Thursday, June 29, 2006

I love summer time



Oh yes I do.

Jumping the Gun?

These guys may be jumping the gun a little.

Centauri Dreams » Blog Archive » On Foundation-Building and Starflight
Welcome to the birth of a new foundation. Using the dream of reaching other worlds as a long-range goal and a catalyst for near-term progress, the Tau Zero Foundation supports incremental advancements in science, technology, and education.
On the other hand if you aim high and have lofty ambitions . . .
Presently however, some of the world’s most reputable thinkers deem practical interstellar flight to be impossible, and they might very well be right. Conceding defeat, however, does not inspire progress. Even if the ultimate challenges are impossible, there is value in the attempt. Aiming for impossible goals forces thinking beyond mere extrapolation of existing achievements. It presents a provocative challenge to spur discoveries that others aren’t even looking for. It provides a different perspective from which to ponder the lingering mysteries of science. It gives an inspirational theme around which to educate the public about the opportunities and methods of reasoned discovery. And culturally, it helps remind us that we share a common humanity, temporarily stranded together on our one small planet Earth, to encourage us to behave more responsibly. Finally, given the indefinitely long time scales of interstellar flight, it gives us a role model for breaking away from the trappings of instant gratification.

Good point. Sticking to the mundane of the here-and-now only ensures more of the same.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Andy Rooney wanted to put on a show. Me, I put on a contest.

From the Liftport Blog

LiftPort Staff Blog » Blog Archive » Complete that sentence contest
Alert Reader Colin noted that ‘Liftport: Opening Space to Everyone‘ contains a major booboo on the back cover

Got my copy today, but the back cover ends with… “After reading this book, you will understand both why we want to build a space elevator as well”…. and then a void of space (actual image of space in the background)… as well as what?

Good question. Clearly there is a big chunk of text missing. Complete the sentence below! Let your imagination run berserk.

After reading this book, you will understand both why we want to build a space elevator as well ______________________.

Y'all should mosey over thered and participate.

The rich, the poor and the growing gap between them

Interesting and informative - no surprise from 'The Economist' - article about the income gap in America.

Cute Couple

The Stranger | Seattle | Slog: The Stranger's Blog | Limbaugh Chloe? W...T... F!?!
According to Atrios Blogspot, rumors are flying around D.C. that conservative radio host (and Viagra popper) Rush Limbaugh is dating actress Mary-Lynn Rajskub— better known as the acerbic Chloe from the hit show 24! AND ONE OF MY FAVE TV CHARACTERS IN THE WORLD.

.rushmarylynn.jpg

Eww! Eww! EWWW! GET YOUR HANDS OFF HER YOU FUCKING FAT TUB OF LARD!
To lift a quote from someone - who exactly I forget - on Arthur MIller and Marilyn Monroe's marriage: "We know what she sees in him .. what does he see in her?"

Is it too late to remind W.M. Steven Humphrey that Ms. Rajskub is an actress and not a person named 'Chloe' and the odds are good she doesn't arrange her love life to suit him? Thought so.

Kicking Ass, Taking Names

Leaving geo-political considerations aside, if I knew my country and it's army would do this if I were kidnapped
Tanks and infantry, backed by assault helicopters and artillery, set up an observation post at a disused airport outside the southern town of Rafah . . . Israeli aircraft struck at three bridges . . . A helicopter attack on Gaza's only power plant sent flames shooting into the sky and cut off electricity to much of the coastal territory, where 1.4 million Palestinians live.
in other words if I knew that my comrades would just roll over a notional border and start kicking ass because a junior NCO was being held hostage, well just think what a morale boost that would be.

Dandelion

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Lap Dances Are Not Expensible

Rember This?
Sales Guy: "You want answers?"

Finance Guy: "I think we are entitled to them!"

Sales Guy: "You want answers?!"

Finance Guy: "I want the truth!"

Sales Guy: "You can't handle the truth!!!"
Now, courtesy of Chris and Kim Pappas, enjoy it in video form (WMV format).

Minor quibble? Marines aren't awarded the CIB. The ribbons are hung funny, and the marksmanship badges are crooked and in the wrong order. Kim was decent enough to explain;
My husband Chris used to be an army officer, before joining sales some years later. I guess that's part of where is voice projection came from.

Didn't mean to send to you. But hope you enjoyed. I have to agree with your wife. You pay a little too much attention to detail. I get the same with plane movies and anything to do with helicopters (husband used to fly them in army). As much as you feel your wife might enjoy the lesson about rank, etc, etc. We really just switch off or just nod our heads to indulge you... :-)
Being in the Army and an aviator - I suppose that accounts for some of it. As for the rest - how can a man hold his tongue when things are just ... wrong? And yes, I know my wife is nodding her head until I get the hint and STFU.

Working for a corporation means . . .

workingforacorporation87.jpg

Monday, June 26, 2006

Of the Which There Won't Be More

Fred on his Grandpa.
He wasn’t at all what would today be called a liberal. He had none of the amor propre, too much respect for scholarship, and believed in personal integrity. Worse, he read Latin. He just had a sense of what was right and what wasn’t.
The column is sub-titled 'Of the Which There Won't Be More'. One suspect he's talking about his Grandpa and Lancaster Brown.

