Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Links: May 25

I'm gonna start with some mad props for the Justice Department.
You've heard about places where it's illegal to film cops. The Justice Department has notified police departments in general and the Baltimore PD specifically that interfering with the recording of police officers is unconstitutional. [link]

"Back in Time" from "Back to the Future". [link]
"Back in Time" from "Men in Black III". [link]

The names of The Avengers written in Gallifreyan. [link]
Don't ask me. I don't know why.

A Hebrew scholar explains how some controversial passages of Leviticus actually translate. [link]

When a star forms iron it's pretty much fucked.

The racing mind issue in sleepless nights. [link]

Numbers have upper and lower case. [link]

Donner and Blitzen derived from Donder and Blixen which are German for thunder and lightning. [link]

Jim Cummings, one of the people who voiced Winnie the Pooh, calls sick kids in hospitals in character to cheer them up. [link]

Disney/Pixar owns Marvel. This makes the fact that The Avengers was so good that much more impressive. Of course, that means that over the next 20 years we're going to see 12 more Avengers movies with most of them going straight to video. Anyway, someone realized that Marvel Studios and Pixar both have movies with archers in them. [link]

Better yet, The British Avengers. No, not with Emma Peel! [link]

The first known prank calls. [link]

That Star Wars TV series isn't dead. No, really! So what if it's been in development for years and it'll be at least a few more years before we see an episode. And, apparently, it's not at all the same show originally described. [link]

"Don't go down that road. It's a warzone down there."
"Oh yeah? Then I'll just turn my car into a motorcycle!" [link]

GTA: R2-D2 - I was wondering if it was really worth posting when R2 suddenly became Dragonborn.

In the foreground, a mouthpiece for Rupert Murdock smears the BBC. In the background, well, it appears to be a villain from an original run Doctor Who episode running free.

There is no new sci-fi next season on Fox. Sadly, that's only 1 less than on the SciFi SyFy Channel. [link]

SpaceX has an active mission in orbit to dock with the ISS. That's right, kiddie. America's back in space! If things are going right they'll be docking today. [link]

Nope. Not living there. Not in a totally see through house. In fact I'd think it would only work as an art project using paid actors to live there. [link]

How fast do you read? AND comprehend. There'll be a quiz. [link]

DING! That sound is Google Chrome passing IE as the most used web browser on the internet. [link]

Why aren't cities littered with dead pigeons? WARNING: Page contains disturbing video. [link]

I'm stealing the plans for this room. Anyone mind? [link]

NAACP comes out in favor of same sex marriage. It's probably motivated by a need to counter balance the rather conservative nature of "black" churches in the face of the recent announcement by the black President. Preacher says it's bad. NAACP says fine. Looks like black voters may have to think for themselves on the issue. [link]
You don't have to be comfortable with it. It doesn't affect you.

An analysis of The Avengers and Joss Whedon in regards to character development, story telling, and writing for 4 main characters and several secondary but still important characters. [link]

To wrap things up I want you to jump 6 minutes in to this video. [link]
Having finished "The Avengers" Joss Whedon pulls together a group of his friends and films his next movie entirely at his house. This version of "Much Ado About Nothing" may challenge the Captain Picard/Doctor Who version of "Hamlet" as the most watched Shakespeare adaptation. Release date of ... someday.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Towel Day

me and my towel
May 25, 2006
Tomorrow is Towel Day. Celebrations will be held world wide. Find your local celebration at

For the uninitiated I should explain.
Douglas Adams died 11 May 2001. A date was chosen exactly two weeks later to commemorate his life and work. Time was needed for word of this memorial to get around the internet. Some people have tried to move the date to the actual date of his death or the date of his birth or some other date more appropriate. But by popular consensus it has remained May 25.

Douglas Adams was a writer. He wrote for the original Dr Who series making Tom Baker the one original Doctor that most people recognize. He did some work for Monty Python's Flying Circus. He's best known for the radio and book series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Anytime you see the number 42 on TV, cartoons, or software it's almost certainly a reference to that series. He also did a great but little known book called "Last Chance to See" where he and a proper biologist traveled to remote parts of the world looking for rare animals.
Within a week of his passing there was an asteroid named Arthur Dent. Early in 2005 asteroid 2001 DA42 was named Douglasadams.

