Some Fun and Useful Pages

Clavius Moon Base - debunking the moon hoax

I was a young teenager during the Apollo lunar landings, and I couldn't get enough of them. They helped inspire me to become an electrical engineer.

So I'm personally offended by ignoramuses like Bart Sibrel, Ralph Rene, James Collier, Bill Kaysing and others when they claim that Apollo -- one of the biggest scientific and engineering achievements in human history -- was just a big hoax. Just because they can't understand how it was done doesn't mean that the hundreds of thousands of Apollo scientists and engineers couldn't have done it either.

Most of their bogus "evidence" is downright silly. All of it belies their own scientific ignorance. Unfortunately, our educational system has failed us so miserably -- and our government has given us so many valid reasons to distrust it -- that some of the public actually is taken in by the conspiracy theorists' bullshit. So we're fortunate that many knowledgable people have taken the time to counter it. I know from experience in other contexts that it can take much more time and effort to debunk a silly claim than to dream it up in the first place, so I'm really impressed that they've done such a thorough job on a thankless task. This is just one of several truly excellent anti-hoax websites.

Wireless Facts and Fiction

This is the blog of Professor Ben Friedlander of UCSC (University of California at Santa Cruz), writing under the nom-de-guerre of Jim DeGries. Like me, Ben has a morbid fascination with bogus digital wireless technologies, and he is trying his hardest to explain to the general public why certain claims being made for would-be breakthrough inventions (like xMax) really are too good to be true and can be safely dismissed out of hand.

Ben has attracted quite a lot of hate mail for his efforts. I never would have thought that anyone could base a religious cult on a modulation method, but it seems to be true!

Old American Century

This site has a wonderful collection of World War II-era propaganda posters from all sides, updated to be more current. This one is a favorite of mine; they have many more.

Fascism Anyone?

A prescient and insightful essay on the continuing American slide toward fascism. It is rather interesting to watch the defenders of the present Administration react whenever a critic dares to use the "N"-word (Nazi) -- witness the reaction to Illinois Senator Durbin's remarks about torture in US prison camps, which in context were actually quite reasonable. But they don't seem to mind when Rush Limbaugh talks about "feminazis". Methinks they doth protest just a little too much, eh?

I do think one item is missing from Britt's otherwise excellent list, though: Pseudoscience flourishes at high levels. His item 11 arguably touches on it ("Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts") but I think pseudoscience plays such an important role in fascism that it deserves its own entry.

The Soviet Union had Lysenkoism and Nazi Germany had its ridiculous racial theories that, unfortunately, weren't ridiculous enough to keep many millions of so-called "subhumans" from being slaughtered. One of the most enduring ironies of the Nazi era is that so many of the scientists who worked on the US Manhattan Project were European Jewish refugees from Hitler. Einstein's theories, crucial to the development of the bomb, were lambasted by the Nazis as " Jewish Science".

That there should be a close association between fascism and pseudoscience is not hard to understand. Both pseudoscience and fascism appeal to blind emotion and to the passions and prejudices of the majority. Neither can withstand rational scrutiny and open debate.

In modern times, pseudoscience has never enjoyed such prominence in the United States as now. The best example, of course, is the widespread belief in creationism and the rejection of biological evolution. Evolution now ranks among the most solidly grounded of all scientific theories, supported by overwhelming evidence. It interlocks nicely with solid theories in other scientific fields, e.g., geology, physics, chemistry and astronomy. And evolution has practical applications from plant and animal breeding to understanding and treating human afflictions such as bacterial infections and sickle-cell anemia. As Theodosius Dobzhasky famously said, "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution". Yet a majority of Americans -- especially political conservatives who idolize George W Bush -- reject evolution. And there are continuing, relentless attempts to introduce creationism "Intelligent Design" into public school science classrooms despite a long series of Supreme Court decisions that quite properly hold the teaching of creationism in public schools to violate the First Amendment's Establishment Clause.

I think it no coincidence that technology scam artists like Dennis Lee prey primarily (or even exclusively) on members of fundamentalist churches. Where else can you find so many gullible people who lack even the most basic critical thinking skills when it comes to issues of science and technology?

Rep. Duke Cunningham protest page

Some serious gerrymandering after the 2000 census made US Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham my local congressman. (It used to be Susan Davis, a halfway decent Democrat.) Recently a major scandal has erupted over the 2003 sale of his home for $1,675,000 to Mitchell Wade, CEO of defense contractor MZM, Inc. Wade, who immediately began to reap numerous secret government contracts, put the home right back on the market where it finally sold 9 months later at a $700,000 loss. Wade claimed he discovered the house "didn't meet his needs" only after he bought it. He must think that everyone buys their houses sight unseen. Or he must think we're all pretty stupid.

San Diego, even more than most places in the US, has been in an incredible real estate boom over the past few years; there's simply no chance that Cunningham's sale to Wade was at anywhere near true market value. In case I have to spell it out for you, here goes: B R I B E.

As if that wasn't enough, Cunningham has been living on a yacht in DC named the "Duke Stir", also owned by Wade. And now it seems that his new Rancho Sante Fe home, bought with the proceeds of his Del Mar sale, was bought well under market value.

For those not familiar with San Diego and its expensive real estate, Del Mar is a definitely upscale yet still crowded suburban area, with current average home prices somewhere around a million. (Cunningham's old house is actually in the Del Mar Heights area of the City of San Diego, just east of the beach city of Del Mar proper, but the locals just call the whole area Del Mar.) Rancho Sante Fe, on the other hand, is somewhere up in the stratosphere, with multi-acre lots and average prices now probably around $3 million. It's about the richest community in the United States. You may remember it as where the "Heaven's Gate" cult killed themselves in 1997.

Politically, Cunningham is somewhere to the right of Atilla the Hun. He rants about "homos in the military"; Rep Barney Frank says that Cunningham "seems more interested in homosexuality than most homosexuals". While speaking to a group of prostate cancer survivors, he flipped the bird to a WW2 veteran who commented that the defense budget was too high. He said Vietnam War protesters and "liberal leaders" in Congress should be lined up and shot. He picks fistfights with fellow Members of Congress. He talks out loud about raking the Capitol with 20mm cannon fire from his old F-14 (he was a Vietnam War ace, you see, as if that's supposed to impress us with his statesmanlike wisdom). He voted for the "Communications Decency Act" and introduced the awful "flag burning" amendment that recently passed the House.

So it'll be most gratifying to see this jackass go down in flames. He'll find it rather difficult to wrap himself in the flag when he's wearing handcuffs.

Note added 30 November 2005: As the world now knows, on 28 November 2005 Duke Cunningham pled guilty to federal bribery and tax evasion charges and resigned from the US House of Representatives. Not only did he admit that, indeed, his defense contractor buddy bought his house at an inflated price and covered his boat fees, this was only the tip of his bribery iceberg. As much as I detested this guy, I was still astonished by the extraordinary scope and crassness of his corruption. Cunningham has never been known for his brains (Congressional aides routinely gave him their "No Rocket Scientist Award") but I still can't believe the man could be that stupid.

The plea agreement cites four un-named co-conspirators, and the investigation continues. I can only hope the prosecutors are able to connect the dots and finally begin to take down the whole rotten, stinking, corrupt Republican war machine. When President Eisenhower famously warned us about the "military-industrial complex", he actually wanted to say "military-industrial-Congressional complex" but was talked out of it. He should have stood his ground.

Reasons to Avoid Microsoft

Like they really have to be stated, huh?

Now this one is definitely a parody site. And also pretty funny.

Objective: Christian Ministries

Did you know that Apple Computer promotes the Forces of Darkness, and are promoting -- gosh -- godless evolution because they named their operating system "Darwin"?

I can't tell if this site is real or a hoax. If it's a hoax, it's a really good one. Either way, it's one of the funniest websites I've seen in a long time.

The World Trade Center/Pentagon Disaster

Various items related to the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001

Bruce Schneier's Crypto-Gram Newsletter

Bruce Schneier is one of the most clueful people now working in the fields of cryptography and computer security. He is the author of the book Applied Cryptography, the central issue in my lawsuit against US export controls on cryptography. The Crypto-Gram Newsletter is Bruce's free monthly newsletter on a variety of topics related to cryptography, computer and network security, and his insights are always worth a look.

Boycott Adobe

Adobe has instigated the first-ever criminal case under the odious Digital Millenium Copyright Act by having the FBI arrest a Russian programmer who had the audacity to embarass them by showing how to break the pitifully weak encryption in their "ebook" format. A furious reaction is rapidly developing, the likes of which have not been seen since the passage of the Communications Decency Act and the Gestapo-style raid on Steve Jackson Games by the Secret Service -- two heavy-handed government actions that were firmly slapped down by the courts.

The irony of a Russian being arrested in the US for what amounts to a political crime and an exercise of free speech is difficult to swallow. Perhaps this is the beginning of the end of the DMCA; we can certainly hope so.

Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy page

I discovered this one when the NASA website linked to it after the Fox network ran an abysmal and ridiculous program claiming that the Apollo moon landings were all hoaxed.

I forget how I first came across this site. Loads of fun, though.

The WAP Trap

The Wireless Applications Protocol Forum has produced a whole new suite of supposedly "open" protocols for data services on cell phones. I've worked in the field of wireless networking for quite some time, first in amateur packet radio, then at Qualcomm. But I scratched my head when I first read about WAP, because they seemed completely clueless -- or worse.

Many other IETFers seem to agree with me, having dubbed WAP as Why Another Protocol? or Wait and Pay. Finally, somebody has written up these objections in an excellent essay.

George Mahlberg's Photoshop

I finally happened to see an uncredited copy of Mahlberg's In-A-Gadda-Da-Oswald on another site, so I found the original site with just a little websearching. This photo is not only disturbingly funny, it's a very convincing demonstration of the fact that with computers, photographs are no longer meaningful as legal evidence of anything...

James Gleick's Home Page

Science writer James Gleick has a brilliantly written article Patently Absurd in the March 12, 2000 edition of the New York Times Magazine. It didn't surprise me at all to learn that the patent commissioner tried to pressure the Times editors and lawyers to not run the article. It is an absolutely devastating account of how the US Patent Office blithely churns out ludicrous patents without regard to the devastating effect they're having on society.

Lawrence Lessig's Page

Lawrence Lessig is a professor at the Harvard Law School. He is also rapidly becoming a hero of mine, which is pretty astonishing when you think about it. (A lawyer being a hero to an engineer?) Lessig first become widely known when he was appointed a "special master" by the judge in the Microsoft antitrust trial. More recently, he has published brilliantly insightful articles about how the US intellectual property system has gone totally out of control; has filed suit to have the Sony Bono Copyright Term Extension Act declared unconstitutional; and filed comments with the FCC citing the End to End Argument in arguing for open access to cable modem services.

Lessig has also written a book, Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace. He argues that the software and hardware that implement cyberspace are a far more pervasive means of social control than laws passed by governments, and that it is important for us to retain control over that software and hardware. I absolutely agree, and I could only think that this guy really gets it when I read him saying that open code represents an important check on the power of the state.

I certainly don't agree with everything Lessig says. In particular, he has too much faith in the ability of government to do good in cyberspace. But his books and writings really get you thinking, and that's what being a professor is all about.
DeCSS Now!

Joe Mehaffey and Jack Yeazel's GPS Information Website

This is a remarkably comprehensive collection of GPS user information: product reviews, user information, navigation theory, links to other GPS-related sites, etc.

Fundamentalist reviews of the South Park movie

The surest way to judge whether a piece of satire has hit its target is by how loudly said humor-impaired targets howl in righteous indignation. By this measure, the South Park movie has scored a bullseye on censor-happy fundamentalist groups. Some of their reviews are (unintentionally, I'm sure) quite hilarious. Check these out:

  • Christian Analysis of American Culture: "... another movie straight from the smoking pits of Hell." [well duh, much of the movie was set there] "South Park is an incredibly dangerous movie...INCREDIBLY dangerous..."
  • Focus on the Family review: "Positive Elements: None." 
  • The South Park movie is by no means the best movie satire ever made. Nothing will ever top Doctor Strangelove. And the South Park TV show is by no means the best satirical cartoon on TV; that honor clearly goes to The Simpsons. But I still like South Park. Sure, the writing is highly uneven and it's definitely not for kids. I also accept that many adults just don't like its brand of humor. That's OK. Personally, I find enough moments of inspired brilliance to make it worthwhile. And the songs in the movie were great.

    And to the humorless fire-and-brimstone fundamentalists who are about to have coronaries over this movie, I say: c'mon guys, it's just a cartoon! If you weren't so busy tallying up precise counts of 4-letter words and computing your pseudo-mathematical (but utterly bogus) influence density scores, you might actually realize that you've already proven the main point of the movie...

    Ross Anderson's Home Page

    Ross Anderson is a British cryptologist who has made many contributions to the field, primarily in the protection of personal privacy and anonymity against attack by large corporate and governmental entities.

    My favorite Anderson project is his Eternity Service, a way to combine encryption and redundancy to publish information on the Internet such that it can never be censored or traced to its source, even when attacked by substantial technical and legal means. Such methods will become an increasingly vital defense against government censorship of the Internet, legal harassment of whistleblowers (e.g., those who dare to criticize the Church of Scientology), and patent infringement lawsuits against authors of open source software.

    Here's a distributed Internet-based computing effort that does more than find crypto keys. This is a serious effort to find narrowband extraterrestrial radio signals that may be evidence of intelligent extraterrestrial life. They'll provide a client program that downloads batches of raw data to your machine, runs lots of FFTs (fast fourier transforms) with various doppler chirp rates, and returns the results to the central server. Neat stuff, though I really wish they'd release their source code so I can look at how they do their FFTs.

    Finally, a comic strip by and for system administrators. In-humor that nobody else in the world will get. Except maybe for the continual Microsoft-bashing gags, like what happened when somebody sticks a Windows NT CD-ROM into the microwave.

    Great stuff, especially now that Dilbert is past its creative peak and well into the "cashing in" phase.

    Basics of MRI

    Recently my doctor had me take a MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan. Being an engineer, naturally I had to learn how these things work. After some websurfing past the usual basic stuff for the general public, I found this highly detailed technical discussion. It seems you can find information on just about anything in whatever depth you want (or more!) on the web if you know how to look for it.

    Bogus Patent Petition

    Sign this petition now!

    Florida Today Space Online

    This is the space section of Florida Today, a newspaper in Melbourne, Florida with outstanding coverage of space issues. The most noteworthy section contains detailed status and progress reports on just about every upcoming space launch in the world, not just those leaving nearby Cape Canaveral.

    Living in San Diego, I can go outside and watch launches out of Vandenberg AFBif I can find out about them in advance. This is the site I check.

    Talk.Origins Archive

    This is another wonderful resource for those trying to stem the tide of creationist nonsense. Evolution is still a "theory" in the same way that gravity is just a theory: the evidence for both is so overwelming that they come as close to "proven fact" as you can ever get in science.

    Patent Avoidance Library

    I found this one from a link from the LPF site below, but it's so outstanding that it deserves its own link. Don Lancaster is famous among electronics hobbyists for writing all those "cookbooks" starting back in the 1970s: the TTL Cookbook the CMOS Cookbook, etc. Don's a pretty creative guy, exactly the kind you'd think would appreciate the US Patent Office.

    Not exactly. Quoting from The Case Against Patents:

    Just what are the alternative methods for successfully marketing your ideas and concepts? [...] First, totally avoid any and all contact with anything even remotely patent related. In any way, shape or form. Do so religiously.

    League for Programming Freedom (LPF)

    The League for Programming Freedom has been around since 1989, started by Richard Stallman and others largely in response to Apple's GUI look-and-feel copyright lawsuits of the time. The LPF seemed to go dormant when the Supreme Court deadlocked and let stand an appeal of a similar look-and-feel copyright lawsuit that had been correctly decided (i.e., against GUI copyrightability).

    Meanwhile, the software patent situation has steadily progressed from the "major disaster" stage to the "cataclysmic catastrophe" stage. A single, understated, yet highly ominous sentence in the Second Microsoft Halloween Document:

    The effect of patents and copyright in combatting Linux remains to be investigated.
    drove home like nothing else the singular threat that software patents pose to the increasingly successful Open Source movement. So the LPF seems to have rewoken, and none too soon. Their web site has an excellent collection of material about the harmful effects of an overzealous intellectual property system on the quality and availability of computer software. They deserve your support.

    Bad Science

    This is a detailed, entertaining collection of some of the scientific misconceptions pervasive even among people who ought to know better, like high school science teachers. The classic example is the claim that the Coriolis force of the earth's rotation causes the water in toilets and sinks to rotate counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern. Even Lisa Simpson, who is normally annoyingly right about all things scientific, fell prey to this misconception. If you know any science teachers, make sure they read this page!

    Pilot Hardware Page

    Here is a lot of information on the hardware in the Palm Pilot. This thing has really become a phenomenon!

    The Halloween Documents

    These are writeups of two leaked documents from Microsoft that shows they're finally getting scared of open-source software in general and Linux in particular. It discusses ways to destroy it by corrupting the Internet protocols with lots of proprietary and incompatible features.

    Too bad Gates' lawyers went after that San Diego T-shirt seller who portrayed Bill Gates as Star Trek's Captain Picard when he was Locutus of Borg, speaking the classic lines: "Resistance is will be assimilated". The acquisitive and relentless Borg are the perfect metaphor for Microsoft.

    See also the Salon Magazine article.

    April Fools on the Net

    A well-done archive of past foolery on the net.

    Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 versus UNIX

    An excellent essay. It certainly expresses an opinion (and you can guess what that opinion is, given that I've created a link here), but it is solidly backed up with facts. To quote from the introduction:
    Why Windows NT Server 4.0 continues to exist in the enterprise would be a topic appropriate for an investigative report in the field of psychology or marketing, not an article on information technology.

    Tasty Bits from the Technology Front

    This is a fun online technology newsletter I just discovered. The editorial style has a definite satirical bent that appeals to me.

    Home Power Magazine

    Home Power magazine is available on the newsstand (e.g., at Tower Records) and for free on the web. It caters to the rugged individualists who want to generate their own electricity in places far from the electric grid. It also appeals to the environmentalists who prefer not to use commercial power even where it is available.

    I've always been interested in solar power, batteries, inverters and related electric power technologies, so I find the practical parts of this magazine quite interesting even if the editorial tone is a little too rabid for my tastes.

    The home power community does seem to be mellowing a bit. Many used to consider everything associated with the electric power grid to be an unmitigated evil and wanted nothing to do with it. Now they're embracing the idea of using the grid to sell their home-generated power to their neighbors, displacing energy from utility plants. This is an attractive alternative to off-grid operation, especially since it eliminates the need for a large battery plant to store electricity for nighttime use.

    SKIPJACK and KEA Algorithms

    The NSA has finally declassified and published the SKIPJACK and KEA algorithms used in their infamous Clipper Chip. Too little and too late, of course, but it's of significant historical interest.

    The Enterprise Mission

    Richard Hoagland is one of the most dedicated pseudoscientific loonies of our time. For two decades he has made a pest of himself claiming that aliens built a giant human face on Mars and that NASA is trying to cover it up. You might think that the new Mars Global Surveyor pictures of the so-called "face" would finally shut him up. But you'd be wrong. His ever-more-desperate quests to "uncover the coverup" are downright comical.

    Hoagland chose an especially apt name for his site. Not only is Enterprise the name of an entirely fictional television spaceship, but it was also the name of the NASA space shuttle that could never fly. Neither can Hoagland's theories.

    The Flag-Burning Page

    I find it absolutely astonishing that so many people are utterly unable to distinguish between a symbol (the US flag) and what it represents (the freedom to express unpopular opinions, among many other freedoms). And it is downright scary to see so many legislators ready to burn the Constitutional safety net that has successfully protected us from their demagogic excesses for over 200 years. Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

    Computer Virus Myths home page

    I found this one through the New York Times on 20 Feb 1998. It's an excellent collection of the urban legends, myths and hoaxes that can spread so rapidly on the Internet.

    Sam's GPS raw data pages

    If you're really into the guts of GPS (instead of just using it as a black box), this is the page for you. There are detailed descriptions of the GPS navigation messages plus reference code for computing satellite and user positions.

    Separation of Church and State

    This is a page I wish I'd known about when a religious fundamentalist wrote me to seriously argue that the First Amendment only prohibits the state from controlling religion, not the other way around. These pages are chock-full of useful resources for refuting the members of the Religious Right who would end the 200+ years of religious peace and freedom we've enjoyed in this country and turn the US into another Israel, Iran, or Northern Ireland.

    Frank Steiger's Creationism and Pseudo Science page

    I don't generally waste my time on newsgroups like, but I'm glad to see that one of the participants has put together what looks like a very methodical and thorough rebuttal of all the usual bogus arguments of the creationists.

    Rinaldo's Laws

    Way back in 1983, Paul Rinaldo (W4RI) published a wonderful collection of "laws" based on personal experience and observations of the engineering profession. Paul's observations have a certain timelessness to them. They clearly anticipated the now-popular Dilbert comic strip by almost a decade.

    JPL Telecommunications and Data Acquisition Report

    The problem of reliable communication with spacecraft at interplanetary distances has prompted the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to pioneer much of the advanced modulation and error control coding techniques that are now finding widespread use in the commercial world. For many years JPL's progress reports have been a treasure trove of detailed technical information, and they have finally switched to publication on the Web.

    Ashley's Space World

    This is a page of links to a variety of amateur space-related sites, including various AMSAT organizations. AMSAT is the group of radio amateurs that build and operate their own communication and scientific satellites.

    The Why Files

    If you're like me, you're frequently appalled by the widespread scientific illiteracy in the regular news media. So it's really nice to see some science-related news stories presented by knowledgeable people with clarity, intelligence and wit. This page really shows the enormous power of the Web to bypass the "dumb-down" power of the traditional news media.

    Scott Pakin's automatic complaint-letter generator

    What a gem. I discovered this one when somebody used it to generate a flame on USENET, followed by a very subtle link to this page. I must have been the only one to follow it, as several responders thought the poster actually typed it himself. I guess this means that at least as far as USENET flaming is concerned, the Turing Test has been met.

    Mike Cook, AF9Y

    Mike is an avid EMEer, a radio amateur who specializes in using the moon as a passive radio reflector. EME is perhaps the most challenging aspect of amateur radio. Those who can do it are an elite minority. Unlike many amateurs who are content simply to do things by brute force, Mike has been applying digital signal processing methods to obtain a better understanding of the EME channel and how more efficient modulation and coding schemes might be devised.

    Patty Winter's Home Page

    My friend Patty's home page.

    The Apollo Lunar Surface Journal

    This is a truly remarkable work. Author Eric Jones has put together one of the most detailed histories of the Apollo lunar missions I've seen anywhere, on or off the net. Much of the material consists of meticulously annotated transcripts of the space/earth communication circuits during the missions, augmented by the author's extensive interviews with all of the surviving astronauts. More recently he has been adding photos, drawings and audio clips.

    This work is clearly a labor of love, and not just because he's chosen to make it freely available to the net.


    This is the web site for the book by Tsutomu Shimomura and John Markoff about the hunting and capture of Kevin Mitnick. Lots of interesting audio recordings, including the famous "tweedledee" and "tweedledum" messages put on the net. In ham terms, the ultimate "foxhunt".

    Jonathan Littman is the author of a second new book on Kevin Mitnick, The Fugitive Game. While he was a fugitive, Mitnick called Littman on numerous occasions and as a result this book is full of interesting insights into Mitnick and his pals that are lacking from the Shimomura/Markoff book. Littman has also set up his own web site.

    And there's a third book, The Cyberthief and the Samurai by Jeff Goodell. This subject is rapidly spawning a cottage industry!

    To really get the whole story, you should probably read all three books.

    This one is so popular on the net I hardly have to include it here. It's truly uncanny how Scott Adams methodically selects and hits each new target in such a timely and deadly accurate manner. The average member of the public might not have heard of ISO 9000. But to those of us working for companies who had to go through that foolishness, Dilbert's experiences helped make it a little more bearable for the rest of us. Also, Dilbert's mom's views on ISDN, Linux and Microsoft are right on the mark.

    In my opinion, The Simpsons is the greatest TV show of all time -- and yes, I've been a Star Trek fan since 1966. The Simpsons was inspired by and is often compared to Rocky & Bullwinkle, which was certainly a great show for its day. But I think The Simpsons is even better. The show lampoons many different things, but it's really all about authority. More precisely, the show satirizes authority in the hands of those who don't deserve it. As in real life, sheer incompetence is usually the operative factor, be it Clancy Wiggum as Police Chief, or Homer Simpson as a nuclear power plant operator. Only on rare occasions (again as in real life) is there dark-hearted and sadistic malevolence e.g., Monty Burns.

    The Simpsons is what satire is all about. I wonder if the small-minded teachers, principals and nuclear industry officials who expressed offense at the show ever realized how their complaints only underscored the show's message. They certainly helped make it even funnier. Hell, I actually support nuclear power and I still laugh at shots of glowing rats and three-eyed fish.

    The Museum of HP Calculators

    What a blast from the past! My very first calculator was the HP-45, which I bought as a high school senior in 1974 with $395 of my hard-earned money from repairing guitar amplifiers at a local musical instrument store. The display drivers failed a long time ago; I still have the disassembled parts in a bag around here somewhere. When I moved from New Jersey to California in 1991, I sorrowfully tossed out my homebuilt S-100 system from my college days. But I haven't had the heart to do the same thing with the (much smaller) bag of HP-45 parts. Anybody know where I can get a new set of display drivers?

    George Goble's home page

    This guy is clearly insane. Hey, I liked to burn up, blow up and launch up stuff as much as any other male kid my age, but at least I had my limits. And I grew out of it as I got older and less invulnerable. That's probably why I still have ten fingers, ten toes, two arms, two legs and two eyes...

    The Internet Movie Database

    This is an excellent example of the power of the Net. What this service lacks in professional movie reviews (presumably because Bill Gates bought up all the rights for Cinemania) it makes up by being continually updated with the most minor details. I guess that's to be expected with millions of us geeks making contributions. My own include a long list of all the technical goofs I spotted in the otherwise excellent Apollo 13, and a few guest star appearances in Classic Star Trek.

    The Nando Times

    I haven't subscribed to a physical newspaper in years. Back at Bell Labs and Bellcore we had access to an Associated Press newswire, but I lost that when I moved to San Diego. Then the Web happened. This is the best of the free online newspapers I've seen.

    Back to Phil Karn's Home Page

    Last updated: 9 March 2008