Mike Beversluis

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Ever So Tangentially Related

NYCotD

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Built to Feel My Own Impending Mortality

Pardon the intermittent posting, I've been bouncing around the country. Anyway, for those of you who enjoy 90's College rock, here's a little on stage guitar melting, now closing in on ten* years ago...



*more like eight, but I'm going for effect here. Now, if you excuse me, I have to go download a bunch of Ben Stiller Show episodes.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

By their ha ha's, you shall know them

And if you have an adolescent sense of humor, this is hilarious. (Ha ha!)

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Cool Old Car Blogs

New favorite blog: Bring a Trailer.
Also excellent: Murilee Martin's Down On The Street series.

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Beautiful Specimens


Check out these old slides; Fantastic!

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Monday, August 27, 2007

[LMS] The battle of Algiers

The battle of Algiers, by Gillo Pontecorvo (Algeria-Italia 1967)

I saw it some days ago, and I liked it very much; I found it beautiful and difficult to analyze as well.
It is a chronicle of the urban guerrilla fought by the Algerian "National Liberation Front" (FLN) against the French settlers from 1954 to 1960. The interesting part is that the French are able to completely eradicate the whole FLN organization, but the movement for the Algerian independence is not stopped by this defeat and just a few years later achieves its objective.

I would say: it is quite detailed in the chronicle of the facts, leaves the viewer a desire to improve his understanding of the reasons of the historical developments. The crucial point for me is that I think I can hear in this movie the distant hoofbeats of history (I copied this of the hoofbeats from an article in the NYT), but I myself I am not oriented well enough and I can't understand which path the horse is running on.

There are a few things which are more transparent, for example the different levels of sophistication of the individual FLN leaders, some of the tactics both of the FLN and and the French army and also the "everyday" feel of the life of the French colonists who really felt at home in Algiers.

Since it leaves the sense of the complexity of events, the desire of understanding more and the necessity of being better oriented, I should say it is a good movie about history and politics.

To conclude, beautiful in my opinion the black-and-white cinematography with high contrast.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Jackpot!

The library ("liberry" LOL) at work had a cleaning out giveaway, and I hit the jackpot: Architectural Graphics Standards, (Eighth Edition).

This thing is fantastic. I will have to make some scans, but it is too large for my little cheapie scanner at home. Let me get back to you on that.

There is little on designing buildings that isn't in here:

  • Biometric data for building and workspace layout? Check.
  • Efficient bathroom designs for a given number of fixtures? Check.
  • Direct vs semi-direct vs semi-indirect vs indirect lighting layout? Check.
  • Water proof basement design? Check.
  • Beam and truss design? Check.
  • Conference room design? Check.
  • Prison cell block design? Check.
  • Olympic diving platform design? Check.
  • Shakespearian theater design? No. (ha ha, just kidding. Check)

And that's the first chapter. It's nuts.

And in other jackpot related news, my plan to win the lottery when the nominal expectation value of a ticket is greater than the cost of a ticket has not yet worked out. (The Friday Mega-Millions is at $201 Million). However, if I win, I wouldn't tell you. I don't want to ruin this thing of ours. Unless I win $100, and then drinks are on me.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

A Couple of Questions

Should I change the name of this blog to something, say, less eponymous and close the kimono a bit? I suspect no one cares and it doesn't matter either way, but feel free to venture suggestions at my expense. Laura said ixnay to "A Thousand Monkeys Typing," so try again.

Incidentally, I've always used my name online (pretty much), in part because the internet would be a better place without anonymity. Why do people think it's normal to use IcePirate1983 on ebay (totally random name which without doubt is being used)?

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

A gentleman is ...



"Ballu tundu" (Round dance) and "Passu torrau" (Returned step), are meant to accompany dancing, and this explains why they are a bit repetitive.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Life in the NE US, third part: curiosity and sharing informations

Men, both young and adults, in the NE US, are considerably less curious than they are in Sardinia. It took a while for me to get adjusted to this difference. At the same time I have the impression that when I ask for informations that aren't related to work I get, generally speaking, less detailed answers than the ones I would get in Sardinia. These are my theories on why.

The most important reason, in my opinion, is that here in the US information forms a system which is valuable. More precisely, a well co-ordinated knowledge of many things is necessary in order to orient oneself in society and in the work environment, therefore the transmission and sharing of information is regarded as work in itself; and, beyond this, sharing information requires an investment in time and energy which are subtracted from other activities at work; and furthermore most single items of this information "system" make sense only when they are considered together with all of the other items in the system, so no-one is going to gain from the transmission of a single item to someone that is not oriented over the rest.

