If the organizational chart makes no sense, the company makes little sense.

HP Splitting WebOS Hardware and Software
[Via Daring Fireball]

Derek Kessler, reporting for PreCentral:

We’ve received two memos sent to employees of HP’s webOS Global Business Unit that tell the story of how HP is splitting the former Palm, Inc. into two separate units that will report to separate divisions of HP. The hardware division will stay under the Personal Systems Group and continue to report to Stephen DeWitt. The software side — the side that HP’s still interested in — is to be split off and moved over to HP’s Office of Strategy and Technology, where they’ll report to EVP Shane Robinson.

What strikes me about this are the stupid names of these internal divisions. “Personal Systems Group”, “Office of Strategy and Technology”. What a bunch of crap. Arbitrary bureaucratic internal divisions like this are the antithesis of what I mean when I say that Apple, as an institution, is itself Apple-like. In the way that Apple products aren’t junked-up with extra buttons, logos, stickers, legacy ports, or needless ornamentation, Apple as an organization isn’t saddled with a confusing internal bureaucracy that doesn’t map directly onto the company’s products and services.


The last point – adding all sorts of curliques and baroque adornments to department titles – reminds me of the approach MS would have taken with the iPod launch.

Apple is about simplify, simplify simplify. Others simply add unneeded embellishments.

The end of Techcrunch

Shorter Mike Arrington: ‘I Sold My Company (to a Bunch of Idiots) and Expected to Still Maintain Control Over It.’
[Via Daring Fireball]

Mike Arrington at AOL/TechCrunch seems to have a little seller’s remorse:

We’ve proposed two options to Aol.

1. Reaffirmation of the editorial independence promised at the time of acquisition. Given the current circumstances, that means autonomy from Huffington Post, unfettered editorial independence and a blanket right to editorial self determination. To put it simply, TechCrunch would stay with Aol but would be independent of the Huffington Post.


2. Sell TechCrunch back to the original shareholders.

If Aol cannot accept either of these options, and no other creative solution can be found, I cannot be a part of TechCrunch going forward.

Anyone else running low on popcorn watching this saga unfold?


I’m sure we will see Arrington pop us somewhere else. Because he has actual talent while AOL just has a name – Huffington.

Washing our hands really removes moral disgust

wash handsby SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget

Is The God Delusion more disgusting than the Koran?
[Via Field of Science Combined Feed]

Ever wondered why we get disgusted by things that taste bad and also by things that are morally outrageous? Well, it seems that they really are connected in a very deep way – moral disgust seems to have evolved as an extension of physical disgust.

And that means you can play a neat trick: you can measure moral disgust indirectly by looking to see how it affects our physical sense of disgust.

Ryan Ritter and Jesse Lee Preston at the University of Illinois have been doing just that. The basic set up was to get students to taste-test a drink as part of what supposed to be part of a marketing survey. They tasted two drinks – although of course they were actually the same drink (made up of 1 cup of lemon juice in 1 gallon of water – rated as ‘moderately disgusting’!).

In between the two tests, they did some filler tasks (to allow their taste buds to clear, you see). To start with, they had to copy out a passage of text – it just so happened that some had to copy out a passage from the Bible, some a passage from the Koran, and some a passage from Richard Dawkins’ book The God Delusion.

Oh, and did I tell you that they specially recruited only Christian students?
















It turns out that Christian students found that a drink they imbibed after writing out a passage from the Qur’an tasted much worse than one the drank before – even though the drinks were the same. This was similar to other work showing that physical disgust could be seen in moral disgust.

BUt now, if they had the students wash their hands before the second drink, the disgusting taste of the drink disappeared. In fact, those who had written from the Bible – a work that agreed with their moral principles – and washed their hands actually loved the second drink.

SO, whenever you fell moral disgust about someone, just wash your hands and you will feel better.

Hottest summer on record in South now giving way to massive fires

desertby Guilherme Jófili

Texas fires will diminish today; Lee’s rains set all-time records
[Via Dr. Jeff Masters' WunderBlog]

East Texas’ dangerous fires continued to rage out of control yesterday, thanks to gusty north winds associated with the passage of a cold front and the remnant circulation of Tropical Storm Lee. Since Saturday, wildfires have torched over 500 homes in East Texas and killed two people. At Austin Bergstrom Airport, sustained winds of 20 – 25 mph, gusting to 30 – 35 mph blew much of the day yesterday. Tropical Storm Lee’s remnants didn’t bring any clouds or moisture to Austin yesterday, and the temperature climbed to 91°, with a humidity of just 11%. With the region enduring it’s driest 1-year drought on record, yesterday’s heat, dryness, and winds resulted in critical fire conditions. The forecast today for Austin is much better–winds will be only 5 – 10 mph, which should give firefighters the upper hand in many of the blazes, despite low humidities that will be in the 15 – 25% range. NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center is not predicting that critical fire weather conditions will return during the remainder of the week. You can monitor today’s fire activity by using our wundermap for Austin with the fire layer turned on.


Places like Shrevesport have weather records going back to the1870′s. This August had the warmest  average temperatures there by 3°.

Same at Lubbock and Wichita Falls. And current science indicates that this will get worse.

A warming Earth changes the air currents that drive the various jet streams. In the case of Texas, the so-called Hadley cells are moving North. This will bring drier air down to the ground in parts of the Southern US, resulting in less moisture. These are the Horse latitudes, now around 30-35° , where most  of the world’s deserts are found.

Only now those regions could be well up into Oklahoma and Kansas.

And the effects of hurricanes on these regions could get much worse. Warmer air means more water can be held in the atmosphere. Tropical storm  Lee brought record-breaking rains. Jackson, Mississippi got 11.7 inches of rain in a 24  hour period. Their previous record was 8.5. Over 3 miches more than ever before.

