June 30, 2005

It's the water that counts


Update: Blog-City sotres my ASF files in a non-clickable format now. Anyone know how to get around this problem? I converted the file to an AVI, but the damned thing grew from 1.9 Mb to 122 Mb. Suggestions, please.

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Quote of the day

Times article found via a bazillion links. Money quote:

In person Mr Bush is so far removed from the caricature of the dim, war-mongering Texas cowboy of global popular repute that it shakes one’s faith in the reliability of the modern media.

No, really?!

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Van der Merwe got a job on the railways as a steward and the first day he accompanied another steward to learn the ropes. "It's very simple," said his tutor, "just use diplomacy."

"What's diplomacy?" asked Van.

"Watch me I'll show you."

Off they went down the train corridor, rattling compartment doors, opening them with special keys and offering tea or coffee. When the tutor steward flung open one door he was confronted with a buck-naked woman. Without batting an eyelid he asked, "Tea or coffee, sir?"

The surprised woman took the cup of tea and he shut the door. "Wow, did you see that cutie!" Van said excitedly. "She had no clothes on, but hey, why did you call her sir?"

"That's diplomacy! I did not want to embarrass her."

Van der Merwe was most impressed with his teacher. The next day on his own now, he flung open a door to a compartment and found a couple making love n
the bed.

"Tea or coffee, sir?"

"Tea," the man replied.

"And for your brother?"

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June 29, 2005

Mead moon

Reprinted from Mead Lover's Digest #1194:

Centuries ago, Eastern and Northern Europeans would celebrate the summer solstice with mystical pagan customs intended to produce healing, fertility and prosperity. During Midsummer Eve, the night before the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere (usually June 21st), and people would light huge bonfires to symbolize light triumphing over darkness and life over death.

Shakespeare captured this night of supernatural wonder in his play A Midsummer Night's Dream when humans and other-world fairies mingled on a night when love and mischief was definitely in the air.

In time, those areas where Christianity came to dominate, the Church replaced summer solstice celebrations with the Feast of St. John, held on June 24th. Today, people in East Europe still mark Midsummer's Eve with festivals or dances and bonfires that light up the night sky.

The Feast of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptizer (24 June), aka St. John's Day, is one of the quarter days, four Catholic holidays at the beginning of each season of the year, which were communally celebrated. The other quarter days are Christmas, Lady Day (Annunciation) and Michaelmas (Sept 29). Celebration of St. John's Day traditionally began the night before. St. John's Eve, (June 23), (today) was sometimes known as Bonfire Night in Ireland. Up to the mid-20th century, Irish Catholics lit large communal bonfires at sunset on this day, or small family fires outside their houses.

The communal bonfires were traditionally piled very high with wood, sticks, dry brambles, etc. Each household would contribute fuel for the fire. At dusk the whole town would gather around the pile, and an elderly man in the community would light the bonfire while saying a prayer. After the prayers, the merriment would begin: dancing, singing shouting, blowing horns, storytelling, instrumental solos, etc. The bonfire was tended until long after midnight

Saint John is known as the Patron Saint of Beekeepers. Two other saints are known as patron saints of Beekeepers. St. Ambrose Born: 339; Born: 339 Feast: December 7th and St. John Bernard of Clairvaux, Born: 1090; Died: 1153 Feast: August 20th.

The full moon closest to the summer solstice is known as the mead moon. This happened yesterday (June 22). I have also seen the full moon of July called the "Mead Moon".

All of this "History Lesson" is to let you all to know that, tonight, you should raise a glass of mead to the full moon and say a prayer to St. John (for you Christians) or howl at it (for you pagans). And, for those that believe the "Mead Moon" is in July, wait a month. As for me, I think I will drink a mead to the moon, and St. John, tonight AND next month.

You can read the rest here.

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Google results

Checking my Sitemeter logs, I discovered some oddities that I thought I'd share with you:

1) I'm #8 for erotic girl scouts

2) I'm #5 for Michael Jackson games

3) I'm the top four searches for Physics Geek

Pity. It should have been the top ten. But I'll get there soon enough.