Why a towel?
This next bit is from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

This is what The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has to say on the subject of towels.

A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have. Partly it has great practical value - you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy
river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you - daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the
hitch hiker might accidentally have "lost". What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

Towel Day is celebrated by carrying your towel with you all day. If that's too embarassing the Dougintologists also use the occasion to plant a tree or contributing to an enrironmental charity.
Favorites include:
* Dian Fossey Gorilla Foundation (
* Save the Rhino (
* Solar Electric Light Fund (
* Trees for the Future (

We will be driving to St. Louis with a towel. I'll try to get pictures. I think I need to dig out the radio show to listen to.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sod Off Wednesday: May 23

Yesterday my car was parked on a street scheduled for street cleaning. The city was fully justified in telling me to sod off and put a ticket on my car.

Yesterday my car was towed. Sod off DMV.

After an hour in the phone system (multiple calls. Still, sod off DMV phone system) I talked to a person. He told me they'd moved my car around the corner instead of an impound lot. Thanks for not impounding my car. Still, towing was an overreaction. And the guy who just got ticketed and not towed went from fury for being ticketed to feeling pretty good about his day when I told him my car was gone.

When I went online to pay my ticket I found out that it would take 20 days for my ticket to appear on the website. Sod off

I also found out that there were four tickets that I knew nothing about. Did I deserve them? Totally. But I do feel that there's a certain obligation to let me know I have parking tickets. Like the time they e-mailed me. Baltimore has no hesitation about telling you. Ticket? Yeah. On the window and in the mail. Baltimore wants their fucking money. But the DC DMV needs to get their shit in gear or sod off.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

RIP Joel Goldsmith

My mother's maiden name is Goldsmith. It's for that reason that the names of Jerry and Joel Goldsmith stood out in TV credits.

Of all the work he did, I would have noticed Jerry's name in the credits for a few "The Twilight Zone" reruns and a whole lot of Star Trek TV and movie work. Later, I'd notice the name Joel Goldsmith popping up a lot, too. Joel became the sound of Stargate much the way his father was the sound of Star Trek. They both have a ton of other shows to their name, but I saw them primarily in their sci-fi work.

Joel passed away near the end of April after a long battle with cancer. Jerry died of cancer back in 2004.

I'm gonna miss their music and seeing their last name on screen.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Et cet ter uh



You can't sit cross legged on the couch for five hours straight without regretting it afterward. Well, at least I can't. Not anymore. I'm sure the four hours of doing the same thing before that didn't help. There was a supper break in there. With walking.

So, productive weekend. I stayed home this weekend. I finished reading a book that I'll tell you about soon, and made a lot of progress on another book.

Probably about two years of comic books got sorted and bagged and boxed and removed from my bedroom and added to the mass in the attic that will some day squish me flat.

And I talked to a homeless guy at Starbucks. Not the one in the wizzard hat who kept making grunts and moans and chuckles and was really freaking Gandolf out. No, the other one who seemed totally lucid until you realized what he was talking about. We had a nice chat, well, he had a nice chat and I had a nice smile and nod and "yep" at the right places. I didn't feel that I could add much to the discussion about the relative merits of alien spaceship drives. But I felt I contributed nicely when talking about 8 dimensional FTL drives.

And then I spent about nine hours working on a wedding gift for Der Muffinmann. Hey, Muffin, you don't have an allergy to week old mayonnaise substitute, do you? How about if the substitute is something I found growing under the house? Is sandwich spread supposed to speak?

Question for the masses:
Yummy and I and a bunch of people with chromosomes that resemble mine if you turn your head and squint are going to be in St. Louis next week. On our list of places to hit are the City Museum, the Anheuser-Busch brewery tour, and those claustrophobic washing machine tumbler things that get you to the top of the St. Louis Arch. What else would you add to the list?

