Wanderings

Anything you dream is fiction,
and anything you accomplish is science,
the whole history of mankind is nothing but science fiction.
- Ray Bradbury
August 31st, 2007

Top 20 Science Fiction Films

While we wait for Robert to finally give me his top comedy list, here is my top 20 list of Science Fiction films. They have to be good films and at least decent Science Fiction.

These are not in any order. I started with a popular list of 100 SciFI movies and picked off of that and then added the ones I like that aren’t popular. Destination Moon made the list because of the great graphics and the fact that Heinlein consulted on the science. Enemy Mine was not an the list, but it is a good SF story, even if it is not the best movie. Terminator made it in spite of its popularity.

I have a definite preference for black and white movies form the 1950s when writing was more important than special effects.

The Day the Earth Stood Still, 1951
Forbidden Planet, 1956
2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968
Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan, 1982
Brazil, 1985
Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1956
The War of the Worlds, 1953
The Thing (From Another World), 1951
When Worlds Collide, 1951
This Island Earth, 1955
Frankenstein, 1931
The Incredible Shrinking Man, 1957
A Clockwork Orange, 1971
The Time Machine, 1960
Destination Moon, 1950
The Man Who Fell to Earth, 1976
Starman, 1984
Invaders from Mars, 1953
Enemy Mine, 1985
The Terminator, 1984






August 31st, 2007

Teaching

I just found out that I am teaching ART-144 Web Page Design at RCC again. I thought that they had given the job to a full time instructor, but I play poker with the head of the department.

I was going to write a text book and publish it with LuLu.com, but there is no time to get started between now and next Thursday, so I decided to use what I think is a very good book. It has 500 pages of good stuff and is an excellent book for learning and is also good for reference. It’s hard to find books that are both.






August 31st, 2007

Gorey and Tribbles

I am a great Edward Gorey Fan. There is a fan site that just released the awful trek story The Trouble with Tribbles as drawings in the style of Gorey. It is very well done, except that there should be more of it.

From: shaenon: New Smithson!






August 31st, 2007

Infostealer.Monstres

Someone hacked Monster.com. I had closed my monster account over a year ago, but I use USAJOBS to keep an eye on NASA programming positions. (Yes, I still think it would be cool to work for NASA.) USAJOBS uses the monster.com system to manage the government jobs in its database. The USAJOBS database is one of the db’s that was downloaded.

I’ve been getting huge amounts of phishing scam email. Gmail mostly catches it, but once in a while one is getting through. It looks like that whoever got the data is selling it to the enemy.

For now, it would be best if you ignore any unsolicited job offers in your in box. DO NOT click on the websites even if the spam filter lets the email though.

Here’s an example of the spam:

The qualifications and experiences you’ve listed on your resume prompted me to contact you regarding an available position we are attempting to fill for a client. Faro Inc. is looking for a Application Engineer and I feel that you may have the attributes they are seeking.

My job title on the USAJOBS db as Application Engineer. One clue that this is mass email is the phrase “a Application Engineer”, notice that it should be “an”. This refers me to a site with an official sounding domain, but there is nothing on the site but a form for me to fill out my sensitive information including Social Security number.

Here’s part of the USAJOBS email

8/30/2007

Dear USAJOBS User,

Recently, malicious software, known as Infostealer.Monstres, was used to gain unauthorized access to the Monster.com resume database to steal the contact information of job seekers. Monster Worldwide is the technology provider for the USAJOBS website and regrettably, some of the contact information captured came from USAJOBS job seekers.

The information captured included name, address, telephone number, and email address. Monster Worldwide has assured the U.S. Office of Personnel Management that Social Security Numbers were NOT compromised because of IT security shields USAJOBS has in place.

Access to the data was obtained through the use of a private sector Monster customer’s computer using legitimate employer credentials. OPM is working closely with Monster to quickly protect the USAJOBS data. Monster Worldwide already has identified and shut down a rogue server that was accessing and collecting the job seeker contact information. Further safeguards are being put into place.

