Thursday, May 26, 2005



The June, 2005 issue of Discover magazine includes a series of comments from noted astronomers on the most important discoveries of the last 25 years, with hints of what are likely to be the most interesting issues in the years to come.

Some of the items that were prominent in their comments are the following:

Planets around other stars -- The discovery of more and more planets around nearby stars. There is a wide variety of conditions on these planets, suggesting a vast diversity of possibilities in the universe for large, non-luminous objects orbiting stars.

The diversity of conditions on objects in our solar system -- The discovery of the possibility of water at some time in Mars' past, "volcanos on Io, ... oceans inside Europa, a complex... Titan, and ... a youthful surface on Triton," are among the wonders.

Progress toward discovering extraterrestrial life -- The two items above bring us closer to what most astronomers suspect: that life will be found on other bodies in the universe.

(Editorial note: For all those who fervently hope to encounter intelligent extraterrestrial life, it should be noted that on earth, no type of life has successfully communicated very well with any very different form of life; and in many cases one life form will eat another, or kill it as part of its reproductive process. Finding extraterrestrial life could be very dangerous. Actually, we might not even realize we have encountered it, since it could be very, very different from anything we could recognize. Indeed, for example, one could imagine a form of life whose characteristic is to scan for signs of electromagnetic radiation coming from space -- a sign that life has evolved somewhere, radiating energy -- and hone in on it -- that is, us -- to scavenge for food.)

Dark energy -- There appears to be some force, different from the ones (strong, weak, electromagnetic, and gravitational forces) we are familiar with, that is pushing the universe to expand. (It could possibly be described as "anti-gravity", I suppose, though its nature is not yet understood at all.)

Dark matter -- It appears that the stuff we are made of, the stuff that interacts in the familiar way with the familiar forces mentioned above, is only a small fraction (maybe 4%) of all matter. Although it is called "dark matter," it is better described as transparent. It does not absorb light (as something dark would do). Rather, everything we know just passes right through "dark" matter. It is really quite amazing that 96% of the matter in the universe -- presumably all around us -- is stuff we know almost nothing about.



The next Streaming Media West meeting will be held November 15-17, 2005, in San Jose McEnery Convention Center.

They are developing the speakers and programs now.

Streaming Media Conferences are always very interesting -- both the programs and the product demonstrations in the booths -- but I have one reservation about their policy:

At SMW, when scheduling speakers, they prefer end users to development companies. On the one hand, that weeds out speakers who have dubious products to promote. But on the other hand, speakers with new product announcements are the most passionate presenters; the ability to promote new products there stimulates competition and excitement; and end-users may really be more interested in hearing what's new and coming, and how that will solve their problems, than they are in hearing how other people used last year's products to solve other problems.

They do have some vendor presentations at a special track. But I've found these presentations to be less vital than "main-stage" panel discussions with several vendors discussing a particular problem area and how they approach the solution.

I'd like to suggest they consider expanding the use of well chosen vendor representatives in more panel sessions.

For more information:

Sunday, May 22, 2005



Posted by Hello

"Wet Socks" is the newest romantic comedy by Kathleen Wilce. A short play, it will be shown at the TSI/PLAYTIME theater on Friday June 3 at 8, and Sunday June 5 at 5, together with several other short pieces. (Call TSI at 212 719-0500 for tickets.) The story starts at the 42nd Street subway station (and that's Kathleen in the picture above, standing below the lights that give her play its initial impetus and energy).

Kathleen has written a number of plays in the last few years, and performed in some of them herself. (And I've seen her work and I like it.) When she can see the story played out on a stage in her head, she will direct it, and when she cannot see anyone else in a role, she'll take it herself.

She's studied with several Russian directors -- at least one who is exceptionally intense -- as well as some other instructors, but she's much more of a fun person than an ideologue.

As an actress, next season Kathleen may be seen in her second appearance in an episode of Sopranos.



