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[links] Link salad sleeps like a baby, awake every hour crying and crapping - Lakeshore — LiveJournal
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2010-06-26 07:10
Subject: [links] Link salad sleeps like a baby, awake every hour crying and crapping
Security: Public
Tags:books, cars, cool, culture, funny, links, personal, politics, science, tech
Street-Fighting Mathematics : The Art of Educated Guessing and Opportunistic Problem Solving — I think I want to read this book. Once I can read new stuff again. Soon! (Via Freakonomics.)

There are some things Mankind was not meant to comprehend — World's best headline? (Via lt260.)

Wooden funeral cars in Argentina — Oh, wow...

Vintage Construction Toys — From Dark Roasted Blend of course. Ah, the incidental double entendres.

Bionic feet for amputee cat — The future arrived when we weren't watching. (Thanks to jaborwhalky.)

Nanotubes Give Batteries a JoltLithium-ion batteries with nanotube electrodes could go longer between charges. One of the things I have always found fascinating about batteries is that, at least until rather recently, how little fundamental technology has changed in the past century. Easily stored, high capacity transportable power with lengthy shelf and service life and minimal heat transfer would revolutionize global society as much as the microchip.

Numerous Nearby Brown Dwarfs? — More fun with brown dwarfs. What missing mass? (Which reminds me, I owe Paul Gilster a package.)

A curious and interesting post from Slacktivist concerning how perceptions of privilege and inequality skew differently for increased levels of education and income

Al Gore and the press, ca. 2000 — A little bit of history for those of you obsessed with the liberal media. That meme has never been fact-based, but it's one of the most successful pieces of Republican propaganda in my lifetime.

ACORN Totally Vindicated of All WrongdoingA preliminary probe by the U.S. GAO has found no evidence of mishandling the $40 million in federal money ACORN and affiliates received in recent years. Another win for the GOP: deliberately fraudulent conservative hit video sparks political mobbing supported fully by Your Liberal Media to shut down a group working for fair housing and voter registration for the poor. Accusations now proven to be 100% fact-free. Also, this just in: sun rises in east.

?otD: What's the first thing you remember in this life?

Writing time yesterday: n/a
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 5.25 (fiftful)
This morning's weigh-in: 223.6
Yesterday's chemo stress index: 8/10 (GI follies, sleep issues)
Currently (re)reading: Dune by Frank Herbert

Post A Comment | 16 Comments | | Link

User: eposia
Date: 2010-06-26 14:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I have been awaiting the battery revolution since about 5 years ago when I realized that 20th century batteries are why we're still tied to a mass of electric cords for our electronics here in the 21st century. I get excited everytime I read something from the brains at MIT or other labs bringing us closer to true extended-life batteries. Soon, Soon! (but not soon enough...*shakes fists at cords on the floor*)

Edited at 2010-06-26 02:38 pm (UTC)
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-06-26 14:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Even now, most batteries you find in use are fundamentally the same technology as the Baghdad Battery, which is, what, 2,300 year old tech?
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User: e_bourne
Date: 2010-06-26 14:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Which is why I believe that more likely than not, the Pharos was battery powered, and the light increased by mirrors. No one has any idea how it was lit, except that the laws of physics and economics say that it wasn't fire. No wood. It had a lead statue on top of the room where the fire would have been. I vote for battery-power. But then the ancients were SOOO much dumber than us. Couldn't have had batteries or robots or clocks or computers. Getting off soapbox now and going to drink coffee.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-06-26 15:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's all because they didn't quantum.

(But I'm uncertain about that.)
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
User: ulfhirtha
Date: 2010-06-26 21:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The difficulty isn't in the technical ability (the Greeks had mini steam engines, though only as curiousities, etc) but imagination - even considering to do such a thing in the first place. the "Connections" series is replete with this stuff...how a better perfume atomizer leads to internal combustion engines & so on. A lot of lateral thinking goes into our current gadgets.

{This relates, in my mind at least, back to the whole "steampunk" aesthetic...if only someone had thought to make X modern device, what would it have looked like with what they had available?}
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2010-06-26 22:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Indeed! Fascinating series, "Connections", and a wonderful birthday present :-D. It also reminded me of discussions of steam engine design in Scientific History courses and how the engineering *knowledge* was all there to make one work reliably, but it still took assorted tinkering and inspiration to get it all worked out right even so.

re: steampunk - yes, that's why I tend to agree with Jay (and others) that it's an aesthetic or a type of "alternate history"
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User: e_bourne
Date: 2010-06-27 02:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The lighthouse of Alexandria was a marvelous structure built over the reigns of Ptolemy I and Ptolemy II for one purpose: to impress and intimidate the piss out of anyone who might think of attacking them. It was a propaganda device, and as such, any consideration of wasting time or money to make effective as a propaganda device were inconsequential. Alexandria didn't need a lighthouse, in fact, until it was built, no one had imagined a lighthouse.

So, here's what we know for sure. It was about 42 stories tall. It likely had some sort of room at the top, and did indeed have mirrors to improve the throw. The light was visible out to about 30 miles out. None of the ancients discuss how it was powered. Likely it was a military secret. Most military secrets aren't talked about.

Egypt had no wood, nor access to any, nor any coal or access to any. There are no nearby oil fields. Olive oil does not cast a strong enough flame, in most experiments, even when intensified, to work. Besides which, the tower was surrounded by gold-leafed (originally gold, but hey, wars cost money) lead statues. Lead's low melting point, in most opinions, precludes the use of a strong enough fire to cast a light, even with reflectors, that could be seen 30 miles out to sea. It could not be a fire at the bottom of the tower and reflected upward because we know from writings that there was an elevator in the middle of the tower to get people up to the top third of the lighthouse.

