It's like Mardi Gras meets the bombing of Dresden...
Friday, June 30, 2006
One Last Post for the Tally

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Thursday, June 29, 2006
"The Bottomless Well"- Alternate Title "Yes America Really is Better Than the World"
Every once in a while a book comes along that makes you feel happy and optimistic and smug all at the same time. Generally, these books consist mainly of pictures of midgets using comically oversized tools, but occasionally the book will instead be shedding light on the energy issue at the forefront of American politics. One such book would be The Bottomless Well: The Twilight of Fuel, The Virtue of Waste, and Why We Will Never Run out of Energy. I'm not going to lie, the book rocked my face clean off, and then riverdanced all over my exposed skull.

What fuels Michael Flatley? Enriched uranium, and power bars.

The bulk of the book organizes itself around seven key topics, or as the authors describe them- "The Seven Great Energy Heresies." I found this to be slightly humorous, since the proper thing to do with heretics is to burn them, much like fuel. Anyway-
  1. The cost of energy as we use it has less and less to do with the cost of fuel- If you're running a wood stove, the cost of your fuel is basically the wood. If you're like Charles and running a Civic, the cost of your fuel is compounded by all the additional mining, refining, and taxes that go on top.
  2. "Waste" is virtuous- This doesn't mean it's okay to leave the lights on, it means that most of the energy we use is used up making energy usable. Only a few percentage points of the total energy mined, drilled, pumped, or burned ever ends up turning the wheels on your car, or heating up your toaster- the rest goes back into satisfying the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Sure you can try to make things more efficient, but it won't lower the total amount of energy used because...
  3. The more efficient our technologies, the more energy we consume- light bulbs don't convert enough energy to light, so we make LED's (more efficient!), but then a strange thing happens- we put LED's into a host of things we never put lightbulbs in. Individual power consumption- down, total power consumption- up. Think 2 million PS2's vs. 1 Eniac. The only way to conserve power is to make things less efficient, not more.
  4. Competitive advantage in manufacturing is now swinging back to the good old US of A- We're in the midst of a third industrial revolution- the first was steam power, the second was internal combustion and electricity, and now the third is solid-state devices. I'd explain more, but the shit's complicated, so buy the freaking book.
  5. Human Demand for Energy is insatiable- energy lets us do more things, faster and better. Things can always be done faster and better, and I want to do them that way now.
  6. The raw fuels are not running out- As fast as we use it, we just find more. We used to dig 100 ft oil wells, then mile deep wells- now we drill through four miles of rock, two miles below the ocean, and then another six miles horizontally, all for less than a sixty-foot well cost a century ago. Humanity currently uses around 350 quads of energy a year, global coal deposits hold at least 200,000 more quads, oil shale deposits another ten million quads, and the sea 10 trillion quads of power in the form of deuterium- which we will eventually know how to use. Granted- Charles has some valid criticisms about how we extract the energy, and hopefully he'll explain them in the comments.
  7. America's relentless pursuit of high grade energy does not add chaos to the global environment, it restores order- Wondering why I felt smug? Here's why- America adds no net carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, we're actually a carbon sink thanks to reforestation. We plant 3 million acres of trees a year, we add lumber quality trees 30% faster than we harvest them- to quote the authors, "For the first time in history, a Western nation has halted, the reversed, the decline of its woodlands. Within a generation, if current trends continue, America could return to levels of forestation last seen by the Pilgrims." So when Charles starts complaining that it's unfair we use so much more energy than the rest of the world- that's why, because we're so much more responsible and totally sweeter. Suck on that Europe, you carbonerous bastards.
Anyway, you should totally go out and buy this book before you start making statements like, "I wish more people drove hybrids", or "Let's start our own Luddite club at school. And I said buy, not thumb through at Border's like Charles.
Monday, June 26, 2006
Critical Mass, Income Inequality, and Bacon
As I noted in an earlier blog post, I am working my way through Critical Mass: How One Thing Leads to Another and here is the post I promised.

Critical Mass weaves its way through a host of diverse topics, from traffic to economics to networks to counterfactual history to reciprocity and social interactions, the whole time drawing analogies to topics in physics such as magnets, gas particles, and energy landscapes. It starts off slow, but really picks up about halfway through, and then kicks ass all the way to the end.

Coincidentally, Critical Mass also backs up a point I made earlier while discussing wage issues over an apple martini at Lenin's Sexual Utopia. I stated that income inequality is unfortunate, but may possibly be inherent in the system (sweet capitalist America) and consequently, impossible to change. Critical Mass points out that Pareto distributions (the power-law probability distribution commonly used to describe income inequality, i.e. the "80-20 rule") holds back as far as the 14th century B.C. in ancient Egypt (inferred from house sizes in the ruins of Akhetaten). Furthermore, these income distributions arise in artificially simulated environments, such as Sugarscape- a torus-shaped world where rules allow the simulated agents to fight, trade, collaborate, pass on cultural traits and reproduce. As a result, I'm willing to consider inequality inherent to any trading society.

