fort drawings

Here are a couple of drawings from my plans for the fort. The rope bridge is not shown, but will go across between the two sections. Each of the pillars will be sunk a couple feet into the ground with concrete, and there will be ropes closing the gaps in the rails. The flooring is not shown, but will likely be treated 1x8 or similar. Also not shown is the ladder leading to the crows nest.

If you have any concerns or suggestions let me know, and if you'd like to play around with the model itself, let me know and I'll email it you. It's a google sketchup file; sketchup is a free tool, so you can just download it and use it to view the model.


So, you want to make a flash game in ActionScript 3.0, you want to deliver it in one .swf file with no dynamic loading, and you want to show a preloader as the file is loading. You will be using the flash authoring tool, not the Flex environment. You know this is possible.

Here are the steps you need to take.*

First, every class that you want to export from the .Fla needs to be linked for exporting, but uncheck the "Export in first frame" box.

Now however, your assets will not be exported at all unless they are included in the timeline somewhere, so make 3 frames in your timeline, like so:

The first frame is for your preloader class, which you export normally. The second frame needs to contain one instance of each class in your library that you wish to export. The third frame should probably be blank, or can contain your game.

Your preloader should stop the main timeline on frame one, and once the whole movie is loaded, advance to frame 3 and start the game. Make sure you don't reference the game class from the preloader code however, since this will cause that action script to be linked in. Instead, you can use the getDefinitionByName() function to find the class once it's loaded.

  public function start_game()
var game_type:Class = getDefinitionByName("SolitaireJam") as Class;
m_main_timeline.addChild(new game_type);
Depending on your implementation you may have to create a blank movie clip class for what used to be your document class, and place this in frame 2 with the other assets, to insure that your document class will be loaded, since it will no longer be linked in automatically.

This should get everything working, but you will notice that all of your script is still being loaded before the first frame, even though the assets are loaded later. To change that, go to the publish settings dialog, the flash tab, the action script 3.0 settings button, and change the "Export classes in frame" field to "2", thusly:

Now your preloader will display as soon as all the preloader assets are in, and you can start the game from there. Hooray. All this information is scattered around the web here and there, but it took me a while to find, and it is not really documented by Adobe.

EDIT: also beware of this bug.

*When working on this, I found it extremely helpful to have flash generate a size report (option in publish settings) and to look at the download profile (press ctrl-D in the test movie box to show, press ctrl-enter again to test download).

a concert

Jonathan Coulton is playing at the House of Blues Sunset Strip on May 18. I'm getting a group together. Let me know if you want in.

hahaha o shit

"In other words, if you want a war and know perfectly well you can't convince anyone that it's a good idea unless you're dishonest about it, you probably should rethink your belligerence."

did you know?

Trends in Civil Architecture and Design of Public Space Reveal a Professional and/or Governmental Awareness of a Looming Occult Threat.

As prepared for the 8th Annual Investigative Architecture Summit

~~Nate Austin~~



As incredible as it may sound, nearly every shopping mall constructed in a first world country in the past 20 years has been built to resist and mitigate a massive zombie assault. The changes have been slow, but by observing the various trends in mall construction, (asymmetrical escalators, bolted railings, more vertical space, integrated parking, and defensible food courts are some,) we can clearly see a central purpose emerge. While a few of the trends can be excused as serving some mundane commercial or safety related purpose, when taken together they all share one common goal: each one of them makes the public space either more defensible or more escapable by a group of resourceful humans facing a horde of slow but unrelenting opponents, colloquially, zombies.

Section 1 - Introduction and Primer

The field of speculative forensic architectural research is small and not widely publicized, so this introduction serves as a primer before we delve in to the heart of our argument in section 2. Readers well versed in the literature may wish to skip to that section. The two central tenets of forensic architectural research are A, that expensive architecture is carefully designed, and B, that some of the design principles might not be made public [1]. Briefly, A follows from standard economic risk models and from common sense, and B follows from the simple observation that the detailed design requirements for public spaces are not publicized by the owners or architects--that is, in the case of shopping malls, it is not possible to find a published list of the criteria that lead to the design decisions for the structure.

