30 September 2009

We choose to go to the moon - JFK

This starts a part of this site aptly titled 'Speeches that make me cry'. And they are just that, speeches made for varying reasons throughout history that make me tear up - even if only a little. They are presented in no particular order, and only the parts that I find particularly moving.

This speech was given at Rice University in Houston, Texas about the space program. It says it all in the title and I urge you to read the full text, provided below.

We choose to go to the moon...

No man can fully grasp how far and how fast we have come, but condense, if you will, the 50 thousand years of man's recorded history in a time span of but a half-century. Stated in these terms, we know very little about the first 40 years, except at the end of them advanced man had learned to use the skins of animals to cover them. Then about 10 years ago, under this standard, man emerged from his caves to construct other kinds of shelter. Only five years ago man learned to write and use a cart with wheels. Christianity began less than two years ago. The printing press came this year, and then less than two months ago, during this whole 50-year span of human history, the steam engine provided a new source of power. Newton explored the meaning of gravity. Last month electric lights and telephones and automobiles and airplanes became available. Only last week did we develop penicillin and television and nuclear power, and now if America's new spacecraft succeeds in reaching Venus, we will have literally reached the stars before midnight tonight.

This is a breathtaking pace, and such a pace cannot help but create new ills as it dispels old, new ignorance, new problems, new dangers. Surely the opening vistas of space promise high costs and hardships, as well as high reward.

So it is not surprising that some would have us stay where we are a little longer to rest, to wait. But this city of Houston, this state of Texas, this country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country was conquered by those who moved forward--and so will space.


We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war. I do not say that we should or will go unprotected against the hostile misuse of space any more than we go unprotected against the hostile use of land or sea, but I do say that space can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating the mistakes that man has made in extending his writ around this globe of ours.

There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation many never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon... (interrupted by applause) we choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.


Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, "Because it is there."

Well, space is there, and we're going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God's blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.

- John F Kennedy, 12 September 1962

29 September 2009

My heroes

If I were to compile a list of every person I admire, well, we'd be here for a while. That list would be about 70% scientist, 20% orators and politicians and 10% revolutionaries (in which I include civil rights leaders). Approximately 60% would be deceased.

Of those living, I have occasionally done the 'fangirl' thing and sent off an email or letter (or even a tweet) to let that person know how they have affected my life and/or my outlook on the world. I don't expect to get replies from everybody. I'm sure President Obama has many other things to do than answer a letter from a non-politically motivated girl who just called to say I love you (that's going to be in my head the rest of the day...yay). Ditto on Richard Dawkins who is one of the most celebrated and most notorious scientists of his time. Some, are particular heroes only to me, but that doesn't change the thrill I get when one of the Smart Bitches takes time out of her round of balls and carriage rides to deign to email me.

And then there's the middle echelon: PZ Myers, Phil Plait, Wil Wheaton. This is by no means exhaustive, but I chose those three names because they all have something in common: at some point in the last three months I have reached out to each. In two cases it was to mention how much I loved their respective books. In two cases it was to ask questions about things they had said or that I did not understand. Yes, there is overlap, because I reached out to one fellow twice and he was gracious enough to reach back.

I sent Dr. Phil Plait and email about three weeks ago to ask him my questions about his book. Within 24 hours I had a response in detail about what I had asked as well as a nice note about my review. The amount of squeeling that resulted from this email could be heard clear across the country. The other day, when I decided to drop my MA and go back for my BSc in Physics so I could go into astronomy, I sent him a joking tweet:

@BadAstronomer Left current MA for BSc in astronomy. Four years of school down the tube. You can expect an angry phone call from my parents.

and lo and behold...

BadAstronomer @nerdheroine Just send them a copy of my book. They'll understand why you switched. And congrats!

I know it doesn't seem like much. But Phil Plait - Phil Plait with a Discover blog, chair of the JREF - Phil Plait took time out from his schedule to encourage me. I am and adult and I know my own hopes and my own dreams.

And yet it means so much when someone you admire takes a moment to ackowledge you exist.

Thank you Dr Plait.

