Saturday, March 31, 2012

Freedom (TM) by Daniel Suarez

This past October I read Daniel Suarez's Daemon (my review) about a really smart and really successful (i.e. rich) computer guru who unleashes a daemon (think of it as a massively smart computer virus) on the entire world after his death. The daemon starts recruiting people to implement its plans and targets government and corporate entities that it wants to change (or terminate). But the daemon does its work quietly in the background so there are people who don't know and carry on as before, those who align themselves with the daemon's "dark net", and those who know and fight back.

Daemon, the novel, ended abruptly and unsatisfyingly with a lot of loose ends. After comparing notes with other readers the most plausible explanation was that Suarez' publisher advised the author to take a really long story and split it into two. The second part is Freedom (TM).

If Daemon ended badly, Freedom (TM) continues the downward slide. Imagine World of Warcraft come to life. The daemon gives its chosen followers access to advanced technology so they can start building a better world free from government and corporate interference. You get cool augmented reality glasses that let you see callouts over people and things with all sorts of information to help you navigate the world. At the same time, autonomous motorcycle ninjas slice and dice everyone the daemon doesn't like.

Take a hippie commune from the 1960s and give everyone an iPhone on steroids and this is the daemon's Eden. It's hard not to imagine the two books as an homage to Steve Jobs in the role of the deceased protagonist. I half expected a digital Occupy Cyberspace or We Are the 99%. Government is inept, corporations are evil, blah, blah, blah. 

The augmented reality part of both Daemon and Freedom (TM) and the interconnectedness of modern life are plot ideas worth exploring. By taking out the soapbox, the two novels could've been condensed into one that might have been good all the way through.

The use of a university is to make young gentlemen...

Someone I know probably has a headache this morning after too many beers last night. So these are all for him:
  • 8-bit Pale Ale infuses "Australian Galaxy hops at the end of the brewing cycle into an American Pale Ale."
  • Beer-infused premium ice cream from the Brewer's Cow. (As seen on Shark Tank.)
  • Your next refrigerator needs to be this new model from LG that includes a blast chiller able to cool a can of beer in 2 minutes. (This would be really handy because I have a tendency to toss warm drinks into the freezer for a quick chill and then forget about them with messy results.)
The Economist debates whether the TSA's freedom massages, its war against airport footwear, its x-ray voyeurism, and the protection it affords us all from air assault by beauty care products has been effective in securing the traveling public.

Just how much did the Nazis hate jazz? It seems quite a bit.

OMG. An all-diamond ring. (No one tell my wife.)
Rejected by Apple. Abstract geometry or pr0n? You be the judge. Geometric Porn.

I'm remarkably apathetic about the fact that yesterday was National Cleavage Day.

On the other hand, the ability to use Shitter to print my Twitter feed on toilet paper is enticing (and appropriate). I'm wondering why they didn't go all Web 2.0 and name the site Shitr.

My driver's ed teacher taught me to hold the steering wheel at 10 and 2. But the new guidelines are 9 and 3. And the reason for the change is not what you might think. If you're holding the wheel at 10 and 2 and the airbag deploys all sorts of nasty things happen to your hands and arms.
Bob Ross likes to wash his brush. (Not a euphemism.)

The fastest spoken languages in terms of syllables per second are Japanese and Spanish while the slowest are Mandarin and German. Yet studies show all languages deliver information at about the same rate (information density per syllable). In hindsight that makes sense because it would be tuned to the listener, not the speaker.

Project Prometheus, website for the upcoming Alien prequel.

Aircraft pr0n of the week. source
You don't just give away Space Shuttles intact. NASA is performing an extensive retirement process to make the orbiters safe before they're sent to museums (no nasty chemicals or exploding things). But this is also a unique opportunity to learn from how the vehicles have aged so these lessons can be applied to future vehicles.

Contrails: aerodynamics made visible.

Wind Map - interactive and real time (and cool). Or if you like it wet, check out the Perpetual Ocean video.
A few productivity tips for grad students.

