Tag Archives: Future Shock

Proof Microsoft is truly EVIL

Microsoft has applied for a patent on the idea of awarding achievements for watching TV. If true, this is positively the most insidious idea in the history TV watching. Anyone who has played video games in the couple of years knows what an achievement is, basically, it is an in-game reward for doing pointless tasks like killing 10 Orcs or collecting 40 boggie scalps. My guess is this will become a reward system for sitting on your ass watching TV. I wonder what I will get for watching 25 Crest commercials? Or watching a Doogie Howser marathon start to finish? My worry is how will they know you actually did it? If it were not for the creep factor here, I’d probably think this was a better idea.


The Future of Space Travel

The recent New York fly over of the Space Shuttle Enterprise reminds me of the test flights conducted back in the late 70’s. I remember some newscaster predicting that if you were under the age of 30, there was a good chance you would be able to experience space travel in your life time, I was perhaps 14 at the time. Today of course, at the age of 48, ever seeing space is a ridiculous notion.

Now that funding for whatever will replace the Shuttle program has shifted primarily to private sector development, we can expect a very slow slog towards probably nothing. Several private companies will vacuum up billions of federal dollars and produce nothing over the next decade. Look at Mojave Aerospace Ventures, they have only managed put a man in low earth orbit, something that was a serious trick in 1964 but not so much in 2004. I suspect Ethiopia could successfully put a man in low earth orbit with a balloon and a lawn chair if they wanted to.

The problem of course is as a country, we simply do not have the will for space exploration and I do not see this changing anytime soon. Our government is moor bound by conservative partisanship and the need to cut spending on everything except the CIA and the Defense Department. The private sector has no interest in space because there is no profit to be made yet. Yeah, yeah, mining asteroids blah blah. Not going to happen in my lifetime. Before we can effectively mine asteroids one of two things must happen, either the minerals we will mine will become so expensive the cost of getting it will be profitable or space flight will have to be so inexpensive that the cost of getting the minerals will be profitable. I see neither of these things happening in my life time. Of course if we had discovered hydrocarbons on the moon, we would have had a base there in 1975, and you’d better bloody fucking believe it would be American territory. But the fact is, the closest deposits of hydrocarbons we are aware of are on Saturn’s moon Titan, and since the shortest possible trip there would be 2 plus years, good luck with that.

New Earth

Gliese 581g is the 6th planet in the Gliese 581 system located in the Libra constellation. Astronomers have determined 581g is neither too hot nor too cold for water to exist in liquid form, it also appears to have an atmosphere and gravity. All of these thing point to the possibility of sustaining life. This leads to two exciting possibilities, first life may have already developed there and second, it could be a possible location for colonization at some point in the future. Unfortunately we will probably not know either of these things for a very very long time. Gliese 581g is 120,000 billion miles away, considering at our current technological level it would take us theoretically 85 years (realistically  more like 50,000 years) to reach our nearest neighbor, Alpha Centauri, a mere 4 light years away, traveling to Gliese 581g is WAY out of our league.


In my book this is pretty exciting stuff. Okay, I have excepted I will never get into space, the Challenger accident ended serious space exploration for a generation, we are only now recovering. However, this has never deterred me from dreaming the dream of every 8 year old boy of someday visiting another planet, I may never get there, but now I know there is a chance some distant decedent will someday walk on Gliese 581g and maybe even call it home.

Edit: I updated the travel times to Alpha Centauri

Quitting my day job

This is not really about me quitting my day job as much as it is about self employment. I know several people who are currently unemployed. All of them are smart, capable and enthusiastic workers in various fields. The problem is there simply are not enough jobs available. Recently I saw a spot on CBS Morning saying there are five job hunters for every job available, my experience is this is far too optimistic. Recently at my job we hired 20 new phone techs, something like 800 applied. Any politician who says these people are just lazy and are on “Funemployment” are lying to you.

Recently on Yahoo News I read an article about the destruction of the middle class in America. It is a depressing read, I do not suggest reading it if you are in a particularly good mood, no point in ruining it. The gist of the article is, if you make less than $100K a year, likely the last 10 years have not been kind to you and more importantly, its not likely to get better anytime soon. I think the bottom line here is we can no longer depend on large or even medium corporations to employ us, nor can we count on them to save the economy not just for us, but our children as well.

Everyone who is unemployed right now needs to be thinking of new ways to make money, the new global big business model is failing. Those jobs that went over seas are not coming back and I would also point out that even jobs created in this country by big business’s usually come at a price. 20 new employees in one place usually means 50 were laid off somewhere else. Supply side economics has failed, but there is no sign any of those horrid ideas are going to be reversed anytime soon. Supply siders have not produced shared wealth, instead are in the process of creating shared poverty and they are proud of this.

What this means in order to survive we need to adopt the old local small business model to survive in the coming years, the solution I think, is self employment and/or self sufficiency. I have already written a nice post about starting a blog for profit, but there are other ways to use the Internet to make money. For instance, becoming an ebay sell. Spend your weekends going around to yard sales buying up reasonably serviceable items at extremely low prices and then turn around and spend the rest of the week selling the stuff on ebay and craigslist for a nice profit. This might sound silly to you, but there are plenty of people who make their living doing exactly this. The key to this is understanding that junk is junk, but there are genuinely useful things people will always buy if the price is right. Another idea is selling craft items on line, if you can make quilts, look into buying scrap rags on the cheap, use the material to make quilts, use blankets from Goodwill as filler and then sell the quilt that cost you $5 in material and four hours of work on the Internet for $20-$30.

Even if you are currently employed, especially if you are employed by a large corporation, You should be thinking about what you are going to do to survive when the lay offs come to you, not IF, but WHEN. Get out of debt as much as you can. Okay, you can not pay off your house, but you can pay off your car and you can pay off your credit cards and for gods sake, stop using the credit cards. Do this even if it means devastating your savings, everything you pay off today is one less thing you are paying interest on later. and if you pay off your debts now, you should have time to build up some savings again before your time comes. Additionally, if you pay off your car, you can save money by reducing your insurance coverage.

Next, whatever you grocery bill is, you need to slash it in half. There are a couple of great sites out there for living on a $1 a day. If you own your house, turn your backyard into a garden, no not a little 10×10 spot, the whole thing should be turned over to growing food. Don’t know what to grow, try growing a three sisters garden, it is easy, low maintenance and sustainable. There are some staple foods which are extremely cheap to buy and easy to store long term, rice and beans (if you are not going to grow them yourself) for instance can be had for around a $1 a pound. If you have 50 pounds of rice and 50 pounds of beans in the basement and grow a decent garden, you can live an awful long time buying only milk, bread and a little meat every week.

The goal here is really to become as self sufficient as possible, so when the dread moment comes, your boss is asking you for your badge and some stranger is packing up the things in your cubical, you can walk out the door with dignity and some peace of mind.

Bionic Cat

If you are a cat person, you might want to grab a tissue before watching this.


This is one of those moments where I am reminded of why technological advancement is so important to us. Not iPhones or cool new video cards or the next octo-core processor, but rather the meaningful things that make a serious difference in real lives, whether it is human or feline. It will be interesting to see if they can apply this to humans.

Genetically Engineered Bugs Can Smell Blue Light

On Discover Magazines website, they have an article on genetically engineered fruit flies that can smell light . This brings me back to a quote I posted here a couple of weeks ago by Brother Cavil, from Battlestar Galactica. I agree with him and I have to ask, why am I so limited.