Monthly Archives: December 2005

The Infotainment soundtrack

The creative brief in the first Gulf War had more to do with the
conflict of cultures and ideologies–it was the Islamic or Arabic
East versus the West, and so the conflict was set in those tones.
The second time it was more like they were trying to promote the
war the same way they would promote Terminator 3–it was like
“Battle of the Megaheroes.” So the first time what I delivered
was vaguely militaristic and vaguely Arabic simultaneously. And
the second time it was just Techno-Ali vs. Frazier-IV,
we’re-going-to-knock-the-crap-out-of-them music.

– Peter Fish, composer, on his work for CBS’s Iraq war coverage.
Quoted in “Music at 6: Scoring the News, Then and Now” by
Carter Burwell in the Fall 2003 edition of Esopus Magazine.

Replacement for rotations of “It’s a Wonderful Life”

Joanie brought us the destined-to-be-a-Christmas-classic Santa Claus Conquers The Martians (the non-MST3K version). We all managed to endure the entire movie, famous for being on many “worst movies” lists, via our own lesser brand of MST3K-style audience participation. Not much beyond the movie itself says it better than these caps:

“Think of the Martian children!”

The laziest men on Mars.

The intrepid Martian leader. With built-in plumbing.

Anyone got a pipe-wrench?

Beware the man-eating furries.

Mere children cannot escape the powerful robot.

Santa succumbs to the power of the Martian conquistadors.

What’s your boggle, Geraldo?

So, it turns out this movie is in the public domain, should you be interested in such a fine cinematic feast.

Iris vs Technology

And your young shall be calmed by the loving warm glow of shiny new technology:

Thanks, Oma and Opa, for the cool new portable DVD player!

Diaper the halls

The earlier diaper-related post had an interesting consequence with AdSense. The following ad came up at the top of the page tonight:

Dunno where they figured diapers were involved, but the link simply pointed to an eBay search for wreaths.

Merry Christmas

Down the road from us is a house that looks like it could be straight out of rural West Virginia. Chickens in the yard, junk strewn about, little shacks, a chicken coop, etc. In true houseblinger style, the residents there have decked out their property with all sorts of christmas lights and ornaments. Kathryn spotted lit snowman figures there mounted in a circle on top of what looked like a partially above-ground septic tank. So, naturally, we’ve now coined the term “Septic Snowmen”. If I ever started a band, that would be the name!

Incidentally, it was Frank that reminded me about this story, since his screen name is “septicfields”.

The diaper anchor

To do some Christmas shopping, I went to the ghetto-licious Toys-R-Us here in Roanoke recently (you know, the one where the shelves never have anything on them, and you feel like you’re walking through an abandoned hospital instead of a toy store). On the way to the store, I walked through the parking lot for David’s Bridal. I looked up and saw their brightly lit sign. I looked through the windows and saw the immaculately presented wedding gowns. And, I looked down and spied a soiled diaper right in front of the store.

Perhaps it is there as an omen to keep your wedding dreams grounded in harsh reality.

Ode to modern Christmas shopping

“What a wonderful world this is! I click a mouse somewhere, bits
fly through optics, go to some undisclosed place, money
electronically changes hands, and then atoms in useful
arrangement are flown in airplanes and hand-carried to my
doorstep. When you think about it, this is miraculous.”

– Robert W. Lucky, in “Reflections”, IEEE Spectrum Magazine,
November 2005. The writer had purchased a new laptop computer

Best tattoo ever

The Mandelbrot Set!

(via “Revenge of the Tattooed Nerds”)

I was obsessed with the Mandelbrot set when I was a kid. A friend of mine (Wes) showed me a Mandelbrot set program on his Commodore 64 as well as the computer magazine article that posted the algorithm for it. Determined, I ported it to BASIC on my Apple //c. I succeeded but the machine at the time didn’t have the chops for speed, so some of the sets took all night (or multiple days) to render. If that wasn’t geeky enough, later on in my high school career I made a similar Mandelbrot plotter on my TI-85. Nowadays, an everyday web browser can render the Mandelbrot set more quickly than I ever could, even in JavaScript.

What’s the big deal? Well for me the fascination was that something so complex as the Mandebrot set could be represented by such a simple-seeming equation: z = z2 + c. I think the beautiful imagery that arises from such a simple equation explains its enduring appeal. It is one of the things that really inspired me to get into more math as a kid (such inspiration was of course much evaporated by the time I got to college).

A very interesting modern variation is called the “Buddhabrot”:

The Buddhabrot is featured on, a fascinating “gallery of computation” focusing on very cool mathematical eye candy, including some algorithms that are featured in the wonderful xscreensaver program. Xscreensaver is the evil eye candy screensaver that runs on my Linux machines – the program is a fantastic gallery of fun algorithmic displays put together by Jamie Zawinski, one of the original Netscape luminaries (he helped write v1.0 of the Netscape browser for Unix – nowadays he seems to have given up on software altogether by running a nightclub in San Francisco).

Speaking of Mandelbrot variations, this one’s pretty. Ooh, shiny. (via this fractal gallery). Puts my monochrome (green and black) Apple //c fractal display to great shame.

More Christmas humor

From Christina:

Old Man Winter 2005

To celebrate our recent snow and ice days, Diana sends the awesome classic Calvin and Hobbes “Grotesque Snowmen” series:

Some of those were new to me!