My niece has a science fair soon and we decided to make a battery out of dirt. I had seen these on youtube a while back and while we were brainstorming ideas, this one floated to the top. We tested the dirt battery with different electrolytes and found the one that works best to dimly light a LED. Click here for more (updated).
They are at it again, the guberment wants more info on you and me, and CISPA would be another tool to dig deeper into our lives. It seems like the good folks who are supposed to represent us, just cannot seem to stop smothering us like a helicopter mom on Ritalin. Thanks for the concern Congress, but we are adults in this country, now go play with the scissors somewhere far away from that beloved old parchment.
A few nuggets on this gem of a bill:
This really seems like J Edgar's wet dream, a dossier on everyone. Do you really want your prudish Uncle Sam to know that you are into kinky sumo suit sex videos (is that even a thing) or have a crippling LOL Cats addiction?
Well the good news is that CISPA can be stopped, here and here are a few places to start.
UPDATE Jan 25, 2014
Well nevermind Congress, it seems they have been doing this and more all along (ya' know if Mom says no, just ask Dad). Still, as if to prove their approval ratings are justified, the House did pass CISPA by a 288-127 vote. The Senate said they won't take it up, but they are planning something similar in it's place (probably the same thing by a different name like "Keep America Strong Safe Internet Accountability Transparency Much Good Act" or something). It's all pretty much academic by now though, the guberment does whatever it wants - but it's only because they love us so, so, so much.
I have a cool old Seiko 7S26 based watch which has served me faithfully for several years and I'm sure has several more left in it. I really like automatic watches since there is no battery and the second hand sweeps across the dial, just seems cooler than the ticky tock of a quartz movement (but quartz on the other hand is pretty bullet proof). But enough about that, my watch has been stopping intermittently, and sometimes if I listened close after "winding" the spring (which can only be done by rocking the watch back and forth to turn the pendulum), there was a sound like a spring unwinding. Initially I thought the "magic lever" was worn down - described in more detail here - that link is full of info on the 7S26 movement. But when I opened it up to check the ratchet mechanism it seemed OK. So I sealed it back up and it seemed to be working magically again - for a less than a day, then it stopped again. The next time it stopped however, I could hear the pendulum scrapping on the inside of the case back. I figured that it must be the pendulum itself had worked loose so I took it apart once more, and yep, the screw which secures the pendulum had worked loose (not completely), so I just tightened it down - and so far so good. I took a pic and put an arrow pointing at the screw which was loose, I just tightened it down snug and it seems good now. Hopefully it will be a pretty quick fix for a watch that was intermittently stopping. I will probably need to check on what type of oil to use in the ball bearings for the pendulum in case it was too much friction which caused it to work loose. I get the feeling this movement is going to need an overhaul soon, but I have never done that before and it is probably cheaper to replace it than service it.
Today is a the day all procrastinators dread, the one day a year it would be nice to skip, it is our national final exams, yearly physical and dental cleaning rolled into one, that's right - it's tax day! Dum-dum-dum... As per my usual method, I did mine on-line at nearly the last minute, but I still remember doing them by hand (at the last minute) in the days of mailed out 1099's, 1040's and whatevers - now that was a pain in the ass. I have evolved a bit, and now I use one of the many services which offer a way for me to mindlessly plot the numbers from here or there, crank the virtual handle and out comes my return. The hardest parts were figuring out the cost basis on a stock sale, and also locating the depressingly paltry interest I accrued last year, since my bank no longer sends me 1099's. There is an hour of my life I will never get back.
Now I am not opposed to paying taxes, but the way they are extracted is what bothers me. I did get a refund for my efforts, but really, we are using a system from decades ago to do something relatively simple by today's standards. So that got me thinking about how much it would cost if every American who files taxes were paid to do their own taxes. Last year there were 143,607,800 tax forms filed with the IRS. Lets say that on average it costs $25 to e-file (and lets also say that everyone does), and then we give ourselves a fee of maybe $10/hour as a "DIY Tax Professional". Well putting all that into the magic abacus reveals a cost of $5,026,273,000 for Americans to do taxes - and that is probably on the low end considering how many businesses exist to serve the tax illiterate such as myself (it also does not include the 2.3 million corporate tax filings last year).
I love pissing money and time away as much as the next guy, but it would seem that we can do better than that. Last year 65% of individual taxpayers took the standard deduction, and if they are like me, they just want to get the taxes done and move on with their lives. Hell, we sent a man to the moon, and until recently were the only ones who could get the cream filling into a twinky. Maybe it is time to think about ways to streamline the tax code so more taxes are collected automatically, so fewer people need to actually worry about filing a tax form. Hopefully there will be some reasonable tax reform on the horizon, but that is about as unlikely as magically skipping April 15th next year.
My mission is to lower the collective IQ of teh Internets one post at a time.