Don't forget Mimi the cat. It needs a home.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Links: May 18

I've been sitting on this one until I could read it. It's an article based on an interview with Joss Whedon. It talks about his history, why he had the credentials to do "The Avengers", and the projects that died or never happened. If nothing else, skim for his contribution to the Alien franchise and the Batman movie that never happened. [link]

Plans for how to make model airplanes from aluminum cans. [link]

A car with fold out wings. You know you've thought about how to make something like this. Maybe not since high school, but it's crossed your mind. [link]

Terry Gross from Fresh Air and an interview gone wrong. May seem a bit long, but stick with it.

The ampersand (&) used to be part of the alphabet. [link]

This paralyzed woman completed a marathon using robotic legs. Think Wallace and Grommet in "The Wrong Trousers". [link]

Black holes don't eat as much as they accrete. [link]

18 year old girl has body and mind of a toddler. [link]
What bothers me is that her mind hasn't developed. What does this mean about brain development? Is 18 years of experience not recorded? Why bother living forever if you can't remember or learn anything?

Here's some people having luck making mice live longer. [link]
They're making the mouse telomeres longer, but in the case of the girl in the previous article her telomeres are shortening normally. So there's something else that needs attention.

A Fallout fan film.

Movie posters if the movies were released decades earlier . [link]

Here is why that famous Van Halen concert tour rider said "no brown M&Ms" explained by a member of the band. [link]

How to make a costume Iron Man style arc reactor. [link]

Huh. The only unmarried American President was gay. Who would have guessed? [link]

Cockroaches wouldn't do as well during a nuclear war as one might think. [link]

Too much body spray can set off fire alarms. [link]

Data collected since the Kennedy administration shows  that Democrats are better job creators than Republicans. [link]
I was too young to remember anything about Carter other than that he existed, but everything I've seen from Reagan on puts this study firmly in the DUH! column. Jobs = Democrats. Debt = Republicans.

"We're Trekkies and We Know It" - I wasn't gonna post it, but then I laughed at 2:11.

An animation done to an explanation of how Pixar accidentally deleted Toy Story 2 late in production.

See also [link] and also [other link]

Can you say doomed to fail?
"We want to build a working Enterprise over the next 20 years." [link]
There. I knew you could do it.

Just some random visual gags from the Marvel Universe.

Some day we'll be able to upload ourselves into computers. It will probably go something like this.

Can we call these space stations something OTHER than inflatable? They're going to be enough like a Moon Bounce already. [link]

All new Cave Johnson dialog.

A fact overload about the cartoon "Animaniacs". [link]

The filming of Star Trek 2 has wrapped. Four months of filming and something like a year of special effects before it's released. Am I the only one who has a problem with this? [link]

Catnip PSAs. [link]

There's a myth debunking e-mail filter. Google needs to buy them and put it in their system. [link]

Didn't read it all, but here's an article about blood used in foods. [link]

Have your kids' drawings made into plushies. [link]

Old pictures of Earth. [link]

Gnarliest wave ever to be surfed. [link]

Mid-century garage doors. [link]

Remember that time they found bodies in Ben Franklin's basement? [link]

An interview with one of the leaders of Anonymous. [link]

Whatever happened to Flickr? Same thing that happened to Yahoo. Yahoo happened. [link]

A bunch of economists were asked, given $75 billion, how do you save the world? [link]

I don't check John Scalzi's site nearly as much as I did when I had an office. I've been relying on my other sources to point out particularly good posts. In this one he tries to explain how much easier straight white men have it than any demographic that varies from that. He does it by saying that in the game of life Straight White Male is the lowest difficulty setting. It contains links to follow-up posts. [link]

Why the Star Trek universe is secretly horrifying. [link]

The sandwich is 250 years old. [link]
In general, that is. The sandwich as a concept. Not a specific sandwich. Ok, maybe that one I saw for sale at the gas station... No, that was 180-190 at most.

Look! Camels that must get their hair cut by the same person as that guy I saw on the subway last week! [link]

The Immortal - a collection of life support machines that keep each other alive. [link]

Need some cheap maps? The USGS is having a sale! [link]

Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior. [link]
The real question, are they unethical because they're rich or are they rich because they're unethical?

