obviously my last post wasn't about beer. it was about fossil fuels. are we all gonna die from global warming, peak oil, peak population, and the collapse of the us economy? probably not. will most people be unhappy in 100 years? likely. as with the hypothetical beer-made planet-killing asteroid, the best time to do something about it, is today.
let's suppose, fantastically, that asteroids are created by human activity. let's be silly and say brewing beer on earth creates asteroids in space. don't ask me how this would work. just accept it as a fact in this imaginary universe. people like to drink beer. but folks start to notice that gosh there's been a lot of meteor showers recently. so scientists investigate. and publish. and the obvious conclusion is that we need to stop drinking beer. or eventually one of these doomsday rocks is gonna fuck us up. the breweries of course are out of business. so they do everything they can to keep selling beer. and people like drinking beer. so they're inclined to believe that drinking beer won't destroy the earth. the breweries will cast doubt on the connection between beer and asteroids. and they'll cast doubt on the size of the asteroids and the probabilities of getting hit. and what size asteroids will do what damage. and so on and so forth. and all the while they'll be brewing beer and making asteroids. naturally the radicals will start screaming like chicken little just to be heard. and now the breweries sound like the voice of reason. and we're doomed.
it's an interesting thought experiment to consider what to do if we do discover an asteroid's going to obliterate the planet. first we confirm it. then we do something about it. if we have lots of time we can somehow give the thing a small nudge so it passes by harmlessly. however if we discover it late we drop everything and take drastic measures. like build the biggest goddam nuke ever. and put it on the biggest rocket ever made. and try to turn the giant monster into harmless pieces. there've been some pretty decent science fiction stories on the subject. and some pretty bad ones too.
if a giant asteroid were to strike the earth that would be really bad. depending on the size and where it hit it could destroy all life on the planet in a global conflagration. that'd be pretty awesome to watch. like say from mars. if a large asteroid were to hit earth it'd mess things up real bad. but civilization would continue. we'd have to do a whole lot of rebuilding. fortunately there aren't very many such chunks of material flying around the solar system. and we're keeping a casual watch in the hopes of spotting one far enough in advance that we might be able to do something about it. occasionally there are reports about of a doomsday rock. they usually become near misses with more accurate tracking.
so let's say you're the scientist in the lab coat who's noticed that things are going to get worse in the future. you publish your results. but the media ignores you. no boobies. what do you do? sensationalize it of course. make like chicken little. the earth's gonna fry. and we're all gonna die. and it's all big oil's fault. great now you're on the news. but your facts no longer support your position. sigh.
turn on the tv. what do you see? fires, crashes, murders, scandals, boobies. sensational stuff. the media sells it. why? cause we consume it. we're not interested in ordinary stuff. so if you want to get my attention it's gotta be more sensational than britney flashing her crotch. so when some lab coat issues a press release saying that an increase in global temperatures of some 5c will adversely affect agricultural output. no one cares. hey look! a helicopter crashed in new york. who cares if continent sized populations of people are starving to death in 100 years. yeah, whatever. who's boinking paris this week?
thermometers are a few hundred years old. they give us the instantaneous temperature. average temperatures from before thermometers can be estimated from things like tree rings and ice cores. tree rings give us a sort of average annual temperature. the tree ring record goes back thousands of years. ice cores give us the average temperature over in the range of decades to centuries. the ice core record goes back some 600,000 years. now if you put all of those measurements on one graph you get the infamous hockey stick. the error of course is there could have been a temperature spike bigger than the current one say 200,000 years ago. but it would have been smeared out in the average. does this mean we can safely ignore the current temperature spike? well no. that conclusion would be just as incorrect. and obviously potentially much more deadly.
sometime during the next say 50 some years george w bush is going to pass into the afterlife. likely he'll be escorted to the front of the line at the pearly gates. st peter will just wave him on in. then bush will stand before the almighty father and confess that he started a war that killed some 500,000 (and counting) of His children. and that he promoted global warming. and overpopulation. right about then the lord thy god will remove the scales from his eyes. then and only then will bush realize he's going to hell.
the rule of thumb in aviation is to stay three mistakes from the ground. so when the tower assigns you to a runway different from the one you were expecting, that's one. your copilot remarks that isn't it odd that there are no lights on the runway. two. you take off anyway. three. you're dead. and so are all your passengers. we pay pilots the big bucks with the expectation that they're not going to fuck up like this.
