Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Scary Ideas

Happy Halloween! I've still got the costume I bought and never wore last year -- Natasha, as in "Boris and Natasha," as in "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show." It has a rubber wig and a tube dress, and really long fake eyelashes, and purple eye shadow, and bright red lipstick. It's scary, all right. If only I had somewhere to wear it...

Girl Hacker has posted a programming schedule for her personal television channel, and it seems like a good meme to steal for a post of my own. Rocky and Bullwinkle will be on it, of course. But mine's got to be much longer, because I really like television, and have watched a lot of it.

7:00a - Breakfast Time
(Wikipedia describes it as "an off-the-cuff morning show with lifestyle segments and 'roving reporters' who visited unique sites across the country each day. This was the network's flagship show and utilized every room of the [New York City] apartment [that fX used to broadcast from]. Hosted by Tom Bergeron, Laurie Hibberd and Bob the Puppet.")

9:00a - Game Shows
(Wheel of Fortune, Family Feud, Love Connection... Whatever. Game shows are good in the morning, a cheerful way to start the day. I'm scheduling three hours of them. Also: Blind Date and Fear Factor count as game shows.)

12:00p - Sports on weekends, or TechTV on Weekdays (These days its "G4TV". But back in the day it was Kate and Leo all day long from a single studio set, making it up as they went along. Obviously I'm not usually home at this time, but if I am, this is just the kind of friendly company and infotainment I'd like to have. Apparentely other people miss it, too. Better than court shows, anyway.)

3:00p - Kids' Shows
(Rocky and Bullwinkle, as promised, and also the Muppets, and You Can't Do that on Television, and Out of Control, and Clarissa Explains it All, and the Tomorrow People, and Spellbinder, and Liberty's Kids, and Danger Mouse and Count Duckula. Two shows a day.)

4:00p - British Comedy
(Monty Python, Red Dwarf, Blackadder, the original Whose Line is it Anyway, Have I Got News For You, etc. I think these are all half hour shows...)

4:30p - The Simpsons

5:00p - Sitcoms
(Roseanne, Dharma and Greg, The King of Queens, Malcolm in the Middle, The Dick Van Dyke Show, the Mary Tyler Moore Show, Scrubs, and Get Smart. Because those are my favorites, not because they have anything at all in common.)

6:00p - Action Adventure
(The Incredible Hulk, MacGuyver, Dr. Who, The Bionic Woman, Star Trek The Original Series, Mission: Impossible, and Alias. Which seems to fit better with these older, more light hearted shows than with the "serious" later shows... I'll schedule some Due South in this slot too.)

7:00p - The Aaron Sorkin / Amy Sherman-Palladino hour
(The West Wing, Sports Night, Studio 60, Gilmore Girls)

8:00p - "Serious" New Shows
(24, Heroes, House, and Jericho, but Jericho'd better get better quick or I'm cancelling it. Maybe fill in with some CSI.)

9:00p - Buffy and Veronica etc.
(Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel (yeah, why not?), Firefly, and Veronica Mars. And shortlived Dead Like Me and Wonderfalls. And possibly Joan of Arcadia. I liked the little bit I saw.)

10:00p - The Daily Show

10:30p - M*A*S*H (or maybe sometimes "Moonlighting." I haven't actually seen that at all, but Ken tells me I'd like it.)

11:00p - Svengoolie and Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Overnight - More Sitcoms. Doesn't really matter which ones, but I'd include I Dream of Jeanie, Bewitched, and Mork and Mindy, for starters. And The Wonder Years, even though that's not exactly a sitcom.

Luckily, I'm married to the one person in the world who would actually want to watch this with me.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Things That Look Cool

* Close Up Pictures of Snow Crystals via Girl Hacker

* A photographer who made his famous subjects pose in midair via MetaFilter

* This is what the end of the world looks like Links to missile test pictures at MetaFilter

* Manhole covers of Japan via Making Light

* The Biomedical Image Awards We know lots of people in biomedical imaging these days... Also via Making Light.

* Photos of Mars they need your help cataloguing all the craters. Computers aren't good at it. Via User Friendly I think.

* The Sidewalk Art of Julian Beever via Making Light and User Friendly.

* Mars in 3-D I'm sorry, I forget the source.

