Saturday, November 24, 2012

Think about how stupid the average person is...

Science says we're getting dumber. And I personally can't argue against that.

Astronomy geeks: zoom in on galaxy MACS J0647.7+7015, the most distant galaxy seen to date by the Hubble.

Aviation geeks: Lockheed Martin's Code One Magazine has a video page with first flights of aircraft from the XB-24 to the F-35. (My favorites are the XB-36 and the XB-58.)

Movie geeks: Behind the scenes photos from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Just yesterday my son commented about some airport and a stupid place to put a runway. I wonder what he would think of these bizarre airport runways.

OK, just one more set of presidential voting maps by county, but this time there's an interesting animation of 112 years of presidential voting.

The FairTax. Basically a national sales tax to replace income tax. Hmm.
All those oatmeal raisin cookies add up. (Hint: I wear size XL.)
I'm not a huge fan of Poe, but this reading of The Raven by James Earl Jones is hard not to like.

An animated history of animation.

Here there be TL;DR.

A, B, and C players: "It is very hard to find people who can execute well on what they are asked to do." In this article about hiring, the observation is made that most people in the workforce are C players - they struggle to competently fill their role but can succeed with coaching. [I'm not sure I want to believe this. Are B players the best one can hope for? Is expecting A players just an example of grade inflation?]

SaaS and LTV: Here's more than you ever wanted to know about monitoring cancellation rates for your SaaS (software as a service) offering and how that affects your bottom line (e.g. knowing what kind of profit to expect from a customer over a lifetime gives you an idea of how much you can spend to get their business in the first place).

Reading vs. e-Reading: Yet another treatise against e-books based on a historical review of the tactile nature of reading. [With which I agree.]

What's in a name: A book-length review of a book about the significance of character names in literature begins with the rhetorical question why James Bond isn't named John Clark which made me wonder whether the reviewer knows that John Clark is the name of a spy in the books by Tom Clancy. If you are interested in exploring names, try the random name generator which is based on U.S. census data and let's you set an obscurity factor. For example, a less obscure result is Chris Whitener while a really obscure one is Willian [sic] Lieberg.

Speer. Albert Speer: Using the Nazi architect as an example, the author attempts to make the case that engineers need to learn more about humanity because they alone are responsible for creating the technologies of war and suppression. Starting from the position that engineers occupy an almost magical role in society because of their skill set, the author claims that students need to be force fed a curriculum of ethics to round out their agnostic allegiance to technology. Half correct - engineers do need more exposure to the humanities but non-engineers (i.e. everyone else) needs to develop an appreciation for and understanding of the sciences. (See C.P. Snow's The Two Cultures and the relevance of the 2nd law of thermodynamics and Shakespeare.) As for ethics specifically, I've never really bought in to the idea that it's something that can be learned in an undergraduate lecture hall. Instead it's something to be fostered and developed by one's upbringing. [Next week I think I'll link to an article about how politicians of both red and blue persuasions are antithetical to science.]

And now back to nuggets of inanity. 

An interesting tale about the law, Mississippi, brewing, and Lazy Magnolia Brewing.

Test your beer knowledge with this 8 question quiz. I got 6 of 8 correct.

Because it gets cold on that sled. (Hint: I wear size XL.)
Get a whiff of this. Scientists have discovered a new smell: olfactory white. It's the scent equivalent of white noise. (Didn't we just write about white and pink noise last week?)

More free software from movie studios: DreamWorks has made OpenVDB available. (It's "a hierarchical data structure and a suite of tools for the efficient manipulation of sparse, possibly time-varying, volumetric data discretized on a three-dimensional grid." Think voxels.)

Print vs. online advertising. One nit to pick - magazines aren't included. I would also like to see this compared to readership.
Rules for email signatures? I'll sign up for that. You've all seen the 40-line email sig. Back in the day, two lines were considered sufficient.  Now the lawyers have intruded ("This email contains private information intended for the recipient only blah blah blah") as have the tree huggers ("Think twice before printing this email." Makes me want to print it just out of spite.) Admittedly, after reading this article I removed the separator and 1 line from my own sig.

For those of you who need templates from which to cut gears from wood, try this interactive, animated gear template generator.

If you just like animated machinery without the template generating, here's an animated gun turret.

