Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Misc: Rehnquist dead, Chimps sequenced, an oil rant
Justice Rehnquist has passed on
. The changes to come in the Supreme Court will generate lasting changes in America. So will the changes coming from nanotubes
and cloning. I doubt that the events in New Orleans will have the same lasting effects.
A chimpanzee's genome has been sequenced
, revealing only 200,000 differences, most of them quite small, between humans and chimps. No feedback from the Intelligent Design people, they are all trying to reconcile God's Will with the drowning of New Orleans
I gave myself the best present ever for my b-day. 0 balances on all my remaining credit cards... well, until I paid the mortgage. The idea of more americans paying off their cards should make Greenspan shudder, but fear not for our overstretched government's finances - I'm still broke, but trying to get caught up on my back taxes next. Only thing I can offer to help others out of a jam is blood, and I just donated some of that.
Wells Fargo promptly slashed my credit limit to 1/7th of what it was. I found that out when I tried to buy gas after paying the mortgage.
Gas is at 3.45 a gallon where I live. The Radish Crimson (a non-blogger) writes:
The Weekly World News says we will be out of oil soon! With that in mind, $2.69 a gallon is a bargain!
But what else can one say? We've been dancing on the railroad tracks for quite some time, not believing that this nonrenewable energy source will ever stop gushing forth with limitless power. All those dinosaurs and antedeluvian plants gave their lives to give use cheap plentiful fuel to fill our Hummers and Navigators.
We've heard the loud blat of the train and discounted it. Here it comes, chugga chugga. Anybody care?
My wife said her next car is going to be one of those super energy-efficient jobbers that can zip around all day on a gallon of gas.
"Cool," I said, "but that will only work until one of those me-first types accidentally run over your peanutmobile with his Cadillac Escallade.
You see, in America, we have freedom. Freedom to do as we please, within reason. But there are limits to our freedoms. We have no freedom to protect ourselves from the selfish and shortsighted. But they have the freedom to squash our Cooper Minis like aluminum bugs with their big, bad Tahoes.
We don't have the freedom to take away their Ford Expeditions, but they have the freedom to own them, use them, run up horrendous bills on credit to power them, then declare bankruptcy and start fresh.
Yep, pretty much shaved apes, hooting and jibbering behind the wheel of a soon to be obsolete device.
Or maybe not. Who knows? I've lived through doom and gloom before. All we really need to do is to put a band together and make a rockin' hit single or two.
Think of all the acoustic jams in the world without oil. Living like the goobers in Tombstone. No Megamalls, just the local drygoods store.
Man, think of all the animals we'd have to produce, millions of horses and goats, yaks, steer. Better start breeding them right this minute.
And where will the Eagles play? Those stadiums are true energy hogs. They certainly won't exist.
I can't wait to be beside my son, guns in hand, picking off the neighbors as they try to get our last gallon of gas that I was saving for my last act of protest: self-immolation of my diabetic ass after eating a whole--no, wait--two whole wedding cakes. Man, that's how I want to go, seeing if the 1700 blood sugar level takes me faster than the flaming accelerant. Which will win I wonder?
Where Bush said: The good news is -- and it's hard for some to see it now -- that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch. (Laughter.)
Here's some biting netitizen satire of what Bush might have said at other national disasters
The good news is -- could someone stop that guy coughing in the back? Thanks. The good news is that we have contained the plague. A lot of good people, hard workin' people, have put their effort into separating out the victims and giving them the best care available so that the rest of us, of you, really, can get on with rebuilding our lives. And the really great news is that those houses, the infected houses and and such, that we're burning down because they harbor infection, those houses and businesses are going to be replaced by some hedges and in no time at all the Church will have some sheep out there grazing and it will be really pastoral, really beautiful. People will come from miles around to gaze at the sheep and think about all the people who used to live in this village, so you'll all be remembered. Now just head on down the road a bit towards London. I hear things are okay over there and we'll make sure you have what you need -- what's that? -- Okay, sorry, I guess...I guess they're sayin' we'll make sure you know the way.
The good news is -- and it's hard for some to see it now -- that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic master site plan, better than it was before. Out of the rubbles of Larry Silverstein's property -- he's lost his entire office complex -- there's going to be a fantastic new tower. And I'm looking forward to breakfast at Windows on the World.
