Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Best of times, worst of times.

New Orleans needed a lift and they got it:
Gave people around here a lift too.  I don't give two hoots for football, but when I heard fireworks going off all over town I knew what had happened and was pretty happy about it too.


Then this mess struck.
Really bad, but it was capped much, much sooner than anyone was honestly expecting.  Word 'round the campfire was that the casing was probably cracked much of the way down and we'd have to wait for a full-on bottom kill sometime in September.. or maybe even October if there were any snags.  So getting the flow stopped in mid-July was nigh onto miraculous.  And the lasting effects on the Gulf... well, we'll see in 2011.


Hurricane season mostly passed us by, which is always a Good Thing.


As for the rest of the local news, The Seacoast Echo has a good roundup.


Well that was the year that was.  I for one am glad it's over, and hoping 2011 is somewhat brighter.  See y'all next year.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Finished the Heinlein bio.

Finished the bio, last Thursday, that I'd written about last week.  If you're a Heinlein fan, the kind of reader who breezed through the more or less unpublishable For Us, The Living while on a page-by-page basis identifying the short stories he'd later strip mined from it, it's pretty much a must-read.  If you're a biography-hog (go figure, it takes all kinds), it's probably and OK page-turner.  If you just want a thumbnail sketch of the guy though, the wikipedia bio is probably plenty.
So how did I like it?  (Being the kind who pulled out old Heinlein paperbacks to co-read with the bio.  Like I said, it takes all kinds.)  Good, maybe a tad dry.  But I can really, really see where the guy was coming from now.  I think the author did the best he could with the limited remaining records and with the limited remaining Heinlein associates/friends/etc.  And, all things considered, he seems to have given a pretty even-handed treatment of the ex-Mrs.-Heinlein (there's a nice note on these difficulties in the footnote appendix).  I'm glad to have bought it in hardcover, and I eagerly await the next volume.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cold ride today.

I'm not sure the temperature got out of the 30's.  A few minor snow flurries, but nothing stuck.  The snow was more of "huh, did I just see that float by?"


Looking down the Clay Climb on Couch Trail:


Even the pine trees are cold!


Finally, photographic evidence of frozen precipitation:
See the little white dots on the hood of my green car?  (And see the ghostly upside-down reflections of pine trees...)


Monday 12/27 note: The Sun-Herald reports some of the white stuff too.  Hah!  I wasn't the only one who saw snow.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Grading: one thing I don't miss

Ugh, that last minute pre-Christmas blur of grading homeworks, late work (always with a great excuse!) , the last test, and The Final.  Explained in Seussian rhyme over at PhD Comics.
I don't miss it one bit.  (Sure, I keep telling myself that...)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Technology Marches...

...sideways.  From a rant discourse on the new-and-disimproved iPod nano at view from the porch:
Random agglomerations of buttons and rotary switches placed anywhere the styling department could find room are no improvement.
Here, read the whole thing.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

And teh hits, they just keep coming!

Idiots with bikes hitting painful objects, that is.  Marvel at the fail here.  *sigh*

Google Translate now does Latin

Here's the translate site.  And here's the announcement.  Example:
Illic 'hoc loco tenuerat adveni. Ezekiel 25:17. "Semita iustiundique per iniquitates et superbia resistatur malorum.Beatus, nomine caritatis et benevolentiae, pastoresinfirmus in valle tenebrarum, quia Vere fratris custodeminventor deperditarum filiis. Et percutiam te magnaultione Ira qui veneni et perdet fratres. et scietis nomen mihi Dominus quando vindictam meam super te. Dicenssum annos shit. Et si audias, hoc intelligitur culi.Numquam cogitavit plurimum quid hoc esset. Modoaliqua cum frigida shit-sanguineis dicere a motherfuckertremunt I papaver in pileo asinum. Vidi autem hic shitmornin 'puto me secundo. Videte ratus sum, maybe you'redicit malus, ego sum, iustus et Mr millimeter IX Hicpastor's protegens asino justítiam meam Vallis tenebris.Vel, quia medium you're iustus sum et pastorem, et suus'smundo ad mala. Quod libet. Sed non shit veritatem. Quid ergo, you're infirmos ac tyrannide sum malorum. At equidem tryin 'Ringo. I'm trying difficile verum pastorem.
- Julius Winfieldus, 94 A.D.
Man, that thing is useful. But I have the sneaking feeling that something was lost in translation.  Here is the original quote.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

So you wanna write sci-fi?

