Tea Time With Jesse

Six of One, Half Dozen the Other

Archive for January, 2010

Fusion in Our Time?

Posted by middlerage on January 30, 2010

A good friend once observed how it was easy to have sustained, low-level fission in a nuclear reactor, and the difficult problem the Manhattan Project had to solve was how to get the fission process to explode. Meanwhile, he said, the opposite holds true in fusion and hence our difficulties in produsing sustainable fusion eneergy – in fusion it is easy to get an explosion but difficult for the sustained reaction.

The National Ignition Facility moves one step closer to solving the massively difficult problem of fusion energy.

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I Shot my foot, but I did not shoot the Deputy

Posted by middlerage on January 29, 2010

I was listening to the Eric Clapton version of I shot the Sheriff the other day, and I said, “Ya know, self, I kinda like this song. I like Bob’s original best, but Eric’s ain’t bad either.” So I went home and ordered the song off of iTunes. It was almost simultaneous to my pushing the button, Yes, realllllly, make this purchase now that I said “ohhhhh, fibber-me-gibblets.”

5 seconds with my CD collection turned up a Best of Eric Clapton album a friend had given me long ago. And sure enough, there was the song. I had just made an iTunes purchase of something I already own. Shot my ownself in the foot.

Well, I knew the rules, there was no going back, and it was only 99cents, so I wasn’t too mortified. But it got me thinking about the nature of things we buy and how some things aren’t “returnable.”

Electronic files, opened CDs, paying for a EULA. It’s all unreturnable. Don’t get me wrong, I sorta get this. If we could return itunes songs, why, why, why it’d be anarchy!

But every month I return lots of things. A shirt I bought the wrong size (“Sorry” he says to the clerk with a sheepish grin); the C size batteries, the wife didn’t know we already have 20 of; I’ve even returned opened things – sour milk. The grocery store knows it is just.good.business to take back the wanna-B-yogurt.

However the concept of buying something that is unreturnable is just interesting to me. And I bet we shouldn’t be fooled by the “newness” of itunes into thinking this is a recent development. Ben Franklin probably bought investment advice he couldn’t say “errr, no thanks” to.

Nevertheless, it’d be funny to write the letter Dear Apple, please take back this song, and keep the paper trail and try to return an itunes song. Then go to Mastercard and say, “I tried in good faith to work with the merchant!”

As a side note…. I admit I first started this post with a qualifier. Yikes, I was already censoring myself, despite F-bomb posts to the contrary. I got rid of the qualifier when I checked myself, but it was interesting how I was rolling: The qualifier went something along the lines, of No really, I’m cool and I listen to obscure, terribly cool music. I’m all about Deadmau5. I have a 1960s free jazz collection as long as your arm (I don’t) But I just happppppened to be listening to some top 40 station in the DMV blah blah blah…

But really, this blog is me. About me. Warts and all. I like alot of different kinds of music and it ain’t gonna be no good if I start getting wiggy about how I present. Guilty pleasures, that’s gonna have to be a future post, and yes Disco is on the list, baby. D-I-S-C-O.

Now you can tell by the way I do my walk

I’m a wanted man no time to talk…

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The POTUS gives a SOTUS to the COTUS

Posted by middlerage on January 28, 2010

The HOR and the SOTUS were there and so was the SCOTUS. Whenever I see the acronym SCOTUS on law review sites I see Scrotum. I can’t help myself.

I watch State of the Union speeches now. I couldn’t stand that other guy, and usually turned off the TV in about 5 minutes.  Now I watch. Did it seem long? There was an amazing and subdued silence toward the end. A kind-of we’re in a shithole seminar and nobody was cheering.

Some highlights for me – the bit about gays in the military. We’ll see if Obama makes it happen. His speeches have been long on “I’ll work towards…” but so far short on actual effectivness. He also stuck a few barbs into the fat, GOP corpus. I liked the bit about how eight years ago an administration inherited a budget surplus and he inheirited two wars and a staggering deficit. Another highlight was his piece about not bein’ happy wit’ the recent SCOTUS ruling about campaign finance. The nine just sat there. Shrunken. Huddled in their robes, looking dweebish. LIke the loser kids on the playground.

Oh yeah, and to this climate change scientist a surprising and welcome inclusion of nuclear as part of the solution.

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