Some spiders hunt in packs. Don't try to sleep tonight. [link]

2 1/2 year old meets a robot dinosaur.

Recursive Drawing - watch the video before you start drawing. [link]

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mimi the cat

I regret to say there's another cat that we need to find a home for. Her name is Mimi and the apartment complex she lives in has imposed a $300/month fee for keeping a pet. That kind of expense is too much for her owner to handle so Mimi needs to find a new home.

Her owner describes her as "a very loving cat, loves alot of attention. Very well mannered cat."

I got to meet Mimi once. At first she ran off because of the sudden introduction of strangers to her house. Within a minute she was peeking into the room. Once she got a chance to look us over she came right back and rolled on the ground by us. Yummy got to pet and snuggle Mimi. I scooped her up and scratched her ears. I remember thinking she was rather small. Not a 16 pounder, for sure. She really is a sweetheart and seems like she'd adjust to a new home fairly well.

We're looking for someone to take her. Please, ask around. Forward this blog post to friends, coworkers, people you wish to annoy, anyone you know who is a soft touch. We need to find this kitty a home.

We'll be going to St Louis in a week. We can deliver to someone living between Baltimore and St Louis as long as they're not an absurd distance from I-70. Or, if someone in St Louis would like a kitty for a wedding gift, we can totally do that, too.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sod Off Wednesday: May 16

It is now legal to marry your cousin in North Carolina, but not someone of your own gender.

You know what the voters of North Carolina can do.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Schlock Mercenary

You've heard me talk about Schlock Mercenary before. Pretty much every time there's another book or I list my webcomics. First I want to talk about the author/illustrator.

Howard Taylor is living the dream. I don't mean he has a big house or is rolling in money or has hot and cold bikini babe dispensers in his house. He had a job that was stressing him out. One day, with no artistic ability beyond knowing which end of a pencil did the line making, he started cartooning. It started with simple gags, simpler art, short stories, and a kitchen table. As time went on his drawing got better and the stories more involved. He tried to keep doing some kind of punchline each day but dumped the kitchen table. I wrote to him a couple of times offering to layout books for him, but he gave me a pass. He wasn't ready, yet. When he was ready there came the books, the string of Hugo nominations, and the ability to quit the thrice damned job that started him on this road. So when I say he's living the dream I mean he hangs out in a comic book store all day drawing a daily cartoon that he owns the rights to and that supports the one woman (from the hot tap) and four kids waiting for him at home. And he once again gets to enjoy what he liked about engineering before his old job turned it dark and evil.

I'd be happy supporting the comic just for the reasons stated above. It's the flip side of avoiding Tom Cruise or Mel Gibson movies because they're batshit crazy. But the comic is what got me reading in the first place.

Schlock Mercenary is about a company of intergalactic mercenaries. They don't stick with one employer. They don't always work willingly. They don't always get to keep the same ship. In fact, one of their old ships is now the head of an interstellar hive mind empire, but that's a long story.

The company is commanded by a man named Kaff Tagon. He embodies the military mind while maintaining an understanding of the grunts mind. He's not what you'd call a brilliant strategist, but he understands The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pirates Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries, an oft quoted credo that one learns either by book or is beaten into you by experience if you survive the beating.

A central character and significant source of funding for the company is Schlock. If you're being polite he resembles what happens when the soft serve ice cream machine won't shut off. If you're not then he resembles the floor of an elephant's pen both in shape, color, and composition. Some people just want to watch the world burn. Schlock loves these people. More specifically, he loves the excuse they give him to play with ridiculously overpowered, ominously humming weaponry.

Making up for the brains lacked by the captain or chief carbosilicate amorph is Kevyn Andreyasn, the company scientist. Some would freely apply the adjective "mad" to his title. Everyone else would do so quietly. Kevyn is really quite brilliant. Some of his inventions would get him compared to folks like Robert Oppenheimer of the Manhattan Project. They would also wish his work was ONLY that destructive. There has been at least one major war fought because of his inventions. More if you don't count all the resulting conflicts as part of that same war.

