tomorrow (may 1) is internet radio blackout day

Lots of internet radio stations are going silent tomorrow to build awareness of the massive shaft that is the CARP decision. Read more about it on,, and of course Write your congresscritters, etc etc, and if you run a webcast, consider replacing the music with a PSA tomorrow. I am.
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Current Music: Sneaker Pimps - Walking Zero

New DNA Update.

All that space elevator stuff gave me an itch to re-read Ringworld, which was a lot better than I expected (I hadn't read any Niven since high school, so I guess I had kind of low expectations, but he manages to write hard-science stories that still have entertaining characters. All I had remembered of his stories was the physics, it seems.) I then re-read The Ringworld Engineers, which was also pretty good, but now I'm halfway through The Ringworld Throne, which came out a few years ago and which I hadn't read yet, and so far, it kinda sucks. It suffers from "Baggins-itis" where it just spends all its time bogging you down with long dumb alien names and stupid terminology like "half-night" instead of "midnight". I find I'm no longer amused by trying to wade though that kind of fantasy-boilerplate crap.

It was weird re-reading these, because it's so obvious that modern Star Trek Klingons are based more on Niven's Kzinti than on the old series's Klingons. The last time I read them was before New Trek.

Neat: ray tracing Ringworld

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Current Music: Decoder - Bountyhunter

you! in the band! obey the fist!

So I heard "Radar Love" on the radio the other day for the first time in like ten years. It's not as good a song as I remembered, but it's got a certain oomph, and it occurred to me that this is a song that really needs to be covered by a band who listened to a lot of Gang of 4. It's all about the bassline. I think Revolting Cocks could make a good go of it musically, but then they'd turn it into Comedy Music once they added the vocals, and that would be a mistake. Maybe Cop Shoot Cop.

I also heard some modern punk/metal band's forgettable cookiecutter song whose intro kind of reminded me of "Killing an Arab", which made me realize that I really want to hear Public Enemy covering that. The cadence is totally there. Or some kind of Swedish Black Metal thing would also work.

I think that in general, industrial bands should stop doing covers.

Especially covers of other industrial bands, or synthpop songs. I mean what's the point.

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Current Music: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark - Genetic Engineering

space elevators are neat

Because of tinymammoth's post about the Martian Constitutional Convention, I've been spending the day reading about space elevators, which appear to have recently become practical. (More background at How Stuff Works, Space Future, NASA, and Tethers Unlimited Inc. (lots of interesting stuff there, despite the back-patting corporate web design.))

Check out this illustration: that's a long way down! 442x440, 2048x2048.

It sounds like some of the front-runner tether systems don't actually attach to the ground: if you travel the last few dozen miles with an aircraft and dock, then the tether can be shorter, and doesn't need to be in a geostationary orbit. This means the tether actually orbits the globe, so launches can rendezvous with it whenever it passes overheard, and it also needn't be at the equator.

The weirdest variation is the "rotorvator" model, where the tether spins like a bicycle wheel, picking things up at one end and depositing them at the other.

I think one of the coolest things about these tether systems is how they interact with the Earth's magnetic field: if the cable is conductive, then its motion through orbit will induce a current, just like how generators work, but unwrapped. However, if I understand it right, the field associated with the current causes drag by its magnetic interaction with the Earth's field. And drag means you slow down, meaning your orbit decreases, so it's not a good way to generate power (you trade orbital elevation for electricity.) However, if you inject electricity into a tether, then you end up pushing against the Earth's magnetic field, and turn magnetism into lift: so it's a way cheaper way to push things into orbit than chemical rockets, especially if you're not in a hurry, and can rely on solar power to do it.

The article claims that one could be built for $10B. Which sounds like a lot, except when you consider that each Shuttle costs something like $2.5B, and each launch costs $17M.

You know, when I was 14, I didn't even entertain the idea that it might still be impossible for me to be living off-planet by the time I'd reached my current advanced age. What the hell went wrong? Won't someone drop a cinderblock on the gas pedal and get me to the future already?

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Current Music: Breakbeat Era - Control Freak

watch me disappear down a retrocomputing rathole

I have a sore throat. Waah.

So I got vMac running on Linux, and I found the ROMs and a MacOS 1.1 boot disk image for it. I figured I'd be able to use that to get the original Dali Clock executable running; then from there, I'd generate a disk image that I could boot in the Mac 128, once I figured out how to actually get that image onto a 400k floppy.

But I can't find any unix tools that can generate MFS file system images. MFS is the original file system, before HFS (it was not yet hierarchical -- there weren't any directories, that was all implemented in the Finder, not in the file system!)

