Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hey it's new years. We made it all the way around again!

I'm still sitting here and again I'm trying hard to care that the year has come to an end. And this time even the decade is ending.

Nobody else seems to care about the end of this decade either. All of the "best of the decade" lists have come late, almost as an afterthought. I think that's because the decade has no name. Goodbye seventies, eighties, 20th century, ... now what? The BBC calls them "the naughties", but I think that's the disease I blamed for having caused me to steal all of the cookies (if you know what I mean) and have sex with them. No wait, I think the naughties were the villain in the pilot episode of the Teletubbies.

Anyway, I think "first ten years of the century" probably fits best. So, goodbye ftyotc. We hardly knew you.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Standard Halting Problem Proof has a Major Flaw

The halting problem: the problem of figuring out whether or not a program will halt (not run forever) based on a description of the program, its machine and the input.

The standard proof that this is not solvable boils down to the following:

Imagine you had a program that could solve this problem. You could easily modify it to, instead of saying "this program will halt", run forever if the in put program would have halted. You could run the program on itself. The result is that the program will halt if it doesn't halt and not halt if it halts: a contradiction. Therefore such a program cannot be made.

Simple and clever right? Well what if you wanted to know if a program would output "red" or "blue". This really can be accomplished very simply. No question about that. Well, what if you write a wrapper that outputs red if the input program would have output blue and blue if the input program would have output red. Now feed this program to itself. You get the same contradiction.

Thus the logical flaw in the standard halting problem proof is exposed. There isn't something special about a program that doesn't halt. It's a false logical trick.

It's sort of like using a compiler to compile itself.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I've been blogging for one year

In case I'm dead or something, don't worry. It's not a ghost or a hacker. I set this up months ago to post at this time.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ross Douthat is a fat ass and a bad writer.

The President of the United States gets the Nobel Prize and that's a problem for you... whatever. But can you at least write a two-sentence summary of your stupid piece without mixing up past and present tense?

It was obvious that he wishes

Are you an idiot?

Friday, October 2, 2009

List of Bands not on "Rhapsody"

I will add to this list as I find bands/artists that I want, but are not adequately covered:
The Beatles
Led Zeppelin
Zappa et al
Pink Floyd
Jethro Tull

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I think Sally Draper grows up to be former SNL cast member Victoria Jackson.

TRON Legacy

I've been waiting over a quarter century for this.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

State Coin Tarrot

Have you ever considered trying to tell the future based on the state quarters you receive as change? A state you like (Wisconsin) means you're going to have a good day. A state you hate (Wyoming) mean's you're going to have a bad day. Me either, but one could.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

If only I'd had the forethought to buy a less fuel-efficient car

My 1994 clunker got 19 mpg when it was new. According to That's 1 mpg too many. If you want to conserve gas, you should convert to gallons per mile (or gallons per 100 miles) and decrease that more-relevant number. Assuming they drive the same amount, trading in a car that gets 10 miles per gallon for one that gets 12.5 miles per gallon saves the same amount of gas as going from 20 mpg to 33.3 mpg or from 40 mpg to 200 mpg:

1/10mpg = .1 gallons per mile
1/12.5mpg = .08 gallons per mile
.1gpm - .08gpm = .02 gallon savings per mile

1/20mpg = .05 gallons per mile
1/33.3mpg = .03 gallons per mile
.05gpm - .03gpm = .02 gallon savings per mile

1/40mpg = .025 gallons per mile
1/200mpg = .005 gallons per mile
.025gpm - .005gpm = .02 gallon savings per mile

I think that in order to qualify for the "cash for clunkers" your new car should pass the following 3 criteria:

1) the new car gets at least 4 more mpg than the old one.
2) the new car gets at least 20 miles per gallon
3) the new car uses at least one fewer gallons per 100 miles

This graph illustrates these three criteria and their max, whicx is my proposal:

Friday, August 14, 2009

The "Old People Boom"

Am I the only one tired of saying "baby boomers"? They're not babies and should probably stop being defined by the post-war fuckfest that created them.