There's plenty of other cast that come and go. Kevyn's sister is a business woman and admiral. The standard sci-fi crotchety old doctor got replaced with a bipedal hourglass. As time went on the exclusively human crew became populated with creatures that are alien enough that it becomes hard to criticize the author for variable proportions. And between major story arc there are lawyers that are fortunate to survive for three panels.

If you've ignored my previous suggestions to check out the comic I'm going to repeat my insistent demands yet again. But, well, remember how I said Terry Pratchett needed a couple of books before Discworld got good? Same thing here. It's not just me. When Howard put out his first book he didn't go to the beginning of the archives. In fact, he started with book three. That's either a lack of confidence in his early work or an inability to count we haven't seen since George Lucas decided to make a space opera. In accordance to the wishes of his marketing department, I'll point you to the beginning of book three [link].

Before I finish I'd like to make an appeal to Taylor and associates. If you're not going to send me a free book I'd really like to see a return of the scientific footnotes to the comics. Those were one of the things that helped hook me in the first place.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Play Review: Young Frankenstein

No movie this weekend. Instead we saw the touring production of "Young Frankenstein: The Musical".

If you haven't seen the movie then I should tell you a bit about it. It's not about Frankenstein when he was young. It's about his grandson, who has spent his life trying to live down his grandfather's reputation, being pulled, grudgingly, into the world of reanimating dead tissue from a Transylvanian castle. It's a comedy.

For the rest of you let me tell you about it.

We didn't get the regularly scheduled Frederick Frankenstein. Instead there was some guy who bore a striking resemblance to a young Martin Short. But, given that handicap, he was able to channel Gene Wilder several times during the performance.

Igor... well, he was not Marty Feldman. Nobody can be Marty Feldman. Although, I felt that the guy cast as the village idiot could have done a decent job. So did they, apparently. The playbill listed him as a stand in for Igor. The guy playing Igor when we went didn't come off as Igor so much as he did a slapstick version of Death from "The Seventh Seal".

The Creature was fantastic. Looked a whole lot like the Peter Boyle version and acted like him, too. And the highlight of the movie turned out even better on stage. The "Puttin' on the Ritz" part lasted the whole song with extra singing and dancing and some scat from The Creature.

I keep comparing the actors in the play to those in the movie. I don't mean to say it has to be done the same to make a good play. But when it was done right the first time it's hard to do anything but compare. Still, there was enough new material or scenes that were significantly different for the actors to shine on their own. The play explained what happened to the arm and the leg of that townfolk's constable. And there was a pretty good song and dance number with all the Frankenstein ancestors. Those aren't the only things, but it's 11:30 at night.

The tickets were expensive. I could have gotten cheaper seat and gone for general admission, but I was taking Yummy and I wanted good seats. What those tickets paid for was more than just the song and dance routine. The sets were impressive. I doubt the stage could have handled more backdrops. Many of the props seemed to just appear and disappear. Sometimes the stage was dark, but often they'd just get you looking at one thing while things changed elsewhere on stage. It was very well done. But when you need at least four semis to move the sets and costumes from city to city it better be.

Almost forget. Much of the cast, at least the secondary characters, had their microphones on their foreheads. They had to get off stage, change outfits, and get back on stage as a different person quickly and repeatedly. Putting the mic on their clothes would have been a problem. This fixed it, but made everyone look a bit like Clark Kent.

I'm glad that I saw this, but if I were doing it over I'd get the cheaper seats.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday Links: May 11

At a recent geek convention in Calgary they had the cast of Star Trek: TNG together for a 25th anniversary thing. In this video from that convention Wil Wheaton makes you tear up a bit.

Using camera technology similar to that used for the "bullet time" shots in "The Matrix", these people did some light painting. [link]

How to build a laser Zippo lighter. [link] [video]

What happens if you stick your hand in the beam of the LHC?