From these two tenets, we can see that it is possible, and indeed likely, that many public spaces are designed to meet requirements that are not obvious to the public that makes use of them (for a review of common examples, see Collins [2]). Forensic Architectural Research, as a field, exists to bridge this gap by examining buildings and spaces after the fact, and deriving and publishing the design requirements that motivated each decision. It is a rigorous scientific discipline undertaken by a group of researchers necessarily outside of the architectural and governmental professions, and is largely privately funded. As a study of human activity, the field falls under the broad umbrella of the social sciences[1].

This study draws on mall-construction and renovation trends pointed out by Archer [3] and Collins [4]. Those papers highlighted the growing homogeneity of mall ownership in the first world, identified the small group of architects and land owners involved in the decision making processes, and identified a collection of architectural trends that are irrefutably remaking the urban landscape.

Theoretical zombie research is a much younger and less rigorous field, consisting mostly of popular works, with some equally unreliable occult works. HOWEVER, it is not the goal of this paper to explain how a zombie uprising might actually occur, merely to show that some powerful and influential people appear to take the threat very seriously. For the purposes of this paper, we will assume that the Mall Makers [4] are concerned with an outbreak similar in nature to those popularly described by Brooks [5, 6].

This study explains many of the well-documented but heretofore ill-understood observations in Forensic Architectural Research by uniting them under a single superior motivational theory, drawn from an unlikely source in Popular Horror. As we show, each of the trends noted by Archer and Collins can easily be explained by assuming that the architects have reason to fear a massive undead uprising. Unfortunately, although this theory perfectly fits observed public space construction trends, it raises several troubling new concerns, which we address in the conclusion.

Section 2 - Mall Trends and Motivational Design Theory

Here are the major trends in mall construction over the last 20 years [3, 4]. In addition to new construction, older malls have been remodeled and retrofitted over the years to meet these new civil architecture best practices. For each trend we explain how it makes the mall more survivable in the event of an unanticipated zombie outbreak (UZO). Taken in aggregate these trends represent irrefutable evidence that some group of individuals with a large degree of influence over mall design has a good reason to fear an undead uprising. Needless to say their reasons remains secret, but by following up the leads presented here, further research may illuminate them.

Trend 1 - Asymmetrical Escalators: Increasingly in modern malls, the escalator to go from floor A to floor B is not located in parallel to the escalator to go from floor B to A [3].
What we are told: Weak arguments have been put forward that this is a customer retention tactic [7], but have also been refuted [8, 9].
How it applies to an UZO: Day Z+0 through Z+2: Zombies not in close proximity to humans are generally modeled as wandering randomly [5]. Therefore Zombies wandering in a mall will occasionally step onto a moving escalator and be carried away to another floor. With symmetrical escalators, zombies carried up and down will tend to cancel each-other out, but with asymmetrical designs a low-zombie zone (LZZ) will tend to form around the 'from' location of each escalator. These LZZs can be exploited by humans moving through the mall.

Trend 2 - Easily Defensible Food Courts: Whereas in the past eating establishments were distributed more-or-less normally throughout a mall, in modern malls they tend to be concentrated in a food court, usually located in one end of the mall, and usually not adjacent to ground-level entrances[4].
What we are told: Customers interested in food are encouraged to pass as many non-food stores as possible to increase the chance of an additional purchase [9]. Zuthers [7] gives a good counter-argument based on studies of successful highly accessible outdoor strip malls.
How it applies to an UZO: Day Z+1 through Z+30: Citizens trapped in the mall can gather at the food court. The large number of tables and chairs are easily navigated by humans, but present formidable obstacles to the undead, rendering any zombies in this area practically immobile [6]. Once the food court is cleared of any threats, the chairs and tables can be re-purposed to quickly and easily barricade the area against further incursions. More importantly for medium term survival, the fresh and frozen food stored in the eateries can sustain a small population for weeks.

