Saturday, January 31, 2009

Last Few Music Acquisitions

Find yer own links!

  • Waltz for Debby - Bill Evans

  • Konfusion - Skalpel

  • Wooly Bully - Sam the Sham & The Pharoahs (single song)

  • La Marseillaise - Django Reinhardt

Monday, January 12, 2009

Seen and Wanna See

I could have seen this years ago, but somehow, I only just now got around to watching Battle Royale, a goofy movie I won't even try to describe. Fun if grim Japanese movie. Note: Chiaki Kuriyama, who plays Takako Chigusa in Battle Royale, later played the role of Gogo Yubari, in Kill Bill, Vol. 1.

Another movie I just found out about was directed by Tarsem Singh, and was apparently making the art house rounds last year, but I missed it. It's called The Fall, and Roger Ebert gives it unequivocal praise. It sounds really neat, so I'm gonna try to rent it some weekend in the near future. Noted here so I remember the details...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sun in a Bottle

I'm just finishing up Sun in a Bottle by Charles Seife. He covers the pursuit of fusion power from the early awareness of radioactivity, through the construction of fission bombs, onward to fusion research (magnetic confinement, inertial -- laser -- confinement) and fringe science, such as cold fusion, sonoluminescence and electrostatic confinement (fusors).

[Update One: The above paragraph sounds pretty pejorative, and it is. Seife takes pains to describe how easy it is to mistake the signs of fusion, and how easy it is to become emotionally invested in the results of these smaller experiments. But he is pretty clear that the evidence is not there. I'm not going to become a champion for either side. I just read a book, people.]

It's a fascinating book, and coincidentally, I've been sitting on a video that was made a couple of years ago at Google featuring Robert Bussard. The video is called Should Google Go Nuclear? Clean, cheap, nuclear power (no, really). During the talk, Bussard presents his work on electrostatic confinement, and it's a wonderful talk, even if I don't really follow the physics that well. Sadly, Charles Seife mentions this in his book, and puts it in the same category as cold fusion and bubble fusion. I hope he's wrong. Bussard was a fascinating scientist and it would be great if he figured out a path to fusion power before he died.

[Update Two: I'm going to quote the entire paragraph on Bussard, so that M. Simon (another commentor) can judge the tone for himself:

On November 9, 2006, just days before the Olson story broke, the fusion physicist Robert Bussard gave a talk at Google about his research with a modified fusor. He had been working for the navy, but after a number of years he had run out of money for the program. The scientist told his audience that if he could only get his hands on $200 million, he would be able to produce a working power plant within four to five years. Bussard was deceiving himself if mainstream scientific thought is any guide. The equations of plasma physics strongly imply that fusorlike devices are very unlikely to produce more energy than they consume. Nature's inexorable energy-draining powers are too hard to overcome.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Two New Albums

The first is a spin-off of a loaner from Brent:

The other, as threatened earlier, is

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Let the Right One In

My New Year's holiday movie was Let the Right One In, a Swedish movie about a bullied and neglected boy (Oskar) who makes friends with a strange girl (Eli) who has moved into the apartment next door.

It won a slew of film festival awards, and I have to say they are deserved. A one-sentence summary of the story could leave you thinking that it is a generic genre film, but it is not. It is touching and evolves at a leisurely pace. The ending was happy, and charming, and only after looking at the IMDB summary did I fully understand it.

Very good.

P.S. - The title apparently comes from a song by Morrisey, Let the Right One Slip In, which ends with the lyrics:

Let the right one in

Let the old things fade

Put the tricks and schemes (for good) away

Ah ... I will advise

Ah ... Until my mouth dries

Ah ... I will advise you to ...

Ah ... let the right one slip in

Slip in

Slip in

And when at last it does

I'd say you were within your rights to bite

The right one and say, "what kept you so long ?"

"What kept you so long ?"

Oh ...