i like to bash the media as much as the next guy. but i kinda gotta heap a small amount of praise on them this time. even if it was an accident. the headline of interest is: petronas reports 'significant' oil discovery. note the use of the quotes. which mean that the word doesn't mean what it usually means. and often means the opposite. petronas reported the discovery of 227 million barrels of oil equivalent in a field somewhere. is that significant? at current usage it'll get us through a weekend. so no. is it 'significant', meaning not significant? sure. it's better than nothing. we are currently consuming oil some 4x faster than we are discovering it. that's what i would have to call "sustainable".
i don't think this word means what you think it means. let's find out. do you believe in the rule of law, as embodied in say, the constitution? do you believe in fair and free elections? do you support competitive elections between more than one political party? do you support human rights, like say life and liberty? do you believe in capitalism over socialism or communism? do you support freedom of religion? do you oppose a state sanctioned religion? do you oppose the divine right of kings and theocrats? do you oppose social classes, like nobles and serfs? yes? heh. congratulations, you're a liberal. i suspect that most americans would pass this test. the only real question is: are you a left leaning liberal or a right leaning liberal? i think there are a fair number of theocrats in the country who think god should be in charge. as long as it's their god. and not someone else's made up god. like flying spaghetti monster or jehovah. there's also a large number of people who think they'd be very happy with a single party system. as long as it's their party. fortunately, they're pretty evenly divided between the two parties. one wonders how many votes charles manson would get if he was the candidate of one of the parties. pretty sure it wouldn't be zero. yeah sure he's a homicidal maniac, but at least he's not a republocrat! heh. there's also the anti-government pro-business who are pro-capitalism among a small number of monopolies. and anti-capitalism against any new competition. they're pro-socioeconomic-stratification, anti-upward-mobility. think koch brothers. i think they'd be named oligarchs. they should be shunned by both democrats and republicans. should be. can't be though. cause they're rich. and they either fund you or your opponent. so pucker up mr candidate.
my car is equipped with an anti-owner feature. stupid fucking thing. to it's credit though, it's called an anti-theft feature. and maybe it worked. my stereo wasn't stolen from my car. nope. the headlight and back up light went out nearly simultaneously. going to pep boys for a replacement for just one is a waste of time in the procrastinator's handbook. but for two lights, yeah, we can do that task. but only if there's something more important we should be doing. like birthday shopping for my kid. anywho. replacing the backup light was painless. the beautiful and talented alisa showed me how. replacing the headlight was somewhat more painful. since it was the driver's side. i had to remove the battery to get to the headlight. the passenger side's light is easily accessible. so i practiced replacing that light. the cable snapped in with a sturdy click. when i started to remove the headlight on the driver's side, the cable didn't seem to be connected securely. so on a hunch, i snapped the cable back on. reconnected the battery. and sure enough. i didn't need the new headlights at all. it was just a loose cable. i could have saved myself a few dollars at pep boys. but not a trip. see? procrastination pays. oh well. now i have spare headlights for when i need them. or more likely, when the next owner needs them. anywho. everything's good right? nope. the clock is flashing. can't reset it. need to enter an anti-theft security code. which is in the owner's manual. wtf? like i know where that is. well, i mean i'm pretty sure it's on the closet shelves of my office. somewhere. buried under a mountain of scrap paper to be reused before being recycled, binders to be reused, science magazines to be re-read, baseball scorebooks, love notes, computer game boxes, battle mats, markers, and assorted accumulated junk. sigh. so now all of a sudden, in order to avoid doing something more important, i have to clean my office. which is actually kinda okay when the boys are off camping and playing. cause i get help from alisa. the kind of help that devolves into wrestling tickling and kissing. which left me in no state to figure out how to actually enter the secret code from the owner's manual into the stereo. the internet was no help. fortunately alisa was up to the task. hrm. i guess her kisses are more effective than mine. i'll have to work on it.
no this isn't a tolkien bash. i don't do those jokes any more. in the interest of marital bliss. anywho, have you ever noticed that some people walk on their toes and some people walk heel first? i first noticed this phenomenon at work. my office is on the second floor. and sometimes boom boom boom. the floor literally shakes. other times, my hot chick radar sense goes off. and i look over and down. and she's walking toe first. heels kinda force one to walk that way. i have further noticed that the heel first people tend to be gravitationally superior to the toe first walkers. who am i kidding. they're fatties. so anywho, by the theory of causal correlation inversion, you should be able to lose weight simply by disciplining yourself to walk toe first instead of heel first. i don't think i could get men to wear high heels. hrm. i'm going to start selling shoe inserts with a pneumatic trigger in the front and spikes in the back. if you slam your heel first you get a painful stab. but if you press the trigger in the front by walking toes first it retracts the spikes. heh. it's positive feedback (the sciencey definition) of negative feedback (the non-sciency definition). cool. i'm gonna be so rich.
