Thursday, December 27, 2007

On My Way Home

I'll be coming back from Christmas in Maine tomorrow and looking forward to my present to myself... a 30" Dell Monitor. Thus deftly replacing my current dual 19" set up.

It's going to be the awesomesauce.

Also in FSM News...

We Save another group of school children from religious studies class...

The satirical religious Web site asserts that an omnipotent, airborne clump of spaghetti intelligently designed all life with the deft touch of its “noodly appendage.” Adherents call themselves Pastafarians. They deluged Polk school board members with e-mail demanding equal time for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism’s version of intelligent design.

“They’ve made us the laughingstock of the world,” said Margaret Lofton, a school board member who supports intelligent design.

Pastafarian Christmas

Who says we have no Christmas spirit? or ghost, or whatever?

(It's the father, son and christmas ghosts right? Polytheistic religions are very confusing...)

An Atheist's View Of Christmas

From the boys at Penny Aracade

Worst People of 2007

37. Mitt Romney
Charges: America's first clip-art presidential candidate, Romney is a strange mixture of game show host looks and android charm. A true flip-flopper, Romney's ability to turn on an ideological dime is unparalleled, but his excuses are so inauthentic that even Republicans have trouble suspending their disbelief.

Exhibit A: "You can't have freedom without religion, and you can't have religion without freedom."

Sentence: Strapped to the roof of his family car, which his dog attempts to drive across the country, but crashes horribly (because dogs can't drive, of course). Romney's flesh burns off in the ensuing fire, revealing him to be a standard protocol droid set to world domination mode. Narrowly edged out of primary race by Huckabee.

Some of these are pretty funny. I thought the Romney one is spot on or, as I think of him, Romney is like a Clinton with fewer testicles.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The World's Most Awful Cures

#8 is a great one to try if you have a) ear wax and b) fire insurance.

10 Most Awful Cures.

The properties of colloidal silver cannot be discussed without discussing libertarianism and Stan Jones. Many libertarians believe that the FDA is an evil organization that interferes with Americans and their ability to receive treatment.
The cause of choice on this issue has long been colloidal silver and many libertarians (though probably not the majority) buy into the idea that colloidal silver is a better antibiotic and anti-everything treatment than the drugs "they" want you to buy. "They" in this case is the libertarian fantasy of a sinister world government being controlled by the Trilateral Commission and a mixture of European socialists bent on denying honest Americans their toxic medicines.

FTR, I have been, and likely will always be, a fan of the FDA (assuming they still use actual results). Look at the patent medicine market in the early 20th century to get some idea of what cavet emptor would mean for medicine.

Sci-Fi Sounds Quiz

Harder than it sounds....

Take the Sci fi sounds quiz I received 93 credits on
The Sci Fi Sounds Quiz

How much of a Sci-Fi geek are you?
Take the Sci-Fi Movie Quizdigital camera ratings

Toilet Fires

Yeah, you read that right...

7. High-tech toilets
Too bad nobody gave one of these to Chuck Prince. Japanese manufacturer Toto apologizes to customers and offers free repairs for 180,000 high-tech toilets - thrones that feature heated seats, air purifiers, blow dryers, and water sprayers - after at least three catch fire. "Fortunately nobody was using the toilets when the fire broke out," says a company spokesman. "The fire would have been just under your buttocks."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Go Back to Nietzsche You Damn, Dirty Atheists!

A piece of an interesting interview with John Haught,

You're saying older atheists like Nietzsche and Camus had a more sophisticated critique of religion?
Yes. They wanted us to think out completely and thoroughly, and with unrelenting logic, what the world would look like if the transcendent is wiped away from the horizon. Nietzsche, Sartre and Camus would have cringed at "the new atheism" because they would see it as dropping God like Santa Claus, and going on with the same old values. The new atheists don't want to think out the implications of a complete absence of deity. Nietzsche, as well as Sartre and Camus, all expressed it quite correctly. The implications should be nihilism.

Let me strip this down and examine what he’s really saying:
You're saying older atheists like Nietzsche and Camus had a more sophisticated critique of religion?

Yes. We’re familiar with the lame and somewhat nonsensical arguments of these guys and have our refutations all ready to go. By changing the game and moving pasted these limited philosophies, atheists aren’t playing very fair. Regular Joes think they’re being lied to when atheists use words like “Nietzsche” and “Ubermenchen” and think about that dumb guy in a “Fish Called Wanda”. This works to our advantage because it makes atheists sound like pompous geeks. But they’re all familiar with Santa Claus and there is no real rhetorical counterpunch to the argument that god is like Santa except to say, in the most indignant tones, “Don’t MOCK GOD!!!”, and then flee the field. Atheists need to move backwards to the defeated arguments like nihilism so we don’t have to try and come up with anything new. Stop it guys! Stop it now! DON’T MOCK GOD!!!

The implications of atheism are not nihilism, they're responsibility. If you stop pushing the responsibility for your actions, and the credit, to made up devils and gods, and start owning them like an adult, you get up off your knees and start building a better place to live.

It's a pretty interesting article all in all, with a lot of points I agree with. But like many of these types of things, Haught mixes elements of truth with seculations of faith and tries to sell it as a package, a "if you agree with some, you much agree with all" kind of deal. No thanks.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

The State of Atheism Today

Atheism has changed only in that people have come up with more things which we don't believe in.

Remember, if you're an adult, your religion is a choice. Choose wisely.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Giant Gay Flesh Eating Rats

The Most Free

Heard today:

Since Romney said religion requires freedom, and freedom requires religion, I can only conclude that Iran is the most free nation in the world... QED

I Can't Beleive It's Not Yoga!

Pat says:

Wednesday's "700 Club" featured a question about the Christian view of yoga. A concerned viewer asked, "Does it really have its origins in evil?" Pat Robertson gave the verdict: Yes! According to Pat, stretching is fine, but by repeating common yoga mantras, you are actually praying to Hindu gods Vishnu and Krishna and you're not even aware of it!

I agree with Pat, praying is evil. Why waste your time hoping the invisible sky-father will take mercy when you could be using your time improving yourself?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Typo of the Year

Typo of the YearThe Houston Chronicle, like just about every other North American media outlet, spent a lot of time reporting on Anna Nicole Smith this past year. In attempting to explain her, um, humble origins, the paper gave itself a measure of comeuppance. And that’s what makes it the typo of the year.
A photo caption in the paper read:

“When Redding, a longtime scout for Playboy, discovered Smith, the model could barely right a sentence…”


Apology of the YearSunday Times (UK):
An article about Lord Lambton (“Lord Louche, sex king of Chiantishire”, News Review, January 7) falsely stated that his son Ned (now Lord Durham) and daughter Catherine held a party at Lord Lambton’s villa, Cetinale, in 1997, which degenerated into such an orgy that Lord Lambton banned them from Cetinale for years. In fact, Lord Durham does not have a sister called Catherine (that is the name of his former wife), there has not been any orgiastic party of any kind and Lord Lambton did not ban him (or Catherine) from Cetinale at all. We apologise sincerely to Lord Durham for the hurt and embarrassment caused.

more here

Uncle Joe

An excellent point:

Joe Ratzinger, who calls himself "pope bendict XVI", recently issued an encyclical arguing against atheism and outright blaming it for most of history's atrocities. He should open a history book or perhaps look at the current pedophile infestation he has been covering up with massive payments to victims.The usual tactic is to note that Joseph Stalin was an atheist and thus insinuate that atheism leads to mass killing because there is no morality to it. And there isn't. Atheism is not a moral philosophy nor a political movement--it's simply a lack of a belief in god(s). One can be a strict science based atheist or a new age quack, a libertarian or a socialist. I've never known anyone who's moral beliefs derived from atheism.

One of the most common arguments I get about atheism is that, without gods, there is no divine justice, and man is free to do what he wants. This is true. It is also true man does what he wants anyway and finds the gods he needs to rationalize the act. Blaming or prasing their invisible friend doesn't actually absolve anyone of anything. In the end, we're all responsible for our actions, justified or not. It seems silly to bring the sky-father into it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Logic: You're Doing It Wrong

Interestingly wacked out site pitting "physics" against "darwinism", with physics being "science" becuase it has "equations".


