June 30, 2006

I weep for the future

I visited YouTube today and discovered this video from Hope is Emo: Words Are Dying.

Did you watch it? Amazingly pathetic, wasn't it? Now go this website and check out the contents. Scared yet? Imagine that this little "gothtard" might someday sign your paycheck.

Scared now? Okay, then click on this link and calm down a bit.

Jim Treacher thinks that You Tube Is Going To Destroy Our Society. He might be on to something.

Update: Looks like Ace finally stumbled onto this, this thing.

Posted by Physics Geek at 10:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

In a nutshell

I've avoided mentioning the Times-squared publishing the details of SWIFT, mainly because others have beaten the issue to death. Suffice it to say, despite protestions to the contrary, not ALL the terrorists worldwide knew about the program at all. God bless the Times-squared, though, because Osama-Muhammed-Achmed-Brunhilde-Grendel-Zarqawi-BinLaden-Hussein-Casper-the-friendly-ghost knows every intimate detail now. So much so, in fact, that they can probably avoid being caught by this program for, well, forever.

Lileks weighs in, as only he can. Excerpt:

September 10, 2006: The New York Times runs a story about a CIA agent named Mohammed Al-Ghouri, 1034 Summit Park, Evanston Illinois, who is attempting to penetrate a radical sleeper cell suspected of having 19 liters of homemade mustard gas. The series concludes with the agent’s obituary, and a moving quote from a CIA historian who notes that the “al-Ghouri was one of rare, brave breed whose names and deeds are rarely known. Except in this case, of course.”

Criticized for blowing the agent’s cover, a Times spokesman tartly noted that “this man is – sorry, was a government employee, and if he’s using taxpayer money to take terrorists out to lunch, we think the people ought to know, if only so they judge the menu items chosen on behalf of the government. Was veal consumed? Because a lot of people are sensitive to the veal issue.”

I can't even work up a "mheh" to this post, because it strikes me as strangely prescient, rather than mocking.

Posted by Physics Geek at 10:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Too much time on their hands

Do you like soccer? Do you want to watch it in streaming ASCII-art on the web? Me either, but it's kind of entertaining, in a they've-lost-their-freaking-minds sort of way. Just get to a command prompt and type the following:

telnet ascii-wm.net 2006

Posted by Physics Geek at 09:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Redesigning your website?

Then the time breakdown in the graphic below should look very familiar to you. Click on the thumbnail below for a larger image:


Found via this guy.

Posted by Physics Geek at 09:23 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 28, 2006

Assorted assholes nothing

Goldstein? Two.

Best description of Sullivan that I've seen in a long time:

Here’s the thing: Sullivan claims he’s quite familiar with homophobic attacks from the gay left (whatever that now is), and yet he doesn’t appear to have much of a problem with a progressivist agenda that, while it might ultimately push through the policy he wants (legalization of gay marriage), will do so at a price that would be more than a little damaging to the conservatism Sullivan claims to embrace. No doubt he sees himself as being pragmatic when he selectively embraces constitutionally dubious methodologies; me, I just see a guy who’s spent the last several years throwing a very public temper tantrum.

Posted by Physics Geek at 03:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A new disease rears its ugly head

Received via email this morning:

Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder: IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU!

Recently, I was diagnosed with A.A.A.D.D. - Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder.

This is how it manifests:

I decide to water my garden.

As I turn on the hose in the driveway, I look over at my car and decide it needs washing.

As I start toward the garage, I notice mail on the porch table that I brought up from the mail box earlier.

I decide to go through the mail before I wash the car.

I lay my car keys on the table, put the junk mail in the garbage can under the table, and notice that the can is full.

So, I decide to put the bills back on the table and take out the garbage first.

But then I think, since I'm going to be near the mailbox when I take out the garbage anyway, I may as well pay the bills first.

I take my check book off the table, and see that there is only 1 check left.

My extra checks are in my desk in the study, so I go inside the house to my desk where I find the can of Coke I'd been drinking.

I'm going to look for my checks, but first I need to push the Coke aside so that I don't accidentally knock it over. The Coke is getting warm, and I decide to put it in the refrigerator to keep it cold.

As I head toward the kitchen with the Coke, a vase of flowers on the counter catches my eye--they need water.

I put the Coke on the counter and discover my reading glasses that I've been searching for all morning.

I decide I better put them back on my desk, but first I'm going to water the flowers.

I set the glasses back down on the counter, fill a container with water and suddenly spot the TV remote. Someone left it on the kitchen table.

I realize that tonight when we go to watch TV, I'll be looking for the remote, but I won't remember that it's on the kitchen table, so I decide to put it back in the den where it belongs, but first I'll water the flowers.

I pour some water in the flowers, but quite a bit of it spills on the floor.

So, I set the remote back on the table, get some towels and wipe up the spill.

Then, I head down the hall trying to remember what I was planning to do.

At the end of the day:

- The car isn't washed

- The bills aren't paid

- There is a warm can of Coke sitting on the counter

- The flowers don't have enough water,

- There is still only 1 check in my check book,

- I can't find the remote,

- I can't find my glasses,

- And I don't remember what I did with the car keys.

Then, when I try to figure out why nothing got done today, I'm really baffled because I know I was busy all day, and I'm really tired.

I realize this is a serious problem, and I'll try to get some help for it, but first I'll check my e-mail.

Do me a favor. Forward this message to everyone you know, because I don't remember who I've sent it to.

I'm not laughing. Add in picking up children's toy and books and this pretty much captures my Saturdays.

