Misc. Friday Ramblings...

Boss: I can't give you the salary that you deserve because there'd be no room for a raise next year. I wouldn't want you to be all disincentivized, you know. Just moping around.

  • China firing lasers at US Satellites.
    The U.S. has revealed that China's developed a powerful, land based laser, that has been fired at American satellites. This has apparently been going on for three years. In theory, a land based laser of sufficient power could damage some types of low orbit photo and radar satellites. No details on the effects of the laser attacks were given, as this would inform the Chinese as to how well, or not well, they were doing. The Chinese may have lasered some of their own satellites, as part of what is apparently a development project.

    It's long been believed that interceptors (small satellites that can maneuver) would be a better way to take down enemy birds. Electronic jamming can also be used to interfere with communications with a satellite. A laser is also limited to satellites that pass nearby. Moreover, satellites can be modified to make them more difficult for lasers to damage. It is believed the Chinese project is a result of China realizing that a major American vulnerability is its large satellite network. Thus any damage to U.S. satellites would have a larger payoff than if the money were spent on more conventional defense investments.

    One of the easiest ways to win a fight is to poke your opponent's eye out.

  • Don't play with guns. Especially illegal length shotguns.
    A 16-year-old boy accidentally shot himself inside his home while playing with a sawed-off shotgun, according to Salinas police.

    The boy's left hand was partially over the muzzle of the gun when it discharged, partially amputating his middle finger at the palm, according to police.

    Officers recovered the shotgun, which had been thrown a short distance from the residence in the 2000 block of Santa Rita Street, and discovered it had been cut down below lawful size.

    The boy was flown to Stanford Medical Center for surgery. According to police, he was extremely uncooperative and refused to provide details as to where he got the gun.

    Of course, the gun just discharged on its own. *rolls eyes*


The Madden Curse.

What began as a coincidence has come to be characterized as a curse.

Shaun Alexander, the reigning NFL MVP, is the sixth consecutive player whose career took a turn for the worse the year they appeared on the cover of the popular "Madden" football video game.

"We work so closely with these athletes, and we root for them to succeed. It's so disappointing that this keeps happening," said Chris Erb, director of marketing for EA Sports.

The Seattle Seahawks running back has a broken left foot and may be out for a month. He said this summer he didn't believe in curses and wasn't superstitious.

"Curse or no curse, everybody, and I mean everybody, wants to be on that cover," Alexander said.

2001 ("Madden 2002"): Daunte Culpepper: Missed the final five games with a knee injury, but the curse kicked in well before the injury. He went from being tied for the league lead with 33 TD passes in 2000 to having almost as many interceptions (13) as touchdown passes (14) in 2001.

2002 ("Madden 2003"): Marshall Faulk: Rushed for 1,000 yards in seven of his first eight seasons, but he hasn't surpassed that mark since appearing on the cover of the game.

2003 ("Madden 2004"): Michael Vick: Suffered a broken right leg and missed the first 11 games.

2004 ("Madden 2005"): Ray Lewis: The Ravens' linebacker didn't have an interception for the only time in his career. He missed the regular-season finale because of an injured wrist.

2005 ("Madden 2006"): Donovan McNabb: After the Eagles slipped to a 4-5 record, McNabb missed the final seven games with a sports hernia.

2006 ("Madden 2007"): Shaun Alexander: Gained 187 yards in the first three games, his slowest start since 2002, and now is out indefinitely with a broken foot.

I think the curse of Madden is having to fork out over $50 for pretty much what is only an expansion pack of features and roster updates.


Evolving Hawaiian Crickets Lose Ability to Chirp

In just a few generations, the male crickets on the Hawaiian island of Kauai underwent a drastic genetic change that rendered them incapable of belting out courtship songs, according to a new study.

Typically, male field crickets sport curved wings, and by rubbing a sharp ridge of one wing with a rough part of the other, the cricket produces a mating call.

But this serenade also attracts a parasitic fly.

Once the insect spots a singing cricket, it deposits larvae onto the cricket. The larvae burrow into the cricket's body, where they mature and subsequently kill the cricket as they emerge.

Researchers led by Marlene Zuk of the University of California, Riverside, have monitored the crickets on Kauai since 1991.

