Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Keep out of reach of children, and adults

I am not one for sugary sweet drinks, especially not those of the alcoholic sort (more of a Scotch whisky type, really). For those of you of different tastes, consider this rainbow-colored hootch made by mixing vodka with Skittles. I doubt that the two days of steeping added much to the color depth, so perhaps one could accelerate the process and mix up a batch in an afternoon, I don't know. Make sure you're not too close to a flame, by the way.

Probably one could achieve similar results substituting Jolly Rancher hard candy. I think it might eliminate the need for filtration, perhaps. Until I did a search, I had not appreciated the fact that this would not make it the first Jolly Rancher alcoholic drink concoction, nor even the second.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Monday, December 29, 2008

Notes for a State of the Union Address

This little piece seems as if it would work pretty well next month.

We had a bad banking situation. Some of our bankers had shown themselves either incompetent or dishonest in their handling of the people's funds. They had used the money entrusted to them in speculations and unwise loans. This was of course not true in the vast majority of our banks but it was true in enough of them to shock the people for a time into a sense of insecurity and to put them into a frame of mind where they did not differentiate, but seemed to assume that the acts of a comparative few had tainted them all. It was the Government's job to straighten out this situation and do it as quickly as possible—and the job is being performed.

Delivered by the President of the United States, March 12, 1933.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Selling what's rational

I had this chat with my friend "D" a few weeks back. (The carets represent exponentiation, naturally.)
(9:33:21 AM) Me: Hi. Did you know that 10^9999 is one tremilliatrecendotrigintillion?
(9:35:17 AM) D: So who made up these names? It's not as if they came up in calculations frequently enough to need a name for them.
(9:35:38 AM) D: Avagadro's number is the biggest number that deserves a name.
(9:35:56 AM) Me: Well I've heard of the first few entries in the table.
(9:36:38 AM) Me: It's a cgi program, so it's all generated by algorithm. Look at 10^100
(9:38:16 AM) D: What does the column "prefix cardinal" mean?
(9:38:38 AM) Me: "determines letters before the illion" - hmm
(9:39:09 AM) D: Before the illion is a nice phrase.
(9:39:25 AM) Me: I guess when there's a 3, the name has tre or tri before the illion
(9:39:28 AM) D: Like Before the War, Before the Flood, Before the Fall.
(9:40:12 AM) Me: But 10^183 doesn't even have an illion, it ends in illiard
(9:40:30 AM) D: But 10^36 has 1 and 10 as the prefix cardinals. What does that mean?
(9:40:40 AM) Me: Oh, I'm looking at the European (or Eurpoean) system
(9:41:50 AM) Me: 1 => un, 10 => dec, thus undecillion
(9:42:43 AM) Me: I would have thought that 1 undecillion was smaller than one hundred decillion, but there you go.
The conversation then went on to other, unrelated topics, as is usually the case for us. But it set me to thinking: if they can have a star registry where you are invited to pay for a name for a star which nobody in the professional stargazing communities (whether astronomical or astrological) is ever going to use, why not have a number registry where you get to name your own positive integer with a name no mathematician would ever use. What a great idea, right?

Too late, someone already did it.

For example, imagine watching your favorite science fiction television show and hearing the starship's chief engineer shout, "Captain -- the heat from the supernova is too much for the shields! Twelve thousand degrees! Thirteen thousand! If it reaches Martin Allan Smythe, Jr. degrees, we’ll be destroyed!"
I had in mind a financial channel instead ("Unemployment is up last month to Carrie-Sue Delmonico, an increase of 14%"), but clearly my half-backed notion is far too close to this going concern and would have no chance against their first mover advantage.