Then sit right down, take a pick from the list of science fiction themes.  Fill in the details of your atomic rocketship with physics from Project Rho.  (Here's the handy cross-index to that site.)  Some assembly required.  Expenditure of effort in no way guarantees sale of finished product.
Seriously though, it's amazing the quantity (vast!) and quality (well, sometimes) of imaginative work that serious authors and scientists have put into this genre in the last century-plus.  And I for one will continue to buy and read with glee.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Bike Fail

Even by my lax bicycle handling standards, this is pretty bad.

– and more book-ey goodness –

Robert A. Heinlein: In dialogue with His Century: Volume 1 (1907–1948): Learning Curve.  It's not perfect.  Notes that should be footnotes are buried with references in the appendix.  I'm having to use several bookmarks to read the thing in one piece.  (It's like bad Fortran: goto this, return to here, goto another note...)  And what were those four lines that John Campbell added after the end of "Requiem" when it was first published in pulp, causing Heinlein to complain that it ruined the story?  I mean, the author goes on about them for a page or so, so they must've been important.  So why not just give us the four lines?  All that, and the title has just too many :'s.
But.  It's pretty damned amazing, the whole story of the Dean of Hard Science Fiction's life spelled out in one work.  (Well, at least through 1948.  We'll all have to wait for the second volume.)  I'm 2/3 of the way through, and it's worth the couch time.  Now that I'm past the childhood, Navy, and political years, I'm reading it with an old copy of The Past Through Tomorrow at hand so that it's easy to skim (or to sometimes even re-read) the short stories being discussed in the bio.
Get yourself a copy, ASAP.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Book Recommendo

Under Surge, Under Siege.  The happenings in this non-fiction were about a mile from my house.  Everyone's got their own story, but yes folks, this is the way it was.  And this is the way it still is.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Nativity Story...

...updated.  Here.
note: link repaired 6pm 12/19/10.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Right out of a Roadrunner cartoon.

Here.

The only way this could've been better is if a giant boulder had dropped on the guy at the last second.  Casually stepping back and clasping his hands added a nice comic touch though.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Electric Lightning

Over beers, met a fellow working with the Anglo American Lightning Organisation on the restoration of an Electric Lightning yesterday evening.  Amazing airplane.  So not only does Kiln "th' Kill" Mississippi field an an excellent microbrew, it also has at least one Mach 2 fighter jet.  Go read up on it at the above wiki link.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Downtown Success

Yesterday's post about going downtown worked out.  Dropped the Darling Daughter at an antique shop then walked down to Bay Books and picked up Under Surge, Under Siege and a CD copy of Wing's Band on the Run (my old quadraphonic eight track of the album gave out sometime during the Carter adminstration).  Then on to the Mockingbird, where the Jefferson Stout went really well with a Mockingburger.
BTW, that last item is not anything as advertised.  It is, in fact, made from ground beef, not ground-up mockingbirds.  Probably for the best.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Going downtown.

It's Black Friday, so I'm taking the Darling Daughter downtown to do some shopping today.  Main stops planned are Bay Books and lunch at The Mockingbird, then we'll see what else pulls us in.
Was a good Thanksgiving.  I'm still full from the one meal yesterday, and there's half a turkey still in the fridge; we're set for the weekend.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Geek Factor 10, Captain.

Randall Munroe's out with personal stuff, so Bill Amend is today's guest artist at XKCD:
Just.... wow.  Here's the link.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

hmmm....

Loooong mountain bike ride.  Check.
Cool, maybe even damp weather for the ride.  Check.
Logistics support for said ride.  Check.
Gumbo-feed at the end of the rainbow.  Check.
Worthwhile cause to give it that "We're doin' it for the children!" patina of respectability.  Check.
It's the PORC 2010 Toys for Tots Epic.  What could be better?


