Thursday, May 27, 2004

More Oil?

Michael Fumento says don't worry, be happy -- we gots plenty of oil. I've read most of this stuff before. What I don't understand is if Canadian oil sands could provide this much oil, and it is economical to (drill, mine?) at $25 a barrel, why aren't we getting all of our oil from Canada now?


I went through a minor league fascination with Airships a few years ago. I wondered whether or not there were any practical applications for them these days. The only ones I've ever seen are the Goodyear blimps(not properly Airships, but very similar in shape and design. Basically an Airship must have a fixed frame, whereas a blimp can be deflated), which are mostly just platforms for advertising.

It looks like there is current research using blimps. Futurepundit posted on one of the applications here. The commenter posted several links: here, here, here, and here.

I wonder how possible the balloon-to-space applications are? If it works, it seems like a new era of spaceflight would be open to mankind. So I hope it does work. It certainly seems more probable than the whole space elevator thing.

Also, I think it should be pointed out that many more people would be interested in going into space this way. If you had to go into space, would you rather float up gently, or ride up on a controlled explosion.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Scumbag record companies

This really stinks. I would be more persuaded by arguments for extended copyright, Digital Rights Management, and ridiculous penalties if it weren't for episodes like this. Show of hands on who thinks copyright should be reduced to 50 years, whether it's a work for hire or not.

Jon Stewart... the Commencement Address at William and Mary. Pretty Funny.

Ken Parish and others change their minds

Ken has decided he is no longer a global warming skeptic. Partially due to evidence, and partially due to recent deaths in the skeptic field. Except for back40 at Crumb Trail, I don't think there's a skeptic left I respect.

While they are not necessarily pro-warming advocates(Easterbrook is), Andrew Sullivan, Greg Easterbrook, and Charles Krauthammer have all endorsed an increased gas tax. I prefer a carbon tax, but you take what you can get.

ACLU again

Like I said, the ACLU does work to protect some important freedoms, but some of the things they do redefine ludicrous. Go here to see what they're up to now.

Link via Hit and Run.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

I got those supportin' computers even though I'm not I.T. and I really don't wanna do it blues.....

Sometimes I think people are deliberately obtuse about computers. My boss had me fix his ProComm setup yesterday. He had lost his directory file(a file full of telnet IP addresses) and claimed that "Office 2003" messed it up. Now this was crap, but as he's my boss I couldn't say that. So, I go over to his machine and fix it in about twelve seconds.

I know this sounds like bragging, but I can't understand how he couldn't know how to deal with this. We've only been using the program for 5 years. I think that he's internalized the idea the he doesn't need to know how to do these things, because I'm just one phone call away. But I am not I.T., and while it's convenient for him(and others) that I can repair these things, it really distracts me from my job(and blogging). Plus, if I'm going to be a translator, a developer, and a Tech Support person, then I'd like all three paychecks.

End of rant.


I've been trying to figure out how fast a person can go on a bicycle. Not the world record, just what is an average velocity on your run-of-the-mill ten speed. I'm trying to assess the practicality of using it as a commuter vehicle. Well, I can't find it. The closest thing I've found is the top average daily speed on the tour-de-frog, which is around 30 mph.

The article on the previous post asserts that the bike is impractical since the elderly and feeble, who could probably drive a car, couldn't get around. I think other problems would include not being able to ride in the rain, needing to shower at work, getting annihilated by automobile traffic, etc. Still, imagine what kind of shape you'd be in if this were possible.

Anyway, during my search I found this site. It's about bikes that have special aerodynamic bubbles to reduce drag. Check out the top times. Most of the speeds were achieved for just 200 meters, but 81 m.p.h. is still astonishing.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Kyoto a go?

I've seen several reports that Russian president Vladimir Putin is going to sign the Kyoto accords. The conservatives are already getting their panties in a wad over it, but I still don't see what they're worried about. The Europeans are, so far, not succeeding in keeping their end of the bargain. Even if the U.S. was a signatory(which it isn't), what exactly are the consequences of not meeting the goals? Nothing much, as far as I can tell.