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Advice for Democrats

Howard Dean is exactly the wrong person to put forward as the face of the national Democrat party. What he says might make the party faithful happy, but it pretty much turns off everyone else. What your party needs is a spokesperson who can clearly articulate the goals and/or vision of your party, and what path one should take to achieve those goals. Screeching that the other party is evil, calling them a bunch of hypocrites(even when warranted) and just saying "NO!!!!" to everything your opponents offer is a losing proposition. The last decade should have taught the Democrats this. There are many reasons why the group called former Democrats continues to grow.

In any event, Megan McCardle provides some thoughtful analysis on the current state that the Democrats find themselves in. Excerpt:

A lot of Democrats think that they can reach for the goodies without building the platform, a belief that should have been thoroughly dispelled by the last three election cycles. That means compromise, and coming up with programmes that are bold without attempting to force the rest of America to embrace a value system they clearly dislike. So far Democrats are good on either bold (national health care) or agreeable (job training!), but little in their idea-basket is both.

That, I think, springs from a larger problem within the liberal progressive movement--even larger than the belief that if they change their name, somehow people will like the brand better. (Memo to progressives: didn't work for Anderson Consulting Accenture, won't work for y'all. It wasn't the name that people objected to).

On the one hand, you've got the folks who think that if Democrats can just turn themselves into Republican Lite--one third less dour moralism than regular GOP!--they will storm the storied "middle" and seize the reins of power. This is unlikely--the mathematics of winning an election without a motivated base are unappealing, which is why 3rd party candidates do so poorly. Worse, it's pointless. The moderate middle, almost by definition, produces little in the way of big ideas, and its little ideas generally end up as muddy messes--if you start compromised, what you generally end up with is pork-laden monstrosities. And why should people put out the phenomenal amount of energy it takes to get people elected in order to get 2% more spent on teacher salaries?

The other wing of the progressive movement appears to think that all they really need to do is shout louder, since America seems to be getting a mite deaf. I watched Howard Dean on The Daily Show last night, and rarely have I seen a major political figure so thoroughly, even painstakingly, inept at appealing to voters. His remarks elicited cheers from the true-blue supporters in the audience, but only at the expense of alienating every single other person in the country. If he wasn't making ham-fisted attempts to prove Democratic moralistic superiority* by selective and theologically shallow quotation from the bible--an activity that even bible-thumping Republican congressmen undertake with more caution (and erudition) than Mr Dean did--he was claiming that his was the party of real moral values. Cringe. When was the last time you heard an RNC chair say something like that? Answer: you don't, because the "Family values" guys know that you do not garner votes by saying "Everyone who voted for the other guy is immoral" . . . especially when the other guy got a majority. You get votes by talking about what your values are, which (other than gay marriage) Howard Dean had a hard time doing.

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Battle of the sexes

Retread humor

Women's Prayer:

Before I lay me down to sleep, I pray for a man,
who's not a creep. One who's handsome, smart
and strong, one who loves to listen long. One who
thinks before he speaks, when he says he'll call,
he won't wait weeks. I pray that he is gainfully
employed, when I spend his cash, won't be annoyed.
Pulls out my chair and opens my door, massages my
back and begs to do more. Oh, send me a man who'll
make love to my mind, knows what to answer to "how
big is my behind?" I pray that this man will love me to
no end, and never attempt to hit on my friends.


Man's Prayer:

I pray for a deaf-mute nymphomaniac with huge boobs
who owns a liquor store.


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Time for another Alliance PGH assignment: How should the White House respond to incredibly stupid accusations at press conferences?

I think it's time to use the wayback machine, back to an era- the 1980's- when the only difference between computer system administrators and God was that the latter never thought he was one of the former. On to the press conference:

Reporter: When will President Bush admit to lying to the American people, and when will he resign from office in disgrace?

White House Spokesman(WHS): Well, let's see. Jane, right? Your question is one which we'd like to answer. However, it appears that the police are coming to question you right now about some lewd and lacivious pictures that you posted on alt.bestiality.with.baby.squirrels.tasteless. And while I make no value judgements myself on your perfectly legitimate lifestyle choices, the local constabulary is, of course, constrained by the law. Next?

Reporter 1: When will Bush release all secret government intelligence information concerning Iraq? And as a followup, when will he stop using "national security" as a smokescreen? The American people have the right to know!

WHS: Secret information? Such as you telling your psychologist that you've masturbated while looking at pictures of Helen Thomas? Or that your wife doesn't know you were once a woman? Although that does raise questions about your children...


