Q: THIS SITE LOOKS LIKE SOMETHING FROM 1994!
(Also see WHERE'S YOUR KEWUL GRAPHICS?)
A: Um. This site was created in 1994.
The whole thing is written by hand directly in HTML. Why? It's
compatible with all modern browsers, and with nearly all of the early
ones. It works fine with text-only terminals and loads instantly even
with a 2400b modem. It's friendly to
vision-disabled internet users, which automatically puts it very high
on Google's pageranking system. But those are just excuses. Really
I'm a techno-luddite nerd who runs out and buys an 8080
home computer and then looks suspiciously at these newfangled "PC"
things with "operating systems." ...someone who leaps onto the internet
in 1992 and then uses a text-only browser (Lynx) forever after. But
that's only what set me on this path.
Why hand-write website html?
Most important: totally cheap editing. From any computer with a modem I
can run a Telnet text-terminal and then improve my site pages, or start
adding more content. amasci.com is a one-man show, a little
"personal website." It's like having a file cabinet in my house which
automatically appears on the internet, no work required.
If I had to use website-builder software, then the added work would mean
that I couldn't create this huge site without hiring a staff of employees.
And I'd have to carry that software with me in order to change my site.
Text terminals in friends' homes and in libraries and in cybercafes would
be useless for editing, and I wouldn't be able to treat this site as my
personal C: drive. And in that case, this site wouldn't exist.
Here's another issue. When internet users say that content is more
important than the "look," they actually mean it. But the majority of
web developers don't believe this for an instant. They think that users
only care about shallow facades, not the depth. They want us to
keep "buying new clothes" for our sites, following fashion to avoid
attracting laughter for wearing last years styles.
But what happens
when someone takes the opposite idea seriously, then spends 100% of time
on site content and 0% on design? You get something that's all depth!
But then the "surface" looks decades behind fashion, disgustingly
weird and creepy, perhaps insane. In other words, you get a website which
looks like a huge flaming nerd:
highwater pants, funny haircut, anti-stylish eyeglasses. In other words
the newest cutting-edge fashion of the Apollo-era high tech community, but
then for every decade following, trademark of "Huge Nerd."
I figure that my intentional website design will offend the kind of people
who judge everything by surfaces, by fashion-following and facades, while
it also rewards all those who pursue depth (who ignore "look" and instead
actually read stuff so they can judge a site. So to do things
right, don't just appeal to your desired audience... also make sure to
drive away everyone else! It's an ancient trick well known to shamen and
Never try to please everyone! Instead your goal is to become the hated enemy of certain kinds of people :)
Q: WHY DIDN'T YOU ANSWER MY EMAIL?
A: I'm sorry about this, but the website is just my hobby. I have a family and an engineering career, and lately I only have time to answer a few messages per week. But sometimes I receive over 50 per week! Site traffic here is up to 50 thousand hits/week (heh, in 2005 it's more like 500,000 hits/week.) To help people out, I've set up lots of pointers to online forums and other help pages at various places on my site. Try these:
Q: CAN I PUT YOUR LINK ON MY SITE?
A: Sure! Excess traffic on Sci. Hobbyist is not a problem. If your ISP charges you for hits per month or bandwidth usage, you might consider checking out ESKIMO.COM as a new provider. Single-user remote accounts (accessed by telnet) are amazingly low priced if you buy a whole year at a time, and they come with 10megs for webpage use (and only $1/month per extra ten megs!).
Q: SEND ME SCIENCE FAIR IDEAS!
Q: SEND ME ALL YOUR INFO ON xxxxx.
If you can't find any information about your subject, it probably is not
on the internet at all, and you'll have to go to the public library.
Note: if you cannot find any info about a very important topic, this means that nobody has created a webpage for that topic yet. It means that YOU YOURSELF could start that webpage and become the internet's central clearinghouse for that subject. Then all the other people who are right now getting frustrated from finding no information, could instead find you.
Q: HOW DID YOU GET LIKE THIS?
A: By growing up abnormal: I was one of those weirdos who hated school,
sports, and popularity, knew better than to worship straight-As, and spent
all my time reading in libraries, building science demonstrations and
electronic devices, messing with computers, etc. My father died when I
was nine, which seriously messed with my head, to say the least. (That
sort of learning experience is the most valuable thing any human can ever
encounter. Vast wealth pales in comparison. Sucks, though.) An early
paranormal gave me a critical eye regarding the belief-system of
conventional science. I spent early years in Continuous Media Overload by
sitting down and reading Scientific American and Popular electronics. All
of 'em ...back to where Amateur Scientist first started, also Carl and
Jerry. Encounters with certain books
seriously warped my mind! (Reading a book is the ultimate subversive
act.) My work in designing science exhibits for museums showed me how to
do physics in visual/intuitive mode, without using any math. Long years
attempting to see interesting scientific phenomena outside myself, as well
as fascinating/disgusting psychological phenomena INSIDE myself, made my
eyes open a bit wider than the usual. I developed the habit of telling
the truth. No, I mean really telling the truth. No, I mean **REALLY**
telling the truth, not like shining a flashlight but like using a
blowtorch. I grew up overseas, on Guam, which pretty much broke the
"American male" mold for me. I also try to watch less than 1hr of TV per
week. Dump your TV set for a couple of years, it will make you...
