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Alain [userpic]

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March 8th, 2011 (03:28 pm)

"This article began after I had read four terms' worth of student writing and tried in vain to find a word that described its peculiar badness. The word is "schematic" and it is the key to Daydream Literature, too. Most student writing is either schematic or clichéd -- in the latter case because the writer is inexperienced and in the former because the elementary transition from daydream to art has not taken -place. That is what is wrong with Daydream Literature. Our own daydreams seem to us so vivid and colorful that only after extensive experience of other people's daydreams do we realize how thin and schematic all daydreams -- including our own --are. It is the ineffable and inexpressible that makes daydreaming so exciting; but art must express the inexpressible or cease to exist.

Someone will object here that all art is vicarious experience and that there is no distinction between art and daydreaming; i.e no artistic medium.

He is wrong."

Russ, Joanna. The Country You Have Never Seen: Essays and Reviews [and letters]. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2007. Page 204.

Alain [userpic]

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March 6th, 2011 (05:41 pm)

Hier soir c'était le paradis pour les savants qui ont une passion pour la tribologie.

http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tribologie

Tôt dans la journée on avait eu une tempête de neige mouillée. Après le coucher de soleil on a eu de la pluie. Ce qu'il y avait de vraiment intéressant c'est qu'en dessous de la neige mouillée il y avait une couche assez épaisse de glace, qui s'était construite lors de circonstances particulières, au cours des journées précédentes. La pluie n'était pas assez chaude pour faire fondre toute cette grosse couche de glace. De plus, il y avait assez de neige pour empêcher la pluie de s'écouler facilement dans les égouts, la bloquant à plusieurs endroits.

Ce mélange d'eau et de neige fondante sur un fond solide de glace donnait une surface qui n'avait pour ainsi dire aucune friction. C'était comme dans un problème de physique 101 où l'on parle de surfaces théoriques sans friction. Mais ici elle était bien vraie, sur plusieurs étendues de routes et de trottoirs.

Vous avez une statue géante de l'île de Pâques à déménager? Pas de problème! Posez-là sur la route, comme ça, là.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hoa_hakananai.jpg

Il y a évidemment des aspects négatifs:

http://www.cyberpresse.ca/le-droit/actualites/justice-et-faits-divers/201103/05/01-4376431-accident-mortel-au-centre-ville-dottawa.php?utm_categorieinterne=trafficdrivers&utm_contenuinterne=cyberpresse_B4_en-manchette_572_section_POS1

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/ottawa/Video+Double+Fatality/4390391/story.html?tab=VID

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Yesterday evening was a delight for those scientists who have a true passion for tribology.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tribology

There had been a wet snowstorm earlier in the day. Then, there was this heavy rain which fell down after the sunset. The really fun part was that underneath the wet snow and the water there was a thick layer of solid ice, built over during the weird conditions of previous days. It was thick enough that the falling rain did not melt it much. There was enough snow to block the rain from completely running off into the storm drains and the sewers.

As a result of this water-ice-snow mix many parts of the sidewalks and the roads were so slippery that they became perfect frictionless surfaces. It was like in one of those Physics 101 problems where you have to imagine a theoretical frictionless surface. Except that it was here, right in front of me, for real.

Want to move one of those giant Easter island statues?

No problem, just put it there on the road.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hoa_hakananai.jpg

However, there are some negative sides to all this:

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/ottawa/Video+Double+Fatality/4390391/story.html?tab=VID

http://www.cyberpresse.ca/le-droit/actualites/justice-et-faits-divers/201103/05/01-4376431-accident-mortel-au-centre-ville-dottawa.php?utm_categorieinterne=trafficdrivers&utm_contenuinterne=cyberpresse_B4_en-manchette_572_section_POS1

Alain [userpic]

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February 27th, 2011 (06:22 pm)

These last weeks I've been getting too much of an ultra-right view of the US by a US citizen, because I read Jerry Pournelle's blog (which he calls a view) in a daily manner. In order to balance things out I went over to the Mother Jones magazine Web site, to get some ultra left view of the US by a US citizen.

I went and read what seemed a likely article for this, to judge by the title:

http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/02/income-inequality-labor-union-decline

I was very surprised during my reading (and in the end) because while the article was certainly left leaning it gave a very clear historical summary of the post world war II era in the US. It brought up some aspects I hadn't thought of before. This was true, in particular, for what the article revealed of a turning point in the early and middle 70s, when the US labor unions stopped supporting the US Democratic party.

Later on during that same day I was browsing YouTube videos and for some reason I wondered if the very short films on the Sprint anti-ICBM missile of the middle 70s (and its Spartan companion) might have made it to this digital haven. They had:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsnkmpJhzlo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UUbMWf-uZI&feature=related

All the "magic" aspects of Sprint where there. It wasn't so much the PAR (Perimeter Aquisition Radar) and the other electronic aspects of a blast-resistant phased-array radar system (which were a wonder in those days) as the fact that the Sprint accelerated from 0 to Mach 10 in five seconds, with the rocket and its internal systems undergoing a 100 G acceleration. It did that so fast that your eyes could not believe it. And there it was, on film, next to its big brother, Spartan.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sprint_%28missile%29

These were incredibly advanced and incredibly costly technologies which stretched every engineering field touching electronics, nuclear physics and rocket science. It was no surprise that the Nixon administration dropped them, like it dropped the Apollo applications follow-on program, and the NASA project for a truly 100% reusable space shuttle. Nixon, being a true fiscal conservative, didn't want to bankrupt the US. At the same time the heads of the US labor movement, being true social conservatives, didn't want to have anything to do with the way the Democrats were now reaching out to women and the young. They shut down the cooperation between organized labor in the US and the Democratic party.