Will post pictures when it's all done.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Rock Audio Slideshows from the BBC

Here's one about The Clash & their "London Calling" album art.  Here's another on Mick Rock's photography.  Not a lot I can say here beyond that watching will be time well spent, and there're a bunch of interesting other slideshows on the same page that you'll have to dig around for.  Recommended!
ps: 100 blog posts!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Seafood Festival

Drove over to Apalachicola for the Florida Seafood Festival this past weekend.  Ate half-shell oysters, smoked mullet, boiled shrimp, something fancy with a scallop on top of it, and a bunch more.  Bought some books, said 'hi' to a bunch of friends and family.  Was fun!  

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Positive Proof: Obama is a Keynesian.

No matter how much people like these try to waffle about the issue, NPR (NPR no less! N-P-freekin'-R!) has absolute proof that Obama is, in fact, a Keynesian.
*facepalm* 
And to think, some of the people in that video will be voting today.


Edit 11/10: YouTube link repaired after original clip was deleted.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Starship?

Well, at least NASA's starting to talk about them, as seen here.  But they probably should read Orphans of the Sky a few times before getting too far along on this particular mode of interstellar travel.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Somehow, I knew this all along.

Ozzy Osbourne's Genome Reveals Some Neandertal Lineage.
And I'm still wondering if something similar lurks in Fred LeBlanc's family tree.  You ever see the guy play, then start swinging from the rafters in mid-song?  No, on second thought, I don't have to wonder about his family tree at all either.

Grudge Match

Despite the boxing motif, it was in fact a bicycle race.
Yeah, I got second in the road bike category.  Was fun.  We'll probably do it again soon.  "Soon" being loosely defined as "probably within a year or so."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Quantum Computing Explained

Well, mostly.  I still need to re-read the article, but here it is courtesy of SiliconDotCom.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Everything You Need

Everything you need can be found at ACME Products!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

More (green) power, Igor!

And, like yesterday's turbojet powered VW bug post, the stuff at Green Power Science also brings out some of my inner coyote.  Giant burning Fresnel lenses!  Affordable solar power!  Stirling engines!  Peltier cooling!  And all with videos showing the anvils-dropping-from-the-sky glitches on the way to DIY nirvana.
It just doesn't get much better than this.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

oh...

Am I really this bad?
Yeah, probably.

Movie Review: The American

I liked it.  Sort of "The Bourne Identity" crossed with Fred Thompson's 2008 presidential campaign.  You know, a film that not so much runs as moseys to its breathless, logical ending.
Without giving anything away, it's about a hit man who looks at leaving the profession after a shocking (but brutally necessary, given his field) incident that unfolds in the first ten minutes of the movie.  After conferring with his boss, he has one last job to do for his old organization/agency/whatever – and this one doesn't even involve actually killing anyone.  In the meantime, he just has to lay low, not talk too much, and quietly Do The Job.  So of course he winds up in a microscopic Italian town full of sinners trying to not be quite so sinful while all confiding in and supporting one another.
Come to think of it, Peter Sellers could've made a wonderful comedy with that set-up.  But that's not this movie.
Heavy themes of sin and redemption.  Plenty of eye candy, for both the ladies and the gentlemen.  Recommended, but likely anyone under 25 won't sit still through the whole thing.  Three out of four stars.


Other folks' opinions on the matter:
James Berardinelli liked it.  Maryann Johnson (aka flickfilosopher) didn't.  And something like 64% on Rotten Tomatoes gave it a thumbs-up.

ulch..!

The month is half-over and I haven't posted anything yet?!?  Been busy, kids.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Idle Fun

The original: failblog
For those of the coyote fix-it school of thought: thereifixedit
Along the same lines, but focused on cars: thatwillbuffout
Minorly disturbing weirdness: pictureisunrelated
Finally some success: succeedblog
OK, those are some of my daily rest stops on the information superhighway.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Can't honestly say that I ever though of things this way...

...but it is at least a little witty: Why Apple is Catholic and PCs are Protestant.
And he does (sort of) have a point.  So what does this make Linux?

Monday, August 9, 2010

The most important idea you will read about all year.