This is what a scientist looks like. Busting stereotypes using teh interwebs (except for the gal in Klingon makeup).

Piet Mondrian, Composition No. 11 London with Blue, Red, and Yellow. From Wiki Paintings, striving to be the online encyclopedia of art. unlike their fathers as possible. ~Woodrow Wilson

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Kill Shot by Vince Flynn

Thanks to Tom Clancy's The Hunt for Red October I'm addicted to the military, espionage, techno thriller genre. The problem is, a good thriller can't rely solely on suitcase nukes, brush passes behind enemy lines, and handheld supercomputers. It should be no surprise that a good novel is comprised of believable, likable, hate-able, real characters: bad guys you want to strangle, good guys you want to have a beer with. That's as true for Clancy as it is for Dickens. Certainly this reeks of Walter Mitty, where I get to assume the role of protagonist. That should be a great compliment to a fiction author who writes with such verisimilitude (a word stolen right from Clancy's lips) that you are not just reading the novel - you're in it.

Upon completing Vince Flynn's Kill Shot, probably the 10th of Flynn's novels that I've read, I realized that he and his Mitch Rapp character might be second in my preferences only to Clancy's Jack Ryan. I must thank my friend Nick for recommending Flynn to me so many years ago. I don't think my preference for Rapp, the CIA's assassin of terrorists, comes from his being a fellow alum of Syracuse University where he played lacrosse and lost his girlfriend in the Pan-Am Flight 103 bombing. Or maybe that's disingenuous because it does make it easier for me to play Walter Mitty.

Kill Shot takes the Mitch Rapp story line back to almost the beginning when he was relatively new to the CIA but still regarded as their best operator. When he slips into a Paris hotel room to double-tap a prominent funder of terrorists the tables are turned and he finds himself on the receiving end of gunfire from five silenced submachine guns. After barely escaping down a rope from the sixth floor he finds himself floating down the Seine with a bullet in his shoulder and rage in his heart. How did they know he was coming? Who can he trust?

When Mitch phones in his report to Langley it's his handler, Dr. Irene Kennedy, and DDO Stansfield who find themselves with a dilemma. The CIA's staff shrink has already reported that should Mitch ever feel abandoned or betrayed by The Company, he'll leave a trail of bodies across Washington. So what do they believe? Reports that Mitch botched the operation or the idea that he was betrayed and will soon be coming for them?

Flynn's writing is crisp and accurate. He creates a cast of characters that are deep and complex enough that some inspire both hatred and pity. Kill Shot rounds out Mitch's character in a way that adds to the overall body of work. My only complaint is that the novel ends too abruptly for my taste. I think that's because Flynn's cast of characters is so real that I want a little epilogue to see how the loose ends get tied up (or which ones don't).

Saturday, March 24, 2012

You've got to jump off cliffs all the time...

More writing tips, this time from ad-man David Ogilvy. (I'm certain there's some alignment of the stars here with Mad Men's season premier this weekend.) I'm a fan of #2 (pun intended), "Write the way you talk. Naturally."

I suppose this is like jumping the shark: Hitler is mad about all the Hitler Downfall parodies.

Every NBA shot in the last 5 years.
At first, this brief post on why being smart hurts your productivity seemed a bit self-serving. It seems to be making an excuse: I'm not very productive but it's because I'm very smart. Of course, the internet is used as an example of how we can be easily distracted. The internet is crack for information junkies. The gist of the article's sentiment is buried in a quote by mathematician Richard Hamming that I'll repeat here in its entirety.
I notice that if you have the door to your office closed, you get more work done today and tomorrow, and you are more productive than most. But 10 years later somehow you don't know quite know what problems are worth working on … He who works with the door open gets all kinds of interruptions, but he also occasionally gets clues as to what the world is and what might be important. … [T]here is a pretty good correlation between those who work with the doors open and those who ultimately do important things, although people who work with doors closed often work harder.
Close on the heels of last week's pot of chicken feet (Get it? Heels, feet.) comes this tray full of cow eyeballs.
Don't be the ugly American. Know these etiquette rules for international travel. For example, don't eat french fries with your hands in Chile - use a fork. Conversely, don't eat chile with a fork in the U.S.of.A.

