For only $99,000,000 on eBay

eBay item 2568084521 (Ends Nov-04-03 20:52:56 PST) – Pulsed Plasma Mobile Hydrogen Generator

What do you get when a particle accelerator is coupled with electric motor technology?

Something that doesn’t exactly behave like either stand-alone technology.

This is part of what you get!

The Highest Efficiency Plasma Generation system “known to man.”
1 – Produces a plasma skin temperature of over 11,000 degrees F
2 – Production of High Energy Plasma for Industrial Processing
3 – Cracks pure hydrogen effortlessly from petroleum products
4 – Neutralizes toxic Waste
5 – Sanitizes anything that touches it
6 – Produces multiple high energy artifacts
7 – Possible Zero Point Energy Radiation from Plasma
8 – Primary target use for this High Energy Plasma is Fusion
9 – Unlimited Plasma/Chemical reactions are possible with this system

A Little Game

September 12th. A Toy World.
Not a game, really, a simulation.
You’re given a missile launcher and a small Arab town.
The bad guys look a little bit different than the ordinary civilians, women & children, at least from your vantage point.
Your “mission” is to shoot the baddies while limiting the collateral damage to innocent civilians.
The only problem is, when you *do* kill civilians, other civilians see it – they come over to the body, pray, moan and wail – and some of them become bad guys. No matter how careful you are, you just wind up making more and more bad guys. After a while, you get frustrated and want to just kill them all.

There are no points, no winning and the game doesn’t ever end.

(Thanks, Antonis!)

Solar Flare Headed this way

(For some great pictures of the solar flare, take a look here.)
Basically, the sun has blasted a huge amount of magnetic plasma at the Earth – the bulk of which will start hitting around 9:00 PM (0:00UTC)
Slashdot has a pretty good discussion on the event and what it could mean. Oh, it’s not harmful to people, just electrical stuff.

One good thing, though, is that the Norther Lights or Aurora Borealis will be visible from much further south. I should ask my brother in Colorado to look for them…

Slashdot | X17 Solar Flare Sends 2B Tons of Plasma at Earth

The Sun today unleashed what appears to be the third most powerful flare in recorded history, a storm of charged particles that could hit Earth mid-day Wednesday with more effect than any since 1989, when an entire Canadian province had its power knocked out.

Depending on the storm’s magnetic orientation, it could set off a dramatic display of colorful northern lights well into mid-latitudes of the United States and Europe.

Meanwhile, satellite operators and power grid managers are preparing to endure a potentially damaging event. And astronauts aboard the International Space Station have taken cover from heavier radiation sent out by the flare. They are not expected to be in any serious danger.

Kicked up at 6 a.m. EST (1100 UT) today, the major solar outburst comes on the heels of four other flares late last week and over the weekend. All were considered fairly severe, but the latest eruption makes the others seem like solar sneezes.

Today’s blast is classified as an X17, where X denotes a major flare and larger numbers are stronger. That compares to two flare-ups over the weekend that were rated less than X2.

“The flare today may be the third strongest X-flare on record,” said Paal Brekke, deputy project scientist for the SOHO spacecraft, which first spotted the event.

A slightly stronger flare on April 2, 2001 was not pointed at Earth. Today’s storm is headed directly at us and could generate fantastic colorful lights in the atmosphere, known as aurora. The storm associated with the flare is called a coronal mass ejection, an expanding bubble of charged particles that race outward.