I know I'm wasting my time here, but this doesn't have to be painful. Implementing a carbon tax, while simultaneously reducing other taxes so that the overall pain felt by the general populace is minimal, is possible. If this were explained in a simple manner most people would accept it. Overall taxes could actually be reduced if Republicans need an extra incentive(plus, I'd love to hear the debates. Dem - "This is another tax cut for the Rich!, You're increasing the deficit!" Rep - "Isn't Global Warming more serious than those things, would you rather tax the rich or save the earth."). The Republicans might actually get to portray themselves as the "good-guys."

I know. It'll never happen. The "Global Warming is a Crock" meme has totally infested the Republican and Libertarian spheres. NASA, The American Geophysical Union, and most climatologists believe it is happening. But while their collective scientific efforts are applauded by conservatives when they have no political stake in the results, on this one topic apparently an entire field of enquiry has been subborned by the "greens".

Once again, I think the Republicans are missing a huge "put-up or shut-up" opportunity. Politics is about compromise, so ask the Dems to trade for the pro-green legislation. This could be an opportunity to enact tort reform, truly reform social security, cripple the teacher's unions, or any other political view that I support. If Al Gore and the rest are serious, and this is the most important issue facing humanity, then they should be willing to trade any number of sacred cows in order to get it enacted.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Does Atkins work?

The Economist reports Yea! Verily! Most of what I read about it leads me to conclude I could never stick to it.

Side Note: Why does blogger know a word like "verily", but not know "blog", or "blogger"?

Yet another Lambert...

...has written a very long, but interesting, article about human food consumption. It covers a broad array of topics, but focuses mainly on what humans ate long ago, what we eat now, and the consequences.

UPDATE: A statement in the above article is possibly incorrect. The article states that:

"Even adults in the upper end of the "normal" range, who have BMIs of 22 to 24, would generally live longer if they lost some fat;"

However, Wayne Wood at Troppo Armadillo posted this yesterday. The relevant quote:

The core belief of those prosecuting this case is that the BMI tables testify to a strong, predictable relationship between increasing weight and increasing mortality. That, after all, is what most people assume when they read that medical and public health authorities have determined a BMI of 25 or above is hazardous to a person's health. This belief, however, is not supported by the available evidence.

A 1996 project undertaken by scientists at the National Centre for Health Statistics and Cornell University analysed the data from dozens of previous studies, involving a total of more than 600,000 subjects with up to a 30-year follow-up. Among non-smoking white men, the lowest mortality rate was found among those with a BMI between 23 and 29, which means that a large majority of the men who lived longest were "overweight" according to government guidelines. The mortality rate for white men in the supposedly ideal range of 19 to 21 was the same as that for those in the 29 to 31 range (most of whom would be defined now as "obese").

The case against fat proceeds on the assumption that if a fat person becomes thin, that person will acquire the health characteristics of people who were thin in the first place. Although this assumption may seem like simple common sense, it is, like many commonsensical assumptions, quite dubious. If a person who is physiologically inclined to be fat loses weight, this does not transform that person into someone who is physiologically inclined to be thin. To understand the implications of this distinction, consider that bald men die sooner, on average, than hirsute men, probably because bald men have higher levels of testosterone, which appear to lower life expectancy. Given this, surely no one would conclude that giving a bald man hair implants would improve his prospects for long life.

Great, my BMI is in the 30's and I'm losing my hair. On the plus side, I have more testosterone!

Tim Lambert takes apart McKitrick

Tim Lambert explains how McKitrick mistakenly states that "no physical basis to average temperature" is his book Taken By Storm. I had read this argument before, probably on TCS, but had yet to see a rebuttal. I think Tim pretty much shuts him down. 'Course what do I know, I made C's in physics.

All Hail XCOPY!

Not DVDXCOPY, just plain old MS-DOS XCOPY. It is the solution to a massive problem I've been having. As I develop tools for others to use, I distribute them rather clumsily by zipping it all up and dropping on the user's hard disk. The problem with this is that I have to set everything up on the user's machine, which takes a while, and which usually means that different people have different versions of the tools.

