Mike Beversluis

Friday, March 28, 2008

Wondermark of the day

Somewhat Guilliamesque, but still funny: That's what happens.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Weekend Update

Pardon the lack of posting - It was a combination of a very full schedule and wildly intermittent internet connectivity. Last week I was in St. Petersburg, Florida for the OSA's threefer topical meeting on Biomedical Optics/Digital Holography and Three-Dimensional Imaging (DH)/Laser Applications to Chemical, Security and Environmental Analysis (LACSEA).

Note to the OSA, I enjoyed this meeting very much, even if it did run from 7:30 am till 6 pm, Sunday through Thursday - which sort of negates the point of holding it in Florida in March - but you can't really complain about declining attendance of your annual meeting if you make it superfluous by holding a bunch of collocated, multi-session topical meetings.

Second note: Florida does not have a motorcycle helmet law, which became apparent to me when I saw the headless guy lying in the street on the bridge out of Clearwater. I'll spare you the details, but Yikes! Donorcycle.

Third note: I visited lovely Fort De Soto beach on Thursday, yes - after the conference had ended, but the enjoyment was brief because some guy smashed the window of my rental car and ran off with my nifty briefcase. Fortunately, I was traveling on business and so the car was fully insured, and the briefcase didn't contain anything really valuable. Which is why I had spaced on leaving it in sight in my locked car. Although after filing the police report, I realized that my home keys, personal car keys and cell phone were in there, which made getting home from Dulles a total pain. (Three 35 mile trips back and forth, two in rush-hour traffic with a rental, in order to get my spare keys from home and drive back with my own car.)

Happy update: I did get a call today from a ranger who found the briefcase with my card inside, so at least I can get that back.

Forth note: I moved Saturday down to picturesque Old Town Alexandria. This has cut my commute to work by an hour each way, so that's a big advantage. I feel like I should paint a confederate flag on my Acura and add some Trucker-style mud flaps in order to fit in. Also, because I'm a big fan of cognitive dissonance. At the very least, a great big number three on the side.

Fifth note: Thanks to the folks who attended my traditional Easter Thai Lunch.

That is all for now, but more to come once I get the home internet going.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

[Review] Once

Once, by John Carney (Ireland 2006)

A possible way of making a musical is shooting a movie with a musician as protagonist. In this "Once" not only the protagonist is a musician, but the songs he composes are inspired to his life; the movie thus solves the problem of how to integrate narration and songs.

But please don't be misdirected by the mechanical tone of my statements: it works pretty well. The point is that this movie tells a story that maybe did not happen to everybody but could happen to anybody - something that I heard by people of trusted competence about what Kafka and Musil wrote (I myself do not fully understand the importance of this criterion) is that a book is interesting because a reader can say "this happened to me as well" (and for the records and apropos movies I heard this said about "Until the End of the World" by Wim Wenders.

At any rate I like movies that reproduce reality in a faithful and detailed way, and this has plenty of "on-spot" details. The story is a brief romance between a man from Dublin, who is a busker with his guitar, and a woman immigrated from Czech republic.
Two examples of on-spot details: the time they first meet, while he is working, and the house where she lives.

One of the crucial topics in the movie is the tension between feelings and other ties that exist between people; I would say that Carney's point of view is that feelings, even when they are set aside to leave place to relationships based on other considerations, always bring some good fruit; and the director is able to present his point of view with rhythm and without "sugar" (it is not "Hearts in trouble")

The two protagonists are endowed with appropriate defects, his ones are typically "male" and hers typically "female" defects, are surrounded by other characters very alive and in blood and flesh and by a complex social environment (wonderful the musical dinner, by the way) and of course by a vibrant city life since the story is set in Dublin.

I won't expand on the subject of defects of this movie because none is annoying.

Friday, March 14, 2008

See a shuttle launch


Somewhere down on my lifetime to-do list is to see a shuttle (or big rocket) launch in person. I was able to drive by the Scaled Composites site in Mojave last month, which was kinda cool too.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

My Hair Shirt is Cashmere

The fight over what "green" means
By Lynda V. Mapes
Seattle Times staff reporter

It was the People's Choice and Best in Show in the 2007 Street of Dreams, the Best in American Living for 2007, according to the National Association of Home Builders, and the first home in Snohomish County to earn a five-star rating as a Built Green home.