With each visit, the team heard fewer and fewer singing crickets. Then, in 2003, they realized the crickets were abundant but 90 percent of the males had flat wings.

The scientists figured that the quiet mutation protects the crickets from the parasitic fly.

But how do they attract females? It turns out the flat-winged male crickets have altered their behavior so they can mate successfully.

The song-less males rely on the few male crickets with "normal" wings. By congregating around a serenading male, the silent crickets enable females to find and mate with them.

"The behavior of the flatwings allows them to capitalize on the few callers that remain, and thus escape the fly and still reproduce," Zuk said. "This is seeing evolution at work."

I'm not sure what is more interesting, that this evolution is occurring or that it is being reported on Fox News website.


Console on "Hot Toy" list for first time

Toy retailer Toys "R" Us has unveiled its "hot toy" list for the upcoming holiday season, and this year it includes a video game console for the first time -- Nintendo Co. Ltd.'s (7974.OS: Quote, NEWS, Research) Wii.

Wii's inclusion in the list comes as electronics play an increasingly prominent role in children's toys.

Nintendo's Wii will make its U.S. debut on Nov. 19 in what is expected to be a hot holiday season for video game consoles, with Sony Corp.'s (6758.T: Quote, NEWS, Research) PlayStation 3 slated to hit U.S. stores Nov. 17.

But Nintendo, with its "Donkey Kong," "Mario Brothers" and "Pokemon" game franchises, has found success with a younger audience.

"The PlayStation 3 is really geared to a savvy gaming enthusiast," said Kathleen Waugh, a spokeswoman for Toys "R" Us, of the decision to add the Wii to the list. "The Wii system appeals to young kids as well as adults."

The Wii, priced at $250, features a motion-sensing controller that operates like a television remote control and lets players simulate swinging a bat, sword or tennis racquet.

Waugh said one of Toys "R" Us' criteria of adding an item to its hot list is knowing it will have sufficient stock of the item for the holiday season, and she said that Toys "R" Us was able to ensure that by "taking a leadership position on the launch of Wii."

Sony is telling us that they will not have the stock that they thought they would, and Nintendo will have sufficient enough stock to make a hot list. I'm sure Sony will produce a fine product, but how many people are going to shell out the $600 for it? Especially knowing that very few titles will be PS3 only exclusives, and systems like the Xbox360 and Wii are easier to develop for.


Eyes without a face.



Darnit, there goes the hope for Xcom. Now what will Art Bell have to talk about?


Misc. Friday Ramblings...

Dogbert:Bob, remember that money can't buy happiness. But, it can buy expensive possessions that make other people envious. That feels just as good. And you can pay to have people whacked.
Can I trade my happiness for some money?

  • Newest Stryker Variant: Mobile Gun System.
    The 10th and final version of the Stryker armored vehicle to be delivered to Fort Lewis looks a lot like its predecessors, with one exception.

    The Mobile Gun System features a 105 mm cannon. Five years in the making, it brings much more to the fight than other versions armed with a heavy machine gun, a grenade launcher or anti-tank missiles.

    The new variant – they call it the MGS – is designed to back up the infantry with a gun that can blast through walls, knock out a fortified sniper nest, stop another armored vehicle and clear a street of enemy fighters.

    The main challenges: a reliable mechanism to automatically load rounds into the MGS, firing it accurately off a bouncy wheeled platform instead of a more stable tracked base, and keeping the vehicle light enough to meet the Army’s weight requirements, officials said.

    The MGS will carry four types of ammunition: a depleted-uranium armor-piercing round, a high-explosive anti-tank round, a high-explosive plastic round for blowing through walls and barricades, and a canister round filled with 2,300 tungsten ball bearings for firing on enemy fighters.

    2300 ball bearings? Ouch. What does the commander yell to the gunner, "PULL"?

  • Ever been to Mozambique? Wanna know the drill?
    The Mozambique Drill was added to the modern technique of gunfighting by Jeff Cooper based on the experience of one of his students, Mike Rouseau, while on duty in Mozambique. Rouseau was later killed in action in the Rhodesian War.

