Tolkien’s War on Science

This time around, I could see where Feanor was coming from, and that he was roundly screwed on all sides by Morgoth and by the Valar. Even though I realized it before, and just didn’t want to face it years ago, it was obvious that JRRT really did not think well of scientists and technologists.

Science Blogs: Dr. Joan Bushwell, “The Tolkienian War on Science” (Wayback Machine link)

Strangely, I saw this attitude while reading Tolkien’s (JRRT) work, but I never made note of it or gave it much credit. Magic is the language of fantasy work, and magic is how all of the creations of Middle Earth are framed. Magic is the technology of fantasy writing. My disagreements concerning global warming, the bugaboo of the left, I will set aside since she gives the Bush administration a few well deserved jabs during the process of revealing her thoughts on the subject. Her insights do put the entire series of stories in a different light than the one that I read them in. Food for thought.

My advice to Feanor: next time, get yourself a phalanx of good patent attorneys. Morgoth will wither in fear at the prospect of litigation.

Joan Bushwell

 

Freedom (of expression) or Empire?

Caught news of the roll out of Star Wars themed collection bins on Keith Olbermann the other night (I’m sure I’m not the only one; according to their stats, it’s the most DVR’d program on TV. Glad I could help, Keith) A friend of mine sent me a picture of the R2D2 bin in Austin today, along with a link to a goofily mocked up video of a letter being inserted into R2D2 by Princess Leia (www.uspsjedimaster.com) that probably could have been done better by any of the special effects people I’ve met here in Austin.

Cybertar

If there was any truth in advertising, the postmen would be dressed up to look like Stormtroopers (heralded over by a postmaster general garbed like a leering Emperor Palpatine) rather than bins painted up to look like freedom loving androids; but then I guess I’m just nitpicking. I don’t have a serious beef with the post office, I just don’t appreciate all the snail mail spam that they insist on bringing me.

True artwork doesn’t come in the form of a repetitively decaled mail bin, anyway. True artwork can be found one block up the street from the R2D2 bin on Congress Ave, in front of the Littlefield Building at 6th and Congress; the location selected for S.C. Essai’s Cybertar (I blogged on the subject of finishing this behemoth of a project several months ago)

There is a map to all of the Guitartown displays on the Guitartown website. I haven’t seen any of them that I didn’t like.

Perhaps they should Read the Bills first

Here’s a quote from Senator Dianne Feinstein (credit to DownsizeDC blog) on the subject:

“Unbeknownst to any of us, in March 2006, in the PATRIOT Act reauthorization, a provision was included that allows the Attorney General to appoint an interim U.S. attorney for an indefinite period of time.”

Maybe she should have read the bill she voted for, before she and her reckless colleagues turned it into law.

Now she wants to undo it by passing another law. I wonder if she’ll read that one? It would be even better if she wrote it.

Doesn’t it make sense that congress should read and write the bills they vote on? Want to tell them this yourself? Drop by Downsize DC and send a message concerning the Read the Bills act and the Write the Laws act.

If you want to preserve your right to speak to your congressman through an organization like DownsizeDC, then you might also want to talk to your congressman about their attempts to stifle grassroots organizations with regulation.

Let them know what “shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech” really means. Clearly they don’t understand it themselves.


If the idea of congressmen voting on legislation they didn’t write and haven’t read doesn’t scare the pants off of you, then perhaps you should wander over and give The Late, Great American Nation a read.

If that doesn’t do it, I don’t think anything else will.

It’s Called a Tuque

I’m listening to FreeTalkLive right now. I’m listening to, amongst other subjects, Ian and Mark promote the FTL store at least once an hour, and they mention the ‘beanie‘ in the store at least every other night. I kept hoping they’d figure out what the hat is called on their own, but it’s about to drive me nuts.

I catch myself doing this a lot lately. Listening to the talking heads on the radio and the TV, and correcting their English. Out loud. To myself. I think I’m spending too much time at home alone with the children. It’s either that, or the level of education amongst talking heads has taken a steep drop in the last few years.

The hat in question is called a tuque, or a stocking cap. The difference between a beanie and a stocking cap is the fabric that it is made of (also, a beanie isn’t complete without a propeller on top) and the fact that a tuque is made to keep the head warm.

You live in the Great White North now, guys. (The distance between New Hampshire and Canada is less than the distance between Austin and Dallas. How much closer can you get?) Learn the vernacular, eh?

