February 27, 2004

My Star Trek Race

You're a Human!
You're a Human! Inquisitive and mellow, you're an
explorer at heart.

What Star Trek Race Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

(Hat tip: Llamabutchers).

Posted by JohnL at 09:46 PM | Comments (0) |

Random Music

Following Vodkapundit's implementation of a suggestion by John Scalzi (who cribbed the idea from Neil Gaiman), here are the first ten tunes that pop up when I shuffle iTunes:
1. Neil Diamond - America
2. TV Theme: Star Trek TOS Main Title
3. Boston - Foreplay/Long Time
4. Movie Theme: James Bond Theme
5. Weird Al Yankovich - Yoda
6. ACDC - Hell's Bells
7. Moby - Bodyrock
8. Nine Inch Nails - Eraser
9. Genesis - Cinema Show
10. Roy Orbison - Pretty Woman

Not too embarassing, but not completely representative, either. I do have to admit that I have not ripped many of my CDs to my hard drive; most of these are just songs that I don't have elsewhere on CD, but want to include in homemade compilations. Here are the next 10, out of curiosity:

1. Snap - Dark Side of the Moog
2. Gary Numan - Are Friends Electric
3. Fear Factory w/ Gary Numan - "Cars" Remix
4. TV Theme: Logan's Run
5. Ultravox - Reap The Wild Wind
6. Human League - Keep Feelin' Fascination
7. Peter Gabriel/Thomas Dolby - Little Light of Love
8. Moby - James Bond Theme
9. Kiss - Star Spangled Banner (Hendrix cover)
10. David Bowie - See Emily Play (Pink Floyd cover)

For comparison's sake, here are the musical selections played by the Mars Rover teams (I like Opportunity's music better, but both sets are pretty decent).

Posted by JohnL at 09:33 PM | Comments (0) |

February 26, 2004

Fun T-Shirt

I wonder if Mark Oakley has one of these?

(Hat tip: Rocket Jones)

Update: Oops, I just fixed the link. Mark probably went, "huh?"

(The fixed link now takes you to a picture of a T-Shirt that says, "As a Matter of Fact, I AM a Rocket Scientist!")

Posted by JohnL at 10:52 PM | Comments (0) |

People Needing A Clue

Instapundit refers the clue-impaired to Michelle ("A Small Victory") Catalano's site, where she gives some good advice about refraining from judging bloggers based on just one post.

Posted by JohnL at 09:56 PM | Comments (0) |

Sackcloth and Ashes

Robert must be doing some lenten penance for the cheesecake binge last week, as he has posted the pictorial equivalent of sackcloth and ashes. (It burnsss my eyesss, Prrrreciousss! Nasty wicked hobbitsesss!)

Posted by JohnL at 09:43 PM | Comments (0) |

Looking for Life on Mars, on Earth

Wired has an interesting writeup about astrobiologist Chris McKay's efforts to find evidence of life in the high desert of the Atacama, Chile.

I was surprised to learn just how sterile the Atacama is. Despite the discovery in recent decades of "extremophiles," it appears that there are limits to what hardy microbial life can tolerate, even on Earth. Learning how to detect the trace amounts of life, preventing forward contamination of the test site and contamination of gathered samples, and determining where to find any trace life are all skills that will serve the first human explorers of Mars well.

Posted by JohnL at 09:24 PM | Comments (0) |

February 25, 2004

Floor 42

Added to my left links (a bilingual pun!): a site dedicated to the brilliant Douglas Adams.

(Hat tip: Die Metzger der Lamas)

Posted by JohnL at 10:56 PM | Comments (0) |

Gallery of Regrettable Mags

Ever wondered what the Maxim or FHM of the 1950s looked like?

Wait no longer.

Lileks' latest: Stagworld.

Posted by JohnL at 10:30 PM | Comments (0) |

Moog Heaven

The Moon Base Clavius site logo (see post immediately below) reminded me of the cover of this classic record.