Trend 3 - More Emergency Supplies, Better Concealed: Studies of published mall blueprints [10] show that modern malls have more first aid and water caches, and that they are more often concealed from the general mall public, in access corridors and janitorial spaces.
What we are told: Safety is increasingly important, but mall personnel are better trained and trusted to administer first aid--hiding the caches reduces the chance of lawsuit. This is belied by the total lack of applicable case law [10].
How it applies to an UZO: Day Z+0 through Z+120: These hidden emergency supplies can be expected to go relatively undisturbed by the undead, and thus are likely to have the maximum possible positive impact for human survivors, undoubtedly including mall personnel, who are aware of their existence.

Trend 4 - Playground Spaces are Tightly Fenced: Relative to older mall designs, new designs fence in play areas much more aggressively, [3] and include choke points that did not exist in older designs.
What we are told: Modern parents are more concerned about their children wandering off [3]. This is refuted by the comparing construction trends across first world cultures[7].
How it applies to an UZO: Day Z+0 through Z+5: A fenced area with one controllable exit is a highly defensible position for a small group of humans facing a zomboid enemy. Humans may rest in the relative safety of the playground for a time, and may later be able to lure zombies into this space and trap them there.

Trend 5 - More and Larger Interior and Exterior Fountains: Fountains are increasingly popular in mall architecture [4], and modern fountains include larger reservoirs [4] and more robust filtration systems[10].
What we are told: Fountains are popular gathering spots for customers. This is one case in which the public and private motivations seem to be mutually reinforcing [1].
How it applies to an UZO: Day Z+1 through Z+60: If water utilities to the mall are shut off, the fountains, with their modern and hand operable filtration systems, will maintain potable water for a matter of weeks in some cases. A literal fountain of life in case of a zombie uprising.

Trend 6 - Fewer Main Entrances, More Emergency Exits: This has been widely reported [3, 4, 8].
What we are told: Consistency of customer experience drives the trend towards fewer entrances, fire safety concerns drive the corresponding increase in emergency exits. This second point is refuted by noting that modern malls are built of concrete and steel, and therefore cannot burn [10].
How it applies to an UZO: Day Z+0 through Z+120: Zombies can be expected to be incapable of opening doors [5], and so will tend to use the two or three main entrances. This leaves the cleverer humans with a number of uninfected ingress and egress routes, allowing mall survivors to escape, and foraging parties to access the supplies within without having to face a wide and deadly corridor of foes.

Trend 7 - More Vertical Space: Modern malls are, on average, a dramatic 0.7 floors taller than they were 30 years ago [4].
What we are told: Land is increasingly expensive in urban spaces, therefore multi-floor designs are cost effective. However, by comparing mall height with local land value, we can see that there is no correlation outside the margin of error [9].
How it applies to an UZO: Day Z+1 through Z+120: Zombies not in the presence of humans can be modeled as wandering randomly [5], therefore we can expect that they will tend towards the lower energy state of the lower levels of the mall. Crafty humans can clear the top level of the mall of the undead, and then easily defend the high ground from the few zombies that manage to reach them. Modern, more vertical designs give a clear advantage to humans when compared to older, more horizontal layouts.

