Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Book Review: A Kiss Before the Apocalypse

I'm a fan of the Nightside and Dresden Files books. Awhile back there was a book of short stories that featured stories by both authors and a few others. It was that book that introduced me to the Remy Chandler books. And when Borders closed I made sure to include some of them in my plundering. Leap ahead to now and I've finally read one.

"A Kiss Before the Apocalypse" is the first book in the series and, I'm hoping, the least impressive. This would not have been the book to sell me on the series. But I'd say the same thing about the first two Discworld book and I love that series.

There's just not much original about the book. I'll grant you that this is true about most books. I'm usually the first to argue that presentation is the most important thing. And the further I got in the book the better I liked it. But for the first 2/3 of the book I kept thinking about how many other times I'd read the same thing so many other times.

Main character Remy Chandler is a supernatural private detective. The difference is that he's a former angel. Not a fallen angel. Just sort of disillusioned with God. That's the element that makes this character unusual.

In this book Death has gone missing and people aren't dying.

Right? That old story, again.

He has followed Remy's lead and is trying to live as a human. He's got a girlfriend and has been living on Earth for about a year. But while Remy suppresses his angelic half, Death tried to keep both parts of himself and it's been driving him mad. Now he's run off and Remy has to find him.

Often in the Death-takes-a-holiday type stories Death finds someone he cares about who he doesn't want to die. Either that's why he's stopped taking lives or else he met them while taking a break and he knows they'll die if he goes back to work. This time it's Remy who has someone dying. His wife is elderly now. Everyone thinks they're son and mother. And she's in the nursing home waiting for the end. And Remy knows that if Death goes back to work his wife will die. But the alternative is the apocalypse. Did I not mention that? Yeah, the four horsemen are coming. Still, when someone you love is dying or has just died, Remy and Death both find out that it's tempting to just let the world end. Because "fuck them".

The detective part of the story is very familiar. Remy chose the last name Chandler after the Raymond Chandler detective novels. And this book reads much like Raymond Chandler does. Or, how I think it would from the movies and other works inspired by his books that I've seen. It's close enough that I'm wondering if the skeleton of a Chandler book was taken and a new book built around it. New characters in the same old roles. Or maybe the author was just really good at emulating Raymond Chandler.

I already have three more books in the series. And I'm going to read them. I'll let you know how they go.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


A point of clarification about a word selection I used yesterday.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dammit, Robin

Said by friend: Holy Macarena-Dancing Orthodox Rabbis, Batman, that's incredible.

My response: You know, Robin, I put up with these idiotic sayings of yours for years because you were young and stupid and I was fairly sure you were gonna get shot. But you're in your 40s now and frankly you sound like a retard. While I'm at it, get a new uniform already. You've been
wearing that same outfit since you got here. It's worn so thin that you're flashing you goodies to half of Gotham. The police don't care about you being a vigilante, they want you for indecent exposure. For God's sake, you've creeped out the Teen Titans so much they have a restraining order on you.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Friday Links: November 23

Strange foot development in a Zimbabwe tribe. [link]

Downloaded, but not played: A Slower Speed of Light. Pick up the 100 objects. But as you play the speed of light will change and what you're able to see changes accurately. [link]

We have a broken stereo cabinet that I'm hoping to fix. Here's one option to repurpose it. [link]

How to make Kryptonite candy. [link]
You need to watch the video for proper instructions.

The song that became the James Bond Theme.

Calculate the destruction from a meteor impact. [link]

I still don't get what Graham's Number is supposed to be calculating, but this video is kind of interesting and the number they're describing is just crazy huge. [link]

I knew Hostess was having troubles. Apparently the Union didn't know. [link]

I haven't tried this. Let me know if you do. But this claims you can calculate pi by throwing phallic foods. [link]

Virginia Tech has a 3D printer available for general student use. [link]

An interesting idea for a ski slope. [link]

A bird that teaches it's chicks a passtone while they're in the egg. [link]

Sign a petition to allow Texas to withdraw from the United States. [link]
I think it's a fine plan. Of course, the United States gets to close all military bases and pull out all troops. Lets see how balanced the Texas economy is without the federal government funding Texas welfare and child health care. Texas is an anchor on the rest of the nation: politically, culturally, environmentally, intellectually, and economically. Cut it off. The only question I have is if we HAVE to send relief efforts as they descend into chaos. Really. 15 years from now will they be more like Somalia or Iran?