    The Mozambique Drill considers the deficiency of the pistol round in stopping an adversary. Statistics show that reactions in gunfights are extremely irregular -- one must be prepared for the worst. Many times it is the case that after absorbing the trauma of the first shots, the enemy will disregard further ballistic insult. It has been pointed out that simply "more shots" are not the answer. The Mozambique Drill instructs the shooter to place a double-tap in the center of mass, followed by a carefully aimed headshot.

    Contrary to popular belief, the immediate aim of defensive shooting is to incapacitate a target so as to render that person unable to attack. Unlike what is commonly seen on television and in movies, gunshot wounds rarely kill instantly. The incapacitation caused by gunshots is the result of neurocirculatory shock. The trauma resulting from impact and wound channel after two shots to a target's center of mass will produce a reflexive nervous system collapse in about 96% of cases. In the other 4%, either an adrenaline rush or the effect of stimulant drugs will override this reflex, and further shots will not produce this instantly-incapacitating shock. Because of this, the third shot should be aimed to destroy the brain, ensuring that the target's nervous system will shut down and leave the target unable to attack. This third shot is most effective when placed between a target's eyes as a higher shot is more likely to deflect off of hard bone and a lower shot is unlikely to produce the nervous system damage required to instantly stop an attacker.

    Also known as the 'failure to stop drill' or '2+1 drill'. As part of the U.S. National Guard Combat Pistol and other military combat pistol competitions, the Mozambique Drill is called Body Armor Defeat, and is frequently a discriminator between the average shooter and the gifted shooter, especially when it is timed.

    Vincent's second target is neutralized with this technique.


Have balloon, will snap shots...

Students from the University of Cambridge "Spaceflight" project last week pulled off quite a coup when they successfully dispatched an experimental electronics package into the upper atmosphere strapped to a weather balloon, in the process capturing some impressive images of planet Earth from a peak altitude of 32.2km (105,600ft)

The payload contained "two completely independent custom-built tracking devices with three communications methods: SMS over a GSM cellphone, high speed radio data and low speed radio Morse code. Both radio transmitters operated at 10mW in the 434MHz licence-exempt band", the team's report explains.

To record the test for posterity, the package also boasted a 5 megapixel digital camera...

The team had been tracking the flight while giving chase in a car. Despite the loss of the data radio signal, "believed to be due to low temperature affecting the frequency of the crystal oscillator" and the failure of the antenna connection on the morse code receiver, the proto-von Brauns were able to eventually recover the payload after a post-touchdown text message from the onboard mobile phone revealed its precise location.

Hmmm, the transmitters failed but the cel. phone worked. Verizon is everywhere!


Nanotech and your brain.

If the thought of carbon nanotubes coursing through the bloodstream makes you nervous, you may want to leave the room now. Researchers at Brown University have injected a cocktail of carbon nanofibers and stem cells directly into the brains of rats. And as if that wasn't enough, the rats had already suffered strokes. The result? The nanotube and stem cell cocktail healed neural tissue damaged by the stroke.

Going down the tubes isn't such a bad thing anymore.



International Talk Like a Pirate Day is a parodic holiday invented in 1995 by two Americans, John Baur ("Ol' Chum Bucket") and Mark Summers ("Cap'n Slappy"), who proclaimed September 19 each year as the day when everyone in the world should talk like pirates. For example, instead of "hello," an observer of this holiday would greet his mates with "Ahoy, me hearty!" The date was selected because it is the birthday of Summers' ex-wife and would consequently be easy for him to remember.

My pirate name is:

Iron John Vane

A pirate's life isn't easy; it takes a tough person. That's okay with you, though, since you a tough person. You tend to blend into the background occaisionally, but that's okay, because it's much easier to sneak up on people and disembowel them that way. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from piratequiz.com.
part of the fidius.org network


Misc. Friday Ramblings...

  • The Box of Truth: Helmets vs Pistols.
    Several people have asked me to shoot a new Kevlar helmet. My old buddy Ponyboy finally found a couple and sent them to me to test.

    Before we start, let me explain that we are not conducting "scientifically valid" tests on these brain buckets. It is my understanding that the military requires these helmets to withstand a round of 5.56 Ball at 200 yards. I am not certain of all the parameters, but it doesn't really matter, because I will not be repeating their tests. They already do that one and the helmets passed. We'll do something different.

