tealin: (Default)
It turns out ...

... When you make really strong coffee, filter it poorly, leave it overnight, reheat it in the morning, forget about it, and reheat it again a few hours later ...

... it tastes just like an ashtray.

So if you want to multitask your morning caffeine boost with practise kissing a smoker, now you know how.
tealin: (Default)
Next in my series of Clearing Out Bits of Paper, a newspaper clipping from 2007:

The Lesson in The Fate of Islamic Science

Be not afraid, it starts out sounding like ye olde 'Islam needs a Reformation' chestnut, but it soon becomes a look at how fundamentalist Christians today parallel the anti-science agenda in the scientifically-advanced early Muslim world. You may or may not agree with it, I'm sure there are any number of arguments to be made about what is and isn't in the article, and you're welcome to discuss it in the comments or amongst your friends or on street corners if you like; I just need to get rid of this piece of paper.


Jul. 22nd, 2013 09:22 am
tealin: (introspect)
Some beautiful soul has put the whole of Copenhagen up on YouTube:

I love it more than words can say, and the more I learn about filmmaking the more I admire its translation from the stage to the screen. The image quality isn't perfect here but it's the whole thing and at the right aspect ratio so have at it. I only recommend you don't watch if you're tired – it's very talky and takes a certain amount of concentration, so while it returns on its investment, if you're on the edge of sleep it may push you over.

Well I know what I'll be listening to all day, today ...

Oh hey look, someone else has put the KCET version up, which has a crisper image and also the Prerequisite Physics and Historical Epilogue bits if you want that. YouTube has been busy.
tealin: (nerd)
Something is seriously weird with the weather. These monsoon-type thunderstorms are not only happening in the wrong month but heading in exactly the opposite direction they should be. What is going on here?
tealin: (Default)
OK, Internet, it’s time to set things straight, before the movie comes out and more people get confused. I shall explain through the medium of historical costume.

Les Miserables is not about the French Revolution.

At least, not THE French Revolution. You know, this one:

You may notice that while there are songs about people rising, there are none about Madame Guillotine, and the mob fails to join in the fun. These are Clues.

That revolution, the famous one, the best of times and worst of times, with Marie Antoinette and mobs and à mort les aristos and all that ... that kicked off for real in 1789. That is why the people in this picture:

... are dressed sorta like the people in this picture:

(which, if you’ve escaped American cultural hegemony, is a painting of prominent figures in the American revolution, c.1776-83.)

Notice long waistcoats, knee breeches and leggings, long jackets with buttons down them, frilly collars, and wigs.

The famous painting which people tend to associate with revolutionary France, Liberty Leading the People ...

... commemorates a subsequent revolution in 1830, in which some unhappy people, after years of Napoleon and the monarchy that came after him, got together and said ‘Hey remember that revolution we had? Whatever happened to that?’ and overthrew the king, then replaced the monarchy with … a constitutional monarchy.


The ‘revolution’ in Les Miserables is the June Rebellion, which happened in 1832, as a result of frustration with the inconclusive results of the 1830 one (and other simmering discontent). That is why the students singing on the barricade ...

... in their high-waisted waistcoats, upturned collars with cravats, short-fronted tailcoats, and full-length trousers, are dressed more like Joseph Smith:

... than George Washington.

Got it? Okay. Let’s have no more French teachers telling their class that Les Miserables was all mixed up with the Bastille and the Reign of Terror, and instead use exciting narrative to explore history we don’t learn about in school. FUN!
tealin: (actually)
I know I grumble a lot about LA, but sometimes ... sometimes it's pretty sweet.

Photo used with permission. Video linked without, because that's what YouTube is for. :)
tealin: (nerd)
This amused me, because Emilia is my favourite Shakespeare character, and she is a hurricane. (Metaphorically.)

Track Emilia as she spins herself futilely to her death in the vast ocean!

How like life.
tealin: (Default)
Discovered this article via Tumblr:

Psychologists Discover How People Subconsciously Become Their Favorite Fictional Characters
Psychologists have discovered that while reading a book or story, people are prone to subconsciously adopt their behavior, thoughts, beliefs and internal responses to that of fictional characters as if they were their own.