I hope this guy isn't a physics student, because behavior like this really stinks it up for the rest of us. He's really falling into all the standard tropes of bad reasoning: category errors, revealed truth verses discovery, appeal to authority, circular logic, and lots and lots of just simply misstating results or misunderstanding the point.

As I work to throw together a draft of my book on reasoning skills, I troll a lot of these sites looking for examples. To be honest, it's pretty depressing, there are a lot more of them than I would have feared.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Haunted Hotel Room

I’m currently in London, staying at the “posh” hotel the company puts me in on St. Martin’s Lane. The hotel itself eclipses my own tiny coolness by over 400 MegaFoznies and it is doubtful I would be allowed into the lobby, except perhaps has a hat rack or piece of retro art, if the company were not vouching for my presence.

“Don’t Worry!”, it has told the front desk, “the nerd doesn’t rub off onto the furniture!” Just in case, I am certain there has been a deposit put on my room ranging in the six figures in case the next guest touches the desk where I work, loses all cool and suddenly starts making some sense. Also, there is plastic on the floors.

The hotel prides itself on customer service. It caters to the customer’s every whim. Or so it thinks.

Like many men of a certain age, when I get home from a long day slinging bits, waxing geekie or trying to con customers out of their shekels, I like to come, home, relax and have a good long … sit. When I am traveling, this is a little more difficult because my …. Ummm… usual sitting chair … isn’t here and the one they provide is not cluttered with the wide library of reading material my usual chair has to offer (unless I brought it from home which I always fail to do). Usually, I have a few minutes to myself, then get back to the desk and do some email. In this hotel, that’s impossible because… it’s cool to check on the guests.

For example, yesterday. I came in about 4:00pm after a host of meetings and a short walk over from Buckingham Palace (as a tourist, not as a geek or a salesperson). When I came in, I noticed that housekeeping had not made the bed or cleaned yet. Kind of sloppy for 4 pm, but Madonna is in the hotel and (I assume) her pet llama is keeping the staff hopping. No problem for me, I am not that fussy. I grab a magazine and go get comfortable, ready for a good long sit and… I hear the knock…

“Housekeeping, hello? … Housekeeping”
As the maid enters the room, I try to keep my dignity and shout, “No thank you!” but it’s too late, she’s in.. and she knows where I am sitting.

“uhhh housekeeping. Housekeeping sir!”
“uhh no thank you”
“No sir! Housekeeping. I must clean room. Clean room”
“I’m a little busy, can you come back at a more inconvenient time? I was planning a bath later, can you come then?”
“??? Uhhh… housekeeping sir!”

And then the moment was gone. I put myself back together, take my book and go down to the lobby, leaving a puzzled chezch woman to clean the room and express her profound unhappiness at what I have just done to the room in which she is going to be spending the next 15 minutes. As I close the door I hear a swear in Hungarian and the fan click on.

In the lobby, I meet a co-worker, one I left 10 minutes before. Our eyes meet and we say almost simultaneously,

We decide to go get a drink and an early supper. I go back up to my room to get my coat, but the maid is there and she now as a full knowledge of the deeply shameful things I’ve done while sitting in the chair. I enter the room, she turns to me, scowls and says in her best drill-sergeant voice,

I grab my coat and flee the scene.

Hotel 1, me 0

My co-worker and I have dinner, a drink and then take a pleasant walk down to the London Eye and back. Very nice. I return to my room about 10:00pm, make a call and get ready to turn in. I sit back in my chair, grab my book and within a minute hear a knock. The door opens and a voice calls out, “Turndown? Turndown sir?”

“No thank you!”, but it’s too late, she’s in the room before she realizes I’m on the chair. A moment later she realizes what’s going on and flees. Hotel 2, me 0.

I get ready for bed and call for a wake up call at 6am. I have a lot of early meeting and have a client breakfast at 7am.

“Would you like a pot of coffee in the morning sir?”
“Yes, that would be nice, thank you”

That seems cool. I like morning coffee and at 6am, 9 timezones from home, that seems perfect. As the reader may have already guessed, this is a Bad Idea.

6am comes. The phone rings. I pick it, bleary eyed and stupid. “Hello?” I answer.
“This is your wake up call sir”
“Okay, thanks.” I am cold, tired, in my underwear and vaugly think I should look for my glasses when…

“Coffee service sir!”
“I just hung up the fucking receiver!” , I whine, letting go of the phone.

In comes an improbably cheery (and blurry) man wheeling a cart of (what I assume to be)coffee. Which I need to sign for, while I am fat, tired, blind and hanging out for all the world to see. Hotel 3, me 0.

Today, I get back from meeting out in Reading, about 90 minutes door-to-door from the hotel. It’s 4:30pm. I enter the room and realize, a) it’s been made up and b) I’m likely safe. I grab my book and proceed to the throne. I do not pass Go! I do not collect $200. I do, sit down, get comfortable and almost immediately hear,
“Go AWAY!”
“Sorry sir, I just need to check and make sure the room has been made up”
“It’ fine! Go Away”
But it was too late. She knew. Hotel 4, me 0.

So finally, tonight. I go to dinner, do some shopping, have a walk. I come back. It’s 8:30pm. I grab my book. I check it for hidden cameras, microphones, microdots and poltergeists. Nothing. I enter the bathroom. It looks fine. I check the chair for pressure switches. I find none which shouldn’t be there. I wait. … nothing happens. I wait a few more minutes…. More fails to happen. I figure I am safe. I sit.
“IMMIGRATION!” I yell back.
The door closes.
I open my book and start reading.

"Have People Forgotten How They Pythons Suffered For Us?"

Being in London atm, I thought this was terrific:

I'll have to check the FSM position on being a pythonist. I assume a dual-class is allowed if I split my xp evenly...


Monday, December 10, 2007

Anti-Science Explosion!

Warning: The number of logical fallacies per second exceeds 15 KiloFalwells:

This is awesomely bad, an actual masterpeice of non-science. Unpacking this would take weeks. In fact it's back with so many bad facts and misinformation, light itself cannot escape! It's a black hole of information!

Grammar Humor

"First they came for the verbs, and I said nothing because verbing weirds language. Then they arrival for the nouns, and I speech nothing because I no verbs." -- Peter Ellis.


I'm still in Europe until the end of the week, but I should start blogging again soon.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Well, That Just About Wraps It Up For Gods

PZ Myers has a link to August Berkshires' 34 Unconvincing Argruments for Gods. It pretty much encapsulates my view on the subject. Show me proof, and I'd have no choice but to believe.

(14) “Pascal’s Wager” / Faith - In short, Pascal’s Wager states that we have everything to gain (an eternity in heaven) and nothing to lose by believing in a god. On the other hand, disbelief can lead to a loss of heaven (i.e. hell).
We’ve already noted that heaven is wishful thinking and that hell is a scam, so let’s address the issue of faith.
Pascal’s Wager assumes a person can will himself or herself into having faith. This is simply not the case, at least not for an atheist. So atheists would have to pretend to believe. But according to most definitions of God, wouldn’t God know we were lying to hedge our bets? Would a god reward this?
Part of Pascal’s Wager states that you “lose nothing” by believing. But an atheist would disagree. By believing under these conditions, you’re acknowledging that you’re willing to accept some things on faith. In other words, you’re saying you’re willing to abandon evidence as your standard for judging reality.

Yup, that's the price. Actually, there are a lot of other things arong with Pascal's Wager as well, not the least of which is that it assumes a god that rewards blind faith. Personally, I subscribe to Horvath's Wager, that if god exists, it rewards skeptical inquiry and punishes blind faith. Acording to Pascal's mathematics, these are equally likely outcomes.

Saturday, December 01, 2007


The reviewer can state, without hyperbole that;

Beowulf the movie, based on the epic poem of the same name, is quite probably the most heinous culprit for stealing childhood from children ever made.

How can I *not* go see this??????

I have read lots of poems but never have I seen nudity in a poem...