Posted by Physics Geek at 02:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Hacks for geeks

Kind of a redundant title, I know, but there's a new book out, Ubuntu Hacks which provides a lot of good information for both Linux newbie and guru alike. See if the following looks like something you'd be interested in:

Co-authors Jonathan Oxer, Kyle Rankin, and Bill Childers detail exactly 100 "hacks" you can use to set up a printer, tweak the GNOME or KDE desktops, rip and encode DVDs, connect multiple displays, or post a blog. If those don't interest you, perhaps some of the 96 other good bits of advice will.

The book is organized in 10 chapters:
Chapter 1 -- Getting Started
Chapter 2 -- The Linux Desktop
Chapter 3 -- Multimedia
Chapter 4 -- Mobile Ubuntu
Chapter 5 -- X11
Chapter 6 -- Package Management
Chapter 7 -- Security
Chapter 8 -- Administration
Chapter 9 -- Virtualization and Emulation
Chapter 10 -- Small Office/Home Office Server

Topics covered range from simple tasks such as test driving Ubuntu on your hardware using the live CD, installing and configuring a permanent install on your hard drive, and using typical applications; to installing and configuring file, web, email, proxy, dhcp, and domain name servers; to advanced system hacks and tweaks.

Posted by Physics Geek at 01:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 26, 2006

Horrible news travels fast

I heard a rumor earlier today that Acidman had died. Like Steve, I hoped it was just an evil troll. Unfortunately, it is true: Rob Smith has passed away. His daugher Samantha posted this entry.

So long, Acidman. You will be missed.

Update: There are some things that I always appreciated about Rob was his bluntness and honesty. One, you always knew where you stood with him. He said exactly what was on his mind, consequences be damned. I know that it rubbed some people the wrong way, but I found it refreshing. My favorite aunt, who I helped bury last year, was the same way.

There was one other thing about Acidman that was obvious in his writing: he loved his children. He mentioned several times how proud he was of Sam, and how glad he was that she was with someone who made her happy. That's one of the things that you most hope for as a parent. And it was obvious that Rob missed and loved his son. The estrangement left a hole in his heart that was obvious to anyone who read Rob's posts. Recently, Rob wrote that he'd given up on hearing from his son. I will guarantee you that if Quinton had reached out to him, or given him a call, that Rob would have been posting the equivalent of cartwheels.

Godspeed, Acidman. You go to a place where there are no hangovers, or addictions, or physical ailments, and where your loved ones always stay in touch.

Posted by Physics Geek at 03:40 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 23, 2006

The Nerd-force is strong in this one

Interesting little article entitled Top 3 Linux distros you've never heard of. Either the title is overkill, or I'm even more pathetic than I thought: I was familiar with all of them before. However, there's one particular distribution that is, I believe, a perfect match for the Kos kids and the rest of the reality-based community: Tinfoil Hat Linux. I kid you not. Excerpt:

tfh.jpegThey’re going to get me for telling you guys about this…

Are you ridiculously paranoid? Do you worry about the toaster listening in on your phone calls? Do your walls have ears/eyes/mouths/noses?

Tinfoil Hat Linux is the OS for you. It runs entirely from a 1.44MB floppy image, is compiled from static libraries and contains absolutely no network stack at all (that’s how they get you).

This distribution started as an experiment in encryption, initially intending to provide a secure operating system for encrypting files, and transporting GPG keys. In the words of the creators “at some point it became an exercise in over-engineering.”

If you’re really concerned about the safety of your data, this could actually be useful for you. It could, for example, be installed to a USB drive (giving you more space to work with) and then transported around to places where you needed to encrypt data. Want to keep IT out of your secret pr0n folders? This won’t help you much. Want to keep them from opening your documents after you’ve left the company? Now you’re talking…

I’ll leave you with a quote from the Tinfoil Hat Linux readme.txt:

“If at all possible, boot THL on a laptop & disconnect all external cables, including the power & mouse. Turn off nearby radios, including cell phones and microwaves. Put yourself and the computer in a well grounded opaque copper cube. Download your tinfoil hat plans from http://zapatopi.net/afdb.html. Boot the floppy….”

Be safe. Be sure.

Posted by Physics Geek at 08:54 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Right on time

The Oxford English Dictionary has compiled lists of the most common words and nouns. 'Time' rolls in as the #1 noun, while 'the' is the #1 word overall. Here is the article in its entirety; it's pretty short:

For those who think the world is obsessed with "time," an Oxford dictionary added support to the theory Thursday in announcing that the word is the most often used noun in the English language.

"The" is the most commonly used word overall, followed by "be," "to," "of," and, "a," "in," "that," "have," and "I," according to the "Concise Oxford English Dictionary."

On the list of top 25 nouns, time is followed by other movement indicators with "year" in third place, "day" in fifth and "week" at No. 17.

The dictionary used the Oxford English Corpus -- a research project into English in the 21st century -- to come up with the lists.

Among nouns, "person" is ranked at No. 2, with "man" at No. 7 and "woman" at No. 14. "Child" appears at No. 12.

"Government" appears at No. 20 while "war," at No. 49, trumps "peace," which did not make the top 100.

The list of top 25 nouns: time, person, year, way, day, thing, man, world, life, hand, part, child, eye, woman, place, work, week, case, point, government, company, number, group, problem, fact.

Posted by Physics Geek at 08:41 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Exercise program for those getting on in years

I thought I would let you in on a little secret I've found for developing my arm and shoulder muscles.  You might wish to adopt this regimen, 3 days a week.
I started by standing outside behind the house, and with a 5 pound potato sack in each hand.  I extended my arms straight out to my sides and held them there as long as I could..
After a few weeks, I moved up to the 10 pound potato sacks,  then to 50 pound sacks, and finally I got to where I could lift a 100 pound potato sack in each hand and hold my arms straight our for more than a full minute.
Next, I started putting a few potatoes in each sack.   But I would caution you not to overdo it at this level.

