Friday, August 31, 2007

Not A Doctor Who Discussion Thread

There's no Doctor Who on in America tonight, alas. But you can feel free to make up your own imaginary episode and talk about that if you like. Or go and comment on "Human Nature" some more.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Apostrophic Anarchy

So, last week I read a book called The Dead Fathers Club by Matt Haig, which I very much enjoyed, but which had an odd typographical feature: there are no quotation marks or apostrophes in it anywhere. There's plenty of contractions and dialog, mind you; it's just that those particular bits of punctuation seem to have gone MIA. Despite this, I found it perfectly easy to read, and, hey, there was a justification for the conceit: the story is supposedly being written down by an 11-year-old kid. And, while an 11-year-old damned well ought to know how to use quotes and apostrophes, I could certainly see one not bothering. So, fine.

But then, yesterday, I read Cormac McCarthy's The Road (despite, rather than because of Oprah's recommendation, I might add). And I liked that one, too, but it also leaves out all the quotation marks and apostrophes. I'm not sure what the idea is there. Were they all destroyed in the apocalypse? Or is this some sort of weird new literary trend? I mean, I've seen people ditch the quote marks before, but apostrophes? What did apostrophes ever do to anybody, other than shoving themselves into far too many science fiction character names?

This is actually kind of starting to bug me. Not quite as much as encountering quote marks and apostrophes where they don't belong does. But enough.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Doctor Who Discussion Post #3

Oh, and for those who have managed to see the episode, here's another Doctor Who discussion post. Because they're fun, even if we never do seem to end up talking about the actual episode much.

Currently airing in the US: "Human Nature." Feel free to drop a comment below if you have anything to say about this episode, Doctor Who in general, or anything else the conversation happens to drift toward, but, as usual, I'll ask you to avoid anything spoilery for later episodes.

By the way, it looks like Who will not be airing on Sci Fi next week, having be pre-empted for some reason or other. I know that this will seem like a particularly cruel point at which to make you wait an extra week, but if I recall correctly, this was also the point at which the show was pre-empted in its original UK run, in order to air the Eurovision contest. So it's only fair, really.

Clearly It Is Some Sort Of Evil Dalek Plot.

I do not freakin' believe this! I told someone I'd get them a VHS copy of tonight's Doctor Who episode, but first when I tried to transfer it from a computer file on disc, my extra-fancy plays-everything DVD player started glitching badly on the soundtrack syncing, to the point where it was pretty much unwatchable. "No problem," says I. "I'll just record it for you when it comes on!" Yeah. Take a wild, wild guess which one single cable channel appears to be out right now. Why does the universe conspire against me? Whhhhhhy?

Well, maybe it'll be back by the time tonight's repeat comes on. Maybe.

(Geosomin, if you're reading this, don't panic. I'll get it to ya one way or another, I promise. I'll send you an e-mail and let you know whether I ended up getting it tonight or not.)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Ye Olde Post Of Random Linkage

Doctor Who stand-up comedy: A half-hour podcast of Whovian stand-up. Some of the comedians are funnier than others, but if you laugh at any point whatsoever, congratulations, you're a Who geek.

Dig a Hole: Ever wonder where you'd end up if you were to dig a hole straight through the Earth? Now you can know! Hint: it's probably not China.

Special Projects Idea Generator: It, um, generates ideas for special projects. The results tend to be weirdly appealing. I want to go and invent a battery-operated holographic house right now.

Harry Potter Book Disguises: Afraid to be seen reading Harry Potter in public because it'll ruin your image as a manly man or an intellectual? These handy book disguises provide the solution!

Doctor Who clips on YouTube: Short clips from the classic series, posted on YouTube by the BBC. If your exposure to the show has mostly been via the new series and you'd like a glimpse of what you've missed over the last 44 years, here's your chance! Ah, rubber monsters, how nostalgic you make me...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Another Interesting Outer Space Event

Whether or not you missed the Perseids, you'll want to take a look upward for Aug 28th's total lunar eclipse, which will be visible from five continents, including all of North America. (Sorry, Europeans and Africans. Better luck next time!) I've seen a couple of lunar eclipses now, and they're really damned cool, what with the moon turning the color of blood and all. You can't get special effects better than that!

