Saturday, October 26, 2013

Thought is the labor of the intellect...

Due to a gibberish deficit, the weekly drivel is postponed until next month.

The intriguing layered-paper artwork of Charles Clary.

...reverie is its pleasure. ~Victor Hugo

Cold Choices by Larry Bond

When two subs collide
and one sinks to the bottom
blame halts for rescue.

Cold Choices by Larry Bond, first published 2009, 480 pages

I became a fan of Bond's after his collaboration with Tom Clancy on Red Storm Rising, an excellent WWIII scenario. Cold Choices was a very nice book to read while stuck on an airplane.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Those who realize their folly...

See the London Symphony Orchestra like you've never seen them before with LSO Play.

Another nail in the coffin of generationalism and its stereotypes. A study by researchers at Northwerstern's Kellogg School of Management showed that older workers more fully embraced social networking tools in the workplace than their younger colleagues.

Yes, I like modern and abstract painting. No, I do not think this is art: snort paint and spray tears of color.

Taking into account the source (BuzzFeed), here are 40 things every man over the age of 30 should own. (Where is the imagination? Shouldn't it be 30 things for the man over 30? Besides just that little bit of parallel wordplay it would keep this list from seeming to be interminable. For example, they could drop #40 about owning a decent bottle of booze. In fact, there's just too much booze-related stuff on this list. And a lot of this list is duh, common sense, anyway.)
  • #4 Stocks - I'll disagree. Unless you really know what you're doing (and most people don't) mutual funds are probably better.
  • #8 A Wristwatch - I'll salute them for including this.
  • #19 A flask - Really, I thought this was for men over 30, not boys turning 16.
NASCAR is known for branding everywhere, all over the cars and track. But now a beer is branded by NASCAR: Dale's Pale Ale. (I can hear my beer friends scoffing now.)

Begin Mapapalooza

This world map combines a country's number of internet users with the most popular website. Google is red. Baidu is green. Facebook is blue. The Japanese love them some Yahoo! (purple).
Bitly's real-time media map. See who's consuming what media across the U.S.

Imagine if each state could only have one sport: United Sports of America. Of course, Texas has high school football. But cornhole in Ohio? Honestly, I didn't even hear of cornhole until a few years ago.
The distribution of several pizza chains across the U.S. Red is Pizza Hut.

End Mapapalooza

Can social media save science? No. (But liking Facebook posts can.)

"Underwear is only minimally practical. It might be another layer of warmth, or a device to catch and contain the body’s seepings or inconvenient activity..." (That sounds incredibly practical to me.) From the London Review of books, On Knickers.

Pooping destinations? Next there will be pooping vacations.

As engineers we've all done our share of debugging. But it wasn't directly beneath a fully fueled Saturn V.

Don't know your Meyers-Briggs personality type? Here's another free online implementation of it. (I'm ESTJ but as I age the E is slowly sliding toward an I.)

How to get rich on the internet: solve basic human problems better, faster, and simpler (oops - can't have all three) than anyone else. But what does this guy know? Who's ever heard of Blogger and Twitter?

Why might I be interested in this princess alphabet from Mike BaBoon Design?
They've already righted the wreck but this passenger-shot video from inside the Concordia is still troubling.

Learn yourself some parallel programming with the freely available online textbook Programming on Parallel Machines by U.C. Davis' Norm Matloff. Why stop there? You can learn some OpenGL over at LearnCAx.

Interested in aerospace and defense blogs? Here's a long list of 'em.

Ever wonder about the optimal distance to stand from a painting to fully enjoy it? Seems like it's all a matter of geometry. Of course, Rothko wanted you to get up close to be fully enveloped by the work.

Motivated by mobile devices, promoted by Google, WebP is a new image file format for the web that could replace PNG and JPG. Although it's lossy like JPG it allows transparency like PNG.

I misplace more stuff the older I get. Neptune lost a moon but Naiad has been found again.

I'll leave you with a choice.
  1. Play Full Screen Mario for hours and hours.
  2. Burgers, burgers everywhere.
...are not true fools. ~Zhuangzi

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Patience and time...

Time is a bitch and this is all she has for me today.

Buran, the failed Soviet space shuttle, was based on faulty assumptions - according to Ars Technica.

How would you like it if your boss tried the five word performance review?

How does John Cage work?

Franz Kline, Study for Accent Grave, 1954. From the exhibition Hotel Texas: An Art Exhibition for the President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy at the Amon Carter Museum of Art in Fort Worth. This painting and several others were hung in the hotel suite in which JKF and Jackie stayed overnight in Fort Worth the day before the assassination.
Why are there so few women in science? tl;dr

Maybe because stereotypes cause them to quit.

