Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Never Enough Solar Goodness Department

You probably have seen reports of wearable solar cells, which will make gadget fantatics happy with mobile recharability. It's a step in the right direction, to be sure, but for those with memories of large black panels, it isn't necessarily inspirational. Enter PowerGlass, a sticky, transparent window film that turns any window into a solar panel. Being transparent, they aren't as efficient as slabs of dark silicon--but the film is much cheaper than silicon solar cells, and so should generate a lot more power for the buck.

That's nice for us Westerners, but what about the third-world, where modern solar cell films and old-generation silicon cells alike are cost-prohibitive? How do paper solar cells grab you? While I would not expect much efficiency out of these, the cost should be so low that it won't matter much. Cell phones--already preferred in the Third World for not requiring expensive phone lines or switching stations--could be charged easily with such technology.

Those who said solar was too primitive, or too much a niche technology, obviously didn't realize how different the world would be in a few decades. GO SOLAR!

Never Enough Feed Guidance Department

The biggest problem with RSS/Atom newsfeeds is that, once you submit an article, you cannot hope to make last-minute changes that nobody will notice.

Does anyone have suggestions for dealing with duplicate feed entries, aside from creating a draft and not submitting it until I'm perfectly happy with it? I know, it's not professional to do otherwise, but like I have said before: I'm just like the pros--only less so.

Never Enough Cognitive Dissidents Department

Jaye Ramsey Sutter's blog inspired me:

I can understand cognitive dissonance wearing people out. But by the same token, I must admit it doesn't bother me much. In fact, it seems like I've been awash in cognitive dissonance my entire life--that my life, in fact, is a large, dissonant cognition, if you will.

When Ronald Reagan promised in 1980 to cut taxes and increase military spending, I sat up and noticed.

When the Sunday School teachers at my Assembly of God told me, in all earnestness, that all men have one less rib than women do, I took note and puzzled over the fact.

When the Iran-Contra scandal broke, and a small army of government officials claimed that the assassinations, drug-running, and deals with dictators were all done in the name of American freedom and democracy, you bet I caught that.

When I began to be exposed to perceptual psychology, and came across the realization that we can't always trust our perceptions, and that our very brains will trick us in order to make sense of what we perceive--I gave that fact a big red "URGENT" stamp.

When quantum mechanics revealed a world utterly alien to common sense, and yet too accurate in its predictions and too consistent in its logic to be dismissed, I acknowleged it as another piece of the puzzle.

When post-modernism became the vogue, and people started using the phrase "Reality isn't what it used to be" with decreasing irony, I was ready to say, "Duh."

When a Bush aide (Rove, maybe?) stated that "we create our own reality," I was not in the least surprised. I was prepared for it in ways the Democratic Party is only now starting to realize.

But that doesn't change the wisdom that there are certain externalities that cannot be brushed off by creating one's own reality, no matter how thoroughly imposed that reality might be upon the masses. Everything you perceive about, say, a mountain--its seemingly eternal size, its color, its solidness--might be questionable. You may realize that mountains are heaved upwards over millions of years, or built up from ash cones and lava flows over hundreds of years. You may realize that the mountain's color is due to light reflected off its surface atoms, filtered through the eye, and interpreted by the brain, and that therefore its "color" is not "real". You may even stop to contemplate that 99% of the volume of that mountain is empty space, with colliding electrons giving the illusion of solidness. But don't be hasty to conclude that the mountain is not real. If you try to fly an airplane through it, you will crash.

And so, in an age of cognitive dissonance, where it is easy to manipulate facts to start a war but impossible to manipulate your way out of the war, I can say with confidence:


Never Enough Five-Day Weekends Department

Lucky me: Not only will I have Thanksgiving and the day after off from work, but Saturday, Sunday and Monday as well. I haven't had a break from work unrelated to unemployment in ages, so this will be a treat. If anything, I might blog more often during the hiatus. If I don't, blame Age Of Empires II--I will!

And of course, I'm waiting with baited breath for Age Of Empires III and Civilization 4 for Mac....

Never Enough Breathtaking Changes Department

The old map:

The new map:

Data for the new map taken from Survey USA; map rendered by dreaminonempty of DailyKos.

Quite impressive, no?

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Never Enough Weirdness Confirmations Department

You Are 80% Weird

You're more than quirky, you're downright strange.

But you're also strangely compelling, like a cult leader.

"Like a cult leader"? Hon, I am a cult leader. But at least I belong to a hilarious cult.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Never Enough Blog Games Department

My dear friend, bridesmaid, and fellow SubGenius minister, the Rabbi Jacklyn Hyde, was tagged by a friend who had an interesting blog game. Here's her entry, and while she didn't tag me in turn, I figured I'd play as well.

Here's the rules:

1. Go into your archives.
2. Find your 23rd post.
3. Find the 5th sentence (or close to it.)
4. Post that, along with these rules, in your blog.
5. Tag 5 people.

So here's mine:

"Emperor is releasing a new album, Prometheus: The Discipline Of Fire And Demise, which is being hyped as a culmination of this seminal and ground-breaking black metal band's work. And then... farewell."

What's changed since then? Not much, except that Emperor will get back together to headline a couple of large European metal festivals, including the classic Wacken festival. There's no way I can afford to travel overseas for either festival--and the passport would be an extra headache in its own right--but it does raise the possibility that Emperor may visit these shores again, one day. And that makes me smile.

I recently dusted off the Prometheus album, as I'm sure regular readers would've guessed by my post two entries ago. The album still stands as a classic of extreme metal, with soaring, grand melodies and rich, powerful singing mixed with savage riffing and screeches of metaphysical agonies. Get yourself a copy and you won't be disappointed.

This album consoled me at SeaTac when my flight to Tampa was delayed in late September 2001, helped me stay sane in the political fallout following 9/11, and invigorated me during many challenging times since. I'm personally grateful to Emperor for leaving this parting gift, and hope some day I can leave a similar present.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Never Enough Queer Metalheads Department

Do you identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, intersexed, questioning, queer, queer-friendly, etc. etc.?

Do you also like to bang your head to heavy metal, especially extreme metal?

You are far from alone. And is here to prove it. Feel free to join the discussions; there's already been some pretty, er, interesting subjects raised.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Never Enough Election Victories Department

Here in Washington State, by and large the populace sided with progessive politicians and initiatives, and rejected attempts by the GOP to get their petty revenge against Governor Gregoire. You can see the election results here here.

I wonder if the right wing will reach the wisdom that the main character of Emperor's Prometheus album reached:

He realised that the cheering cries of worship
Were but echoes of his harsh outspoken word
Reflecting back at him from cold and naked walls
In hollow circles fled illusions of wisdom he had heard

"From nothing came all I ever knew"

And he beheld the ruins
Of an empire torn apart
Yet, no grief nor rage did bind him
Just silent and bewildered
By the emptiness
He stumbled off his throne
Just sayin'.