Angels from Another Pin
(Eschatological aspirations)

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30 April 2002 ::   The lion's share of this flight will be devoted to the study of the effects of weightlessness on tiny screws  
Fred Adams and Greg Laughlin postulate the Five Ages of the Universe, in which the Universe slowly winds down and eventually dies, senile and exhausted.

USA Today provides the technical definitions of common weather terms.

This seems to be a book to display prominently in your office when you feel your employer is on the wrong track.

29 April 2002 ::   Not allowed to let sock puppets take responsibility for any of my actions  
I'm sure you heard about the breakup of the Larsen B ice shelf in Antarctica a month or so ago. Now we have an animation of the breakup of the ice shelf composed of pictures taken by the NASA Terra satellite over the course of three months. Of course, Larsen B has already broken up twice before--in 1995 and 1998-99. Each time the ice shelf breaks up it stabilizes temporarily at its new, smaller size then breaks up again in three years. I bet we'll see a further collapse of the shelf in 2005.

View with equal amounts of amusement and horror the 100 things Army E-4 Skippy has been ordered not to do. An expanded list is also available.
* E-4 is an enlisted rank in the U.S. Army.

Do you, perhaps, need to look up the weather in Sessano del Molise?

No rest for the wicked: Microsoft has released a cumulative IIS patch as of 10 April 2002.

27 April 2002 ::   You must never run from anything immortal; it attracts their attention  
Today is my birthday, as well as the birthday of Ulysses S. Grant--a man who was a failure as president but whom I would nevertheless not hesitate to invite to dinner, as long as I remembered to visit the liquor store first.

Because it's my birthday I feel I have license to link to goofy stuff, such as The $20,000 Zig meme-smashing Flash animation. Matt Smith and I nearly hurt ourselves laughing at this, which probably says something about our average level of mentation.

The world needs a film on Jedi safety: Your Lightsaber and You, starring Jedi Master Flash and P. Darth Diddy.

Hey, Mark! An article in The Economist has declared your town is in the most gerrymandered Congressional district in the country. The article also explains how Moore's Law and the continuing expansion of computer power have made gerrymandering simpler and more outrageous. The gerrymandering in Illinois is thrown into sharp relief by the PDF of the old district map, which shows the districts for the most part running along county borders, except right around Chicago. (The maps for the old districts are on pages 11 and 12 of the PDF.)

26 April 2002 ::   It's alive—ALIVE! ...I've always wanted to say that.  
Family history time! View the family count in the phone book for Sessano del Molise, a small town in the Italian province of Isernia from where part of my family emigrated.

I've only been able to discover one photo of Sessano del Molise on the Internet so far. It's quite picturesque.

The One Ring is drawn to power...

So they cut your head open while you're awake and probe around in your brain... Sound like a torture scene from a bad 1950s sci-fi movie? Nope, it's awake brain mapping, a technique which allows brain surgeons to perform tumor removals while minimizing damage to the surrounding healthy brain tissue.

25 April 2002 ::   Now you'll incur the penalties with the compound interest and the wrath and the truncheons  
Grasshopper glaciers, the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences, and a swarm of locusts 1,800 miles long and 110 miles wide: the riddle of the extinction of the Rocky Mountain locust.

The Welsh site of Portmeirion is an architectural study built in Wales by the wealthy Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis in the earlier part of the twentieth century. The town was the location for the surreal and clever TV show The Prisoner.

Noel Tominack
24 April 2002 ::   Where is the secure, undisclosed location where they're keeping Tom DeLay's brain?  
Slightly wacky science: David Criswell, a former NASA manager, is trying to get the U.S. government interested in a $135 billion project to put lunar solar panels into operation to beam power to the Earth.

Tom DeLay believes that only Christianity is a valid belief. Of course, his spokesman later denied DeLay meant that religious pluralism is bad or anything like that--but, frankly, I suspect that this denial can be regarded as bull.

23 April 2002 ::   Nail file...magnifying glass...come on, where's that dang antimatter ray?  
The military is researching force feedback clothing which will function using magnets. Two 1.5 meter coils produce a three newton force (equal to 300 grams pulled by Earth's gravity) in the test device.

22 April 2002 ::   He contemplates the Buddha in his jacuzzi  
Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are appearing together in the western sky. Don't forget to look up.

The world's oldest scientifically reported age for a currently living wild bird: a fifty year old Manx shearwater which was first tagged by ornithologists in 1957.

19 April 2002 ::   Now defunct, but still beautiful  
Anyone who has ever been a headset monkey will recognize the characters in Welcome to the Internet Help Desk by the Canadian comedy team Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie. (Note: When registering for, use a bogus email address. They don't verify the data you supply to them, and they send a billion pieces of spam mail a week if you use your real address.)

