Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Links: January 29

The story of a man who removed his own appendix in the Antarctic. [link]

New soldier exoskeleton video.

Orangutan plays peacemaker. [link]

Thumping music may help with dust issues on Mars and Lunar colonies. [link]

Doctors Without Borders setting up an inflatable hospital in Haiti.

The sound of ice cracking as heard underwater. [link]

Flexible Kindle. [link]

I've posted this before but I'm posting it again. It's a several year old Nova special about the second DARPA Grand Challenge. A contest in which different groups created self controlled vehicles and then raced them.

I posted that because I wanted to show you this. The technology to create self driving cars is easing it's way into common use. This is just smart cruise control, but it's another step. Article and two videos. [link]

Frederick Pohl talking about Isaac Asimov as a kid. [link]

Gun company that printed Bible verses on guns promises to stop and provide kits to remove existing verses. [link]

And a company that was selling bomb detectors based on dowsing rod principles has received a smack down. Export of the devices is now illegal and the owner of the company has been arrested for fraud. [link]

CBS news video of the story.
Watch CBS News Videos Online

Which Doctor Who are you? [link]
I'm Tom Baker. No surprise there.

Game: Akinator - Story character guesser. [link]

John Scalzi reading "Judge Sn Goes Golfing". [link]
I heard him read this when he came through DC.

Kick ass furniture designers. [link]

Old ad for the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Game." [link]

Incendiary blog post formula. [link]

The always awesome trailer to "The Shining".

10 greatest sci-fi movies never made. [link]

A collection of space images taken by an amateur astronomer from his shed. [article] [his site]

15 worst deaths from experimentation. [link]

Conjoined twins getting married. That's gonna be an odd sex life. Abigail and Brittany
Abigail and Brittany

Game: Civilization Wars - gain experience, get skills, kick ass, conquer all the civilizations. [link]

Interesting article about the evolution of dogs. [link]

Collection of interspecies friendship videos. [link]

Fruit flies can't handle their liquor. [link]

Cat protects house from bear.

Earth becoming invisible to aliens. [link]

A partial explanation of where the economic stimulus package was spent. [link]

A Rush Limbaugh story we wish was true. [link]

Chimps make movie to be shown on BBC. Link includes the trailer. [link]

This is what I thought we were getting with the iPad. [link]

Garry Kasparov article about computer chess and how it's evolved. [link]

Richard Dawkins calls Pat Robertson a real Christian. Smiting Haiti is very God-like. [link]

Jet packs probably won't ever work. Here's the next best thing. [link]

Screw Pokemon. There's a better idea for trading cards. [link]

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Gary Freeman

Have a listen to this.

Gary Freeman

That sound was coming from my computer a week or two back. I pointed my good mic at the speakers, turned on "Audacity" (free audio editing software), cranked the gain to full, and turned a whisper into what you hear there.

In my old place my computer speakers would start making sounds from time to time even when the computer was off. Oh, the speakers were on, but the computer was off. They quite clearly played police radio transmissions from passing police cars.

This is different. It's happened several times over the years. The laptop is on, there's usually an assload of browser tabs open, the room is quiet, and I hear a very faint surfer/stoner say "gary freeman". There's also some other sounds that you might be able to hear. A sound kinda like marching feet. Another like a drum roll.

It doesn't always say the name the same way. They come at irregular intervals. Sometimes they overlap.

There's no references online of a Gary Freeman Easter Egg or computer virus. Nobody else seems to get the muttering Gary Freeman from their computer. Just me.

If you have any idea what the fuck is going on please let me know.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Movie Review: Sleep Dealer

I just sent back "Sleep Dealer". Another movie found on a list of under appreciated whatevers.

There are jacks that you can plug in to yourself for entertainment, sex, communication, or work. You can record your memories through them and sell them to other people.

Corporations have started damming up rivers and making people pay for water. People who try to get their water back are deemed terrorists.

The main character grew up and works on his father's farm in Mexico. His dad bought the place when the river still ran and continues to try to work it even when he has to buy what little water he can from the dam. The main character plays with building electronics in his spare time. Until, he intercepts a communication between some remote control aerial drones near San Diego and their military command. The next day the drones are sent to take out the person who overheard them. The kid is visiting relatives so it's his dad that takes the torpedo.