28 September 2009

Banned Books Week!

Hiya everybody! It's banned books week! You know what that means? Go to your local library, be it public or at your school, and ask for one of the many, many books that someone out there decided that you did not need to be reading. That's right, don't you feel nice and cozy knowing that someone made it their moral imperative to restrict what you should have access to?

In honour of this week, I'm going to repost here a review I did of one of my favourite banned books of all time. This review appeared originally at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books back in October 2007. I was lucky enough to win the Banned Books Review Contest and received a bracelet of covers of banned books that I wear all the time (and OMG go buy one right now). You can find the original post here.

Where's Waldo?
Martin Hanford
Grade: A+

Of the most banned books of the nineties, none stood out to me with such a force as Martin Hanford’s Where’s Waldo? series. Indeed, while I was stunned to find several of my childhood favorites present, it took me quite some time to come to terms with the fact that this was not a typo.

What did this bespectacled, befuddled, behatted man do to earn the ire of some proportion of the American public?

Waldo (or Wally in the original UK print), a brunet in perhaps is early thirties, perpetually wanders the world in blue jeans and a candy-cane striped shirt with matching toque. He is also perhaps the only man in the world who hides for a living… all the time. He is joined on his travels by his dog, Woof, and his girlfriend, Wenda/Wanda. Occasional sightings of Waldo’s ex-girlfriend Wilma have been known to happen, but as Wilma is Wenda’s identical twin, it is uncertain if these sightings are always genuine. Plotting against Waldo is his arch-nemesis, Odlaw. Odlaw has stolen both his name and his wardrobe from Waldo and it is little wonder that he lurks amongst the pages of the Where’s Waldo? series hoping to in some way undermine Waldo’s efforts at… um… hiding.

Waldo himself could certainly stand to be more selective on the company he keeps. Seen at Viking banquets, courthouses full of lawyers and at an area suspiciously similar to a brothel, Waldo shows a remarkable lack of morals when choosing his associates. And yet, I find it hard to fault him for it. Sure, Waldo could show some discretion, but it sends a powerful message of inclusiveness out to today’s children that Waldo is not afraid to be seen with court jesters; and is as ready to submit himself to their company as with the fine men and women establishing the first moon colony. Waldo’s childlike sense of wonder at the world should be an inspiration to us all. Waldo finds joy in almost any situation – from seaside resorts to the dungeons of the furthest Neptunian moons. And he never gives up. Never mind if you find him in Bangladesh, he’ll move on, gathering up his friends and assorted lost belongings before he goes. (If nothing else, everyone could take a leaf out of Waldo’s book whilst traveling.)

Waldo is welcoming. He always smiles and keeps the company of both a good woman and a good dog. And no matter what terrible things his enemy does to him, he never retaliates. And he never gives up.

Should we ask anything less than that of our children? Can we afford to ask anything less than that of ourselves?

26 September 2009


Flip-Flop: a sudden real or apparent change of policy or opinion by a public official, sometimes while trying to claim that both positions are consistent with each other.

What shows greater understanding? Steadfastly holding to your beliefs no matter what the evidence, or the willingness to reexamine and change if necessary? In politics it's easy, you're never allowed to change your mind. If you support one thing, you must support it forever.

However, in life, it seems incredibly dumb to me that 'staying the course' could have such a positive ring to it. The ability to change our minds, to admit our faults is one that makes us better people.

I say all this because I just changed my mind. From a decision I made two years ago and have clung to tenaciously ever since. I just dropped out of grad school. I was supposed to be starting next week in an Environmental Archaeology course. But it was a bad decision. It was a bad decision when I made it two years ago - although I didn't see it as such and I spent a great deal of time convincing myself and others it was the right one. The last two years of my life have been all about this one choice. Turning from it now is one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made.

And there are people who are going to see it as a weakness in my character. That I am somehow less of a person for not sticking with the decisions I have made. But I can admit when I am wrong, and while there is no guarantee that the new path I have chosen is any better I must say that for the first time in a long time...

I am excited.

20 September 2009

So very, very true....

