Saw this, and thought of Robot Chicken

“Real” Life:
Mitt Romney expects to be ‘beaten but unbowed’ after Evander Holyfield bout

Mitt Romney and Evander Holyfield weighed in for their charity boxing match on Thursday night, with the former Massachusetts governor predicting a similar outcome to that of the 2012 presidential election, which he lost to Barack Obama.

Robot Chicken: The World’s Most One-Sided Fistfights

[Flashback] Star Wars, the Matrix, and a FB rant good enough to save

This guy is dead wrong… ran into this article a year ago, and posted the following comments on FB:
How ‘Star Wars’ ruined sci-fi

The six “Star Wars” films have been enormous successes: they have grossed over $2 billion domestically at the box office, spawned scores of books, comic books and merchandise (how many kids have their own light saber?) and made household names of characters like Darth Vader, Han Solo and Luke Skywalker.

They’ve also been the worst thing ever for the science fiction genre.
[…]
Instead, I’ll queue up “The Matrix,” and enjoy the most original sci-fi movie of the past 25 years. I recommend “Star Wars” fans do the same. They need to be reminded what real creativity is all about.

Star Wars is, like a great many other SF films before it, a pretty generic adventure story with an SF setting.

Not too different from Forbidden Planet (though cribbed from Kurosawa rather than Shakespeare) just as the Day the Earth Stood Still was a mild thriller with SF elements (and arguably cribbed from Christianity) as well as myriad less well remembered options. Star Wars’ only fault is its enduring success.

Meanwhile, he loses all credibility when he calls The Matrix the most original SF film of the past 25 years… it’s a VISUALLY stunning film, one of the high points of the late 1990s but it makes little sense and has a setting/premise that is a pastiche of William Gibson and the Terminator series. Meanwhile, he ignores a whole lot of really well done recent SF films; given his otherwise apparent highbrow bias, I’d think this guy would have LOVED Gattaca, and more recently while flawed Looper, Source Code, and In Time all had more depth and originality to their plots than the Matrix (let alone the tepid and nonsensical sequels) although none can match the visual spectacle of The Matrix ( or Star Wars. )


Found this via the FB memories feature, which is pretty cool.

A fascinating article on evolution.

On the PLOS blog (found via Medium) there was a really interesting post discussing the intersection of environmental conditions and genetics, and their impact on human evolution. The title may be either off-putting or funny to some, but it’s worth a read both on general interest or to those who have a particular interest in either human evolution or environmental science. Other than using the clinical term for the male genitalia, totally safe for work:

Plastics, tiny penises, and human evolution

An Italian study in 2012 found that men’s penises were growing smaller over time — two centimetres lost from grandfather to grandson in the twentieth century. Conservative radio bloviator Rush Limbaugh knew who to blame: ‘feminazis, the chickification, and everything else’ linked to feminism. Other commentators, a bit more scientific, pointed the finger at endocrine disrupting chemicals, such as pesticides and hormones fed to cattle, as likely culprits.
[…]
To anticipate how xenoestrogens or any other synthetic chemical that influences fertility might affect human evolution, it helps to consider niche construction theory.

It goes on from there. Go read it.

A confusion of Churchills…

Apropos of nothing, but awesome in a “I didn’t know that” sort of way:
http://johnfinnemore.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/two-of-kind.html:

This is nice. In 1899, Winston Churchill was 25, an aspiring politician, and the author of a couple of books. He was not, however, the most famous Winston Churchill around. That was the now largely forgotten, but at the time best-selling, American novelist… Winston Churchill. Aware of this, the British Winston Churchill wrote to his namesake as follows:

The original blog post is worth reading for the brief correspondence between the two.

Fun with Gentoo

Nightly auto-upgrades are great, except when they aren’t. In this case, going from app-misc/screen-4.0.3-r7 to app-misc/screen-4.2.1-r2 changed the default SCREENDIR from /run/screen to /tmp/screen. Normally wouldn’t care, but I had running screen sessions and couldn’t get in; oops!

Only realized about the SCREENDIR variable after I’d already downgraded back to 4.0.3-r7.