The kid goes out to the city to earn money for the family. He meets a girl on a bus who sells her memories of him. This and that happens. She's asked for more about him by a mysterious stranger. She helps him get the communication jacks so he can work. He gets a job operating construction robots in America somewhere while his body remains jacked in in Mexico. I should mention that the border is completely closed unless you're someone with a damn good reason for getting across.

Eventually it's revealed that the pilot of the drone that killed the main character's father feels bad and has been doing research to find the kid. He's the one that's been buying the girl's memories. The pilot tracks down the kid, apologizes, and asks how he can help. The kid asks him to use his drone to wipe out the dam so the farm can have water.

And they both spend the rest of their lives in hiding and fighting the water hording corporations.

It's mostly in Mexican with subtitles. Sometimes you get people speaking English and someone translates it for the characters.

Worth a rental but slow enough that it's not gonna hold a kid's attention for long.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Movie Review: Russian Ark

I'd been making a list of movies to see some day. Obscure stuff that I'd never heard of but sound interesting. On a list of most underrated time travel movies (or some such crap) I found Russian Ark. Now that Yummy got me a NetFlix 6 month trial for Dougmas I rented it.

As far as art movies go it's great. It's an hour and a half of uninterrupted shooting. The whole film was done in one take. Ok, Wikipedia says it was 4 takes, but on the 4th take they shot the whole film. There's no editing of the film.

The movie takes place in the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. You watch the movie through the eyes of the main character who is apparently immortal, invisible, and suffering some memory loss. He doesn't know when or where he is at first. He meets another person who is like him. This person doesn't know why he's here but knows he hasn't spoken Russian before. Together the two walk through the Winter Palace and through time. Each time they move to a new room they're in a different time period. They see tzars in one room, in the next it's a modern museum, then just after WWII, then Anastasia at play, then receiving diplomats from Persia, etc., etc. From time to time your companion makes himself visible and freaks people out for reasons that are never clear.

Alas, it's all in subtitles and the character you're seeing through speaks in a monotone. You can't tell when he's talking to himself or to his companion. There's no real coherent story and you spend most of the movie trying to figure out what's going on.

A+ for cinematography and art. C- for entertainment.
Don't expect this movie to entertain your children.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Movie Review: Legion

I gotta say, I was disappointed in this movie. "Legion" had so much such promise. But the trailer not only shows most of the good parts but almost everything worth seeing. The scene with the ice cream man stretching out into a grotesque demon possessed creature was actually longer in the trailer than in the movie. Most of the stretching happened off screen. You heard cracking and notice he moved a bit awkwardly. Then he opened his mouth about a foot and screams.

This movie would have been more interesting had I not known what the movie was about. You remember how "The Matrix" and "District 9" got you to want to see the movie without telling you what the movie was about? They needed to do that here. The first 30 minutes or so, in particular, would have been absolutely mad if you didn't already know that was an angel coming to save a woman and her baby from being killed by a legion of angels. Instead, you know exactly what's going on and the people in the diner come off as dimwits.

I'll tell you what you want to do. You want to watch this movie like it's a dark remake of "Gilligan's Island". You know, that episode where an angel shows up and tells them to defend themselves from the apocalypse. There's an isolated community of people who are cut off from society in almost every way that counts. There's a millionaire and his wife, two cute women (one redhead, one brunette), and a trio of guys. The guys are a bit harder to discern who is who. Partially because there's 4 of them. But you can sort out who is Gilligan, the Skipper, the Professor, and the guest star of the week for yourself.

You could also look at it as a Terminator remake without the time travel paradox storyline to keep it interesting. It's replaced with a bit about giving God what he needs instead of what he asks for.

I won't be getting this on DVD. But I'm not saying you should skip this movie either. Just try to see it at a dollar theater or through NetFlix or something. Don't spend a lot.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Links: January 22

More links to me: [] [] [] [] []

Finches rock out.

Strangest humidifier I've ever seen. [link]

How to make marmalade. [link]

Mythbusters ignite 1,000,000 match heads. If I were one of their interns I'd be a bit pissed I didn't get to go to the igniting.