To paraphrase from Stephen Hawking: mankind must figure out how to spread out to the stars, or we will face extinction.
Damn, but he's right again.
Reported by: the UKPAHuffPoFox NewsMSNBCcnet, and Ubergizmo, from an interview at BigThink.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Somehow, I find this strangely irresistible.

The School Time Jet-Powered School Bus.

The patent infringement suit from ACME Products will be along any moment now.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

BP Completes Cementing Macondo Oil Well From Top

Sorry.  Couldn't help but electronically shouting it.  Full Story.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Old Humor

A retiring friend was cleaning out his office last week and stumbled across a dusty, stained photocopy of 56 B.C. and All That.  So of course someone has put it on the web, in multiple places by multiple people as it turns out.  Which somehow made me think of the old Laws Concerning Food and Drink.
Yeah, it's old humor.  I wouldn't mail these around (it would be uncomfortably close to a sort of Glurge Lite), but they really are funny.  If you haven't read them in a while, or never heard of them in the first place, well, there are the links.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Time Travel Roundup

Just when I was thinking Robert Heinlein had all the weirdities of time travel crammed into one story, his great short All You Zombies --, along comes the movie Primer, which introduced a few more.  And now, there's some new research showing that maybe this Grandfather Paradox thing sort of works itself out automatically.  Interesting stuff.
BTW, Primer trailer here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

MacPaint Source Code

Apple has made the source code to MacPaint available through the Computer History Museum.  There's also an article about it over at Business Week.  All pointed out by Slashdot.  Download the source and look at it.  It's beautiful stuff, well-written, almost self-documenting, clean, and tight enough to have a credible graphics editor fit in far less than 128k. Amazing.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pixiecross?!? Pixiecross.

Coverage of the 2010 Pixiecross World Championship at Downieville can be seen here.
Personally, I think the guy in the wolf suit adds the right air of professionalism to the race.

Monday, July 19, 2010

I write like...

Based on my recent movie reviews, I Write Like says:

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!
A little flattering, but I'm not quite sure I like it.  I mean, read the guy's bio at Wikipedia.  Not like me at all!


Onward to technical writing, based on the first few paragraphs of this paper, 

I write like
Cory Doctorow
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!


But if I just feed IWL the abstract, it comes back with:

I write like
Stephen King
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!
OK, I think they need a better algorithm.  Or maybe I can just confuse the hell out of machines.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Movie Meta-Meta Critic

Take a look at this:
Speaks volumes about serious film critics included on the review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes that "Predators" garnered a 64% approval rating, while "Sorcerer's Apprentice" only pulled in 40%.  Some folks would rather go for bloodlust than fun, I guess.

Movie Review: The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Exactly what it sounds like: lightweight summer fare from Disney, lots of special effects, starting with an ironically pseudo-epic sweep of legendary history.  What makes it fun are the actors: Nicholas Cage does his usual "no really, it's cool and all, but you'd better take this shit seriously" act as the Sorcerer, Jay Baruchel stumbles through as the emotionally scarred Apprentice, and the rest of the cast does their part to keep the sinister action rolling.  But despite all the sinister action, it never gets any heavier than say, Ghostbusters (which it may have cribbed just a little from).  Some of the interactions with non-sorcerer folk inject occasional relief humor to keep things light.  Bonus: enough boy-girl stuff to make it work as a date movie, but it doesn't wallow in it; it's OK to just take the kids or go with friends.  Your ten year old nephew won't go "yuck" too often.
A tad predictable?  Of course!  We know the good guys will win in the end, the bad guys will all be sucked into the Steaming Vortex of Doom or whatever, and the Apprentice will win the girl of his dreams.  This is a Disney movie released in July named The Sorcerer's Apprentice.  What the heck do you expect?  Foreign film angst?
The perfect summer movie: my world view was not rocked, I didn't leave the theater a better man, but I was completely entertained.  Three Stars.

