Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Why would anyone want to be a nurse? Can't they find better jobs? Or do they just like wiping up feces, sticking people with needles, and watching people die?

Why would anyone be a cop? Taking out the social garbage every day at risk of life and limb - there can't possibly be a socially acceptable reason for it. They must all be losers who can't find better jobs. Or maybe they're just sociopaths looking for people to lock up and shoot.

Why would anyone be a fireman? You run *out* of burning buildings, not *in* - obviously they're not very smart. I guess it gives them a chance to loot houses as the evidence crumbles and burns behind them, eh?

After hearing the kind of contemptible crap John Kerry and Charles Rangel have said about our military, why would anyone be a Democrat?

Monday, November 27, 2006

The world as your monitor

Yes, much of my life has been wasted. Part of that has been spent playing computer games like FreeCell. Far too laborious if done with actual playing cards, it's OK if a computer takes care of the scut work.

Stadium sports have always been designed to use a fixed pattern of marks on the field, whether they be boundaries, yard markers, hash marks, base paths, or whatever else. What kinds of new games might develop if the fields could change dynamically during play?

So have I found a new way to waste time? Maybe not - check out this article in Forbes:
Imagine this: you pull in your driveway after a long day at the office, step out of your car, and suddenly your lawn, yes, your lawn, lights up with a "Welcome Home, Honey!" Or how about this: The military has a runway deep in enemy territory that it wants to keep from getting blown up, so it changes the color of the landing turf to brown to blend in with the surrounding desert. When a plane comes in for a landing, two strips of lights appear. After the plane has landed, with a push of a button the strip reverts to camouflage mode.

Sounds cool, right? This technology will be available soon, making its grand entrance as a National Football League field. Mark Nicholls, the founder and chief executive of Sportexe, the number two maker of artificial turf in the NFL, has patented the process of "tufting" fiber optics with blades of plastic grass. "We will be able to turn the football field into a giant Jumbotron," says Nicholls.

A field can display a huge American flag during the national anthem. At halftime a sponsor such as Budweiser could cover the field with its logo. During the game, that virtual first-down marker you see on your TV could now be on the field itself before the ball is snapped. And because sensors beneath the fibers can sense when any given blade's light is obscured, referees can track the footsteps of a player to determine if he was in-bounds or not. Stadium owners would welcome the technology as well, as it would help them get more use out of the field: A few mouse clicks is all it takes to change the field from a gridiron to a soccer pitch. Compare that to the 2.5-hour, $650 process of cleaning and repainting lines on today's artificial fields.
Hmm. Maybe one day we'll be able to, say, sell our roofs to an advertiser, who would assume permanent maintenance responsibilities in return for a billboard he could control from half a world away. Billboards could become big TV monitors. Highways could restripe. Large objects could change color instantly - they could even become invisible. Sheesh, you could redecorate the house ten times a day.

I really need to get some work done.

Home is where the harm is

When a certain family rugrat was small I caught her playing by a toilet. Her mother thought me paranoid when I told her of the kids who died each year from pitching in headfirst and drowning.

In fact, it can even happen in a bucket. The kids are so topheavy that if they go in head first and there's enough water in the bowl, that's it - they're not likely to be able to get themselves out. They won't even be able to scream for help. And Mom would only have to be out of the room for a couple of minutes...

And now we read this. At least it wasn't a toilet, but this would be worse. With a little imagination it becomes Poe-like - slowly getting wedged in a little farther with every exhalation, possibly over hours, until breathing became impossible.

Maybe I've been scarred by my nuclear power days, which I spent mostly looking for things that could go wrong and what could be done about them. Or maybe it's remembering a house that I lived in as a kid - the heater that always made my mother nervous while we lived there eventually started a fire that burned it to the ground. But the fact is that this is the time of year that lots of people die at home in ways they probably never gave a second thought to.