It's Called a "Cross WALK"


Do you know how many people I've yelled that to? A lot.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Space Taxi: Diary of a Long-Haul Tanker

At the bottom of the ocean, thermophilic bacteria have evolved to take nourishment from heat coming through cracks in the earth’s crust. Though similar in most respects to other bacteria, these thermophiles have the unique ability to harness this heat energy. Through natural selection, generation by generation, their species has adapted to take advantage of unseen power radiated from below the ocean floor. Organs that once digested physical nourishment have slowly mutated to perform this dual purpose.

If string theory is correct, space contains many more dimensions than the four that we can perceive. Imagine that some vastly intelligent being lives right next door to us along one of these unseen dimensions. Could he be sending information to us in some manner not easily measured by modern technology? He may even be looking forward along our “temporal” dimension and sending us clues.

Neuroscience is in its infancy. We’ve hardly even guessed at the function of vast portions human brain; much less the selective pressures and adaptations that carved it. Could we be evolving to better receive these signals? Even inchoate, such an ability would certainly confer a selective advantage. Could this vastly complex organ be only part thinking machine and part … antenna?

I doubt it, but my passengers are pretty fired-up about the idea. That’s why they’ve hired me to .. blah blah blah blah blah blah … etc.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Problem With "The Reader"

Though obviously not a comedy, The Reader has the same that problem that all romantic comedies (except this one) have. In order to enjoy the movie (in order for the movie not to be a complete boring waste of time) you have to care about something that I can't possibly imagine caring about. In the case of the romantic comedy, it's whether the girl and the douchebag get together. In the case of The Reader it's what happens to the illiterate murdering Nazi pedophile. She gets 20 years in jail even though she wasn't *really* the boss (just a murdering Nazi pedophile)? She figures out how to read? Who the fuck cares? She doesn't seem to figure out that child molesting or the holocaust were bad things.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

ask mefi doesn't know funny

I feel like this is one of the funniest things I've ever written and it didn't get favorited once. Why do I care? I don't know but I do.

Why do people all hope we'll find extraterrestrial intelligence? I don't know that either. It's illogical.

Monday, June 22, 2009

I did not like Benjamin Button

The curious case of two self-absorbed people in their 40s living lives of leisure off of the banal button guy's life of work. And to top it off, the moral of the story is that it's all right to just abandon everyone and "start over" whenever you feel like it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

I'm not sure I get this Canon XSi ad

I think it's about a little white boy ... who turns into a girl ... then back into a boy ... then he turns black ... then he makes it into the NFL!

Yay! Let's go out and buy thousand dollar cameras.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

CoCo is the best

The Tonight Show hasn't been this funny in ... let's see ... about 17 years.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

"fuck all"

One Britishism I wish I could get away with is "fuck all", or better yet "sweet fuck all". As in:

"I would definitely take take your advice about parenting, but for the fact that you know sweet fuck all about raising children."

Monday, June 1, 2009

Now my daughters have seen The Empire Strikes Back

At the end, Eva said: "He has a robot hand like that lady." "What lady?" I asked. She said. "I don't know her name. She is one of the 'Single Ladies'."

Friday, May 8, 2009

Find Something to do in the Middle of This Graph.

This is not a Venn diagram. I'm assuming the activity can't be important and in your skill set and not be either relevant to your current job or interesting to you. Also, It can't be relevant to your current job and interesting without either being important or in your skill set.