The article in full details an experiment which is, sadly, though necessarily for science, much more limited than the leading paragraph suggests ... but it's interesting nonetheless. It explores the notion that people can set themselves aside whilst reading about another person, and take on that person's identity, that this can linger with a person well after they've come back to the real world, and have an affect on their opinions and choices.

Extensive musing and a certain amount of navel-gazing ... )
tealin: (4addict)
Ohhhhh it's a good week to be a radio! (or a browser-based radio proxy...)

It's Cabin Pressure: St Petersburg! Which in my opinion is one of the best episodes of any comedy ever. The really exciting thing about it is that The Writer keeps a blog, and posted a 'behind the scenes' of each episode when they initially aired, where he shows his working. And what working! It makes me like the show even more to know that something of such outstanding quality was the result of a lot of thinking and hard work, rather than the effortless divine revelation it feels like. St Petersburg's entry is here; needless to say it is chock-full of spoilers so please listen to the episode first.

Incidentally John Finnemore (aforementioned writer) did an excellent bit on The Now Show about the Eurozone crisis – it's probably the best explanation of it I've heard yet (and definitely the funniest) though I recommend not listening to it too immediately after Cabin Pressure because if you see Arthur doing it, it would be too distracting. Funny, but distracting. It takes some concentrating but is definitely worth it.

They're rerunning Night Watch, which aside from some disappointing sound design is quite good, and features Carl Prekopp reprising his role as Bewildered Young Pratchett Male (in this case Young Sam).

The Infinite Monkey Cage is back, this time talking about the oceans rather than belittling Mark Gatiss and Ray Bradbury. Good sciencey fun times!

If you're still in the mood for science and comedy with occasional glimpses of Robin Ince, All of the Planet's Wonders is back! Really it's Josie Long's show which is perfectly fine by me; her casual delivery and uninhibited enthusiasm are just great. Also, I dearly want her to do a voice in something animated. But that's tangential.

And finally Front Row features an interview with Sam Mendes about the VERY EXCITING Shakespeare miniseries coming up; unfortunately airing dates are not mentioned, but what they do discuss puts my high hopes on a much more solid foundation. Now it just needs actually to air ... do it, England ...
tealin: (terranova)
As I mentioned in the last post, Dr Levick of Campbell's Northern Party has made headlines – and Facebook and Twitter – this week, for observing some behaviour amongst the Adélie penguins he was studying that shocked his Edwardian sensibilities so deeply he recorded it in Greek and left it out of his official report. As is the way of things, this story was unusual/hilarious enough that it attracted the attention of The Now Show, making for a unique contribution to the Scott Comedy Club, which more usually focuses on making light of frozen tragedy (and how!).

At this point in the 100-years-ago timeline, Levick had left his shocking Adélies far behind, and was in the midst of grinding his way through the most abject winter imaginable with five other men in an ice cave which they had to keep below freezing and was too small even to stand up in. It made me wonder what he would think about his scientific legacy ...

'I don't even know what those things you mention ARE.' )

That's the first time I've tried drawing him so he's kind of all over the place, but he was a funny-looking guy! The odd little furry hat doesn't help ...

If you're curious about the Northern Party's epic misadventure, THE book on the subject is The Longest Winter, by Meredith Hooper. I haven't read the whole thing yet myself, but if the rest of it is anywhere near as well-written as the section about the confusion at base in March of 1912, it is excellent. (And as Ms Hooper's son picked up a couple of gold stauettes last year, and will be getting a sizeable portion of my paycheque this Christmas, I'd be tempted to say good storytelling runs in the family ...)
tealin: (nerd)

Artist's impression: it was a dot, with a very much smaller dot.

This is in keeping with my impression of the ice cap on Mars, visible with a telescope in a swing-by a few years ago:

How easy it is to reduce vast cosmic wonder to the mundane ...
tealin: (think)
Last Christmas there was an episode of The Infinite Monkey Cage that really bothered me, and I couldn't quite figure out why. Well, I knew what triggered it: Mark Gatiss was on as one of the guests, and he brought his delightful mix of wry humour and dark fantasy, but it seemed to me that when he played either of these cards, they shut him down. In listening to it again, it's not quite as obvious as it was the first time, and perhaps it is a fault of the final edit or my reading too much into it, but my first impression was very definitely that it went like this: )

