Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tuesday Random Pictures

Ready for the grill:

That sheen on the vegetables is from olive oil.  Holds the salt on, makes 'em taste good.

September's over, and so far so good on hurricane season.  Here, have a hurricane lilly:

"Thirty days hath September / In the jailhouse I remember."  Meh, I'm ready for October.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Upcoming Movie: Predestination

It's an adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein's "–All You Zombies–"  Being as it's got nothing whatsoever to do with zombies except for one metaphorical comment at the very end, and given the current zombie movie craze, it had to be named something else lest some viewers come away peeved.  "Predestination" is a pretty good pick, all considered.

Here's the trailer.  U.S. release date is 9 Jan 15.

Seems to have been released internationally first, judging by the reviews at Rotten Tomatoes (running at 85% positive at present, BTW).

Also, here's the Wikipedia Page.  No wait!  Caution!!! Spoilers!!!  Do not go there if you haven't read the story.  Here's the original online for free!  It's only about ten pages.  Go.  Read.  Enlighten yourselves.

OK, you're back.  Looking at the trailer, it looks pretty good.  Of course, that's a trailer's job.  If they stuck to the story it ought to be a classic.  With the original so short, there's plenty of room for fleshing things out without wrecking the story line.  We shall see.

I used to think that this short story wrapped up all of the time travel paradoxes into one neat ball, then along came Primer.  At least we've got that to watch while we wait.

Wish though I had a time machine to jump forward to 9 January.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Perspectives on Being Struck by Lightning

No, I haven't been hit.  Just some Sunday linkage.

> 500 sky-to-human strikes a year; ~90% survival rates, but it going to leave a mark.  Article on the long-term effects over at Outside Mag's site.

Pointed there by slashdot today.  From some of the comments:
A local doctor [wikipedia.org] was struck by lighting and became a concert pianist as a result. You never know what might change your life forever.
All of them become conductors.
It's because they couldn't resist.
They should have stayed ohm that day. 
Would have been a chance to catch up with current events.
Some mood music, courtesy of MoAM?

Bottom line: don't be a dumbass around lightning storms.  The long-term effects of being struck are similar to those from a stroke.  You may be taunted by keyboard-weilding monkeys at slashdot.  And finally, you may have a decades-old surf rock tune stuck in your head.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Double Vision

Nothing to write home about, just a parking lot coincidence.  Still kind of funny, made a nice blog pic.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Horst Link, now out of patent!

As seen over at Dirt Rag: Ghost Bikes coming to the US.
But that's not the real news.  Here's the interesting part:
Ghost’s full-suspension line uses a four-bar Horst Link design, which until recently was under patent by Specialized in the US.
Huh!  After Horst Leitner got tired of a DYI defense of his patent and sold it to Specialized in the late 90's and they got their legal team cracking on things, a lot of good bike designs went by the wayside.  Remember the GT LTS for example?  Several mom-and-pop bike works also got crushed in the scramble.

Well now it's game back on for suspension design.  Don't expect the equivalent of the Cambrian explosion for suspension we saw in the mid-90's, but look for some innovative designs to start popping up.  Like, say, this one, from that Dirt Rag article:

But enough of technology and suspension linkages for the moment.  Fine as that bike looks, the brand name kind of creeps me out.  A ghost bike is a memorial, not something you ride!
It's kind of like naming an airplane "Auger" or a sports car "James Dean Tragic Crash Special."  Does not bode well, do not want.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Looks Like Fall

A train of three cold fronts lining up across the nation:
Feels good!

Monday, September 22, 2014

2014 Ig Nobel Prizes Awarded

List of laureates here.
World press reaction here.
Please stop.  I'm bored.  (the academic world needs more of this)

What it's really all about.  Seriously.  (and mercifully short)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday Nite Comics: TX Chainsaw Massacre

...staring The Ramones!
[click here, blogger's still screwing up youtube links]

Several other amusing shorts by the same guy, click here.

Friday, September 19, 2014

My Research Field Comes Full Circle

Too bad I'm not on this project, because it looks very relevant and interesting:
Coffee Roasting Acoustics, in the June issue of JASA.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Movie Review: American Hustle

It was an amusing, con action-packed way to spend two hours.  The directing and acting did a fine job of saving this thing's scrambled-eggs plot.  All four leads went way outside their usual roles and evidently had a merry old time doing this weird-o flick.  The frantic pace kept things amusing.

The main thing that seemed out of place was the treatment of The 70's.  The events here were set in '78-'81, but much of it felt like 1971.  It was all about "Hey, let's set a movie in the 70's!"  "Yeah and we can feature disco styles alongside toupees and whale-sized personal luxury cars!  More polyester!"  With nary a Pinto or a Vega anywhere to be seen.  It sort of did to the 70's what Lord of the Rings did to the Middle Ages.  Look back at the treatment of the 70's in X-Men: Days of Future Past to see the 70's done right.  The 70's were a time, not some weird greasy dress-up cult.

But that's a minor quibble.  This movie is all about the con, the scam, the frantic pace, and never quite trusting those closest to you.  It was a fun ride for a couple of hours.  But when it was over, I needed a shower to get the oily coating of smarm and synthetic fibers off my body.  2.5 out of 4 stars.

Despite the relatively low rating, I really did enjoy the movie.  Once.

Movie Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America once more swings into action from the very first minutes!  Evil has penetrated into the heart of America!  And through it all, the Captain kicks butt, takes names, and never, never lets his true friends down.  Acting, directing, writing, and effects were all top-notch.  The action sequences were thrilling.  It even had a recognizable plot.  Loose ends from the last movie were tied up, and a new set were unraveled for the next in the series, but ultimately Good and America prevailed.

