Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Editing the CSS of EPUB files

I make medical textbooks for a living. Mostly medical. We're getting a lot more history books than we used to. And they're simpler than the medical stuff. They don't move as fast either. Some we've got coming our way don't seem like they're worth printing at all. But we'll want to edit and release them anyway. So, I'm suppose to be looking into making eBooks out of them.

I chose the EPUB format largely because InDesign can export to that format and it's fairly common. I knew that some of the formatting would be lost. A lot, actually. How much kinda depends on what you're reading with. I'm testing primarily with a Sony Reader PRS-300, but I've downloaded a few readers to my Android phone. The readers that would allow me to read books that I didn't buy from them were pretty much all rubbish.

The book we're editing now is designed to go in the leg pocket of Army fatigues. It's a quick reference for common procedures you can expect in field hospitals. It has only one column of text, little art or tables, and lots of bulleted lists. It also has lots of blocks of text that have a shaded background. Those refuse to export. They will in CS6, but I'm still running on CS5.5. But I knew there had to be a way. Lots of people told me to edit the CSS. But how do you do that when you've never seen a CSS file associated with an EPUB anywhere?

An EPUB isn't a document in an of itself. If you open it in a text editor you get nothing. First you have to decompress/unzip it. Then you have two folders and a mimetype file. In the folders are the images, HTML, CSS, XML, OPF, and any fonts that may work in the viewer. So you can open the CSS file in your choice of editor, fix it up, and save it. But simply recompressing/zipping the folders and mimetype won't do it. You have to compress/zip the folders and then add the uncompressed mimetype to the ZIP file. Then change the suffix of the file from ZIP back to EPUB.

I jokingly told my boss that I need to write a book called "Didn't I Mention That?" for all not-so-obvious stuff that we're supposed to know. I mean that's a lovely programming book you have, but how do you create the file in the first place? How do you compile? Those files I need to edit to make that electronics board work, where are they? That said, there's plenty of stuff that I'm assuming you know and don't explain here. Compressing/zipping files. Text editors. How to write CSS. Stuff like that. Those are completely different lessons. But leave a comment about your issue and I'll be happy to point you in the right direction. My eReader is reading my modified EPUBs. If yours isn't, just comment.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Book Review: Ancient Shores

I discovered Jack McDevitt when I was plundering the dearly departed Borders book chain. I've reviewed a few of his books and am reading another one of his books now. I liked 99.44% of Ancient Shores. But, boy howdy, did the end of the book piss me off.

It starts with some farmer finding something sticking out of his field. He starts digging and finds that it's the mast of a sailboat buried on his land. The sailboat is made of a material that doesn't get dirty and doesn't wear out. And sometimes it glows at night.

Clearly this boat is not of any known technology. Must be aliens. And they must have sailed this ancient lake that covered part of the Dakotas. Somewhere, there must be a dock. They find the dock on native american land. Researchers and tourists come to check it out.

Stock markets around the world go into chaos and free fall as people wonder if there's still going to be a need for new goods if the technology in this boat ever gets reproduced. Imagine only ever needing to buy two cars in your whole life. How about a suit that only needs replaced if it gets torn.

The government feels the need to bury the tech instead of trying to ride out the chaos. They want to seize the dock, pretend to research it, and blow it up. But, it's on indian land. All kinds of bad history in that arena.

We're getting to the end of the book. It's engaging. I'm sitting in restaurants for hours reading this book. I'm up late reading this book. I'm having to prevent myself from yelling at the book on the subway. I'm getting all worked up about what's going on in the story. Then it ends in one of the stupidest ways possible.

It wasn't a dream. It wasn't a holodeck simulation. Nobody is caught in the Matrix. No, just as the military is about to take it from the defenders by force an airplane dumps a bunch of famous people at the docks. It's one thing to kill farmers and native americans, but something completely different to kill famous people. Then it's all over. End of book. FUCK YOU McDEVITT! You need to fix this book and release it again!

Still. Fantastic book right up until the last 5 pages.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Links: July 27

Mary Tamm passed away Thursday. She's best known as the actress who played the first Romana in Doctor Who back in the Tom Baker/Douglas Adams days. I was a bit smitten with her when I was five and watching Doctor Who from behind the couch.