By simplifying my programs(mostly by converting al VB code into VBA macros, and by using a custom compilation of PERL, which doesn't require that environment variables be changed), I have been able to create a directory structure which contains all of my work. I then us XCOPY to copy this info onto a shared drive. By using the /D option every time I update some code, I can keep the shared drive copy completely up to date with my work. Then I have the end users run the same process in reverse, copying the new files onto their drives. It's quick and simple. Now, if I could only get the buttwipes to use the freakin' software!

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Who'd a thunk it?

Bill Cosby, whom I love, is hammering the responsibility thing. I think it's worth stealing the whole thing.

Bill Cosby was anything but politically correct in his remarks Monday night at a Constitution Hall bash commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. To astonishment, laughter and applause, Cosby mocked everything from urban fashion to black spending and speaking habits.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal," he declared. "These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids -- $500 sneakers for what? And won't spend $200 for 'Hooked on Phonics.' . . .

"They're standing on the corner and they can't speak English," he exclaimed. "I can't even talk the way these people talk: 'Why you ain't,' 'Where you is' . . . And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk. And then I heard the father talk. . . . Everybody knows it's important to speak English except these knuckleheads. . . . You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth!"

The Post's Hamil Harris reports that Cosby also turned his wrath to "the incarcerated," saying: "These are not political criminals. These are people going around stealing Coca-Cola. People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake and then we run out and we are outraged, [saying] 'The cops shouldn't have shot him.' What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand?"

When Cosby finally concluded, Howard University President H. Patrick Swygert, NAACP President Kweisi Mfume and NAACP legal defense fund head Theodore Shaw came to the podium looking stone-faced. Shaw told the crowd that most people on welfare are not African American, and many of the problems his organization has addressed in the black community were not self-inflicted.

I love it.

Check it out!

Invisibility cloaks, Flying cars, and more.

Note: That flying car has been "coming soon" since the early nineties. I read an article in popular mechanics about it back in my undergrad days. I really want to see this work one day, but I have a hard time believing the gummint will ever let us all have our own VTOL vehicle.

Friday, May 14, 2004



A Saddam-9/11 link. It's Front Page magazine, not exactly an unbiased publication, so you have to take this with a grain of salt. But I still find it interesting.

New byline.

They say: The Price of Freedom...... is eternal vigilance.

I say: The Price of Chile...... is infernal flatulence.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Water... Water... Nowhere

As if there wasn't enough in the world to worry about, Roger Bate says you should be concerned about water.

I think that Mr. Bate is probably right, and that we are going have to allow a real market in water to exist. Selling water at less than cost will eventually lead to ruin.

I also think that desalination is the way to go for future water supplies. Our freshwater supplies are going to be maxed or tapped out in the future, and here is an apparently inexhaustible supply.

Here's an article on some proposals to build desalination plants in Florida.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

It's probably unfair to tar all of Islam with...

... this, but could someone please point me to where this kind of thing is denounced by an Islamic cleric, Imam, philosopher?

James Lileks

Doesn't really talk about much today, but I think some of the writing is noteworthy:

I wonder if George Lucas knows he can never really set foot in public anymore for fear he’ll be stomped into goiter paste?

I amused myself by watching this fellow lope around the court, showing everyone his mad basketball skillz. He spun the ball on his finger. Palmed it, rolled it behind his back, all while talking on his cell phone. And then he’d shoot.

Didn’t make a single shot. Not one. Bricks. The rim was begging for mercy. Of course, I can’t shoot basketball either; never could. But I don’t walk around the court acting like an Edgar-Winterized Meadowlark Lemon, either.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

I find this to be very cool.

Crumb Trail has an entry entitled Industrial Glucose. It's all about how glucose, which is currently quite costly as a source of energy, can be extracted from cellulose, or the bulk building material of all plants(I think this is right). The idea is that instead of only using the fruit or seed of a plant for acquiring glucose(mostly from corn), any plant could be rendered down in its entirety. Thus production of an alternative fuel(such as ethanol) could become much more energy efficient.

Combined with this and this, it's possible to see a new energy future, where plant material is directly converted into usable power for us all.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Aw man I should have saved that.....

.... I could've made some money on that! A ding-dang-dew!

It appears that some enterprising folks are auctioning their opportunities for gmail on eBay. I think it's too late for me.