Compassion

Yow. The compassionate left.
Let me introduce myself. I am Amanda Doss, web designer by profession. I have created websites for many different businesses and people. I have created websites for child care centers, autobody shops, Catholic churches, Methodist churches, screen-printing businesses, and more. I have also created websites for both Democrats and Republicans.

At the bottom of each the websites I design, I put copyright information as well as designer information, including my email address for professional responses. From the websites that I created for Democrats, I have NEVER received a negative, hateful, or inappropriate email from their Republican opponents.

However, shortly after I purchased the domain name MurthaLied.com, my personal information (including where I live, my picture, my client list, and my email address) was posted on several "Liberal" blogs. Keep in mind, this information was posted BEFORE I had even created a website for MurthaLied.com.

I would like to share some of hateful and even threatening emails I have recently received due to these blogs, before this website was even created. Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, please feel free to email these "sweethearts" and let them know how proud of them you are for the way they represent the Democratic party.

Please note: the information below is very graphic in nature. Please do not continue reading if you are not over the age of 18, or if you will be offended by graphic language.

Via.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Inspiration

Ryan Harne wrote this essay for scholarship funds at Virginia Tech.

RyanHarne.com » Blog Archive » they hush it up but they know it
Sure, computers have revolutionized everything from economics to the environment, but that is often viewed as removed and sterile. An Eiffel Tower, a Great Wall, even a moon landing is tangible, to some extent, but the triumph of computers is hard to grasp or conceptualize. People have gradually become disillusioned with engineering, giving up their associations of brilliance and ingenuity for a new type of engineering labeled as an exercise for nerds. The American pastime of radically forging ahead in new fields is getting an unceremonious curtain call.

Much of the current public attention is drawn towards passive entertainment, keeping active thrills for occasional vacationing experiences, and interpreting ambition as a defect in the human ego. Universities have begun to suffer from this cynical approach within science and engineering programs as a dwindling number of students apply for those degrees. Even though there are many national or multi-national projects in play for great, technological leaps forward, the publicity for such ventures is minimal and the public-at-large is simply not concerned. Efforts like the One Laptop Per Child, the Space Elevator, and the Ansari X-Prize (now Lunar Lander Challenge) get negligible notice in the public eye; but these are the inspiring aspirations of our time! Virginia Tech is now involved in some fantastic programs for furthering human knowledge and technology (System X, numerous Fralin Biotech and Transportation Institute projects, and near-endless others) but prospective students, and even some current students, are oblivious to the front lines of VT’s research. For excitement to be gathered and a troupe of goal-oriented students to be rallied, there is a dire need for lasting academic motivation to be fostered.
The sentiment of the essay is one that most of us might agree on. We stand on the shoulders of giants with the expectation that we'll forge new links in the chain of knowledge (to mix a metaphor). What happens to us as a society if we just stagnate?

Pray we'll never find out.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Mirror of their fears

Open the Future: Stephen Hawking, Global Warming, and Moving Out
Last week, at a talk in Hong Kong, Stephen Hawking made what struck me at the time as being such a reasonable and obvious observation that I didn't think it needed commentary:
''It is important for the human race to spread out into space for the survival of the species,'' Hawking said. ''Life on Earth is at the ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as sudden global warming, nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus or other dangers we have not yet thought of.''

To my surprise, Hawking's comments have been taken by otherwise intelligent peple to mean that Hawking believes that the Earth is, or should be, "disposable," and that moving into space would be a way to escape global warming rather than mitigate or reverse it.

Hawking's comments weren't calling on us to abandon efforts to keep the Earth healthy, or to plan to abandon the Earth, period. They were a reminder that sometimes maintenance fails, and that if human civilization is worth keeping around, we need to think big.


I too have a hard time seeing how a desire to move out and settle places other-than-Earth imply a desire to trash the place. Some people will look at any issue and see only a mirror of their own fears.

Peak Oil by C. Featherstone

Intereting article about the oil economy.

Peak Oil? by Charles H. Featherstone
There's a lot I don't know. I'm not a petroleum economist, or engineer, and I've never worked in the industry proper. Most of what I've learned I picked up from sources and other reporters during several years of covering markets and working with people who do. I suspect there are some things I have gotten wrong – or, more likely, not gotten quite right – and I stand ready to be corrected.

I have, however, learned a lot, enough, maybe, to be amazed that it all works as well as it does.

You got that right

Tony Pierce has it right
ah, the internet, the most powerful tool in the world that moonlights as the fanciest way for strangers to tell each other they suck.

Friday, June 23, 2006

I'll give it a '10' Dick, for attitude

"Won't Get Fooled Again"
Songwriter Pete Townshend seemed to be genuinely disaffected not only from the older generation but from his own as well. While most people of the younger generation vowed never to trust anyone over thirty, Townshend made it his business to not trust anyone who was under thirty either. The band's appearance at Woodstock only exacerbated Townshend's hostility toward hippie politics when he forcibly removed a ranting Abbie Hoffman from the stage so his own band could begin their set. Some were offended by his inability to lay back and accept the hippie agenda at face value, but time may have proven Townshend to be the wiser. Once the smokescreen of rhetoric and posturing dissipated, the politics of youth were revealed to be as one-dimensional and muddled as the values they were rallying against.

