Thursday, January 27, 2011

Spooky Action at An Instance

Albert Einstein did not like Quantum Mechanics. "God does not play dice!" he is famously known to say. Few know Neils Bohr's reply: "Albert, stop telling God what to do".

Einstein and Bohr were constantly jousting over QM. Einstein had to admit that the theory was stunningly accurate, but did not like it's stochastic nature, it's seeming reliance on statistics and probability. To Einstein, the theory was unpalatable and incomplete, and he would come up with one gedanken - a thought experiment - after another to stymie Bohr.

One such gedanken is the EPR Paradox. The Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen experiment - overly simplified - goes something like this. Let us take a molecule composed of two similar atoms such that the atoms have opposite spins (not like the way a top spins, but no matter). If one atom has spin-axis-up, the other will automatically have spin-axis-down. Now, QM can describe the molecule with a state equation, or a quantum wave equation. With such a description, the two atoms can said to be entangled, they share a fundamental information. We then separate the molecule and send the two atoms whizzing away from each other. How far? Why, as far as you like, billions of light years aparts if you wish. But for the purposes of the paradox, far enough so that, for purposes of communication, light takes a long time to go between them.

Now, we have two experimental detecting machines that these atoms fly into. These detectors will tell you what kind of spin the atoms have. (Keep in mind that the atoms always have opposite spin). If detector #1 tells you it's atom has a spin-axis-up, then the other detector has no choice but to tell you that it's atom is spin-axis-down. In other words, even though the atoms are separated by billions of light years, they are still entangled as if they had never been separated. This is what Einstein referred to as "spooky action at a distance". The paradox is that by measuring one atom you instantaneously receive information about the other atom, even though the other atom may be so far away that the only conventional explanation is that information was sent faster than the speed of light, which violates Einstein's relativity, which is a no-no.

Clear as mud? Well, sorry, but every search entry under "EPR Paradox for Dummies" is not much better. Suffice to say that Einstein set this up as a paradox to show that QM wasn't quite up to snuff when describing the universe.

Only problem is, when experimentalists like Alain Aspect (and theorists like John S. Bell) finally had laboratory set ups clever enough, and laboratory equipment sensitive enough to perform the gedanken for real, that's exactly what happened. Quantum Mechanics won out, Einstein's paradox was no paradox at all, and the universe turned to have nonlocal weirdness to it. (But, bear in mind, the speed of light was never exceeded because there was no classical signal sent, no message or communication. The information just simply was).

It gets worse.  Some very clever guys figured out a method called quantum teleportation, which allows for a quantum object (like a photon or an electron, or even a molecule) to teleported from one location to another.  It's not Star Trek teleportation, where an object is scanned , and then electromagnetically beamed someplace, and then reassembled. Instead, the information about the particle is teleported rather than the particle itself.

Could it work on people? Extremely doubtful. Not impossible. But highly improbable.

Oh, I suppose you might be able to teleport say me, someday. A silly fictional scenario might have a recipe like... Ionize four hundred pounds of the appropriate elements into a plasma. Cooling that down to a few billionths of a degree above absolute zero to create a Bose-Einstein condensate. Deftly tease that into two two-hundred-pound entangled pieces. Ship one ultracold blob off to Jupiter in a special container that prevents any interaction with the larger universe (because if that happens the delicate entangled state collapses). Somehow take a quantum measurement of me and the entangled ultracold blob left behind (probably involving laser beams and giant magnets). Send off a radio signal with the quantum information to Jupiter, to be received by the other entangled piece. And poof! I appear on Jupiter (or better still, in some orbiting laboratory).

Problem with all this? If you don't do the measurement correctly at either end, I'm toast. Another problem?  The process of measurement means I have to die, utterly destroyed, gone, finished, kaput, which opens up legal and philosophical issues for the me on Jupiter (should I make it).

So.... not likely. Although practical applications run the gamut from unbreakable message encryption to ultrafast quantum computers, and who knows what else.

So, now the most astounding thing about all this is the recent news that there may be a time travel version of entanglement. Well, not exactly time travel, as it is only into the future, which we travel into anyway. But two theorists from Australia's University of Queensland have proposed an teleportation scheme that allows quantum information to be sent from one detector in the past to one in the future, while never passing through the interval in between. In other words, the intervening time is skipped over.

This, quite frankly, just completely blows me away.