I'm sorry, but you can't just slap bacon on anything. F for effort. F for execution too (bacon doesn't even go all the way around.)  Bacon wrapped Twinkie.
Metal. Dress.

I guess I'm out of touch. Did you know that the old Convex crew has reunited to create Convey Computer? I recall being on a committee trying to decide whether to purchase a Convex or an Alliant supercomputer. Me and another guy were the only ones advocating the Alliant, for reasons I don't recall. But I digress...

How did I miss World Toilet Day on 19 November?

Reason I'm Going to Hell #9 - Cheesus Christ, Our Grate Lord
What could possibly link Mondrian to Super Mario? It's another case of form following function - the De Stijl movement's simplification forced Mondrian to become more creative just as the technical limitations of early video games forced composers to be much more creative while still creating tunes you can't unhear. Lest you think this is a one-off consider comic books and Roy Lichtenstein. Or how Roxy Music and Britain's pop art movement are intertwined.

Woop Woop

...and then realize that half of them are stupider than that. ~George Carlin

Sunday, November 18, 2012

An Employee's Parents' Place is NOT the Workplace

I just read something so incredibly stupid that I have to share it with you and rant.

In the November 2012 issue of Free Enterprise, a newsletter from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, there's an article titled Managing Millennials: A Crash Course by Jennifer Kushell, founder of Young & Successful Media. Here's a quote:
"Parenting: Millennials are extremely close with their parents. It is a fuzzy line these days as to what is the appropriate level of parental involvement in interviews, discipline, contract negotiations, etc. It's up to you to set boundaries, but making helicopter parents your allies can pay off as well."
No, it is not a "fuzzy line." The appropriate level of parental involvement is precisely ZERO. I have a hard time even imagining parental involvement in an interview. If you show up for an interview or a disciplinary meeting or whatever with your parents let me promise you that they'll be shown the door followed shortly by you. It would be a galling display of immaturity and unprofessionalism on the employee's part and shameful meddling on the parents' part.

Certainly, I expect and encourage employees of any age to share workplace issues with their parents (spouse, clergy, friends, life coach, etc.) to gain from the latter's experience and wisdom. But that's to be kept outside the workplace.

And if you're a Millennial I suggest you read the article and decide for yourself whether you want to be lumped into a group that's saddled with so much generational baggage.  That goes for you Gen-X, Gen-Y, Gen-Whatevers too.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Genesis Revisited II by Steve Hackett

Remastering, reimagining, and revisiting music is fraught with peril. For example, I cringe and roll my eyes whenever I hear of a rocker reimagining their work with a full orchestra. On the other hand, remastering can yield fantastic results in the same way restoration breaths new life into a painting. (For a perfect example, listen to Steven Wilson's work on King Crimson's albums, especially In the Court of the Crimson King.)

Which leads us to revisiting. This is Steve Hackett's second revisitation of Genesis' catalog. The first (1996) is good with a few exceptions. (I think it's I Know What I Like that is turned into something silly.) So it was with great anticipation that I looked forward to Genesis Revisited II which begins, coincidentally, with my litmus test - The Chamber of 32 Doors. And this track is really wonderful - a really great way to start the album.

Let's stipulate to the fact that all the tracks on this 2 CD collection have been lovingly and faithfully rerecorded by superb musicians. As you'd probably expect, Hackett's guitar playing gets special treatment with additional bits added and a "front and center" placement. In fact, other than the guitar and vocal parts I keep thinking of this as a remastering of the original songs - that's how faithful the arrangements and playing are to the source material. Everything's brighter and clearer and unmuddled, especially compared to the vinyl versions I'm used to.

Because I'm so intimately familiar with Genesis' catalog what I notice the most are changes to the vocals. If I read the liner notes correctly, it's Nik Kershaw who takes over Peter Gabriel's vocals on Lamia and really nails the naivete and innocence of the Rael character as he is seduced by the Lamia.

Fly on a Windshield, while clocking in at only 3 minutes, sounds absolutely fantastic and makes me wonder whether anyone has thought about remastering the entire The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway album. (Are you listening, Steven Wilson?) Unfortunately, Broadway Melody of 1974 doesn't get high marks from me, mostly due to the vocals (by Gary O'Toole?). He sounds too much like a hotel lounge singer - which might have been the intent but I hear it as a step backward. This goes doubly so for his contributions to Blood on the Rooftops. On the other hand, the relatively obscure Can-Utility and the Coastliners is sung to great effect by Steven Wilson who also benefits from perhaps one of the best reworkings of music on the entire album, mostly due to what I perceive as a widened dynamic range.