But! Rational numbers (fractions, basically) are denumerable too, so one could with only a little extra effort come up with a registry for each of these as well, and they would have the advantage of having to do with something that virtually nobody understands anyway, even abroad. Exotic! And once you get past the so-called vulgar fractions ¼, ½, ¾ and a few of their relatives, you don't often encounter these in trade or commerce much any more, ever since the stock market went to decimals years ago, so some of the rules and restrictions that apply to the number registry would really not be missed. The lucky person forking over their cash for their own rational number would receive a booklet written by a professional mathematician, a wallet card, and a certificate suitable for framing.

I looked and did not see anyone else having come up with this scam concept and brought it to market. But my fallback position should such a case come to light would be to take advantage of the denumerability of algebraic numbers, so as to entice people to immortalize their loved ones forever by rechristening quantities like -3+3√43 and so forth.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Because America is so good at pimping her heritage

NASA is talking about taking bids for retired Space Shuttles once the program is over.

Beware: NASA estimates it will cost about $42 million to get each shuttle ready and get it where it needs to go, and the final tab could end up much more.

The estimate includes $6 million to ferry the spaceship atop a modified jumbo jet to the closest major airport. But the price could skyrocket depending on how far the display site is from the airport. Only indoor, climate-controlled displays will be considered.

"Indoor, climate-controlled displays" to me says "shopping malls," assuming that once we are over the current bad patch of financial woe there will still be any retail left in the developed world. I think a Planet Hollywood inside an old Shuttle might do nicely, with crème brulées served on the famous insulating tiles. The craft is already set up with restroom facilities, after all, though an investor would probably have to set up their own wine cellar onboard.

I would hope that the Shuttles remain on US soil, however, rather than ending up in Dubai or Shanghai or something like that. No matter how friendly a country is to ours right now, a thing as big as this might well be set up for the long haul, and we do not need the sight of an angry foreign mob taking out their frustrations on yet another national symbol any time. No, if there is any desecration of American space history to be done, let it be done by Americans themselves, I say.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Unreal pennyloafer edition

Attention Flash game developers: Please create a first person hurler game in which one's goal is to toss footwear at various major world leaders, earning points if you score a solid hit. In easy mode, you just throw and try to hit stationary heads of state, in medium they will dodge and try to take cover behind furniture, and in hard there should be aides and allies attempting to shield their commanders.

As you go up in level, maybe you might progress from sandals to sneakers to espadrilles to pumps to stilettos. Not sure where steel-toed boots would fit into the sequence, but I would guess that clogs would require some sort of cheat code.

I am sure someone who's written these kinds of things in the past could hack something out in an afternoon's worth of work.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Just slightly more wasteful than a Hummer

Please can we get over our international malaise and concern over the composition of the atmosphere so everyone can fly to work in one of these? The parking lots at the 7-11 will have to be modified to accommodate the airfoils as people stop by to grab a cup of coffee, of course.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What did not happen over the last 36 hours

When I came home from work on Monday, hoping to have some supper before we went to church, it was not to a scene of happiness.
The acrid chemical smell in the air led us to suspect a fire in the microwave oven, so my wife had called the Fire Department, who told us we should not stay inside. It was cold and my wife went into our neighbor's place across the street, while I did not.
Besides the four or five fire trucks there was a freelance photographer there and eventually a person from the gas company, who I did not speak to at first.

Once they took a look around, they opened the windows and doors, then brought in large industrial fans on extremely long extension cords to take away most of the fumes, while we waited, wondering what was happening. Eventually one of them told us that the gas furnace had overheated and had to be turned off and sprayed down with water to cool things off, and that it was not any problem with the microwave at all. I went in to look at the old furnace, which did not seem to be in very good shape after all this.
We ended up not making it to church that night. Also, we did not have much heat in the house except for a couple of small space heaters we set up.
The next morning, I stayed home to make some phone calls, hoping to find out whether our homeowner's insurance would provide any payout (it would not). A gas company representative came by and quickly determined that the boiler was shot and could not be repaired. We measured the size of the rooms and he based on a few other quantities, he determined that the old 200000 BTU input boiler was too large for the residence. Their quote on a new, smaller, modern gas boiler was not something I wanted to accept immediately though. I called other heating contractors in the area and the first couple could not set up appointments with me right away. One of them did come to visit, discuss what they could do, and agreed to set us up with a newer, even better, system, though not appreciably lower in price than the first quote. Since they could start right away, however, and in consultation with my wife, I agreed, drawing down heavily on a line of credit I had wanted to spare. The heating company spent the following ten hours pulling out the old unit and putting in the new 150000 BTU unit, finishing just shortly before midnight, a couple hours later than expected.