I had forgotten how mcuh I enjoy the CAP Ministries. From this review of the new Mr. Magoo movie, which they liked (bolding mine):

The only content applicable to this investigation area is Natalie Portman wearing a dress that exposed a large gap over her chest. Such a display of skin normally not seen is clearly sexual: clearly intended to tease, to incite lust in the male viewer. If she had worn a dress that covered the gap, the Sexual Immorality investigation area score would have been 100. Sure, some highfalutin, high society performers wear such clothing for such affairs, but does that make such a cultural-specific display acceptable? If you think "Yes" then the fact that some cultures eat other people makes it acceptable since it is a cultural-specific behavior. Don't argue with me about what is morally acceptable. Argue about it with God. He will give you a much better Answer than I ever could. [1Cor. 8:9, Matt. 5:28]

The review should be docked for violence. Against logic.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Bill Clinton is Gay

Much is explained.

Data Literacy Test


I got a 26, making the assumption that "B-tree" was a "binary-tree". I did see a couple of terms I had never heard of like "elongated stream," "retroactive syn­apse," and "value chain". I actually hear the last one every day, but never heard it applied to a data type before. I thought about what it could be and imagined a double-linked-list type of affair, but I was only guessing so I said no.

At the end, after my score, I read this:

You are a pompous fraud. The terms "elongated stream," "retroactive syn­apse," and "value chain" don't refer to data types-I made them up. Please read the "Intellectual Honesty" section in Chapter 33, "Personal Character"!


UPDATE: I got 25. B-tree is a specific data-type.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

It's Real!

Holy Shit! I thought they made this up on 30 Rock.

The World's Most Terrifying Teapot

Read the commentary to the right

Dean Cain

From the imdb entry:
Gentle Ben (2002) (TV) .... Jack Wedloe... aka Terror on the Mountain

The Flying Car

Dilbert Packs it In

Scott Adams is downsizing his blogging efforts because .. basically... the internet is full of meanies:

My book based on the blog posts, STICK TO DRAWING COMICS, MONKEY-BRAIN! got great reviews for content, but angry reactions in people who feel that other people, who didn’t read the content on the Internet, and never will, should not buy the book, to protect the rights of the people who already read it on the Internet, and might want to read it again for free sometime. You win.
It’s hard to tell the family I can’t spend time with them because I need to create free content on the Internet that will lower our income.

So, the creator of one of the most profitable cartoon franchises in history, is upset because the internet has only made him slightly richer.

boo fucking hoo

Exactly As Advertised!

Sometimes, early in the morning, the titles of some work emails strike me as amusing.

For example, this morning I received a work-related email entitled:


the text read:
The largest credit union in XXXXXX (28,000 employees, 2,000 branches, $120 Billion in assets, over 5 million members) is revamping its information access strategies (BI) for its branches. The Bank uses over 1,000 reports, 1,100 KPI, they send over $XXX million a year just on ad hoc reporting… We just finished implementing the information portal for all the branches on XXXXX and we are extremely well positioned with our BI solution (Analysis Services, Reportinmg Services, SQL and PerformancePoint).


And, when you crack them open, they taste like Lobster.


"I think I need one of these in my home to ensure that the King of England doesn’t try to take my rights away."

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Plot of Every Terry Goodkind Novel

1) People have a nice day
2) Something Terrible(tm) Happens
3) All Magic stops working
4) People spend 400 pages try to figure out why, using rape as their primary investigative tool.
5) The hero wins through objectivism and rape.
6) People dread the next nice day.

Not Quite Right in the Head

This is a very interesting piece of work, which I read through this weekend, A Primer on Geocentrism.

It's pretty wacky, but also very interesting. It's self-contradictory in places, especially when the author tries to show that the universe rotates around the Earth, but doesn't violate the speed of light. In that particular section, he offers not one, but three different (and contradictory) reasons why the universe is okay (relativity doesn't apply to rotating bodies (!), the speed of light goes faster as you get further from the Earth (!!) and besides the firmament isn't rotating (except when it is)(!!!).

The guy knows some physics terms (I didn't remember the Sagnac effect, and I still don't see what it has to do with his point), and seems aware that modern physics exists, but doesn’t let that slow him down from believing science is on the verge of a new geocentric revolution.


This is what happens when you let invisible, sky-dwelling all-fathers into your head. They die there and stink up your whole mind.

The Smartest Man on Basic Cable

I'm not sure of the purpose of this hit piece on Ben Stein. I'm not a huge fan, and he seems to be take his invisible friend very seriously, but this seems a pointless attack on someone's intellectual insecurities.

Perhaps Stein's oddest avocation is being a financial guru to hookers. "Aside from practicing pimps, nobody knows as many call girls as I do," he says. It began when Stein was a columnist for the Journal, spending his afternoons by the pool in his West Hollywood apartment building, which was populated by call girls. "I think I put a couple of them in Berkshire Hathaway and made them a lot of money," he says. His skills are so well known, he boasts, that pros he's never met spot him at bars and ask about mutual funds.


The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations

It's worth remembering this:

We need to challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations. If you have low expectations, you're going to get lousy results.

It's one of the few things the president has said which for which, I think, history will speak well of him.

Also, it gives me a way to underline this:

With American military successes outpacing political gains in Iraq, the Bush administration has lowered its expectation of quickly achieving major steps toward unifying the country, including passage of a long-stymied plan to share oil revenues and holding regional elections.
Instead, administration officials say they are focusing their immediate efforts on several more limited but achievable goals in the hope of convincing Iraqis, foreign governments and Americans that progress is being made toward the political breakthroughs that the military campaign of the past 10 months was supposed to promote.

and this:
A White House assessment of the war in Afghanistan has concluded that wide-ranging strategic goals that the Bush administration set for 2007 have not been met, even as U.S. and NATO forces have scored significant combat successes against resurgent Taliban fighters, according to U.S. officials.

The evaluation this month by the National Security Council followed an in-depth review in late 2006 that laid out a series of projected improvements for this year, including progress in security, governance and the economy. But the latest assessment concluded that only "the kinetic piece" -- individual battles against Taliban fighters -- has shown substantial progress, while improvements in the other areas continue to lag, a senior administration official said.

So lets run down our checklist of success:

Removed nuclear WMDs from hands of people threatening America: Not Found
Removed non-nuclear WMD from Iraq: Oops, we gave them to him in the first place.
Received Candy and Flowers from Iraqis: Nope
Built a Stalwart of Democracy in the region: built Islamic Republic incapable of self-governance
War pays for itself by 2004: Est. $2,000,000,000,000 price tag by 2008
Stability in the green zone: sporadic peace
24 hours worth of electricity and water in Iraqi Cities (after almost 4 years)? Yes! 24 hours per week though, not per day.

Captured OBL dead or alive? Still At Large enjoying proceeds of enormous personal fortune.

Yes, a rousing success. Only the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy(tm) is keeping us from hearing all the Good News.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Repositioning History

Does anyone remember why we went to war with Iraq? I mean really? The Right has put together a lot of spin and moved the goal posts to the 49-yard line, brazenly suggesting they were there the whole time.

This is a good reminder of the environment of 2003, and typical of the arguments of the Right at the time.

Remember, we did eventually find WMD in Iraq. They were the one's we gave them to use in their war against Iran.

Why the Right has any credibility left on the war is a tribute to their marketing skills, not their intellect.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Galileo Was Wrong: The Church Was Right

The Catholics! There is no end to their ability to amuse and inform.
From Catholic Apologetics International:

Galileo Was Wrong is a detailed and comprehensive treatment of the scientific evidence supporting Geocentrism, the academic belief that the Earth is immobile in the center of the universe. Garnering scientific information from physics, astrophysics, astronomy and other sciences, Galileo Was Wrong shows that the debate between Galileo and the Catholic Church was much more than a difference of opinion about the interpretation of Scripture.

Scientific evidence available to us within the last 100 years that was not available during Galileo's confrontation shows that the Church's position on the immobility of the Earth is not only scientifically supportable, but it is the most stable model of the universe and the one which best answers all the evidence we see in the cosmos.
Readers agree.

I honestly thought the last of the geocentric adherents died out a couple of hundred years ago, and I know the official position of the Vatican on this subject is heliocentric. Still... as a fully trained astrophysicist, I can't help but wonder what "discoveries" in the last 100 years would support geocentrism. Did someone discover the aether and not let me know*?

Maybe we should just "teach the controversy"!

Also, see this from the Biblical Astronomer, a proud son of Cleveland! It must be right, he has a Ph.D.

*I did take a stroll through this, the logic is irrefutable. Assuming the bible is literally true, then a heliocentric cosmology cannot explain the Sun standing still for Joshua and a variety of other biblical miracles, so it must be false. Quod erat faciendum!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Alternative Fuel: Salt Water?

