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Here's a seventy minute audio lecture given by Charlie Kaufman, screenwriter of Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Adaptation. It isn't a waste of time.

Having finally seen Brave - and even resisted watching the cam I downloaded a few days ago (surprisingly decent quality, too) - I'll only offer an enthusiastic and unreserved recommendation. It's amongst the best Pixar's produced, both in storyline and technical quality, and reminscent of The Lion King in being unafraid to delve into some harrowing moments. (I'd also been unaware that co-directing with/after Brenda Chapman is Steve Purcell, better known for Sam & Max!) And there's a very good interview with Brenda Chapman on the writing of Brave - the decisions made in its genesis, the process of rewriting, the inspirations for the characters, and more. You might want to hold off on it if you haven't yet seen the film, though, as there are spoilers.

It seems likely Doctor Who will be returning on August 25. ^_^ Matt Smith's said that it will get underway in August; as there's no Doctor scheduled for Aug 18, and it'd be rather surprising for it to leave the prime Saturday slot, I'll go out on a limb with that prediction.

Coming sometime to Channel 4: a documentary about the evolution of music, explained by David Attenborough and Björk. "The project follows Attenborough, whose hushed commentary is synonymous with natural history programming here and around the globe, and Bjork as the pair tell the story of how and why music has evolved. The duo also explore humankind's unique relationship with music and how technology might transform the way we engage with it in the future."

Free opera! Glyndbourne will be streaming two performances live, for free: Le nozze di Figaro on Friday, Aug 17, 1800 BST; and two short operas by Ravel, Sunday, Aug 19, 1830 BST.

Here's a truly gorgeous example of cosplay - Ginny McQueen as Madame de Pompadour, from the Doctor Who episode The Girl in the Fireplace. She notes the dress only took her two and a half weeks to make! Amazing. Presumably, quite busy days. ^_^;

DPreview ran quite an interesting look at the cameras on board Curiosity, going into some of the design decisions, and includes a look at the heat shield falling away.

I enjoy the occasional playing around with making panoramas out of landscape shots - but this panorama viewer is.. a little beyond that. The original image you'll see is of a slice of a zebrafish larva, with the eye on the right, swim bladded just left of center, and tail muscle to the left, with the organs below said bladder. It's composed from 26,434 16MP images, making for an end virtual slide of 281 gigapixels. So you can start by seeing the entirety, then gradually zoom in until you're at the electron microscope's original resolution.

Some modest photography competitions you might consider:

- Travel by Handstand's "The Shot", where the winner's travel photo gets published in their September edition, receiving $100.

- the Royal Photographic Society's Summer of Sport, with some nice Panasonic mirrorless cameras up for grabs.

- Wex Photographic's monthly competitions - August's theme being "capturing movement" - with £100, £50, and £25 in vouchers. I think there's a chance I'll put in an entry.. =:D

It seems we may already have encountered the first proof of current microbial life on Mars. "The experiment mixed Martian soil with a nutrient containing radioactive carbon. The idea was simple: if bacteria were present in the soil, and metabolised the nutrient, they would emit some of the digested molecules as carbon dioxide. The experiment did indeed find that carbon dioxide was released from the soil, and that it contained radioactive carbon atoms. Levin's team went out and bought champagne. He even took a congratulatory phone call from Carl Sagan. However, the party was ruined by a sister experiment. Viking's Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (GCMS) was looking for carbon-based molecules and found none. NASA chiefs said that life couldn't exist without these organic molecules, and declared Levin's result moot. "NASA powers that be concluded that the lack of organics trumped the positive labelled release experiment," says Robert Hazen, a geophysical scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington DC. Since then, some of the GCMS team have admitted that their experiment was not sensitive enough to detect organic molecules even in terrestrial soils known to contain microbes."

The open source framework Qt has been acquired in its entirety by another Finnish company, Digia. "Following the acquisition Digia becomes responsible for all the Qt activities formerly carried out by Nokia. These include product development, as well as the commercial and open source licensing and service business. Following the acquisition, Digia plans to quickly enable Qt on Android, iOS and Windows 8 platforms."

Whilst the Bay already has Frolic on a regular basis, there's also the annual Masquerotica, which could be rather fun to add some furriness to.. ^_^

A friend of goldkin, silverback2001, could use a little financial help right now:

This will be triggery for some, and for that I apologize.

As some of you know, I do nude figure modeling for artists. This includes photographers, as well as painters etc.

The other day a client attempted to rape me, and until I get through this, and until my leg heals from the resulting injury, I am unable to work.