Ripples, one of Genesis' more radio-friendly early hits, was never one of my favorites but Amanda Lehmann's vocals give the song a slightly edgier feel and a stronger sense of longing. And the pair of Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers and In That Quiet Earth make up perhaps my favorite section of the album simply because it's great to hear cleaned-up versions of those two tracks. Those two bring us to the anthem-like Afterglow about which my only minor complaint is that John Wetton's pipes just ain't what they used to be (possibly evidenced by how his vocals are over-processed).

Four of Hackett's solo works are also included on this album: Please Don't Touch, Camino Royale, A Tower Struck Down, and Shadow of the Hierophant. I'll only say one thing: Mr. Hackett should leave the vocals to others and stick to the guitar.

Here's the obligatory name dropping of some of the artists who appear on Genesis Revisited II: Steven Wilson, Nick Beggs, Steve Rothery, Nick Magnus, Neal Morse, and John Wettton.

If you're a fan of Hackett-era Genesis, you'll enjoy Genesis Revisited II.

Now, if I can only get someone working on that Lamb remaster.

You should now go to and read a review of Genesis Revisited II written by someone who's much better at translating his aural impressions to the written word.

Hackett's website,, includes most everything you'll want to know about the artist and his work.

This review is based on the special autographed version of the album purchased from the artist's website.

When asked about their favorite shampoo...

Are you afraid to relax? Yes, afraid of relaxation. If so, you're not alone. Seems psychologists at the University of Cincinnati have developed something called the Relaxation Sensitivity Index that explains why relaxation can make some people anxious including physical, cognitive, and social components. Imagine not liking a massage. Imagine relaxation being equated to loss of control. Imagine fearing that relaxation is a sign of laziness. Believe it or not, there is also something called fear of arousal which may be related.

Last week it was the history of popular music infographic/poster. This week it's the history of film: 2,000 films, 20 genres, 100 years. The earliest (first) sci-fi film mentioned is Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

Mark Rothko's No. 1 (Royal Red and Blue) was sold at auction for $75 million, the second highest amount ever paid for one of his paintings at auction. The painting had local ties, having been consigned by Fort Worth oil heiress Anne Marion.
It's often curious how certain things come to pass. It was "avant-garde synthpop" band Art of Noise's 1999 album The Seduction of Claude Debussy that asked what it was like musically to be on the verge of a new century and what we might learn from Debussy who radically changed the course of music at the beginning of the 20th century. Since then I've become quite a fan of Debussy's work. In this WSJ article about Debussy, we read about how he was able to mix gorgeous harmonies and intricate, almost mathematical, form.

You can't be too careful. Before you go swimming use the global shark tracker to find out whether any of these nasty critters are in the water near you.

Not exactly craft beer, but fine examples of craft beer labels.

The Onion's DEHUMANIZER is just a fun tool for turning any image into old-school ASCII art. But to double your fun, check out this particular image. (It's hard not to stare at the animation of the original image, isn't it? Also, in addition to being sophomoric this image may also be categorized as misogynistic in a phallic, Fellini-esque sort of way. But, trust me, I'm not neurotic enough to get past sophomoric.)

At first, when I read that I could control Romo with my smartphone I thought "Great, I can keep him from throwing those stupid chuck-and-duck interceptions." As it turns out, however, Romo is a robot for your smartphone. (Unfortunately, it doesn't appear it'll ship in time for Xmas.)

Please enjoy this 2D, hand drawn, black and white, abstract music animation: Hide.

Musician Peter Gabriel shares this list of TED Talks that he believes will stand the test of time and Brian Eno talks about economics and other stuff. (You can listen to Terry Riley's In C here.)

Finally. Teh interwebs are dominated by cats. Now there's puppy text.
The new Chinese stealth fighter, the J-21, had its first flight.

Piss. Powered. Advertising.

All planets do not orbit stars. Some are just zipping through space. Like rogue planet CFBDSIR2149-0403. Regarding those stars, check out 100,000 Stars, an interactive way to browse the cosmos.

