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11 December

I am buying these books for Christmas (for people who don't read my blog). A bit of classic science fiction, and some contemporary high-rated sports and fitness. With luck, I might get to read some of these on the rebound.

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
Isolated by Mexico's deadly Copper Canyons, the blissful Tarahumara Indians have honed the ability to run hundreds of miles without rest or injury. In a riveting narrative, award-winning journalist and often-injured runner Christopher McDougall sets out to discover their secrets. In the process, he takes his readers from science labs at Harvard to ...
Born to Run at Amazon.ca (Canada)
Born to Run at Amazon.com

In the twenty-seventh century, accelerated technology dictates the memories and personalities of people. With most of his own memories deleted, Robin enters The Glasshouse-an experimental polity where he finds himself at the mercy of his own unbalanced psyche.
Glasshouse at Amazon.ca (Canada)
Glasshouse at Amazon.com

The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse
A serial killer is murdering notable nursery-rhyme characters and leaving very special chocolates as calling cards at the scene of each crime.
Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse at Amazon.ca (Canada)
Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse at Amazon.com

The Chronoliths
Classic science fiction.
Chronoliths at Amazon.ca (Canada)
Chronoliths at Amazon.com

I also have a broader set of suggest for other gifts for people inclined towards science. I have some, but not all of these

items myself.

Here's my
list of gifts for the technophile or science minded. These are gift ideas that
have appealed to scientifically inclined people and technical people we know.

Expensive ($900 USD and up)

  • A telescope. My own is an old Celestron Nexstar-5
    which is portable yet high powered.
    A "Schmidt-casgrain" or "Matsukov" type is small but powerful. The "automated GOTO"
    feature on ones like this is really cool any makes then really easy to use
    even for people with no prior experience. Meade also makes similar
    compact computerized telescopes.
  • Night-vision binoculars or 'monocular'. These can be found in several forms, most importantly they are
    specified as first through 4th generation, with the performance and cost increasinmg with the
    generation. As of 2004 4th generation was reserved for professionals (like the military), 3rd
    gen was too costly for me but was readily available, and first generation was vastly inferior to the rest.
  • Technological artwork (look under sculptures). This particular artist
    produces objects that combine technology in the form of functioning computer circuitry and art.
    (Like most original artwork, you have to email the artist for prices and such.)

Moderate ($80 to $900)

  • An adapter to attach a camera to a telescope.
  • Radio controlled toys. Even for adults these are often amusing, if they are
    of the fancier variety.
  • A levitron magnetic top.
  • Binoculars
  • Electronic (radio) locators to attach to keys and other items you your
    family might misplace.


  • Glass beakers for use as drinking glasses.
  • A leatherman-style multipurpose knife (like a swiss army knife) with screwdrivers
    and other tools in it (instead of merely knives).
  • A fancy flashlight, either with a fancy (eg. magnesium) case or based on a set of LED's.
  • An internet domain name!
  • A mug or shirt with a scientific theme.
  • A good book on astronomy, recent physics, nanotechnology, new computer science,
    cognitive science:

    • Astronomy: a great choice, even for somebody with a good prior
      knowledge, but also for a beginner, is the book

      The Great Atlas of the Stars, by Serge Brunier.
      It has wonderful
      photos of interesting astronimical objects, good descriptive text, and
      plastic overlays for the photos to allow you to identify key features while also being
      able to compare the unadorned raw photo.

    • Astronomy:

      Nightwatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe>

      is a good introductory book on doing your own observing, but anybody with
      a substantial ongoing interested in astronomy may have outgrown it, and also
      may already have at least one copy.

    • The book by Isaac Asimov called "The World of Carbon" is a really
      wonderful introduction to scientific thinking, the understanding or how things
      work, and chemistry in particular. It's an old book (I read it as a teen), but
      the science is timeless and well-established. Asimov was himself a chemist before
      he became a science fiction writer, and this is a realy inspiring science book
      (with no fiction) -- the kind of book that makes a kid want to become a chemist, which
      exactly the kind of effect it had on me. Unfortunately, it's out of print, so it will be a bit tricky to find,
      but you can probably get it
      used online.