Posted by Physics Geek at 07:57 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

New technology

A new aid to rapid--almost magical--learning has made its appearance. Indications are that if it catches on all the electronic gadgets will be so much junk.

The new device is known as Built-in Orderly Organized Knowledge. The makers generally call it by its initials, BOOK(tm).

Many advantages are claimed over the old-style learning and teaching aids on which most people are brought up nowadays. It has no wires, no electric circuit to break down. No connection is needed to an electricity power point. It is made entirely without mechanical parts to go wrong or need replacement.

Anyone can use BOOK(tm), even children, and it fits comfortably into the hands. It can be conveniently used sitting in an armchair by the fire.

How does this revolutionary, unbelievably easy invention work?

Basically BOOK(tm) consists only of a large number of paper sheets. These may run to hundreds where BOOK(tm) covers a lengthy program of information. Each sheet bears a number in sequence, so that the sheets cannot be used in the wrong order.

To make it even easier for the user to keep the sheets in the proper order they are held firmly in place by a special locking device called a "binding".

Each sheet of paper presents the user with an information sequence in the form of symbols, which he absorbs optically for automatic registration on the brain. When one sheet has been assimilated a flick of the finger turns it over and further information is found on the other side. By using both sides of each sheet in this way a great economy is effected, thus reducing both the size and cost of BOOK(tm). No buttons need to be pressed to move from one sheet to another, to open or close BOOK(tm), or to start it working.

BOOK(tm) may be taken up at any time and used by merely opening it. Instantly it is ready for use. Nothing has to be connected up or switched on. The user may turn at will to any sheet, going backwards or forwards as he pleases. A sheet is provided near the beginning as a location finder for any required information sequence.

A small accessory, available at trifling extra cost, is the BOOK(tm)mark. This enables the user to pick up his program where he left off on the previous learning session. BOOK(tm)mark is versatile and may be used in any BOOK(tm).

The initial cost varies with the size and subject matter. Already a vast range of BOOK(tm)s is available, covering every conceivable subject and adjusted to different levels of aptitude. One BOOK(tm), small enough to be held in the hands, may contain an entire learning schedule.

Once purchased, BOOK(tm) requires no further upkeep cost; no batteries or wires are needed, since the motive power, thanks to an ingenious device patented by the makers, is supplied by the brain of the user.

BOOK(tm)s may be stored on handy shelves and for ease of reference the program schedule is normally indicated on the back of the binding.

Altogether the Built-in Orderly Organized Knowledge seems to have great advantages with no drawbacks. We predict a big future for it.

Posted by Physics Geek at 07:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 22, 2006

Nothing to see here

Just move along, folks. Keep moving. No WMD here. Excerpt from Neal Boortz's take:

We've known for several months that weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq. Despite the mainstream media and the Democrats' lying to the contrary, several chemical weapons have been found that qualify as WMD. But people have ignored the evidence...since it would blow a hole in their 'Bush Lied, people died' nonsense. To be fair, the Bush Administration has done little to correct the record on this issue.

Now a new report from the Pentagon sheds some light on just how many WMDs have been found, and it's a lot. We're not just talking an old Sarin shell here and there. No less than 500 chemical weapons have been found since 2003, according to a recently declassified defense department intelligence report. The weapons are of the mustard gas and Sarin nerve gas variety...nasty stuff.
So why isn't this major breaking news?

Because the WMDs are said to be manufactured before 1991....not in recent years. Therefore, the mainstream media and the Democrats don't count those. For some reason, they want WMDs made in recent years. Evidently the left likes their mustard gas just a little fresher. But that's not the point. This stuff can kill ... but to the left it's harmless.

All that matters is Saddam Hussein was lying when he said he got rid of all his WMDs. He clearly did not. Also, what do you suppose would have happened had Hussein sold some of these WMD's to Islamic terrorists? It wouldn't have been pretty. But this story will be ignored...and the leftist propaganda machine that says Saddam Hussein wasn't a threat will roll on.

I question the timing.

Update: Found these links over in the comment section of this post by Ace: here, here and here. I can't remember where I saw another collection of WMD links, but I'll post it when it comes to me.

Update: See-Dubya pulls this link from the archives:

An official involved in the inquiry in Jordan told AFP news agency: “We found primary materials to make a chemical bomb which, if it had exploded, would have made nearly 20,000 deaths … in an area of one square kilometre. “The target of this bomb was the headquarters of the Intelligence Services,” situated on a hill in the western suburb of Amman, he added.

Here that ripping sound? That's the sound of goalposts being moved.

Final update: From Bill Quick: Which is, of course, not just moving the goalposts down the field, but over to another planet.

What he said.

Posted by Physics Geek at 08:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 20, 2006

Wheat beer mashing

A commenter to this post asked me about mashing wheat grains in with the barley. My initial response was that it shouldn't be more than 50% or of the total grain bill. However, I forgot one or two things in the couple of years since I made an all-grain wheat beer. Here's an update:

Most malted barleys these days are modified to the point where a simple infusion mash will work just fine(except for beers requiring a decoction mash like a dopplebock). However, adding wheat malt to the mix alters things somewhat, owing to wheat malt's extremely high protein content. You should therefore add a protein rest to mashes containing wheat malt. 30 minutes or so at 122F should be sufficient. This rest will break down the largest proteins, while leaving some of the smaller ones, which will contribute to head retention.

What, you want more details? Okay, here's an example mashing schedule for a wheat beer:

1) Add 1 quart plus 1 cup water around 127F to every pound of grain(all types) and stir with a paddle of some type. The temperature should level off around 122F. Keep at that temp for about 20-30 minutes by sticking the whole mess in an over on low, keeping a low flame under your mash kettle, or my tossing the whole mess into an insulated cooler for the required duration. This is called the protein rest.

