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Jota's Brane
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Below are 20 journal entries, after skipping by the 40 most recent ones recorded in Jota's LiveJournal:

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Sunday, March 8th, 2009
5:35 pm
How to make SuperMoney?
If you're a superhero, what kinds of revenue options do you have? I can see several possibilities:

1. Be independently wealthy.
Arguably, this is just a special case of #2.

2. Hold down a mundane job.
Some jobs work better for this than others -- I don't think "surgeon" would be terribly compatible, for instance.

3. Use your superpower directly to make money.
Again, some superpowers work better for this than others. I suppose this is the path many supervillains have chosen.

4. Superhero full-time, but charge people for it.
On contract with the city, perhaps. Or through an agency.

5. Superhero full-time, and just hope money comes from somewhere.
Donations and rewards? This option seems unreliable.

6. Maintain a lifestyle that doesn't require an income.
HoboMan has no need for your mundane currency!

Am I missing any major options here?
Thursday, February 26th, 2009
1:24 pm
Crossover fanfic that needs to be written
Little Moreau's Island (of Misfit Toys)
Saturday, February 7th, 2009
11:40 am
Who wrote that?
All revision tracking systems (source control, wiki history pages, etc.) should have some tool for finding out which revision added a particular chunk of text.

Or, to put it another way: "Who the #*$@ wrote that?"
Thursday, February 5th, 2009
1:09 pm
But HOW illegal is it?
I wonder how illegal it would be to make a website that would stream any local radio station on request.

(Local to where the server was at, of course. You'd need to set up a bunch of receivers and somehow interface with them from the server. It would probably be prohibitively inconvenient to actually do, and you'd still only be able to stream a finite number of different stations at a time. But I'm just curious about the legality of rebroadcasting live programming like that. It seems kinda similar to what cable television does already.)
Wednesday, January 28th, 2009
7:09 am
The Jolly Elf
A flag redder than blood and whiter than bone
With a great bearded skull and crossed candy canes shone!
There is only one man with the jack "Jolly Elf";
I knew in my heart this was Whitebeard himself.

(Quoted from A Nautical Noel.)

Now available as desktop wallpaper, in large and small sizes.
Monday, January 12th, 2009
10:02 am
The Underworld: Found
Many ancient cultures in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East conceived of a sort of "Underworld". It was imagined as being far below the ground. In some myths, when night fell, the sun was actually traveling to the underworld, whence it would return the next morning.

Logically, this would seem to imply that the Underworld is in fact the western hemisphere.
Friday, January 9th, 2009
9:28 am
Kissing Clock
An idea for a product: an analog clock. The hour and second hand are shaped like the silhouettes of two people (one male, one female). Both are in profile. The hour hand faces counter-clockwise; the minute hand faces clockwise. The minute hand relentlessly pursues the hour hand around the clock face, as the hour uncertainly retreats. Once an hour (more or less), the minute hand catches up to the hour hand and, as the two are facing each other when they come into contact, steals a kiss.

I'm not sure which should be the hour and which the minute. I wouldn't be surprised if something like this has already existed. It seems like the sort of thing they would have made during Victorian times.

Also, it occurs to me that a clock like this might be even more popular if the two figures were based on specific characters from some work of fiction popular among teenage girls, such as Harry Potter or that recent vampire movie (whatever it was called).
Saturday, December 20th, 2008
10:15 am
A Nautical Noel, by Admiral Jota

It's that time of year again.

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the ship
Not a pirate was workin'; none feared Bosun's whip.
The bottles of grog were all empty and dry,
Along with the brandy, the scotch and the rye.

The Captain and Mate were both snug in their beds,
While everyone else had a hammock instead.
Cook in the galley and I in the nest
Were the last to succumb to an uneasy rest.

When I saw on the waves and across the dark ocean
A vague ghostly shape was quickly approachin',
I grabbed for my spyglass and squinted an eye
To find out which standard this spectre would fly.Collapse )

Saturday, December 13th, 2008
11:56 am
This stuff is confusing
Let's say you've got two identical rods. I dunno what they're made of or how big they are. But they're out there somewhere in space, and one of them is moving. Very quickly. And the other one is stationary. (Or maybe the one is stationary and the other is moving. Whichever you prefer.)

Now, since it's moving that quickly, its length is going to contract. So its apparent volume will be relatively small. (Relatively! Get it? Ha ha! Oh, c'mon. You're no fun.) And by the same token, its mass will be quite high. So its density will be substantially higher than that of its less mobile cousin.

Now, as I understand things, anything that has too much mass within a given radius is effectively a black hole. Right? And something moving sufficiently close to the speed of light can have arbitrarily high mass.

And so... from the perspective of the un-moving rod, will this rod appear to be a black hole? And if the moving rod collides with the stationary one... well, what happens? Will some of its matter fall into the event horizon? All of it? (Don't forget that, because of its rest shape and the direction of its motion, this apparent black hole should now be disc-shaped.) What if the collision slows it down enough that it's no longer moving fast enough to have enough effective mass to continue to have an escape velocity greater than c? What if it doesn't? Will the matter that's "sucked in", so to speak, cease to perceive the thing it was just sucked into as a black hole, since it would now be traveling at the same velocity, making it all effectively stationary from that perspective?

