Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Multiple Layers of FAIL

Seen here.

I count four major fails, plus a couple of minor ones.  The comic scampering around on the hillside added a nice touch.

Monday, March 28, 2011

DIY Manifesto

Kit found here.
Sorry folks, you'll have to go write your own.  I'm too busy for posturing today.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Gettin' the book snark on.

Not the 50 books you must read before you die.

Personal score from the list: Read 3 (which ones?  I'm not saying, but I did enjoy them), Attempted 4, Watched 5 (two though are a double hit with the attempt score).


Several things about the list strike me.  First, something like 40% of this semi-worthwhile slush pile has been made into movies.  (And 20% of the raw count isn't really filmable to begin with.  A Brief History of Time or Outliers just wouldn't translate except as say a PBS mini-series which doesn't count.)  So somebody's falling in love with this stuff.  Some of them are big hit movies (Harry Potter), some not (Captain Corelli's Mandolin).  Most of them are sort of dreary, and many are showing their age.  Maybe it's best to wait for the movie versions, just to get it over more quickly.
So go read over the list and feel a little better inside that you didn't finish Nineteen Eighty-Four that day back in 1983 when you had 6" of snow outside and 17 hours of homework ahead of you.  It'll do you good to get a little smug.
Others I'd like to add: Watership Down, any pop history book discussed in the NYT, and any current affairs book more than two years old (The End of History really sounded great in 1992 after all that Cold War drama, didn't it?).

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Oh sure, we can all laugh about it NOW.


As of 3am today my youngest is no longer a teenager.  Success!

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Physics You Need

I've often thought "There ought to be a general physics course that goes beyond inclined planes and entropy, that teaches people enough about current physics-related stuff that they won't get demagogued into voting for nonsense."  Turns out, there is such a course currently being taught at Berkley, and here's the textbook.  If you attend Berkley, take the damn course already.
But not everyone goes to Berkley.  If you don't there's still a solution for you, because the textbook's author has an accessible paperback covering much the same material: Physics for Future Presidents: the Science Behind the Headlines.
What's covered?  It's divided into five sections; here we go:

  1. Terrorism: Why jet fuel on airliners was so bad on 9/11, why dirty bombs and small nukes are bad but not world-rocking, and what the next attack attempts could be.
  2. Energy: Why oil is just freekin' great stuff (to a point), and all about solar power.
  3. Nukes: Basics, bombs, fission reactors, what to do with all the waste, and (someday!) fusion reactors.
  4. Space: Manned, unmanned, and remote sensing.
  5. Global Warming: Hype, hope, evidence, outright propaganda, non-solutions, and what will actually help without wrecking the economy.
Don't be intimidated, it's relatively math-free, and what few numbers are thrown around have been have been heavily rounded to make mental estimates easy.  Jump in, have some fun, get smarter.  I'll be blunt: if there's one book you read this year, make it this one.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Keeping Radiation in Perspective

As usual, Randal Munroe does another top-notch job of explaining physics, quelling panic, and poking fun at ninnies (very gently this time) all at once with his new radiation chart.
Here's Munroe's blag entry on the matter.  Go read the whole thing, it's short.
Here's the chart (click to enbiggen):
And here's Munroe's disclaimer on the matter: "... it's for general education only.  If you're basing radiation safety procedures on an internet PNG image and things go wrong, you have no one to blame but yourself."  Hard to argue with that advice.

On that note, I'll be hitting the mean streets of BSL on the CX bike now.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lunchtime Ride

Trying a new trail over lunch.  Will post something on it later today or maybe tomorrow.  In the meantime, here's an oldie-but-goodie:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy Pi Day.

Hmm, almost too late to post, but anyway, happy pi day.  And many more 3.14159s to you.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

T for Typography

A couple of examples here and here.
Hat tip to V. for bringing these to my attention.  Note that's "V." not "V" – entirely different people.  One is a razor-witted vigilante with love of art and a fondness for egg in a hole fried in real butter, the other is a... oh wait.

Friday, March 11, 2011

A Nasty Surprise

"Surprise" because I was just in the bike store to get a couple of broken spokes on my around-town beater mountain bike fixed.  But it was on a close-out sale, it was the day after payday, etc.  And I'd passed up on essentially the same deal last year and had been kicking myself ever since.  And "Nasty" because, well, properly used cyclocross bikes are always nasty.
What is a cyclocross bike anyway?  It's a road bike minimally adapted for off-road use.  Here's the Wiki article about these mud beasts.  And here's the Wiki article about the sport of CX.  It's not a hybrid bike, even though they are mentioned as such in the linked article.  Those bring in a different set of compromises, starting from a mountain bike platform.
I don't anticipate doing any CX racing on this thing, though you never know.  I got it for road riding on crappy streets and for occasional light-duty mountain biking.
This thing is the way to get around the still-wrecked up streets in BSL.  It's like driving a steamroller.  A really fast steamroller.