Aquaman may be a joke among super heroes, but think about where he lives and how he can survive there and he may just be on par with Superman. [link]

Sir Patrick Stewart carrying the Olympic Torch. [link]

Doctor Whoooo - owl statues of the 11 Doctors. [link]

A synthetic jelly fish made from rat heart muscle cells. [link]

How to paint a 150 foot poster. [link]

Cities that might not exist without air conditioning. [link]

An amusing transcript of the David House Grand Jury trial. [link]

Automatic road trip song list generator. [link]

The ACLU has their own cop recording app. [link]

The 10th anniversary Firefly panel at ComicCon. Alas, not the whole cast.

The largest waterfall is underwater. There's a graphic that helps clear this up. [link]

The story of Jesse Owens and Luz Long, a German competitor, may not be true. But the way this story ends tells me it may as well have been. [link]

According to Mitt Romney Olympians didn't make it there on their own, but millionaire CEOs did.  [link]

You've seen the Skyrim "Summon Cheese" video. This one is a Trainrain spell.

The story of a shoot out between drug dealers and off duty Rangers. [link]

The less mentioned senses. [link]
They don't mention the ability to sense how much carbon dioxide is in the blood.

A six year old reads books by their covers. [link]

My computer museum will not be acquiring this Pixar beauty. [link]

An etching of Wheatley from Portal 2 is being launched in to space on an ISS resupply craft. [link]
I just want to be picky and point out that it wasn't Wheatley that was space crazy, but another one of the pods.

Things on my dog's head. [link]

I'm Supe... Batman. [link]

The entire Greenland ice sheet experienced some melting this summer. Typically it tops out at 40%. [link]

History of sliced bread. [link]
It falls just short of saying that the phrase "the best thing since sliced bread" comes from sliced bread being advertised as "the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped".

Pictures of stitches in eyeballs. [link]
Made of nope.

Books read by popular fictional characters. [link]

iPad prototype. [link]

Gadgets that changed the technical world. [link]

Your guide to watching the Olympics on whatever platform you prefer. [link]

Side Effects by Steve Martin. [link]

Do you live in a bubble? [link]
I scored 41.

Microsoft lost money last quarter. [link]
College me laughs. Current me still snickers and smirks a bit.

A sneezing radio. [link]

There's a hole in the planet, dear Liza, dear Liza... [link]

Profits from Mein Kampf are accepted grudgingly by Bavaria and donated to charity. [link]

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Horror movies are so educational

You can learn a lot from horror movies. Such as the fact that when they get scared Japanese women lose the use of their legs. A killer ghost from the attic is shuffling across the room? You or I would have time to make a sandwich for both you and the ghost, leave the room, check your e-mail, get out to the car, realize you have the wrong keys, go back in, get the right keys, grab a jacket, get something to wash down the sandwich, return to the car and leave. A Japanese woman will collapse, drag herself across the room while screaming, and die before the ghost actually touches her. I begin to wonder if Fat Man and Little Boy weren't nuclear bombs, but a couple of creepy little boys that were parachuted into Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sod Off Wednesday: Sally Ride RIP

Sally Ride died the other day. She was only 61. Pancreatic cancer can sod off.

She was the ground commander for STS-2 and STS-3 (second and third Space Shuttle launches).
She became the first American woman in space on STS-7.
She was on the committee that investigated the Challenger explosion.
She wrote five children's books about space.
She was a significant enough figure to earn a mention in the song "We Didn't Start the Fire".

Also, a special sod off to the prick reporter who asked her "Do you weep when things go wrong on the job?"

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Book Review: Feynman

While nosing around the graphic novel and comic strip collection of Politics and Prose I found an illustrated biography of Richard Feynman. A mix of physics and comics was something I couldn't pass up.

For those of you unfamiliar with Mr. Feynman I'll give you the short version. He was part of the Manhattan Project. He was part of the group that figured out what was wrong with the Space Shuttle Challenger after it exploded. He split the Nobel Prize for his work quantum electrodynamics (QED) with people in other countries coming at the same subject from other directions. But I think he's best known for The Feynman Lectures from when he taught freshman physics at CalTech. You can watch similar lectures given at Cornell on Project Tuva. PDFs of the Feynman Lectures books are available here.
(note: I tried watching the lecture on gravity last night and had to kill Microsoft Silverlight a few times and reload the page. Good intentions, Mr Gates, but your problem was using Microsoft software to run the site. Just Google "Feynman Lectures" and you'll find them elsewhere.)