UPS joins Intel in cutting off support for the bigoted Boy Scouts. [link]

What happens to women who can't get abortions? [link]

Best. Pollsters. Evar. [link]

Gatorshark vs Zombie Cheerleaders. [link]

A gas giant has been found that's so big that it may actually be a small brown dwarf. [link]

A guy who planned to shoot up a Twilight showing, similar to the recent Batman shooting, was foiled when his mother turned him in. [link]

Dumb Ways to Die.

Doctor Who Christmas Special preview.

Great Battlemechs in History. (all 1 of them) [link]

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

It's a holiday in the United States. We call it Thanksgiving, but you may as well call it the Harvest Festival or something. There's really no more food to bring in. Even the acorns have been gathered. And it's about to get really cold. So it's one last big community gathering to fatten us up before the long winter. After all, who knows how many of us will survive until spring. Or winter solstice. Whichever.

Officially, we're celebrating the new friendship with those dirty natives who bailed out the Pilgrim settlers who had no clue what they were getting into in the new world. In pictures the Pilgrims are shown all covered in buckles. Even on their hats. The truth is that they didn't look like that. Buckles were added to the Pilgrims and to Santa Claus by Victorian era artists because buckles were considered to be quaint and old-timey and were added to anything they wanted to look old.

Tomorrow you can put up Christmas decorations without me slapping you. You can play your Christmas music at your funeral after I beat you to death for playing Christmas music.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Just Wednesday: Thanksgiving Eve

Instead of telling someone to Sod Off, I'm going to take today to introduce a new Dougintology preferred charity. Comic book fans among you may have heard of The Wayne Foundation. It's the charity arm of Wayne Enterprises and is headed by Batman's alter ego. In the comics it's often used to do follow up work on someone Batman has saved besides it's day to day work of helping people out of bad situations and generous scholarships for promising inner city kids.

Turns out The Wayne Foundation is real []. They use the funding to help out woman caught in domestic sex trafficking. There are other charities that do the same thing, but they don't have the geek cred this one does.

As far as I can tell, The Wayne Foundation has no formal connection to DC Comics or Warner Brothers.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

National Pinball Museum

Q: Who has two thumbs and is running behind?
A: That guy, officer! The one who... with the... I got nothing.

If you're in the Baltimore area you'll want to check out the National Pinball Museum. We did!

It's down near the touristy waterfront area. The first floor has the museum part where you'll read about the struggle of pinball machines in an era where people insisted comics books, pinball machines, and Frank Sinatra were leading to a decadent youth. They show pinball machines dating back to France 400+ years ago when they used a pool cue instead of a spring loaded stick.

The second and third floors are full of playable pinball machines. For your $18 entry fee you'll get a card that allows you to play all you want for hours on end. Some are the sort of systems I grew up with where there were light up displays, mini-games within the game, and a heck of a show. Some are older where you can actually follow the action intelligently.

You can see into the repair room where they have some systems on a rack and boxes of replacement bumpers and flashers. I'm told you can take classes in pinball repair, but I'm not sure how.

We spent about three and a half hours there and played most of the working systems several times. I can totally see having a birthday party there. We'll probably go again and make sure it's a stop for friends visiting the area.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Stuff I wish I said

"Yes, but, with all due respect, I'm surprised you manage to get your pants on correctly each morning. The fact that you'd even make such a suggestion shows that you don't have even a rudimentary grasp of the concept. I'd just as soon take the advice of my pet dog. He's at least paid attention to what I do for awhile. You're just wandering about trying to provide the illusion of being a useful employee. I can't even credit you with making good coffee since the few times you actually make something after draining the pot you make this inedible sludge. Has anyone explained the concept of a filter to you? It keeps the grounds out of the pot and keeps your horrible stench out of our noses. [etc]"

"WOAH! I thought you said with 'all due respect'."

