Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Monday, January 30, 2012
1. Where there's a will, I want to be in it.
2. The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on my list.
3. Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
4. If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.
5. We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.
6. War does not determine who is right - only who is left..
7. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
8. They begin the evening news with 'Good Evening,' then proceed to tell you why it isn't.
9. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.
10. Buses stop in bus stations. Trains stop in train stations. On my desk is a work station.
11. I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just wanted paychecks.
12. In filling out an application, where it says, 'In case of emergency, notify:' I put 'DOCTOR.'
13. I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
14. Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.
15. Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.
16. A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.
17. You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
18. Money can't buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.
19. There's a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can't get away.
20. I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not so sure.
21. You're never too old to learn something stupid.
22. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.
23. Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
24. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
25. Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
26. Where there's a will, there are relatives.
The supposed ‘consensus’ on man-made global warming is facing an inconvenient challenge after the release of new temperature data showing the planet has not warmed for the past 15 years.
The figures suggest that we could even be heading for a mini ice age to rival the 70-year temperature drop that saw frost fairs held on the Thames in the 17th Century.
Based on readings from more than 30,000 measuring stations, the data was issued last week without fanfare by the Met Office and the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit. It confirms that the rising trend in world temperatures ended in 1997.
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Due to the climate of political correctness now pervading America:
Kentuckians, Tennesseans and West Virginians will no longer be referred to as'HILLBILLIES.' You must now refer to them as APPALACHIAN-AMERICANS.
And furthermore, in order to be politically correct regarding women:
- She is not a 'BABE' or a 'CHICK' - She is a 'BREASTED-AMERICAN. '
- She is not 'EASY' - She is 'HORIZONTALLY ACCESSIBLE.'
- She is not a 'DUMB BLONDE' - She is a 'LIGHT-HAIRED DETOUR OFF THE INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY.'
- She has not 'BEEN AROUND' - She is a 'PREVIOUSLY-ENJOYED COMPANION.'
- She does not 'NAG' you - She becomes 'VERBALLY REPETITIVE.'
- She is not a 'TWO-BIT HOOKER' - She is a 'LOW COST PROVIDER.'And to be politically correct regarding men:
- He does not have a 'BEER GUT' - He has developed a 'LIQUID GRAIN STORAGE FACILITY.'
- He is not a 'BAD DANCER' - He is 'OVERLY CAUCASIAN.'
- He does not 'GET LOST ALL THE TIME' - He 'INVESTIGATES ALTERNATIVE DESTINATIONS.'
- He is not 'BALDING' - He is in 'FOLLICLE REGRESSION.'
- He does not act like a 'TOTAL A*S' - He develops a case of 'RECTAL-CRANIAL INVERSION’
- It's not his 'CRACK' you see hanging out of his pants – it's 'TROUSER CLEAVAGE.'
Saturday, January 28, 2012
Friday, January 27, 2012
Among the sixteen signers are several people widely known even outside the scientific community, such as Burt Rutan and Harrison Schmidt.A candidate for public office in any contemporary democracy may have to consider what, if anything, to do about "global warming." Candidates should understand that the oft-repeated claim that nearly all scientists demand that something dramatic be done to stop global warming is not true. In fact, a large and growing number of distinguished scientists and engineers do not agree that drastic actions on global warming are needed.
Read the whole thing...
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Even after the Super Bowl victory of the New Orleans Saints, I have noticed a large number of people implying, with bad jokes, that Cajuns aren't smart. I would like to state for the record that I disagree with that assessment. Anybody that would build a city 5 feet below sea level in a hurricane zone and fill it with Democrats who can't swim is a genius.
Turns out that's because the plane is fictional – from Hollywood (the 2005 movie Stealth).
The way the Internet allows anyone to stand up and talk to the world is wonderful. But it has its downsides...including the amazing number of people who seem to spend their days carefully crafting websites and documents to say things that just aren't true. Sometimes what they're saying is pushing some sort of agenda, so at least one can understand their motivation while deploring their actions. But this sort of fakery? What on earth motivates someone to spend time doing this, I wonder?
