Thursday, May 28, 2015

Term for the Day: Poe's Law

From the article at Wikipedia:
Poe's law is an internet adage which states that, without a clear indicator of the author's intent, parodies of extremism are indistinguishable from sincere expressions of extremism.[1][2] Poe's Law implies that parody will often be mistaken for sincere belief, and sincere beliefs for parody.[3]
I hope that was enlightening.  Sincerely!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Happy 100th Dad!

Hurricane Season Commeth

... and so does ham readiness.  The amateur radio station WX4NHC at the National Hurricane Center in Miami will conduct its annual station tests this coming Saturday.  Times are 1400–2200 UTC, primarily on 14.325 MHz.  Blurb at the station's site here (their general site is here) and announcement at the ARRL's site here.
Posted mostly as a reminder to myself to tune in!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Bay Bridge Art

There's a series of bronze plaques on the Bay of St. Louis Bridge.  They're a nice touch, and they really dress things up on the walking/bike path.  Now having sung their praises, I have to confess that I'd never really looked closely at any of them apart from the one at the bridge's peak.  So on last Sunday's bike ride I took a few moments to take a snapshot of each one on my way back from Pass Christian.  Here are the results, click to embiggen:

Sure that's a lot of pics (22!), and I could've dribbled them out over a couple of weeks, here they all are in one swell foop.  BTW, they're arranged east to west starting in the Pass in reaching to the Bay at 1/10th mile spacings.  The plaque from the bridge's peak is the one with the mermaid holding out the sun and the moon.

Madness Upgrade Installed

Headers all installed:

A quick call to Bama Tunes advised that no engine tune upgrade was needed, so we're done for this cycle.

So... are they worth it?  I mean shorties that don't require a tune, how much can they really add?  The answer is a little here, a little there.  Throttle response around 2k RPM is noticeably better.  That's really what I was looking for, less of a need to downshift when cruising in traffic.  Mileage is improved by about 1.5 MPG, as best as I can tell in the hundred or so miles I have on things right now.  A couple more tanks of gas will give a better average.  Still, that small improvement will pay for the headers over the next couple of years.  Finally, the exhaust sound is noticeably improved.  The bottom-end rumble is a notch louder, there's a little more noise on fast shifts, and it's overall a tad more raucous.  In other words, exactly what I was looking for.

On to the appearance upgrade...  I'm not one to go sticking extraneous bits on my car to play dress-up, but with the invasion stripes stopping short of a full-wrap, that left the rear trunk lid panel slightly blubberous looking:

A retro-honeycomb blackout cleans things up:

OK, done for now.  Next up will probably be wheels and tires, when the current crop are down on their treads.  But that's 20k+ miles and a year away.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

This is Madness.

Madness?  This is Mustang!

Will have to dink with the engine tuning (mostly a Windows problem...) over the next couple of days, should have these headers installed early next week.  Or sooner.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Mustangs in the UK: Missing the Point Department

In his review of the RHS drive UK version of the Mustang, Nat Barnes at the Express writes:
They say you should never meet your heroes.
and later in the review:
But then that is the problem with heroes.  They are rarely what you expect.
If you care about these things, go read the whole thing and come back (again, link).  I'll wait.

OK, here's his problem: Barnes is entirely missing the point of a Mustang.  It's not about handling through twisty European passages, it's not about refinement.  It's a damn American hotrod car at heart.  It comes in a relatively inexpensive package with many performance features deliberately left out, because the manufacturer knows that on this car the buyers want to customize their own performance.  In a way, Barnes pays the Mustang an unintended complement in the comparisons he makes to other cars that he feels the Mustang should emulate: BMW M3 Sedan @ $62.9k, BMW 428i @ $41.3k, Jaguar F-Type @ $95.2k, Audi A5 @ $50.8k.  The respective sticker prices for Mustangs in V6 base and V8 GT are $24.1k and $32.6k.  Is it right to compare cars costing two to four times as much to incomplete builds of the Mustang?  Viewed through these economic and intended purpose lenses, the Mustang comes out very well.  A better questions is, are some car snobs ready for the Mustang?  Another question is, is the Mustang right for Europe?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Book Review: Annihilation

Dale over at Downtown Books nailed it: H.P. Lovecraft crossed with Jack Rudloe.  Something or someone has produced a forbidden zone – Area X – which has walled off a chunk of the Florida panhandle coast around the town of St. Marks.  Not only has Area X been walled off from the outside world, something weird is going on inside there, something disgustingly biological and distinctly mind-warping.  Is it aliens?  Military research gone awry?  We never learn.  Expedition after expedition have been sent into Area X to probe its secrets, only to finish in mass suicide or worse.  Annihilation documents the twelfth such expedition, which of course ends in disaster and the inevitable journal left by the last survivor.

