Bill Gates puts his personal money where Microsoft and Google should
He's invested $10 million in a company that pursued "computer-aided drug design." Google and Microsoft (and, to some extent, Yahoo and other companies) are battling a war of attrition over services like Internet search and webmail access, when they really ought to be devoting their massive computing firepower to the pursuit of novel business opportunities where complex computations could be generating huge new opportunities. Lots of fields -- energy, medicine, and agriculture, for instance -- could use the complex problem-solving potential embedded within the big Internet and computer companies. Whichever firm decides first to pursue novel lines of business (instead of battling out the same old turf wars for browser market share) will have the healthier future. Google's complex relationship (and emerging legal troubles) with privacy suggest that the company is approaching the limit of what it's going to be able to offer for online services without significant changes in social norms. With apologies to Sheryl Crow, a change could do them some very profitable good. Related: An interview with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett right around the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting.
Eight websites nobody needs to build anymore
The Internet is being littered with sites nobody needs -- especially new social-networking sites. We've networked enough; we really just need more and better tools to get on with the business of getting things done automatically, so we can concentrate on putting our brains to work generating new ideas. Let's solve a few real problems before trying to build the "next" Facebook.
Anti-immigrant rhetoric is probably hurting job prospects for black Americans
By distracting people from meritable improvements that could be made to things like education and the reduction of bureaucracy, people who are trying to convince black Americans and others that their jobs are being "taken" by illegal immigrants are probably just perpetuating problems like unemployment and poverty.
A day with Bill Clinton: Now a raffle prize
Clinton is one of the smartest people alive in America today; it's too bad he does things like this which make him seem oddly out of touch with reality, and more than just a little bit tacky. Then again, there's a lot of tackiness circulating in the world of politics today, like a campaign commercial suggesting that a candidate is an idiot for endorsing the concept of evolution by natural selection. Evolution as an explanation for how we got here makes a considerable degree more sense than any of the other explanations that have been floated.
Signs that don't always make sense
The best is #26 in the series, which advises no fishing in a toilet
Could whiter clouds reflect more sunlight than regular clouds?
And, in turn, would that reduce global warming? It's a big idea, and potentially a massive experiment to be undertaken.
Podcast: Do tax incentives really do any good for economic growth?
Major water award goes to University of Iowa researcher