"Yep, and that's said with all the respect due to you."

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Links: November 16

The Lewis and Clarke expedition's path has been traced because of the mercury based laxatives they used. [link]

In Oregon 220 misdemeanor marijuana cases are being dropped following decriminalization of small amounts. [link]

Freedom Tower whistles in the wind. [link]

Damage map for if a place of your choosing got nuked. [link]

Pregnancy test detects testicular cancer. [link]

Rather than rethink his position, guy takes the results of the election as cause to cut off all contact with someone he thinks may have liberal leanings. [link]
I seriously doubt he has liberal friends to begin with.

Why doesn't MTV play music video anymore? The awesome answer!

20 year old questioner, I'm pretty sure you NEVER saw a video on MTV!

“Math you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better”. [link]

The skill gap in America isn't just about computer skills. These people can't do basic math, or read and write. And, strangely enough, manufacturing is still a wanted skill. [link]
$12/hour and benefits? It's work, but nobody is going to put out their own money to get training for a job that pays that little.

I see lots of "new" bikes every month that look just like all of the other bikes. But I like this one. [link]

An app that could turn any surface into an iffy iPad keyboard. [link]

How much exercise is enough? [link]

A really great prosthetic arm. [link]

Circuits that apply to tissues. [link]

Apple just got a patent for rounded corners on electronic devices. But it's not the stupides patent awarded. [link]
Hey, Obama. Looking for a way to kill the next four years? Fix this!

$200 iPad was just a mirror with an Apple logo. [link]
Lesson: Don't buy iPads at gas stations.

Forecasts for the next 10 years. [link]

As time goes on we see the predictions of the gloomier climate change models proving more accurate than the optimistic ones. [link]

Shark tracker. [link]

Safeway is trying to ban cameras from their bakeries so their cakes won't show up on Cake Wrecks. [link]
Another article talks about how Safeway is trying to copyright their cakes so they can't end up on Cake Wrecks.

Throwable camera ball. [link]

1 Liter of urine gives you 6 hours of electricity. [link]

East and West view intelligence differently. [link]
I don't mean politically. There we see intelligence very, VERY differently.

A lesson into making proper coffee. [link]

Cat photos as error messages. [link]

The full soundtrack to the new Hobbit movie. [link]

A guess what "Far Over A Misty Mountain Cold" from The Hobbit will sound like.

Cats trying to figure out a humidifier.

(S)he's right behing me, isn't (s)he?

R2-D2 ring. [link]

Who has their camera running at a time like this?

A rom-zom-com coming in February.

Romantic-zombie-comedy, duh.

This is going to be expensive.

A Doctor Who/My Little Pony crossover. [link]
Doctor Hooves?

Oh, look. AT&T didn't need T-Mobile's resources after all. [link]

The Firefly cast got to pitch script ideas. Too bad the show didn't last. [link]

Star Wars: Episode VII will be written by the guy who wrote Toy Story: Episode III. [link]

Grand Theft Auto: Tron City. [link]
The down side to getting my games for Playstation instead of PC is that I don't get to use the mods.

Weird Al's "Bob" is full of good movie titles. [link]

TL;DR - Most corrupt politicians. [link]

Hmmmm... Gerrymandered much? [link]
I'm posting this for the last graphic.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Audio Book Review: Iron Druid Chronicles

"Hounded", "Hexed", and "Hammered" make up the first trilogy in Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles. In them we follow Atticus O’Sullivan, the last druid, a 2000+ year old twenty-something living in Arizona. His faithful companion is a dog with a solid knowledge of pop culture references - particularly Star Wars. His lawyers are a vampire and a werewolf. His bartender has someone else living in her head. And everyone hates Thor

In the first book a Celtic god (sorta) comes to recover a sword that he insists that our hero stole from him in battle a few thousand years ago. He does this by sending monsters and turning the local police against Atticus. And who knows whose side those witches are on.

In "Hexed" there's a fallen angel who escaped from the first book who is eating people. And a pack of witches with demon fetuses who want to kill pretty much anyone in the area with magic.