There's quite a wide range of ages, personalities, time-at-the-company, and experiences represented here – one of the most interesting things (for me, at least!) about working with this great group of engineers...
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Scott Adams (the genius creator of Dilbert) somehow manages to keep nailing the current geek, despite not having worked in industry for decades...
I'll bet he did!The guys were all at a deer camp. No one wanted to room with Bob, because he snored so badly. They decided it wasn't fair to make one of them stay with him the whole time, so they voted to take turns.
The first guy slept with Bob and comes to breakfast the next morning with his hair a mess and his eyes all bloodshot. They said, "Man, what happened to you?" He said, "Bob snored so loudly, I just sat up and watched him all night."
The next night it was a different guy's turn. In the morning, same thing – hair all standing up, eyes all bloodshot. They said, "Man, what happened to you? You look awful!" He said, "Man, that Bob shakes the roof with his snoring. I watched him all night."
The third night was Fred's turn. Fred was a tanned, older cowboy; a man's man. The next morning he came to breakfast bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. "Good morning!" he said. They couldn't believe it. They said, "Man, what happened?" He said, "Well, we got ready for bed. I went and tucked Bob into bed, patted him on the butt, and kissed him good night...
Bob sat up and watched me all night.
I didn't hear a peep after that!
I wonder if that was ad hoc, or if the guards are trained to maintain decorum? And what do you suppose would happen if that warning hadn't worked?
Monday, January 23, 2012
The spirit that shows through here is awe-inspiring. Though I don't agree with many of the positions she's taken, and I have very little agreement with her party's stances (she's a Democrat)...I'd very much like to see her return to office, to show the Laughners of the world that they just can't win.
Happy trails, Gabby. Keep that smile! We're rooting for you out here in crazy-land (aka California)...
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Microsoft keeps it old-school with a pricey text adventure game, Visual Studio 2010If you're the geekly sort, and especially if you have any experience with Microsoft's development tools, then you definitely want to go read the whole thing!
Microsoft has jumped onto the free-to-play bandwagon with its latest game, a text-driven adventure called Visual Studio 2010. The innovative new game marries the traditional interactive fiction text adventure with its arcane commands and exploration with the free-form, open-ended gaming pioneered by the likes of SimCity.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Yes, I know it's from NPR. For your own safety, don't venture into the other parts of the site without protective gear. Or alcohol...
Friday, January 20, 2012
Thursday, January 19, 2012
The backstory to this is the assertion (in the email my mom forwarded to me and on numerous web sites) that CBS removed this video from the web when requested by (variously attributed) politicians. I've been unable to verify that. Also my mom wondered whether Judge Judy actually sent the tape to Congress, as she promised on the video. Whether she did, I believe, is irrelevant – something as prosaic as an observable fact is not going to change the attitude of any Congresscritters...
I am really concerned about North Korea's appointment of the "dear leader", Kim Jung Ill's youngest son to be the new leader of North Korea -- a nuclear power!
After all, Kim Jung Un (pronounced Kim's young-un?) had NO military experience whatsoever before daddy made him a four-star general in the military. This is a snot-nose twerp who has never accomplished anything in his life that would even come close to military leadership: he hasn't even so much as led a cub scout troop, coached a sports team or commanded a military platoon... So, setting that aside, next they make him the "beloved leader" of the country. Terrific!!!
Oh, crap! I'm sorry. I just remembered that we did the same thing here. We took a community organizer who has never worn a uniform and made him Commander-in-Chief; a guy who has never led anything more than an ACORN demonstration and made him the leader of this country. I'm sorry I brought this up, never mind.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
The city is now obligated to enforce these new regulations. That means a small army of unionized inspectors and (given that we're talking about Washingon, D.C.) armed enforcement officers. This, in a city where more than half the kids drop out of high school. When the priorities of a society favor the rats over its own young, you know the end is near (for the society, not the rats)...(i) A wildlife control services provider shall make every reasonable effort to preserve family units using humane eviction or displacement and reunion strategies and shall not knowingly abandon dependent young wildlife in a structure.(1) Minimize stress to the animal and its exposure to the elements by covering
(j) Wildlife shall not be kept in captivity longer than 36 hours unless specifically
authorized by the Department or unless reunion attempts are being employed. In the case of attempted reunion, a wildlife control services provider may hold wildlife in captivity for up to 72 hours.