We ask you to remain alert for counterfeit “phishing” emails that may appear to come from Monster.com asking you to click on a link. USAJOBS will NEVER request personal information via unsolicited email (i.e. not a response to an email sent by you). Monster has also assured us THEY will NEVER ask any site users to download any software, “tool” or “access agreement.”






August 30th, 2007

BloggerWave

As you may have noticed, I am up to $30 from bloggerwave.com – Capitalism, she is wonderful.

The other pay-to-blog sites don’t seem to have as many jobs and they jobs that they have are for online pharmacies, porn or other obnoxious websites. A coke ad is as American as… well, Coca Cola.

One thing, the traffic on this blog has dropped by 50% in the last month. The RSS traffic is still at a few hundred a day, but the actual blog is not getting as many hits. I have to do a statistical analysis to see if Google is penalizing me for the ads or if it’s just that all my regular readers are on vacation or taking a break. Besides the blog, I have the black hole extensions that screen scrapes the critters black hole, the Cliche List, and my essays. The only essay that gets any number hits is the Space Lab where I have many JavaScript formulas for doing space flight calculations. The Chesley Bonestell Venus Images get a few hits from time to time.

I recently signed up for DataFeedFile.com, which is an affiliate aggregator. You basically create storefronts using their affiliate links. I thought that they provided the affiliate ids so that I would not have to do all the work of applying to the programs that I wanted. It turns out you still have to apply and give them the affiliate IDs. I’ll make my own affiliate links and bypass them. They want one of every four clicks, which would be good if they could improve my sales ratio, but they are not really offering me anything that I don’t already do. Go to www.jt30.com and you’ll see my tried and proved links at the bottom of most pages on the site.

Unless I can be convinced of some advantage to giving away one in four clicks, I will not be using DataFeedFile.com any time soon.






August 30th, 2007

Coke Zero

I’ve been running through the diet drinks at my lunch Deli. I tried Coke Zero the other day. Diet Coke has been one of my fundamental choices, along with Diet Dr. Pepper and Hires Diet root beer. I am a strong believer that you should keep corn syrup out of your diet.

Coke Zero ain’t bad. Here is the blurb from the promo stuff that I got from Coke:

Coke zeros campaign “Life as it should be” is real fun on the Internet. You can direct your own small movie and afterwards send it to all your friends. Coke has found some old b/w film clips that you, as the director, can manipulate by using an easy voice recorder. You can write “the conversation” to your own clip and say what ever you want. Afterwards your movie competes with other movies to be the highest rated. This is living “life as it should be”. Beat your friends to it: http://www.zeroismore.com
Coke zero






August 30th, 2007

Internet bandwidth to become a global currency

Units of work, the economy, the silver standard and a story from Grandpa.

I wrote that title and I can tell that I feel like rambling a little this morning

I have a license plate frame that says “WILL WORK FOR BANDWIDTH”. I used to say that the only reason that had a job was access to the Xerox machine. I then said that the only reason I had a job was access to high speed internet. Now, I have a job, but I am not sure why. I think it is because I have gotten used to the office chair and can relax. Also there is easy access to the Scarlet Deli around the corner where you can buy great pastrami sandwiches. Also the keyboard is at the exact right height and position for writing blog entries.

The link above explains an economic model where bandwidth represents a standard of exchange. Standards of exchange are economic fictions. William Jennings Bryant ran for president on the sole issue of switching from the gold standard to the silver standard. He felt that all the gold was controlled by J. P. Morgan and the eastern banks. Switching to silver, whose price would be harder to manipulate, would shift the balance of power to the west and the farmers. The robber barons, Fiske and Gould tried to corner the market and almost did until President Grant intervened on the “Black Friday”. That they could very nearly buy enough gold on margin to effect the price proves Bryant’s thesis. The truth is that the gold is not really very important as a medium of exchange or standard of value. Value remains the same even though the price floats. Changing to the silver standard might have stabilized prices for a while, but it would not have changed the relative value of farm work and the crops in the west compared to the manufacturing power of the east. Bryant’s claim that silver would bring wealth to the farmers was a total fiction.

