Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It's been a while since i posted...

Recently, I've been reading more about science in general, but especially physics, in the recent months.  I have done this for quite a while now, but it's only in the past few months that I have apparently improved my study skills, as I am beginning to understand it more intuitively.  My main problem now is that I have very sketchy knowledge of the math involved, and that is paramount in this, but as I have been able to learn more effectively just by giving my full attention, I think I'll have a better time of it this time around!


PS: As a side note, my laptop's keyboard is on the fritz, occasionally acting as if I'm pressing the left directional key, or the space and backspace keys not working.  I have to insert spaces with pasting, as well as deleting instead of  using backspace, and it has also affected the directional keys, so now I have to use the 10-key pad, not to mention the problems of ctrl-v being so close to ctrl-b...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Potato fruits and bizzare commercials

I like to read about random things when I look around wikipedia and TV Tropes, and found out something a bit interesting, albeit something most people probably knew already!  Potatoes are part of the Deadly Nightshade family, which I was vaguely aware of, but apparently certain varieties, when the flowers don't fall off, develop actual fruits!  Unfortunately, these fruits are apparently highly toxic, as befits such a plant, but it looks oddly refreshing to me at least; almost like a green grape tomato.

In other news, there has been one commercial lately that has put me off; I usually record the tv shows I watch, and therefore fast forward through the commercials.  This time, however, I had just let them play as I read, but noticed a disturbing thing about this commercial for computers.  A family returns home to find their house has been burglarized, but their outdated computer has been left intact; this in itself isn't disturbing, but the fact that they are insulted that the computer was left behind!  Indeed, once they arrive at Average Purchase, they show surprise that they could port over information!  The last thing they say chills me, "Now this is a computer they'd want to steal!"

Yes, let's encourage crime and endanger your family!  Who cares about your family's safety, we want EVERYTHING stolen, because we aren't some lower class family whose objects aren't worth stealing!

Hoping you guys don't get Bilbo Bagginsed

-Joel de Bunchastu

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Gilbert Gottfried

This morning, as I was driving to drop off a netflix dvd in the public mailbox by Bloom (AKA Food Lion for those of you who still remember~), I heard that Gilbert Gottfried had apparently made jokes about the disasters in Japan.  Apparently, they weren't the "Laughing in the face of pain" kind of jokes, but rather mock the victims.  It might even have been kinda sorta forgiveable if they were GOOD jokes, but they're as stupid as they are tasteless.

Some other comedians in the shock genre of comedy have come to his defense, but often I have noticed that people who have specialized in this seem not to think that any other kind of comedy might have value, or at least are not as good.  Making someone cringe voluntarily isn't, in my opinion, something entertaining, but I suppose it could be called a talent.  Then again, I do not greatly enjoy awkward situations when they come up without prior planning, but I can understand that some have different tastes in humor

I just wish sometimes that the dead baby comedians would sometimes consider why some people dislike them, and come up with an answer other than "They're just prudes"

-Joel de Bunchastu

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

More on Japan and Nuclear Woes

I have heard that due to the disaster in Japan, 80% of Germans polled are against nuclear energy, or at least were even before the incident.  There is one thing I feel the need to make clear: this was not due to shoddy manufacture, the reactors had the misfortune of being built to withstand a reasonably strong earthquake, instead of these once in a millenium-to-once-in-a-geologic-epoch ones; many structures in Germany are less well shored up, I suspect, as well.  Blaming this on the avarice of power companies is ill-advised, and frankly misaimed.  Nuclear power has indeed been dangerous, but what is not often pointed out is that coal is also as bad, if not worse.  I do not speak only of pollution; detectable radiation levels are generated by coal stacks, and uranium has been found in it before. 

Nuclear power stands as one of the few proven, relatively clean methods of producing energy, something desperately needed in economic times like this; I agree that safety measures have to be taken, and that in the future reactors must be given more redundancies.  Fukushima Dai-ichi had been built in the 70s, relatively new for a reactor; that it held up as well as it did to such a massive earthquake and tsunami is testament to how solid they are in the first place.  Disasters are, by definition, terrible for human beings, but they also expose our weaknesses, so that we can learn from them.  Let's not make a terrible mistake by discarding something, just as we have the opportunity to learn to  make it even safer.

