Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A+ on online test re: road signs

I got every question right on a test regarding road signs. I'll just leave this here for now.

Name that Road Sign

via Auto Insurance.org

Friday, October 30, 2009

NaNoWriMo 2009: maybe

OK, so, a while back, I got convinced that it might be a good idea to use NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) to finally get a full draft of that one novel done. This is the novel containing the story that I was trying to write by putting up here. Since I only have 1 or two not-full-chapters up anyway, I figure that I can just start over with what's going to end up being a rough, yet full, draft of the novel. It's going to be rough because that's how NaNoWriMo works. It's 30 days (specifically: November) of trying to get a 50,000-word novel written. That's about 1,666 words per day, so there's no time for editing and fine-tuning. Assuming that I even finish, I have no plans as of yet to publish the NaNoWriMo version of it, freely or otherwise. I'm just going to write, and fine-tune it later, like next year or something.
Actually, this is assuming that I participate at all. I saw some good ideas floating around, including making an outline of a 30-chapter novel, and dedicating each day to a chapter of roughly the right length. However, due to my being sick for most of last week, and my computer's dying Thursday and not getting replaced until Sunday (btw: Windows 7 is pretty good so far), I'm way behind on stuff, and haven't had a chance to make such an outline yet. I'm still catching up on things, and November is only 2 days away. I've made a NaNoWriMo account, so that's ready if I am.
The big thing for me is that I don't want to make a half-assed attempt at this and only get part way through, since the next best opportunity is next year's NaNoWriMo, and I'm not supposed to start with a partially-written novel.
Before I forget: Fair warning to anyone who actually reads this: The story segments that are up here may or may not end up being canon or other weapons (get it?), and will almost certainly be re-written, since I'm not planning to use those words, since NaNoWriMo is supposed to start from a blank slate. I know, I'm betraying my loyal fan, right? Frak, I don't think that anyone even reads this blog.
Well, that's it. To summarize: I might do NaNoWriMo 2009, and if I do, I plan to do the same story that I've been failing to do for however long.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Passing Thoughts on Einstein's Box

So, I heard recently of Einstein's Box, where Einstein tried to give an account of quantum physics fail with a box whose mass could be measured, and a shutter to let out light, thus energy, thus mass... and the flaw turned out to be that the uncertainty could be bestowed on the needle on the scale, or on the position of the box atop the spring.

Let's try this: The box is floating in space. Two identical streams of bullets arc past it, timed so that they're always synchronized (i.e., each bullet has an "opposite" in the other stream). Since the arcs eventually intersect, let's say that the arc enters "above" the exit of the opposite stream, for a specific orientation, such that the pair of arcs can still be exactly opposite without having to worry about collisions. The details of the angles aren't entirely relevant once we know that this can be done. To simplify things further, let's make the box spherical.
The reason for the identical opposite streams is so that the box, no matter its mass, is always identically pulled toward each stream, and so remains stationary. Conveniently, the identical, equal, and opposite motion of the streams also means that they affect each other identically.
So, now, if the box loses mass, this can be observed by the un-tightening of the arcs of the streams, while the box's own position does not change. I'm not sure if this is complete, but it might be a step in the right direction. I also thought that it would be worthwhile to post this, so that others can examine this idea.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sudden Short Story 2

