Pseudorandom Bits

A backwater in the vast ocean of thought

  • Pseudorandom?

    The Web is made of bits. Here are some of my bits, added to those other bits. Bits of information, bits of my thoughts, bits of others' thoughts. Maybe they seem a bit random, but, who knows?

    "There must be some bits here somewhere."

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    Scruff on Multiplication with lines
    Mike on Closer to the record
    jeff on Closer to the record
    Mike on Multiplication with lines
    acook on Multiplication with lines
  • About blogging

    "If you have a computer and can fog a mirror, you can post anything on the Internet." - Lars Mahinske
  • "You can see by my outfit that I am a blogger. If you buy an outfit, you can be a blogger, too!" (With not many apologies to "The Cowboy's Lament" and The Smothers Brothers.)
  • "We've all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true." - Robert Silensky
  • Link-by date

    Links to sites were good at the time they were posted, but they may have gone stale. If a link is broken, you might try searching the appropriate web site or using a web search engine.
  • Viewer caution

    Since some links are to news, commentary, or other sites, some content may not be appropriate for younger audiences. Viewer discretion is advised.
  • You should know

    Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." John 14:6 (NASB)
  • But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (NASB)
  • "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" Mark 8:36
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World’s narrowest train right-of-way?

Posted by Mike on March 4, 2013

Talk about multiple uses of ground.

Train’s right-of-way = Width of train!



A longer version is found here:


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No one knows how to make a pencil

Posted by Mike on February 18, 2013

That is, no single person knows how to make the basic yellow pencil tipped with an eraser.

That’s one reason economics is a difficult area of research, and why it is hard for any group of people (i.e. governments) to control economies.

The next time you hear politicians talk about controlling an economy, or even part of one, realize that they can’t.  They can influence it, but they often miss the unintended consequences.  Carrots and sticks in an economy can do unforeseen and often undesirable damage.  Incentives work, just not always in the ways we intend or anticipate.

Read “I, Pencil” by Leonard Read, a classic article on economics.  Or read an enhanced page with commentary on the article

Also watch the movie.


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You, too, can be a Nobel Peace Prize Contender

Posted by Mike on February 15, 2013

Take a look at the video in “Arming a Hobbyist Drone with a Paintball Gun“.  Not too bad for DIY.

Several toy (in a broad sense of the word) drones, helicopters, and such-like items are available on

Also see Flying malware: the Virus Copter.

These could put you in contention for a Nobel Peace Prize, just like President Obama.

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Best Friends – a kid, a dog and a puddle

Posted by Mike on February 13, 2013

Two friends out for a walk.

My father and a co-worker both sent me this link. It’s great!

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Closer to the record

Posted by Mike on March 28, 2008

Meteorologist Mark Schnackenberg updated his listings of year-to-date snow totals. Cedar Rapids is now in its 2nd snowiest winter. Just 2.5 inches to go, with 59.9 inches in Cedar Rapids to-date.

Dubuque has broken their record. Waterloo and Iowa City are making progress towards theirs.

Portland, Maine has broken a record, but not the all-time record. They are over 100 inches for the year. Steamboat Springs, Colorado has broken their record with over 450 inches this year, and counting.

Maybe there is something to Global Climate Change, after all. And it you don’t believe it, Al Gore himself might call you a crackpot who believes the earth is flat.

We do have until June 30 to break our record. I’m not sure we’ll do it, since March is about over and temps are rising.

However, as sports fans say, “Wait’ll next year!”

And as José Jiménez might say, “Oh, I hope not!”  I agree, 100%. If we don’t beat the record this year, I’m sure I don’t want to stay in training for another attempt!

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Saudade Saturday – The day between

Posted by Mike on March 28, 2008

Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Saturday, Easter Sunday.

Even before caring what any of this was about, I wondered about the Saturday before Easter. It has no special name in most calendars that I know, although some people call it “Holy Saturday”. Since the Wednesday previously is sometimes called “Holy Wednesday”, that’s not much of a distinction.

What about this day between death and life?

Tony Woodlief proposes Saudade Saturday, the day when absence is present. Read his observations about the day, and about ourselves living between death and life.

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He Is Risen!

Posted by Mike on March 23, 2008

Christ the Lord Is Risen Today
Text: Charles Wesley, 1707-1788
Music: Lyra Davidica, 1708
Tune: EASTER HYMN, Meter: 77.77 D

1. Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!

2. Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!

3. Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where’s thy victory, boasting grave? Alleluia!

4. Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

5. Hail the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail the Resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

6. King of glory, soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, thy power to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing, and thus to love, Alleluia!

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Good Friday

Posted by Mike on March 20, 2008

Tomorrow is Good Friday, an important holiday in the Western Christian calendar. It isn’t as important as Easter, to be sure, but it is part of the observance of Jesus’ death, burial, and Resurrection as payment for our sins.

As a young boy, I wondered what the “good” part was of “Good Friday”. How could death be good? I didn’t understand at the time, didn’t ask, and didn’t try to find out. My mistake.

The good is that the Son of God died as punishment for our sins, so that we could accept His Gift of grace and have eternal life with God in Heaven. It isn’t automatic. It is a deliberate and personal choice for us to make.

Some verses to consider are:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6 (NASB)

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (NASB)

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Mark 8:36

A fuller presentation of the Gospel may be found here as well as many other web sites. There are many books, too. And of course, you could always read the Bible!

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Posted by Mike on March 20, 2008

Today isn’t a holiday, but lots of folks are celebrating.  Spring is here!  Enjoy the warmer weather (at least until tomorrow’s snowfall)!

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Lost Cities and Vanished Civilizations – in North America!

Posted by Mike on March 20, 2008

In my previous post, I mentioned the book Lost Cities and Vanished Civilizations. I don’t recall what civilizations he wrote about, but I don’t remember any in what is now the United States.

Can you think of some lost cities and vanished civilizations in North America? I’m sure something having to do with Indians comes to mind. But what came to my mind first was the “lost” colony on Roanoke Island off the coast of what would become North Carolina.

The word “CROATOAN” carved into a tree seemed to be the last sign of the group of 115 men, women, and children, a group that seemed to vanish without a trace.

What happened to them? They could have been the first permanent settlement in the future United States, beating Jamestown by 20 years.

Lee Miller explores what might have happened in her book Roanoke : solving the mystery of England’s lost colony. She gathers some evidence and draws some conclusions. Some of the evidence is tenuous, and some of the conclusions are stretched in their details, but I think she gives a good general idea of what probably happened. They didn’t all die at once by disease or starvation. They weren’t swept out to sea by a hurricane. Many web sites give some ideas about this mystery, but Miller’s book is fun and interesting reading.

Before reading it, I didn’t realize that Sir Walter Raleigh was involved, or Elizabeth I, either. Politics, personal ambition, the English, the Spanish, and of course, the weather are all involved. Read more about it!

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