Monday, August 23, 2010

You Can No Longer Accuse Me...

...of being the world's biggest douche. (Even you TGP.) You know why? Cause this guy.

This jack-off turned on his GPS tracker and drove 12,000 miles in the shape of letters to spell that out. And I even like Ayn Rand. I just don't like douches. On a scale of 1 to 10 where 10 is the douchiest, this dude comes in somewhere between ultraviolet and habanero.

Next time I recommend just wearing a T-shirt to get your message across. That way you won't have to change your name to Massengil.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

It's Time for More Epic Metal

I think the following French dude might kick the ass of the previous Lamb-of-God-playing Taiwanese chick (sorry Taiwanese chick). He's total metal. Specifically, canon metal. Tell you what, I'm okay being behind on pop culture in general, but when there are sub-genres of frickin' metal that I didn't know about, that's how I know I'm way old.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Weird Stuff in Boxes

Ray Bradbury claimed to have a room filled with various interesting and grotesque toys and detritus of that prompted him to start writing if he had writer's block. If that's how it works then I should be the writingest guy who ever lived, but I'm not, so I'm throwing some of it out. On doing some house-cleaning recently I found a box in which I had stored the following ingredients, which would seem best suited for some very enterprising witch's brew:

- 1 nutria rat paw from the Louisiana bayou
- 1 large cattle bone fragment from the Lava Beds in extreme NorCal (remains of cattle slaughtered by Modoc Indians during their rebellion)
- 1 piece of the loading dock from Yuengling brewery (don't sue me; it was tiny)
- 1 eagle talon* from Alaska
- 1 kodiak bear claw* from Alaska
- 4 coati teeth* from Paraguay
- A chunk of salt from Badwater Flat, Death Valley
- 1 smooth stone from the shores of Lake Tahoe
- assorted Apache tears (little obsidian fragments you find all over New Mexico)

What could you make with this? An Apache- and Modoc-powered curse against Yuengling so that their beer turns salty and various boreal or rainforest predators attack them? But that would be bad. On par with the Black Plague.

However, with the asterisked ones, you can make a cool necklace for your four-year-old first cousin once-removed's birthday. Which is what I am presently doing. As it turns out bear claws are pains in the ass to drill holes in.

Fake Guitars Being Thrown Into a Volcano

Sometimes I wish that our ancestors could see the technological powers under our control now, and what we can do to make the world a better place. Other times I'm glad they're not here to see the goofy shit we're wasting our time on. Like flying over a volcano to throw videogame-guitars into it for a commercial. Imagine Galileo's disappointment in our frivolousness.

Then again, it's cool.

Space Travel is Not All Tear-Inducing Awe

Sometimes it's tear-inducing excrement fumes. Read Mary Roach's new book Packing for Mars to find out about this mundane but and therefore very relevant engineering challenge. New York Times review here.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Forget that last post. The dude who did this is metal. He actually pisses metal dude. In the frickin desert.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

So you think you're metal?

You might not be as metal as this chick in Taiwan who (fair warning) is about to kick your ass with some Lamb of God:

Here's the close-up so you can see the guitar work.

No, I wasn't trolling for metal babes, it came up at the start page on its own, perhaps because of previous trolling for metal and babes separately.

[Update: for yet more Hot Metal Chix(tm) check out the guitar riffage in LoG's Grace.]

More Yuks at Geeks' Expense

In the context of criticizing reportage on the recent gay marriage decision, Jon Stewart said:
Really, a gay bar? That's where you went [for a] story about marriage equality? 'Hey, let's go to a gay bar at three in the afternoon.' If this was a story about I don't know, virgins, would you go to Comic-Con?
Apparently he missed the nerd-on-nerd violence.

Hey, I just kid because I'm jealous I wasn't there.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Crocs Can Eat You, and Also They're Getting Smarter

Yes, that's his hand over there. Image credit Northern Territory News.

Saltwater crocodiles the scariest animal in the world, hands down. Lions are scary but you usually know when they're around. Great white sharks are scary but they don't come out of the water for 200 meters and drag you out of your tent, like these guys have. What's worse, now they're getting smart. The one above was photographed herding fish to eat them. Forget Bears Discover Fire, this is much worse. There are also unconfirmed reports that this one has learned to handle currency and was seen negotiating for a ride into downtown Darwin where he could eat more people.

