Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Two Wrongs Make a Right

Not normally. Three lefts make a right, but two wrongs do not normally.

They did this morning. This morning, on the way out the door, I asked Alastair if it was a sleep-in (breakfast starts a ½ hour later) and he said "Yes, but I didn't know, which was okay because I was late."

After a few moments of thinking, I realized that his two wrongs had indeed made a right. By themselves, he misses breakfast:

  • he thinks it is later but it is not... but he still arrives late = no breakfast for Alastair
  • he thinks it is at the normal time, but it isn't... but he's on time = he's there too early
...but put the two together and you've got a positive outcome. He was quite amused when I pointed this out to him later in the day.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Born Again

The afterlife. Hmm? We don't know if there is an afterlife and if so, what it's like. Thus the following post is merely humorous speculation.

Buddhists say that there is no afterlife, but that we're just born again (correct me if I'm wrong). But, what good is that if we don't remember previous lives? Well, what if we in fact get born again into an alternative universe, where everybody has lived at least once, and probably a few have lived multiple times. That world would be a completely different place from here, because children would start out with knowledge and morals. Or, maybe their old memories gradually return as they grow older, either at the same rate or a faster rate.

Previous lives would be a part of this land's culture, and great effort would almost certainly be spent trying to track down the new bodies of famous old souls. Fathers could reunite with their sons and daughters, while themselves being only the age of their great-grandchildren. People could continue somewhat down the path of their old life or start a new one, as they pleased.

After awhile of being born again in this second world, all of the souls might then travel to a third, and so on. Or not. Perhaps they just stay at this other world. Ours might only be a precursor to the true reality beyond. But like I said, we will never know. Or at least, nobody here will.

For anybody curious, this idea sprung up after I muttered "You only live once" while grabbing a brownie even though I had said I wouldn't have any chocolate until my complexion improved a little.

It would be interesting to write a novel about this idea, perhaps even so epic that it concerns somebody breaking through, back into this world, or somebody who had lived a few times in the other world suddenly being born back here.

Monday, April 28, 2008

HEARING IMPAIRED.... hearing impaired

While out driving today (I drive now hehe) I spotted a sign that said Hearing Impaired. Well, I thought it was a little funny that they'd have a single sign to note where a deaf person lives. I guess they suppose that thats where s/he is most likely to be, and thus it is the most important place to put a sign. I think....

That if the person sets out walking, they're 100% likely to pass through the street right in front of their house, then from that street there are 6 other streets possible (assuming a perfect grid). At each of these streets, there should be another sign that says the same thing, but is 1/6th of the size of the previous one. This should continue, getting 1/3 smaller each time, until the signs cannot be manufactured that small. That would be an appropriate way to warn of a person who is hearing impaired.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Indifferent, Therefore Different

Most people care quite a lot about what people think about them. I, however, am different, because I don't really care that much. This means I'm indifferent.

I could do a great big rant about that as a social and psychological phenomenon, but I don't really want to just now. I just wanted to point out that I've found another pair of words that appear as if they should be opposites and are not.

Different = doesn't match
Indifferent = doesn't care

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Vehicular Nanoplants

Some work has been done lately in nanotechnology to develop substances that act essentially as extremely efficient plants, harvesting energy from the sun at a rate much greater than photovoltaic solar panels. While I'm sure that the process that ensues is not the same as photosynthesis, I wonder if that would not also be possible.

Imagine this: On the way out of the exhaust of your car, your toxic or "evil" carbon dioxide is intercepted by a bunch of "nanoplants", and converted into oxygen and glucose. Of course, there would have to be an energy source (to replace what is normally sunlight) and a supply of water, as the chemical equation looks like this:

energy + 6CO2 + 6H2O = 6O2 + C6H12O6

Assuming that there would be plenty of waste energy from the engine that could somehow be captured and utilized, the only remaining difficulty is to procure a molecule of water for every one of carbon dioxide trying to pass through. This could be done via a storage tank for the water, or ideally using some system that would remove it from the air for use. If either of those could be efficiently done, the car would produce oxygen and sugar instead of carbon dioxide.

This is likely impossible for some reason, because at first glance it almost seems to defy entropy. On the other hand, is that not what biology often appears to do? The mere fact that respiration and photosynthesis both occur in nature is a bit inspiring, as it seems impossible for two opposite reactions to both have a productive outcome. I simply think that it is neat to imagine cars producing the stuff we breathe and the stuff we eat, instead of a greenhouse gas that heats our planet up. Also, this way the carbon doesn't disappear, because it can be consumed again.