Faulkner considered The Sound and the Fury to be a splendid failure.

Learn ten new Microsoft Word tips and tricks.

How to make your commute better. (Audiobooks work for me.)

Buy some turf from A&M's Kyle Field. more than strength and passion. ~Jean de La Fontaine

The Hard Way by Lee Child

Alone, in the dark,
when Reacher gets the bad guys
you want them dead too.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars. Listening to Dick Hill perform a Jack Reacher story is a no brainer for me. If there's a modern equivalent of the classic "hard boiled" crime novels of the mid 20th century, this is it.

The Hard Way, A Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child, 10th in the series. 10 CD audio book performed by Dick Hill.

Author's website:

Book's web page on author's website:

Dick Hill's website: (There's an audio sample of him reading a Lee Child book.)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

If you think government's problems are bad...

Rejoice! The long-lost 1933 Three Stooges film Hello Pop has been found and will hopefully make its way to a screen near you soon.

I've never watched Breaking Bad but I do like periodic tables. So here's a text-based periodic table where each "element" links to some factoid about the show.

By now everyone has heard of the passing of Tom Clancy. I credit him with renewing my interest in modern fiction back in the late 1980s when I was reading mostly classics. Reading all of Clancy's novels (a term he preferred to "techno thriller") and non-fiction books led me to other authors such as Larry Bond, Greg Iles, Dale Brown, Stephen Coonts, and Vince Flynn (who also recently passed away). About 10 years ago I saw him speak here in Fort Worth and I remember two things. When asked whose books he likes he said John Varley so I immediately bought and read Demon and Red Thunder. Second, Clancy's stated goal was to achieve verisimilitude in his work. After looking that up in the dictionary (the appearance of being true or real) no one can deny that Clancy achieved that. But more so than the technology what he made real were his characters and that's what kept bringing me back.

Not to overdo the Clancy stuff, but here are his five rules for writing.
  1. Tell stories. Take people away from their drudgery.
  2. Writing is like golf. Keep doing it until you get better.
  3. Make pretend more real than real. The difference between fiction and reality is fiction has to make sense.
  4. Writer's block is unacceptable.
  5. No one can take your dream away.
Web nerds: see how to draw a triangle using CSS.

Dirk Loechel's graphic comparison of the relative size of science fiction space ships
Cruise to the Edge's lineup of progressive rock bands (Yes, Marillion, Steve Hackett, UK, Tangerine Dream, Stick Men, and more) isn't enough to get me on a cruise ship.

Here's a really interesting article about Charles Mingus but be warned: tl;dr.

Ever wonder how animated cartoons were made in 1919?

A revised edition of Don Norman's classic The Design of Everyday Things is due out in early November. If you have not read the original then this ought to be added to your wish list at your preferred book seller.

Explore this hand-drawn family tree of math

Programming friends, before you click the link as yourself what the smallest crashing C program is. It may surprise you. It surprised me.

Those wacky folks at Dogfish Head Brewery have brewed a beer with moon dust: Celest-Jewel-Ale. If that's too extreme for your tastes, checkout this list of the best beers in the world. #2 is Three Floyds Brewing Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout.

In the olden days "the fact that your teeth are so polished just shows you’re the more full of piss." This and other uses of pee-pee are described in the Smithsonian.

There's no such thing a good cake without taste. See this baked tribute to Rothko's White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose) and many more edible modern masters.
 The Lewis model of national cultures around the world. Is it accurate?

Scientists have finally pinpointed the location of a volcano that erupted in 1257 with eight times the force of Krakatoa: Indonesia's Lombok Island.

More history you say? Take 7 minutes to watch this animation of WWII in Europe showing the movement of the front lines every day.

Take a photo tour of the abandoned Cold War-era listening station in Teufelsberg, Germany.

From tub drain to Monique Goossens' studio: typography hair

Falling falling.

...wait until you see their solutions.

The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art by Mark Rothko

A righteous painting
creates a tangible space
for contemplation.

Mark Rothko, Dark Cloud, Light Cloud, 1957 - From the collection of the Fort Worth Museum of Modern Art
  • Video interview with Christopher Rothko, Mark Rothko's son and the book's editor: part 1, part 2
  • BBC series, The Power of Art, Part 8: Rothko
P.S. I'm gonna try this format for my book and music commentaries for a while. Brevity is a virtue when it comes to pretentious, uninformed bullshit. However, don't think it's a sign of laziness. 5-7-5 takes longer than you might think.

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.