2) Heat the mash up to between 150-155 degrees and hold there for 60-70 minutes. This is the sacharification rest, where the long branch-chain sugars get converted into smaller, fermentable sugars.

3) Mash out by bringing the temperature of the mash to 170F for about 5 minutes. This stopped the enzymatic conversion of the starches into fermentable sugars.

I'll stop there for now, as I have no desire to go into sparging and lautering.

I'm reminded that I haven't posted anything in my Brewing Your Beer series lately. I promise to get back to it soon.

Posted by Physics Geek at 09:49 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Extra! Get your extra(packages)!

Read all about it here:

If you are looking to enhance your Ubuntu and Kubuntu 6.06 Dapper Drake installation with extra packages from external repositories, this web log post is the most comprehensive list of available software for Dapper we've seen. It includes repositories for the Opera browser, Penguin Liberation Front packages, the latest KDE, KOffice and amaroK, up-to-date packages for VLC, Compiz, Skype, Freevo, MythTV and other popular software, as well as a number of unofficial and experimental repositories created by volunteers all over the world. As always, these packages are unsupported and some might even break your system, so proceed with caution. But if you absolutely need a package for your Ubuntu or Kubuntu system, getting it from the repositories listed in the above-mentioned link might be a better option than compiling the required package from source code.

Remember: you break your OS, you own it.

Posted by Physics Geek at 10:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 19, 2006

Schadenfreude: it's not just for breakfast anymore

The following statement about Dan Rather from Bill Quick echoes my own sentiments. Minus the excessive profanity, of course.

Nobody wants to see your sagging mug or watch your lying lips, especially not in high definition.

Go home. Go to bed. Or go watch nostalgia movies about a time that never existed, over and over again, all alone.

I rather like that image, by the way: You, sitting in a darkened movie theater, a stray tear leaking down your raddled cheek over what might have been, might have been, but never will be again. All...alone.

Makes me feel all warm and happy inside.

Posted by Physics Geek at 01:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

American Beer month is almost here

But the party has begun early. Join in the celebration by celebrating Wheat Beer Week. And here is a list of some foods that go well with wheat beers:

The flavors of wheat beer go great with many foods, especially summertime fare. The classic pairing with spicy-fruity hefe-weizens is a bratwurst or a veal weisswurst, but it goes well with nearly any grilled or smoked food.

Try it with barbeque ribs, roasted vegetables or marinated pork chops. And speaking of grilling, American wheat ales are the perfect compliment to grilled fish, be it salmon, tuna or trout. Since it is summertime, don't forget the salads!

The clove-like accents of weizen make a perfect compliment to summer potato salad while wheat ales go great with a tangy, vinegar-based dressings. So for this weekend's cookout, try your favorite wheat beer with your own barbequed specialty.

Posted by Physics Geek at 12:09 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Sure, I want my children to run screaming from my office

Who thought that this little gadget was a good idea?


"Daddy, what are you doing to Teddy?"

"Don't worry son: he won't feel a thing." ::POP::


I'd be willing to bet that I have a sicked sense of humor than most people, but even I'm not this freaking demented.

Posted by Physics Geek at 12:00 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


A new Bill Whittle post is up. Enjoy.

Update: Okay, I never excerpt a Whittle column, but I couldn't resist this:

People of good will on both sides value peace and freedom, yet we have diverging choices to make, and we have to make them now. We have to chart our course, a course for our country, and ultimately, a course for the entire world.

We need a map. Several are for sale. How do we choose?

Actually, it’s not so difficult. We can choose the map that best conforms to the coastline we see unveiling before us. We chose the map that best matches reality – the objective, external, indisputable reality of bays and promontories, capes and gulfs and rivers and shoals.

We can, indeed, lay out competing philosophies on the table, and see where each conforms to reality and where it does not. No maps are without distortions; none of these are likely to be, either. And one map may conform perfectly to the coastline in one area, and be dreadfully amiss in another. We can cut and paste them as we wish. This is too important for us to be arguing about who is right – all our energies must go to getting it right.

And before we start, we must agree to one thing: we will never be so full of arrogance and blinded by pride that we dare confront a place where our map does not match the coastline, and proclaim that the coastline must be wrong.

Posted by Physics Geek at 10:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Intemperate observation

Linda Lovelace was the last person I saw choke as badly as Phil Mickelson did yesterday.

Posted by Physics Geek at 09:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 16, 2006

Looking for a good deal on a laptop?

Check out this link at Fat Wallet. Excerpt:

OD is having the 3-day technology sale events from 6/15 - 6/17. I noticed that they have the Compaq Presario V2615US for sale at $680 (in store price) after $80 instant saving. On top of that,they have a $200 OD MIR and $30 Manufacturer MIR. So the math will be $680 - $200 MIR - $30 MIR = $450 AR. Very hot price.

Specs below:
Presario Notebook computer with Mobile AMD Sempron processor 3000+ with PowerNow technology
512MB memory
60GB hard drive
Burn & Play DVDs & CDs
Integrated 802.11g wireless LAN networkability

You can make it a better deal if you order online and select in store pickup (delivery price is $760, and pickup price is $680). Then you will be able to use the $30 OFF coupon (015345238).

Very cool deal. Now I might wipe the PC and install Linux instead of using the pre-installed Windows OS, but that's just me.

Posted by Physics Geek at 12:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Beer column

Are you familiar with Bruce Cameron? He's the guy who wrote 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, which, in turn, became a sitcom. Anyway, he's been writing columns for a lot of years now and I just stumbled across the one where Bruce decides to take up a new hobby: brewing beer. I've reprinted it in its entirety here, along with the link to Bruce Cameron's website.