Totality occurs at 5:52 AM, Eastern Time and lasts for about 90 minutes, so you early risers on the East Coast will have something interesting to wake up to, although your show, unlike that of those of us farther west, will be interrupted by a pesky sunrise. That corresponds to 3:52, my time, which comes smack in the middle of my workday, but I think I'll make a point of taking a coffee break out on the balcony.

If You're Not Reading Those Books, Can I Have Them?

OK, I always knew that I read a lot more than the average person, being as I'm the sort of bookwormish freak that'll read in lines, during meals, while walking down the street... But, holy crap, I'm not sure I ever realized exactly how far out on the end of the bell curve I actually am. I find this CNN article obscurely shocking:
One in four adults say they read no books at all in the past year, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Tuesday. Of those who did read, women and seniors were most avid, and religious works and popular fiction were the top choices.

The survey reveals a nation whose book readers, on the whole, can hardly be called ravenous. The typical person claimed to have read four books in the last year -- half read more and half read fewer. Excluding those who hadn't read any, the usual number read was seven.
So far this year, I've read 84 books. (Yeah, there's only 83 on the list. Those are books I own. I also read one I borrowed from a friend.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hey, What Else Is There Worth Talking About?

It amuses me greatly that, while all my other conversations seem to end up turning into Doctor Who discussions, the actual Doctor Who discussions keep turning into conversations about every other TV show under the sun. (Most recently featured: Farscape, Stargate and The Dresden Files.)

Speaking of other shows... Is anybody but me (still) watching The 4400? I've recently decided that this program deserves some kind of prize for SF Show with the Most Bizarrely Fluctuating Cast. Which, considering the competition, is impressive. Is this series everybody's side project between real jobs, or what? I can just hear the producers now: You want to go and do a play? No problem! We'll just have you die/go on the run from the police/fall into a coma/get locked up in jail/move to Spain/undergo some weird transformation/disappear for no particular reason. Then we'll find some random way to write you back in for an episode or a season or whatever. It's easy!

This is one of those shows that I kind of wish was either a lot better (because then it would be pretty darned good) or a lot worse (because then I could stop watching it). The overall plot is kind of cool, but the characters are, well, interesting enough to keep my attention, but not quite interesting enough to arouse my enthusiasm. And the Random Cast Fluctuation factor is a little disorienting.

It's also hard not to compare it to Heroes, given the strong similarities in their premises. Which isn't especially fair, as The 4400 was around for quite some time before Heroes came along to hog all the attention. But the simple truth of the matter is that Heroes deserves a lot of attention and The 4400 deserves, well, less.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Yardwork-Related Injuries, Part 2

OK, I don't know how all those giant bitey ants got into my shirt (let alone how it is that they were still there after I changed my shirt), but I do know that it was not remotely a pleasant experience for any of us.

You Know You've Gotten Too Used To Having An iPod When... glance at your car radio, fully expecting to be presented with the title and artist of whatever's currently playing and find yourself utterly surprised when that information is not forthcoming.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Fencing Match

I believe I can now count myself a victim of domestic violence, inasmuch as I've just been beaten up by a fence. Ow.

OK, see, there is -- or was -- an old wooden fence between my front and back yards. It was in pretty bad shape when I moved in, and had only deteriorated further since, until this summer it pretty much just started to fall apart completely. No doubt this is in part due to the fact that these damned trees kept trying to grow up between the slats, and I could never quite manage to get rid of them, not being able get between the slats myself well enough to hack them down. And they're really, really not doing my foundation any good.

So today I took down the damned fence, which would be an accomplishment to be proud of, except the fence managed to get some of its own back. Injury scorecard: One fat lip, obtained when a board I was prying off smacked me in the face; one small gash on the shin, where I hit myself with a two-by-four; and a narrow brush with lockjaw as a nail I stepped on went right through the sole of my shoe, but somehow managed to miss breaking the skin. But, hey, you should see the other guy! I demolished the hell out of that fence! Well, except for the posts, which I think are cemented in or something.