Nifty paintings. [link]

Back during the campaign a Democrat who now has a position of power said something racist. Yep. He did. It was stupid and he said it. More than a year later Republicans are making a big deal of it. Here's a small sample of racist stuff Republicans have said in the same time period. [link]

Game: Civilizations Wars - Quickly breed an army and kill everyone else. [link]

Game: Transcripted - destroy the invading pathogens to get blocks to complete some DNA. [link]

Remarkably short list this week. I blame the 3 day weekend.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The High Line

Eight and a half years in Washington, D.C. and I haven't make it to New York City. Kinda sick, huh? Last weekend Yummy had a mass birthday party to attend north of New York so we made sure to go through the city on the way back.

On the way up we confirmed once and for all that her GPS has computer madness. Instead of taking us on nice fast highways that would take us right where we wanted to be it switched to tourist mode and gave us the Ancient Barns of Pennsylvania Tour with the bonus That Jagged Mess of Ice is the Potomac? Tour.

In New York we had our eye set on one specific destination. See, about two years ago I read the book "The World Without Us" [my review]. One part discussed an elevated train track in New York that has been out of service long enough that it's accumulated dirt and grown plants. The book said that they were turning it into a park. Well, it overshot a bit. The park didn't open until a few months ago and even then it's only 1/3 of the line so far. But I wanted to go. So we skipped all the usual sites and went to the High Line [link]

New York.

It was raining and daylight. The only way to know there were lights under the railings was to see the light refracted by the rain drops.

Off towards the unfinished section.

Open park, but... where's the train tracks?

Here, under the benches.

And here, overlooking the river.

And more here.

If you see visions of the future from the 1930's (or Batman cartoons) you'll see zeppelins, deco architecture, and train tracks passing through buildings. The High Line was the inspiration for one of those. To the left you can see where the tracks passed into a warehouse for indoor loading and unloading.

Inside the warehouse. The windows are supposed to be an art project of their own. Something about select pixels from a picture of the river over time being used to pick the colors and used from left to right and top to bottom. I don't quite get what they did.

And, finally, we wandered around the neighborhood and took pictures. That's Yummy checking out some graffiti.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes

I finally got around to seeing the new Sherlock Holmes movie last night.

Now, I do have some familiarity with the character. I went through my bout of reading Holmes back in college. Apparently, it manifested itself in my short fiction class as the teacher was able to tell from my comments about a mystery we were discussing that my thinking had been swayed by my exposure. Alas, I put "The Complete Sherlock Holmes" down and haven't finished it. I really should finish it. I remember it as a good read.

What I'm getting around to is that while the trailers show an honest depiction of Holmes as portrayed in this movie and that particular Holmes isn't what we're used to seeing on PBS it seems to me to be a fair depiction of the character. More succinctly, I can see how they got here from there. The Holmes I read about is an investigator because he likes the rush, the mental challenge, of the case. He won't take cases that are too easy. When he can't find a case that satisfies him he takes to using heroin to simulate the rush. Similarly, he boxes and fences as a hobby and is a master of disguise. Any stuffiness attributed to him is a factor of the age in which he lived and not wholly accurate to the character himself.

Push Holmes forward a century and you have other characters he might have been. I'd compare him to Batman, but the Bat is too somber. Holmes would make a better Green Arrow. I'd call him Doctor Who had he only a TARDIS. The costume, the personality quirks, he'd do quite well there.

For that one person who hasn't seen the movie yet let me fill you in. Holmes and Watson have been roommates for years now. Watson has met a woman and they are engaged to be engaged. Holmes is a bit wounded by this and Watson's impending departure and makes some effort to sabotage things. At the same time Holmes' lost love and female peer reappears to torment him and hire him for a job. A series of cases all interconnect in ways that they only could in a movie. They all lead back to a mysterious man hiding in the shadows of his carria... OH COME ON! Anyone who has even heard of Sherlock Holmes knows who that is in the shadows. We never see his face, but do we need to?

The case is solved, after a fashion, but more questions are brought to our heroes' attentions in the last few minutes that set up for the next movie in what is likely to be a trilogy.

I will be getting this on DVD and will be waiting eagerly for the next installment.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Potato flower

You'll hear people say that potatoes are sprayed with a chemical that prevents it from growing. The idea being that you can keep a sack of potatoes without them sprouting. The other idea being that it keeps you from growing your own potatoes. I've gotten potatoes to grow in the past [link] so I knew that this should work again.