Your interest and skillset are internal. Importance and relevance to your job are external. You have some control over your skillset and what your current job is. Your interest and what's important cannot be controlled. Your task is to find the middle of this graph by exploring your interests, expanding your skillset, moving toward important problems, and finding gainful employment solving them.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Once I'd written down the question, the answer was obvious

I was about to post the following to AskMefi:

Someone talk me down from the ivory tower's ledge [more inside]

I got my PhD in Computer Science in 2007, with a focus on computational biology. I have a wife and 2 young kids. During and prior to grad school, I worked/consulted for biotech companies always strictly as a means of paying the bills. My goal has been a faculty position. I applied in 2007 and got no interviews. Now, 2 years into a so-far-unremarkable 3-year postdoc, I've had an epiphony. I'm actually really good at industrial computational biology: making things work. I'm actually not that good at academic computational biology: publishing papers/getting grants. I'm also sick and tired of being poor. A friend of mine has eMailed me about a job at his company that seems like it would be pretty sweet. Whether or not this particular job works out, I'm thinking of broadening my search, effectively leaving academia behind forever. I'd like someone to explain why I shouldn't "sell out" and what will make me regret going into industry.

When I read the question, I knew exactly what my answer would be:

what took you so long? It soulds like you're headed for a failure in 2010 similar to the one in 2007. You're not getting any younger and your kids are growing up poor. You're not quitting academia. It's rejected you and you're finally realizing that fact. Take the price signal and GO!

Monday, May 4, 2009

15 Minutes?

By my math, if only one person can be famous at a time, everyone should be famous for more like 39 seconds. That's probably a bad assumption, however, since the Earth can clearly support more than one famous person at a time. It goes to 13:20 if you assume 20 people at a time. That averages to 1 famous person at a time in the US, but I'd say the US can support 10 famous people at a time at least. This means that each of us can now be famous for over 2 hours! I propose we keep 10 people on TV at all times, swapping out the one who's been there the longest every 13:20.

Friday, May 1, 2009

My Daughters Saw STAR WARS for the Frist Time Last Night

Last night, I decided that, since they're 5 now, they are old enough to see Star Wars (Ep IV, ANH), since that's how old I was when I had seen it for the first time. I'd thought a lot about it. My original plan was to show them TPM first, since that's pretty-much a kids movie anyway and it's about a little boy. I thought I might show them all of the movies in sequential (rather than chronological) order. However, ROTS blew that plan by being the least kid-friendly (darkest, scarriest and grossest) of them all. Also I figured that they might actually be more likely to end up liking Star Wars if I showed them a good one first.

Well, they were in rapt attention throughout. This was gratifying bordering on thrilling for me. However, when it was over, I asked them what they thought. Celia said:

"It was really more of a boys' move since there was only one girl and she didn't do very much."

I'm proud of her for demanding strong female characters. I told her that Princess Leia was the toughest of them all. Celia said "Maybe, but they didn't show her tough."

Eva said "I liked the ending more than the rest."

"You mean when they blew up the Death Star? I love that part too." I said.


"When they got their awards?"


"Then which part?"

"When they married"

That's right. She thought the award ceremony (white dress, walking the aisle, music) was Princess Leia marrying one or both of Han and Luke.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Straight-Up Propaganda Torture

After reading this article in the NYT I realized that Cheney had already won the PR war on torture. He's got people debating about whether the information we got was worth the means. Maybe yes, maybe no. Who cares? The important thing to realize is that this torture was never meant to get any information in the first place. According to the article, they were using techniques known by our military not to be effective in getting information. These techniques are known to be effective in getting propaganda confessions. They used these techniques on people who had been off of the battlefield for months -- sometimes years -- and could not possibly have any actionable intelligence.

What was Cheney trying to get them to say? Well, they were very interested at that time in convincing us that Saddam had something to do with 9/11. They may have believed that a "confession" would have helped them in this cause. Why did they fail? Maybe the Army/CIA/etc. aren't as full of toadies as Cheney thought.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

51-Star American Flag

Here is my proposal for a 51-star flag. I think, at this point, the rectangle has been done. It's time for a new shape.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

25 Random Things about me

1. I am extremely busy and tend to start things that I can’t follow through on.
2. I like cats.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Monday, February 2, 2009

Hogan's Heroes Movie

Why isn't there a Hogan's Heroes movie? Maybe with Paul Rudd as Hogan?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Arodnap Part 1

The logic of time travel can be slightly tricky. That is, the logic of travel into the past can be slightly tricky. Time travel into the future is neither logically, nor even technologically, tricky at all. It is, in fact, trivially easy. As you read this, you are traveling into the future. If you want a more dramatic effect, you can execute the following 5-step plan: 1) Find a closet; 2) write the word “Time Machine” on the door; 3) enter the closet; 4) wait (say about 10 minutes); 5) exit the closet. If you have a problem with your current rate of travel into the future (one second per second) according to the well-established Theory of Special Relativity, traveling near the speed of light will solve it.