Photographer Tristan Hoare shows us physicists' blackboards in his series Momentum and proves to me that whiteboards will never have this level of depth and richness and humanity. Makes me want to put a blackboard in my office tomorrow. (Too bad I don't have anything nearly as intelligent as quantum mechanics to write on it.)
If you enjoy Clients from Hell or Not Always Right (which is a bit of masochism because I'm looking to find things I've said), you'll get a kick out of this creative team who posterized their clients' most boneheaded suggestion. Sharp Suits creates art from things like "Irish people can't read italics" and "Can you make the logo bigger."

Here's a great blog post from former Space Shuttle flight director and program manager Wayne Hale about the perils of risk management.

A fully illustrated how-to guide for creating an H.R. Giger (i.e. Alien) inspired mouse.
Yet another essay lamenting the rise of e-books. [Note: TL;DR] Suffice it to say, reading an e-book is to reading a real book as viewing online pr0n is to having le sexy time with a real live woman.

The main problem with communication is the illusion that it has occurred (unattributed and improperly quoted). Here are 10 air disasters caused by poor communication. On a less depressing note, here are 11 things you might not know about the USAF beginning with the fact that their weathermen are tough guys.

Maps, maps, and election maps. Forget that blue state, red state brain dead visualization. (Acreage doesn't vote.) Check out this purplish map or this one distorted by population.Or just say screw it all and use NUKEMAP to drop a bomb somewhere. (Interestingly, I'm outside the radiation radius for a 1 MT explosion over Fort Worth.)
NFL team logos reimagined by Matt McInerney. Can you guess which team this is? He hasn't done all the teams yet so keep on eye on his page.

Now more NFL design goodness, but this time with real data. The NFL Spider is a way to visualize any team's rushing offense.

How good are you with colors? No, I'm not talking about being able to identify fuchsia. Just try the color matching game

I would've included this higher in the post but it's so genius that you never would've gotten past it (if you're like me). Enter this portal to The Useless Web.

And I leave you with something that's hard to unsee - The Salmon of Capistrano.

...the top response from women was "How the hell did you get in here?"

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Deep by Stick Men

The first track on Stick Men's latest album, Deep, is titled Nude Ascending Staircase. I can't help but compare it to Gerhard Richter's Ema (Nude Descending a Staircase) 1992 in the collection of the Fort Worth Museum of Modern Art. The latter seems to embody a sense of finality while the former implies the promise of what is to come. And that's exactly the promise that's fulfilled by Deep.

Tony Levin (Chapman Stick), Markus Reuter (touch guitar), and Pat Mastelotto (drums) might appear at first glance to be the rhythm section of a much larger band but with their unique instruments and pure skill at playing them the result is a richly melodic, highly percussive, and fun suite of music.

Deep consists of 9 tracks, mostly within the 4-6 minute range except for the last two. Sepia and Whale Watch clock in at nearly 9 and 10 minutes, respectively.

I've already hinted at the opening track, Nude Ascending Staircase. Rumbling up-tempo baselines are paired with Mastelotto's drumming and bonded with a soaring melodic line that taken together is tight, tight, tight. These guys are ripping it up. This is followed by On Off, a slower piece with almost a wave-like feel emphasized offset by an intricate guitar line just under the surface. The entire third track, Cusp, has the entire trio playing percussively - or stated differently, Mastelotto's drumming joins the melody.

Hide the Trees is one of my favorite tracks from the album as it covers a lot of musical ground from a tight rhythmic core to a funky melodic line. Crack in the Sky features spoken word lyrics (presumably by Levin) and I'm not sure they contributed anything to the song. Next comes the likable Horatio followed by Concussion in which everyone seems to be playing the percussion part to wonderful effect.

Sepia brings together everything that makes this trio of performers so fantastic - great interplay and layering of sound, back and forth melodic and percussion lines, and unassailable technique. And finally there's Whale Watch. Levin in particular always seems to have a great sense of humor and I can't help think he's being a bit self-referential here as this 10 minute bombastic, progressive piece brings Deep to a resounding conclusion. (It also sounds more like Levin's solo work than any of the other tracks.)

There's no noodling around or improvisation on Deep (at least to my ears). It's a rigorously scripted, tightly played, and wonderfully produced album of progressive rock music.