Yummy brought me a reddish potato with a touch of green in the eyes. I jammed a fork in either side, sat it in a cup of water, and left it. Roots formed quickly and grew like mad. After a couple of weeks the cup was mostly root. The green, however, had barely twitched. By "barely" I mean that some change had occurred. It was a tad more pronounced. As weeks passed the green grew a couple of millimeters, then a centimeter, and once it reached about an inch it had shaken off the growth inhibitors and took off. But rather than putting off runners, like I had expected, it grew up and up and up some more. Then it grew flowers. I hadn't seen potato plants with flowers before.

This picture was taken about a month ago. These flowers remain intact and have been joined by several others. They close each night and reopen each morning.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Movie Review: Daybreakers

I hope you'll forgive me if I start out this post being slightly racist. See, I just got back from seeing a movie in which there were lots of talking black people. I hate saying that. I really do. But, dammit, it's the truth. Were there white people holding conversations during a movie? Asians, mexicans, Danes? No. I already had to stop seeing movies at Union Station because it became a "black" theater. Conversations everywhere, people running in the aisles, it was disgusting. So I stopped. More and more it's looking like I may have to do the same with the Verizon Center theater in Chinatown. At least at Union Station I could make myself say that it was teenagers who just happened to all be black. Not so in Chinatown. These were adults. Rude, loud, black, adults. Not all the blacks in the theater were talking. I'm not gonna hold this against all black people. Most watched the movie quietly. But... well, it's a lot easier not being racist when you're not constantly subjected to the worst elements of the lot. And I'll be the first to admit the same is true when dealing with white people. They won't talk during the movies but they will put their trans-am on blocks outside their mobile homes.

The movie I saw was "Daybreakers". It's the story of a world where most of the population has become vampires and a handful of humans are either being used in blood farms or running about and hiding. I saw no trailers for this, but from the description it seemed like it wasn't Yummy's sort of movie. And, really, it wasn't that scary. I wish it was. Then I could excuse the talking.

So most of the population has become vampires. It seems that a plague turned most. Many others were turned willingly or because of concerned family. They try to go about their normal lives. They wear suits and hold jobs and just go about life.

Humans are hooked up to machines Matrix-like to keep them alive and harvest their blood. But there's more vampires than can be fed on those humans. More keep getting hunted down and hooked up. But there's no breeding program. As the numbers drop and vampires go hungry they start to become deformed and batlike and their minds breakdown. Then they're hunted down by healthy vampires and put down.

Ethan Hawke is a vampire blood scientist. He's working on a blood substitute. He sticks to pig blood as he holds on to his remaining humanity. Then he meets people who have found a cure and has to go on the run to help them figure out how it works.

It's a good movie. They send a bat across the screen from time to time to make you jump. There's plenty of splatter effects. But not terribly suspenseful or scary. It may warrant a place in my collection. It'd fit well. I'm just not sure right now if I actually want it.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Links: January 15

"The Things" - John Carpenter's The Thing as told by the Thing. [text audio]

Every creationist debate.

Top 10 ways Creationists were oppressed in 2009 and then what really happened. [link]

32,000 "leading scientists" signed a petition against global warming. Experts like Ginger Spice and Dr. Hawkeye Pierce. More about these "experts".

The MakeZine blog links to Dudecraft who linked to ME! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA [Dudecraft] [MakeZine] [ME]

Toy train used to calibrate neutron detector. [link]

What can it hurt to ask? a very short story [link]

England gets snow. ALL of England. [link]

Visualizing density. [link]

A wooden combination lock and an explanation of how combination locks work. [link]

Hawaii's health care plan is exempted from the federal regs because Hawaii's program is already better than what's being proposed. [link]

Yeah! Toast!

15 mid-century modern gas stations. [link]

In accordance with their "don't be evil" policy, Google is starting their own utility company. They've optimized the energy efficiency of their data centers as much as possible but they want better control of their power than the other utilities allow them. They won't be creating power, but their utility will likely be buying power from renewable utilities that their charitable branch has been funding. [link]

Google is considering leaving China, too. It may not be possible to not be evil and to business with China. [link]

Game: Paradox Embrace - Navigate a world that changes between nature, technology, and the supernatural so retracing your steps doesn't take you on the same path. [link]

American car population is dropping. [link]

An asteroid too small to worry about passed near Earth on Wednesday. This picture shows how close in comparison to the Moon, our communication satellites, and the Aphophis asteroid that will get very close in a decade and change. [link]

Here's an animation of the thing passing. [link]

Odd conversation in the Supreme Court. [link]

A tool for making sand spheres. Buy it here. [link]

Physics of space battles. [link]

Orson Welles talks privacy and bad photos. [link]

Cats for Gold. [link]

Before Star Trek: Enterprise was canceled there was Dr Who crossover planned and 19 other things you didn't know about the new Dr Who. [link]

Knight Rider a capella.