The brand-new boiler does not take up as much room in the basement as the old one. Even the heating guy admitted it is not the kind of big purchase you would care to show off to people, all that much. On the other hand, it should not attempt to run while dry the way the old one apparently did.
All this for a price which, had I paid them solely in dollar bills equal weight to this twelve-pack of soda, I would not have reached. I wrote two unpleasant checks, since I did not even have such a heavy stack of cash on hand. Were it not for the pictures they still need to take for the local permit application, I would be at work this morning.
Still, we witnessed no explosions and no fires raging out of control, nor freezing pipes and no one crushed by hundreds of pounds of cast iron.
Clarification: Everything did in fact happen, that's not what the title's referring to. I have simply cast all the facts as negative statements, in the spirit of Raymond Queneau's book Exercises in Style (the chapter called "Negativities"), perhaps in order to be contrary, perhaps not.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

But then again

This is a depiction of Judas betraying Jesus. That's a bad thing, right?

It's a sixteenth century masterpiece by the Italian painter Caravaggio. So that's good, then?

It was stolen from the Ukranian Museum of Western and Eastern Art in Odessa last summer. A very bad thing, no doubt.

But then the authorities recovered it. Great!

Some experts, however, believe it might simply be a reproduction wrongly attributed to the master. So what should one think?

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Because the oldtork didn't work that well

More spelling gone badly: I noticed this on which has been bought out by a pay-per-post site. Notice anything odd about it? They have it up on the blog for blogmad, so they cannot be very uncomfortable with it.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

I'd make a bid and call it Team Holstein

From Reuters today:

I assume that Formula One is fortified whole, not 2%.

Friday, November 21, 2008

What you should be listening to

Disk series #5
Disk series #5 by SpencerB on Zooomr
Generate a random imaginary playlist, using four dice! (Or one die four times.) Simply roll up the song title, the artist, the release, and the record label and impress your friends with your cutting-edge taste in what's new and fresh that they haven't even heard about yet.

1Chine bone shuffle
2Let's leave a Bush legacy
3Hit the throttle, Simon
4Wax tadpole moan
5Opa Sri Ivan
6Scandale aux têtes de l'herbe

1Legs and Lots of Them
2Forbidden Souk
3DJ Shar-Pei
4Baath Bungalow Borracho
5Vandals Trocadero in Ecstasy
6The Mule, the Miser, and the Serum
off of their new release

1Ordo LXIX
2By the door you came in by, naturally
3Songs for a molten glacier afternoon
4Let's play guard and prisoner
5Bitter small-town Amerika
6Orbs of glowing cottage cheese

1Cranky White Man Records
2Leatherfist Records
3Self-released Records
4Abstract Semigroup Records
5Drop of Sweat Records
6Tantra Creek Records

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

You learn something every day from the Web

Wikipedia tells me that this non-whale downtime page is depicting the larva of a Geometer moth. Perhaps, based on its companion who is speaking, it is a Dwarf Cream Wave, which sounds delicious?

Incidentally, with regard to the caption of this picture on that first Wikipedia page, I feel obliged to point out that Caterpillar Locomotion would be an excellent band name.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Purely descriptive

I was chatting with my buddy Daryl today and this concept for a T-shirt came up.