(k) Captured wildlife shall be transported in covered, secure containers in such a way as to:
the trap or vehicle with appropriate material;
(2) Ensure that the covering is of such material that the animal has an adequate
supply of air to prevent overheating; and
(3) Minimize potential hazards to the general public.
(l) A wildlife control services provider shall not use sticky or glue traps to control any wildlife.
Monday, January 16, 2012
I purchased a burger at Burger King for $1.58. The counter girl took my $2 and I was digging for my change when I pulled 8 cents from my pocket and gave it to her. She stood there, holding the nickel and 3 pennies, while looking at the screen on her register. I sensed her discomfort and tried to tell her to just give me two quarters, but she hailed the manager for help. While he tried to explain the transaction to her, she stood there and cried.. Why do I tell you this? Because of the evolution in teaching math since the 1950s:I believe I've met the counter girl described in the first paragraph – I've had a very similar experience.
1. Teaching Math In 1950s (when I was in school)
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit ?
2. Teaching Math In 1960s
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?
3. Teaching Math In 1970s
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit ?
4. Teaching Math In 1980s
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.
5. Teaching Math In 1990s
A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. He does this so he can make a profit of $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers, and if you feel like crying, it's ok).
6. Teaching Math In 2011
Un hachero vende una carretada de maderapara $100. El costo de la producciones es $80. Cuanto dinero ha hecho?
ANSWER: His profit was $375,000 because his logging business is just a front for his marijuana farm.
TEL AVIV, Israel The Israelis are developing an airport security device that eliminates the privacy concerns that come with full-body scanners. It's an armored booth you step into that will not X-ray you, but will detonate any explosive device you may have on your person.
Israel sees this as a win-win situation for everyone, with none of this crap about racial profiling. It will also eliminate the costs of long and expensive trials.
You're in the airport terminal and you hear a muffled explosion. Shortly thereafter, an announcement: Attention to all standby passengers, El Al is proud to announce a seat available on flight 670 to London. Shalom!
There was no new record set. Dr. Whitehouse won...
In the late 1970s, several companies developed computer-based systems that sped this process up enormously by automating that last step of converting the list of sounds into typed text. One of these companies (Xscribe) was based in San Diego, and about a million years ago, I worked for them as a hardware and software engineer. It was a very interesting place to work at the time, as they were pushing the envelope on what you could do with a microcomputer.
Today there's very little trace remaining of Xscribe. The company struggled on into the '90s, went public, but then seems to have disappeared. Google the name and you can find people selling spare parts (apparently those systems are still being used!), but that's about it. The domain name xscribe.com now shows the page for Stenograph Corporation, who was Xscribe's main competitor in the period I was there ('81 to '82). I found conflicting news stories about possible acquisition of Xscribe by Stenograph or its parent company Quixote. In any case, Xscribe appears to have failed in the end.
Now there's an open source program that does basically the same thing that Xscribe's (very expensive) hardware and software did. It uses a $45 gaming keyboard as its input device, a normal PC, and the free open-source software package named Plover...
Sunday, January 15, 2012
Saturday, January 14, 2012
After last year's index came out, a colleague who was aware of my gray beard and somewhat odd background asked me how many of the languages here I had programmed in. I never went back and looked it up, but here's the answer for this year's list: I've used 9 of those languages enough to call myself “proficient” in them, and there are 5 more that I've done at least one project in. There are several languages I've done a lot of programming in that aren't on this list at all: Forth (go ahead, laugh!) and a dozen or so assembly languages (most especially Z80)...
I don't think I've seen you comment on this yet.CoyoteBlog has a recent post along very similar lines (so short I'm reposting the whole thing, hoping Warren won't mind):
I realize the 24 hour news cycle likes to take things to extreme but I have a hard time worrying too much about the actions of these guys. While maybe unprofessional and stupid to video tape, this type of thing is hardly an unusual event. Anyone that has read the accounts of the war in the pacific, like "the old breed' will remember many similar accounts and really, much, much worse. De-humanizing the enemy is part of the process. Absolutely no one in the chain of command or those PR types commenting could possibly be surprised. They are just covering themselves and the foolishness of the situation.