Extremely interesting:

We watched as they poured Morton's salt into a container, mixed it with water and then exposed the fluid to the Kanzius radio frequency device.An intense flame erupted over the test tube."In this case we weren't looking for energy," said John Kanzius. "We were looking for something that might do desalinization. And the more we tried desalinization, the more heat we produced until we got fire."

I'm guessing that the RF ionized the water, producing hydrogen and water vapor, which is the actual buring part. If I'm right, the burning would have to begin long before you see the flame becuase hydrogen flames are invisible. Once enough water vapor got mixed in, you'd see something.

It's still an open question if it's producing more energy than it requires though.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Why Atheists Should Fear the Big Bang Theory

I have to admit, as an astronomer/atheist, I am more than a little curious about this:

Why Christianity explains what modern science tells us about the universe and our origins—that matter was created out of nothing, that light preceded the sun—better than atheism does

How Christianity created the framework for modern science, so that Christianity and science are not irreconcilable, but science and atheism might be

Why the alleged sins of Christianity—the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Galileo affair (“an atheist's fable”)—are vastly overblown

*Why atheist regimes are responsible for the greatest mass murders of history

*Why evolution does not threaten Christian belief, but actually supports the “argument from design”

Why atheists fear the Big Bang theory and the “anthropic principle” of the universe, which are keystones of modern astronomy and physics

How Christianity explains consciousness and free will, which atheists have to deny

Why ultimately you can't have Western civilization—and all we value from it—without the Christianity that gave it birth.Provocative, enlightening

This seems like the usual rhetorical ass-hattery from Dinesh D'Souza, a fellow who beleives that how you talk about science seems to him to be more important than science itself.
In this case, the least of his sins seem to be confusing the existance of god with the correctness of Christianity.

If science can't bat down a fool like this, we deserve to lose the public debate.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Cake is a Lie

I finally got to the end of Portals which sports, among many redeeming features, the funniest AI since GIR. After you blow up the AI, the end credits roll to this song, which I loved (even more than Companion Cube). Apature Science(tm) is the name of the portal comapny and Black Mesa is their rival.

Also, at the end, there is cake.

I wonder if the AI is still alive, and working on a sequel...

Thursday, November 15, 2007


I've done a bad thing. I've thrown a Molotov cocktail onto the grounds of the presidential palace in TJICistan.

I know I shouldn't, but I simply could not resist. Yes, I've somewhat compared apples and oranges, but it seems a little disingenuous to complain about minor government spending on a something you disagree with but use, and not complain about the colossal waste of money on something you like, but dont participate in.

Regardless, we should see some blood-pumping, heart-hammering rhetoric from the last libertarian enclave in Arlington.

viva revolution!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Coming Soon to My Cubical

The perfect office decoration


Tom Tancredo has a new ad. It perfectly summerizes the GOP position, and I say More! More! More! Damn those crazy islamic tacos!

Wait, what?

Creation Science Museum Review

First, imagine, if you will, a load of horseshit. And we’re not talking just your average load of horseshit; no, we’re talking colossal load of horsehit. An epic load of horseshit. The kind of load of horseshit that has accreted over decades and has developed its own sort of ecosystem, from the flyblown chunks at the perimeter, down into the heated and decomposing center, generating explosive levels of methane as bacteria feast merrily on vintage, liquified crap. This is a Herculean load of horseshit, friends, the likes of which has not been seen since the days of Augeas.
And you look at it and you say, “Wow, what a load of horseshit.”

Full Report here

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Sweet Spot

Some throw-away art I worked on this weekend.

Our Wonderful Earth

I remember the first science book I learned to read.

I was about 4 and was interested in what caused the seasons (I had a complicated theory involving the Earth rotating end-over-end which I began to suspect was wrong). This was about 1968, and my mother gave me her old grade school textbook, which I poured through day and night for weeks, carving a deep and lasting gouge in my consciousness.

Last night I was having dinner with some friends and one of them mentioned that he found an old book on Amazon he'd been looking for for years. It occured to me that I might be able to find this old book there, which would be cool. I remembered the title and I have a handful of pages memorized (I think) and I remember the distinctive green cover with a picture of the Earth on it. I figure since it was my mothers elementary school textbook, it was probably published 1948-1950. I could not remember the author.

So I typed "Our Wonderful Earth" into Amazon.

I got this. ACK!

No good.

I also got a bunch of other hits, but without cover shots.

One was from 1951, so I tried google.

Got it on the first hit!

$10.95 and 2 weeks delivery. :)


Is this a real equation?

4δ161 x Λ³Жญ5,6,1,8Φ-4 = {(ΣΨ²Њyt3 - 14๖P9) x 49}/2β x ⅜kxgt -§

Some say yes, some say no.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Also, There are Dragons

My afterlife

UPDATE:I liked this so much, I gave $100 to Dresden Kodak. Because of the way my luck works, this ensures, forever and always, the comic will never update again.

Confound You!

A Physics joke

Friday, November 09, 2007


I'm kind of a jerk, and sometimes this has unexpected consequences.

I had a long web cast to set up this morning, with a lot of prep-work to do with the participants in the hour before the call. Due to timing issues, this meant getting into the office at 6:30am and opening the call about 90 minutes before the actual web cast. In our system, when anyone dials into a conference call, they have to give their name and they get announced when they come online. This is okay when the call has 4 or 5 people, but in an hour long call with 100 people, it can get very annoying. People come in and drop out during the whole thing, and every time their name gets announced into the channel and it interrupts the flow.

More on this in a minute.

Because I was the first one on and I knew that no one would hear my announcement, I said something silly to entertain the other folks in the room. The call opened, I was the first one in, no problem. I forgot about it.

There were some technical glitches getting the call set up, synchronized with the webcast and displaying the proper content, so I was very busy until we started the call. A number of folks joined, 70 or so, and we started a few minutes late. About 20 minutes in, the constant drop-ins, drop outs were annoying, so I wanted to silence them. There is a code to do this, but I couldn't remember if it was *6, *9 or *3. I asked, no one knew, but one guy thought it was *9. I thought it was something like this, so in the middle of a presentation I hit *9 on the master phone.

That was not the correct code.

Instead, in the middle of the presentation, it started listing *all* the people on the call. Starting with me. Using the recording I made hours earlier when I thought I was alone.

"THIS IS COLOSSUS! THIS IS THE VOICE OF WORLD CONTROL!!!" came blaring out of every phone on the call, at 75db. In my voice. In the middle of the EMEA Directors report.

This was followed by all the other names, and dozens of messages on IM from call participants runningthe full gamut from laughter to angry laughter.

2 mins later, the list ended.

Thankfully, my career did not.

Afterwards my manager asked me, "what did you learn from this?"
I replied, "that I could replay this accident to hilarious effect on someone else's call?"
"good man"

The line, btw, is from the Forbin Project

YouTube has the whole quote. It's more appropriate than I remembered.

Rocky, The Flying Squirrel


I definately want to try it, but I am a bit unnerved. The video doesn't show anyone actually landing and walking away....


Some people, when trapped at the bottom of a deep well, just can't help trying to dig their way out!
Wonkette provides:

New details have emerged in the generally scuzzy case of Florida legislator Bob Allen (R-McCain Campaign Co-Chairman) who was arrested after allegedly offering to both suck off some guy in a park bathroom and give the guy twenty bucks. Wonkette readers who are experts in such matters have argued that the whole thing sounds like entrapment, but today’s Orlando Sentinel offers a new excuse from Allen himself: He was just scared of a scary black guy, like anybody would be!

Closeted, racist and in over his head, I'm sure he feels he can still make a strong contribution to governing the country and ensuring the Permanent Republican Majority, or the Fourth Reich or whatever the Bushies call it these days....

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

If We Take 4 Turning Points, Have we Gone in A Circle?