Actually, the posts themselves seem to be in okay shape. I could probably put some herbicide or something down to kill the evil tree remnants, get some new boards, and rebuild the fence. It looks easy. I mean, I may suck at DIY, but I at least know how to hammer nails, and not a whole lot else would appear to be required. Of course, usually when I think that, I turn out to be oh so very, very wrong. Still, it seems like a good idea, if only because it would once again hide my ugly, weed-encrusted back yard from public view. Knowing me, though, I'll probably have bare fenceposts sitting there the day I finally pay off the mortgage. Sigh.

By the way, anybody happen to be in the Socorro area and want some scrap wood? It ain't good for much other than burning, but, hey, I kept myself warm for a whole winter on that kind of scavenging when I was in college. Act now and get a bunch of rusty nails as a bonus!

Friday, August 17, 2007

I Ain't Got Jack

You know what would be really nice? If Netflix, after you've reported a disc mis-labeled and been told to send it back and re-add the correct disc to the top of your queue so you'll get a replacement, would actually let you add it back into your queue instead of telling you that you already have it at home.

What would also be nice is if I had me some Samurai Jack, like I expected to. *sniffle*

Life, the Universe, and Doctor Who

Since, at 55 comments, I think we can consider the last discussion post a success, let's go ahead and do it again.

The Doctor Who episode airing tonight in the US is "42." If anybody wants to comment on the episode, or on Doctor Who in general, or even to drift off into long conversations about different shows entirely, as happened last time, feel free. Just remember, no spoilers for anything past "42." Thanks!

The Doctor Who Fairy Has Located Her Magic Wand!

For the people who were looking for copies of Doctor Who episodes they've missed, check your e-mail! I've got ya covered! (Although I am still kicking myself for how long it took me to realize that it would actually be perfectly easy for me to transfer stuff to tape.)

Anybody else need any while I'm at it?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Apparently I'm The Redshirt of Chess.

Your Score: An Outer Black Pawn

You scored 2 Power-Finesse, 2 Leader-Follower, 1 Unique-Ordinary, and 0 Offense-Defense!

You are a good soldier, the man the Man counts on. Unfortunately, he may or may not care for your well being, and so he will put you out just protect his interests. This you do without question because you are a team player. Bad news for you, because your team, the black team, tends to have to be more defensive in nature, and sometimes has to make hard choices or sacrifices. Guess who just volunteered?

Link: The What Chess Piece Are You Test written by Gundark27 on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Friday, August 10, 2007

Let's See If Everybody's Lost Interest Yet Or Not.

All right. Since the comments here have been a veritable hotbed of Doctor Who-related conversation lately, I figured I'd put up a dedicated discussion post, after all.

The episode airing tonight on the Sci Fi Channel is "The Lazarus Experiment." If anybody has any comments to make on this episode, or on Doctor Who in general, let's hear 'em! All I ask is to please refrain from posting spoilers for any episodes later than this one. (For everything up to this point, it'll be read at your own risk.)

Pretty Lights In The Sky

The annual Perseid meteor shower will be happening this weekend, reaching its peak late on Sunday night (aka the early hours of Monday). Assuming it's not cloudy where you live, conditions for it should be especially good this year, as there is a new moon. Here's a useful guide to how to get the most out of your meteor shower experience. (Although, personally, I think anybody who needs blankets when it's 65 degrees out is a wuss.)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

All Better!

Looky! The book covers are all back to normal size! The people at LibraryThing rock, 'cause they got that fixed fast.

*scratches head*

No, I have no idea why the "recent books from my library" pictures in the sidebar have suddenly gotten enormous. I'll, uh, look into it later.

[Later edit: OK, I've removed it for the moment, because it was really annoying. I have no idea what the problem is, but apparently other people are having it, too. Hopefully it'll get fixed in the near future, and I'll put it back.]

SF TV Info For Various People

Dad: An entire season of Farscape is making its way to you as we speak. Let this be a lesson to the rest of you. Express interest, and tapes will show up in your mailbox. And then you'll be obligated to watch them.

Captain C: I thought you might find this video amusing. (Warning: possible spoilers for the first season of New Who, general silliness.)

