Friday Summa 3, December 12

1. This was a week of turmoil and grief.  In Greece we have tolerated state and police brutality for too long and now it is back-firing. The December riots were nicely presented in this Guardian piece. We will remember Alex and the best part of the country will try to have the events mark a societal turning-point.
2. Feeling pissed off with all the above I had my healthy diet of Rage Against the Machine and System of a Down. I had Revenga and Toxicity looped on my playlist.
3. The recursive transpositions of Philip Glass in Akhnaten: Funeral of Amenhotep III somehow felt like the perfect soundtrack for the days.
He flies who flies
This king flies away from you
Ye mortals
He is not of the earth
He is of the sky
He flaps his wings like a zeret bird
He goes to the sky
He goes to the sky
On the wind
On the wind

4. Finished reading "Outliers" by Malcom Gladwell.  I had mixed feeling initially because of the preconditioning from the flood of reviews (some trashing it) and promo talks that preceded it but in the end it is not bad.  Just don't expect anything original.  It makes a decent airplane read or in my case an audiobook for my hour-long runs. The last chapter is a more personal account about the story of his (black) mother getting to UCL from poor rural upbringings in Jamaica and meeting his (white) Math professor father.  This is the most interesting read of the book.
5. In case someone is still uncertain about why non-cellulosic biofuels are a dead-end, here is another review "19 Hurdles for Large-Scale Biofuel Use"

byMaurice Politis at 00:27 0 comments  

Friday Summa 2, December 6

1. I have audited (i.e. listened to the audiobook) "The Predictably Irrational, The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions" by Dan Ariely (MIT/Duke - Behavioral Economics). If you have fallen from another planet and missed on the Freakonomics school of irrationality studies along with an assortment of blinking Gladwell lights then you might mind it interesting. If you are a regular on NYT, Harpers, New Yorker and the like skip. To listen during my short winter runs (~7km) it was OKish.

2. Clean Coal and Carbon sequestration are topic that interest me both professional and intellectually. I have read on The New Republic a good piece on the subject, with ref to a recent McKinsey report carbon sequestration for Europe.

3. I am proud to be part of it: "The babies born between 1965 and 1970 were historic" says in an article about peak population Alex Steffen in worldchanging.com. This is the generation also of a longevity boom on a global scale and the implications for the economy and the environment can be dramatic if you just continue business as usual.

4. I 'live-by-Google', use most of their tech and absolutely admire the company and their corporate ethos. (with some glitches, cf China censoring, but we have to keep a perspective; not an easy good/bad dichotomy). This presentation dissects Google and their business. I must thank the tweet of Jeremiah Owyang for suggesting it. My kvetch is that it misses out on the scientific/technical aspect and scale of Google's data processing. Thankfully Mark Chu has a nice post about this.

5. I was listening to some ten-odd different covers of 'Hit me baby one more time' ranging from excellent (Travis, Type O Negative, Children of Bodom) to some that make Britney sound artistic.

6. Another very intriguing cover is that of Elena Roger from Argentina covering 'Io Vivro' of Lucio Battisti that was majestically performed in the 70's by the great Mina. Compare and contrast.

7. Lang Lang plays with the China Philharmonic Orchestra on Mozart's Piano Concert nr24 C-moll Kv 491, heard it on youtube and got very impressed. I will try to get hold of a studio reccording. The article that brought this to my attention is also very amusing. It looks like China will also be suppling the world with classical musicians!

byMaurice Politis at 20:35 0 comments  

Friday Summa 1, November 28

Summa comes from latin, means "the whole" and it is meant to be my weekly note-keeping diary of songs, films, books, articles, tweets and the kitchen sink of all I have come across that made it past my attention threshold over the past week. I am shamelessly copying the idea from the excellent "Friday Random " of the extraordinary gentleman of Good-Math-Bad-Math Mark Chu-Carroll. I hope he does mind ;-)
1. Daniele Sepe: I have reaffirmed how much I like the crazy ethnic jazz variations of .
2. Watched the Brasilian film "Elite Squad" and I liked it. Think of a SWAT team action movie but with more flair. The starting song "Rap das Arma", a brasilian gangsta rap about guns and the favela, is also very nice, in samba style!
3. Finished reading "The Post-American World" by Fareed Zakaria. Nice, easy read on geopolitics.
4. I was mesmerized by the cover of "Venus in furs" in a live of Mandrugada. Strike, dear mistress, and cure his heart...

byMaurice Politis at 20:24 0 comments  

Semantic web, is this really useful

I wrote a short essay, more like a proposal for a data acquisition project that involves getting measurements from remote stations and collecting, verifying and presenting the values in a web site. The data are air quality related and typically consist of particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen and sulfur oxides, air temperature and other meteo data.
database server gets the environmental information and we must develop the tools to process and present the information. Doing some googling we found some companies specializing in environmental information processing but the cost is high. Pollution from power plants is our concern. We need to monitor how their emissions impact on the health of people in the region of interest. Of all pollutants the most visible are the particulates emitted from the coal burners and also from the lignite handling.

Now assessing the usefulness of zemified to the above I have mixed feelings. Most links come from wikepedia, which is understandable but for me there is nothing new or interesting from the suggestions. I will keep trying to get a better idea because i find the idea of semantic web very intriguing indeed.

byMaurice Politis at 12:59 0 comments