I wonder if theres a way that we can do the same sort of thing to human waste.....

Ubuntu InstaLiveCD

As a result of all of the recent development with Ubuntu (the new version is out) I have thought of something interesting: to allow a liveCD to instantly (+ the time it takes to burn a CD) be created based on the current operating sustem:

When installing for the first time, it would ask whether or not to keep the extra files. If 'yes' then this feature would be enabled. Then, when you inserted a blank CD, one of the options on the right-click menu would be 'make a CD to put this operation system on somebody's else's computer. It's not that useful, but would be very useful for any Linux user who wants to spread it around.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

An Interesting Article, but it just doesn't make sense.

Apparently, a woman is more likely to conceive a male if she eats a high-calorie diet, yet a female if she eats low-fat this and skim that. It's really neat, and makes sense based on there being more girls born these days, but it's one of those cases where you really shouldn't take it seriously - because it's not her choice!

That is to say, it's not her body that chooses - sperm are made in the man with X or Y chromosomes, and whichever races first to the egg makes the kid. How on earth is a woman's diet supposed to determine that?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

History is History

We constantly study history, and a really common remark is that history repeats itself. We note that we never learn from our mistakes, but we persist in studying these mistakes.

There is a historical precedent of humans paying absolutely no heed to the mistakes made before us, and once again, we do the same thing, persisting in studying history. We have learned from studying history that studying history wont do us any good.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Among things that make me question human intelligence...

...or at least that of my peers, is how people behave during Cadets at my school. We have mandatory cadets here, which consists of marching and standing (a lot) and a bit of classroom work for most cadets and some music for the band members. Now, however, the classroom periods have subsided in favour of practising for the annual review that we will have in 10 days or so. Daily, instead of sports, we go outside and do cadets. Everybody hates it.

The thing is (and I don't claim to be the only person nor the first person to realize this) if people tried during the first run-through, they'd get it, and we wouldn't do it again. It's not very difficult. My peers feel a need to protest, though, so they slouch, and look around, and talk, step out of line, and just generally make nuisances of themselves. Thus, we don't perform the drill well and have to do it again. People get more fed up with having to do it again that they slack off even more. Eventually, they realize that by playing along, they can leave sooner (read: at all).

However, if people didn't start out predisposed against cadets and they actually tried in the first place, we'd have to practise the whole thing about 4 or 5 times total, rather than 20+.

On thing I remember is a fellow in front of me who would perpetually complain about the many other productive things he could be doing. He is right, but the very fact that he's saying it proves that he hasn't learned patience. There is actually a small paradox there, in that the only people for whom there is nothing to learn (assuming patience is the only thing and they already have it) are the people who would never speak up about it.

After doing the same thing over and over, I actually got to the stage where I would call out the timing for moves I wasn't even doing, just to make the timing louder so that it gets over quicker. I've got patience, but that doesn't mean I won't try to speed things along.

Monday, April 21, 2008

What You Don't Have lack. Lacking is the true opposite of having, but today we seem to have been brainwashed by the consumption gods into thinking that if you don't have something, you need it. Need and possession are both related, but are not at all the same.

Once again, I'm being like Indexed and making a graph of things. Now, to really be right about things, this graph would need a third dimension: want. Want is the seed of consumerism. It's getting late, and I don't really feel like going into a great big rant about why consuming is bad, but you can check out the Story of Stuff.

All I really wanted to say is that while we often tend to think that need and have are opposites, this is not the case. I also want to say that "or lack thereof" is one of my favorite phrases. Unfortunately, its formality (or, lack thereof) does not render it very useful when I'm writing essays and decide to throw it in there in parentheses.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sometimes the Most Obvious Ideas are the Best

Have a device installed right in a car that can detect tire pressure and re-inflate them automatically using the engine's power. I thought of this this morning in the Driver's Ed classroom (which is all done now, finally) when I heard the teacher saying something about the engine stabilizing pressure. He was referring to the oil chamber or something like that, but I couldn't help but wonder why this couldn't work with tires as well.

Even if this wasn't an automatic system – you'd have to check yourself then get the engine to fill the tires – it would still be really useful. In an age of rising fuel costs, it makes sense to have your car running as efficiently as possible.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Let's not and say we did...