Deep was a "direct to fan" project on PledgeMusic where I purchased (and am still waiting to receive) my autographed copy of the CD. This review was based on the mp3 downloads.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Even duct tape can't fix stupid...

Today's soundtrack: An Evening with John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess.

It used to be that a band toured to promote album sales. Now it's the touring that brings in the money. How things have changed. Read about it and the social aspects of recording technology in Breaking Down Walls of Sound.

A mobius strip of bacon. (Too bad it's a 3D printing, not the real thing.)
Mystery Science Theater 3000 was an LOL machine before LOL even existed. Totally hilarious. Ever wonder how they chose the movies they skewered?

From I Am Better Than Your Kids - the greatest example of irony
Last week, bookshelf porn. This week, what's hidden behind those bookshelves: secret doors.

Last week, urine wheel. This week, beer flavor wheel.

Find your favorites in this genealogical infographic of pop and rock music. (Note: no one in the image above is close to being my favorite.)
A map of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan.

Hold on to your socks. Light has been caught behaving as a wave and as a particle. At. The. Same. Time.

Do you like art you can no longer see? Check out the Tate's gallery of lost art. For example, Kandinsky's Composition I (1910) was lost in a WWII bombing raid.

And now, a moment with Clyfford Still.

Clyfford Still's abstract paintings are rapidly becoming some of my very favorites. He may very well be one of the greatest American artists that no one knows about. To me, his paintings unveil tension that's hiding just beneath the canvas' surface. His brush work is finely detailed yet has the spontaneity of a knife's slash. His palette and use of color balances the shape of his forms. There is the sense that the paintings go on forever but we're just seeing a portion through the lens of the canvas. I can't wait for the opportunity to visit his museum in Denver.

Clyfford Still, 1944-N No. 1
You can come up to speed on Still's work by listening to a recent edition of the Modern Art Notes podcast in which art scholar and adjunct curator of the Clyfford Still Museum, David Anfam, talks about some of Still's influences.

Several paintings by Clyfford Still that I had the pleasure of seeing on a visit to the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo.
To see more Stills, check out the collection at the San Francisco MoMA.

Not every vertical line in an abstract painting is a human figure nor is every horizontal line a horizon. But Still and Newman could both take credit for the zip.

Before returning to the gibberish, consider artist (and Syracuse University alum) Sol Lewitt. How do you make a film about a guy who didn't want to be photographed? How do you capture on film conceptual art that is "an obsession pushed to the limit of paradox and absurdity?"

And lest you think I have forgotten about Mark Rothko, here's a peak at the exhibit Rothko/Sugimoto at the Pace London in which we are asked to compare Rothko's later and darker works with Sugimoto's black and white seascape photos. Other than composition and perhaps artists' intent, I'm not feelin' it. Rothko vehemently denied including a horizon in his paintings. And while I'm admittedly not a huge fan of photography, the photos are a bit sterile by comparison.

Rothko (left) and Sugimoto (right) at the Pace London.
And now back to the gibberish.

History. Dullards wearing wigs, right? Nope. Check out the bonnacon - it sprays its pursuers with its caustic turds. I shit you not. No one less than Pliny the Elder wrote about it. What? You don't know Pliny the Elder? Perhaps you know his son Pliny the Younger through his writings about Pompeii.
Weird things programmers do.

Play this or that. For example, would you rather eat a million spiders or bite off a snake's head. EASY - snake.

Why so many videos?

I have no idea.

In one minute, the story of the world.

I have not yet had a chance to watch this video all the way through, but if you like electronic music of any kind check out I Dream of Wires: The Modular Synthesizer Documentary.

This is awesome: an animation set to jazz for the film Journey to Journey.

I have no idea what Pjoni - Chasm is about or where it comes from. It's animated. And it features an aircraft that looks like the XB-70. And that's what sold me.

Turning sounds into visuals.

Blue Note: A Story of Modern Jazz

Space. Outer Space.

Think you know the Space Shuttle? Then I suggest you read the blog of retired Space Shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale. "A lot of people think NASA is risk averse; or even that our country is risk averse.  I think the opposite is true; we are willing to take great risks.  It’s just that sometimes we are not very smart about taking risks."

Speaking of space, how about this auction of space flight and aviation memorabilia?  A flag that flew on Apollo 11 has a minimum bid of $1,000.

