When There’s Time

Have you ever sat around, perhaps with friends, and start wondering what you would do if you could go back in time? I know I have, mostly when sitting in traffic. Of course, the usual things are brought up: watching the pyramids being built, seeing if Jesus was a real person, killing Hitler, and whatever. Or, maybe, going so far back that the Earth had plants, but nothing else and just standing there, looking up into the night sky, the only person on Earth. Unless, of course, a bunch of other time travelers had the same idea and showed up at the same time.

Is time travel possible? Yes. We all move forwards in time. It’s kind of a cheap way of doing it, but it is possible. Although, there is a school of thought that says all of time has already happened, it’s just the way we perceive it that makes it look like it’s happening now, or, for the youngsters, “on demand.”

Back in 2009, Stephen Hawking, arguably the smartest person ever, did an experiment where he had a party for time travelers and then, afterwards, he sent out invitations. Nobody showed up, thus ‘proving’ that backwards time travel wasn’t possible.

As I have said, I am not a scientist. Neither am I particularly smart. It seems to me, though, that nobody thought to ask the obvious question of, “Why would they?” Presumably, people from the future would get their invitation (how?), have already researched the ‘party’ and found out it was a trap. If they weren’t going around telling people in the past they were from the future, why in the world would they show up to a party that would ‘out’ them as people from the future?

Giving it another minute of thought, if I were a time traveler from, say, 2750 and managed to come across this invitation. I would look it up and see that nine years after the party happened and the invitations were sent out, an article was written saying that nobody from the future showed. This would make me think that I should definitely not go, because nobody showed up before. If I showed up, it would mean that I changed the future. And that’s probably against some kind of rule.

Is it possible to go back in time, though? As I understand it (and I am not a scientist), it’s technically possible. Or, at least, there’s no reason for it to not be possible. Doing it is an entirely different thing, though. Nonetheless, it can be an interesting thought experiment.

Would I, then, go back in time and watch the Great Pyramid being built by aliens slave labor? It sounds like a fun thing to do. But, me being me, would start worrying about things. Like, I don’t speak ancient Egyptian. What kind of diseases might I catch that don’t exist now? What if someone lopped my head off for being a sorcerer when I used my lighter? Seems like it could be dangerous.

That’s the type of thing I would worry about, because I can’t even fantasize properly.

But, there is one thing I would most probably do. To understand that, we need to take a side trip. I have lived alone for many years, so I have gotten used to cooking. I like cooking. I don’t like cleaning up after cooking, but the cooking part is fine with me. Sometimes I’m lazy, and I just make the same things over and over until I get bored. When that happens, I start fishing around for new recipes. When I get really bored I go fishing for old recipes. Doing searches for old recipes inevitably leads to finding old menus from famous restaurants in the past. For example, after watching episodes of Night Court, something called “Rumaki” was mentioned a lot. Looking it up, I learned it was an appetizer made of chicken liver, water chestnut, and bacon. It was probably invented at Don The Beachcomber in Palm Springs during the early 1940s. A quick search later and I found a menu for Don The Beachcomber from 1965, where I saw ordering it would cost a whopping $1.40. I don’t know how much Rumaki you would get for that $1.40, though. Adjust for inflation, $1.40 in 1965 would be $12.51, today. Gosh! Perusing further, I found Cantonese Pork for $4.95. King Crab Chun King? $5.50 per person, and only made for two or more people. So, $11.00. $11.00! And, yes, I would argue that I would want it, even if it was just me.

Is there really a difference between ducks?

Going further back, say, Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York in 1917, one could dine on a Saddle of Spring Lamb for $8.00. What’s a saddle of spring lamb? It’s the loin area. If I wanted to buy a saddle of lamb and cook it myself, how much would it be? For 2 pounds, it would be around $60.

A Saddle of Lamb

So, obviously, if I had a time machine I would be going back in time and eating at famous restaurants for cheap. Assuming that it wasn’t too expensive to operate a time machine, it would only make financial sense to stop buying groceries and eat out every night at the most expensive restaurants throughout time.

Not only would you be eating like a king, but you could act like one. Imagine ordering everything on the menu, which would probably cost less than $100. JP Morgan’s eyes would pop out of his head. Provided, of course, you went during a year in which he was still alive.