Trend 8 - Railings are Bolted, Taller, and Denser: Modern malls, and most malls renovated in the last 15 years use safety railings on the second and higher floors that are bolted in place instead of welded [10]. These railings are also on average 45 centimeters taller [3] and more robustly constructed [4] than they were 30 years ago (the average gap size was 18 cm, now it is 8.7 cm).
What we are told: Safety and lawsuit protection are overriding concerns for mall owners. This is belied by the fact that there has not been a single case of a major mall owner convicted of negligence related to safety railing in the last 40 years [10].
How it applies to an UZO: Day Z+3 through Z+120: This seems counter-intuitive at first: higher railings make it less likely for zombies to fall from the higher stories, thus making the second story more deadly for humans. However, because the railings are bolted in sections, rather than welded in place, they are easily removed by a handy human. Once removed, the unprotected ledge becomes an excellent and low-risk way to defend the upper floors by pushing zombies over the edge from a distance. In addition, rail sections, once partially unbolted, can be pivoted in place and then fixed, creating an instant completely effective barrier against wandering zombies. Close examination of some modern mall blueprints shows that the architects have included otherwise unexplained [10] anchor points in the mall floor that match the spacing of the railing bolts precisely. This would allow the railings to be quickly re-installed at key choke points distributed throughout the mall, transforming the space from a wide-open field to a tightly compartmentalized area that heavily favors human survivors over zombies.

Trend 9 - Closely Integrated Multi-Story Parking Garages: The trend towards large multi-story parking structures that are linked directly to internal mall entrances is well documented [3, 4, 8].
What we are told: Customer convenience is increased by moving the average parking space closer to the stores. However, the additional (large!) expense of these garages [9], and the fact that any gains in walk-time are offset by increased traffic jams in the parking lot, tend to cast doubt on this explanation (see: principle of least risk [1]).
How it applies to an UZO: Day Z+0 through Z+21: Any survivors in the mall may need access to a vehicle in order to flee the infected zone, or for other reasons. An older, large, flat, traditional parking lot is likely to be filled with zombies from the surrounding areas [6], making it hard or impossible to access a given car, but a multi-story parking garage is far less likely to become clogged with the undead, since they will have no motivation to climb the stairs or ramps [5]. Therefore cars parked on the upper levels of such a structure will be relatively accessible. Since most modern malls allow access to the parking garage from the upper floors [4], It will be possible for human survivors to move from the safe second floor of the mall to a vehicle with relative ease.

Section 3 - Conclusions

Our conclusion is inescapable: a modern mall is far more survivable in the event of an unanticipated zombie outbreak than the malls of 20 or 30 years ago. All of the identifiable trends in mall construction are in this direction, and none run counter to it. Because so many of the trends are so poorly and incompletely explained by the standard model, we are forced to conclude that this new theory, as incredible as it sounds at first, is the best one we have. In a nutshell, the owners and/or architects of the major commercial spaces in the first world anticipate a massive occult uprising, the likes of which has never been reliably documented [6], and they are preparing against it, often at great expense.

The authors find this conclusion extraordinarily troubling. Forensic Architectural Research, as a field, is used to the idea that highly paid architects and designers operate on strange hidden principles [1], but the principles revealed by this study are far stranger and more hidden than any that, to our knowledge, have been previously published. Bluntly put, what do they know that we do not? This is the open question that our research has lead us to, and unfortunately it is darker and more distressing than we ever feared.

Topics for Further Research:
  • Are similarly motivated trends visible in automotive design, commercial design, residential design, or mass-transit systems?
  • Over what time frame did these considerations rise to the forefront of public space design?
  • How many of these trends were initiated by shifting government regulations, and how many were not?
  • To the extent that regulation is involved, does the government provide documentation that may reveal the interested or informed parties arguing in favor of such regulations?
  • To what extend do trade organizations and fraternities such as the Masons and Freemasons influence these trends?
  • Do the movers of these trends have disproportionate connections to any major world religions, cults, or scientific communities?
The authors hereby strongly urge the community to take up these topics and publish any findings, and will be seeking additional grant money to take on several of these questions over the next year.