Movie Review: Predators

Advertises itself as a sci-fi action adventure movie, but really is only a slasher flick with features shamelessly lifted from the original 1987 film.  Pathetic.  The aliens, fresh and imaginative in 1987, are just the same-old same-old here.  There is so much territory to be explored with those creatures: Why do they hunt?  Did they develop their tech, or are they in turn being watched by a more advanced race?  We don't learn much about them in this movie, beyond that there are more-or-less two types of them and they don't like each other.  What a boring lack of imagination.  Most of the humans are completely disgusting people; the best of them are merely hiding a deep flaw.  Wouldn't want to spend time in the cell next to some of these creeps.  How bad are they?  About a half hour in, it dawned on me: the title applies to the humans as well.
One star out of four: a half star for competent special effects (meh), and another half star for the semi-clever title.  I'm being generous.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Schrodinger's kitty

Can be found here.
*sigh*

Of course, this would be a way to quickly filter physics types.  Filter 'for' or filter 'out', lady's choice.


Mathematically, the content of the shirt can be expressed as:
psi = 1/sqrt(2) * (hello kitty +/- goodbye kitty),
where '+' is used if kitty obeys Bose-Einstein statistics, '-' is used where kitty obeys Fermi-Dirac statistics.  I have no idea which a real cat could be.  Experiment idea: spin two identical cats on a hardwood floor and slide the spinning cats into each other.  If they mutually annihilate (emitting dust bunnies and flea-ons, presumably), use the '-' in the above expression.  If the two cats curl up comfortably, then use the '+'.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

BP oil leak spread simulation

A simulation of the BP well's oil spread can be seen here, courtesy of the BBC.  Well, it's bad news if you're where it's streaming to, but it's good news in that there are some backwater pockets that look relatively protected.  Like Apalachicola, maybe.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

$80,000 for a real Jeep?

The CJ series was amazing in its simplicity and durability.  I miss the hell out of my old CJ-7, with its Iron Duke 4 cylinder engine, 4-speed manual (non-syncro super-low 1st, baby), Warn hubs, rag(ged) top, single pull-out floor mat, and hose-down interior.  The current Wranglers and H2s and things of that ilk are a poor symbolic tip-of-the-hat to the original concept of a rugged go-anywhere tin box on a 4WD ladder frame – about all they share is a boxy body and (sometimes) 4WD.  I guess they sell, but they're not really something you want to throw a sandy net and a mess of bloody mullet into the back of while you careen down a beach with a lukewarm Schlitz in one hand.
Now the hot-rod custom builder Icon has resurrected the original concept with their CJ3B, and it's even better than the old CJs ever thought of being.  But for $80k, it damned well ought to be.  Here's a review, courtesy of Fox News.
I don't know.  On one hand, it's a really cool, capable vehicle, and a lot more off-roadable than any stock CJ ever was.  On the other hand, you'd have to be rolling in dough to use something like this the way it's intended to be used.  Here's hoping that somebody takes the concept one step further and makes a cheap 4WD skinny tin box again.

Monday, June 28, 2010

DIY Fusion Reactors

Where there's a technology, there's a hobby sub-culture.  Even for fusion reactors, according to the BBC.  Nothing really dangerous about these fusor reactors (you can read up on them from the Wikipedia article), despite the slightly alarmist tone of the BBC article and the surprised neighbors.  It seems unlikely they'll reach energy break-even anytime soon, but it never pays to completely write off amateurs, especially when they have brains, enthusiasm, and persistence.
If you're too impatient to build your own, you can simply order one up from NSD Fusion.  Evidently they numerous medical and industrial uses as neutron sources.  I hear that Acme Corporation will be coming out with their own version any day now too.  That's the one I'm waiting for.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Yet another Dr. Who sighting

... in 5000 B.C.  Read about it here.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Article at the Center of the McChrystal Controversy

In case you missed it, linky right here, courtesy of Rolling Stone.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Just the Numbers, Ma'am

There's a lot of oil leaking from that Macondo well, but it isn't the end of the world.  This article puts the size of the leak, as well as the total size of the reservoir into perspective.  Not pretty, but it's not like the whole Gulf could turn into a sea of crude either.
There.  Feeling all better now?  Maybe a little?  Good, because some of that crap started washing up on my doorstep yesterday.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Trouble with Science