Joe Lieberman yesterday:

“I’m proud to say that the tide has turned in Iraq and we’re winning that war,” Lieberman said. “And if we don’t let down our troops, they’re going to bring home a victory that will protect us here at home from today’s threat — totalitarian terrorist Islamism that’s trying to take our liberty from us.”

and in the past:

– “Overall, I would say what I see here today is progress, significant progress from the last time I was here in December. And if you can see progress in war that means you’re headed in the right direction.” [5/30/07]

– “The last two weeks…may be seen as a turning point.” [12/17/05]
– “Does America have a good plan for doing this, a strategy for victory in Iraq? Yes we do.” [11/29/05]

– “We have to stay the course in Iraq now. … If we do that, we will…have won a victory in the war on terrorism.” [1/4/04]

The rest here

Here's a Shocker!

Your Inner European is Dutch!

Open minded and tolerant.
You're up for just about anything.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Conversations With My Son

Me: Oh look, new research shows there's a genetic switch for sexuality. You could turn women into lesbians.
Geoff: Yes, it's called "Getting them drunk".

I Don't Know Where We are Going, But I See What We Are Coming To

No Photos on the train, dammit!

The train is a half hour west of New Haven when the conductor, having finished her original rounds, reappears. She moves down the aisle, looks, stops between our seats, faces the person taking pictures. “Sir, in the interest of national security, we do not allow pictures to be taken of or from this train.” He starts, “I…….” but, without English, his response trails off into silence. The conductor, speaking louder, forcefully: “Sir, I will confiscate that camera if you don’t put it away.” Again, little response. “Sir, this is a security matter! We cannot allow pictures.” She turns away abruptly and, as she moves down the aisle, calls over her shoulder, in a very loud voice, “Put. It. Away!” He packs his camera.

It gets worse for the guy.

There are a lot of things puzzling about the story, including the silly idea that taking pictures from a moving Amtrak train is some kind of threat to national security. I'm still trying to figure out if a) this is a TSA rule, b) this is an Amtrak rule or c) it's just the conductor being a jerk.


Monday, November 05, 2007

Batshit Crazy

But, I am glad someone is showing folks what to do.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

New Art Completed

My latest image Tourbillon is complete. Thanks to all for the feedback! Here's hoping I dont end up getting sued by Uniroyal...


Photographer Peter van Agtmael has made two trips to Iraq and one to Afghanistan in the past couple years. Among his work over that time is a series, the idea of which is eminently logical, but which I haven't seen before. To capture a more raw if performative picture of the U.S. soldier's experience, Peter photographed graffiti on the bathroom wall at a major traffic point for U.S. troops, the Al Salem Air Force Base in Kuwait.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

A Sane Analysis of Hillary and the Right

This is actually very good.

That might be one reason the Right can’t rally against Hillary. Conservative division has led to depression, a sense that a Clinton restoration is inevitable, and that the best plan going ahead is to wait for her election and watch as, like her husband, she stumbles and seeds a GOP comeback. A mid-July CBS News poll revealed that 53 percent of Republicans thought it was very or somewhat likely that Clinton would win the presidency. Few Republicans think the party can win back Congress in 2008. Combine that with the anger that between one-third and one-quarter of the GOP base feels toward George W. Bush, and the relentless negativity starts to make sense.

There is another reason conservatives can’t count on Hillary: she offends and irritates them so deeply that they have trouble actually strategizing against her. They launch attacks, but compared to the carefully plotted Swift Boat strike on John Kerry or the years-long effort to spotlight Al Gore’s strange bragging and fibbing, the anti-Hillary attacks are erratic, grabbing early media attention and then fading out of the picture. Conservatives fixate on long-dormant scandals, like Bill Clinton’s treatment of Kathleen Willey and Juanita Broaddrick, without appreciating that reporters no longer want to chase those stories and that their very mention stokes sympathy for Clinton’s wife.

But it’s all some anti-Hillary agitators know how to do. In July, Sean Hannity told professional Hillary slayer Dick Morris the question he wanted some intrepid hack to ask the candidate: “Do you believe the women that claim that your husband serially abused them? Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey, Paula Jones. Is that a legitimate and fair question?” Morris repeatedly shook his head and tried to explain where Hannity was going wrong: “Whenever anybody hits Hillary on her personal life, her marriage, or whether she is a lesbian or not, it plays into her hands.”

I'm no fan of her's and I think it's unlikely I'll vote for her, but no because I think she's evil incarnate. It's ironic that the GOP has spent a lot of the last 7 years trying to dumb down the civil discourse to a few black and white catch-phrases (For us or against us! The smoking gun could be a mushroom cloud!), and now seems to be paying the price.

The 8 Best Simpson Episodes Ever


It's a lot of fun if you have a working knowledge of Simpson's quotes. I agree with most of the entries, although maybe not the order. IMHO the Chilli Episode is the best ever, if only for the line, "C'mon Marge, less artsy, more fartsy!"

Also, Homer's Phobia for the scene with "the Anvil"
Bart: "Why did you bring me to a gay steel mill?"
Homer: "I don't know!!!"

Cons I Wish I had Thought Of

I was watching TV and saw an ad for Kinoki Detox Footpads. They are basically gauze pads you put on your feet while you sleep that supposedly pull "toxins" out of your body.

They are debunked here, and there is even a water-based foot bath version (even more bogus).

A $0.10 pad covered with $0.01 worth of salicilic acid sold for $19.99, genius!! I really wish I had the kind of devious mind that could come up with this kind of con. Alas, I am more of a mail tamperer than a poisoner...

And people wonder why I am a fan of the FDA...

Friday, November 02, 2007

Get Your Ass Kicked...

with these outstanding fashions in the J.C. Penny Catalog circa 1977!


Actually, it's a map of the Earth's magnetic field anomoly (difference from the dipole geometry). More here.

No More Red States?

The President's popularity is no longer above 50% in *any* state in the Union.

Wow. I have to admit, I did not see that coming.

Mine's Dry, FTR

Something I really had no clue about this morning:

There are two types of earwax, wet and dry. Wet earwax is common in Africa and Europe, while dry earwax is characteristic of East Asian populations. South and Central Asian populations are half wet and half dry. Native Americans tend to have dry earwax. Recently, the New York Times reports, Japanese researchers have isolated the gene responsible for earwax differentiation. The curious thing is that earwax doesn't seem to be terribly important to human survival:
Since it seems unlikely that having wet or dry earwax could have made much difference to an individual's fitness, the earwax gene may have some other, more important function. Dr. Yoshiura and his colleagues suggest that the gene would have been favored because of its role in sweating.
They write that earwax type and armpit odor are correlated, since populations with dry earwax, such as those of East Asia, tend to sweat less and have little or no body odor, while the wet earwax populations of Africa and Europe sweat more and so may have more body odor. Several Asian features, like small nostrils, are conjectured to be adaptations to the cold. Less sweating, the Japanese authors suggest, may be another adaptation to the cold in which the ancestors of East Asian peoples are thought to have lived.


New Art: Late Draft

Everyone who does digital art hits a few familiar themes, once of which is The Watch. I passed this way back in 2002, but have always wanted to do a pocket watch, with some geers and stuff. I'm still tweaking this, but I'm mostly happy with it. I'll probably finish the render this weekend.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Fall Colors

The US Housing Data is out, and Wow! is it colorful!

There are the bursting-bubble metros, which on the chart start with L.A. and end with New York. Within that group there are some pretty interesting differences: L.A. and Miami peaked higher and later than the rest; Phoenix was just moseying along well outside the bubble zone until mid-2004, after which prices almost doubled in just two years; San Francisco and New York saw steadier (and possibly less bubblicious) gains than the rest.
Then you've got Seattle and Portland, which have seen substantial if not staggering price gains and are still living in their own happy, Northwestern alternative reality in which the real estate bust is just something you
read about in your favorite newsweekly.
Then there are the three mini-bubble metros: Boston, Chicago and Minneapolis.
Finally, there are the metros, all in the South and Midwest, that never really participated in the post-2000 house-price boom. Most are doing okay, but Detroit and Cleveland--for reasons that have more to do with problems in the manufacturing sector than with problems in the real estate business--are not.

more here

Doing Better at Halloween This Year

This year I actually have candy to give out, trying to avoid last year's disaster. Last year I forgot completely. There was a knock at the door, which is rare in a condo building, and I was confronted by a 6 year-old in a ghost costume, a 4 year-old dressed as Spiderman, their mother, and the glowering spectre of my own stupidity. I couldn't find any candy in the house, so in complete desperation I grabbed a few things off the spice rack, ran back to the door, reached deeply into their plastic pumpkins and dropped them in. I smiled, said Merry Halloween or something and sent them on their way.