1. Zimmerman, Frank, Harding; Understanding our Public Spaces, privately circulated memorandum, 1991, republished in Collected Investigative Architecture, Harper, 1995.
2. Collins; Flood and Riot Control Features of New York Public Space, Forensic Architectural Review, Volume 4, 1997.
3. Archer; A Review of Recent International Trends in Public Commercial Space, Forensic Architectural Review, Volume 11, 2001.
4. Collins; Finding the Mall Makers, Proceeds from the 4th Annual Investigative Architecture Summit, Jones and Jones, 2004.
5. Brooks; The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead, Three Rivers Press, 2003.
6. Brooks; World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, Three Rivers Press, 2003.
7. Zuthers, Archer; Understanding the Standard Framework, Proceeds from the 3rd Annual Investigative Architecture Summit, Jones and Jones, 2003.
8. Fairview, Long; Field Research in Commercial European Spaces, Forensic Architectural Review, Volume 19, 2005.
9. Carmen, Hamacho; Applied Theoretical Motivation Modeling in the Design Space, Forensic Architectural Review, Volume 14, 2002.
10. Austin, Carmen; Statistical Review of "Safety" Features in Commercial Spaces, Proceeds from the 6rd Annual Investigative Architecture Summit, Jones and Jones, 2006.

class warfare

I don't generally recommend kos, he's kindof overplayed and a little too tribal. Most of the time when I read him it's to get the opinion of someone who is steeped in liberal politics, just to see what the conventional liberal blog wisdom is. But every once in a while he says something insightful enough to transcend the daily grind of liberal tribalism.

(read this)

Frankly, I don't think that Barack Obama is going to suddenly turn into John Edwards. I think that his campaign has studiously avoided this third rail because of the backlash that they fear from the media and other powers that be. In the same way that (serious!) conservative candidates cannot come out against evolution and expect to win mainstream elections, serious liberal candidates cannot come out railing against the excesses of the rich. The system does not permit it, it's too far outside the norm. See also: Ron Paul, Howard Dean.

The question is, has the campaign studiously avoided this sleeper issue because they don't believe it's relevant, or because they think it might sink them electorally? That is what's actually interesting about the "bitter" comments. Is Barack a populist in mainstream clothing? I would argue that a real firebreathing populist in the White House would be far more disruptive and historical than either a moderate woman or a moderate black man, and thus will face greater institutional opposition than either.

In any case, I'm excited to see what happens.

flash foibles

Did you know that pressing Ctrl-D in a Flash application on a PC will give you a different key code than pressing Ctrl-D in Flash on a Mac? I did not know that.

Easy to work around, but strange.

3s dyslexia

I've noticed over the years that I sometimes confuse the letter 's' with the number '3'. So sometimes I will type one instead of the other, or I will make a transcription error if there's a string of numbers and letters together (i.e. not in the context of a word, but in other cases.)

I read recently that Chinese and English dyslexia affect two different regions of the brain, and it makes me wonder if you could run a study on MY brain and construct some sort of alphabet for my particular blindspot, so that I would be unable to read it, or it least it would be a lot more frustrating for me than it would be for most people.


one word


It's a high-traffic brick-and-mortar retail boutique that specializes in merchandise for IP that was popularized online. Here are some things that roflshop will sell:
  • lolcats prints, postcards, and related merchandise.
  • HomestarRunner things
  • Jonathan Coulton CDs and things
  • Penny Arcade and other webcomic shirts
  • US Senator Ted Stevens Approved Make your own model Internet kit. It's a series of tubes.
  • Whatever else is topical - we will have a full-time buyer whose job it is to identify and source hip new merchandise.
Each item display in the store will have a paper tag, hand-labeled in pen, with price, a factoid and a url. Roflshop will live in malls, mostly.

xkcd ftw

See, my philosophy is that--

some cultures, some ways of life, are inherently better than others*. To take some hopefully non-controversial examples, I think that society encouraging incest and cannibalism is BAD. Likewise, using germ theory to figure out that you shouldn't pollute your drinking water is GOOD.**

So by extension, new technology and culture has the potential to meaningfully improve our lives, as in, make them measurably better than they were before. So we should be open to that potential. I'm not saying that easy is always good, and I'm not saying that building character is worthless, it just depends on how you want to spend your life. If you have a tool that makes programming twice as easy, the way you build character, (and this is a big part of why technology seems to be exponential,) is you choose to work on something that is twice as hard.