I have spent the better part of my adult life trying to get Ariel hair. Thus far I have not succeeded.

19 September 2009

Death Star... Never Forget

Okay, so I found this very very funny. I'm totally awesome like that. It's been enough time to parody a bit - even if outright comedy is still taboo.

16 September 2009

Death From the Skies!

Philip Plait, PhD
Grade: A

Death from the Skies! Oh sweet Lord, we're all gonna die. How?, you might be asking. The answer is easier if you ask, What in the universe is not trying to kill us? The answer is nothing, nothing wants us to live; everything in the universe is out to get us.

I repeat, we're all gonna die.

(Here’s what I took from each chapter, these are by no means meant to be summaries. The ratings express in general how terrifying I find being around for it to be. It’s a scale of 1-5)

Target Earth: Asteroid and Comet Impacts

Apophis. I want you to go write that name down right this minute. Why? Because on April 13 2029, Friday the 13th and I am so not making that up, Apophis will pass closer to earth than some of our satellites. That’s right, Apophis may get closer than the T-Mobile satellite powering your future wrist-phone. And while it may miss us this time around, if it passes through the wrong spot, it will most certainly hit us in 2036. That’s nine years to try and move a rock big enough to basically set the planet on fire. Yay.

This was my favourite chapter as it was the easiest to actually wrap your mind around. B612 Foundation: I can haz Science? Also, thanks for the “There’s not even enough time to worry” there Dr Plait, I think I shall begin right this minute. Put that in your metaphorical pipe and smoke it.

Paragraph of Dissension: When did an asteroid/comet hit become the accepted theory for dinosaur extinction? Back when I was studying on dinosaurs there was still a lot of disagreement over what caused what and when. Now I turn around and everywhere is all “Yeah, dinosaurs got knocked off* by an asteroid, where have you been?” I’ve been doing very important things! Also, admittedly, the last time I was really into dinosaurs was when Jurassic Park came out so that’s nearly twenty years. I concede that a lot can happen in that time.

*Please note that getting knocked off by an asteroid is totally different than getting knocked up by an asteroid.


So “death” by sunburn isn’t so much death by sunburn as it is “total collapse of the world’s economies and perhaps even civilisation” by sunburn. Strangely, in light of later chapters I found this oddly comforting. The wave of radiation from the sun would be mildly annoying here on earth. At the ISS we get the Fantastic 7 – yeah, you know that bit at the beginning of Fantastic 4 before things got interesting, that’s pretty much what would happen to the ISS crew. Only quite likely way less cool. The crew actually have a special place they hide to avoid getting mutant powers. This is why I could never be an astronaut.

Actually, a solar phenomenon is what brought down SkyLab (I’d mark this as “Things I did not know” but that list grew extensively during this book), the solar flare caused the earth’s atmosphere to puff up then drag it down. One can only presume it happened in slo-mo while SkyLab’s partner screamed “Nooooo!”.

He also brings up a good point. I remember all through school learning that Sol was only an “average sun”. Not huge, not tiny, just kind of there. Dude, even an “average” sun is a pretty freaking awesome sun.

FYI: Looking at the sun with the naked eye = not as bad as people have been telling you. I’ve done it while watching a sunrise (although admittedly, the sunlight is going through a lot more atmosphere then and not quite so bad for you). Look at the sun directly through any kind of helpful magnifying equipment = boil the fluid in your eyeball. Let’s not do that, kay?

The Stellar Fury of Supernovae

The awesomeness of this is somewhat tempered by the fact that it is really unlikely to happen to us. Here in our solar system. That’s not to say we might not go exploring at some point in our future and be very very unlucky.

Also learned that all the elements as we know them had their start in supernovae. That’s kind of cool. Also, also learned that supernovae is the plural of supernova. Even my spell-checker recognises it.

Cosmic Blowtorches: Gamma-Ray Bursts

Aw shit. I don’t care how “unlikely” Plait says this is, next to black holes *shudder* this is the absolute scariest thing I can imagine happening. Later chapters are pretty scary, but totally mind-boggling and as such, don’t carry the same shazam! Also, massive stars, black holes, twin beams of death, this is totally how they should have destroyed Romulus. Supernova, shmupernova.