A TARDIS shawl complete with instructions. [link]

Avengers themed eye make-up. [link]

A chemist's tea set. [link]

The designer of the Hitler's Volkswagon was a Jew. [link]

A cat with backwards legs gets them surgically corrected.
WARNING: Animal lovers may be horrified by the picture and video. [link]

Pictures of an octopus killing and eating a seagull. [link]

Real world inspiration for some Simpsons characters. [link]

Greatest Craigslist car ad ever. [link]

Plant/animal hybrids. [link]

Power has effects similar to cocaine. [link]

The new World Trade Center isn't done, but it is once again the tallest building in New York City. As one cartoonist said "It's a shame Bin Laden couldn't be here to see this."
Here's some pictures of the construction. [link]

Tennessee has piled idiocy on top of idiocy by adding a "gateway sexual activity" bill on top of their horrible failure of an abstinence-based sex ed program. [link]

A motorcycle washed out to sea by the tsunami that hit Japan turned up on the shore of British Columbia and was returned to it's owner. [link]

Temporary e-mail addresses. [link]

Hillary Clinton was offered a cameo in "The Muppets". Here's the letter she wrote to turn it down. [link]

If realists were in charge of US foreign policy. [link]

How to detect useless political articles. [link]

How to repair books. [link]

In 1989 an address appeared in a Spiderman comic that was supposed to be the home of Peter Parker and his Aunt May. There are actual Parkers living in that house. There's an Osborne living next door. [link]

You can make shopping carts lock up with your car stereo. [link]

Stephen King article - Tax Me for F*** Sake. [link]

The Pentagon pulled it's support from The Avengers because Marvel couldn't point to where SHIELD belonged in the chain of command. [link]

The author of "Where The Wild Things Are" passed away. [link]

An excuse to get a signet ring. [link]

Let's just say it: The Republicans are the problem. [link]

A safety pin memory stick. [link]

Despite recent research honeybees colonies are still dying. [link]

America's economic suicide. It's long. I haven't finished it yet. [link]

31 uses for beer. [link]

The great aurora storm of 1859. It allowed the telegraph system to work for two hours without batteries. [link]

A driving test that requires texting while driving.

Name a style of music you hate and someone has to find a song to change your mind. Hopefully I'll get to listen to the country section soon. [link]

Shipping container homes. [link]

Abbey Road webcam. [link]

Make your own concrete planter molds from stuff in your recycling bin. [link]

It's a ... a ... thing.

More evidence of water found on Mars. Ancient water. Not terribly exciting really. Other than to say settlers will be able to use the gypsum to make their own sheetrock. [link]

Trippy. [link]

A 3D print of one of the Portal 2 multi-player characters. [link]

These are your kids on books. [link]

Cat vs fish.

If I Were A Core (parody of "If I Were A Boy" which I've never heard)

David Tennant has to light the Olympic torch. To save time, of course! [link]

A fingernail bruise growing out. [link]

A guy using a lathe to turn a jawbreaker into a shot glass.

Justice League toy movie trailer.

Live action Skyrim short film.

Oh, thank god. I thought I'd never get through all that.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Automatic hair washing machine

You may wonder why they'd build a machine like this. Seriously, how hard is it to shampoo someone's head? A lot of the robot technology being developed in Japan these days are for the growing elderly boom. There's not a large enough population of non-elderly to take care of all the elderly. So they're making robots to carry stuff, perform simple tasks, and powered exoskeletons to help them walk or carry their own stuff. These hair washing machines are for use in hospitals and nursing homes.

More than that, they mark another step in developing dynamic robots. On an assembly line robot arms fly all over a car's frame putting parts in place and welding. But they go to the exact same place every time. They have trouble doing things different. Welding is fine, but putting a bolt into place without cross-threading them is still pretty tricky. Humans, and their heads, come in all shapes and sizes. A robot designed to wash my hair would end up hurting or maiming many other people. These robots adjust to the shape of your head so they don't crush your skull or pull out your hair.

As nifty as these robots are, I think I'd miss having that chesty stylist massaging my scalp.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Sod Off Wednesday: May 9

Pastors that advocate punching and humiliation and bullying of children who don't behave how their narrow worldview says they should need to [omitted] and sod off.