Is there anything more to wish for in this sort of movie?  3.4 out of 4 stars.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Return of The Cleaver?

Maybe.  Hopefully.  In November.  Allegedly.  We'll see!
Sure hope so, I've missed them.  They've got a placeholder site up at http://www.bslfourthward.com/  If you miss them enough too, they have a sponsorship page with individual and commercial levels.  (hint-hint)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

First Real Day of Fall

Cool front blew through, 70-ish this morning, mid-80's midday.  CX'd the seawall, here's the view from the top of the bridge:
Look at that clear blue sky.

Some people just aren't into fun.

Manual transmissions getting rarer – story at Fox News.  Huh.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

It's a hint.

When your house begins to resemble an xkcd comic
you know it's time to pick things up.  BTW, that's not an obelisk in the back yard, that's an NVIS antenna thankyouverymuch.

More Pirate Radio

This time with actual broadcast content.  Given that 7/8 of all current broadcast stations are either (1) political talk, (2) oldies, (3) pop-country, or (4) spoits twak, it's no wonder fewer people are listening these day.  Well some people are taking matters into their own hands and broadcasting with, y'know, listenable content.  It's getting kind of out of hand up in Brooklyn it seems, according to the New York Post.  I wish them luck.  And low, low fines from the FCC.

Side note: Can we get just one station to broadcast Postmodern Jukebox?  Please.

Weird as it can get, I'm glad we have WQRZ locally.  It's a welcome break from the homogenized robo-player blend.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Now with Flame-O-Phone!

This is so great that it has to be seen to be believed:
[dangit, blogger can't find the youtube video so here's the link]

Go look up the original if you must, but frankly this cover is much better.  Oh hell, here's the link.  See?  Disappointing after listening to that cover.

Got all that?  Good, because there's more at Postmodern Jukebox.

ps: here, have a TED talk.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Here, have a moment of zen.

Myself, I'm going to the woods.  Pictures later, if I slow down to take any.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Don't let this happen to your river.

A CNN reporter kayaks (and partially hikes) the San Joaquin river in California end-to-end.  Story here.  It's pretty long, so go put on a pot of coffee before you get started.

For all of the amazing engineering and agricultural productivity (not to mention the Bakersfield Sound) than came of it, it's pretty clear that what's been done to this river has a serious downside.  It is very weird to imagine a river that is entirely diverted away into canals half-way down its length, reduced to a sandy trackway for fifty-plus miles, then gradually reborn in its lower half by water pumped in from other rivers.  Definitely has "unsustainable" stenciled all over it.

Here's an interesting paragraph from deep down in the article:
"Before I left, I promised Ryan and Laura I’d create my own water budget.  And figure out where my water in Atlanta comes from, exactly."
Well, a big bucket of that water that would be from Lake Lanier.  Which was formed by a dam on the Chatahoochee river.  A dam that was originally built – multi-state contract all signed and legal – for the sole purpose of power generation.  But mission creep took over, Atlanta tapped off more and more water, and when things were finally dragged into court, the ruling was – agreement be damned – Atlanta could have the water and everybody downstream else could go pound sand.  Including everyone on the Chatahoochee and Apalachicola rivers, and especially those oysters in Apalachicola Bay.

So, thank you for your concern, Mr. Sutter, and all the rest at CNN.  Please do work up a personal water budget, for all the good it will do.  But given your new experience, why don't you use your media empire soapbox to show Atlanta and the rest of the world what your fair city is doing to a still relatively pristine river right at this moment?  Please work on this, before it's too late and someone else has to take a kayak trip down another destroyed river in a half-century or so.

What the world needs: More Positive Science Fiction

Article over at the BBC.  Yeah, I can see the point.  Just remember, it still has to have a good can't-put-it-down story.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Movie Review: Noah

Having seen this movie now that it's out on DVD, here's my short review: it was pretty bad.

I'm kind of a stickler to the whole adapt-OK-fine-but-stick-to-the-source-material thing, and this movie fails miserably in that department.  Not that I'm claiming to be any sort of biblical scholar here, but it doesn't take more than a casual reading to see the problems.

After that... some of the CGI and effects were pretty good, but here and there it was just cheesy.  When Noah and family are on their journey early in the film, there was one green-screen scene of them walking across a parched landscape that was about as authentic as something out of "Land of the Lost," and I mean the 70's Saturday morning show, not the more recent movie flop.  Maybe the director was going for "otherworldly" rather than "realistic," but it just didn't work.  On the plus side, the at-sea scenes had the right sense of scale, and the moving rock pile angels kind of worked (at least on the CGI level, leaving aside the veracity part).

The acting was uniformly good.  Russell Crowe can pull off all sorts of stuff, and he pulls off another one here.  Other names (Hopkins, Connelly, Winstone) do fine.  Emma Watson did a workable job of avoiding being typecast in her old role from the Harry Potter movies.  Unfortunately, the kind of movie typecasts she broke out of here also include the adjectives "good" and "makes a lot at the box office."  Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

After the first half-hour of this movie, about all that kept me going to the end was a morbid desire to see where this turkey was going next.  I really can't recommend it beyond that.  Frankly, this is yet another example of movie makers thinking that they can out-write the source text's original author – a tall order in this case.  Bottom line: 1 out of 4 stars, but only for the actors' and CGI artists' competent efforts to save this train wreck.