Only a few days before finding the book I'd shown Yummy the video The Pleasure Of Finding Things Out. It's an edited interview with Feynman talking about his life. Much of which was used in the book almost verbatim.

A recent episode of "Eureka" talked about "Feynman Day". In Eureka that's their equivalent to April Fools since Feynman was a notorious practical joker. Alas, this book doesn't much get into that part of him.

The art isn't the greatest. This isn't a comic book. His brilliant mind resulted in a nuclear blast, not the other way around like some Stan Lee character.

You can see more samples on the publisher's site.

When looking for pictures I saw some complaints that this doesn't have much that's new. This is far from the first Feynman biography. But it's the first I've read. I think that's the way most people who pick it up will be. They've heard of him, but don't want to wade through a normal biography.

The book goes into the science he worked on, too. There were a few bits that gave me trouble, but by the end I kind of got it. These bits were drawn from the book "QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter" which came from him trying to figure out how to explain such a complicated issue that it deserved a Nobel Prize to non-mathematicians. The author included so much of that into this book because it was a physics book he could get his mind around. I may have to include it on my reading list.

This book will appeal to a wide range of ages. I'd have no problem handing this to a ten year old. Depending on the kid either you'll have to help with the scientific stuff or the kid will end up explaining it to you. I know my Grandpa would have enjoyed the book, too.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises

I read something the other day that said "The Dark Knight Rises" wasn't going to be filmed in 3D because Christopher Nolan (writer/director/producer) had never met anyone who likes 3D. However, he likes filming in IMAX and people seeing this movie in IMAX would see something extra, something nobody has seen before. So, knowing that tickets were in short supply, I got my tickets online for the IMAX version. The website I got my tickets through listed the show time as 3:30 even though it was really 3:15. We thought we were going fairly early, but lost part of our lead to the city and part of our lead to the wrong time. Then I got in a fight with the machine that made me scan my cards 20 times (no joke) before I could get my tickets. Once I was in the theater there was 10 minutes until the show started. The only remaining seats were in the front 3 rows. Of an IMAX screen. Fuck that. We got our money back and saw Batman on a regular screen an hour later with great seats.

And it was worth it. Nolan was under serious pressure to kick some serious ass with this movie. He not only has to compete with the success of his previous Batman movie with it's legendary Joker performance by Heath Ledger, but this summer he's competing with the success of "The Avengers". He pulled it off and then some. I was really impressed. I'm not going to debate which of the three are best. But none were particularly lacking.

Catwoman got reduced to her cat burglar core and rebuilt. No tail. No whip. No cats. She just develops cat ears when she puts her goggles on her head. She's not a bad guy. She's just trying to use the rich to dig herself out of a hole.

Bane doesn't use the venom that he's known for in the comics and video games. He's just a walking tank. A tank with an accent he got from watching Sean Connery. But I'm not going to tell you much else about him. Spoilers.

Bruce... what he's been up to since the last movie was the most surprising of all.

Watching the movie, for Batman fans, will become a game of "name that storyline" as it draws from several major story lines from the last twenty years. It also draws upon previous movies, including flashbacks to the relevant scenes.

I will be getting this on DVD. I may see it again in IMAX to find out what's going on off screen. Because I really doubt that the IMAX version will be release on DVD or BluRay.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday Links: July 20

WTF, Blogger? When I schedule an update I expect you to update!

A new Google algorithm makes comment spamming work against the spammer. Now they have the nerve to ask the spammed to delete their spams for them. [link]

Bad cop! You wear Hello Kitty until you've learned your lesson. [link]

This guy ejected from his plane and parachuted through a thunderstorm. He's the only person known to have survived this. [link]

A long and gruesome history of surgery over the last 200 years. [link]
"The patient and the assistant both died of sepsis, and a spectator reportedly died of shock, resulting in the only known procedure with a 300% mortality"

The video on this page announces Launcher 1 and then tells us what it is. [link]

What the venom of a Russell's Viper does to blood.

Some seriously messed up skull hands. [link]

Stairs for tight spaces. [link]
I wouldn't want to use the second one regularly, but I'm liking their floor.
How does #8 save on space?

