Wednesday, July 25, 2007

War and Chickenhawks

Glenn Greenwald unpacks the myths (and truths) in Dean Bartlett's 9/11 generation. Dean's particular line of reasoning I find unusually offensive. If I became a proponant of a war, I am 100% certain I would find a way to substantively support it financially, and physically. Dean's "logic" and, by proxy the logic of those who have been writing similar agitprop, is basically that of the younger, tag-along brother. It conflates just wars for a purpose with all wars, generalizes issues of freedom and liberty, and, to be honest, takes credit for other people's work. Both pieces are worth a read becuase Dean is so unabashedly dishonest in his arguement.

The question I still have after reading it though is this: who is he writing *for*? The President has a jaw-dropping 71% disapproval rating becuase the american public has finally given up listening to him. Even the right is beginning to suspect that, after 5 years, the plan may be a bit off track. Who is reading this stuff anyway?

Or is it just to annoy people like me, who went against this at the beginning? Is this just sand-in-the-eye stuff?

"The Only Newspaper Brave Enough To Tell The Truth" Closes it's Doors

One of my absolutely favorite newspaper, the Weekly World News, is closing it’s doors after almost 30 years. I loved this rag, simply because a) it was so silly and b) I knew one of the guys who wrote Ed Anger.

My all time favorite story was “Moon Is Giant Space Creature’s Skull”, but I can’t find an online reference to it.

My Technical Writing instructor at Penn State had a side job writing the Ed Anger column for awhile in the late 80’s, which was a lot of fun. Tom was actually one of the best teachers I ever had, giving us very clear directions on how to breakdown writing, data presentation and logic very clearly to get to the point, training I still use to this very day. We asked him once how he wrote the Ed Anger column,

“Well, first I start drinking… then I call a friend and start talking. We try to think of 3 unrelated things, then link them together. For example, the other night we came up with Arabs, the Olympics and transsexuals. We then link them together in headline form, hence: Cheating Towelheads Stole Our Gold Medals! The rest just writes itself…”

I, for one, will miss it..

Select articles from the WWN

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

An At Home Fusion Reactor

A 4" diameter stainless steel fusor with a 1" stainless steel spherical inner grid
0-30KV 15mA power supply (homemade, variable)
20 micron vacuum pump (modified for more convenient intake)

Hopefully, when the plasma is present the pressure will dip into the ~5 micron (or less) range so that I won't have to waste too much Deuterium.

When the fusor is done, it will be able to perform Deuterium + Deuterium fusion to create 3He + n (50% of the time) and Tritum (3H) + p (50% of the time). It is able to overcome the coloumb barrier with the very large electrostatic field that can be created (in excess of 30KeV) and therefore is explained by physics - this is NOT cold fusion! In fact, it isn't anything new; this system of fusion has been around since the 1960s when Philo Farnsworth, the inventor of electronic television, came up with the idea. It was later improved by Hirsch and Meeks.



I need to have a good long look at the physics behind this. It would be kind of cool to build one of these though.

UPDATE: Sweet Jesus! It's real!

On October 8, 1960, the Mark I produced a steady­state neutron count when deuterium was admitted into the device with very low power application. The central feature during these tests was not the neutron count itself. What was sought in these tests lay in the control of the reaction under increasing power application. Farnsworth established and charted increasing neutron counts with increasing application of electrostatic power. It is suggested that the reader obtain and study copies of the Fusor (patent 3,386,883).

Someone, I am Confident, We'll Eventually Hear About on the News...

and when it happens, you'll say, "Hey, that was that guy Mark blogged about..."

So Darren asks Joanne out. Joanne accepts. They eat at China Grill. (Nice restaurant. I've been there.) Darren pays, despite Joanne offering to split the check.

At some point after the meal, Darren gets the idea that Joanne didn't like him.Rather than just chalk it up to a bad date (hey, it happens, right?)



I paused and re-read that about 30 times, too. I couldn't be serious, could I? He actually didn't email that, did he? Oh, but he did:

Being a jerk-date


Monday, July 23, 2007

Second Life

While I've been recovering at home, I took up the recommendation of one of my colleagues and tried Second Life. It was an interesting experience, and answered a few questions I had always had.

