Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

a new cat

Well, it's looking like we have a new cat.  

Some good friends of ours befriended a feral cat awhile back.  They took him to the local SNAP (Spay-Neuter Assistance Program), where he got his shots and got neutered.  And THEN they gave him to us.

It's still an open question as to how well our first cat, a (black) female we call Luna, is going to get along with the new kid on the block.  The hissing and back-arching has subsided, but they're not exactly playing with each other yet.  

Even though we have given him his own stuff, he eats from her bowls, he pees and craps in her litter box, and she lets him, which is great.  He still has a feral habit of digging in the dirt (in our indoor potted plants) and leaves a "treat" there, along with a lot of dirt on the floor.  Need to break him of that habit.

When we got him, his given name was Goober.  He just didn't seem like a Goober, so we have been playing with names for him.  Currently, we are calling him "Frankie P-Brain Goober".  (Frankie for his ol' blue eyes; P-Brain for his ... tiny brain)

He's very lovable.  He wants constant petting and his purr machine cranks right up, while Luna keeps a wary distance.  She's never been too much of a touchy-feely cat.  He's still very nervous around people, though.  If you try to pet him with both hands, he thinks you're trying to pick him up, so he just lays down on the floor.  Sometimes he backs up while laying on the floor, which looks pretty funny.

I have not been able to get a good, clear photo of this wild animal yet.  He won't stay still for more than 1/2 a second, so most pictures I've tried are blurry.

We think he may be part vampire, because he will sleep all day downstairs under the bed.  When the sun goes down, he comes out and comes upstairs until morning.  As soon as the sun starts coming up, he goes back downstairs.

We took him and Luna to our vet last week and fortunately, both animals got a clean bill of health.  When we told him that the cats were not getting along (and they were not, last week) they said to give it another couple of weeks.  If, in that time, the two cats are still not getting along, then they can help us find another home for the P-Brain.  We'll see.

Monday, July 29, 2013

safer than alcohol

This ad was going to be shown at a NASCAR event last weekend, but it was pulled.

I look forward to MANY more of these.  Time to get creative!!

It can wait

You have probably heard about the anti-texting while driving campaign they are calling, "It Can Wait."  Well, it can.  

It's horrible enough that too many people still STUPIDLY insist on reading texts and/or writing texts while driving an automobile, and many of them are crashing and dying, often taking innocent, non-texting drivers with them.

But there is another insidious problem with all the capabilities of modern smartphones.

Just about EVERY SINGLE TIME I am stopped at a red light behind someone, the light will turn green and the car in front will just sit there.  Why don't they move?  Well, they have their heads bent downward and they are reading something on their phones.  It is happening almost EVERY SINGLE TIME!

When I am stopped alongside someone, first in line at a red light, I look over at the driver next to me, and 99 times out of 100 they are looking downward at their phones.  The light turns green, I go, I look in my rearview mirror and they are STILL sitting there at the light, peering into their phones.

It's EPIDEMIC!  About the only good thing I can say about this is that these people, who are seemingly always GLUED to their phones, continue to sit at a green light while others in cross traffic are busy running the red light.  So by sitting there for a few extra seconds, they are avoiding some T-bone collisions.  That's great, but they are still pissing off everyone behind them waiting at the green light for this moron to GO!

It's like clockwork now.  These idiots will sit there for two, three, four, five seconds until they FINALLY look up and see the light is green.  Of course, the idiot behind them is still looking at their phone, so instead of 15 cars getting through the green light, maybe five will.

I have honked my horn more often over the last year than I honked it my entire life, because everyone has something SO important happening on their phone, they can't be bothered with traffic lights.  

I realize that I am sort of taking my life in my own hands by honking.  This is Texas, where just about everyone is packing heat, and if you honk a little too often or a little too long, you just might eat some lead.  Still...IT CAN WAIT!!

Speaking of which, the City of Houston recently launched an "It Can Wait" campaign and got high school students involved.  Several schools here in Houston created some short videos to drive the point home.  Obviously amateurish, but still, as long as it sinks in....

Here is the entry from Bellaire High School, who won the competition...

Here's Memorial High School's effort (how many of these people were texting and crashing?