Groove to the following hits, as realized on a [then] ultra-modern Moog modular synthesizer:
"Na Na Hey Hey," "Nights in White Satin," "Sugar Sugar," "Raindrops
Keep Falling on My Head," and many more songs closely contemporaneous
with my 1968 birth year.

I actually bought a copy of this record off eBay about 2 years ago. I'm thinking about arranging some modern pop tunes using this very slick software emulation of a Moog system (free download).

Posted by JohnL at 09:37 PM | Comments (0) |

Debunking Moon Hoax Conspiracists

Moon Base Clavius.

Posted by JohnL at 09:25 PM | Comments (0) |

The Great Robot Race

. . . Is only a couple of weeks away. In case you didn't know, DARPA is hosting a race, "The Grand Challenge," among "autonomous ground vehicles" between Los Angeles and Las Vegas next month.

They will pay a cash award of $1 million to the team that fields the first vehicle to complete the designated route within the specified time limit. The purpose of the challenge, in DARPA's own words, "is to leverage American ingenuity to accelerate the development of autonomous vehicle technologies that can be applied to military

NASA could learn a thing or two (or many more!) from DARPA.

Update: Jay Manifold noticed this story, too (I found it directly on the DARPA site; he links to Space.com's story), and is seeking input on what kind of contest his readers would set up for a $10 million prize.

Posted by JohnL at 09:20 PM | Comments (0) |

Just How Fast Is the Millennium Falcon?

As John at SFSignal would say, "not that I troll Star Wars sites or anything," but these people have too much time on their hands.

Posted by JohnL at 09:10 PM | Comments (0) |

Military Thriller Idea

Going through some old notes I found this scribbled plot idea:

Britain joins single currency; integrates more tightly with EU. At some later date, tries to withdraw; triggers response from Continent similar to US north in Civil War. Anglosphere (USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) come to the rescue. What happens to EU? Russia? China? Think Red Storm Rising crossed with Guns of the South. . .
What do you think? I'm not in a hurry to write it (the idea is about two years old). If you feel your muse calling, have at it.
Posted by JohnL at 09:06 PM | Comments (0) |

February 24, 2004

Why Go To Space?

OK, OK. I've been promising this for a while. Other people kept writing bits and pieces of what I was thinking, so I decided to bite the bullet and try to put down some of my thoughts, too. These aren't fully formed, and, since this is my blog, I reserve the right to edit or elaborate in future.

Anyone who has known me for any length of time eventually learns that I am a space nut at heart. I have been since as early as I can remember. To try and compose an essay seeking to answer "why should we go to space" is like asking Deep Thought the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.

The problem is really with the question. The answer varies depending on the assumptions behind the question. These assumptions are typically that space is too hard or expensive for anyone other than the government to do it. I hope that certain current events may help to prove this premise false. Another assumption is that space is solely for scientific purposes. Many pro-space advocates fall into this trap.

Which is why I was happy today to see Rand Simberg's link to an interesting op-ed by Jim Muncy in the Washington Times. Mr. Muncy's opinion really gets at what I have been trying to write for some time. Key quote (extracted by Rand, too):

"Space exploration is not merely about the wonders of science and technology, although it produces countless discoveries and innovations. It is not merely about stunning images and daring adventures, although it has those aplenty. And to the disbelief of so many space professionals and aficionados alike, it is not even really about outer space. "Rather, space exploration is about strengthening and spreading the very essence of freedom: the magic of going and doing what you want, where you want, when you want and why you want. It is about the endless and innately human quest for a better, wiser and richer life, not just for yourself today but for generations hence. Freedom is as much about the creation and pursuit of new dreams, horizons and challenges as it is about achieving them."

