Stale Thoughts and Broken Links

Old posts from my weblog.

(Click here for posts on geophysics and the energy industry.)


This is a few months old, but --

Chicken's head found in fast food order.

The Star Wars Rap. [via /usr/bin/girl.]


San Jose Mercury News: Microsoft's dominance may just be beginning.

"Microsoft is steering customers toward software rentals, the idea of paying an annual subscription fee. When that system is the standard, will there be a version of the software that -- as is standard today -- allows customers to buy once and keep using the product indefinitely even if they decide to jump off the upgrade merry-go-round? Don't bet on it."


Scott Adams: Dilbert Goes to ANWR.

"It's hard to have a righteous opinion on the environment when you're as selfish and uninformed as I am. On one hand, I'm a cat-loving vegetarian who ought to care deeply about the caribou or koala bears or bats or whatever they have in Alaska. On the other hand, I live in California so I'd be willing to squeeze schoolchildren to death if I thought some oil would come out."


Nature: Kids can leave the can open. Warm cola might taste bad but at least it won't hurt you.


Science News: Look on the bright side and survive longer.

"... nuns who chronicled positive emotions in their twenties have lived markedly longer than those who recounted emotionally neutral personal histories, a new study finds. This result, which derives from a study group with unprecedented similarity in lifestyle and social status, supports earlier evidence that expressing happiness, interest, love, and other positive feelings enhances physical health...."

> Damn, I'm doomed.


My wife's parents are in town for a visit, so Cindy and I went out to a movie; I think it's the first non-Disney movie I've seen in two years.

We saw Bridget Jones's Diary. It was a cute, funny Four Weddings and a Funeral type show. I'd recommend it.

Not for the whole family, however. Adult themes and extremely prolific use of the f-word. But sure enough, a set of parents were there with their five-year-old daughter.

If you can't find a sitter, skip it. Read a book to your kid instead.

Reuters: Woman bites off Chicago man's testicles.


Houston Chronicle: Lubbock joke stings legislator. Colleagues delight in ribbing senator.


Nature: Pluto has big shiny colleague.

"Varuna has a diameter of 900 km, Jewitt's team also calculates. This makes it the third largest known KBO [Kuiper-belt object], after Pluto (2,200 km) and Charon (1,200 km)."

San Jose Mercury News: Mac OS X interface makes other OSs look bland.

"In this and almost every other case I encountered in OS X, the lack of functionality in beta software was offset by the fact that I could use it and remain in the wonderland that is Aqua. Yes, looks do matter -- to me, at least. If they didn't, I might just use Windows 2000 -- it's quite stable, and runs a lot more software than OS X. Problem is there's nothing even slightly alluring about Windows 2000. Not even a little."

> Now *that's* the kind of argument that I find persuasive.

> But I'm still going to wait until Mac OS 10.1 is out before I even try it.

> Another reason to go Mac --

Wall Street Journal (free): Windows PCs Require Fans, So Apple Is Best Bet for Quiet.


MSNBC: A painful affair of the Internet heart.

"Web sites following Kaycee Nicole's saga posted photographs of this unidentified woman portrayed as the 19-year-old leukemia sufferer."

[Link via Scripting News.]

> Her real name is Julie (and she never had leukemia). According to this message, the hoax was perpetrated by a family friend who gained access to photos of Julie under false pretense, and used them as props for a fictional web drama.

The rumor that the Kaycee Nicole photos were "pilfered from a family home page" freaked me out a little. My access logs show that about 10 visitors a week find this site through search engine inquiries like "pictures of children playing." I am absolutely certain that these are sweet people who just want to see pictures of happy children -- but I can understand why a lot of people get paranoid about posting pictures of their kids.

Hey folks, I'm proud. My kids may be evil, but they are two good looking boys!

Reuters: `Pixie dust' seen boosting storage for IBM.

"Within two years, IBM expects that the technology would allow for desktop computer hard drives with the ability to store 400 gigabytes ..."


One last Cheney shot, this one from Dubya himself --

Reuters: Bush Receives Yale Honor, Makes Light of His Grades.

"`A Yale degree is worth a lot, as I often remind Dick Cheney,' Bush said. `If you graduate from Yale, you become president. If you drop out, you get to be vice president.'"


If you think you know Doonesbury, you go ahead and take the quiz. And while you're at the site, you may want to sign up for daily email delivery.


European Southern Observatory: The Harsh Destiny of a Planet?

"This surprising discovery represents important observational evidence that planets may fall into their host stars."

[pointer via Science News.]

Some Features you may Need on your Computer.

Pointer via:

Scripting News:

"It's been almost six months since I've watched. TV is all lies all the time. You know it, I know it, the CNN reporters know it. Lies."


USA Today: Forever Dylan.

> Reviews of 29 of his albums. Bob Dylan turns 60 next week.


Scripting News: Mathematical proof that women are evil.


Science News: Rocks May Have Given a Hand to Life.

"Most chemical processes yield left- and right-handed amino acids in equal amounts yet life forms contain left-handed amino acids almost exclusively.... Researchers in Washington, D.C., now report that calcium carbonate, or calcite, can adsorb an excess of left-handed amino acids onto some of its crystal faces and of right-handed amino acids on other faces." ...

