Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Potpourri CXLII

Now that my head's clearer, I can start collecting random links of interest for sheer curiosity's sake. Off we go...

First, a visit into the Realm of the Annoying: the physics of the vuvuzela. Oh, and speaking of vuvuzelas (vuvuzelae? vuvuzelii?), here's a video of the world's largest specimen.

Next, while nothing is certain in the current environment, I see that NASA has released a BAA (Broad Agency Announcement) seeking companies to perform studies for heavy-lift vehicles (HLVs). Given that we've already built and flown a HLV--that'd be Saturn V--I can't help but wonder what's to be studied.

A little bipartisan zinging...for my friends on the left and the right.

Random thing...dogs dressed up as lobsters. No, really. Those dogs are going to eat their owners' eyes when they die alone.

Found by Doc: the difference between math and engineering.

What would you use self-folding origami for? How about robotic rovers?

From Kate Down Under: Australia has its first female prime minister.

Star Wars and high fashion? Hmmmm.

The Adventurers Club from Disney's Pleasure Island has been recreated virtually.

Found a brochure for this site while cleaning out my cubicle:

From Anika: Some headlines are so out there that there's no suitable lead-in. This might be one of them.

How can visiting Batavia, Illinois' FermiLab change kids' perspectives on what it's like to be a scientist? Check this out.

More food for thought in the ongoing discussion over how writing-based organizations can make money on the internet...The Times of London--hardly a low-quality publication--added a "pay wall" popup window for people wanting to read their content, and their readership on the site dropped 50 percent. Doc's comments on this article were instructive:

Paywalls are a disastrous idea, period. It’s a little bit of an edge case for something like a newspaper, but here’s the short version of the (currently) only viable business model for something like a paper
1. Online paper hires writers, pays them for content created.

2. Online paper sells advertising space to cover costs and turn profit.

3. Online paper publishes created content at no cost to the reader, subsidized by the advertising in question.

Attempts to do it other ways (pay walls, membership fees, etc.) have pretty much catastrohpically failed for every paper that’s tried it. I think the WSJ is the only notable exception to this rule.
A bionic cat? Yes.

For those who are interested, here's a site that collects some of Jerry Pournelle's thoughts on politics.
A random heapin' helpin' of recent sites that interested me:
  • An animated story about a writer who couldn't read.
  • A card game about game design.
  • Did Twitter cost General McChrystal his command?
  • World's slowest Porsche.
  • A collaborative ukelele jam courtesy of YouTube. I can't make this up, folks.
  • DIY fusion.
  • A gated resort will be opening at Walt Disney World. Wonder what that'll cost.
  • For Anthony in Hong Kong: China's high-tech underclass.
  • Replacing the "red phone" to the Kremlin with Twitter? Yep.
  • Bollywood is making a spoof about Osama bin Laden. About time someone did.
  • Because there are parts of the world Sir Richard Branson still has yet to own, he has moved into the gaming business.
  • Like, whatever! '80s teen idols Debbie Gibson and Tiffany are going to appear in a SyFy Network show.
  • There's been a lot of talk on the Drudge Report about Congress giving the President the power to shut down the internet. Here's a link suggesting that that's not quite doable.
  • Lightsaber USB sticks. Now, now, need to fight over them.
  • Wil Wheaton, forever to be known as Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation, will be guest starring in an episode of Leverage.
  • On yet another science fictional note, here's what happens when Dr. Who meets up with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
I really shouldn't be allowed loose on the internet...oh, well. We now return you to your regularly scheduled foolishness.

1 comment:

lin said...

Designating "cyberspace as a national asset" to be defended by the Department of Homeland Security is a step toward ownership via regulation. That this plan calls for the private sector to devise plans to hand over the reigns in a so-called emergency makes it no more palatable.

The next logical step would be to make the plans uniform across the country, further enabling a nationwide takeover.

These are the people who sent up trial balloons about federal subsidies for newspapers. Remember the Tony Soprano Rule; the reason for the loan is to take away the collateral for the loan.

Here is one thing that disturbs me about the so-called Internet kill switch. This is cut-and-paste from a TECHWORLD article.

The bill also would allow the US president to take emergency actions to protect critical parts of the Internet, including ordering owners of critical infrastructure to implement emergency response plans, during a cyber-emergency. The president would need congressional approval to extend a national cyber-emergency beyond 120 days under an amendment to the legislation approved by the committee.

I simply do not trust the current administration with the power to announce a contrived national emergency and take over Web access here for six months.

Think about this power grab: Obama declares a cyber-emergency during the six months before the 2012 federal elections.