Fun Music Part 2: The Ramones

Yeah yeah, everyone knows about the Ramones.  On the off chance you don't know, go read the Wikipedia article.  If you want a sampler, Loud Fast Ramones: Their Toughest Hits is the one album to get.  From the liner notes:
The Ramones were also first: the first band of the mid-'70s to New York punk-rock uprising to get a major-label record contract and to put an album out; the first to rock the nation on the road and teach the British how noise annoys; the first new American group of the decade to kick the smug, yellow-bellied shit out of a '60s superstar aristocracy running on cocaine-and-caviar autopilot.
That's putting it mildly.

Story from when they played The Moon in Tallahassee in '89: the club had set up a barricade out in front of the stage, a low plywood wall that came up to stage floor level that gave about 5' standoff between the dance floor and the stage edge.  It was held out from the stage by box scaffolding, with a mean-looking bouncer in each box.  Right before the show Joey and Dee Dee took a look at the barricade, pointing and snickering.  They shout around to the rest of the band a change in the opening song to Blitzkrieg Bop and start in.  The crowd starts dancing, surges forward, crushes the barricade, while the bouncers leap out for their lives.  Now that's a show!

I was picking splinters from that cheap plywood out of my left hand for a week.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

And so it begins.

Jungle fungus causing widespread outbreaks of zombism, as reported in the journal PLoS ONE.
Read all about it here.  And brother, the pictures are both graphic and disturbing so brace yourself.  And for once, yes, this really is true.


p.s. & two days later: People, it's about zombie ants, don't have a cow.  But seeing the spore pods popping out of their little undead skulls is still pretty creepy.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Headtube Weld FAIL

Timing is everything.  In this case, the cameraman's timing.  From failblog.
P.S.: Survived Mardi Gras, but it was a pretty close call on Sunday.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Really, Really Good Coffee

Here's how.  Hat tip to the Darling Daughter for the video.
Man, I gotta get a real coffee funnel.


OK, the Three Days of Happiness are up.  Now it's the run-up to Mardi Gras, so blogging may be intermittent.  And possibly incoherent.

Open Mic Night

Just a reminder, this Saturday is open mic night at the 'bird.  Might make it, might not, but prolly will.  Always something going on down there and they'll let damn near anyone play.

ps: Lynn Drury absolutely kicked butt on stage there last night.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

R.E.M. is back?

Yeah, I think they are.  I'd written them off after some of the crap on 1987's Document.  The had a few good songs on that album, and a smattering of worthwhile tunes subsequently, but the clear soaring rhythms and gonzo wordplay lyrics were mostly gone.
Now comes Collapse Into Now, to be released this March 8th.  If you've got the bandwidth you can stream the whole wonderful mess here from NPR until the release date.  It's hideously compressed and lo-fi but it's a good sample and the price – free! – is right.
So how is it?  Good.  It's not exactly the same as their 1980–1986 glory days, but it's full of sharp acoustic strings, up front vocals, nonsense lyrics, catchy hooks, and it well... sounds like R.E.M.  A lot like their early music, but mellowed without being blunted.  Like they never went down that 25-year rathole, but just matured their original sound while they played into middle age.  Wish it'd really happened that way, but what the hell, here they are and the music is (a) back and (b) good.
Ta-daaa!

Fishing Pic

Picture by the Darling Daughter some time back at an undisclosed location in Florida.
The very definition of happiness.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Three Days of Happiness

OK, that was pretty heavy yesterday.  How 'bout something fun, kids!?!
Don't try this at home, but it is fun to watch.  I especially liked the jumps.  Those, and the (unharmed) puppy down around 28 seconds.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Front Line Dispaches from the War of the Sexes

I've been seeing a lot of this crap lately.  To wit:
Sex is Cheap  Subtitled "Why young men have the upper hand in bed, even when they're failing in life."
Why You're Not Married (one for the ladies; published Feb 13)
Manning Up or Wimping Out: Men Don't Exist to Serve Women's Desires
Why Are Men so Angry? (from the author of a book that's causing much of the current ruckus)
And finally, we have a stark cold reality-based view from where the rubber meets the, ah, something:
Is the Juice Worth the Squeeze?


But Richard Feynman had this stuff figured out over sixty years ago: You just ask them.  It's a chapter in his (first) autobiography Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!  See?  Just ask a physicist, he'll know all about it.