I quite like The Infinite Monkey Cage. It's an occasional series on Radio 4 that serves science and comedy like bangers and mash. I love science, and I love comedy! It's a great match! Its hosts are a particle physicist* and the comedian who delivers my very favourite bit ever done on the ignorance of the creationist/intelligent design crowd. It brings on interesting ideas and interesting guests. Obviously TIMC has a heavy atheist bent but that's fine; 90% of my friends are atheist or agnostic and I don't believe that's a coincidence.** That is not what bothers me – what bothers me is the belittling way they dismiss anything ... else. It wasn't just that it was Mark Gatiss they were dismissing (though that was part of it, I'll admit), but the coldness of their reaction to his bit of fun. It is a science show and they don't have time to get into the unscientific – there is a running thing about avoiding philosophy – but a bit of banter harking to the tropes of sci-fi, a genre which at its best is about the interplay of science and philosophy, is that so bad that you can't even run with it a little? Why even bring Mark Gatiss on the show if you recoil from the slightest glimpse of imagination?
*to whom I do a terrible disservice in that comic; he's actually the one who delivers the technical information about teleporting, but I went for a cheap parroting of Alistair McGowan's impression of him on The Now Show. I haven't even seen the show where he allegedly goes on about how amaaazing the universe is!
**I mean, not in a 'divine plan' kind of way, namely that I find the company of such people vastly preferable to the alternative, in general

And then Tealin brought out the big words and smashed things with her brain hammer. )
tealin: (Default)
The Polar Party had finally left the plateau and were descending the Beardmore Glacier. They missed the ice falls that Teddy had run into, but still had a hard time getting their loaded sledge over the jumble. It was a relief to be experiencing slightly warmer temperatures, but the wind had picked up, so they were still freezing. On top of this, Edgar Evans' condition was going steadily downhill.

Nevertheless, now that they were back amongst mountains after so long on the featureless plateau, there was more science to keep things interesting. On the morning of Feb 8th, they were passing Mt Darwin, and Scott '[s]ent Bowers on, on ski, as Wilson can’t wear his at present. He obtained several specimens, all of much the same type, a close-grained granite rock which weathers red.'

Later that day, after skidding down the slope for a while, they spied a moraine along the base of Mt Buckley, and Scott steered the party towards it.

The moraine was obviously so interesting that when we had advanced some miles and got out of the wind, I decided to camp and spend the rest of the day geologising. It has been extremely interesting. We found ourselves under perpendicular cliffs of Beacon sandstone, weathering rapidly and carrying veritable coal seams. From the last Wilson, with his sharp eyes, has picked several plant impressions, the last a piece of coal with beautifully traced leaves in layers, also some excellently preserved impressions of thick stems, showing cellular structure. In one place we saw the cast of small waves on the sand. To-night Bill has got a specimen of limestone with archeo-cyathus – the trouble is one cannot imagine where the stone comes from; it is evidently rare, as few specimens occur in the moraine. There is a good deal of pure white quartz. Altogether we have had a most interesting afternoon, and the relief of being out of the wind and in a warmer temperature is inexpressible. I hope and trust we shall all buck up again now that the conditions are more favourable.

The special thing about this for us, a hundred years later, is that if you are in London, you can go to the Natural History Museum, find the threshold of the Geology Wing (it's on the entrance end of the building, on the second floor) and see the rocks they collected ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO TODAY:

tealin: (Default)
Happy Ada Lovelace Day! What is Ada Lovelace Day? Basically it's about celebrating and promoting women in science and technology ... Suw can tell you more.

Part of the goal of the day is to get people to post blog entries about women in science and/or technology who have inspired them ... I think perhaps the fact that I can think of no especially inspiring woman in these fields, in my own life, says as much about the gender imbalance* as does other people's naming them.

Then again, for most of my childhood I was certain that when I grew up I would be a scientist. I can't ever recall thinking that it this was not an OK career choice for a girl, or indeed that the shape of my genitalia had anything to do with what I could or could not do with my life.** Apparently I was capable of arriving at this decision without any sort of female role model. Does this mean that feminism has succeeded and up-and-coming generations are generally incognisant of gender barriers? Or does it just heap more evidence on the argument that I did what I liked without caring what was 'suitable' or what other people thought of me?