is it just me? or has anyone noticed that frazz's cycling buddy looks an awful lot like calvin's dad?
i read an article about research that suggests women who have sex 4 times a week look 10 years younger. hrm. presumably this only applies to older women. otherwise college coeds would look like they're 11. and i don't remember that being the case. unless of course women don't start their higher education until they're 30. anywho. the article didn't mention if women who have sex 8 times a week look 20 years younger. and they only stated the correlation without implying causation. course either way is kinda cool. whaddaya mean headache? fountain of youth baby!
i've stated previously that human brains are really good at intuiting numbers when all numbers involved are of a human scale. and they're really bad with really big and really small numbers. here's an example. pound for pound, which generates more power: a human being or the sun? give it a little thought before you go on. ready? okay. a typical human is somewhat less than 100 kg. and produces somewhat less than 100 watts. so about 1 watt per kilogram. a nice round number. the sun on the other hand, is really big and really bright. both numbers are really big. and by my assertion your brain is going to be really bad at predicting the output of the maths involving them. the sun produces some 10^26 watts. it's really goram bright. the sun has 10^30 kg of mostly hydrogen. the sun produces about 1 watt per 10 metric tons. which pound for pound, is 10000x less than a human being. i took a quick informal survey with this question. the results were split down the middle. half guessed sun. half guess human. however, the interesting thing is everyone who guessed human did so for sociological reasons. ie they know me. and i wouldn't be asking this question if it didn't have a crazy answer. therefore the real answer must not be the obvious answer. we've done the maths and, as unbelievable as it sounds, people really do outshine the sun.
it's interesting to look at the list of countries that are building nuclear power plants some time in the future. china is pretty obvious. but others aren't. like iran, saudia arabia, united arab emirates, russia, etc. these are some of the top oil producing countries. wtf would they want nuclear power? well, possibly for weapons. but more likely, cause we're at peak oil. and they'll need energy to feed their economy and lifestyle that was built on cheap oil.
apparently kids in states where drinking alcohol is prohibited are being creative to find loopholes. you're only not allowed to *drink* it. getting it into your body in other ways is a-okay. like say by inserting a vodka soaked tampon into your rectum. gah. presumably an otherwise fresh tampon. still though. it's ick factor high. it's also dangerous. the alcohol is absorbed into the body much more efficiently. alcohol poisoning is a real risk. i think, if i lived in a place where my kids felt the need to experiment with drugs in this unsafe and disgusting of a fashion, i think i'd just prefer to let them down a few cold ones. jesus will forgive them. cause he is that kind of guy.
starve the beast
there's a political strategy called starve the beast. it works like this. cut taxes, revenues plummet, and the government will then be forced to cut spending. the beast is the government. good plan. on paper. the problem is, in reality, spending doesn't get cut. we just borrow more. which tanks the economy. which reduces revenues even more. which causes stimulus spending. which is paid for by borrowing more. and round the drain we go. so how do we stop the vicious cycle? i don't know. i don't think we can. at least not until the beast actually gets hungry. the occupy protests are the first hunger pangs. it will be a while until enough people get hungry enough to muster enough political willpower to throw the yoke of taxation off the crushed middle class and on to people who have money and can afford it. i'm thinking 2028 or so.
rush limbaugh is a pig. buy-a-lick oink oink. how could anyone possibly think he's right? hrm. maybe they don't. think that is. maybe you win my vote by expressing an emotion i feel. the meaning of what you say doesn't matter. as long as you provide an outlet for my inner beast. it kinda makes sense. i guess. sorta explains the palin phenomenon. when i play video games, my character is a hot chick. cause i'd rather stare at a hot chick's backside than an ugly dude's. or a handsome buff dude's. yeah, okay. so when i watch politics, i'd rather see a pretty face than some old guy. makes some sort of sick sense, right? also explains why reagan was so popular. he was very good at saying what people wanted to hear in a way they wanted to hear it. should a millionaire pay less taxes than a bus driver? no! of course not. those were reagan's words. obama's trying to deliver the same message. yet reagan was re-elected 525 to 13. obama's re-election looks like a toss up. unless obama somehow suddenly finds america's voice.
