Monday, November 21, 2005

Lunes Links

I haven't had any original thoughts this week, so you get some entertaining links.

Via Ken's dad: A dramatic optical illusion.

Via Making Light: The Grand Illusions Magic Shop. And the rest of their site, which has more optical illusions.

From the same source: How to Read a 12 Digit UPC Barcode.

From Human Under Construction (a blog I just discovered and now read regularly): Grover: the Muppet Behind the Myth.

And from my friend Carol: The remake of the Poseidon Adventure. Let me just say that as much as I love Adam Baldwin, he is no Gene Hackman.

If you've never seen the original, perhaps IMDB's plot keywords will give you the idea: "Capsize, Rescue, Survival, Underwater, Water Disaster, Christmas Tree, Tidal Wave, Heart Attack, New Year's Eve, Obesity, Escape, Ex Prostitute, Fall From Height, Sea Sickness, Self Sacrifice, Corporate Greed, Haberdasher, Mediterranean Sea, Renegade Priest, Swimming Underwater, Disaster Film..."

Yeah, I'd say they about cover it. If you go to their page, you can click on the words, and find other movies featuring, for instance, sermons.

Happy Monday.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Birthday Gift

Whoever sent the Bears win for Ken's birthday yesterday, thank you. It was much appreciated.

More Lab Pictures

This is a seventies era argon ion laser. You can just about see the orange case at the bottom, even though the cover is off. We were told to figure out if it would still work. The first time it was tested (Ken and I were safely in Europe, fortunately) it blew a fuse.

The fuses are those white cylinders sitting horizontally in the middle. They're bigger than a roll of quarters, maybe the size of a roll of half-dollars. The blue cylinders at the top are capacitors as big around as my forearm. I can't remember how many thousands of volts I was told this thing needed for initial discharge, unfortunately. It was a really impressive number.

Looks like it works. But those are some weird error messages... Turn it off!

Liquid nitrogen is less dangerous. The thing it's spraying from is an ion pump, for the vaccuum system. Liquid nitrogen cools parts of this thing, and then the rubidium vapor condenses on them, like water condensing on the inside of your car windows when they're cold. This gives a higher vacuum. Or so I'm told.

This was sent with one of our orders from Thorlabs. They are now my favorite optics company.

Saturday, November 12, 2005


Via AFP:

Type the word "failure" into Google and hit "I'm feeling lucky." See what you get.

Monday, November 07, 2005

George W. Bush is Not A Conservative

On last night's debate episode of the West Wing, Alan Alda reminded us what the best conservatives used to believe in. Personal freedom. Individualism. Equality of opportunity.

Tax Panel Could Shrink Mortgage Benefit (AP)

AP: DeLay's staff tried to help Abramoff get a high-level Bush administration meeting for Indian clients, an effort that succeeded after the tribes began making a quarter-million dollars in donations.(AP)

AP - The government wants to offer [wealthy] airline passengers the chance to avoid extra security checks.

FBI Patriot Act Plan Concerns Lawmakers (AP)

President George W Bush promises his Brazilian host to work towards eliminating US agricultural subsidies.

(The Republicans also used to be the party of farm subsidies. It's supposed to be a security thing -- we don't want cut-off-able supply lines. And a "way of life" thing, of course. Republicans were big on both.)

Alan Alda's character, of course, is not supposed to be a social conservative. Bush is. But the social conservatives I know (admittedly mostly Catholic, who have more complex political loyalties) don't like him much either. He may be anti-abortion, but he's also pro-death-penalty and pro-war.


And wishy-washy on torture I'd have more respect for him if he defended it. You can make a case for torturing one person to save the lives of thousands. Every season of "24" provides ethics thought-experiments that put anti-torture viewers (meaning me) in a tough position. But Bush doesn't make that case. Instead he twists the language in Orwellian ways.