These are not police officers. This is not your favorite city. You don't get a group of people to rush through a hail of bullets and mortar fire to kill a bunch of other people without a change in the normal thought processes. Most of their training is about effectively killing other people. Putting them into an environment where they are under constant threat from everyone around them and giving them a long list of rules before they can engage the enemy is asking for trouble and it is unfair to put our military in those positions. Does anyone seriously think they don't get some satisfaction when they do manage to kill some of the enemy?
There are a lot of ways to parse this story about the alleged video of soldiers urinating on corpses in Afghanistan. It seems ugly, but desecration of corpses has a long history in Afghan conflicts (often consisting of cutting off male-only body parts). And it’s bizarre to see people more upset about peeing on corpses than with corpsifying them in the first place.I haven't commented before because I have such mixed and confused feelings about it, and I'm not at all sure we know what actually happened. Warren nails it when he says there are a lot of ways to parse this story. Things that occurred to me as I read it:
But at the end of the day this is what I think is broken about the Afghan conflict. You don’t send warriors into a brutal guerrilla war with no rules and simultaneously expect them to be goodwill ambassadors as well. Given that these are two activities whose Venn diagrams of skills and mindsets have so little overlap, the military does a pretty good job trying to do what its being asked, but over the long run it’s a losing game (somewhere in here there is an Ender’s Game reference about trying to meld empathy with killer instincts).
By the way, exactly what is our goal in Afghanistan, will someone remind me? We have been successful when __________________ ?
- Is it even a true story, portraying an actual event? Or is this an amateur and fictional production?
- Where's the outrage about the enemy's behavior? Remember Daniel Pearl, anyone?
- So the men we have trained to be the world's most effective killers have, in fact, killed some of the enemy – but then we don't want them to celebrate this? (very close to one of Larry's comments)
- I don't like the possible consequences of this video being publicized. It is exactly the sort of fodder that helps the enemy recruit new suicide bombers and fighters, and incites the locals to resistance against our troops.
So I'm left unsurprised that this sort of thing happened, convinced that this is far from the only time it has happened in Afghanistan (on both sides), but wishing it hadn't become a public property. I'm also feeling sad for the American soldiers involved, because it seems likely that their commanders will be required to make an example of them...
Friday, January 13, 2012
I had no idea that there was such a thing as an albino bird!
Nature's Friend magazine has a great photo collection of this little guy.
As always, click to enlarge...
Thursday, January 12, 2012
The courts have stopped the pardons, for now at least...
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
In the coming New Year, 2012, both Groundhog Day and the State of the Union address will occur on the same day.
This is an ironic juxtaposition of events.
One involves a meaningless ritual in which we look to an insignificant creature of little intelligence for prognostication.
The other involves a groundhog.
Snakes, turtles, and birds were found at Miami (MIA) and Los Angeles (LAX). I’m just happy there weren’t any lions, tigers, and bears…That's just great. All those billions and all that irritation, and that's on their top 10 list? Sheesh...
Tip of the hat to Bruce Schneier, who posted this on his excellent blog...
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Monday, January 9, 2012
This morning the four dogs and I went for our morning walk at 3 am. The perfect full moon was high in the cloudless southwestern sky. The moonlight was more than bright enough for us to walk by; I could see color around our yard and a bit across the valley as well. Race was, for the umpteenth time, utterly beside himself with joy – he found a tasty pine cone to play with. The three field spaniels were nose-down as usual, checking on who's been in the yard since their last walk.
A gentle breeze wafted the scent of hundreds of paper-whites, narcissus, and daffodils toward us. Our yard is bursting at the seams with these blooms; more by far than we've ever seen before. We have bouquets all around our house, and the smell is just wonderful.
Finally it was time to go back inside. None of us really wanted to go in. I'd have been content to walk around for another hour or so. But duty calls...