People watching Doctor Who on the Sci Fi Channel in America: Starting this week, it looks like Sci-Fi is moving the show back an hour, from 9 PM Eastern/Pacific to 8 PM. Those of you not employing technology that keeps track of this sort of thing for you should adjust your viewing/recording schedule accordingly.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Keeping Up The Tradition

It's how far into August now? Geez. OK, here we go:

Current clothes: Black t-shirt with some kind of Celtic design in brownish-gray, and the word "Ireland" over that in gold. Blue jeans. Black belt. Black ankle socks. Black sneakers.

Current mood: Quite good, actually, except for being a) a little tired, and b) a little antsy about how little time I have left to do stuff in tonight before I really need to be in bed. Gaaah, I hate day shifts.

Current music: More random playlists. I forget what the last thing was. Something by Carbon Leaf, I think.

Current annoyance: Day shifts!

Current thing: Doctor Who. Still.

Current desktop picture: Still the same (potentially spoilery) Doctor Who wallpaper as last month. I haven't gotten tired of looking at it yet.

Current book: The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast by Douglas Brinkley. Important subject, so-so book. It's taking me longer to read the thing than the events it's describing took to happen. But, whatever the quality of the prose, it's impossible to read about this stuff and not feel horrified, disgusted and outraged all over again.

Current song in head: For some unfathomable reason, it appears to be "You're the Inspiration" by Chicago. Dammit, I hate Chicago.

Current DVD in player: The last disc of season 4 of Stargate SG-1. Overall, I've found this season very entertaining, but, man, the first episode on this disc sucks.

Current refreshment: Nothing at the moment. I had some water a few minutes ago.

Current worry: Eep, I've suddenly got a lot of things to get done in the next month.

Current thought: Goddamned freakin' Chicago, of all things...

Sunday, August 05, 2007


Should I just put up an open thread here every week for Doctor Who discussion in the comments? I know several folks here are watching the episodes as they air in the US, and people do seem to like discussing them. (Er, not least of all me, of course. But if you will encourage me...)

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Even I Am Surprised By The Range Of My Interests.

Here's a deeply silly and pointless, but unaccountably entertaining meme:

Go to Wikipedia and answer the questions by clicking the "random article" link in the left corner. (Snippets of the article appear after the question, with my own comments in italics.)

01. What are you afraid of?

My Favorite Summer 1956 is a book by Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle.

I've never met a book I was afraid of yet, but baseball does make me sort of unaccountably nervous.

02. What would you take with you on a deserted island?

A survivalist is a person who anticipates and prepares for a future disruption in local, regional or worldwide social or political order.

This is, in fact, exactly what I would want to take with me to a desert island!

03. What would you want for a wedding present?

Henry M. "Mickey" Michaux, Jr. is a Democratic member of the North Carolina General Assembly representing the state's thirty-first House district, including constituents in Durham County.

Erm, so I guess he's invited to this hypothetical wedding of mine, but I really have no interest in keeping him.

04. What do you worship?

Phoxichilidiidae is a family of sea spiders.

We're a very small cult. So far.

05. What is your secret fetish?

At Death's Door is an independent short film featuring Cillian Murphy. It is about a boy who is urged to carry on his father's job-which is being Death.

Film about death are soooo sexy!

06. What will you dream about tonight?

Gordon Duncan (1964-2005) was one of a young generation of Scottish pipers who opened up the piping scene to a more innovative approach.

Good thing I actually like bagpipes, since I imagine a dream soundtrack featuring them would be unbearable if I didn't.

07. What would you buy if you had the money?

Defibrillation is the definitive treatment for the life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias ventricular fibrillation and pulseless ventricular tachycardia. Defibrillation consists of delivering a therapeutic dose of electrical energy to the affected heart with a device called a defibrillator.

How much does a defibrillator cost, anyway?

08. What subject would you write a book about?

Truskavets (Ukrainian: Трускавець, translit. Truskavets’; Polish: Truskawiec) is a city in western Ukraine's Lviv Oblast (province), near the border with Poland.

This book is going to require a lot of research.

09. What do you collect?

Important Records is a record label that was created in 2001 after the management collapse of a popular North East record shop.

There may be some important records in my collection, but I don't think there are any Important Records.

10. What does your best memory connect to?

Remioromen is a Japanese rock band group formed in 2000.

How my best memory connects to that, I have no idea. But I'm sure it does somehow. Probably via Kevin Bacon.