    Helmets are mostly designed to protect against shrapnel. I don't have any hand grenades, but I do have some handguns. Today, we're going to shoot the helmets with some common handgun calibers and see if they will be stopped.

    The only weapon that penetrated was chambered in 7.62x25 Tokarev. It was shot out of a CZ-52, a C&R eligible pistol.

  • Lego Minigun.
    We've been trying to utilize our Lego collection for the production of projectile apparatuses ever since the Pirate sets stopped coming with those flickable cannons. Now it seems our sad attempts have been eternally showed up by Sebastian's ULTIMATE Lego Chaingun, which has 8 barrels, a 64 shot capacity, and an eleven rounds per second firing rate. The rubberband chaingun took over a month to build, and is powered by an honest-to-goodness Lego motor. Sebastian has all sorts of ideas how to mod up his gun even more, including an ammo counter or even faster firing rate, but whatever he manages to do it's clear all we're going to be bringing to our next rubberband fight is a white flag.

    I wonder how long it will take for the BATFE to classify this as GCA '68 non-compliant.


History of the Hard Drive.

When PCs first came out, there were no affordable hard drives. Even when the IBM PC was introduced in 1981, it had only a 160 kilobyte floppy drive. The first mass market PC with a built-in hard drive was the IBM XT, which came out in 1983, with a whopping 10 megabytes of storage.

The original 160 KB floppy could store about 164,000 bytes or characters – enough for about 137 pages of double spaced text. Forget about graphics, music or video. That 10 megabyte drive back in 1983 could store about 8,800 pages of text.

While it took until the 1980s for hard drives to migrate down to PCs, they were actually invented back in the 1950s. The first hard drive used in a commercial computer was unveiled by IBM 50 years ago this week on September 13, 1956.

That first drive assembly, called the "IBM 350 disc storage unit" was part of the IBM 305 RAMAC computer, according to Craig Butler, IBM's manager of disc storage products.

The device, according to Butler, made it possible for businesses to access data on a random basis without having to predefine the order of access - similar to the way you would locate a song on a cassette tape.

The storage process was called "continuous accounting" because it allowed users – that is, businesses who could afford it - to process data right after it was loaded into the computer.

The device, which stored five million characters (a bit short of 5 megabytes), cost $35,000 in 1956 dollars and stood 5 feet tall, a little less than 6 feet wide and 2.5 feet deep.

Nothing beats the floppy power of the Commodore 1541 drive! However, when it comes to old school HDs, MFM or RLL for the win!


Misc. Friday Ramblings...

  • Robotic Frisbees of Death
    It ain't easy, picking out evil-doers in the urban canyons of the Middle East; there are so many places to hide. Taking 'em out can be even harder, what with all those noncombatants hanging nearby. But the Air Force thinks it might have an answer to this most vexing problem in counter-insurgency: frisbees.

    Not just any frisbees, mind you. Robotic frisbees. Heavily armed robotic frisbees.

    The Air Force recently tapped Triton Systems, out of Chelmsford, Mass, to develop such a "Modular Disc-Wing Urban Cruise Munition."

    "The 3-D maneuverability of the Frisbee-UAV [unammned aerial vehicle] will provide revolutionary tactical access and lethality against hostiles hiding in upper story locations and/or defiladed behind obstacles," the company promises.

    The circular drones will be lanuched "from munitions dispensers or by means of a simple mechanism similar to a shotgun target (skeet) launcher," Triton adds. Once in the air, they'll be tele-operated by soldiers on the ground. Or, if needed, the fightin' frisbees will pilot themselves as they hunt for guerrillas.

    Once they catch up to the baddies, the drones will use a series of armor-piercing explosives, shooting jets of molten metal, to eliminate their targets. And these MEFP [Multiple Explosively Formed Penetrator] "warheads will be controllable so as to provide a single large fragment (bunker-buster) or tailorable pattern of smaller fragments (unprotected infantry or light utility vehicles)." The decision of whether to go bunker-buster or infantry-annihilator mode can either be determined by the drones' human operators, "or autonomous target classification routine built into the UAV."

    So, they are going to program the drones to hunt on their own? I'm sure a Skynet project isn't too far behind.

  • Bullets.
    One (imho, wrong) opinion:

    Another (imho, right) opinion:

    So how do you view the world?


Give me Steam!