There would be other advantages, too. For instance, you could find out, definitively, what cut of beef was used for Steak Delmonico. Or what Couronne de ris de veau aux champignons is (you probably don’t want to know).

Even better, maybe you can go back in time and learn how to make such things and then using it here, in the now. Imagine, if you will, going on Hell’s Kitchen. While the other people are making things like turbot with mashed parsnips or braised short ribs, you can tell Chef Ramsey that you’ll be making Couronne de ris de veau aux champignons. The man would explode.

Not only would you get to eat fancy dinners in famous (and probably long gone) restaurants, but you’d be eating food from a time when people didn’t care about health. When they didn’t know the difference between trans fats and saturated fats. Foods cooked in butter, lard, and bacon drippings. Sure, you’d probably die, but it would be a tasty death. And certainly better than being hanged as a witch because you forgot to leave your cell phone in the present.

This leads to the question of money, though. It would look pretty suspicious if you paid for your meal in modern money. You’d have to do something like cash in your 401K and buy gold and gems, bring those back, and then sell it for local time currency. I have no idea what that would do to the timeline, since you would be duplicating things.

If you were wanting to ‘set a trap’ for a time traveler, then, it would make more sense to me to stake out restaurants and look for people that are far too comfortable paying for absurdly high priced meals. If you choose to leap out and accuse very rich people of being time travelers in high end restaurants, please, do record it.

The Inevitable Loss Of Wonder

When I was growing up, I was very big on science fiction, aliens, and UFOs. I was also into fantasy, magic, monsters, and other unknown things. As I got older I began to realize that the ideas that I held so dear weren’t all that mysterious. The light at the end of the crawlspace under the house wasn’t a subterranean city, just the back of the house; the wonders that lay on the other side of distant hills were just more roads and suburban homes; the red light flying high overhead during the holiday seasons was not Santa Claus, but an airplane. Every year of living stripped away another layer of magic and wonder.

Ideas about UFOs and aliens, though, went in another direction. Or, rather, two directions: one for, and one against. As I learned more about time, distance, speed, and space the less likely it seemed, to me, that Earth had visitors from other star systems. On the other hand, if our solar system had an older civilization that pre-dated us, then things could be different. But where were they located? Why is there no definitive evidence that they existed?

I spend a lot of time thinking on such things. I no longer have a close knit network of friends that I hang out with to discuss these things with. I work from home, now, so I no longer sit in traffic for hours to ruminate on these topics. So, now I’m going to unleash them on you. Feel free to poke holes in anything I say because I’ll try and patch those holes and that keeps my brain busy.

On Alien Visitations

I was always a fan of aliens coming for a visit. Project Bluebook was one of my favorite shows. If I didn’t own books about alien abductions or contact, I would get them from the library. As I got older, I realized that random visits from other star systems just wouldn’t be that likely, unless they were already close. Even assuming that aliens may be immortal and have methods of travel that circumvent the speed of light, the basic question of, “Why would they come here?” would still persist. It’s not that I think anything is wrong with Earth, or that it wouldn’t be a lovely place to visit, but why would an alien civilization from far away come here?

We know how telescopes work: light comes from somewhere and when you look at it, you’re essentially looking back in time. Light doesn’t travel faster than the speed of light (without a bit of coaxing), so if light took a 100,000 years to get to the telescope lens, then you’re looking at something from 100,000 years ago. Even if an alien looking through a telescope managed to find Earth (we all know space is very big), they’d be looking at a very old Earth, before anything exciting was going on. Why would they think there was anything of interest going on now? Unless they were coming to see dinosaurs, which, I guess, is a possibility.

The flipside to this would be that they weren’t relying on telescopes. Maybe they were sending out probes? Probes travelling faster than light that would slow down when encountering planets. I guess that’s feasible. Just because we haven’t figure out the science doesn’t mean someone else hasn’t.

On Alien Empires

We’ve been sending radio signals into space for a while now. And a “greatest hits” record. We’ve also been combing the skies looking for radio signals. Sometimes we see something that looks like it came from an intelligence in outer space, but someone comes along and explains it away. Since we haven’t heard from anyone, it’s safe to assume there’s nobody out there, and never has been.

Except, it isn’t. There are a few reasons why we may not have picked up alien signals.

