RottenBrains

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Archive for the ‘Dear God, Make It Stop!’ Category

Political Fallout

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

It’s started. We knew it would.

Japan current nuclear plant problem is real. I don’t want to take anything away from that.

But the anti-nuclear rhetoric is already starting. This big scary nuke plants must be a danger to us all. And I freely admit, there are dangers involved. The only rational response I can think of, is a quote from Wikipedia:

Comparing the historical safety record of civilian nuclear energy with other forms of electrical generation, Ball, Roberts, and Simpson, the IAEA, and the Paul Scherrer Institute found in separate studies that during the period from 1970 to 1992, there were just 39 on-the-job deaths of nuclear power plant workers worldwide, while during the same time period, there were 6,400 on-the-job deaths of coal power plant workers, 1,200 on-the-job deaths of natural gas power plant workers and members of the general public caused by natural gas power plants, and 4,000 deaths of members of the general public caused by hydroelectric power plants.In particular, coal power plants are estimated to kill 24,000 Americans per year, due to lung disease as well as causing 40,000 heart attacks per year in the United States. According to Scientific American, the average coal power plant emits more than 100 times as much radiation per year than a comparatively sized nuclear power plant in the form of toxic coal waste known as fly ash.

Now, don’t think for a minute that I believe nuclear plants are a good idea. No centralized, high-capital approach to energy is a good idea. But since we seem to be limited to centralized, high-capital approaches, nuclear power is about the best option we’ve got.

Here’s to hoping Japan can solve this problem with the least possible damage to life and property. And to hoping we can learn the lessons needed to make this sort of thing safer in the future. But any discussion about the risks of nuclear power must consider the relative risks of just about every other energy source we currently have.

Now that the horror is over

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Not from around here

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Argentina criminals ‘evade capture by dressing up as sheep’

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Several of you have heard my recurring rant on stock photography on news sites. Take a look at the photo in this article. Be sure to read the caption. Those are the best sheep costumes I have ever seen!

Argentina criminals ‘evade capture by dressing up as sheep’

(Via Boing Boing.)

Fail!

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

This is one of the more perplexing things that has happened to me while booking a hotel room. And developers wonder why people just click through bizarre-looking security warnings…

Fail!

Fail!

Cheesy Promotion

Monday, January 11th, 2010

Kraft Foods is now the official sponsor of the implosion of Texas Stadium.

Have we run out of new stadiums to promote, so we have to promote the demolition of old ones?

Update: Wow.

This may hurt a little…

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

From this story:

“The officer sustained facial cuts requiring stitches and a concussion…”

I can just imagine the emergency room: “Okay, sir, we have the cuts all stitched up now. For this last step, we’ll need Bruno to beat you about the head with a brick.”

Texas May have Banned Marriage

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Texas passed an amendment in 2005 with the intent of banning gay-marriage. But they may have banned more than they intended.

The amendment contains the text:

This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.

Logically, it seems like “marriage” is a member of the set of legal statuses “identical or similar to marriage”. Of course, there’s no telling how a judge would interpret the idea of something being “identical or similar” to itself.

Mind the Shipping

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

All I can say is that shopping Amazon isn’t a completely safe experience. You need to pay close attention to the shipping costs (written in very-light-grey-on-light-blue next to the price on the far right):

Picture 1

Incandescent Lights: What EISA Really Means

Friday, September 4th, 2009

There’s been a lot of press coverage recently of the incandescent lighting provisions of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, and it’s largely been of the form “The US Government is banning incandescent light bulbs.”

While this makes for good prime-time newsvertainment, it’s not really true.

The tungsten light bulb was invented in 1905 as a fairly radical improvement on the earlier carbon filament bulbs, which would generally last less than a week before burning out. The humble incandescent light bulb was pretty constantly improved — both in terms of lifetime and efficiency — until about 1964. At that point in time, a bulb that used 100 watts could put out between 1,300 and 1,700 lumens. And that’s where we are now. The most commonly used incandescent bulbs have seen no real improvements in the past 45 years.

Now, let’s look at what EISA actually says about incandescent bulbs. A careful reading shows that it doesn’t eliminate incandescent bulbs. Far from it. All it does is set minimum efficiency standards for them. The relevant information comes from Pub.L. 110-140, Subtitle B, Section 321 (a)(3)(A)(ii)(I)(cc); the important columns from the table are:

Lumens Maximum
Wattage
Effective
1490 – 2600
72
2012
1050 – 1489
53
2013
750 – 1049
43
2014
310 – 749
29
2014

The four lines in the table correspond roughly to modern 100, 75, 60, and 40 watt bulbs respectively. So, those are certainly aggressive compared to the ’60′s technology that we’re using today. But it’s not a “ban on incandescent bulbs” any more than recent automobile efficiency regulations are a “ban on internal combustion engines.”

In fact, you can already buy, right now in 2009, a number of bulbs that meet these standards. Sure, they’re a bit pricey right now, but so were 13 SEER air conditioners five years ago. When regulations force minimum efficiency standards, economies of scale almost always kick in and drop the prices to be very close to those of the older, less efficient technologies.

On top of this, we’ve seen some extremely promising advances in incandescent technologies, including laser treatment of filaments and coatings that turn waste heat into visible light. Either of these alone would completely blow the EISA standards out of the water, beating them by a margin of more than 30%. And there’s no reason to believe that they can’t be combined with each other for additional efficiencies.