It is suitable for nursing mothers and for the strictly childfree alike. If it's been done before, I have been unable to find a citation to the concept.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Life is better when you are four

There was a Halloween parade inside our building last Friday.
Image Hosted by
By milkfish

Friday, October 31, 2008

I wasn't scared until he went back up my walk

News reports abound that former Chicago Bears great and current coach of the San Francisco 49ers Mike Singletary made a point to his team using his prat. In those two cities, I think it would make a decent Halloween costume to pair a football jersey with an amazing rubber simulation of the famous athlete's middle lineback side. Maybe in Minneapolis too.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Extremely loud and incredibly deep

originally uploaded by Andrew Lilley.
With the global economic crisis, we must use all our ingenuity to encourage the flow of cash. Thus it makes sense to consider those areas we here in the US are good at (amusement park rides) instead of those we are no longer so good at (building cars people want).

The world's tallest rollercoaster is here in New Jersey. This is a kind of record that isn't terribly hard to imagine being broken, as it just requires a designer willing to build a structure more than 46 storeys in the air and the financial backing to construct it. But has anyone considered going in the other direction and building the world's deepest rollercoaster? There are so many abandoned mine shafts around the country that there must be one which can be rehabilitated and adapted for the purpose. Could one go fifty meters down, a hundred, a few kilometers deep? Also, to most people, even the rational ones, mineshafts are inherently creepy, especially for the significant number of people with claustrophobia. I am confident that engineers could address the issues of tainted air, of rescue shafts, of inundation, and of evil cave trolls so that such a structure could take over the title of MOST DANGEROUS ROLLERCOASTER IN THE WORLD which would be certain to pack them in.

Of course when one considers technical difficulties, it is well to remember that one is comparing things to the difficulty of building a structure 150 meters up, which is no picnic either. At least you wouldn't have to worry about wind load, rain and snow.

I propose that we turn the problem over to the experts: high-school students.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Let's help you get one of these babies

I found a YouTube item on an advanced artificial heart. Do you notice anything unusual about the ad next to it?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Urgence de feu

I was thinking for hipsters in French-speaking Switzerland and in the Haut-Savoy region of France, one could adapt this T-shirt design

to one that takes advantage of the local fire-roasted culinary specialty, raclette

To wit: "break the glass to get a wedge of cheese and some potatoes."

Even though people usually use a machine nowadays to make their artery-clogging treat, rather than open flame, I think the gag would likely get across anyhow.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Night and day

I think the idea of a surveillance camera powered by the sun is not a bad one, but I would like to see the cell connected to a deep cycle battery so that after the sun goes down it could still function. Say if one had one posted at the foot of the driveway leading up to your illicit late night Old Maid/cricket fighting gamepit. Maybe an infrared spotlight too off of the same power source, for illumination, and a camouflage blind over the whole thing too.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

All round-eye look same

Have you yourself been worried of giving offense because you, a white person, have difficulty remembering or distinguishing the characteristic facial features of those of Asian descent? Well you can relax now, as we find out that everybody is that way.

They’re Caucasians and they look alike. It’s not easy to distinguish them.

The person speaking is a government official of the Philippines referring to a meeting which may or may not have been held with representatives of the International Monetary Fund in Washington DC. Or perhaps it was the World Bank. Or some white guys with a bunch of money from somewhere apparently.

I blame faulty ethnology, and maybe a lack of name tags.

Note on the title of the post: I have only heard the imagined slur in jest. Also, I have no plans to register that domain, which does seem to be available.

Image generated at the Ultimate Flash Face site

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

While we're speaking of Italian, I have a question about Gli Bronchi

Denver Broncos logo, lit (2001)
Denver Broncos logo, lit (2001),
originally uploaded by oddharmonic.
When the New England Patriots apply a drubbing to the Denver team, is that an outbreak of bronchitis? Or would it be the other way around, since -itis implies an inflammation?