WHS: Must have picked a bad, completely random example. Next question?

Reporter 3: Does President Bush consider his mediocre academic past a liability in his position? Also, does he feel that being a former drunk and coke-head compromises his ability to lead this country during a time of war?

WHS: Well John, I suppose that if had lied about his academic credentials, the fact that he had been convicted of grand theft auto and pedophilia and the fact that he was an illegal immigrant, President Bush might consider that a liability when applying for a job as White House reporter. And whatever his past troubles with alcohol, which he has admitted to, he does have the know-how to email all of the above-mentioned information to your employer. In fact, you might want to check your voice mail as soon as possible. Next?

::crickets chirping::

WHS: Well, that will be all for today. I look forward to our next press conference. Good day.


Much better work of this sort found here.

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I think my score is low

Found a quick and dirty IQ test via Susie. And while I don't drink coffee, I did have some caffeine today. Here are my results:

Your IQ Is 140

Your Logical Intelligence is Genius
Your Verbal Intelligence is Genius
Your Mathematical Intelligence is Genius
Your General Knowledge is Genius

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Very cool

So Tiger's novel is available for purchase. Kudos. And it's scifi, no less, which is pretty much my favorite genre. That or fantasy. Either way, I win.

Check it out.

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Broadband access solutions

Live out in the boonies where neither DSL or cable broadband are available? Don't depair: there may be hope for you yet. Excerpt:

If you're out in the sticks, DirecWay satellite Internet service may be your first, best, and only hope for broadband access. The service works by connecting your PC to a geosynchronous satellite, which links to DirecWay's terrestrial gateways to the Internet. Today's systems do away with the clumsy landline connections of yesteryear for upstream data. And while data rates can be acceptable (up to 500 Kbps), the delay introduced by a 44,000-mile round trip from home to satellite and back makes DirecWay inappropriate for gaming, voice over IP, and virtual private network connections.

Cost: $50 to $100 per month

Best for: Rural locations

Pros: Available almost anywhere; provides access in rural areas otherwise outside of broadband's reach.

Cons: Expensive; limited bandwidth; high lag times make it inappropriate for many applications; requires southern view of sky to find satellite.

Broadband Over Power LineBPL takes advantage of the same phenomenon that lets DSL share signals with voice traffic--electricity travels at a lower frequency than data signals. Companies have therefore decided to offer broadband over the electrical wires that come into homes. Although BPL tests have been ongoing around the country, working deployments remain limited as power companies weigh whether or not to get into the broadband market. Still, cities such as Cincinnati, Ohio, and Manassas, Virginia, have BPL service. In Cincinnati, Current Communications offers service through Cinergy for $30 to $50 per month, depending on the download speed you want (3 Mbps is the current max).

Opinions on the prospects for BPL are split. Research firm Telecommunication Trends International projects that worldwide BPL deployments will jump from $57.1 million in 2004 to $4.4 billion by 2011. But Radicati Group analyst Teney Takahashi says bluntly: "Power line broadband is not going to happen."

Cost: $30 to $50 per month

Best for: Remote areas not served by cable or DSL, or any area poorly served by cable or DSL

Pros: Power lines are ubiquitous and reach homes not served by cable or by DSL-capable phone lines.

Cons: Not widely deployed; significant issues with the data signal producing broadcast interference; power companies lack the service bundling advantages of phone or cable providers.

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Marketing genius?

Or extreme stupidity. I have a feeling that the commercial mentioned in this story wouldn't go over so well in the US. Excerpt:

A spokesman for the company said Regional has no plans to apologize for running a television commercial that said the difference between a wife and a lover was 30 kilograms (about 66 pounds), the newspaper El Universal reported.

Women called the advertising misogynist and demanded.

The Regional spokesman said the company wouldn't apologize unless it is forced to do so by the courts. He added: "I bet all these women's groups are run by women who are at least 30 kilos overweight."

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Edloe has passed away. Stop by and offer Laurence your sympathy. Excerpt:

Think about an empty collar at the pet store. Will it look good on the cat? Will the cat like it? Is it a safe collar for the cat to wear if they get tangled in something?

Sometimes, a collar wears out. Or it breaks. Those empty collars are just junk, and you just toss them away.

But every now and then, an empty collar means something else:

A friend is gone.

The front page is a memorial for Edloe.