So, before you start writing your eulogies for the humble incandescent bulb, I’d give the industry some time to show us what they can do when given a challenge.

Edit: there are additional EISA provisions that kick in January 1st, 2020; these require an efficiency of 45 lumens per watt or better. This will be more difficult, but the kinds of advances I talk about above are already close to this standard — the laser technique gets you to 35 lumens per watt — so even that isn’t likely to be incandescent’s death knell.

A Measured Response

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

While there have been various slapdash measures put in place to mitigate the spiraling US Influenza A(H1N1) death count — one person and counting — it’s good to see that Fort Worth ISD has been able to keep their wits about them. Their measured response to the situation? “Fort Worth ISD To Close All Schools Immediately Because of Swine Flu Threat.”

Yes, they do use the phrase “until further notice,” and then go on to say that it will probably be at least a week and a half before they re-open any schools.

Joe the Plumber to Become War Correspondent

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

No, really, I’m not kidding.

(Via Reason Magazine.)

Cylon Explains DRM

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

I gather this has been around a while, but it’s new to me. Larry the Cylon explains the problems with DRM:

We’re In Ur Bank…

Friday, September 26th, 2008

Laugh-Out-Loud Cats #950

(Via BoingBoing.)

TAM Habeneros

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

Texas A&M, not content with merely messing up Jalapeños, has now created the TAM Mild Habenero.

Star Trek: The Experience Closing in Vegas

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

Star Trek: The Experience Closing in Vegas

Several of us visited this during the SIP interim meetings in Vegas several years ago. I was fairly impressed, particularly with the “ride” that simulated a transporter in a way that almost made me suspend disbelief. As the article mentioned, it was a nice “geek-friendy” break in a town that is not particularly friendly to non-gamblers.

J.J. Abrams, we’re counting on you to make things right again.

Not just no…

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

Digging around to see if maybe the pain in my head is more than just my second cold this year. Wandering through various pollen count sites lead to wandering through allergists and other specialists. On more than one site I’ve found a link to this:

I’m a capsaicin junkie, but this is nuts. If you really want more info, its at http://www.sinusblaster.com/clasicformula.html

New User Interface Metaphor: The Wiggle

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

I just updated my iPhone to 1.1.3. On restart, it popped a window telling me how to use the new feature allowing me to rearrange icons on the home screen. You simply touch and hold an icon until it, get this, starts to “wiggle”. Yes, it actually used the word “wiggle.”

Sounds disturbing? You have no idea. (Unless of course you have one.) All the icons start wiggling. But it’s a subtle wiggle. Just enough to wonder if you’ve had a bit too much rum or something.

Not that I ever have that problem.

Anyhow, finally getting the “find yourself” function in Google Maps is way cool. Even though all the Nokia E6x users have had it for months. Heck, the freakin’ MDA users have had it for a while. But I bet my user interface for it is better.

(btw, FIRST post for 2008!)

The Gestalt of the Internet

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

The current big deal in Japan appears to be a musical animation of Oshiri Kajiri Mushi, or “Butt-Biting Bug”. It’s on youtube; I’ll let you find it yourself. Because that’s not the point of this post.

I googled “butt biting bug” to see if I could find some background info. One site I found had no real info at all. But the Google ads on the page, in combination, were a work of accidental art that will probably not occur again:

Official Bug Doctor Site (bug doctor for the PC.)
Large, Round Booties (figure it out yourself.)
Bug Beetles (huge selection of Beetles items.)

…and finally…

Kill mosquitos with the leaf blower you already have…

I think that pretty much sums up the Internet–or at least the WWW.

iPhone: Who needs security?

Monday, August 27th, 2007

There are an increasing number of jailbroken applications that can be loaded onto the iPhone — so many, in fact, that someone has thrown together a nifty package manager for installing and managing all of them.

One of the more interesting things to do, of course, is run an SSH client so you can perform remote administration of other machines. Apparently, the installation of SSH from the package manager is a full-fledged OpenSSL install — including the server side of things.

And yes, it does start up the SSH service.

Combine this with the well-known passwords for both “root” and “mobile” accounts and what do you get?

orthrus:~/ adam$ ssh root@172.17.1.44
The authenticity of host '172.17.1.44 (172.17.1.44)' can't be established.
RSA key fingerprint is 7f:c4:18:1d:08:63:6c:04:0c:14:30:b2:09:f4:ee:17.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)? yes
Warning: Permanently added '172.17.1.44' (RSA) to the list of known hosts.
root@172.17.1.44's password: 
Warning: No xauth data; using fake authentication data for X11 forwarding.
Last login: Mon Aug 27 17:34:23 2007 from 127.0.0.1
# ls
Library  Media
# uname -a
Darwin Q40 9.0.0d1 Darwin Kernel Version 9.0.0d1: Fri Jun 22 00:38:56 PDT 2007;
root:xnu-933.0.1.178.obj~1/RELEASE_ARM_S5L8900XRB iPhone1,1 Darwin
# df
Filesystem           1K-blocks      Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/disk0s1            307200    193116    111012  64% /
devfs                       18        18         0 100% /dev
/dev/disk0s2           7622368   6624600    997768  87% /private/var
# 

Hmm… methinks the potential for havoc may be high here.


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