30 January 2009

I like the comparison to vultures

I found another interview of Sir Terry Pratchett.

He talks about his latest book as well as dealing with questions about the Alzhemier's (how he first heard about it and how he focused his anger into his work, etc.).

My word! National Theatre is to make a play out of Nation?! Well done! My personal opinion has been that Pratchett's work is better suited for stage than a dreary ol' animated movie. I've also been let down by way too many animated movies recently; it would be terrible to ruin my favorite books by handing them over to these same minions of hell.


“Otherwise I'm just Terry Pratchett, ‘the sufferer'. It's all part of our modern culture. We like people to be sufferers because then we can pity them.” He doesn't then want a movie made of his “battle”, such as that Iris Murdoch film? “No. I think three different researchers wrote to me asking could I help them with work on analysing my style as the illness progresses, and I wrote back, 'What I like about vultures is that they wait until the donkey is dead'. I just couldn't believe that they would try that.”

Got to love his sense of humor.

There is also this bit in the interview where American fans accused him of plagarism, you know where Harry Potter is concerened. Eh?! Look, I like the Potter series, but er, I don't you can compare Pratchett's style of writing and eloquence to Ms Rowling's writing.

Source: Times Online UK

28 January 2009

Brave Romantics

I am listening to The Mark Steel Lectures on BBC Radio 7.

Currently it is series 2 and he's talking about Lord Byron.

I must admit the description of the life of this famous poet is delivered with style and much witticisms.

My favorite bit:

Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron register at a Mont Blanc hotel. Byron lists his age as 100. Shelley, writing in Greek, gives his occupation as "Democrat, Philanthropist, Atheist" and his destination (in French) as "L'Enfer" (hell).

My, I didn't know Tintin could dance

For anyone who is interested. This popped up in my feeds today.

It's about Jackson-Spielberg adaptation of Tintin.

There is a bit about how they are gonna make the movie and yibbity dibbity.

The main bit of news (which is probably old news but hey) is the vital question - who's going to play Tintin?

It's going to be that little fella who donned a pair of ballet shoes for Billy Elliot - Jamie Bell. And Daniel Craig will be good old capt. Haddock. That would be interesting ... much as I have a lot of respect for Craig, I did imagine someone more Belgian looking for that role.

On the other hand, he was a fantastic Lord Asriel. So we'll see.

26 January 2009

Hang on, I know I left it here

Little bit of info about Diablo 3.

This news article quotes Diablo 3 community manager Bashiok about two much talked about features of Diablo 2 (at least by those still playing it) - stash size and disappearing items.

Read the article
for full details and the reasons behind their decisions.

The cliff note version? There might never be a big enough stash and dropped items = slow performance.

Military Ranks

I wanted to check the word origins of certain military ranks (too many stories about The Watch, Vimes and Nobby can do that to you) .

So here goes.

From the Online Etymology Dictionary:

From 16th Century. Quote: "So called because he was in charge of a body of troops".
Check the other meaning on that link. Good to know the humble origins of corporal punishment.
So they weren't kidding when they said schools are becoming more and more like a military camp.

Dates back to the 13th Century. Looks like the meaning evolved a bit through time.
But the general meaning is one who serves or carries out the law.
Quote: "officer whose duty is to enforce judgments of a tribunal or legislative body" is from c.1300

My aren't you a fancy little sub at the Russian front. Well, this word basically means "placeholder". Dates as far back as 1375. Quote: "substitute" for higher authority.

Colonel: The word might have its origins in the word meaning a pillar. It evolved to be "commander of a column of soldiers at the head of a regiment,"

22 January 2009

Felicia Day: Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

This was funny. Felicia Day helps Jimmy Fallon create his own WOW character.

21 January 2009

Frozen Gore

Someone has a bone to pick with Al Gore.

So he made a 2.5 m ice sculpture of him. You know, to prove a point about global warming.

The man who sponsored the sculpture is a global warming skeptic and I suppose he wants to see if this sculpture melts? The businessman in question is Craig Compeau and the location of sculpture is Alaska.

When unveiling the sculpture, Compeau taunted the former vice president to come to the northern state and explain global warming theories. If Al Gore travels by electric car and comes on a specific date to Tetlin Junction, where on January 8 the temperature dropped to a guts-freezing -60 degrees Celsius, Compeau promised he would pay for his room and board.

This is Compeau's official site about the frozen artwork.

Lost Season 5 Spoiler?