In an amazing and unprecedented development this morning, the new washer arrived!
OK, not so interesting. I was getting ready for work this morning when the workmen arrived to install the new washer, which replaced the last one which died. Still, it was kind of interesting – the “Sensei” (Teacher or Doctor) as the landlady referred to him arrived with an assistant. They came in and took off their shoes, laid out blankets and towels all over the work area and got to work.
Way more formal than I ever saw in the US.
Since it’s an American washer, all the labels and settings are in English, so the Sensei went over each one and explained to me that “Cold” means “Tsumetai” and “Hot” means “Atsui”. The instruction lasted a good five minutes and I felt like there might be a quiz at the end, so I tried to pay good attention…
Adriaan was online at the time and advised me that I should offer coffee, but that they would probably refuse. Still, I should offer. I did and sure enough, they didn’t…

The landlady, Mrs. Ono, stopped down as well and after giving me a short lecture on the evils of dust between the louvers of the closet door, got curious about how I am able to work from home. I showed her the chat I had online with Adriaan and the several terminal windows I had open, but I doubt she really understood any of it. Pity no one had their iChat camera going – that would have been easier to explain.

I like working at home like that sometimes – I wind up working a lot earlier, but since I don’t have to shower or shave, it’s less of a pain.

More Airport Fun

Got an email from my friend Antonis, a Greek guy living in Japan. He has to travel to the United States frequently for business and this was from his latest trip. He’s agreed to let me repost it.

Has this become so common as to not be noteworthy?

Anyway, here is what happened to me, when checking-in at Seattle for a
flight to New York:
Somehow, whenever my destination is New York I get a special
check-treatment, even after taking off all the metal I possess and walking
through the metal detector without a “beep.” So, I did the stupid mistake to
ask a “security” guy why I have a body check, even though the metal detector
says I am clean. First he explained to me that if my boarding pass has an
SSSS mark on it, I have been randomly chosen for a special check. “You know
why we do this checks?”, he said. “To prevent us from attacking other
countries.” I didn’t reply anything to that, nor to his comments on my
laptop, but this didn’t stop him from going on. I couldn’t believe the
things I heard.
He said:
“These checks prevent us from attacking other countries. You know why? Cause
if somebody tries to do to us what they did before, we will attack their
country. So to prevent that we need these checks. But this time we won’t
just attack them, we’ll nuke them. Cause we are the only country with
experience with nukes. Ask the japanese, they know,” he said with a proud
smile. “Twice in two days!”
I thought this is a hidden camera joke. I don’t remember exactly why, but
the guy actually said “everything here is filmed, smile up there” and he
pointed the security camera over my head. Unfortunately it was just filmed,
sound was not recorded. Or maybe it was recorded, but nobody cares. After
all, who hired that guy as a security guy?

Anyway. Traveling to the states is not easy. You have to be very patient and
be ready for anything, anytime.

I need an editor

Between the blog spammers and the people who wander in from Google and post absolute crap, I’m getting more junk posts than real ones.

It’s tempting to just shut down the site, or to at least turn off comments.
For now, I’m closing comments on some older posts that are attracting morons. If you really want to comment on an old post, mail me and let me know – I’ll revive the topic.
(I’m also no longer allowing anonymous posts, but I doubt that will make a difference, since there is no way to verify what you they put in.)

Maybe what I’d like is the option of having registered users, I guess, or at least an email confirmation for unknown users. I don’t know – I’ve looked a lot at the blog spam issus and I haven’t yet seen anything that I’m confortable with or confident in. (Yes, I’ve heard of the popular anti-spam plugins. When I see one I like, I may actually plug it in…)

You may never have seen blog spam here, because hardly an hour goes by that I don’t weed out the crap – hopefully before the Googlebot sweeps by and indexes the site. You see, a good percentage of the spammers are advertising porn or adult services. If Google finds links to those kinds of sites, this site will get classified as an adult site and SafeSurf will hide my site from the bulk of its users. I run a pretty PG-rated site, so that’s really not what I want.

So yes, I guess it’s come down to this – if I don’t like your post, I’m going to delete it. If you think it’s unfair, write me – I’ll open up the topic to discussion.
(If you’re reading this, there is virtually no chance that I’ll ever delete a post of yours, though…)

It’s either that, or I pull the plug and go back to a one-way dialogue and I really think the site would suffer. (Or I quit doing this because it’s become un-fun.)