  1. We’re too young. The other civilizations have already risen and fallen. All the radio chatter has already degraded and we can no longer pick it up.
  2. We’re too old. No other civilization has gotten to the point that we have and aren’t sending out radio signals. Or they just started and it will take years for us to detect their version of The Lone Ranger or The Guiding Light.
  3. They are savvy and use compression and encryption. Would we be able to detect intelligent signals if they were encrypted and compressed? Or one or the other? I don’t know. It seems to me it would be a bit difficult and blend in with background noise.
  4. They don’t use radio. We’re talking about aliens, here, so maybe they just plain don’t use it. Or have another method, like light. Or something we don’t know about, yet.
  5. They straight up don’t care. For millennia, humans have been looking at the stars and wondering what goes on out there, why there are lights twinkling, why things move the way they do. We’re human; it’s what we do. But we’re talking about aliens who may not be human at all. They may not look like us, act like us, or think like us. They may even live underground or underwater and it never occurred to them that there might be an outer space, much less other galaxies and planets.

All in all, the idea that they don’t think like us is probably the biggest factor. We may think sending out signals about the hydrogen atom may be a big deal, but to an alien race it may not be. Maybe they have a big thing for the number 8, so they look for signals going on about oxygen. Or selenium. I don’t know. Nobody knows. Because to know, we’d have to have contact and some sort of insight into how they think. Anyone that claims they would know would immediately be labeled a lunatic and ignored.

Closer To Home

The “Face” on Mars doesn’t get a lot of mention, these days. The idea that it’s a natural formation that we see a face in makes sense, since humans are good at that sort of thing. We see faces on pancakes, in wood paneling, and in fog so there’s no reason to think we’re just projecting face on a pile of rock. That said, I can’t definitively say that it’s not an artificial construct. I’ve never been there. I’ve never had a chance to see it close up and do a real good study of it. No one has. At least, no on from Earth who’s going to talk about it. So to say it it’s a natural formation is just as wrong as saying it’s artificial. We can only presume until we get enough people on Mars to take a really good look at it.

Why would ancient Martians decide to build a gigantic face on Mars? Again, I couldn’t say. I have no insight into the working of a theoretical Martian mind. On the other hand, what would possess an ancient pharaoh to build a huge pyramid? A big enough ego and the ability to make it so would seem to fit. Plus, Mars has less gravity so it might be easier to build a big, creepy face gazing out into nothingness.

Where’s The Evidence?

If there were ancient Martians on Mars, or other aliens that visited Earth, where’s the evidence? Where are the hi-tech gadgets? Sure, there are ancient etchings, carvings, and, possibly, stories about them but where is the physical proof? And, really, those etchings and carvings might be of something terrestrial. We don’t have the ability to ask the original artists what they were doing. We make stuff up all the time now, it’s not inconceivable that cultures in the past were making stuff up.

Oddly, the higher we go up the technology ladder, the easier it becomes to explain away the lack of physical evidence. And, of course, there’s always the chance that things are so alien that we don’t have the faintest idea of what to look for.

Fifty years ago, you may have read a myth about a hero with an amulet that could open doors. “A magic amulet,” you might think. But these days, we have a lot of “magic amulets,” we just call them company ID cards. People wear them on lanyards all the time, and waving them in front of a box causes doors to unlock or even open.

Perhaps there’s a myth about a god writing on a tablet that could be easily erased and re-used. We have tons of such tablets, today. You know: iPads, and their relatives.

Flying chariots we haven’t quite achieved, although some people are still holding out hope for them.

And then there’s nano technology. We haven’t gotten there yet, but consider what a boon it would be for the planet if we did have molecular sized robots breaking down all our garbage and waste into their component atoms. If you can have a race of aliens that are able to bypass the speed of light, is it any more difficult to think they mastered this technology? If you scoff at the idea of teeny tiny robots, you should be aware that your body is already full of them: white blood cells would fit the description, I should think, as would viruses.

Now What?

Beats me. I’m not a scientist and I’m certainly in no position to influence policy. All I can do is sit around and think about these things while other people (maybe) read this and laugh because I’m totally off base. That’s all right; my life doesn’t rely on this or how it’s taken or disputed.


I don’t think the S.E.T.I. (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) program will actually get anywhere.