I pose this question coming off of a week-plus long bout of bronchitis. The most valuable players on my team were Levofloxacin and Promethazine.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I hate earworms

Maybe this is a couple of months late, or maybe a bit early, but I've been troubled by this every time they play the theme to that movie for years now. Either my Google-fu is weak or I'm the only one who hears it though.
Link (MIDI file)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Rendezvous with mouth

personal by Jonathan Ward on ZooomrEssential tremor is a condition that can affect the ability to use one's hands in a steady fashion and often causes the person who has it to have problems feeding themselves, drinking, or grooming. Medical researchers are working on treatments involving neural stimulation as well as pharmaceuticals, but there are also technologically assisted methods of helping sufferers deal with the unwanted motion.

A device which fits on the person's body to attenuate the motion caused by essential tremor has been the subject of a Mechanical Engineering thesis. I was thinking, though, of a way to compensate for the tremors by using special utensils which were instrumented to correct for the shake much the same way that high-end digital cameras compensate for shaking, or perhaps like the automatic docking system used on the ESA's unmanned transports to ISS. I imagine a fork, knife, or spoon with 3-axis acceleratometers inside the handle, along with a miniature video camera pointing at the destination (the mouth), with an articulated drive holding the working end of the utensil steady despite hand tremor. Now that they have tiny motors built into mascara applicators, it cannot be too difficult to put one into a piece of flatware.

I can foresee one issue with the invention, however: would it be dishwasher-safe? Perhaps if the water-sensitive part were detachable from the spoon/knife/fork part in a way similar to the interchangeable heads on an electric toothbrush, one could get around this too.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Would that it were so

I was frightfully disappointed to discover that the Victorian Internet Exchange is not in fact a time-travel facilitated means of commerce between the present time and that of 150 years ago which we could use to bring wealth from their time into ours. It would have made some things so very simple.

1891 image from Project Gutenberg

Thursday, October 09, 2008

A modest economic proposal

Administration officials, Wall Street executives, media pundits, average people in the street, and everyone else is complaining about the unavailability of business credit these days what with the shocking, shocking revelations of people playing fast and loose with other peoples' money. I ask, why not monetize scrip that everyone probably already has, in the form of board game money?

For instance, Milton Bradley's Game of Life has always had an extensive collection of scrip, including stock certificates and promissory notes. The 1960's era set had $100000 bills bearing the face of trusted television personality Art Linkletter. The Treasury could simply declare some or all of these bits of paper to be backed up by the full faith and credit of the United States Government, and there would be an immediate infusion of cash as people would unearth their bounty hidden in their attics and basements and start using them as instruments of monetary exchange.

The Promissory Notes are interesting as they are essentially debt obligations made between the player and whoever was playing the banker (in my case, this would often be my cousin Estelle). Perhaps we should reserve these for small businesses to replace the lost short-term credit opportunities that are besetting them now, in the expectation that once the system has been re-primed, they will be able to make good on the note plus interest when it matures, same as if they had obtained funds in the commercial paper market.

Some might complain that the allocation of this windfall would be unfair, purely at the whim of whether a person had packrat tendencies or not. My reply is that it is certainly less unfair than the TARP program, which gives money to the some of the very people who made the crisis as bad as it is, and just about nothing to the average citizen boardgame-playing or not.

If the amount of stimulus is too little, the Treasury Secretary could go on to phase two of the program, which would monetize Monopoly cash and perhaps also the little metal tokens they used to package in the box. One hopes that the government would not have to resort to a third round involving Scrabble tiles and the like.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Nursery rhyme

Winkin', Blinkin', and Nod, one night sailed off in a wooden shoe;
Sailed off on a river of crystal light into a sea of dew.
"Where are you going and what do you wish?" the old moon asked the three.
"We've come to fish for the herring fish that live in this beautiful sea.
Nets of silver and gold have we," said
and Nod.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Total Metabolic Information

TMI Cooling Towers
TMI Cooling Towers,
originally uploaded by scenesandcinema.
Some might be of the opinion that this product goes too far (careful if you are at work), but it might just be that it doesn't go too far enough. How about an upgrade where your internal body temperature is put up to Twitter so all your contacts know exactly how you're doing minute to minute? It's just a matter of integrating a cellphone application keying off of the Bluetooth connection, child's play really.

