Friday, June 14, 2002

Naptime in Delhi

Time Asia has this article on Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee's frail health and his possible successors. But hey, the man likes his whiskey, so hey can't be all bad, can he?
Another Pointless Personality Test

Found via Pejman, another personality test with HTML code plugin, specifically designed for bloggers. Why do I find these so much fun?

take free enneagram test
Fives are basically on some level ambivalent about the world, consequently, their mind is usually their best friend. They like to analyze things and make sense of them (that is their anchor), perception and invention come naturally. The immense inner world of fives can cause them to lose touch or interest in reality.

I don't know what they're talking about. I have a perfect grasp of reality. And yes, aside from looking quite handsome, this tin-foil hat works wonders for stopping those Frankenstein Computer God mind control beams.
Now that's Some Good TV

Yesterday it was around 95o here in Seattle, which is pretty goddamn hot for us Northwesterners. However, an ice-cold six-pack of beer, a pizza, and some fine television kept the heat bearable. AMC was playing two of my favorite movies, The Great Escape and Force 10 From Navarone. Now I don't know about you, dear reader, but I for one find few things as enjoyable as watching Harrison Ford killing Nazis.

On that subject, Indiana Jones 4 is starting to be talked about, and one can only hope it'll have as much Nazi-stomping as Raiders or Last Crusade. But with Kate Capshaw rumored to be reprising her role as Willie, it may turn out to be another [shudder] Temple of Doom.

That is all for now.

Thursday, June 13, 2002

Space Ass, or Why Humanity Will Go Extinct

Interesting stuff at StrategyPage's Space Operations page, which has brief discussions on how satellite launch insurance is becoming impossible to obtain, and how useless the ISS is without a bigger crew. What I found most interesting is the June 9 entry on the space shuttle, namely the fact that it's ancient:
The Space Shuttle is showing its age. To use the ancient equipment which checks the solid boosters before launch, engineers have to track down old Intel 8086 chips, made during 1981. The xenon floodlights used to light up the runway approaches are all but impossible to keep in service as the parts are no longer made. A new lighting system has been installed, but it produces a different kind of lighting, and astronauts are flying test approaches in business jets to get used to the new system.

Now, the space shuttle was neat in 1981, when it was brand spanking new, but even then it wasn't terribly useful. Sending cargo via one-shot rockets has always been as cheap or cheaper than the shuttle, and is a lot safer. The only cool part of the shuttle was that it was still manned space flight (if very low orbit can be called space). I was two and a half when the first shuttle lifted off. I'm almost 24 now. You'd think two decades would be enough time for NASA to make some improvements in the shuttle's electronics, and hopefully come up with a cheaper alternative. We should have a huge space station in orbit, and permanent bases on the moon preparing us for the terraforming and colonization of Mars.

But oh no, NASA spent the last ten years working on a worthless International Space Station that houses three people full time and can't even do the piddly little experiments it was supposed to. The shuttle fleet is slowly fossilizing, and the lazy N is looking through the technological ashheap of history for replacement parts. There's no new super-cheap space plane coming in the foreseeable future, and we're not even building any new shuttles to replace the existing dinosaurs.

A lot of discussion on ye old blogospheare lately has turned colonizing Mars, especially with news that massive amounts of Ice have been found on the red planet. The problem is that the United States can't currently send a single crew to the Moon, and Mars is sure as hell a lot harder than the Moon. What's worse is that colonizing Mars, a practical, if difficult, goal, isn't even in the mainstream political discussion. The Environmentalist religion, which at best says that we should learn to live in harmony with our environment before moving elsewhere, and at worst regards civilization as a cancer that must be kept from spreading at all cost, is given a legitimate seat at the policy making table.

Here's what it comes down to kiddies; the human race is one comet strike away from total extinction. If humanity doesn't have a backup plan on Mars or elsewhere, then fine, it'll die out. I'm a misanthrope at heart, so I think mankind's probably got it coming. I just hope the Raccoon-people who evolve in 30 million years are smarter than us. Of course we'll have left them with no fossil fuels, so they'll be screwed too.

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

How to Safely View the Eclipse

I guess I should have read these Space.Com-approved instructions before viewing the eclipse yesterday. I betcha if I'd used one of them pinhole thingies, these black spots in my field of vision wouldn't be so bad. Or maybe it had something to do with the rubbing alcohol we were partying with. Who can really say?

Monday, June 10, 2002

Katie Puckrik is Freaking Great

Drudge has a link to a Washington Post article about Oprah Winfrey’s upcoming show on Oxygen. Now, I think that the assy lifetime-esque content of the struggling Oxygen network isn’t going to be helped by another Oprah crapfest. Instead, they should focus on programs like Katie Puckrik’s Pajama Party. It was the only program on Oxygen that I, at the time a spirited (and drunken) college student, could watch and enjoy. It had 20-30 something women getting drunk in pajamas while interviewing celebrities. What could be better? I watched it, and my friends watched it. I think the big, fat O made a big mistake by canceling it….
Why I Love the USA
…Part 1 of a continuing series…

As I sit at my home computer, drinking down a six-pack of Anheuser-Busch’s finest, I’m reminded of the greatness of the civilization I live in. Never in the history of mankind has such sumptuous wealth been available to so many. I mean, 300 years ago, even the richest and most elite members of societies lived in filth compared to your average modern American. For crissakes, most people didn’t have Toilet Paper until sometime in the 20th century (many third-worlders still don't) -- what the hell did they do before then? I probably don’t want to know.

