Thursday, March 31, 2016

New Road Bike Tires

Every time I put a new set of Vredesteins on my road bike, especially if I'm changing from another brand of tires, I'm happy.  It's as if I'm suddenly a 10% better biker.  They take about 20 psi more pressure than most brands, roll fast, corner well, and wear like iron.  What was I thinking?  Why would I ever switch?  "It's what the shop had."  "They were on sale."  Whatever.  I won't switch away from Vredesteins again.

Home sick with a cold today.  Maybe ride tomorrow, but it's doubtful.  Even with these tires.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

More on The Replacements Bio

Here's a link to a review at Consequences of Sound.  Chiefly worthwhile for the live video of them performing the song Alex Chilton on Jimmy Fallon's show; you may need to turn off ad blocking to view.  The appearance is from their all-too-brief 2013-2015 reunion.  Said Tommy Stinson of the reunion's demise:
"It was one of those things: We dipped our toe in the water, and it didn’t feel so good."
And that... is that.  If you blinked, you missed it.  I sure did.  At least they wound it up when they found it wasn't working.

Of Hobbits and Dragons

No, not from LoTR.  This is IRL.  Article over at NatGeo.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Book Review: Trouble Boys, the semi-authorized Replacements Bio

Rainy day, so I just cranked through it.  There's very little outside of a previously-linked article by Caryn Rose at Salon for me to add, so I'll make a couple of comments and steer you over to there.

(1) TMI.  Exhaustive detail of what they were wearing and where the puke landed (ceiling, in one case) when things got out of control.  Interesting for a while, and maybe it adds to the flavor of the story, but damn, after 500+ pages it got to be a bit much. Hard to see to forest for the trees, although this level of detail does show you the pine needles.  Probably best read in one rainy weekend gulp.

(2) Started grim, turned fun, then turned into a slog about 1986.  Then I started to hate a formerly favorite band.  "Here, here's the brass ring, let me hand it to you!" "*SLAP*clang*".  Wash, rinse, repeat, until even the deep-pocketed, used-to-Keith-Richards'-nonsense, coked-up record company execs had had enough.  But by the end... I began to see again why things went down the way they did, and mostly can listen to their music now.  Again, probably best read in one rainy weekend gulp.

OK, got nothing more to add.  Go read over at Salon now, that'll tell you everything else – no spoilers, btw – you need to know.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Robots of False Dawn

After all the promising youtube footage (bittage?) of these things ambling about in impressive and slightly ominous ways, it was beginning to look like, yes in fact, useful robots were soon to leave the factory floor.  Then word hit earlier this month that Google had unloaded Boston Dynamics.  Now the ugly truth is coming out from DARPA's most recent robot competition: these things are not ready for prime time, and probably not getting there anytime soon either.  Article at Popular Mechanics.
Slap on an "ACME" label and ship it...  to the scrap heap.

bonus article: EmDrive to finally undergo peer review.  About damn time.  If anybody can give me a coherent explanation of how this thing is supposed to work, I'll buy the beer, or a coffee, or whatever drinks are desired.  I strongly suspect that my wallet is safe on this one.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

30m Digital Group

An interesting web site:  30 meters is an extremely interesting band: good long-throw, combined with decent regional coverage.  You don't even need to learn CW, just pull out your smartphone and do some PSK31.

Tnx for the QSL cards, KB9UMT!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Game Theory, Where You Least Expect It

No wonder that movie was so great:
The Dark Knight, The Joker, and Game Theory all linked up together at Den of Geek!
Undreamed of depth in a popular movie.  So that's why it's still so watchable after all these years.
"Wanna play a little game?"  Oh hell no.

Are you literate?

Scientifically literate, that is?  Take this quick test over at the CS Monitor and find out!  Fifty questions, shouldn't take you more than a few minutes.

No, I will not tell you my score.  But it was not perfect, so don't feel intimidated if you miss a few yourself.  BTW, the current average running score is about 66%.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Shortwave Blues Times Update

With the beginning of DST and all, here are the current showtimes for Last Radio Playing, pulled from the pdf listing at WWCR's web site.  All times are U.S. Central Daylight.  Schedules change, days get longer, frequencies get higher, so there will probably be another update soon.
  • 1:00 am Saturday, 4.840 MHz
  • 1:00 am Saturday, 3.215  (yes, same time slot, different transmitter)
  • 2:00 pm Saturday, 12.160
  • 6:00 pm Friday, 9.350
  • 7:00 pm Friday, 4.840 (just on the first Friday each month)
Makes it easier to find "that ol' devil music" scattered amongst all the preaching.

Ethanol Gasoline Explained

The fairytale energy economics of this spooge is pretty accurately depicted here.  Except that they left out the parts about aquifer depletion, fertilizers causing a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, and billions in Big Ag subsides.

Who ever thought that this was a good idea?

Friday, March 18, 2016


Probably so.  It hit like a sledgehammer yesterday evening with hurricane strength winds for a couple of minutes.  Quick article at the Sea Coast Echo, and here's a picture from my side yard:
If the wind had been from the other direction, I'd likely be car shopping about now.  As it was, there was no real damage to the house or yard items beyond a couple of VHF antenna masts getting bent.  Should be back in business with those sometime tomorrow if the rain holds off.