Applications, if any? Beaming energy into the future? Manipulation of the vacuum to manipulate/store information? Dude, it's all really wild stuff!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Narrow Vision

This may sound conceited, but I've always found engineers to be not very bright. I'm reminded of the old dialogue that goes something like this:

Biochem Major #1: "I'm not doing so well in my classes. I'm afraid I may flunk out!"
Biochem Major #2: "Well, don't worry. You can always become a doctor".

I suspect a similar conversation occurs among physicists. "Don't worry. You can always become an engineer". In other words, there are elites, and then there are elites.

There is the fundamental cultural stereotype: lack of a personality, no social skills, boring, no spelling skills, no language skills, doesn't work well in groups... you know, a Republican.

And then, of course, there's the classic engineer joke, that goes...

Q: "How can you tell when an engineer is an extrovert?"
A: "When he talks to you, he looks down at your shoes."

Attributes I would include, from personal experience, would be: closet autocrat, plodding, authoritarian, rote-learner, limited imagination, relies on textbook solutions, not very playful, appalling lack of curiosity, poor planner, rigid, brittle thinker, possesses inability to tell the difference between 'complex' and 'complicated' (i.e. overengineers things, i.e. generally makes the solution 10 times more complicated than it needs to be), overly fond of "Red X" diagnoses (i.e. finger pointing diagnostic method,  i.e. "Well, there's your problem. Right there!"), and, most tellingly, is possessed of a limited and narrow vision when it comes to anticipating and recognizing future problems, opportunities, and applications. You know... a Republican.

Is this unfair? Probably, but so what? I've actually only encountered perhaps two or three engineers who did not fit comfortably in that mold. One is my older brother, and the other is, or was, the director of the Large Neutron Source at Argonne National Laboratories. The problem with them is, both of them have extensive physics backgrounds and have worked around too many physicists.

So... what?  I came across a classic engineering type demonstrating a narrow vision with a piece called "Thoughts on the Kinect hacks and iPad hacks". His point is that apparently open source versions of the controlling software are a waste of time because 1) they probably cannot be monetized, and 2) the "pros"  already have well written and structured games for Kinect on the Xbox.

Okay, let me back up a bit. What the heck is Kinect? Actually, I'm not that familiar with it as I don't play video games, but basically, it is a motion and gesture capture, face and voice recognition system that allows people to play video games using their bodies as the controller. Ah, well, here, just view the embeddence:

The little Kinect box has cameras and microphones and lasers in it that can direct the action in the video game. The real thing, the important thing here, is the software that can interpret people. A protocol that can convert our speech, facial and body gestures, nonverbal posture, you name it, into zeroes and ones.

So, back to our bonehead engineer. I think that, with 1) he expresses a symptom of the fucked-up Libertarian disease. Why explore something if you won't make any money at it? In other words, if it's not self-serving, it's not worth the effort.

More importantly, he seems to think that the one and only purpose of Kinect is to play video games. What a narrow vision. My understanding is the whole point of creating an open-source software is not to explore the many applications with respect to video games, but to explore PERIOD.

What can be done with this stuff? Right off the top of my head, in the same way that I talked about the real (big money) market for exo-skeleton mobile armor, is to help people with disabilities. Or new art forms, new interactive visual or sculptural forms or for dance. A super cheap motion capture to open up CGI TV shows and motion pictures. A way to produce anthology shows with nothing but a green screen and actors, and your prop budget is confined to the time and electricity and brain power to do things on a PC or a Mac. Space exploration. Remote surgery. Remote piloting. Remote anything.

I expect I'm not even close to the out of left field applications on this.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Okay, Okay, I Admit It's Cold Out There

I guess this is my annual "I really love Winter" essay. I'll keep it short for you warm weather types.

-2 Degrees Fahrenheit this morning, with a windchill of -29F. And this has been a mild Chicago winter.  If memory serves, we usually get about two weeks of -10 to -20 degree weather for one to two weeks. I think my personal best is around -35 degrees. But you know, when you get down that low it really doesn't fucking matter. Cold is cold.

Northern Hemisphere Winter
I'd like to operate under the fiction that, being a Northern European type, I'm cold adapted and it doesn't bug me. But no, it ain't so. No, I am not cold adapted the way, say an Inuit or a Yakut is, but I can handle it. I even enjoy it. Then again, it's not torture the way it is for some of my tropical origin acquaintances, who just - do - not - like - winter. The same way that I really don't like temperatures above around 80F - unless there's a pool and a gin and tonic nearby.