PHONE 212 719-0500.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005




Leaving Streaming Media East (SME), attendees were met by fierce looking STAR WARiors getting ready for the opening of the movie at the Ziegfield Theater across the street.

The Ziegfield is for me the best movie theater in New York. With its very, very big screen it's a great place to see Star Wars (and all other visually interesting films).

Lines of people with comfortable chairs were starting to wait. Cameras, mobile video trucks all around. Well... it didn't have quite the energy (at least not yet) of E3 which is going on now on the other coast, but it's on it's way to being a pretty good spectacle.

More comments about Streaming Media East on audio, below.

this is an audio post - click to play

Tuesday, May 17, 2005



Streaming Media East this year is small, but the spirit is upbeat. There are signs that streaming video is moving into the mainstream of corporate communications. In addition, advertising using streaming video, streaming media content supported by advertising, and the technical solutions to support this advertising are all making progress.

A streaming audio report direct from the show floor (with authentic, location-audio gargled sound) follows:

this is an audio post - click to play

Monday, May 16, 2005



Streaming Media East begins tomorrow.

This promises to be an interesting and important conference. With broadband connections reaching a critical mass, streaming is becoming more and more important. This is a great place to find the latest information and the newest products.

I am going to be audio posting live from Streaming Media East. So look for the audio posts here at QPORIT. New audio posts do not have titles, but you know... they’ll all be from the Streaming Media Convention floor.

this is an audio post - click to play

Friday, May 13, 2005



Beginning tomorrow, running all through the summer, and lasting until January 8, 2006, The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) will present a new exhibition on dinosaurs. Featuring new studies of dinosaur physiology, biology, evolution and other dinosaur characteristics, this exhibition promises to be very interesting both for children and adults.

Its great fun to introduce this museum to children: with both dinosaurs, here, and outer space, at the planetarium, the exhibits at AMNH push the range of children's imaginations from distant past to incredible future.

In addition, there is so much information available, this museum deserves also to be visited by adults alone sometimes, to study, much the way we might quietly read a fascinating and information-stuffed book.



TSI / PLAYTIME is an Off-Off-Broadway (OOB) theater which gives a tremendous number of actors, directors, and writers a chance to produce their work in a professionally and financially supportive environment. It is a terrific place to discover new talent if you are "audience" and to find an audience if you are "talent."

Most shows consist of several short plays. They usually have shows on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday -- with matinees and evening performances.

During the summer they will have several themed series in addition to other plays:

THE GRAY AREA -- June 4-26, 2005
Five diverse one-act plays by Erik Christian Hansen.

PITHY MYTHS -- July 6-13, 2005
Selections, scenes, and adaptations from Greek and Roman classics.

Excerpted scenes from Tennessee's best.

For information about the schedules, location (8th & 46th Street in Manhattan), and tickets -- or to find out how to participate in the shows -- contact TSI/ PLAYTIME at

There are many very exciting events in New York City this summer. In this and other postings (keep following this BLOG!) we will be previewing events in music, dance, theater, films, technology, new media, politics, and all the other Interesting Things we are tracking in this BLOG.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005



The American Ballet Theater is having a special series of performances of Fokine's ballets beginning on June 16 with Les Sylphides.

Mikhail Fokine is the choreographer reknowned for breaking with 19th century dance and creating a new concept of ballet for the 20th century. According to the ABT program, "With Les Sylphides, Fokine broke from the traditional story narrative to inhabit an entirely new poetic terrain, evoking an image of classical beauty in its most ethereal form."

ABT is also presenting Petrouchka, Le Spectre de la Rose, and the Polovtsian Dances.

Although, according to the ABT Press Office, they are not directly involved in these productions, Fokine's family continues to be active in ballet in and around New York.

Fokine's granddaughter, Isabelle Fokine, has reconstructed, with Andris Liepa, Fokine's classic choreography in productions around the world. A beautiful and charismatic woman, she can be seen at work in the film "Fighting For Fokine," which is periodically presented on cable television -- often on Ovation. Her version of Firebird can actually be seen this summer also, though not in New York. You would have to travel to the Mariinsky Theater in Russia.