Viacom has pulled The Daily Show and The Colbert Report from the internet. [link]
Good. I think the response from this will tell all the companies looking to abandon Hulu as soon as their contracts are up quite a bit about how the television market has changed.

Patton Oswalt talks about one of his worst shows. [link]

Tiger cubs being raised by a dog. [link]

Was Mitt Romney still working at Bain Capital after 1999 or not? [link]
(hint: yes)

What the Presidents ate. [link]

Pictures of a silt removal operation in China done by opening a dam. [link]
If I ever visit China I want to attend this.

This article tries to explain how Microsoft fell from the titan that it was. [link]
Honestly? It's because Microsoft was a bully and pissed people off. I don't care how good Windows CE was, I would never buy one. I have a Wii and a PS3, but I don't have an Xbox360 because it's a Microsoft product. The only reason I can think of to get a Window machine is to play "Thief 4" when it eventually comes out. I got my last one just to play "Thief 3". Much of the market over the last 15 or more years has been based on "what is the non-Microsoft company offering?"

How hot is it? Check these two maps. [link]

Obama and Romney's respective vacations. [link]

How Louis CK is showing the internet can be used as a workaround of the companies and practices we hate. [link]

I'm Batman.

The Batman trailer using all Peewee Herman voices.

Tom Baker will be participating in the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special. [link]

Man finds his a car stolen from him 42 years before on eBay. [link]

Some decent pictures of the Star Trek (original series) shuttle craft that was sold at auction to be renovated. [link]

This video talks about how they're getting the rover Curiosity to safely land on Mars.

This is how they got the last two down.

The difference is that the new one is so much bigger and heavier than the old ones that the air bags would be torn apart.

The Dead Parrot sketch may date back at least as far as an ancient Roman joke book. [link]

NSFW book title. [link]

America once nuked 1/3 of the satellites then in orbit. [link]
Diabetes is actually beneficial during ice ages. [link] It's been a long standing question about why Saturn's rings are so great while other planets have puny or no rings. Cassini found out that the moon Enceladus is feeding the rings. [link] There's something in a hard to see part of space on the other side of the Milky Way that plans to eat the Milky Way and a bunch of other galaxies. [link]

Trailer for The Dark Knight Rises made out of Batman: The Animated Series clips.

Muppets losing their mind as a scene takes a few hundred shots.

Judge says Samsung didn't rip off the iPad design and Apple must take out ads saying so. He then goes on to say that it's not a rip off because Samsung's isn't nearly as good. [link]
The judicial equivalent of calling them both children

Some guy dressed up as Deadpool and having a lot of fun at ComicCon.

600 year old bra. [link]

Play-Doh cologne. [link]

Great Britain made it's last new territorial claim in 1955. They did it to keep the Soviets from building a missile silo there. [link]

Remember the toy that makes a ball float if you concentrate? I think of that as the Pong of the mind reading technology. This is Breakout/Brickout. [link]
I'll be rather terrified when they get to something on the level of Doom.

The Cave Johnson and Caroline face models. [link]

Iceland: Where they actually bring criminal charges for economic sabotage. [link]
Also, major debt relief helps a lot. Maybe help unload some student loan debt, America.

Republicans and other DMCA supporters should learn something from this. Romney can't post his anti-Obama ad to YouTube because it involves Obama singing a song still under copyright. [link]

Who's more evil: Weyland-Yutani or OmniCorp?

Electrical transmission through concrete. [link]

Nerdy crafting. [link]

I haven't mention the Higgs-Boson. I mean to eventually. Until then, you can rest assured that the people at CERN do have a crow bar. [link]

You've seen where the San Diego fireworks all went off at once. What I hadn't seen was that there were multiple location sites. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Muffin Man Strikes Back

Got a new Starbucks product for you. The Muffin Man has created their new Peaches and Cream Muffin. In the heart of this muffin there's something that a non-baker like me can only insultingly compare to peach pie filling and then some cream filling on top of that.

Peaches and Cream Muffin with the tip of the cream mushed by the side
of the bag it was in.
Every so often, when we have plans and need a quick breakfast, we stop in for a Starbucks Breakfast. Usually a muffin and a venti white mocha. The muffin is food. I gotta eat something. This muffin is something else. It's really damn good. You'll be impressed, really.