Sure, it's subjective but music by 'The Who' seems to wear better than stuff their peers were doing 'back when'. I can appreciate 'Yellow Submarine' but gads it sounds dated. 'Substitute', written the same year, is still listenable.

Again, all subjective.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Remember H. Beam Piper, Bart? He's back ... in Gutenberg form

VDARE.com: Blog Articles » North American Anthem
Fans of classic science fiction will be interested to know that many of the works of H. Beam Piper are now available online for free at Project Gutenberg.
Rockin'.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Rough Poetry

I'm not sure about 'cruel'. I'd term it rough.

archenemy blog » Blog Archive » Cruel poetry
From Episode 26: “I Am Not the Fine Man You Take Me For” :
Dan: If we know Hearst is coming, Boss, why the fuck don’t we strike first?

Al: From the moment we leave the forest, Dan, it’s all a giving up and adjusting.

Dan: Across the thoroughfare to slit that cocksucker’s throat.

Al: We forego the rock for the dagger, learn distraction’s use and deceptions before the dagger is employed—spirits, women, games of chance.

Dan: I’m older, and I’m much less friendly to fuckin’ change.

Al: Change ain’t lookin’ for friends. Change calls the tune we dance to.
There is a fair bit of wisdom in the words the writer put in Al's mouth.

Remote Desktop Connection Tip

A handty tip for Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) Client for Mac;

You can connect directly to the desktop of a server (as opposed to simply opening a session in terminal services, the default) by holding the 'splat' key and clicking 'Connect'.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Who - Baba O'Riley

Aidan wandered by while I was blogging this.

Aidan gestured at Pete Townshend: He's cool.

Yes he is. But how thrilling that a youth of twelve can recognize it.

He also, correctly, noted that some styles age badly. Specifically he said of mid-70s Roger Daltry "He looks like he's trying to be a girl"



Zing.

Monday, June 19, 2006

If you're trying to tell me my relationship with the Church is complicated, I already knew that.

Haven't been to Mass for quite some time, for very complicated and, to you I'm sure, boring reasons. So leave that for now. Yes, saying 'Mass' marks me as a High Church Episcopal, I know. But I still care what happens to the folks back home (so to speak). Will the Episcopal church schism over the gay and woman thing? Peter Boyer doesn't think so.

The New Yorker: Online Only: Content
The Anglican and Episcopalian way has always been to form a committee and kick the problem down the road. They think that it will work itself out in the fogs of further study. That may happen with this.

By this summer, one of two things is going to happen: the Episcopal Church in America may stay on its course and continue to endorse the consecration of gay people—three of their seven candidates for bishop of the Diocese of California are openly gay. If that is put before the national convention of the Episcopal Church this summer and it confirms a gay bishop, the worldwide Church will divide. There will be schism. Or, what may happen—and what I think will probably happen—is that the Episcopalians will decide to push this down the road.

Which sounds like the church I grew up in, allrighty.

Via the Plastic.com replacement - Trees and Things.

Lesbians and Wicca



From Omissco's blog. Via Busblog.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

"How to Make War" - Tanks

"How to Make War" - Tanks

The inside of a tank is not a safe place. The turret slews around, the main gun recoils and 50-plus-pound shells are tossed about. Fractures, lacerations and amputations regularly occur among careless, fatigued or untrained crewmen. The turret generally has two or three men in it. The gunner sits in a small seat next to the main gun with his face pressed to a range finder that displays data on the gun's bearing and the range of the viewed objects. Connected to the range finder is a computer that adjusts the aim of the gun and tells the gunner when he can fire. The quality of these systems varies, as does the skill of the operators. Skillful gunners operating quality equipment can obtain first-round hits more than 90 percent of the time. On the other extreme you get less than 10 percent first-round hits. Assisting the gunner is a human or mechanical loader. If the human loader is most liable to injury, the mechanical loader is more likely to fail under stress....The third man in the turret is the vehicle commander. His seat is just below the turret hatch. Usually the commander stands up with his head and chest out the hatch. This provides better visibility....If the commander is wounded, which frequently happens, everyone gets upset until the wounded man quiets down or the corpse is allowed to fall to the floor of the tank or is thrown overboard. At that point the gunner takes command of the tank from the gunner's seat. The result is a tank crew that can see much less because the gunner cannot work the cannon with his head outside the turret....

The only crew member not in the turret is the driver. Squeezed into the front part of the tank, the driver sees out through a few slits. At best, he can open a small hatch and stick his head out....It's no wonder that tanks in combat appear to move blindly. Most of the time, they are doing just that.


- From "How to Make War' by James Dunnigan


Not that the infantry had it any better, it's just as bad in different ways. But the above is a one of the reasons that I'm glad I chose the MOS I did.