... isn't the lack of students or educational opportunities.  It's the career path / business model of science, according to http://www.miller-mccune.com/science/the-real-science-gap-16191/
Opening blurb from the article:
It’s not insufficient schooling or a shortage of scientists. It’s a lack of job opportunities. Americans need the reasonable hope that spending their youth preparing to do science will provide a satisfactory career.
I could add more but it might come off badly (and I'm counting myself as one of the lucky ones).  Overall I think the article says all that really needs saying.  A tad long, but the whole thing is worth the read.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Movie Review: A-Team

Explosions – check.
Punching – check.
Rapid-paced quips from quirky characters – check.
Better aim than in the original TV show – check.
ActionActionAction – check.
Surprise twists to keep the action going – check.
Bigger Explosions – check.
Over-the-top ending with explosions, gunfire, and punching – check.
A small plot to sort of string it all together – bonus check.


OK, what's not to like about the movie?  You know why you're going to a show like this, and it ain't deep character development.  You pay for the ticket, get on the ride, and two hours later you get off with a goofy grin.  If that's what you're looking for, it's worth every penny.


It's June.  Have some fun.  3 out of 4 stars.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Monday, June 14, 2010

Evil Plans

Having just blogged about his first book (Ignore Everybody) last week, it seems Hugh Mcleod has just sent off the manuscript on #2: Evil Plans.  I am so looking forward to next April.
"Evil Plans," heh.  Could there be a more appropriate book for a guy who blogs under "Dr. Coyote"?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Xerox and the Information Age turn 50.

Read all about it in The Atlantic.  Not a dry story about the copy machine's invention and struggle to market, but rather a brief waltz through the history of what people did with it, how it was the first step in our current multi-continent spray of customized information.
Now I understand a little better why totalitarian regimes keep copy machines under lock and key.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Book: Ignore Everybody

... and 39 Other Keys to Creativity


I don't know, it just sort of grabbed my eye while walking through a bookstore last week.  The recommendation from Guy Kawasaki on the back cover ("Hugh's book will kick your ass and push you out of your zone of mediocrity and stagnation.") (!) pretty much clinched the purchase.  What is it about?  It's about 40 short essays on some basic truths of holding down a living in any creative field.  Examples: "Worrying about 'Commercial vs. Artistic' is a complete waste of time," and "Companies that squelch creativity can no longer compete with companies that champion creativity," followed by a page or two of elaboration, and a couple of the author's cartoons.
Biggest problem with this book is that if you're open to the ideas it may be from a "yeah, got bit by that dog back in '97, he's right, won't do that again" viewpoint.  The people who need this the most, people who haven't been mauled by a stobor yet, may not be listening.  I know that if someone'd handed me this book when I was 20 I'd have shrugged it off.  But if I could send one back in a time machine, I'd still try to send one to myself.
Enough for now.  I've got to go be all creative and stuff and make a living.  Here's a link to the guy's web site: http://gapingvoid.com/.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Green Flashes

I've seen them, but they happen so fast it's always a case of "did I just see that?"  Well, here's some photographic evidence.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The origins of Surf Rock

Turns out, Dick Dale dug up his signature song "Misirlou"from his Middle Eastern family background.  And it always just sounded like so much Space Race coolness to me.  Read all 'bout it here, and listen to some of the weird old versions of it too while you're visiting.
All courtesy of Dinosaur Gardens: "Excavating the tar pits of popular culture."  Indeed!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Robin Hood: the review

OK, I like sushi.  I mean, I really like the stuff.  I also can dig tacos, a couple of times a week and I’m one happy coyote.  But.  When I order the taco platter, the waiter nods ‘si’, and then hauls out a damn plate full of artfully arranged dead fish, it’s a little disconcerting.
So what does this have to do with the new Ridley Scott / Russell Crowe movie?  It’s a good movie, I was completely entertained, the swordplay made for fun watching, the deeper themes about human liberty were good, and movie’s take on the proper treatment of traitors masquerading as rogue tax collectors was, uh, pretty much on target.  So what’s not to like?
Well, the name.  Says “Robin Hood” right there on the label, when in fact it should have been titled “Kingdom of Heaven 2: The Scouring of Sherwood Forest” or some such.  It was a good story, but it just wasn’t a Robin Hood story up until right before the credits rolled.
Well, I enjoyed it anyway, and maybe you will too.  But just remember to expect chop sticks with this taco plate.
Two stars, but that’s mostly a problem with title.  Renamed along the lines suggested above and it’d rate three.