My friends Jim and John are very excited by the presidential campaign of Ron Paul. Ron Paul is bubbling to the top of the squirrel nut stew because of his off the wall ideas about taxes and government. They reek of W.J. Bryant’s silver standard silliness. First, his policies stand exactly zero chance of ever being implemented, even if by some miracle he found himself to be president. Second, campaign pledges like eliminating taxes seems to be nothing more than saying what people want to hear. Stupid people look at their pay check and figure the money deducted should be theirs, falsely thinking that the money is going to unwed mothers in inner city ghettos. They don’t realize that the deductions are the price of living in a country that has a government providing essential services that they would have to pay for out of their own pockets. Stupid people… but I digress.

My dad explained money to me as: a dollar is the equivalent of an hour’s work. Back in the 1950s this was true. People were paid more because the value of their work was worth more. This is a very Marxist attitude and I think he got it from my grandfather, who was a communist. The idea that the true standard of exchange is labor has been debunked. The value of labor has steadily dropped until now only the very poor, or illegal immigrants, or slave labor in third world countries actually produce the manual labor that was so highly prized by Marx.

Value is a negotiated concept and is determined by demand and supply. Value is a very capitalistic notion. Connecting a standard measurement for value by tying it to anything concrete like gold, silver, labor or bandwidth is just stupid. People want a dollar bill to represent a stable value, but it isn’t going to happen. Economic policies in the united states actually work against this. The other side of value is risk. Since value is a negotiated idea, the act of negotiation infuses value with risk. Defining a currency standard like gold is an attempt to mitigate the risk and it can’t be done.

On CNBC this week all they are talking about is the collapse of the financial bubble do to high risk real estate loans. Real Estate has been an American standard of value with steady growth for a long time. The risk infused into the standard by speculation and bad loans has brought values back into line. For a long time Oil was considered the standard of value, but speculation, war, and greed has fixed that by increasing the risk in the value of oil. Even as the cost of oil goes up, the value of the dollars crashes, bring all things back into balance.

That’s enough for now. I have to work here from time to time.

Ok, one more personal anedote. This is a story from 1907 from my Grandfather Leroy Hunt (not the communist Peter Graham, who in 1907 was working as a surveyor for the Panama Canal).

Grandpa came to New York in his teens to make his fortune and soon found worked in the Knickerbocker Bank as a runner. This was before the Federal Reserve system and checks cleared by physically bringing the check to the bank where it was drawn and exchanging it for gold. My grandfather’s job was to bring the checks around to several banks and get the cash for the checks. As you can see, getting cash for a check involved the actual exchange of currency or gold coins. Banks would exchange paper, but many banks wound up with a net cash flow, which required that gold exchange hands.

In 1907 there was a run on the banks, know as the Banker’s Panic. Depositors took their cash out of the banks and checks could not clear because the banks did not have the gold to cash the checks. My grandfather had to wait on long lines with his pile of checks and hope that the banks would give him the gold because if his bank failed, he was out of a job.

Standing on line at one bank, he watched the runner in front of him getting paid for his checks. It was several hundred dollars and the bank paid the man in small change. He had to borrow a wheelbarrow to cart the coins back to his bank. Grandpa was very worried because he had $500 in checks.

Just then, J. P. Morgan’s great carriage drew up, and men in uniform came into the bank with sacks of gold. Morgan was trying to head off the panic by loaning the banks gold from his personal fortune, much the way that the Federal Reserve does now. When my grandfather came to the head of the line they added up the checks and paid him with five brand new hundred dollar gold pieces. He passed the man with the wheelbarrow on the way back to his bank.

Grandpa’s bank never did recover from the panic, though, and he lost his job. He went on to have many more adventures, which I will write about someday. Grandpa was a great story teller and I remember many of his tall tales.

Internet bandwidth to become a global currency | Press Esc






August 29th, 2007

What kind of extremist are you?

