Monday, January 28, 2008

First man in space was probably one of these three, Ledovskikh, Shaborin and Mitkov, according to the sometimes reliable pravda.
We aren't told if they made it space before dying.

New test flight video from Armadillo Aerospace.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Inventor of the yellophone.

A new Grisham out (still in hardback) The Appeal and one I'd missed, Playing for Pizza.

Friday, January 25, 2008

That's Amore.

Sir Robert Murray aka Moray appears in a cameo at a meeting of the Royal Society in Quicksilver which I'm reading now, volume 1 of Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle. It's one of those historical novels in which the narrative fictional characters, Waterhouse and Steptoe, names already known to readers of the Crytonomicon, run into dozens (so far) of historical characters, Newton, Leibnitz, Hooke, Boyle, Charles II, James II, and so forth.
Quicksilver aka mercury was used in conjunction with low grade silver ore to form amalgam, like I have in my teeth, which could then be broken down into pure silver and recovered mercury, hence the name. I enjoy learning, and Stephenson enjoys telling, the back-stories behind common words. Quicksilver is used as an analogy to liquidity in the marketplace, and the characters are often exchanging foreign coins or melting down silver or smuggling goods to trade for shares of mines or ships or such. Today I've done nothing besides read the book, and consider it a day well spent.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

4 degrees and getting colder.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Supreme Court has set Tues., March 18 to hear No. 07-290 District of Columbia v. Heller on the constitutionality of the District’s firearms laws.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Banana blogging. and here.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Good article linked at freakonomics as to how lonely people anthropomorphize things - pets, cars, gods. It's cheaper to invent imaginary friends than have kids or stay in touch with distant kin. I do this; I have teddy bears.

For some time now I've wanted to have a blog to go with my webcomix, so you have the comic at the top followed by text. But wasn't sure how to do it.
Turns out my friend Brad Hawkins, who writes Monkey Law (and occasionally Monk Law), has built a plugin for word press blogs. So all I need to do is figure out how to use word press, then how to use the plug in, then get my comic set up to work that way.
This was one of my goals for 2007 that didn't happen; now I have a handy package to get it happen - but I'm afraid I will find it too daunting. For being a big geek, a lot of this technical stuff is still just way over my head. Anyway, it's one more item for the to-do list. I might actually have a word press blog already here somewhere.. at 15 blogs, I lose track. This one, vark.blogspot.com, is the only one anybody reads, although apparently most of my hits right now are for a picture of some cute foxes from an entry in 2005.
update: it looks like http://vark.smackjeeves.com/comics/ might work for what i'm trying to do. One drawback: there are already 10,000 other webcomics there, kinda makes me feel insignificant. Not that I'm not, I just don't like facing it.

Well, so much for the slashdot effect. I thought that getting a story posted to slashdot, with the first link a link to this page, would draw some readers, but 50 hits yesterday, about average.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Wil points to a list of 17 free online grafic novels including warren ellis, y, and a sandman.

Mercury has been copyrighted.

Welcome slashdot readers.
# 2008-01-20 18:03:29 Mercury probe photos dark side (Index,NASA) (accepted)
It says my story was accepted, although I don't see it on the main page yet.
Ok, it took some time for Zonk to re-edit it:

arbitraryaardvark (845916)
(no real name given)
shown as gtbearNO@SPAMgmail.com
Karma: Excellent
Related Links

Messenger Probe Sends Back Mercury Photos
Posted by Zonk on Sunday January 20, @06:39PM
from the been-a-while-since-we-were-there dept.
NASA Space Science
arbitraryaardvark writes "NASA's Messenger probe flew past Mercury at a distance of 125 miles. The spacecraft took hundreds of pictures during the pass, updating photos from the now 30-year-old Mariner mission. According to an article at the International Business Times, the probe will eventually settle into orbit around Mercury in 2011. 'The images obtained by the $446 million MESSENGER mission (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) this week contain some of those unexplored areas. One image released Saturday was taken after Messenger made its closest approach to Mercury last week. In the photos released this week, scientists have observed unexplored cratered areas of the planet. On Monday, Messenger made its closest approach to Mercury yet, aiming for new discoveries. Among its goals is to discover if Mercury has ice water in its polar craters and to complete the mapping of the whole planet.' Meanwhile here on Earth, a joint EU/Japan probe with an ion drive is set to head towards Mercury sometime in 2013."

ScienceDaily (Jan. 19, 2008) — As MESSENGER flew by the planet, it missed its targeted aim point by only 8.25 kilometers (5.12 miles), affording the critical gravity assist needed to continue on a course to become – in 2011 – the first spacecraft ever to orbit Mercury.
during this first encounter, the payload successfully conducted a carefully orchestrated sequence of observations designed to take full advantage of the geometry of the flyby trajectory and to optimize the science return from each instrument.
In addition to images of the previously unseen portion of the planet's surface, measurements were made that will contribute to the characterization of all aspects of Mercury and its environment, from its metallic core to the far reaches of its magnetosphere.
"We have one excited Science Team,” says MESSENGER Project Manager, Peter D. Bedini, of APL, "and their enthusiasm is contagious.” The analysis of these data is just beginning, but there are already indications that new discoveries are at hand.