Well, that is not to say that a person in Sardinia may work without knowing anything at all, but my feeling is that there is a difference in the complexity of the information to be dealt with.

There is also a second reason that is connected to the first but is, let us say, less noble. Silence is often displayed as a sign of shrewdness, experience and general good orientation in life; in addition, it is displayed as a message that says: "I do not need to have to do too much with the people that are around me right now because I have other more important links and things in my life". On the other hand curiosity is an admission of ignorance, that is many times made most evident by the naivety of the question itself. In fact, it is often young adults, especially men, which remain silent.

Sometimes a curious effect is reached when the practice of not sharing informations has become an ingrained habit and it collides with another custom, the one of being attentive and considerate towards people. It has happened to me three or four times (and this only in the US I would say) to talk to someone at a social gathering and they showed an intensely interested expression, almost fixating their eyes into me while I was talking to them and nodding some times; after this, they responded with some generic information, which was pretty disappointing.

Snowclones

I love me some 16th century snowclones.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Amateur Scientist

Over the morning espresso shots, we discussed what we would do if you had to spend around $10k on a science project, say from a peculiar inheritance, with the goal of achieving some conclusion, not necessarily a peer-reviewed publication, but just something you could do that goes a step beyond taking pictures of Saturn's rings, what would you do with your mini-X-prize?

One answer was to build a home-made STM, which is pretty doable given the introduction of low-cost DAQ's. Depending how good of a programmer you are, you could probably come under $1k. Personally, I'd like the idea of having a little optical lab at home; maybe toss in a Sherline mini-machine shop. Then you could make everything out of brass, and when your DIY steampunk microscope gets a million hits from Boing Boing or whatever, you could get back $20 from the Adsense revenue. Bonus!

But that's coming from a strong instrument bias. I suppose you could do a lot, say, with local wild-life tracking. When I was a kid, there was a group of us that used to go around doing water-quality testing on streams and mountain lakes. I image with a couple of $k, you could set up automatic monitoring stations.

One long term thought I had was to build an IR telescope, to try and do astronomy in cities. From what I hear, IR astronomers get instrument time on the big scopes during nights when the moon is out, so that should be workable. With the advent of compressive imaging techniques, you could replace a prohibitively expensive IR-array with a single channel detector.

So feel free to toss an idea in the bag, or more likely, not.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Well, that's not something you see every day

Singing Tesla Coil. Nerds!

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The Woodwright's Shop

PBS is now streaming the 26th season of Roy Underhill's show, the Woodwright's Shop. [via] How neat is that? He always had that 70's get off the grid vibe, a la Tom and Barbara, where you live in a solar heated straw-house geodesic dome and try to figure out what to do with the 500 lbs of zuchini you over-planted. Know what I mean, M. & D.?

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Nifty Bag


I bought a new briefcase the other day, the Tom Bihn Zephyr, and it's pretty sweet if I may pat myself on the back for being such an savvy briefcase purchaser, and I will, so thanks.

The Zepher is well put together, fashioned from Cordura and ballistics nylon with adamantine #10 zippers. You could toss a hand grenade in there, and all you would hear is a little "poof".

poof

See? Anyway, at $140, it isn't cheap, but it should last 10 plus years.

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Lessons in Optics

Parabolic glass buildings are hot.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

A Happy (new) Beginning

The real life inspiration for Omar from The Wire just got married. [via]

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Even better than the real thing

We were arguing about art and collectibles and whether Van Gogh was overrated (at a $100 million, how could he not be?), and it occurred to me that someday I will have to hire an expert art counterfeiter to make an exact duplicate of a painting - not exactly sure which - with one obvious change. You know, like have the Mona Lisa smoking a pipe, or let there be four graces. Something classy.

On a related though, I'm thinking of a trip to Falling Water, and I wondered, how many duplicate Frank Lloyd Wright houses have been built? If I won the Powerball, I think I would buy some acreage, and fill it with reproductions of Falling Water, Monticello, and the Johnson house. And I would surf the web with a Cray Y-MP set up to run OS-X in emulation. Ha! Take that Steve Jobs.

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David Macaulay


DCist points to a neat David Macaulay exhibit at the National Building Museum on drawing architecture. I will have to run down there post-haste!

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Wondermark



Funny ha ha indeed.

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Nerds

Point: Nerds are "hyperwhite."

Counter-point: Linguists are pseudo-intellectuals who use jargon to mask inanity, but hey, it's nice work if you can get it.

PS, "blood"?

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Roots and Cranks

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

If you must

...have a life-size R2-D2 replica sitting around the house (nerd!), at least it should have a working video-projector that beams out of it's radar eye.

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