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.

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.