I talked my way into the beta program for Google Earth Studio and have spent a few days experimenting with the software. It’s surprisingly easy and fun to use.

For years, you’ve been able to visit the Google Earth site and, by clicking and dragging and scrolling, wander around the planet, looking at different places. I’ve always wished that I could record a journey for other people to experience.

I wasn’t the only person to think of that, of course! Google Earth Studio finally makes it possible.

Welcome page for Google Earth Studio

The site has some good, simple tutorials available to get you started creating…


I have a copy of Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience. The book was compiled by Shaun Usher. It’s one of my favorite flip-it-open-to-a-page-at-random books. It seldom disappoints, and never takes more than a few minutes to read something really interesting.

This morning I happened on a memorandum written on July 18, 1969, from William Safire, President Nixon’s speechwriter, to HR Haldeman. Apollo 11 was approaching the moon, and of course the world was fixated on what everyone hoped would be an incredible triumph. We all know how it turned out!

Success wasn’t…


This is the second article in my series on quantum computing. Part one is here.

I didn’t start out to write a series.

After my original post on quantum, though, I got to talk to a bunch of folks working in the industry. That made me realized that there are two very different schools of thought on what a quantum computer ought to be.

I wanted to understand the state of the art in quantum computing, but the two different approaches mean the art has two different states. …


Calling someone a “thought leader” is a way of calling them “interesting,” but it has a little more heft. Thought leaders are out there, leading thoughts around! (When someone claims that they themselves are a thought leader, I assume they’re really not, and also that they are a little bit of a dick.)

The phrase has always bugged me. It’s exactly backward.

One of the interesting people I pay attention to is Tim Urban. He blogs over at WaitButWhy. His superpower is to ask a surprising question, and then to start looking for the answer. …


There was a story in the New York Times yesterday about Joe Biden’s fiscal plan as he enters office. The plan calls for $1.9 trillion in spending.

That’s a lot of money. I like it.

Obviously, the fastest way to launch a strong recovery from the pandemic is to end it. The plan invests heavily in vaccine production and distribution, centralizing and coordinating those efforts in a way that the Trump administration never has. The President-elect aims to vaccinate one hundred million Americans in his first hundred days in office. …


Interesting stuff that crossed my feed lately:

  • We know more about the topography of the Moon and Mars than we do about our own planet, because so much of Earth’s surface is covered by water. Saildrone is deploying uncrewed, autonomous surface ships to map the ocean floor.
  • Vaccine rollout is accelerating, but I still don’t know where or when I’ll get mine. No clear plan has been articulated here in California. That’s common across the country. It’s nice to see the state of New Jersey publishing so much data about its activity to date. …

We’re six days from the inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris. The National Guard has assembled in Washington, DC to protect the legislature and to safeguard the top officials in the nation during the inauguration.

Yesterday, the House voted to impeach President Trump for the second time, awarding him half of all impeachments in US history. That was on the back of a takeover of the US Capitol by his followers, aimed at stopping the Constitutional process to certify the legitimate election results for Biden and Harris. …


Interesting stuff that has crossed my feed lately:


The turmoil of President Trump’s final days in office are sucking up almost all the front page real estate, Twitter chatter capacity and raw attention that Americans have, right now. It is hard to turn away from a train wreck.

But we need to do that, because in our distraction, we are losing critical time in battling the coronavirus pandemic.

In early December, a mutation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was discovered for the first time in the UK. Mutation is common in viruses, but no mutant strain before this one caused much alarm among epidemiologists. This time, though, they’re worried…


Interesting stuff that has crossed my feed lately:

  • John Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock won run-off elections for US Senate seats in Georgia. President Trump incited his supporters to storm the Capitol building in Washington, DC, briefly interrupting Congress’ count of the 2020 electoral votes. Barack Obama spoke out, as did Mitch McConnell. On returning to the chamber and resuming the count, Vice President Pence presided over the certification of Joe Biden’s and Kamala Harris’ victory.
  • As the COVID vaccines roll out globally, Israel has become an outlier to imitate. While other countries, including the US, struggle with logistics, Israel…

Mike Olson

Berkeley-based techie with an interest in business. Worried about the world.

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