And then Kingwood...

Mayor Annise Parker encourages all Houstonians not to text while driving. The City of Houston campaign, It Can Wait, Houston, was launched April 2, 2013, as a part of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. In conjunction with this effort, the Mayor's Youth Council held a video contest promoting the No Texting While Driving Campaign. 

A total of 11 videos were submitted by students from high schools all over the city.  The top three videos will be promoted through social media and Bellaire's winning submission will be used by the Houston Fire and Police Departments in safety presentations at area schools. 

Often youth think nothing can hurt them and that they are invincible.  That is why this contest was so important to Mayor Parker.  The videos do an excellent job of depicting the dangers of texting and driving.  It is her hope that their messages will help convince their peers, as well as adults, to put the phone down while driving.  The Mayor reminds us that we all have to change our habits and refuse to put our own lives and the lives of others at risk.

Those who text while driving are 23 times more likely to be in a crash.  In 2011, 13 percent of the over 3,000 traffic fatalities in Texas were due to texting while driving.  Research released by AT&T indicates that 43 percent of commuters admit to a "habit" of texting while driving, even though they are aware of the risks.  Take the no texting while driving pledge by visiting

Sunday, July 28, 2013


The next time you hear a politician say something pretty outlandish, and let's face it, that will be very soon, and it most likely will spew forth from a Republican, mosey on over to and they have probably already dissected it and submitted the spew to a ... uh ... fact check.

Sure sometimes Democrats say and do stupid shit too.  At this point in history, the ratio is about 100 GOP gaffes to each Dem gaffe.  The GOP is literally overflowing with loonies!  

For instance, Steve King (R-IA)...

Rep. Steve King attracted attention — and criticism from Republican leaders — for saying of immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children: “For every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that they weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.” King later told CNN that he had data to back up his claim, saying, “This isn’t something made up in thin air.” But, so far, he hasn’t produced any such information.
At, we put the burden of proof on the politician making the claim. We contacted King’s office about his assertion but haven’t received a response yet.

Or the fast-rising idiot from my own home state, Ted Cruz (R-TX)

Sen. Ted Cruz says there will be “20 or 30 million” people living in the U.S. illegally “in another 10, 20 years” if the Senate immigration bill becomes law. But the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says the bill, if enacted, will reduce future illegal immigration by 33 percent to 50 percent compared with current law.
The Republican freshman senator from Texas offered his estimate on ABC’s “This Week,” while discussing the impact of the bill on the political future of one of its sponsors, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.
Cruz, July 21: If the Gang of Eight bill became the law, in another 10, 20 years, we wouldn’t have 11 million people here illegally, we’d have 20 or 30 million.
We asked the senator’s office to support that statement. His spokesman, Sean Rushton, said that “it was not a factual statement — it was an opinion.”

And of course, very recently, likely the looniest House member of the current day, a man from the House district where I was born, Louie "Gomer" "Gohmert (R-TX):

Rep. Louie Gohmert went on Fox News and accused President Obama of a pattern of discrimination against Christians, particularly in the military, but many of his examples were false, distorted or incomplete.
Here are just a few of the claims Gohmert made about the Obama administration:

It's appalling what the Republicans are getting away with these days.  Never have I seen such vitriol and breathless insanity.

For the stories above and more, oh, so much more, go to

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Dynamo Hum?

There are many strange and mysterious things about life here on Earth, but that's no reason to run to your preachers for explanations.  They don't know shit.

In many cases, science cannot solve the mysteries either.  

A fundamental difference, however:  

  • the scientist, puzzled by something, starts to research it and perform experiments.  
  • The preacher just says "God did it."

I wonder why God would make the Windsor Hum?  

Classic cop-out:  "God works in mysterious ways."

Yeah, how conveeeeenient.