That is all inconsequential! What really matters is that the intelligent and talented Sydney Padua has released an iPad App for her absolutely fantabulous Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace & Babbage. It looks super cool! I cannot attest to this first-hand as I do not have an iPad, but this app is so far the only thing to make me sort of consider thinking about wanting one, which should be evidence enough of its worth. Speaking of worth: IT'S FREE! Well, the first comic is, anyway; the second, full-length one is £1.99.

*or perhaps my memory
**besides obvious things like 'pee without undressing' or 'have a hysterectomy', but these are not what one commonly thinks of as 'life goals.'
tealin: (Default)
I've got a poll up on LJ regarding marketing for Winnie the Pooh. I'd like to get as much feedback as possible, so please do your bit! Non-LJ members are still allowed to participate, so you have no reason not to.
tealin: (Default)
tealin: (introspect)
As much as I heap glory and praise on Radio 4, most of the handful of things I've heard on the radio which have changed my life have been on the CBC. Even now, if there's something that keeps coming back to me all week, it's probably something that was on the CBC while I was doing my Saturday chores.* Radio 4 is great for Learning About Stuff (and comedy, and drama), and NPR has its bases covered in gratifying the American fixation on the Personal Narrative, but only the CBC, as far as I know, offers New Ways To Think About Things on a regular basis.

One of the best programs for this is Ideas, a weeknightly documentary series which presents shows on anthropology, sociology, ethnology, philosophy, science, interviews with modern 'thinkers' and artists, or even sometimes just evocative sound portraits of a place or time.

This is by no means a stand-out episode but I quite enjoyed listening to it last night, and as usual, have been thinking about it since:

Say No to Happiness - An exploration of the meanings of 'happiness,' whether the pursuit of it makes you a happier person, and its place in the human condition. (Kind of a lame synopsis but it's a complicated subject – if you can come up with a better one, be my guest!)

*If I wake up early enough to get my chores done before DNTO starts, which is less frequently than I'd like to be the case.
tealin: (catharsis)
One of the great things about working in animation in LA is that I get to see a lot of movies for free, sometimes before they're released. I got to see Kung Fu Panda 2 a little over a week ago, thanks to the now ironically-named [profile] disneyboy who generously invited me to the Dreamworks friends and family show.

Because it was a company event, the director was on hand to present the movie, and something she said in her little introductory speech should have raised a red flag. She mentioned the movie having been well-received by critics and fellow animation professionals but the judges that really mattered were the kids out in the audience today.

Kung Fu Panda 2: You Know, For Kids! )

Also – Po's dad is a goose? I had always thought he was a duck. Where did I get this idea? I was so distracted by this surprise that I spend a good while trying to parse the evidence and determine whether I was being blind or the filmmakers were just ignorant. For the sake of future generations, here is an easy guide:

Smaller (chicken-sized)
Flattish bill
Usually shorter neck
Say 'Quack'
Larger (turkey-sized)
More tented bill
Usually longer neck
Say 'Honk'

Without any of that distracting 'colour' to throw you off, a direct comparison:
Okay, have we all got this now?
tealin: (nerd)
Well this is exciting!

Looks like I'll have to go back and read The God Particle all the way to the end, so when they finally determine what this new thing is I'll have a chance of understanding what the heck they're talking about.

Completely unrelated:
I am a vocal skeptic of most modern art, but every once in a while something comes along that makes me think there might be something to it. Nancy Fouts' new show is one of those things.

Not to mention it references both Monty Python and League of Gentlemen, intentionally or not ...
tealin: (Default)
One doesn't usually think 'nature hike' and 'Los Angeles' in the same mental breath, but Griffith Park is practically in my backyard and has a surprising amount of nature in it. Also, tantalizingly, the Griffith Observatory is directly across the park from me.

In case I haven't mentioned it before on this blog, Griffith Observatory is the coolest place in LA. FACT.

Ever since finding this out I have intended to try to cross the park to get to it, but the general wisdom is Single Young(ish) Females Do Not Hike in Griffith Park Alone. I do not possess any martial arts skills, nor am I all that confident I could outrun anyone, so my aspirations were doomed to remain hypothetical.


I recently discovered that one of my colleagues was an avid hiker and wanted to get back into it, so I proposed an Expedition, and he agreed! I figured out the course on Google Maps, and we set out on Saturday, which was the perfect temperature for hiking, if a bit hazy.



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