we fold our socks into tidy sock balls when they come out of the laundry. sometimes the children want help in the morning putting their socks on their feet. if you grasp the top of the outer sock of the ball and the toe of the same sock and pull firmly in opposite directions, the other sock pops up into the air. much to the amusement of the child. well, one morning i performed this trick con gusto. i mean, this was the neal armstrong of socks. it went up up and away. like supersock. down the hall. through the door. across the bathroom. and made a perfect splash down in the toilet. whoops. much to the amusement of the child. now he only asks for help putting on his socks when we're out of line of sight of the potty. smart kid.
one day at collidj i was playing with a knife. it was a scary gang style folding knife. i was waving it around high karate style like i was a bad guy in a jackie chan movie. my roommate looked away. i put the knife down and picked up a clothes pin. more high karate noises and a final BLEAAAHHH! and i stuck that pin on his fat stomach. gave it a good squeeze so it hurt a bit. he looks down at it like: my god, he stabbed me. funny, it doesn't hurt much. then he realized it was just a clothes pin.
the general consensus is iran is years away from developing a nuke. at best. some news reports they're not keeping up with the required pace. damn what's wrong with them? part of the fast track scenario requires us to antagonize them. they may never get nukes if we apply diplomacy. but then we never get revenge for that hostage thing. security or revenge. mmm... tough choice.
new plan 2
actually, the new plan is a bit different from the old plan. when the troop spike fails miserably bush can blame the democ-rats for not letting him spike troop levels higher. and we have to withdraw. a navy admiral is now in charge of a land war. we're sending in another carrier group. in short, we're reconfiguring to facilitate strikes on iran. the general that says iran won't have nukes for a decade has been shipped off to a desk in obscurity. it's a plan.
so we have a new iraq plan. it's the same as the old plan. kill more arabs. go us.
the mars observer spacecraft has been looking at mars for a year. then some software dork uploaded a navigational enhancement that turned the spacecraft around so a battery was facing the sun and got fried. now it no workie. alisa's reaction was that asshole should have to go there and fix it. if you're wondering what it would be like to go to mars. well, drew has some ideas. link
one wonders if bush/cheney are going to pull a nixon in two years. president bush pardons vice president cheney for any and all crimes he may have committed while in office. bush resigns. cheney becomes president. then cheney pardons bush for any and all crimes he may have committed while in office. i'm not an expert on the constitution by any means. but i think that holds. some folks wanted to hang nixon more than i want to hang bush. and he died of old age. that's assuming we wanted to abide by the constitution. we could just ignore it and hang em anyway. claim the precedent that these presidents didn't uphold the constitution while they were in office. so why should they be able to insist we uphold it when they're out? interestingly though, the constitution is not the highest law of the land. international law is. so conceivably they could be hanged by an international court. probability: zero.
law and order
law and order is one of my favorite tv shows. they pretty much all start the same way: extras find the body. but then the plot lines go all over the place. often there is interesting police work. often there is an interesting legal twist. you just never know. one of my favorite lines has district attorney jack mccoy arguing before the supreme court. he says something like, if the threat of prosecution makes a us president think twice before ordering civilians in villages bombed with napalm... that can't be a bad thing.
yes, i gm games. i'd rather play than gm. i'd rather gm than not play. my gm'ing talent is generally restricted to buying modules, reading text, and running battles. well, actually i used to gm games. and i used to play pnp. now i play ddo online.
my job is typically to do a nearly impossibly difficult task. i break it up into a zillion tiny little steps. each step is nearly trivially easy. in aggregate though they do the nearly impossible. i was thinking about this today because i was watching my children struggle to make lime-ade. a difficult task that mom broke up into many small easy tasks. still ben struggled to measure one cup of water. i wonder if he was thinking making lime-ade is hard therefore every step of making lime-ade should be hard. even though they clearly aren't. hmmm...
the other day a kid had a seizure and fell off the platform onto the subway tracks directly in the path of an oncoming train. some hero just jumped down there with him and pinned him to the ground while the train passed over them. the man has nads so big it's a wonder they even fit under the train.
the other day alisa wanted to know the root depth of giant redwood trees. she found a site that seemed to be factual. some 3 meters in case you're curious. but the site also went on and on about some old pine tree that had too many rings to be consistent with god's biblical destruction of every plant animal and rock during his noah's ark flood temper tantrum. today i wandered my way to a site explaining how the yellowstone supervolcano is overdue for its next super eruption. looked good. except they went on with how this was important for the end days. and how the bible codes predict an eruption in 2010. man. can i trust their facts? or are they "facts"? my options at this point are: accept everything on the site as true, reject everything on the site as false, reject the obvious hooey and do more research to confirm the rest. i suppose that could be the propagation strategy of the "fact". ie i'm on this page with all these other facts. i must be true too. buyer beware.
