Saturday, September 17, 2005

Quote of the Day - September 17, 2005

If Thomas Jefferson were spinning any faster in his grave he'd create a wormhole in the spacetime continuum.

- Joel Achenbach, writing about Bush's speech

Friday, September 16, 2005


And I thought I had problems with static!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Defining the 80's

Christiana recently did a post on quintessential 80's pop-songs, and it got me thinking about the 80s. The 80's was a unique decade in which all of pop culture seemed to be going through an awkward adolescent phase, one punctuated by bright colors, lop-sided and gender-bending clothing and hairstyles, and a sense of rebelliousness motivated merely by the desire to have fun. So I'm going to list my own choices for songs and add music videos and movies to the list in an attempt to "define the 80s".


Axel F (Harold Faltermeyer)

The lyric-less synthesizer theme from Beverly Hills Cop. The unique sound of early synthesizers gave 80's music (particularly the genre called "new wave") it's distinct sound. So what better song to represent that than one that completely depended on it?

Safety Dance (Men Without Hats)

I chose this for much the same reason Christiana chose Walk Like an Egyptian - it's an excuse to dance and act silly, but with one difference: no one actually knows what the "safety dance" is, and no one cares. Just dance, silly!

Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) (Eurythmics)

Because no 80's collection is complete without it. Whether you like it or not. (I think I'm up to five copies of it between "Eurythmics Greatest Hits" and several 80's compilations).

I Ran (So Far Away) (A Flock of Seagulls)

The song itself is an example of the high numbers of one-hit-wonders that the 80's seemed to produce. But what may be more important here is the band. Their look is a classic example of the bizarre image experiments that individuals - but particularly rockers - conducted, between the hair and the clothes and the make-up.

Everybody Wants to Rule the World (Tears for Fears)

Cold War tensions, anyone? This song was everywhere. Including the soundtrack of Real Genius(which, sadly, didn't make it on my movie list).

Music Videos

The music video came of age in the 80's, only to be snuffed out by it's own nurtures (MTV and VH1) in the 90's, but that's another story. So when you talk about the 80's, you have to talk about music videos. There are countless 80's songs that still invoke the memory of their video when I hear them.

"Video Killed the Radio Star" (The Buggles)

Well, I can't very well have a music video category without including the very first music video ever broadcast on MTV. And now the song is stuck in your head. HA!

"Thriller" (Michael Jackson)

Yes, Michael Jackson is a freak. But remember when he was a talented freak? "Thriller" took the music video to the next level, making it more of a short film than a mere illustration of the lyrics or a feast of imagines not necessarily related to the lyrics.

"Take On Me"

Some songs were made memorable almost entirely thanks to their video. The video for “Take On Me” combined animation and live photography in a surreal way, showing that the music video could be an art form in its own right.


Yet more experimentation that created a unique look for a video, this time with stop-motion photography.

"Money For Nothing"

Computers and video games came into their own in the 80’s, so I’m including the first music video to include computer animation. We’ve come a long way since crude cubic figures, haven’t we?


This was the hardest. There are so many weird and wonderful 80’s movies. How to choose?

The Breakfast Club

The 80’s movie.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

The embodiment of rebelliousness motivated by the desire to have fun.

The Goonies

This one always comes up when I think of 80’s movies. Maybe because I was a kid in the 80’s. It’s kind of Indiana Jones meets middle school. Very odd.

Last Starfighter

As I said, video games came into their own in the 80’s. What better representative than a movie about a video game that turned out to be an intergalactic training program?

Revenge of the Nerds

Things that were once nerdy (i.e. computers, video games, and sci-fi) went mainstream and even became cool in the 80’s. How’s that for revenge of the nerds?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

1st Blogaversery

Today is my first blogaversery. What a year! I was in Boston for an embedded systems conference while Ivan was threatening the Gulf Coast. I wondered just how many hurricanes could hit Florida - such a narrow and low-lying state - before it simply washed away. And thus, this faux news article became my first post. I started out commenting on the election as just about every blog did at the time. And I recorded some thoughts and theories that I had had for a while, just never transcribed (like Stuck in Sci-Fi). I got a job. And I spent the next month being rather prolific here. Then there was a slight problem with my computer, and blogging was rather light for a while. I recalled the best April Fool's Day prank I ever pulled on myself. The Pope died, and the Conclave was formed. I set some priorities. I pondered the increasing complexity of speculative fiction on televion. I predicted a bad hurricane season (and I underestimated). I obsessed over summer movies. I contemplated my mother's allowance policy. I got fed up with the debate about what we should have done in Iraq because I wanted the debate to be about what we should be doing. I thought about starting my own line of T-Shirts. Nobody guessed that the title of my evolution post came from the first X-Men movie. I put my own two cents into the swearing debate. My nerdiness/geekiness/dorkiness was confirmed by a completely and totally accurate and precise Internet test. Katrina came and left a path of destruction. I actually kept most of my paranoia in check when urging you to be prepared. And I decided there was only one real way to judge a civilization.

Phew! I think I need to update my sidebar.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


While doing research on the 'net at work today, I came across a Linux site that had ASCII are of a train at the bottom of the page. Ah, ASCII art. Whatever happened to thee? One of the first computer programs I ever wrote was an ASCII animation of a stick figure doing cartwheels. But there is far more sophisticated stuff out there. There is a very extensive collection at this site. They've even got a mirror image of the train I saw. And then there's this site, which also has some ASCII animation. (warning, ad heavy and weird framing). Just about all of it is better than what I did:

| \O/
| |
| / \
| /
| -- O
| / \ |
| \ /
| |
| /O|
| | O --
| / / \
| \O/
| |
| / \


Monday, September 12, 2005

Aw, I Think We Broke Him

Michael Brown resigned today. I do feel sorry for the guy. This disaster would have been overwhelming even for someone who was actually qualified to be the head of FEMA. Lawyers and politicians are simply not the right kind of paranoid for this job. You need a former military officer or an engineer - someone whose job it is the think of all the things that could go wrong and then do their best to prevent them from happening (while still achieving the objective, of course).

Paranoid. Engineer. Should I send my resume to FEMA, or straight to the White House?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Ophelia: Coming to a Coastline Near You?

Ophelia is still being downright unpredictable. Yesterday morning, most of the computer models agreed that she would turn around and hit South Carolina. Yesterday evening, most of them agreed that she would hit North Carolina. This morning, the predicted track is even further north. She may hit the northeast tip of NC, or she could just skim the coast as she turns slowly out to sea. Ophelia is only a category one (with only a small chance of strengthening), so even if she does make landfall, she'll quickly weaken. (The Outter Banks would probably get the worst of it) But it still means rain, rain, rain for NC, VA, and MD. When was the last time it rained around here? I think we need this one. Just so long as she doesn't stall. No Gaston repeats, please.