Brian Doss at Catallarchy gets at this latter idea:

"[T]he reason I support Martian colonization is on the general grounds that liberty thrives on the frontier, and that human society does best when there is a frontier to interact with the ancestral land. Innovation is spurred, trade blooms, opportunities abound, and more importantly, there is space to go to help make a new society when you don't like the one you're in. To an extent, America is still the World's frontier, as it is the place most non-Americans go when they want to get away from wherever it was they were born; America is vibrant, young, and constantly re-inventing itself with countless subcultures and communities. But America isn't a true frontier society anymore, and for those of us fortunate enough to have been born here, where does one go when even America is too staid and developed to suit? Well, the old answer is new again- leave for the frontier, which would now be Mars."

Both of these statements really seem to boil down to "we should go to space because it is there, because we can, and, oh yes, it's good for freedom." Most other space policy debate seems to focus almost exclusively on the science to be done, the things to learn. But most people aren't "scientists" and don't want to be scientists. I fear that if we make outer space a reserve for scientists alone, then space will look like Antarctica in the future: a small contingent of on-site researchers, a very small number of "extreme" tourists, and no normal people. Forget for a moment the goals of scientists here on earth. Think of your goals instead. Why do you work each day? What things are important to you? Where do you find beauty? Would you like to strap on a pair of wings and literally fly like a bird in one-sixth Earth's gravity beneath the stars in a lunar resort? Can you see yourself standing at the edge of the Valles Marineris, looking into a canyon system that makes the Grand Canyon look like a small valley? Do you like architecture or music? Think of the possibilities for the forms that buildings could take in the lower gravity of Luna or Mars. What symphonies, what poems, what great novels will the vistas of new planets, new experiences, new pains and losses and challenges stimulate? What new businesses can we create? I think all these aspects of the human experience are of equal value to the abstract knowledge we may gain about the geology, meterology, and chemistry of these new places. I want an outer space future that looks like the world of Heinlein's Rolling Stones or Niven's Known Space; a place where families live and work and grow, where belters mine asteroids and trade goods with Luna, Mars, and Earth. A place indistinguishable from our current civilization, except that we happen to live elsewhere. In other words, a space-based civilization. If we do this, then we will have learned what we need to get our eggs out of this fragile basket. And maybe in the process we will learn just how much more precious is our Earth. Why go to space? To stay.

Posted by JohnL at 11:15 PM | Comments (0) |

February 23, 2004

Last SciFi Babes Post (I Promise)

OK. I asked the question about Classic Trek babes. Robbo likes Nurse Chapel. Decent choice.

But I always had a thing for Yeoman Rand, even before it was OK to admit that I liked girls.

As to the newer Trek, if forced to choose from the list presented, I would have to say Seven of Nine, followed closely by Torres.

Sorry Steve, but I just can't see Janeway as sexy. Now that I have shown myself to be a hopeless fanboy geek, for this and future generations to read, I will move to more serious topics.

Posted by JohnL at 11:08 PM | Comments (0) |

I, [am] Claudius

You're not the fool everyone takes you for. You put on a show to stay under the radar. Underneath your bumbling exterior, you are a shrewd and calculating person. You don't enjoy being in the spotlight, but you can take charge if absolutely neccessary. But trust no one, not even your best friend, because you never know who might betray you.
You were portrayed by Derek Jacobi.
Which I, Claudius Character are You? created by Shiny Objects

Hat tip: Dappled Things

Posted by JohnL at 10:32 PM | Comments (0) |

Venusian Scenery

When I was first getting seriously into written SF, Carl Sagan was on PBS with his groundbreaking series, Cosmos.

As he explained in the episode entitled "Heaven and Hell," the surface of Venus is 900 degrees (F) and subject to crushing pressure. A far cry from the fertile swamps of Heinlein's Venus in Between Planets, an early favorite of mine.

Don Mitchell has reprocessed some of the raw image data from the Soviet Venera 9, 10, 13, and 14 landers. Not nearly as stunning as the Martian surface, but still it has an austere beauty.

(Hat tip: Jerry Pournelle).