Shit just got real. The Poop Stool for "better, quicker, and more complete elimination." (Remove pants first.)
In the rather long essay What's a museum? we read that museums have gone from "being about something" to "being about somebody" or I would interject the dreaded "being about everybody." Do we need museums to be another form of upscale shopping mall?

The latest trailer for Ridley Scott's Alien prequel Prometheus is kick-ass. (In Greek mythology, Prometheus stole fire from Zeus and gave it to man, a crime for which he was severely punished.)
Van Gogh to Rothko in a 30-second video.

I don't own a grill yet these Banana Boats stuffed with chocolate chips, marshmallows and other stuff look great.
What kind of delicious music would you play on a bacon guitar?

Seeing e = mc2 in Einstein's own handwritten is very cool.

Hic Sunt Dracones

Tweereal - a real-time map of tweets

Video map of earthquakes worldwide in 2011
Old maps online - for example, this map of the inhabited world from 1824.
Breathing Earth - CO2 emissions
Urban World map showing growth of urban populations over time.
...and build your wings on the way down. ~Ray Bradbury

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Strategic Bomber Gets a Double Take

There's a nice article in the March 2012 issue of Aerospace America (sorry - only available online to AIAA members) about the need for a new U.S. strategic bomber ("Strategic bombers - relevant again" by Richard Aboulafia). B-1s are due to retire in 2030, B-52s in 2040 at age 80 (yes, an 80 year old aircraft), and B-2s in 2050. Now is the time to start designing and building a new bomber to enter service when its venerable older siblings start retiring.

But that's not why I'm writing this. On page 22 there's a photo montage captioned "The U.S. bomber fleet offers [emphasis mine] a wide mix of aircraft." Included in the photo with the previously mentioned aircraft are the FB-111 and B-58.

Whoa. That got a double take.

Scan of a photo from page 22 of the March 2012 issue of Aerospace America. Note the verb tense in the caption.
The F-111 Aardvarks retired in the late 1990s. I had the pleasure of seeing a couple on the factory floor at General Dynamics (now Lockheed Martin Aeronautics) in Fort Worth. The B-58 Hustlers were retired in 1970 - 42 years ago. I saw one once in a museum.

I read that caption and immediately flipped back a page to see what exactly I had missed in the article. Are they bringing them out of retirement?

Alas, it appears to be just a proofreading oversight.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Jesus paid for our sins...

Today's soundtrack is 10 hours of Darth Vader breathing. Or maybe you'd prefer The Wine of Silence, orchestral arrangements of Robert Fripp's soundscapes.

When is a $20 bill worth several hundred thousand dollars? When it's a Series 1963A note that flew to the moon and back on Apollo 14.

Anne Appleby, Oaks, 2012
Writing tips. They're out there. You wish I'd find some. Here are six writing tips from John Steinbeck, two of which are worth noting here. #6 "If you are using dialogue - say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech." Too few authors heed this advice. (You'll roll your eyes, but Faulkner was a master of dialogue.) #3 "Forget your generalized audience... In writing, your audience is one single reader." This bit of advice can be applied to software development in that features written for everyone usually suck while I feature written for one specific person usually is nice and tight and applicable to a whole bunch of people.

In The Hyperdimensional Tar Pit Poul-Henning Kamp takes on the issue of the time required to deliver a software product. He starts with the old adage that you make an estimate and then double the number and then increment to the next largest unit of time, turning a 2 day task into a 4 week task. (Among those deserving blame for this time bloat are "random acts of management.") He eventually defers to Fred Brooks' classic The Mythical Man-Month in which delivering a programming systems product is said to take about an order of magnitude longer than simply writing a program.

I swear I posted this before but maybe not. Here's a video of a shuttle launch from the viewpoint of one of the solid rocket boosters, from ignition through separation to splashdown. The folks at Skywalker Sound did the mixing and enhancing. 

