Friday, September 28, 2012

'69 Mustang Brochure

Over at Retronaut.
Tambourine sold separately.  Zooey Deschanel's whacky aunt not included.

Wake me up on Wednesday the 7th.

Obama vs. Romney video game.
Just go watch.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What the heck was REM singing about?

A bunch of gibberish, mostly dummy lyrics evidently.  Still it was fun listening for a lot of years.  Here's a site at a long-defunct poetry webzine that takes a flying guess at what some of the phrases meant, arranged by studio album and song.  (Don't panic, some of the pages are just plain missing.  As I said, long-defunct.)  Mostly pretty obvious stuff (some of it annoyingly obvious) but a few of the more obscure sayings are explained.
It's fall.  I listen to REM a lot in the fall, can't really say why.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Today's "Big World Click & Drag" XKCD

If it was... a little much to click and drag through, here's a zoomable version.

Afternote: at that scale, the entire width of the drawing is comparable to the first leg of the Tuxachanie Trail, from Hwy 49 to Airey Lake.  If you've hiked that, it does put it into perspective.

More positive news on robotics.

An easy to program, practical robot for small industrial applications over at Technology Review.  Naturally, from one of the founders of iRobot.  As I've said (or at least implied) in several recent posts (Roomba, warp drive, and a few other posts lately), now we're getting somewhere.
Goofy eyes, but according to the article they actually have a function so go read the article.

Talk Like a Pirate Day

Just in case ye forgot.  Here be more info.
In case yer rusty, catch up here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ten Years of Roomba

Article over at Mashable.
Amazing devices, finally got one myself a couple of weeks ago.  Here's a video of a Roomba like mine over at the manufacturer's web site.  Yes, it really does work.  Yes, it is a genuine labor- and hassle-saving device.  Yes, it really can get into a lot of places, including under beds.  And more importantly, it can find its way back out.  And even if it can't quite reach, entropy will eventually take care of that hidden dirt, as we've discussed previously.  I hit the start button on the way out the door in the morning, and when I get home it's sitting back at its recharging station, waiting patiently with a full charge and a binload of dirt.  No, it doesn't have any trouble navigating my house, all on its own and automatically.  The only hitch so far is that it sometimes high-centers on my easy chair's tapered legs, maybe one time out of five.
Yes, it has dramatically upped the level of cleanliness in my house.  Almost a cliche by now, but as so many other new Roomba owners have said: What took me so long?
The new models just came out last month, so street price is still full MSRP.  But Bed Bath & Beyond will give you a 20% off coupon if you go over to their site and give them your spam-bucket email address.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Progress toward a real, functioning warp drive?

For once, the answer is actually yes.  Story over at Discovery News.
Mind you, this is exactly Step Two of about a 100,000 step process (Alcubierre having made Step One in 1994), all of which could wind up being along a scientific and engineering dead-end path.
But dammit, they're trying.  And they're getting somewhere.  White and his people at NASA Johnson are now working on a table-top, baby-step experiment.  And we may all live to see this amount to something.  How cool is that?
Best news I've seen in a while.

Hamburger or Hot Dog?

Hamburger or hot dog?  No, those are the only choices on the menu.  Well, there are those other things, but they’re weird and nobody ever picks them.  But really, normal people wonder how they got on the menu at all, and decent people would certainly never waste their meal on one of them.

The preceding paragraph sounds kind of narrow minded, doesn’t it?  As much as I may like the occasional hamburger or hot dog, I like a lot of other things too.  Well I don’t get political at all on this blog ever, but today I want to point out that there are other choices on this year’s presidential ballot.

What?!?  And waste my vote?”  Well sunshine, I hate be the one to tell you, but according to recent polls ( in 27 of the States the direction of their Electoral Collage votes are already locked down tight, and in another 14 states there isn’t much question as to where their Electoral votes are going either.  So relax.  For individuals in non-swing states (such as Mississippi or Massachusetts) it doesn't matter how we vote in the general election.  Our electoral votes are going for one of the Big Two, period, and you already know which one.*  Therefore most of us are free to vote for any other candidates with no electoral repercussions, and hopefully send some message to the major parties.  (That is, if you want to send some message.  I don’t know, maybe you don’t.  In that case, enjoy your hamburger or hot dog.)

So what are the other choices?  According to Wikipedia the major third parties are (in the order presented) are the Libertarian, Green, and Constitution Parties.  “Major third party” being defined as non-hotdog/hamburger and having an independent state organization in the majority of states.  Here’s the list of everybody else.

If that was TLDR, John Stossel gives five minute interviews with three third party candidates (again, in the order presented, I'm trying to stay neutral here): Constitution, Libertarian, and Socialist.  Don’t ask me where the Green candidate was, or how a non-major third party got on Stossel’s guest list.  I’m just throwing out what he presented.  If you want more, there’s always Wikipedia.

Anyway, think outside the box this year.  A lot of people aren’t happy with the Republican and Democratic candidates, but are afraid of letting the Really Bad Other Guy win.  And if you live in a swing state you might give some consideration to that voting-from-fear argument.  But the majority of us can turn the Electoral College to our advantage, and vote for who we really want while not having to worry about wasting our vote or tipping the election in a bad direction.

*Maine and Nebraska do allow their electors to split between the two major party candidates by Congressional district, but even there you probably know where your district stands.  Same working rules, just a finer granularity.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

It's like Kafka wrote a Lovecraft story.

The appeal of old computer games, explained over at SMBC.
Don't look now, but there's an @ blocking your doorway.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Here Be Dragons

Well, at least one.
R/C, breathes fire and everything.  Huh.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

End of Summer

Boundary of the first cold front of the fall passing through Bay St. Louis:
About two weeks ahead of usual, but none too soon.  The break from the heat and sticky is always welcome.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Isaac Returns

Ugh, won't this stuff ever stop raining down?  Got pounded with rain off and on last night through this morning, as some remnants from Hurricane Isaac rocketed back south to give us one more roughing-up.
Read about it at Jeff Masters' blog over at weather underground, and watch an animated loop of vorticity from University of Wisconsin showing how the storm progressed, split, and re-formed.  And now, re-named 90L, it's trying to spin up again over the warm Gulf waters.  Ugh.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Fourth Ward Cleaver, September Edition

Is up.  Or at least, getting onto its feet gradually.

The Cooldown?

This weekend?  From over at Intellicast:
Maybe.  We'll see.  Besides, it's a four day week so we're 20% of the way there for free already.