The good news is -- and it's hard for some to see it now -- that out of this crucifixtion there's going to come a fantastic new savior, like he was before. Out of the rubble of Jesus's old body -- he's lost a lot of weight -- there's going to be a fantastic new Lord to lead us all into the Promised Land. And I'm looking forward to His helping me quit drinking so I can get there.
Posted by: mmy | Sep 2, 2005 12:26:01 PM
"The good news is - and it is hard for Yoko to see this now - is that we are gonna see a fantastic new Beatles just like they used to be. Out of this tragedy and senseless murder we'll see them rebuild. Maybe they can get Eddie Rabbit, or that funny praying mantis lookin' fella, who's he from? Yeah! The Cars! Love them Cars. Anyway, before you know it I'll be gettin' high as hell to a whole brand new White Album just like I was back in the old days."
Oh, yea, and this from Kayne West was deemed inappropriate by NBC
I hate the way they portray us in the media. You see a black family, it says, "They're looting." You see a white family, it says, "They're looking for food." And, you know, it's been five days [waiting for federal help] because most of the people are black. And even for me to complain about it, I would be a hypocrite because I've tried to turn away from the TV because it's too hard to watch. I've even been shopping before even giving a donation, so now I'm calling my business manager right now to see what is the biggest amount I can give, and just to imagine if I was down there, and those are my people down there. So anybody out there that wants to do anything that we can help -- with the way America is set up to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off, as slow as possible. I mean, the Red Cross is doing everything they can. We already realize a lot of people that could help are at war right now, fighting another way -- and they've given them permission to go down and shoot us!
And this strangely appropriate (freudian?) slip from feeble FEMA director Michael D. Brown, who obviously doesn't understand that Pac-man
- and much of the violence in the streets - are about eating
Much of the earlier violence, he said, had been perpetrated by youths with guns. "Some of these kids think this is a game," he said. "They somehow got their hands on a weapon. They think they are playing Pac-Man or something and shooting at people. Those kinds of hot spots will continue, but I can tell you they will learn very quickly the 82nd Airborne does not like to be shot at. This is not a game."
Eric Raymond defends an armed, responsible citizenry
, as does the New York Times
John Carolan was sitting on his porch in the thick, humid darkness just before midnight Tuesday when three or four young men, one with a knife and another with a machete, stopped in front of his fence and pointed to the generator humming in the front yard, he said. One said, "We want that generator," he recalled.
"I fired a couple of rounds over their heads with a .357 Magnum," Mr. Carolan recounted Wednesday. "They scattered."
He smiled and added, "You've heard of law west of the Pecos. This is law west of Canal Street."
I re-read Brin's The Postman
A constant theme runs throughout that book: "Who will take responsibility?". Brin writes: The postman was written as an answer to all those post-apocalyptic books and films that seem to revel in the idea of civilization's fall. It's a story about how much we take for granted -- and how desperately we would miss the little, gracious things that connect us today. It is a story about the last idealist in a fallen America. A man who cannot let go of a dream we all once shared. Who sparks restored faith that we can recover, and perhaps even become better than we were.
No one really knows the extent of the disaster.
I don't have tv, so I can't see the ad ridden 3 minute condensation of the stories from the city.
read the publications of those that sit at their desks in nyc and find new ways to grind their axes
I couldn't help but notice today that most of the ads in Auto-trader this month were for big, ugly gas guzzlers.
and I have listened to the anguished podcast of Mayor Ray Nagin
: "You know the reason why the looters got out of control? Because we had most of our resources saving people, thousands of people that were stuck in attics, man, old ladies. ... You pull off the doggone ventilator vent and you look down there and they're standing in there in water up to their freaking necks."
And I add:
Send planes. Send trains. Send boats. Send the Navy. Send in the C5s. Send in the blackhawks
. There's a million people displaced and tens of thousands starving.
I can't do much for New Orleans or the cities nearby also destroyed but I'm going to bike out of here in a minute to donate some blood.
Note to self Gotta remember to do that every other month
. So should everybody.
I'm befuddled by the lack of new pumps for the pumping stations
. NOBODY has any spares? Attn, world - got any spare pumps we can borrow for a few weeks?
