Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Saturday, September 03, 2005

  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:

 

  Inappropriate response?

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:
Oh, yea, and this from Kayne West was deemed inappropriate by NBC

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 things...



Eric Raymond defends an armed, responsible citizenry, as does the New York Times:

I re-read Brin's The Postman last night.

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.
 

  Katrina

No one really knows the extent of the disaster.

I run x86_64 linux, which doesn't have a lot of commercial support - so I can't see the multiple multi-media flash news presentations, nor view the damage with google maps, nor watch the video clips that are in windows media format. There hasn't been a professional news story yet that I could watch on the web, and that kind of bothers me. Nobody posts javascript + pictures anymore.

I don't have tv, so I can't see the ad ridden 3 minute condensation of the stories from the city.

I have 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.
 
Tuesday, August 30, 2005

  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.

(pic coming)

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?
 
David Täht writes about politics, space, copyright, the internet, audio software, operating systems and surfing.


Resume,Songs,
My new blog, NeX-6, My facebook page
Orgs I like
The EFF - keeping free speech in the world
Musical stuff I like
Jeff, Rick, Ardour, Jack
Prior Rants - Wireless and Wifi in 2015 - not what I dreamed of Saving wifi! Fixing Bufferbloat! Fighting the vend... Virgin Media - Fixing the epidemic of bufferbloat ... 49... and trying to find my navel Wheels down on mars! Tracking the landing of Curiosity, from Seattle spotting NEOs from around venus's orbit Asteroids as lunar orbit resources SOPA is bad news Departing France for England, then 'home'.
Best of the blog:
Uncle Bill's Helicopter - A speech I gave to ITT Tech - Chicken soup for engineers
Beating the Brand - A pathological exploration of how branding makes it hard to think straight
Inside the Internet Mind - trying to map the weather within the global supercomputer that consists of humans and google
Sex In Politics - If politicians spent more time pounding the flesh rather than pressing it, it would be a better world
Getting resources from space - An alternative to blowing money on mars using NEAs.
On the Columbia - Why I care about space
Authors I like:
Doc Searls
Where's Cherie?
UrbanAgora
Jerry Pournelle
The Cubic Dog
Evan Hunt
The Bay Area is talking
Brizzled
Zimnoiac Emanations
Eric Raymond
Unlocking The Air
Bob Mage
BroadBand & Me
SpaceCraft
Selenian Boondocks
My Pencil
Transterrestial Musings
Bear Waller Hollar
Callahans
Pajamas Media BlogRoll Member

If you really want to, you can poke through the below links as well.

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