Sunday, January 8, 2012
On the first day, God created the dog and said, "Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. For this, I will give you a life span of twenty years."
The dog said, "That's a long time to be barking. How about only ten years and I'll give you back the other ten?"
And God saw it was good.
On the second day, God created the monkey and said, "Entertain people, do tricks, and make them laugh. For this, I'll give you a twenty-year life span."
The monkey said, "Monkey tricks for twenty years? That's a pretty long time to perform. How about I give you back ten like the dog did?"
And God, again saw it was good.
On the third day, God created the cow and said, "You must go into the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves and give milk to support the farmer's family. For this, I will give you a life span of sixty years."
The cow said, "That's kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. How about twenty and I'll give back the other forty?"
And God agreed it was good.
On the fourth day, God created humans and said, "Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. For this, I'll give you twenty years."
But the human said, "Only twenty years? Could you possibly give me my twenty, the forty the cow gave back, the ten the monkey gave back, and the ten the dog gave back; that makes eighty, okay?"
"Okay," said God, "You asked for it."
So that is why for our first twenty years, we eat, sleep, play and enjoy ourselves. For the next forty years, we slave in the sun to support our family. For the next ten years, we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren. And for the last ten years, we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone.
Life has now been explained to you.
There is no need to thank me for this valuable information. I'm doing it as a public service. If you are looking for me I will be on the front porch.
On one level, this is just an amusing story. On another level, though, it's a great example of something that free societies embracing religious freedom find quite challenging: exactly what constitutes a “religion” (thereby becoming worthy of protection by the state)? That turns out to be an astonishingly difficult – perhaps even impossible – question to answer objectively.
Thanks to Simon M. for passing this along...
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
We all knew this was coming, given the velocity of our debt increases. There's nothing particularly significant about this milestone; it's akin to your car's odometer rolling over 10,000. But it's a measure of our debt load that's well into danger territory – expressed as a percentage of our GDP (which is as close as I know how to get to expressing our debt in meaningful terms), our debt is now higher than it's been at anytime since the height of WWII. Unlike that war, this time our debt load is almost entirely (and voluntarily!) self-inflicted – the costs of both our lengthy wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is only a small piece of this debt load...
Snarking aside, it's really quite an achievement for these roboticists – and it probably is a glimpse of what the future will bring us. It's perfectly conceivable that within a reasonable amount of time (say, a decade or two) we'll see robots that can actually perform many of the tasks that construction workers do today. For example, I have no problem imagining a robot that could do a great job at block masonry.
Sunday, January 1, 2012
I can't recall another time when the entire feline crew participated in this sort of thing all at the same time.
And it sure is nice to see Tippy looking so spry. And proud of himself!
But until this morning, I've had one complaint about it, something I thought was an unavoidable consequence of its construction.
Until this morning, when I made my morning tea, I'd load up my tea strainer, drop it in my cup, and pour boiling water all over it. The strainer would immediately bob to the surface, and what follows was a 60 second or so battle to get the thing to sink (so my tea could steep!).
This morning, I accidentally forgot to put the strainer in my cup before pouring the hot water in. So I plunked it in after pouring the water – and it immediately sank to the bottom of the cup. Of course, I then had to follow up with a series of tests. Every time, pour first, it sinks; pour after, it floats. WTF?
I finally figured it out. When I pour after, water immediate coats the entire metal surface, and the pores of the tea strainer are blocked by stable water films powered by surface tension. When I pour first and drop the strainer in, the upper pores remain unwetted until after the strainer sinks. Simple.
There now, doesn't that revelation change your life in a positive way?
The one that surprised me the most is at right (click to enlarge). I hadn't realized that the Federal government owned so much consumer debt. After a little research, I discovered this is primarily due Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae (both government-sponsored and government-backed institutions) capturing the dominant share of home mortgates – and home mortgages dominate consumer credit, of course.
In the last three years, federally-owned consumer credit has increased almost five times. What does this mean? It means that those (increasingly few) American citizens who, like me, actually pay taxes – it means we're on the hook to back almost five times more government-guaranteed debt. Lovely. What could possibly go wrong?