Make a pangram, using not just all the letters of the alphabet, but all of the symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet.

Friday, April 18, 2008

How to Walk Nowhere

I'm not sure if this works in the day-time, but either way it definitely helps to have clouds. The process is simple. Go outside to an area where you aren't going to run into something (like a field) then start walking. Now tilt your head back until all you can really see is the sky. Because of perspective and because the sky is so far away, it doesn't appear to move at all. Your brain is now receiving mixed messages, because your body is telling you "yes, you're walking" but your eyes are saying "you're not going anywhere". It's not exactly epic, but it's worth doing at least once.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The UFO Paradox

If you name something, what are you doing to it? You're identifying it, right? Well, in that case, it's impossible to have a UFO.

In order to be called a UFO, the object would have to be identified as a UFO, at which point it could not longer possibly be a UFO, because the U stands for Unidentified. As the object has just been identified, it can no longer be called a UFO. Then, if we don't call it a UFO, it's not identified, and if it is a flying object, would thus be an unidentified flying object.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Nasty Habit I have Withese Words...

An annoying and yet very odd habit I have is to stick two words together if they have overlap. This most commonly occurs with the words "With" and "The", where I will be writing and my brain moves so fast that it writes "Withe" instead. Contrary to most 'typos', this one only occurs when I'm writing quickly on paper. I noticed it more consciously the other day when I wrote "Bothe".

Monday, April 14, 2008

Hey Facebook - want to give me a written guarantee of the truth of this?

From Facebook (the Friends For Sale! Application):
"last online over 38 years ago"

....really now... you sure about that? I could have sworn that:

  1. The friend in question is only 14 years old.
  2. Facebook itself is only 4 years old.
  3. The Internet is only 25 years old at the most
Seriously. That just doesn't work.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Disposable USB Sticks

An idea that I had just now: USB Sticks that have very little storage (16MB or 32MB probably) that could be given away or used to win prizes on (like CDs in cereal boxes) because the hardware would be worth virtually nothing. There could even be like 1MB or 2MB ones that would be great for printing off documents, or even to hand in to a teacher (although most don't like that). Because of their very small storage size, they could physically be extremely tiny as well.

Now here's a twist: consider having these in addition to having a small device with two USB ports, a 4-way switch, an arrow, a light (or more) and a button.

Above is a simple representation of what I meant, showing one or more of the following

  1. I'm creative
  2. I'm a visual thinker
  3. Diagrams rule (but they're better on napkins)
  4. I have an aversion to sleep
  5. I have an addiction to MSPaint
  6. I do my best creating at night
  7. I figure you people will have no idea what I'm talking about if i don't show a diagram
  8. I'm crazy
I'm not sure which (if any) of those are true, but thats a major digression. What the image is supposed to show is how simple of a device it would be. You might be beginning to realize what it does now... or maybe not. This is what it does:

It copies files from one USB stick to the other. The three options are:
  1. Circle with Arrows: swap the contents of the two sticks. There would potentially be some limitations to this one, but it should work fine assuming that the sticks are of different sizes and one is more than 2x the other. If they are the same size, why bother? Just trade sticks.
  2. Double Arrow: copy everything on each stick to the other stick, leaving the data on each stick. Both sticks now contains the same thing - the combined contents of each.
  3. Single Arrow: copy everything from one stick to the other stick.
  4. X and Arrow: delete everything on one stick and replace it with the contents of the other stick.
In the last two cases, the data moves following the arrow. It would be nice to be able to choose whether duplicate files were overwritten or not.

Basically, what you'd do is plug both USB Sticks into the device. You'd set the switch or whatever to the setting you desired, then push the button. The device whirrs and lights up yellow for a few seconds, then (hopefully) the light turns green. If there were an error or some sort, the light would turn red. There could be flashing combinations of lights to indicate different errors, somewhat like an iPod Shuffle.

This was a very long explaination for a small and indeed rather simple device, but I really think that both of these – the sticks and the copier – would be really useful to have around. Imagine if you could buy those few MB of storage for only a few cents. Given that a 1GB (1000MB) drive costs about $10 these days, that works out rather well. The devices would be a bit more expensive, but on the whole it would allow for great synchronization. Come to think of it, it would be great if we could sync computers with a USB cable. Hmm....