Victor Kurzweil - no relation - was an out-goer. The last of a dying breed, he actually spent some time wholly in his body. Of course, he always felt that he left a bit behind whenever he "wandered out of the mists", as the latest notion was - "notion" being the new "meme", after all.
At this particular time, Victor left. He went out. He stood his body up, which was possible for anyone, since solutions had been found long ago to prevent the meat's meat from atrophying, but was slightly easier for out-goers, since they actually used it. One of the odd things about meatspace - "meatspace" being a very old and classical term, like "water" or "the" - was the lack of sensory input. There weren't always tastes or smells, and what sound there was was generally just background noise unless someone did something about that. Sight was largely used for navigating three-space-one-time.
Victor went to the kitchen area of his apartment in meatspace - much preferring his mist-ical personal locality. There, he remembered that he could use the "window" - an odd term for something that couldn't be moved, reshaped, minimized, or readily removed altogether (though such "windows" were also thoroughly outdated) - for seeing another local region of meatspace. It seemed to have an odd sort of film on it, though. Victor banged his fingers into the "window" - always being so clumsy with his off-hand, whichever one that was - but then straightened it out and wiped.
The film lacked cohesion - only the parts that he'd touched lost their tinge. He also noticed that the film remained on his hands, but then remembered his object-orientation and realized that it would have been inappropriate for it to disappear here. Still, it seemed interesting, so he went ahead and wiped it off into some Kontainment®, making a mental note to have it mass-spec'd later. Victor also noticed that the "window" didn't become clear. He tried to look closer, before remembering that his physical eyes could only zoom in so far. He started to realize just how good it was that he went out every now and then: Imagine what he'd forget if he never came out!
What Victor had seen were some odd streaks along where he had wiped. He couldn't see them anywhere else. Moreover, at either end - where he had started and ended the wipe - the marks resembled the "fingerprints" from the old police procedurals. That triggered a realization: Of course, in meatspace, his fingers had imprinted the "window".
Victor went back to what he'd intended to do in the first place; he looked out the "window", where he'd wiped off the odd film. Across the street and down a bit, he saw some punks. It was obvious that they were punks, since they were outside, but didn't seem to be going to or from anything. They weren't stretching, or rehearsing their movements. They were just relaxing, talking to each other, and overall acting like they were very comfortable in meatspace.
There looked to be five of them, as two men and three women. Both men wore brown hats. They were quite tall for hats, and very cylindrical. They looked like they belonged on Abe Lincoln's head, though they were shorter and browner than that. Both men also wore some odd outfits, with at least two layers on the top halves of their bodies. They didn't match, though. One man had a black thing on top, which looked like it would work quite well alone, and without need for the buttons. Below that, though, was a white shirt with sleeves that went all the way down to the wrists, and some sort of odd layering on and above the chest. Victor would have thought it a waste of cloth if he'd ever heard of "waste". The other man wore a brown thing that looked like a thicker version of the aforementioned white shirt, except that it seemed to have been cut down the middle and have buttons in it, though those weren't being used to hold it closed at the moment. Thanks to that, Victor could see parts of two more brown layers below that, but he wasn't sure what to make of them, especially since both of those seemed to have buttons, too! Victor decided to look at the women.
Doing this caused an odd reaction in Victor's "personal meatspace". He couldn't figure out why, since he could barely make out the women's forms, for their extensive clothing. One wore a blue dress, though it had sleeves attached - again going all the way to the wrist - and the bottom part went all the way down, hovering just above ground level. Victor couldn't quite make out how her legs must be shaped, since the outline of the dress was some odd sort of curve that was fixed in some places, but changed in others. As she moved her body while she talked to the others, he saw an odd swaying in the dress, before something finally came out of the back of his brainpan and smacked him: Her dress - at least that part of it - wasn't meant to go along the shape of her body. After mulling that over, he reasoned that there might also be something holding it outward that much, and that her legs weren't even ridiculously disproportionately huge.
The next woman's dress was similar, though it was green and black, and it tended to drape more, though it still failed to convey the shape of its wearer's legs. The last woman was dressed much more reasonably, wearing a white shirt - though, again, the sleeves went all the way to the wrists, and Victor was starting to wonder what they might be hiding along their forearms - and her brown pants looked too big, and seemed to have straps going over her shoulders. She also wore something about her waist, which seemed to be cluttered with large objects.
Victor continued to look at them, trying to recall what flavor of punk they might be. He had heard of many kinds, including the no-longer-extant "cyberpunks", though "cyberpunk" seemed to have been a term that once meant the same thing as "futurist". After mulling it over for a bit, he realized that they were steampunks. It didn't much matter, since all of the remaining punks were the same: Most of them spent all of their time in meatspace, and all of them spent most of their time there.
Victor noticed something odd about how they looked. That is, they seemed to have stopped mulling about, and were all looking the same way. On its own, Victor's brain figured it out: They were looking at him. Victor stumbled back with a start, nearly falling for lack of practice standing. He went back to grabbing to something to taste while he spent some time in meatspace on the principle of practice. Everything seemed a bit blurred and faded. He thought that perhaps he should lay down, seeming to recall that people who didn't feel well in the old stories did that. He found his bed and gently laid his body upon it. Its softness was surprisingly comfortable.
Victor awoke with a start. Mostly, he was startled because he didn't realize that he was asleep. Victor also took note of his "personal meatspace", and decided that now was as good of a time as any to go back in, since the device that would hold his body was where he made depositions, and since cyberspace was where all of the entertainment occurred, anyway.
Victor plugged himself into the port, letting automation handle the rest of the things that would attach to his body. He managed to get everything vital handled, but found the world at odds with himself. He had always been considered quirky - he was an out-goer, after all - but now it was like he was crazy. Nobody in the world understood him, and he didn't understand why. He eventually left.
Not more than ten minutes after going back, Victor "wandered out of the mists" again, though he was the only one who called it that anymore.
This was another story that came to me rather suddenly. There were a few things that didn't get said here, but I figure that I'll make notes on them later. Alternatively, perhaps I'll revise the story a bit.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sudden Short Story