Somewhere in Seattle, a mother was wondering where her child received a shaker of cumin for Halloween.

This year will be different, though, I promise.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

David Horowitz Attacked!

The founder of Islamofacism Awareness Week is physcially attacked at the closing ceremonies on the Columbia Campus!

or, whys *isn't* anyone hanging a noose on my door? C'mon guys! How can I claim persecution if you all won't play the game????



C'mon, tase me Bro!

Is "The Golden Compass" Athiest Enough?

Good Christians appearently say "No!"

But the removal of the Godless themes from the movie has some Christian organizations seething.
"They’re intentionally watering down the most offensive element,” Donohue said. “I'm not really concerned about the movie, [which] looks fairly innocuous. The movie is made for the books. ... It's a deceitful, stealth campaign. Pullman is hoping his books will fly off the shelves at Christmastime."


I guess there is no pleasing some people.

If they want to put more godlessness inthe movie, great! I never found Pullman to be all the subversive, but I read it as an adult. And, to be fair, I guess then god dies of old age and his lifeless corpse crashes to the ground, that could be seen as some kind of metaphor or something. I guess.

Thanks to Action Jackson for pointing this out.

A Blast From the Past

Jeff Gannon, the man who gave male prostitutes a bad name by dressing up as a reporter and phallating the President on national television, is in the news again. Apparently the boys at FEMA took a page from his book and held their own fake press conference, all in the interests of being fair and balanced.

Jeff has written a book and paid to have it made through a vanity press (iUniverse! Let that roll around in your noggin a bit as a name for a vanity publisher.). The book itself is not interesting. What *is* interesting is the page at Amazon where you can see "Customers Who Bought Items Like This Also Bought", which is a list of right-wing masturbatory authors who believe OBL is a master terrorist who will never be caught and is probably hiding under your chair right now!(tm), Jesus will make All Things Right by coming down and killing all those hippies in congress, we should repeal the 19th amendment before things get worse, and anyone who disagrees with a war president should be shot without trial.

Republicans! I will miss them when they are gone...

Fun With Imaginary Friends

When I was a kid of about 7, I found the best way to annoy one of my cousins was to take his G.I. Joe dol...errr action figure, and make it do non-millitary things, like sit in his sister's Barbie Dreamhouse and be the pool boy or get a law degree and become a property lawyer. It would tick him off instantly and provide me hours of fun.

30 years later, TJIC ups the ante.

Wait until they discover fan-fic! PZ Myers gets in on the action today as well.
Jesus is quite versitile as a mythic figure.

Update: I'll claim stupidity and cryptomnesia on that one.

Monday, October 29, 2007

What You Know About Math?


Buy Low, Sell HIgh

The price of a particular stock I own has been in the doldrums for years, hovering around $27-$29/share. I put in a limit order to sell about a third of it if it ever hit $35 (and another third at $40). With small orders such as mine, the price is usually a "best guess", i.e. I told it to sell at $35, but my expectation is that when the stock actually sells on the market, it will have dropped back down below $35.

Last week, the order triggered. The stock peaked at $35.97 for about 10 minutes. When I got the confirmation this weekend, I found it sold at $35.85.


It's now back around $34. When it drops back to $29 I'm going to buy it all back.

Ben Stein Gets Beat By A College Sophomore

Well said.

If Stein and his ilk really want to leave their mark on the debate between science and intelligent design, the absolute best move on their part would be to define intelligent design in unambiguous terms, outline exactly what the theory predicts and explain how it can be tested. Until then, apparently, 90-minute "documentaries" filled with soundbites and rhetoric will have to do.

Red Sox Nation

with authority!
...but not with The Authority.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Cocktail Party Physics

Awesome website with some of the most insightful commentary on physics I have seen in a long time.

Dubious Moments in Comic Book History

From Lileks. Say what you want about his politics, he's a often hilarious on culture.

Dark Matters

As long time readers know, I am not wholly convinced about the existance of Dark Matter, and favor a more intuitive approach that modifies gravity at large distances.

Another log on that fire can be read here

A detailed analysis of the November 15, 2006 data release (Clowe et al., 2006) X-ray surface density Sigma-map and the strong and weak gravitational lensing convergence kappa-map for the Bullet Cluster 1E0657-558 is performed and the results are compared with the predictions of a modified gravity (MOG) and dark matter. Our surface density Sigma-model is computed using a King beta-model density, and a mass profile of the main cluster and an isothermal temperature profile are determined by the MOG. We find that the main cluster thermal profile is nearly isothermal. The MOG prediction of the isothermal temperature of the main cluster is T = 15.5 +- 3.9 keV, in good agreement with the experimental value T = 14.8{+2.0}{-1.7} keV. Excellent fits to the two-dimensional convergence kappa-map data are obtained without non-baryonic dark matter, accounting for the 8-sigma spatial offset between the Sigma-map and the kappa-map reported in Clowe et al. (2006). The MOG prediction for the kappa-map results in two baryonic components distributed across the Bullet Cluster 1E0657-558 with averaged mass-fraction of 83% intracluster medium (ICM) gas and 17% galaxies. Conversely, the Newtonian dark matter kappa-model has on average 76% dark matter (neglecting the indeterminant contribution due to the galaxies) and 24% ICM gas for a baryon to dark matter mass-fraction of 0.32, a statistically significant result when compared to the predicted Lambda-CDM cosmological baryon mass-fraction of 0.176{+0.019}{-0.012} (Spergel et al., 2006).

Comet Holmes in Outburst

Something to do this weekend, if the skies are clear:

Comet 17P/Holmes stunned comet watchers across planet Earth earlier this week. On October 24, it increased in brightness over half a million times in a matter of hours. The outburst transformed it from an obscure and faint comet quietly orbiting the Sun with a period of about 7 years to a naked-eye comet rivaling the brighter stars in the constellation Perseus. Recorded on that date, this view from Tehran, Iran highlights the comet's (enhanced and circled) dramatic new visibility in urban skies. The inset (left) is a telescopic image from a backyard in Buffalo, New York showing the comet's greatly expanded coma, but apparent lack of a tail. Holmes' outburst could be due to a sudden exposure of fresh cometary ice or even the breakup of the comet nucleus. The comet may well remain bright in the coming days.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fanning the Flames of Fear

More on how folks like Fox take a second rate threat who got lucky, and tried to turn him into the boggy man.

Did al Qaeda start the California wildfires?
As more than a million people escaped the flames, Fox News anchors couldn't help speculating about a terrorism link to the blazes ravaging southern California.
"I've heard some people talk about this a little bit to me, but have you heard anybody suggest that this could be some form of terrorism," Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy asked Wednesday morning.
Correspondent Adam Housley said he's received "hundreds of comments" from readers of his Fox News
blog speculating about a link to terrorism.

At some point, even the most ardent support has to admit that what they do on Fox isn't news.

David Gerrold has a Blog


David is one of my favorite authors and wrote The Man Who Folded Himself, which irrevocably warped me when I read it at age 13 (it's a fable on the dangers of narcissism).

His novel, the Martian Child, has been made into a movie and is coming out in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

World Net Daily

Did you know the Earth is only 6010 years old? Did you know that atheists are the greatest threat to our Christian nation. You're obviously not reading World Net Daily!

Also, this little gem:

"How to outlaw Christianity" by Chuck Norris, who says 30 million Americans profess there is no God, and shows how atheist organizations are working to undermine Christianity .


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Superlative Photos

From Africa. Amazing work.

Another Reason to Root for the Red Sox

Does this mean, if the Sox take the trophy, god doesn't exist?

"You look at some of the moves we made and didn't make," general manager Dan O'Dowd said in the only interview he has given on the subject, long before the Rockies' remarkable ascension over the past few weeks. "You look at some of the games we're winning. Those aren't just a coincidence. God has definitely had a hand in this."
Anyone who fancies the Almighty has better things to do than determine the outcome of baseball games might want to consider just what the Rockies have achieved. At the beginning of September, they were fourth out of five in the National League Western division and seemingly headed to yet another cold Colorado winter chewing over another disappointing season. Then they started winning, and didn't stop. They won 13 of their last 14 regular-season games – a freak occurrence in a sport that has always been more about failure than success, where even the strongest teams usually win no more than six games of every 10.


