New Orleans Bleg

When my wife and I were planning our wedding 13 years ago we reached the point where it started to get hairy.  You know what I mean…where is so and so going to sit, what color will the linens be, who will do the toast at the reception, etc, etc, etc.

 I will give you the very short version of the ending – the planning process started to involve way too many people and quickly spiraled out of control.  I remember to this day sitting on the couch in our apartment (yes, we lived in sin!) and saying to my fiance at the time, still my wife to this day the following:

Do you want to get the heck out of here and elope to New Orleans?

 The answer was an enthusiastic YES.

And so we did.  That was back in 1995.

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Some cool, flash based physics engines

Physics engines simulate physical processes in a more or less realistic way. Simulations that come up with results that are accurate enough for research purposes aren’t available in real-time yet, but faster computers and specialized hardware for just this purpose should make that possible in the near future.

These two flash based ones are two-dimensional and work in real-time, but results are certainly realistic enough for what they are supposed to do:

This one is especially cool, draw some shapes with your mouse and watch them fall and interact with each other. You can also errect simple structures on the ground and combine them to gte larger buildings.

This is one I had found a while ago via It offers demonstrations of bridges, rag doll physics, compound shapes as well as simple engines and mechanisms.

I simply can’t wait for the three-dimensional versions that are sure to follow.

Classy, dear Rupert, real classy

Ike Turner died last December. Besides being famous as a Rock ‘n’ roll musician, Turner also was notorious for the physical abuse of his ex-wife Tina.

So what kind of headline does the New York Post go for? The headline in the worst possible taste, of course:


The bar for tabloids is set at a subterranean level anyhow, but the New York Post dug right under it with ease.

Quote of the Day

Technological advances, from the light bulb and telephone, to the car and airplane, to the transistor and internet, are discontinuities from life as previously known. So are penicillin, the C-section, Lipitor and MRI’s. So are innovations like the corporate org chart, capital and expense accounting, the experience curve, and consumer marketing. All these innovations constitute the infrastructure of wealth and longevity.
Within the general trend of increased global wealth and longevity are periods of decidedly negative impact as well. The Black Death of 1348 wiped out half of Europe, the 1918 influenza epidemic killed 30 million people, and World War II reduced the earth’s population by 2.5%. Mao and Stalin also killed tens of millions of their people. There have periods of economic death as well. The 75 years of the USSR’s existence comes to mind, and of course the Great Crash, when the Dow Jones Industrials went from 299 to 41, and a quarter of America went unemployed. We would note that few of these negative discontinuities were foreseen (heck, the New York Times may still think that the USSR was a model of economic success!).
We really don’t know what is going to happen in the future, in part because the West is fat, dumb and happy, and has been so for a very long time now, at least since World War II. So we do not know what will happen when the West, and other parts of the world, experience the inevitable and severe stresses associated with the massive discontinuities that inevitably happen from time to time. The West has been super lucky in that the post-WWII discontinuities have almost all been on the positive side so far. It would be a mistake to blithely extrapolate that endlessly into the future.



Go see it. Five stars. I loved it.

New York gets whacked again, this time by some kind of alien assault. If you remember 9/11, this will look familiar.

The movie gives a picture of what it would look like if open conflict occurred in America. Could happen.

The movie harks back to many classics: Alien, War of the Worlds, Godzilla, Poseidon Adventure, Earthquake, others I haven’t thought of yet. There is definitely an H.P. Lovecraft element to it, as well. In its way it is a cinematic homage to the unhallowed but totally great B-List of Hollywood SF and disaster films.

Hollywood lost a fortune depicting the American Army as a bunch of rapists and war criminals. This movie shows the Army going straight on against some God-awful things from outer space (I suppose), with cold professionalism. The fantasy film is closer to the reality of what the Army does — put its life at risk to kill America’s enemies, whether human or alien.

The (main) monster was cool. Query: If tank main-gun rounds couldn’t put the thing away, maybe it is made of some kind of alien gelatin, like Cthulhu, and the shells just go throught it? Only directorial misstep: showing the monster too clearly. Better to have left it at glimpses.

The movie also has a good depiction of a metrosexual yuppie guy acting like a man amidst danger and destruction, when the chips are down. Nice to see that, too.

This movie says more things about America that are true than most of what is packaged as slice-of-life drama.

I hope it makes a fortune for the people who made it. I am sure it will do a raging business in the Middle East, where the sight of New York being blown-up is a proven crowd-pleaser, and the audiences can cheer for the monsters.