"When faced with a problem you do not understand,
do any part of it you do understand; then look at it again."
~(Robert A. Heinlein - "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress")

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

"Blogging is not writing...

...It's just graffiti with punctuation."

That's lectured to blogger Jude Law who is trying to expose a possible government cover-up in the movie Contagion (2011 - featuring yet another fine piece of work by Matt Damon, who absolutely makes me want to throw things at him whenever he opens his mouth politically, but whom I regard in awe as an actor).

(Addendum - That I use a quote for a title doe NOT mean I agree with it. :-)

I've been blogging here since October of 2009, and have posted close to 150 items during that period (including a few I later deleted).

For several years before that, I have commented on many other blogs with comments that grew into essays resulting in suggestions that I really oughta put them up in my own blog (if that was meant as "rather than cluttering up our space", I'd rather NOT know.).

I eventually did just that, even recycling some of my comments as posts here (yes. I still do that sometimes. Who better to plagiarize from than myself?  At least, I wont sue myself. :-)

I hope to God that some of my posts rise at least a little above the opinion stated in the title.

I confess here to being addicted to the site meter, and am very gratified to see that there are a few who return to see if there's anything new.

Most of my posts are reactions to something else I've read, seen or experienced.  A few have been at the back of my mind for some time, and eventually I get around to them.  They come from a "To do" list I keep to jot down ideas I'm not ready to go into immediately.

What follows is my current "Coming Attractions" list.
Black remains to be done.
One of them is stricken out as having been on the shelf too long.
Red is done.
A yellow background highlights info not in the original list, but explaining what I'm interested in for that possible post.

Posts to do...

Nibbled to death by ducks
Supposedly attributed to someone in the State Department saying that's what working there was like, I suspect the saying is really as old as bureaucracy itself.

The Floating Skyscrapers of Houston
"Sailing, sailing, over the gumbo plain..."
In my post Some rambling thoughts on Houston, I mentioned the ephemeral nature of parts of my town and how we routinely tear things down only to replace them with structures pretty much the same as what was before. I felt that the fact that Manhattan Island was granite and that most of Houston is sited on gumbo (Beaumont clay actually) was responsible for that. BUT, you may have noticed that my title picture at the top of the page shows what suspiciously looks like skyscrapers.  How do we manage that?  The title of this possible post offers a clue.

A Tale of Two Books.  (Finally posted as "Possibly a good movie ...")
 (The Feather Men and Taming the Nueces Strip)

Try saying that real fast. (Fiennes, Rivers, Joey, Jennifer Project)
I have a number of books by various people that sure sound like they are speaking truth, but I simply do NOT know.  Some of them could be pure BS, told by someone who knows how to write convincingly. The first three names above are authors, and the last is a book I'd love to believe.

Defending Ranulph Fiennes
Ranulph, who wrote The Feather Men, has been accused of making up a lot of fiction and passing it off as fact.  Just don't know yet.  If I ever get around to it, I will research it on the principle of behavior not existing in a vacuum and try to learn if other actions of his support (or throw into doubt) the accusations.

Bimbos of the Death Sun ...
 (inspired by Foxfier's latest email, with apologies to Sharyn McCrumb)

"There can only be ONE!!!" ...
... Clancy Brown, that is.
Clancy Brown (whom I first saw as the Kurgan in the original "Highlander" movie) is an awesome presence when he gets the right role.  I truly thought he deserved a supporting actor nomination for playing Guard Captain Hadley in "The Shawshank Redemption".

Blessed are the Peacemakers (B-36 and Colt)
One never saw action;  the other saw plenty.
Done, sort of, as "Peacemaker", devoted to the B-36 and some of its contemporaries.  Not having anything to say about Colt's Peacemaker, I confined it to the airplane.