Creativity, ghosts, and God all hide within the nascent science of transcranial magnetic stimulation, if researchers are correct.

General Tso was a brilliant and brutal 19th century Chinese general. The dish named for him is either an old Hunan viand or a modern recipe invented in Manhattan in the 1970s.

18 April 2002 ::   This could be a sign that your government is unbalanced, bent, or Italy  
Last night I saw the first television show to mention the destruction of the Twin Towers as an historical event, i.e. something that happened and is completed. Super Structures of America: Thinking Big noted that "only once did New Yorkers build something taller than the Empire State Building," and continued with the comment that with the destruction of the World Trade Center the ESB is once again the tallest building in New York.

That just doesn't sound right to me.

As senators listened aghast, officials from the Centers for Disease Control, FBI, FDA, NASA, and National Endowment for the Arts confessed that despite the safeguards implemented since September, the country remains at implausible risk.

"Mr. Henshaw, like million of Americans, I want to believe my country can protect me, but also, like millions of Americans, I have a stapler that I use to fasten important papers," said Lott, holding up a Swingline #545 desktop model. "What if this stapler suddenly turns on me, decides to attack me, inflicting hundreds of puncture wounds on my person like this (clack) aaaargghh!! (clack) arrrgghh!! (clack) eowarrrgghh!! so that I bleed to death?"

17 April 2002 ::   Both books originate in Britain, the British being the biographer-ants of literary entomology  
The last Count Dracula is looking to adopt an heir. Ottomar Rudolphe Vlad Dracula Prinz Kretzulesco has spent the last decade working on blood drives with the German Red Cross and has no children. To qualify for adoption, one needs to be of noble (and presumably tasty) blood.

The dying Chinese women's language of nushu has a lovely, Chinese-derived script of around a thousand characters which can be seen on aging but still beautiful books and embroidery.

While we're on the topic of dying linguistics, the New York Times has a neat article on dead or dying English words.

16 April 2002 ::   Leave your eyes open, Meatwad; I wanna horrify you into a coma  
A $20 double eagle coin minted in 1933 is literally the rarest coin in the world. It was never circulated, and after being stolen from the United States Treasury Department it made its way into the collection of King Farouk of Egypt. Only one of this coin exists, and it is worth an estimated six million dollars.

Your education is not complete if you have not read Machiavelli's The Prince. The book is short, lucid, and holds up remarkably well after half a millennium of sociological advances. I asked for this book for my thirteenth birthday, and I still remember the odd look my father gave me when I requested it.

15 April 2002 ::   I was working on a flat tax proposal, and I accidentally proved there’s no God  
Lake Vostok in Antarctica has been sealed off from the outside world by thousands of meters of ice for 15 million years. Scientists are using Vostok as a testing ground for instruments and techniques to be used for a mission to Europa.

The US Army has invented iron rations.

14 April 2002 ::   A computer is like an Old Testament god, with a lot of rules and no mercy  
A helpful remider to our American readers: Taxes are due tomorrow!

Microsoft is ditching .NET My Services, a.k.a. Hailstorm because none of their enterprise consumers are interested in a product which (a) puts Microsoft between their customers and themselves, (b) involves Microsoft "security," and (c) allows Microsoft to data-mine their hard-won customer data. I'm starting to reconsider .NET; all the news lately has been negative.

12 April 2002 ::   I created the game, the universe, and my opponent; and yet I'm losing!  
When Harlie Was One: Angels from Another Pin first broadcast into the ether on April 12, 2001.

The 750 ton East India Company frigate Grosvenor sank off the coast of modern South Africa in 1782. Her passengers and crew trekked overland to Port Elisabeth, but only six completed the trip, although two more men were rescued by later Dutch expeditions. Some items from the ship have been recovered, but not the greatest treasure rumored to be aboard--the Peacock Throne of Shah Jahan, the builder of the Taj Mahal.

Lightcraft: laser-powered escape pod.

11 April 2002 ::   Mad cow disease revealed to be hoax devised by sneaky cattle  
The US Naval Observatory site which provides the Moon phase picture for the upper-right corner of this page appears to be broken. Our operatives are currently working on purchasing the US Navy so we can sack the Webmaster and have the problem fixed. A stopgap has been inserted until those slackers in the US government get their acts together.

Only the cool kids get a page which resides in the root directory of the Knights of the Dinner Table site.

The US Geological Survey provides a list of every crater on the Moon, where each is sited, how large it is, and for whom it is named. They also provide a cool table of everything named by the Apollo astronauts.

10 April 2002 ::   Are all secret brotherhoods this boring?  
The Great Coke-In. "I don't need no megaphone, because, as you know, the megaphone is the tool of the devil!"