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saddam was hanged. which is not to say that saddam was hung. he might have been. i don't know. don't really care to know either. lotta parallels between bush and saddam. both played at being military men. both ran economies incompetently. both lost wars they started. both "won" presidential elections. both killed some half million people. will both hang? only if there is a fair and just god that gives a shit about his creations.
bennett dubbed himself the king of irritation.
one day i was gm'ing a dnd game. i was reading a rather long description from the module. the player on my right slipped off his shoes and tried to distract me with a little footsie under the table. i reached down with my right hand and grabbed his ankle. real gentle like so he doesn't panic. and i keep reading along as if nothing's happening. i reach down with my left hand and start stroking the hairs on the top of his big toe. i get a funny look. and a real good grip and start a-pullin'. all this time i'm reading about whatever it was was going to try to kill their characters next. i clamp down on his ankle real solid like and i'm pulling them hairs for all i'm worth. and he's a-jumpin' and a-hollerin' and a-kickin' like he's got his nuts caught in an ice cube making machine. see, the thing about those particular hairs is they got long roots. real long. like they wrap around the toe bones a few dozen times. and i'm just reading the text without paying any attention to the guy flopping around on the floor under the table. i stop pulling when i stop reading. and i ask as if everything's perfectly normal like, so what do you do? game on.
my last prank post seemed to have been pretty popular. so here's another. we picked this up from penn and teller. it's a variation of the parsley game. it's played at a restaurant. the object is to move your parsley to the mark's plate without him catching you. so at siggraph the guy on my right lost his fork. i said i'd get him a new one. everyone assumed i meant from the waitress. i turned to the kid on my left and said you've got young eyes. what does that sign say over there behind you? when he looked i swiped his fork and handed it to the guy on my right. we were still talking about the sign. so i moved my parsley. and swiped the rest of his flatware for good measure. he ate his meal (it was some messy pile of rice and beans thing) without them. to this day i don't know if he didn't notice they were gone or just didn't care.
we went skiing over new years. sorta. the coverage was terrible. and the snow was terrible. mostly we taught the boys to ski. ben made progress. mostly in the attitude department. i think he finally got the message that acting like a spaz all the time really is keeping him from learning to do fun things. like hurl himself down a mountain at breakneck speeds. garrett as expected learned to ski as soon as he felt like it. they are both me in the opposite extremes. will i survive?
our pick up ddo group was short a couple of players. one said his wife would join us. i thought aw how sweet. and i was insanely jealous. briefly. she didn't really want to play. so she was careless and got killed. twice. and of course it was his fault. so he had to carry her stone back to a shrine. twice. they bickered the entire time. meanwhile the rest of us slogged on down two players instead of just one. maybe it's better alisa doesn't play.
i hate christmas. but i do hate christmas a whole lot less now than i did before. i got over the idea that it should have any greater meaning. it's winter. the days are short. and i get a touch of sad. it's cold. but at least i can shop online now and i don't have to go to the stores. i have trained most of the people who want to give me gifts and expect me to be appreciative to either not give me junk or to not expect much appreciation. and the whos. oh the whos. they get so excited. there's no controlling them. if only i could stop christmas from coming... err wait. maybe that part's not so bad.
it seems to me that we did things completely wrong in iraq. now i've never actually started a war. or run a war. but that won't keep me from blowing smoke out my ass. if you want regime change you finance a civil war - a la afghanistan. if you want concessions you beat up the existing government until they feel like they are in danger of losing control. but you don't actually remove them. otherwise the country descends into anarchy. just beat them up enough that you can get whatever tribute you want from them. 'course economic sanctions can do the same thing without all the fun of blowing shit up.