So what made it work? It worked consistently for almost 500 years until it was deliberately broken by Arab invaders. No had the knowledge to repair it.

I like electricity, because a type of fresnel lens could have cast. They were making excellent quality mirrors, so that's not a problem. So the trick is, where does the electricity come from?

Personally, I think it's possible someone like Archimedes, who come up with the notion of chaos theory well before its time, or his teacher Tesibius, who fine-tuned the clepsydra to swiss perfection, as well as adding little swiss-style performing robots to it, invented air cannons, fire hoses, practical robots for theaters and temples and a myriad of things we don't know about because their books are lost, might indeed have improved upon the Baghdad battery to make it more functional. And we don't know about it because, well, it was a military/state secret.

But that's just supposition.

What we really know is that we haven't a clue how the Pharos worked. Only that it did. And that it was amazing enough they build replicas in India, and in China, and on coins all over the world. So as propaganda, it worked.

It's an interesting question. But fun to think about.
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User: e_bourne
Date: 2010-06-26 14:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I had an erector set. Loved that thing. No kid could have one now, in retrospect, those suckers could totally put your eye out, pierce through your tiny kid arm, and do tremendous damage. Damn, they were fun!
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User: jordan179
Date: 2010-06-26 15:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Nanotubes Give Batteries a Jolt — Lithium-ion batteries with nanotube electrodes could go longer between charges. One of the things I have always found fascinating about batteries is that, at least until rather recently, how little fundamental technology has changed in the past century. Easily stored, high capacity transportable power with lengthy shelf and service life and minimal heat transfer would revolutionize global society as much as the microchip.

Oh yes. For one thing, any major advance in batteries might make electric cars and perhaps even trucks practical, which in turn would make a nuclear-solar-electric economy, with fossil fuels used only for plastics feedstock, eminently practical.
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Lucy Kemnitzer
User: ritaxis
Date: 2010-06-26 15:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
My earliest memory that I can accurately date from outside sources is from when I was a bit less than 18 months old. I was bouncingf on a green modern-style couch that was sitting in a driveway in front of a two-story house. Someone picked me up and put me on the ground.

I know when it was because when I described the memory to my mother she said that there was a green couch in the apartment at Dwight Way and they gave it away. And we moved from the apartment at Dwight Way to a little house in El Sobrante when I was a bit less than 18 months old.

So the first thing I remember in this life is brilliantly colored, exciting, ephemeral, nostalgic, and frustrating.
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User: jimvanpelt
Date: 2010-06-26 16:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Did you see the "Toys That Creep Us Out" pics? http://www.darkroastedblend.com/2008/10/dolls-and-toys-that-creep-us-out.html
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Karen, aka Ana Lake, ska Aine inghean Cathal
User: summers_place
Date: 2010-06-26 18:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I remember the big plastic-headed safety pins my mother used on my diapers. One had a yellow duckie-head, and the other had a green head but I don't remember what it was supposed to look like. I remember sitting on the changing table while she fastened them. This would have to be from the age of perhaps a year and a half or so.

I also remember two sets of corduroy overalls I had at the age of two, one in red and one in navy. And I remember sitting in the living room with my dad, watching the original Star Trek series, at some point prior to the age of three and a half. It would have been in first run then, and I can pinpoint the timeframe because we lived upstairs from my paternal grandparents until the spring of 1968, after which we moved into a very different and newly-built house in a rural neighborhood. The living room in which I recall first watching Trek is definitely the one above my grandparents' apartment.

Hmmm. I also remember amusing myself with picture books while my parents painted the kitchen in the new house, before we actually moved into it.

Edited at 2010-06-26 06:04 pm (UTC)
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User: threeoutside
Date: 2010-06-26 18:10 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I love all the little boys with their neckties askew from all the fun they were having building the Cities of the Future. LOL

...little boys in neckties? while playing? Lord, I've lived through Different Times...
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User: bemused_leftist
Date: 2010-06-27 03:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It looks like the join comes here:

The GAO, an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress, is often called the "congressional watchdog." It investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars.
Nearly two dozen members of Congress requested an investigation after a series of complaints against ACORN and its affiliates. The complaints included an embezzlement matter, several cases of voter registration fraud, and the release of edited and misleading videotapes [....]


First the book author is talking about GAO finding ACORN innocent of the sort of thing that the GAO really investigates: use of government funds.

Then suddenly he's talking about "complaints" meaning things the GAO does not investigate so could not clear them of: complaints concerning voter registration, dealing with claimed pimps and prostututes, etc.

The only official investigation other than GAO which the author claims "vindicated" ACORN was "An independent investigation by the Brooklyn District Attorney's office and the Attorney General of California". It's not clear whether this was a single investigation (He's Brooklyn DA / He's Calif AG -- together, they vindicate ACORN!) or one from each, or how many of the complaints they in fact did investigate. (Somehow I doubt they touched down in the Midwest where there were strong complaints concerning voter registration fraud.)

The author does make very clear that he will have a book for sale soon.
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User: mastadge
Date: 2010-06-28 12:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
If you're interested, Street-Fighting Mathematics is available to read in a Creative Commons edition: http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=12156
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-06-28 13:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
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my journal
January 2014
2012 appearances