At least this is good news.

Apparently Lost's creators always knew how the show would end. Hence, it would not have ended up as a "What will Clark do next" sort of moment.

And there was a bit of a spoiler, if you can call it that.

Excerpt quoting show's co-producer:

Williams, of course, couldn't reveal much about the upcoming batch of episodes but did say that "time travel is the new narrative paradigm" in Season 5.

The trousers of time, I see.


20 January 2009

Bird Bird Bird

I've been meaning to read this up for a while.

I once read that wind turbines were bad for birds; think of it as bodies plopping onto grass after a nasty, mutilation with a rotating fan.

How true was this statement?

Apparently it is correct to say that a significant number of birds do die due to collision with wind turbines.

On the other hand, the number itself is not that high. It's not in the millions and on a hot day where the barometer is rising, it does not rain birds.

From what I browsed through so far, it looks like location of the wind turbines is the key to preventing such falling bird body scenarios.

So we just have to research, make sure the wind turbines are not in the migratory path nor anywhere near a large bird population?

Still reading.

Source: How Stuff Works

19 January 2009

What do call a group of caterpillars

Here's a page I had to bookmark.

The Ask the Experts page of Ask Oxford (a bit redundant, wasn't it?). Anyway, this page in particular has a list of collective terms used to refer to groups of animals.

Handy, isn't it?

So it goes that you would say

A sute of bloodhounds,
An army of caterpillars
A fling of dunlins
A business of ferrets
A drove of hogs
A watch of nightingales

And many more.

16 January 2009

Friday Links

Excellent point

I found this video on Pharyngula. This little animated video makes such a good argument about blindly following rituals and such.

The story is well-written and also quite sad. Perhaps it is sadder still that we actually know people like the boy's parents.

Methane on Mars

Exciting news. The presence or rather mysterious spurt of methane gas on Mars has brought up that nagging question: Was there / is there life on Mars?

A surprising and mysterious belch of methane gas on Mars hints at possible microbial life underground, but also could come from changes in rocks, a new NASA study found. The presence of methane on Mars could be significant because by far most of the gas on Earth is a byproduct of life — from animal digestion and decaying plants and animals.

They had wine?

Interesting little discovery in Armenia.

Scientists might have found the oldest brain - well, a rather well preserved human brain from the good old days. That would make it the oldest brain, wouldn't it?

These discoveries are significant in that big breakthroughs in technology occurred close to /around southern Iraq.

*Side note* It's always sad to see archaeologists refer to that area as the cradle of civilization - it was someone's (read: U.S.) bright idea to blast an important part of world history. No wait, there is still a lot of blasting going on.

Back to original story.

Researchers also found a trio of Copper Age human skulls, each buried in a separate niche inside the three-chambered, 600-square–meter cave. The skulls belonged to 12- to 14-year-old girls, according to anatomical analyses conducted independently by three biological anthropologists. Fractures identified on two skulls indicate that the girls were killed by blows from a club of some sort, probably in a ritual ceremony, Areshian suggested.

Remarkably, one skull contained a shriveled but well-preserved brain. “This is the oldest known human brain from the Old World,” Areshian said. The Old World comprises Europe, Asia, Africa and surrounding islands.

Oh and they found wine making devices.

Animation about boy growing up

This is an animation by Martin Schmidt and can be found on aniBoom. For the puposes of this blog, I embedded the video from their Youtube channel (is it channel or account?).

The animation shows the growth cycle of boy - from baby days to the creepy old man stage.

Was quite interesting. It was funny how, in his 20s, the boy gets a swagger and gets all huffed up and before you know it, he loses his hair. The transition was nicely done.

15 January 2009

Palin and whale protection

Isn't this heart warming?

Alaska is upset because of increased federal protection for beluga whales. By the way, according to scientists, these "whales were headed toward extinction."

Excerpt from Yahoo:

Gov. Sarah Palin opposed the listing because of the impact it could have on major Alaska development projects, including oil and gas development and expanding the Anchorage port. She said in a statement that the state had worked cooperatively with the federal government to protect and conserve the whales.


Cute Fairy Tale Page

Vector Tuts is always coming up with interesting how-to posts and guides.

This particular one
tells you how to create the first page of a fairy tale story book. You know, with Goth type font, castle in the background, etc. etc. ?

I'm sure this is also possible in Inkscape. Must give this a shot.

13 January 2009

No sequel yet

Is there going to be a Dr Horrible sequel?