Your pets aren't animals that happen to live in your house; they're members of your family and should be grieved for as such.

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Maybe not the coolest, but pretty darned cool

Google Earth. Link found via Balloon Juice.

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Reporting from an alternate history

After listening to Bush's speech last night, and then the subsequent caterwauling from the usual suspects, I was reminded of the following "news report". Neal Boortz also linked to it this morning. Like him, I cannot place the origin of the story.




NORMANDY, FRANCE (June 6, 1944) Three hundred French civilians were killed and thousands more were wounded today in the first hours of America's invasion of continental Europe. Casualties were heaviest among women and children. Most of the French casualties were the result of artillery fire from American ships attempting to knock out German fortifications prior to the landing of hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops. Reports from a makeshift hospital in the French town of St. Mere Eglise said the carnage was far worse than the French had anticipated, and that reaction against the American invasion was running high. "We are dying for no reason, "said a Frenchman speaking on condition of anonymity. "Americans can't even shoot straight. I never thought I'd say this, but life was better under Adolph Hitler."

The invasion also caused severe environmental damage. American troops, tanks, trucks and machinery destroyed miles of pristine shoreline and thousands of acres of ecologically sensitive wetlands. It was believed that the habitat of the spineless French crab was completely wiped out, thus threatening the species with extinction. A representative of Greenpeace said his organization, which had tried to stall the invasion for over a year, was appalled at the destruction, but not surprised. "This is just another example of how the military destroys the environment without a second thought," said Christine Moanmore. "And it's all about corporate greed."

Contacted at his Manhattan condo, a member of the French government-in-exile who abandoned Paris when Hitler invaded, said the invasion was based solely on American financial interests. "Everyone knows that President Roosevelt has ties to 'big beer'," said Pierre LeWimp. "Once the German beer industry is conquered, Roosevelt's beer cronies will control the world market and make a fortune."

Administration supporters said America's aggressive actions were based in part on the assertions of controversial scientist Albert Einstein, who sent a letter to Roosevelt speculating that the Germans were developing a secret weapon -- a so-called "atomic bomb". Such a weapon could produce casualties on a scale never seen before, and cause environmental damage that could last for thousands of years. Hitler has denied having such a weapon and international inspectors were unable to locate such weapons even after spending two long weekends in Germany. Shortly after the invasion began, reports surfaced that German prisoners had been abused by American soldiers. Mistreatment of Jews by Germans at their so-called "concentration camps" has been rumored, but so far this remains unproven.

Several thousand Americans died during the first hours of the invasion, and French officials are concerned that the uncollected corpses will pose a public-health risk. "The Americans should have planned for this in advance," they said. "It's their mess, and we don't intend to help clean it up."

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June 28, 2005

Cue evil laughter


Is it wrong that I hope this story is absolutely true?

Update: Captain Ed has a link that will allow you to email the city. Go on, offer your support for this most worthy of projects.

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Personal ads that make you hmm

Check out these images. I've posted one in the extended entry as a sample. more...

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A senior moment

June 18 came and went, and somehow I missed it. Why is that important? Because it's the day the Physics Geek blog was born. And no, I won't link to the wretched first post.

I' feel pretty ancient for a two-year old.

Update: Via Harvey comes the image below:


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Drinks for vets

And Stuart Dahl is buying.

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Style of the week

Celebrate the week of June 26-July 2 with a pilsner. Excerpt:

Pilsner is the classic lager style that emerged from the Czech Republic in 1841 to become the most common style of beer brewed worldwide. From China to the Caribbean and from Indiana to India nearly every beer drinker in the world has a favorite pilsner.

With a pale to golden color, pilsners provide a crisp drinkability with two major variations. The popular pilsners from Coors, Budweiser and Miller include a modicum of corn or rice to produce a light body and delicate flavor for the ultimate in drinkability. America's smaller brewers follow the course of their European ancestors, making all-malt pilsners with a full-bodied flavor and generous helpings of hops.

The best pilsner is the one made close to where it is consumed. The light body and golden color of pilsner mark it as one of the most delicate of beers so that freshness is critical to product quality. When you reach for the smooth refreshing flavor of a pilsner, grab one from a brewery down the road or across the state. You'll be sure to get a fresher, better tasting beer than one that comes from over the ocean or across the border.

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