By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
05 February

The effect and influence Facebook is pernicious and profound. What makes this web property especially damaging is that the harm that it does to the fabric of our culture is subtly concealed. The promise of the Internet, and its most obvious incarnation the World Wide Web, is that it democratizes information dissemination and gathering. Every person becomes a potential source of creative output. Whether it is political journalism, how to improve one's garden, the nature of the universe, or the subtleties of traveling through Europe, every person can collect their thoughts and can post their opinions and thoughts and reflections. The most obvious effect of this is to make far more raw information available to people on a timely basis. That's great, but it's only one side of the coin, and the other represents an equally critical step for our society. By allowing anybody to post their thoughts in the hope of helping others, it engages far more people than ever before in the creative process. This in turn, gets these people to think more deeply about their world, and about how they can contribute to it.
What's key here it that the web pushes people to think more deeply and be more creative, but that outlet and effect is very dependent on people believing that many people may find their information and that they can use plenty of words and space to describe their thoughts.

The problem with Facebook, is that by creating a password-protected space in which users interact, it prevents the critical access to information that makes the Internet possible. Information that users post in Facebook simply isn't out there for the whole Internet to see. More pernicious, and less obvious, it focuses people's attention increasingly on their day-to-day interactions with their friends, or the banal hijinx of their pseudo-friends, and focuses the creation of content, on petty issues that would only appeal to one's small circle of intimates. On top of that, information is always compressed into little bite-sized chunks. The nature of the discourse is more like a chat that a friend suffering from attention deficit disorder than an article, encyclopedia entry, or even one's personal diary. Other social networks such as Google plus, also suffer from this to some extent, but because Facebook is unusual in both its penetration and the manner in which it seals off its internal content from the rest of the Internet, it represents a particular low point. While twitter forces information into little dribbles, it remains much for open and is not likely to displace the creations of web sites or blogs, but drive traffic to them.

On top of that, there is also the issue of Facebook owning (and having access to) you email, photos and other personal information. This is not a concern unique to Facebook, but it's just one more reason not to love it, and it is just an invitation to abuse. Furthermore, Facebook has not been the most impressive net citizen in terms of open access, control over one's personal data, or the consistency and fairness of its privacy policy.

Now with the recent Facebook IPO, not only will Facebook be propelled into greater visibility, but more people will be trip be contracted to this kind of sad, dismal, descriptive business model.

One positive note for those who dislike Facebook, is that the attempt to aggregate large amounts of information into a single web property is universally led to failure. Yahoo was perhaps the most successful doing this and even day did not succeed particularly well. It is not clear that the combination of substantial information properties, such as newspapers, with the comings and goings of one's personal friends can be merged successfully into a single concise web presence. Furthermore, based on Facebook's initial attempts to do this kind of thing, there is little evidence that they're the ones who can pull it off. On the other hand the power and influence is immense and with large amounts of capital, they will have huge incentive for you to push beyond the limits of what they can do well today. Here's to hoping they fail dismally.

[ This article was generated using a new dictation technology. I am still stamping out all the strange misinterpretations. ]

[ More recent: A recent talk/article by Eben Moglen of Columbia law school also brings up the concerns with Facebook messaging. ]

By Gregory Dudek at | Read (2) or Leave a comment |    
26 September

Here's my list of assorted Internet streaming radio stations (not in any particular order). This is collected from various sources, and stored here largely for my own use.

BBC - Radio 4

BBC - Radio 4 Extra

BBC - World Service News


WFMU's Rock & Soul Ichiban


PORTLAND - KZME (Only plays local bands, or bands which are coming to Portland soon.)

OLDIES - 1930s -1940's - Abacus Radio

OLDIES - 1920s - 1930s - Radio Dismuke (This is a terrific stream, though the sound quality is a bit low.)

OLDIES - 1930's - WGBH's "Jazz Decades"

OLDIES - 1920's - 1950s  - Venerable Radio

AMBIENT - SomaFM - Mission Control (Music mixed with recordings of NASA material. )



SPACE-AGE - SomaFM Illinois Street Lounge

Birdsong Radio

GERMANY - Heimatmelodie

HOLLAND - Efteling Radio (programming for kids during the daytime hours and movie soundtracks mixed with animal noises and sounds from De Efteling amusement park otherwise!)

SWISS - Alpenmelodie

SWISS - Volksmusic Radio

ABIDIJAN - Africa No. 1 (M3U)

ATHENS - Radio Epirus (MP3)

BUENOS AIRES - Radio Periko (PLS)



CAIRO - Hona wa alaan (MP3)

DELHI - Guyana NJ Desi Radio (PLS)

HONG KONG - Chinese Classical (MP3)

HONOLULU - Hawaiian Rainbow (PLS)

ISTANBUL - Radyo Music (MP3)

JERUSALEM - Kolhalev (MP3)

LIMA - Radio Scala de Oro (MP3)

MADRID - SKY.FM, Classical & Flamenco Guitar (MP3)

