Thursday, May 29, 2008


With the price of gas soaring, someone coined the term staycation to indicate time taken off from work without actually going anywhere. What's the news? I've been staycating for years. What they're really doing is trying to make us all feel a little better about the fact that we can't afford to drive anymore.image

Driving is becoming a significant activity, requiring forethought and budgeting. We used to pile in the van and tear off somewhere on no notice, driving an hour or two each way without thought to reach some destination. Now we have to really think about whether or not it's worth it to drive to Hoopeston or Champaign to see a movie like we used to.

Leisure driving is now an activity for the rich and well - off. Back in the day we'd all pool together the change we had in our packets and end up with enough for a night of cruising the streets. Those days are long gone and never coming back. My guess is that we'll see alternative fuels in wide distribution before we see $3.00 a gallon gas again.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Phoenix has landed

image I admit freely to being glued to the Nasa Channel (on the internet - no Nasa on Comcast last night) as the Phoenix landed and started to send back pictures from the surface of Mars. I cheered along with Mission Control when "Touchdown" was announced, cheered again when the first pictures cam back. What an amazing achievement.

I think America has a kind of "been there, done that" attitude towards space travel. I'm guessing the majority of people have no idea how much Nasa research contributes back to society. I used to know a figure that was the return on every dollar we funded Nasa with. Wikipedia says an investment in the Apollo program earns 33%. Not bad for government work.image

The space program needs America to get excited again. Does this mean manned missions? Discovery of Life? I don't know. A nice start would be for Congress to stop cutting funding. The Nasa budget is less than 2% of the total budget, and it pales in comparison to the war in Iraq. They can continue by retiring the shuttle fleet. It's served it's purpose, and it is time to move on to a real 'space truck', something that is completely reusable and doesn't need to be completely rebuilt after every launch.

I subscribe to many, many blogs in my Google Reader. Okay, 122 to be exact. Many of them are blogs by and for Fiction writers, most of those being Science Fiction. Very little mention of the landing across the Blogsphere. There was some mention in Slashdot and IO9 and Wired, but little else. Where's the excitement? We just did the equivalent of throwing a pebble from California to New York, landed it in a basketball hoop in the exact location where we meant it to land, and had it send back pictures. That's amazing! That's awesome! Let's shout it to the world!

Fifty percent of Mars missions and in disaster. We slam dunk another one, and the world gives us a big ho-hum.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

20 Essential Movies for Kids

Over at EW they've listed 21 essential movies for kids. I can't tell you how glad I am to see "The Iron Giant" in the list. It is one of my all time favorite movies. Not "Animated" movies, but movies period. It is undoubtedly one of the best American made animated movies ever made, and is high on my list of favorite movies. It's one of the movies you can pull off of the shelf anytime and get involved in all over again.
There are only three directors with more than one movie on the list: Brad Bird (Iron Giant, The Incredibles), Rob Reiner (The Princess Bride, Stand by Me) and Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings I-III). Not bad company for Mr. Bird to find himself in.
With a stellar cast the includes Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick Jr., Vin Diesel, James Gammon, Cloris Leachman, Christopher McDonald, and John Mahoney I don't understand how the movie wasn't an instant classic in the theatres. Somehow it came and went and was never really appreciated as much as I thought it should be.
If you've never seen the Iron Giant, get thee to the video store post haste. You won't be sorry.
And if you have children that haven't seen it, for shame. The Iron Giant teaches us essential lessons about life and death, love and loss. war and peace. It's timeless and priceless.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Hillary - The Next Supreme?

hillary_wv_0513 Yikes! Right-wingers everywhere are wailing and gnashing their teeth, donning sackcloth and ashes.

From the great FireDogLake:

Why is Hillary still in the race? According to Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor (and Obama supporter):

She wants the best possible deal she can strike with Obama. She wants Obama to agree to pay her campaign debts, to seat the Michigan and Florida delegations (so she can claim a moral victory), and – the quietest deal of all – a personal commitment from him to appoint her to the Supreme Court when the next vacancy occurs. (h/t Jim M.)

I'm not too sure even I like that idea, and I'm all for pushing the court just a bit back towards the center.

And just as an aside, despite my post earlier in the year, I'm all about Obama '08. Yes We Can!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Little Jonnie Cougar

Years and years ago, a young unknown by the name of John Cougar came touring through my scenic hometown, playing our gargantuan 6,000 seat arena. I was in the audience.

He's grown a little since then. Physically, artistically. I think he's my generation's Bob Dylan. (Of course, there are those that argue with me that Bob Dylan can be my generation's Bob Dylan, but they're wrong. The tunes that define your teenage years stay with you forever, and for me that was John Cougar).

Many of his videos are out there on the Internets for the viewing. Here's one of my favorites.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

It can't be far off...

They've invented the Flux Capacitor.

Ok, so they call it a Memristor, but read what it does:

225px-MemristorThe memristor is formally defined as a two-terminal element in which the magnetic flux Φm between the terminals is a function of the amount of electric charge q that has passed through the device. Each memristor is characterized by its memristance function describing the charge-dependent rate of change of flux with charge.

That, to me, is a flux capacitor. And others think so as well.uncledoc

Flying Deloreans and Mr. Fusions can't be far behind.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Geek Flowchart

I knew it all started with D&D. If I had seen this at the age of thirteen, who knows where I'd be today?

The chart is sadly accurate. About the only thing missing is the entire BBS era. And there should be a progression of modem speeds in there, from 300 baud pulse to 56k.

Click the picture for more detail.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Empire Strikes Barack

In this long Democratic Primary this is perhaps the funniest thing I've seen, all the more so because so much of it rings true.


It's suddenly February and I have a cast. All of them are people I know or have seen onstage, none of them are the people I thought wou...