How the heck did the Mars Science Lab take this self portrait?

...but it can muffle the sound.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Leviathan by Michael Bernier

Leviathan (or leviathan. if you go by the cover) is the first solo album from Stick Men alum Michael Bernier. And by solo I mean solo because he wrote and performed most all the tunes plus did the album artwork. Not to the contrary, four guests appear on the album including Pat Mastelotto (drums), Kandy Harris (vocals) -based on her blog I assume she's Bernier's wife- , Caryn Fitzgibbon (violin) and Mike Schirmer (piano and bass clarinet).

The album consists of 10 songs, all within the 4-5 minute range: leviathan, sunrise, parasite, burbur, the old ways, lumberslush, circus elephant, morning, G.D.D., My Sorrow.

The title track starts off the album with a rockin' performance on the Chapman Stick backed up by Mastelotto's straight-ahead drum work.  sunrise, as you might expect, is a slowly building, almost ambient piece of layered guitar and bass that slowly builds in a soft crescendo. parasite begins where sunrise left off but quickly changes into an up tempo interplay of stick, guitar, and bass.

burbur begins ominously with piano and violin until the drums and a screeching guitar join in. On the old ways Bernier takes on vocal duties and isn't bad. (I say that because his Chapman Stick compatriot Tony Levin sometimes leaves me wanting when it comes to singing.)  

lumberslush begins with another ambient-like preamble and then transitions into a mid-tempo guitar piece that slushes along but ends abruptly. circus elephant begins with yet another trademark quiet bit and then almost picks up where lumberslush left off except with a bit more tempo and crunchier guitar work. morning then takes over with some great finger work on the stick paired with soaring guitar on the top. For me, these three tracks comprise the heart of the album.

I have no idea what G.D.D. stands for nor do I know why it and My Sorrow are the only two tracks with capital letters in their name. My Sorrow is a nice closer as it brings back with the vocals as a duet with Kandy Harris (presumably) and an almost pop sound. I'd choose this track as the single to release from this album.

Bernier's Leviathan is a technically strong and thoroughly enjoyable album. My only nit to pick is that as a whole it lacks a cohesion and is more like a sampler of good bits.

Leviathan is available via digital download from and Bandcamp. You can hear clips from the songs at both sites. Bernier has a blog but it hasn't been updated in about a year.

Note: Reports indicate that Bernier is suffering from a serious medical issue regarding a seizure-causing mass on his brain. Spending $10 on his album would help his family with the medical bills.

Frankenstein: City of Night (Book 2) by Dean Koontz

What a difference one book makes. After finding Book 1 of Dean Koontz' Frankenstein series, despite its far-out premise that Victor Frankenstein and his monster were still alive and well and roaming New Orleans today, steered clear of farce I have to declare Book 2, City of Night, a horrible bit of writing.

Only 7 CDs in duration (I listened to the audiobook version), the first CD and a half were consumed in establishing the basic plot and introducing characters for readers who skipped Book 1. And while Book 1 ended with some resolution but obviously unfinished plot points, Book 2 might as well have ended in mid-sentence - completely, totally, irrevocably unsatisfying.

Without giving away too much of the plot, Book 2 finds us dealing more with Dr. Frankenstein's current crop of "machines of meat" and specifically with how they are starting to behave in ways contrary to their construction and programming. In doing so, the authors make a mockery of what could've been an examination of what it means to be human and instead create characters that are (unintentionally?) comedic, failing to rise above Saturday morning standards.

Most damning of all is the fact that not a single plot point is resolved - not a single one. And there's no way I'm proceeding to Book 3 let alone all the way to Book 5. Making my experience with Book 2 a complete. Waste. Of. Time.

To be fair, this is one of those books where the author's name is in the book's title and he has a co-author (i.e. the guy who wrote most of it), in this case Ed Gorman. Perhaps it's Mr. Gorman's work that I don't appreciate. Also, Book 1 was read by one of my favorite voice actors, Scott Brick, whereas Book 2 was read by John Bedford Lloyd who sounded like a guy practicing accents.

Dean Koontz, whose work I usually enjoy, has a website at

You can read my review of Book 1, Frankenstein: Prodigal Son here.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

It takes courage to grow up and...

