The Big Think

August 16, 2007

Filed under: Space — jasony @ 8:33 am

Startails

Funhouse

Filed under: Woodworking — jasony @ 8:26 am

stair_slide.jpg

via gizmodo (h/t futuredaddy)

Marble Magic

Filed under: Woodworking — jasony @ 12:19 am

Wonderful wooden marble machine. Check out the video at the bottom.

August 15, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 1:18 pm

Ouch

Heavenly Audio

Filed under: Games — jasony @ 1:15 pm

Joystiq reports this morning that the upcoming game Heavenly Sword is going to ship with 10 gigabytes of audio. 4500 lines of recorded dialog, 90 minutes of music, and 90 minutes of cutscenes in eleven languages. Sure, much of this 10gb is in French and Swahili, but still, having 10GIG of audio alone is a pretty awesome achievement. Keep this in mind, too: audio for games is almost always compressed to save space, so that 10gb is probably much, much more at full quality.

I can only imagine how much work it took to record, edit, and keep track of 4500 lines of dialog. Sign me up!

Trust Us, We’re the Mediuuuuuh

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 10:18 am

” An elderly Iraqi woman shows two bullets which she says hit her
house [emphasis added] following an early coalition forces raid in the
predominantly Shiite Baghdad suburb of Sadr City.”

bulletlady.jpg

see anything wrong with this picture? What disturbs me is that this photo and caption had to go through several layers of “fact checkers” at the AFP. And they have to gall to say that citizen journalists are untrustworthy.

At least we can recognize bullets that, you know, haven’t even been fired.

more here.

That is all.

August 14, 2007

Baby Watts

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 8:32 pm

Congrats go out to Patrick and Lydia! I love the fact that they’ll be able to tell their future son/daughter that the first impression the world got of them was of…. a lemon.

Congrats, guys!

August 13, 2007

Killbot

Filed under: Computing,Humor and Fun — jasony @ 11:11 pm

So do ya feel lucky?

August 12, 2007

Necessary

Filed under: Disclosure,Music — jasony @ 12:47 pm

quipsmile.342.gif
cartoon by John Cox.

I really like this sentiment, and I find that I use it as a subconscious guide in much of my professional and personal life. To me, life is about simplifying as much as possible so that you don’t get lost in a morass of unnecessary details. Musically, I find that reducing the amount of clutter, sound, and instrumentation very often leads me to my desired result: to connect emotionally with the listener. It’s become a sort of unspoken mantra for me: what can we get rid of? What can we do without? What is just getting in the way? Some of the most profound and memorable musical moments I have had have been in near silence, because when there is very, very little going on, the audience is able to hear their own thoughts and responses to the work. And if I’ve done my job right, that moment is when we connect.

Now, I have definitely written my share of huge bombastic wall-of-sound moments, and they’re great in the right context. There is a time for triple fortissimo, and I love those moments, but I find that I have to always be on my guard not to over complicate things.

As a solo performer I tend toward business in my playing, always trying to do everything on the piano that the bass or guitar or whatever would be doing if they were there. That’s okay when it’s just me, but I have to consciously turn off that tendency when there are other musicians playing. It can sometimes be hard for me to get out of the way and let another instrument speak. I think I can be difficult to play with because I’m always trying to fill the gaps that other musicians are occupying, so I keep having to tell myself to simplify, simplify, simplify. My hope is that this bad tendency of mine has led to the happy result that my music will connect with the audience more often because I try and make it easy to hear everything.

In life, simplicity can be very good when it causes you to decide what is really important and what’s just in the way. I jokingly say that this is why I grew a beard and keep my hair short: because I don’t want to waste an irreplaceable asset (time) on something transitory (shaving/messing with my hair). Yes, it’s a joke, but there’s a point. We all spend so much time living life on automatic (commuting, cleaning, paying bills, taking out the trash, etc), that it’s very, very easy to miss what’s important. And yes, I still clean and take out the trash (and vacuum, and cook, etc, etc), but it’s in the attempt to be aware of time and life even in the midst of mundane daily activities that I think we really live. Those things are necessary, but if we just go on autopilot we can find ourselves like Adam Sandler’s character in Click. Yes, I did just use Adam Sandler to illustrate my point. Seen the movie?

And just because I know some people are thinking it, I’ll address the point: simplification of life doesn’t necessarily lead to a simple outlook. Yes, some things, like prime numbers and political discussions, are irreducible. Life is complicated. There are often many shades of grey. I’m just saying that if you can chuck what’s extraneous and decide what’s important you can have more time to concentrate on what matters.

So go live at Walden lake and tell them a sophomoric thinker sent you.

Take a Shower

Filed under: Space — jasony @ 12:21 pm

Don’t miss the annual Perseid meteor shower tonight.