And since Atticus (spoiler alert) kills a god in the first book there have been many other beings asking him to kill their own gods. He finds himself suckered into having to help some friends kill Thor.

These descriptions are simple, but I'm tired enough right now that I've already nodded off twice while writing this.

You want to listen to the books for the dog. He sounds like a dumb dog, but he has a respectable vocabulary that he uses to try to earn more snacks. He also watches too much TV and makes strange Star Wars references. The books are good without the dog, but he makes you love the book.

I will be looking for the next trilogy that starts with "Tricked" and "Trapped".

But now is sleepy ti.....................

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sod Off Wednesday: Papa John's

Papa John's announced that Obamacare will raise the price of pizza by 11-14 cents per large. Some reports said they'd be raising pizza by 50 cents to cover the 11 cent hike, but I've not been able to confirm that. There's be a lot of outcry about that. I have some issues with both side.

Papa John's is a business. The cost of food has to cover all the expenses plus some extra for profit. It's not just the cost of ingredients, but employees, utilities, rent, benefits, and all that. Sometimes the price of pizza goes up as other costs go up. Nobody freaks when the price of pizza reflects a change in property values or the cost of electricity.

On the other hand, Papa John's doesn't make announcements to their shareholders about changes in their water bill. The announcement is in protest of their candidate losing the election. It's in protest of having to make sure their staff has health insurance in case some pizza delivery goes horrible wrong. After all, emergency rooms exist for a reason!

Will I be boycotting Papa John's? No. I've already stopped eating there.

I used to eat from one within easy walking distance of my house. I stopped when the shopping center was knocked down to make way for a vacant lot. It was a shame. I much preferred their pizza to Pizza Hut, Pizza Boli's, Dominoes, etc.

I started again when I started visiting Yummy at her apartment in Baltimore. I stopped after ongoing horrible service from the delivery people and managers backing out on promises of free pizza to make up for the 3 hour delivery times.

Looking around online I found that horrible delivery service is standard for Papa John's. More than that, Papa John's is rather abusive of their staff, particularly the delivery people.

Horrible bosses that manage to run a company well is one thing. Papa John's is not that thing.

So I gave them up as being dicks a long time ago and wrote to them to tell them why. A boycott does no good if they don't know why they're losing business.

Still, for their many sins against employees and open hostility to the health of Americans as a whole, Papa John's can Sod Off.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Movie Review: Skyfall

This was not the James Bond movie I expected. Looking at the trailer I was expecting a movie like that first Mission Impossible movie. Where MI6 was destroyed or shut down or something and James Bond would be the last secret agent. Nobody in MI6 could be trusted. Bond and a secret new Q would meet in a museum to receive new toys because it wasn't safe to meet otherwise.

That's not what happened at all, but I don't want to tell too much. Think "Moby Dick". Think "Wrath of Kahn". This is a movie about obsession. One guy who thinks he was wronged. Not by James Bond. By M. And he's got a plan to bring her down by destroying things around her. But who it is remains a secret until late in the movie.

The movie also has a strong theme of new vs. old. Triggers vs buttons, young Bond vs older Bond, classic Bond vs current Bond, Cold War vs terrorist age, and on and on, etc., etc.

Of special note: I liked the camera work early in the movie when they were fighting on top of a train going through a tunnel. These fight scenes aren't rare, but often the camera is shooting from somewhere that would normally be on the other side of a wall. This time the camera remain (mostly) within the tunnel. This let to some strange shots and angles that let to a claustrophobic feeling to go with the action.

Of additional note: This movie is not the end of the original planned trilogy. The third script in the series that started with "Casino Royale" wasn't good enough and Daniel Craig said he wouldn't do it. Apparently, they came up with a new one instead of fixing the old. No complaints here. It means I don't have to get the second movie. I bought "Casino Royale" and I'll get this one, though. So now I'll own two Bond movies.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Friday Links: November 9

Game: Nuclear Plant - fend off the creatures long enough to work a lab and grow a plant in hopes of saving the Earth. [link]

George Lucas gets payback on obstructionist neighbors. [link]

100 "best" sci-fi movies of all time. [link]
I'll leave it to you to debate the order.