A no-brainer.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

I was thinking

Yes, challah is taken...
Yes, challah is taken...,
originally uploaded by MarisaElana.
If rednecks ran a matzo bakery, would the labels say Challah done been took?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Abstract Expressionist tattoos

Get Inked
Get Inked by joeschmoe96 on Zooomr
I am disappointed not to be able to find examples of body art in homage to the giants of Abstract Expressionism. Neither color fields (Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman etc.), nor gestural tats (Jackson Pollock of course, or Willem de Kooning) turn up in my searches. I would think that California hard-edge monochromes (Ad Reinhardt and others) would be nearly ideal for the medium, say a bold patch of solid black across the chest, or maybe a subtle work where the recipient has been tattooed in the exact same color as their natural skin tone. Such a thing would be a pointed commentary on the experience of pain in the service of pure art.

I see a great need.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Note to Becks

David Beckham launched his “Instinct” eau de cologne last year. Now about that branding, David   I have a few little comments I would like to pass on:

  • That name. Do not pick a fragrance name which ends in the syllable “stinct.” Note that this also would rule out “Extinct” and an Apple-sponsored line of cologne called the “iStinct.”
  • The sports angle. Your strength is among football (soccer) fans so why not remind them of that? Try calling it “David Beckham's Header” or “Banana kick” (it would help if it smelled like bananas in the latter case).
  • Scoring. Why not just name it “Goooooal?” Works for me. (See also this old post on my other blog.)
  • The problem of sweat. There is this unfortunate association, not unfounded, between physical exercise and sweat, which works against the marketing. Maybe you should meet this head-on (of course), and go with a name like “Super-anti-sweat.” Though that makes a better name for an anti-perspirant, really
  • Field fresh. Now to the smell of the stuff itself. Not so feeling enamored by this description:
    David Beckham Instinct is classified as an oriental, spicy fragrance and features top notes of orange, mandarin and italian bergamot; middle notes of cardamom, pimento and star anise and base notes of vetiver, white amber and patchouli.
    How about more fresh cut grass, pints of ale, and sunshine, and leave all that spice stuff for the missus?
  • Posh. Speaking of whom, you should trust her judgment, in that she is a woman, and your target market is more likely to be women buying scent for their men who won't buy it for themselves anyway. Unless she came up with that whole “Instinct” thing anyway, as seems likely, in which case you should discount her every word and go with your, uh, instinct.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

More action saints

aircraft-passenger-icon by /lekcyc lllumukcyc on Zooomr

The venerable Cracked magazine's website has a post up about six saints who had astounding physical prowess. This fits in nicely with my previous video game proposal, on which I have heard exactly zero reaction from the hierarchy. An opportunity is being missed, one which could feature St. Olaf swinging a great big two-handed broadsword in 3D, and it is a pity. As far as I know, the only video game saints one can play with today are the ones based in New Orleans.

Odd that there's no mention of St. George drilling a dragon. It's just that ugly "legend" label keeping that boy down.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

