response is too polite:

This is nothing but empty hand-waving, I’m sorry. If you were to hire me to implement this system, I would have to politely tell you that this is impossible. I could not code such a thing and I have over a decade of client application programming experience. Please do elaborate on how you’re going to do this. If you’ve solved this I assume that you’ve already filed for some patents, right? What are your patent application numbers? I’d like to look up these exciting details — this is got to be amazing stuff you’re working on!

To which Hoffert responds:

Our tracking system is operational now and we are scaling it for large numbers of users.

Uh huh.

Voluntary collective licensing may have a role to play but I’m afraid I’m going to have to completely write off “Noank Media” before they even have a website.

Copyright mania hass the side effect of reducing perpetual motion research, who knew?

Addendum 20061031: Lucas Gonze writes that collective licensing will never happen. I think I buy his argument:

Users and businesses are moving away from filesharing networks and to the web, where DMCA safe harbor allows many disputes to be resolved peacefully. User-created content has become a substantial part of the media ecosystem over the last few years, and it doesn’t need collective licensing to exist.

Update 20071126: Noank does have a website now and a how it works page that leaves out lots of details but is not implausible. When more details are available I hope to post a retraction. Hoffert’s language was just too easy to make fun of, and that urge turned me into a technology idiot!

Microformats are worse

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

I almost entirely agree with Mark Birbeck’s comparison of RDFa and microformats. The only thing to be said in defense of is that a few of the problems Birbeck calls out are also features, from the microformats perspective.

But .

I will reveal what this means later.

Another quip: My problem with microformats is the s.

Evan Prodromou provided a still-good RDFa vs Microformats roundup (better title: “RDFa and Microformats, please work together”) in May. I somehow missed it until now.

Ah, metadata.

Update 20061204: I didn’t miss Prodromou’s roundup in May, I blogged about it. And forgot.

BA is halfway between GED and PhD

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

At best, as (arbitrarily) measured by years of adult education or years (10) to becoming an expert in something.

Inspired by the oft-heard ‘JD/MBA is the new BA’, Arnold Kling’s slightly more verbose statement

The point is that what used to be a college-degree premium is turning into a graduate-degree premium.

and ‘s The Empty Set (mp3):

this chip hop shit is a celebration of hustling for whatever degree, whether it’s a PhD or a GED or even if you’re just trying to make ends meet

Not a particulary great track, but ugh, I am too amused by and looking forward to seeing MCPP at BoCon next weekend in Boise, where I’ll be speaking.

Throwaway thoughts above, I am against . Many current forms anyway.

Defeatist dreaming

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia says to dream a little:

Imagine there existed a budget of $100 million to purchase copyrights to be made available under a free license. What would you like to see purchased and released under a free license?

I was recently asked this question by someone who is potentially in a position to make this happen, and he wanted to know what we need, what we dream of, that we can’t accomplish on our own, or that we would expect to take a long time to accomplish on our own.

One shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth and this could do a great deal of good, particularly if the conditions “can’t accomplish on our own…” are stringently adhered to.

However, this is a blog and I’m going to complain.

Don’t fork over money to the copyright industry! This is defeatist and exhibits static world thinking.

$100 million could fund a huge amount of new free content, free software, free infrastructure and supporting institutions, begetting more of the same.

But if I were a donor with $100 million to give I’d try really hard to quantify my goals and predict the most impactful spending toward those goals. I’ll just repeat a paragraph from last December 30, Outsourcing charity … to Wikipedia:

Wikipedia chief considers taking ads (via Boing Boing) says that at current traffic levels, Wikipedia could generate hundreds of millions of dollars a year by running ads. There are strong objections to running ads from the community, but that is a staggering number for a tiny nonprofit, an annual amount that would be surpassed only by the wealthiest foundations. It could fund a staggering Wikimedia Foundation bureaucracy, or it could fund additional free knowledge projects. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has asked what will be free. Would an annual hundred million dollar budget increase the odds of those predictions? One way to find out before actually trying.

Via Boing Boing via /.


Friday, October 20th, 2006

Last night I saw perform Defixiones: Orders from the Dead, about the , and genocides carried out by the 1914-1923.

The music was in vintage Galás style: her voice (three and a half octaves and very dark), undulating drones, hints of jazz piano. Most of the words were not English, which is a good thing — one could focus on the music rather than reel in horror. Most of the time images from the genocides were projected on a backdrop, and matching the sound, were usually mercifully undulating and distorted.

