This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.

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Posted by: James Lileks under Outstate, Technology Updated: August 15, 2014 - 12:44 PM

A stirring defense of email? Yes. It is indeed a “tremendous, decentralized, open platform on which new, innovative things can and have been built,” as Alexis Madrigal says at the Atlantic. It’s also becoming the equivalent of snail mail, inasmuch as the personal communications come via other channels. Phones killed the letter; email killed letters; texting killed email; and so on. So this is heresy! Or is it?

It's worth noting that spam, which once threatened to overrun our inboxes, has been made invisible by more sophisticated email filtering. I received hundreds of spam emails yesterday, and yet I didn't see a single one because Gmail and my Atlantic email filtered them all neatly out of my main inbox. At the same time, the culture of botty spam spread to every other corner of the Internet. I see spam comments on every website and spam Facebook pages and spam Twitter accounts every day. 

That’s true. But texts on your phone are easier, no?

This isn't something the originators of email ever could have imagined, but: Email does mobile really well.

While the mobile web is a rusting scrapheap of unreadable text, broken advertisements, and janky layouts, normal emails look great on phones! They are super lightweight, so they download quickly over any kind of connection, and the tools to forward or otherwise deal with them are built expertly and natively into our mobile devices. 

That’s true as well. Hmm. Well, here’s the problem. Email as a means of personal communication works fine, and allows for more greater length, if people in the future will still be capable of such things. But it will be mostly associated with work, which for millions means it is simply a nag that tells you what you haven’t done yet.

Good article; give it a read.

SCIENCE! Another big rock heading our way. Panic. Slowly. The Independent serves up some quality science writing:

They were studying asteroid 1950 DA, which has a one in 300 chance of hitting the planet on 16 March, 2880 Although the odds seem small, it is the most likely asteroid to collide with Earth and the odds are higher than being shot dead in the US.

Sigh. That’s a meaningless statistic. Where in the US? Chicago? The Alaskan tundra?  Let’s keep reading:

The University of Tennessee researchers said 1950 DA is rotating so quickly it “defies gravity” and is held together by cohesive forces, called van der Waals, never before detected on an asteroid.

From the comments:

Van der Waals force is the name for the intermolecular electromagnetic forces that keep your desk together and the screen you are reading this on. Every solid body is kept in one piece by them, including asteroids, big and small.

Moving right along:

The findings, published in the science journal Nature, could prompt a change in tactics defending our planet.

The chance of contemporary tactics changing to anticipate an event in 2880 seem small. It’s difficult to change tactics to anticipate something we know for certain will happen in 2015. Moving right along:

Previous research has shown that asteroids are loose piles of rubble held together by gravity and friction but by calculating 1950 DA’s thermal inertia and bulk density, the team detected the action of cohesive forces that stop it breaking up.

Ben Rozitis, a postdoctoral researcher, said if only gravity were holding it together, the spinning would cause it to fly apart.

The rotation is so fast that at its equator, 1950 DA effectively experiences negative gravity and if an astronaut were to attempt to stand on the surface, he or she would be thrown off into space.

Which sounds like nonsense. But speaking of being flung into space:

Votd Surely there’s a point where you’re fleeing the cops and you have one on your hood banging his helmet on your windshield where you think This cannot possibly end well.

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