Om nom nom naw... etc.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sod Off Wednesday: today

Sod off, I'm tired.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A thought

If you're the President of the United States how can you tell if the President of Nigeria has actually e-mailed you?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Book Review: Redshirts

I've slacked way off on my blog reading, so I missed when John Scalzi came out with "Redshirts" (They were expendable... until they started comparing notes). Luckily the bookstore that held the first signing for the Team Cul De Sac book had "Redshirts" on display.

Somewhere in the world there's an episode of Star Trek airing 24 hours a day. Everyone should know what I'm talking about when I mention redshirts. They're the people who have no role other than being someone who dies on an away mission. This is so well established that during the recent Star Trek movie everyone in the theater had a good laugh when a guy in a red shirt was assigned to the team assigned to take out the super weapon. Sure enough, that guy got himself flung into the energy beam.

In "Redshirts" there's a universe very much like the Star Trek universe. A space ship crewed primarily with humans explores beyond the outer reaches of a collection of star systems that work together. Only these red shirts have noticed a pattern. If you go on a mission with the bridge crew there's a pretty good chance that you'll die.

The book didn't go the way I expected. Peter David has a book called "Sir Apropos of Nothing" about a guy in a medeval setting who refuses to be the secondary character in his own life. Screw letting his best friend, the prince, take the lead. He's gonna steal the horse, ride the dragon, and save the princess on his own. This was what I was expecting.

What really happened is that someone figured out that they were characters in bad Star Trek knock off. The writers of the show were somehow controlling their lives hundreds of years in the future. To save their own lives they have to go back in time and make them better writers. And they have to kidnap a senior crew member to take with them just to make sure the narrative doesn't make their shuttle explode.

It's a fun and easy read. I finished the main story reading it before bed two nights in a row. But the story ends with something like 80 pages left. There are 3 codas at the end. They tell about 3 people in 2010 who the crew encountered and changed their lives.

As usual with Scalzi's books, I highly recommend it. Get yourself a copy. Buy a few for friends. Or, you can get the audio version read by Wil "Wesley Crusher" Wheaton.

Scalzi had Jonathan Coulton write a song for the book. Someone else put this video together. The song is called "Redshirts".

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday Links: July 13

Short Friday Links because I'm tired and going to bed instead of sorting out the rest of what I have. Deal with it.

How to turn old car parts into a joystick. [link]

100 houses that Detroit will pay you to take. [link]

Maurice Sendak almost illustrated a copy of The Hobbit. [link]

A list of Laconic Phrases with special emphasis on Spartan quotes. [link]

How Romans destroyed a mountain for the gold. [link]
I'd like to know more about how they did this. The engineering sounds brilliant.

This article summarizes and links to a Reddit IAmA with a McDonalds employee. It's pretty good. [link]

Hardest Sudoku ever. [link]

A video collage of all the space shuttle launches. [link]

What if a batter hit a baseball travelling at 0.9 C (near the speed of light)? [link]
Yeah, damn straight I'm taking a base!

I'd been holding on to this for weeks. It's a 5 part video of the entire cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation at a convention. It's funny, it's touching, it has a surprise twist. You'll love it. [link]

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Sod Off Wednesday Thursday: July the ... JULY

Temperatures are way down from what they were. I never lost power like so many other people in the area. But, really, it's not the heat, it's the sweativity. YES I SAID "SWEATIVITIY" AND I MEANT "SWEATIVITY"! I'm writing this after returning from Politics and Prose with several new signatures in my Team Cul De Sac book. Their parking is the size of a Triscuit and the nearest Metro station is like a mile away (0.8 miles/1.28 kilometers). I walked from the Metro. Going there was mostly uphill. But, I gave myself time to drip dry and eat once I got nearby. Going home was dark and down hill and only 82°F but there was 57% humidity. This isn't sweat! It's condensation! OK, you Indians are laughing. I just check and it's 82°F in Mumbai with 89% humidity (currently 8:15 AM on Thursday there). But, I'm betting you don't like having soaked clothes and your hair dripping on your neck any more than I do. I realize it could be worse. I think a few years ago at this time I was on the farm holding onto electric wire the cows had broken and trying to reconnect it blind because of all the sweat running in my eyes.