Alain [userpic]

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February 16th, 2011 (08:16 am)

The Wikipedia article on The Tower of Druaga anime series is very interesting:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tower_of_Druaga_%28anime%29

It gives a good summary of what is going on in the series but not once does it mention the fact that the entire production is totally hilarious, and that it is meant to be. There is comedy everywhere, jokes at several levels of understanding, with simple sillyness mixed in with more complex humor. It's a masterful sendup of medieval European quests, Japanese quests, computer games and the like. Also, it's beautifully drawn,

Best of all, the first season is on YouTube with English subtitles (I hate dubbing):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tsz3qnKI6z4

I get bored by computer games, RPGs and the rest and also by anime series which are more or less based on them but I wasn't bored at all by the first episodes of this little gem.

Alain [userpic]

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January 27th, 2011 (10:51 pm)

I read this long article on Assange in the NY Times, last article I read in it before they put up their paywall. It got all complicated about what he really was. It's really very simple. They were describing an adult who still wants to be a teenager.

Same thing with Amy Chua. Why go on with a complicated analysis about her and invent all kinds of philosophies on raising children. She's a drama queen, that's all. No philosophy, nothing, pure drama queen behavior.

Alain [userpic]

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January 22nd, 2011 (12:35 am)

This is a great summary, the extremely rare kind that looks at both sides:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-notebook/the-kirpan-and-canadas-french-english-divide/article1878436/

Except that it doesn't mention that we're yelling at each other from a long distance, and with plugs in our ears.

Alain [userpic]

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January 8th, 2011 (09:33 pm)

Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head, with the bullet going right through her brain. Six persons have been killed, including a nine year old. In order to convince myself that the USA is not just one sick, sick, sick, sick country I went and watched one of the few segments of "Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael" on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wi6JSG9XANA&feature=related

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welcome_Home,_Roxy_Carmichael

Alain [userpic]

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December 18th, 2010 (08:47 am)

Ho-ho-ho

Joyeux…

http://nekoli.deviantart.com/art/Noel-Vermillion-160129365


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Ho-ho-ho

Merry…

http://drcloud.deviantart.com/gallery/?offset=72#/dfuvwv

Alain [userpic]

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December 16th, 2010 (01:03 am)

Samedi dernier j'ai invité un ami à manger au "Toqué". Je profitais d'un de ses passages à Montréal pour venir moi-même faire un tour dans notre ville natale. Le repas était fait de sept plats. Le premier plat était une mousse de rutabaga au goût incroyablement bon. Le septième était un plat de fromages semi-fondus et fondus qui était encore plus bon. Je n'aurais jamais cru qu'un rutabaga puisse être si bon. Entre les deux c'était pas mal du tout.

Il y avait plusieurs plats de viande. Le premier était une "gigue de cerf". D'habitude les steaks ça ne me dit pas grand chose mais celui-ci était vraiment très, très, très bien fait. Sur le coup il m'a fait penser à "Caribou Barbie". J'ai dit ça à mon ami. Il ne savait pas de qui je parlais. J'étais stupéfait. Mon ami a marié une citoyenne des États-Unis et il est parti avec elle pour aller vivre au loin, à Tucson en Arizona. Il ne connaissait pas du tout ce sobriquet de Sarah Palin! Maintenant il le connaît.

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I invited a friend to eat at "Le Toqué" last Saturday. It was a seven course meal. We started off with some incredibly delicious rutabaga "purée". I had no idea rutabaga could taste so good. It was like going to heaven and sitting down and having your first meal there. The last dish, a combo of several melted and semi-melted cheeses, was excruciatingly good. The other dishes weren't as superlatively good, but none of them were bad. Some of them were meat dishes. The first one was a "gigue de cerf" , a deer steak.

I usually don't like steak too much but this one was very well prepared. It made me think of Caribou Barbie. I told this to my friend. To my great surprise he didn't know who she was. My friend married a US citizen and went off with her to go live in Tucson Arizona, and yet he had never heard of Sarah Palin's "hunting" nickname. Well, now he does!

Alain [userpic]

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December 7th, 2010 (12:25 am)

I just saw this on Penny Arcade:

"Darts is a great game, though. I think it's worth asking whether you need the most advanced console on the market to simulate such a game, a game where you toss things no more than eight feet. I mean, you tell me."


WELL DUHHHHH, THAT'S BECAUSE YOU'VE BEEN PLAYING DARTS AT 8 FEET AND I'VE BEEN PLAYING IT AT 30 FEET.