Taking a metaphor in a literal manner

I'm reading this dissertion (PDF) by one Ryan Jeffrey McMillen and the following lept off the page and grabbed me by the eyeballs
The last two chapters in this section examine O'Neill's colonies by looking at them as inverted or hollow earths - mini-planets turned away from the frightening reality of a vast and ancient cosmos.
Which reminds me of complaints that rockets are a phallic symbol, and the rejoinder that they are only because a vagina-shaped rocket is not aerodynamic. Perhaps an O'Neill habitat willl be turned inward because a rotating habitat with people, water and shrubs on the outside doesn't work so good.

Folgers - Happy Mornings

Cookie

Q: Cian, what is your favorite kind of cookie?
A: All of them.

Greed is good - redux

Greed is good. But there are other kinds of greed than monetary.

OpinionJournal - Featured Article
After we've retired back to the living room for coffee, Mr. Buckmaster allows that the world is perhaps not quite that simple. When asked whether there's a Craigslist model that other companies could emulate, the unflappable Mr. Buckmaster, his eyes once more fixed firmly on the horizon out the window, waxes lyrical for a moment: "It's unrealistic to say, but--imagine our entire U.S. workforce deployed in units of 20. Each unit of 20 is running a business that tens of millions of people are getting enormous amounts of value out of each month. What kind of world would that be?"

Before I have time to object, Mr. Buckmaster comes back to our world. "Now, there's something wrong in the reasoning there," he admits. "You can't run a steel company in the same way that you run an Internet company"--more points for understatement. "But still, it's a nice kind of fantasy that there are more and more businesses where huge amounts of value can flow to the user for free. I like the idea, just as an end-user, of there being as many businesses like that as possible." As an end-user, I suppose I do, too. But there are no free lunches, even if Craigslist--and the meal Mr. Buckmaster and Ms. Best provided for me--sometimes seem to come close.
Yes, a pleasant fantasy and there are no free lunches. But do imagine a business where the prime motivator is not profit but simply .. doing good work?

Friday, June 16, 2006

OPSEC

Transterrestrial Musings - Has Al Qaeda In Iraq Been Destroyed?
Strategy Page says maybe:
The death of al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi was not as important as the capture of his address book and other planning documents in the wake of the June 7th bombing. U.S. troops are trained to quickly search for names and addresses when they stage a raid, pass that data on to a special intelligence cell, which then quickly sorts out which of the addresses should be raided immediately, before the enemy there can be warned that their identity has been compromised.
Dear al Qaeda,

Have you people ever heard of OPSEC? Not writing things down in plain text? Code books? Encryption? A cell system?

Gee-zus McFuck. It's not like I want you guys to keep murdering people and behead your fellow travellers but c'mon. You're embarrasing yourselves.

Firefox

When the system you're testing has this in the cheat sheet
* Fire it up and login as "xxx" with password "xxx".
* MSIE, well the system is far too cool for that one (but who cares as long as it's an internal system). Use Firefox.
It just makes my day.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Blogcritics Book Review by Darnell Clayton

Cool.

Blogcritics.org: Book Review: Liftport: Opening Space To Everyone
Reading this book will open up one's mind towards another possible way of entering space. Not since the days of landing on the moon has another science fiction idea become so close to becoming a scientific fact. Humanity can afford to continue to use rockets to launch people towards the stars. But LiftPort asks, "why send people into space this way if a cheaper method could be conceived?"

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

For Pasty

Nine years in, and it still feels like this.

Weegee - 'Couple in Voodoo Trance'

Mocking Cults

We should, yes, respect people's beliefs and not make fun of them (Hi Tiffany!). However that can be taken too far - if you demand that we not mock some of the goofier aspects of Catholicism (or rather the perceptions by outsiders of Catholicism) then we can't mock people who really deserve it.
Roecker quickly recognized the couple as actor Bodhi Elfman and his wife, 'Dharma and Greg' star Jenna Elfman. Mr. Elfman's ire was apparently drawn by Roecker's self-made t-shirt, which had a picture of Tom Cruise on the front under the caption "Scientology is Gay!" and a 'Stayin'-Alive'-era John Travolta on the back with the words "Very Gay!" For the record, both Cruise and Travolta have said repeatedly they are not gay.

Roecker and his controversial t-shirt
LIke, well, Bohdhi and Jenna Elfman. The truly weird bit?
Roecker says Jenna repeatedly said "What crimes have you committed?" and began screaming at Roecker, "Have you raped a baby?" as motorists on Los Feliz Boulevard drove by in snarled traffic.
No, wait, not that .. this.
Roecker also says that the Elfmans had a young, twenty-something male companion with them whom they continually instructed to move away and cover his ears whenever references to Xenu were made.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

We must go - Hawking said so

Amazing how the obvious beomces news when smart, famous guys say it.
"It is important for the human race to spread out into space for the survival of the species," Hawking said. "Life on Earth is at the ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as sudden global warming, nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus or other dangers we have not yet thought of."

I like the way William put it.
Why the fuck is it news when someone famous says something sane? We live in a fucked up world.
Maybe.  When your nurse looks like this, the world is not, perhaps, in such a sorry state.


Stardance

The Stardance Project
Although over 99% of the universe is a zero-gravity environment, our species seems to have a neurotic dependence on the surface of large planets. We're stuck in the mud. A dance to free our bodies from the pull of gravity, to celebrate life off the planets, may free us to accept and appreciate the unearthly beauty, meditative stillness, and physical comfort that can be found in space.