Game: Jumping - A short Mario Brother knock off. [link]

Why I Believe Printers Were Sent From Hell To Make Us Miserable. [link]

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Exerpts from old conversations: part 6

Spelling bees are inherently discriminatory to deaf children.

JC: I got my standard $100 gift certificate to Amazon for my birthday today. What should I buy?
ME: 3 acres of rain forest.
JC: Wrong Amazon.

ME: Things that it's very bad to say when dealing with an upset girlfriend who has been feuding with her best friend:
1) Well, it sounds like you're both women. Stop doing that and you'll be fine.
Luckily this tidbit was already known to me and I didn't say it out loud.
JC: That's true. Otherwise, your email would have been titled "How to reattach one's scrotum with a hot glue gun."
ME: I had to watch that video before they'd let me teach wood shop.

A business travel discussion:
BD: A good reason to skip Mexico: Headline - "Over 200 Americans killed in Mexico since '04"
WS: Or is that a really good reason to organize an office "team building" trip?
ME: "We're all going to Mexico. When I get back I'm building a new team."

Discussion about the Catholic church resurrecting the sale of Indulgences:
JC: "Bill me father, for I have sinned"

JC: Power Grid Update Deck: 60 Electro 8-City Pixie Dust Plant woot
ME: Inform the Gödelized ham.
KB: Go fish.
JC: I'll see your coal-burning nightmare and raise you a radioactive fuckton.
KB: Don't say another Goddamn word. Up until now, I've been polite. If you say anything else - word one - I will kill myself. And when my tainted spirit finds its destination, I will topple the master of that dark place. From my black throne, I will lash together a machine of bone and blood, and fueled by my hatred for you this fear engine will ore a hole between this world and that one. When it begins, you will hear the sound of children screaming - as though from a great distance. A smoking orb of nothing will grow above your bed, and from it will emerge a thousand starving crows. As I slip through the widening maw in my new form, you will catch only a glimpse of my radiance before you are incinerated. Then, as tears of bubbling pitch stream down my face, my dark work will begin. I will open one of my six mouths, and I will sing the song that ends the Earth.
ME: Pffff. You and Lorne Greene's nipples.
WS: Promises, promises. Besides, *I'm* the one that will destroy humanity.
KB: You can even get it on a ladies' hoodie.

JP: I've got good news and not so good news.
JC: I can take it.
JP: The good news is our property taxes are going to be way down this year.
JC: Ah, I get your point.

There's a guy here named Bum-Jun Kim.
The normal [e-mail] naming convention is either initials, first name + last initial, or last name + first initial. Any of these would have been acceptable.
The guy who set up his email address decided that 'bumjunk' was the most appropriate version of this.

Back when Yummy was trying to find a home for a found kitty:
KB: I do like the middle bottom picture. Looks like a deployable assault cat, complete with bedding.
*clickclick, open* "Ah, and we've got a cat. Good. This may still work."
ME: [name] didn't quite get what you were saying. I had to elaborate.
You're in a war zone.
The operation has completely gone to hell.
Your radio is fried and you're cut off from your platoon.
Gun fire and rockets can be heard up and down all the side streets.
You and a friend get to a shelter you were using as an ammo dump.
The place has been looted and then blown up.
You over turn a foot locker.
There's a case only slightly damaged.
You pop the clasps.
"clickclick" open
Inside there's a cat carefully nestled in it's foam packing.
"Ah, good. We still have a cat. We may yet get out of this alive."
KB: precisely what I was thinking.

Some men were born lucky. Some men were born VERY lucky.
What was Dr. Manhattan born?
A tripod.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


written yesterday to inform coworkers that there's a chance I might not be in the next day:

Yesterday morning I was feeling warm and took my temperature right when I got up. Plus I was looking for any excuse not to come in to work.