But with 4,750 square feet, a four-car garage and a location in a rural area where subdivisions aren't supposed to sprawl, was it really green?

The Urban Lodge was one of four mega homes burned in an act of arson this month near Maltby.

Even before the cork flooring and reclaimed timbers stopped smoking, the fires had reignited an already smoldering debate in a rapidly growing region struggling to find and keep its Pugetopian identity.

The search is on for a sort of Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for the green consumer in the real-estate market, and the debate about what's truly green brings an answer from every corner.

Green building is no different from a host of other industries suddenly greening conventional products to serve a public that still wants it all — but now wants to feel good about it, too.


Gosh, maybe carbon-offsets would help.

BTW - why are people who buy offsets only trying for neutral? Shouldn't they aim for a negative footprint, so to speak?

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

NYCotD

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WMotD


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Monday, March 10, 2008

The Wire

I'm compelled to say I liked The Wire, but I think it should have just ended after three seasons. Honestly, I don't think the last two seasons added much to what the original story arc finished in seasons one and three - once Stringer Bell was dead, the writers really had said their piece. And now I have too.

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Here's to Police-Community Relations

I'm guessing he doesn't have a gold "I support my local police department" sticker on his car: pic [language]

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She nails the Seattle accent

Hello, my name is Amy Walker. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Superman

Superman by Chris Appelhans

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How to live long

It is part of a BBC tv program (BBC Horizon) on longevity. It examines three places in the world - Okinawa in Japan, Ovodda in Sardinia and Loma Linda in California - and looks at how genes and lifestyle lead to a long life. It is one of five parts of the same program in Youtube.
The part that *I* find interesting starts at 2:54.


Sunday, March 02, 2008

Round and round

Chemical oscillation [fixed]

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Modern Furniture

Zing (More - blight is so authentic)

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NASCAR and business theory

Metacool: Rethinking management education, organizing for routine innovation, Charles Eames, and the importance of holding the air gun trigger down.

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Science moves in mysterious ways...

Official Kilogram Losing Mass: Scientists Propose Redefining It As A Precise Number Of Carbon Atoms
ScienceDaily (Sep. 21, 2007) — How much is a kilogram?


It turns out that nobody can say for sure, at least not in a way that won't change ever so slightly over time. The official kilogram -- a cylinder cast 118 years ago from platinum and iridium and known as the International Prototype Kilogram or "Le Gran K" -- has been losing mass, about 50 micrograms at last check. The change is occurring despite careful storage at a facility near Paris.


I'm a little curious how they know that the standard mass is changing - what are you comparing it to? (more) Also, some folks are proposing that a new standard be fixed as a certain number of carbon-12 atoms, which seems reasonable, but what if that mass changes too?

But wait, there's more:

NASA Baffled by Unexplained Force Acting on Space Probes
By Charles Q. Choi
Special to SPACE.com
posted: 29 February 2008


Mysteriously, five spacecraft that flew past the Earth have each displayed unexpected anomalies in their motions.

These newfound enigmas join the so-called "Pioneer anomaly" as hints that unexplained forces may appear to act on spacecraft.

A decade ago, after rigorous analyses, anomalies were seen with the identical Pioneer 10 and 11 spacecraft as they hurtled out of the solar system. Both seemed to experience a tiny but unexplained constant acceleration toward the sun.

A host of explanations have been bandied about for the Pioneer anomaly. At times these are rooted in conventional science — perhaps leaks from the spacecraft have affected their trajectories. At times these are rooted in more speculative physics — maybe the law of gravity itself needs to be modified.

Now Jet Propulsion Laboratory astronomer John Anderson and his colleagues — who originally helped uncover the Pioneer anomaly — have discovered that five spacecraft each raced either a tiny bit faster or slower than expected when they flew past the Earth en route to other parts of the solar system.


Kinda exciting, huh?

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

Volvorama




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brilliant


via Adam, Garfield minus Garfield.

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