Been awhile since I've been to fort collins successionist type meetings.

I have long enjoyed trivia questions of the sort
"who is buried in grant's tomb?" or "in what year was the battle of new orleans, the last battle of the war of 1812?". I now have been reading a book of these, and have some new ones.
What colour are black boxes?
Where are Panama hats from?
Do marmots kill people?
Other than people and marmots, what is the most dangerous animal?
How many toes does a two-toed sloth have?
What continent has the most tigers?
Not counting humans or marmots, what african mammal kills the most people?
What's 3 times as dangerous as war?
The guillotine and champagne were invented in what country?

Marco Polo is Croatian. Croatia invented the necktie. Antonio Muecci invented the telephone or teletrophono. E pluribus unum is the motto of a Portugese football team. Billy the Kid's name was Henry McCarty. Nome Alaska is based on a misreading of "name?" James Bond's most common drink was whiskey. The log cabin is Scandanavian, imported by Finns to Delaware, where it spread to the US. Arguably the reindeer was the first domesticated animal. Rudolf the reindeer was female; the males have shed their horns by Christmastime. And so forth.

spoiler alert:

North America

This is some free software from slashdot that I should get around to looking at.

Re: Here, try this DVD (Score:1, Informative)
by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 13, @01:53PM (#22026906)
http://www.ttcsweb.org/osswin-cd/index.htm [ttcsweb.org] (The TTCS OSSWIN CD)

http://theopendisc.com/ [theopendisc.com] (replaced The OpenCD)

http://softwarefor.org/ [softwarefor.org] (Software for Starving Students)
[ Reply to This | Parent ]
update: wubi (a linux for windows app)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

3rd Amendment article from the onion.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Happy The Night of January 16th, everybody.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Notes to myself on webcomics to check out
Some that haven't been mentioned already
Pictures for Sad Children (in particular, Stevie Might be a Bear Maybe deserves special mention)
Octopus Pie
Married to the Sea http://www.marriedtothesea.com/
Ctrl-Alt-Del http://www.ctrlaltdel-online.com/
Cyanide and Happiness http://www.explosm.net/
http://www.lfgcomic.com/codex.php (licd guy somer)
nothing nice to say
dresden kodak
Gunnerkrig Court: http://www.gunnerkrigg.com/index2.php
http://www.thewebcomiclist.com < supposed to be an organizer
Can't draw raptors

Well, the text isn't very clear this way, but it's close.
I'll try one more thing to see if it gets clearer. No, that didn't help.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Teachings of Khomeni (unverified.) A reminder that islamic folkways are not like ours.

Friday, January 11, 2008

J.A. Steel...accountant by day, action hero by night

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Hillary dead, reports New York Times.

This just in - electricity consumers respond to incentives. Infoweek article shows that smart houses using time of day pricing can save 10% on one's electric bill while reducing the peak load on the system, which is what drives power plant construction and price increases.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Motion filed one minute late costs firm $1 million. Morrison & Foerster, http://www.mofo.com/ had 14 days to file a motion, but the courier got stuck behind a train.
This is the sort of thing that would happen to me.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


maybe i'll add day by day to the comic roll, or not. haven't decided.
am looking for new webcomics.

Danny's RSS tutorial. Because even a couple of years after all the cool kids started using news feeds, I still don't get it.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Mordor Jewelers is not responsible for ring getting current owner killed, nor will there be any responsibility for alteration of the owner to a gollum like appearance.
Ring may also bind to other rings in darkness. Also may find other rings and rule over them. Not responsible for types of other rings, nor of the of ruling of the afore mentioned rings.
Ring is used, and did have prior owner, the "Dark Lord" who of course sits on a "Dark Throne". Mordor Jewelers is in no way associated withe the Dark Lord or his Dark Throne.
When caring for your ring, it is suggested that you avoid places like Mordor, and melting may occur if dropped into magma in Mt. Doom. Loss of ring in this manner is not the fault of Mordor Jewelers, nor will any reimbursement be merited.
Mordor is also not at fault if husband starts ignoring you, and you feel like he doesn't even see you anymore. Last but not least, one size fits all.
Sauron, Saruman, and Smeagol Solicitors

Sunday, January 06, 2008

I'm a bit bored, feeling snowed in although it's nice out.
My usual places to go on the internet feel like ruts today, so I search a little further and run into Jacob Levy's blog.
I think he used to be a Volokh conspirator, and was a mentor of Will Baude, who is now soon running the Supreme Court. I "met" Levy on a mailing list in 1993 when I first got on the internet. He was a libertarian and a scholar and had a wry sense of humor I liked. I have gravitated to that sort of thing online; other people find different things on the net, but all of them can find stuff to suit their own tastes.

