Sunday, November 28, 2004

Christmas Lights

Today, I put up Phase One of my christmas lights. Sometime before next Sunday I'll complete Phase Two, which was going to be last year's Phase Four. However, I never got that far last year because I never quite got around to buying the size of masonry drill bit I needed to secure those lights to my house. This year I have it and Phase Two is going to have the other lamers on my block begging for mercy, so I'm not sure if I'll need to go to Phase Three or not... We'll see.

This year I also have all my lights plugged into the side porch light socket which allows me to turn them on and off from inside without plugging/unplugging them. This is so much nicer. It always sucked having to go out into the cold right before bed.

My big competition across the street hasn't put his up yet, maybe he's waiting to see what I'll do. You have to understand, you can't just put all your lights up at once. You need to use tactics! If you blow everything all at once the other guy will win! I guess it's kind of like an arms race.

I'll try to put some photos up here before New Year's...

Newton’s Flaming Laser Sword

This article by Mike Alder pretty well echos my feelings and complaints about philosophy. It is a subject I enjoy greatly but it is also heavily populated by thinkers who would much rather "think real hard" than think smart. As a result the philosophy section of the bookstore sadly consists mostly of work best classified as "in progress."

In some ways, I think you could say that philosophy and science are nearly the same thing with the key difference being that science is usually goal-oriented and philosophy is mostly journey-oriented. Some philosophers may feel maligned by that comment but I feel that it is fair.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Traffic Stops

I present my traffic stop history:

VermontSummer, 96 87 in a 65. Ticket
IndianaValentine's Day, 9856 in a 35.Warning
VermontSpring, 2000 58 in a 35 Warning
Ohio June 2000 67 in a 55. Warning
Vermont August 2000 60 in a 40Warning
Vermont September 200055 in a 35Warning
Vermont March 200173 in a 65Ticket
Texas Fall 2003 Ran a red lightWarning
Texas Feb 200464 in a 40. Ticket
Texas Nov 2004 40 in a 25. Warning

As you can see, 2000 was a banner year for me with 4 stops and no tickets. My numbers overall are still pretty impressive: 10 stops, 3 tickets, for a warning rate of 70%! Most of the time I was doing 20mph or more over the limit.

How do I do it? I'm not telling...

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Space Elevator Takes First Step

Liftport has taken a first step by sending an early prototype of a Space Elevator climber up a 290-foot ribbon. While this really is only a first step, it does prove that the basic concept of the climber is feasible. Some pictures are available here.

X43A Mach 10 Flight Successful!

Monday, November 15, 2004

Second Life

I've been looking into Second Life lately and it seems like a good way to waste a lot of time. Too bad I'm a broke-ass and can't afford a computer that will run it.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

SpaceX & Bigelow Aerospace

Earlier in the week I mentioned 'America’s Space Prize.' What I didn't go into was how Bigelow Aerospace is going to get its inflatable space hotels into orbit.

Bigelow has contracted with Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) to use their not-yet-flown Falcon V rockets. And that's where things get interesting. You see, SpaceX is the latest venture of Elon Musk, the founder of PayPal and its goal is to reduce the per kg cost of space launches by 90%.

To that end, they've developed the Falcon I and Falcon V launch vehicles. Both are designed for high reliability and low cost. The Falcon I is a two-stage, single engine vehicle. The Falcon V scales up the Falcon I to a five engine design, re-using most of the Falcon I components. The first Falcon I launch will be in early 2005 and the first Falcon V launch will be at the end of 2005.

Imagine A Beowulf Cluster of...

You've heard it on Slashdot: Imagine A Beowulf Cluster of those... Now you can stop imagining and start building. Check out Engineering a Beowulf-style Compute Cluster and get to work!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

More Reasons To Switch

If you need more reasons to switch to FireFox, you should check out If porn is your thing, check out Pornzilla, a set of free tools to turn Firefox into the best porn browser ever!

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Want gmail?

If you want a gmail account, send an email to:

They keep giving me invitations and I've run out of friends. (Not that it took very long...)


29 -year-old woman has sex with 8 year-old boy. I heard about this on the evening news the other day, it's really disgusting. "A little mental problem" seems like an understatement.

Get Firefox

For the past week, I've been using Mozilla's Firefox web browser on my PC at work and I highly recommend it. If you're still using Internet Explorer, download Firefox now!

It's also available for MacOS X, so the next step is to try it on my Macs. I like Safari but it does still have some rendering problems that I could live without.

Monday, November 08, 2004

America's Space Prize

Robert Bigelow, owner of Bigelow Aerospace, has set up the America's Space Prize with a 50 million dollar purse up for grabs. Way up. Check out this article about the rules. Also look at this more general article.