TRANSCRIPT: "So your little son starts to act a little girlish when he is four years old and instead of squashing that like a cockroach and saying, “Man up, son, get that dress off you and get outside and dig a ditch, because that is what boys do,” you get out the camera and you start taking pictures of Johnny acting like a female and then you upload it to YouTube and everybody laughs about it and the next thing you know, this dude, this kid is acting out childhood fantasies that should have been squashed.
Can I make it any clearer? Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch. Ok? You are not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you are going to be a male. And when your daughter starts acting to Butch you reign her in. And you say, “Oh, no, sweetheart. You can play sports. Play them to the glory of God. But sometimes you are going to act like a girl and walk like a girl and talk like a girl and smell like a girl and that means you are going to be beautiful. You are going to be attractive. You are going to dress yourself up.”
You say, “Can I take charge like that as a parent?”
Yeah, you can. You are authorized. I just gave you a special dispensation this morning to do that."

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Department of Acquisitions: Commodore 64

I have a memory of being at Grammie's for some family get together or other. I forget the age, exactly, but I'm pretty sure that while walking was no longer the achievement that it once was, it was something that still needed some fine tuning. Gathered around the TV was much of the family. And there was a game being played on it. "Centipede" I think. And maybe "Lunar Lander". It belonged to my uncle, El Cid, father to the oft mentioned Muffinmen. It was a Commodore 64 and may have been my first exposure to personal computers. If not the first then damn close.

Yummy got this for me. It needed power cables and some sort of data storage device. That's what got me on the most recent Ebay addiction that resulted in all these new acquisitions for the museum.

I've hooked it up. It does work. I just need some software for it. I'm working on that.

I feel that I should note that Commodore, LLC is still in existence. They released a Commodore 64 replica that runs modern software. When "Thief 4" finally comes out I'll be looking to them first for a Windows machine. You can get yours at

Monday, May 07, 2012

Movie Review: The Avengers

This is the Joss Whedon I know. The Joss of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", of "Angel", of "Serenity" and "Firefly", and of "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog". This is the Joss who uses action scenes to set up opportunities to crack jokes. The master of comic banter. The Joss who (SPOILER) isn't afraid of killing off popular characters. George Lucas had his day but has lost his ability to tell a good story. Joss Whedon is my master now.

This was a fantastic movie. I will be getting it on DVD. I may get 3 or 4 so I can watch it on several screens at once. It seems likely that I may see it in theaters again. Seriously, an awesome movie.

If you've missed the Hulk movies, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America you've already missed some damn fine movies, but there's not a lot that you need to know coming into "The Avengers". Here's a quick list for those who have missed the movies. Where things differ from what you may have seen on TV or in comics is explained by the fact that Marvel has multiple universes. These movies occur in Universe 199,999.

During WWII the US Army had a Super Soldier program that they intended to use to make their soldiers faster, stronger, more durable, with a great healing factor. Steve Rogers was the test subject. When it succeeded the Nazi's killed the lead scientist and the man who knew how everything worked. This left Captain America as the only success. His plane crashed into Arctic waters where he froze and was recently rediscovered and revived.

Doctor Bruce Banner was working on rediscovering the Super Soldier serum by using Gamma rays. A lab accident caused him to be irradiated. Now whenever he loses control of his temper he transforms into The Hulk. Bruce Banner hides from society so he won't hurt anyone, or better yet, change.

Tony Stark is a billionaire, genius who owns Stark Industries, former weapons manufacturer for the world. A terrorist attack left a shard of metal in his chest that is trying to burrow it's way into his heart. It is held out by an electromagnet powered by an arc reactor that he invented in a cave in Afghanistan. This reactor also powers a suit of battle armor that he wears to become Iron Man.

Thor is a god.

The hypercube is more commonly known to comic book readers as The Cosmic Cube. It is a source of power far beyond mere electricity, but that's not important right now. The Red Skull used it during WWII to power weapons for his organization - H.Y.D.R.A.

Black Widow and Hawkeye have no particular powers outside of being extremely good at what they do. She's a spy, martial artist, sniper. He's an archer.