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Diamond Riots

A game I made when I was in junior high. It's pretty tough, actually, although not extremely complex. Good luck, and don't try to figure out the spinning spiky fellow in the second-last level — I programmed him to be random!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Happiness via Self-Confusion

A good day is when you're living so much in the moment that you accidentally wish somebody "Good morning" in the middle of the afternoon. A great day is when you're having such a good day that you say "Good morning" in the middle of the afternoon on purpose.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Rest... In Pill Form!

These days, it's extremely easy to find stimulants of all sorts caffeine, energy drinks, and the like. However, these things pump you up really quick but then leave your system and you crash. Neither of these is particularly helpful in the long term.

Wouldn't it be great if we could pills that would actually simulate sleep? Rather than giving excited energy, they would just make you feel rested. This kind of thing would sell so unbelievably well at my school. People would just take a few of them and not even sleep anymore.

Naturally, there would be all sorts of other problems, like eyes not having enough time to lubricate, but if we forget about those or assume the pill would solve them as well, then it really could be a miracle drug. Not quite a panacea, but extremely useful.

It could be given to insomniacs, and they wouldn't even have to try to sleep anymore. Somebody recovering from surgery or an injury could take the pill to make their body more rested and able to heal. There are so many applications for something like this that it would be impossible to name them all.

...At the very least, you'd need to stay up so late to possibly list them all that you'd need the drug yourself.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Coca-Cola — why a drink?

As I am sure you already know, and as can be seen even clearer here, the popular Soft Drink Coca-Cola has many many useful properties beyond just being a beverage. In fact, it is touted as being the "best" at many things: unsplipperying floors and cleaning old frying pans, curing "the trots" and hiccups, and even removing hair dye and tanning.

So... what about all the competing products? Why aren't they as good? one would think that they would be, seeing as they were actually design for that purpose. I mean, what was the likelihood that somebody would stumble upon a household cleaning chemical while trying to make a drink? Okay, that's fairly likely. How about a self-tanner? Not very likely. Even weirder? What was the likelihood that somebody would discover that, and then proceed to market and sell the product as a drink.

My rant for the day. I just think its extremely odd that one product has so unbelievably many accidental uses, and more importantly that the product consistantly outperforms those that are actually intended for such use. It's surprising that no other companies have stumbled across Coke's formula by accident.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Religion and Nudity (or lack thereof)

The orthodox Jewish religion has a ban on just about any nudity at all. They cover their upper arms, shoulders, legs and hair, in the name of modesty.

Now, I don't know very much about Judaism, but I do know that it shares the Christian Old Testament. Now, I don't know much about Christianity (actually, a fair bit) but I do know that in the very first chapter (Genesis) the first man and woman start out in paradise not wearing any clothes. After they eat from the tree of knowledge/evil, they suddenly realize their own nudity. They put on fig leaves (so the story goes) to hide their naughty bits. God finds them hiding, and kicks them out of paradise.

So what? Well, like the wonderful webcomic Indexed, I will explain this using a graph:

We can see quite clearly from this graph that amount of paradise relates very strongly to how much clothes are worn. Therefore, all that "modest" people are doing is trying to escape paradise. Why they do this, we can never truly know - is it because they are insecure and don't think they deserve paradise (or insecure and think they're ugly)? Is it because they believe that since "they" ate the forbidden fruit, they don't deserve paradise (or since they ate at MacDonald's too much, they don't deserve to be nude in public)?

It could be anything! It's impossible to say.

Beyond the simple paradise versus clothes comparison, one can observe how God "made us in his image" and that therefore we're covering it up! Why would he want that?

I'm not sure exactly what I think. I can't say I'd like the whole world to suddenly turn nudist, but I guess I wish it had been that way when I grew up.

Or maybe I'm just a Naturist...

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Worst Idea I've Ever Had

It probably is. I can't say for sure. The idea is, to (maybe with a whole bunch of other people) take out a huge massive loan from some bank - enough to actually buy so many of the bank's stocks that you then own the bank. Naturally, this would be virtually impossible, as banks have probably millions of stocks out there and they're only going to lend you so much. Still, I thought of this in History class today and thought it could be funny.