The moral here is I'm sweaty and I don't like it. I didn't say it's a good moral. Actually, it's not a moral at all. But it's still true.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Team Cul De Sac

If you're in the Washington, D.C. area then you need to be at the Politics and Prose bookstore Wednesday night for the Team Cul De Sac signing [link].

Richard Thompson is the cartoonist behind the popular strip "Cul De Sac" [read online] and "Richard's Poor Almanac". "Cul De Sac" quickly spread through the newspaper community even in a time when newspapers are dying and slashing the size of their comics page. Last year he won the Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year. He's a fairly popular guy himself. Despite his success he's widely respected and even loved in the cartoonist community. He got the notoriously absent Calvin and Hobbes cartoonist Bill Watterson to write an introduction to one of his books. That's only slightly easier than getting Charles Schultz to write you a blurb for your book cover and Schultz is dead. I've never heard a bad thing said about the man and lots of praise for what a great and funny guy he is even before he developed what he calls "a pain in the fundament".

This "pain in the fundament" is better known to us as Parkinson's disease. He was diagnosed a couple of years ago. Recently, Chris Sparks, a friend of his, got the idea to use the popularity of "Cul De Sac" and Richard Thompson to get other cartoonists and illustrators to come up with some fan art they could use to raise money for Parkinson's research. They had so many submissions they couldn't keep track of them all. Not just from the big names, but from fans all over. The submissions were put together in a book "Team Cul de Sac: Cartoonists Draw the Line at Parkinson's" which you can buy and get signed at the previously mentioned Politics and Prose event.

There was a previously held event at One More Page Books. We got in on the mob scene there. There were artists packed around a table and more packed around the artists. If you wanted everyone's signature you had to keep an eye on not just those at the table, but those sneaky one hiding along the wall.

The One More Page Books mob.
Photo courtesy of Yummy.

Richard Thompson signing my book.
Photo courtesy of Yummy.
Richard Thompson and I struggling to hear each other.
Photo courtesy of Yummy.
Some time back I sent Yummy this comic strip.
It's what got her hooked on the strip. And when the first book came out with this comic in it she wanted that page signed. It was an unusual request and Richard remembered it. He remembered who she was and signed her book like this.

Much of the art that appears in the book got auctioned off. I managed to get three of the pieces and they were just delivered the other day.
Bill Larocque shows Alice thinks of herself more as
Alice Cooper than Richard's view of as Alice in Wonderland.

Ron Wolfe continues the Alice in Wonderland theme
with a damn fine replica of the style of the art from the books.

Adam Koford, Petey, and I share a similar fear of soccer balls.

Finally, this is how Richard signed my book.
And you thought Richard didn't really read this blog. HA!

Monday, July 09, 2012

Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-man

I'm really not sure what to say about "The Amazing Spider-man". It's a reboot of a series that didn't really need a reboot. Sure, Spider-man 3 suffered from Emo Peter Parker and the song and dance numbers and the attempt to alter the story of Uncle Ben's death, but they could have made a good Spider-man 4 even if they did have to recast a few of the major roles.

Really, their motivation for making this movie wasn't because they had a good idea for a movie. The contract with Marvel says that if they go so long without making a Spider-man movie then the movie rights revert back to Marvel. That's why that really awful, never released, Roger Corman version of The Fantastic Four was made and that's why "The Amazing Spider-man" was made.

There's some things that I felt were done better in the previous trilogy and some things that were done better in this current series.

Two of the first three movies had appearances by Dr Curt Connor, one of Peter Parker's professors. They even made sure to cast this minor character with a missing arm. I always hoped that he'd get the chance to become The Lizard. With "The Amazing Spider-man" The Lizard finally got his appearance, but with a different actor. And with more brains that the comics credit him with.

The previous series did a better job of showing Peter as a science nerd. In this one you can easily get the feeling that any brains he has came from the spider and that much of his work was stolen from his father or Oscorp.

This movie tried to make Peter more of the wisecracking hero he is in the comics, but it came out as forced one liners.