Having grown up somewhere on what would be the western fringes of Area X and being at least somewhat a Lovecraft fan, this book was irresistible going in.  Mid-way through I was still enjoying it despite the lingering pace, and toward the end there were several Reveals to spike the punch, though there was never the hoped-for jackpot Big Reveal.  But then, that's how sequels are sold, right?  And I was all ready to rocket off into the next two books.  Reading the reviews on Amazon of these sequels however, the payoff never comes. Which is really a shame, because as an atmospheric, tantalizing first book in a trilogy, Annihilation had me hooked.  At least we learn unambiguously where the title comes in, that is one small consolation.

It was a fun read, and time well spent.  The author's meandering was a little maddening at times, but in some ways it added to the atmosphere.  Having read a few reviews though, it sounds like the meandering takes over and the satisfying conclusion is never delivered.  Time to clip back in and make tracks north up the St. Marks Rail Trail out of Area X and back into the real world.

For what it's worth, the cover art was really nice, in that biologically-overbusy way of things:
The inside cover art is in the same style, without the words but with the drawings much, much more densely packed – a doodler's nightmare of frogs and flowers and dragonflies and damp hangy plant-things.

Upping the Ante

For 2016, the Chevrolet Camaro is getting a full make-over shadowing the 2015 Mustang upgrades, including a euro-weenie ready 2 liter turbo four-banger with sound effects played through the stereo.  Well, at least you can turn the vroom-vroom sounds off in the Camaro, that's a step up.    Right...?

Article here at Fox.

Perhaps the best part is that it has been made slightly smaller.  I've always felt that my 2012 Mustang is about 5-10% too big in nearly all dimensions (except of course horsepower), closer to a shooting brake than a sports car.  Of course, that's exactly how I use my car, so I shouldn't complain.  Still, it feels just a little too damn big, and maybe this new Camaro will start a healthy slimming trend for the pony car breed.  We'll know in five to ten years.

Friday, May 15, 2015

B.B. King Dead at 89

Article over at the BBC.

Guess we've all got the blues today.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Why Science Organizations Need Public Affairs Offices

As explained over at Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal:

Time Window

Photos of Paris, overlaid with photos of the same scenes c.a. 1944's liberation at Messy Nessy.  This is about how things would look through an ACME Time Window, if such things existed.  Definitely worth a look.

New Music: Public Service Broadcasting

The best intro to this band is to just watch them play at NPR's Tiny Desk Concert.  Three songs, about fifteen minutes.  The only way I can describe them is somewhere in the spectrum between MoAM? and 65DOS.

For more, here's their Wikipedia page, and here's a link to their web site.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Say it with Reverb

Return to Mountain Biking!

Nothing out of the ordinary, just another day in the woods.  Only thing making this one special is that it's the first trip out onto the dirt since Nov. 10th.  Yes, the healed collarbone works just fine, thanks.

Sorry, no pictures.  Not that kind of a day, nothing show-worthy.  Maybe next time.

Been There, Done That

Except that it wasn't an EEG machine, it was the X-ray unit at the orthodontist's office.  Well dammit, I wanted to know what was going on with that weird thing growing out of the roof of my mouth, and didn't want to wait a week for the thing to be repaired.  Nobody was saying the "C" word, but that's what I was thinking and what the orthodontist told me he was expecting it to be – after it had turned out not to be the case.

In the end, X-rays showed that it was merely a tooth coming in from a very odd spot.  But we knew it that day.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Just off the Road

Back from a whirlwind tour of NW FL.  Major points of interest:
- the 2015 Mustang GT is a nimble beast.
- mini-split heat pump units co$t a lot, but there are worse options.
- the Apalach Tour of Homes was an instructive peek into a bunch of old houses I'd spent a lifetime passing by.
- according to late-night radio, there's a giant UFO submerged in Lake Vostok under the Antarctic ice.  Well, it kept me awake to finish the drive Thursday night / Friday morning.
- FSU has changed a lot, but is still recognizable.
- and I had a really, really great time over in FL.
More to come.