The Stardance film proposes that there is more to space travel than orbital mechanics, payloads and turbopumps. There is also zero-gravity art. It can be a powerful key to spiritual transcendence, and the kind of accelerated human evolution Spider and I have talked about at length in our novels.

It all sounds vaugely hippy-dippy - but heck it's Spider and Jeanne Robinsion so of course it does.

There is - there will be - room in a mature space-faring culture for engineering guys and artsy folks. Best of luck to the Stardance Project.

Forbidden

Gallows humour is the best.
Wrote the Newhouse column – a letter from Zarkawi’s replacement. (“Making a whistling sound with a descending pitch in my presence was funny the first time. We all had a good laugh. It is hereby forbidden.”)
Too bad we're the ones making the funny. I'm sure the guys must get together and have a quiet yuk or two. But does it leak over into their media? Nope. Damned humorless zealots.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Attitude

Attitude matters.

"RULES? IN A KNIFE FIGHT?": Redrafting the Rules of Engagement in the First Terrorist War @ AMERICAN DIGEST
As the events of the last week concerning one Zarquawi illustrate quite succinctly, Americans have the groove in rock, in roll and in the modern battle space. Indeed, at bottom, it could well be said that "They hate us because we have the groove."

At the same time, we need to acknowledge and celebrate the grand contradiction of the American character. This is that, as individuals we are a kind, generous, and always well-meaning, if not perfect, people. But piss us off as a group severely enough and we will reduce your cities to even smaller chunks of rubble than they are naturally.

I have said this before, I think. Iraq is not a war I would have chosen but we're there and our options are defeat or victory. Defeat is sub-optimal for a number of reasons. We have the choice, then, of winning.

Which we can do. At this point in time there isn't an insurgency or army in the world that can stand against the United States. What happens in Iraq, the Middle East, will happen because we choose it to be so.

Considering the American contradiction that Vanderleun writes of, this can be a scary thing.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Jan Vermeer - Soldier and a Laughing Girl



Soldier and a Laughing Girl
c. 1658

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex

Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex
He's faster than a speeding bullet. He's more powerful than a locomotive. He's able to leap tall buildings at a single bound. Why can't he get a girl?

Lobbing Information Over The Wall

So you want to correspond with a fellow like Newt Gingrich. Or George Gilder. Maybe Ted Nugent. Add George Soros to the mix while we're at it. Why? Because - say - you read an interview with them, or read one of their books. You see where they've got something a little wrong. You have .. The Answer. Or at least an answer.

No one, ever, has The Answer.

Correspond might be a little strong. You want to lob some information their way. Correspondance - in the sense of ongoing two-way communication - is optional. In the case of Mr. Nugent it might be unsettling. But it does no good to lob the information the old fashioned way - it's a waste of effort it you can't reach your target. I can't fire for effect because the target is obscured. And I can't get a forward observer into the area.

Those guys are ensconced behind a web of intermediaries. With good reason - they're famous. Every nut, loose cannon and irregular cog would be pestering them night and day if they had a public email address.

However these same guys, while being protected from the nuts, loose cannons and etc, are also being protected from information they really might need to see.

So what do you do? In my case I threw up a post on a mildly interesting website. If you've gotten this far, thank you. Maybe the target will be ego-surfing. Possibly he has a crew of people to do just that. Perhaps his best buddy will see this and become curious. You never know.

ihavesomethingtosay.jpg


Well, no. I'm under no illusions as to how important I am, except to my wife and children. But Hugh does seem to nail that well, doesn't he?

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Swedish Models

The Swedish Models
Things in Sweden are not as good as the advocates would like to believe. Long the paragon of social democracy, the Swedish model is rotting from within. Ironically, the unique social and economic foundation that first allowed Sweden to construct its political edifice--and which makes it such a difficult model for other countries to emulate--has been critically weakened by the system it helped create. Far from a being a solution for the new sick men of Europe, Sweden must face serious and fundamental challenges at the heart of its social model.

How bad can it be?
If Sweden were a state in the United States, it would now be the fifth poorest.
One suspects Gustavus Adolphus would not be pleased.

BYTE

The content on BYTE is open without subscription. A move years too late to save the magazine but welcome.

Speciest

Inside Higher Ed :: Bipartisan Backing for Science
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) did not propose an amendment, but wanted further discussion and perhaps a report on a particular aspect of future supercomputing research. Sherman said that, based on the opinions of experts, there is reason to believe that in about 25 years a supercomputer will be built that “exceeds human intelligence.” Sherman said he hopes that some of the future researchers that the bills would cultivate will be steered toward the potentially emerging field of making sure that the super-intelligent computers “avoid self-awareness … and ambition,” he said.
Representative Brad Sherman - speciest. Simply because a sentient being is made of silicon and wire and not sinew and carbon does not give us reason to deny them basic civil rights. Or indeed to thrwart their birth.

I, for one, welcome our potential AI overlords . . .

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Possibly in bad taste

Yet so perfect. Dave is right - best Zarqawi post today.