Kdaptist Republicans.  Beware thou, of the mutant.  Watch thou, for the Mutant!
(The last from The Chrysalids, by John Wyndham)
In Larry Niven's "Known Space" series, among our adversaries were the Kzinti: eight-foot tall catlike aliens who warred with us many times; always losing ("It's not like they're a real threat; they'll always attack before they're quite ready"). The mad Kzin Kdapt Preacher started a religion based on the idea that it was man whom the Creator made in his image and therefore we humans were the favored ones.  They would wear masks and skins made from human skin to try and fool the Creator long enough to achieve a victory. ("You kept winning!" a Kzin explained to us).  I felt this a perfect analogy for the behavior of many Republicans who appear scared to death of being distinguishable from democrats.

Is NOT synonymous with "villian". Examples of movie adversaries who were so for reaons (good reasons) and not just because they woke up one morning and decided to be a**holes or monsters.

Guilty Pleasures (or Under-appreciated Gems)
Movies that deserved better than they got, or at least were a hell of a lot of fun.
("Dragonslayer", "Deep Rising", "The Hunted", "Devil in a Blue Dress", ...)

On Guns & Shooting

Slide Rule
(The real world is analog; digital gives an illusion of exactness that doesn't really exist.)

The Black Arts of Engineering and Computer "Science"
(The Slide Rule suggestion above could be part of this)
 "Phase of the Moon", "Age of Aquarius", Zen, Spot the anomaly and you're almost there..
As a programmer (Excuse me; "Software Engineer") I genuinely felt that the "phase of the moon" was as good an explanation as any for the often capricious behavior of software under development (and often long after).  I wasn't the only one who might be heard humming "When the moon is in the seventh house, and Jupiter aligned with Mars..." (from "Age of Aquarius") while trying to puzzle out a problem.  I once figured out a circuit board problem (without much knowledge of the electronics involved) by just going into a relaxed state and quietly staring at this cookie-sheet size board with 256 identical processor chips in a 16 x 16 matrix.  One caught my eye because it looked slightly different; the difference being a missing wire-wrap connection. Hence the "Spot the anomaly..." advice.

THAT dude was Shakespearean.
Ian McShane, as Al Swearengen and many others. Title from reference in "My name is Boyd Crowder...  (TRY to do this one before the fourth Pirates of the Carribean comes out in May.)

It's all Frank Martin's fault...
... that some of you get inundated with emails about my latest posts.
 A couple of his posts that got me hooked on blogs in the first place:
     (note that Gail Halvorsen link near bottom no longer works)
  FOSSETT (A pilot's take on the what may have happened to Steve Fossett)

"The Wrath of The Lord...
...is about to descend upon them"
  (Scenes in movies or TV where one man takes on that role, and delivers)
    Roberr Duvall in Lonesome Dove
    Robert Redford in Jeremiah Johnson
    Yoshio Harada in The Hunted
    Sean Connery in The Wind and The Lion
    Paul Newman in The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean

 Kodo, Tubular Bells (Mike Oldfield),  Walter/Wendy Carlos, Tangerine Dream
Beside's original synthesizer scores Walter/Wendy Carlos did much of the music for "A Clockwork Orange" and the original "TRON".  The way I wrote the name of this one person means exactly what you might conjecture it does.

"My name is Boyd Crowder...
 -You can come after me if you want, but it will be the last thing you ever do. I promise you that."


The recipe for making a nuke ...
... starts the same as the recipe for "wabbit" stew.
First: Catch your "wabbit"!!!

About Obama's obsession with creating Czars to be in control of everything and accountable to no one but him. 

An Urban Legend
 Urban, Karl Urban
I've touched on him a bit in WANTED!!! -- For stealing these movies..., so you probably shouldn't hold your breath waiting for a post exclusively about him.

The Return of Mickey Rourke
 "Presence" is a not-easily defined quality of an actor that absolutely compels your attention when he shows up.

"...and the sharks will come."

Thinking the Unthinkable
  Under what circumstances can national elections be suspended?
   (Nothing appears to be "unthinkable" to the current group in charge.)
  Can individual states enact measures to allow recall of their U. S. Congressional  reps and senators?