Hum Heard Around the World

It creeps in slowly in the dark of night, and once inside, it almost never goes away.
It's known as the Hum, a steady, droning sound that's heard in places as disparate as Taos, N.M.; Bristol, England; and Largs, Scotland.
But what causes the Hum, and why it only affects a small percentage of the population in certain areas, remain a mystery, despite a number of scientific investigations. [The Top 10 Unexplained Phenomena]
Reports started trickling in during the 1950s from people who had never heard anything unusual before; suddenly, they were bedeviled by an annoying, low-frequency humming, throbbing or rumbling sound.
The cases seem to have several factors in common: Generally, the Hum is only heard indoors, and it's louder at night than during the day. It's also more common in rural or suburban environments; reports of a hum are rare in urban areas, probably because of the steady background noise in crowded cities.
Only about 2 percent of the people living in any given Hum-prone area can hear the sound, and most of them are ages 55 to 70, according to a 2003 study by acoustical consultant Geoff Leventhall of Surrey, England.
"It's a kind of torture; sometimes, you just want to scream," retiree Katie Jacques of Leeds, England, told the BBC. Leeds is one of several places in Great Britain where the Hum has recently appeared.
"It's worst at night," Jacques said. "It's hard to get off to sleep because I hear this throbbing sound in the background … You're tossing and turning, and you get more and more agitated about it."
Being dismissed as crackpots or whiners only exacerbates the distress for these complainants, most of whom have perfectly normal hearing. Sufferers complain of headaches, nausea, dizziness, nosebleeds and sleep disturbances. At least one suicide in the United Kingdom has been blamed on the Hum, the BBC reports. [The Top 10 Spooky Sleep Disorders]

There's some speculation that the Hum could be the result of low-frequency electromagnetic radiation, audible only to some people. And there are verified cases in which individuals have particular sensitivities to signals outside the normal range of human hearing.
Medical experts are quick to point out that tinnitus (the perception of sound when no external noise is present) is a likely cause, but repeated testing has found that many hearers have normal hearing and no occurrences of tinnitus.
Environmental factors have also been blamed, including seismic activity such as microseisms — very faint, low-frequency earth tremors that can be generated by the action of ocean waves.
Other hypotheses, including military experiments and submarine communications, have yet to bear any fruit. For now, hearers of the Hum have to resort to white-noise machines and other devices to reduce or eliminate the annoying noise.
Leventhall, who recommends that some hearers turn to cognitive-behavioral therapy to relieve the symptoms caused by the Hum, isn't confident that the puzzle will be solved anytime soon.
"It's been a mystery for 40 years, so it may well remain one for a lot longer," Leventhall told the BBC.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

venus flytrap

I love stuff like this.  The British accent just lends it more gravity and authority.

More incredible "God-ness" I suppose.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


I've been reading Susan Jacoby's latest book, "The Great Agnostic" about Robert Ingersoll, America's greatest freethinker and orator to date, and something struck me about evolution and made me see it in a different light.

Think of the Bible.  Allegedly, mankind is a descendant of Adam and Eve, two rather perfect beings in the Garden of Eden.  Perfect, at least, until they tasted the fruit of knowledge, and they were cast out of the Garden.  

Religious leaders for ages now have bemoaned the relative degeneration of mankind.  We used to be one step below the angels, but all of the modern technology and knowledge has somehow "debased" humanity.  Things appear to be getting worse and worse from a religious standpoint (most likely because more and more people are leaving the church).

Every new technological advance is sadly seen by the church as another level of decay and debauchery, and mankind must be "saved."

Now, contrast this attitude with the idea that, under evolution, humanity has been steadily advancing since growing up out of the muck and slime.  Mankind how reached a relative pinnacle of evolution and development that can produce wondrous works of art and beauty.  We are steadily evolving into the future, advancing, adapting, and improving.  It's amazing how far we have come, and the future is bright with possibility.

Perhaps I didn't say that very well.  I don't have the rhetorical flourishes that Ingersoll or Charles Darwin himself possessed, so perhaps it is best to transfer here the rather famous concluding statement from Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" in Darwin's own words.  I don't think I ever actually read this passage before:

There is a grandeur in this (evolutionary) view of life, with its several powers, having been breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone on cycling along according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

I dare say that mankind's only and best hope is to finally shed the intellectual straightjacket that is religious thought and superstition so that all people can come into the true light of knowledge and love.  There is plenty of room here for former believers

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Exodus apologizes

Uh, not me, but Alan Chambers, who headed up Exodus International.  This 30-year-old group was trying to convert gay people to straight people, and they recently disbanded.  They finally realized they were wrong, so they disbanded, and they APOLOGIZED to gay people for all the pain and bullshit they've caused.