Saturday, January 05, 2008
note to self for further study:
Outlying territories of European countries
Territories under European sovereignty but closer to or on continents other than Europe (see inclusion criteria for further information)
Denmark Greenland

Clipperton Island · French Guiana · French Polynesia · French Southern and Antarctic Lands (Amsterdam • Saint-Paul • Crozet • Kerguelen • Adélie Land1 • Scattered islands in the Indian Ocean: Bassas da India • Europa Island • Glorioso Islands • Juan de Nova Island • Tromelin Island) · Guadeloupe · Martinique · Mayotte · New Caledonia · Réunion · Saint Barthélemy · Saint Martin · Saint Pierre and Miquelon · Wallis and Futuna
Italy Pantelleria · Pelagie Islands (Lampedusa • Lampione • Linosa)
Netherlands Aruba · Netherlands Antilles (Bonaire • Curaçao • Saba • Sint Maarten • Sint Eustatius)
Norway Bouvet Island · Peter I Island1 · Queen Maud Land1
Portugal Azores Islands · Madeira Islands
Russia Khabomai · Ratmanov Island · Shikotan
Spain Canary Islands · Ceuta · Isla de Alborán · Isla Perejil · Islas Chafarinas · Melilla · Peñón de Alhucemas · Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera
United Kingdom
Anguilla · Ascension Island · Bermuda · British Virgin Islands · Cayman Islands · Falkland Islands · Montserrat · Saint Helena · Tristan da Cunha · Turks and Caicos Islands · British Antarctic Territory1 · British Indian Ocean Territory · Pitcairn Islands · South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Wanted: 1 recipe for American pie.

Via Instapundit, the Atlantic writes about Cary Grant. Speaking of instapundits, I'm off to Knoxville for a couple of days, prospecting for gold, or looking for a gig.
There's a line in the article: His Girl Friday (America’s Rules of the Game—if our civilization vanished tomorrow, nearly all of its best and most distinctive aspects could be reconstructed from the slangy, sassy grace of this film’s dialogue); The Philadelphia Story which makes me want to find out what is this "Rules of the Game"? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rules_of_the_Game
North by Northwest isn’t a film about what happens to Cary Grant, it’s about what happens to his suit”

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

NYT: Excessive clutter and disorganization are often symptoms of a bigger health problem. People who have suffered an emotional trauma or a brain injury often find housecleaning an insurmountable task. Attention deficit disorder, depression, chronic pain and grief can prevent people from getting organized or lead to a buildup of clutter. At its most extreme, chronic disorganization is called hoarding, a condition many experts believe is a mental illness in its own right, although psychiatrists have yet to formally recognize it.

Compulsive hoarding is defined, in part, by clutter that so overtakes living, dining and sleeping spaces that it harms the person’s quality of life. A compulsive hoarder finds it impossible, even painful, to part with possessions. It’s not clear how many people suffer from compulsive hoarding, but estimates start at about 1.5 million Americans.

If I were to start the New Year with a resolution to clean my office, my kitchen,
and the boxes in the basement, I probably wouldn't end up keeping it very well, so I haven't. As usual, my resolutions are to drink more and spend more time chasing loose women - that way I won't be too upset if I fail again.
Which reminds me I need to go move two file cabinets.
Another part of the article. flylady.net, an organizational support page.

Louis, son of Wolf, nyt obit. Won the triple crown, made millions starting from his father's scrap yard, active in prison reform, was key in the resignation of Abe Fortas. Fortas was the lawyer who defended LBJ's stolen election to the senate, was named to the Supreme Court, was nominated for Chief Justice, but resigned in disgrace, partly for taking money from Wolfson.

Rich white guys explain how everything is getting better:
Marginal Revolutions:Here is what I have so far:
1. Myths of Rich and Poor, by Cox and Alm
2. The Progress Paradox, by Easterbrook
3. It’s Getting Better all the Time, By Moore and Simon
4. The Improving State of the World, by Goklany
5. The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death, by Fogel
6. The Skeptical Environmentalist by Lomborg
7. The State of Humanity, by Simon

Don't get me wrong; I agree things are getting better, I just don't know if these books are persuasive to the doom and gloom crowd.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

It's 2008. If my calculations are correct, by 2012 we should be seeing significant pre-singularity effects, in areas such as ubiquitous computing, weak AI, genetic engineering, private sector space race, booming economic development, sweeping social changes driven by technology.
Circa 1983, when I first ran into these ideas, the predictions were that the important trends would be life extension, nanotechnology, AI, neutropics, space, and markets in everything. This, so far, is not batting 1000 but has the general idea.

Buffalo buffaloes unindentified buffalo man, 75.

Text of Wodehouse Psmith in the city. Mike and Psmith. Somebody was describing Hillary as a Wodehouse character, and I wanted to quote Psmith's version of socialism, but I couldn't find it.

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