Al-Zarqawi Had A Bad Day
6/8/2006 - As most of your heard this morning terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had a rude awakening courtesy of the United States Military. Somewhere right now Abu is asking "I thought you said 70 FEMALE virgins! This was totally not worth it."
No no, the joke is lame. Click through for the video. The video and the post title - perfect.

Evolutionary Theories

 Evolutionary Theories - lighthearted titles, serious arguments. All quick, worthwhile reads. Via TJIC

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

One Good Thing

You'll kick yourself if you don't read this.

One Good Thing
By now Alex’s arms and legs were shaking like Jell-O. He looked like one of those overly-caffeinated, bug eyed, hairless purse dogs, trembling and shaking with nerves and fatigue. His right arm reached out, floundering around for purchase somewhere. His cheek was flat against the wall of grey. He gripped a blue handhold, then lifted his right leg and pulled himself up. He made it. He gave a brief, triumphant glance to Steve and smartly rapped the bell to make it ring. It didn’t ring.

“Oh no,” said Steve, “that bell’s got to ring. He won’t think he’s won if he can’t get that bell to ring.”
There is a world of wisdom about the human condition in that post.

Toaster

Horvath is an interesting guy.

Not Quite a Reputable Journal of Opinion: The Cell Processor
In a conversation with a non-technical MSFT person on why this is Bad News for Microsoft.
Mark: "It's like this, Microsoft makes ovens. Ovens are general purpose heating units used for a wide variety of tasks and you dont really know in advance what you're going to ask the oven to do day-to-day. You could heat water, you could broil a roast, you could bake cookies, you could melt pennies on the burners when your Mom isn't home, just about anything."
Dennis: "Okay. Wait... you did what with pennies..."
Mark:"But, you don't make toast with your oven. You could, but you dont"
Dennis: "No, of course not"
Mark:"But you could!"
Dennis: "Yes, but..."
Mark"But you us a toaster!"
Dennis:"Of course"
Mark: "A toaster is a specific purpose machine for making toast and toast-related products. You can't make roasts or cookies or melt anything larger than birthday candles in them."
Dennis, "Why would you put birthday candles in a toaster?"
Mark:"It was an experiement. Thats not important right now.

Can Do

Quoting the entire post below so the text in bold makes sense.

I do not think it is likely that we'll hand the job off to the Navy or the Air Force. I do think the Navy has the history and the background to make a good go of it.

But. How many millions of people are veterns who embody the can-do spirit and live the Seabee motto: "Can do." Most of us, I think. Does this carry over into the work we do for corporate America? I know it does.


Current Chaos Manor mail
Subject: D Day thoughts

Indeed it is well to remember a few things about what these United States Of America accomplished on June 6, 1944:

On D-Day, the Allies landed around 156,000 troops in Normandy. The American forces landed numbered 73,000. Ninety-five per cent of these American soldiers just 912 days earlier, on December 7, 1941, had been civilians with no military training, experience or even any great desire to be soldiers.

11,590 aircraft were available to support the landings. On D-Day, Allied aircraft flew 14,674 sorties. All of these aircraft had been built in less than three years. Ninety per cent of their pilots had never flown IN an airplane, much less piloted one, before December of 1941. Ninety-five per cent of the mechanics and other ground support personnel who maintained their engines and other systems had never set foot on an airfield, much less worked on an aircraft, prior to December of 1941.

Operation Neptune, the naval support operation for the Overlord landings, involved huge naval forces, including 6939 vessels: 1213 naval combat ships, 4126 landing ships and landing craft, 736 ancillary craft and 864 merchant vessels. Some 195,700 personnel were assigned to Operation Neptune: 52,889 US, 112,824 British, and 4988 from other Allied countries. A third of the ships were from the navy of these United States of America. 80% of those ships had been built since December, 1941. Ninety percent of the seamen and eighty per cent of the officers manning those vessels of war had never crewed more than a rowboat prior to December, 1941. A third of them had never seen the ocean before December 7, 1941.

A pipeline was laid under the ocean to carry fuel and lubricants to the allied forces. Two pre-fabricated harbors had been designed, built and towed through one of the most treacherous bodies of water in the world and installed on the Channel coast of France while under enemy fire.

All of this, and more, done in 912 days. All of it done without electronic computers. All of it done without fax machines, without cell phones, without voice mail, all of it done with manual typewriters and mechanical calculators and reams of paper and legions of men and women filing and stamping and checking and rechecking and working as if their lives depended on it. As if!

And today, with all our wealth and technology, our "leadership" tells us we cannot control our own borders, we cannot find Americans willing, at any price, to hew wood, draw water and break stone, that tell us daily that we cannot build a nation fit for heroes and the children of heroes without foreign labor to bake our daily bread.

The American military, despised in the 1920s and 1930s, under funded, officered by men who often came from the despised rural regions of the country. rose to the task and, for better or worse, did the job they were asked to do. Then they laid down their weapons, dismantled their armies and fleets, and returned to their plows, by and large.

When the leader of this great effort in due time rose to the chief magistracy of these united States, his final speech to the nation he had served so honorably was not a summation of military horns and laurels, all his to rest on, and more. No, he used that auspicious moment to warn his nation of the danger of the military if allowed too great an influence in society.