-Joel de Bunchastu

Friday, March 11, 2011

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami

I heard about this today as soon as I woke up, and even though I know that Japan is infamous for earthquakes and other seismic/volcanic activity, I was surprised by the magnitude.  The closest I've heard that it can be compared to was an account in the 800s AD, also accompanied by tsunamis of course.  As if this wasn't enough, the main power and diesel generators at at least one Japanese nuclear reactor have gone offline, leaving only battery backups!  If power can't be restored, the core will get hotter and hotter, causing coolant water to become steam!  This creates a terrible choice, because if you don't vent it, it will explode, but if you do you have radioactive vapor as well as reducing the amount of coolant available.  That option would only be feasible if a new power source was on its way, but it may be the only way to avoid such a catastrophe.

Many who were on airplanes from tokyo just heard about the full extent of the damage as they arrived at airports; some had only heard of a "little earthquake", and was apparently not taken as seriously at first, until it failed to stop as expected.  Accounts I have heard place it at at least two minutes of increasing shaking, with buildings swaying ax people tried to save themselves and others.

I hope that all who are affected by this terrible disaster can receive help as soon as possible, and I am planning on donating something at least to help victims; being the lazy american I am, however, I will have to wait until such a group is formed.  I haven't heard anything about the tsunami that reached the west coast of the US yet, and hope that the early warning was able to help people get to safety; early warning systems for earthquakes and tsunami are actually in place in japan, and are said to be the most extensive in the world.  Unfortunately, due to how earthquakes send out waves, the most warning that can be given is about a minute before it hits.  It sent automatic texts to phones and automated messages to disaster and EMS crews in tokyo and the surrounding area, apparently; it may have seemed like a superfluous expenditure to some people, but I am sure no one will call it useless now!  A similar system is apparently being planned for installation in California, but it will be at least 5 years and who knows how much money to get it running.

Here's hoping everyone who was injured will recover
-Joel de Bunchastu

Thursday, March 10, 2011

How The Earth Was Made

As I've said before, I have been recording several tv shows that I normally wouldn't get a chance to see; today the one I am watching is about the Atacama Desert, the driest place on earth.  It's part of a series of linked documentaries called, no surprise, "How The Earth Was Made".  It's interesting to me, because the desert is so close to ocean, yet the hot air keeps any cool and moist air from rising above the hills surrounding the coast, which means it is around fifty times drier than Death Valley, even though it is on average about 80 degrees Fahrenheit.  Radio spectrometry performed on the rocks lying on the desert floor show that they have not been moved by flooding for at least 230 million years!

I wonder what would happen if those mountains were to be shaved in a section, allowing the lower hanging clouds to move into the area?  Would it be flooded, and slowly bloom back into a prairie-like state, or just become a treacherous flood plain, even more dangerous than it is now?  It's questions like that which also get me thinking about terraforming, and other major construction and earth-moving projects.  Currents in the ocean are one of the major factors that affect world temperatures; if a sufficiently advanced civilization were to redirect those currents, say by building up islands in their way, would it mean a form of weather control was possible?  Then again, it's just as likely it could ruin a relatively well balanced ecosphere, brining torrential storms where they'd never been seen before.

Speculation in this matter is just that, speculation; perhaps it would be better for people not to worry about modeling the future so much as to do what they can now to prevent climate change, if it is preventable.

-Joel de Bunchastu

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Elf Quest and the Puncturing of my New Tire~

Recently, while stumbling around TV Tropes, I found a comic that I hadn't heard of before, called Elf Quest.  It seems that all, or at least a great deal, of the issues have been put online!  Click here to start reading, but I warn you!  It's really easy to start an archive binge, but not so easy to find a resting place if you get caught up in it!

I had at first thought it had to do with another comic, Drow Tales, that I had heard about before, but that's not the case.  This was started in the late Seventies, and the art is done so well I had mistaken it for digital art!  Then again, there is always the chance that it had been digitally redone, but from what I can tell it was originally done so skillfully.

I have just finished the very first 'series' of Elf Quest, and have started the second run, "Siege at Blue Mountain".  Once I finally catch up, I hope there are some continuing issues being made; I will pace myself in any case, because disappointments like that can be unforeseeable, even if you think you're detached from the story.

During work today, however, something considerably less cheery happened.  Apparently there was a screw left by a construction crew in the road, and I had to pull to the side after hearing a sudden flapping sound.  I had to call AAA because my jack is missing, but thankfully my spare tire is in good repair.  I was actually in a relatively good mood about this, because this is the first time I bought one of those road hazard warranties, so it wasn't money wasted at all!

Either tomorrow or the next day I will head by Walmart and get my replacement tire, and hope that the rim wasn't too badly dented; worst case I can still drive on the spare for a day or two, and it gives me an excuse to check out the electronics area and see if I'm due for an upgrade yet.

For the lulz
-Joel de Bunchastu