What Would Jesus Do: Solar Power

One of the accomplishments I’m proudest of is coining the phrase “What would Jesus do?” which I came up with way back in 2005. Every time I see it on a bumper sticker or in a newspaper article, I get a special warm feeling in my chest and blush slightly. My semi-weekly ruminations on the question “What would Jesus do?” were one of the most popular features of Splettnet back in the early days.

I discontinued it when I felt that the concept was starting to get a little stale. But now I’ve decided to bring it back. My topic for today is solar power.

So, what would Jesus do about solar power? Well, living in such a sunny part of the world, my guess is that he would try and use it at every opportunity. And while we understand that solar power is a “miracle” of modern technology, in Jesus’ time before mankind had harnessed electricity, solar power would have seemed like a true miracle indeed!

Jesus would also have approved of the fact that solar power is non-polluting, at least once you’ve finished manufacturing the solar panels. Jesus was a carpenter so he probably had to cut down a lot of trees which he must have felt really bad about. Solar power would be a great way of restoring some of the damage he did to the environment. He probably also felt bad about all that fishing the Apostles did. While solar power does nothing to solve the specific problem of overfishing, it’s good for the environment in general.

With apologies to the late Siskel and Ebert, Jesus gives solar power two thumbs up!

Directed Energy Weapons: What’s New?

The Splett Set knows about my long-standing interest in advanced weapon systems in general and directed energy weapons in particular.  Since my last post, if anything the urgency for fielding and deploying directed energy solutions has become even greater as the global threat environment has, in the opinion of all the major stakeholders, become at least significantly more complex and probably significantly worse.

Although I remain a big fan of High Energy Lasers, I’ve taken a shine in recent weeks to High Power Microwave systems which I see as the “Little Engine that Could” in the DE arsenal.

This is not to say that I’m not aware of their limitations.  The “sex appeal” of DE weaponry in general is clearly based in its defensive versatility in countering the emerging threats from fast projectiles —  be they ballistic missiles, hypersonic cruise missiles, or hypersonic glide vehicles —  utilized by technologically adept hostile state and non-state actors.

Unfortunately, the microwave weapons currently under development have too short a range to create significant weapons effects on missiles.  Right now, their primary utility is in riot-control where they can be used to incapacitate crowds by heating the water in their bodies much like a baked potato in a microwave oven.  The resulting pain is said to be excruciating though there are no lasting effects and rioters can return to their jobs almost immediately.

Still, does it have to be so?  Must microwave weapons be stuck in the “weapons ghetto” of riot control duty as opposed to the far more glamorous A-List of Missile Defense.? There are some forward thinkers, especially in the Navy which has taken the lead on DE research and development, who believe that it may be possible to increase the effective radiating power of certain HP Microwave Weapons operating in RADAR wavelengths by pulsing their output so that they destroy incoming missiles by targeting sensitive electronic components through their sensor apertures.

As a big fan of HE Microwave Weapons, I’ve got my fingers crossed that this approach will pan out.

Stay tuned for more on this fascinating subject!

Reflections on Race and Cinema

Although I know they mean no harm by it, I always find it slightly racist when white people come up to me and say, “I bet you loved that movie ‘The Legend of Bagger Vance!’”

First of all, I’ve never seen “The Legend of Bagger Vance” for the simple reason that I don’t particularly like the name “Bagger.” My Auntie had a friend named Martha or Mary who had severe diverticulitis and eventually needed to wear a colostomy bag. The other ladies in church would call her “Bagger” behind her back, further proof that being religious doesn’t automatically make you a good person (something today’s radical Islamic terrorists would do well to remember!)

And just because a black person is in a movie that doesn’t necessarily mean that other African-Americans will automatically like it. Just because you loved “Soul Plane,” that doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily enjoy “Pootie Tang” and vice versa (although I’m definitely flying with Team Soul Plane.)

So here’s some advice for my Caucasian and Latino friends, I know you mean well, by don’t walk up to me at a party and say, “I watched ‘Capricorn One’ last night and it’s so great to see O.J. starring in a film that has nothing to do with how he allegedly murdered those people. So much potential. Such a shame.”

Let’s face a few facts. “Capricorn One” is no “Towering Inferno.” Also, I don’t even know you.  (Don’t get me wrong. I love making new friends.)

The funny thing is, my favorite movie genres, science fiction and 1940s hillbilly films, have almost no black people in them. (I don’t really count Lando Calrissian.) But I don’t think that makes me a racist.

Also, if your name is Bagger or something with “Bag” in it like “Bagley” or “Bagworth,” please don’t think that I hold it against you just because of the mean women in church. My point is just that the writers of “The Legend of Bagger Vance” made a decision when they named their character and they have to accept the consequences.

Mastering the Game: Connect Four

I’m trying to increase my appreciation of different games. One game I’ve always enjoyed is Connect Four. I invented my own annotation system to keep track of the games I play as I grow as a player.

In my system, the rows are numbered 1-6 from top to bottom, and the columns are labeled A-G from left to right. The reporting player’s left. I can see how you’d use another system. Maybe they do in Europe. Did you know that deaf people in the US and England speak different sign languages? But everyone around the world uses the same notation for chess. As far as I know this is the first standard system for Connect Four for America, at least. One advantage of having a system like this is you can play by email, as I recently did with my friend Amit.

Here’s how the game went:

RICHARD: D6

AMIT: D5

R: C6

A: E6

R: B6

A: A6 (I wasn’t fooling Amit that easily)

R: E5

A: D4

R: C5 (I’d read a lot about V patterns)

A: C4

R: E4

A: B5

R: D3 (nice try Amit)

A: G6

R: B4 (in retrospect this was really my big mistake)

A: B3

Amit wins.

Lessons:

1)    Pay attention to diagonals.

2)    Don’t just play offense, pay attention to defense.

3)    Don’t just think about your next move, think about the move after that.

I look forward to improving.

Next time on Mastering the Game: the simple trick that will help you win Parcheesi every time.

A Splettcipe You Can Make Tonight!

Many home chefs (pointing a finger right at myself here) get bogged down with complicated recipes.  But a delicious meal doesn’t have to be difficult.

Here’s my recipe for Spaghetti alla Riccardo — but there’s a twist:

1)    Buy spaghetti. Any brand will do, I haven’t found a bad one yet. I don’t want to endorse any specific products here but Garofalo, the kind they sell at Costco, is delicious and shares a name with Janine Garofalo, a comedienne who’s given me her fair share of laughs.

2)    Buy sauce. Ideally on the same trip to the store as (1). Again, I can’t recommend specific products due to the Splettnet code of ethics, but Ragu has been around for a long time for a reason. Prego is also delicious. If you’re already at Costco, well: Kirkland may not be the most Italian name, but I’ll be surprised if you find yourself disappointed.

3)    Boil water. Simple, just put water in a pot. Not too much, don’t want it to boil over. Trust your gut.  

4)    Add spaghetti to sauce. Your spaghetti package will say how long to cook it for. You can trust them, they’re on your team.

5)    Put something else in the sauce. Wasn’t expecting that, were you? Here’s where it gets interesting. If you put a chopped up zucchini into the sauce, well then you’ve made Spaghetti alla Riccardo. But if you put anything else? Anything you like? Then guess what? You’ve made Spaghetti alla You. An onion? Garlic? An apple? Sounds crazy, but it’s your dinner.

6)    Heat up the sauce. I usually do this in my pan.

7)    Strain spaghetti. This is the most fun part, in my opinion.

8)    Put sauce on the spaghetti. Not too much. Remember: the number one way to spoil spaghetti is too much sauce. On the other hand the number two way is not enough sauce.

9)    Enjoy.