Boundary Layer

The best way to find a line is to cross it

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Hear and laugh

A compilation of David Sedaris' online audio.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Friday, December 24, 2004

Not a pretty sight

Extreme drunker damage report: From sober to S-faced to vomiting.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Weighing in at 1.3 milliVanillis on the humiliation scale

I was thinking it would be nice to standardize levels of humiliation. That way we could have a basis to compare, say Ashlee Simpson's miserable SNL "performance" with Eddie Murphy's car ride with a transvestite hooker. In that spirit lets define the Vanilli as the SI units for humiliation with one milliVanilli equivalent to the amount of humiliation that one accrues for giving up an unearned Grammy award.

Humiliation Scale (milliVanillis)

3 - Losing an arm wrestling contest to a girl.
5 - Farting on a first date.
56 - Passing out on your buddy's couch after vomiting all over yourself.
234 - Ben Stiller's character getting his package caught in his zipper in There's Something About Mary.
313 - Getting nearly swept in the NBA finals by the Detroit Pistons.
1000 - Giving up Grammy award when the world finds out you can't sing.
2414 - Getting impeached for a BJ.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Free Energy

What if it were possible to to create a perpetual motion machine? What if I told you that the secret is hidden within mayonnaise. Stop laughing, I'm serious.

Imagine nothing. Just a void. The absense of matter and energy. Emptyness. Well, it turns out that there is no such thing. If you get a hold of some of this emptyness and look to see what you've got you'll find that there is something there. That something is zero point energy.
Like position and momentum, energy L and time also obey Heisenberg's rule. Residual energy must therefore exist in empty space: to be certain that the energy was zero, one would have to take energy measurements in that volume of space forever. And given the equivalence of mass and energy expressed by Einstein's E = mc^2, the vacuum energy must be able to create particles. They flash briefly into existence and expire within an interval dictated by the uncertainty principle.

If you took two plates and put them really close together, then the force from these vacuum fluctuations outside the two plates would be greater than the force from the tiny volume in between the two plates. This differential force would push the two plates together. That is a poor explanation of the real phenomenon known as the Casimir effect after the scientist that discovered the effect in mayonnaise, and it might be possible to build a MEMS engine based on it.

Hear them now and believe me later

Cower in fear girly-men for Crom has finally answered our prayers and brought to us a band which unites Arnold Schwarzenegger with the awesome forces of metal. Witness the awe-inspiring, towering colossus of sonic force that is ArnoCorps. (via BoingBoing

Intrinsic within the genre, these songs are full of exotic, mysterious and unbelievable details, which are often critical of society and convey the views of the oppressed. It is this standpoint which has lead to ArnoCorps' aggressive sound and physical presence, which accentuate the emotive forces within the tales they convey. We insist that these songs not be experienced as audio or text alone. To truly experience the splendor that is ArnoCorps, you must go see them live. Come on! Do it now!!!

There songs are actually decent, albeit unintelligible summaries of his movies. If you're at all familiar with the oeuvres d'Arnold you'll recognize what movie this was from.

Mutated head protrudes from a belly
Speaking from lips that look like jelly
Five kids to feed, that's what I hear
From Benny the man, who got me here

Do you think any of them aspire to political office?

Vengeance Scale

Bill Simmons, the Sports Guy, rated the greatest pop culture, and sports grudges on the Vengeance Scale which runs from 0 to 10.0 (Keyser Soze in "The Usual Suspects").

On this scale, the LA Mayor's race is probably coming in at a 4.05 somwhere between Daniel LaRusso somehow toppling all of Cobra Kai in one karate tournament (4.0) and Patrick Roy demanding a trade from Montreal and winning a Cup in Colorado the following year (4.1).

Now before you think I must be joking if I think the campaign for the Los Angeles mayor is exciting, check this out.

It is high opera, a classic tale of ambition, betrayal, revenge and perhaps even a little lust and greed. It has to be. Otherwise, who would care about the campaign for mayor of Los Angeles?

With four major candidates and 15 others running in an open primary it's more like a chaos bloodbath. But for two of the candidates, this time... its personal.