there's a donation bin at my kid's school. it's a big 55 gallon drum thing. this is all cool and all. except... there's a picture of a fat lady. with the caption, nothing else matters when you're hungry. wtf? she's not just fat she's obese. like her neck is bigger around than her head. sheehs. sorry. i'm somewhat less motivated to give food to fatties. i'm much more motivated to give food to skinny people. marketing fail.
a recent study autopsied the brains of children with and without autism. they found that autistic kids had a lot more neurons in certain parts of the brain. oddly enough, the parts believed to handle social skills. autistic brains are of normal-ish weight. so apparently the neurons are smaller than normal. fewer connections maybe. and perhaps this makes them less efficient at their task. though i'm totally speculating on them bits. the really interesting thing here is, neurons are only produced en mass in the second trimester of pregnancy. some two years *before* a kid gets its first vaccine. in other words, jenny mccarthy is a stupid bitch who should sit down and shut the fuck up. the research is solid but thin. cause most people who've just lost a beloved child aren't thinking about what good can come from a horrible tragedy. unless maybe they've heard of this research.
so my son was born late at night on november 21. the earliest thanksgiving can fall is november 22nd. so his birthday will never fall on thanksgiving. he'll never have a bird day. ha ha. actually, he will. he's already had one. unfortunately, we missed it. he'll have up to three more this century. what the heck am i talking about? heh. i explain. there are 365.241 days in a year. so every non-leap year your birthday time moves forward by about six hours. ie a quarter of a day. every leap year it moves backwards by 18 hours. ie three quarters of a day. so it's entirely possible for your birthday to change dates. his does. so he'll be able to celebrate a few bird days in his long life. and if i eat my vegetables and avoid the anti-vaxxers, i might get to celebrate a few with him.
someone compared humanity's endowment of oil to the exorbitant salaries we pay to a professional athlete. the smart athlete invests and saves for the long haul. others live large as if every year will be bigger and better paychecks. they usually end up living most of their lives broke. so what are we doing with our oil windfall? are we living like the grasshopper or the ant of aesop's fables fame? heh. let me paraphrase george r r martin. winter is coming.
some hundred years ago, the players in a free market were divided into three groups: laborers, capitalists, and rentiers. you've probably never heard of rentiers. cause contemporary economic thinking divides the players into laborers and capitalists. it's pretty obvious what the laborers are. they're the ones who knead the dough, chop the veggies, assemble the pizza, bake it, box it, and deliver it. capitalist has more than one meaning. in common usage it means you believe the free market is superior to socialism or communism. fair enough. in this context though, it means the investor. the people who put assets at risk. the money to pay wages and buy ingredients comes from their bank account. but it's not just cash. capitalists provide anything that is consumed or used up. like oil, soil, cash, cows, etc. they also pay the rent for the buildings and the land. to the rentiers. the mystery group. the rentiers provide the things that are not consumed. like land, buildings, water rights, copyrights, patents, etc. unlike the capitalist, the rentier still has the rented thing after renting it. okay, so after the pizza is made and sold, the profits are divided among the three groups. and everyone's happy, right? heh. one of the things that pissed ye olde commoners off so much that they were willing to hazard a three month voyage on a teeny tiny ship across a vast vast ocean, was that the nobility had a monopoly on the rentier position. they collected taxes and dues and fees way out of proportion to the value they added to the product. like say, not killing you for living on their land. one of the reasons the american economy has historically been so strong is we've been actively persecuting the rentier class. historically. we let down our guard during the oil boom of the 20th century. slowly and steadily. no one really cared cause everyone was getting rich. the rentiers have been masquerading as capitalists and now have a virtual lock on banks, governments, wall street, and many (not all) corporations. case in point, an economist won a nobel prize for showing that hedge fund managers are no better at picking winner stocks than a chimpanzee. it's a game of chance, not skill. they might as well roll dice. yet the lucky ones who win the lottery walk off with billion dollar cash prizes. that's billion with a b. annually. i expect to see the term rentier in the news more often. cause we've hit the oil ceiling. the economy isn't growing any more. we're not getting richer any more. and the commoners have noticed that the royalty is. occupy wall street is the first expression of this unhappiness. even if people don't really understand the underlying economic principles. they know they're busting their humps and not getting ahead. and the rich kids make more money while sleeping than the working stiff kids will make in a year. wall street is filled with psychopaths. they're not stupid. so they'll hand out just enough candy to quiet this rebellion. which i think will be status quo for the whole next generation. sucks to be them.