"On a certain shelf in the bookcase are collected a number of volumes which look somewhat the worse for wear. Those of them which originally possessed gilding have had it fingered off, each of them has leaves turned down, and they open of themselves at places wherein I have been happy. Each of them has remarks relevant and irrelevant scribbled on their margins. These favorite volumes cannot be called peculiar glories of literature, but out of the world of books I have singled them, as I have singled my intimates out of the world of men." - Alexander SmithRead the following books, they will warp YOUR mind too:
"Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman" - R. FeynmanAlso see: BILL BEATY'S BOOKSTORE
and Science Heretic's Bookshelf
Q: WHAT IS YOUR COMPANY, WHAT ARE YOU SELLING?
A: This website is a "personal page," although the contributions from the
folks on VORTEX-L help much in offsetting expenses. OK, OK. Time to sell
out, go strictly commercial as Zappa says. I'll sell you something. But
then I'll give away the profits, nyaaa! Check out SCIENCE HOBBYIST
BOOKSTORE, also FEYNMAN BOOKS.
Also, I hire myself out for occasional lectures on topics like:
Speaking of selling, there are cassette tapes available of me talking
about "scientific suppression" and about the "Taos Hum", see the Laura Lee
radio show. No, I don't make any money off of cassette sales.
You can find my talk "The Darker Side of Amateur Science" on the
Keelynet Conference videos Jerry Decker sells.
I also have an "Electricity Misconceptions" talk on Steve Ellswick's
Exotic Research conference videos.
The REPORT UNUSUAL PHENOMENA page is part of the WEIRD SCIENCE section of my SCIENCE HOBBYIST website. It's not associated with any academic institution, etc. I started it for several reasons: there was nothing else like it on internet, I myself wanted to read these types of reports, and finally, I realize that these types of stories, if kept secret, can wreck your life. The cure is to realize that such things happen to other people too, and to get your experiences out (even anonymously) so others can benefit.
Q: WHERE ARE ALL THE KEWUL GRAPHICS?
A: Many who use this page are on VT-100s at libraries, or are using older
PCs at school, so I intentionally try to see the world through their non-
Netscape eyes by developing and using these pages with a Lynx
text-only browser. I'm starting to become a bit of a 'techno-luddite' and
text-only activist. I can't SEE the bleeding edge hype-factor stuff, so
my pages end up having a bit more content than most sites. Also, my pages
don't have that "Please download Netscape" notice which excludes so many
users: if the people have no bread, why, let them eat cake! Also, things
aimed at the text-only users will end up being useful for the growing
population of visually-impaired internet users.
Another point: reading is subversive. Reading makes you weird. If I put
lots of good science stuff on the www in the form of text, then any kids
who read will be rewarded. The web is an immensely powerful force for
convincing kids to take up reading. It may be even stronger than, (gasp!)
comic books. (I learned to read via comic books. If not for comics
during childhood I probably never would have become a voracious reader.)
BTW, if you use a modem link and have a Unix "shell" account on your ISP, try typing "lynx" as a Unix command. Or, if you are on a freenet, search your menus for the "Lynx" browser. If Lynx is available, try using it for web surfing. On a modem, it is MUCH, MUCH faster than Netscape (and others), since it is actually running on your ISP's machine with a direct hardline to the internet. Unlike with browsers, your PC is then being used only as a terminal, and your actual browser is on an extremely high-speed mega system. I use Lynx to race through my web site explorations while bookmarking the good ones, then later go explore them with a normal browser. This is a huge time-saver.
Q: WHAT DO YOU HAVE AGAINST 'FRAMES'?
My main beef: Frames make a site useless for visually-impaired people. My site attempts to be handicapped-friendly, so my policy is to avoid linking to frames-only sites. It's not just Frames that causes problems. If a site is entirely based on Java navigation and has no text links or ALT tags in its GIF graphics, or if a site is useless when viewed with the Lynx browser, then I will avoid linking it to my site. For more info on creating good, browser-compatible web pages, see my collection of links to webpage design flaws.
Q: WHY DID YOU INVOLVE YOURSELF IN ALL THIS DISGUSTING "FRINGE" STUFF? YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED! A: Many reasons.
Q: HOW DID YOU GET SO MANY HITS ON YOUR PAGE?