Here is some of the Who. Hahn is the scion of L.A.’s best-known political family. He rode the coattails of his beloved father, Kenny Hahn, into elected office in the 1980s with his successful campaign for city controller. In a then-conservative L.A., Hahn’s longish hair (for City Hall) and penchant for hanging out at rock clubs earned him the nickname "rock & roller controller." Really. He was the exciting new personality of City Hall. No joke.

Then he ran for city attorney, which is what he wanted to be all along, and won — again and again and again and again. He started his 2001 run for mayor as the clear front-runner. Villaraigosa, a former state Assembly speaker, caught up and moved ahead, besting Hahn in the primary race. The following eight weeks featured hundreds of thousands of dollars spent by so-called independent campaigns on behalf of, but not coordinated with, each candidate, and the bitter campaign was capped by a Hahn ad that depicted a grainy Villaraigosa against the backdrop of a crack pipe. Hahn won handily with the oddest of political coalitions — black South L.A., which had been loyal to Kenny Hahn, bound to the mostly white and more conservative San Fernando Valley.

He began his tenure by alienating both ends. Many African-Americans still feel betrayed by Hahn’s firing of Parks, the city’s second black LAPD chief and the highest-ranking African-American in the city structure. And he fought hard against independent cityhood for the San Fernando Valley; a vote just a few months after his election blocked the Valley separatists’ aspirations. But from his campaign against secession grew complaints, quiet ones at first, from contractors who claimed Hahn’s people at the harbor and the airport tried to strong-arm them into making contributions to the anti-secession campaign. There are now full-scale criminal probes in City Hall.

With city hall turning into a scandal factory, Parks and Villaraigosa smell blood and probably will not pull any punches. And then there is the inevitable backdrop of race. It's a white vs black vs brown throwdown.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Listen Up

Sounds of California Animals. (via Metafilter)

Random Thoughts

Sandi Eigo would make a good fake name.

Chinese Bluegrass

Two great tastes that taste great together. (scroll down)

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

What If?

What would a phone sex hotline sound like if it were women that were the ones calling?

"Hi. My name is Nathalie. I'm really hot right now. What are you wearing?"
"Hi Nathalie. I'm Tom. I'm wearing an Armani suit with a pair of $500 Bruno Magli loafers."
"What do you do for a living Tom?"
"Would you like to know Nathalie?"
"Oh yes."
"I'm a neurosurgeon. Do you like that?"
"Oh God yes."
"How do seven figures sound to you? Sssssevvvennn."
"Keep talking."
"I also play guitar in my band on the side. I own an island in the Carribean. Would you like to go?"
"Oh my God. Yes! Yes!"

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Coincidence or cross-promotion?

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Rethinking Rutan

I've been thinking more about the talk Burt Rutan gave two weeks ago at UCLA that I praised here. He covers some of the same points in a short article in Wired that just came out.

But upon further consideration I disagree with one of his basic points. In the first part of his talk he compared the era of contemporary spaceflight with the eras of early aviation and advanced flight. With simple charts (First clue: the ordinates were unlabeled) he showed that NASA has completely fallen on its butt and private companies could have had you and I drinking Mai Tais on Olympus Mons by now if it weren't for that horrible beaurocracy.

But comparing the success of private companies and backyard tinkerers in the 1930s to orbital flight and claiming NASA failed is really unfair. A more appropriate analogy might be the era of colonization in the Americas following Columbus' first voyage in 1492. That took a long time because the resources to get across the Atlantic ocean were not widely available. And today the resources that it takes to get into orbit are not widely available. Is this NASA's fault?

He had several examples of technology that were underutilized when controlled by the government or military but exploded in terms of popularity when they were made more widely available. He had, maybe 10 examples but GPS is the only one I remember. But does he really think that GPS would have been created and executed in the private sector without government backing before the military did it? The government makes it available to (almost) everyone for free. They aren't holding it back.

Much of his talk still holds up and he is doing great work but he clearly has some irrational ideas floating around in his head about the role and function of government. What he and Paul Allen have done is great but is there any fundamental reason why it couldn't have been done ten or twenty years ago? Was NASA holding them back?