So instead of worrying about what we lose in culture and character by moving to an easier system, try to imagine the new challenges that the system allows us to tackle, that were impossible before. You will be a more positive, less bitter, and richer person as a result.

*ooooooh! take that Cultural Relativism! burn!

torture and conservatism

read this.

When John Ashcroft is the only one in the room with some perspective, something is seriously wrong.

I think that there's a kind of hero-worship that's endemic to conservatism that allows this sort of thing to happen. That is, I think that the conservative tendency to trust our leaders can tend to isolate those leaders from the kind of thoughtful self-reflection that should be the first line of defense in preventing this kind of moral atrocity.

Broadly speaking, there ought to be an understanding that however much we like or dislike our leaders, they are by and large people, and rarely, if ever are they, or do they represent, pure good OR evil. They don't have a lot of secret knowledge, and they are not really that much better at making decisions than everybody else*. I think that liberalism understands this inherently, and thus tries to find correct policy through dialogue, research, and openness. (It is also why liberals argue with each-other so much.)

Conservatism on the other hand, or authoritarianism if you prefer, implicitly assumes that our leaders are inherently better decision makers, and therefore that their decision-making process does not need to be exposed (since it cannot be improved by our input), and therefore that exposing it is a hostile, subversive act. (This is also why conservatives have better message discipline than liberals.)

It appears that allowing the decision-making process to remain so closed, and letting organizations such as the CIA trust the decision makers so implicitly, has ruined the moral standing of our nation. That makes me sad.


*seriously. they don't and they aren't. If you think I am wrong, I have a simple thought experiment for you: George W. Bush.**
**for conservatives: replace George W. Bush with Bill Clinton.

short capcom rant

Okami is coming out for Wii. This is the game that should have been the greatest Wii launch title, that instead lived in (relative) obscurity as one of the last great PS2 titles. The game uses a fabulous brush stroke gameplay that will probably be much better on the Wii than it was on PS2.

I'd love to play it on the Wii, but I just don't think I can buy this game twice. X-[ Still, whatever, good move Capcom, I GUESS.

pure gold

Wouldn't you like to have a water-burning vehicle?

I am astounded. But the best part is the credulous Fox News report.


Lately I've been extremely active, mentally. Generally when this happens I stop playing video games for a month or two and instead start working on this and that. So this time I'm brainstorming business models and trying to tie the castle* together with Web 2.0 startup principles. Among other things, such as making a Flash particle studio, and a few little web games, and some furniture, and a fort for my nephew Jake. So in general it's good times for me.

But I keep coming back to this castle thing. I'm wondering if I can use a web startup model to bootstrap myself into building a castle sometime in the next few years, instead of waiting to get rich through more traditional means, and then using that money to build the castle. I mean, traditionally, you make your money, and then you build your castle, but I'm not entirely convinced that it has to be that way anymore, and I'm starting to brainstorm ways to leapfrog the getting rich step. (Mostly because I don't have nearly as strong a vision for getting rich as I do for building a castle, so really if I can just skip it, that works for me.)

So that's what's vaguely on my mind these days. Is there an OpenCastle(TM) framework that I can adapt/build/use to facilitate a self-forming web community to design, finance and build an artist-cooperative, four-star-hotel castle-farm complex? That is my open question.

*If you're unfamiliar, the castle is a long-standing pipe dream of mine wherein I build a modern castle and live in it, and permanently invite all my friends to come and stay and optionally work on whatever. It's a rather elaborate, persistent, collective daydream, basically. I tend to take these sorts of things seriously, because most of my best and most successful ideas start off similarly.**
**What me, ambitious?

hey universe

Here is a very small excerpt from my friend Molly's thesis paper for her PhD in Physics at MIT. It explains the current state of cosmology. I like that she doesn't back away from a having a sense of wonder, and that she gives the reader a sense of how much is still unknown and ill-understood.