Inspired by a steampunk aesthetic and artists such as Hayao Miyazaki, I-Wei Huang has created a small army of robots that run on steam power. An animator and character designer by trade -- he's currently developing a game for the Nintendo DS at HumaNature Studios -- Huang has made his two-dimensional fantasies a reality.

Steam is very cool, especially when it doesn't act like spyware on your computer (glares at Valve Software).


So what do you want to know?

1. You can press a button that will make any one person explode. Who would you blow up?

Only one? Dayum, I guess that makes mounting the button in my car a moot point.

2. You can flip a switch that will wipe any band or musical artist out of existence. Which one will it be?

Can I choose all of American Idol?

3. Who would you really like to just punch in the face? I can only pick ONE person?

Hmmm. Not really hating on anyone right now.

4. What is your favorite cheese?


5. You can only have one kind of sandwich. Every sandwich ingredient known to humankind is at your immediate disposal. Jiff Peanut Butter and strawberry or cherry or peach jelly

Super Club Sub from Blue Boy's Sandwich Shop. Homemade bread, two types of turkey and ham, bacon, two cheeses, lettuce, tomato. Or, Peanut Butter and Banana sammich!

6. You have the opportunity to sleep with the movie (porn counts) celebrity of your choice. We are talking no-strings-attached sex and it can only happen once. Who is the lucky celebrity of your choice?

Salma Hayek (already have clearance from the wife too).

7. You have the opportunity to sleep with the music-celebrity of your choice. Who do you pick?

Ack. Hmmm. Shania or Fergie from Black Eyed Peas

8. Now that you've slept with two different people in a row, you seem to be having an excellent day because you just came across a hundred-dollar bill on the sidewalk. Holy shit, a hundred bucks! How are you gonna spend it?

Bring it home, give it to the wife (brownie points are worth way more than what I could buy with $100)

9. You just got a free plane ticket to anywhere. You have to depart right now. Where are you gonna go?

Costa Rica

10. Upon arrival to the aforementioned location, you get off the plane and discover another hundred-dollar bill. Shit! Now that you are in the new location, what are you gonna do?


11. An angel appears out of Heaven and offers you a lifetime supply of the alcoholic beverage of your choice. It is...?

Patron Platinum

12. Rufus appears out of nowhere with a time-traveling phone booth. You can go anytime in the PAST. What time are you traveling to and what are you going to do when you get there?

Pre-World War 2. Bring back today's tech to the US so we can kick everyone's ass and rule the world! :)

13. You discover a beautiful island upon which you may build your own society. You make the rules. What is the first rule you put into place?
You do not have a right to not be offended. F*ck you, grow thicker skin.

14. You have been given the opportunity to create the half-hour TV show of your own design. What is it called and what's the premise?

True Survivor. Set people in the middle of no where, and they have to get out alive. All they have is their wits and their clothes. No immunities. No food rewards. You live, you win. (watch Survivorman on TLC to see how it can be done)

15. What is your favorite curse word?


16. One night you wake up because you heard a noise. You turn on the light to find that you are surrounded by MUMMIES. The mummies aren't really doing anything, they're just standing around your bed. What do you do?

At least it isn't zombies. Ah well, Mummies don't like fire. Torch 'em.

17. Your house is on fire, holy shit! You have just enough time to run in there and grab ONE inanimate object. Don't worry, your loved ones and pets have already made it out safely. So what's the item? Wallet (damn flaming mummies setting fire to my house)

18. The Angel Of Death has descended upon you. Fortunately, the Angel Of Death is pretty cool and in a good mood, and it offers you a half-hour to do whatever you want before you bite it. Whatcha gonna do in that half-hour?

Update the blog, write a long email saying goodbye. Oh yeh, get pictures of AoD. They'll sell for a fortune on Ebay.

19. You accidentally eat some radioactive vegetables. They were good, and what's even cooler is that they endow you with the super-power of your choice! What's it gonna be?


0. You can re-live any point of time in your life. The time-span can only be a half-hour, though. What half-hour of your past would you like to experience again?

Birth of my Son.

21. You can erase any horrible experience from your past. What will it be? (the answer "nothing" doesn't count).

I think if anything horrible happened, it is currently a repressed memory. I'd like to keep it that way, thankyouverymuch.