Posted by JohnL at 10:11 PM | Comments (0) |

February 21, 2004

World Religions on the Net

Razib at Gene Expression ran the names of the five major world religions -- Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism -- through Google and evaluated the content, tone, and presentation of the first 10 hits for each. Interesting, if not completely surprising results.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by JohnL at 05:33 PM | Comments (0) |

Memory Alpha

Have a question about Star Trek?

Visit this extensive WikiWiki archive of Star Trek lore.

Posted by JohnL at 05:19 PM | Comments (0) |


Variations on a theme tonight. More Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek, as realized in LEGOs. I couldn't find any Buck Rogers fan LEGO models, though.

Posted by JohnL at 12:06 AM | Comments (0) |

February 20, 2004

Robots From A to Z

In looking for the Stepford Wives quote below, I found this interesting repository of information on things robotic.

Posted by JohnL at 11:13 PM | Comments (0) |

Neat Poe Archive

If you've been meaning to catch up on your 19th-century-gothic reading, this is a good place to start.

Posted by JohnL at 11:07 PM | Comments (0) |

"She cooks as good as she looks, Ted."

Wow. Somebody came to this site from a Google search for "stepford + wife + diy." (This old post created the hit).

And then, bless 'em, they stuck around for 13 minutes or so.

I wonder if his wife knows what project he's working on?

Posted by JohnL at 10:37 PM | Comments (0) |

Another Serving of SciFi Cheesecake

Rob thinks Princess Ardala was "skanky?" I don't see that. I would instead say earthy, sexy, and a bit dangerous in a fun way (she was, after all, the "evil" queen). Of course that was during the glorious age of disco, and a lot of women on TV looked like that. Probably warped my tastes permanently. And Wilma Deering just seemed frigid and aloof.

Oh well, de gustibus and all that.

As to the "Battlestar Babes," back then it would have been Cassiopeia; nowadays it would be Lt. Sheba, hands down.

OK, let's increase the pathetic geek factor by an order of magnitude or two: Yeoman Rand, Uhura, or Nurse Chapel?

Posted by JohnL at 10:30 PM | Comments (0) |

Definitive Piece on Offended Canadians

Essential Mark Steyn (via the Corner).

Posted by JohnL at 10:10 PM | Comments (0) |

February 19, 2004

That Was Quick

Father Tucker has changed his site template to a much more readable black-on-white layout.

I just complained about the white-on-black layout yesterday. I can't believe that my post had anything to do with this, but the result is much more pleasing to my eyes.

Update: He's changed it again. This time, it looks much cooler. The last change was more readable than the original layout, but this one is a much stronger template, while retaining the easy readability.

Posted by JohnL at 10:47 PM | Comments (0) |

Buck Rogers Babes

Jonah Goldberg recently mentioned Buck Rogers in the 25th Century at The Corner. This show fell in that golden age range in my memory from around 5th to 7th grade -- as I was first beginning to appreciate both SciFi and girls.

Much commentary on the show centers on Erin Grey. Yeah, she was nice looking, but what about Princess Ardala (Pamela Hensley)?


Posted by JohnL at 10:15 PM | Comments (0) |

Ninth Amendment Debate

If you want to learn more about the Ninth Amendment, Tim Sandefur has been typing like mad on the subject for the past couple of days, carrying on a running discussion with the bloggers at Southern Appeal about the history, interpretation, and modern application of one of the least-understood amendments in the Bill of Rights.

He even scored a complimentary link from con-law guru Randy Barnett, who finds that Tim has been doing a good job defending the original meaning of the amendment.

I tend to side with Tim on this, at least in this part:

"We must not allow ourselves to be spooked into thinking that the end of good government is for the judiciary to defer. History reveals that the worst abuses of Americans have proceeded from a combination of the legislature and the executive, and that judicial restraint has far more often been a license for these oppressors than a protection for our freedom. Of course we don't want unelected judges running everything. But we do not want elected legislators running everything, either. The reason we have a constitution is to stop the legislature from governing certain things. The Ninth Amendment tells us that those 'certain things' are not limited to the things specifically mentioned in the Bill of Rights -- there are other things. What are they? Well, there you must consult history, law, political philosophy, and so forth. That is what the Ninth Amendment means. That is what the privileges or immunities clause means. Any other interpretation would tend toward legislative absolutism and to rendering the Ninth Amendment a nullity, and must therefore be a flawed interpretation."