We’re talking about an event occuring 100 light years away. A place so far away it takes light, something that travels so fast it took us thousands of years to notice it travelled at all, 100 years to get here. And that event is powerful enough heat roast you and instantly destroy our ozone layer. Three cheers for gamma-ray bursts! May you always be so terrifying.

The Bottomless Pits of Black Holes

ad infinitum

Just go read this chapter. If you’re too tight on money to buy it, see if you can convince Amazon to help you out with the ‘Look Inside’ feature. Note: spaghettification may be my new favourite word. Also note: I’ve had black hole based nightmares for the last three days.

This did cause me to think of two questions:

  1. Can planets orbit a small black hole? I know that galaxies can (and do) but it seems that with a sufficient source of matter to feed the black hole, a planet could conceivably orbit it as one might a star. Since the black hole will be giving of light, this planet could also conceivably support life. This would have the added benefit of making it the coolest form(s) of life ever, and the winner of every ‘rough childhood’ storytelling game for all time.

  2. Could a sufficiently large star swallow a sufficiently small black hole? It seems that this should be possible, but given the nature of black holes may be a total nonsensical statement. If it is, I apologise – but then again, can a black hole cannibalise another black hole? What happens when two black holes meet?

I totally should have gone into astronomy. Stupid archaeobotany.

Alien Attack!

Plait makes much of, if there is suitably intelligent life out there, theory states that we should have met them by now. Sure, but maybe we’re the first to advance to this stage. Also, given the Drake Equation (which he doesn’t explain, maybe he just assumes everyone is familiar with it. I was, but I’m special like that) it’s quite likely that given the other variables, life could evolve countless times, just not in time to meet each other. Both myself and my great-great grandparents existed. But we never got to meet each other. (NOT an insinuation that alien life will be descended from earth life, or vice versa. Just an analogy. A bad one actually.)

I’m only going to leave you with this: either we are alone in the universe or we are not. Both ideas are overwhelming.

The Death of the Sun

This would be way more scary if we weren’t going to have a lot of prep time when it happens. I give it two skulls because the fact that it won’t happen in my lifetime is balanced out by how pants-wettingly terrifying it would be if it did.

Bright Lights, Big Galaxy

That black hole sitting at the center of our galaxy? Worrisome. That black hole sitting at the middle of the Andromeda galaxy? You know, the one that will one day merge with ours in an apocalyptic scenario that makes me weep? WTF? We’re gonna get eaten by another galaxy? The Milky Way is going to eat another galaxy? Either way, I’m very disappointed in you Milky Way. Eating your own kind... bad galaxy, bad.

The End of Everything


I could not wrap my head completely around this chapter. Moments of lucidity were punctuated by the knowledge that I had no grasp whatsoever of the scale of what was eventually going to happen. That’s how the universe is supposed to work. I do however, love Plait’s venturing that we might get an ‘infinite do-over’. Was that meant to be reassuring?

What, Me Worry?

I harbour a fantasy where I had gone into astronomy or astrophysics or some other ‘astro’ related field. In my fantasy, I spend a lot of time looking at stars, doing math and discovering heretofore unknown laws of the universe. Yes, in my fantasy I am Albert Einstein. What I did not imagine was that I would spend any portion of time contemplating doomsday scenarios and worrying about being hit by a giant rock.

Part of me wants to move to another planet. This will not, however, solve the problem of black holes, gamma ray bursts, supernovae, asteroids, or well virtually anything. In fact, moving may in fact increase my risks. So I shall stay here on earth and keep an eye to the heavens. When the day comes, I shall be aware... not that I can do much about it...

15 September 2009

The Venn Diagram of Nerdiness

Honestly, according to this diagram I'm more of a geek than a nerd. Personally, I would define those two terms backwards. A nerd is defined mostly by their intelligence, whereas a geek shows signs of all three. Then again, I don't like the sound of geekheroine as much.

I do have my fair share of social ineptitude, but that's usually conscious and I am able to contain it if I so choose. That does not, however, stop me from blurting out things like "You know I don't like you right?"