A brilliant success.

Included in the program is this atavistic screed, “published by the large circulation Turkish newspaper on 18 July 1974, just 48 hours before the Turkish invastion of Cyprus by order of the Bulent Ecevit government”, titled HATRED:

As long as the vulgar Greek exists in this world
By Allah, my hatred won’t leave me
As long as I see him there like a dog
By Allah, this hatred won’t leave me
A thousand heads of infidel cannot wash away this hatred.

My only aim is revenge
When my turn comes to go to battle
In one day I’ll butcher a thousand Giours
By Allah, this hatred won’t leave me
A thousand heads of Giaours cannot wash away this hatred.

Even if I crush thirty thousand of their heads with a stone
Even if I wrench out the teeth of ten thousand
And throw a hundred thousand of their corpses into the river
By Allah, this hatred won’t leave me

A thousand heads of Giaours cannot wash away this hatred.
The whole world knows how superior the Turk is
Who crashed the Greek’s fucked world over his head
Even if I burn in stokeholes the heads of five thousand of them
By Allah, this hatred won’t leave me

A thousand heads of Giaours cannot wash away this hatred
Even if I slash forty thousand of them with my bayonet
And send eighty thousand of them to the devil
And hang a hundred thousand of them
By Allah, this hatred won’t leave me

A thousand heads of Giaours cannot wash away this hatred.

A one minute excerpt of The Desert Part I from Defixiones, a list of recordings by Galás with audio excerpts. I especially recommend Let’s Not Chat About Despair and Wild Women With Steak Knives, but you really have to listen to the entire tracks, especially the latter.

AOL of yore : web browser :: iTunes : Songbird

Thursday, October 19th, 2006

Someone mentioned to me today that if the web were like you could only connect to, which reminded me of speculation that earlier aggressive intellectual protectionism online could have led to a proprietary cul de sac in online services. In that post I said without explanation that aggressive protectionism is being allowed to kill or stunt online music.

People have been noting for awhile that protectionism enabled iTunes’ dominance, or as Techdirt put it “How The Recording Industry’s Obsession On DRM Made Apple So Powerful.”

iTunes’ dominant lock-in will end soon enough, that is unless we get some additional very bad copyright rulings and laws.

A nice quote that brings the general web and online music analogy full circle is this from Ross Karchner commenting on Songbird:

It’s like taking iTunes, ripping out the music store, and replacing it with the rest of the internet.

I’ll take the rest of the internet.

Check out the just released Songbird 0.2, which despite the low version number I find very usable.

Addendum 20061020: Ironically for me the company behind Songbird is called Pioneers of the Inevitable.

Scientology of sharing

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

Last month I watched , a scientology docudrama, after hearing about it on Boing Boing. It is a pretty well done and low key film, considering the nuttiness of scientology.

Copyright is one of the weapons scientology uses to hide the hilarious absurdity of its beliefs, so it is no surprise that The Bridge has has been taken down (at least some of the copies) from YouTube, Google, and the Internet Archive.

I remember that it was published to the Archive under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs license. Sadly is not in the Wayback Machine nor WebCite, so I can’t demonstrate this. If I am correct, the filmmaker has no cause to stop non-commercial distribution, as CC licenses are irrevocable.

If you can’t find the film on the lightnet fire up a filesharing client (I recommend ) and click on the below to start your P2P search and download.


Iraq war costing 120% too much

Sunday, October 15th, 2006

It is not completely unreasonable to guesstimate the average value of a U.S. jurisdiction citizen’s life at around $9 million, given that it has been guestimated at between $4 and $5 million in 1980 and apparently increases about 15% given a 10% increase in income. See Is Your Life Worth $10 Million? for an explanation and Economic History Services for income data.

Then it is also not completely unreasonable to guesstimate the average value of an Iraq jurisdiction citizen’s life at around $250,000, given per capita income of $3,600 at PPP.

Now assuming the Lancet study is roughly correct (I know, controversial, but if it overestimates then the Iraq war is an even worse “deal”) in estimating 600,000 Iraqi excess deaths and that the U.S. government has spent $335 billion so far on the Iraq war (only direct costs; including more controversial costs would again make the “deal” worse), it is straightforward to see that the U.S. has spent over $550,000 for each Iraqi life.

What a ripoff! And we were expecting a great deal.

(Intended as irony. Too bad if post seems autistic, outrageous, or sick.)