So I need to use a later version of MacOS, so that I can transfer the files into the Mac world with HFS, and then tell it to write a 400K MFS floppy image from there. Which I could do, if I could find boot disk images for later versions, but I can't. All I've found is lawyer detritus where people who used to distribute these things say that Apple made them take them down. Apple, of course, distributes disk images themselves for free -- but only as far back as MacOS 6, sigh.

I'm told that when you run this Dali Clock executable on MacOS 9, it looks all wrong because it assumes a 1-bit frame buffer. From reading the ASM, it looks like it wouldn't be too hard to hack it to work by spreading the hardcoded bitmaps into byte-maps and multiplying a few variables by 8. It'd be better to draw into an off-screen bitmap and then copy that onto the screen, but I'm not feeling quite motivated enough to learn to hack QuickDraw in 68K assembler in this day and age. Actually, I wonder how hard it would be to get an assembler running at all. It might be easier to just hack the executable file by hand in emacs...

This original Dali Clock executable is 16k (including the 7k of bitmaps.) My X Windows version is 74k, not counting all the libraries it uses. But my PalmOS version is only 15k, so it's not my fault, it's X ("Complex Nonsolutions to Simple Nonproblems."[tm])

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Current Music: Pailhead- I Will Refuse

New DNA Update. You are all buying of the KMFDM / Pig / Kidneythieves tickets now, yes?

The lineup for next thursday has been updated again, check the CODE page for details. Be there or suck.

Ghreg gave me this CD with a bunch of Atomic Reactor and Hecate tracks on it which is blowing me away. This KLOQ track "What You Are" (with the the guy from Nitzer Ebb singing) just kicks so much ass.

cyantist got me a 128k Mac! It's in pristine condition, though the H key doesn't seem to work (didn't really need that anyway.) I've been looking for one of these for years, and she managed to track one down on ebay. Whee! This is the original Mac from 1984; they're hard to find, because they weren't on the market very long (the 512k "fat mac" came out shortly after.) I had one, but I foolishly sold it in the 80s. But now I've got one again. Why? Because it's the smallest computer capable of running Dali Clock, and my apartment Clearly needs a dedicated Dali Clock Appliance.

Now I need to figure out how to actually get the Dali Clock executable onto a disk that this machine can read. No small trick, as modern floppy drives are no longer capable of writing the the 400K floppies that these machines use.

Hmmm, I wonder if I can run PalmOS on this thing. I'm guessing not... it'd probably take way too much memory to emulate the Palm's frame buffer. These machines are 68000s, and the first Palms were (basically) 68020s (faster, and with a 32 bit address path instead of 16), but the killer is that they had like 8x as much RAM.

"Why in my day, we had to XOR our forward and backward lists pointers into the same word!" "You had XOR? Luxury!"

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Current Music: some track whose name I don't know from that CD

New DNA Update, including Bad Manners photos and as an extra bonus, the Bald Singer Gallery.
Current Music: Shriekback - A Kind of Fascination

What Would Jello Do?

Last night MTV2 played the uncensored video for "Smack My Bitch Up", which is one of the most fucked up videos I've ever seen. They also played "Windowlicker", and yes, it's even creepier. They also played that bait-and-tackle Bjork video where she pierces her back. It's this show called "something something Controversial Videos", and it looks like it's going to be on a few more times on both channels. Joe Bob says check it out. (Warning, it's hosted by some irritating Danzig wanna-be, so keep your finger on the remote control.)

The notable thing here is "uncensored" -- this is on the channel that bleeps out the word "weed", and they played a video that showed not only full frontal nudity, but a syringe dangling out of a vein!

Is there some way to get access to under-played music videos other than waiting for them to appear on the good old cathode nipple? It's fairly rare for non-top-40 bands to release video compilations, but I know they make videos -- what happens to them? Once MTV decides not to show them, do they just sit on a shelf forever, or what? How do I find out about them and get copies?

One of these days I've got to find a way to transfer all of these old home-recorded VHS tapes full of videos to DVD so that they stop deteriorating...

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New DNA update. It's driving me batty that I can't tell the whole story. It is truly jaw-droppy.

Look ma, my fifteen minutes aren't quite over.

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Current Music: C-Tec - Foetal

rzr_grl gave me a stack of real live film pictures (the others were digital) so there are some new pictures from the show up now.

Scanning photos sure is a pain in the ass. And I think my scanner sucks. All I want is a camera that has the resolution, speed, color and brightness response of the human eye, results in immediate digital images, followed by printed images showing up some time later. Is that really so much to ask?

I have to get well before noon tomorrow for a meeting with the guys who run Studio Z (nee Transmission Theatre) in which our intrepid heroes (that would be me, Alexis and maybe Barry) try to convince them to please stop trying to get themselves shut down as quickly as they can, sigh...

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Current Music: Force Dimension - Mockba