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Gold records and the golden age of broadcast TV

The Voyager Gold Record (now being overcelebrated for its Nth anniversary) attached to a spacecraft is a bit incongruous.  Not because of the somewhat tweeness of it – I think all spacecraft not destined to be crashed into a planet or sun ought to have some artistic/sociological document stuck to the side.  It’s just the arcaneness of the method – an analog groove designed to be played by a needle spinning at a certain speed.

Music played in such a manner has a longer span than anything else.  Clearly you can still buy vinyl if you have the correct facial hair and head covering.  It goes from Edison wax cylinders to 200g pressed virgin vinyl.  As a medium for communication with actual space aliens, it seems archaic.  Though I can’t think of a better one, and neither can anyone else.  Encoding a signal via ones and zeros via some long-lasting method (kinks in wire, pits in a gold disc, etc.)?

Not that I’m not sure that playing sounds via the transduction of electrical signals from modulated grooves in a soft medium will not outlast any digital signal.  If you want your writing to last, scratch it on clay and bake it.  If you want your photographs to be seen by your heirs, put them on paper.  Maybe if you want your music to last for the ages, engrave it on vinyl.


Our planet broadcast signals into space for about 50 years – roughly from WW2, the Big One, to the advent of the cell phone.  Now everything broadcast is digitally modulated spread spectrum pseudorandom low power signals.  All the communications of our civilization looks like noise.  The rest is traveling down fibers.  Aliens paying attention would have seen this solar system glow faintly at a few tens or hundreds of MHz for a few decades then sink back into radio silence with a slightly higher background level.

Aliens discovering the Voyager record would likely marvel at the analogness of it!  Digital seems inevitable in any imaginable civilization, but we sent out this analog thing that it’s easy to imagine no other civilization would ever reproduce.  Largely I think as a function of the transitional era in which the Voyagers were created – on the cusp of the transition between analog and digital, carrier waves and spread spectrum, Carl Sagan and Donald Trump.

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PotD 20171028


Left behind

Has there ever been a more useless convention than “On your left” (or right) when passing a pedestrian or slower bike? Nine times out of ten, the passee just goes in the direction you just hollered. It’s human nature! You hear “left”, you move left.

But not always, so you can’t rely on it and do the opposite.

Stealth passing doesn’t work as people are herd animals, and like cows and sheep, wander all over the road randomly. Unless it narrows, then like cows and sheep, they’ll stop at the chokepoint to mill.

Slowing doesn’t work, because it just increases the cross section with the person (or dog) – the more time you allow, the more likely they are to veer into your path. The trade-off is to go faster and get past at a lesser risk of a high-speed collision, or go slow and increase the risk to inevitability of a low-speed collision, and the inevitable unpleasant confrontation with the person wandering all over the road like a locoweed-affected bovine. If you go fast you leave that in the distance too.

I can’t think of a better one though, and neither can anyone else, so we’re stuck with it.

Completely unrelated

I’m sure that all my credit cards having to be shut down and replaced in the last month because of fraudulent charges, and my email/webserver getting DDOSed with password change requests have nothing to do with Equifax.

Well, probably the latter is true. That’s all probably OPM/Anthem/general asshattery.

New gym music

I don’t mind kids at the gym playing their shitty music. I like new shitty music!

I mind kids at the gym playing my old shitty music. Journey. Foreigner. Kenny Loggins. Loggins and Messina. Yacht Rock that is not Steely Dan or the Eagles [1]. Air Supply. Led Zeppelin.

Give freakin’ Bob Marley a freakin’ rest for chrissakes. Play something from this millennium.

Nothing is good too. Play nothing. I’m good with silence.


[1] Is that dark sarcasm?

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