I think I want the AI Singularity to happen before the Crocodile Singularity.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Direct Evidence That Skynet is Manipulating the Financial Markets

From the Atlantic: "...what you see here really is just the afterscent of robot traders gliding through the green-on-black darkness of the financial system on their way from one real trade to another."

Engineering Geeks Take Notice

"... we [the U.S.] now rank 12th in the number of college graduates (having once led the world); and soon, 90 percent of all engineers will be working in Asia. Translation: Goodbye U.S. manufacturing."

This and other charming statistics were cited by Wilbur Ross on Charlie Rose. Via P.M. Carpenter.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Mongolian Neo-Nazis

Does anyone remember from William Gibson's story Johnny Mnemonic, the racially contorted name of the band used as a password? Christian White and His Aryan Reggae band. Here's more evidence that we're now living in Gibson's notebook from 1983: an article in the Guardian via Marginal Revolution about Mongolian Neo-Nazis. Yes, really. Although their fascist salute seems a little posed for/by the photographers.

If you're short on irony for the day, read that story and you will learn, among other things, that Mongolians defend their racial purity by recording hip-hop music and following the teachings of Adolf Hitler. Hey guys: you're doing it wrong.

Some related trivia of interest to science fiction geeks and geeks in general:

1) In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (the book that Blade Runner was based on), Roy Batty, the superhuman Nexus 6 replicant was described by Philip K. Dick as having Mongolian features. Of course in Blade Runner the character was played by the decidedly un-Mongolian-looking Rutger Hauer. Perhaps it was in multiple rewatchings of the Ridley Scott masterpiece that these misguided fellows took a wrong turn. (Certainly I've paid the price for doing that very same thing in my own life.)

2) It turns out the Mongolians aren't the only racially confused fascists. The Nazis themselves were quite foggy as well. The late nineteenth century saw the rise of a kind of Pan-Indo-European spirit, driven by archaeologists and linguists who as it turns out were actually laying the foundations of our understanding of the peopling of Eurasia. They were doing good science - but that didn't stop Bismarck and later politically-motivated characters from co-opting that science for their own ends. To this day, German linguists speak not of the Indo-European language family but of Indogermanischen. In fact in pre-First World War linguistic texts, "Indo-Aryan" was also substituted, and believe it or not the use of the term "Aryan" in that era comes across as a bit flaky and crunchy. Nowadays it's being rehabilitated by patriotic North Indians, who seem to have an agreement to re-brand it by pronouncing the first syllable as "are" rather than "air". But the point is that the ultimate symbol of the racially-obsessed Nazis was one that they borrowed from brown people.

Try to be optimistic. At least part of William Gibson's future came true. Whereas I've been to Chiba, and the sky over the port was actually nice and blue. It was even clear enough to see Mt. Fuji that day.

A Neglected Solution to the Fermi Paradox

The most common answers to Fermi's famous question "Where is everybody?" are some version of either "we're unique", or "something makes intelligent species short-lived on geological time-scales". This second category corresponds to Drake's Omega Factor and could be the result of self-destruction or predation by nearby interstellar replicators.

A far more plausible explanation for our failure to find anything so far is summed up as "They're out there, but we haven't been looking for long, and we don't know what to look for anyway." The good people of SETI have said that so far, all we can conclude that the sky is not littered with constantly-blaring high-power microwave transmitters. Such cautious phrasings are wise. And from such a specific statement as this, are we really able to generalize that we're the only nearby intelligence?

Assuming that intelligence and tool use progress at roughly similar rates in other species, consider the gap in cognition and tools in our own species just over the past 100,000 years. And what is the chance that a planet-bound intelligence would be synchronized even within an order of magnitude of that timeframe? Would H. erectus understand our attempts to communicate? Would we even recognize our own million-year descendants, much less understand them? Now apply that to space-tuna, and you see the magnitude of the problem.

To say we haven't found anything so far, and therefore there are no non-human intelligences, seems foolish. We are barely a half-century into trying to answer this question, and it's not clear that we even know what to look for.

I reiterate that the best place to look for evidence of extraterrestrial replicators are the asteroids and the comets of our own solar system (my reasoning is here.) We should be looking for chemical traces of von Neumann biochemistry, not radio signals grandly announcing their presence. While I don't expect a thorough investigation of these bodies to be completed in my lifetime, I would be thrilled if it were. A lack of findings would cause me to dramatically lower my estimation for the chances of extra-terrestrial replicators.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Award for Blog with Coolest-Sounding Use of Language

...should go to Metaphortean. My favorite from the articles I read: apocalpyticist.