10 tips for those let go from finance

Close up shot of pen
Close up shot of pen,
originally uploaded by Jeff MacKinnon.
With the number of high finance executives being downsized from Shearson Loeb Rhodes Pierce Fenner and Smith Mae Mac and the like, it is time to think of ways in which the affected workers can make a positive step forward in their lives. Here's the list I came up with:
  1. If you were an experience in Structured Investment Vehicles, get yourself to Detroit and see whether they might be able to use you in a new line of concept cars of the same name.
  2. Employers are probably completely swamped with resumes from your colleagues right now, trying to figure out whether all the acronyms are real or made up. Hire yourself out as a resume reader to help filter the good ones from the bad.
  3. Contribute a foreword to a new published edition of Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.
  4. Take your skills offshore to bring the home of universal homeownership to the common Chinese citizen. Learn Mandarin first.
  5. Don't you know there's a crisis in the health care industry in this country?! Get a set of scrubs on, pull on some surgical gloves, and learn to do something useful, anything!
  6. If you are still occupying space in an office, open up an account at Etsy and sell the crafts you make from leftover office supplies.
  7. Form a monastic order with your coworkers, roam midtown Manhattan begging for alms and doing good works. Call yourselves the Mad Mendicants.
  8. Get yourself to the State of Alaska, where all citizens are granted an annual stipend from the state, making it the ideal socialist paradise. And IT folks: while you're up there in the frigid north, you could make a living running computer datacenters with natural rack cooling provided by the Arctic air, and piping the warm air to heat dwellings. Ample diesel supplies to power the backup generators are available as well.
  9. Entrepreneurship may be a good option. See the picture for one concept.
  10. Appear as a contestant on a new reality show for mortgage insurance specialists forced to live by their wits and set in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. One challenge could involve defrauding the local denizens of their swine and roots. Attire: formal business wear.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Zippers have all the fun

by Olivia Moore on Zooomr
On Boingboing, they are having a discussion about tritiated zipper pulls mostly concentrating on legal issues.

Maybe one could buy up a bunch of these (and rifle scopes, etc.), burn them up, and condense out the heavy heavy water?

Late to the party

Sonic Youth
Sonic Youth,
originally uploaded by Dunechaser.
I am unhappy that my band name Sonic Geezers has already been invented again and again.

Ditto with Old Farts on the Block. Which reduces one to consider constructs such as Middle-Aged-Person Rock, and that is just sad.

Friday, September 19, 2008

My evil side

demon by SUeTYAuLuN on Zooomr

I am doing my part to fill a great need for websites advising evil masterminds on how to be better villains by putting up my new website evilHow. It features a wiki, a blog, and user forums for anyone who wants to discuss such stimulating topics as How to destroy the planet. There are still a few kinks in the presentation, but still worth a look if I do say so myself.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Stay out

Stonehenge, UK
Stonehenge, UK by davidpclarke on Zooomr

Archaeologists reveal signs that the builders of Stonehenge fenced the common people out.

I am eager to find out exactly how this worked. To get in to see what was going on, could a person go to a 3000 BC ticket counter (bearing a kid goat, perhaps)? Or was there a stone-axe wielding bouncer at the main entrance with a list? If one of the masses caught a glimpse of the Megalithic structure, could he or she sell the story to the mass media in order to satisfy the popular curiosity? Or would that be suicidal?

In a more practical sense, it raises the question as to whether the ancient palisade structure ought to be recreated. It could be done privately, supported by advertising space, thus leaving the great stones untouched by commerce.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Regular expressions of marriage

originally uploaded by Rootytootoot.
Opponents of gay marriage favor the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, forming the basis of a traditional family. Using the language of regular expressions, we can formalize the allowed configurations of families under different assumptions.

Let us represent a family grouping by a character string including various numbers of children, men, and women in that order (alphabetical).

Extended monogamy

Traditional monogamy







Nuclear family

I wrote a little Ruby program to test a number of configurations against these regular expressions to give you an idea of what is allowed and what is not under those models.
Family groupingAllowed?
Anti-spinster (hetero, no single women, single fathers okay)
Childfree (extended monogamy without children)
Open family (any configuration allowed)
Nuclear family (hetero, no single parents)
Anti-bachelor (hetero, no single men, single mothers okay)
Polygyny (1 man + n women)
Traditional monogamy (1+1 of opposite sexes, single parents okay)
Polyandry (n men + 1 woman)
Extended monogamy (1+1 of either sex, single parents okay)
Polygamy (n men + n women)

A few minutes' inspection of the results reveals how the regular expression in this model encodes the assumptions as to who is allowed to mate and who is allowed to raise children in a powerful and concise manner. Specifically, each of the regexs is short enough to fit on the front of a T-shirt, with room to spare, so that no geekish onlooker would need to wonder what your family philosophy consisted of.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Top 20 names for a stoat