This contest makes the X Prize look like stretching before a marathon. The challenges involved are considerable. I recall Burt Rutan (winner of the X Prize with his SpaceShipOne) making a statement about wanting to go orbital, but I don't see any way to scale up his current design to fit the task. It would be like "scaling up" the Space Shuttle to go to Mars.

First of all, the altitude to beat is 400km, while the International Space Station orbits at 360km. Secondly, it has to be able to dock with Bigelow's orbital habitats, which is no small trick. In addition to the maneuvering hardware and an airlock, it will necessitate an orbital velocity similar to the ISS, which currently averages 27,685km/h. If you can do that, the other requirement of achieving at least two orbits will be no problem.

Of course, much like mountaineering, "a successful ascent not only involves reaching the top but also includes returning to the bottom." Deobriting from a 400km, 27,000km/h orbit is a significant challenge all by itself. That is after all, what destroyed the Space Shuttle Columbia.

Because the vessel has to be reusable, it seems to me that there would be about three basic concepts that could potentially pull this off. The first would be the plan pursued by JP Aerospace, which involves using two stages of airships to reach orbit. It would be a slow trip, but potentially quite safe.

The second would be to use two rocket propelled stages. A reusable, glide-able booster stage would get the craft up to say 100-200km or so and the second stage would achieve orbit while the first stage would glide back to earth and land on a runway.

The last concept would be to use a large carrier aircraft to lift a spaceplane with a hybrid ramjet/rocket engine to roughly 40,000 feet. They would then separate and the spaceplane would reach orbit. I'd say this is the least likely of the three as ramjets are still experimental.

The reality is that it is highly improbable that anyone will claim this prize by the Jan. 10, 2010 cut-off date and I expect many to come out saying that it is impossible to win. Of course, never forget the two best reasons men have for doing anything: "Because I can" and "Because you said I couldn't."

Saturday, November 06, 2004

PearPC Making Progress

It seems that PearPC continues to make solid progress. OS News claims that the lastest builds allow you to run MacOS X at usable speeds, assuming you have a respectable PC.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Digital Babes

Wired's article "Don't Hate Me Because I'm Digital" discusses the Miss Digital World contest featuring computer generated models. Although many of the submitted models aren't really that impressive, a few really do live up to Wired's hype and "make Lara Croft look like Ms. Pac-Man."

The possible future this presents comes with questions. How will the women and teen girls of the future respond to models with impossibly perfect looks who never age?

One also wonders about pornography. Firstly, DVD quality is about as high as you can go with human actors because higher definition media will pick up every single flaw. This will result in photo-realistic virtual porn that promises to be better than live action film.

It also opens the door to porn containing sex acts no human woman would ever perform, no matter how depraved she may be. What kind of backlash will there be from society? What laws will congress pass to "protect" us? Of course, this already exists to an extent with animated porn films, but I think it'll be different when you can't tell if you're looking at a real woman or a virtual one.

Brain in a Dish

This article is pretty interesting about building a kind of living "computer" out of rat neurons. Kind of reminds me of Voyager's "neural gel packs."

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


Goddamn it all to hell!

So Bush won. FUCK! I was gunning for Kerry. I didn't vote for him because I can't vote for socialist assholes and in Texas it still wouldn't have mattered if every Badnarik vote went to Kerry, but I was still hoping he would win. Why? Because he would have been a lame duck president for the next 4 years! Nothing would have gotten done! He'd veto damn near everything Congress sent him and Congress wouldn't play along with any of his socialist schemes!

Instead we have Hitler Jr. until 2008! What the sweet fucking hell is wrong with you people?

On another topic, what the fuck is wrong with the goddamned media? Based on the current numbers, Nader only got about 17,000 votes more than Badnarik! Nader is a household name and has run in the last three presidential elections! And he can barely do better than a relative unknown? Nader is gone. The LP will have the 2008 elections all to ourselves. But do you hear the media mentioning this? NO.

I'm just so pissed off right now...

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

MacOS X "World's Safest OS"

MacOS X is the "world's safest OS" according to Mi2g. Although MacOS X is far from ideal, it has many advantages over the other operating systems I run every day. Among these is the greater effective security.

Try it yourself, go buy a Mac.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Almost Over...

Ok, the election bullshit is almost over... all that's left is for everyone to go vote tomorrow.

Over at Andrew Tanenbaum is currently calling the election for Kerry. If you follow that link, you should also read Andrew's FAQ, particularly the "Why Did You Do This?" section.

The Oct. 31 Washington Redskins game also called it for Kerry.

Propagandize Your Brain!

Marc Perkel is distributing Fahrenheit 9/11 for free right here. I haven't seen it yet, but I'll download it tonight when I get home. I sure as hell won't pay to see Michael Moore's crap.