The government refused to meet Microsoft's demands and they have carried out their threat to release the X-Box on the American population. Fortunately, casualties are expected to be minimal. (Link shamelessly stolen from Mike Ryan.)
Meanwhile, it appears that a huge meteor impact in southern Iraq may have caused the collapse of numerous ancient civilizations around 2300 BC, including Akkadia and the pyramid-builders of Egypt. Unfortunately, the location of the crater means it's unlikely to get properly analyzed from the ground any time soon. The situation clearly calls for a crack team of scientist-commandos to parachute into the area, seize the airfield, radiocarbon-date the crater and then evac minutes ahead of the Republican Guards.
Finally, Star Blazers/Space Cruiser Yamato fans should appreciate this site. Besides the obsessive catalog of all things Yamato-related (including even the original screamsheets for the Star Blazers cartoon), this site is running a translated version of the brand new "Space Battleship Great Yamato" manga being written and drawn by Leiji Matsumoto even as we speak.
Oh, wait, and what the heck, I feel like talking about the war. To wit: Woohoo! We blinked and the Taliban collapsed! An oppressive invading government has all but fallen, conscripted soldiers are going home to their families, Al-Queda's left in the lurch and it was even just in time to get relief supplies into Afghanistan before winter and save potentially thousands of lives. So... why is everyone all pouty-face? Certainly, there are major problems ahead: organizing relief efforts, worrying about guerillas, dealing with a fractious bunch of warlords, trying to forge some kind of government that won't be worse than its predecessor, and, oh, right, searching the mountains for a certain annoying terrorist -- but hey, those are the sort of problems you want to have. It's now the responsibility of America and the world community to help rebuild Afghanistan, and against the worthiness and power of that task Osama bin Laden and his pals suddenly look like the small and petty creatures that, in the end, they will be remembered as. It's a ray of hope and I, at least, am damned appreciative of it.
I'm back from Chicago. Due to poor planning I spent more time in transit than actually doing things, but I did get to visit the Sears Tower Skydeck and the Adler Planetarium (my favorite place to go when I was a little kid living there in 1979; it's now grown this weird Back To The Future-esque shell of green glass and sprouted an interactive Omnimax theater, but the old sky dome is still in there. I think.) I normally don't go in much for playing tourist, but since 9/11 I've had an odd desire to go see things with my own eyes. I'd rather not think it's because deep down I've lost confidence that they'll be around forever.
Um. Speaking of which, these are photographs taken by Bill Biggart, a journalist who rushed to the scene when the first World Trade Center tower collapsed and was killed when the second one came down. His camera was found in the wreckage and the last frames he shot were in perfect condition -- including one which, from its timestamp, must have been taken moments before the end. What's in that picture is... wrong. It's a vision of Hell. It shouldn't be like that, not in a beautiful place like New York City. Not anywhere. It's frustrating to me that I can't be more articulate, but that's really all I keep coming back to: it's wrong, and it has to stop.
On a completely other note, I was looking for The Economist magazine for some reason a while back, and typed www.theeconomist.com into my browser, and found a fan page for Alan Greenspan. The Internet is not only queerer than we imagine, it's queerer than we can, etc., etc.
I can't write about the war. Every time I start trying to just bang out some snappy little thing, it comes attached to another thing, which is attached to another thing, which is attached to a whole lot more things and at the end of it all I'm an incoherent blithering mess. So I won't write about the war. I will, however, occasionally link to someone else writing about it.
Via USENET: It's a rare few days that doesn't go by without some poor soul posting on one of the comp.games.development newsgroups that he has a brilliant idea for (insert currently hyped genre here -- for a while it was real time strategy, then RPGs, now massively-multiplayer games like Everquest) and all he needs is some programmers, artists, and musicians to create it for him for free or a share of the "profits" that will come as soon as the fools realize his greatness. Anyone thinking of following that route should read this exchange and ponder the errors of their ways.
Meanwhile in the real world, I know everyone's been rather understandably preoccupied lately but while we weren't paying attention the entire nation of Tuvalu has slipped into the sea. Now, Tuvalu is a small place: a single airstrip, a single stop sign, basically just a few obscure islands in the Pacific Ocean occupied by about 11,000 people. But small as it is, Tuvalu is very pretty and I imagine its inhabitants -- now all packing their bags to move to New Zealand -- love it as much as people anywhere love their country. It's easy to ignore global warming as long as doing something about it would cut slightly into profits or create a minor inconvenience, but it can't be ignored forever.
I figure if I'm gonna do this "weblog" thing I may as well go whole hog: so note the pretentious black background, e.e.cummings-style lowercase captions, and so forth. Not bad, eh? It feels like 1998 all over again, but with worse movies. And speaking of bad movies, the word for today is "GO REALLY FAST AND MAKE LOUD NOISES." To wit:
A sonic boom is created when a vehicle moves faster than the speed of sound. The sound of its engines is unable to keep up and piles up behind the vehicle, and when it passes by observers hear the sound all at once. Windows are broken and a good time is had by all. What you might not have heard of, though, is that an unusual cloud is sometimes created as well: a visible sonic boom.
The sonic boom can become visible in other ways, too. The shockwave can be seen actually refracting light that passes through it in these photos of the Thrust SSC breaking the sound barrier on land in 1997.
Here are some more things that make sonic booms.