Time travel into the past, however, is another story. The famous “grandparent paradox”: What if you kill your grandparent in the past? Then you’ll never be born to travel into the past in the first place. Then you can’t kill the grandparent, etc…” Even without speculating on the relationship its author must have had with his own grandparents, this has proven a thorny problem. The answer, however, can be found in the field of data archival and retrieval. In a modern computerized office, nightly backups of the entire system are made and stored. If, at some later date, a previous version of the system is preferable to the current one, the archived version can be retrieved and the computer system will, in effect, be reverted to that previous version. Say, for example, a virus or other malady is introduced to the system on Tuesday. On Wednesday, it is discovered that all of the data on the system has been turned into so much mucus. The system can be reverted back to Monday. As far as this computer system is concerned, the virus never existed. Typically, all subsequent versions of the system are deleted at this point.

The logical paradox of travel into the past can be solved in much the same manner. If we assume that we are traveling to what is in-effect an exact copy of the universe as it existed at some time in the past and realize that all subsequent versions of the universe are deleted, or at least unreachable by us, then the logical paradox is largely alleviated. As a new arrival, we can kill our grandparents, or any other family member we see fit to eliminate, without fear of paradox. We can still travel into the future by standard methods described above. However, in order to arrive at a universe identical to the one we remember, every single coin flip and other random event would have to unfold exactly as they had in the universe that we left.

Of course, but for your influence, they probably will. If you travel backward, say 0.00002 seconds, and remain in an otherwise-empty windowless air-tight room for all twenty of those microseconds, you may have no effect on the events unfolding outside during that time. However, as one diverges from these conditions, the chance of having no effect on the outside world rapidly dwindles to zero. For example, if the room actually isn’t air tight, as the molecules of air that would have passed through the space you are occupying don’t; as they bounce into others, the waves of your influence spread exponentially. Eventually a leaf falls in a slightly different spot than it would have. Someone raking those leaves takes half a second longer to complete the task. They get into their car a moment later than they would have. An automobile accident is narrowly avoided or one that would have been narrowly avoided occurs. Over sufficient time, maybe a century, these events spread out over the earth. For now, however they are constrained to the planet, but it can result in a very different world than the one that would otherwise have resulted.

The exact rate of this dwindle is the subject of Jason “Jojo” Jones’s Ph.D. thesis. He nervously ponders it as he waits, nervous and sweaty, at the Store 24 checkout counter, fingering his cell phone like an anxious gunslinger.

“It’s 2 minutes to ten.” The man behind the counter impatiently announces. “The machine locks up in two minutes. Do you want me just to do a Quick Pick?”

Just then, Jojo’s phone jingles to life with the following text message: “23 21 16 11 7 4” which he rapidly transcribes onto his lottery ticket and hands to the clerk.
“You just made it kid. Good luck.” the clerk calls out to his swinging front door.

Jojo’s already run out the door and into the back of the waiting van outside. The van is actually a converted refrigerator truck, but the cargo compartment, which he will occupy alone for the next sixty-two minutes, is set to a comfortable 71 degrees and furnished with a reclining chair, reading material and a portable DVD player.

This compartment’s counterpart exists back at the lab, about a half mile away. It is occupied by Jojo’s advisor, Professor Arodnap. She is in an airtight room adjoining her laboratory. It’s slightly larger and furnished slightly more comfortably, with a couch, artwork and a minifridge. The professor entered the compartment immediately after reading the numbers from a computer screen just outside of the compartment and texting them to Jojo.