SCTVGreat White North – Jul 22, 2010

The 2006 True Stella Awards Winners

The 2006 True Stella Awards

Issued 31 January 2007

(Click here to
confirm these are legitimate.
)

#5: Marcy Meckler. While shopping at
a mall, Meckler stepped outside and was “attacked” by a squirrel that
lived among the trees and bushes. And “while frantically attempting
to escape from the squirrel and detach it from her leg, [Meckler]
fell and suffered severe injuries,” her resulting lawsuit says.
That’s the mall’s fault, the lawsuit claims, demanding in excess of
$50,000, based on the mall’s “failure to warn” her that squirrels
live outside.

#4: Ron and Kristie Simmons. The
couple’s 4-year-old son, Justin, was killed in a tragic lawnmower
accident in a licensed daycare facility, and the death was clearly
the result of negligence by the daycare providers. The providers were
clearly deserving of being sued, yet when the Simmons’s discovered
the daycare only had $100,000 in insurance, they dropped the case
against them and instead sued the manufacturer of the 16-year-old
lawn mower because the mower didn’t have a safety device that 1) had
not been invented at the time of the mower’s manufacture, and 2) no
safety agency had even suggested needed to be invented. A sympathetic
jury still awarded the family $2 million.

#3: Robert Clymer. An FBI agent
working a high-profile case in Las Vegas, Clymer allegedly created a
disturbance, lost the magazine from his pistol, then crashed his
pickup truck in a drunken stupor — his blood-alcohol level was 0.306
percent, more than three times the legal limit for driving in Nevada.
He pled guilty to drunk driving because, his lawyer explained, “With
public officials, we expect them to own up to their mistakes and
correct them.” Yet Clymer had the gall to sue the manufacturer of his
pickup truck, and the dealer he bought it from, because he “somehow
lost consciousness” and the truck “somehow produced a heavy smoke
that filled the passenger cab.” Yep: the drunk-driving accident
wasn’t his fault, but the truck’s fault. Just the kind of guy you
want carrying a gun in the name of the law.

#2: KinderStart.com. The specialty
search engine says Google should be forced to include the KinderStart
site in its listings, reveal how its “Page Rank” system works, and
pay them lots of money because they’re a competitor. They claim by
not being ranked higher in Google, Google is somehow infringing
KinderStart’s Constitutional right to free speech. Even if by some
stretch they were a competitor of Google, why in the world would they
think it’s Google’s responsibility to help them succeed? And if
Google’s “review” of their site is negative, wouldn’t a government
court order forcing them to change it infringe on Google’s
Constitutional right to free speech?

And the winner of the 2006 True Stella
Award:
Allen Ray Heckard. Even though Heckard is 3 inches
shorter, 25 pounds lighter, and 8 years older than former basketball
star Michael Jordan, the Portland, Oregon, man says he looks a lot
like Jordan, and is often confused for him — and thus he deserves
$52 million “for defamation and permanent injury” — plus $364
million in “punitive damage for emotional pain and suffering”, plus
the SAME amount from Nike co-founder Phil Knight, for a grand total
of $832 million. He dropped the suit after Nike’s lawyers chatted
with him, where they presumably explained how they’d counter-sue if
he pressed on.

©2007 by Randy Cassingham,
StellaAwards.com. Reprinted with permission.

Vista Hits Store Shelves. So What?

Stumbled across this article over at digg.com, discussing the departure of Windows chief Jim Allchin, and breathless praise concerning the latest version of Windows to hit store shelves, Vista.

My response? Goodbye Jim Allchin.

The rest of the article is a puff piece designed to spin the Vista delay in the correct direction, rather than discussing the real reasons for same. Reasons like the failure of Vista’s predecessor Longhorn, which failed because nobody wanted the invasive security measures that were touted as one of Longhorn’s strengths (the chipset it was to utilize was shelved, if I remember correctly, over the same issues) It’s taken nearly five years to design and build a version of Windows that Microsoft thought people would go for, a version that also included enough of the DRM and anti-piracy measures (that corporate America is inexplicably in love with) to satisfy Microsoft’s business partners and it’s legal department.

Good luck with it. It’ll never see the inside of any of my systems, at least not in it’s unadulterated form. I’m not the only one who feels this way. Apparently the opinion is pretty widespread, and not exactly earth shattering.

Of what use is an operating system that disables programs and media that it can’t verify are legally purchased (can’t verify as opposed to aren’t legally purchased, an important distinction) one that is hostile to other DRM schemes, schemes that are just as valid as its own (the issue with iTunes has been well documented, albeit patched) An operating system that requires every user to create a Windows Live account in order to validate the installation; a completely pointless requirement, except that MicroSoft is deluding itself into believing that it can compete with Yahoo and Google, and so think that forcing new users to register in the system will lead them to actually use the system.