I just came up with this idea. I'm not going to make this look nice. This is version 0.1 or something.

The Bimillennial Law, as it came to be known, was a peculiar thing. In 2103CE, it was noticed that life-extending technology was coming about so quickly that people just weren't going to die of old age anymore. It was realized that the overcrowding that this would cause could lead to great suffering, but it was hard to pick an age at which to put people down. 100 was clearly too early, since people had already lived several years past that 100 years ago. Some people thought that nobody should out-live Abraham, from Hebrew legend. Others used the age of Adam from the same mythos. Still others thought that nobody should live past 999, to limit ages to three digits - in decimal. Eventually, the age of 2000 was settled, being far enough away that nobody had to worry about it any time soon, and old enough that anyone who survived to it would have lived a satisfactory life, and could start to suffer from having to deal with just so many profound changes in a lifetime.
Later on - though well after the establishment of several extraterrestrial colonies - someone realized that this was stupid. The vote to repeal the Bimillenial Law was unanimous. Nobody was ever executed under this law.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Internet Exists Only within the First One

OK, I just had this idea, and figured that I should write it down.
Imagine that, as we go forward in time, the internet gets bigger and deeper and more complex and so on. Imagine that we get into a cyberpunk-style scenario where we actually dive into the internet, and perhaps cyberspace is a wholly different experience, rather than perfectly emulating real life. Now, imagine the sort of plot point where things happen such that we're all in the internet, unable to get out, and, eventually, the people of Earth don't even realize that we're inside of an internet. Instead, that's our world.
Now, imagine that that's what has already happened. The crazy idea is this: Our world is the simulation within the first incarnatiion of something cyberspace-like. It has its own laws and everything, so whatever we do - including making the internet - works within the simulation. Frak, for all that we know, it's happened more than once before. This is also essentially a version of the brain-in-a-jar scenario of philosophy and, as such, can neither be proven true nor be proven false. Of course, like with those situations, it really doesn't matter whether it's true, since we're not in a position to do anything about it, anyway, since we're restricted to behaving within the confines of the simulation.
That's my crazy idea.

Friday, September 11, 2009


That's the serial number on my first $100 federal reserve note.
It says that on the top-left and on the bottom-right. It also says G7 on the top-left, which probably means something to somebody. It's from series 2001.
I don't really remember my first bit of currency from any denomination $20 or lower, down to the penny. I'm not sure if I've ever had a $50 note.
This isn't my first $100. It's just my first $100 bill.
Some people hang on to their firsts, but if I did that, then I'd be losing the $100 value for this, as though I'd destroyed it. I'm about to put it, along with some other cash, into one of my savings accounts, for various reasons. There's a good chance that I'll never see this particular note again. In fact, I have no idea when I'll next handle a $100 note, since they're not all that handy. I'd much rather use 5 twenties if I have to carry around such a large chunk of change. In fact, I'm pretty sure that I've had over $100 in my wallet in the past from just that.
Anyway, the next time that you get your hands on a one-hundred dollar federal reserve note, if you care to, check the serial number. If it's CG45366250A, then know that that was my first such note.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Story Segment: #0512

((Here's story segment #0512. I think that I'll write segment #0513 next, and post it next week.))

