It’s 2016. I’ve been asleep for about four years on this blog and, apparently, we’ve elected a Cheeto for president.

*goes back into the cryogenic tank*


The Paws That Refreshes

Pees with the fishes

Natalie: “Daddy. I simply must have a Litterfish.”
Me: “What in Zeus’ kitchen is a Litterfish?”
Natalie: “Daddy. A Litterfish is a litter box shaped like a fish. I must have one.”
Me: “I don’t think–”
Natalie: “Daddy. I simply must have one. I must have one now. Buy it for me, won’t you?”
Me: “It seems rather expensive and extravigant for a litter box.”
Natalie: “Daddy. I really want a Litterfish. Other cats will be getting theirs at a reduced price for a limited time. I must have a Litterfish for my own.”
Me: “Honey, it’s just a bit of molded plastic. How is it functionally different–?”
Natalie: “Daddy! Litterfish.”
Me: “…but it’s…”
Natalie: “Daddy. Litterfish now! Order one!!”
Me: “Go ask your mom.”
Natalie: “Daddy. Daddy. Daddy. Daddy. Dad. Daddy. Daddy. Dad…”
Me: “You know I hate when you do that, right?”
Natalie: “Daddy. Dad. Daddy. Litterfish, daddy. Dad. Dad. Dad. Dad. Daddy…”
Me: (sigh) “Go get my wallet.”
Natalie: “In glossy black.”
Me: “Whatever.”

You Got Some Boson Yer Shirt There…


Physics wasn’t my best subject in high school, but I did pay more attention (and did do remarkably better) when I took physics courses in college. I was paying the bill, after all. I’ve been reading an article over at Salon about the recent possible discovery of the Higgs Boson particle and my understanding of such things as a layperson is revealed to be that of a toddler’s grasp on the operation of an automobile. I can see it’s all pretty darned cool and possibly even useful, but I have no idea how I might go about interacting with it. (Does the Large Hadron Collider even have a steering wheel?)

I’m especially intrigued by the process particle physicists go about finding stuff that can’t actually be seen. They perform the same experiment gazillions of times until a pattern emerges that at least suggests that they’re getting close. Then they do it some more until they’re nearly convinced they’ve got it right.

My head hurts.

They are being very conservative. One can in fact quantify the likelihood that the observations are mistaken and that the events are actually background noise mimicking a real signal. Each experiment quotes a likelihood of very close to “5 sigma,” meaning the likelihood that the events were produced by chance is less than one in 3.5 million. Yet in spite of this, the only claim that has been made so far is that the new particle is real and “Higgs-like.”

And now I’m bleeding from the ears.

Is it or is it not this really important particle without which our understanding of matter is completely broken? Seriously, there can’t be so much as a microbe or the show’s off! (KAHN!!) That’s the way true scientists roll, baby. …except for the ones that use protomatter, a substance condemned by every ethical scientist in the galaxy.

Oh, listen to me! I’m rambling on and on about something you probably thought was obvious. Congratulations to those kooky kids and their crazy colliders. You’ve done (probably) found yerselves a Higgs Boson. (Maybe.)

Absolutely Maybe. And We Mean it This Time!

The Senate has passed yet another bill delaying the adoption of broadcast DTV. This one would make the switch “voluntary and television stations could go ahead if they wished with digital transmission on February 17 as scheduled and drop analog transmission.” (source)

Yeah… if you could just go ahead and put the new cover sheets on your TPS DTV reports, that would be great. Thanks!

The delay is being urged because apparently millions of Americans are not ready or have not managed to get their hands on the $40 coupon for that craptacular DTV-to-analog TV converter. Never mind that this change has been announced, delayed, announced again, and delayed again. I predict that few of those same millions will be ready for the transition in June no matter how many times this thing is pushed out.

The analogy isn’t perfect but, given that our government is so keen to treat us like children in other respects, it’s hard not to compare this to a parent telling a child, “Your room had better be cleaned up by supper or I’m going to count to 10 and then to 20… if that’s okay with you. Here, let me just pick this up for you.”

I should think the best incentive for people to get their poop together would be missing an episode or two of “So You Think You Can Survive America’s Top Idol Deal or No Millionaire?” Tough love, I know.

Tiny Things

[Photo credit: Jeff Sextion]

[Photo Credit: Jeff Sexton]

My friend Jeff repairs and cleans Elgin pocket watches. Recently he posted some high-quality photos of an Elgin Grade 367 pocket watch at various stages of disassembly (and reassembly).

Tiny machines built to such close tolerances scare me. I’m afraid I’d break it just by looking at it.

Go check it out.

I see Movies: Vantage Point (2008)

If you’re familiar with the Japanese story and film called Rashomon, (and I suppose to some extent, the TV series 24), then you’ll find quite a lot to like in Vantage Point. It’s one part point-of-view experiment and one part traditional thriller.  If you’re not into all that egg-head “perspective and perception of the human condition” stuff, there’s a freakishly cool car chase. So, you know, fun for everyone in my family.

Allen gives it three out of four tubs of “surgical soft” popcorn-like product.