Boundary Layer

The best way to find a line is to cross it

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Heavy Metal

This guy (who may or may not be James Bond) decided to create a bar of Iridium which turns out to be harder and more complicated than you might think, and wrote about it. (Part 1, Part 2) (via Metafilter)

Friday, August 27, 2004

Wacky Doomsday Cult

This tale of the Japanese Cult is crazy almost beyond belief. They attempted several botulism attacks and even used anthrax and the Japanese police did nothing. At its hieght in the early 90s it had more than a billion dollars in assets. And oddly, after killing ~20 people and injuring thousands they are still going strong.

Even though Aum has officially been stripped of its religious status and tax concessions, its computer stores continue to generate impressive revenues, sufficient to fund new growth. Still adhering to Asahara's original prophecies, loyal cult members are making preparations for the Judgment Day. They believe that when that day comes, the entire population of the world will be annihilated. The only survivors will be those who have adhered to the guru's teachings.

Bright Lights, Cold City

Harbin Snow and Ice Festival.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Robin et al.

I don't pay much attention to fanflicks but Grayson is some quality stuff. (via Metafilter)

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Left at Sea

Oops, we forgot about that guy somewhere between Long Beach and Catalina Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.
Determined to stay rational, to record what was happening -- though maybe, he thought grimly, it would be just for those who'd find his remains -- he unhooked the underwater camera from his wet suit. He aimed it at his watch and snapped two pictures. Then he turned the camera toward himself at arm's length, snapping two more.

He reached for his diving slate and used the pencil to write the time: 10:28.

It had been two hours now. He fought a rising panic. Soon hypothermia would set in. How long could he last out here? How many more hours?

Then another thought came: If he survived to dusk in these cold waters, that, he knew, was when the great white sharks feed.

Food for thought and regurgitation

Fear Factor vs. Abu Ghraib.

What's worse? Being menaced and bitten by a military German shepherd? Or being bitten while being compelled to eat a couple of struggling palm-sized spiders in front of a Las Vegas casino of sneering observers?

If you can answer without intellectually rupturing yourself, you may be right for a career in the military or in entertainment, contingent on how you wish to be compensated for your labor. You'll get almost nothing if you go the way of the enlisted man, a lot more if you're a private Pentagon contractor. However, the highest remuneration will be yours if you make it into televised entertainment.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Jesus in Japan

I won't even bother trying to summarize this story. More Jesus in Japan wackiness here.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Stunning Renderings

The POVComp hall of fame. (via Alterslash/Slashdot)

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Roll to Get Drunk

8bitDandD. Funny in a South Park meets Crank Yankers meets nerd gamers sort of way. (via Metafilter)


Now that's what I call a bridge. (via Metafilter)

Barnyard Pyramid

Animals on top of animals. (via Sportsfilter)

Monday, August 16, 2004

God Humor

America's hottest Christian comic is profiled in the New Yorker. There is also a Q&A with the author.
“I’m a conservative, I’m a Christian, and I think that the United States is the greatest country that ever existed on the face of the earth. And because of those three beliefs, by law I have to be stuffed and mounted and put in the Smithsonian under the ‘Why He Didn’t Get His Own Sitcom’ display.”

The author really nails the inherent tension in being a Christian comic in the Q&A.
Again, the problem he runs into, and this was one of the things that interested me in writing this piece, was how do you have a very rigid set of beliefs, when being a comic depends on being able to pick your target and call it as you see it. He’s trying to walk a tightrope of being irreverent and reverent at the same time, of tweaking conventions and proclaiming laws at the same time.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Climate Control

Weather modification has an extensive history and future in the US military. In 1947 the military experimented with cloudseeding a hurricane with Project Cirrus with predictable results. The hurricane promptly changed direction and caused extensive damage in Georgia. Naturally, the military classified the incident. The valiant attempts to lessen hurricanes continued with Project Stormfury in the 1960s with less disastrous results but still unsuccessful results.

Meanwhile in 1952 the Brits were busy with cloud seeding with Project Cumulus which was so unbelievably successful that 35 people drowned.

All of that knowledge was put to use in Vietnam under the guise of Project Popeye, whose purpose was to reduce the Ho Chi Minh trail to mud. The resulting international outrage when these black ops became public led to congressional hearings and the ENMOD convention which bans the use of environment modification in war.