The postmodern colonial empire. Senior serving British diplomat Robert Cooper has been smoking the wacky tobaccy. Note, for instance, his bizarre belief that the Europeans were the motivating force behind saving Kosovo. I seem to remember the US having to bash Europe's diplomatic corps in the face until it noticed "those bloody foreigners" were having a spot of trouble down in the Balkans.

9 April 2002 ::   Freewill is an inaccessible file and cannot be destroyed  
And God created Day and Night. And God saw there were 0 errors. A slightly different version can be found on a Penn State personal page.

The Neighborhoods of Philadelphia.

8 April 2002 ::   These babies will be in the stores while he's still grappling with the pickle matrix!  
The creation of secure cryptography via the use of in-jokes within neural networks sounds like something out of a Vinge novel.

Britain shows more sense than America: the second largest teachers' union in the UK has voted to halt the creation of new faith schools and encourage existing schools to become secular by breaking their religious links.

7 April 2002 ::   Charging a man with murder in this place was like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500  
A parable of today.

6 April 2002 ::   No one who is in favor of eugenics should be allowed to reproduce  
Sources for the New York Times estimate that of the 2.5 billion pounds of clothes that Americans donate each year, as much as 80 percent gets trucked off to companies that sell the donated clothing to poor countries for profit under such categories as "Premium," "Africa A," Africa B," and "Wiper Rag."

Starbucks has a prepaid coffee card dealie that allows its customers to slide some plastic and get a cup of overpriced java. This is great for Starbucks (increased customer throughput, decreased chance of employee cash theft) but awful for the counter personnel, who are being tipped much less than they were in the old, cash-heavy paradigm.

5 April 2002 ::   I met a traveller from an antique land  
The online comic strip PvP Online rightly savages conman John Edward in a series of cartoons this week. "Carl Sagan says 'Suck it!'"

Mike Ryan
Comet Ikeya-Zhang passes by the Andromeda Galaxy tonight.

Rameses II ruled Egypt for 67 years. When he died at the age of 90, perhaps only a few dozen of his millions of subjects were old enough to remember a time when the deified king Rameses the Great had not ruled their nation. Rameses ruled for so long that he had 100 children and outlived at least five sons chosen to succeed him. In 1987, American archaeologist Kent Weeks used the last dregs of cash in a project to map the warren of tombs in the Valley of the Kings to unearth an unregarded tomb which had been overlaid with rubble by Howard Carter when he excavated the tomb of King Tutankhamun in 1922. This unremarkable tomb, King's Valley 5 or KV5, turned out to be the resting place of the Lost Princes of Rameses the Great--a vast underground mausoleum the size of a football field that is as yet only 7% excavated.

The throne name of Rameses the Great was User-maat-re, mangled into Ozymandias by the Greeks, and my very favorite poem is about him. The original of "My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!" was the boasting "King of Kings am I, Osymandias. If anyone would know how great I am and where I lie, let him surpass one of my works," noted as the inscription on a massive statue at the Ramesseum in 60 BC by Diodorus Siculus in a history of Egypt written a milennium and a half after Rameses' death.

Much of Egyptology requires the extrapolation of great details from tiny shards of knowledge.

Be sure to have your hard hat on in March of 2880 and, more importantly, this weekend.

4 April 2002 ::   It ticks off the steam bunny behind the espresso machines  
Convenience versus lifestyle: why Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks coexist in the same marketplace.

SETI@home has found 1379 interesting signals among the millions of Gaussians, spikes, triplets, and pulsed signals sorted by its online volunteers over the last three and a half years.

3 April 2002 ::   He had that big shiny hypnotism coin from the novelty catalog  
It's battle royale between Electronics Boutique US and Electronics Boutique UK with the soul of the European video game market up for grabs! (I personally wish a pox upon both their houses.)

Thomas McMullan
The day before I left my last job, I heard a couple of soccer-mom types at a class talking about phony corporate painter Thomas Kinkade. He's had a novel ghostwritten for him. It's apparently awful, just like his paintings.

2 April 2002 ::   Omnis tuus castra sunt inesse nos  
The Cosmopolis XXI is a descendant of the Soviet Buran shuttle, and is designed to take space tourists on suborbital flights by 2006.

Jon Acheson
The Social Life of Paper: Paperless offices are probably going to be impossible until we change our paradigm for computer interfaces because paper and computers serve different ways of thinking.

1 April 2002 ::   I'm President of the Council on Foreign Relations and Commander in Chief of our black helicopter forces  
We come in peace.

From Britain come these strange and often annoying philosophical games, including a chat with a denizen of The Matrix.

Medical technology takes a great leap forward as doctors research the techniques required in order to separate Marshmallow Peeps which were conjoined at birth.

(The Side of the Angels)

A Miracle of Science

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Glenn's LiveJournal

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Portrait of the Artist as a Young Biomechanoid

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