This post has been scientifically designed with an optimal title which will appeal to blog readers everywhere.
Hi :-) — Ferret · Frettchen
Hi :-) — Ferret · Frettchen by thorix on Zooomr

  1. Chrome Hrothgar
  2. BeeBeeBeeSharp
  3. Michael Phelps the Ferret
  4. Arwen Undersofa
  5. Overclockster
  6. Dawg
  7. Kilometry Cyrus
  8. Sssssss
  9. Unhandled Exception
  10. Mahdi Fruvous
  11. Antiquark Aggregate
  12. Kansas City, KS
  13. Madame Bovril
  14. Lowermost Saxony
  15. Finasteride
  16. #AA328C
  17. The Ruler of Sol 3
  18. Strawberry Finn
  19. Edward Teach
  20. Password:

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Keepin' it holy

I was looking through my logs today and saw that my post on holy drinking water and other products was linked to on the news page of the site itself (under Blogs). The company in question is Wayne Enterprises of San Joaquin county in California, which is not to be confused with this one or this one which are both notably drinking-water-free concerns.

St Christopher
St Christopher,
originally uploaded by Talleyrand.
This news arrives just as I was wondering why car companies don't marketed a model specifically toward Catholics concerned with freedom from peril on the road. The Cadillac St. Christopher I have in mind would have not only the usual dashboard figurine, but this hood ornament and a trunk medallion, just to be extra-sure. I am sure that the legal department would want to include a disclaimer about the presumed safety of driving your St. Christopher through raging streams. The owner would be advised to consult his or her local cleric to have the vehicle blessed according to a regular maintenance schedule — at least every July 25th.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

More crane fun

Crane by AJPS2 on Zooomr
Here is a list of some other things that a household bridge crane could bring within reach of the ordinary kook like me.

  • A visual artist could use it to paint canvases many meters across in the paint-drip style of Jackson Pollock, ones too wide to reach across normally without having to step onto them. You could either come up with some arrangement with paint pots and servo motors mounted on the hoist, or else a harness to lift the artist up to apply the paint by hand.
  • Along the same lines, the kids could put on a production of Peter Pan. Test those wires before flying too high, though.
  • It seems to that the main room cleaning chore remaining once you have a robotic vacuum cleaner is the need to shift the furniture both to spare the carpeting from getting those pits where the legs dig in and to give the robot a chance to hit those areas underneath. A judicious application of hoisting points on your sofa, coffee table, TV, etc., would allow you to whisk them away (perhaps just as the Roomba is heading in their direction) and to redo the room layout every single time a cleaning pass is done.
  • You could have one of the world's largest games of pick up sticks using a pile of aluminum trusses.
  • At the end of a dinner party, tie all the corners of the tablecloth to the hook and lift the mess out of the way in one dramatic gesture. Or if your gearing is up to it, tie only the corners at one end of the cloth and execute the classic tablecloth trick.

Really, it's surprising that more people aren't already clamoring for the personal bridge crane already.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Someone's ringing the bell

Heather Watkins
Heather Watkins by jeremy on Zooomr

Designer Li Jianye has designed a pair of doorbells for computer people (an Enter key) and for musical people (piano keys). I say, "why stop there?" How about a doorbell which sends you an SMS message when someone pushes it, so that if you are away from home, you would know about the event? It could have a little webcam to snap a picture of your visitor to send to you via MMS, and if you chose, there could be a little screen where you could message your visitor back.

I'm pretty sure that it could be implemented pretty easily with an Arduino Diecimila and a home computer.

Probably you would want an option to lock out the messaging functions if the doorbell gets pressed too often, to frustrate any annoying pranksters in your neighborhood.


Update: This was also posted on the Make: Blog. Also, I have an Arduino coming in the mail soon, so we'll see what doorbell-related tricks we might be able to have it do.