Monday, October 22, 2007


It's probably against some policy at work to use a phrase like "I already have the vision thing worked out and will sibmit it 6 weeks early. The rest will be [person X] trying to get a hand job from Accenture."

That doesnt' make it untrue.

Something About Cats I Did Not Know This Morning

...and I am reminded of the motto of Transylvania Polytechnic University, "Knowledge Brings Fear"

Sunday, October 21, 2007

What's the Word I am Looking For??

"Crushed" I think will fit the bill.

11-2, Yikes!

If Susan were alive today, I'm sure she would be jumping up and down about it. As it is, I didn't care too much about it until I heard from a co-worker they were in the play-offs. As he is a Cleveland fan, I sensed an opportunity for some gain and bet $100 on Boston

"You realize Cleveland is ahead 2 games to 1", he said.
"Yes, but if they can be down 3-0 against the Yankees and win, they can do anything."
"Okay, it's your loss..."

and thus a bet was made.

Tonight's dialog:

"Smell that? It smells like Victory!"
"Smells like ... shut up."
"I'm just glad I finally made a bet that doesn't end up with me mowing someone's lawn in a wedding dress..."

The Chrome Age

I finally finished the new art I started last weekend, The Chrome Age.

The Three Phases of Labor

Holy Beavers!

Speaking of the Universe

PZ Myers talks about a question he was asked, "What is the purpose of the universe?". My first reaction was, "that's a nonsense question, the universe is a natural phenomenon, it doesn't have a 'purpose'". PZ does one better though

Near as I can tell, the primary purposes of the universe as discerned from the casual expressions of religion's proponents are 1) to bias victory in local football games, and 2) to regulate the appropriate orifices into which certain people are allowed to place their penises. How the creation of Betelgeuse, the concentration of planetary material in our solar system in one body which we can't reach and which is uninhabitable to us, and the ubiquity and success of bacteria all play into these purposes is unknown to me … it must be one of God's mysteries.

The Big Rip

When I was a kid and, in fact most of the way through grad school, the Standard Model held the universe was going to end in a cyclic "Big Crunch", the reset button would be pushed, and a new universe would be created. It smacked of such elegance that everyone assumed it would be true once the evidence came in. Some in the spiritual community even held that it was evidence of an intelligent designer, or of a vindication of the wisdom of past thinkers.

It seems we were all way, way wrong on this one.

Cosmologists have long wondered whether the Universe will eventually re-collapse and end with a Big Crunch, or expand forever, becoming increasingly cold and empty. Recent evidence for a flat Universe, possibly with a cosmological constant or some other sort of negative-pressure dark energy, has suggested that our fate is the latter. However, the data may actually be pointing toward an astonishingly different cosmic end game. Here, we explore the consequences that follow if the dark energy is phantom energy, in which the sum of the pressure and energy density is negative. The positive phantom-energy density becomes infinite in finite time, overcoming all other forms of matter, such that the gravitational repulsion rapidly brings our brief epoch of cosmic structure to a close. The phantom energy rips apart the Milky Way, solar system, Earth, and ultimately the molecules, atoms, nuclei, and nucleons of which we are composed, before the death of the Universe in a ``Big Rip''.

In other words, the universe is an exploding bomb and we are trapped inside.

Full paper here, a good read on a Sunday afternoon.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Laaaaaaaand of the Lost, Lost, Lost, Lost...

From SciFi Weekly:

Universal Pictures has given a green light to a comedic take on the SF TV series Land of the Lost, starring Will Ferrell, which begins production in March, Variety reported.Brad Silberling (Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events) will direct the adaptation of Sid and Marty Krofft's children's show of the same name. Jimmy Miller is producing, along with the Kroffts; Julie Wixson-Darmody and Daniel Lupi will executive-produce.Ferrell has been attached to Land of the Lost for several years. The adaptation, by Chris Henchy and Dennis McNicholas, revolves around a disgraced paleontologist, his assistant and a macho tour guide who find themselves in a strange world inhabited by dinosaurs, monkey people and reptilian Sleestaks.(Universal is owned by NBC Universal, which also owns SCIFI.COM.)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Pope Is On Fire!


Lots and lots and lots of jokes about Hell I could make here, but I am taking the higher road...

Heavy Ink

Travis has launched another new business, an online comic book order company called Heavy Ink. If you're into comics you should check it out. I've collected stuff since I was 4, although the titles have changed significantly. I plan on moving my sunscriptions over and taking advantage of the home delivery system.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Great Balls of Fire!

Neat! A small, low torque motor made from ball bearings and electricity!

When current passes from the outer ring of the ballrace to the inner ring via each ball, heat is generated at the point of contact due to the increased resistance. This localised heating causes the ball to expand in the hot area, causing a slight elongation of the ball, pushing against the inner and outer rings of the race. If the ball were stationary, this would cause the bearing to stiffen and sieze up, but when it's rotating (from the initial spin), this elongation causes the ball to push itself further round in the direction of rotation, sustaining the movement. This action happens as a continuous process on all the balls which are in electrical contact with the inner and outer rings.


Jesus Walks into a Bar..

Highly amusing!


The Bush Administration was trying to do it's warentless wiretapping 6 months before 9/11.

Jesus Shitballs!


Former chief executive Joseph P. Nacchio, convicted in April of 19 counts of insider trading, said the NSA approached Qwest more than six months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to court documents unsealed in Denver this week.


Nacchio's account, which places the NSA proposal at a meeting on Feb. 27, 2001, suggests that the Bush administration was seeking to enlist telecommunications firms in programs without court oversight before the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon. The Sept. 11 attacks have been cited by the government as the main impetus for its warrantless surveillance efforts.

There is no end to just how morally bankrupt the Bush Administration seems to be.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Wierd Cough

I've had a persistent cough for the last 2 months which has been getting gradually worse. By cough, I mean I cough fairly loudly every 20 minutes, wake up in the middle of the night coughing and have coughed long and hard enough to cause me to vomit *and* cough (and then the fun *really* starts).

I have, as usual, been ignoring this.

however, I am annoying enough that the folks around me have noticed and been bugging me to go see someone about it. I was reluctant, in part because of a childhood incident which taught me an important lesson.

When I was a kid, I stepped on a bee. A big, nasty bumblebee with a stinger the size of Ford Falcon. I didn't notice it. Rather, my foot hurt a little and I thought I had a rock in my sandal, which was annoying, but hardly a crisis to a 5 year-old. I played with my friends for the better part of 20 minutes being a little annoyed with my foot but not really noticing. Finally, I thought to take the rock out, grabbed my foot, took off the sandal and saw a giant bee stuck in my foot, half squashed and very angry.

and then the world exploded in pain.

I was fine until I saw the bee, after that, after I knew what it was, it was agony. To this day I swear I could watch my foot swell up as my brain figured out I had been stung. The lesson? I would have been fine had I not known what had happened.

Hence, I am not ever in any rush to head to the doctor.

That said, I figured something had gone wrong and went yesterday. Much to my surprise, my GP knew immediately what was wrong. I was having a drug interaction with my meds, one of which is an ACE inhibitor called Lisinopril. For reasons I can't say I understand, my body was building up an overabundance of a chemical which was causing the cough. He changed my meds, told me to stay off planes for 3 weeks and told me I'd be fine in about 10 days, the length of time it will take to have the drug wash out of my system.

Which means a) it’s all minor with no larger meaning and b) I have to cancel my Japan trip, at least until January.

Baby Gordon

From Susan's brother, Stephen

Pictures of the first 4D ultrasound are at (no, we are not thinking of naming her Eskimo)

Warning: pictures are of a naked baby, so may be Not Safe For Work.

Hitchens is Definately Off My Ramadan Holiday Gift List!

He seems to have made something of an ass of himself:

Later that evening, someone in the FFRF was handing out an open letter to the freethought community, one that protested the inclusion of Hitchens and opposing any future speakers of his sort. I sympathized with the sentiment (and if the writer wants to send me an electronic copy, I'll post it here), but I think it was useful to have Hitchens stand up there and tell us what he thinks — and there was absolutely no reticence in his comments, which I admire. But while I agree with his goal of working towards a rational, secular world, a triumph of enlightenment values, I disagree entirely with his proposed strategy, which seems to involve putting a bullet through every god-haunted brain. To have a clearly stated position to which we can respond with clearly stated opposition is actually a kind of gift.