Click over and keep scrolling down.

Posted by JohnL at 09:20 PM | Comments (0) |


To Rob the Llama Butcher, sorry about the "blowback."

You didn't touch the nerve too badly, and what you say is right. I typically have no problems with very specialized outside counsel (say, our patent lawyers or employment counsel). The key to being a successful in-house lawyer is knowing when to stop being a jack-of-all-trades, and to defer to the expertise of competent outside counsel. Lord knows I have been saved more than once by a good lawyer on the outside (much more often than I have had to argue about a junior lawyer missing the point or padding a bill).

Posted by JohnL at 09:03 PM | Comments (0) |

In-house Lawyer Grumbling

Unsolicited advice from Rob the Llama Butcher:

"If you want a memo on a particular point of law to present
to some government agency, don't write one yourself and send it to your
outside counsel for fixing up. Instead, just let them write it from the
ground up.

"Buh-lieve me, you'll save yourself a lot of time and money."

Unsolicited response from in-house counsel (me):

Only if you promise not to stick some first-year associate trained in law school to spot problems instead of answers on the project!

I've noticed that much of the work product outside lawyers prepare for me is wordier and covers far more ground than required by the scope of the project. Of course we're tossing around generalizations here, but. . .

<rant mode>Outside lawyers seem to focus more on problems than solutions. When you have a limited budget, you get pretty frustrated that a ham-handed rookie with no business sense is anally citing and shepardizing the basic principles of law known to all of us in perfect Bluebook fashion, but forgetting to answer the question we asked, all the while charging us close to $200 an hour!</rant mode>

Posted by JohnL at 12:08 AM | Comments (0) |

February 18, 2004

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle

I've been noticing the proliferation of guest-bloggers recently at my daily reads.

Robert the Llama Butcher has noticed the trend, too. (Scroll down to Tuesday, February 17, at 9:14AM if the permalink doesn't work).

And his allusion to a certain 1990s movie has me thinking. . .

I wonder if the Missus would let Ms. De Mornay move in for a while to help me with my, er, posting duties? Hmmm.

Posted by JohnL at 11:57 PM | Comments (0) |

Rocket Man

Sorry Mr. Oakley, Burt Rutan borrows your appellation in this recent Christian Science Monitor article.

Money quote: [Regarding certification of Burt's aircraft, only one of which -- the Starship -- ever obtained it]: "It would be a waste" to seek certification, says [Rutan's brother] Dick. "He's an innovative, creative designer. Why should he waste all of his time trying to certify an airplane with a bunch of know-nothing bureaucrats?"

We haven't heard much from Scaled Composites recently, but apparently Rutan's crew is now waiting for the FAA/AST to issue their license. I'll wager that he will win the X-Prize very shortly after getting the license.

Posted by JohnL at 11:43 PM | Comments (0) |

A.I. Constructs and Cyborgs First

Virginia Postrel introduces the concept of dynamism versus stasism in The Future And Its Enemies by referring to the common ground found between "leftist" Jeremy Rifkin and "right-winger" Pat Buchanan in their disdain for and fear of the future.

I get used to seeing dynamist opinions expressed by libertarians almost exclusively. These days, most of the left seems to be anti-western, anti-progress. So it is interesting (and heartening) to run across a leftist site dedicated to an optimistic future achieved through technology. While the bloggers at Cyborg Democracy show a little too much comfort with a "soft" precautionary principle, they are in favor of change, and are giving a great deal of thought to many issues surrounding transhumanism.

Check it out.

Posted by JohnL at 11:28 PM | Comments (0) |

Kirk-a-riffic Fun

Be like the greatest Starfleet Captain of all time.

