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Michael considered fate at 20:09   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
A monkey riding a minibike and an elephant painting a self-portrait.. What's next, Bush on a unicycle?


Michael considered fate at 16:28   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Take from this what you will, but it appears that the Russians, Canadians, Japanese, and Koreans have the highest percentage of college-educated citizens. Report here, chart here.


Firehose-pressure blasts of sperm
Michael considered fate at 16:27   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment

all over your face. 
While I've discussed giant squid before, I'm linking this bit on giant squid sex mostly because of the author's use of the phrase "firehose-pressure blasts of sperm":
But having such a big penis does have one drawback: it seems that co-ordinating eight legs, two feeding tentacles and a huge penis, whilst fending off an irate female, is a bit too much to ask, and one of the two males stranded on the Spanish coast had accidentally injected himself with sperm packages in the legs and body.


Worldwide Slave Trade
Michael considered fate at 16:05   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Here's a good listen (or read) from NPR on the worldwide slave trade that still plagues us humans. While it is mentioned that there are more slaves in the world today than at any time in our history, this is probably statistical double-speak, since there are more humans in the world today than ever before - I doubt the percentage of slaves now is higher than ever before. The more depressing point from Benjamin Skinner, a New York Journalist:
"In 1850, a slave would cost roughly $30,000 to $40,000 — in other words it was like investing in a Mercedes. Today you can go to Haiti and buy a 9-year-old girl to use as a sexual and domestic slave for $50. The devaluation of human life is incredibly pronounced."
Incredible indeed.


IQs by job category
Michael considered fate at 15:56   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Here is an interesting bit of statistics: IQ Percentiles by job category. While the rankings are interesting to a degree, I found the relative spread of a single job's distribution to be more fascinating. Crafters and assemblers, for example, are much more wide-spread than plumbers.


Michael considered fate at 16:35   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment

Global Warming as an Engineering Problem?
Michael considered fate at 14:29   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
This is an excellent collection of slides discussing the global warming "problem" in an engineering domain. Specifically, it answers the question "how can we actually solve this problem in concrete terms?" Forget large numbers, statistics, and doom and gloom - this is something palatable!

The presenter, Saul Griffith, won a MacArthur Fellowship last year - a no-strings-attached "genius grant" of $500,000 over five years. In the presentation, he tracks his energy consumption for a year and gives a very detailed breakdown (and a lot of realism about how accurate these numbers cannot be), then compares that to the average consumption per human over the entire world. Then he figures out how much carbon we can reasonably put into the atmosphere a year (answer the question: "how warm are we willing to let it become?").. then he lays out how much renewable energy sources we will have to create (broken out into Nuclear, Solar, Wind, etc) in the next 25 years in order to reach the goals he has outlined.

The scary part:

One new 3 Megawatt Nuclear Reactor per week for the next 25 years

Three new 100 Megawatt geothermal steam turbines per day for the next 25 years

Twelve new 3 Megawatt wind turbines (in "great locations") per HOUR.

Et cetera.

The optimistic part of this all is that we've created 6TW of new power sources in the last 25 years. We only need 11.5TW of new carbon free sources in the next 25 years. Daunting? Sure. Doable? I certainly think so. It is about re-working our perceptions and approaches.

For example, Griffen points out that GM produces an entire car every two minutes - enough production to handle the generation of the 2TW of wind power laid out in his scheme.

Looking at the situation on a concrete level, such as in this presentation, is a good way of reigning in the "We're DOOMED!" mentality, in order to get us thinking about actual solutions (you know, besides trading carbon credits in a virtual market)..

Seriously, the link is worth half an hour of your time. Even if you just skim it.

(I especially like the idea of "consumption facts" on consumer products. See here)

BluRay's BD+ broken
Michael considered fate at 11:18   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
As with just about every commercially popular service or product crippled by DRM, BluRay has been set free:
According to a press-release from SlySoft, makers of the DVD-copying software AnyDVD HD, the BD+ anti-copying system used by BluRay disks has been cracked. BD+ has been held out as some kind of uncrackable answer to the DRM wars, and was cited by many pundits for BluRay's victory over HD-DVD in the recent format wars.
There were, of course, doubters, statements of long-term control, and, generally, ignorance
:Richard Doherty of the Envisioneering Group will have to revise his statement from July, 2007 regarding BD+: "BD+, unlike AACS which suffered a partial hack last year, won't likely be breached for 10 years". It is worth mentioning that since he made that statement only eight months have gone by.