That isn’t to say that I don’t like the idea; I do.  If I were in charge of anything they would continue to get funding to do whatever it is they’re doing.  Some people will probably roll their eyes at the idea of wasting money but there’s a long list of programs I consider to be a bigger waste of money.

It isn’t that I don’t think there isn’t intelligent life somewhere out in the cosmos.  I don’t know if there is, but I have no reason to believe there isn’t.

Let’s digress for a moment.

Fifty years ago, the year was 1959.  In 1959 requested a patent for the integrated circut.  Rawhide, Bonanza, and The Twilight Zone appeared on television.  Radio was still in swing.  There were no cell phones, or home computers.  Commercial airplane travel had only been around for 30 some-odd years. 

One hundred years ago it was 1909.  The movie industry was just getting into gear, with no sound.  Okay, well, let’s be blunt: there wasn’t much in the way of technology.

Five hundred years ago it was 1509.  One thousand years ago the year was 909. 

Can we go over all the changes in the human life between 909 and now?  Can anyone really  say what the 3009 will be like (aside from Futurama)?  Probably not.  I’m pretty sure that if you told someone from 1959 about today’s iPhones or Blackberries they’d think you were writing a Dick Tracy comic.

Let’s get back to SETI for a moment.  Let’s assume that there is a planet out there with intelligent life.  We’ll figure they’re kind of like us.  The only real question is that of time.

Where are these E.T.’s in relation to us in terms of development?

In the unlikely event that we evolved at the same time, at the same pace, and they had the same stuff that we did, then SETI might have a chance of picking up something.  That’s assuming they’re close by.  If they were circling Epsilon Eridani, it would only take ten years for radio transmissions to get there.  That would be plenty of time for someone there to find the transmission and get excited about it.

That’s assuming they’re like us.  If there’s any deviance from there then things would get very sticky, indeed.

Let’s be frank, here.  It hasn’t taken very long for radio and TV to become obsolete.  It’s not entirely there yet, but it will happen.  Signals are being sent over cable more than they are over the air.  If someone isn’t ready to listen over the span of, say, 100 years then they may not get anything from us at all.  In terms of geology and evolution, 100 years is less than a blink.

If this other civilization started after us, maybe 100 years, then they may not even progress to the technological level of being able to listen for us until after we’ve stopped broadcasting and started watching TV full time on computers, or DVR’s, or web-enabled TV’s.

Or maybe they started 100 years before us.  Then what?  Maybe they’re already using nothing but cable to watch “Glork & Mandy.”  Maybe they never thought of broadcasting and they started off with a tin can strung to every household.

The time difference alone is enough of a hurdle to make finding a signal from another civilization to be a major stroke of luck.

Another thought that occurred to me is if a civilization isn’t actively trying to signal their existence to the rest of the cosmos how would the information be broadcast?  Would it be encrypted or compressed?

Some people might wonder why an alien civilization would encrypt or compress all their transmissions.  I brought it up before, but we have no idea how a group of aliens would do anything.  We have absolutely no idea of how their mental processes work or their motives or anything else. 

That’s another hurdle.  We might be looking for something that’s important to us only to be missing something that’s important to them

Ghosts in the Machine

     Back in 1985 there was an episode of the New Twilight Zone called “Dreams for Sale.”  I had seen it, remembered it wrong for a few years, and then wrote a story fragment based on it. 

     My story fragment had to due with a man who was fed up with his life, went to Tibet, had himself locked in a meditation cave, and then meditated on the nature of reality.  This meditation led him to a point of raised consciousness and made some pretty funky things happen.  For one, the cave disappeared and the man found himself laying on a bed with wires connected to him.

     After disconnecting the wires and wandering around for a while, he made contact with a computer which explained to him that he, and several million other people,  was on a gigantic spaceship.  The Earth had suffered some great cataclysm and the plan was to colonize another world with as many people as possible.  Since space travel still wasn’t up to Star Trek or Star Wars standards, it would take time so people were put into suspended animation and hooked up to a computer.  The computer would network everyone together into a common world so they could all interact together.  For the purpose of keeping everyone sane, nobody was allowed to know what was going on so their memories were wiped.  And, since the trip was going to take a very long time, when people died in the computer they were re-incarnated.  The computer started at the dawn of known history and worked up until the Earth cataclysm.  It then would start over.  This cycle had happened several times.