I mean, once you owned the bank you'd definitely be making enough profit that you could pay back the debt relatively quickly. And.... then you'd own a bank!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

I'm Sorry Your Subconscious Brain Thought I'd Do That

Have you ever had somebody tell you about a dream in which you did something bad or mean, and then you wanted to apologize but you weren't sure if you should?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Driver Training

This evening, my Dad thought he'd take me for a little drive, because I'm 16 now, and, well, that's what's done. He drove my grandmother's nice Honda Civic Hybrid out some distance and then into a seemingly-deserted parking lot. He stopped, and we chatted for a few moments, but no sooner had we switched seats when a military truck arrived...

...with a yellow sign on the back saying "Driver Training". We immediately cracked up, but then we saw another one. A second truck following, also with a "Driver Training" sign. Although the parking lot wasn't very large, we decided that I would do some driving around - once the trucks had stopped and parked over to the side (the army men got out in combats and were talking about stuff). I drove for a short while before a third truck appeared. (Its sign said "Student Driver" on it rather than Driver Training)

It was hilarious! -a comic relief sort of thing. Anyway, we drove in the parking lot for a bit and then finally noticed they were gone. They must have gone to do their training somewhere else...

Friday, April 4, 2008

200mL.... or more — a juice-pack investigation.

Both of these containers purport to contain 200mL of juice/soy beverage. Please excuse the low quality of the photos, but all I have to work with here is a webcam. Anyway, you should be able to see in this one that the Natura Soy is slightly wider than the Five Alive.
Because they are the same would expect the Five Alive to be slightly thicker. In fact, the opposite is true:
These containers both contain 200mL of juice, so one must assume either that Five Alive is lying and actually contains less (which is unlikely because food associations are really picky about that sort of thing) or that the Natura one has empty air space, and their package is slightly too large. Okay, we can accept that.

But, why? Both containers come from Tetra Pak® and Natura is an organic company. Tetra Paks are among the most vile containers as far as decomposing goes — they are made up metal, plastic, and paper. Why would an organic company purposely pay more for a larger container, when that container is going to contain the same amount as another container that Tetra makes?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

I'm Fine - Really!

When I was younger, my parents and relatives would always tell me that when asked how I am, I'm to answer "I'm fine" rather than "Good". I suppose this makes sense, because good sounds like it's describing the person, not how they are feeling. Still, I always thought it was kinda dumb.

Many years later, I still think the same thing. Idly asking how somebody is (just because you're expected to) is so nasty. The reply does not matter - it is as if by asking at all, one shows that one cares. Well whoop de doo! How much effort does it take to mutter "How are you?" or "How's it going?" — not much. I believe an exchange of how-are-you i'm-good-and-you-fine-thanks is absolutely 100% pointless — unless you lead it into something else, and actually make a conversation.

Basically, what I really don't like is when I'm walking somewhere and I pass somebody and when I say "Hi" to be friendly, they have an auto-response of "Hi how are you?" The problem is, we've already passed each other. I now have to look like either deaf or mean (by not answering them) or I have to give a very sudden and rushed "I'm fine" while trying to turn around so they remain in earshot. This is foolish! Don't ask me a question if you don't have time for the answer! Also, don't make me feel selfish because I don't have time to pretend I care about how you are.

People need to break free from what we feel are social obligations. The next time you ask how somebody is, listen. If they say a simple one word answer (and they're somebody you're close with) ask for more. Say "How are you, really?" You never know — something interesting might actually be happening in their life. This whole rant kindof goes back to this post.

Also annoying is when girls pull the "I'm fine" or "Nothing's wrong" thing even when theres clearly something wrong — but that's another story.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

an anagram by me explaining why people run away these days

Why nomads? = Hw & Mondays

(for non-students - Hw is homework)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Shower Phone

= A waterproof phone that just sticks to the wall in the shower and is always on speakerphone (no handheld receiver)

Then, you could just stand there in the shower and talk to people...
or if the phone rang, you could answer it without getting out!

It would need some sort of sound cancellation thing so you didnt hear the running water though...

Tomorrow, Today!...?

Google Australia has just come up with a new Google feature - gDay with MATE. This amazing tool will allow us to see the search results we want before they even exist. I was wondering about the following situation...

Suppose somebody sees that some stock they have tons of is going to fall the next day, and thus decides that they should sell theirs all beforehand. The selling of their stock could actually cause the stock to fall. This is weird though, because it was the falling stock in the first place that caused them to sell.

Is it possible for two things to cause each other?

If something like this would produce a black hole or something, it would be best if Google just pretended it was all an April Fools' joke and hid the evil away forever.