Saturday, September 02, 2006

New Art

It's been awhile, but I finally finished a piece I've been working on for a few months now. Actually, it turned out to be 2 pieces and may eventually wind up as four.

This one is done, and is in a different mode than I usually use. More "artsy" but I really like it.

Seattle One

This one is a late draft, but not yet complete. It's what I imagine *should* happen every time I see the space needle.

Seattle Two

Constructive criticism is alway welcome.

Friday, September 01, 2006

No Really, I Thought this Was a Joke

They are kidding, right?

Welcome to the ``Flat Daddy" and ``Flat Mommy" phenomenon, in which life-size cutouts of deployed service members are given by the Maine National Guard to spouses, children, and relatives back home.
The Flat Daddies ride in cars, sit at the dinner table, visit the dentist, and even are brought to confession, according to their significant others on the home front.
``I prop him up in a chair, or sometimes put him on the couch and cover him up with a blanket," said Kay Judkins of Caribou, whose husband, Jim, is a minesweeper mechanic in Afghanistan. ``The cat will curl up on the blanket, and it looks kind of weird. I've tricked several people by that. They think he's home again."

So they think what? Human children are like baby birds? That they can't tell the difference? This seems shallow, stupid and little mean.

And what happens when the parent comes home? It could freak the kids out! It could break down their sense of reality!

Besides, it will make Wire Mommy very angry.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

More Pluto

I keep getting email about Pluto and planets. Let me clear this up. As an example, lets compare 3 objects against the IAU criteria and see how they classify: The International Space Station, Earth and Pluto

1) does it orbit the Sun?

ISS: orbits NASA funding source
Earth: Orbits Sun
Pluto: Orbits Sun most of the time, stops by Neptune for chinese take-out every now and then

2) Does it clear it's neighborhood of debies?

ISS: Cans and newspapers in yard, rusted '76 firebird in driveway
Earth: Has large Moon, many satellites, Counter-Earth on opposite side of Sun but otherwise free of debris
Pluto: Neptune constantly sweeping up Pluto poop and storing in sanitary bag

3) Does it have sufficient mass to overcome rigid body forces and become sphereical?
ISS: Good god, lets hope not! There are people in there!
Earth: Round, firm, fully-packed
Pluto: Round but with limited parking

4) Would Galactus eat it?

ISS: No, ISS would get caught under front bridgework and under crowns
Earth: Packed with donut-stuffed americans and germans! Yum!
Pluto: Yes, but it's 30K above absolute zero and would stick to his tounge like a popscile from a cold freezer. Not so good.

Conclusion: ISS: Not a planet, Earth: Planet, Pluto: frozen taste treat for world-devouring cosmic force.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

“…My kidney belongs to Christ. It will never be Pagan.”

TUPELO — Aleta Smith, who donated her kidney to a 20-year-old college student last year, wants it back now that the student has changed religions.Smith, a self-described “on-fire Christian,” gave her kidney to Hannah Felks, a Lutheran and regular Christian camp counselor, last year after seeing Felks on the local news.“She was going to die unless she got a kidney,” Smith says, sitting on the porch at her home. “They portrayed her as this nice Christian girl who works with kids. I saw it as a great opportunity to help a sister in the Lord.”The surgery grabbed headlines and Smith was lauded for her selflessness. But shortly after the surgery, Felks embarked on a “spiritual journey” to try out other religions, and settled on a blend of Pagan and Hindu beliefs.“I wanted to get away from the belief system I was raised in and find the truth for myself,” she says. She took a semester off to travel the world visiting spiritualists on three continents.Smith was aghast when she heard of the conversion, and she quickly wrote a letter asking Felks to re-convert to Christianity or return the organ, saying it was donated under false pretenses.“I feel helpless,” she says. “Part of my body, my DNA, is stuck inside a person who’s going to hell.”Smith suffers nightmares of her former organ filtering “strange Asian teas, pig blood and witch doctor brews in Africa,” she says. She wonders if the Lord really wanted her to donate the kidney, or if she acted on a “triple-espresso high” she had that morning. She is also concerned that when her body is resurrected, it might be incomplete.Felks frets that Smith is an “Indian giver,” and says religious affiliation was never an issue.“The kidney’s working fine,” Felks said by phone from Thailand. “I feel bad for Aleta. She did something wonderful for me, but that doesn’t mean she gets to control my life.”In the meantime, Smith has alerted several dozen prayer chains, and her women’s Bible study group is praying 12 hours a day for the re-conversion of Felks — and Smith’s former kidney.“I’m all for spiritual curiosity,” she says, “but you’ve got to settle these things beforehand…”

As with most Christian religions, it all about control. I also find it interesting that the person in question can happily and without dissonance believe her actions were either inspired "by God" or by a "triple espresso". In neither case does she believe her actions are her own.

Monday, August 28, 2006


This is very, very amusing. I wish I were this good at PhotoShop, or at genetics.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Square Orbits

Why do some galaxies have barred centers?

Because the stars at the center are in an orbit which closely approximates a square. It a not-all-that-uncommon solution to the restricted three body problem.

Edit: I started to do some drawing for how this works but, of course, the web knows all. Here is a treatment done much better than mine of some of the complicated shapes an orbit can assume in the 3-body problem. One bar producing solution is the Ice Cream Spoon orbit

Unfortunately, the orbits themselves aren't all that stable. What you see in a galatic bar is a statisitical sample of a large number of stars, most of which spend some of their time in a bar-like orbit, but none permanently so.

The best analogy in every day life for square orbits is the Tilt-A-Whirl. There is a central point point around which the arms orbit, and a second point further out around which the cars rotate.
If the central rotation were off, but the roation of the cars was on, you'd just spin in circles. Add it the central roation though, and you get a little circle, swinging around the end of a great big circle. The result is a pattern that, for large parts of the motion, is a nearly straight line followed by corners of high curvature (and high g-forces!). The pattern of this motion strongly resembles the orbits of galactic bar stars.

Which, all in all, is pretty cool. And, these kinds of orbits are not limited to squares. In general almost any polyhedreon can be simulated with the right set of masses and forces, although orbital stability in the general case is not assured.

Except Yours Of Course

From the viewpoint of the outsider, every religion looks pretty silly or awful:

A little heavy handed. I dont see this as persuasive so much as in the category of "feeling good about a decision you have already made, not adding anything new, and making fun of the people you disagree with"

This must be what it feels like for those people who read Instapundit. Except with more words.

(Heh! Watch the whole thing)


I'd find it hard to care any less than I already do that Pluto got moved to "dwarf Planet" status. It's had the same impact on my life as say, finding out that owners of Walt Disney's Cryotube have switched from regular liquid nitrogen coolant to decaf.