     The man was then placed back into a sleeping chamber and re-joined the world, with his memory wiped, at a point before he went to Tibet.

     This, I thought, neatly explained some questions of today.  It explained reincarnation, the “cycle” of history that the Hindu religion speaks of, and some claims of déjà vu. 

     My pride requests that I mention that I wrote this long before The Matrix was released.

     Today, I ran across a paper that puts forth the idea that we may, indeed, be living in a computer simulation.  I haven’t had a chance to do an in-depth read, but from what I glanced it appears that the author, Nick Bostrom, has the same ideas I do but with a lot more math and stuff.

     Since I do a lot of thinking about useless things I still wonder what would be possible if we were all living in a computer simulation.  Namely, would it be possible to change your life or the past?  Most software has bugs in it, could the universe we live in also have bugs that could be exploited to our advantage?

     For instance, people often say that positive thinking influences your life (as does negative).  Have you ever read about that thing you do where everyday you write down a life affirming sentence and it ends up coming true?  Like, if you write, “I, Mr Entropy, will win the Lotto next Thursday” a hundred times a day, every day, then you could win the lottery.  Or if a bunch of people pray for granddad to be healed of his gout.  Or if a bunch of kids spend Sunday night falling asleep to the idea that a massive snow storm will hit that night and school will be canceled for Monday.

     I had a friend, once, who maintained that more and more sub-atomic particles were being found not because theories said they should exist, but because scientists believed so much that they should be there that they popped into existence when they were looked for. 

     Could a bunch of minds, concentrated on one idea, influence reality?  Maybe not if we lived in a real, physical, universe but if we lived in a simulation with a few bugs I’d bet that it’s a lot more plausible.

Locally Produced

Most Americans, I suppose, do their grocery shopping in a grocery store.  Probably a chain, like Krogers, HEB, FoodTown or Pathmark.  Food is shipped to each store by truck and comes from a warehouse.  Before the warehouse, the stuff was in a factory.

The rising cost of gas means that the food you’re buying is going to become more expensive because they need to cover the rising costs of shipping.

At what point would it be more cost effective to not shop at a chain grocery store anymore?  When does it make more sense to buy produce from a local farmer, or meat from a local butcher? 

When it comes down to it, though, we’re a lazy bunch.  We’d rather have everything laid out for us in one spot then go to a bunch of different stores.  Sometimes it makes sense to do it that way.  You wouldn’t want to burn up a tank of gas just to do your weekly shopping.

With the proliferation of strip malls, many of which lay unused and empty, maybe there could be a better way.  If those empty stores could be rented out to local farmers, butchers, and bakers then everything could stay local and yet still be moderately convenient.

Maybe we’d be better off in the long run.  We could have a little less chemicals injected into our bodies through our food.  Since food would have less distance to travel it wouldn’t need all the preservatives and chemicals that we eat now.  Have you ever really read the label on the food you eat?  Do you even know what half of the stuff listed in the ingredients are? 

Would it be better to buy a bunch of ears of corn from a local farmer, beef from a local cattle rancher, and whatever else?  Would the rising gas prices (especially diesel) make it more cost effective for everyone in the long run?  Would it be more environmentally friendlier?  Would it be more inconvenient?

Is this something that we could use, I wonder.  If it would help us as a society in the long run by forcing us to slow down and be a little more patient wouldn’t that be better?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I think about them when I’m roving through my local grocery store.  I wonder why beef is so expensive; I work for a big computer company and yet, across the street, there are fields with a bunch of cows in them.  Why is beef so expensive?  Why is milk so expensive?  Do we have a shortage of chickens?  Are pigs rare animals?  Is a yellow bell pepper made of gold? 

If I didn’t live in suburbia I’d try growing my own damn bell peppers.  But people are stacked on top of people and there isn’t room, even though there’s plenty of land.  Again, that’s convenience talking.  I wouldn’t be able to afford the gas to get to work if I lived further away from my job. 

At what point does all of this break?

Fifty Years From Now

There’s a new book out called “The Way We Will Be 50 Years from Today” edited by Mike Wallace. It has essays by sixty of the world’s top minds (why was I not invited?) on what they think the world will be like in the year 2058.