* The Nieman Marcus Catalog featuring a cruise in a space ship.

* Light and line Great shots by Chicago Tribune photographers. Registration probably required.

* Our pumpkin. Ken suggested I try to carve this Bears logo, and it turned out great.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Bears Win

Did you see that Bears game last night? The Chicago Tribune called it a Monday Night Miracle. On national television, the Bears came back from the 20 point deficit they were looking at in the third quarter. The offense looked like amateurs and never managed more than three points in the whole game, while turning over the ball six times. But the defense and special teams proved they could win the game all by themselves. By one point. That one point lead wouldn't have been enough, of course, if the Arizona kicker hadn't missed his easy shot in the last minute of the game. Man, two and a half hours of painful, boring futility, followed by half an our of shouting ourselves hoarse, and a final minute of jumping and dancing and arm pumping. I guess American football can be as exciting as Ken says it is... And the Bears are still unbeaten.

But how does their defense do it? The Onion reveals their secret.

Monday, October 09, 2006

October Poem


By T.A. Daly

Come, forsake your city streets!
Come to God’s own fields and meet
Not the lean, unkempt and brown
Counterfeit that haunts the town,
Pointing like a thing of gloom,
At dead summer in her tomb;
Reading in each fallen leaf
Nothing but regret and grief.
Come out, where, beneath the blue,
You may frolic with the true

Call his name and mark the sound,
Opulent and full and round:
Come, and gather from his hand
Lavish largess of the land;
Read in his prophetic eyes
Clear as skies of paradise,
Not of summer days that died,
But of summer fructified!
Here, O soul, his message sweet.
Come to God’s own fields and meet

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

News of the New

Apparently a couple of Americans have won the Nobel Prize in physics. They worked on the COBE satellite, measuring the cosmic microwave background. Microwaves are, of course, just a kind of radio waves. The microwave background is nothing but static, noise. The point is that it doesn't have a source. It seems to come from all directions at once, from all over the sky. It was first discovered by accident by scientists at Bell Labs trying to build a radio reciever, who weren't happy that no matter where they pointed the thing, they couldn't get rid of the noise... But it's not quite the same in every direction, and that's what the COBE satellite measures. The little tiny differences. Since the only possible source for radio waves that come from everywhere is thought to be the Big Bang, studying it can tell us something about the beginning of the universe.

But the Nobel Prize people do more than just give out awards. They also create cheesy flash animation games. Certain members of our lab who shall remain unnamed have no problem playing this at work, since after all, it's educational! It's on the Nobel Prize website, and it's about lasers. We're supposed to be learning about lasers, right? Thanks to Chad Orzel for the link.

In other space news, did you see that Neil Armstrong got his line right after all? The story says

Some historians and critics have dogged Armstrong for not saying the more dramatic and grammatically correct, "One small step for a man ..." in the version he transmitted to NASA's Mission Control. Without the missing "a," Armstrong essentially said, "One small step for mankind, one giant leap for mankind."

The famous astronaut has maintained he intended to say it properly and believes he did. Thanks to some high-tech sound-editing software, computer programmer Peter Shann Ford might have proved Armstrong right.
In a graphical representation of the famous phrase, Ford said he found evidence that the missing "a" was spoken and transmitted to NASA.

"I have reviewed the data and Peter Ford's analysis of it, and I find the technology interesting and useful," Armstrong said in a statement. "I also find his conclusion persuasive. Persuasive is the appropriate word."

I, personally, am very glad to hear this. I know some people who would say that there is something to be learned from the original story about an embarrassing human error at the moment of a great human achievement, that it's the difference between real life and myth, and it's important to remember... I say we need mythic achievements these days more than we need reminders of human fallibility. I hope that history books from now on record the line as it was meant to be.

Not all of us get to walk on the moon, of course. But a few teachers got to experience weightlessness recently, in a special airplane like the one astronauts use for training. Sometimes called "the vomit comet," I believe... The idea was to get the teachers excited about science, so they could go back and get their students excited (and incidentally get some publicity for Northrup Gruman, who sponsored it.) But supposedly half of all people get space-sick their first time in zero g. And you only get thirty seconds or so of weightlessness at a time, not enough to acclimate. So you gotta think about half those teachers weren't all that enthusiastic about the experience... But hey, I'd risk it.