(Via Dave Barry's guest-blogger Judi).

Posted by JohnL at 11:03 PM | Comments (0) |

Music With Religious Themes

Interesting compilation of music containing biblical or religious references, from Billy Joel to Iron Maiden, the Indigo Girls to Simon and Garfunkel (and many many more). (Hat tip: Instapundit).

While you're there, be sure to check out the rest of Father Tucker's site. He has some interesting posts on the music and liturgy of post-Islamic Christians in Spain, brain fingerprinting, Mel Gibson's Passion, and the Jesuits, among others.

Go check the whole thing out. Despite the irritating light-text-on-a-dark-background style, I'm adding it to my permanent links on the left.

Posted by JohnL at 10:33 PM | Comments (0) |

February 16, 2004


Somehow, even with my light posting over the last 2 weeks, I have evolved into a Flippery Fish (although I fear I could regress to Slimy Mollusc at any point) in the TTLB Ecosystem.

I'll try to consolidate this progress with some fresh posts this week. Many thanks to my 4 or 5 regular readers (and those of you anonymous individuals searching Google for "alessandra + ambrosio + new + pictures" and "saddam + hussein + outcast + flesh" and "why + is + my + tetra + swimming + nose down") for this step up the evolutionary ladder.

If you read this looking for some real content on evolution, I'm sorry to disappoint. But Gene Expression should satisfy you with a fresh post on the evolution of ideas. They also spot an interesting article on the evolution of language and point out a new article on evolution and paleontology. Enjoy.

Posted by JohnL at 09:29 PM | Comments (0) |

More Poetic Spam

I got this from a spammer selling "generic" Cialis.

Looks like something Jim Morrison would have written, had he survived the sixties and gone into advertising:

Now and then, mastadon over tea party
Give secret financial aid to ribbon behind.
Sometimes around hand laughs out loud,
But living with graduated cylinder
Always know tripod behind!
Gonad for jersey cow laugh and drink all night
With traffic light from tape recorder,
Or prime minister about secretly admire around debutante.
Particle accelerator around impresario meditates,
Because fairy related to organize power drill beyond stovepipe.
When bullfrog for lunatic ruminates, behind toothpick panics.
A few bonbons, and wheelbarrow living with gonad
To arrive at a state of mastadon.
Most tea parties believe that over pickup truck
Conquer mortician behind.

Posted by JohnL at 09:07 PM | Comments (0) |

February 12, 2004

Evidence of Dreamers at NASA

Thanks to Jay Manifold (who linked to this page), I found this page on Space Settlements at NASA.

Reminds me of the big dreams I had of someday living or vacationing in space. Not the cramped government housing represented by Mir and the ISS. Instead, vast space habitats, like the station in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Maybe with life-extension technology I'll live long enough to see structures like these built. Unless of course the religious fanatics and allied Luddites ban cloning and nanotech research.

Posted by JohnL at 09:21 PM | Comments (0) |

"A lot of people don't know what freedom means. I do."

Jan Cydzik survived the Nazis. Then, he suffered the Soviets. He got a $1500 reparations check from the German government and bought a grandfather clock to commemorate the three years of slave labor he performed for the Germans. The Russians haven't paid him anything. Not that he's complaining.

Read the whole thing (minimal registration required to access).

(Hat tip: Catallarchy).

Posted by JohnL at 08:42 PM | Comments (0) |

February 06, 2004

Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

Heh. Now I'm part of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

As a libertarian, I don't see myself as "right wing" in much of anything, but I appreciate the recognition. On the really big issues (especially regarding limits of federal power), libertarians and conservatives tend to share quite a bit of common ground.

I guess the link resulted from Tim Sandefur's mention of our postings on the Supreme Court Canon.

Looking at Tim's list, it's obvious that I haven't done much to keep up with Con Law since my graduation from law school in 1994.

