Wednesday, October 29

Holy sunspots!

Because of the fires in SoCal (which are tragic), the sun's huge spots could be seen with the naked eye today! Unbelievable! (via kottke)

Richard Feynman

I really enjoyed Richard Feynman and The Connection Machine by Danny Hillis (via kottke). They sure had a lot of smart people working there.

Following up of that article led me to Wikipedia. In fact, it led me to add to the entires for Feynman and Thinking Machines. Not sure that's a good trend, but we'll see.

How the Democrats could win

Here's my new 'eureka' idea about the race: the presidential candidate probably has to be seen as a little bit 'nonpolitical'. Governors fit this bill perfectly. Our last four presidents have come from outside of Washington (right? Bush the 1st?). If this is right and if the Dems want to field a viable candidate, they'll stay away from Leibermann, Kerry, and Gephardt, at least. I'm not sure that people really know Edwards, so he might be ok (they didn't know Clinton either, at first). Dean might work if he's not too radical (see below). This is not to say the primaries will come up with such a condidate, though they might.

My corollary is that you have to be a centrist, like Clinton. That's what we fly-over people are. I like Dean's boldness (though I disagree with some of his positions, of course), but i don't think he's electable.

Hmm. These two ideas together make Edwards look pretty strong.

Tuesday, October 21

Matthew Baldwin for Governor

It's clear to me that I've been away from defective yeti for too long. Matthew ran a minor Malfoy for Governor campaign.

Also, check out the Google for Governor tshirt. Not only is the tag line priceless, Matthew's got a nice sign-off as well.

Also, how deep into Marvel Comics can you go?

Hell Mouth

The Queen: While you're paying bills online, could you take care of this dentist bill too?

Me: Sure. [Takes bill] Wha-? Geoffrey Strange? Your dentist is "Dr. Strange"?

Q: Uh-huh.

Me: Who does he have as dental hygenists, the hoary hosts of Hoggoth?

Q: ...

Me: Uhh, never mind. That was kind of a nerd joke.

Q: I assumed.

Christopher Hitchens is a raving lunatic

The title of his latest (which I'm not linking) over on Slate:

Mommie Dearest: The pope beatifies Mother Teresa, a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud.

Clue phone: some people think differently from you.

Delicious: he misquoted Mother Theresa and it had to be corrected at the bottom.

Advice: don't read his crap.

Monday, October 20

Hey Jaq

Did you notice Tom Brady throw that game-winning pass yesterday? He must really be the real deal!


Sunday, October 19

Watching NO at Atl

There's a lot of offense here, and the game's a little bit interesting, because both of these teams suck so bad on defense. 21-14 with 5 minutes left in the 1st half. The fox guys say no one wants to play NO right now. Are you kidding me? The Falcons suck and they still have 14 on NO. Carolina blanked Atl. I'm not convinced NO is for real.

Chris Salt makes movies with Legos

The movie closes with a Bertrand Russell quote: "Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time."

Now that quote could become my mantra. It might apply to a fair amount of this weblog, aye?

The universe according to Sterling

Continuing in the vein of cosmology, Bruce Sterling, in the latest issue of Wired, talks about the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe.

Already, the probe's findings have provided a few salient new notions about the nature of cosmic reality. For starters, the universe is 13.7 billion years old. Unlike previous figures, this is not a rough estimate; the margin of error is about 1 percent. In addition, the universe is flat. Forget all that mind-boggling space-time-is-curved stuff. Euclid was right all along. And the space-time pancake will expand infinitely. There's no such thing as an end to this particular universe.

Now here's the really wacky part: Everything we're made of or can measure - from atoms to energy - is only 4 percent of the whole shebang. The rest is dark matter (about 23 percent) and, best of all, dark energy (73 percent).

By the way, that WMAP site has a pretty good looking primer on cosmology

Warren Sapp is a punk

I agree with every criticism in this article. That is all.

Thursday, October 16

The universe according to Steven Hawking, Brian Greene, et al.

I've been listening to 'Steven Hawking's Universe' on tape. Interesting stuff. You might want to check out the website for the PBS series. My favorite part is the timeline of the Big Bang. When you get down to the Planck Time (10^-43 seconds), that's pretty cool (figuratively). There's another timeline.