Amazing, huh?

It's not often we see something like this.  Now if Michelle Bachman's husband could get the message and stop doing the same thing.  Is that asking too much?

I Am Sorry
by Alan Chambers

To Members of the LGBTQ Community:
In 1993 I caused a four-car pileup.  In a hurry to get to a friend’s house, I was driving when a bee started buzzing around the inside of my windshield. I hit the bee and it fell on the dashboard. A minute later it started buzzing again with a fury. Trying to swat it again I completely missed the fact that a city bus had stopped three cars in front of me.  I also missed that those three cars were stopping, as well.  Going 40 miles an hour I slammed into the car in front of me causing a chain reaction. I was injured and so were several others.  I never intended for the accident to happen. I would never have knowingly hurt anyone. But I did. And it was my fault. In my rush to get to my destination, fear of being stung by a silly bee, and selfish distraction, I injured others.
I have no idea if any of the people injured in that accident have suffered long term effects. While I did not mean to hurt them, I did. The fact that my heart wasn’t malicious did not lessen their pain or their suffering. I am very sorry that I chose to be distracted that fall afternoon, and that I caused so much damage to people and property.  If I could take it all back I absolutely would. But I cannot. I pray that everyone involved in the crash has been restored to health.
Recently, I have begun thinking again about how to apologize to the people that have been hurt by Exodus International through an experience or by a message. I have heard many firsthand stories from people called ex-gay survivors. Stories of people who went to Exodus affiliated ministries or ministers for help only to experience more trauma. I have heard stories of shame, sexual misconduct, and false hope. In every case that has been brought to my attention, there has been swift action resulting in the removal of these leaders and/or their organizations. But rarely was there an apology or a public acknowledgement by me. 
And then there is the trauma that I have caused. There were several years that I conveniently omitted my ongoing same-sex attractions. I was afraid to share them as readily and easily as I do today. They brought me tremendous shame and I hid them in the hopes they would go away. Looking back, it seems so odd that I thought I could do something to make them stop. Today, however, I accept these feelings as parts of my life that will likely always be there. The days of feeling shame over being human in that way are long over, and I feel free simply accepting myself as my wife and family does. As my friends do. As God does.
Never in a million years would I intentionally hurt another person. Yet, here I sit having hurt so many by failing to acknowledge the pain some affiliated with Exodus International caused, and by failing to share the whole truth about my own story. My good intentions matter very little and fail to diminish the pain and hurt others have experienced on my watch. The good that we have done at Exodus is overshadowed by all of this.
Friends and critics alike have said it’s not enough to simply change our message or website. I agree. I cannot simply move on and pretend that I have always been the friend that I long to be today. I understand why I am distrusted and why Exodus is hated. 
Please know that I am deeply sorry. I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced. I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change. I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents. I am sorry that there were times I didn’t stand up to people publicly “on my side” who called you names like sodomite—or worse. I am sorry that I, knowing some of you so well, failed to share publicly that the gay and lesbian people I know were every bit as capable of being amazing parents as the straight people that I know. I am sorry that when I celebrated a person coming to Christ and surrendering their sexuality to Him that I callously celebrated the end of relationships that broke your heart. I am sorry that I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine. 
More than anything, I am sorry that so many have interpreted this religious rejection by Christians as God’s rejection.  I am profoundly sorry that many have walked away from their faith and that some have chosen to end their lives. For the rest of my life I will proclaim nothing but the whole truth of the Gospel, one of grace, mercy and open invitation to all to enter into an inseverable relationship with almighty God.
I cannot apologize for my deeply held biblical beliefs about the boundaries I see in scripture surrounding sex, but I will exercise my beliefs with great care and respect for those who do not share them.  I cannot apologize for my beliefs about marriage. But I do not have any desire to fight you on your beliefs or the rights that you seek. My beliefs about these things will never again interfere with God’s command to love my neighbor as I love myself.   
You have never been my enemy. I am very sorry that I have been yours. I hope the changes in my own life, as well as the ones we announce tonight regarding Exodus International, will bring resolution, and show that I am serious in both my regret and my offer of friendship. I pledge that future endeavors will be focused on peace and common good.
Moving forward, we will serve in our pluralistic culture by hosting thoughtful and safe conversations about gender and sexuality, while partnering with others to reduce fear, inspire hope, and cultivate human flourishing.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Rush Holt

Wow, what would it be like to have someone like Rush Holt as one of our Senators from Texas?  We've had nothing but regressive neanderthals for the past countless years.

