Category Archives: Just for fun

Visual overlay will be very cool

I’m not making any forecasts about when this is going to happen, but visual overlay will be very cool.

We will still see the world as it is, of course.  But we will be able to add layers.  Layers can give us information like the ratings of a restaurant we see or night vision or heat vision, or little flying arrows showing the direction and speed of the wind.  Layers can also give us controls like interacting with vending machines or unlocking your car, or saving a good bottle of wine.

It will be very cool.

Things have changed since I wrote about this in 2002, but I wasn’t completely wrong: The Etherface


Wikipedia anything you see.  Add people you meet to your contact list with context.  Users generate content.  API lets developers add controls.

Black Holes and the Big Bang

I’ve been watching Science Channel shows about black holes lately. I know nobody knows the physics beyond the event horizon, including time and space… but doesn’t it seem like an elegant possibility would be that inside a black hole, everything collapses and explodes in a big bang that is entirely contained within the black hole. New time and space, and all the mass and energy in the black hole continue within the sphere of the event horizon. An explosion of the singularity at the center would look from the inside like a big bang, and the curvature of space time might even have edge effects that draw matter back toward the event horizon, causing the accelerating expansion we see in red shift.

It feels like the more we learn about the universe, the more we discover that we have yet to understand.

The scope of physics is so awesome.

Coachella – Friday, April 18, 2009

Click image for giant version.

 

The main stage. Huge.

Franz Ferdinand and Paul McCartney.


 

This wooden, steel, and cloth tower is probably 50ft across, and has room to sit and hang out inside underneath.

At night, the top had a flame like an oil platform flare.


 

Doof.
Leonard Cohen and M. Ward. Yes.


 

Awesome installations


 

Philip and I, gonzo reporters, documenting the best party I’ve ever been to.


 

Another giant stage.


Any of these images can be used by anyone else as long as they include a link back to this blog post or to http://vonkohorn.com.

The U.S. Penny is worth 1.04¢!

[The following article is part of a larger commentary, available here.]

After monitoring this calculation for a long time, I’m happy to announce this new and unusual arbitrage.

Pennies are composed of 97.6% zinc and 2.4% copper, with a total weight of 2.5 grams. After several years of rapid appreciation, copper prices have been stagnant for about 6 months, but zinc has been rising toward $4,000 per metric ton (or about 4/10 of a cent per gram). That places the value of the zinc at 0.994¢, and the value of the copper at 0.045¢, bringing to total cost of the raw metals to 1.04¢.

So if you collect pennies, melt them down, separate and purify the metals, then sell the metal on the public exchange, you make 4%. This is a new phenomenon, and may not last. I would expect to hear an announcement that the penny will be modified, replacing zinc with aluminum. This would bring the value of the metals down to less than 7/10 of a cent, and gives the government another couple years before they are forced to drop the penny as a unit of currency.

The new aluminum pennies will still be clad in copper, but will feel much lighter. You heard it here first.

Population Density and Political Affiliation

These are some of the best election maps I’ve seen. They demonstrate a very strong relationship in the 2004 Presidential election, and I’d love to hear some insight:

Why is population density so clearly related to political affiliation?

Should we be surprised that progressive politics are so highly related to economic progress? What can we learn from that?

Why are such large parts of the population voting against their financial self-interests? Wealthy cities and the major financial centers are voting against the party that will lower their capital gains and dividend taxes. Financially troubled states are voting against the party that will provide national health care and invest in their children’s educations.

Is morality really the question? Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate of any of the 50 states. And Texas has the highest. Are words more important than action? How is it that speaking softly and doing the right thing can be painted so badly?

Finally, how is it that the kindness, thoughtfulness, hard work, and generosity of the Democratic Party can be portayed as weakness? How is it that the Republican Party with those same qualities is portrayed as heartless? Is it still about cowboys vs. indians, suits vs. hippies, us vs. them? Has anyone noticed that we’re on the same team and there are plenty of real bad guys out there?