Another example of my nation’s greatness is the Corn Dog. This simple food item is unique in all the world. Sure, lots of people have sausages, and once you’ve figured out the sandwich the hot dog is a gimme. But take that sausage, impale it with a stick, dunk it in some cornmeal, and deep fry that sumbitch ‘till its golden brown, and you got yourself some tasty magic. Only an American (and a Texan to boot) could create such a food.

Now, while you can’t eat corn dogs every day, you never know when the urge for delicious corn-meal coated goodness will pop-up. This leads me to an even bigger reason why I love this great land of ours.

Where else on the planet could a lowly guy like me, after finishing off a half-rack of Budweiser in the wee hours of the morning, walk a few blocks to my local all-night grocery store to obtain sustenance? Perhaps a few other countries might have all-night stores, but where else could I be presented with a wide selection of my desired corn and sausage snack? Where else would I have to spend precious, drunken minutes, choosing between beef or chicken franks, normal or cheese stuffed, regular or extra crispy?

Mere feet away from this bounty lie endless rows of pretzel bags, beef jerky, and even fresh produce all there to satisfy my nocturnal dietary cravings. Truly, we live the greatest civilization in the history of Humanity, and the greatest part is that I’m not some elite enjoying myself while the peasant masses go starving. Far from it, worthless social scientists now concern themselves with the growing link between poverty and obesity. Even my drug-addled poor-white-trash extended family can enjoy the benefits of modern agriculture, all within walking distance of their crack houses.

So the next time some smelly dread-locked protesto starts lecturing you about the evils of materialism, don’t tell them to take their dumb-ass, Chomsky felating, Nader auto-masturbating-selves and get a job. No, no, take a few moments to remind them that without the materialist-driven industrial, agricultural, and commercial revolutions of the 19th and 20th centuries, they’d be starving in the streets like dogs, or dying of the plague. Remind them that they’re living comfortably off of mommy and daddy’s money, student grants, or welfare, that hard-working people like myself have to fucking pay for.

Then tell them to take their dumb-ass, Chomsky felating, Nader auto-masturbating-selves and get a job.

Less Scary than Previously Reported

Iain Murray's The Edge of England's Sword has a link to an op-ed piece by Physicist Fred Singer. In it, Singer quiets a number of my fears regarding radiological bombs, most important, I think, is the difficulty in manufacturing a large weapon:
To produce significant radioactivity over an area of, say, one square mile, the concentration within a small bomb would have to be roughly 10 million times greater and would quickly kill the terrorists trying to assemble the material. The radioactivity also creates large amounts of heat energy, sufficient to melt most containers. What's more, any such bomb would be easy to detect at long distance if it emits gamma rays. We therefore conclude that a dirty bomb is mostly hype.

Still a nasty weapon, even in smaller forms, but not the nightmare weapon I first imagined...

Sunday, June 09, 2002

The Summer Fun of My Discontent

OK, I went to the beach today (yes, we do have them in Seattle). This is not the most natural thing for me, as I'm a flab-monger and my skin is pasty white. However, I felt a need to get out of my dank, cavernous apartment for a change. So I hiked through about 3 miles of hot residential streets to get to the sand.

I relearned an old lesson today; ogling 16-17 year old girls for extended periods of time makes me feel dirty (I’m still only 23, I keep telling myself, trying to minimize the shame). Hey, my grandpa was like 30 when he married an 18-year-old. Of course that was in 1928. And he was from West Virginia. OK, bad example…

Aside from dealing with neurosis regarding young women, I was able to get a little reading in. I was carrying an old 1930’s anthology of classic British literature. The translations of several Old English poems were pretty crummy, and they didn’t include the original for comparison. That was balanced by a good collection of Elizabethan and English Civil War era stuff.

I also did a wee bit of writing, and produced two ideas I think I’m gonna pursue:
  • A song titled “Bull-Dyke Beach Bunnies”
  • A short play about the Battle of Agincourt

The Beach Bunny song (a rockabilly sound, perhaps, definitely a strong baseline) is obviously a product of the sights and sounds of a Seattle beach, and I think will prove quite humorous.

The Agincourt idea was inspired by Michael Drayton's Ballad of Agincourt (in the book I was reading) and a chapter from Churchill’s History of the English Speaking People. Why a play? I don’t know, I’ve never written a play before, and I don’t really know much about the theater. For some reason it seemed like a good Idea, and now I’m committed in my head. I know Agincourt is covered in Shakespeare’s Henry V, but old Willy was a no talent fuck, and I just don’t trust his histories (although I am a bit fond of Richard III).