Given a tablet, teachers are unnecessary. [link]

Battle of the Bonds

HMS Bounty sunk by Sandy. [link]

The trippiest damn TV you've ever seen. [link]

The toughest bridge in the world.

Trees suck. Like a LOT!

Troll or idiot? Wait for the man-on-the-street interview. [link]

"Due to the substantial amounts of granite in their construction, many public buildings including Australia's Parliament House and New York Grand Central Station, would have some difficulty in getting a licence to operate if they were nuclear power stations." [link]

9 most anti-science candidates for office. [link]
#1 - Denny Rehberg - lost
#2 - Paul Broun - won, but there were 4,000 write in votes for Charles Darwin
#3 - Joe Manchin - won
#4 - Richard Mourdock - lost
#5 - Dean Heller - won
#6 - Tom Coburn - Can't find
#7 - Hank Johnson - won
#8 - Michele Bachman - won... barely
#9 - Todd Akin - lost

Why Pixar is worth more than LucasFilms. [link]

The average distance between stars is 4,150 light years. [link]
That's just not fair. You're putting the space between galaxies up against the space between stars within the galaxies.

Smugglers screw up. [link]

Get a text when the ISS passes over you. [link,]

Skeleton of messenger pigeon from WWII found with message still attached. [link]

The Obama Conspiracy Theories. [link]

Sweet radios. [link]

It's pretty common to survive plane crashes. [link]

Walmart continues to be a dick. [link]

People found the debates funnier than popular sitcoms. [link]

Amazon vs everyone. [link]

Brits have invaded 9 out of 10 countries. [link]

Facts about Presidents... that I didn't actually finish. [link]

Evolution of type. [link]

Analysis of the dragon skeleton in Skyrim. [link]

Sesame Street to do a hurricane episode where Big Bird's nest gets destroyed. [link]

David Tennant: cybernetic Jedi trainer.

Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford are both up for another Star Wars movie. [link]

Porsche headlights great for growing pot. Thieves have noticed. [link]

Rules for writing detective novels. [link]

A pretty good video of costumes at London Comic Con.

What happens when wizards drink too many potions?

Device for testing the strength of gunpowder. [link]

How MST3K picked what movies to mock. (they watched a LOT of movies) [link]

The most indebted man in the world. [link]

MIT Gangnam Style.

Leaf blower based kitten rescue.

Windows 95 was written by Cthulhu. Just check the error messages. [link]

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Found in new house

I'm busy. So here's a picture of something I found in the basement of my new house. Isn't it pretty? Ooooh. Aaaah.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Sod Off Wednesday: Election Day Aftermath

Kinda hard to be grumpy today.

Florida is trying to work out their own election, but nobody cares because Obama has a 97 electoral college vote lead. Sorry Supreme Court. If it makes you feel any better, by overturning the 2000 election and throwing us into 8 years of utter crap you made sure that a black and a woman could be taken seriously as candidates in 2008. So, in a way, you helped determine this election, too.

Two states, Maryland and Maine, have legalized gay marriage by popular vote instead of judicial decree or legislation. A third, Minnesota, tossed out a law that would have banned gay marriage there. I'm hearing that there's so many gay marriage bills out to help drive Democrats to the polls where they'll also vote Obama. Interestingly enough, that's why there were so many gay marriage bills up for vote in 2004. Only back then they were trying to push the Republican base to the polls. And it worked then, too.

Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana for taxation. I didn't even know these bills were being discussed, let alone voted on. It's still illegal at the federal level so we should have some interesting years coming up on that front. I'm more of a fan of industrial marijuana, but I see this as progress on that front as well.

In Virginia they passed a constitutional amendment to make it harder for the government to practice eminent domain. This is the first time since Bush decided not to veto the Do-Not-Call Act that Republicans and I have agreed on something.

Congress is still split. That's unfortunate. But Democrats have a better hold on the Senate now.

