Sunday, January 21, 2007

Olympic Park idea

I was watching the '04 Olympics and noticed the body shape of some lady weightlifters. Then I noticed how different was their shape from the lady runners. Each had through practice of their craft molded their body to look a certain way. Then I noticed how one Scandanavian lady who had more of a swimsuit-model figure fared less well in middle distance events against a pack of women with more, uh, utilitarian shaped bodies. What is the ideal body shape for a human, what would the person who could win all the Olympic events look like? How would a football game go if you had 11 tennis players against 11 weightlifters?

So here's my idea for a reality TV show, which I release into the public domain, cuz I got no time or cash to put it on myself. First of all, of the 300 or so events in the Olympics, eliminate all the ones which are less about raw physical talent and require familiarity with specialized equipment to be done safely (pole vault, kayaking, fencing, archery, maybe cycling). I am however inclined to keep tennis. Keep the shotput and all swimming, all running, but nix everything to do with horses or artistic scoring. Some team sports could remain on the list since we are interested in celebrating jack-of-all-trades excellence.

Now that you've got a subsection of events, invite a hundred or a thousand athletes from around the world to spend a month in an abandoned olympic park. They will basically compete in every one of the hundred or so of the events, with some kind of cash prize at the end and incentives to stay to the end. I'm guessing it would be best to score the events such that coming in the top 25% of every single event would be as important as winning any of them. Maybe your score in each round would be the percentile you placed in.

Every episode of the show could have all sorts of interesting juxtapositions: marathon and sprint, long jump and weightlifting, tennis and shot put. I think it would be a great show. Of course, I'd be interested in seeing what body type was associated with the most versatile athlete.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Flying car in TORCS

I was playing the linux racing game TORCS. I finished ahead of the pack, so I thought it would be interesting to go back and slow down or collide with the cars who had yet to finish. I suddenly noticed that one of the cars, perhaps one I had collided with, was flying in the air in slow motion. It was such a wild scene I tried to screen capture it, but I only got half the screen.


"What might save us, me and you...

... is if the oil companies love their children too."

Sting's famous song, "Russians," was written during a time when the world feared destruction from a nuclear holocaust. Sting opines:
"What might save us, me and you,
Is if the Russians love their children, too."
That is, a hope for the ultimate humanity of our enemies might be what ultimately saves us.

I have long been thinking and praying and worrying about how the oil companies have been funding libertarian think tanks who deny the science behind climate change. One of the more egregious examples was the Competitive Enterprise Institute who produced this video:

Exxon now says that they were wanting to debate solutions (fair enough, I say), not the established science of global warming. In an MSNBC News article, they are quoted
Exxon’s funding action was confirmed this week by its vice president for public affairs. Kenneth Cohen told the Wall Street Journal that Exxon decided in late 2005 that its 2006 nonprofit funding would not include CEI and "five or six" similar groups.

Cohen declined to identify the other groups, but their names could become public this spring when Exxon releases its annual list of donations to nonprofit groups.

These same cast of characters in the libertarian think tanks (CEI & Cato) already have blood on their hands from their misinformation campaigns related to tobacco and ozone depletion. Granted, there's nothing wrong with a purist libertarian approach to anything, but there is something gravely evil in a libertarian-think-tank-ism.

Anyway, a rehashing of Sting's words had been in my thoughts for the past week or so:
"What might save us, me and you
Is if the oil companies love their children, too."

I don't know if this musing were a genuine prayer constantly in my heart or a new, sardonic political jab I'd dreamed up and was looking for someone to spring it upon. In any case, it looks like the prayer has been answered.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Remember those in prison

This is a video related to the War on Terror, and its victims.

Get involved at

Paging Billy Joel: revoke your copyrights

I've heard it said that the singer Billy Joel never received any payment for some of his earlier albums. If so, then those who hold the "rights" to these titles are sitting on stolen property.

The organization Creative Commmons has put together a "Termination of Transfer" tool for artists to get their rights back.
"Briefly, the U.S. Copyright Act gives creators a mechanism by which they can reclaim rights that they sold or licensed away many years ago. Often artists sign away their rights at the start of their careers when they lack sophisticated negotiating experience, access to good legal advice or any knowledge of the true value of their work so they face an unequal bargaining situation. The “termination of transfer” provisions are intended to give artists a way to rebalance the bargain, giving them a “second bite of the apple.” By allowing artists to reclaim their rights, the U.S. Congress hoped that authors could renegotiate old deals or negotiate new deals on stronger footing (and hopefully with greater remuneration too!!). A longer explanation of the purpose of the “termination of transfer” provisions is set out in this FAQ."

The tool is here.

Apparently, some of Billy Joel's early works happened to have been published just about 35 years ago.

If anyone knows Billy Joel, please give him this link.

Monday, January 01, 2007

What's on TV?

Just a simple 3D image made in povray.