"[Robert Hazen of the Carnegie Institution of Washington speculates] the left-handed amino acids in one place got the edge ... because by pure chance, these lefties bonded into peptides capable of self-replication."

I'm no evolutionary biologist, but that sounds pretty iffy to me.

There's an interesting similarity between this problem and the matter-antimatter imbalance in cosmology: as far as we can tell, all the matter in the universe is composed of plain old protons and electrons, so the early universe produced more of those than antiprotons and positrons. Why?


Black hole trivia --

CNN: Glimpse at black hole's edge provides new insights.

"In binary star systems composed of a conventional star and a black hole, vast oceans of gas and matter from the star can swirl into the flattened accretion disk." ...

"`The Chandra data indicate that this accretion disk gets no closer to the event horizon than about 600 miles, a far cry from the 25 miles that some had expected,' said Chandra astronomer Jeffrey McClintock...."

DaveNet: Death and Douglas Adams.


Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About.

"I wasn't aware that I was giving the impression that Margret is something of a trial to live with. I'm here merely stating the facts, without bias or embellishment; a simple camera pointed at the scene, recording it with complete neutrality. I am, frankly, shocked and disturbed that anyone might think I'm here to make the case that my girlfriend is, say, as mad as an eel."


Wall Street Journal (subscription): FDA Panel Recommends Approving Over-the-Counter Sales of Claritin.

"A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended Friday that the popular allergy drugs Claritin, Allegra and Zyrtec be made available without prescription."

> I've got allergies, and I'll be stocking up on all three as soon as they hit the shelves.

> The NYT says just because the FDA allows a drug company to sell a drug OTC, that doesn't mean they have to.

I link to subscription-only sites like WSJ pretty frequently. If you want to read more, but you don't want to pay for it, you might be able to find another article on the same subject at Yahoo. The Yahoo headlines page carries articles from from Reuters and AP, and the search engine is pretty good.


What the hell's going on in Katy? --

Houston Chronicle: Katy family sues over cross burning.

"Since the incident, the Ross family has been further victimized by vandalism and racial slurs. Four weeks ago they put their home up for sale.... Someone tore down and destroyed their Christmas lights, their house has been egged and someone shouted racial slurs at the children as they played in their front yard...."

> I've never stopped in Katy, but I always thought it was upper middle class. This sounds more like one of those stories I used to always hear about Vidor.

Associated Press: Windows XP Release Set for Oct. 25.

"Microsoft will release two editions of the product, a consumer-oriented Windows XP Home Edition and a business-oriented Windows XP Professional Edition."


You know, the political and economic climate has been sort of weird since Dubya took over. I keep getting this feeling that seems like a cross between vertigo and déjà vu, mixed in with a lot of seventies flashbacks. It's not pleasant.

Maybe it's because of all the Ford Administration alumni in the White House. Maybe it's because we have a major political figure who goes by the name "Dick."

As long as I'm taking pokes at Dick Cheney, check out this Doonesbury from September 1976, when Cheney was Ford's chief of staff ...

then read this one from three months ago.

Twenty-five years later, and we've barely moved -- from "restoring trust in government" to "upholding the dignity of the office."


Oh God, what a nightmare! My site host switched over from MailBank to NetIdentity this evening, and knocked me off-line during the switchover. But it was worse than that. Instead of just getting a "page not found" message, anyone who tried to get to my site got a full-page picture of some red-headed tart blowing a bubble-gum bubble!

How embarrassing!

2002.07.26: It has been over a year since the switch to NetIdentity, so I thought I should mention that I've been very happy with their service.


Reuters: Napster CEO says millions still on service.

"The number of files traded on the Napster service has steadily declined, from a peak of 2.79 billion in February to 2.49 billion in March and 1.59 billion in April, Webnoize said."


Associated Press: Scientists Find Big Bang Evidence.

"Researchers believe the data also support the idea that ordinary matter, of which planets, stars and even people are made, accounts for only about 4.5 percent of the universe's total mass. The rest of the energy in the universe is attributed to cold dark matter, which cannot be easily detected, and to a force called `dark energy,' which is thought to be causing galaxies to separate at a faster and faster rate."

More than you ever wanted to know about the neutrino --

Nature (registration required): On the trail of the neutrino.

"By one estimate, the average neutrino could travel for 1,000 light-years through solid matter before being stopped." ...

"From what we understand about how the Sun produces neutrinos, 60 billion solar neutrinos should pass through every square centimetre of the Earth's surface every second. But measurements from neutrino detectors suggest that only between a half and a third of this figure are reaching the Earth."

> When they talk about billions passing through every square "centimetre" every second, that means you!


A destitute Albanian widow with four children to feed was dejected when the family's only cow gave birth to a two-headed calf.


The New York Times does a comprehensive piece on the Cheney talk --

NYT (free registration required): Cheney Promotes Increasing Supply as Energy Policy.

"Mr. Cheney said today that environmentalists had taken things too far. He said a recent television advertisement showing a child asking for more arsenic in her water was a `cheap shot.'" ...


Walter Kessinger

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