And today again the United States military is often mocked, easily despised, and all too often given tasks as "impossible' D Day in 1944. And it still accomplishes them.

You want industrialization of space? A moon colony? An outpost on Mars? Give the job to the military. While you whine about the militarization of space, they will quickly and efficiently accomplish it, and then hand the keys to your new world to you. And then return to their barracks.

We do not deserve them. We never have. But they are the best we have.

Petronius The Arbiter Of Taste

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Crowd

The Crowd by Richard Seaman



27,000 people dropped what they were doing to watch a space ship break out of the atmosphere for a brief moment in time.

Were you one of them?

What are you doing now?

Sellout

When you think that George Lucas kick-started the movie tie-in and merchandising thing in 1977 the following from a review of THX-1138 seems ironic.

Slice of Scifi - Science Fiction TV Movie News, Interviews more » William Shatner Reviews - THX1138
The overall mood is one of bottled-up rage. While the script’s critique of consumerist culture is heavy-handed, to say the least (“Buy more. Buy, and be happy”),


From critic to sellout, in only a decade. Not that there is anything wrong with making a pile of money from your creation of course.

Bleh

Note to self: Don't read Tom's blog during lunch.

Book Review

I blogged at Liftport and possibly went a bit over the top.

LiftPort Staff Blog
The really truly interesting thing is that I myself know of around 30 people who expressed interest in reviewing the book via the online PDF or paper copy. Have we seen any of those? Nope.

So - you slackers. Read the damn book and tell us why we suck. Or praise us. Nitpick, heck anything would be welcome at this point.

If you are plowing through, well that’s okay. Obviously it’s not a paying gig, we’d just like to know that we’re still in your hearts and minds. I know DK is busier than a one-armed paper-hanger and Gerrold only said he’d think about a review and if we’ve been waiting for the last 10 years for the next Chtorr book we might be waiting until 2050 for a review from that quarter ….

Gad. Busting on David Gerrold for being tardy to publish the last Chtorr book is like potting fish in a barrel. And unfair, in the cold light of day. He's a busy guy, with a lot of irons in the fire.

Still, I want to know how it turns out.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Faith and Reason

Tiffany quotes Pope John Paul II encyclical letter, Faith and Reason
Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves (cf. Ex 33:18; Ps 27:8-9; 63:2-3; Jn 14:8; 1 Jn 3:2).
And concludes
Regardless of one's religious origin, living is about living well. Living well means utilizing the gifts of universal conscience and righteousness for a greater purpose.
Amen, Tiffany.

Obvious

HP is cutting back on telecommuting for it's IT people. Bringing them together in the office. No doubt words were tossed around in the conference rooms about synergy so on.

MercuryNews.com | 06/03/2006 | HP cuts back on telecommuting
``It's usually cheaper to have people operating in their own space than in your own. There's obviously something not going right or not to their liking for them to want to regroup or to change,'' said Manny Avramidis, senior vice president for global human resources for the American Management Association.
Well gee, what could going on at HP to cause problems in the workforce? Things are all hunky dorey there, nu? Oh wait ..
The architect of the HP division's change, Randy Mott, is regarded by Wall Street as a mastermind of operational efficiency based on his days as chief information officer at Wal-Mart Stores and Dell.
"Mastermind of operational efficiency" is usually a great thing in the boardroom, less than great in the cube farms. />
Mott said by bringing IT employees together to work as teams in offices, the less-experienced employees who aren't performing well -- which there are ``a lot of'' -- can learn how to work more effectively.

In an office, ``you're able to put teams together that can learn very aggressively and rapidly from each other,'' he said.
So there ARE problems with retention in IT there. No surprise.

Big Love

Best Comment Ever Award (Guy's On The Couch Catagory) on HBO's Big Love

Runner Up
it is a dark and creepy show. my girlfriend chloe sivengy is so unlikeable its bizarre. hopefully we will see her express a few nice sides. but i doubt it. i dont know why im rooting for this dude, hes so bland and undeserving of his two decent wives.
The Winner
harry dean stanton steals every scene. the show should be about him. hes got the band the girls and the money. hes got a wife whos younger than any of bill paxtons wives. and he rides around in a hummer.

Wisdom

Current Chaos Manor mail
Wisdom from Australia:
Subject: Illegal Aliens?

Illegal aliens? Shit! I didn't even know we'd made contact with another planet, let alone know that the USA had made these visits from another planet illegal.

You Yanks never cease to amaze me! You don't know your left wing from your right wing - hence really ignorant statements like "Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide." The stunning levels of stupidity contained in that phrase will keep the rest of the world rolling about in a strange mix of laughter and despair for months. Thanks for all the laughs. As long as Americans keep saying things like that we'll all know that you're incapable of running the world - and just as well.

~Dave

By the way, they're illegal immigrants, not aliens... unless of course you just want to vilify them, put them down, shit on them and are doing the good old Nazi right wing trick of dehumanising them so that you can kill them without conscience...