Granted, the argument is no longer seems to be whether or not inequality should exist, but rather, how disproportionate means lead to unequal representation in democratic governments- which is a legitimate problem that I have no solution for. However, the score for the first part is Jackscolon:1, Charles: well, 1- he never really said I was wrong. So I win.

Anyway, Bacon numbers also come up briefly in Critical Mass in the section on networks. Since EAP practically made out with him in some Syracuse airport, I guess that would give me a Bacon number of 2. Sweet.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Jurassic Park
The original Jurassic Park was on AMC last night, and I watched it. While the body count isn't as high as Jurassic Park 2, and the Velociraptors aren't speaking fluent Velociraptorese, building helicopters, and curing cancer like Jurassic Park 3- it's still an entirely enjoyable movie...

... until you read this. and this. and this. I became aware that instead of fearsome, scaly, death machines, dinosaurs may have been fuzzy, emasculated, wuss machines while catching some blurb on the Discovery Channel, and it ruined my day. I then emailed noted dinosaur afficiando J. Morgan with this unfortunate discovery, and he responded with this- "You have ruined my life! Feathers? What the hell is that?" Exactly. What the hell is that? I don't care if dinosaurs weren't reptilian and fearsome, we shouldn't change them into something so totally bogus as early birds just to satisfy a few egghead paleontologists. I say we should screw the truth, and other than the fact that part of childhood is being scared/oddly fascinated with pre-history, here's why-

Raptors with feathers aren't dinosaurs. They're ostriches.

Scared of ostriches? Yeah, me neither.
US Soccer Sucks
Thankfully, the US team is finally eliminated so I can stop acting like I'm rooting for them. I watched most of the three games, and with the exception of the second half of the US-Italy game, they suck. All the good touches that you see world class teams make are just massacred by the mongoloids playing for us. However, to lesson the blow of losing to Ghana, I made this joke.

Q: What's better than beating the US team to advance in the World Cup?
A: Not having to go back to Ghana.

Sure that joke is in bad taste, at least I saved a turtle the other day.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Turtle Story
Does the fact that I stopped my truck and blocked traffic the other day to carry a turtle from one side of the road to the other make me a hippy? and does the fact that I named him Alcibades make me a nerd?

Anyway, I told my boss I'm quitting my job, kind of. Even though I'm on salary, and work like thirty hours a week, and get basically unlimited days off, I think it's time for me to move on. Everything I'm going to do or learn at this job has already been done, and I'm tired of being underemployed. I realized that the other day when I was tagging merchandise and realized a monkey could be trained to replace me in a matter of hours. I actually told him that I was going to start looking for other things to do, and that I was most definately gone sometime this fall. The great part about the golf industry is that he is totally cool with it, and is going to start talking to people he knows to line me up something sweet. Things that may be on the horizon include:

1) The Broadmoor (unless I have to shave my goatee, in which case I wouldn't go)
2) Inverness Golf Club
3) Jackson Hole
4) Southern Hills Plantation
5) Driving a motorhome for a PGA player, and maybe caddying
6) Teaming up with a golf course architect as business manager to create a golf course design company (possible web design coming your way there Redness)
7) Something totally sweet that I don't even know of yet, I'm calling in the network from Michigan to Florida to California to see what is available
8) Maybe something outside of the golf industry, especially if I get to wear a tie.

Anyway, I really just wanted to post the story about me saving the turtle, but I couldn't figure out how to make it long enough to be its own post.
Monday, June 19, 2006
This is a turntable, regardless of the fact that there is only one and no microphone is visible.

The interesting thing about a turntable is that it can point in any direction, yet has no preference for any. In a sense, you could say it points in no direction. Thus, the turntable is oddly analogous to my life.
Friday, June 16, 2006
NR Goes Too Far
I was looking through the National Review today, trying to find an article to tell me what to think about the recent Supreme Court decision that cops can now enter your house to execute a search without knocking. (I'm against the decision, although not as vehemently as I was after reading this, it's in there under Re: To Knock or not to Knock), when I stumbled across this article by David Finnigan indiciting a "crass lefty comedy tour".

Not only is this material not worthy of being published anywhere (comics making fun of the Bush administration? You're kidding!), but Finnigan goes too far in dredging up material. "San Francisco comedian Will Durst mocked California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Austrian accent. Would they have done that to a Hispanic?"

