So, I have no idea what a tachometer is used for when driving a car, other than “don’t let it get into the red”.  Diagnostics, though, here’s a story.

So I’m driving home, and my car is acting a bit funny.  Engine runs smooth, but every time I let off on the gas power plummets almost fast enough to feel like a stall, but there’s no shuddering as the engine struggles before giving out. Like highway to idle in an instant is what it felt like.  Didn’t notice anything on acceleration.

Running through everything it could be, ruling out all the easy things I can handle on my own, then I catch a glance of my tach.  About 2.7k rpm at about 35mph.

So then I nearly shit a brick.  This held, it wasn’t a brief spike during acceleration.  It was my cruising RPM at that speed.  I was thinking my transmission died and couldn’t reach the gears it was trying for.  Bad news.

Then I remembered that even automatics have some ability to override the transmission and set a specific gear, and sure enough, I was set to 2 rather than D.  Set it properly, and my car ran fine.

I’m not sure I’d have thought to check anything transmission related if not for the tach, which would lead to me being home wondering what the hell was wrong with my car, and being unable to reproduce the problem when my dad came down to look at it.

2.7 at 35, though, makes me wonder how high my engine would go if I went on the highway in 2nd.  I redline at 6.5k(never seen past 4 even in hard acceleration) so I probably wouldn’t immediately break anything, but I can’t imagine sustained driving past the ~2.5k I typically see on the highway would be all that great for engine lifespan.

Cracked Paradoxes- a legal one

Make the assumption that all relevant terms of the contract are specified in the statement of the paradox.
In that case, it only says that Bill has to pay after he wins his first case. Not “upon winning”, at some unspecified point “after”. Strictly speaking, if he wins a case, while he has to pay he’s under no obligation to keep to a specific schedule. One could assume, though, that he has to pay up before the end of time(or arrange for payment to be made by that time), as no payments could possibly be made in any form after that point. If he waits until afterwards, he’s failed to meet his end of the deal. So he could move for a continuance until the end of time has come, as that will be when the actual breach of contract occurs.
Now, if you look at some results in physics, it looks like eventually the universe will spread out into a perfectly even field of matter and energy stretching off into eternity.  But… there’s still activity.  At the quantum level, particles will jump all over the place.  This is a random process, and when one jumps away another is going to take its place in short order, so conservation is maintained.

The thing is, though(I think i read about this idea in A Briefer History of Time), being a truly random process, occasionally it’s going to have a period where it appears to exhibit ordered behavior.  It won’t, but if a given ordered process is possible, a random process will eventually behave very much like it.  This may cause a bunch of particles to jump all to the same place, without other particles jumping out to make room, and staying there long enough for gravity to reassert itself.  Over time, the macro level effects of gravity(and other forces) will dominate over the quantum weirdness, triggering a gravitational collapse- everything in the even field will be pulled into this point gravity source.  It will get bigger and bigger, squeeze tighter and tighter, and then Big Bang.

Granted, this isn’t certain, but it’s one of many possibilities of what may happen.  If Bill has some guts, he could move for dismissal as there will never be a situation where he’s in danger of breaching the contract.  There will be a universe in which the debt can be paid and things in this universe will be able to be collected into a suitable payment, forever.  Though John could counter on grounds that the information about the debt would be lost, rendering Bill entirely unable, even in principle, to ever pay up.  But at the very least, a continuance until heat death(the first time) should be possible, though Bill may be required to take special measures to ensure his heirs remember his obligation.

Wonder why legal language is verbose and painfully precise?  This is why.  So smartasses can’t pull bullshit like I just outlined here.   There’s also vast bodies of case law we keep around to help deal with these sorts of absurdities,  I’m sure something in there would prevent “the end of time” being the payment period unless it was explicitly specified.

Realistically… Unless the judge decided that adjudicating the contract itself does not count as a win for the purposes of the payment clause(not a lawyer, so I have no idea if this is realistic), Bill’s going to be paying up either way it goes.

Greenland and legitimacy of white settlement?

I wonder how long a population needs to be living in a region to be considered indigenous? And how thoroughly abandoned does a region need to be for it to be fairly up for grabs?
I’m mainly thinking of the Norse in Greenland, here. When they moved in originally, that part of Greenland was uninhabited and had been for quite some time, though the Dorset had been in the area previously. Was it thoroughly abandoned enough that they could reasonably claim it for themselves? I should find some books to read and get a better timeline on this than Wikipedia provides(I’m taking recommendations). If the Norse showed up the month after the Dorset left it could be entirely different than if they showed up a millennium after.
Does 500 years of continuous settlement, a couple hundred with a few failed expeditions trying to reestablish contact, and then another 300(to present) years of continuous settlement make Greenland, or at least Southern Greenland, legitimate white people land? Given it wasn’t entirely abandoned(the expeditions I just mentioned) after failure of the original settlement, did the Inuit have a right to move in during that period?
In any event, Greenland is probably the one place in North America where there’s even a debate. Lots of other places might be de facto white people land with insurmountable practical difficulties in righting the historical injustices that lead to that state of affairs*, but there might be an argument that Greenland is legitimate.
*- Insurmountable difficulties in fully righting them.  It’s certainly possible to partially right them and to do more to prevent things from getting even more unjust, and those things should be done.  We can’t fix everything our ancestors fucked up, but the least we can do is not make it worse.

Torchwood Relaunch idea?

