Saturday, April 04, 2009

Just Windy Enough

I wanted to burn today because there is no burning on Sunday in our town. Burning is allowed the rest of the days, weather permitting. I called the hot line and the weather was not permitting. It is damp out, so the problem must be the breeze.

Okay, fine. Lemons, lemonade, whatever--I took the kids & dog to a play field to run around and try and fly a kite. After an hour of mixed success, I came to the conclusion that the wind is just slightly not strong enough to fly a kite in. That is; there was just enough wind to keep me trying, but not succeeding, for about an hour and a half.

Mother Nature, you are no lady.

Friday, April 03, 2009


I'll tell you; that short balding guy with the beard has got a heck of a lot of star-power!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

At the courthouse

My wife and I were at the probate court and my keys set-off the metal detector. So I tossed them into the bin and the officer noticed my Swiss Army pen-knife. He was totally cool about it though. I could put it into an envelope and then turn-in a receipt for it when we left.

On the way out I handed the officer (a different one from the one there when I came in) the receipt and he gave me back my pocket knife. I looked at it quizzically and asked, "Hey, wasn't this a Glock when I dropped it off"?

It got an amused smile.

Only later I realized that it is just the kind of thing that gets you trouble you were not expecting. But not this time!

Aha, insight.

My wife and I were in Cambridge this morning and had to walk from the Kendall T station down to the Middlesex Probate court. This is the heart of the biotechnology sector here and so, as Spring follows Winter, we saw a Segway rider.

All of a sudden I figured-out what it is that makes Segway riders look ridiculous:

It is the flapping of pant legs in the breeze.

Monday, March 30, 2009

English to Morse Code translator.

.. ..-. --- .-. --- -. . .-- . .-.. -.-. --- -- . --- ..- .-. - .- .-.. .-.. --..-- -.. .- .-. -.- .- -. -.. ... --- -.-. .. .- .-.. .. ... - --- ...- . .-. .-.. --- .-. -.. .-.-.-

Hat tip Lileks, via Twitter


I wish I could write as well as my 12 year old daughter

Cinderella looked down at her feet. A hot tear ran down to the tip of her nose. She shook her head, no. The tear rolled off her nose and left a splattered mark on the floor. "Oh, and Cinderella- you missed a spot!" Stepmother said motioning to the spot on the floor.
Her whole re-telling of the classic story is here.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I wish I could say this as clearly

The biosphere is the most complicated of all the things we humans have to deal with. The science of planetary ecology is still young and undeveloped. It is not surprising that honest and well-informed experts can disagree about facts. But beyond the disagreement about facts, there is another deeper disagreement about values. The disagreement about values may be described in an over-simplified way as a disagreement between naturalists and humanists. Naturalists believe that nature knows best. For them the highest value is to respect the natural order of things. Any gross human disruption of the natural environment is evil. Excessive burning of fossil fuels is evil. Changing nature’s desert, either the Sahara desert or the ocean desert, into a managed ecosystem where giraffes or tunafish may flourish, is likewise evil. Nature knows best, and anything we do to improve upon Nature will only bring trouble.

The humanist ethic begins with the belief that humans are an essential part of nature. Through human minds the biosphere has acquired the capacity to steer its own evolution, and now we are in charge. Humans have the right and the duty to reconstruct nature so that humans and biosphere can both survive and prosper. For humanists, the highest value is harmonious coexistence between humans and nature. The greatest evils are poverty, underdevelopment, unemployment, disease and hunger, all the conditions that deprive people of opportunities and limit their freedoms. The humanist ethic accepts an increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as a small price to pay, if world-wide industrial development can alleviate the miseries of the poorer half of humanity. The humanist ethic accepts our responsibility to guide the evolution of the planet.

(All bolding mine)

From: A Many-Colored Glass: Reflections on the Place of Life in the Universe (Page Barbour Lectures) (Hardcover) by Freeman J. Dyson

Put me down on the humanist side of this debate. I should note that this kind of humanist is not the kind meant by religious folks when they find themselves opposed to "secular humanists". Rather the opposite; they would find themselves more likely on the humanist side of this humanist/naturist debate.