Coulter lies again about evolution

coulaterby david_shankbone

More Coulter Stupidity on Evolution
[Via Dispatches from the Culture Wars]

Not content to show her complete ignorance of evolutionary biology once, Ann Coulter doubles down with yet another screed that would get her flunked by a competent high school science teacher. She begins with this unintentionally amusing statement:

More people know the precepts of kabala than know the basic elements of Darwinism.

And then she proves it by displaying her own ignorance of the subject.


Why can’t more of us get jobs where we get to rehash lies about the same thing again and again, and get paid big bucks? For most of us, falsehoods would lose us our jobs.

But for Coulter and others, these are all features not bugs.

She actually has no really new lies here. Just the same old ones. But repeat a Big Lie often enough and people will start believing it.

How science rebuts poor papers

clownsby Double–M (formerly DoubleM2)

Dessler shows that clouds aren’t causing climate change, refuting Spencer and Braswell
[Via Deltoid]

Andrew Dessler’s new paper (preprint here) makes it clear just how bad Spencer and Braswell (2011) is. Spencer and Braswell assumed that changes in clouds were a stronger influence on temperature changes than changes in ocean heat content. Dessler used observations to show that the ocean heat content is vastly more important. He summarizes his paper in the video below.


I mentioned the original Spencer paper a few months ago. Here we have a good scientific rebuke of that paper. This is how science works, particularly when dealing with poor publications.

I expect there to be more in this vein. Sometimes, nothing is more appealing to researchers then when a poorly argued paper is published. Because it means they are going to get publications themselves simply by debunking the original.

Easy papers. And also ones that get published in premier journals. Because journals, just like most media, love controversy because it raises their impact.

Some great reasons for why bigger is not better in college football conferences

So What Should Big 12 Schools Do ? Say No to Super Conferences
[Via Blog Maverick]

Here is some unsolicited advice to the Big 12. As you might expect coming from me, it’s going to be contrary to what everyone else thinks they should do.

With Texas A&M trying to leave the Big 12 (It doesn’t happen until the SEC accepts them) every remaining school is trying to decide in the immortal lyrics of The Clash “Should I Stay or Should I Go”.  The quick answer ?

They should stay.

Why ? The first reason is that the Super Conferences that are forming or being considered will turn into a huge mistake. No if ands or buts about it. While the concept of a Super Conference sounds incredibly cool , the reality is that the larger than 12 school conferences will only invoke the law of intended consequences and will create the following problems:


He is always interesting, but I think Mark Cuban hits some good points, particularly if a conference wants to make a lot of money – which seems to be the main reason for a conference anyway.

More a nook killer than an iPad

apple itunes


Report: first 7″ Amazon tablet to cost $249
[Via Ars Technica]

A few more details have emerged about the Amazon tablet, indicating that it intends to cater to a crowd formerly relegated to hacking the Barnes & Noble Nook. According to Silicon Alley Insider and TechCrunch, the Amazon tablet will be priced at $249 and measure 7 inches, with a 10-inch version possible early next year.

The multitouch device has been a subject of speculation for over a year now, with Taiwanese manufacturer Quanta reportedly fielding an order for 700,000 to 800,000 of the units earlier this year. An Amazon-backed tablet could have a disruptive impact on the tablet landscape, potentially taking the number-two tablet spot and reducing Google’s unilateral control over Android.


To be as successful as the iPad, this tablet will have to provide content worldwide. The iTunes and its content are available almost everywhere. All the countries in green have access to the iTunes store.

Getting content up and going worldwide as rapidly as possible will be needed.

And AOL continues to destroy its properties

TechCrunch predicts its own demise.
[Via Dave Winer's linkblog feed]

TechCrunch predicts its own demise.


Huffington has been such a great find. So far, three other great sites I used to read are no longer on my feeds – because of her simply wrong business model. She values labor cheaply – as in paying little or nothing while she reaps millions.

So I read This is My Next instead of Engadget. The Unofficial Apple Weblog is just barely hanging on – and it is on double secret probation.

Now it looks like Techcrunch is out.

Google as a salesman

Don Norman: Google Doesn’t Get People, It Sells Them
[Via Daring Fireball]

The truth has an anti-Google bias.


He hits one of the reasons I do not use Google +, referring to the need for real names:

“Real names, they say, turn out to be the names on your driver’s license and your passport and your credit cards so that they can track you. Are you happy to be a product?”

Everything they do is based on selling ‘me’ to others. I’d prefer to have a little more control than that. So I used Google as little as possible. And even that probably tells them too much about me.

More Apple copycats playing catchup

Toshiba Unveils New Thin Laptop
[Via Daring Fireball]

PCs are too expensive.


Another copycat into a niche that Apple created. Nothing about battery life – not good. And it will probably cost more than the Macbook Air.

Anti-science rhetoric becomes outright violent terrorism

International terrorist group targets nanotech researchers
[Via Boing Boing]

Yesterday, Craig Cormick—the public awareness manager at Australia’s Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, and the person who invited me to the 6th Science Center World Congress—leaned over during a conference session and showed me this story on his blackberry. I had to double check and make sure it wasn’t a sketchy email forward.

But the truth is that, sometimes, anti-science sentiment coalesces into violent attacks on scientists themselves. That’s happened to researchers who work with animal models in the United States. And it’s also happening to researchers around the world who are working with nanotechnology. The threat seems to be particularly prevalent in Mexico. In manifestos, the terrorists have said that they’re attempting to prevent scientists from inventing self-replicating nanobots that could turn the entire world into “grey goo.”


Researchers have already been injured. It is simply too easy to destroy. When scientists are made into the ‘other’ or are portrayed as outright criminals with no ethics, it makes this sort of terror much easier to accomplish.


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