I have a problem with books like these because they don’t seem to be right. We should all remember how predictions from the past

ended up by the year 2000. No flying cars, no moon bases, no “kitchen of the future” with dinner tables that washed dishes for you. The only predictions that seem correct are the ones that are vague, like “computers will be really powerful” and “we’ll have a presence in space.”

In most cases, these predictions seem more like what the author would like to see happen rather than what will probably happen.

I can come up with hundreds of predictions for fifty years from now.

Most of them are mutually-exclusive. I’ve already written about a few of them, but you’d probably have to search around a bit to find them.

Let’s have some fun.

1) New World Order

By the year 2058 the global economy collapsed. The world became re-united under a central leader, a global president. Each country, in turn, is ruled by a local “governor.” Problems arise when these governors can’t get along any better than they did when they were absolute rulers of their country. The global president is completely ineffective at keeping peace. For the world’s citizens, nothing much has changed other than having a central head figure for aliens from outer space to contact.

2) Citizen Tracking

In the coming years, the citizens of the United States will complete their castration of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. They will give up their rights of privacy in the interest of convenience. The government will sell them on various programs, such as a National ID card, because it will make their lives easier by having a card that carries their bank information, medical history, voter status, drivers license, and other such things that can be used anywhere. The fact that it tracks everything they do is a minor side-effect. People will gobble it up. RFID implants will be used to keep children safe from kidnappers, hikers safe from getting lost, and your senile grandma from ending up in the wrong house. All tasty foods will be outlawed, due to being unhealthy, and replaced by a nutritious paste sanctioned by the government. Paper and coin money will be phased out so all transactions can be monitored to prevent terrorism. Don’t even think of smoking a cigarette. Alcohol will be permitted so everyone will be happy.

3) Civil War

The events in #2 transpire which creates a rebellious faction. Civil war erupts. While the government won’t use nuclear weapons within the country, it will use other forms of bombardment and land engagements. Chaos ensues, turning the U.S.A into a veritable wasteland. The coastal areas will remain within control of the

government in case other countries decide to use the opportunity to stage an attack on the weakened country, but the interior will be a lot more chaotic and dangerous.

4) The Star Trek Holodeck will be created

Creating a real-world Holodeck will be one of the major changes in human kind history. If you don’t know what a Holodeck is, you’ll have to read about it because it’s too much for me to cover right now. But if everyone had a large closet space that could be turned (for all intents and purposes) into an unlimited amount of space with anything a person desired within then it would be pretty damn neat. Since the US only has information type jobs, all work can be done in a networked holodeck environment. You could phase out janitors and stuff. You could do just about anything you wanted to do without leaving your home. I wrote a whole big thing about it, but you’ll have to search for it. It was last year, sometime.

5) The Creation Of Nanobots

The Feynman/Drexler vision of nano technology will change the entire world in so many ways it would be hard to count. People could live forever, cars and other items could be self-repairing, food would be plentiful and made from garbage, similar to the way the food replicator works in Star Trek. Artists would become the highest caste in our society because the only thing separating what you could have versus what your neighbor could have would be the styling.

Okay, that’s five. I’m sure I could think of more, but I’m still tired and I’m still not feeling well. If I had some nano bots running through my system wiping out cold virus’ I’d be gold.

Mars Revisited

So, first there was the “Face on Mars.” And that’s fine. For anyone who doesn’t know me by now you need to understand that my position on the “Face” is quite simple. I don’t know if it’s artificial and I don’t know if it’s natural. For me, it go could go either way. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a mystery that

won’t be solved until we go up there and take a look at it. I have no respect for people who dismiss it out of hand as being a natural formation, and I don’t have respect for people who are dead set on it being artificial. We ain’t there, we ain’t gonna know until we really look at it. Trying to justify either position from Earth is silly.

After the rovers were roving for a bit, another interesting thing showed up. Some people were claiming it was a Martian body. Considering the weather on Mars, I shouldn’t think it would be. And it didn’t look too much like a skeleton to me.

Actually, it looked like it came from the set of “Planet of the Apes.” But it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say it looks kind of like a statue. What does it for me is the raised ground stretching down from the chin. While being very uniform, it still looks like it could be covering more of whatever it is. It looks similar to the “Face,” too.

Finally, there’s the new picture. Even though it isn’t new. This one looks like that Bigfoot photo from the 1970’s. It looks like a figure walking across the landscape. Or a Sand person from Star Wars. Or a figure who used to be seated, perhaps on a throne.