Of course, along with the logical difficulties of time travel into the past, there are laws of physics which need to be circumvented. The most glaring is known as Conservation of Mass: the total amount of mass in the universe can neither increase nor decrease. Let’s suppose Jojo was to travel backward in time, his destination would suddenly have exactly two-hundred and seven lbs of extra mass. If Professor Arodnap were to do it herself, the mass would be slightly less, but the problem would still exist. Conservation of mass does have one loophole, however. Special relativity allows mass to be converted to energy and vice-versa. Special relativity’s graffiti-famous equation states the energy/mass exchange rate:

E = MC2

However, though it might look good as an arbitrage opportunity, this exchange rate is comically severe. The unfathomable speed of light … squared! It’s on your side if you’re making a nuclear reactor, or a nuclear bomb, but would present an insurmountable power-consumption problem even if the time-traveler was Tiny Claire, Professor Arodnap’s beloved toy poodle.

It is, however, within the means of even a small scientific laboratory to generate enough power to send back a small number of subatomic particles, thirty-two of them in the case of this experiment. Each one represents one bit of data. Thirty-two bits happen to be just enough space to encode six numbers between one and thirty-six.

Why use science to cheat at the lottery? The answer that they’ve been telling themselves, the answer that they plan to give if it actually works is verifiability. No one can argue that their method isn’t really predictive when the proof is in the bank. Second, is it really cheating? All of the stated rules of the lottery have been followed. The lottery wasn’t rigged. All people not employed by the lottery are entitled to use whatever means are at their disposal in order to choose their numbers. If you thought you’d had a premonition of the lottery numbers, would you refrain from playing those numbers because it’s unfair to the other players (on the vast majority of whom your wining will have no effect)? Finally, research dollars are very hard to come by. If the winnings are all put back into research, what is the harm? This work is of incalculable value to all of humanity.

“I wish I’d brought either my X-Box or a six pack or both” thinks Jojo. He’s about ten minutes into what he’s starting to believe will be the slowest hour of his life. He’s wrong. His cell phone suddenly rings. It’s Professor Arodnap. Any other call would ruin the experiment, but since they are both contaminated with information from the future, it seems all right

“Hello?” he says tentatively.

“Jojo. You have to destroy the ticket.” By the sound of her voice, he knows she’s serous.


“Right now. Rip it into as many pieces as you ca…”

BAM! The van is hit hard from the rear. It spins ninety degrees and BLAM, it’s hit hard from the side. The van flips onto its back. Books, DVDs, the recliner and Jojo fly through the air. BOOM ! The back of the truck is blasted open. When the smoke clears, a big man with a white beard is pointing a futuristic-looking weapon at Jojo’s bruised and confused face. “Gi’mme the Goddamned ticket Jojo.” The man says in a calm gravelly voice.

“Where’s Gina?” Jojo asks about the driver of the van.

A voice calls from the cabin, “I’m all right. What the hell just happened?”

ZZZZZZZT -- The weapon shines what looks like a blue light on Jojo and he screams in terror and agony.

“The ticket.” Says the man. Jojo struggles frantically to get the recliner off of him so that he can reach his pants pocket to get the ticket. When the chair rolls off of him, he can hear Professor Arodnap’s voice. The phone was stuck between him and the recliner and she’s still on it: “Jojo, listen to me, do not let the …”

The man points his weapon at the phone and it melts into a black blob on Jojo’s lap, he barely escapes severe burns by jerking his body up off of the floor. In the same motion he leaps out of a small tear at the corner of the damaged truck. He hits the pavement and grabs Gina. They run for their lives toward the lab.

A shadow comes over them. Above them, a huge craft. BLAM! A blast from the craft narrowly misses and opens up a crater right in front of them. They are showered in asphalt pebbles. They fall into the crater.

RAT-A-TAT-TAT-TAT-TAT – The sound is coming from the lab. They’ve got a cannon firing back at the craft. Smoke appears above the wing and the craft veers off.