Again, you want to see this movie.

It doesn't fall into the trap that the Mission Impossible movies (and so many others) did of having one member of the team being central to the movie and the rest being crap. Everyone has a role, even those who didn't get their own movie. They all get their moments to shine and to screw up. They bicker among themselves, they fight each other, but they become friend and pull together when needed.

The action sequences make sense. They don't shake the camera so much that it's all a blur that covers up bad special effects or the fact that they can't write action. You can see what's happening.

It's hilarious. Remember what I said before about Joss being able to write banter? Remember what I said about him writing action scenes as opportunities to crack joke. All of that. A lot. Very little of it seeming forced. And it compliments the action instead of upstaging it.

You will laugh, you will cheer, you will applaud, and you will gasp. You and everyone else in the room. Most of all, you will sit through the credits. ALL of the credits.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Friday Links: May 4

Mozart wrote a song called "Lick Me In The Ass". [link]

This guy is going to sky dive from the edge of space. He'll break the sound barrier on the way down. [link]

We've all heard about him. This is the Japanese soldier who kept fighting WWII for 30 years after Japan had surrendered. [link]

6 great crossovers. [link]

Opening today is a story from Marvel Comics Universe 199,999. You know it better as "The Avengers". [link]

An extinct animal has been cloned. Not perfectly, apparently. [link]

Too bad I got an Atari 400 instead of an Atari 2600. With a 2600 I could play Halo. [story] [making of] [flash version of the game]

Mars - where the soil is red and the sunsets are blue. [link]

Google has a mad science lab. [link]

Documentation of the fact that the founding fathers (of the United States) were not christians. [link]

Haven't watched it yet, but here's videos from the White House Correspondents' Dinner. [link]

Thursday, May 03, 2012

don't stress the computer

My computer is nearing the end of a week long task. If my computer reboots the task would have to start over. So I'm trying not to use it much. It often goes multiple weeks without a reboot, but when it does reboot it's always at an inconvenient time. So I'm not saying much today and Friday Links is likely to be sparse.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Sod Off Wednesday: May 2

I spent yesterday with a show called "Afterworld" streaming from Netflix. It follows this guy who was in New York on business when the world ended. Actually some 99%+ of the population vanished and all the electronics stopped working. He tries to make it back to his family in Seattle. Along the way he makes friends and enemies and slowly begins to uncover a conspiracy surrounding what actually happened and who caused it. He gets to Seattle, returns home, and the series ends with a cliffhanger.


Here's the YouTube link, but you're really gonna want something like Netflix that gives you 13 episodes of 20+ minutes each instead of something like 150 episodes of 3 minutes each.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Movie Review: The Pirates! Band of Misfits

They said this movie would be based on the book "The Pirates! In an Adventure With Scientists." That was a lie. I've read the book in question and beyond the inclusion of pirates, a guy based on Charles Darwin, and a monkey who holds signs, there was next to nothing in common. Certainly not the story.

Some changes should be expected. Movies are a much more visual format than books. Heck, movies are a much more visual format than television. I can have TV shows on in the background while working and still know what's happening. I can't do that with movies. I end up missing a lot and having to rewind. Anyway, The Pirates! movie is full of gags that just couldn't be pulled off in a book. So you have to give them credit for making a funny movie instead of just retyping the book. But, I rather liked the gag from the book where the pirates where Bellamy sent them to the far side of the world on a bullshit quest. On the other hand, this movie had some Darwin gags that weren't in the book. And since Gideon Defoe wrote both the movie and the book I don't think I have a damn thing to bitch about.

Uh... did I have a point when I started this? Maybe about how it's not a proper Aardman Entertainment pictures without Nick Park? No... that wasn't it. But this was as close as one would get without his involvement. Maybe about how the end credits should have said

The Pirate Who Produced ... Susan Breen
The Pirate Who Wrote the Music ... Theodore Shapiro
The Pirate Who Made Models ... Kerry Dyer

No. That wasn't it either.

Anyway, good movie, probably gonna get it on DVD. Go read the damn book - it's short.