global warming stopped this decade. right? it not just stopped but reversed recently. right? heh. sorta. this is a repeat from 1973-81, 1981-88, 1988-95, 1995-2000, 1998-2004, 2003-2009. gee, with all that cooling going on, how could anyone even think the world could possibly be warming? heh. here
are two charts that show how this works. ignore the snarky comments. someone called it going down the up escalator. which is kinda clever. i wish i'd have thought of it. each cooling period is a flat-ish step on the stairs. each cooling step is warmer than last. this stairway does not lead to heaven.
so a while ago i was extolling how great oil is. and i asserted you can run must things on electricity that currently run on oil. except airplanes. heh. at the time it was inconceivable to fly on battery power alone. well. harumph. i'd like to revisit that position. apparently batteries have been on a bit of an exponential tear when it comes to power density. here
's a guy flying a frikken battery powered helicopter. granted it wasn't a very long flight. but man. science fiction, science fact. want.
is an interesting graph. the full discussion of peak oil by an astrophysicist(!) is here
. the graph shows the price of oil and the rate at which oil is produced. over time the line kinda wanders around the graph. when the price is low, say below $40/bbl, there's a somewhat linear relationship with production. which is what you'd expect from basic economic supply and demand theory. ie demand (and price) goes up, we produce more to satisfy that demand. but a funny thing happens when production gets to around 85 million barrels per day. in economics speak, the price become inelastic. ie prices range from $50/bbl to $150/bbl and production barely budges. okay, so what does that mean? simply put, the world cannot produce more than about 85 million barrels of oil per day. the oil just isn't there. supply is not infinite. and we've hit the ceiling. we can't just stick another straw in the earth and suck harder. drill baby drill, is a losing policy. because it just plain won't work.
it's a trap
it's an energy trap
. the basic idea is people are going to be willingly (heh, were) blind to peak oil until it starts to affect the economy. which is now. then they're going to do something to replace the declining oil production. and that something is whatever gets results quickest. in this case that means whatever has the lowest startup cost. cause our economy is already pinched from the declining oil. we can't afford to build expensive nuclear power plants or windmills or solar panels. they all have large up front costs. which will pinch our economy even further. which is the exact opposite of what we want. as evidenced by how we vote for the politician who offers us the quickest fixes. anywho, that's the basic idea. so we're doomed, right? not necessarily. our economy makes a lot more than just necessities. it makes a whole lot of luxuries. like yachts, private jets, sports teams. in theory, we could measure a man's manhood by the size of his wind/solar farm. instead of by the size of his yacht. so maybe not doomed, exactly.
if one had a time machine, one could go back in time to before the vietnam war. and find out what would have happened if we had overcome our fear of communism and honored fair and free elections. even if it almost certainly meant the commies would win. probably a lot of people would have died in the aftermath. but a lot of people died anyway. given the latter lot is in the millions, one can reasonably guess the former lot would be somewhat smaller. and vietnam would be peaceful and prosperous decades sooner. but we lacked the courage to face down our fear of communism. which was a lot worse than the communism itself. and we don't have a time machine. so jeff miller, allison krause, william schroeder, and sandra sheuerer will stay dead.
i've never been to vietnam. nor am i much of a history buff. other than what i glean from the intertubes. so here's the recent history of vietnam. the lib'ral version. the french were like, colony! the vietnamese were like, get the fuck out. the japanese were like, pew pew pew! the vietnamese and the french and the americans and the chinese were like, get the fuck out. pew pew pew! the japanese got the fuck out. the vietnamese returned to the french, get the fuck out. the french were all, le le le. can't hear you. the vietnamese were like, pew pew pew! the french were like, le help! the americans were like, truce? vote? everybody started counting. the commies were like, yes! the americans were like, we'd rather go to war than let you win a fair and free election. the commies were like, pew pew pew. the us was like pew pew pew. johnson was like, draft. college students were like, hell no we won't go. kent state was like pew pew pew. ford was like, okay we'll get the fuck out. the commies were tired of their 1:10 kill ratio. so they were all like, pew pew pew at the non-commies until it was 10:1. so in a nutshell, many people died to make vietnam the peaceful and prosperous capitalism based communist state it is today.