Corporal Dalton's gut wasn't very good at telling him things. It only seemed to tell him when he would definitely succeed or definitely fail, which he could usually figure out for himself anyway. He didn't need his gut to tell him not to play the lottery, or not to play that knife game with his fingers, given his coordination. Nevertheless, when Corporal Dalton saw that figure clad in white with bits of black, and holding something that glowed a bright, pale blue in its right hand, his gut told him that he didn't stand a chance.
There are three primary ways to improve the visibility of a laser beam, short of looking into the beam itself. One way is to darken the surrounding environment, in order to make the scattered light stand out even more. A second way is to increase the amount of medium-borne particulates which scatter the light in the first place. A third way is to increase the intensity of the laser itself. When dealing with a laser beam-producing device which strongly resembles a weapon, this is relevant to one's interests.
Xot Ut ran low to the ground. As he approached the first soldier, he let his sword get so low as to begin to char the stones beneath it. The soldier had barely brought his weapon up to fire when Xot Ut was right under him. Xot Ut leapt up, cutting through the soldier's assault rifle. His jump landed him well past the first soldier's position, where he made a sharp right turn, running low to the ground again toward another soldier. This one had just turned around due the noise, and effectively had no better warning than the first. The rifle was cut in two again, and this time Xot Ut went left, parallel to his original direction, where there were three soldiers conveniently lined up.
Corporal Dalton was a bit shocked. It may have been the brief and sudden but strong heat that he felt as the laser sword went past him, mere inches from his body. It may have been that said weapon just cut cut his primary means of attack and defense. It may even have been that someone with no firearms, explosives, or other ordinance just charged an armed soldier like a total loon and somehow won. It was really the sort of thing that would take more than a few seconds to work out.
Dalton did get the notion to warn the others, though. Unfortunately, his shout ended up lacking words. He just yelled. However, the most useful thing that anyone managed to immediately shout was "What IS that?", so he didn't feel so bad about that later on.

((Having a random segment of a random story makes no sense? Read this post for the short explanation, and pretty much everything with the story tag for more info.))

Announcement: Story Stuff

Alright, I'm hoping to post a bit of that story that I was writing. You remember that, right? Look for posts under the "story" heading to get caught up.

Here's the short version of good stuff to know if you care:
1. I first came up with the idea around 1999-2000 CE.
2. It originally took place in 2010 CE. Combining this with the 1st point, know that it was at least 10 times as far in the future then as it is now.
3. I'm using a numbering system for the segments that I post. That system is described here.
4. I may suck at writing, but you get that for which you pay. That said, constructive criticism is OK. However, that said, in the end, my purpose in writing this story out is my own. So, even if what I produce amounts to an affront to literature itself, well, so be it.
5. My writing is only done in my spare time. By no means do I consider myself a professional writer at this time. In fact, these are tied together - I do not dedicate working time to writing because I have no reason to believe that it will lead to gainful employment. At the moment, this is just a hobby.

Expect a story segment tonight.

Friday, July 17, 2009


I want to post this before I forget (and before someone else claims it). I think that we should preemptively add a "top" level to our classification/cladistics/phylogeny. It's tentatively a "super-superregnum" level, which puts lifeforms into entire biologies based on their planets (or other regions) of origin. I think that ours should be called "Terrus" because it sounds like "Terran" but "Terran" is already used descriptively in other ways, and because most of these end in "-us" or "-um".
I also hold that one super-superregnum (such as "Terrus") could in fact cover multiple planet, in cases of panspermia, whereby one planet's (or other region's) biology originates from another's.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

What I'm Reading

Life's been pretty weird lately, what with looking for work and trying to find time for everything else and all that. Lately, I've been trying to do a bit of reading, too. Currently, I'm reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (I picked up a big book containing all five novels, but I might save the others for later - see below) and Steampunk, an anthology of steampunk works that I got as a gift back around Xmas.
I've also been gathering a list of things that I ought to read. Over time, I've frequently run across something that I ought to read eventually. However, I have often forgotten these later. My solution is that I now have an ever-growing list of things that I should read (or re-read). In fact, for the hell of it, here's the list so far (the list is in no particular order):
  • Watership Down (Richard Adams)

  • Fear and Trembling (Soren Kierkegaard)

  • On the Genealogy of Morality (Friedrich Nietzsche)

  • The Prince (Machiavelli)

  • The Difference Engine (William Gibson and Bruce Sterling)

  • Prelude to Foundation, Foundation, etc. (Isaac Asimov)

  • Starship Troopers (Robert A. Heinlein)

  • Ender's Game (Orson Scott Card)

  • Dune (Frank Herbert)

  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)

  • A Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess)