This movie showed him as still being upset by his parents' disappearance and Uncle Ben's death. They also changed the story of Ben's death a bit. Normally I'd grumble, but I liked how they did it. Same basic theme, but new settings. The hunt for the killer is what draws Peter into crime fighting. He was motivated by revenge early on to make Flash Thompson, school jock and bully, look stupid. He hunted Ben's killer to get revenge. But he felt responsible for the creation of The Lizard. That expanded his motivation to be Spider-man to something more noble. But he never did find Uncle Ben's killer. They saved Peter's that until a later movie so they can still use vengeance as a motivation.

At the end they make Peter do his usual "I'm dangerous to be around. We can't be together, girl of my dreams." But, they do show that he realizes he's not going to be able to pull that off.

The movie was definitely built with further movies in mind. Repeated references to ailing Norman Osborn indicate the search for a formula that, when discovered, will likely turn him into the Green Goblin. No sign of Harry Osborne at all, but they did want to distance themselves from the earlier movies. And, if you wait into the credits a bit, we find there's still secrets about Peter's parents that have yet to come out.

I'm not inclined to get this on DVD. I liked it better than Spider-man 3, but less than Spider-man 1 or 2. Depending on how the sequels go, I may get "The Amazing Spider-man" on DVD down the road sometime.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Friday Links: July 6

As a matter of fact, mandatory health care insurance was supported by the founding fathers and had been law at one point. [link]

I was a bit confused when I read the description of this story. R2-D2 and Chewbacca may have been rebel agents? Well of course they're rebel agents! There's three whole movies on the subject! No, he means between episodes 3 and 4 and makes a good case for it. I'd like to see the movies reflect his guy's thinking. [link]

Charles Manson was a Scientologist, but quit because he thought they were too crazy. [link]

Dear Time Traveller,
We at the DoD have reviewed your plan to kill Hitler and would like to know more.
Signed, [link]

There's an auction at the end of July with lots of old costumes and props from Battlestar Galactica, Superman, Star Wars, Star Trek, Batman, and a bunch of other stuff. See the catalog at the [link]

An interesting mind reading device. They frame the device in regards to how Stephen Hawking uses it. [link]

A list of celebrity patents. [link]

Dolphins and whales playing together. [link]

People who are begging to have their identities stole. [link]

I KNEW I read this before. There's a correlation between Black Death survivors and AIDS resistance. [link]

There's a pneumatic garbage system under parts of New York. [link]

When he was 8 this guy asked Lego how to get a job there. He followed their directions and, at the age of 23, got that job. [link]

Stalin tried to have John Wayne killed. [link]

FDR had long hair and a dress until he was 6. [link]

The science of fireworks.

In a crushing blow to video game makers, an EU court has determined that reselling downloaded software IS legal. [link]

A Minecraft TARDIS. Somehow it works.

Lightning gun with LASERs! [link]

"Bizarro Classic".

Now I need to find the "Superman Classic" cartoon he did first.

In "The Avengers" when Nick Fury refused an order, was that a crime? [link]

No wonder it's so damn hot.

Old news. Democrats are better for the economy. [link]

One of little mentioned parts of the Affordable Care Act makes insurance companies spend 80% of what they collect from customer ON the customers. [link]

Paint on batteries.

A stop motion video of an engine coming apart and going back together.

Ten most controversial Supreme Court cases. [link]

A place to explore for the Kansas City readers. [link]

Photo comparisons of Fallout 3 and New Vegas real life vs the games. [link]

An ACLU lawsuit waiting to happen in Louisiana. [link]

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Vacation pics: etc

Here's some random things we encountered on our way back home.

A fairly old hotel sign seen while leaving the Superman Museum. 

Long horn cow found in a random pasture. He was rather friendly.

A scenic overlook.

The same scenic overlook.

A town that shares a name with me.

A cliff face that has been overrun with kudzu.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Happy kablammo day

It's Independence Day here so I'm not writing much.

For the readers in other countries:
I know that in the United States we're pretty clueless about holidays in other countries. Many of us think that Cinco de Mayo (Fifth of May) in Mexico is like our Independence Day, but it's not. At least Canadian Thanksgiving is like our own Thanksgiving. And I really don't know how much people in other countries know about our holidays. So I'll give the short version.

Like many of you, we used to be part of Great Britain. A lot of people say it's the taxation that drove us to finally break away. It's more accurate to say that it was the fact that we had no say in how our taxes were collected or spent. There's a lot of other things we could point our fingers at and say "that's why they did it", but they all come down to taxation without representation.