This could all be wishful thinking, sure. Maybe they aren’t monuments, statues, and figurines. But wouldn’t it be interesting if they were? Wouldn’t it be great if someone else thought it would be worth going up there to check it out? At least publicly?

KDE4 for a day — How it worked

Some people might actually be interested in how I fared using KDE 4.0 for a day. The truth is, I wasn’t able to go a whole day. I needed to look at some media clips and, for some reason, VLC would only display the very top line of the video. Mplayer showed a scrambled screen.

I’m willing to blame the composite system for that, but I didn’t think to turn it off. I just went back to KDE 3.5.8 for the rest of the day.

I still like it, though. I can see myself using it more and more. That’s really the same thing that happened with BeOS. I installed it just to look at it and ended up using it more and more until it was my normal operating system. I only used Windows for games.

There’s been quite the UFO flap in Stephenville, TX this week. A number of people are claiming to have seen one (possibly one). That’s fine with me, really. Anyone that knows me knows that I’m OK with UFO’s.

But as I get older I get a bit more skeptical. It’s not that I don’t think the universe is a large enough place to have another (I’m being gracious here) intelligent species or two. It’s just that I don’t know why they would be here. It seems to me, if we have alien visitors then they’d probably be from somewhere local. Like Mars or something.

The other thing that bothers me is the lack of video evidence. As of last night, there were no pictures or video. Even if there were video or pictures they’d be crappy. You know that. In this day in age when you can get a really good shot of Brittany Spears’ coochie there should be no excuse for not having a decent shot of a UFO.

Texas is no stranger to UFO’s, though. In 1897, Aurora, TX supposedly had a visitor from another planet. Aurora, by the way, is not very far from Stephenville.

Sperm Powered Nano Bot

It’s been a while since I’ve written about nano technology.  Mostly this is because I haven’t seen very much happening.  I’m sure there’s stuff going on, it’s just not being reported on in general.

It’s also because I’m not seeing anything interesting happening yet.  Interesting, to me, does not include suntan lotion, cosmetics, or stain-resistant trousers.  Self-cleaning trousers, sure.  Molecule-sized robots that roam through the body removing cancer cells, definitely. 

At heart I am a fantasist, a dreamer, a romantic and a futurist.  I see a world shaped by K. Eric Drexler.  A world where you car is self-repairing, a new toaster is just a push of a button away, and life is extended because your cells are repaired and rebuilt as needed.

I wait for the Next Big Thing.

So I felt pretty good when I saw this article about scientists looking to sperm to figure out how to give locomotion to nanobots.  There is no better place to look for inspiration than nature.  And if nature can do it, then we should be able to do it, too.  It’s just a matter of figuring out how.

After all, a redwood tree doesn’t start as a small tree.  It starts as a seed and through molecular and cellular manipulation it grows into a tree.  A big tree.

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Coffin Nail

Something horrible may have happened.  Scientists may have shortened the life span of the universe, just by looking at it!  Once would have been bad enough, but you know how scientists are.

Scientist 1: Looks in scientific instrument, then does some calculations.  He looks ups up. Whoa! He looks into the instrument again and then does some more calculations.  [slapping a co-worker on the shoulder] Dude!  Check this out.

Scientist 2: What? He looks into the scientific instrument.
Scientist 1: Now finish these calculations.
Scientist 2: Scribbles a bit.  Whoa!  He repeats the process again.  Everytime we look at this stuff, the universe dies a little faster.  That’s awesome!
Scientist 1: Looks into the instrument and then away.  Hey, check it out, what am I? He keeps looking into and away from the instrument.  I’m a cigarette for the universe!
Scientist 1 & 2: Laughs
Scientist 2: Dude, we gotta tell Patty about this.  She’ll think it’s a gas.

So there’s no telling how long the universe has got now.  So, to fix it, I recommend doing the only logical thing:  Class action lawsuit.  Everybody in the world joins in and sues these scientists for… something.  Something big.  Then, if we’re patient, we all make a little bit of money.

I know this doesn’t make it right.  It certainly doesn’t fix anything.  But it does give us all a little bit of extra money, and I think that’s the American way.  Besides, think of your grandchildren and what kind of universe they’ll have to grow up in.