Sunday, May 28, 2006

X-Men III In a Nutshell

Just saw X-Men III: The Last Stand in Vancouver with the old man. In case you want to save yourself $8.50 + concession here is the 10-second version.

Warning: Spoilers (sorta)
Life for us mutants has been swell, lately.

Yes, but for how long?

Sco-o-o-o-ttt. Jean? Sco-o-o-o-o-ottt. Jean?! Sco-o-o-o-ttt. Jean, is that you? AUGGHGHGHG!!!

Jean, where'd you come from?

Is that you, Jean? AUGHGHGH!

She's more powerful than you can possibly imagine.

Jean, what are you doing? AUGGHGHGHGH!

Come with me, Jean.

There's a cure for mutantism? We don't want a cure!

[Cue legions of third-rate mutants who wreak havoc.]

[X-Men stage rescue attempt.]


Logan? Help!

Nooooooooooo!!!! AUGHGHGHGH!

[Peace is restored.]
Solid action flick, but nothing out of the ordinary. Highlight of the movie for me was Kelsey Grammer as Beast. If you're not a serious fan, this can certainly wait for DVD.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Serenity Sequel Now!

Dang it, I'm having serious withdrawals from this. We need a sequel to Serenity. Or better yet, resurrect the TV series. My wife has pledged that she would trade every show on TV for to get Firefly back. She usually hates sci-fi, but Firefly hooked her. She'll give up Grey's Anatomy, ER, Desperate Housewives, America's Next Top Model, and anything else I can't think of. I'll trade The Unit, the only show I watch.

Gimmie, gimmie. Do it now.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

e-Postal for June!

Rifle e-Postal Match for June: "Walk the Line."

Now it's my turn to host Mr. Completely's e-Postal match! This month, I've come up with Walk the Line with a Cold Fire bonus round. This match requires 15 total shots. Walk the Line is designed to test the precision of you and your rifle, while Cold Fire is going to gauge the consistency of you and your weapon cold, straight from the safe. Naturally, you should start with Cold Fire.

For Cold Fire, place a single target at the distance required for your class. You must use a cold rifle. If you must sight your rifle first (i.e. new scope, unfired) then be sure to let your rifle cool down completely and take HALF the score you would have otherwise achieved. Shoot the targets once each in order (they're numbered) for a total of three shots. You score 20 points for a hit in the outer circle and an additional 20 points for a hit on the inner circle. Touching the black counts in both cases. OK, that was easy.

In Walk the Line, you will place two targets, one with the line oriented vertically and the other horizontally. You will take six shots at each target, aiming for the dots, starting from bottom to top, and left to right, respectively (you can shoot top to bottom or right to left if you prefer, it matters not). You may warm up and sight in your rifle before shooting Walk the Line. The complicated part for the shooter is to now measure the (x,y) coordinates of each hit on the target. Be as precise as possible in your measurements. The grid on the targets should help, and the units do not matter. Try to measure to the center of each hit to the nearest 1/4 square (about an 1/8th of an inch). Send me your list of (x,y) hit coordinates for each target, and I will compute the score. Scoring will be done by fitting a least squares line to (x,x+y) for each set of data and then taking the resulting R-squared value multiplied by 100. The (x,x+y) fit is required to make the numbers work out in a robust sort of way.

If you happen to miss one of the Walk the Line targets completely with any shots, then for each miss you have a choice. You can either take (x,0) as the coordinate of the shot, or you can take a second shot but subtract 10 points from your score.

A perfect score (not really acheivable, if you measure your hits precisely) would be 260 points. Now then, on to the classes:

Class 1: Rifles with unmagnified sights and optics.

Distance 25 to 50 yards, but you must specify the distance! I can account for distance to make this fair.

Class 2: Rifles with magnified optics.

Distance 100 Yards or longer, again, must specify the distance.

Class 3: Handgun with unmagnified sights and optics.

Distance 10 yards or longer, specify your distance.

Class 4: Air Rifle, any optics

Distance 15 yards or longer, specify your distance.

Class 5: Joke class. Spitwads, potato canon, paintball, airsoft, sling shot, lawn darts, archery, but no flaming tennis balls (against federal regulations, I kid you not). I'm fairly certain Mr. Completely will come up with something.

Distance anything that doesn't suck.

Any position including bench rest. No vises or clamps allowed.

Please send your completed targets and (x,y) coordinate data to carnaby_fudge AT hotmail dot com.

Thirty Random Things

Purloined from Mostly Cajun. I love these things, because they require so little effort, and masquerade as actual blog content.

1. Have you ever been searched by the cops?
If Canadian border guards count, then yes, but they only searched my car.

2. Do you close your eyes on roller coaster?
No. Not seeing what's happening just increases the scare-factor.

3. When's the last time you've been sledding?
Winter 1985 or thereabouts. My last memory of sledding includes a crazy uncle, an enormous innertube, and a 30 mph crash into a barbed-wire fence.

4. Would you rather sleep with someone else, or alone?
With someone else. My biggest reward of the day is snuggling up to the bodily warmness that is my husband.