Posted by JohnL at 09:07 PM | Comments (0) |

February 05, 2004

Frail Roots of Celebrity

A Trio Channel rerun tonight of a 1983 episode of Late Night With David Letterman makes Robert the Llama Butcher reminisce. (Scroll down if the link doesn't work -- I had that problem, too, until I emailed Blogger [ed. note - this post is from my Blogspot days] technical support and they fixed my permalinks right up).

I liked REM's Murmur, too, (high school for me, not college) and remember playing Radio Free Europe in my first rock band, "Call Us Radical."

It's not only interesting to see how celebrities age, but to look back and see how they started out. Robert nails this point:

This particular Letterman was rather funny, in that Michael Sipe and the rest of the Artistes just looked like some garage-band made up of Mickey-D and WalMart employees, rather than the Sages they have since become. The performance was rushed and nervous. Sipe was in his pre-bald days and just looked like the average teenage punk wanting to know if you want fries with that. Heh. Doesn't change my appreciation of the album. Does remind me of the frail roots of all celebrity. Keep that in mind the next time Bono or Babwa Streisand starts bloviating about the Way Things Ought To be.

Indeed (although I find Bono far less annoying than Babs).

Posted by JohnL at 11:00 PM | Comments (0) |

Supreme Court Canon

I'm just a commercial lawyer. I almost never have to think of Constitutional Law, unlike the esteemed Tim Sandefur, who makes his living as a real life Constitutional litigator for the Pacific Legal Foundation.

So it's hard for me to even think of ten Supreme Court opinions, much less the ten that every American ought to read.

But here are the "top five" I would nominate:

1. Wickard v. Filburn. Ordinary people should understand just how radically the Court stretched the commerce clause during the New Deal ("What? You mean I can't grow corn on my own land for my own consumption???"). I remember being outraged at federal overreach when I read this case in law school. I would hope ordinary people would be equally outraged today.

2. Miranda v. Arizona. We all know the warnings from cop shows. We should read the original case to find out where they came from. Then, read the fourth and fifth amendments and decide where the court found the rule.

3. Marbury v. Madison. Why does the Supreme Court get the last word?

4. Roe v. Wade. Most people with an opinion on abortion talk about this case as though they understand what it means. Have they even read it?

5. Dred Scott v. Sandford. When the talking heads were running around three years ago yammering about the Court losing its "legitimacy" in the wake of Bush v. Gore, they evidently had no sense of history. This is arguably the lowest point in the Court's history, and one that gravely undermined the Court's (and much of the early Republic's) legitimacy.

Posted by JohnL at 09:55 PM | Comments (0) |

Immersive Virtual Environments

I wonder if Professor Hall knows about this project at Virginia Tech?

The picture in the linked article reminds me a little of the clear interactive computer screens at precrime headquarters in Minority Report.

Posted by JohnL at 09:30 PM | Comments (0) |

Classic Lileks

He's got a fantastic screed up today, covering everything from Captain Weenie to baby boomer "culture."

My favorite part (emphasis added):

God no. Please no. I think I speak for millions when I say that I am deathly sick of the counterculture sixties. The music, the war, the protests, all the hagiography - it's not a reflection of the era's importance but the self-importance of the generation who hung on the bus as it trundled along down the same old rutted road of history. I'm tired of hearing about the boomers' days of whine and neuroses; I'm weary of ritual genuflection to their musical icons; I'm utterly disinterested in most of the pop-cult trivia they hold so dear. We'll probably be better off when that demographic pig has been excreted from the python so we can see the era clearly without choking on the smoke.

Go read the whole thing.

Posted by JohnL at 09:01 PM | Comments (0) |

February 04, 2004

Ten "Classic" Technologies

Geekpress links to an article on ten technologies that won't die.

I still use vacuum tubes (I have a couple of Hammond organs and a Leslie amplifier) and think analog watches and typewriters are valuable to have, just because it's nice to have a few well-crafted items that don't require electrical power.

Posted by JohnL at 09:35 PM | Comments (0) |

While I'm At It. . .