From the weekend, an aircraft even I recognise. ^_^ I'm hardly a military sort, but there's no denying the role these craft, and their pilots, had in helping fend off the most dire political threat to freedom of the past century. Now, they can play. =:)

lupestripe pointed out a regrettably brief review from the LSE on Princeton University Press' "Exceptional People: How migration shaped our world and will define our future", making a good case for the power of migration. "Today, immigration is unpopular in rich countries because people overestimate its costs and underestimate its benefits. Yet international migrations pay dividends to sending countries, receiving countries and to migrants themselves. Migrants reap the welfare benefits of higher wages, better education and improved wealth when they moved to relatively more developed countries. Receiving countries benefit from migrations through more innovation, superior economic growth, enriched social diversity and higher taxes and contributions. Even emigration countries end up benefiting when their brightest citizens emigrate. According to the World Bank, workers from developing countries remitted no less than $325 billion in 2010, seven times the amount of aid flows. In some countries such as Lebanon or Nepal, remittances represent more than 20% of GDP."

Here's an article that contends that heroin is not the demon it's portrayed to be.

Things living here have taught me #8495: the difference between a Croque Monsieur and a Croque Madame. =:9 (And where to find the most sublime Eggs Benedict, in tremendously elegant surroundings. Perhaps not the cheapest, but quite excellent. A chamber quartet completes the gentle beauty of the moment)

This TV spot drhoz uncovered is mere thirty seconds long, entirely silent, and features a convenience store, a luchador, and ostriches. Apparently, it's related to gum.

loganberrybunny may already know of The Dandy facing possible closure. It's a difficult time, of course, for all print media, with even simple comic printing now seemingly ruinously expensive. Is it marketing, or a shift in comic tastes? The Dandy's never really been my style, I'll admit - I was much more easily lured in by 2000AD - but I'd barely even been aware it was still around.

Behold: Alexander the Great, a 1968 TV movie, starring William Shatner in the title role, and Adam West as Cleander. I haven't seen it, but I feel I ought to change that. Perhaps I can lure patch_bunny into buying a copy, with a view to a future MFT episode.. =:)

An interesting observation: Paying Users are Your Nicest Users. "When I finally flipped the switch to add paid subscriptions to Obsidian Portal, I was terrified of the coming support nightmare. I reasoned that if people were angry and demanding when it was free, they would be infinitely more angry and demanding after they had paid. Instead, what I quickly learned was that the paying subscribers were vastly more polite, understanding, and patient than the free users." The posting's quite short, but worth a moment of your time, as are the comments; one notes "For about 18 months I had a $1 app on Apple’s Mac app store. I tried the free pricing, $1, and $2 tiers. Recently my dev membership lapsed, and it was just a side project, so I’ve let it die for a bit. I proved I could create a useful app and sell it, albeit for very little. That was satisfying enough. I noticed the exact same behaviour. I get 4-5* reviews when charging money, 2-3* reviews when free. This is a common thread with indie developers. You’ll find similar posts on many blogs. People are rude and whiny for free products, but assume inherent value in something paid for. Something that is free seems to lose value. Rather than being a good deal, it’s seen as a worse product, and open to criticism."
Is [The Dandy's possible closure] marketing, or a shift in comic tastes?

Well, put it this way: the circulation of the comic at the end of 2011 (the most recent figures available) was under 8,000. Its sister comic, The Beano, was selling 38,000. Which sounds reasonable until you know that half a century ago, The Dandy was selling two million copies a week, making it the best-selling comic in the world. Even when I first used to read these comics in 1980 or so, they were absolutely everywhere; I think in this particular case it really is the coming of electronic distractions that's done for them.
I was amazed when I heard the circulation. How on earth has it lasted until now?

I'd have announced it's closing and printed loads of the final issue ages ago..
Amazing, ne? 8,000 isn't tremendously more than some furry comics' circulation, as I recall, which tend to be in the low thousands.

Might a digital edition help them, I wonder? It'd seem more appealing to those growing up with omnipresent connectivity that a new issue just arrives on their device each week, than having to make a point of physically visiting a newsagent or comics store. (Not to mention surely being a better deal for the company, too - digital distribution's surely much cheaper than the costs involved in printing and physical distribution, plus retailers' margins)
I'd guess that the identity of the publishers has something to do with that. DC Thompson has not exactly been the most up-to-the-minute and gung-ho company in the country; you only have to read the enormously old-fashioned (Scottish) Sunday Post to appreciate that. But yes, 8,000 is amazingly low. For comparison, the little-girls' comic/magazine Sparkle World (which I think is a monthly) has a circulation of 12,000.
Two million? Ye gods.

That does intrigue me - I'd like to dig into why there's been such a dramatic shift. I imagine, though, the basic answers are as we suppose: there's a wealth of other distractions and entertainment online now, as well as games. The nephews may be representative: neither read any comics, but the iPad's seldom out of reach. (BTW, one of them remarked, on their visit over the weekend, that he'd watched all of MLP:FiM, which I'd loaded onto it on a previous occasion, and wanted to know when there'd be more =:)

I'd wonder whether The Phoenix stands any better chance, as its taster first issue was an appealing combo of corny humor and high adventure, but AFAICT, it's strictly paper-only.
I'm not sure about The Dandy, but The Beano certainly has an electronic edition. I've no idea exactly how it's set up, though.
What plane is that then?