Some observations:

1) It's not quite anarcho-capitalism. It's close though, at least in concept, to what the more utopian anarchocapitalists I know tell me the future could be like without government. There are no (or very, very few) sales regulations. If you can make it, you can sell it at whatever price you can get for it. The market is aggressive and active. For example, land there sells (with or without covenants) for between L$10-L$15/m^2 on average (L$ = Linden dollars, the in game currency). If, you offer land for sale less than that, it goes *immediately*, but if you go above that, it can sit for quite a while. I accidently sold a plot for L$6000 instead of the L$60,000 I meant to type and it sold in a pico-second. I was not happy, but the new owner was thrilled. Many of the benefits/responsibilities of anarchocapitalism are there, including going around armed (there is a good business in both arms sales and security systems to keep people off your property). You can manufacture anything you want to create, and sell unlimited quantities, except for land. You can buy and sell land, create or break land-use covenants and, in general, make a profit off anything you want.
Where it differs from AC is around how the few rules are enforced. Where AC would have no central government, SL has the operating system which, among other things, enforces property rights, i.e. you cannot take land by force. The system also eliminates things like roads, right of ways etc. because you can fly anywhere you want. The system can lock folks out of property (i.e. you can erect an impenetrable force field around your property). Most of the things you’d want a government for, are there as part of the OS. In my view, this is approximately the correct function of government. Oh, and there are taxes in the form of a monthly maintenance fee proportional to the maximum amount of land you owned that month. And, being no fools, you pay that fee in US$ not in L$.
2) Real Estate folks make all the money, but it’s a high volume, low margin business. When you add in the taxes for property ownership, you start to get some inflationary effects. I see how to make it work, but it’s a full-time job.
3) No one needs that many digital t-shirts
4) Absolutely no one needs that many furry foxtails.
5) It has many of the things I enjoyed about The Sims, in it. I can buy some property, construct a house, decorate and furnish it (which for some reason I love to do), and sell it at a modest profit in about a day. There is *LOTS* of interior design stuff there, and some very clever work going on. If I were a designer, that’s where I would go. If I were a teacher, that’s where I would send my students.
6) A lesson I learned: If you don’t have a security system installed, lesbians will come into your house while you are gone, fuck in your bed and, if you catch them at this, not understand why you are ordering them to get dressed and get out.
7) While there is some interesting geography there, much of it gets flattened for use. Almost no one allocates their space for a nature park.
8) Unrestrained capitalism looks pretty seedy for the most part.
9) Zoning regulations are your friends in the real world. I never appreciated that until now.
10) Most people are reasonable, but not terribly imaginative.
11) Virtual Reality, while advanced from the ‘80s, still has a long way to go. SL does not have the quality or character of any decent commercial MMORPG.
12) It is also not as addictive as a MMORPG.
13) While you can exchange US$ or L$ (and vice versa) the exchange rate is terrible and there are a LOT of fees. I don’t recommend doing this, but if you do, one massive transaction is better than many little ones.
14) People will form communities around anything. The Island of Scottish-only, diaper wearing adults taught me that much.
15) SL sims dance far better than the people behind them.
16) The Swedes have excellent taste in design.
17) If you ask a priest in game where he thinks the soul of a SL avatar goes when it dies, you’d better pack a lunch.
18) You can camp out in front of the Hare Krishna Church in SL and offer to give them flowers, but they generally wont take them.
19) “age play” is creepy and vaguely evil. It is also, seemingly very popular and makes me think humanity is not a great thing.
20) There are “fat avatars”, which people enjoy playing. Good for them I guess.
21) Land prices are fairly high, L$12,000 for 1024 m^2, but houses are really, really cheap, ~$250->$1500 (for a top of the line castle). This seems vaugely non-intuitive.
22) if you buy a big assed house boat and drop it in the water infront of your beach house, your neighbors will think you have a small dick.

I'll probably continue for a little while until I run out of money or get tired of designing things. I have a really good idea for a house I want to build, but that will invilve some time.