Rush was a prime mover in trying to get the country to go back to paper ballots, or at the least insist on verifiable paper trails for voting, but that has been stalled in Congress, like just about everything else.  So we still cannot FULLY TRUST our elections.

Now, he's running for the Senate in New Jersey, and he's pushing to save Social Security.  It's actually really, really easy to do.  Well, easy to do if you don't mind pissing off the rich, which most in Congress seem loath to do.

weed is safe!!

Yet another study, this one by the feds, reveals that medical marijuana is safe and effective!

President Obama!!  Are you listening?!

New Federally Funded Study Proves Marijuana is Safe and Effective as Medicine

The federal government, in its attempt to keep marijuana illegal and misunderstood, recently sponsored a study which was conducted by the University of California Center for Medical Cannabis. The goal of the study was to disprove the many other studies that show cannabis to be safe and effective in treating symptoms, side-effects and diseases. Guess what? The CMCR came to the same conclusion as those other studies: marijuana is medically useful and effective. Oops. That’s rather inconvenient, isn’t it?
As published in the Open Neurology Journal, this new study showed that cannabis treats many conditions including chronic pain, peripheral neuropathy and the side-effects of chemo therapy, among other things. The study also showed that other delivery systems besides smoking – vaporizing, tincture, ingestion – work almost as well as lighting up. But smoking is the best way to take cannabis. Good thing another recent study showed that marijuana does not cause lung cancer.
In its conclusion, the study recommends that marijuana be re-classified by the DEA:

The classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug as well as the continuing controversy as to whether or not cannabis is of medical value are obstacles to medical progress in this area. Based on evidence currently available the Schedule I classification is not tenable; it is not accurate that cannabis has no medical value, or that information on safety is lacking. It is true cannabis has some abuse potential, but its profile more closely resembles drugs in Schedule III (where codeine and dronabinol are listed). The continuing conflict between scientific evidence and political ideology will hopefully be reconciled in a judicious manner.

More at Original.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Mythical Show

A very entertaining weekly series from Rhett and Link.

Rhett and Link is the comedy, filmmaking, musical and advertising duo of Rhett James McLaughlin and Charles Lincoln "Link" Neal. They are known for making viral videos and writing comedy songs as well as for filming low-budget commercials for local businesses across the United States on the Independent Film Channel series Rhett & Link: Commercial Kings. They upload their videos on two YouTube channels, one of which, the main channel, has over 200 million views and over 1 million subscribers. On the 25th of April 2013, they began their weekly 30 minute program "The Mythical Show" on their second channel RhettandLink2 which airs Thursdays at 5pm EST.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Nick Hanauer

This 6-minute-long TED talk by Nick Hanauer was removed from the TED website.  Was it because Nick, a billionaire, attacked the myth that the rich are the all-important "job creators?"  

We've known the claim was bunk for a long while now, and it's refreshing to see the myth demolished like this.  Unfortunately, many of our politicians still use it to justify breaks for the wealthiest among us.  

This TED talk isn’t posted on the TED website. Why not? Apparently they feel it’s too politically controversial. What that boils down to, essentially, is that the conservative strategy of bold lies to suck in the sheep has worked, and now if the truth doesn’t favor Republicans or isn’t neutral, it’s considered politically controversial. How can proven information be politically controversial?