In 1988 the managers at ARCO were scratching their heads trying to figure out how to monetize the trillions of cubic feet of natural gas that they owned on Alaska's North Slope. Dr. Bernard Eastland came up with a solution to their problem in the form of a massive phased array antenna designed to heat the ionosphere that is now called HAARP which they built for the DoD.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Love the Drake

Frank Drake of Drake's equation fame suggest our human civilization will outgrow high powered radio transmissions soon. Radio and television broadcasts are being replaced by wire and fiber communication, lasers, and satellites. His point is that the window of opportunity to spot an advanced civilization is by its radio footprint is not that long and so maybe we should be looking for other signs of life out there like laser communications which are much harder to spot I imagine. (via Alterslash/Slashdot)

Random Animations

Some neat animations of demographic data and other oddities here including sex ratios, death expectancy, and U.S. population by age and sex. Note the baby boom bulge in the last link.

From Above

This is some pretty stunning aerial photography from just about every country in the world. (via Metafilter)

Monday, August 09, 2004

Crisis Management

An article in Slate suggest that less centralization is the goal for intelligence agencies instead of the more hierarchical approach demanded by the 9/11 commission. That's all well and good but the part that caught my attention was the example in the article of decentralized crisis management. Here's a WSJ article from 1997 with more info on this impressive case of disaster recovery.
In 1997, the Toyota group suffered what seemed like a catastrophic failure in its production system when a key factory—the sole source of a particular kind of valve essential to the braking systems of all Toyota vehicles—burned to the ground overnight. Because of their much-vaunted just-in-time inventory system, the company maintained only three days of stock, while a new factory would take six months to build. In the meantime Toyota's production of over 15,000 cars a day would grind to an absolute halt. This was the kind of disaster with the potential to wreck not just the company itself, but the entire Japanese automotive industry. Clearly, then, Toyota, along with the more than 200 other companies that are members of the extended Toyota group, had ample incentives to find a solution.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Good Advice

Some handy bits of trivia and useful knowledge from this Fark thread.

  • Shuffle your feet when walking in the ocean, beach, or swamp. It keeps you from stepping on something nasty.

  • To prevent splashback when you're doing a number two, drop a piece of toilet paper in first.

  • Salt water does not 'chase the thirsties away'
  • porcupines float, but do not make particularly good floatation devices in the unlikely event of a water landing

  • Incoming artillery has the right-of-way.

  • Don't whiz on the electric fence!

A Postcontemporary Moment

Michael Strahan, defensive lineman for the NY Giants is all about the Madden football. In fact, he attributes his improvements on the field to his desire to improve his player in the game. Roy Williams, of the Cowboys, says the same thing in the piece. (via Bill Simmons' intern)
"Back in 1993, I was playing the game and I sucked. And I'm not talking about sucking at playing the game. My character in Madden sucked. I was the worst guy on the team," Strahan said with a huge grin as he turned his attention away from the television set and his NFC East rival, Roy Williams of the Cowboys to tell me his story. "But it made me want to work harder. I seriously wanted to get better in real life so I wasn't so bad in Madden."

Saturday, August 07, 2004


It seems in the rush to explain the reason for the recent terror alerts some future former government official confirmed to the NY Times the name of an al-Qaeda mole.
Last Sunday, U.S. officials told reporters that someone held secretly by Pakistan was the source of the bulk of the information justifying the alert. The New York Times obtained Khan's name independently, and U.S. officials confirmed it when it appeared in the paper the next morning.

None of those reports mentioned at the time that Khan had been under cover helping the authorities catch al Qaeda suspects, and that his value in that regard was destroyed by making his name public.

I have no idea why the paper would go ahead and print the name of this guy after finding out what he was. (via Americablog)

Friday, August 06, 2004

A Cold Place

Henry Kaiser visited Antarctica in 2001 and kept a photojournal. He brought back some amazing photos of ice towers, strange and gross creatures, ice caves, ice dives, and a South Pole exorcism, as well as videoclips. And if you liked those, there are more photos of the icy continent here.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Hungry For Change

In these desperate times, only one candidate has the vision that it takes to defend the country against free radicals, grow the economy, and get to the root of America's problems.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Music to Disbelieve In

Clubbo Records is responsible for some of the strangest music that you've never heard. They're an eclectic 40 year old record company that included an Indonesian pop-gamelan hybrid musician, an Israeli Southern rock band, and an occult cartoon tie-in. Here is some background.