Ale's Well That Ends Well

Copyright 2001 W. Bruce Cameron http://www.wbrucecameron.com/

Believing that maybe it would help my relationship with my 12-year-old son if
we had a common hobby, I bought him a beer-making kit. My wife seemed to think that the situation called for female incredulity.

"You got your son a BEER-making kit?" she demands. "Are you out of your mind?"

"Hey, you were the one who said we needed to do more things together," I point out.

"So you picked drinking beer," she scoffs.

"Of course not. He'll only make it. I'LL be the one drinking it,"I respond. I hold my hands up in a representation of harmonious balance in the universe.

She fixes me with a scorching look that I recognize from early in our marriage, when I tried to train her to bring me snacks during football games,
but I will not be deterred. "It's very scientific," I declare. "Fermentation. Carbonation."


My son is even less enthusiastic. "It smells bad; you DRINK this stuff?" he sniffs, stirring the batch of malt and hops.

"Yes, but not until there is alcohol in it," I explain with fatherly wisdom.

"Alcohol is a by-product of fermentation," he quotes, looking through the little handbook. He squints at me. "You'll be drinking yeast pee."

"Real men don't read directions," I advise.

When we're finished, my home brew sits tightly sealed in a plastic keg.

"This is the pressure valve," I lecture my son. "The yeast builds up carbon dioxide, which escapes out the valve; otherwise there would be an explosion that would level houses in a four-block area."

I'm hoping this will excite him, but he's been reading the manual again. "Carbon dioxide is another waste by-product," he intones.


"In other words, yeast farts."

For three days, the mixture sits implacably inside the plastic vessel, as exciting as a bucket of paint. Concerned, I sneak in a little more sugar to get the yeast motivated. "You're not supposed to do that, Dad," my son warns.

The next day, the yeast have suddenly sprung to life, bubbling and hissing as
they busily produce waste products. Impatient, I pull on the little tap, pouring an ounce of muddy liquid into a glass and taking a sip.

"Does it taste like beer?" my son asks anxiously.

"Maybe beer that's already been through somebody," I respond ruefully.

That night my son prods me awake. "Dad, the beer is calling you."

My wife gives me a frown, as this is exactly the excuse I give her whenever I
meet my buddies at the sports bar. "What do you mean?"I ask him.

He shrugs. "You sort of need to come hear it. It's making noises."

My wife puts her hand on my arm. "Could it be dangerous?" she inquires anxiously.

I laugh. "Of course not. How could beer be dangerous? Beer Is Our Friend."

I follow my son out into the kitchen and, at his urging, put my ear to the plastic keg. He's right: There is some sort of creaking noise emitting from the seams around the edge of the thing. Through the thick, dark plastic, I can see that the yeast has rioted, filling the vessel with foam.

"Maybe you put in too much sugar," he worries. "Should I start calling people
in a four-block area?"

"Nonsense. More sugar just means a higher alcohol content. How could that be bad?" But his question has drawn my attention to the filter, which should be allowing yeast farts to escape. Instead, it looks locked in place, a little button that should be bobbing up and down.

I reach out a finger.

"Dad " my son starts to say.

The moment I pry at the valve it fires straight up like a bullet, the little button gone in an instant. The entire contents of the keg follow half a second later, a thick spray of foam coating everything in the kitchen. I don't even have time to blink and it is over, except that a steady rain of gooey sludge comes down on my head from the ceiling.

Tilting my jaw, I'm able to catch a few drops in my mouth. My wife bursts into the kitchen and stares at me, shocked.

"Not bad," I tell her, licking my lips.

Posted by Physics Geek at 08:53 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 15, 2006

3-D web browsing?

I dunno. It looks kind of cool, but I'm still not sold on how this will revolutionize my browsing experience. Excerpt:

What ever happened to the virtual reality, 3D world of the web? Back in the late 90s, all the hype was about VRML—Virtual Reality Markup Language—which would turn the web into an immersive environment that you'd maneuver around to get to the information you wanted. We're here to tell you that the reports of the 3D web's death are greatly exaggerated. As evidence, we present three 3D browsers that will use that graphics card for something other than gaming: 3B, Browse3D, and SphereXPlorer.

As further proof that the 3D web isn't dead, an XML format called X3D—a free run-time architecture that can "represent and communicate 3D scenes and objects using XML"— is starting to take hold. You can find more info about it from The Web3D Consortium which is very active in its efforts to add one more dimension to the web as we know it. There's even a mobile browser for X3D, so that you could, for example, navigate around a city you're visiting on your handheld PC.

And of course, as with everything to do with PCs these days, there's the Vista factor. Vista's DirectX 10 will change the landscape for 3D browsers. The Windows Presentation Foundation (formerly codenamed "Avalon") and XAML (eXtensible Application Markup Language) will allow 3D apps such as browsers to be programmed more easily than ever. For more on the Windows presentation foundation and its relationship with DirectX, check out Windows Presentation Foundation (Avalon) FAQ.

While X3D and Vista technologies may be the future of the 3D web, today we'll tackle a more modest goal—evaluating browsers that use some aspect of 3D right here and now. In a future article, we'll look at some VRML and X3D browser plug-ins that let you do cool things like enter virtual chat worlds such as 3D Planets. Meanwhile, join us in doing what you do all the time—browse the web—but this time in three glorious dimensions.

I think that I could save a lot of money by putting my monitor on an oscillating platform, first moving towards me and then moving away from me. Bingo, 3-D on the cheap, with no CPU slowdown. Sure, my eyes will likely give out soon, but I think that the blinding headaches will kill me first, so no biggy.