Rethinking Recall
  Check out parliamentary systems that the founding fathers would have known about and ultimately rejected.

"Kamikazi Congress?"
 If there IS a wipeout in the November election, what might the democrat losers
 attempt in the 2 and 1/2 months before they are officially gone in late January?
(Too late!  This article is way past its "Sell By" date.)

"This is what happened."
- The essence of storytelling, in four simple words.
 Credit Stephen King for title, refer to his use of opening in The Mist
 (HE credits Douglas Fairburn for use in Shoot), use what examples you can from Heinlein's "Channel Markers".

Prose I'm jealous of...
 ...because someone else beat me to it.
Use examples from Sebastion Junger, Michael Sharra, Jimmy Breslin.
I used a couple of examples, from Junger and Breslin, in So, how good is computer translation?

( "This" and "Prose" could probably be combined into one post.)

The Sugar Grain Universe
 Another perspective. Should illustrate (with photos of globe, marble, BB, sugar grains, etc.)
This has been on my list for a looong time.  Long ago I saw a factoid somewhere about a pound of sugar containing 2,260,000 grains, and thought of using that as a yardstick to give perspective to the universe of which we are a  part ("We are ALL made of star stuff" ~Carl Sagan).  If our sun was a grain of sugar, the closest neighboring grain (Alpha Centauri) would be miles away. Near the center of our galaxy (watch out for that possible massive black hole), things are more crowded;  some grains might be only a half-mile away. Previous attempts to visualize our universe were Kees Boeke's truly excellent (and way too long out of print) book "Cosmic View: The Universe in 40 Jumps", and the short film "Powers of Ten" by Charles and Ray Eames.  Early ideas for the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey" included having an intro with something like "Powers of Ten", but they decided to omit that.  The movie "Contact", with Jodie Foster and based on Carl Sagan's novel, opens with a scene pulling back from our earth on out to the edge of the known universe (and beyond?) turning into a gleam in the eye of the girl who would become Jodie Foster's character.  I cannot recall another commercial movie even coming close to that scene as an attempt to help us comprehend something that is almost beyond imagination.

On the wisdom and judgment of Twenty. (Update - Done, as "The Anvil of Life")
 Use sex and booze trip to Villa Acuna as example.

Ask for proof, examples of rising sea levels.

Common Triggers
 WHY so many stories and movies appear at same time with similar themes?

Inuit Suit?
 In a book by Audrey Schulman, one is described as made of wolfskin,
 worn with the hair on the inside.

 The saga of a 1994 Dodge Intrepid
I got that vehicle new, in 1994, mostly because I was seduced by its looks (like an American Jaguar) and because Consumer Reports (whose recommendations I'd found trustworthy) gave it a good write-up at the time. Not long afterwards, they began getting reports that changed their view considerably, but I was already stuck with it by then.  In engineering, we used the term "snake-bit" a lot.  Consider it a synonym for "cursed".

 Or, the randomness of my life, and how I got here by sheer chance.

"Winter's Bone" (Done - as "John Hawkes - Man of Steel")
  Review, especially noting John Hawkes

The Subtleties of Subtitles
On translation, subtitles and dubbing... (Absolutely MUST conjure up a better title). Use "The Host" and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" as examples.

"When I want your opinion, I'll give it to you..."
...perfectly encpsulates Obama's attitude towards the electorate.

Titles in Search of a Subject:
   Anatomy of an eBay transaction
   An Ode to PayPal (depending on the outcome of the case opened with them).
   "For reasons that seem good to me..."
   It seemed like a good idea at the time.
   "You Honor, he NEEDED killin'! "
   "That which does not kill me..."
   Two ends of the same snake
   Okay, then...


Okay then...

I've just shown you what I might eventually get around to. Am I afraid someone might steal something there? My feeling about that possibility is best summed up by ...