And people may be starving, drowning, and without air conditioning in New Orleans... but at least help is coming, and they aren't in Darfur
The Diamond Age II
In "The Graduate", a well meaning parent whispers the one word required to assure Dustin Hoffman's future fortune: "Plastics
" - And that may well have been true, in the 60s and 70s and 80s. Before that - it was aluminum, or maybe it was stainless steel (anybody remember the fad for dishes and cups made of metal? it didn't last long) - but there was plastic everything in everything for a long time before it became passe'.
This decade's magic material is "Carbon nanotubes". Last week I talked about Carbon nanotube ribbons
which have immense strength under tension - a weight to strength ration almost enough to build a space elevator
. I drove around the next morning having a nanoday - trying to work out "how much would that overpass have to weigh if it were made of nanotube ribbon?" The answer was - very, very little - except that, as the ribbons only had strength under tension, steel and concrete - or composites - would have to be used for support and the designs for the overpasses changed to be suspension bridges...
If a sizeable solar sail could weigh 70kg - how thick and heavy would an America's cup sail need to be?
So, anyway, I was stuck on the supporting structure part of the problem. I missed my exit into work by 10 miles, I was so focused seeing the world through nano-eyes! I'm sure the scientists and engineers and grad-students working on this have the same problem, only multiplied.
Today another lab has built Aggregated diamond nanorods with immense strength under compression
. Or, at least I think that's what they are saying - they claim to be "harder than diamond" - which I take means the same thing. Hah. A diamond is an engineer's best friend, too. Aggregated diamond nanorods look pretty hard to make, though. Hmm, what could you use these things for, on earth, in small quantities and sizes?
And a third lab has built - a diamond superconductor
at 4 degrees kelvin. Man, that's cold. Power supply for polar moon base?
I keep wondering why shuttle tiles never became a viable NASA spinoff. They would make an excellent insulator for a woodstove...
...but, anyway, carbon based materials are breaking out all over. Another thing I love about carbon - it's available everywhere
. Theoretically, manufacturing could be anywhere - or everywhere - the Diamond age could be the revolution that brings the population of our entire planet into harmony with this century's technology - wealth now held by only a few nations.
beating the beat frequencies
OK, I finally got rid of some of the annoying digital hash sound. Remember "one path to ground"?
The XV-88's pre-amp module is attached to the case via two metal brackets that aren't tied to anything else on the circuit board, but when I remove the pre-amp module from the case and break this connection - Walla! the annoying tone disappears!
I replaced the metal screws with nylon and screwed it back in. Bad sound still gone. I took a sample of the sounds again - there's still noise down there at -82 db but the two channels of it are now in phase
. Connect the pre-amp board with metal screws - out of phase - with nylon - in phase. Weird.
There's still this 4 second peak in the noise that must be coming from RFI somewhere, but what? 2.4 ghz wireless? 800mhz phone? Space aliens?
I've spent so long at this hideously low volume that I can clearly make out the sound of my laptop plugged in and not, the sound of a LCD display, and the sound of an old USB hub's wall wart (tossed).
Kvetch - there must exist some sort of rack mount "wall wart eliminator" - something with like 6 normal 3 prong jacks and a set of, like, 8 terminals for DC devices, switchable from 1.5v to 12v, 1000ma. It's nuts to have a half dozen DC transformers in a situation like this... Juice goose used to make one
- with a weird cabling scheme
- all I want would be regular wire, screw terminals and connectors that interface to Radio Shack's standard line of DC adaptor connectors.
I am surrounded by the guts of the XV-88 as I write, in addition to the totally dissassembled rack's worth of cables and gear. I should really reassemble it, but I want to take some pictures first... I think I've only fixed a symptom of the problem, for a while I thought I'm going to order a new cpu board for the thing - or maybe a new power supply - or a pre-amp - choices, choices - now I'm playing with . Linuxsampler
and I'm thinking I'm going to abandon the sound modules on the XV-88 entirely in favor of doing it all pure digitally... if I can find a piano sound in gigasampler format that I like.
While I was going after this problem I went to the store and played another XV-88 just for grins. The store environment was too noisy to tell if the noise existed there, too. But I also had a nearly orgasmic experience with the Korg Oasis keyboard... it runs Linux internally - sweet - it has a wonderful touchscreen interface - it sounds pretty darn good - it has ADAT outputs - it costs more than my last car did...
Bought a new 8' grounding rod for the building I'm in. Jammed it 3 feet in the ground before it stopped with no amount of hammering to budge it further. How on earth do people get these things 8 feet into the ground?