I have a fantasy for a Torchwood relaunch.
The Doctor pops into the reactor control room right before Owen’s body is destroyed, gets him out of there. And maybe through some Time Lord superscience properly fixes him(or not- though I think involving the Sisterhood of Karn might have the right feel for Torchwood). Moffatt is on record as being against The Doctor showing up on Torchwood.. but he’s also on record as not wanting to bring The Master back. Moffatt lies, and can be overruled by BBC execs even when he’s being honest.
Then, perhaps, wanting to give Tosh a proper burial, Owen tries to locate her remains. Reviewing reports about the explosion, there’s no sign that her remains were recovered and no detection of her DNA at the site to indicate obliteration. Her body is gone. Owen hypothesizes that it was thrown via the rift to somewhere else, launches a search, gets Jack and Gwen back in the game to help… then they find her, alive due to some combo of rift weirdness and/or Jacks blood(which is known to have regenerative properties in normal humans).
With the team back together, a proper Season 3 can begin.
Ianto is probably gone, reversing all deaths just wouldn’t be Torchwood and his had the strongest emotional impact on the team. It would undercut too much of what happened in the aftermath. Though teasing with an apparent return or a Pet Semetary type “resurrection” story might have potential.

Flight: World War II

There are certain expectations one has when watching an Asylum film. Terrible writing, terrible acting, terrible special effects, all connections the story has to actual reality being laughably wrong, all wrapped up in a package that takes itself utterly seriously.
Flight: World War II has the Asylum name on it, but I can’t help but think that Asylum had purchased a complete film that simply needed to be distributed. Everything is far and above better than typical Asylum standards. This wouldn’t make for a summer blockbuster that stood a chance in theaters, I mean, Asylum felt it was worth putting their name on it so there is an upper limit to quality here. But it may well be the best film they’ve ever released.
The major anachronisms in the time travel plot were briefly explained. Well enough that it didn’t bug the hell out of me seeing ME262s in squadron strength in 1940(the characters even assumed the first couple they saw must have been prototypes because of course a historian would think that), though a deeper exploration of that might have been interesting.
Aviation emergency operations were surprisingly well done. Call for help, divide up responsibilities, that sort of thing. This did break down in the back half, but they were dealing with a completely unprecedented series of events so they had to improvise. Apart from that segment of the film, most of the inaccuracies here appear to be simplifications to keep the plot moving along rather than outright getting things wrong.
Special effects- Assuming Asylum actually produced this one(I haven’t researched) rather than just put their name on it, this, given the talent their special effects typically show, would blow their effects budget for the next decade. They were clearly low budget(though possibly less so than usual), but with a good team behind them.
Writing was unusually good, and they seem to have hired actual actors this time around. And it didn’t have the vibe you get from most Asylum films where they clearly think they are making Oscar worthy material.

Quantum Leap and Star Trek: Enterprise

A friend mentioned “Quantum Leap”, and my mind just went off into crazy speculation on how it could be linked to another of Scott Bakulas shows, “Star Trek: Enterprise”

Now, typically, Sam Beckett would jump into people from the past to set something right.  Normally, this could only happen in his lifetime, but an exception existed that could go further along his family line.

Forward leaping never happened, but I don’t think it’s a huge stretch to think the leaping technology could achieve it under some circumstances.

So, let’s say… Sam Beckett jumps more than a century ahead, to find himself in command of humanities best starship, which has just become involved in a Temporal Cold War, with multiple powers trying to end mankind.  He goes, does his thing, sets it right and humanity gets on track.

He then returns to his native time and body.  He destroys all of his research and the equipment built to support it.  I was first thinking it could have been “humanity isn’t ready”, but it’s also possible, even likely, that he was terrified of what other Temporal Cold War powers could do with it if they figured out how to deliberately target leaps.

He then takes up a professorship somewhere, and starts a family, inspiring his descendants to be scientists and engineers.  One of them, Henry Archer, develops the Warp Five engine.  Henry’s son Johnathan is subsequently given command of Enterprise, but not long after, Captain Archer finds himself in an odd waiting room…

Daily Programmer project

This is an older one, but it was interesting to play around with.


Avoided a massive if/else construct, while still allowing all binary operators, by building a string and using eval.  The recurrence function could probably be exploited due to that eval, I really should follow up on that comment I put there about protecting it.  It simplifies the code, but eval lets you execute arbitrary strings.

If the code is used as intended, by calling the last function, the int() cast, along with only keeping the first character as a string, breaks any attempt at an exploit that I’ve tried.  But I can’t guarantee use as intended in Python, certainly not easily.

#Daily Programmer 206e Recurrence Relations

def recurrence(n, op_list):
    """Applies the recurrence relation in op_list to n
    op_list is a list of tuples, op[n][0] is an operator,
    op[n][1] is an integer"""

    result = n
    for op in op_list:
        operator, operand = op[0], op[1]
        #Should probably do something to protect this eval
        result = eval('{}{}{}'.format(result, operator, operand))
    return result

def get_nth_term(recurrence_relation, relation, first_term, n):
    if n == 0:
        return first_term
        return get_nth_term(recurrence_relation,
                            recurrence_relation(first_term, relation),

def recur_n_times(relation, first_term, n):
    op_list = [(x[0],int(x[1:])) for x in relation.split()]

    return get_nth_term(recurrence, op_list, first_term, n)


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