Layering. That's what it's all about. That -35 degree day, I 'll bet I had nine layers of clothes on, and I was stupid cold by the time I got in. Literally. The cold sucked about a good thirty IQ points out of me. It was a chore to turn on the TV. Harder still to watch. That's fucking stupid cold.

I love winter.

P.S. It's not an anniversary or anything, but speaking of cold, I'm reminded of the three big blizzards I've been in. They were all in January. The first one, the biggest one, was the Blizzard of 1967. People in Chicago talk about the Blizzard of 1978, but they don't know shit. '67 was the one to be in. I was ten years old, over in NW Indiana. Which means, after Chicago got 22 inches of snow in one day, we got two more days of 22 inches of snow courtesy of the lake effect. It was Donner Pass time for Hoosiers. Of course, being all of ten, I just remember digging tunnels into snowdrifts and sledding off the roof. It was fucking great.

The Blizzard of 1978 I missed out on, being in college down in Bloomington, IN.

The Blizzard of 1979, I happened to be one the road heading back home with my brother Eric in that one. There is a stretch of Interstate-65 which happens to accumulate every wind thrown drift from the west all the way out to Nebraska. It's guaranteed to be closed in practically every storm. And we managed to hit that section just as the jaws of the giant fucking Frost-Fenris wolf of that storm clamped down shut and solid on Indiana. We were driving my brother's rusted out piece-of-shit 1971 black Ford F150 pickup truck whose name was Elvis. My brother had replaced so much of the body with rivetted sheet metal that it looked like a WWII B-17 bomber. I think it took us about three hours to go 30 miles, and when we got home (I've no idea why we came back home), our father shook his head and muttered "...dumbasses".

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"A Small World To Live On, A Big Universe To Die In"- part 2

In the prior essay, I complained about the inadequate thinking behind the execrable plot of the movie Avatar. However, I think my objections need to be more fleshed out, and so - apologies in advance - I'm going to have to go geek on you.

Living in space has been covered by so many scientists and science fiction authors, that I wonder if it is really necessary to expound upon the problems. But the fact is I haven't covered it, so here goes.

Every portrayal we have had of the future of people in space is terribly flawed in this respect: it's always viewed as ultimately planet dependent, the same way surface going ships on Earth are land dependent. But the fact of the matter is to live in space for even a brief period of time requires that you plan on living there permanently. In other words, the only viable form of space travel is going to require that you can exist out there all on your lonesome, with the tools and techniques and resources to pretty much recreate everything you are ever going to need to live out there.

More to the point, every bad science fantasy movie involving aliens invading the Earth to gain a resource such as fresh water is stupid from the start. If you can travel from star to star (or planet to planet) to invade a world, you can darn well extract what you need from asteroids, or comets, or uninhabited worlds, or even the gas and dust and solar winds around you. You don't need to bother fighting some pesky monkey people (or big blue cat people) for that resource you want. In fact, if you can't get what you need from the vast resources floating out in space, your space journey is pretty much fucked from the get-go.

If you wish to call yourself any kind of spacefaring civilization, you pretty much have to make yourself planet independent. You have to take care of the Three Ps: Power, Propulsion, and uh, Semi-Self-Contained Sustainable Habitat (Place). Power, duh, because you need energy to run shit. Propulsion, duh, because you need to move around. But you can't do that in some sealed coffee can with some  grow lights and a hydroponic rack of pond scum and sea monkeys to recycle your bad breath and poo. You need a biosphere. (I'm assuming you need one even if you have a magical faster than light star drive that can poot you around to pretty much anywhere like in your standard space fantasy scenario).

You need a biosphere. An artificial ecology. And a means to replenish it (because even the Earth is not self-contained). You need an extraction technology that can resupply just about anything within your biosphere. There's just no way around it. If humans ever head out, we are going to be like hermit crabs - hauling all the shit (ALL the shit) we need around with us to survive. And hauling all the shit we need (think about it, mining, smelting, refining, manufacturing, recycling, disposal, repurposing, basically everything that a civilization does) to keep things going.