Jojo and Gina climb out of the crater and run into the lab.

In addition to the issues of logic and basic physics surrounding the time traveler’s arrival, there is also the issue of transportation. In order to travel backward in time, one needs to open up what we will call a corridor through time, the 4th dimension. In order to travel from time B to time A, a corridor needs to be opened between these timepoints. The way that it’s done in this experiment is by opening the corridor at time A and holding it open until time B. Then the particles are encoded and sent through the corridor at time B and read at time A. At least that’s how it was supposed to work. Time A is 9:58 PM, in time to submit the lottery ticket, and time B is 11:00 PM, the moment the lottery numbers are drawn. The corridor was opened and held open on what became an alternate timeline, parallel to the one we’re on now. After the numbers were sent, received, texted, and submitted to the clerk, the only thing left to do was wait until the lottery drawing without doing anything that would change its outcome. Professor Arodnap made the decision to keep the corridor open while waiting in order to make as few changes as possible from what they did on the parallel timeline. Though logical, this was an unfortunate decision.

Once a corridor is opened, there’s no way to know what’s going to come through it. Having made what is essentially a tunnel through time, it’s possible for others to tunnel into it from points C, D, E, F, G and come out at point A, point B or anywhere in between. Professor Arodnap had thought of this possibility, but discounted it. As previously mentioned, in order to deal with the introduction of matter, there is a huge energy-consumption requirement at the destination point in a journey through time. The invention of matter-to-matter transfer, that is the conversion of matter at the destination, on an atomic basis, into the form of the arriving time traveler. They basically invented a way to quickly suck massive amounts of air into the corridor as the traveler exits, this balancing the mass. It was a very windy few minutes until the machine was shut down.

This being the first instance of such a tunnel, this experiment’s point A is the earliest timepoint reachable through such a tunnel on Earth. Before Professor Arodnap was summoned from her sealed compartment to shut it down, the corridor produced time tourists, adventurers, anti-time-travel militia trying to stop the experiment, and anti-anti-time-travel militia trying to stop them.

"Are you all right?" asks the professsor as Jojo and Gina reach the lab.

"Yeah." says Gina.

"Who was that guy? ... and who are all of these people? ... and what in the heck is that?" Asks Jojo as he gets his bearings and notices Colonel Cadry's enormous rifle.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

G-R-O Led Salad Great!

When you realized that the internet was optimized for finding song lyrics, what was the first song you looked up? Mine was Those Were the Days, the intro song for All in the Family.

Listening to this song again, I realize that we finally did get "a man like Herbert Hoover again". Thank goodness we're finally almost rid of him.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Recorded History

In the future, there will exist roughly as much information about each and every person's life as would exist in a standard memoir. This information will exist into perpetuity and be database searchable. So, if historians want to ask a specific question about what life was like, what people were thinking, etc., they can make a clever query and search the database. Studying the history of people (like us) who lived before this data exists will be like studying cave paintings and ancient scrolls. You have to make a story about people's lives based on the shreds of evidence that happen to have been written down. There's a big bias toward famous people and others (like me) who write everything down in spite of a lack of people interested in reading about them.

Friday, January 9, 2009

An Idea for a Broadway Musical

The Elton John album "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" is a Broadway musical waiting to happen. Just listen to it from start to finish and tell me it isn't true. The musical is a coming-of-age story about a kid who leaves home to go to the big city and all of the crazy stuff that happens there.

Though not on the album, "Take Me to the Pilot" would be a great big finish. It's about him finally coming to terms.

I asked her how she'd gotten into dog breeding.

She said: "It would have been a rags-to-riches story, but I started out with *bags*".

(Would this have been funnier if it had been about pimping instead of dog breeding?)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Heckler

Here's an idea for a movie. It's called "The Heckler". It stars Chris Kattan. He's a guy who figures out that his true calling is to sit in the audience of comedy shows and heckle the stand-up comedians. He's hilarious, but eventually gets his comeuppance.

