June 2009

$9.50 - and just who was "Party B"?

Last night, as a holder of a few hundred shares in Sun Microsystems (JAVA is their stock symbol), I finally received voting instructions and an explanation of the proposed merger with Oracle. This is actually the second time I've had the opportunity to vote on a company's proposal to end itself through merger - the first was just last fall, when SpaceDev (SPDV stock symbol) was acquired by Sierra Nevada Corporation. In both cases it's been a somewhat mixed experience emotionally. The acquisition price has been a significant improvement on the recent market price for their shares (for Sun, the $9.50 price is significantly above the roughly $5 it was trading at a few months ago), so that's nice on the money side. On the other hand the reason I was holding the shares in the first place was because I believed the company had great potential for the future.

Some basic climate references

I recently corresponded with a colleague who has acquired a degree of "skepticism" regarding global warming. His comments to me specifically cited Freeman Dyson and Will Happer, distinguished physicists who are also well-known global-warming skeptics, and he contrasted their credentials with those of John Holdren (Obama's new science advisor) and Al Gore. The following is a lightly edited version of my response, which I'm posting here mainly as a place for some useful links on the subject.

On the dimensions of the noosphere

This will necessarily be a somewhat rambling collection of my thoughts as I don't feel I've settled down to any solid conclusions on the matter. Perhaps just writing this down will clarify some of my thinking, or perhaps the ideas here will fetch some comments from others that will help point me in better directions. This is the development of some of the thinking from my earlier comments on measuring wrongness - the science I'm familiar with centers on measurement and quantification, and it certainly seems potentially fruitful to consider ways in which one could impose measures (of "wrongness" or "rightness" or just "uncertainty") on the world of ideas. In a sense that kind of measurement is what we impose under the banner of peer review, though the visible outcome is more a binary (publish/don't publish) than continuous measure.