A: Ah, the webmaster's secrets, eh? The number one way to get lots of
hits on your webiste is this:
1. When first starting out, don't be tempted to concentrate on impressive layout or exotic HTML and Java features, they will only use up your precious time as well as ruining your search engine ranking. Carefully avoid elevating image over substance. Instead, offer some kind of useful service to internet users. As they say, CONTENT, CONTENT, CONTENT.Don't copy other sites; find something that ISN'T on internet already, then become the worldwide supplier for that thing. If your site just shows what a clever Java programmer you are, no one will care. Or if you spend your energy on "image" and trying to impress people, then you'll trigger the sensitive BS detectors of the audience, and they'll distrust you (if not avoid you entirely!) But if your site is useful, everyone will bookmark it.
Q: HOW'D YOU MANAGE TO CREATE SO MUCH STUFF?
First answer: I started early, in 1994. Them squirrels, how they do
accumulate detrius. Or maybe its crows. They like shiny objects.
Second answer: whenever somebody asks me for something and I have time to
supply it, I make a strange assumption. I assume that hundreds of other
people are wanting that thing too, but didn't have the ambition to email
me and ask. Therefore I copy it onto my website, rather than hiding it
Third answer: I don't live in XP or ME or Windows 95. Not win3.1 either.
Not MSDOS. I live on the internet, in an ancient unix shell account which
is aliased to look a bit like msdos. If I should ever type up a little
textfile during other activities on the computer, it only takes me ten
seconds to put it on my webpage. Unlike most people, for me the barriers
against publishing on internet have entirely evaporated.
Fourth answer: I took a typing course in 1974 high school. Best
investment I ever made, almost as important as learning to read. Now
after years of systems programming, I can type REALLY FAST. If ever I
think of something interesting, I can jot down a couple of pages about it
and link it to my website.
Fifth answer: I have no shame. Would you let the entire internet have
read-rights to your hard drive? And then make some menus, so they could
look at all your private stuff? That's what SCI HOBBYIST is, it's my c:
drive. I'm sure that many people have all sorts of fascinating junk on
their systems as well, or in their filing cabinets. Difference is, only
they themselves can access it. Most people prefer to hide their flaws, I
suspect. I want to flaunt mine! The withering spotlight of honesty keeps
the evil insanity of the self-lie at bay.
Sixth answer: I don't necessarily create it. Much of it I simply notice
and write down. If you adopt a religion which requires that you look at
yourself without blinders on, then you'll discover that it's a monumental
task to take your habitual blinders off. Once you succeed, you'll find
that the entire world looks very different. Interesting things will
spring out at you which only you can see. Anyone could see them, but the
vast majority of humans are so afraid of looking at the rotten crap that
they've done throughout their lives, that they desparately maintain the
blinders. The blinders are like painkillers which eliminate any negative
viewpoints and let people feel good about themselves regardless of their
past actions. Unfortunately these same blinders make most of the real
world become invisible to them. In any scientist this is a real shame.
It ruins our powers of observation and cuts us off from our fundamental
creative source. So, gather your stamina and gaze
unblinking into your own personal hell, and on the other side you might
perceive the outer world as it really is. Then stop talking philosophy,
and just tell others what you see.
Last: if you never have to wait for Windows to load, writing a quick note
will become a positive experience, and also you'll have some extra free
time for other things. :)
Q: WHERE DID YOU GET THIS JUNK?
A: It's a secret. Here it is. Always tell the truth, and, more
importantly, never lie. Even to yourself. What the heck does this have
to do with anything? Well, once I realized that I was defending my ego by
constantly telling myself a thousand subtle lies, I was able to stop.
When I did, all this stuff started boiling up out of my unconscious and
out onto my website. It must have been in there all along. It just
wouldn't come out and play. Maybe it was embarassed about all the lying.
PS I strongly suspect that Richard Feynman accidentally stumbled across
this same technique. It's a source of creativity like you wouldn't
believe! It's a wellspring of amazing ideas which seem to arise fully
formed, without you doing the work to assemble them.
This sort of extreme creativity seems to be an inbuilt human feature, but
unfortunately a "normal life" is filled with millions of tiny
dishonesties which acts as a "plug" that halts the creative flow almost
entirely. If you stop lying to yourself totally; stop distorting reality
in your efforts to have a positive self image, then you damage your own
psychological defenses. Those defenses block the Monsters from the ID.
They keep your personal horrors at bay. But they do far more than that:
they also cut you off from the prime creative source, your subconscious,
and they block your flow of ideas almost entirely. If you choose the
safety and never look deep within, then you may retain the ability to do
really well on exams, and to be an expert puzzle-solver. But you'll
never come up with major new ideas.
Shatter your mental plug and you're on your way to an amazing life. However, if you do remove your psychological defenses, you force yourself onto a path that leads to both genius or insanity. Do you REALLY want to see yourself as you really are? No fuzzy lens at all? Some people would rather not go there. And that's one reason why insanity is so close to genius. Removing your defense mechanisms is far more serious than taking a powerful drug that gives you honest vision. The effects of drugs eventually wear off!