Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Potpourri CLVII

Good evening to clean house--my domicile, the inbox, etc.--so let's proceed.

From Jim: a little sarcasm on

From Father Dan: the beer commercial as art.

From Lin, a story that will raise a lot of noise if it comes to pass: House Republicans are looking to eliminate the law that makes any child born here automatically a citizen, thereby giving its parents a legitimate claim to American social services and the like even if they came here illegally. This will probably be denounced by saying, "Republicans have a vested interest in keeping certain people out of the country!" Okay, that's one argument. But what's the vested interest of those who say it's okay for people to enter the country illegally? My ancestors didn't.

Here are some items I found in my internet "travels":
--A ponderable double standard: Julian Assange planned to sue the Guardian for (wait for it)…leaking information.
--A topic that gets batted around my office occasionally: "open-source" space mission design. My argument against this remains that even if you could design a launch vehicle or spacecraft online collaboratively using "the wisdom (or stupidity) of crowds," you still need a large, centralized factory to build the friggin' things. Boeing is learning the hard truth of trying to subcontract out a lot of piece-parts worldwide on its 787 Dreamliner, which is that if you depend on someone overseas, politics and economics make it inevitable that some other nation could hold your production process hostage. Anyhow, good luck to the open-source guys. They also might run into ITAR issues and the like if someone creates a widget related to guidance or propulsion.
--Table manners, Indiana Jones style.
--Anger management, Star Trek style.

--How to become a millionaire in three years. (Caveat, reader: no promises on this.)
--Why iPad is not a "Kindle killer."
--A steampunk Mr. Potato Head? Why not?
--And while we're at it, how about some steampunk Star Trek photographs?
--The U.S. Navy has a new gun in testing, and you really don't want to get hit by this one.
--This takes awhile, but I found some of it pretty good: actor/comedian Stephen Fry on things he wished he'd learned when he was 18.
--During the last blizzard to hit New York City, there were some allegations of purposeful work slowdowns by unions on things like trash removal.
--Here's a nutty aesthetic: making pictures of Muppets with human eyes. Gotta ask: why?
--From SciCheer video maker Randy Olson, a thought-provoking blog on how environmentalism and, indeed, most of science has "gone Hollywood." I would submit that NASA is one of the few organizations that has not gone Hollywood. If it had, we'd have a lot more money and media excitement...aside from the occasional scandals.
--Here's a new way to track the popularity of ideas across time: the memeogram.
--A couple of videos on the original concept and actual making of my favorite theme park, Epcot: here and here.
--A little light reading on the CIA and hypnotism.
--Robot solves Rubik’s Cube in ~15 seconds

--Shaquille O’Neal conducts the Boston Pops. Again, why?
--What makes music sad? It's not as simple as you think.
--Paul Kennedy says the U.S. is losing its dominance, but that’s normal, expected, and okay.
--Now this is useful: how an Etch-A-Sketch works.
--The Isle of Tune. Just check it out. Really.
--An extended essay on the state of the State of California by Victor Davis Hanson. Not for the faint of heart.

China is cutting the amount of “rare earth elements” it exports to the U.S. needed for high-tech products. In a more rational economy, we would be stockpiling these types of materials. This also would be an excellent opportunity for American entrepreneurs to develop techniques that do not require said elements. Regardless of wishful thinking about the assumed benefits of one world economy or the (claimed) gentling effects of trade on rival nation-states, we must remember Lord Palmerston’s dictum that nations “have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests.”

A pilot was suspended, harassed, and disarmed for pointing out flaws in TSA’s security.

A Greek Antikythera device, as built out of Legos. No, really.
Obviously it's been quite awhile since I cleared out my archives. Nevertheless, this depiction of a "digital Christmas" amused me.

From the Down Under Defense Expert (DUDE):
  • A new site helping users get a grip on the micro- and macroscopic views of the universe. (Hint: this won't help.)
  • A new word-of-the-day site.
Speaking of the DUDE, he's made a good case for me to fly down to his hemisphere for holiday rather than blow a ton of money in some pricey place stateside. If his wife and he are willing to put up with me for a week and cart me around everywhere, I just might end up paying for not much more than an airplane ticket and miscellaneous expenses. Worth considering. There are some pretty places Down Yonder.
This is why I say that I have a photogenic memory: I remember things told to me by cute people.

I was going to write all sorts of profound things in response to this article, but I'm getting lazy in my old age. It does offer an interesting perspective on what happens to a culture when it cannot tell the difference between illusion and reality, though. The reading I leave to you.

From Melissa: another news story on how Aspartame is going to kill me eventually. Fine. But I really, really like Diet Dr. Pepper, and I haven't found a beverage that is comparable in the taste/low-calorie/non-allergenic zone yet.

From Michelle: a little late for the season, but why not a gingerbread Serenity?

From Gwen: "What Control has become, or what I like to call Big Brother."

And I suppose that will do for now. Archives and loose items now cleared back to mid-December. My apologies for allowing the potpourri to get stale.

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