11. The most unimportant thing you can think of?

Joone is an award winning director and producer of porn films and founder of the company Digital Playground. He is considered a ground-breaker in the world of interactive adult technology, pioneering the Virtual Sex line of DVDs. He also directed the successful porn film Pirates.

Actually, I can think of several things that I'd regard as less important than pirate porn.

12. What do you most preferably speak about?

Josh Winiberg is an English composer and pianist. Born in Essex on May 9th 1987, he composed his first solo piano album, Sunrise, at just 16 years old.

Yeah, there's just no shutting me up about that guy.

13. With which thing will/do you work with?

Roecliffe is a village and civil parish in the Harrogate district of North Yorkshire, England. It is situated near the A1 road motorway and 1 mile west of Boroughbridge.

Funny, I wouldn't imagine there'd be much call for radio telescope operators there.

14. What always makes you laugh?

Santana do Mundaú is a municipality located in the Brazilian state of Alagoas. Its population was 11,235 (2005) and its area is 224 km²

Yeah, that place is a hoot! Those wacky Brazilians!

15. And cry?

The Tech, first published in 1881, is the oldest and largest campus newspaper at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Yeah, New Mexcio Tech's crappy campus paper can't compete with that. It is to weep.

16. What was the first thing you saw when you woke up today?

Bentley Wood (grid reference SU250295), together with the adjacent Blackmoor Copse, form one of the largest contiguous areas of woodland in Wiltshire, England.

Why I woke up in the woods in Wiltshire, England, I don't know. Must've been some party last night.

17. What have you got in your pocket?

1715 in Poetry:


* Nicholas Rowe made British Poet Laureate

Works published

* Alexander Pope, translator of Homer's Iliad, Book I, followed by Books II in 1716, III in 1717, IV in 1718, and V-VI in 1720.
* Isaac Watts, Divine Songs for the Use of Children, including "How doth the little busy Bee"

I like to always keep a book in my pocket, if I can. Usually not 18th Century poetry, though, I'll admit.

18. What could replace you so that no one would notice?

With the Tides is the third album by British band South, first released in 2003.

I had no idea these people sounded so much like me.

19. What were your first words?

Peter Fisher is an Australian film and television actor, born in Cartwrights Hill, New South Wales 9 January 1955.

Surprised the hell out of my parents, I can tell you.

20. What will you be buried with?

Küçükköyspor is a sports club located in Istanbul, Turkey. The football club plays in the Iddaa League B.

Why I'm going to be buried with a Turkish soccer team is perhaps a question best not considered too closely.

21. What have you got in the drawer of your bedside table?

Loreto is a city in the southwest of the province of Santiago del Estero, Argentina. It has 9,854 inhabitants as per the 2001 census, and is the head town of the Loreto Department.

I had to shrink it down, of course. All part of my evil plan!

22. What do you love the most in this world?

The District of Potisje (Serbian: Potiski krunski dištrikt or Потиски крунски диштрикт) was an administrative unit of the Habsburg Monarchy. It was formed in 1751 with headquarters in Bečej, and existed for almost one century (until 1848).

I haven't been the same since 1848. *sniffle*

23. What would you write a song about for the next Eurovision Song Contest?

Loreto is a 1st class municipality in the province of Agusan del Sur, Philippines. According to the 2000 census, it has a population of 31,365 people in 5,572 households.

How could that not guarantee me a win?

24. What do you see from the window at this moment?

Deviated Instinct, formed in 1984, were a pioneering British crust punk band. Their debut EP, Welcome to the Orgy, was released by Peaceville Records, which released the majority of their albums.

I really wish they'd get out from under my window. They're starting to scare me.

25. What are you in reality?

Lanny J. Davis (b. ?1946) is a lawyer and former Special Counsel to the President for Bill Clinton. He served as special counsel from 1996 to 1998, during which time he also was the spokesman for Clinton in issues regarding campaign finance investigations and other legal issues. He is a partner in Washington DC office of the law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, and is a graduate of Yale Law School.

Drat! My secret identity is revealed!

Me And Stephen Colbert

What Form Would Your Patronus Take? (With 10 Excellent Results & Pictures)

Your Patronus would be an Eagle!
Take this quiz!

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