Saturday, December 31, 2011

Couth? I got couth up the ...

I can teach you one or two things about boxed wine right now. When you live in an RV it doesn't roll around because it doesn't come in a round bottle. It doesn't break because it comes in a plastic bladder in a cardboard box instead of a glass bottle. If you care about fuel efficiency it is better to save weight by having plastic and cardboard instead of glass. Cardboard boxes stack nicely and save space in your overhead compartment compared to bottles. When you cork an opened wine bottle the air inside makes the wine go bad fairly quickly. With box wine, the bladder is flexible so no air goes into it. Which means that the wine remains good indefinitely even after it is opened. In spite of its reputation, box wine is actually pretty decent wine. And it is dead cheap. About $12 for the equivalent of ten bottles. You do the math.

Not a pressing concern but still interesting

Mechanical Dog

[click on picture for fullscreen]

Imagine this thing self-contained, with cameras and remote control, and armed with missiles, guns, or poison gas.  And you have the soldier of the future.  This is a prototype of a ground drone.  Paid for by the same folks who actually did invent the internet - DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).  Coming to a battlefield near you.

When these things are mass-produced and cheap, the dogface of yore will be replaced by actual imperialist running dogs.  When boots-on-the-ground are no longer needed or wanted for warfare, the advantage of high-tech powers over low-tech ones will be complete.  Once these things are ready for rollout they will be easy to miniaturize.  A rat-sized one could go almost anywhere and be able to shoot a poison dart or a high-powered small caliber pistol.

Locked doors and windows?  No problem.  Every house has a 4" pipe connecting its toilet to the outside world.  Robot goes up drain pipe from main sewer, waits until sensor shows terrorist is on the crapper, then literally pops a cap in his ass.

Hey all you people who think Ron Paul is so Great...

Ron Paul with former American Nazi Party member and current KKK Grand Wizard and webmaster, Don Black.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ding Dong Kim is dead

Which old Kim, the wicked Kim!

An easy 31 points. Add that to the 21 for Liz and the 44 for Steve and it makes 96 for the year, a new record. And there are still 12 more day left in the year. Come on Michael and Kirk, Ruth and Mohammed.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The View of a devout Heterodox Jew

One of the most intriguing things in physics is the two slit experiment. It, like Schrodinger's cat, suggests that the physical reality of things depends on the presence or absence, and implicitly on the existence, of an observer. Feynman even showed that it is quantifiable and dependent on the sensitivity of the detector.

There have been subatomic reactions dependent on an observer since the beginning, billions of years before there were human observers. Further, Feynman, a human observer, could only be in one place at any one time and only observe one or two reactions. It seems to require a universal observer who is everywhere and has always been everywhere for the universe to have discrete outcomes, like Schrodinger's cat being either alive or dead. Without a universal observer neither the universe nor anything in it can exist in any definite state.

Yet we see all around us that things do exist in definite states and that they always have. Even so, we also see from Feynman's experiments that not everything exists in definite states. The passage of the electrons through one slit rather than the other was not definite until Feynman detected it. Which to my mind suggests something I have always suspected about Hashem - She is not unlimited. If Hashem really had the characters attributed to Her, omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence, omnicausal, eternity, omnibeneficience, unity, perfection, and so on, there could not be evil. Yet there is.

It seems to me that the contradiction between the existence of Hashem and the existence of evil lies in assigning attributes that would make evil impossible. It seems to me that Hashem, like Her creation, is a partial integration, neither complete nor perfect. Nothing in the universe is complete, nothing is perfect, nothing is permanent and eternal except the universe itself.  Which is a reflection of the characteristics of Her who made it.

Evil exists where Hashem is not.  Horror happens not because G_d wills it, but because She cannot stop it.  When Hashem cannot prevent evil, people must do it.


Friday, December 09, 2011

An Alternative? Maybe not.