5. Do you believe in ghosts?
Hmm. I don't disbelieve, but I don't have any compelling reason to really believe.

6. Do you consider yourself creative?

7. Do you think O.J. killed his wife?
I honestly have some doubts about this. Not convinced either way.

8. Jennifer Aniston or Angelina Jolie?
For what? In terms of cinematic watchability, I'll go with Angelina Jolie. She may be strange, but at least she's interesting. Govindini at Libertas described Jennifer Aniston as the personification of mindless mediocrity, and I agree with that assessment.

9. Can you honestly say you know ANYTHING about politics?
Sure. I know as much as anyone needs to know, which is that power corrupts.

10. Do you know how to play poker?
Yes, but not terribly well. I played in a serious tournament once, and was surprised at the level of skill -- both in terms of the mechanics of the game as well as the psychological aspect -- required to play well.

11. Have you ever been awake for 48 hours straight?
No. Longest was 36 hours in order to meet a project deadline.

12. What's your favorite commercial?
Can't say, as I don't watch TV anymore, and commercials are at least 50% of the reason why I cut the cable.

13. Who was your first love?
My husband is the only man I've ever loved. But if you mean my first crush, then I think it was Warren back in the 2nd grade.

14. If you're driving in the middle of the night, and no one is around you, do you run a red light?
No, because doing so virtually guarantees that Mr. Policeman is lying in wait around some corner. Stop signs in the middle of nowhere late at night are another matter, though.

15. Do you have a secret that no one knows but you?
No. When I finally admitted that I had a lifelong crush on Sylvester Stallone, that was the last of my great secrets.

16. Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees?
Baseball ain't my thing. Ask me about hockey!

17. Have you ever been Ice Skating?
I grew up in Northern B.C. -- schools flood the tennis courts every winter so kids can ice-skate during recess and lunch.

18. How often do you remember your dreams?
About half the time. A lot of them are rather disturbing, which is perhaps to balance my privileged and sheltered waking life.

19. What's the one thing on your mind?
Why am I here? For what purpose was I created?

20. Do you always wear your seat belt?
Always. I don't think it should be mandatory, but I, personally, have no desire to become street pizza.

21. What talent do you wish you had?
Some kind of musical talent, either singing or playing an instrument like guitar/violin/piano.

22. Do you like Sushi?
Yes. Boring old California Roll is my favorite.

23. What do you wear to bed?
Sometimes PJs, other times never-you-mind.

24. Do you truly hate anyone?
No. But there are ideas, movements, ideologies, and actions that I truly hate.

25. If you could sleep with one famous person, who would it be?
No one. Let's replace "sleep" with "go on a date" and I'd pick Charlton Heston circa Ben Hur. Yowzers!

26. Do you know anyone in jail?
Personally? No. Insert mandatory line about the people you know who should be in jail. Actually, I don't know any of those either.

27. What food do you find disgusting?
Chitterlings. Tried them in Paris last summer, and it's the only food I've ever tasted that struck me as an excellent form of punishment.

28. Have you ever made fun of your friends behind their back?
Yes, but not in a malicious way. One of the things I enjoy most about my friends is their foibles.

29. Have you ever been punched in the face?
No. I don't know many women who have. Thank goodness for double-standards!

30. Do you believe in angels and demons?
Yes, but not in the traditional anthropomorphic sense. I do believe in what C.S. Lewis describes as pure intelligences, and that some sort of unseen spiritual warfare is taking place.

[For the record, Dale, I looked up "balut" and, amazingly, it sounds even more disgusting than chitterlings.]

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Summer of Stickwick

The semester is over, final grades are nearly posted, and my schedule is free from daily constraints. But starting next week, I am going to be on the road quite a bit until the end of August. Posting and commenting on my end will suffer as a result (not that I've been posting much lately). Carnaby will still be posting on his usual schedule.

Destinations this summer include: Seattle/Vancouver, B.C.; eastern Oregon; Santa Fe, followed by a trip up the California coast to visit UC-San Diego, Caltech, UC-Berkeley, and UC-Santa Cruz; and finally Raleigh, NC. Whew! A highlight of this odyssey will be meeting two giants in the field of black hole theory, Roger Blandford and Roy Kerr.