An amateur recording of the Space Shuttle Challenger launch and ultimate destruction has been found. Shot on Super 8, it may be the only amateur film recording of the event.
Convair's losing design for a U-2 replacement, Kingfish, lost in 1959 to Lockheed's A-12 (which led eventually to the SR-71).  Read about how less than a year later the concept was revived as the basis for an A-12 replacement - Beyond Kingfish.

Look at your PC. Now look at your calendar. Now look again at your PC and plan to say goodbye to it by 2014 because that's when your life will switch from PC-centric to cloud-centric.

Giada has an app. Repeating: Giada has an app. Forgive me while I pause right now to install Giada's Daily Bite.

What's more scrumptious than a big pot of... WTF? Do you think Giada has a recipe for this? source
Where bacon comes from: two and a half minute video shows a professional butcher playing "find the bacon." Damn, those must be sharp knives.

Where bacon goes to: Bacon Smores. I don't know what's more wonderful - this recipe or just the little pig-shaped cookies.
I was not Googling for "blue balls" when I found Sphero, a ball you control with Bluetooth via your iPad or iPhone.

The article about asshole detection that I was going to post didn't make the cut, partially because it might not be what you think it is. Software for identifying the chocolate starfish in photos. Such things exist. The images were just too much for my dear gentle readers.

We (meaning "I") tend to think of fossils as staid tableaus of dinosaurs in the sweet repose of death. Through some quirk of fate and timing, here's a pterosaur (27 inch wingspan) caught in the jaws of the predatory fish Aspidorhynchus. 
If you prefer living critters, here's the Penguin Cam at SeaWorld San Diego.

How has the Great Recession changed the employment landscape? Internet-related jobs up 24.6%, newspapers down 28.4% (I read the newspaper daily with breakfast and can't imagine doing the same on a computer. For one thing, the newspaper makes a much better place mat than a tablet.

Must watch video: see the effects of a tornado up-close and personal from a family's security camera.

Maybe for today's soundtrack I should've shared some Steve Roden. Steve is a painter and musician who created the sound for the Modern Art Notes podcast. Steve has a blog called airform archives and a website, in be tween noise. let's get out there and get our money's worth.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Venetian Betrayal by Steve Berry

The Venetian Betrayal was the first of Steve Berry's novels that I've read. It's the third in a series of seven books that feature Cotton Malone, a U.S. Justice Department operative, and his exploits.

This time around, Cotton gets caught up in an international conspiracy involving Venetian power brokers, a central Asian dictator, Alexander the Great, and the cure for... Well, I'll let you read about that for yourself.

If you sense a lack of enthusiasm from me, you're right. The novel was sufficiently entertaining but I never got a vibe for Malone or another of the other characters. A few technical flaws in the description of military aircraft got under my skin. And at times the international conspiracy got a little overblown like Ludlum on a bad day or Cussler on a good one.

But I did learn things about Alexander the Great which nicely filled in my woefully incomplete view of world history.

The future is already here...

Science proves it: dumb people are too dumb to know they're dumb. (I have witnessed this phenomenon in action.) See how prescient Dirty Harry was? "A man's got to know his limitations."

Physicists done got themselves a new law: the Constructal Law that describes patterns of change in any system so that we can predict how those patterns will change over time. Here's the guts: "For a finite-size system to persist in time (to live), it must evolve in such a way that it provides easier access to the imposed currents that flow through it." The law even has its own web page.

I collect coins, not currency. But this is the original US$1 bill from 1862.
If you also check out currency from 1923 you'll see how it has continually evolved.

It seems that promoting fitness and fighting obesity is actually discriminatory bullying, at least according to the NAAFA (National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance). They have issues with a new attraction at Epcot developed in association with Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

Warren Buffet's annual letter to investors is online. My recommendation is to skip to page 17 and read the entire section "The Basic Choices for Investors and the One We Strongly Prefer."