Something from those Boeing chaps, isn't it?
Oh, Steve Purcell! That's certainly to their credit; I may have to check this out.

"Masquerotica"? That sounds fun. :) Although I see they're discriminating against people with a jeans fetish again... :) (Kidding! Well, half-kidding, and I can understand the reasons.)

Heh, there's a Croque Madame? I don't think I've encountered that yet, although Croques Monsieur are not entirely uncommon here. (Then again, I'm not a croquophile.)

An interesting observation: Paying Users are Your Nicest Users.

I'm not surprised. Not just isn't it obvious that when something (e.g. an app) isn't free, only those that already see some value in it will purchase / use it in the first place, but those also have a psychological incentive to not think too badly of the product they paid for. If it is crap, after all, they just wasted their money, and who wants to do that? Something that you paid for acquires value simply by virtue of having been paid for.
Definitely, do. ^_^ The main characters are beautifully richly layered, and genuinely realistic, not prefabs from the screenwriter's toolbox. I've no idea how much of what we now see is Steve Purcell's, and how much is Brenda Chapman's, but the story and characters are fundamentally hers - she'd been developing Brave for some years, before Pixar picked it up, and helmed its development into a feature. It feels like it was primarily hers, with Steve Purcell brought in to essentially bring it home. If I had to try identifying anything he might have had influence over, it might be the bear cubs.. but you'll see soon enough, with any luck. ^_^

Croque Madame's essentially the same beast, but with the addition of a fried or poached egg on top. (I'd lean toward the latter, given how rich it already is =:)

(My favorite sandwich description has to be one Spanish place's offering of a "cannibal sandwich", which turned out to be steak tartare on toast - and a particularly good version of it, too =:9)

True enough - if someone's chosen to spend money, it's something they've felt is worth spending money on. LJ might be a fair example - the company may have its head up its ass half the time, but at the end of it all, I pay for LJ, and enjoy a good service with no ads, without any blocking involved. Now, if we could only do something about that rectal extraction.. and then use the same technology on Linden Lab =:) But that's not to overlook the real point of investment and not wanting to disprove it - we see that starkly in political cognitive dissonance regrettably routinely.
Mmm, that sounds like a rather nice sandwich. ^^ Of course, with a name like that, I hope it really is just beef you're getting! :)

LJ is a good example indeed. You can also observe the opposite there; people who follow lj_releases seemingly only in order to complain. Changes? It was better before, LJ! Fix it! You suck! Genuinely nice new features that cannot possibly be spun? Why are you working on this instead of fixing my pet issue! LJ actually did fix their pet issue? Why did this take so long! And so on... invariably, these people are free users, too.

As for LL, are they that bad? :) I'm not really "in the loop" there; I just spend time on SL, but I don't follow resident politics (pun fully intended). I often hear how "SL is in decline", but I tend not to attach any significance to that (and I've been hearing it for a long time already). SL will not last forever, but I'm enjoying it while it does.

And yes, politics is another good example; so many people completely adopt externally-imposed identities ("my group, right or wrong"; whatever your party says is right, and whatever another party says is automatically wrong), and dig in their heels and don't even engage in genuine debate, trying to see things from a different angle.

I often think that the latter is due to them being afraid they might change their opinion — which in turn means their convictions must be pretty weak. If they really believed what they say they believe, they would be confident that their opinions could not be shaken that easily, and that if it happened anyway, it would have to be due to compelling arguments (which, by definition, would be OK to be compelled by). :)
Wow, that's some impressive res on that picture!

I wonder if it's even discovered and confirmed that there's life even on Mars, or elsewhere. There are chances there would be microbes on the Red Planet. After all, we've only examined a tiny fraction of it, so there's still lots to be found.
Fairly astounding, ne? ^_^; Ah, if only we could live another few hundred years.. I'd love to see what the state of technology is in, say, 2400. Maybe then I can rejig my physical presence to be more like my SL self. ^_^ (You're not there, correct?)

Sadly, I've since noticed a reader comment on that story, which points out a possible, rather unexciting, explanation - a previous rover experiment noticed perchlorates in the soil. That might be able to give rise to CO2, in a completely inorganic process. =:/ Still, we'll see. It'd obviously be far more exciting to find existing Martian life of any kind, but if they're able to determine that there clearly has been such in the past, it'd be quite a discovery.

I still want a Martian cave painting, though. =:)
Oh, I'd love to be able to get more croccy on the outside too! I imagine this being possible within several decades from now. Human hybrids that incorporate some animals' abilities, say, being able to hold their breath underwater for a similar lenght of time as dolphins.

The thing with extraterrestrial lifeforms is that they may come about as a result of completely different processes than those from which Earth life evolved. They may not necessarily be carbon-based (just as that bacteria species from Lake Mono, which uses arsenic).