According to the Mariinsky program notes, "FIREBIRD -- Premiere: 25 June 1910, Les Ballets Russes de Serge de Diaghilev, Theatre de l´Opera, Paris. In the repertoire of the Mariinsky Theatre since 1994."



There are many very exciting events in New York City this summer. In this and other postings (keep following this BLOG!) we will be previewing events in music, dance, theater, films, technology, new media, politics, and all the other Interesting Things we are tracking in this BLOG.

MUSIC -- New York Philharmonic

The New York Philharmonic is presenting SUMMERTIME CLASSICS from June 30 to July 10. Bramway Tovey is conducting. Stanley Drucker, clarinet, Thomas Stacy, English horn and Philip Smith, trumpet, are guest artists for "NEW YORK, NEW YORK,". And there's "YOUNG AT HEART" for children, with Stewart Goodyear, piano.

Other performers are Marc-Andre Hamelin, piano in "A LITTLE NIGHTMARE MUSIC" and Laura Claycomb, soprano and Jennifer Larmore, mezzo-soprano for "SOIREE FRANCAISE."

Complete information is available at

Saturday, May 07, 2005



"This is a work of fiction... However ... real people ... documented in footnotes are accurate... Footnotes are real."

In Michael Crichton's STATE OF FEAR, we have the antidote to global warming hysteria.

Or, perhaps, scientific studies predicting global warming are the antidote to Crichton's fictional/real attack on popular, but uninformed ideas of global warming (GW).

Except for the Hero, almost everyone in this book begins with what the Hero considers a mistaken, prejudicial belief -- that global warming is a serious threat to the world. Besides the Hero, in this book, the only other people who realize the true insignificance of GW are the (hypocritical) leaders of environmental organizations: the villains who conspire to fake a crisis by causing catastrophes, such as flash floods, a tsunami or two (sic), and devastating hurricanes; and by breaking off a huge chunk of polar ice. Then they want to blame it all on GW in order to shake contributions from wealthy donors.

A whole lot of the book is concerned with the Hero discussing what other characters think are facts about global warming, and explaining to them why they are completely wrong. According to the fictional characters in the book, and the "real" footnotes: there is little evidence at the present time of (1) measurable global warming; (2) extreme weather caused by GW; or (3) a perceptible rise in sea levels in the ocean.

The book, (correctly I think -- see the earlier post on global average temperature), points out the amount of data manipulation that is required to obtain "measurements" of global temperature, and describes (actually showing the charts) explicitly how different the graphs of temperature-over-time look at different locations. (Note: The Hero does not point out, however, that every graph has a different scale of years and temperature from every other graph, which contributes a lot to their looking so different from each other.)

Facts in law are different from facts in science. In law (and most of the characters in the book are involved with environmental law in some way), a "fact" is something you can persuade a judge or jury to believe. In science, a fact is something that happens. It is used as a basis for creating a theory and a prediction of future events. The facts that occur later are compared with the events that were predicted, either confirming the theory and giving it a stronger basis, or requiring the theory to be revised.

This material is kind of a popular version of a legal brief belittling the common notions of global warming. But it is a legal type of brief, not a scientific argument. It is completely one-sided. It is a work of fiction, after all.

Nevertheless, anyone who seriously believes that global warming is an immediate threat to the planet, or that human contributions to the greenhouse gasses will cause a threat in the future, needs to read this book and be ready to refute -- or at least place in context -- the arguments here. Decisions are, after all, not made on the basis of facts, they are made on the basis of who believes what to be the facts, and whose interests are at stake. This book provides a simple, readable diatribe against simplistic environmentalism.

It also subjects some caricatures of recognizable public figures to mean spirited, bitterly black "humor."