"They copied all they could follow but they couldn't copy my mind
 so I left them sweating and stealing a year and a half behind."
 ~Rudyard Kipling

While I'm not Kipling, and I've probably yet to leave anyone "a year and a half behind", I'm confident I can come up with other ideas.

So, if anything up there inspires you, then GO FOR IT!!!
Instead of being outraged, my response will be "COOL!!!"

Just try to do a good job of it.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Two Countries.

North Korea's maximum leader (in his eyes) Kim Jong Il is dead, and replaced by his son Kim Jong Un (In Asia, family names come first).

The more things change ...

The Korean peninsula is a laboratory of economic and political systems; the South going in the direction of democracy and free market, and the North going for a centralized dictatorship of control to a degree probably not even matched under Hitler and the Gestapo.

Giving us ...
korea_night1 - from upbynoon.files.wordpress.com - Ed Driscoll

Says it all.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Roger L. Simon makes the case for Newt.

Newt Gingrich was never my first choice.  That would have been Sarah Palin.

Without her, I would prefer Rick Perry, as he has been an excellent and successful Governor, and I truly believe would be a fine President.  But, debating just ain't his thing (although I've yet to see a correlation between debating skill and the ability to actually do the job) and at the moment it appears less and less likely that he will succeed to the nomination (although it's still early yet;  the election is eleven months away).

Roger L. Simon is doing a pretty good job of making me take a longer and harder look at Newt (in Explaining Newt), noting (emphasis mine) ...

What attracts me about the man is the very thing that Romney criticized, the part that wants to explore the moon and stars, maybe even mine them.

Sure Gingrich has an idea a minute, many of which are bad, but at least he has ideas. At least he is thinking. And — guess what — he says what he thinks. Politicians aren’t supposed to do that.

But Gingrich reminds me more of a Steve Jobs or a Richard Branson than he does of a politician, and that is a good thing because politicians these days are the kind of people that make me want to bang my forehead against the desk.

For my part, one thing I like about Newt is that he is a fighter (and not a doormat to anyone taking a cheap shot at him), responding "Bring it on!" to Nancy Pelosi's threat to release a lot of dirt about him from House investigations (she backed off when it was pointed out to her that such action would result in an investigation of her conduct), and responding in one debate to Mitt Romney's characterization of him as a "career politician", "Let's be honest; the only reason that you're not a career politician is that you lost to Ted Kennedy in 1994."

I'm quite aware that, a few months back, I said similar things about Perry (and still hope that he will try fighting again;  if you're going to run, then RUN!!!).

But, where Newt's concerned; I truly believe that he will campaign as if he's actually trying to win the office, and not just going through the motions.

And if that last part sounds like a slap at someone, then so be it!

In 2008, Sarah Palin seemed to be the only one on the GOP side actually running.  If McCain had made that kind of effort, our country would likely be a hell of a lot better off now.

If only...


Saturday, December 03, 2011

If THIS doesn't pique your curiosity ...

... then, I am truly sorry for you;  you're already dead. :(

Five friends go to a remote cabin in the woods.
Bad things happen.

That poster is from AICN Exclusive: The Long Awaited Poster for Joss Whedon & Drew Goddard's CABIN IN THE WOODS!!!  (you can click on it for a full-sized image, but be warned: It's a monster of almost 2 Megabytes.)

I absolutely love movies, and am a sucker for an imaginative grabber where posters or advertising campaigns are concerned.  If that doesn't qualify, what would?

Opening 13 Apr 2012 (A Friday, of course; what other day could it possibly be?)

See you there? :-)

Friday, December 02, 2011

Wolf Howling is BACK ...

... with a vengeance.

After a seven and a half month absence (since May 22), one of my favorite bloggers ( Wolf Howling ) has put up five new posts in the last two days.

In a comment to one of those posts, I wondered "What happened?", and suggested that that was worthy of a post of its own.

If he picks up on that, I suspect that a quote from John Lennon would likely cover it:

   "Life is what happens while we're making other plans."



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