Archive for the ‘miscellaneous’ Category.

A Great Way to Spend Halloween

Having spent yesterday with over 200,000 likeminded individuals (these last two photos were even taken with my own camera), I don’t want to be social today. So, I want to spend Halloween at home but still do something unusual and festive. My solution:

  1. Put on Rainy Mood
  2. Pull up a fireplace on Infinite YouTube
  3. Turn out the lights
  4. Read my 130 year old edition of the works of Washington Irving by candlelight.

All I need now is a bust of Pallas above my chamber door.

Goodbye, Cruel LiveJournal

I figured I should break my silence to give a quick update of what’s going on with this blog. I’m fed up with the crap that LiveJournal has been pulling recently, so I’m leaving and moving to my own website. The reasons to switch away from LJ have been mounting: reasons I no longer like LiveJournal behind the cut →

An Unexpected Annoyance

My car keys have an RFID chip in them, and my car has an RFID scanner that allows me to unlock the doors and drive the car without taking the keys out of my pocket. The transceiver in my new cell phone is strong enough that it jams the RFID communication when it’s in the same pocket as my keys. I now need to get in the habit of keeping my keys and my phone in separate pockets. :-P

Edit: to be clear on the unexpected part, not only did I not foresee this issue, I’ll wager that neither the RFID makers, nor the car designers, nor the phone designers considered this confluence, either.

An Interesting Idea

Haven’t you ever wondered? About consonants?

I’ve just finished reading Righting the Mother Tongue, a book about English orthography (spelling). It’s amazing how much English has changed over the centuries. A 200 page book summed up in about 3 pages of text →

Mother of All Funk Chords

Oh man, this is awesome! and as icing on the cake, the creator cites all of his sources!

This is why current “IP” rights need to swing further towards fair use: so you can do this sort of awesomeness. The kid with the trumpet just played a scale; the real value here was added by the remixer, and I think it’s bullshit that legally, that trumpet player could send a DMCA takedown notice for this. To the best of my knowledge, the trumpeter has no such intentions; I’m just making a hypothetical here.

Hopefully this sort of remixing will convince the musicians who don’t get it yet that it’s important to allow everyone to have fair use rights. Damn this stuff is sweet!

Vannevar Bush would be proud

Protected: My name in print (sort of)

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The internet has amazing uses

This past weekend, Scott, Ronnie, Nick, Jerry, and I hung out. During part of the evening, the conversation turned to brazil nuts (don’t ask me how that happened; I have no clue). A discussion of brazil nuts and a search for the only brazil nut plantation in the world →

I feel like a conspiracy nut…

…but this documentary is from the BBC, and seems to be backed up pretty well. The short version: the attack on Pearl Harbor was not a surprise at all, and FDR willingly let thousands of Americans die as an excuse to enter World War Two. Congress wouldn’t allow the US to go to war unless the country was attacked. Instead, they created an oil embargo against Japan. The Japanese needed to get oil from elsewhere, so they started to look at Indonesia and other islands in the pacific. They could easily have been defeated by the US fleet in Hawaii while doing this (I’m still a little hazy on this bit), so they first needed to get rid of the US forces there. The Japanese tried to go the diplomacy route to end the embargo, but when that failed, they sent their fleet to attack. Radio operators all over the Pacific (from California to New Zealand) all intercepted these signals, they all could decipher the code used, and they all knew about the attack several days before it was going to happen. This information was relayed to Washington, but people deliberately prevented it from getting to the commanders at Pearl Harbor itself. The attack happened, thousands of Americans died, but Roosevelt had his excuse to declare war on Japan, and the rest is history.

I found this fascinating, if a little unbelievable at first. In school, I had always been taught that the attack was an unprovoked surprise, but that never jived for me. If the Japanese hadn’t attacked, the Axis would probably have won WWII, and it seemed stupid of them to create more enemies in the war. This documentary at least partly explains things: the Japanese actually had a good reason to attack (they needed the ships out of the way before they could get resources from Indonesia), and the Allies had enough of a spy network that they could actually find out about obvious things like large fleets sailing across the Pacific. I still don’t fully understand why the Japanese couldn’t just get their oil from Indonesia and leave the Americans alone, but at least I have part of the picture now. This brings new meaning to the phrase “December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy.”