Newt Gingrich is unelectable.  It is hard to see the evangelicals voting for a thrice-married man with a marital scandal involving a martyred wife.  Whatever they may feel about Obama being black, there has never been a whiff of scandal about his marriage to Michelle and they have the two lovely little kids.  The Reverend Wright ridiculousness will stand him in good stead because it graphically put him in a pew in a Protestant church for twenty years.  A faithful church-going family is hard to beat with Newt for the evangelical vote.  

And it is hard to see women voting for a man who is every wife's nightmare of what her husband might be up to.

His influence-peddling career may well splinter Tea Party members for whom he is precisely what they hate about Washington.  Not even Koch's money would be able to clean up that stink and keep the rednecks on board.

And to a television electorate, it matters that Gingrich is fat and rumpled-looking whereas Obama is tall, slim, younger, and looks good in clothes.   

The most effective political commentary I see is John Stewart on the Daily Show.  How appropriate is it that the Republic is guarded most honestly by the Sixth Estate, the comedians.  When politics becomes a joke, the jokers are the ones to explain it.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

On the other side of the sky

Jupiter map realised in 2011, between October 10th and October 15th, from the Pic du Midi Observatory from Jean-Luc Dauvergne on Vimeo.

[click on four outward-pointing arrows for fullscreen]

The Great Red Spot is 25,000 miles across.  The earth is 8,000 miles across.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Down Time

I am home in bed with a cough and a sore throat and general crumminess today.  Oliver the doggapotamus is in bed snoring alongside me.  Rita is off running errands including getting chicken soup.   

When you find a woman to whom your being sick is a cue to get you chicken soup rather than to get herself a flu shot, you have really got something.  Or someone.  Someone imprudent, certainly.

My nephew Steve Wilhelm, a perspicacious young man, put up on Facebook a link to a Wall Street Journal article on how difficult it is to cut the deficit.  It contained the following paragraph,
"The White House, after saying all fall that Obama's jobs agenda must be paid for with tax increases on high-income earners, appears willing to simply pad the nation's $15 trillion national debt instead of finding offsetting cuts."

To which I commented, "So why did we vote for this guy?"

Earlier in the day I heard from an old and dear friend, Karen Trendler Petit.  She called me "a cynical old poop".  Unfortunately, I could not find a basis on which to disagree with her.

As it stands, the US economy is dysfunctional.  The Congress is dysfunctional.  The President sees no connection between betraying the people who elected him the first time and his prospects of being elected a second time.  The Left are narcissistic idiots with a strong taint of anti-Semitism.  The Republicans have fielded a row of right-wing idiots.  Their un-electable frontrunner, Gingrich, yesterday proposed repealing the child labor laws.

Iran is building an atomic bomb.  Yet Russia and China are more afraid of disrupting the price of oil than they are of a government in which the lunatic Ahmadinejad is the more moderate faction.  And that is even though Iran has missiles to deliver nukes to Russian and Chinese cities.  The survival of the European Union has come to depend on the good will and generosity of the Germans, a people not noted for either.  The Arab Spring is more and more being revealed as merely a device for replacing repressive military regimes with repressive Islamist ones.

Cynicism both at home and abroad is more and more the description that matches reality.

I worked on the 2008 Colorado campaign which brought us a politician created by the Chicago Daley Machine and funded by Wall Street, and I worked on the 2010 debacle which saw the people of Wisconsin discard Senator Russ Feingold like a beer can out a car window.  Clearly, participating in politics and world affairs accomplishes exactly the same result as not participating in them.  Except for the disappointment afterwards.

From which it follows that it is time to stop reading the news.  It is bad for me and it is not helping anyone else.  Further, I am in a perfect position to live as an escapist.  I am retired, Rita wants me to live with her in her big house amid oak trees in a canyon in the Berkeley Hills, and we already have all the gadgets and clothes we want.  The world's reality sucks.  Mine is actually quite good.

Reading used to mean spending time in Dostoyevsky's or Tolstoy's Russia.  Or visiting the drawing rooms of Austen's England.  It can be that again.  I am going back to reading fiction.

I have been accused of saying, "I've got mine.  Too bad about yours."  Which would be a crummy thing to say.  But "I've got mine.  I've tried and there is not much I can do about yours." does not make me a heartless prick, does it?