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Last update: 30 Nov 2008 -- 10:05pm
Ephemera
     Sunday
    30 Nov 2008
    It's been four days of vacation for me, which I have very much needed. This means that I've seen/heard more TV that usual. I've kept it on in the background while doing my Christmas shopping. (O Internet! How I adore thee!) The various science and history channels are generally safe. How It's Made is great, for example. It's basically Teletubbies for adults. (Sci-Fi channel is a train wreck; The movies they've made for themselves universally suck.)

    Back to science: I am frustrated by the writing on science programs. Actual scientists do well enough. But Voice Over Man comes on and almost immediately gets things wrong. Not usually big things, but little things. For example, as I was writing this: "According to Einstein, very massive objects warp space and [objects actually travel in straight lines blah blah]". Not quite right; ALL objects with mass bend space-time. It's more noticeable for very massive objects, but any mass does it.

    Perhaps this seems like a nit to you. (And, for television, this error is not a bad one.) But giving this incorrect information didn't make it easier to understand. An engineer would call the error "lazy".

    Errors due to a lack of precision are common on programs about hard science. It's likely that the writers and editors don't know the material as a scientist or engineer would. So, when editing to make things "interesting" I suspect these mistakes are made. What's frustrating to me is that fixing these errors is usually a matter of replacing a word or two. It wouldn't affect flow or understandability.

    After almost 30 years, Cosmos is still the most amazing and complete hard science series I know of. I'm not sure there's any reason to make another show about physics again. (Until relativity and Newtonian physics are somehow collapsed into a unified theory.)

    Like many great computer games, we need someone to remake Cosmos EXACTLY AS IT WAS and update the visuals (groundbreaking for their time). We can probably even make a Carl Sagan puppet digitally now. :-)

    [Update: It turns out the Science Channel did exactly that. Apparently, the cut quite a bit to make room for commercials and there are complaints the the new graphics are cheesier than the old. I haven't seen it.]

     Thursday
    27 Nov 2008
    It's that time of year: Foamy Christmas Radio!

     Sunday
    23 Nov 2008
    Every episode of House, end of Act II: THE PATIENT POOPS A LUNG

     Wednesday
    19 Nov 2008
    Jaw-droppingly awesome: Guitar Hero by bicycle (mad, crazy props to Curt)

    (Update: Turns out that this was done by an ad agency. It's not one take, and the lights on the handlebars (very rarely seen anyway) were inserted. Doesn't matter to me much. It's still crazy cool assuming all the dots aren't fake.)

     Tuesday
    18 Nov 2008
    One more Bond note: the title song was absolute crap.

     Monday
    17 Nov 2008
    Quantum of Solace (IMDB 7.2 |Rot 67%)
    I was a little worried about Bond 22 when I saw the trailer for it. It had lots of action, but there wasn't any class, style, or wit. It's that mixture of action, style, and sex which makes a Bond film different from other action movies.

    It turns out that the movie had just enough of the Bond formula so that it's not a run-of-the-mill action flick. Personally, though, I wish for more. I don't want it to be Roger Moore campy by any means, but a bit of witty repartee would be welcome over the stern glare that Bond has been reduced most of the time.

    Most of that is quibbling, though. The movie has explosions (especially in the Worst Hotel Ever Devised: a dangerously flammable fuel-cell powered hotel located in the middle of a desert for no apparent reason) and some great fights and so on. There is plot but it doesn't really matter. There is a Bond girl (who echoes a girl from Goldfinger) and Bond gets his girl like God intended.

    It's fun, worth a matinee. (I'm not sure any film rates a non-matinee nowadays seeing as it's 10.25 here. With a soda and popcorn, that's a whole month of Netflix!)

    As an aside, I think Bond needs a resurrection of Emma Peel (a la Pussy Galore) to be his foil again. The sidekick in this episode wasn't bad, but was a little too needy. He needs a near-equal to fence with (and then perhaps conquer... or will she conquer him?)

     Thursday
    6 Nov 2008
    Legal challenge to Prop 8: initiative votes can't change underlying principles of the state constitution. It can be amended, but not revised. Revisions need 2/3 legislature vote to pass.

     Tuesday
    4 Nov 2008
    Obama wins! And gave quite a good speech too, I think.

    I'm bummed that Prop 8 (same sex marriage ban) will probably pass, though.

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