Thursday, June 26, 2008

Monster keeps quiet

I was curious to see what had ever happened with the Blue Jeans Cable Company and their fight with Monster Cable. It appears that Monster has not cared to press the matter further. If I weren't such a cheap bastard I'd buy a pair of RCA cables from them, because I actually could use a pair. I can still build my own for less then a tenth of what I'd pay for Blue Jeans to make them for me, though. And I already have the materials, so that's almost like free.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Basic ideas are generally applicable. Think music as well. Or whatever it is you do.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sense of entitlement

Do you remember back in the 80s when the Republicans would rail against a straw poor man (or usually, woman, actually), decrying a sense of entitlement, as though there were masses of lazy, poor people that expected hand outs for not working? Well, I've said it before and I'll say it again. No one feels more of a sense of entitlement than the rich.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Moment of Silence for the Magna Carta Please

This evening, in a bombastic climax of measures that have been gradually chipping away at civil liberties for several years now, the government of the nation that brought you habeas corpus decided that after more than 790 years the magna carta just isn’t cool anymore. Gordon Brown and his cronies managed to get the measure through the Commons in spite of the 37 Labour MPs that rebelled against the whip and voted no (that’s a very high number of rebels for a Commons vote and it probably would have been higher had Brown not won over several individual Labour back-benchers with promises related to completely irrelevant issues, such as sanctions against Cuba). They won by nine votes, not coincidentally the exact same number as there are Democratic Unionist Party (Northern Irish) MPs—the DUP left their decision on the amendments quite literally to the last minute, after a private meeting with Gordon Brown in which he very probably struck some sort of deal with them. Their lips are sealed, but the accusations are flying--did Brown promise them more money for Nothern Ireland? Non-interference from Westminster on Northern Irish abortion law? Whatever it was, it can't have been worth it, and at the rate things are going he may not even be in power long enough to keep any promises made. The freedom of an entire nation has been sold for a handful of magic beans…

Here's the timeline of events that kept me distracted from work all day.

The Greatest Experiment Ever

20 years, 12 isolated populations, 44,000 generations, 1 common ancestor - this experiment will hopefully inspire the young scientists of the future. With a "saved game" every 500 generations that can be reloaded and replayed on-demand, this type of good science should resonate with Civilization players and sim gamers of all stripes.

The ways that different types genetic mutations manifest themselves in individuals and, ultimately, whole populations are still not well-known. An incredibly well-planned and well-executed study like this could start to reveal a larger picture of genetic mechanics, and link it even more closely to the end product of evolution.

Nature, not for the squeamish

From the jungles of Brazil comes a story that sounds more like an alien invasion movie than a real life insect drama. Scientists have discovered that the pupae of a parasitic wasp can modify the behavior of their host, a particular species of caterpillar, turning the hapless victim into a kind of zombie body guard. Read all about it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Monday, June 9, 2008

Wu Chess

Friends, Nerds, Hip Hop Fans . . .

Hmm, interesting

Another energy proposal.

As note elsewhere on this blog, it's very difficult for democratic governments to impose pain and suffering on it's people, even when the aim is to alleviate much worse pain and suffering down the road. IE making energy more expensive in the near term is a hard pill to swallow for the American people, making it difficult to leverage supply and demand by artificial means to
curb consumption. Yet, curbing consumption is potentially necessary for the continued existence of human life on the planet and is likely needed for at least the continued survival of an American society. Those are awfully big stakes.

So the interesting part about this one is that while it does raise the price of energy, which, like it or not, is probably necessary, it rewards those who use less with direct financial gain. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.


The most recent semi-arbitrary milestone in computing has been passed, with a military supercomputer smashing through the 1-petaflop barrier. It was originally feared that the computer may become self-aware, engage Skynet and declare a war of extermination on humanity, ultimately resulting in an Austrian governor in California. But fortunately it turns out the main processing load is carried by some 12000 modified IBM Cell chips, which is of course the main processor for Sony's Playstation 3, so at worst we can expect a nationwide shortage of Doritos, Mountain Dew and bong hits as the new computer gets to work.

Analysts are amazed at the new technology, which will somehow allow researchers to determine if aging nuclear weapons will spontaneously self-detonate (*crossing fingers!*). Even more amazing is that the military actually managed to plan and execute a project within budget, with no reliance on propaganda and relatively few casualties. However, in what some may perceive as a setback, the computer opened its first session by raising the national terror alert to "garden chartreuse" and advising a preemptive nuclear strike on Tehran.

A petaflop is one quadrillion processor-level calculations per second. This type of speed can be harnessed by scientists to unravel the great mysteries of our time, like very large primes research, advanced cryptography (which is closely related to very large primes research) and I guess maybe something about global warming, just as soon as SimEarth 2: Terraflopping Boogaloo is released. By comparison, if every atom in an average human body was turned into a calculator capable of 1 calculation per second, the result would be a supercomputer still 7 trillion times faster than the Los Alamos-based Roadrunner, so, obviously we still have a long way to go.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The "Star Wars" Strategy

I haven't read or seen much about this in the MSM, but word on the street (and simple logic) indicate that Obama, with his formidable fund-raising machine, may launch in the general election a strategy similar to the one he employed in the primary, notably in Pennsylvania: Spend scads of money, even in your opponent's "base" territory, forcing them to do the same. McCain will therefore exhaust his resources on defense, leaving Obama to clean up in the battleground states. Because this, and not technical efficacy per se, was the net result of the Strategic Defense Initiative, affectionately remembered as "Star Wars," this strategy of just bankrupting your opponent has become known as the "Star Wars" strategy. It might be cooler if they could just fight with light sabers though. McCain can't lift up his arms. No one ever accused democracy of being efficient!

I am a sore loser

This aired 5/10/08.

Would you wear your own underwear?

Of course we all wear underwear owned by us, but would you wear underwear screen-printed as a tribute to you? Obama reportedly won't, even if it's free. Of course, I imagine Obama can afford the underwear of his choice at this point. This is a clip from Mike Allen's Playbook on

FOR ROBERT GIBBS’ BOOK, from the N.Y. Daily News: “A trendy underwear designer started selling Barack Obama boxer-briefs Thursday, promising to donate $1 from each $29 sale to the Democrat's coffers. The slim-fit undies by Andrew Christian sport a Che Guevaraesque silhouette of the senator's face on the front and the numbers '08 on the back. ‘I'm not sure I'd wear those even underneath my clothes,’ Obama's communications director, Robert Gibbs, said when shown a photo of the skivvies. ‘Wow!’ he added, taking a moment to chuckle. ‘Those are virtually indescribable. They're probably really hip and expensive.’ The designer mailed a package of complimentary unmentionables to Obama - so the Daily News asked if he would wear them. ‘No!’ Gibbs replied quickly. ‘That would be really weird.’

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Talk, talk, talk.

Democracy, unfortunately, can be ill equipped to deal with looming environmental problems. The fact of the matter is that we're not going to get through this without some pain and sacrifice. Elected officials can't inflict pain on their constituents and expect to get reelected, so we end up not making the necessary sacrifices while it's still early enough to do any good.

What is really required is someone in a position of leadership who is intelligent, passionate and eloquent enough to convince people that sacrifice is necessary for our survival and is our patriotic duty. Might there be someone like that just around the corner? Is it January 2009 yet?