What is Planck length? What is Planck time?

the best time line I've seen so far Aren't logarithmic scales cool? If you've made it this far, make sure to click through to the Early Universe Chronology.

You know there are four fundamental forces right? Gravity, Weak, Electromagnetic, and Strong. There's another cool time line showing when the forces broke apart (assuming they were unified before the Planck Time).

Ooh. PBS has it's Elegant Universe site up already and the program hasn't even aired yet. Did you know that all elementary particles can be classified as bosons (force particles) or fermions (matter particles)? Superstring theory further posits that strings make up bosons and fermions.

They've got another scale-type thingy there, kind of like the old Powers of Ten video, that takes you down to string size.

The interview with Brian Greene contains a query about imagining more than 3 spational dimensions. I always think about it in terms of something like cyberspace. I think about 4 dimensions (including time) as a sequence of snapshots of a limited area, almost like time lapse photographs laid out in sequence. What do you think?

Something that occurred to me when I read 'The Elegant Universe': the speed of light (c) is a constant. It's a limit. It's the law. But doesn't tell us why. Why is the speed of light (c)? What about the nature of the universe sets that speed and imposes that limit? That's what I want to know.

(This had been a Posting-like-John-Hardy-but-without-the-pictures production.)

Tuesday, October 14

Pop-stock Market

Jason had a nice comment over on Byzantium's Shores:

Recently, some friends and I did a "buy-sell-hold" round with the younger group of pop stars:
Britney: sell (apt to become a punchline permanently)
Christina: buy (grody to some, but has a strong enough voice for a long career)
Michelle Branch: buy (good variety of material, carefully managed image)
Shakira: hold (may develop niche market; she's not too thin :-)
Jessica Simpson: sell (no hook)
Mandy Moore: hold (developing hook as an actress)
Alicia Keys: buy (real talent, excellent prospects)
Norah Jones: buy (but with reservations; could become a niche market item)
John Mayer: sell (every damn song sounds the same; no man will buy his records)
Jason Mraz: sell (see above)

(This is what I have to post for Jason, who has not updated his weblog in a long time. But, he has a few things going on...)


Sure, it's a nautical code with flags, but Napoleon adopted a system in 1793 that allowed the French to communicate rapidly around the country fifty years before morse. The Wikipedia had a really nice entry. Then, if you really want to know about the Chappe Semaphore, including pictures, a map, and everything...

Interesing. I got to thinking about the Chappe Semaphore while reading the Horatio Hornblower novels.

Cubs ahead, 3-0

Can you tell I'm sitting here surfing and blogging while I watch the game? It works pretty well, given the glacial pace of baseball.

12 hours of 'Lord of the Rings'

On December 16th a few theaters are going to show the Extended Editions of 'Fellowship...' and 'Two Towers' in the theater and then premiere 'Return of the King'. (via Matt)

I'll tell you what, that's too much, even for me. Of course, I haven't even seen the 'Two Towers' on DVD yet.

Google's Adsense

Did you see that Matt is making a lot of money with his PVRblog?

I'm having a great sports fall

The Cubs will have to choke and die to not make the World Series. Can you believe it? They have dominant pitching and their offense can light on fire. They're management has finally done something right and Dusty Baker is pulling them together.

The Vikes are 5-0. Granted, they haven't played anyone good yet, but at least they're winning games they should win. A test this week against Denver, but coming off the bye, with everyone healthy, and at home.

And the the Hawks are 5-1 and upset Michigan and have suffered only one disappointing loss (akin to last year's to ISU) to MSU. This week against Ohio State will be a huge test.

The Cowboys

I was the first to say that Bill Parcells was getting far too much face-time in the pre- and early season. But he's obviously the real deal. He's winning with someone else's players. Who'd'a thunk it?

Al Franken was right

Rush Limbaugh really is a big, fat idiot.

I know this post is totally late, but I can't resist piling on. I can't believe he said that about Donovan McNabb. The avalanche that has fallen on Limbaugh couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.