Michael considered fate at 16:12   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment


Michael considered fate at 20:23   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment

Michael considered fate at 08:23   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
The PEW group has released its annual study on the cable news networks. As you might imagine, the findings are sometimes laughable, other times just depressing.
.. if one were to have watched five hours of cable news, one would have seen about:
  • 35 minutes about campaigns and elections
  • 36 minutes about the debate over U.S. foreign policy
  • 26 minutes or more of crime
  • 12 minutes of accidents and disasters
  • 10 minutes of celebrity and entertainment
On the other hand, one would have seen:
  • 1 minute and 25 seconds about the environment
  • 1 minute and 22 seconds about education
  • 1 minute about science and technology
  • 3 minutes and 34 seconds about the economy
  • 3 minutes and 46 seconds about health and health care
Since we're all adults here, I'll let you decide for yourself what you think is laughable, and what is depressing. I will reiterate that the lowest coverage was science, at a mere minute.. which is basically equivalent to, say, the President getting one day of science updates for every year he is in office. That's how them newsies are informing the public. No word on whether they counted "bunk science" (like the renewability of corn-based ethanol) as part of that minute or not.

Here's another tidbits:

Cable's top five news subjects of the year were the 2008 presidential campaign, Iraq war policy, immigration, events in Iraq, and Iran. While these top news areas are all, arguably, U.S. centric, they are also very much about the world as a whole - that nebulous region beyond our borders, something we can't really conceptualize, but we're pretty sure it's bad because, well, the news networks told us so. Yet the amount of time spent on foreign topics that are non-U.S. specific on Cable news and Network Evening news is 4% and 8%, respectively. No, I take that back, there is nothing respective about it.

Michael considered fate at 08:14   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment


Michael considered fate at 01:19   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment


Man a real gone dame
Michael considered fate at 23:27   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
The original, Tiny Bradshaw's The Train Kept A-Rollin'.

Even he still couldn't let her go.

Among the many covers:

The Johunny Burnette Trio

The Yardbirds with Jimmy Page or Jeff Beck

Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages - probably the hippest version, in my opinion. Reminds me of yer mom dancing in her underwear.

Aerosmith (with train montage!) or unplugged, with craptastic sound or even with Guns'n'Roses

Smooth and the Billy Boys

Yes yes, and even Motorhead

Seattle Pigeons
Michael considered fate at 15:15   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment


Victrola Coffee Roasters
Michael considered fate at 08:59   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
The "famous" Victrola Coffee Roasters cafe on Capitol Hill in Seattle.. or so they tell me:

Outside said cafe:


Michael considered fate at 14:55   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
In light of my recent mention of William F. Buckley's anti-drugwar stance, and my affinity towards HBO's The Wire, I give you War on the Drug War, in which the writers of The Wire suggest a wire-esque grassroots approach to side-stepping the broken and bleeding war on drugs:
If asked to serve on a jury deliberating a violation of state or federal drug laws, we will vote to acquit, regardless of the evidence presented. Save for a prosecution in which acts of violence or intended violence are alleged, we will — to borrow Justice Harry Blackmun's manifesto against the death penalty — no longer tinker with the machinery of the drug war. No longer can we collaborate with a government that uses nonviolent drug offenses to fill prisons with its poorest, most damaged and most desperate citizens.

Jury nullification is American dissent, as old and as heralded as the 1735 trial of John Peter Zenger, who was acquitted of seditious libel against the royal governor of New York, and absent a government capable of repairing injustices, it is legitimate protest.
Unfortunately, we as a society show a certain amount of nepotism towards the drug war as if it were our golden child. Too many people - smart, intelligent, reasonable people even - see drugs as solely bad and therefore something to be stamped out and controlled. We're invested in this solution; we've dug deeply on this, and would like to think we can earn something positive out of it.

It seems worth recalling an old joke here, for discussions sake:
"Sir, What is the secret of your success?"

"Two words."

"And, sir, what are they?"

"Good decisions."

"And how do you make good decisions?"

"One word."

"And sir, what is that?"


"And how do you get Experience?"

"Two words."

"And, sir, what are they?"

"Bad decisions."


Needle and Cranes
Michael considered fate at 22:04   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment


The Intangibility of Being.
Michael considered fate at 13:44   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
I was in Seattle for the weekend, and just the change in venue had me thinking about the economics of things - what is important to different people in different places, and what their spending thresholds are. While I was there, I had a desire to purchase something. Not so much a souvenir or anything, but more a token of the trip. A nice hat. Some shoes. With so many hipsters around, it was hard not to stare at all the accessorizing - nose rings, ear rings, face rings, belt buckles, bags, bikes, etc, onward, upward, to consumerist bliss and beyond - and desire a little piece of the pie yourself. I didn't do it, though, because I am keenly aware of the fallacy that money spending can create happiness. Well, let's not blame the money this time; Materialism does not solve sorrow. So I saw some nice shoes and some cool hats and I thought about owning them, and that was nice, and then I went home. Today, I see that Jaime has put it quite nicely, and better than I could:
Just thinking about [a $25,000 windfall] can be fun in itself. When you have a little money to play with, you can fantasize and own everything, but once you spend it, you only own what you bought.
That statement in itself is a testament to the power of the human mind and spirit, ultimately triumphant over any mundane earthly things we may toil to create, like money or even art. Money buys art and art buys representation, but it's all just a model for the intangibility of existence.

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Check out heroecs, the robotics team competition website of my old supervisor's daughter. Fun stuff!
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