Probably taking a dump that is just slightly larger than normal.

Ummm... Earth to David Finnigan, this isn't racially motivated, it's motivated by years and years of movies made unintentionally funny by Gov. Schwarzenegger. If a Mexican bodybuilder came to America, made a bunch of B-grade movies, and ended up the Republican governor of the world's fifth largest economy, then yes, they would have done that to a Hispanic, probably using a cheesy Speedy Gonzalez voice.

Either David Finnigan is grasping at straws trying to come up with something in his polemic against bad, liberal comedians, or he missed the last ten years of Arnold prankcalls using internet soundboards (including a two week run by Clay Barron back at the Grove), Hans and Frans, and the classic Mad TV Clone Baby skit. I think it's the first. If I wanted to read crap like this I start hitting up The New Republic.

David Finnigan! You're not pumped up enough to write real articles!
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Near Death Experiences
I almost died yesterday. I walked outside of the golf shop as the remnants of Hurricane Alberto were rolling though, and a huge piece off a dead tree fell and hit the pavement a few feet behind me. It was at least sixty pounds, and it took a chuck out of pavement where it fell. Just kidding, the pavement was fine, but it seriously could have taken a huge chunk out of my noggin or possibly melted right through my esophagus. However, it was accompanied by a loud cracking, so I did see it before it fell, and could have moved out of the way had it been directly over me. So, instead of a near death experience and seeing my life flash before my eyes, I remembered an episode of Deadliest Catch where one of the fisherman was struck by a piece of ice falling off the tower. How's that for anti-climactic?

In other news, I spent all morning roto-tilling and planting flowers and shrubs for $30 an hour. It looked like this, only instead of tangled and random it was professional and neat- plus, my arms feel like they're made out of butter.

Monday, June 12, 2006
One Horse- Evil, Two Hoi(?)- Eviler
When I was quite a bit younger, a man once told me never to date a girl who rode horses, saying that a shifting saddle sets an impossibly high standard of, *cough* manliness that I could never hope to match. I used to think that was what caused me to hate horses, but I recently found out that I was mistaken. I hate horses because they are unquestionably evil, not to mention stupid looking. (A body that big on legs that fragile? More evidence for evolution, unless God just quit caring after he realized he could make this)

Anyway, I was crashing at a house my friend was house-sitting, playing poker online, watching the World Cup on the big screen, and working my way through free microwave dinners, blackberry yogurt, beer and Jager-bombs (a couple deep at the moment, a few more deep later) when I made the second bad decision of the day (the first was reraising some douche with 7-7 out of position). Since it was the responsibility of my buddy to feed the horses, I decided that I would try to do him a solid by taking care of this while he was at work. The first hint that this was a bad decision came when I walked out of the house towards the barn and both horses looked something like this--with the exception that I'm pretty sure one was breathing fire through his yellow/green Julia Roberts' (i.e. horse teeth) and the other was thinking about kicking me in the crotch, most likely with the intent of widening the gap of lady-pleasing that existed between us.

However, with the exception of listening to rap music, and the engineering program at GCC, I haven't quit anything in my life, and I wasn't going to start now. So I walked outside and in to the barn, grabbed a few carrots, and walked back outside. The actual feeding was relatively uneventful, so I decided to cut back to the house through the actual horse pasture, making the third (and most costly) mistake of the day. The horses, sensing an opportunity to spread death and destruction (the fact that they are harbingers of the apocolypse is NOT coincidental), started to chase me across the pasture at a slow walk, realizing that a trot or canter would most likely cause me to run and jump the fence, ruining their evil plans. I suspected that evil was afoot, but I fought the urge to kick them both in the knees and break their legs, since I can't afford to replace them, and because I'm opposed to hurting animals physically, although I will verbally harass them from time to time. Anyway, the horses started battering me with their lumpy, disproportioned heads in an attempt to get at the carrots which no longer existed in my pockets, creating a scene eerily similar to Jurassic Park.