I was hoping that they had Radical Anarchist as an alternative. (note: this does not show correctly with firefox. Something in my css is over-riding the results.)

What kind of extremist are you?
Your Result: Rational Person

You consider these questions obvious straw men, designed to distract people from a meaningful investigation of facts and a serious discussion of relevant political issues. How boring.

Right-Wing Extremist

Left-Wing Extremist

Moderate Extremist

What kind of extremist are you?
See All Our Quizzes





August 29th, 2007

P. K. Dick in the New Yorker

Dick quote:

“I love SF,” he said once. “I love to read it; I love to write it. The SF writer sees not just possibilities but wild possibilities. It’s not just ‘What if’—it’s ‘My God; what if’—in frenzy and hysteria. The Martians are always coming.”

Somehow Dick doesn’t belong in the New Yorker. Martians don’t read the New Yorker.

Blows Against the Empire: Books: The New Yorker






August 29th, 2007

Baseball Season

I am not a baseball fan. The reason is that they play too many games and the outcome of one game really doesn’t matter. The exception is when the pennant race heats up. I start paying a little attention to the game after labor day. I expect to retire on the funds from websites and my MLBMagicNumbers.com sites including MetsMagicNumber.com are going to lead the way – for one month a year anyway.

The graph above is the traffic on Mets Magic Number showing how the interest in the Magic Number increases as the last day of the season approaches. I’ll be getting 10,000 hits a day by the beginning of October. The chart does not show that right now I am getting 40 hits a minute on my JavaScript Magic Number calculator that is has been added on over 200 websites and blogs. No money on the javascript, but it is great advertising.






August 29th, 2007

Endgame: American Options in Iraq

I have to admit that I read the blog at Defense Tech, mostly for the cool gadgets that only the military can afford. The two main drivers of technology are Military and Porn. The later tends to drive bandwidth and interface developments, but it is hard to keep up on the new trends at work. The former drives command and control improvements including fantastic tech such as super armor, smart bombs and unmanned drones.

Defense tech recently blogged about an article at Military.com that is the most rational discussion of the War in Iraq that I have seen. Military.com, in spite of its name, is for the rank and file military person, not the command hierarchy or soldier wanabees. The website is always a good read. It deals with problems such as the families of personnel serving in Iraq. It is a great resource for anyone in the military. It produces some well balanced criticism of the war, the military command and the president.

Most discussions of Iraq are fraught with emotion. If you want to read an unemotional and rational discussion, check out Endgame: American Options in Iraq. This article may not change your mind, but it presents the facts clearly and highlights issues, especially about Iran, that are left out of other discussions.






August 29th, 2007

Realist cats

Better than LOL cats, here is a realist cat site where they jokes are in English. Unfortunately they are only funny because LOL cats are so dumb.

new “realisticats” internet phenomenon takes world by storm – top bloggers claim proper grammar next hot trend






August 28th, 2007

J’s cat

LOL cats are everywhere. One wound up on J’s blog. As I understand this lol syntax, his cat is in his books stealing his words. I am not sure of this as I have never sent a text message in my life and do not even know how it is done or why they use the silly misspellings. I am not sure what LOL means. (Left out losers? Lots of limericks? Lost in Lichtenstein? Long on liberty? Limp over legs?).

J Alan Erwine’s Blog






August 27th, 2007

On the Road: The Original Scroll

Jack Kerouac is one of our great writers. I feel closer to the beats than any other literary movement. I used to say hi to Allen Ginsberg when I lived in the East Village. Allen hung hanging out at the church on first avenue that I passed every day on the way to classes. I really love Dharma Bums and On the Road. I have never been blind to the novel’s faults. It is a generation book, kind of like Catcher in the Rye or Razor’s Edge. It has great flaws because it is such an important book. No book could ever live up to what Kerouac wanted to write.

On the Road: The Original Scroll, written on three long rolls of tracing paper during a three week high on speed, has been transcribed and published. I am looking forward to reading it. Some reviews say it is better than the edited version that Jack eventually sold.