Posted by Dave Mark on Aug 31, 2009 in Uncategorized
I have always been a big fan of comedy, especially of comedy that strays outside the box and scribbles in the margins. When I was a kid, good comedy was hard to come by. Comedy on TV was a steady stream of straight and narrow, broken by occasional episodes of Monty Python imported from the BBC. Radio was pretty much comedy free. Until I stumbled upon Dr. Demento.
I first encountered the Dr. Demento radio show when I lived in Pittsburgh. I was thrilled. An entire show playing nothing but my kind of humor. Amazing!
To give you a sense of why he is called Dr. Demento, take a listen to the Fish Heads video below. Um, weird, to say the least, but I absolutely loved it.
Ever hear the songs “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”, “Monster Mash”, “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah (A Letter from Camp)”, or “They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Ha”? You can thank Dr. Demento for bringing those to our popular culture.
Perhaps the best thing Dr. Demento ever did was to start playing tapes submitted by a guy named Weird Al Yancovic. Yup, Dr. Demento was key to bringing Weird Al to fame. Dr. Demento was also a huge fan of Frank Zappa, giving Zappa critical on-air exposure very early in his career.
Here’s Dr. Demento’s Wiki page. Sadly, Dr. Demento’s show has fallen on hard times and may not be around much longer. I suppose YouTube has taken over the job of bringing the bizarre to the world. It’s been a good run, Dr. D. Stay demented!
Posted by Dave Mark on Aug 30, 2009 in Science
Did you know that about a year ago, India launched an unmanned rocket designed to orbit the moon? The rocket goes under the name Chandrayaan-I. I am amazed this did not make more of a splash in the media.
As of Sunday morning, Chandrayaan-I had made 3,400 orbits around the moon. Amazing!
Now, India’s space organization, ISRO, is reporting that they’ve lost contact with the craft, due to electronics failures. The vast majority of the data they set out to collect has been collected, so this is perhaps not such a big loss, but sad nonetheless.
Here’s an article about the loss in The Times of India.
Here’s a link to the terrific Chandrayaan-I wiki page.
Here’s a link to the ISRO Chandrayaan-I page.
And here’s a collection of Chandrayaan-I related images.
Well done, ISRO. Keep the dream alive!
Posted by Dave Mark on Aug 28, 2009 in hardware
Thanks to Clay for this one: The Pogoplug is a NAS device with a nice little twist. NAS stands for Network Accessible Storage and is exactly what it sounds like, storage you can access from a network. The Pogoplug plugs into the wall and features an RJ45 port (that’s where you plug in an internet connection) and a USB port (that’s where you plug in any hard drive you want to share). Once you are plugged in, you go to the Pogoplug web site, register your hard drive, and you now have access to that drive from anywhere on the net from your Mac, iPhone or Windows machine.
But wait, there’s more. The Pogoplug is a Linux box, which means it’s programmable. And there’s already a community hard at work building plugins to turn the Pogoplug into things like remote iTunes servers. Cool beans.
The video below does an excellent job of walking you through the basics. Take a look.
Posted by Dave Mark on Aug 27, 2009 in Science
This film is from a demonstration Wilbur Wright gave to a gathering of photographers and army representatives. Click on the image of the airplane to go to the video. Best viewed in full-screen.
The web site claims that the footage was shot in 1909, but I believe it was shot earlier than that. I’ve seen much lower-quality footage, dated 1907, that matches this footage frame-by-frame. Either way, I found this incredibly fascinating…
Posted by Dave Mark on Aug 27, 2009 in Science
The ingenious folks at Carnegie-Mellon University now know when you will die. OK, maybe not, but CMU’s Center for the Study and Improvement of Regulation has created a web site that will help you home in on your death risks. Really cool stuff.
Here’s a link to deathriskrankings.com.
Posted by Dave Mark on Aug 26, 2009 in Google
This is about a year old, but just came my way. 411 service from Google. Dial 1-800-GOOG-411, tell them the state, city and business you are trying to reach and Google 411 will connect you. And it’s free. Nice!
Posted by Dave Mark on Aug 26, 2009 in Politics
Sad day. Whether or not you agreed with his politics, there’s no question that Ted Kennedy was a tremendous force for change and, in some people’s minds, one of the greatest Senators in US history.
Before he died, Kennedy wrote a letter to the Massachusetts political leadership, asking them to amend a state law passed in 2004 that called for a special election in the case where a Senate seat was vacated for any reason. The problem was the election would not occur for a minimum of 145 days. During that time, the Senate seat would remain vacant.
Clearly, Kennedy was thinking of his own worsening health when he wrote this letter. He asked the leadership to amend the 2004 law to allow the governor to pick a temporary replacement to serve until the election. Typical of Kennedy. Though he had less than two months to live, his concern for his home state and the political process was foremost on his mind.
Here’s a copy of that letter.
Sad day. For all his flaws, I think Ted Kennedy was a great man and served his state and his country with great honor…
Posted by Dave Mark on Aug 25, 2009 in Apple
Here’s my Snow Leopard order from the Apple Store:
Note the shipping date. That’s this Friday. Cool, right?
Posted by Dave Mark on Aug 25, 2009 in Robotics
From Allen, this video shows the astonishing speed and precision now in production for robotic hands. To me, the most amazing part of this video is “dynamic holding”. Watch the slow motion shot of the hand dribbling a small ball. You can actually see the hand adjusting very quickly to hit the ball at the proper angle.
The robots are coming.
Posted by Dave Mark on Aug 25, 2009 in Movies
Daniel and I went to see District 9 last night. I have to say, this is one of the best movies I have ever seen in my life. Be warned, there is a lot of violence in this movie. And the film does not have the polish of, say, The Godfather, or The Lord of the Rings. But make no mistake, this is a work of genius.
The movie was produced by Peter Jackson and was directed by novice director Neill Blomkamp. Mr. Blomkamp is a talent to watch. I am looking forward to his next project. Might he be hard at work on District 10? Could be!
Blomkamp shares a screenwriting credit with Terri Tatchell. This is their first screenwriting collaboration.
The star of the movie, Sharlto Copley, puts out an incredible performance. And this is his very first acting gig. Really.
The movie was made for $30 million, which it recouped in its first few weekends. I suspect this movie will bring in worldwide $500 million before its day is done.