And not only don't we know what we need, we don't even know what we need to need. The one time we tried to create an artificial environment (Biosphere II), it turned into a badly planned, badly mismanaged, awful, dystopian cult-fetish of a joke - you'd have thought the whole thing had been conceived and run by libertarians, it was that fucked up.

Hey, it's probably just as well we didn't just blithely send 'em all off to Mars and then wonder what went wrong, huh?

More importantly, the Biosphere II project was not realistic in making the demand that it be self-contained. Of course you're going to forget something from your grocery list. Of course you are going to run out of some things. Of course your tin can is going to leak. Of course extra air, water, soil, metals, volatiles, you name it, can't be carried along. You are going to need to be able to get that shit from your surrounding environment somehow. It's not cheating if you have to go outside to get what you need. It's common sense to have the ability to do that.

So, space faring civilizations, it's not going to be a romantic 19th century Star Trek vision of isolated sailing ships zooming between the stars. You're going to have to take your whole fucking civilization around with you.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"A Small World To Live On, A Big Universe To Die In"

If we Earthoids had interstellar travel, and we could afford it (or I was able to afford it), I'd do it in a heartbeat. And being, I think, a fairly realistic individual, the title of this essay would be my motto, my credo, my weltanschauung. It's a paraphrase of being a citizen of Portugal during their age of maritime exploration, and I like it. It provides just the right amount of deadpan humor coupled with a healthy respect for a wonderfully, fantastically, amazingly deadly beautiful world - world, hell, existence - we live in.

In other words, the title is a lot better than my first choice, which was "Avatar Really Did Suck". Yes, dearies. I saw the movie Avatar over the weekend. I checked it out for free from the library, and boy did it suck.

Now, what exactly sucked about it? Granted, special effects fantastic. Didn't get the whole immersive 3-D experience on the small TV screen, but didn't need to. I got it. Why, then did I think it sucked? Oh, two things. Plot and characters. The movie could have used both.

Now, there are some fairly intelligent critiques of the movie out there. Here's an in-depth one that may be a bit too nitpicky, a little too geeky, but makes a lot of valid points: "6 Reasons Avatar Sucked", if you want to read it. Like I say, intelligent critiques of the movie exist.

This ain't gonna be one of them.

More My Kind of Cat Woman
So, the movie was boring, okay? About an hour into the movie, I'm looking at my watch, thinking "Geez, this is a long movie! I wonder when Jake is gonna bone the big blue cat woman with the nice boobs?" The big blue smurfy looking cat woman with nice boobs. You think Cameron has some weird fetish going on? Likes the Furry subculture or a variant thereupon? Or maybe one of those weird German diaper fetishes?  Fantasizes about some big momma changing out the load in his pants? Cleaning the soilage from between his hairy buttcheeks?

Okay, sorry about that.

So, Cameron does the usual things to manipulate your emotions. Boy meets girl. Boy does girl. Boy turns out to have always been a dick. Girl forgives him. Boy kills one-dimensional evil (pronounced eee-vill) villian in protracted fights where the movie is going to use every action convolution to make it seem that it's not entirely certain that the good guys are gonna win. Yawn.

No really, I yawned during the big climactic action scene. Maybe I should have gone for the immersive 3-D experience. Maybe that would helped.

Okay, picking of nits. I am always willing to suspend disbelief for a movie. That is, after all, the central premise of any fictive experience. And I also recognize that Avatar was not science fiction. It was an action movie posing as space fantasy. It was fantasy. And as fantasy, they only restriction placed upon the movie is that it be internally consistent. Not credible, but consistent. Well, no, the other restriction is that it also be entertaining as well.

So, let's present the scenario. Humanity develops space travel. Not just any kind of space travel. Travel between the stars, which, I don't care how fantastically magical you get, is super-expensive and energy hungry. Which means humanity has not only harnessed energies vaster than anything today, but  has learned to live and thrive without need of a planet. Which means they can live basically any freaking where in the universe without despoiling a single fucking planet. So upon discovering a planet with the most precious thing of all, life, alien life, intelligent life, humanity hires a bunch of half-wits to fucking strip mine the shit out of it. Is this something we can reasonably expect? No, it is an implausible plot device, a very bad jury rigging to generate some drama. It.. it sucks as a plot. I... I've run out of all enthusiasm now to continue about just how fucking stupid this all is. It... it just sucks. Period.  