This morning I woke up with a burning up in my left sinuses. The nose bleeds started before I left the house. There's a wad of immovable gunk up there that makes me keep trying to blow my nose and my throat is starting to tickle. Any other time I'd be saying that I'd probably not be coming in tomorrow and would work from home. But I'm telling you now that I DENY THIS VIRUS! I cry to the heavens that I WILL be in the office tomorrow. I will replace the very blood in my veins with DayQuil and assist the resulting polka dotted elephants in getting the Cat in the Hat to do his job and finish that cover.

Know then, that if I fail in this oath and do not show up tomorrow that it's because this is not a cold but the flu. If I'm not here tomorrow it is because my stairs are too complicated a prospect for me to navigate.

This morning's mantra:

It is by will alone I set myself in motion.
It is by the juice of DayQuil that thoughts acquire speed,
the shirt acquires stains,
stains become a warning.
It is by will alone I set myself in motion.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Movie Review: Avatar

Once upon a time I got into lots of movie screenings so I could talk about movies before they came out. Now I'm lucky if I see them when they've only been out two weeks.

When I first Avatar trailer came out it was accompanied by a chorus of people proclaiming that it's the greatest movie ever, a masterpiece, a revolution in technology and storytelling, etc. etc. etc.

When the second trailer came out and we actually got a hint to what the story would be, the chorus became subdued. "Oh, well, it should still be a good movie."

My attitude was the opposite. I saw the first trailer and wasn't at all impressed. It looked to be "CGI - The Movie". The second trailer made it look worth seeing, but not overly excited.

Now, I've seen the movie. Now, I can make a proper judgement. Now, I have a mental image of Sigourney Weaver lying naked, except for some vines, on a blue mat so they can drop millions of dollars of CGI behind her.

We saw the 3D version. I can take or leave 3D movies. They don't excite me. But I'll grant them a few points in this movie. The bugs and the rear view mirror in the battlemech were kinda cool.

If you've seen "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within" or "Final Flight of the Osiris" (from The Animatrix) you've seen how far we've come in creating CGI people. In "Final Fantasy" they did a good job, but they're still clearly computer generated. In "Final Flight of the Osiris" there are points where you'd believe they were real and other points where they clearly aren't. People are hard. This movie tries really hard and then makes them non-human enough that you can forget the aliens are digital.

Comparisons to Star Wars refer to the leap in special effects that movie created for others to try to match. And, possibly, the belief that once we have good CGI people Lucas will make Episodes 7, 8, & 9 with digital Luke, Leia, and Han.

The storyline isn't terribly original. It feels like Dune, Braveheart, and Dances With Wolves.

What we have is a native people sitting on a valuable mineral deposit that people with access to a large military force wish to take. Researchers have created replicas of the natives that certain people can take control of and use to visit the natives. There's an interesting parallel where the natives can attach a tendril of their own brain to some native fauna and take control of them.

After one of the researchers dies his crippled, ex-military, brother is picked to replace him. The alien avatar body is tuned to specific genomes and the military brother is close enough for government work.

Of course, he meets the natives, gains their trust, becomes one of them, and leads a revolt to fight back the military forces.

What impressed me the most was the mechwarrior bay. It looks like a machine shop and parking garage for mechs. People are walking all over the place on foot and in mechs. I just saw it and knew it was done right. That's how it should look and previous sci-fi shows never really pulled off.

I do recommend seeing this movie. Not sure if I'll actually get it on DVD, but I'm leaning towards not.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Exerpts from old conversations - part 5

From me e-mailing in sick:
My food and my stomach have agreed to a trial separation. Several in fact. With little to no warning to the rest of me.

From someone showing his wife Star Wars for the first time:
Obi Wan does an ad hoc amputation on the Ball-Chinian:
"I want one of those bad-ass sword things!"

3PO hits R2. Again.
"Were the gold robot and the trashcan dating at some point?"

She was very amused when R2 and 3PO were tossed out of the Cantina in Mos Eisley.

I'm looking forward to Empire, because She's taking Obi Wan's story about Vader betraying and murdering Anakin seriously.

That idea isn't worth the grain of salt it's written on.

Mary had a little lamb
It's fleece was white as snow
And every where that Mary went
The lamb was there

Someone has issues with telemarketers who violate the Federal Do Not Call List:
"Fuck that. Hunt them down. Burn the building. Kill their families. Send them into hiding, living under railroad tressles, wondering if each breath will be their last."

So, watching violence on TV desensitizes us to violence but watching porn turns us into mad rapist sex fiends?