The 7 Pills

In the future, there will be a pill for each of the seven deadly sins. There are already potent anti-sloths pills, anti-wrath pills, and anti-gluttony pills. There have been anti-lust pills for centuries. Just 3 to go: anti-pride, anti-greed and anti-envy.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Vacation to Earth

Someday, most people will live in extra-terrestrial biodomes, space stations and ships. It will be considered a great luxury to get back to and spend even a few days on Earth, where you can walk around *outside*; see the sky; jump into a pond; etc. It's the only place we're perfectly adapted to.

Every Kiss Begins With "Kay"

I'm starting a new jewelry store. It's called "F Jewelers".

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What does a lab rat say on a blind date?

"They told me you were a knockout.

But they didn't say which gene!"

How old am I?

25, but I've been counting in hexadecimal since I was E-teen.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Sun is an Entropy Sink

The sun is an entropy sink
More important than water to drink
Its allows life to manage
Law 2 of thermodynamics
Without it we're gone in a blink

There's a *big* dipper too?

What if you only existed for a week at a time, once a year (say from Christmas to New Years)? And you aged normally during these weeks and lived until these one-week periods totaled a normal human lifespan? So you would live for several thousand years, one week per year. What would you do? If possible, you'd create a cult where successive generations of people could each function as your main contact, updating you on what happened over the past year. How closely could you keep up with what was going on? Would this cult try to manipulate you? You couldn't let this cult control your information too closely. Would you be exceptionally wise or just have no idea what was going on most of the time? What language(s) would you speak? I'm imagining an interaction with the public much like that of The Pope. Would your pronouncements be any more or less insightful or relevant than those of The Pope? Would you take the time to learn to drive? You could probably get pretty rich, or at least sustain yourself in high style, on antiques and compound interest.

It would be nice if you, for example, had met Jesus. But it's not that likely that you would have, given the rate at which people and information traveled back then. Also, I don't think that he was nearly as famous during his life as he is now.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Bad Double Feature Idea

If you were forced to watch Cujo and Beethoven in succession, which would you watch first? Maybe this combination would be better as a hilarious switcharoo farce. Sort of like the end of Bringing up Baby.

The Botwins Must Die

I've been watching Weeds on DVD. It started out all right. It was funny enough. As he rarely has been, even on Weekend Update, Kevin Nealon is reminiscent, consciously I'm sure, of early '80s Chevy Chase. I would even say that the show sometimes provided insight as a clever dismemberment of suburban life.

However, now that I've gotten through the first disk of the third season, I'm pretty much ready for all of the characters (except maybe the little kid) to get killed. Unfortunately, I know there are at least 2 more seasons.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

My New Years Resolution?

1024 x 768

Time Travel

Traveling forward in time is simple. You can travel close to light speed, fall asleep locked in a closet, or just sit there (if you're satisfied with your current rate of travel which is one second per second). Backward is another story. The logical problems can be solved if the state of the universe is "saved off" at periodic intervals like a hardDrive backup. Then, when you go to a previous state, all of the states after the destination state are blown away and, if you travel forward again, it's just like locking yourself in a closet. So, the future world you arrive at will only be the same as the one you left if every single coin flip and other random event turns out *exactly* the same as they had in the world you remembered.

This leaves the physical problem of conservation of mass. If you go back in time, the destination universe suddenly has more mass (you are added). This can be fixed by relativity, but the amount of energy to account for something big (like a person) is far too much for any conceivable device to generate. You also need to absorb the energy released by your disappearance in the present. However, something tiny, like a subatomic particle, could be managed this way. Information, for example, in the form of one spinning quark per bit (spin direction = bit value) could be sent. Say, 32 (enough to win the lottery) would be perfectly reasonable for a modern device.

Of course, the problem of random events reoccurring still exists, but if you minimize the amount of time it has to travel backward and the influence of those who know the result, you could probably still win it (though it may take a few tries).