Japanese of the Week

No, it's not too late to take care of the Japanese of the week. Today's word is really for amusement value, and the fact that it's a lot of fun to say.

ごろごろ (gorogoro) v - to rumble, to thunder, to roll about (people or large objects)

Chess Is Serious Business

The obligatory link: Indian chess player caught in Bluetooth ploy

Don't get me wrong here, I'm not trying to belittle the game here at all. Chess is a great game. Still, the only thing surprising about finding out about a player cheating via technology is the fact that it took this long to occur (and be caught).

Now, if he'd just been the witting tool of the ghost of a long-dead master at the game, well... But that's another game entirely.

Safer Than Sharks

The Obligatory Link: Nuclear Power Safer Than Sharks

There is, of course, a pertinent quote to offer:

"The risk of dying in a nuclear disaster was below that of dying from smoking, driving, owning firearms, drowning, fire, electrocution and snake bites, the report said."

Now, the one thing I thought was conspicuous in its absence from the list was lightning strikes. I suppose I could make an allowance for that being lumped in with electrocution statistics... but, naturally, I'm not going to. Of course, due to the wonders of Wikipedia, and the thoughtful article writer, we can make a comparison.

From the article, "There have been 31 direct fatalities from nuclear reactors since 1969 – including the Chernobyl disaster", and "This did not take into account the estimated 4000 people who could eventually die from cancer caused by radiation exposure from the Chernobyl meltdown." So, we'll go with a nice, round 4000, since plus or minus 31 shouldn't put it outside the statistical variance. Compared to the ~6.5 billion people currently living (from the World Population entry on Wikipedia), that's a chance of one in 1.625 million. Divided over the 37-year span, it becomes one in 60.125 million instead.

Comparatively, from Wikipedia's entry on lightning, some 2000 people are struck by lightning per year, with an averaged fatality rate of 29%, for a total of 580 per year. Again, out of the world's population, that's one for every 11.2 million, approximately.


Today in the World of Sub-Orbitals

The Obligatory Link: Supersonic Combustion for a Hypersonic Space Plane

It's always cool to see people now working on things that were yesteryear's science fiction. I mean, seriously, how cool is the thought of being able to go halfway around the world in two hours?

Obscure Trivia

Name two stories, one from across each ocean, that meet all of the following points:

A boy with glasses and supernatural powers, adopted after his parents were killed, who is connected via a scar to an enemy bent on immortality.

The first ought to be obvious to most people with an ear open to the world of current events over the past eight years... the second one, decidedly less so.


A Time-Waster Is Fine, Too...

Here are a couple little time-wasting flash games for your enjoyment, or headache-inducement, whichever comes first:

Squares 2 - Best I've managed on this is ~12,900 points. It's not a great score, really...

Irritating Game - The point here is to keep both of the two balls in the air by controlling the paddles with your mouse or trackball. The trick is not to over-reach to save one, and thus lose the other. I know, it sounds easy, but I'm moderately proud of the 32.7 seconds I've managed to keep it going. It speeds up as time goes by, after all. Also, in the bottom left-hand corner, there's an option to switch between French and English language for the explanation.

And Now We Define Torture As...

The obligatory link: Endless carols endless torture, groups say

Wow, y'know, I got tortured an awful lot over the Christmas season, then... After all, I spent plenty of time with looped Christmas music going at the office (at least, while I wasn't listening to Constitutional Public Radio in the afternoons). Maybe that break is supposed to constitute it not being "torture", then?

Let's face facts, though: Most Christmas music is much higher-quality music than the stuff that gets piped into many of these stores the other eleven months out of the year. "No, spare me! I'm being assaulted by Bach, Mannheim Steamroller, and Trans-Siberian Orchestra! Whatever will I do?" It's so sigh-worthy that it's almost funny... in a perverse sort of way.

A Couple of Quick Quotes

"How many observe Christ's birth-day! How few, his precepts! O! 'tis easier to keep Holidays than Commandments." -- Benjamin Franklin

"To restore... harmony,... to render us again one people acting as one nation should be the object of every man really a patriot." -- Thomas Jefferson


Christmas Recap

Don't worry, it's not about gifts.

The Merry Christmas Watch:
The only people I couldn't convince to say "Merry Christmas" were the folks at Borders. The rest of the sample was rather limited, of course, but it ended up about the way I expected... though, getting one out of the guys at GameStop was slightly surprising.

Christmas Programs:
Of course, it's difficult not to be most impressed by the St. Louis Bach Society's presentation. A 70-some member choir, plus a (relatively) small orchestra. Still, the two candlelight church services were nice, for a more close-knit atmosphere.

The Rush:
There really wasn't one, at least in my family. Sure, there were plenty of people out on the roads for the weekend lead-up, but not enough to really jam things up for people who just needed to get around normally.

Naturally, it's always nice to see people you don't often get to see, and Christmas is about the only time that happens anymore, since most of the extended family has long since moved out of state. And, since my mother calls him her third son, it was nice to see my "brother" who went off and joined the Navy three years ago.