Updated article at the Echo.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Year Clean, and Now Defeat

It's a Fish

Sort of, about the way a basic kite is an airplane.  Anyway, it was up in the air just what the Tully Monster was until some results were published recently showing that it had a rudimentary spine.  Pretty good article at the Washington Post.  Jury's still out on its neighbor the H-animal however.
I swear, the more I learn about biology and paleobiology in particular, the more H.P. Lovecraft's tales of alien strangeness seem down-home and comfortable.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Noteworthy Comics from this Morning

xkcd: It Begins
SMBC: side ramifications of the Rare Earth Hypothesis
what if?: Eat the Sun
PhD Comics: Supermassive Black Holes!

Just a cosmic alignment of slightly-funnier funnies this morning.  Or maybe I was up too late last night.

Rough luck on the dyno.

Hard to watch.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

New book about The Replacements is out...

... and it looks pretty good.  Commentary over at Salon.

Here, have some mood music while you read.

Review will be along in a matter of a week or two.  Pulled it on kindle last night, and am literally one line of text into the thing.

Beware the Ides of March

And you thought our 2016 election season is rough.  More at CNN.

Monday, March 14, 2016

RS-25 Testing Resumes

Enough of this pi business, here's the real post for today.  Last week NASA tested a used and now surplus RS-25, aka Space Shuttle Main Engine, in preparation for some upcoming manned deep-space missions.  Article at Fox and video at collectSpace.
The personal angle is that this is literally out my back door at work.  I was in a meeting at the time, in a rather substantial concrete building, and heard the rumble faintly but clearly.  Interesting.  Go watch the video.

Everybody Else is All Wrapped Up in Pi Today

Might as well post something too.  From over at The Argyle Sweater:

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Sometimes, it's time to hang it up.

Scott Kelly retires.  Sometimes, it's just time.

And sometimes, a resemblance is purely coincidental.
Just sayin'.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Art Bell Returns... again

It's a good end to a tough week, and Art Bell has returned to his show to give the permanent-stand-in-host an evening off.  Taxes are in, dog-and-pony shows are dogged, and, while the whisky is cheap it is ample.  This is a good world.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

More Theremin Madness

One from our European Correspondent.  Orkestra Obsolete performs New Order's Blue Monday, over at the BBC.


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

It's Clara Rockmore's 105th Birthday

And you can celebrate it by playing a virtual theremin over at Google's main page today, or anytime later at their Doodles page.

Be careful.  What a duck call is to ducks, a theremin is to flying saucers.

Hat tip to The Darling Daughter on this one.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Another Nice Space Picture

This time much the same view, just on the other side of the planet.  Instead of the eastern seaboard of the U.S., here it's Japan.  (permalink to NASA's APOD site)

Remember when things like space stations were the stuff of sci-fi?

ps: Busy week.  Meetings.  Taxes.  Going to leave this pretty picture on top for a few days.  Will be back with more two-wheeled adventures and bone crunches ASAP, which may take a bit.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

As if on cue for my week of meetings.

This popped up over at PhD Comics (permalink).  Exactly describes my next week:
No bucks, no Buck Rogers.  The things we do to make it all happen.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Monster from the Id

I've been making references lately to the "monster from the id" in the old sci-fi movie Forbidden Planet.  For those who need a refresher, here's a key clip from the movie:
My only question is, will Walter Pidgeon awake in time?

On a tangentially related note, here's an interesting documentary about the movie.  Two parts, totaling about a half-hour.  It's worth the view.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

A Car from Back in the Day

Back in the day, when BMW's really were The Ultimate Driving Machine, there was this little fun screamer called the 2002.  Over at Hooniverse, they have a test drive video of a recently restored '74 model.  Truly a thing of beauty.  Go see it here.

Unfortunately the "skinny tin box" has gone the way of the bare-bones Jeep.  Looks like Mustangs are filling the gap these days.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Gravel Grinder Lore

Digging around on the web for the last couple of weeks has yielded all kinds of advice:
With so much free advice that's maybe even worth what you paid for it out there on the net, I'll add some things I either tried or learned from last weekend.
  • Go paleo/low carb well in advance (say, months) of the ride.  That way you don't have to eat during the event, and you'll avoid the dreaded "gut rot."  Here's a motivational book that'll tell you everything you need to know: Eat Bacon, Don't Jog.  Of course, effortlessly losing 20 lbs doesn't hurt any either.
  • A little bit of non-carb electrolyte powder or squirt-tube concentrate helps the water absorb better.  It's light to carry, and you can pick up water along the way – usually.
  • When it comes to gear, go with proven stuff you know.  Even if it is a little worn, so long as it's still serviceable it's better to go with familiar gear.
  • When it comes to gear, when in doubt, go with the heavier duty option.  Skip the flyweight CX competition tubes for heavy butyl with kevlar tire liners, that sort of thing.  You're out there in the elements, not zipping around a short closed course.
There.  Notes to self before the next grinder complete.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Serious Pirate Radio

This isn't about "playing good music when you can't get an FCC license."  Rather, this is "passing the news when people are trying to kill you."  Raspberry Pi-powered transmitters broadcast Syrian radio, over at the BBC.

Don't try this at home kids.

That's right, don't try painting a tunnel on the side of the house and driving your car through.  No really, I don't need the repair bills right now.
Yes, it's been bouncing around on the net for a couple of months, with various degrees of veracity claimed here and there.  Doesn't matter, it's still a funny scenario.  Hat tip to The Well-Informed Son for pointing it out.  Pictures above are from this link.