Time to get serious about Linux.


2019 – Still using Windows. I’m actually starting to come to accept the requirement that I love Big Broth …err, I mean Microsoft. At least I don’t have to learn how to program to use it. They finally convinced me to create a Live account if only to keep my systems updated and to give me one Windows login to manage. See Authenticators for the latest.

ST XI: Doomed from the Start?

Check out this blast from the past:

Others caution that ”Trek” can’t revive itself by merely wooing young viewers. Says writer-producer Michael Piller, ”You could make a very good case that Gene Roddenberry’s fundamental decision back in the ’60s that he was not going to write [a show] for kids is why the franchise has lasted.”

From: Entertainment Weekly, Published in issue #720 Jul 25, 2003

So, the latest version is yet again going to appeal to younger audiences, eh? Better luck next time?

An Answer to the Fermi Paradox

From WWdn in Exile: the secret is to bang the rocks together, guys

The question was originally posed by Enrico Fermi, and has become known as the Fermi Paradox:

The extreme age of the universe and its vast number of stars suggest that extraterrestrial life should be common. Considering this with colleagues over lunch in 1950, the physicist Enrico Fermi is said to have asked: “Where are they?”[1] Fermi questioned why, if a multitude of advanced extraterrestrial civilizations exist in the Milky Way galaxy, evidence such as probes, spacecraft or radio transmissions has not been found. The simple question “Where are they?” (alternatively, “Where is everybody?”) is possibly apocryphal, but Fermi is widely credited with simplifying and clarifying the problem of the probability of extraterrestrial life.

A Danish researcher has come up with an interesting answer (if not a complete solution) to the Fermi Paradox:

Extra-terrestrials have yet to find us because they haven’t had enough time to look.

Using a computer simulation of our own galaxy, the Milky Way, Rasmus Bjork, a physicist at the Niels Bohr institute in Copenhagen, proposed that a single civilisation might build eight intergalactic probes and launch them on missions to search for life. Once on their way each probe would send out eight more mini-probes, which would head for the nearest stars and look for habitable planets.

Mr Bjork confined the probes to search only solar systems in what is called the “galactic habitable zone” of the Milky Way, where solar systems are close enough to the centre to have the right elements necessary to form rocky, life-sustaining planets, but are far enough out to avoid being struck by asteroids, seared by stars or frazzled by bursts of radiation.

He found that even if the alien ships could hurtle through space at a tenth of the speed of light, or 30,000km a second, – Nasa’s current Cassini mission to Saturn is plodding along at 32km a second – it would take 10bn years, roughly half the age of the universe, to explore just 4% of the galaxy.

…Which just means they haven’t found us yet.

Hillary Declares her Intentions

Hillary Clinton has also decided to seek the presidency (I buried the story on Digg, myself) Like that’s a surprise. We’ve all been told she was going to run since the day her husband left the White House.

Personally, I think she’s a shoe-in to win the Democrat nomination, even though she’s not a Democrat (she’s a socialist, her attempt to socialize medicine during her husband’s tenure proves this) or even much of a woman, a parent, or a wife. She’s connected to Bill, and Bill still pulls a lot of strings in the Democrat party. That’s really all she needs to win at this point.

I’m just waiting to see who the Republicans field against her. I’m still betting on Condi; not because she’s got a chance of winning, but because polling has revealed that her group (black, female) is the only group less likely to win the presidency than a white female.

…and the Republicans are playing to loose this time around.

Whatever happens in the four to eight years following Bush’s time in office, it isn’t going to be good. The Republicans want to be able to capitalize on that by blaming it on the next occupant of the White House.

Look to see them attempt to scuttle any other viable candidates (including Dr. Paul, the only Republican that I would vote for) in the coming years, leaving only Condi to run against Hillary.

Chinese Test Anti-Satellite Weapon

As reported in Aviation Week, the Chinese gov’t:

performed a successful anti-satellite (asat) weapons test at more than 500 mi. altitude Jan. 11 destroying an aging Chinese weather satellite target with a kinetic kill vehicle launched on board a ballistic missile.

Let’s hope no one remembers that Bill Clinton is responsible for approving the sale of technology to China that made this sort of development possible. It might hurt Hillary’s chances of becoming the next president.

What a shame that would be.

Of course, not nearly as devastating as the now very real threat to the rest of the world, if you believe the US government propaganda on this issue, that is posed by China having the capability of creating long range Weapons of Mass Destruction.

As usual, we have the best enemies money can buy. I just keep wondering why we pay for them.