As a novel, it's breezy and a fast read. It starts with a sexy, exotic, beautiful, murderous woman. The women generally are sexy, beautiful, intelligent, and physically active. We learn just enough about them to further the plot and understand they are sexy, beautiful, intelligent, and physically active. (They're sexy, but there's just very mild flirtation, and hardly any sex in the book.) The men are a little more complicated. Just a little. There is almost nothing in the book that does not either further the plot, provide just enough information to visualize the characters, or advance the thesis. It is not a complicated book.

The title, "State of Fear," is explained in a short section of the book when a character (who actually has no other function in the story) is introduced to explain that the media (mostly) created the "environmental crisis" after the fall of the Berlin Wall, because it needed to give people something to fear to replace the cold war. The idea that fear is a deliberate creation is an idea that Michael Moore has also espoused.

Friday, May 06, 2005



The Kentucky Derby, of course, is the first Saturday in May. That's tomorrow!

This year, according to an article in yesterday's NYT (Thursday, 5/5/5), the favorite is George Steinbrenner's horse, Bellamy Road. And he's being trained by Nick Zito who is the favored trainer to win (because he's got 5 (that's 5!) horses competing).

I've been watching the KD on TV every year for a long time. And I learned how to make a killer mint julep. I'd love to visit Churchill Downs for the race some day. But, in fact, I've never, ever been to a live horse race, not even at Belmont, which is not too far away from me. I must do that one of these days.

I've always tried to have a mint julep (MJ) on KD day. That's how I discovered Ruth Reichl. In the early 90's she was a food critic in LA. On a business trip I knew I would be somewhere south of LA on derby day. I needed my MJ. I noticed an article she had written in the LA Times Magazine about new fine restaurants in California, and I found one that was near where I'd be. When I went there on KD day, they didn't know how to make a mint julep, but they were nice enough to try to follow my instructions, and when the first one didn't quite work, tried again and came up with something memorable, together with a really good meal. I've followed R Reichl ever since.

Here's how you make a wicked MJ. (Note: Don't drive or ride a horse or operate heavy machinery after this; don't ingest with anything that will exceed your tolerance for total number of chemicals in the body!) Boil a little bit of water and then put it in a cup with some washed and dried, torn up, fresh, nice looking mint leaves, to create a strong mint tea. (Note: Mint leaves are not always that easy to get, and when you get a bunch, many leaves are often wilted, or blackened. It's important to select the best leaves even if that is only a fraction of the bunch of mint in the package.)

Add quite a bit of sugar. (Optionally some sugar could be replaced with a half jigger of a sweet liqueur like Cointreau, Drambuie, or Grand Marnier.) Add about a half jigger of a good Kentucky Bourbon. (After trying quite I few, I found that my favorite is Maker's Mark.) Add this mixture with some additional torn up, fresh, nice looking mint leaves to ice in a crusher.

Crush the mixture of sweetened mint tea, and bourbon to make a tall glass worth of flavored crushed ice. Take a tall, chilled glass, add a long straw, fill the glass with the crushed ice, and then pour in a jigger more bourbon to fill up the cracks. Turn on the pre-race show, and enjoy it!

It's matter of taste what you eat with the drink, if anything. My own preference is Greek or similar appetizers. In the New York area, Molyvos probably has the best selection of appetizers I know of. Near Carnegie Hall, they're the best replacement for the late, lamented Russian Tea Room after a concert, and they do provide food to go if that's how you want to enjoy the Derby.

The KD is on NBC at around 5 with post time about an hour later. Oddly there was almost no mention of the Derby on the NBC web site. WNBC NY had a little bit.

I enjoy the race, by the way, but to make the race better (since it only lasts two minutes, after all), enhancing it with slow motion replays and particular horses isolated in the picture (the more the better) is a way of greatly extending the experience. I hope the TV broadcast does a lot of that.

Thursday, May 05, 2005



I've always liked dates to be simple and unambiguous. Is it MM/DD/YY or DD/MM/YY or YY/MM/DD?

But today is special. 05/05/05 can be in any of the formats and it doesn't matter!

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