Mike Beversluis

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mind controlled prosthetic arm


That's kinda cool: Mind controlled prosthetic arm.

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Apropos of nothing

Is it Better to Buy or Rent? NYTimes java applet.

I'm not sure if they include the opportunity cost of the money you spend vs, nominally, investing. Either way, it's very much a no-go in DC right now. ($400k for a 1000 sq foot house in Arlington). Unless my illegitimate kids finally track me down and I need extra basement space, I'll be renting my cardboard box for awhile.

(And yet... the house down the block just went up for sale. Should I put in a bid? When it doubles in two years, I'll be rich!)

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Q's of the D

"There are two kinds of people in the world, those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don't."
Robert Benchley

"Love is an exploding cigar we willingly smoke."
Lynda Barry

"When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading."
Henny Youngman

"No matter how cynical you get, it is impossible to keep up."
Lily Tomlin

"Some things have to be believed to be seen."
Ralph Hodgson

"Punctuality is the virtue of the bored."
Evelyn Waugh

"Another unsettling element in modern art is that common symptom of immaturity, the dread of doing what has been done before."
Edith Wharton

"A hypocrite is a person who--but who isn't?"
Don Marquis

"I was going to buy a copy of The Power of Positive Thinking, and then I thought: What the hell good would that do?"
Ronnie Shakes

"Misquotations are the only quotations that are never misquoted."
Hesketh Pearson

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Oh man, it's funny cause it's true

Stupidest criminals ever.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy Memorial Day


Thanks to those who served.

Many sins are their own punishements

How Green Is the College? Time the Showers

Oberlin’s president, Marvin Krislov, dropped by with his young daughter a few weeks ago for burgers and grilled corn. Offering the ritual tour, the students demonstrated how they caught their shower and sink water in buckets and reused it to flush their low-flow toilet, a budget model improvised with a couple of salvaged bricks in the tank.

“He was using us to chastise his daughter for leaving lights on and the water running,” Mr. Brown said.

The bathroom is the showstopper on the tour. Besides the hourglass timer — Mr. Brown pointed out that it was called a shower coach and cost $3 online — the shower’s energy-saving motivational accessories include a picture of former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina plastered to the ceiling.

That was Ms. Bob-Waksberg’s idea. No one wants to linger in the shower with someone staring down from the ceiling, she said.

“You could also look at it another way,” she said, “that John Edwards is encouraging me to take a shorter shower.”

Boy, that's not all creepy at all. Also, environmentalists need to take longer, not shorter, showers.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

JC

I went to see Julius Caeser today at the Shakespeare Theater - pardon me - Theatre. Pass the Grey Poupon. It was fun, if not transcendent or anything. As you might expect, watching a play is a lot easier than just trying to read it through, so it was nice to finally see it performed. When I go back, I will always be able to associate a face and a performance with the written character.

Anyway, Happy Memorial Day. All of the Rolling Thunder bikers are in Olde Towne Alexandria, which makes for a bit of cognitive dissonance.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Yes it is

Is it me, or is I Will Possess Your Heart creepy? I'm getting a distinct Mary Jane's Last Dance vibe.

F1 and the Preakness


I don't follow F1 at all, but this is facinating: Inside the Scandal That Rocked the Formula One Racing World.

It's amazing that some of the most advanced machines in the world are built just to go around in circles really fast. That presupposes that there's something grander or more profound for them to do, but I think there is. There has to be.

Speaking of going around in a circle at tremendous expense, I went to Pimlico field last weekend for the Preakness
with a group of friends, where we saw Big Brown walk away from the field in the home strech. That was remarkable. Less remarkable was the $24 I collected on a $20 bet, but hey, I won. Unlike the S&P500. And the IRS will be duly notified. Maybe.

Much more remarkable than either of those tidbits, is that the infield, where we observed all the action from, was a madhouse. Imagine ten thousand Britney Spears Gone Wild with ten thousand Kevin Federline's and Frathouse Meatheads, drunk out of their minds, mired in a field of mud, with random fistfights and debauchery sprinkled like peanuts in a turd, and you'll get the picture. The port-a-potties were a holocaust, or rather, I wish they had been. Setting them on fire would have been an improvement. Not quite the ladies-in-sun-dresses-and-big-hats with gentlemen-in-seer-sucker-suits and drinking some sort of Maryland mint-julepps that I had in mind. Unless you're an idiot, yo, spring for the grand-stand tickets. The Bring All the Beer and Wine You Can Carry Policy should have been a tip-off.

Anyway, even if I would repeat it, it was still an interesting and informative experience. Not unlike college if you went to a party-school. And if Big Brown wins the Belmont, the story will be that I was there at the Preakness finish line. Capping the night off at Fells Point at Bertha's was a pretty nice capstone.