On a completely unrelated note, I've been reading The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Talk about a paradigm shift. As much as I detest feminism, I realized how insidiously this destructive movement has permeated the culture and how much I subconsciously bought into the idea that I am entitled to be selfish, demanding, and insensitive towards my husband just by virtue of being female. I'm only two chapters into the book, but practicing what I've learned so far has produced miraculous results. I really need to post on this at length when I have time. For now, women, whether you are married or not: buy and read this book IMMEDIATELY. Husbands: buy this book for your wives and ask them to read it. A good follow-up is The Surrendered Wife by Laura Doyle.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Reporting Child Mortality

CNN reports that the USA doesn't give out enough free health care, so we have higher infant mortality than our socialist neighbors across the pond in Europe and Japan. What they do not report is this:
Comparing statistics for IMR across countries can be a useful indicator of their level of health and development, but the method for calculating IMR often varies widely between countries based on the way they define a live birth. The World Health Organization defines a live birth as any born human being who demonstrates independent signs of life, including breathing, muscle movement, or heartbeat.
Which is how, IIRC, the USA reports live births. Then there's this
Many countries, however, including certain European states and Japan, only count as live births cases where an infant breathes at birth, which makes their reported IMR numbers somewhat lower and raises their rates of perinatal mortality.
So given the information in the CNN report, we have no way to account for the differences in reporting infant mortality, only an implicit call for "universal healthcare" or other such bunk. This statistic has been pulled on me many times when arguing about quality of life here and in the more lefty places. In the report above they say that it's the governments fault also, since black people have much higher rates of infant mortality than the USA as a whole. Hence, since the government doesn't provide all sorts of "free" social services, it's everyone's fault but the mother's yada yada.

Mondo Noob Range Trip

Our Campus Republican club had their annual second amendment shoot last night, but we didn't shoot the second amendment. This year wasn't as fun as last year for some reason, and it was more fun for others. I brought three friends this time, three guns, and a big pile of ammo. These guys had all been shooting at least once before, so they had a blast (pun) and it was a really great time. We all took at least one turn at Mr. Completely's latest e-postal handgun match. I hope I won, but I haven't looked at the scores yet. The most interesting thing that happened to our group was when my tall Swedish friend shot the last round out of my Beretta Cougar and the slide zipped off the frame and flung itself downrange. Argh! No damage was done, and that malfunction didn't happen again. I figure my buddy just accidentaly pushed the slide release with his long fingers. Yeargh!

Anyhoo, other interesting things pertained to the nooby shooters. I helped out since they didn't have many experienced guys there. Two new shooters that I instructed did very well and had a lot of fun. There were two other guys, one on either side of me who didn't receive any instruction and were having in interesting time. The guy on the right was seriously rattled by the whole situation and was shaking pretty bad. The Glock that the range supplied him with was acting up and he was struggling. Fortunately I saw this in time and got him going in the right direction. He got a round chambered and was all ready to shoot when I noticed his strange grip (I'll post a pic of this later). He had his left thumb right behind the slide, yikes! And then I noticed that his thumb was already bloody (!!!) so that he'd shot like this already and not learned his lesson. They need to be more organized about getting training for the noobs next year.

Then there was the guy on the left. I thought he looked a little akward with his Sig, so I watched his technique, which turned out to be 1. shoot round; 2. lean gun to side; 3. gently cycle slide till next round falls out of chamber; 4. repeat. Then on the last round the slide locked open and he was struggling with the gun. I said "you're out of ammo" and he said "no, there's still two rounds in there." To which I replied "you mean those two on the bench?" Heh. Sorta funny that it made sense in his mind that you have to manually cycle the slide on an auto loading pistol. I guess that your brain will act a little funny in high-stress situations.

Anyway, quirks and all, it was a fun time. I think I'll send them an email about being a little better prepaired next year.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Addition to the Carnaby Blogroll

Carnaby, as you know, is an aerospace engineer with a specialty in control systems -- I keep telling him he oughta ask Burt Rutan for a job when he graduates from his PhD program. Because space travel is gonna be big. HUGE. Space is the next frontier, and maybe by the time things become unbearable in the U.S. (as they already are everywhere else in the world) people the world over who are looking for more opportunities and freedom will be able to strike out for space the same way they struck out for the New World centuries ago.

Just think of it... New Plymouth on the moon! wagon trains to Mars!

Lest you think I'm suffering from a fit of geekiness, check out Spaceports. Jack's got the inside scoop on the dreams-to-reality of global spaceports and the burgeoning space-travel industry. Click on over. I know I'll be checking in on a regular basis.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Return of the Classics

The fans won!
Die-hard Star Wars fans soon can see the original theatrical versions of the first three Star Wars films on DVD.

Even though George Lucas adamantly declared 2004's digitally restored Star Wars Trilogy DVDs the definitive versions of his movies, fans have held out hope for DVDs of the originals.

Their wishes will be granted Sept. 12 when Fox releases new two-disc DVDs ($30 each) of Star Wars (since retitled as Episode IV: A New Hope), The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi that include the films as they first appeared in theaters, along with the new, restored versions (now available in the four-disc $70 Star Wars Trilogy).
I'm one of those die-hard fans who groaned and signed petitions to have the original versions available on DVD. Lucas' vision be damned, those are the versions we fell in love with. I've already shelled out $60 to buy the crapped-up version of the Trilogy, which is going on eBay in September (along with five gazillion other sets, no doubt). Whatever Lucas' motivation to finally release the original Trilogy on DVD ($$$!), I'd like to personally say, Thanks, George. And about darned time.

The best part about having the original versions on DVD?
  1. Han Solo shoots Greedo first.
  2. No stupid Hayden Christiansen's stupid face at the end of Return of the Jedi.