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Saturday, August 01, 2015

Popularity Contest

Friday, July 31, 2015

Giant Squid

If you have some silly notion about swimming in the ocean, this should cure you of it.

Pet Glam

Piclick for more, if you dare.

Expense Report

Friday Timewaster

Corpseburg, wherein you attempt to survive a zombie apocalypse. The hook here is the game is played out on Google maps. You start from whatever address you enter into the dialog box, then attempt to survive for thirty days by scouting, looting, and fortifying houses and businesses. It's an interesting way to live out your Walking Dead fantasies -- which has become a really, really good show, by the way. If you were turned off by season 1, I encourage you to slog through the second season, because in seasons 3 and 4 they push the nitrous button. I eagerly await the impending Netflix acquisition of season 5.

At any rate, enjoy dying in the zombie apocalypse; I haven't made it anywhere close to day 30 yet. But look on the bright side: you get to beat (former) people's skulls in with heavy objects for a few days before you go down, and that makes it all worthwhile. Try Walmart for some truly cathartic brain-bashing.

Hat-tip to Jeff W.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Thursday Tunes

Marie's Mood by blues strummer Walter Trout. Some truly awesome fret work.



Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Huygens Synchronization

Two whitecoats at the University of Lisbon have mathematically explained the Huygens synchronization, the effect observed when two pendulum clocks hung next to each other on a common wall will always synchronize after a short time. The nearly unmeasurable perturbations which propagate through the wall will act on each other to gradually bring the two clocks into opposition, yielding a perfect counter-synchronization of the two pendulums. In English: After a half hour or so, the pendulums will always end up swinging in opposite directions in perfect sync.

The researchers compare it to the way the cells of our heart will synchronize in exact opposition to produce a pumping action. The principle at work is that all things in nature will seek balance whenever possible. This can be seen universally on any scale you can imagine, from atomic vibration to electric motors to the arms of spiral galaxies. Try performing similar actions with both hands -- like rubbing your belly and your head -- at the same time but out of sync; it's extremely difficult to do for any length of time, as your hands want to sync up. The best you can probably accomplish is two frequencies on the same divisor: half speed, quarter speed, etc.

In a way, Huygens synchronization is the principle which makes the universe go round. The question which comes to mind is this: do we perceive the effects of this tendency toward synchronization as elegant, or does it only seem elegant because our capacity for reason is born of it? It's a larger version of the logical fallacy that the earth had to be designed and created by higher intelligence because the conditions are perfect for human life. The reality, of course, is that the conditions are perfect for humans because we evolved here. A life form which evolved in a methane atmosphere would see Earth as a version of hell.

Flawed as that creationist argument may be, however, when you apply the principle of synchronization to the universe as a whole... Well, I'm not one to believe in higher powers, either benign or malicious, but I sometimes wonder if I'm not going to wake up one morning to the sight of a giant whitecoat peering at me through a microscope.

A Jumpin' Burg

This is what they do for entertainment in Butte, Montana. Because... well, it's Butte, Montana.

Boehner Under Fire

A Representative from North Carolin has filed a motion to remove Boehner as Speaker of the House. About damned time. This pack of lying thieves who have absconded with the conservative dissatisfaction of 2014 in order to pad their own careers have done absolutely nothing to oppose Obama and the Democrats. In fact, since the historic landslide midterms last year, they've very often aided and abetted the plans of the enemy. There's a word for people who do that: traitors.

With a miserable field of has-been candidates on the Democrat side, The White House is the Republicans' to lose in 2016. To date, they seem to be making every effort to do so. A change in leadership is the first and most important step to reversing that trend. These business-as-usual country club Republicans and RINOs have to go. The American people voted conservatives into office because we wanted someone to stand athwart and say "NO!" to Obama and his Leftist pals who are trying their dead-level best to wreck our nation. Instead, we get a bunch of power-players in Congress trying to leverage the situation to their own political advantage, and never mind those fires in the peasant quarter.

Congress needs to throw the bum out on his ass, and McConnell with him. If they don't, if we get another year of Congress pandering and kowtowing to the Executive, the GOP primaries in 2016 are going to be a bloodbath of unprecedented proportions. We are sick of your shit, boys. You have been warned.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Who cares?

Stephen Hawking Says Weapons Driven by Artificial Intelligence Should Be Banned

Throughout history, every attempt to ban a new weapon has failed. Every. Single. Time. So too will this one. We can either understand that and get a leg-up on the Russians, Chinks, and whoever else is already trying to build them, or we can sabotage ourselves with a treaty only we will follow and be even less safe than Dumbo has already made us.

I don't give a half-penny pony ride for what Steven Hawking thinks about weapons system deployment. Theoretical scientists, no matter how brilliant, have less political awareness than the average soccer mom. Living in a fantasy world of numbers is not conducive to a clear-eyed perception of reality.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Illiterate Ducks

Nice place for a swim...

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Allen West in Times Square

Col Allen West calls out Obama for a punk. This right here, boys and girls, is a stand-up-and-cheer speech. The leading candidates could do worse than picking this guy as a running mate. They won't, of course, because they aren't truly conservatives -- but West damned sure is, and you'll have absolutely no doubt about that after you watch this speech.

Clothes Pin


This is Mcity, a configurable "fake" city built by the Michigan DoT and University of Michigan as a testing ground for autonomous cars in urban environments. Piclick for article.

At first I was against self-driving cars, but the more I see of people trying to drive, the more I warm up to the idea. Since half of them seem to be more interested in playing with their phones than they are in guiding the 4,000-pound missile in which they are encased, I'd actually prefer it if they were just along for the ride in an AI-controlled robot. I imagine they feel exactly the same way about it, in fact. To some people, driving is just an inconvenience between them and where they're going. I'll stick with the old manually-controlled version, as I and many of my generation actually enjoy driving. I can easily see, however, why robotic cars will be very appealing to the generation just being born.

The article suggests that automated cars could account for as much as a quarter of worldwide automobile sales by 2035. Hell, by that point I'll be retired and might find the idea more appealing personally. I imagine it won't be too long after that -- maybe 2050 -- that automated cars and complex data-driven traffic networks become the standard. At that point, one will probably have to obtain a special license for driving "off the grid" within city limits -- or just hot-wire the car for manual control. Another of those staples of sci-fi prophecy come true.