Now, I'm sure there are people out there who freaking loved this movie, and if they ever read this essay, will say, in a very sour, kind of annoyingly nasal vice, "Well, I suppose you could have done better. Why don't YOU create a billion-dollar-profit movie blockbuster".

The only logical response to that is...

Hey, I don't have to be a world class chef to know when my hamburger tastes like shit.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

An All-American Fairy Tale

The Wizard of OZ is one of the very few shared experiences that unite Americans as a culture. Whether you've only seen the movie, or read the book as well, hardly matters. The experience and enjoyment of it is universal, and transcends pretty much any categorical barrier within our society that you choose to erect.

It is a fairy tale, but it is a distinctly American fairy tale. It stars an ordinary little girl from an unremarkable portion of the country. Like the promise of the American Dream, its a journey that could happen to anyone.

L Frank Baum, who wrote the book, took great pains to avoid any fearsome moralizing or frightful ethical consequences. But still and all, given that it is a fairy tale, there is some scary shit in there: murder, bloodshed, treachery, threatening skywriting. The movie was toned down considerably, but even so, there is still scary shit in the movie. The fantastic performance of Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West alone has made generations of children cry. Not to mention the tornadoes in Kansas, or the flying monkeys, or the more psychological terror of Dorothy waiting for the hourglass to run out.

So, despite all these attempts to make the experience "to pleasure children of today", and not provide any type of moral for the story, there is one, and it is a distinctly American, in the sense of anarcho-capitalist altar worship, which is simply this:

Caveat Emptor. Let the buyer beware.

Now, why would I say that? Consider. A con-man, an Omaha huckster, posing as a great and powerful wizard, recognizes that a rube who has already shown homicidal tendencies (albeit manslaughter, but still..) may be just the pawn to get rid of a very magically real threat, in the form of the wicked witch. He makes false promises to fool them in engaging in a suicide mission. When they comply, and are successful, it turns out he was never in a position to help them. He is a fraud, a fake, a phony.

He's a humbug, and what a cute and harmless word to use. Not bogus piece of shit. Not a motherfucking liar. Not a cocksucking cheat, not a shyster, not a quack, not a fucking weasel dick rat fuck scumbag. No, he's a humbug. He's not a very bad man. Don't wag your finger in his face! He's a very good man, just a... a bad wizard.

Yeah, well, never give a sucker an even break. Never smarten up a chump. Should have read the fine print before you signed the dotted line. It's your own damn fault that you bought into my line of shit. Etc.

Caveat emptor. Not, "there's no place like home", or "you had it in you all along", or even "can do" American spirit. Just a oopsie! Did I do dat? Ah, well, you all should have known better! You learned a valuable lesson! Bad shit happens to good people. Not everyone is a nice person.

So, the point of this? Well, watch out for hucksters. People who set your BS detector off, or in my case, pegs it right to the maximum limit.

People like Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, self-serving right wing assholes who scurry under rocks the minute the wind they sowed comes back as a whirlwind, in the form of impressionable loons with semi-automatic pistols. Am I suggesting that their hateful and divisive rhetoric, designed to scare the piss out of already insecure and timid Americans, was the prime motive behind a lunatic's spree killing? No.

But it sure didn't help.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


I'm very close to finishing the kiln repair on Fred. Fred is our second oldest kiln. Our oldest kiln is Albert, who is kept out-of-doors. He had a roof fall on him from a torrential rain twenty years ago. We don't worry about Albert.

My Brick Repair with tools and shit
Working on Fred required almost all of my custodial superpowers. I was electrician, bricklayer, machinist, and sheet-metal worker. Fred's quite decrepit, in need of an overhaul for some time now. Most of the insulation on his wires are burned off, which is not good, not good at all. And two of his relays went kaput. And he needed a new controller. And his heating elements were pretty much fried. And the door was hanging slant on its hinges. And his fire brick was falling apart. And the door seal, the tadpole gasket (refractory cloth and rope whose cross-section looks like a tadpole) was crumbling into dust. The metal stays keeping the gasket in place had screws that would not come out. Or rather, the screw heads would come off, but not the rest of the screws. So, I had to drill and tap the holes for new screws to hold the gasket in place. Fred needed a lot of work.

My Brick Repair and Cement Patch Job
In his heyday, Fred could easily cook a whole family and their pets to a loose fine powder in about twelve hours, if you needed a crematorium in a hurry. And... you could bisque a village-sized funeral urn afterwards. Sorry for the grisly examples, but now you got the idea that Fred's a big boy.