So let me grumble about the pundits on the radio. Everyone was talking about what the Republicans did wrong. Maybe it was demonizing the hispanics. Maybe Americans don't agree with their economic policies. Maybe it was... Personally, I think that a whole lot of people recognize that the recovery is being hindered by a unified Republican party that not only fights Obama's recovery plans, but refuses to put out any of their own in case Obama gets credit for it. I think it's due to the GOP showing that they're happy to watch the whole country burn rather than risk something positive happening under Obama's watch. Or maybe I'm not the only one who remembers how things were 4 years ago. Maybe there's some other people that remember that Republican policies mean walling off Mexico while leaving the ports largely unsecured. Maybe they remember scrubbing oil from beaches because Republicans think oil wells should be inspected by the people running them. Maybe it's because Republicans like having to pretend to be Canadian when traveling overseas. Maybe it's the Tea Party actually voting for the guy who promises to raise taxes and balance the budget instead of the guy who promises to cut taxes for the rich and increase spending for the military.

OK, I'm stopping now.

Mitt Romney! The GOP didn't particularly like you, but you were the least insane. The Democrats didn't like you. And now most of America joins me in bidding your a heartfelt sod off.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

The city of Wise

Sign found on the way home from St Louis last May.
Interesting only because my last name is Wise.

Monday, November 05, 2012


Yesterday you were supposed to set your clocks back an hour.
Tomorrow you're not supposed to set the country back 50 years.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Friday Links: November 2

Clouds Over Cuba - an internet based short(ish) documentary about the buildup and passing of the Cuban Missile Crisis with plenty of optional material. [link]

Turn your copy of Doom 3 into a close knockoff of Thief. [link]

Tommy Lee Jones in a series of Japanese commercials for an energy drink.

Washington DC is trying to develop an internet voting system. They made it available for hacking to test vulnerabilities. This article talks about what one group of hackers did. [link]

"Obama walked into a horrendous economic situation and has begun to turn it around." - Colin Powell [link]

It's next to impossible to fire a cop. [link]

Functional(ish) anatomic models made of glass. [link]

Homemade Myst style linking book. [link]

A squid with human style teeth. [link]

Ballmer Peak is real. A specific level of alcohol does improve your mental performance. [link]

The Elmer's Glue cow is married to Elsie, the Borden Dairy cow. [link]

Don't tape your windows before a storm. [link]

Parallel parked cars can be towed.

The heat from this style of solar plant in the Mojave could fry birds and flip planes. [link]
I saw one of these in Fallout: New Vegas. In fact, it may have been this one.

Dark spots on Mars appear to be made of glass. [link]

Read the bit about the 11 midgets. [link]

HTTP error #418 [link]

Six kids raised by animals. [link]

Frosting based street art. [link]

How H.P. Lovecraft fans deal with telemarketers. [link]

At what point do you think it might be a good idea to run?

Fun (for limited definitions of fun) with paradoxes. [link]

A mean trick to play on an elevator.

Top entries for Wildlife Photographer of the Year. [link]

Is it legal to kill a zombie? [link]

"A Republican is somebody’s who’s been mugged (by a negro); a Democrat is someone who has had the largest hurricane in the history of humanity fuck up his state beyond measure at which point he learns that “private enterprise” and “government so small you could drown it in a bathtub” are not the best way to deliver life-saving services to an entire third of the country." [link]

Luxury goods repo-men. [link]

That time humans almost went extinct. [link]

There's a Darth Vader head on the National Cathedral! [link]
Now I gotta go back!

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Lookit d' baybe squerrle!

This is Rocky. He was found at the bottom of the my stairs a bit before dawn a week or two back. Just before he was found there was a thud and a sound like some kind of siren that would normally precede a major city vanishing in a cloud. I had no idea squirrels could make sounds like that.

The mother was heard running around of the roof franticly looking for Rocky. I knew they sounded like that.

He was really very sweet and snuggly. Of course, he was concussed after falling from a nest and onto my kitchen floor. He became more active later, but never clawed or bit. He tried to climb me a few times. He was always eager to go back into his towel. That's all he really wanted.

The rescue place said Rocky was 5 weeks old, very fat, and will be fine. Yummy called to check. He's fine.