Hitch has always been a strong supporter of the war, a position I found a little puzzling until now. I guess he is, as one guy put it, "he's a highly entertaining nut job who happens to hold a few views similar to mine"

What is this "The Vagina" and Where Do I Get One?

Christian Sex Ed Video

Don't Date Robots!

Jesus Christo!

"My forecast is that around 2050, the state of Massachusetts will be the first jurisdiction to legalize marriages with robots," artificial intelligence researcher David Levy at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands told LiveScience. Levy recently completed his Ph.D. work on the subject of human-robot relationships, covering many of the privileges and practices that generally come with marriage as well as outside of it.

Oh, a prediction by a grad student about his thesis topic having worldwide social and moral implications! Whew! I was worried there for a moment.

Still, it does one well to remember this dire lesson: Dont Date Robots!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Some New Art

A new piece I've been thinking about since Sibos-Boston. Comments welcome!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Pastafarians v. Senator David Vitter (R-Adultery-Hetro)

We need to teach *all* sides of the story!

Senator David Vitter, R-La, earmarked $100k in a spending bill for a Lousiana Creationist group that has challenged the teaching of Darwinian Evolution in the public school system.
The bill specifies the payment is "to develop a plan to better promote science education."
Clearly, this is important to Pastafarians, because we ALSO have a creation theory that challenges Darwinian Evolution - and our theory is
backed by many in the scientific community.
Let's contact Senator Vitter and let him know that the Pastafarian creation theory is the one that should be taught.
You can email Sen. Vitter using
this form.Phone:(202) 224-4623Fax: (202) 228-5061

Also in news from the CotFSM:

I’m sorry if Christians find the belief that the Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe “lame,” but –correct me if I’m wrong- Christians believe that a cosmic Jewish zombie can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him that you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat an apple of discernment from a magical tree. And they think the idea that a decrease in pirates caused global warming is ridiculous?


Nerd God

I am a Nerd God (appearently) says I'm a Nerd God.  What are you?  Click here!

Everyone who is surprised by this raise your hand.

uhhh hmmmmm..... I thought not.


Left v. Right Brain

Does she spin CW or CCW?

(if she isn't spinning, click on her. there have been some problems with blogger)

There is some suggestion that the direction of spin you see tells you which brain hemisphere is dominant. I can see her spin either way, but when I first look I see clockwise. I'm pretty skeptical of the left/right thing since object roation is a full right brain function, i.e. you don't seem to have two seperate centers in your brain for CW and CCW spinning objects, each in a different hemisphere. OTOH, I know almost nothing about actual brain function, so don't listen to me. I'm ambidexterous and my brain dominance was shown to be evenly split in my neuropsych evalstwo years ago, so my perceptions may be unusual with this.

via here, here and here.

Chapter 1

of my book tenatively titled, How to Think for Yourself, is underway. I'll try and get an excerpt up this week. The first chapter is called, Theory v. Doctrine or because I Say So!

I was a little bored on the 20 hour flight home.

Nanny State Powers, ACTIVATE!

Form of, Regulation!
Shape of, a baby!

"Paul arrived in Amsterdam looking forward to a weekend with his friends. Instead, the 24-year-old Australian stayed holed up in his hotel room, too frightened to walk the streets after taking magic mushrooms.
``We had to lock ourselves up in case we would do something crazy,'' said Paul, who asked that his last name not be used because he didn't want acquaintances to know about his drug use. ``There is no way this should be legal.''


In Amsterdam, where the fungi are sold in so-called smart shops, local officials agree. The city council last month approved a three-day waiting period to cut down on tourist use. The national government is considering an outright ban after a French teenager leapt to her death in March. Health Minister Ab Klink will release a statement on the hallucinogens this week.

So, you go to a foreign country with more advanced ideas about personal responsibility than your own, get in a bit over your head and, rather than reflect on your own immaturity and lack of growth, you call for the Nanny State to rescue you.


I'm not a user or fan of most hallucinogens, mostly because my brain gets more than a little weird and I dont enjoy them if they are strong. OTOH, I'm pretty sure it isn't my business if you do enjoy them.

Ugh. I'm starting to sound like Travis.


FTR I'm back from Barcelona and in Seattle today, hooray! To those of you who were on my case over the last 2 weeks, I am headed to the doctor's tomorrow afternoon. For those of you who have not been on my case, well, thanks! I've had a weird cough for the last 2 months and people have been getting insistent I go get checked out. It's minor, but annoying.

The next leg of my trip is scheduled to start 28 Oct when I head to Tokyo.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Creationist Cartoons!

Pretty good!

30 Rock

I bought Season 1 on DVD, you should too, it's hilarious!

Oh? Canada!

An idea has been rolling around in my head for a little while, dual citizenship with Canada.

Shorter lines at the international airport
Healthcare for life
A rich cultural heritage including one of the few bloodless revolutions in human history
Being a member of a respected member of the international community again
Legal pot
Avoid voting for either Hillary or Rudy
The French may no longer spit in my food (unless they think I am from Quebec)


I'll leave this to the readers. Vote in the comments.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


I got this today:
Kicking bungie to the curb just because all the senior management quits enmasse? That's cold, man.
Refering to this, appearently:

So heres my big secret. You should google Bungie + Microsoft + separation this week.You know that big ol BILLION dollar franchise Bungie has created for Microsoft, to show their appreciate Microsoft is letting Bungie leave. Of course Microsoft gets to keep all rights to the Halo franchise, but as today Bungie no longer part of Microsoft. Ask anyone who works there to search the global address book, they're no longer in there. Microsoft was supposed to release the press release today but if they wait till the 10/6 the impact wont effect the quarterly results. However today is the actual official date and the day the NDAs expire, however you still didn't hear this from me.""Apparently MS just wants Bungie to make Halo for the rest of their natural days, and Bungie doesn't like how MS is constantly trying to "handle" everything they do; the way they market their games, the way they interact with their fans (basically the fact that they do appreciate their fans), and how stingie they are with the profits (comparable to the rest of the industry). So as of today they are their own independent entity. They'll probably make Halo 4 for Microsoft, however hey are also free to create new intellectual properties for whatever system they want. (Even though they prefer the xbox platform)"

I have no idea if it's true, and thought it a mildly interesting rumor. I'm at a a large industry trade show in Boston (hooray!) this week, doing a fair bit of press around our new payments product and offically launching the Capital Markets strategy I've been slaving away on for the past 9 months. Up until now I;ve had a lot of good questions about High Performance Computing and some arcane questions about how to write (and run) parallel code in automated trade alogrithms for buy side firms. Out of the blue I got asked by a reporter (I think for her own curiousity since her publication has nothing to do with the gaming industry).

"Any comment on the Bungie spinout?"


I answered simply with, "you obviously know more than I do!"

AFAIK, it's just a rumor. There is no internal info to which I am privvy, but that's par for the course.

Details as events warrent.


Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Real Conversation with My Son

Geoff: "I'll know! I'll waterboard them!"
Me: "No! You cannot go on Kid Nation and waterboard children!"
Geoff: "Their parents signed a release!"
Geoff: "It'll work for sweeps week"

This isi one of many horrible conversations we have. In an unusal twist, I am the voice of reason.

Phoney Soldiers

Pretty much, this says it all.

Friday, September 28, 2007

More War!

I suggest reading Glenn Greenwald's column on the Kyl-Lieberman amendment. It's a bit strident, but given that the momentum is strong for creating a war with Iran, I don't think a little hyperole is much of a vice.

In an excellent comment, Thomas C elaborates on Jim Webb's warning about the danger of the Lieberman-Kyl Amendment. Specifically, contrast that Amendment's finding that "Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps" is a "foreign terrorist organization" with the declaration under the 2002 Iraq AUMF that "the President has authority under the Constitution to take action in order to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States," and one could make a strong case that the Senate has just agreed that President Bush has inherent authority -- i.e., authority under the Constitution -- to attack Iran, given that its military unit is a "foreign terrorist organization."

To those handful of folks who came back to me and said I was right about the problems in Iraq, I say this: we will look back wistfully at the sunny summer days when our biggest problem was a needless war with Iraq, if we bomb Iran.