Predator: The Musical. I know you liked the movie. Setting it to music is hilarious. (There are many more of these and the musical of John Carpenter's The Thing set to Sinatra is a gem.)

Are you in the DFW area? Do you like to eat? Is Zagat trustworthy? Then feast your eyes on Zagat's best restaurants in DFW for 2012. Top food = St. Emilion (indeed - excellent French cuisine).


In a brief article about language games, author Daniel Becker is quoted "Indeed, there's an enviable freedom to be gained from approaching literature—or any pursuit protected by a veneer of seriousness—with the same carefree spirit that guides us through the puzzles page of the weekend paper." It's another example of the maxim "form is liberating", like writing a story without using the letter "e."

You like The Beatles? Try The Beatles Player.

The super toilet - it can flush anything. A promise or a challenge? How about 3 pounds of gummi bears. And more.

My confusion with LinkedIn has been documented. I'm not the only one. What's it for? Why is its UI so ugly and disorganized?

This is my last post about artists using their naughty bits or bodily fluids to create art. At a certain point you gotta draw the line and say "this is just crap." (And you know there's an artist sculpting turds somewhere.) So, here's a gal who paints by puking colored water onto canvas.

This is a frame from a nice video illustrating establishment of post offices in the U.S. from 1700 to 1900. I think this frame is from around 1865.
Science is starting to piss me off. Remember last week: women find men with beards more attractive. Just like global warming there are different kinds of beard science.  Now we learn that women don't like men with beards. In fact, women think beards make men appear older and more aggressive. (Which reminds of the time I was in a restaurant with my very young sons when one pointed at another bearded guy and said "Daddy, he looks just like you but less angry.") Lest you think this is faux science, the Journal of Behavioral Ecology says "The beard is a strikingly sexually dimorphic androgen-dependent secondary sexual trait in humans." It then goes on to say that the beard evolved not for inter-sexual purposes (i.e. attracting a mate) but intra-sexual purposes (i.e. a dominance display for other males).

It's not only science that's fickle. While men like happy women, women like angry and frustrated men. Proves that nice guys really do finish last.

I ate breakfast cereals for 40 or so years before switching to smoothies for my morning meal. But I still appreciate a good bowl (see above). Which breakfast cereal has the highest percentage of sugar by weight? I can't figure out how Cap'n Crunch Original comes in at #5 while Cap'n Crunch with Crunch Berries only makes it to #9. First, who the hell buys Cap'n Crunch without Crunch Berries? Second, the berries must truly be magical because adding them makes the cereal healthier.

Of course we all know that the king of cereals is Lucky Charms. Here's a place where you can buy just cereal marshmallows by the boatload.
Enjoy this Tumblr of Batman Running Away from Shit.'s just not very evenly distributed. ~William Gibson

Saturday, March 3, 2012

New Music: Dream Theater, Brand X, John Hassell

Score: 20th Anniversary World Tour by Dream Theater

After years of encountering Dream Theater or its band members on Pandora and other forums I decided to get my first Dream Theater album. As I tend to do in cases like this, I chose a live album hoping to get a wide selection of tunes from various eras. Hence, Score. Part of my interest in progressive metal comes from Norway's Circus Maximus and Poland's Riverside, two bands in which a friend and I have shared an interest.

Certainly, the members of Dream Theater (John Petrucci, guitar; John Myung, bass; Jordan Rudess, keyboards; Mike Mangini, drums) are technical masters of their instruments. I've heard recordings of them performing with other artists that are truly impressive. So don't read "metal" and think knuckle-dragging, 2 chords, 3 minutes and 4/4 time.

Perhaps I chose the wrong album. This live album includes 3 CDs, two of which include lengthy performances of concept pieces with the Octavarium Orchestra. While I have nothing against concept works, rock bands performing with orchestras tend to rub me the wrong way. Disc 2 includes the 41 minute piece Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence and Disc 3 includes 26 minutes of Octavarium. At least Disc 1 has 8 tunes of no more than 12 minutes.