Thank you for sharing that with us. I understand you are too busy to explain your wisdom. I suppose we will have to endure our ignorance.
Define: alien
(snip)
In law, an alien is a person who is not a citizen of the land where he or she is found. If an alien resides in the country, as opposed to being just a visitor, he or she may be called a "resident alien". The term illegal alien describes foreign nationals who have entered the country illegally.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alien_(law)

Define: immigrant
(snip)
a person who leaves one country to settle permanently in another
collections.ic.gc.ca/peh/teachers/Glossary.html
And still more from Dave in a followup
http://www.tcsdaily.com/Article.aspx?id=050506I on why socialism is not dead."

Well, I read it, and all I can say is that Lee Harris - like so many Yanks - doesn't know the difference between socialism and communism, and doesn't understand the English language - another Yank failing.
Pot, meet Kettle.  Dr. Pournelle is too nice a guy to publish Dave's email address, which is a shame. Some people deserve to be mocked.

Che: No sense of humor

The things I never knew ..

Allen Ginsberg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In 1965 Ginsberg was deported from Cuba for publicly protesting against Cuba's anti-marijuana stance and its penchant for throwing homosexuals in jail, but also for an alleged remark referring to revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara as "cute."
Che: Revolutionary with no sense of humor. And possibly a latent homesexual.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Little bit of BLAM!

Huge impact crater discovered in Antarctica. 300 miles wide.
And the gravity measurements that reveal its existence suggest that it could date back about 250 million years -- the time of the Permian-Triassic extinction, when almost all animal life on Earth died out.

Well dang - that's pretty bad. But wait - it's worse. The impact broke up the Gondwana supercontinent, setting in motion geologic events that are still playing out today. Think bell, think rung by the hammer of God. This also paved the way for the dinsosaurs to become the dominant life-form on the planet.

Of course the dinosaurs in turn were done in by their own hammer of God 65 million years ago. What comes around goes around.

Friday, June 02, 2006

My del.icio.us RSS feed

Hey look! I'm one of the cool kids - this is my del.icio.us tag's RSS feed.

Okay, I'm years late to the del.icio.us party but .. what? del.icio.us isn't cutting edge? Dang, late to the party, again.

Eew

A taboo exists for darn good reasons. Violate them only at peril. Such as pedophilia.

Dutch pedophiles to launch political party | Reuters.com
Dutch pedophiles are launching a political party to push for a cut in the legal age for sexual relations to 12 from 16 and the legalization of child pornography and sex with animals.

The party said it wanted to cut the legal age for sexual relations to 12 and eventually scrap the limit altogether.

The party said private possession of child pornography should be allowed although it favors banning the trade of such materials. The broadcast of pornography should be allowed on daytime television, with only violent pornography limited to the late evening, according to the party.

Toddlers should be given sex education and youths aged 16 and up should be allowed to appear in pornographic films and prostitute themselves. Sex with animals should be allowed although abuse of animals should remain illegal, the NVD said.

The party also said everybody should be allowed to go naked in public.

The party's program also includes ideas for other areas of public policy including legalizing all soft and hard drugs and free train travel for all.

Words fail me. If this doesn't make your skin crawl then stay far, far away from me.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

FILL IN ALARMIST AND ARMAGEDDONIST FACTOID HERE

Philadelphia Inquirer | 05/29/2006 | Greenpeace's fill-in-the-blank public relations meltdown
Before President Bush touched down in Pennsylvania Wednesday to promote his nuclear energy policy, the environmental group Greenpeace was mobilizing.

"This volatile and dangerous source of energy" is no answer to the country's energy needs, shouted a Greenpeace fact sheet decrying the "threat" posed by the Limerick reactors Bush visited.

But a factoid or two later, the Greenpeace authors were stumped while searching for the ideal menacing metaphor.

We present it here exactly as it was written, capital letters and all: "In the twenty years since the Chernobyl tragedy, the world's worst nuclear accident, there have been nearly [FILL IN ALARMIST AND ARMAGEDDONIST FACTOID HERE]."
No, that's not the best part.
The aghast Greenpeace spokesman who issued the memo, Steve Smith, said a colleague was making a joke by inserting the language in a draft that was then mistakenly released.

"Given the seriousness of the issue at hand, I don't even think it's funny," Smith said.
The best part is (at least as quoted) the Greenpeace spokesman not seeing the humour in the situation.

Our ancestors - idiots

I'm watching this show on Discovery: The Rise of Man
The Rise of Man From Homo Erectus, the first species to demonstrate signs of humanization, to Homo Sapien, follow the path of our direct ancestors as they migrate across the planet. Through socialization and technological advances, the Homo Sapien thrives.
It's an okay show. I'm sure they're grossly simplyfying for idiots like me. Then I see a sequence that offends me.

A small plucky band of Sapiens wanders into Europe. Discovers .. ice - a whole field of it. Then they find out it's cold and it burns their bare tootsies. Much capering about and gibbering. One older fellow plops down and cuts up a fur and binds it around his feet. One dude hops to and fro stabbing with his spear, at the ground. Much excitment and yelping.

Twenty feet from the edge of the ice. No doubt these fellows went on to settle Ireland.

But no, I kid. These guys were no different than you or I - why go to such pains to show us 'what happened' and then blow it all by having the actors demonstrate that 'primitive' equals 'acts like they've got half a brain between them'.

Unless, you know, the producers have a thing againtst the Irish.