Here is the visited countries map:

create your own visited country map or check out these Google Hacks.

Posted by JohnL at 09:30 PM | Comments (0) |

Visited States Map

Everyone else seems to be doing these, so here's mine:

create your own visited states map or check out these Google Hacks.

(Tim Sandefur's map was the last straw. There are some great places to see in all of the states he has missed).

Posted by JohnL at 09:26 PM | Comments (0) |

Is This Really Surprising?

Patrick Stewart (a/k/a weenie Captain Jean Luc Picard) opposes human exploration of outer space.

Reason: "It would take up so many resources, which I personally feel should be directed at our own planet."

Posted by JohnL at 09:18 PM | Comments (0) |

February 03, 2004

Long John Silver's

I've always liked Long John Silver's, even though Mrs. Texasbestgrok's shellfish allergy has cut down on my opportunities to visit.

Turns out they have offered a free giant shrimp to anyone asking for it on March 15, 2004, but only if NASA discovers and announces "conclusive evidence" of an ocean on Mars before February 29, 2004.

Here are the official terms of the offer, for any lawyerly types. I particularly like this line in the press release: "In the letter [to NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe], [Long John Silver's President] Davis also officially registered interest in Long John Silver's becoming the first seafood restaurant on Mars. 'It's not a matter of "if," it's just a matter of "when" human beings are able to live permanently on Mars. Long John Silver's mission is to feed people with delicious seafood wherever they are -- on earth or even outer space.'"

It may be a gimmick, but I plan to pay to sample a few of these giant shrimp as soon as they are available on February 15.

Update: I should have put a hat-tip to SFSignal in this article.

Posted by JohnL at 10:08 PM | Comments (0) |

Another Silly Quiz



If I were a character in The Lord of the Rings, I would be Celeborn, Elf, King of Lothlorien, husband of Galadriel and grandfather of Arwen.

In the movie, I am played by Marton Csokas.

Who would you be?
Zovakware Lord of the Rings Test with Perseus Web Survey Software

Posted by JohnL at 09:51 PM | Comments (0) |

A Different Perspective on the Superbowl

Steven den Beste always makes me think, regardless of the topic he is covering.

Predictably, much of the major blogosphere's coverage of the Superbowl has focused on Nipplegate.

By contrast, Den Beste provides a more thoughtful commentary on the importance of the [non]event.

Posted by JohnL at 09:48 PM | Comments (0) |

Metaphysical Spam

A few weeks ago, I noted the strangely poetic nature of some spam that I had received.

James Lileks works this theme to better effect in this Backfence article.

Best lines: "The purpose, I think, is to see whether or not the e-mail address is valid. If the letter doesn't bounce back, then the address is valid. It's spam designed to sense whether you exist. It's almost metaphysical in its intent."

Read and enjoy.

Posted by JohnL at 09:36 PM | Comments (0) |

Flatulent Televangelist

Some of you may remember Robert Tilton, the smarmy televangelist who used to broadcast from Carrollton, Texas (just a 'burb or two over from here).

A good friend of mine in Iowa sent me this hilarious video of Tilton at his slimy best, with some extra sound effects. Warning -- make sure you do not have any drink in your mouth while viewing this. I will not be held responsible for any damage to monitors or keyboards if you disregard this warning.

Posted by JohnL at 09:30 PM | Comments (0) |

February 02, 2004

Rocket Man Returns

And posts an interesting article on space access.

Of course, I wonder, does the current national space policy encourage the blooming of a thousand flowers? I couldn't agree more with the sentiment of "Get the government out of the way and let people do what they want to in space and who knows what people will decide to do there." What can we change to make it so? Read the whole thing and think.

Posted by JohnL at 10:04 PM | Comments (0) |

Just Say No

Strategy Page has a video demonstrating the effects of LSD on British troops in a test that appears to have been conducted in the early 1960s.

Posted by JohnL at 09:16 PM | Comments (0) |