I raised my hands to protect myself, and the horses, thinking I was seconds away from casting a light ball of purity a la Gandalf in The Return of the King, freaked out and raised up on two legs, most likely in an attempt to stomp me with their hooves of evil. I also freaked out, screamed, and ran across the pasture, hurdling chunks of horse poop and wishing there were children present that I could push in front of the horses to slow them down. There weren't, but I promised God that if he let me out alive, I'd write a blog post chronicling the evil of horses and warning the rest of you. So, since I'm still alive, here you go.
Sunday, June 11, 2006
World Cup Sweetness
So far, I've probably watched about half of each game televised during the 2006 World Cup, and I'm enthralled. Here's why-
  • No commericals- sports are so much more entertaining when the action is continuous. The same goes for stoppages of play, I struggle watching entire games of football or basketball because when action is most intense (end of close games), the progress of the game nearly stops, as timeouts and car insurance commercials destroy any interest I had.
  • Super Ethnic Teams- I enjoy watching a Dutch team full of Van Der Vaarts as much as I like watching a Mexican team with Sanchez's and Garcia's, or a German team full of David Hasselhoff clones. This could possibly be the number one reason I care so little about American soccer. Stupid diversity.
  • Intriguing matchups- Is there anyone out there who wouldn't be interested in a possible US-Iran game? I doubt it...
  • Close games- A majority of the games are decided by a one goal differential, which is far superior to previous international matchups in other sports...
  • Ronaldinho, Rooney, Henry, Robben, Reyna, Ronaldo, Beckham...
Friday, June 09, 2006
Marisa Miller- RSFW! (Reasonably Safe for Work)
In response to this comment by Mair- "Marissa Miller is completely un-hot. She looks like a fakey-fake (isn't that a move in snowboarding??) There is nothing interesting about her. She has a boring face. Her hair is the exact same color as her skin. On a scale of 1 to really hot, she gets about a 1." - I'm proposing a close examination of the evidence. Let's proceed...

...verdict? On a scale of 1 to really hot, she makes Gisele Bundchen about as attractive as a manitee swimming in a tub of butter, or something, I don't know, but seriously, she's really freaking hot. As for "nothing interesting about her", I propose examining the boobies.

By the way, to rank as a "1" on the hotness scale, she'd have to be less attractive than this.

Tiger. Federer. Ronaldinho?
Until inspiration strikes, it looks like you're all stuck getting compilation posts.
  • I'm borderline excited about the World Cup. To get ready, I've been watching all kinds of soccer, excuse me, football highlights (the U2 in the background made me throw up a little in my mouth) over at Google Video, including this one featuring Ronaldinho. Watch it, it is totally amazing, and the best part is that the guys in the background don't pay any attention- Ronaldinho does this stuff all the time. He's incredibly good. So good that I would rank him as high as Tiger or Roger Federer as being totally dominant in his sport.
  • I started reading a few pages of A History of God by Karen Armstrong. I really can't see myself getting much farther though, I can only handle so much of "according to one theory", "scholars maintain", "it is highly likely", "there is a good chance", "two out of every thousand people believe" (ok, I made that last one up)- the whole thing has the sweet stench of unsubstantiated conjecture, or is at least just way to open to the possibility of me making up my own mind as to what I want to believe in it. Give me Richard Dawkins saying, "All real scientists believe in evolution, the other ones get their pants pulled down and are spanked with moon rocks" anyday. I crave definitivity.
  • The stock market has totally collapsed over the last few weeks, and I'm pumped. I'm finally making money, and I can start accumulating great companies at bargain prices. Sure, I've got some large unrealized losses at the moment, but I won't forever- Mr. Softie (MSFT) at $22 a share? Count me in.
  • "Think you're illin? I got $50 billion!" Bill Gates serves Jay-Z.
  • I just found out Subway has a 3 footlong subs for $11.99 deal after 4 PM. Packing lunch for the week just got a whole lot easier. Hello Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Why I Don't Have Anything to Post About
I know I've been a bit lax about posting, even though I have lots of free time here at work. Here are my excuses-
  • I don't watch the news, read the news, pay attention to news, or really care about the news. Hence, no political posts. I don't care what Bush's approval rating is, I don't care how stupid the democrats are, I'm just kind of sick of politics in general. Let me know when something happens that isn't A) Iraq B) Immigration C) Partisan Bickering or D) Political Opportunism.
  • I've come to terms with postmodernism, haven't been reading anything deep and thought provoking, or had any enlightening conversations. Hence, no philosophical posts. I am, but I don't think- I just go play golf, and sleep out by my pool.
  • I don't have the internet at my house. Hence, I can't write posts about movies or watching tv shows like Nip/Tuck or Iron Chef America (no scallion souffles yet). Both of which are totally sweet, even if all the major plotlines are resolved within two episodes on Nip/Tuck and even if I've never seen any of the ingredients on Iron Chef America at a real grocery store. However, I have been getting interested in cooking, and I'd totally start making some sweet food, except Tuna Helper and freezer burritos are way cheaper than tenderloin and quail eggs.
  • I've been doing some GPTP (crap I need to get my Class A PGA card), watching episodes of the Simpsons and Seinfeld at work, and actually working at work... well, the first two of those are correct. How bored am I? I've been browing eBay for contemporary art, and I'm not even interested in buying, or sure of what I'm looking at.
So, that's that. Boring, but at least it wasn't about dresses.