Scott Hardie | February 8, 2005
Fill in the rest.

I wonder: They can send a man to the moon, but they can't make a toilet for home use that keeps itself from overflowing? Plumbing engineers have built holes near the rims of bathtubs and sinks to keep them from overflowing. Even the inside of the toilet tank has an overflow tube for excess water. Obviously that wouldn't be feasible for a toilet bowl, but why not put a tiny float ball or other non-electric sensor near the rim that would be triggered when the water level rose too high, forcibly shutting off the water flow? I guess there's always the emergency shut-off valve by the wall, if you can reach it in time.

Jackie Mason | February 8, 2005
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Scott Horowitz | February 8, 2005
I still want to know why any ATM has braile on it. You can't read the screen if you are blind.

Lori Lancaster | February 8, 2005
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Lori Lancaster | February 8, 2005
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Lori Lancaster | February 8, 2005
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Kris Weberg | February 8, 2005
"We can build a ladder that can put a man on the roof, but we can't find a renewable food source!" -- Connie Appleseed

Kris Weberg | February 8, 2005
On colonizing the moon/other planets, I wonder if there's much of a point.

Let's face it, there's just not a lot of good stuff in our solar system, and we can't get anywhere else. Half the planets are toxic and lethally close to the sun, the other half are freezing gas balls. Terraforming? We can't even keep toxic gases out of our own atmosphere, let alone clean up a world that's deep int he hole already (from a terracentric biological perspective.)

Only a few places -- Mars and Europa -- are potentially habitable. And it's really expensive to get there. In the case of Mars, it'd take many months. And once there, what do you do? Most of your time would be spent on routine maintenance and food cultivation, with the rest devoted to sitting inside watching TV. Such places are technically habitable, but humans would still require sealed environments there. It'd be like the average February Saturday in Duluth, come to think.

Space travel is a wonderful romantic quest and a fine literary device, but in reality it's expensive and produces little applicable data and technology. (Even things that we commonly believe are NASA spin-off technologies -- Velcro, f'r instance -- actually turn out to be plain Earth tech that was specially adaped for space travel on further investigation.)

Or, as Elton John put it, "Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids."

Jackie Mason | February 8, 2005
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Lori Lancaster | February 9, 2005
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Kris Weberg | February 9, 2005
It'd still quite hard to get accurate mechanical translation -- grammar in any language has loads of exceptions, and let's not get started on idiom...

Jackie Mason | February 9, 2005
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Anna Gregoline | February 9, 2005
I think they are making something that would display pictures though, so the television would be like a portrait on the wall?

Lori Lancaster | February 9, 2005
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Kris Weberg | February 11, 2005
Imagine being able to cycle through the paintings at the Louvre with that! You could have a whole museum on your wall.


Jackie Mason | February 11, 2005
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Scott Hardie | February 12, 2005
Yeah, I'm with Lori: Why not just get a projector? They're expensive but not prohibitively so. (link)

And don't be thinking "wedding gift" when you look at those pictures, Jackie. ;-)

Lori Lancaster | February 12, 2005
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Kris Weberg | February 13, 2005
The problem with a projector is spatial -- you'd have to rig it up to avoid walking into the beam, it's dependent on ambient light levels in a way that a plasma screen isn't, and it takes up more space -- you use up both the wall space where the projection "hits" and the space the projector takes up.

Lori Lancaster | February 14, 2005
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Amy Austin | February 15, 2005
They can't invent something to make "morning breath/mouth" obsolete...

Scott Horowitz | February 15, 2005
Anyone else think toilet paper is an inefficient way to clean your ass? I still want to know about the 3 sea shells

Erik Bates | February 15, 2005
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Kris Weberg | February 15, 2005
[davebarry] "Elaborate Bidet" would be a great name for a rock band. [/davebarry]

Amy Austin | February 16, 2005
Dave Barry really said that? How bizarre... (I mean its relevance here, not that he said it... ;D)

Scott Hardie | February 16, 2005
One invention I've always wanted is a sort of "biologically aware" alarm clock. Instead of setting it for a specific time in the morning to go off, you could set it for the exact amount of sleep you wanted to get. By sensors or some other means, it would observe you until you lost consciousness, and start counting the time from that moment. If you woke up during the night, it would pause its timer until you fell asleep again. Since I often lie awake in bed for some time before finally nodding off each night, setting the clock to wake me up "eight hours from now" is not as practical for a full night's rest as setting it to wake me up "after eight hours of sleep." Of course, we all need alarms to wake us at an exact time some mornings, so this clock of mine would need a traditional alarm setting too.

Anna Gregoline | February 16, 2005
Interesting, Scott. I feel like this might actually be possible, but you would have to be hooked to it - so it could read your brain waves and tell how much REM sleep you've accomplished. How rested we'd all be!

Kris Weberg | February 17, 2005
Dave Barry didn't say that exactly, but one of his long-running gags is claiming that any bizarre or silly phrase "wopuld be a great name for a rock band."

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