As you can see, the video isn’t even partisan. Both Democrats and Republicans operate under the assumption that the rich are job creators, and that’s because, as mentioned in another talk, this time by Lawrence Lessig, politicians on the national level have to go through two electoral processes to get into office. Yes, they are voted on by the people. However, before that, they also have to win funding, and that means the rich pick which politicians run for major offices. Until we change campaign finance laws that isn’t going to change. In fact, the myopic vision of Congress is going to get worse, because the rich demand their attention.
And it isn’t a partisan problem. Even a third party, at a congressional level, would be controlled by the same wealthy influences, because without the money to campaign, they wouldn’t get the notoriety necessary to get the votes. The funders vote before the voters do, meaning that, by definition, well-known candidates are heavily influenced by wealthy interests. Once again, we can’t change that without reforming campaign finance laws.
The rich aren’t job creators. Even if we didn’t have people speaking out with evidence, we should be able to look at the last 20 years of income history and see for ourselves — the wealthiest Americans have reached previously unimaginable levels of prosperity, and if the job-creator logic held, we’d have evidence of it by now. It’s time for change.

Friday, July 19, 2013

selective corporeality

Say, "Hmm?"

Hey, as long as my robocock still works, right?

Will People Alive Today Have the Opportunity to Upload Their Consciousness to a New Robotic Body?
A Russian mogul wants to make sure the answer is yes, and soon.

Bottled Consciousness? Gaetan Lee via Wikimedia

When Steve Jobs passed away last year, a joke bounced around--not that there was anything particularly funny about it--that the man who had done so much to shape modern technology hadn’t really died at all, but rather had figured out how to upload himself into the Mac OS so he could live on with us, and with his products, forever. The notion was ostensibly so far out as to be ridiculous. But not everyone sees it that way.

At the recent Global Future 2045 International Congress held in Moscow, 31-year-old media mogul Dmitry Itskov told attendees how he plans to create exactly that kind of immortality, first by creating a robot controlled by the human brain, then by actually transplanting a human brain into a humanoid robot, and then by replacing the surgical transplant with a method for simply uploading a person’s consciousness into a surrogate ‘bot. He thinks he can get beyond the first phase--to transplanting a working brain into a robot--in just ten years, putting him on course to achieve his ultimate goal--human consciousness completely disembodied and placed within a holographic host--within 30 years time.

Pushing aside all the extremely difficult technological challenges for a moment, there are a couple of important to considerations tied up in Itskov’s vision. First, while the later phases of his project are so far out as to seem ridiculous, phase one is totally feasible (in fact it’s already being done). From there, the leap to phase two--human brainpower transplanted into a mechanical robot--is a quite a leap. But if we are willing to allow that it might be possible even within the next 30 years, then we have to consider a further possibility: that many people alive today--like the twenty-something author of this piece--could be confronted with this kind of technology in their lifetimes.

Which is terrifying and amazing and disconcerting all at the same time.

We’ve already started down the road toward shedding our corporeality.But is it even within the realm of possibility? Phase one--creating a robot controlled by a human brain--is already well within reach. In fact, DARPA is already working on it via a program called “Avatar” (which, incidentally, is also the name of Itskov’s project) through which the Pentagon hopes to create a brain-machine interface that will allow soldiers to control bipedal human surrogate machines remotely with their minds.

And of course there are all the ongoing medical prosthesis projects (DARPA is involved in a few of these as well) that have shown that the human nervous system can interface with prosthetic enhancements, manipulating them via thought. Itskov draws a clear arc from what we have now to the consciousness-containing holograms that he envisions. All we have to do is attack the technological obstacles in between, one at a time, until we get there.

If only it were that easy. But Itskov also makes a valid point. In the past decade alone we’ve witnessed brain-machine interfaces emerge from the realm of nascent, futuristic ideas to mechanisms firmly rooted in reality. There’s still so much we don’t know about the brain, but better technology (and an abundance of funding in this field spurred by the horrific neurological and extremity injuries inflicted on American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan) is expanding the envelope of possibility every year.

What Itskov is really saying--though in a very ambitious way--is that we’ve already started down the road toward shedding our corporeality via prostheses that interface with our nervous centers. If you can interface a brain with a hand, and then a brain with an entire arm, why not a brain with two arms? With two legs? With everything else? The question now is figuring out where the limitations lay--just how far down that road we can go.