This all OK with you guys?

Writing to groups of five

(An early draft of this was posted last night by mistake, so I took it down and finished it up a bit…)

When Yuka and I were deciding what to do Sunday morning and seeing who was around, we thought of seeing Tod & Kristen, but rather than picking up the phone, (as we didn’t have their number anyway,) we got on IRC (Internet Relay Chat) where Tod runs a private server and a channel for them and their friends to come visit.
It functions as a kind of living room, not for everyone, just invited friends.
Joi also runs one, a much more public channel on FreeNode, where people hang out and chat all the time.

I wonder if these little private spaces will become more and more common. It seems a kind of natural extension to the whole blog thing where people are creating these little microcosms of their public personality. Email is of course, becoming a last-ditch medium of communication. After all, how can you be sure that your message will actually reach the person and not get tossed out with the dirty bathwater of spam that most people seem to get these days?

Thinking about this, I got to thinking about weblogs and their role in the writer’s life. This is where what we do differs from Journalism. Journalists do what they do to have people read what they write. A successful Journalistic publication is one that is widely read and influential – the goal, money aside, is to have as many people as possible read their words.

For this reason, people looking at blogging tend to focus on the big players, or the “Alpha Bloggers” as I call them. Those, being the most widely read, must be the best, right? I don’t necessarily think so.

It’s the little blogs, the ones with an audience of just a few people, that are going to define this medium.

These blogs are conversations. They address a very limited audience in a very familiar fashion. They tend to be on a first name basis. They talk about trivial, often uninteresting (to an outsider) topics.
Maybe that’s ultimately where blogs will make the biggest difference – microscale audiences. Personal conversations, not pronouncements.

So given that thought, why do the big-name blogs work? They drop all pretentiousness and speak directly to with their audiences. They maintain a sense of intimacy with the readers, often by adding the little mundane details of daily life. Stuff that can’t be faked.

Franklin Roosevelt knew that a dialogue with the people was important, opening one with the public in the form of his Fireside Chats. Groundbreaking as they were, they still had the tone of a father speaking to his children. It was a one-way dialogue, firm, yet kind. His wife Eleanor, on the other hand, was able to convey a sense of conversation and intimacy in her daily column My Day.

Boston’s infamously-corrupt and colorful mayor James Michael Curley knew the power of these dialogues as well. I never understood how such an obviously criminal man was able to remain one of the most popular leaders of the 20th century – until, that is, I had the opportunity to listen to some of his radio addresses. They were warm and familiar, delivered in a voice that could have been one of the older Barrymores, kind, fatherly and sincere, yet humble in their tone. After hearing them, I realized that had I been in Boston when he was running for office, I probably would have voted for him a few times too.

Listening to Curley, or reading Mrs. Roosevelt’s column, you get the feeling that you are part of an audience of perhaps five people. Intimate..

I think this is what works best for blogs as well, an audience of five, whether that number is actual or perceived.

The Japan expat bloggers are some of the best in the world, in my opinion, because they are familiar with this style of writing. Many of us were writing emails to small groups of family members and friends back home in groups of five or ten, describing the odd happenings of daily life as a stranger in a strange land. A trip to the market becomes something to write home about. A trip to Akihabara that results in a new digital camera adds images to this dialogue. A bit of web space makes it public and some blogging software makes it interactive.

Yet it’s that original bit of writing that is the heart, not the technology. Not the number of readers, not your rankings on the blog popularity charts. It’s the writing.

Someone trying to compare Journalism to blogging will probably not see this, after all, a blog with five readers cannot possibly be a success, can it? Blogging and Journalism are starting to bump elbows and step on eachother’s toes. There are journalists who blog and bloggers who report news, but the overlap is insignificant, (though not unimportant,) in its scope.

Yet in my opinion, it’s the blogs that speak to with their readers in groups of five that are the true successes, no matter how many readers they actually have.