May 27th, 2005

Brad @ Burning Man


My sleep schedule has gone completely random again, I think due to under-stimulation. It's leaving me a little mentally scattered. (I was delighted to spend a couple of days helping a couple of my friends by mowing their lawn and vacuuming their carpets, so they could get other things done. If you've got any household chores that can be outsourced and it's worth coming to get me, do so. You don't even have to feed me; I just need time with other people and something to do.) Because I'm having a little trouble concentrating, tonight's column is less than half done, and I'm out of energy to work on it. So, you know the drill: you get Quicktakes. Looking over the list, I guess tonight's is the "science and engineering" edition.

professor Moriarity is prohibited from reading this: Sam Hughes, "Mundicide: How to Destroy the Earth." I'm not crazy about showing it to codeb6, either.
"This is not a guide for wusses whose aim is merely to wipe out humanity. I (Sam Hughes) can in no way guarantee the complete extinction of the human race via any of these methods, real or imaginary. Humanity is wily and resourceful, and many of the methods outlined below will take many years to even become available, let alone implement, by which time mankind may well have spread to other planets; indeed, other star systems. If total human genocide is your ultimate goal, you are reading the wrong document. There are far more efficient ways of doing this, many which are available and feasible RIGHT NOW. Nor is this a guide for those wanting to annihilate everything from single-celled life upwards, render Earth uninhabitable or simply conquer it. These are trivial goals in comparison.

This is a guide for those who do not want the Earth to be there anymore."

Ten step-by-step scientifically feasible plans for completely destroying an inhabited planet, complete with an analysis of what scientific or engineering breakthroughs would be required, when the author thinks we will have the necessary technology, and how long after that the destruction will take. All you mad_scientists need to not go getting any ideas from this! (grin)

William Holmes, "System Changes Hog Waste Into Clean Water." (AP via Yahoo! News, 5/20/05.) Suffering Christ. This is too good to be true. On the off chance that some of you didn't know, one of the huge environmental disasters caused by factory farming is the proliferation of mind-numbingly awful waste lagoons. Which is just a fancy way of saying that there are buildings dotted around the landscape from which automated sprinkler systems hose tens of thousands of gallons of pig shit, chicken shit, and cow shit, but especially pig shit, into giant man-made lakes. Indefinitely. In theory, eventually bacteria will eat the toxins and the solid wastes will settle and the environment will take care of this problem on its own. In practice, um, no. Pig farms were never pleasant neighbors, even before factory farming. Trust me, I know. Taylor University was periodically downwind of Pigland, the largest pork farm in northern Indiana. And that was before factory farming got really concentrated, before the giant waste lagoons, back when it was just hundreds of pigs half the size of my car crapping straight into the mud.

So now there's this new system by a guy named Dan Lloyd in North Carolina. It purifies pig shit into drinking water and odorless compost in six hours, and he claims that it costs 40% less to operate than an old fashioned wastewater lagoon! Now this is what environmentalism looks like at its absolute best. When this guy's system gets final approval and patents and whatnot, it'll be available at a reasonable fee to every hog farm in America. But most of them will resist investing in it. Why? Because they've already got wastewater lagoons. If 9/10ths of them invest in the Dan Lloyd system and the other 10th instead cut their prices and invest money in buying out their competitors, that 1/10th will end up owning the other 9/10th, and nobody will use the new system. So nobody will even try. But if the government mandates it, then everybody will grumble, and everybody will invest in the new system on the last possible date, after every conceivable court challenge -- and suddenly the whole industry will be saving 40% on waste handling costs.

Home Reserve furniture: God, I adore this stuff. Somebody on my friends list linked to this ages ago, I forget for sure who, but I'm extremely grateful. I can't afford new furniture now; heck, I can't afford my rent, I haven't even been able to afford to go to the new Star Wars movie. But if/when I ever get money, this stuff pushes my buttons. For one thing, it looks like comfortable, practical furniture. For another, the prices really can't be beat, $299 buys a full-sized couch. On top of that, that price includes your choice of 63 different fabrics and patterns, no extra charge for most of them. (Right now I'd be leaning towards the Kid Glove Loden Microfibre.) Even better, you can buy an entire replacement set of fabrics, for when you change your mind, for half the price of a new couch, and change it yourself in seconds.

But the best part, the part that really hooks me in, is the absolutely ingenious design. From manufacturing to shipping to the home assembly process to the under-seat storage to the quick and simple system for changing or cleaning fabrics, there just isn't anything about these that doesn't delight the engineer in me. Don't believe me? Take a brief look at their assembly instruction page. There's a flash animation at the top that shows one of their chairs coming together step by step. Isn't that beautiful?

By the way, there's a relatively new version of Semagic out, the software I use to compose these entries. From version 1.5.0 on, editing is now a breeze. If you wish you could include some of the links and other tricks I do here and don't want to screw around with HTML the way I used to, this is the LiveJournal tool for you. It now toggles easily between HTML and WYSIWYG views. So I type away as if it were an ordinary word processor, using the usual keyboard equivalents for bold, italic, and underline. If I want to insert a link to someone on my friends list or friends-of list, I just pop down the menu of all of them. To insert a link to another web page, I just highlight the text of the link and type ctrl-M, and get a pop-up window into which I can paste the URL and change any link settings I want. On the very rare occasions where I want to manually tweak the HTML, like using HTML character entities for accented letters or adjusting the spacing on a block quote or a bulleted list or add "align=right" to an image tag, I flip over to the HTML view, type maybe a few characters, then switch it back to WYSIWYG and go back to effortlessly writing. If you're using Windows and you've been putting off installing an external LiveJournal client, this is probably a good time to do so.
  • Current Music
    Trinitix and Big Abo - Drugs (D I G I T A L L Y - I M P O R T E D - Goa & Psychedelic Trance - a voy
  • Tags
    , ,