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You cannot out-parody reality

Not from the Onion: FTC Wants to Know What Big Brother Knows About You

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Define War and Torture

Is John Yoo a Monster?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Iron Man




So - why not use a permanent magnet instead of inventing a fusion powered electromagnet? And what's up with Gwyneth's heels? I was surprised to see her rock the stilettos and side-kick roll, but who wouldn't to play opposite Robert Downey Jr? He's dreamy. Also, my sister points out that he has a cool house.

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Wisconsin Moms

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Fort Desoto

From my recent, uh somewhat recent, trip to Florida:








It's a nice beach. And even coming from DC, where sweet tea can be found on the menus, stepping out for a week during March was very nice.

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Hauser's Law


You can't soak the rich. Generally speaking, mobility comes with wealth.

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Interesting

Avoiding a Tech Train Wreck
By James V. DeLong

The temperature of business reporting these days is raised by numerous disputes that lie at the intersection of technology and politics. Arguments over Internet network management involving telecommunications companies preoccupy the Federal Communications Commission. The European Union is pressuring several U.S. technology companies, including Microsoft, on antitrust grounds. Firms such as Qualcomm, Broadcom, and Nokia are involved in disputes over the use of patented cell phone technologies. Business writer Nicholas Carr lists entertainment, news, software, and financial companies as all having reason to cast a fearful eye on Google.

These battles may seem novel, a result of the frictions of the technological revolution worked by Moore’s Law and its progeny. In fact, while the context is new, the underlying structure of the disputes is similar to the issues that roiled American politics a century and more ago, when the great infrastructures of transportation, utilities, telecommunications, and finance were laid down.

And therein lies a cautionary lesson. The battles of that time resulted in an armistice: the creation of regulatory structures that met immediate crises, but which also failed in many ways. These failures caused significant problems of stasis, rent-seeking, political manipulation, and corruption.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

In which I'm slightly peeved at FedEx

Pardon my bleat, but last Monday morning I shipped two boxes from the FedEx Kinko's in Tukwila, Washington, to Fort Hood, Texas. My boss needed them Tuesday around noon, to make some measurements, so I shipped them Priority Express. This is the super-express level that supposedly means they will get there in the morning, but they got there around 5 pm instead.

I'm not sure what other options where there, but FedEx was unsympathetic to my suggestion that this didn't really merit the extra cost. Fortunately my boss had a plan B. Apparently he is a Boy Scout.

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Flipperons


...are little flippers that buzz around to reduce drag.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

heh

Google weighs in on The Beatles vs Jesus.

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P.J.

Fairness, idealism, and other atrocities...

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

[LMS] The counterfeiters

Die Falscher (The counterfeiters), by Stefan Ruzowitzky (Austria/Germany 2007)

Primo Levi writes in one of his books (I believe "If this is a man - survival in Auschwitz" although it could be "The truce", too) that none of those who had survived the concentration camps for more than a few months was a "standard" prisoner; each of the survivors had some special skill that could be fruitfully exchanged in the camp "market": medical doctors, artisans, people skilled in creating connections.

The protagonist of this movie, called Salomon Sorowitsch ("Solly"), stands at the top of this category of people because he has something that the Nazis themselves desire; he is a superbly gifted counterfeiter and the Nazis need just someone that could be able to co-ordinate an enormous forgery operation; they want to fabricate false American dollars and British pounds in order to put pressure on the economies of the Allied countries.

I quite liked it. The movie in particular hits the mark on the following point. According to the above cited Primo Levi (this time I recall that this is written in "If this is a man") people in the concentration camp lost every human quality except the ones on which survival hinges; but just a very few hours after the Germans left other human qualities surfaced again in the camp life, as for example the sense of fairness.

In this movie something similar happens. The protagonist, master counterfeiter, and other prisoners, all skilled printers and graphic artists, are singled out to be part of the Nazi forgery operation; they are given a relatively comfortable life and they are free from the danger of dying at any moment. There is again space for their human sides to come out.

In particular we see the confrontation between an extremely individualistic concept of one's life (the protagonist Salomon; he would like to run the forgery operation smoothly because it is a guarantee on his life) and a concept that includes solidarity among men (the young Burger, who has also lost his wife in the camp, would like to sabotage it because its purpose is not good even if it is something that for the moment at least is saving his life). I have noticed that often the argument that is carried to support the individualistic concept of life is that this concept is the only effective and realistic approach to life. One of the methods that people use to present this argument is keeping their mouth shut. Salomon in fact uses silence as one of his arguments; the most talkative character is the young man Burger. Judgment is up to the audience. I think that the movie is quite precise in the representation of the various points of view.

There are a few more interesting things and also some defects, but I shall cut it here because I think I have written enough; take note that in painting Salomon as a purely negative character I have oversimplified: he has a deep cynical part of his character, though. Just a small note on the cinematography with an often coarse-grained and gray-greenish appearance which fits the topic and setting of the movie.