MTV cornered Neil Patrick Harris and asked about a possible sequel. Maybe, could be?

Apparently not.

"No, I wish,” he told MTV. “Everyone asks me for scoops. We just worked on the DVD. It has its own unique commentary musical that I think is kick-ass. But otherwise there’s no future with it at the moment.”


As a fan, I hope he launches himself into new media big time. And make money via that.

Not to forget, dumps Hulu.

Seems like my New Year wishes are too far fetched.

Bromeliad Trilogy: Will take time

So let me get this straight ... Danny Boyle was supposed to make The Bromeliad trilogy into a movie (along with Frank Cottrell Boyle) but that's not going to happen anymore.

By the way, Bromeliad is Sir Terry Pratchett's 3-parter series which were an excellent soul searching books for the children and adults.

I don't care much for Slumdog whats-its-face movie so frankly it does not matter that Boyle is not involved in a Pratchett movie. He did an excellent job for 28 Days Later but, recently, he does seem a bit involved in testostrine driven gangsta style movies.

Should I worry that Dreamworks has the rights to the fantastic books?

12 January 2009

Lost Season 5: Coming soon

Alrighty. Nine days and counting. That's how long folks in US will have to wait until Season 5 of Lost premieres on their TV sets.

According to EW
, Lost is going to start with a bang on 21 January 2009.

The Lost season five premiere will actually be a three hour event! An hour-long recap special will air at 8 PM, followed by the first two episodes from 9-11 PM. The series will air thereafter at 9 PM on Wednesdays.

Keep your eyes peeled. We'll see when it starts to trickle down to Netherlands.

We're going to the Y M C A

How's this for interesting info of the day?

I was browsing through Ask Oxford and came across this strange question:

Is the letter Y a vowel or a consonant?

Their answer?

"Yes, the letter Y is a vowel or a consonant! In terms of sound, a vowel is 'a speech sound which is produced by comparatively open configuration of the vocal tract, with vibration of the vocal cords but without audible friction...', while a consonant is 'a basic speech sound in which the breath is at least partly obstructed'"

Certainly puts a whole range of words in a new light.

Here's something I found in the Santa Monica College website - Y and W can be a vowel. When you keep the definition of vowel in mind, this does make sense.

07 January 2009

Was this the neighbor's head then?

Interesting bit of news about trophy heads.

According to Science Daily ,

A recent study using specimens from Chicago's Field Museum throws new light on the matter by establishing that trophy heads came from people who lived in the same place and were part of the same culture as those who collected them. These people lived 2,000 to 1,500 years ago.

It sort of disproves prior speculations that these heads might belong to far off folks or enemies of war.

The debate is still on on that issue.

For all we know, it could be how they claim land in that time period.

05 January 2009

Sir Terry Pratchett

One quick note today. This is old news and all Pratchett fans are giddy and all gleeful even to this day.

Yes, I am talking about Pratchett's Knighthood! Hooray and Hurrah!

The 60-year-old Discworld scribe told the BBC: "There are times when phrases such as 'totally astonished' just don't do the job. I am of course delighted and honoured and, needless to say, flabbergasted."

Well done. It's about time that master of satirical fantasy was officially recognised.

The above interview is from The Telegraph.

Pens, Pencils and staplers

It's a Monday and everyone is trudging along to work. Bleary desk and bland cubicles and such.

Which makes it an ideal day to talk about stationary.

What are the origins of some of our most useful knick-knacks?

Here's what I found in the Online Etymology Dictionary:

* I'm not sure how far back paperclip goes but looks like Clipboard dates back to 1907. Clip itself seems to be derived from O.E. clyppan.

* Apparently the stapler is a 50's child. The origins of the word staple itself seems to be disputed/debated/pondered about a lot. In the 13th Century it might have referred to a "bent piece of metal with pointed ends," but how this came down from a word referring to an execution block and/or pillar is beyond me.

* Looks like pencil originally referred to an artist's paintbrush. It's meaning as "graphite writing implement" came about 300 odd years later in the 16th Century. Rather amusing to see that this word, in its early form, was derived from phallic references. Of sorts.

* On the other hand, pen dates back to the 14th Century and seems to have referred to a "quill pen, feather". The site traces the various ways it evolved from different words but this is what I found interesting. In later Fr., this word means only "long feather of a bird," while the equivalent of Eng. plume is used for "writing implement," the senses of the two words thus reversed from what they are in English. How about that!