4.1 Cosmology Basics

4.1.1 What is cosmology?

Cosmology is the study of our universe as a whole, and thus focuses on the largest scales accessible to science. It strives to answer a number of “big questions”: What is our universe made of? How did it begin? How did the matter assemble into the structures we see today? What is its ultimate fate? In order to address these questions, cosmologists use a wide variety of astronomical observations and draw on theory from across essentially all fields of physics, ranging from general relativity to quantum field theory.

One remarkable feature of the study of cosmology is that it provides insights into particle physics – i.e., the study of the smallest scales in physics – that could never be observed in a terrestrial laboratory. The tremendous energy in the hot, early universe shortly after the Big Bang far exceeds the energies that could ever be produced by the most sophisticated particle accelerators on Earth. Now that cosmology is becoming a precision science, particle physicists are using cosmology as a tool, using the study of the largest scales in physics to learn more about the smallest.

4.1.2 The standard cosmological model

Over the past few decades, cosmology has evolved from a highly speculative field dubbed “A search for two numbers” by Sandage (1970) into a full-fledged observational science, with vast quantities of data supporting a detailed theoretical model that is now well-established enough to be known as the “standard cosmological model”. We are commonly said to be living in the age of precision cosmology. However, many aspects of the standard cosmological model are quite surprising, and have led to more questions than answers. The basic premises of the standard cosmological model are as follows:

• Our universe is expanding – the gravitationally bound structures in our universe (e.g. clusters of galaxies) are all moving away from each other.
• Our universe used to be much hotter, denser, and smoother than it is today - the early universe was a hot soup of quarks and elementary particles.
• The large-scale structures in our universe grew through gravitational instabilities seeded by quantum fluctuations in the early universe.
• These quantum fluctuations grew to macroscopic size during a phase of rapidly accelerating expansion of the early universe called “inflation”.
• Ordinary matter (protons and neutrons, a.k.a. baryons) only make up 4% of the mass density in our universe.
• About 21% is made of “dark matter”, a mysterious substance that is gravitationally attractive but does not interact with light.
• About 75% is made of “dark energy”, an even more mysterious substance that effectively gives rise to a repulsive gravitational force and is causing the current expansion of our universe to accelerate.

This basic picture is consistent with a wide variety of different types of measurements, ranging from the tiny fluctuations in the microwave radiation produced by the early universe to the rates at which distant supernovae are moving away from us to the clustering patterns observed in the distribution of galaxies today. The agreement between all of these different measurements is quite remarkable, and has forced scientists to take seriously these rather preposterous concepts of dark matter, dark energy, and inflation.

Today the study of cosmology is focused on gaining a deeper understanding of the physics behind these concepts. What triggered inflation and how did it stop? What is the nature of dark matter? How much of the dark matter might be made of neutrinos? What sort of substance could have such bizarre properties as dark energy? Is dark energy a substance at all, or is the observed acceleration really due to a breakdown of general relativity at cosmological distance scales? These are the types of questions currently being investigated.

Go team science, and good luck with the thesis Molly, even though I know you have it in the bag.

attacking the stock market

A lot of smart people have written a lot of software to make money in stocks, which means that, most likely, all the obvious algorithms are farmed out and therefore mostly useless. But I wonder how hard it would be to write a program that could consistently lose money on the stock market?

For instance, if I wrote a program to emulate an overly-exuberant day trader, or to generally just bet that current trends will continue, would it make less than a 50% return? And if so, could I make money by doing the opposite of what it told me?

belated pictures

I dropped my camera in the stream, and I had to wait for it to dry out, so these are a little late.

This is the garden, revision 0.1 The rosemary was there before, and you can see the basil and tomato I planted, along with the mostly dead herb-collection that I transplanted.
we saw these yucca plants blooming, which I almost never see.
This is a picture from Switzer Falls trail. Dang, but California is beautiful.