Saturday, March 31, 2007

Curses! I Didn't Count on Them Having a Teleporter!

Tetsubo takes Marvel's Civil War art and re-writes the dialog. It's pretty funny!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Opposite Day

In early 2001, at the start of the Bush Administration, there was a policy in place to distinguish itself from teh Clinton Administration, "Whatever they did, do the opposite". I'm being more than comic here, it really was phrased that way by Bush himself (as reported by Colin Powell). The problem with it was, of course, not *everything* Clinton did was wrong and there are not always 2 polar choices.

I didn't realize until today though that this policy actually had a name: The Costanza Doctrine.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Liftport Newsletter

Interesting(as always) news from the folks trying to build the first skyhook.

Support the Troops!

Fighting in an unpopular war, in a coalition lead by a country without a clear strategy, a soldier is captured and an Armchair General who has never seen the business end of an enemy rifle or served a single active duty hour, offers aid and comfort:…
I think the Iranians gravely miscalculated by making that female British soldier appear on TV dressed in a Shiite black headscarf and white robe to deliver an apology that was obviously dictated and almost certainly coerced. The British are going to go ballistic over this.

I’m not saying that I could never be coerced into denouncing the US on a foreign state’s TV broadcast (I’m absolutely sure that there are levels of torture that would make it happen), but I sure as hell would be pretty bruised and bloodied before I turned traitor.
Do the British not have a Creed of the Fighting Man, like we do?

I am, frankly, nauseated by this sentiment.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The 11 Least Interesting Words in the English Language

Let me tell you about the dream I had last night…

Unless you’re House MD..

Results of a Typical Phone Conversation Between my Son and I

From today's call, a letter to the programming deparment of the SciFi channel:

Dear Scifi:
I have a suggestion for a possible spinoff of both Stargate SG-1 or Atlantis, and Battlestar: Galactica. Once Season 4 ends, many have speculated that the series will as well. My suggestion takes the setting of the Battlestar armada at Earth and merges it with the universe of Stargate. The series could be tentatively called BattleStargate and be set in either the Atlantis Pegasus galaxy or the Milky Way galaxy of SG-1. The SG teams could be merged with the Viper pilots with Lee and that guy from Farscape both heading a SG team. A third spinoff is possible with President Rosalyn running for President of the United States (with some help from SG-1). That spinoff could be called A Caprican in the White House. Starring Karl Rove as Giaus Baltar...

What think?


Why peanut butter is the atheists nightmare!

Wow. Let's just say the authors don't have a really strong grasp of how big and old the universe appears to be. Most of the other errors come out from there.

To it's credit, it's short, punchy and memorable in a way that cosmology almost never is.

Thanks Brian!

Hexagonal Structure on Saturn

Saturn's north pole is sporting a strange hexagonal structure.

I've never seen anything quite like it. I could imagine (and this would be going out on a limb) that there are six deep convection structures surrounding it, producing a stable area at the pole, but that would be a wild-assed guess.

Pretty cool though!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

2nd Amendment

So my son Geoff often criticizes me for defending the Bill of Rights "except for the second amendment". You know, the one about keeping the King of England out of your face. I freely admit my support for it hasn't been as strong as for the First, but having read the Federalist 8, I believe I have a better feeling for the whole purpose and structure of it than I think most folks do.

That said, like nuclear power, I learned to support it when I took away the irrational emotion and looked at it logically. I disagree with TJIC's extreme "Might makes Right" position, but I do believe that people can responsibly use guns in society. I also believe people should be free not to use them and that both sets should enjoy the same freedom from fear and crime provided by concentrating the source of sanctioned violence with the police. The police force also can and should be a source of good in society.

Why the preamble? Because I was surprised (and more than a little disappointed) at the Republican reaction to Jim Webb's aid carrying a gun. Far more so than the democrats, the GOP has supported people's right to carry a gun, so I was shocked at their eagerness to jump on this guy simply because he's a democrat with a gun. I know I shouldn't have been, there is seemingly no principle at all underlying the modern republicans except the quest for power, but this was one of the few things I thought they had right.

Monday, March 26, 2007

A Group of Rational Decision Makers

From this:

Our ability to duck that which is not yet coming is one of the brain's most stunning innovations, and we wouldn't have dental floss or 401(k) plans without it. But this innovation is in the early stages of development. The application that allows us to respond to visible baseballs is ancient and reliable, but the add-on utility that allows us to respond to threats that loom in an unseen future is still in beta testing. [8]

A lot of what I write in the following sections are examples of these newer parts of the brain getting things wrong.

And it's not just risks. People are not computers. We don't evaluate security trade-offs mathematically, by examining the relative probabilities of different events. Instead, we have shortcuts, rules of thumb, stereotypes, and biases -- generally known as "heuristics." These heuristics affect how we think about risks, how we evaluate the probability of future events, how we consider costs, and how we make trade-offs. We have ways of generating close-to-optimal answers quickly with limited cognitive capabilities. Don Norman's wonderful essay, "Being Analog," provides a great background for all this.[9]

This is a pretty good analysis of the neuropsychology that goes into making security (and to a greater degree economic) decisions. Worth a read.

I'm blogging a lot today for some reason. I must be a little bored.
And I haven't even gotten to the analysis of the polyamoury problems in tjicistan!

Bomb or Not a Bomb?

This is pretty good! Not sure how I'd have classified the One Ring, or a bowl of Chili...

Also, from Cryptogram this month:
Is everything a bomb these days? In New Mexico, a bomb squad blew up two CD players, duct-taped to the bottoms of church pews, that played pornographic messages during Mass. This is a pretty funny high school prank and I hope the kids that did it get suitably punished. But they're not terrorists. And I have a hard time believing that the police actually thought CD players were bombs. Meanwhile, the British Police Force blew up a tape dispenser left outside a police station in Northern Ireland.
And not to be outdone, the Dutch police mistook one of their own transmitters for a bomb. At least they didn't blow anything up. Okay, everyone. We need some ideas, here. If we're going to think everything weird is a bomb, then the false alarms are going to kill any hope of security.
If you're having trouble identifying bombs, this quiz should help. And here's a relevant cartoon.
The Boston police blew up a traffic counter. I'm beginning to think that something is seriously wrong with the police chain of command in Boston. Boston PD: Putting the "error" in "terror."

A Map of Science


Big map here

The Pattern

It usually goes:
Clinton did it
Silence/Change the Subject
Talk the White House Story of the Day

The Cunning Realist tells us where we stand today.
I can't help but notice the silence from the people who, 10 years ago, seemed to think that Lying to Congress was an offense and required loads of special prosecutors.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

I, Roomba

I bought a Roomba yesterday. It seems to work pretty well and actually seems to make a big difference in the overall about of cat hair and cat sand on the carpets. Very clever little robot.

Dr. Nick works at iRobot, although he's in their weapons division, not in housekeeping.