Posted by Physics Geek at 01:44 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 14, 2006

Around the horn

It's been a long time since I actually created one of these link extravaganzas. So let's get to it.

Michele Catalano has new digs and celebrates that fact with the 100 Greatest Punk Songs. No Waitresses, but they weren't really punk, but rather pathetic.

Gerard republished his 2003 Memorial Day post, which is so good that I haven't the words to describe it.

Be afraid. Very afraid.

Rosemary just lost her street cred with the uber-liberal feminist crowd. And that's a good thing.

Truer words have never been spoken.

What is the scent women find most attractive? Musk? Pheromones? Eau de Cologne? In fact, it is none of these. The smell that really gets them hot is the smell of CASH!

Al Gore versus Tim Blair: the results are predictable. Heck, my 3-year old son could take Weirdest Al in a battle of wits. At least my son realizes his limitations.

Misha posts a sad tale about Europe's Air-Boo-Hoo-Hoo problems. Mheh. Schadenfreude: it's not just for breakfast anymore.

Ann Coulter seems to enjoy throwing verbal bombs too much, in my opinion. Each over-the-top phrase must seemingly be beaten by an even more extreme string of words, which is why things like "enjoying their husbands' deaths" pop out of her mouth once in a while. While I agree that her point was completely correct, I have to say that her choice of words nauseated me. There was no good reason to put it that way, other than to jack up sales of her latest book, which is apparently working like a charm. Regardless, she's usually an entertaining interview and, for reasons that can only be explained by a pact with Satan, John Hawkins managed to score his !third! interview with Ann.

After moving into a new house 5 years ago, I "lost" my cat. Since it was a new neighborhood, I was horrified to think what might have happened. I ran around the block, first on foot and then in my car. Eventually, I gave up and went back inside. It turns out that my cat had lost herself in the wall behind the bathroon. Unbeknownst to me, a vent cover had fallen off and she'd gone exploring, leaving no trail of breadcrumbs to alleviate my worry. John Cole just had a similar experience. I'm glad that his ended well, too.

Annika continues what may well be the oddest cartoon series I have ever seen. And yes, I've read all of them up to this point.

Season's Greetings over at Cold Fury. I guess that the Kosmonauts got lumps of coal this year. Again. :-)

Graumagus, Graumagus: saying the things most of us want to say, but can't.

Harvey offers up some good advice from Robert Heinlein.

Do you think that you're old? Steve provides a simple audio test for you. Now go fail, old fart.

Jon Henke eliminates this year's deficit. Now if he can just get Congress to play along...

Kim du Toit trains his sights on how the UN plans to run your life. If none it bothers you, you are definitely in need of medication.

More Ann Coulter from Patterico, who joins me in the small group of conservatives who actually think that Coulter's comments were so far over the line that she couldn't even see the line. To paraphrase Joey Tribiani:" The line is a dot to Ann."

Moxie links to a pretty poignant tale. Check it out.

Russell Wardlow has hit on a get rich quick scheme, which is sure to be a hit at Berkeley.

At the Cotillion, Cassandra lists 30 things that you might not know about the lovely ladies posting there.

Eesh. I'd like to post more, but I think that I'm done for the evening. I have final examinations to grade. So, you know, ugh.

Posted by Physics Geek at 07:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The list

Last week, Kate posted her list(you know the one) and asked for ours in return. I've answered this question several times over the years and my answers haven't changed much. Anyway, here's what I posted at Kate's Place:

1) Angelina Jolie- I have the hots for her since Hackers, or whatever the heck it was called.

2) Lucy Lawless/Renee O’Connor/Hudson Leick- Yes, I’m claiming a Xenaverse exemption. It’s my fantasy after all.

3) Jennifer Love Hewitt- I was kind of glad when she turned 18 so that I didn’t feel dirty watching her anymore.

4) Heather Locklear- ‘Nuff said.

5) Jennifer Connelly- One of the most beautiful women on the planet. Period.

Someone asked me if my wife wouldn’t mind if Jennifer Connelly, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Lucy Lawless showed up for a 4-way with me. I told her that my wife would be more upset that I’d actually gone insane and was experiencing hallucinations.

Posted by Physics Geek at 10:24 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 13, 2006

I am not Sulu

Apparently, no one else is either, including George Takei. Steve has an excellent review of what appears to be an execrable exercise in vanity by a bit player from a three year scifi series that went off the air almost 40 years ago. In other words, Who? Excerpt:

After that, he starts talking about his acting career. While I liked the historical information about Tinseltown in the Fifties and Sixties, I was disturbed to see how seriously Takei took himself and his talent. He threw away a perfectly good career in architecture because acting "called" him. That would be great, if this were the autobiography of Gary Oldman or Laurence Olivier, but George Takei is a really bad actor. Generally I root for people who follow their dreams, but in this case, I wondered what was going through his head.

Posted by Physics Geek at 11:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

On everyone's wish list

If, that is, they're still living in their mom's basement at the age of 50. I present to you the Transparent Toaster.


I'm curious: is it really that hard for people to make toast without burning it?

Posted by Physics Geek at 09:06 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 12, 2006

Open source penguin

So to speak, of course. Excerpt:

Welcome to the free-penguin project page. This project provides 'executables' that enable you to make your own soft-toy Linux® penguin. To put it straight: You can find sewing patterns and a community to sew your own soft toy or stuffed Linux® Tux penguin here. To help Google finding this, once again: You can find sewing patterns and community to sew your own soft toy or stuffed Linux® Tux penguin here. All downloads come under GPL (GNU General Public License).