MONTEGO BAY - Nautic Radio - Jamaican  (MP3)

MOSCOW- Radio Caprice Russian Folk

NAIROBI - Bongo Radio (MP3)

NEW ORLEANS - Radio Riel New Toulouse (PLS)

PARIS - Nostalgie Počtes (MP3)

http://mp3.live.tv-radio.com/2524/nosta … 114501.mp3

RIO DE JANEIRO - Bossa Nova Hits (PLS)
(Really good mix, though I wish they would take all versions of "Girl from Ipanama" out of rotation: that gets old.)
http://www.bossanovahits.com.br/radio-b … va128k.pls

ROME - Italian Graffiati - Musica anni 60 e 70 (MP3)

TOKYO - Blue Heron Radio (M3U)


The JAMmer - Decades of 'Just A Minute' (MP3)

Welcome to Weirdsville - The Silly Side of Halloween (MP3) (LO-FI)

Publicradiofan.com -- list of links


list of links to public radio stations

list of links


list of links to real radio stations

Publicradiofan.com -- list of links


list of links to public radio stations

Q107 Toronto


Toronto classic rock

Bill Sparks list


Station list

By Gregory Dudek at | Read (1) or Leave a comment |    
28 April

There was a recent furry of publicity recently over the fact that veal cows are being horribly mistreated. This is hardly surprising news, since the abusive conditions in factory farms has been extensively documented in the past, and veal is pretty far down the horrifically awful end of the spectrum: animals kept their whole lives (from birth) often without being allowed to walk, tortured, and abused in other ways.

The following article documents how baby calves, just weeks old, are kicked, punched, slapped, etc., and it's a rather horrific read. Quebec is the largest producer of milk-fed veal in Canada, producing 80 per cent of the so-called white veal and we should be ashamed of it, and with a code of good conduct that is merely voluntary; that's a blemish on our Provincial image.

The production of foie gras is another disgusting and abusive practice here that is sometimes rationalized using a range of self-indulgent excuses. In case you don't know, it uses the force-feeding of birds using "gavage" which means putting a funnel down their throats and jamming in food (daily) so that their livers essentially self-destruct to produce an exceptionally fatty residue that some people like to eat. The fact that is it exceptionally unhealthy for the people who eat it is cold consolation. It is sometimes excused on the rationale that people it eat sparingly, but that's enough to sustain an inexcusable industry. It's a shame that local restaurant's in Montreal, notably the "Au Pied de Cochon," chain have come to celebrate this greasy mess as if it was something noble, rather than what seems to be to be a badge of inhumane stupidity or callousness. In several countries it's illegal.

You don't need to go so far as becoming a vegetarian to simply give up veal, or to realize that veal and foie gras is inhumane and repugnant.

By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
25 June

This has been a rough month or so, with a climax last week. For people who didn't see me as much as expected, or for whom I owe something, here's what's been going on.

  • Week 1: Computer and Robot Vision (conference). Not my baby, but I was involved as the president of the sponsoring organization.
  • Week 2: We ran the national field trials week here in Montreal for the NSERC Canadian Field Robotics Network, which I direct.
  • Week 3: California; among other things, gave a talk at the University of California, work.
  • Weeks 4: Hong Kong; Int'l Conference on Robotics and Automation/
  • Week 5: Got one night at home between Asia and Europe. Went to Europe for work.
  • Week 6 (last week):

    • Monday: Yogi defended his PhD thesis. This was the culmination of many years work and a momentous event. The defense went well.
    • Tuesday - Thursday: I am co-chair of the i-SAIRIS conference on Space Robotics. Although already a co-organizer, I also helped move it to McGill on an emergency basis due to a flood elsewhere, which implied weeks of crazed lead-up and coordination for everybody involved. I also need to finalize and submit the School's long term hiring strategy and deal with accumulated department business.
    • Late in the week (days are blurry): Police inquire about a friend of mine (John Kozlowski, who I have known since I was 4 years old), who's colleagues reported his anomalous absence from work.
      I got to his apartment and discovered that he had been dead for 2 weeks. No relatives were immediately available so I was compelled do a few things, notably to identify the body, which was even more disturbing than I expected.
    • Next day (Saturday?): My stepmother was found to have fallen and broken 4 bones. She's now recovering in hospital.

Please let this be a quiet, simple week!

By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
29 June

It was a hard few weeks for me, so a trip to the Montreal fireworks competition was a very welcome refresher (it has performances one or twice a week for the next month of so) . We found a new viewing location where we could readily feel the big "booms", and it was quite a thrill. Thanks Montreal!

By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
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