How do I love thee?
Let me count the positions...

I realized what makes Obama so appealing... "Barack Obama" is a totally fake Star Wars name.
"President Obama has a message for Captain Antilles. Inform him Bail Organa and Obi-Wan Kenobi require his assistance at once."

ME: How much [of the] test did you get done?
TB: I finished all of it, though my last answer was pretty lame.
ME: Was the last question "What do you call a show pony that breaks it's leg?"

It's like this: on one side you have facts, on the other you have Fox.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Friday links: January 8

In response to new Irish anti-blasphemy laws - top 25 blasphemous quotes. [link]

Al Frankin's amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill passed into law. The amendment withholds defense contracts from companies that forbid employees from launching sexual assault and battery lawsuits against the company or other employees. That is, they make it legal for male employees to rape female employees. 75% of Republicans opposed this bill. [link]

Gravity wells of our star system. [link]

Tree goats. Lots and lots of tree goats.

From the Bible: God sics bears on children because they mocked a prophet's baldness.

Evolution tree. [link]

Winter vacation wasn't about family, gifts, visiting friends, or starting a new year. It was about getting my Doctor Who fix.
Here's the trailer for the new guy.

God and an angel discuss the problems with God's flood idea.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Daleks.

Percussionist cockatiel.

For reasons unknown, watching this 11 minute British comedy is a Christmas tradition in Germany.

Glow in the dark record.

Death Calls The Tune (lab binaer) from lab binaer on Vimeo.

A dungeon building contest. [link 1 link 2 ]

Video of trees being cut into lumber.

The Congo River is just nuts.

The impact of vaccines on measles.

Eiffel tower diagrams and construction photos. [link]

Girl had her Mac laptop shot up at an Israel border crossing. Interview and laptop shown here.

Stuff Obama has pulled off. [link]

Awesome car review. Trust me. Wait for it.

Hard science fiction stories have been proposing this power supply for decades. Recently several power companies are looking at it seriously. [link]

Christmas tree launch.

Game themed cupcakes. [link]

Pi to 2.7 trillion places. It fills a 1 TB drive. [link]

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Road Trip (back)

There were also sights to see on the way back.

Mort Walker went to college at the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO. A few years back a statue of his creation, Beetle Bailey, was built there. It may be a bit odd to see Beetle in his college outfit. The comic strip started as a college comic at a time when a fairly small percentage of the population went to college. It wasn't popular enough for the syndicate to keep so after six months or so Mort had Beetle join the military as the Korean War got going. Somehow he just never left the military, or the 50s.

It was too bloody cold to see the Nuclear Waste Adventure Trail, but as we drove along I-70 we saw a single, rather wide column of steam out on the horizon. From time to tim I could see a nuclear reactor in the distance. We used the GPS to look at the surrounding roads, made a guess as to how to get there, and took off on a network of snow packed dirt roads to find it. We pulled it off, too.

It's the Gallaway Nuclear Generating Station in the Reform Conservation Area.
View Larger Map

Road trip (there)

I bit of Kansas camera work.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Road trip (out)

As I was saying the other day, Yummy and I went on a road trip to Kansas. We wanted to get a hotel along the way and see a few things instead of just powering through. So I made a map of all the reasonable routes from Washington DC to Wichita asked my friends for a list of things to see along those routes.

In Ohio we stopped to see the world's largest picnic basket. It's really the office building for a basket company.

We stayed in a Motel 6 outside St. Louis. The next morning we were gonna hit the Nuclear Waste Adventure Trail and Museum, but it was snowing so we skipped it. I want to go back and see it and the City Museum.

From St. Louis we went southwest to see the World's Biggest Rocking Chair.

Along the way we went through Cuba, MO as we tried to see the world's biggest rocking chair. Cuba, MO is lousy with murals. They're everywhere. If you're going that way you should spend the extra few miles it takes to go through that town.

I went to college in SW Kansas. For six years I was told I needed to eat at Lambert's. I was always scared off by the tales of long waits and it's proximity to Branson. But we were gonna be in the neighborhood so we stopped. At 2:00 in the $#%&@ afternoon there was a 50-55 minute wait. We left.

I tried to take Yummy to see Big Brutus. And we kind of pulled it off.
Big Brutus is a disused coal scoop that's been turned into a museum. Standing by the treads you feel a bit like a Jawa standing by his Sandcrawler. But we arrived as they were locking the gate so we didn't get to go in. The picture was taken from the road.