And on a lighter note…

Submitted without comment:
LA porn production plummets in wake of mandatory condom law

Number of permits issued for adult films plunges as industry says producers have moved to Las Vegas and eastern Europe

Pornography production in Los Angeles appears to have plunged in the wake of a law which compels performers to use condoms.

The number of permits issued for adult films fell 90% last year to just 40 permits compared with 2012, when the law was introduced, the Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday.

“We’ve seen a dramatic drop in permits,” Paul Audley, president of FilmLA, told the paper. “It is a cause for concern that people who are manning the cameras, lights and other things on those sets are not working anymore.”

Another gem from lower in the article:

Most porn production takes place without permits – a film can be shot in a few days in a private house – so it was unclear to what extent the 90% fall in permits represented a wider flight.

What I was doing at age 18

I recently realized that a very important aspect of what I have done for the past year in my day job is echoing how I got started in my career. That is, I spent a bunch of time last year and this year justifying a large technical project — in writing for a less-technical audience — and then working with other people to get it organized and deployed. I’ve also recently in my work gone back to that project — documenting the project so that other folks could finish it, and a non-IT PM could manage it — so that I can get back to programming.

Realizing that, it inspired me to see if I still had the documents I’d written for that original project. It turns out, I did — both the original proposal, and a mid-year budget for the actual ordering once we got the project approved.

So, what was this project? Getting my high school computer lab on a LAN, and on the internet — the latter isn’t mentioned in the original proposal, so I guess it was scope creep, but it was awesome. The project lead to my first full-time summer job and my first full-time job when I took my break from Dartmouth (both doing Novell server admin work plus some desktop support) and I’m pretty sure the project itself — still underway — made a difference in my college applications.

A PDF reconstructing the original documents is here: Networking Computer Resources for Hunter College High School: A Modest Proposal Below the break, reminiscences and a text version of the document itself.

Continue reading What I was doing at age 18

Some stories just ask “share me here”

US student is rescued from giant vagina sculpture in Germany

On Friday afternoon, a young American in Tübingen had to be rescued by 22 firefighters after getting trapped inside a giant sculpture of a vagina. The Chacán-Pi (Making Love) artwork by the Peruvian artist Fernando de la Jara has been outside Tübingen University’s institute for microbiology and virology since 2001 and had previously mainly attracted juvenile sniggers rather than adventurous explorers.

The comments on the Guardian’s site are, as one might expect, brilliant.

Parts from my old (failed) attempt to build a small computer

_MG_0184

Finally inventoried the parts after years in storage. Lot of chips, though nothing that rare or interesting. Somewhere I have the schematics I designed. Will scan them when I find them. I doubt it really would have worked, and I never got an EPROM programmer working. Very tempted to try to figure out how to reuse some of this building something like N8VEM.

List below the fold. Continue reading Parts from my old (failed) attempt to build a small computer

A good day for cooking.

Made macaroni and cheese for dinner today; have never been able to successfully make a smaller, “limited leftovers” version without it either growing to a larger portion or turning into a disaster, but I got it right today… Great way to use some otherwise over-sharp, slightly bitter Edam. Add pecorino and a sharp vt. cheddar, and … yum. About a Wonder if Nadia will like the leftovers tomorrow.
Continue reading A good day for cooking.

A quick bit of FFMPEG magic to improve VHS rips

fmpeg -i Old_VHS_copy.avi -threads 0 -aspect 4:3 -vf "pp=ac/lb/ha/va/dr/al,frei0r=brightness:0.625,frei0r=contrast0r:1.05,frei0r=saturat0r:0.10,hqdn3d=4:4:7,scale=480:-1,unsharp" -codec:a libfaac -b:a 64k -codec:v libx264 -profile:v high444 -preset:v placebo Much_Better.mkv

Found the frei0r contrast/brightness/saturation controls MUCH better than the MP2 ones.

Amount of de-noise (before downsize) and sharpening (after) is to taste, obviously, as is the amount of brightness/contrast improvement. This source was AWFUL!

Random musings, justifiable rants, and occasional News of the Weird.

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