And what a hypothetical road it is. Theoretically, as long as one could keep his or her gray matter from decaying, he or she could continue to “live” indefinitely (at least if you buy into the idea that our consciousness lives in the wiring of our neurons). Phase three of Itskov’s plan--dispensing with the physical brain and uploading consciousness directly to a computer or robot--does away with the organic matter entirely, making your consciousness as permanent as that CD-ROM version of Myst that still lingers in the bottom of one of your desk drawers. People as programs--paging Kevin Flynn.

Of course, there are myriad reasons why uploading human consciousness to some kind of computer won’t work, not least of which being the fact that every attempt we’ve made at creating a computer that functions just like the brain has come up far short. And creating a hologram that also contains that consciousness? We’re not seeing it--not in thirty years, not in this century. Still, progress is being made in neural networks, microchips modeled on living brains, and entire computers set up to mimic the brain’s functionality. We’ve built synthetic analogs for all kinds of organs. The brain is the most complex of all, but following a certain line of reasoning--the line Itskov seems to be following--it’s only a matter of time and determination before we deliver a neurological analog as well.

All that is to say that Itskov’s vision, while overly-ambitious (and we like overly ambitious here), is not as completely far out as it sounds--at least not the earlier phases. People that are today firmly connected to their living bodies, consciousness all bound up in their craniums, may within their lifetimes be presented with a choice. Call it selective corporeality. In the future, questions about mechanical immortality--do we really want to live beyond our bodies as “conscious” machines? Is a robot or computer driven by a living brain a person, with all the rights and privileges inherent therein? Can i get jets implanted in my robo-hands and robo-feet so that I can fly like Iron Man?--could become, to some degree, actual questions that we have to consider, this time non-hypothetically.

It’s more than my non-mechanically enhanced consciousness can even start to think about.

Fuck Texas

Well said, Lewis!

Although, it's really more like Fuck the GOP in Texas.  Or Fuck Texas Republicans.  Or, perhaps most accurately, Fuck you, Rick Perry!!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

canine freestyle

...and why not?

Synchronized "dancing" with your dog!   But don't worry, GOP, I don't think this is going to result in men marrying their dogs.  Or what you're really thinking, WOMEN marrying male dogs!  Quit stroking yourself!

Naturally, there's already a "World Canine Freestyle Organization," and there's been a Canine Freestyle Meetup in Houston since 2006!!

I bet you there are not too many Feline Freestyle groups out there.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"we were wrong"

My mouth is agape.  Is it possible!?  Some Republicans are actually starting to work WITH Democrats?  This should not be so shocking, but it is!!

A rare "bravo" and "thank you" to Republican Senator from South Carolina Lindsay Graham.

'We were wrong'
by Steve Benen
It took over 700 days, a recess appointment, and a nuclear-option showdown, but a prominent Republican senator yesterday took stock of his party's efforts to reject Richard Cordray and nullify the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He reached an interesting conclusion.
"Cordray was being filibustered because we don't like the law" that created the consumer agency, said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. "That's not a reason to deny someone their appointment. We were wrong."
That's not a phrase we often hear from politicians, especially congressional Republicans, and it's a welcome concession. Indeed, since I made the same argument on Monday, I'm delighted by Graham's candor.
Perhaps, if Senate Republicans had come to this realization just a little sooner, Elizabeth Warren would be at the CFPB right now and Scott Brown would still be making Wall Street happy as a senator.
Regardless, the question many Senate Democrats are asking right now is whether yesterday's breakthrough -- which overwhelmingly tilted in their favor -- can help lay the foundation for broader progress, at least in the upper chamber. Greg Sargent reported this morning:
Democrats plan to seize on yesterday's events to exacerbate what they hope is a developing schism between the GOP leadership/hard right alliance and a bloc of GOP Senators who (Dems are betting) are genuinely fed up with that alliance's continued flouting of basic governing norms. They hope to renew the push for a return to budget negotiations, with an eye towards replacing the sequester."
Greg added that Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the chair of the Banking Committee and an influential member of the Democratic leadership, is set to deliver a pointed message on the floor this afternoon: "There is a group of Republicans -- led by Senator McCain -- who are very interested in ending the gridlock and working together to solve problems.... I am really hopeful that the bipartisanship we've seen this week will carry over into the budget debate, and that rather than listening to the Tea Party, Republican leaders will listen to the Republican members who prefer common-sense bipartisanship over chaos and brinkmanship."
There are obviously a whole lot of hurdles between the painful status quo and competent governing, and even if there's a Senate GOP contingent prepared to be responsible the odds in the House are far worse, but between low expectations and the events of recent years, "we were wrong" is a step in the right direction.