  • Neuromancer (William Gibson)

  • The Gods Themselves (Isaac Asimov)

  • Snow Crash (Neal Stephenson)

  • Cryptonomicon (Neal Stephenson)

  • The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde)

  • The Diamond Age (Neal Stephenson)

  • The End of Eternity (Isaac Asimov)

  • Hyperion (Dan Simmons)

I reiterate that these are in no particular order.
I also recently discovered SFFMedia , where, among other things, they give various mentions of upcoming SF movie adaptations. I was looking at some classic SF and some other good stuff, too, and, well, let's just make another list, this time of upcoming science fiction films of interest (info based on SFFMedia articles - just use Search):
  • Dune - A new Dune movie, much closer to the original work, is supposed to come out. As of May 2009, the creators are working on a script and will turn it in soon.

  • Neuromancer - As of April 2008, it's got a producer, director, lead actor, and budget, and is slated for 2009. I'm just going to assume that that'll be this holiday season if it's this year at all.

  • Hyperion - They're going to turn the first two books in the Hyperion Cantos into one movie, which is apparently too much to cram in. As of February 2009, it has a director and a screenwriter.

  • Foundation - The first 3 books are being turned into a movie. As of January 2009, it has a director.

So, those are a few that I looked up the other day. I hope to do a more exhaustive list, based on my full list of things to read (well, just the SF stuff really) later. The reason for making this list now is to get an overall order for the movies. Then, I have to decide whether to read the books before the movies. On the one hand, it's traditionally better to read books before movies, since the movies can act like spoilers for the books. On the other hand, movie adaptations are almost never as good as the originals, so it might be better to watch the movie first, since the book won't disappoint thereafter. I guess that the question is one of ruin versus spoilage. Thoughts?
Also, I'm still taking suggestions for my reading list.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Is Jon Stewart a Modern-Day David Frost?

I'm going to summarize last night's interview of Jim Cramer by Jon Stewart as follows:
Jon Stewart pwned Jim Cramer.
Now, I know that there are limitations to comparing Jon Stewart to David Frost. For starters, Cramer isn't nearly as important as Nixon, and of course, Stewart is a comedian, whereas Frost was a reporter. Actually, even within this fiasco, Cramer isn't as important as Nixon was with his administration, since Cramer isn't in charge of the others.
Now, Stewart didn't sit around interviewing Cramer several hours a day for about a week, but of course, Stewart didn't need to wear Cramer down and get him to say internally inconsistent things within the interview. Of course, he had a modern advantage. It has become easy - and in fact standard - for there to be several clips ready to be played at a moment's notice.
I found it particularly amusing when a clip was rolled where Cramer was explaining how to pull one of those tricks regarding hedge funds. Cramer tried to say that he was trying to out the bad guys and explain how it works. Then, of course, another clip was rolled, showing that Cramer was suggesting this as actual advice. Cramer was caught in a lie in the interview. Even if he didn't lie during the interview, however, it still would have shown him for what he is.

OK, I'm going to post this even though it's not polished yet, just to get it out there. I've got plans today and tomorrow, so I don't know when I'll finish this.
Also, FYI, I wasn't really planning to blog right now, but once I saw that interview, I knew that I just had to say something.

You can see the whole interview uncensored (i.e., unbleeped), at http://www.thedailyshow.com/index.jhtml .

EDIT 2009/Mar/20: OK, I know that I intended to flesh out that post more, but I've been too busy. I'm shooting for early next week. In the meantime, I figured that this is as good of a place as any to write down this quote that I've been meaning to grab for a few weeks now:
"Isn't the Dow Jones Industrial Average just a short-twitch numerical representation of a bunch of guesses about other people's assumptions about the financial well-being of an arbitrarily chosen group of thirty out of tens of thousands of possible companies?" -Jon Stewart

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Update: I'm Busy

OK, basically, I'm really busy right now. I'm trying to find a job. If I don't find a real job soon, then I'll have to go get a grunt job somewhere. That, of course, will take up even more time, since I'll still be looking for a real job.
Regarding my play by e-mail RPG, D. hasn't responded to my latest e-mail yet, so that's stuck. I have found a group with which to hang out once per week. Once I squeeze that in, though, there's not much time left for blogging.
Expect real blog posts about subjects that I actually want to discuss to appear after I get a real job.