On 2 July 1776, the Continental Congress voted to break away from Great Britain. They needed to explain to King George and the people in the colonies why they did so. They wrote the Declaration of Independence to do this. On 4 July they approved the wording of the Declaration. On 2 August it was officially signed, although some people signed later.

Clearly, there's a number of days on which we could celebrate our independence. I think we use the 4th of July because that's a date that many of those who drafted the Declaration of Independence accepted as the date we broke away.

The fireworks are a bit harder to explain. There was another war with England later on. They'd been kidnapping Americans off of ships and making them serve in the British navy. We fought back in what became the War of 1812. At a battle in Baltimore (where my girlfriend lives) Ft McHenry was being defended from invasion. Besides all the cannon balls that were fired back and forth there were rockets that look a lot like giant bottle rockets. They put on a great light show that is talked about in our national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. So they're from a different war entirely, but still part of the patriotic mood of the day.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Road trip pics: Superman Museum

While buzzing down the road, still not out of Illinois (but the rest of the trip went faster, I swear), we saw this.

"This" was followed by a series of other signs that directed us to that.


That, only closer. Plus Yummy.

Across the street from "that" was something else.

something else

Next to something else. Plus Yummy

"Something else" was on the outside of a building that housed a Superman museum.

Superman museum.
There's a pretty good shop in there with prices I considered to be quite reasonable. I picked up a few things. Through the gift shop is a densely packed museum of Superman artifacts. Props from the various shows and movies from over the years, posters, merchandise, themed art, costumes, flying harnesses, and... so much stuff and packed in so tight that your head starts to swim with the sheer awesomeness of the place. And it only cost us like $5 a head to get in.

Had we come by a week later we would have landed in the middle of their annual Superman Celebration, complete with celebrity guests.

You can see some pictures of the inside of the museum at http://www.supermuseum.com/.
Shop here

Monday, July 02, 2012

What a storm!

Yummy's nephew had a birthday party this weekend. We had to drive out to the middle of Virginia for the party. As the sun set we were seeing lightning flickering in the distance. "Heat lightning" Yummy called it. Having the internet in my hand and the idea in my head at the same time, I looked it up. Any idea that it's caused by heat isn't true. It's just lightning that's far enough away that the thunder fades to silence before it reaches you.

Before long the wind picked up. Small branches, large dust, all kinds of grit and weirdness were blowing around. Yummy started to think "tornado". I couldn't rule it out. Several miles on it started to rain. Visibility was poor. Yummy asks me to keep an eye out for tree branches in the road. She turned the headlights to bright and I immediately yelled "TREE!" She hit the brakes and we pulled into a conveniently placed U-turn spot between the lanes. Two cars behind us slammed on the brakes to avoid hitting the tree. After a moment they found a gap along the shoulder and started going around the tree. Of course, we followed. I also called 911 and told them about the downed tree.

A few miles on traffic stopped. We could see people moving up ahead, but the rain was beating down. I looked up where we were and got the weather forecast. It said "Minor rain squall". "Minor" and "squall" are not two words I ever expected to see together.

After a few minutes traffic moved. We found where one of the lanes was still blocked by a tree. The end closest to us was cut off remarkably cleanly.

Several miles on traffic stopped again. It seemed to stretch on for quite some distance. The rain had let up a bit so I got out and started walking. More than half a mile down the road I reached the front and a guy with a chainsaw. We got the road cleared. Other guys who had beat me there kept saying "we should let some of these cars through" once one lane was open, but the guy with the saw was on a mission. He just wanted to get somewhere, but trees kept getting in his way. Damn it, he was gonna show those trees!

Seriously though, my thanks to the guy with the saw. There's not a lot of people who just happen to keep one of those in their car. You're awesome, man.

Much later we did get turned back because of an alleged downed tree three miles further on. The GPS had fits about that.

A construction area at the University of Virginia had a bunch of that temporary chain link fencing stuck in concrete blocks. The fencing with stuff woven between the links so you can't see in very well. Something like a block and a half of that stuff had blown over.

Several towns were without power.

Eventually traffic was being directed around a crew with large equipment that was out clearing trees from the road.

We got to see the whole process in a few hour trip. From wind to limb removal. Thanks to the state of Virginia for having people out clearing the roads that fast. It's appreciated.