Monday, July 15, 2013

too busy to post

...and too fatigued by all the pseudo-scandals over the last month...

The IRS "scandal" proved to be nothing but lies and distortions, which probably originated somewhere in the GOP.  The IRS was  NOT targeting conservative groups any more than they were targeting liberal groups.  The whole IRS 401c(x) code needs to be revamped to keep blatantly political groups, like the Tea Party, from obtaining tax-free status.  

You hear all the outrage when things first develop, but you usually won't see much follow-up to say that it was all political bullshit.  Go here.

And on an unrelated note, I thought this message was rather pithy, especially for GOP-dominated Texas.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Elon Musk

Elon Musk is a true visionary.   At age 42, he is responsible for some pretty amazing inventions and innovations.  And if his latest project comes true, it could revolutionize transportation.

It's amazing what big money can do when in the "right" hands.  Too bad most other billionaires just want to hoard their wealth.

The Evacuated Transport Tube is straight out of science fiction, but that's where many brilliant ideas have originated.

San Francisco to Los Angeles in 30 Minutes with Proposed New Transportation System
 July 9, 2013

Commuting is a way of life for most Bay Area residents. Many people are accustomed to an hour commute each way without traffic. Some people even commute to Southern California several times a month, spending several hours each way either in the car or fighting through airports. What if there was an alternative to flights and car rides? If it was up to Tesla CEO Elon Musk and a Colorado company, an answer could come sooner than we think.
Hyperloop System
Musk, the man behind both Tesla Motors and SpaceX, has spoken about a high-speed transportation system known as the Hyperloop, a tube transport system that would allow passengers to travel at high speeds. The proposed system could reduce trips between San Francisco and Los Angeles to minutes, and reaching the East Coast from California could take under an hour. Crazy as it seems, the company ET3, based out of Longmont, Colorado, has already been hard at work making this a reality, calling their project the Evacuated Tube Transport.
How Does It Work?
The Hyperloop has been vaguely described by Musk as a "cross between a Concorde, a rail gun, and an air hockey table." A better description might be an elevated tube system with a magnetic levitation system similar to high-speed bullet trains. The kicker would be the enclosed tube, which would provide a nearly friction-less surface for individual capsules to travel in.
ET3's Hyperloop-like project already has a number of schematics and plans already in place. They claim an automobile-sized, six-passenger capsule constructed for "outer space" travel conditions could easily reach speeds of 4,000 miles per hour on longer journeys across the country or across continents. In theory, this elevated tube system could be built for a tenth of the cost of high-speed rail and a quarter the cost of a freeway. The projected cost for a passenger to travel from Los Angeles to New York is $100.
The tubes could be connected to form a new superhighway across the United States. They could go underwater and connect to Alaska, Hawaii, and the rest of the world. ET3 has already built mock-ups and prototypes and is planning a 3-mile test run by the end of 2013.
Expanding on Older Ideas
Despite the ingenuity of the idea, it isn't actually that new. In 1972, a paper written by physicist R.M Salter described a tube system known as the Very High Speed Transit System (VHST) that could send people across the United States in under an hour. The system was composed of a series of underground tubes arranged in a network across the country. While several technical problems existed with the idea at the time, Salter also concluded, "The general principles are fairly straightforward: electromagnetically levitated and propelled cars in an evacuated tunnel." The one primary difference between Salter's plan and ET3's is that the VHST would need to be underground, with massive amounts of excavation required.
If the Hyperloop or Evacuated Tube Transport was built and succeeded, it could make California's current high-speed rail project obsolete. With a budgeted cost of $70 billion, the high-speed system currently under development would take passengers from San Francisco to L.A. in three hours, potentially six times slower than the Hyperloop.