If you look at the map you can see evidence of Big Brutus' past activity from all the really straight ponds in the area.
View Larger Map

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Quantum Santa

The question of how Santa Claus manages to visit every home in the world in a single night has long baffled children of all ages. To answer the question we must look to the other conditions of his visit. Specifically, the idea that you must go to bed before Santa will come.

Santa's visit goes unseen year after year. Searches for his Arctic toy factory have similarly been unfruitful. Not because it's not there, but because it can't be seen. You see, Santa exists in a quantum state.

Quantum particles exist not as a point but as a probability cloud. Observation of the particle causes the probability waveform to collapse and it's position to become temporarily determined. Working along similar lines, come the early morning of December 25 Santa exists in millions if not billions of homes simultaneously. If he were seen his waveform would collapse and he'd exist in only one house. Obviously he'd never meet his schedule if that happened regularly. He must exist in all those places to get the job done. Children must be in bed and asleep so they won't risk seeing Santa before he can manifest in their house.

Early representations of Santa as obese were meant to be symbolic representations of how he covers such a wide area at the same time.

Monday, January 04, 2010


Let me tell you about snow. I know you want to hear all about snow because MY snow story is so much better than everyone else's.

See, a bit more than two weeks ago now we were supposed to drive to Kansas.
Yes, from Washington, D.C.
Why are you looking at me like that?
Anyway, we spend Friday night doing laundry and whatnot. By "we" I mean "Yummy". We've heard tales of impending snow, but it's not going to help to start out Friday night. Saturday morning I get up and, sure enough, it's snowing. I check,, and I find webcams of the highways. There is snow and more coming, but the highways show snow plows, cars, and asphalt. We load up the car, load up the birds, get the birds out of a neighbor's tree, and hit the road.

Apparently, the city of D.C. wasn't having anything to do with these new fangled plow thingies. Why bother moving all that snow when people are just gonna throw it back in the road when they try to get their cars free from that berm that was built around it? We stopped in the street to get coffee (nobody was bothering with parking spots since there weren't any). We hit Georgia Avenue which we were led to believe was clear-ish. It wasn't horrible. The lights were the worst part. And the fact that while the snow was low the road and lanes were poorly defined. As we passed into Bethesda, Maryland we saw that Yummy was right and they were better at clearing snow. We could tell where the edges of the road were.

The Beltway wasn't bad. Apparently, it's more important to be able to drive around and around the city than to actually drive inside the city. We got onto the 270 spur and the road turned back to crap. I hoped that beyond the spur the roads would improve. They didn't. There was no asphalt. There were no plows. There were, however, cars. Had the cars traveled single file we would have had a lane that could do 50 MPH or so. Instead usual 3-4 lanes was acting like 11-12 lanes, each of which maxed out at 30 MPH. We couldn't even turn around and go home because there wasn't an exit that would support traffic for an absurd difference.

We pushed on as long as we did because the snow was supposed to last until Monday. Two days of driving and we'd be in Kansas for the actual holiday and then drive two days back for work.


We tried beyond all good sense. Of course, we did that before ever starting the engine.

We found an exit and turned around. Got groceries. Started home.

290 was still crap, but we found a snow plow to follow. Several other cars got in this line. A few decided the plow was moving too slow. We soon found them embedded in the side of the road.
At the spur the plow went right and we went left. The Beltway had vanished under the snow. After sliding around on it for far too long we re-entered the city. Bags of sand left on the side of the road were the only things keeping that single tire width of road clear. No less than a dozen people were seen with ski poles. Most, not all, of them had skis, too. And then, upon getting home we had to dig Yummy IN to her parking space. She still parked at an angle but left room for cars and the mythical abominable snow plow to come past.

We camped for two days and decided to see about getting our weeks switched. We could camp all week OR we could see about going back for the week of New Years. I kinda wish we'd just camped out for the week. It would have been what I've always been told vacations are like. Lacking a snow shovel I used a shrub rake to dig out Yummy's car after the plow passed. And we went to work Monday. Nobody was there. I found one other person in the building. Two weeks later I found out this was because the Government was closed due to the snow. But I figured that's how things were that week and spent the next three days working from home. I still insist I got more done at home.

You'll get the story of the trip soon. Gotta get the photos off the camera first.