August 11, 2007

Sky Writer

Filed under: Telescope — jasony @ 10:58 am

A few years ago I came across the three volume work Burnham’s Celestial Handbook. I hadn’t heard or read anything about it, but it was really cheap (I think it was five bucks for all 2100 pages in three volumes), so I picked it up. It has sat unopened on my bookshelf for several years. I thought that it was mostly just a sky survey with coordinates for finding various objects like stars, nebulae, and Messier objects. Pretty dry stuff, but a good reference for only $5, and certainly useful for the upcoming telescope project.

In doing some reading this past week, I caught a few references to the Handbook and the slavish devotion that many admirers of the night sky place in it. I brought it off the astronomy bookshelf and gave it another look. It turns out that when I briefly perused it in the bookstore a few years ago I had only opened it up to the star charts and lists of coordinates. There are whole sections that are full of essays, commentary, history, and all kinds of other amazing writing about the night sky. It’s a treasure trove that took one man, Robert Burnham Jr, over a decade of patient solitary work to construct.

I did a little more digging and unearthed this article about Burnham himself and his sad life.

I’ve pulled all three volumes off the shelf. Volume three is currently open on my desk and I’m amazed by what is in there. Burnham chose to organize his book around the constellations. He takes a certain constellation, Orion, for instance, and describes the technical aspects of it (location, stars, dual stars, colors, etc), and then goes into the history of the constellation as seen from the eyes of many different cultures. He also throws other anecdotes around each constellation or star grouping. It’s really fascinating reading. I’m looking forward to digging through it.

Site Slowness

Filed under: Bandwidth Speed — jasony @ 10:00 am

I’m so sorry about the abysmal performance of the blog lately. Its otherwise tardy behavior has been further reduced by the paroxysms of the interwebs. Translation: it’s been FREAKING slow lately.

Fear not dear reader (and I use the singular to show just how damaging the slowness has been lately). I’m in the process of changing servers and should have a right speedy blog a fortnight hence.

Dirty Jobs

Filed under: Movies — jasony @ 9:58 am

Good interview with Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs. This’d be a great production crew to be in on.

EEEEwwww

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 9:58 am

Horrific ice cream flavors. Raw horsemeat, anyone?

Kirk to Enterprise

Filed under: Humor and Fun,Movies — jasony @ 9:58 am

A statistical analysis of the Red Shirt Phenomenon.

August 3, 2007

Disaster Porn

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 10:50 am

Once again Lileks hits it on the nose:

You know what? I don?��Ǩ�Ѣt want to hear the screams from inside the bus. I don?��Ǩ�Ѣt want to hear someone?��Ǩ�Ѣs kid shrieking in panic, begging her mom to come save her. Why would I?

This is the point in the story where we start to debate what?��Ǩ�Ѣs news, and what?��Ǩ�Ѣs just disaster-pr0n. I?��Ǩ�Ѣm not making the comparison here, because they?��Ǩ�Ѣre different events in every way. But nothing about 9/11 hit me as hard as the memorial wall on Grand Central Station, a collection of all the fliers and MISSING posters people had stuck up at the site after the Twin Towers were destroyed. They were mute, handmade pleas, and believe it or not, they didn?��Ǩ�Ѣt need a voice over that said ?��Ǩ?�for now the family sits and waits, wondering what the news will be?��Ǩ�� or whatever generic tag gets slapped at the end of the grieving-survivor boilerplate story.

I understand why they do those stories, but I have a hard time watchng them. I don?��Ǩ�Ѣt want to wonder if the cameraman?��Ǩ�Ѣs wondering how close he should go on the face to get the tears, because on one hand this person is experiencing great private grief, but on the other hand the light is hitting that teardrop just perfectly. Mostly I want them to leave the people alone. I don?��Ǩ�Ѣt need to be told what they?��Ǩ�Ѣre feeing. I can guess.

I’d have a hard time- a moral dilemma, really- working sound for a tv news camera crew. This is a big reason we gave up TV- all the gratuitous emotion-mongering that masquerades as “reporting”. So just don’t watch it you say? I think they get a bigger message when we don’t pay to subsidize it.

August 2, 2007

Current Reading

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 11:52 pm

Summerland by Michael Chabon. Totally unexpected and completely delightful. Weird, off-kilter mixup of Harry Potter, Narnia, Field of Dreams, Quantum Physics, Joseph Campbell, and a bit of the wacky tobbaccy. Definitely worth a read. Just wow.

Killer Queen

Filed under: Music,Science — jasony @ 8:29 am

Who knew that guitarist Brian May (of Queen fame) was once an astrophysicist? He finally completes his PhD today at the age of 60. The topic is “Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud”

“I didn’t want an honorary PhD. I wanted the real thing that I worked for,”

BBC has the article.

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