Unfortunately, I have decided that I'm not a fan of vocalist James LaBrie. When he confines himself to the lower octaves he's OK. But he has a tendency to push into the higher register where, at the risk of sounding like Randy Jackson, he's a bit pitchy. The way he slurs into each high note trying to find the correct pitch is annoying. Worse yet, he has a habit of applying vibrato to those higher notes which only emphasizes the pitchiness. It's almost like the vibrato is a cover for his inability to hit the high notes.

So while I don't regret buying Dream Theater's Score, I won't be rushing out to by another CD by them anytime soon.

Moroccan Roll by Brand X

A couple of weeks ago, probably after listening to Spyrogyra and and Return to Forever, I realized that I really had to get some Brand X on CD. I hadn't listened to any in over a decade, since my turntable broke. If you're not familiar with Brand X (and you probably aren't) it's a jazz fusion band from the late 1970s. Moroccan Roll (1977) is their second album and features John Goodsall on guitar, Percy Jones on bass, Robin Lumley on piano, Phil Collins on drums, (yes, Phil Collins from Genesis), and Morris Pert who, according to the liner notes performed "percussion and a vast number of bits and things that he hit while the tape was running including: The QE2, Idi Amin, and undiscovered parts of Scotland."

That last bit and the album's title should give you the idea that this is a fun album. It's fun and funky, open and jazzy, punchy and laid back. Collins' drumming has a light jazz touch that contrasts with what he was playing with Genesis at the time. The band performs as a true ensemble.

I just dug around in the closet and found my Brand X LPs: Unorthodox Behavior (1976), Moroccan Roll (1977), Product (1979), Do They Hurt? (1980), and Is There Anything About (1982). I also found a Pat Benatar, but we'll skip that. Which album should I buy next?

Last Night the Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes in the Street by Jon Hassell 

The gem in this little group is Jon Hassell's Last Night the Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes in the Street that I picked up based on a friend's recommendation (thanks Ted!).

Hassell is a trumpet player and composer with whom I was only slightly familiar because of his collaboration with Brian Eno. He's said to be known for his work with "world music" (a term which I don't like as it means very little) but his virtuosity, at least as demonstrated on Last Night..., are his trumpet playing and his minimalist composing. When you read "trumpet player" do not think Maynard Ferguson. Instead imagine the offspring of Miles Davis and Brian Eno. The performance and its electronic treatments are almost vocal. The composition reminds me only a little of Steve Reich. It's definitely post-modern, unstructured, ambient, enchanting.

As luck would have it, the last track on the CD was irreparably damaged by my computer's CD drive when I was importing it into iTunes so I've already re-added it to my wish list at

A clever, ugly man every now and then is successful with the ladies...

News of the week: Ze Frank is bringing back The Show. "Think Dora the Explorer meets Locked Up Abroad." His Kickstarter project has already earned $120,000, blowing through his original goal of $50,000.  What? You didn't watch The Show the first time around? Check out the archives.

Science solves yet another vexing problem of our time: men with beards are more attractive. But men with full beards, while deemed most mature, are also the least attractive. Science giveth and science taketh away.

Web programmers only: play What the Hex? and see if you can match a hex code to its color swatch. And these demos of WebGL are pretty cool.

