August 5th, 2012


Brining the day away

Other than NASA TV, of course, there are even physical meetups around the world where the geekier of us can congregate to watch the Curiosity land on Mars. All being well, landing should occur around 0531 UTC on Monday, August 6 2012 (ie 0631 Monday BST, 2231 Sunday PDT). Or there's at 10pm Pacific, with hosts including Phil Plait. And if you want to see what'll be happening, JPL's Eyes on the Solar System (Java required) includes a simulation of the landing, showing the various stages of the process: first a conventional entry into what counts for Mars' atmosphere, then the deployment of a parachute, then the landing stage's retro thrusters, before Curiosity's lowered down to the surface, after which the landing stage jigs out of the way. For the seven minutes the landing itself will take, it'll be completely out of communication - the "seven minutes of terror" they've (mostly) light-heartedly pointed out.

Will you be watching?

A tweet from Curiosity, showing the relative sizes of the various explorers: "We are family (I got all my sisters with me)! 3 generations of rover doubles pose in @NASAJPL's Mars Yard:"

B4RN is a local initiative to bring 1Gbps fiber to some small towns in Lancashire. As they can't seem to interest any existing ISPs in such, they're doing it themselves. ^_^

Whilst no official word's appeared yet, one report notes that (for what it's worth) Amazon UK's now listing a release date for the first half of the coming season of Doctor Who as Nov 12. Adding in a bit of shipment time, and they estimating it might kick off on Aug 25. My suspicion is that with the BBC pushing the "Autumn" tag, it might not be until sometime in September. Still, not so long! And S3 of MLP:FiM will be appearing around the same time, too. ^_^

Playboy: "If life is so purposeless, do you feel that it's worth living?"

Kubrick: "Yes, for those of us who manage somehow to cope with our mortality. The very meaninglessness of life forces man to create his own meaning. Children, of course, begin life with an untarnished sense of wonder, a capacity to experience total joy at something as simple as the greenness of a leaf; but as they grow older, the awareness of death and decay begins to impinge on their consciousness and subtly erode their joie de vivre, their idealism - and their assumption of immortality. As a child matures, he sees death and pain verywhere about him, and begins to lose faith in the ultimate goodness of man. But if he's reasonably strong - and lucky - he can emerge from this twilight of the soul into a rebirth of life's élan. Both because of and in spite of his awareness of the meaninglessness of life, he can forge a fresh sense of purpose and affirmation. He may not recapture the same pure sense of wonder he was born with, but he can shape something far more enduring and sustaining. The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent; but if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death - however mutable man may be able to make them - our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light."

Stephen Moffat doused movie rumors in his recent Entertainment Weekly interview, in about as definitive words as it's possible to use: "There isn’t a film. That was all some weird fantasy going on somewhere. Look, we hopefully will do a Doctor Who film someday. It will be absolutely run by the Doctor Who production office in Cardiff. It will feature the same Doctor as on television. It will not be a rebooted continuity. All of that would be insane. So that whole proposal was not true, did not happen. I can say that with authority because, as far as the BBC is concerned, I’m the voice of Doctor Who. So if I say it, it’s true. The BBC own Doctor Who and, for the moment, I run it for them. So I can assure you definitively that was all nonsense — not the idea of making a film, we’d love to make a film, but the idea of a rebooted continuity, a different Doctor. That’s writing the book on how to destroy a franchise. You don’t behave like that with it. Not ever."

In case you thought Chick-Fil-A's wretchedness was contained purely within its homophobia for US citizens, have a look over here, wherein you'll see $25k donated to helping defend Uganda's "kill the gays" bill.

An ACS journal in Chemical Research in Toxicology collars diacetyl (IUPAC: 2,3-butanedione) as linked to Alzheimer's - not good news for those with chronic exposure to the chemical, widely used as a butter flavor in microwave popcorn, and elsewhere.

The bane of the writer, here alawston: "I'd rather my stuff was loathed than ignored" Perhaps you of an authorly bent (ooh, that's some tortured language. I could hear steel rods contorting =:) can offer advice on promoting oneself as a writer, above the quintillion others on Amazon?

A rather interesting posting about Machiavelli:

This, now, was Machiavelli’s job when he worked in that little office in the Palazzo Vecchio:

Goal: Prevent Florence from being conquered by any of 10+ different incredibly enormous foreign powers.
Resources: 100 bags of gold, 4 sheep, 1 wood, lots of books and a bust of Caesar.

The War of the League of Cambrai is the least comprehensible war I’ve ever studied. Everyone switches sides at least twice, and what begins with the pope calling on everyone to attack Venice ends with Venice defending the pope against everyone.

Or, as Cracked puts it, "Machiavelli was the Stephen Colbert of the Renaissance".

There've been third party tools for such for a long time, but still, it's nice to see it within LJ itself, removing that modicum of security risk: the latest release, 95, includes a tool to display your top commenters over a given period, within the past year, though they're keeping it for paid and permanent accounts, for now.