Friday, June 27, 2008

Energy Policy, By The Numbers

The Reg has a really nice article on Prof. David J C MacKay's new book in progress, analyzing the options for Britain's energy needs into the future. The article quotes a lot of conclusions, rather than delving into the numbers, but it's a very thoughty read.

Heavyweight physics prof weighs into climate/energy scrap [printer-friendly] | The Register

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Importance Of Magic

Read the daily reports on what to do to counter high gas prices, and
you'll see the importance of magic in US energy strategy. A rich
variety of schemes have been put forward, literally within weeks of the
gas crunch, delivered with the traditional slogan that occurs to every
editorial writer who believes children's fairy tales about American
ingenuity and exceptionalism.

There must be a new Manhattan Project!


Gas crunch: Jatropha, kudzu, algae and magic to rescue | The Register

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Not To Worry About Gas Mileage? Hansen Says Oil Will Be Burned Anyway

Dana Milbank's Washington Post article on a speech in Washington by James Hansen, the NASA guy famously muzzled by the Bush Administration when his science didn't agree with their worldview.

Along with the expected (we're heading for a collision with climatic catastrophe), Hansen managed to say something completely novel to me: It doesn't matter, in the long run, whether we clamp down on carbon emissions in the transportation sector or just all drive Hummers:

...he made a point of saying the biggest worry isn't what we put in our cars, but what we put in our power plants.

"Practically, I don't see how we can stop putting the oil in the atmosphere, because that's owned by Russia and Saudi Arabia," he advised the House committee on global warming. "We can make our vehicles more efficient, but that oil is going to get used and it's going to get in the atmosphere . . . and it doesn't really matter much how fast we burn it.
However, Hansen pointed out that we do own a lot of coal, and he says that's where we can make a big difference -- if we choose not to burn it.

Hey, there's a quixotic quest -- let's pressure the House of Saud and the Russian to just leave the oil in the ground! Piece of cake!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Now THAT is a Catch!

A little baseball, a little parkour...this ball girl makes an incredible snag of a foul ball that had to be 10 or 12 feet off the ground!


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Yikes. Not So Much The Lake Anymore

We were just up at Lake Delton/Wisconsin Dells, home of the famous Tommy Bartlett Ski Show (and many, many other tourist attractions).

TB & Co aren't doing so great. OK, so Mr. Bartlett has been dead ten years, we wouldn't expect his customary perkiness anymore, but "his" lake isn't doing a whole lot better.

'Twas on the national news, so perhaps you've seen it; the dam that created the lake held up to the torrential rains, but the pressure blew a new channel through the roadway nearby, and the whole shebang dumped into the Wisconsin River in minutes.

You can make out a couple of the ski jump ramps in the upper left. Resting on the rapidly-drying mud. This is the view from the lake inlet, in the background you can make out the mud flats of what used to be a pretty sizable lake (apologies for the micro-resolution movie), ringed with motels and other businesses.

Nobody killed, thank goodness, not even any major injuries, which is some kind of miracle. And the tourist businesses in the area seem to be making as much lemonade as they can out of their livelihood draining away; we saw one formerly shoreside establishment with a pile of pontoon boats (yes, some of them had in fact wound up on top of each other) and a sign on their marquee board:

4 HR RENTAL -- 95ยข

Friday, June 06, 2008

Go John Go! Lam Does It Again -- Ruby in the Browser?!!

Silverlight is going to support Ruby as a browser scripting language alternative to JavaScript, reports eWeek.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Take The Test

Excellent and thought-provoking little video, inspired by a classic psych experiment.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

I Love My Job

In my last gig in the private sector, I used to worry about things like paging memory into graphics-card address space and implementing Bresenham's algorithm across multiple APIs and trying to figure out what a next-generation architectural CAD system would look like.

Today, I walked past a conversation on software development just as urgently informed by user needs, just as concerned with what's technically possible today. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the Finn slap his forehead and heard him mutter: "I forgot about the goats."

Cutting edge development in the ag sector. Ya can't wait to get to work in the morning, I tell ya. (Oddly enough, I'm being perfectly straight with you -- it *is* tons of fun, though the Sexy Quotient is about nil when it comes to geek bragging rights.)

Monday, June 02, 2008

Sheesh. Another Smackdown Was Waiting To Happen

I am a pretty avid biker -- bicyclist, that is. You wouldn't necessarily know it to look at my plush torso, but I normally bike quite a lot for both transportation and fun. In the past year, I have had two major crashes, both of which I've written about here; October engendered some interesting head injuries, and in April I managed to lacerate my liver and crack some ribs. (I look pretty damned perky in the photo taken about 24 hours later, but I was still drenched with narcotics at that point.)

I'm finally sufficiently recovered from the last prang to get my nice Kaitai running again and resume commuting. I'd had lots of trouble getting the rear wheel trued up, it just seemed that no matter what I did with the spokes, I'd ride it for two blocks and it would be wobbling again. It was the first or second wheel I'd ever built, so I figured I'd just goofed somewhere.

Perhaps the goof was not entirely mine (pardon the blurry photo, click to enlarge):

Neat, huh? There are cracks like that in several places around the circumference, covering maybe 40% of it, on both sides. I don't want to believe that I missed this while working on the wheel previously, and I certainly don't even want to think about how much fun it would have been if that had decided to just let go. The Finn said "It was just waiting for your ribs to heal up."

Finished building a new wheel -- this time I used a beastly 36-hole rim whose catalog description included the phrase "I try to avoid terms like clydesdale" -- and rode in this morning.

Nothing broke.

So far as I know, anyway. I feel like I should hang one of those little yep-we're-safe signs on my bike (adapted this from

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Those Who Touch Computer Displays

Unlike Jeff Atwood, I will not kill you if you touch one of my screens.

But I might think about it. His rant on the topic (followed by useful screen- and keyboard-cleaning suggestions) is hilarious.