22. You got kicked out of the country for being a time-traveling heathen who sleeps with celebrities and has super-powers. But check out this cool shit... you can move to anywhere else in the world! Bitchin'! What country are you going to live in now?

Australia probably, even with the draconian gun laws. I got telekinesis, so neener, neener.

23. This question still counts, even for those of you who are under age. Check it out. You have been eternally banned from every single bar in the world except for ONE. Which one is it gonna be?

I don't go to bars.

24. Hopefully you didn't mention this in the super-powers question.... If you did, then we'll just expand on that. Check it out... Suddenly, you have gained the ability to FLOAT!!! Whose house are you going to float to first, and be like "Dude, check it out... I can FLOAT!"?


25. The constant absorption of magical moonbeams mixed with the radioactive vegetables you consumed earlier have given you the ability to resurrect the dead famous-person of your choice. So which celebrity will you bring back to life?

Hmmm. I'm just don't care about celebrities that much.

26. The Celestial Gates Of Beyond have opened, much to your surprise because you didn't think such a thing existed. Death appears. As it turns out, Death is actually a pretty cool entity, and happens to be in a fantastic mood. Death offers to return the friend/family-member/person/etc. of your choice to the living world. Who will you bring back?

My grandmother on my mom's side.

27. What's your theme song?

Break Stuff by Limp Bizkit


Self-Defense and You!

Do as much as you can to avoid a confrontation - "anticipation and avoidance" are the key words. If you get caught up in a situation, try to talk to an aggressor without provoking them. Practice relaxation, as appearing fearful or stressed can actually provoke an attack. Remember that body language is important in aggressive situations, so maintain a comfortable distance between you and the aggressor.

Instead of "Zen and the art of agression management", perhaps be a bit more proactive and avoid the area (or if going into a dangerous area, go armed).

Use a gas or electronic attack alarm, as these give out a short piercing sound and will temporarily disorientate an attacker, giving you enough time to escape. Carry it somewhere where you can get to it quickly - don't leave it buried at the bottom of your bag. If you don't have an alarm, just make a noise yourself by screaming as loud as you can, or shouting "call the police" - if you're loud enough this can be just as effective as a personal alarm. If you have an alarm, use it and shout as well.

Gas Attack? Check, I can do that!

Steady yourself if danger threatens. Panic can disable you, so again it’s useful to learn how to keep control in a difficult situation. And if you must fight back, adopt what police term the "bash and dash" approach. Primary targets are the eyes, nose, mouth, ears, throat, groin, knees or shins; choose whichever is easiest to get to.

"Bash and Dash" usually happens to storefronts. Has nothing to do with self defense.

If held from behind don't struggle forward, you'll only exhaust yourself. Instead throw yourself backwards to surprise your attacker or stomp on the lower leg or foot.

You have the right to defend yourself with reasonable force and this includes using items you have with you such as an umbrella, bag, briefcase or keys. However, don't carry or use anything that the law would regard as an offensive weapon.

"What the hell are we supposed to use, harsh language?"

I prefer something a bit more subtle.


Happy Castlevania metal rock day.

All right, we know it's one of the last Fridays of the summer and we should be happy that it's the end of the week and football is about to start and all that. But sometimes, despite all the happiness and joy that surrounds us, we just need to hear some moody, creepy, hard-rocking, gothic/metal/retro music mercilessly thrashed out on the guitar. Is that so wrong?

Of course it isn't. With that in mind, continue reading for some YouTube video of a trio of awesome guitar players rocking out to the tunes of the Castlevania series.

Ah, the last one I know well. Perhaps my favorite Castlevania track of all time, Bloody Tears. Check out the track 2 sample from Dracula Battle Perfect Selection review.

Happy Labor Day everyone. Seeya on Tuesday.


Misc. Friday Ramblings...

  • The GAU 2B/A.
    The Air Force GAU-2B/A (Army M134) 7.62mm "minigun" was designed to provide a light weight high rate of fire armament package for use on helicopters and light fixed-wing aircraft. The basic M61 Vulcan has been simplified and redesigned to fire percussion primed 7.62mm ammunition.

    Note the links coming out the right side, while the brass comes out the bottom. Metal storm indeed.