The Inside of Fred
I'm not sure where the tradition of giving kilns names comes from. My understanding is that they are generally named after the manufacturer, but the fact as to why they are anthropomorphized is, well, I don't know.

We have names for other pieces of equipment. We have a mustard colored band saw that could cut up a cow named Col. Mustard. We have a big blue vortex vacuum box in the woodshop named Babe (after Paul Bunyan's big blue ox). We have a drill press named Ollie, and a reciprocating sander named Sandy. We have two metal cutting horizontal bandsaws named Bart and Lisa. We have a giant metal cutting chop saw named Homer. We don't have anything named Marge, yet.

Fred is fixed and ready!
I've never named the two foundry furnaces I use outside. Perhaps because they don't have much in the way of personality. Perhaps I should name them Thing One and Thing Two.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

It's the Future!

Well, here we are in 2011. As far as I'm concerned, the Future began around 1974. I say that because that was the year I was introduced to touch sensitive control buttons on a friend's older brother's stereo turntable.

Yes, a turntable is something you play records on. A record is a plastic disc with a spiral groove in it. You put the record on the turntable, and it rotates. The turntable has a needle stylus that rides on the spiral groove, and little bumps and ridges in the groove translate into noise that you can listen to called music. This is, I think, where the term "groovy" comes from. So, you might think that this is all super fucking primitive, but it is the setup aboard the Voyager space probes. One each of mankind's first interstellar space probes, there is a golden record and a stylus, and instructions to aliens as to how to operate this so they can watch and listen to sounds and images from the planet Earth.

Anyway,  so instead of having chunky, clunky push buttons for controls, this turntable had little concentric metal circle controls with a light underneath them on the front panel. All you did was touch the circle control with your finger and the little light went on or off, and the turntable rotated, or stopped rotating, a round lazy susan pedestal on an axis. It was fucking cool as hell, and it was definitely something I had never seen before. Which made it all new, and therefore, from the future.

I happened to see evidence of travel into the future over the holidays at my mother's house. On the dining room table, my brother had placed an iPhone. Next to it was my mother's cell phone, which she had had since, oh, say, 1999 or so. The cell phone was actually smaller than the iPhone, but it had a push button numeric keypad and a very small liquid crystal display for showing the phone number of whomever you were calling, or who was calling you. The iPhone was just a thick black pad with a flat plastic surface on one side. If I didn't know what it was, I'd have never guessed that the surface was actually a screen. If I had fiddled with it, I'd have finally noticed a button which turned it on. And then you did everything through a touch screen interface, which, had I seen al this in 1974, probably would have made me shit my pants.

Well, actually, that's not the point. The point is, there was ten years, right there on the table. From cell phone, to wearable computer, in ten years. There was travel into the future.

Now, I actually don't think that we are seeing an unending acceleration of technology, ala Ray Kurzweil's wet little dream. I think that there are plateaus and limits and boundaries and nonlinear logistic curves when it comes to social and technological progress. In fact, even progress is somewhat delusional, as there can be (and have been) reverses. Loss of technology or craft or knowledge, as when someone keeps a secret to themselves, and it dies with them. Or the rediscovery of a technique or skill lost to common knowledge. And, yes, second derivatives are important. (An analogy from the calculus, the first derivative being velocity, the rate of change of a measure of distance over a measure of time, and then the second derivative being the change of that change, or the change of velocity over time, which is acceleration). Yes, second derivatives are important, and yet we ignore the even more important third derivative, which is the acceleration of acceleration, or as the engineers like to call it, shock.

The shock of the new. That's when you know you are in the future. Or that's what did it for me.

So, I wasn't that shocked looking at the cellphone/iPhone juxtaposition. Nor was watching my nephews play video games with just their bodies using the creepy Kinect controller. These were all trends that had been anticipated. Heck, I predicted them long before they existed, and that is, believe me,  no great feat. Nevertheless, I recognize them as being part and parcel of living in my future.

What amazing future stuff exists now that makes me shit my pants? Actually, nothing comes to mind. Have I just become jaded? Have I become inured to all the futuristic advertising, all the expectations of continued and unremitting progress? I don't think so. But if I do think of something, I'll let you all know.

Oh, Happy e-vil-Eens. Glad the Fucking Oh-ohs are over.