(This is why I keep a small notepad next to my bed.)
Monday, December 1st, 2008
5:04 am
Another addition to the dictionary
"Arsonic" ought to be a variety of poison that causes spontaneous combustion.
Thursday, October 30th, 2008
10:16 pm
If something has the head of a calf and the body of a seventeen year old, does that make them a minor-taur?
Tuesday, October 7th, 2008
3:54 pm
Some call it "neologism"; some call it "making stuff up"
If someone uses sorcery to make really good guesses about things, that's an "estimage".
Sunday, September 14th, 2008
8:42 pm
Y'know what would be cool? To build working mechanical devices entirely out of bone. Has anyone done that?

Edit: Ooh, I just found this very cool watch. Anyone know of anything else? Especially anything larger scale?
Tuesday, September 9th, 2008
12:22 am
[Look, there is nothing more to say. Just look at the subject line. What could I possibly add to that?]
Thursday, August 28th, 2008
10:40 am
And a T-Shirt!
The image is a bit large, so I'll put it behind a cut.Collapse )

Available in two versions: main image on back, pocket logo on front and main image on front, no pocket.
3:05 am
New Bumper Sticker!

Now available for purchase.

This could be the first of many. Or it may just be the first of one. Who can yet say?
Friday, August 22nd, 2008
10:00 am
Stardate 8034.52
Captain's Log, Stardate 8034.52: We have been boarded by some variety of space-borne organism which is actively breeding inside the Enterprise's fuel lines It's interfering with nearly every system. We've been sitting in parking orbit around an unoccupied planet while Scotty attempts to make repairs.

KIRK: Mister Scott, what is the status of the repairs?

SCOTTY: I haven't had any time for repairs, Captain! It's all I can do to stay on top of the eruptions in the waste control systems and venting them before they can do any more damage!

SPOCK: Have you tried reversing the polarity on the peristaltic process?

SCOTTY: But that'll just flush our fuel lines and leave us dead in the water!

MCCOY: No, I think the Vulcan is onto something. If we flush it all out, that should dump most of those little critters into space. Don't you have any backup power left?

SCOTTY: Aye, I'll give it a try.

[Scotty reverses the polarity on the peristaltic process, flushing the fuel lines and alien organisms.]

CHEKOV: That is the biggest mess I have seen since the Chernobyl disaster in Russia!

KIRK: Never mind that. Did it work?

SULU: Sensors are coming back on line.

UHURA: Communications are back. We're being hailed by the next planet over. They have ginger-infused soda water and orange juice and wish to trade with us. That should help us begin repairs and replenish our fuel until we can get to the next starbase.

KIRK: Lay in a course, Mister Sulu. One half impulse.
Monday, August 18th, 2008
4:08 pm
Wacky Olympic idea
Here is (as the title implies) a wacky Olympic idea: get rid of any event that we can build an android to perform better than the human athletes can.
Monday, July 28th, 2008
9:24 am
A proposal for the protection of email addresses posted to the Internet:
<span class="rot13">wbgn@tehax.bet</span><noscript> (ROT13)</noscript>

Normally, I am opposed to javascript. However, I think this bit happens to meet both of my two primary requirements:
A) When javascript is enabled, the effect is unquestionably benign.
B) When javascript is disabled, it falls back gracefully such that the page appears no worse than it would have if it were designed without scripting.
Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008
3:40 pm
What is a game?
What is a game? What is the difference between a game and a past-time or between a game and a toy?

Having wondered these things before, I've come up with my own definition:

A game is a challenge with a definite goal or set of goals which is undertaken for the purpose of recreation or fun.

Now, to break this down:
  • A game involves some sort of challenge.

  • Success must not be trivial. It might require skill, physical prowess, luck, or some other trait or combination of traits. Flipping a coin and trying to get "heads" would be a (rather boring) game; simply dropping a coin on the floor generally wouldn't. For something to be a game, there must be a chance of failure — or at least greater and lesser degrees of success.

  • A game must have one or more definite goals. A game must have one or more definite and measurable goals.

  • This is what I consider the difference between "playing" and "playing a game". A toy might encourage you to score as many points as you can, but that's a very vague goal: at what point are you finished? A definite goal might be to score more 100 points, to score more points than someone else, or to score as many points as you can in ten minutes. A game's goals can also change as you play: completing one goal might open up a new one.

  • A game is undertaken for recreation or fun. The purpose of a game is recreation or fun.

  • Work usually involves a challenge and has definite goals, but it also usually has some purpose other than just "fun". Of course, some people play games for work (e.g. professional athletes), and others only play for the sake of the other players (e.g. parents, sometimes). But I think that just because someone isn't treating a game as a game doesn't automatically make it stop being one. Baseball itself is still a game, even if not everyone plays it for fun.

One interesting side effect of this definition is that a puzzle would be considered a kind of game. But I think that's perfectly valid.
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