Clyfford Still, Untitled, 1957 - I think I like his work as much as Rothko's.
I know this is late but a milestone passed over the past few weeks - the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis (16-28 October 1962, although you can make the case that the crisis extended into December). A couple of online resources worth looking at are Clouds Over Cuba, an interactive documentary (from the JFK library) and Nuclear Order of Battle (chock full of facts).

While we're on the topic of Cold War history, the tale of the Farewell Dossier makes for an interesting read. Farewell was the codename of a Soviet agent within the KGB run by the French. He presented the French with a dossier detailing Soviet industrial and technological espionage. When the French shared this with the CIA the latter ran an operation by which intentionally flawed technology was fed to the  Soviets with the desired deleterious effect.

This is interesting: action paintings from action movies. Jeremy Rotsztain uses sounds of gunfire, car chases and fighting from Hollywood's action films to orchestrate the digital equivalent of abstract action painting.
Only book nerds will appreciate this photo blog of bookshelf porn.

While renovating his chimney and fireplace, an Englishman found the skeleton of a carrier pigeon with a red message capsule with message from WWII. Decoding is underway.

For those seeking summer employment, here's a photo timeline of an unpaid internship. (Please note: unpaid internships are illegal. If you're doing real work they have to pay you. They can only omit pay if it is a training program where you're learning something.)

I didn't know Windows 7 had something called the Reliability Monitor that charts your computer's performance over time and notes any and all incidents.

In what country might these instructions be necessary? source
Got a hankerin' for memories from 'Nam? Check out PTF Nasty, home of the Patrol Torpedo Fast Nasty Class boats.

Do you need images/icons of flags? How about 2,500 of them? Get this free icon flag set from GoSquared.

This reviewer really likes the 40th anniversary edition of King Crimson's Larks' Tongues in Aspic - by comparison Yes' "Tales from Topographic Oceans sounds like Gilbert O'Sullivan."

It was probably inevitable that someone would start coming up with recipes for K-Cup cocktails. (You know K-Cups, those coffee pods for the Keurig machine.)

Caption not required. source
Sure. Let's build a full-scale Millennium Falcon.

The South Koreans done gone and built a robotic super gun that can target a human from 3 km.

Got a Trekkie in your life? Xmas isn't that far away and this ultimate ST:TOS poster would probably keep Kirk-wannabes happy for days. Or for the geometry freak in your family, a poster of shapes including the Reuleaux nonagon.

Perhaps you would prefer an infographic of the 2,000 most important films of all time sorted by genre and suitable for framing.

If 2,000 is too many for you, check out the jazz lovers top 100+ list. (Owning 7 out of 100 is good, right?)

Sometimes I'm just that hungry. source (Going to hell? Yep.)
If you agree that programs are primarily meant to be read by humans and secondarily to be compiled and executed by computers you'll enjoy this article on why coding style matters.

It's Jungian personality test time again. Same song, different verse. Still an ESTJ.

You can also try the Byzantium Security International test (seems to be some sort of Cinemax related project), a unique test that begins with 20 questions with multiple choice pictures for answers. According to it I'm a "troubled individual" with "unique abilities." It also says I'm under substantial stress and anxiety.  The second part of the test says I have an unusually well-realized ability to make confident decisions under pressure.

Uromancy. Just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? Not familiar? It's the practice of using the color, smell, and taste of urine to diagnose diseases with the aid of urine wheels

Know your lobster from your crawfish? Learn about that and 19 other confusing differences.

This makes me sad: William Faulkner's estate is suing Sony Pictures for infringement because Owen Wilson's character quoted a phrase of 10 words from Requiem for a Nun in a Woody Allen film.

Another interesting video: Yuri Gagarin being interviewed by the BBC in 1961.

I'm not sure what to make of SEED, a short live-action, sci-fi film on vimeo.

Sexy Bert - you're doing it wrong. source
I don't think artist Jamie McCartney is having the effect he desired. He claims to be "changing female body perception through art." He does so by creating The Great Wall of Vagina, plaster casts of hundreds of lady bits. Isn't that objectification?

Introducing the honey badger of bridges because at 11 foot 8 it doesn't give a shit how many trucks it catches. And it catches a lot. Watch the video.

I feel safer now that the courts are adjudicating science. A German court ruled that the Large Hadron Collider won't destroy the earth.

...turn out to be who you really are. ~e.e. cummings