Not a single CFD image in this year's Best Scientific Visualizations from Science magazine and the NSF. But this visualization of complex numbers is nice.
I suppose Engineers Week (19-25 February) is the reason for all the news items about engineers and engineering education.
  • This is hard to believe but 64% of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) undergraduates take six years to graduate. The blame is placed on "topic creep" and ultra-rigid curricula. (An unrelated article in the local paper placed Texas A&M's 4-year graduation rate at less than 50% and U. Texas' at about 62%. I'm doing this from memory but those numbers are close.) The article ends with tips for improving the retention of engineering students.
    • Use everyday examples in teaching that students can relate to.
    • Improve their spatial-visualization skills. (Yes!)
    • Improve faculty-student interactions.
  • Bloomberg tries to make the case that engineering is now sexy for college grads but instead they just say that engineering is a fallback for tech grads who used to sell their souls to go to work for investment banks. 
  • The WSJ advises MBAs to make way for engineers because a functional manager seem to be preferred and more successful than your basic manager manager.
  • The Business of Software folks (see below) have always said that it's easier to teach business to an engineer than to teach engineering to an MBA.
A secret has been hiding on Ball's Pyramid, this 1,800 foot high volcano remnant off the coast of Australia. A gross looking giant insect thought to be extinct since 1920 was living on the side of this mountain under a single bush.
Up and Down the Ladder of Abstraction is an interactive discussion about understanding systems by being able to move from the concrete to the abstract and back again. Aspects of this talk are similar to last week's video about designing for a cause. This Ladder article also opens with a nice quote: "In science, if you know what you are doing, you should not be doing it. In engineering, if you don't know what you're doing, you should not be doing it. Of course, you seldom, if ever, see either pure state."

Not dentistry - the tongue drive is one of the coolest accessibility appliances I've seen. This retainer lets paralyzed patients control a wheelchair and computer with their tongue.
Alan Parsons, the guy who engineered Dark Side of the Moon and had his own Project, offers a video series on the art and science of sound recording.

Those dirty scientists at NASA have poured their flowing oil all over Faith Hill and taken pictures. No, not that one. This one: Fundamental Aeronautics Investigates THe Hill. 

Visualizing Data presents their best of the visualization web for January: part 1, part 2.

Physics/literature factoid of the day: physicist Murray Gell-Mann named his subatomic particle discovery "quarks" after a line from James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake: "Three quarks for Muster Mark."

If you're considering attending this year's Business of Software conference (1-3 October in Boston) you'll probably want to check-out the feedback from last year's delegates, which they publish, warts and all.

These pants with a built-in keyboard may forever alter the downloading of internet pr0n. Spacebar fatigue. Where's the joystick?
Programming geeks only: the archive of interesting code. Anyone want to implement a hash table in Java using cuckoo hashing? Or, a method for accessing Facebook from the command line.

On days like today it's hard to be a football fan. During the Saint's Super Bowl season their defense was paying cash bounties for injuring opposing players with knowledge of defensive coordinator Greg Williams and head coach Sean Payton. If true, the NFL should impose serious penalties and fines. They can't have all the hand-wringing about concussions and then let this slide by with a slap on the wrist. One player is quoted as having no regrets for participating. In 20 years he'll probably be suing the NFL because of his injuries. This thugish behavior has to end. But more importantly I think anyone involved should be charged with felony assault and conspiracy to commit. To feel better about the game, watch this brief video from 1903 of Princeton vs. Yale. The pace of play seems more rugby-like.

If you know what "diddeys" are you don't need this 1811 dictionary of vulgar slang.

The Portland Art Museum is hosting a Mark Rothko retrospective through 27 May 2012.
Booyah! The Navy's got themselves a rail gun. I love the patch shown at the end of the video with slogan "Velocitas Eradico."

"I'll have a glass of the 2008 Dehlinger Pinot Noir with my slider." White Castle will be adding wine to their menu.

Included for its name only: The Boiled Owl Tavern.

Before clicking the link stop and try to list the 10 most common surnames in the world. I'll give you one: Smith.

The F-22 Raptor began life as the ATF, Advanced Tactical Fighter. Code One Magazine looks back at the aircraft's development in a two-part series. I like the essence of the quote from the F-22's first flight - everything thing else is now just a target.
When is a Pollock not a Pollock? Fraud in the abstract art world is a twisty thing to prove.

I don't have Aspberger's syndrome, at least according to this online test. The quest for understanding my behavior continues.

Do you spend a lot of time thinking about the Middle Ages? If so, better make sure you have your facts straight.

Wisconsin does it right: fried bacon with gravy and other foods on a stick.

By now I'm certain that you've heard about Raspberry Pi, the $35 Linux computer (keyboard, mouse, and monitor not included).

Now go play Neon flames.

...but a handsome fool is irresistible. ~William Makepeace Thackerary