The starting point of this project was the question: "Why is it that on the one hand in the Linux® world all code of software is freely available and on the other hand the code to compile a soft toy penguin is still not open source?" This project will try to publish code that will enable people to sew soft toy penguins themselves provided they meet certain hardware requirements.

Hardware Requirements:

First research efforts have shown that at least a needle, a long thread, black and white plushy fabric as well as yellow textile are necessary. Other assets that might be needful are thimbles, more thread and scissors. Warning: Before you start, make sure that you know what you are doing. Doing things on a trial-and-error basis in the fields we are dealing with here can do a lot of harm.

Posted by Physics Geek at 09:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

We're from Microsoft and we're here to help you

Oh really? Pull the other dear: it's got bells on it. Excerpt:

Who wouldn't trust a company that hid built-in spyware on every Windows-based PC in the land?

It turns out that Microsoft's Genuine Advantage anti-piracy program is also keeping daily tabs on Windows users. Who knew?

Well, until a few days ago, nobody outside of Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Wash., knew.

According to an Associated Press report, David Lazar, director of the WGA (Windows Genuine Advantage) program, Microsoft was doing this as "kind of a safety switch."

A safety switch?

Because, Microsoft told 'top Microsoft reporter in the known-world' Mary Jo Foley that "if Notifications went amok on Microsoft's side, Microsoft wanted a way to terminate the program quickly."

Amok? On Microsoft's side?

Help me out. I'm a little confused here. Microsoft wants my Windows PC to phone home everyday so that if Notifications went 'amok' on their servers, it would turn my local Notifications component off?
I don't mean to be paranoid, but when someone tells me that, oh, by the way, they've been checking on my XP and Windows 2000 PCs every day since July 2005 when Microsoft made WGA mandatory or you couldn't download patches, I get a little concerned.

Still, it's not like Microsoft would actually collect more information and then use it against such competitors as Firefox would they?

Oh wait, come to think of it, didn't Microsoft once cause Windows to produce fake error messages if a user was running DR-DOS instead of MS-DOS?
[Editor's note: DR-DOS was the best DOS on the market at the time]

While they never admitted to it, they did finally end up paying Caldera Systems, one of the ancestors of today's SCO, approximately $60 million to make the resulting lawsuit go away.
Here's the point. For over a year, Microsoft has planted a program on every modern Windows-powered PC that reported home every day. They don't have an intelligent reason, never mind a good one, for this move. And, they never told anyone that they were doing this.

I guess it must do a darn good job of hiding itself from firewalls and network monitoring tools too since we've only now found out this daily checkup call after tens of millions of PCs have been phoning in for almost a year.

Maybe you can trust your computer, your livelihood, your home finances, your kids' games, everything you do online, to a company that would do that, but you can count me out.

I've been using Linux for my main desktop for years, and it's revelations like this one that makes me damn glad that I do.

I really don't have anything else to add except this: Ubuntu's latest release is very, very cool. Pretty damned user friendly, too.

Posted by Physics Geek at 09:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 09, 2006

You know that you're having a bad day when...

You fall headfirst into a septic tank and open your mouth to scream for help. Or you could simply be a conservative wading through the detritus clogging up the KosCon.

Posted by Physics Geek at 08:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 08, 2006

Carputer: an idea whose time should never come

Unfortunately, it's already upon us.

Posted by Physics Geek at 01:05 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 07, 2006

Not that I'm advocating this, mind...

But it is kind of cool the lengths some people will go to so as to avoid government intrusion.

"Get your government ID here! Extra cheap. Smoking! Non-smoking... who are we kidding? No one is allowed to smoke anymore. Get your ID here!"

Posted by Physics Geek at 12:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 06, 2006

Battle of the sexes

Recycled, sure, but it's still funny.

Husband and wife are getting all snugly in bed. The passion is heating up. But then the wife stops and says "I don't feel like it, I just want you to hold me."

The husband says "WHAT??"

The wife explains that he must not be in tune with her emotional needs as a Woman.

The husband realizes that nothing is going to happen tonight and he might as well deal with it. So the next day the husband takes her shopping at a big dept. store. He walks around and has her try on three very expensive outfits. And then tells his wife. We'll take all three of them. Then goes over and gets matching shoes worth $200 each. And then goes to the Jewelry Dept. and gets a set of diamond earrings. The wife is so excited (she thinks her husband
has flipped out, but she does not care). She goes for the tennis bracelet. The husband says "but you don't even play tennis, but OK if you like it then lets get it."

The wife is jumping up and down so excited she cannot even believe what is going on. She says "I am ready to go, lets go to the cash register."

The husband says," no - no - no, honey we're not going to buy all this stuff."

The wife's face goes blank.

"No honey - I just want you to HOLD this stuff for a while."

Her face gets really red and she is about to explode and then the Husband says, "You must not be in tune with my financial needs as a Man!!!"

Posted by Physics Geek at 09:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


I've waited patiently for some actual facts to appear in the Duke lacrosse case. Statements by the DA and/or Jesse Jackson/Al Sharpton do not qualify as such. Apparently, plenty of facts have been unearthed. Unfortunately for the DA, they do not support his publicly stated position.

Posted by Physics Geek at 04:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Beginner's guide to Linux?

Yahoo! has a pretty solid article today about people who are thinking about making the switch from Windows to Linux. It's worth reading in its entirety, but I'll excerpt some of it to give you a flavor:

Love it, hate it, heard lots about it, but still don't have enough of a handle to form a firm opinion? Then we must be talking about Linux, the open-source operating system that's alluring because it's heavy duty and it's free. Simultaneously, it's intimidating to newbies because it's typically more difficult to install and configure than Windows.