achievements are all the rage in video games these days. where these days goes back to 2005. anywho my favorite spinoff are the panties that say acheivement locked. heh. so anywho, one day at work we were talking about an achievement based c++ compiler. you cannot use the ? operator until you unlock that achievement. not sure what achievements would be based on. total number of unique compiled lines. low compile errors per line. etc. but you'd have to unlock multiple inheritance. and virtual destructors. multi-threading would be way down the list. but well above thunking vtables.
no this is not a binary joke. but it should be. heh. anywho. penn of penn and teller posted a set of atheist ten commandments
. they're remarkably similar to the biblical ten commandments. which really shouldn't surprise anyone. but probably does surprise someones who think morals are imposed by an invisible sky father and are not simply an innate part of being human beings.
so i have a new assignment at work. it's a lot like the old assignments. just with a new game. i can't tell you which game, of course. the job is to measure the latency of a representative scene and figure out the optimal settings. there are a *lot* of possible settings. so i end up watching the same clip over and over and over. wee. my computer at work doesn't have speakers. which is good. cause the scene for a previous assignment had some ally warn me over and over and over, there's more o' the fuckers ropin' in. yeah, shut up. dude, i can't hear you. la la la. unfortunately, the new game has subtitles on. so now the dude, well, i guess technically it's a different dude. but sheehs. they all look alike. so it might as well be the same dude. anywho, the dude says, holy piss shit! which is quite an image. even if you don't have to hear it. not sure what holy piss shit is exactly. other than maybe papal diarrhea. hrm. probably should have stopped writing this blog quite some time ago. ah well. too late now.
there are rumors of a "scientific" report flying around the internet. it claims that hammering people with facts make them less likely to change their mind. i of course, don't believe a word of it. it can't possibly be true. no one is so stupid as to hold to their beliefs even in the face of overwhelming evidence. whoever published this report must be incompetent. or is just doing it for the grant money. well, i hope they enjoy their 15 minutes of fame. heh. okay seriously. i'm sure there's a way to use this new information. people change their own minds if they do the research. cause fact checking allegedly improves their sense of self. whereas being flat out told they're wrong is an attack on their self. and that means war.
so this year's halloween was an obscure internet meme. well, a variation. pumpkin laughing alone with salad. look dude. if you don't get it. i won't be able to explain it to you.
dictator for life
if i was dictator for life, there would be a very simple tax system. there would also be very little in the form of explicit government run social safety net. the little safety net there is would be in the form of regulations. okay, you doctors and hospitals and medical clinics, the following things are free: annual wellness visits, stitches, vaccinations, anti-biotics, casts, etc. you figure out amongst yourselves how to pay for it. so anywho, back to taxes. there'd be a baseline tax credit for every individual, say $5000. so if you didn't make any money cause you were broken or studying, the government would hand you a check. presumably this would be big enough to keep you from starving to death. but not so big that your life would be anything other than pretty darn sucky. that would pretty much replace the social welfare programs in our current budget. ie about half the government's outgo. the other half would be military, debt, education, and research. on the other side of the ledger, personal and corporate income would be taxed at a flat rate. with no deductions. and no special privilege for how that income was generated. what rate exactly? no idea. i'd ask the cbo to estimate a rate that would balance the budget. let's take a guess. the bottom majority pays about half of the total taxes at a total federal tax rate of about 30%. and the top minority pays the other half of the total taxes at a buffet rate of about 17%. which if i can do maths works out to 22%. a tax cut for most. a tax hike for those who can afford it. and a balanced budget. imagine that. timmer for president.
begin derivative work. that's a nice way of saying i blatantly stole this idea from xkcd. okay so, you need to show one form of id to buy a gun. but you need to show two forms of id to pay for it by check. and you need five (5!) forms of id to send your kid to school.
so i downloaded and read the paper on superluminal neutrinos. and i did some back of the envelope calculations on some of the numbers. the "error" is one part in 10^5. so if this is some sort of simple special relativity mistake, that'd be the approximate time dilation due to crossing reference frames. that'd be a speed of 0.3% of c. or 1000 km/s. the fastest thing in the system is the gps satellites. and they travel at 3 km/s. which isn't even close to being able to reconcile theory and measurement. okay, suppose it's a simple general relativity mistake. heh. if there is such a thing. the time dilation would be due to gravitational potential. again the gps satellites have the largest differential. which at best, gets you to one part in 10^6. so... the "error" is not likely to be something relativistic in nature. heh. i'd be willing to believe that 100 of the best physicists in the world made a relativity error. but not a stack of a dozen or so.