Back to the Regularly Scheduled Blog

Thank you for your patience folks (all 2.3 of you).  Back to some semblance of regular blogging.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Nuke that Balrog!

Too bad Gandalf didn't have a tac nuke under his robe.  Coulda nuked that sucker, and put out the fire, Soviet style.

Balrog's Breath

Moria!  Moria! Wonder of the Northern world!  Too deep we delved there, and awoke the nameless fear." – Gloin the Dwarf
Macondo!  Macondo!  Too deep BP drilled there...  and now the stink is thick on the beach.  Like dirty, used oil with a slight sour note to it, inescapable here tonight.  More on it here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Printing Ironman

Turns out, the manufacturing process for Robert Downey's costume was more advanced than the manufacturing process for Tony Stark's power armor.  Read about it here.
Too bad the underlying tech for the costume isn't quite as awesome as that of the Ironman suits, but I can still love the cool stuff we've got in the 21st century.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ponderable for the day

Or maybe for the week, at the rate I've been posting lately.
Jerry Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy.  
Ponder well, as the test will be be administered on your next visit to the DMV.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Roger Ebert hates 3D movies

And you should too.  Read why he hates them here.  Best of the nine reasons he lists:
8. I CANNOT IMAGINE A SERIOUS DRAMA, SUCH AS UP IN THE AIR OR THE HURT LOCKER, IN 3-D. 
Yep, that pretty well sums up Avatar: not serious fare at all.  Personally, I think 3D best serves you-are-there extravaganzas and little else.
Off the wall thought: given the recent trend in hyper-realistic but still serious war movies started by Saving Private Ryan, could 3D actually enhance these?  Or would it even be ethical to plunk an unprepared audience down on Omaha Beach or a hot Mogadishu street?  Maybe the 3D version would rate an R, while in 2D just a PG-13.  Something to ponder, because I have the feeling that it won't be long before we see something along these lines.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Avatar Reflux, er, make that Redux

So at the trailhead last weekend, Murph was going on about finally seeing Avatar now that it's out on video.
Murph: "I saw it, but I must've missed something.  Why were people so crazy about this movie?  I just didn't think it was that good.  Did I miss something?"
Me: "Yeah, you missed something alright, the 3D part.  The rest was pretty lame.  But the 3D was cool, it felt like being there."
Well, that's my take and I still stand by my original review.  But if you want to see the nuclear option where the two reviewers twist their keys simultaneously, go check out LabRat and Stingray's, over at Atomic Nerds.  I dunno, maybe if I was forced to watch the 2D version while somebody jabbed needles into my leg I could work up a comparable level of loathing.  But I really don't think I could get it down on a keyboard with quite as much style.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

J.J. Cale and Eric Clapton

Interview article found here.  Bonus: YouTube clip of them playing After Midnight, live.  Scroll down to the bottom.  Just freekin' amazing.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ever want to tour Chernobyl?

Well, here's the next best thing: http://www.kiddofspeed.com/, a picture journal from a crazy Ukrainian biker chick who blasts in, takes snapshots – carefully! – and gets the hell out before she spends too long and gets cooked.  It's not that hot there.  At least, for a day of photographs and nuclear tourism, it's pretty safe.  A quick run through the radiation numbers she discusses indicates that a partial day is safe enough, a week would be noticeable but manageable, but a month starts getting into serious doo-doo.  Out around three months' stay and the doo-doo gets even deeper, six feet deep to be precise.
Weird place, reminds me of the worst parts of Katrinaland.  Except that people can live in Kartinaland without dying from it.  At least not directly.
Hat tip to The Atomic Nerds for posting this recently and reminding me of it.  I'd seen the site a long time back, but had dropped it somewhere in my mental slushpile.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Earth Day preparations in New York

*facepalm*

I... I just can't add anything here.