However, now is an opportune time to get past those concerns. Interest in Linux is expected to spike throughout the year, thanks to Microsoft's delay of its consumer version of Windows Vista. The hang-up could cast a pall on the year-end PC sales season. Perhaps that's one reason the mainstream media is discovering this "revolution" in software that's nearly 15 years old.

So if you've ever planned on giving the open-source operating system a whirl, but, like the Georgia bride-to-be, got cold feet at the last minute, we've ferreted out six useful facts that'll ease your path when you decide to take the plunge.

1) How many versions of Linux are there?

Lots. At least 350, according to the list maintained by the enthusiast site DistroWatch.com. The site skews toward smaller distributions, with current flavor of the month Ubuntu listed as the most popular among the site's readers. Ubuntu has gained traction recently, garnering an endorsement from Sun Microsystems chief executive Jonathan Schwartz.

Ubuntu also appears to be gaining legitimacy via heavy grass-roots support. User-spawned Web resources include a blog devoted to the distro, a quick-start guide for dummies and a more advanced (how to install anything!) manual. (However, as What PC? points out, despite its funky name, Ubuntu is not noticeably simpler to get going than any other implementation of the OS.)

Ubuntu has a great back story: Its development was funded by South African Internet entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth as an outgrowth of his efforts to offer improved educational opportunities to his nation's young people.

Another distribution much in demand is SUSE, available for free under the OpenSUSE.org program sponsored by Novell or in a for-pay version that comes with end-user support from Novell.

Originally developed by German vendor SUSE Linux, the software has been heavily marketed to enterprise users ever since SUSE was acquired by Novell in 2004. Since that time, Novell has positioned itself as the main alternative to Red Hat, which is widely considered to be the leader in the enterprise Linux market. (In that regard, Novell CEO Jack Messman predicts that his company will emerge as one of the two dominant corporate suppliers of Linux, alongside Red Hat, as the market for paid open-source shakes out over the next two to five years.)

Other popular distros include Mandriva, Debian, and Fedora. (The latter is a free offering spun out of Red Hat. Don't forget Slackware, Knoppix, Gentoo, Mepis, and others too numerous to mention.)

For those disinclined to deal with challenging installs, the easiest path may be Linspire. The eponymous company was founded by billionaire Michael Robertson, who made his money with the early Internet download service MP3.com. Robertson has positioned Linspire as consumer-friendly Windows alternative that costs a lot less -- it's $50 -- and is bundled with many drivers and a bunch of applications.


6) You've given me lots of facts, but not much advice. How do I get started?

One pain free way to go (OK, it'll set you back $16, plus shipping) is by reading Test Driving Linux. The book, by David Brickner, includes a CD that allows you to boot Linux on a Windows computer without destroying the Windows install. On the downside, the book's Linux is, like the title says, a "test drive" that runs only off the CD; it won't permanently install the OS to your hard drive. (A further caveat is the CD is a bit fussy; it won't run if you can't get your PC to boot first from the CD drive. It didn't like my old Compaq desktop, for reasons unexplained, but it ran like a champ on an HP Pavilion laptop.)

If you're ready to give Linux a more permanent whirl, go back to Question 1, above, or to this list of distros. (The Wikipedia offers a "Which distro is right for you?" quiz.)

Worthwhile article to give you a jumpstart into the Linux world.

Posted by Physics Geek at 11:31 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 05, 2006

No dick and fart jokes today

Crikey. First, Jeff Goldstein stops with the daily Martha Stewart prison diay entries. To be fair, she is no longer in prison and continued postings in that vein might be construed as a mental disorder. Anyway, Jeff now posts thoughtful, eloquent dissertations, quietly ripping his shrieking lefty opponents to shreds. So I hopped over to Ace's site for the best in potty humor. And now he's posting thought-provoking editorials. Where's a guy supposed to go for entertaining shit?

Actually, I'm bullshitting you. I enjoy well-reasoned posts, as opposed to feces flinging that I typically find on most lefty sites. That's probably the reason that I avoid most blogs of that type. I like reading posts written by thoughtful liberals, if for no other reason than said posts force me to examine my own opinions. Unfortunately, the number of reasonable liberals seems to diminish every day.

Posted by Physics Geek at 11:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What he said

From Vox:

UPDATE - Podhoretz the Younger does not disappoint with the eminently predictable reaction to Noonan's column:
In my book, Can She Be Stopped?, I specifically warn Republicans and conservatives about the temptation to listen to the "siren song of schism" — the notion that they would be better off casting a protest or third-party vote in 2008. Such a vote, no matter how principled it might seem, would have only one result, and that is to elect Hillary Clinton. It is a default vote for Hillary Clinton....

If people cannot stomach voting Republican and need to cast a protest vote, that is their right. But nobody should be under any illusions about what it means. It means Democratic rule.

Which differs from the current rule in precisely what regards? Ignoring the Constitution 90 percent of the time instead of 75 percent? Signing up for 100 percent of globalist decrees instead of 85 percent of them? Invading and occupying countries without oil instead of countries with oil?

Better an open enemy that faces you than the false friend who stabs you in the back.

I'm beginning to think that it's time to resurrect the Howard the Duck campaign.

Posted by Physics Geek at 09:50 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

We're back

Thank you for your patience.

I was on vacation with my family up in the mountains. No computers, no news and no blogs. As much as I enjoy this blog, and all of you readers and commenters, I've gotta say that I enjoyed the peace and quiet. A lot. Now it's back to my daily demented postings.

I followed one of Harvey's blog rules and didn't mention that I'd be gone. Amazingly, my traffic didn't really diminish, even though I didn't post anything for 2 weeks. That's probably an indication of something, but I'm loathe to admit the implication there.

Posted by Physics Geek at 06:18 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack