Saturday, December 09, 2006

Ancient Empires Lux

Head on over to SillySoft and check out the new offering, Ancient Empires Lux. Unlike the real Lux, which has a map editor built in, this is a standalone bunch of campaigns, more like Mark Bauer's American History Lux, but there are enough different civilizations, and skill levels, and easy or hard starting positions, that you'll be quite some time defeating everything the game has to offer. And at only $20 US, it's priced right where good games should be. Free downloads are available, and it works on any platform, so check it out.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Santa's Force

You'd better watch out, you'd better not cry,
You'd better lock up, I'm telling you why…
Santa's Force is coming to town.

He sneaks in when you're sleeping.
He brings a sack with him.
Everyone thinks he's bringing gifts,
But he's really stealing them!

You shouldn't go up to the North Pole.
Santa's got a warehouse there you know,
Where he stores the loot that he steals.

The DEA is raiding,
The CIA are there.
The FBI are standing around,
And pretending they really care.

You'd better arm up to your back teeth,
Or all you'll be getting is a brand new wreath.
Santa's Force is coming to town.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Santa's Not Coming

There is only one species of reindeer and it definitely cannot fly! But there are perhaps several hundred thousand species of living organisms yet to be classified, and while most of these are insects and micro-organisms, this does not completely rule out flying reindeer which only Santa has ever seen.

There are 2 billion children (persons under 18) in the world. But since Santa doesn't appear to handle the Shinto, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Animist, and atheist children, not to mention the bah-humbug non-Santa believers, that reduces his workload to 15% of the total - about 378 million. At an average census rate of 3.5 children per household, that's 91.8 million homes. One presumes there's at least one good child in each.

Santa has 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west (which seemes logical). This works out to 822.6 visits per second. This is to say that for each household with good children (well, good enough) Santa has 1/1000th of a second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left, get back up the chimney, get back into the sleigh and move on to the next house. Assuming that each of these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false but for the purposes of our calculations we will accept), we are now talking about .78 miles per household, a total trip of 75.5 million miles, not counting stops to go to the toilet, which most of us must do at least once every 31 hours (In that time he also, of course, consumes almost 100 million pies and about 25 million litres of of sherry - are you surprised you don't see him for the rest of the year!?)

This means that Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, 3,000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest man-made vehicle on earth, a space probe, moves at a pokey 27.4 miles per second - a conventional reindeer can run, tops, 15 miles per hour.

Now consider the huge load in the sleigh. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium-sized lego set (almost 1 kg or 2 pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons, not counting Santa, who is invariably described as overweight. On land, non-flying reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that "flying reindeer" could pull ten times the normal amount, we cannot do the job with eight, or even nine. We need 214,200 reindeer. This increases the payload - not even counting the weight of the sleigh - to 353,430 tons. Again, for comparison - this is four times the weight of the QEII cruise liner.

353,000 tons travelling at 650 miles per second creates enourmous air resistance - this will heat the reindeer up in the same fashion as a spacecraft re-entering the earth's atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer will absorb 14.3 quintillion joules of energy. Per second. Each. In short, they will burst into flame almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them, and create deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team (all 214,000 of them) will be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second. Santa, meanwhile, will be subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500 times greater than gravity. A 250-pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of his sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force.

In conclusion - If Santa ever DID deliver presents on Christmas Eve, he's dead now.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

9 Things I Hate

1. People who point at their wrist while asking for the time. Hey, I know where my watch is pal, where's yours? Do I point at my crotch when I ask where the toilet is?
2. People who are willing to search the entire room for the TV remote because they refuse to walk to the TV and change the channel manually.
3. When people say "Oh you just want to have your cake and eat it too". Damn right... what good is cake if you can't eat it!?
4. When people say "it's always the last place you look". Of course it is - why the hell would I keep looking after I've found it? What sort of people do this?
5. When people are watching a film and they say "did you see that?". No, I paid $12 to come to the cinema so I could stare at the floor.
6. People who ask "Can I ask you a question?" Got me there, didn't really give me a choice, did ya sunshine?
7. When something is 'new and improved!'. Which is it? If it's new, then there has never been anything before it. If it's an improvement, then there must have been something before it, couldn't be new. And why do all these companies keep making their washing powder 'whiter and brighter'? What the hell were we washing with before, mud!?
8. When people say "life is short". What the hell?? Life is the longest damn thing anyone ever does!! What can you do that's any longer?
9. When you are waiting for the bus and someone asks "Has the bus come yet?" Now look, if the bus came would I still be standing here!?

Monday, December 04, 2006

One Mongrel to Ruin It All

Every year, I take my kids to the Latrobe International Speedway's Fireworks Spectacular meeting. They look forward to it all year. But this year, they won't be having that special Christmas season treat.

The permit for the Speedway to hold the Fireworks meeting this Saturday night has been revoked, because of one complaint by one pathetic miserable sad loser who complained that he didn't like the noise.

Never mind that the Fireworks evening is a north-west Tasmanian tradition.
Never mind that he bought his house with the full knowledge that the event had been held for 30 years.
Never mind that it only goes for 15 minutes.
And never mind that about 5,000 people attend on that night, in fact for about 3,000 of them its the only Speedway meeting of the entire year they attend.

None of that matters, apparently, when it comes to a minority being able to ruin it for everyone else.

The objector's name, address and phone numbers are in the map above (click on the map for a larger view). I hope everyone will ring the person up and make their opinion of his selfishness known, or write him letters saying so. I suggest you don't make prank calls, throw bags of faeces on their lawn, or any of a hundred other nasty pranks that a quick search of Google could inspire you to do, because that would be plain nasty. But certainly, let your opinion be know. Writing to, or ringing up, the Latrobe Council is also a good idea.

Thanks very much to the Mountain Dew Ice International Speedway, at Latrobe, Tasmania, for putting on its fireworks every year, and to its longtime sponsor, Wyllie Tiles. And a thousand curses on the one person who can't tolerate 15 minutes of noise for the sake of 5,000 other people's enjoyment.