Kiss Me Deadly Review

So all the books I used my Harlequinn giftcard on have either been reviewed on SBTB already (hi Victoria Dahl!) or were purchased by people who are funnier than me and say they are going to review them (Blaze Historical Bundle, you are in safe hands, I swear). Instead, I chose one of the free Harlequinns that is out right now, a Nocturne called Kiss Me Deadly. It has vampires. I freely admit the last vampire book I read was Twilight (if that even counts). It’s really not going to take much to impress me here.

Kiss Me Deadly
Michelle Hauf
Harlequin Nocturne
Romance: Contemporary
Grade: C+

Our story starts with Nikolaus Drake who is a vampire. I’d love to say Nikolaus was a centuries old semi-human monstrosity but a) he’s the hero, and b) he was turned in like the seventies or something. Which so does not explain how he came by a name like “Nikolaus”. Anyway, Nikolaus is killed by a witch before the story even begins.

It’s okay, he gets better.

Here’s the crux of the story – a witch’s blood is the equivalent of Alien blood to vampires. If so much as a drop touches them they are ever so painfully toast. This makes vampires and witches natural enemies. It’s like the Montagues and Capulets, but with poison blood. When Ravin Crosse – witch – fires a blood bomb into Nik’s clan, things get slightly uncomfortable and lots of vamps die [Note: Nikolaus’ clan name is the Kila, which I imagine is meant to be pronounced as a variation of kilo. If, however, you are like me, you will pronounce it “Killah” which is both hilarious and not the least bit subtle if it was intentional.] Anyway, Nik survives his blood bombing by chowing down on a buddy and vows REVENGE (and this is total all caps revenge, you can tell) on the witch. When he arrives to exact his REVENGE she has just finished a love potion. And would you look at that... hijinks ensue.

He’s in love with her! She spits blood on him! He’s immune to her now! And lurves her! She assures him it’s fake! He doesn’t care! Vampires murdered her family two hundred years ago (whoa, way to be a cougar there hun)! Not all vampires are bad! Yes they are! No they’re not! (This goes on for a while, longer than I thought was necessary at least.)

I know what I’d do if a hunky vampire showed up in love with me, but Ravin has vampire issues and way more self-control than me. So while I sat on the sidelines shouting “Ride him cowgirl!” she takes nearly a hundred e-pages to reach the same conclusion.

As to why she had a love spell just lying around... Ravin made a pact with the Devil (dun-dun-DUN!) and one of her three tasks is to make the love potion. Only he can release the vamp from it. This is in no way becomes a plot point and the Devil (dun-dun-DUN!) immediately releases the vampire from the spell.

What? You’ve actually read a book before? Okay, how’s this... the Devil (dun-dun-DUN!) releases the vamp at the most inopportune time possible – right after Ravin proclaims herself in love with Nikolaus.

Dear Ravin (and to a lesser extent all heroes/heroines who fall in love with someone while the are under a spell or amnesiac),

Falling in love with a person who is not themselves at the moment is not a good idea. I cannot stress this enough. I don’t care how perfect they are, they are for all intents and purposes either brain-damaged or drugged – pick one. DO NOT make a pass at this person. It’s a gross abuse of trust, I don’t care who you are. (Okay, if you knew the person beforehand you might get a pass on this one but I’m going to want to know why it takes brain damage to make you make a move). When people regain their sense of self they’re going to have a lot to deal with, they don’t need your sorry ass hanging around.

So why on god’s green earth, Ravin, did you think a vampire sworn to REVENGE was going to harbour warm fuzzies when he regained himself? You told him and yourself it was a bad idea! And guess what?

It was a bad idea!

Okay, where was I? Anyway, when Nikolaus gets his memory back there are many hard feelings (not like that). While he was away screwing a witch, Truvin (Really? Truvin? We’re just making names up now? Okay, whatever, Truvin) has taken over clan Killah and turned them back to eating peoples. Every vampire ever is apparently some variation on ‘vegetarian’ when it comes to eating people. I call ‘em like I see ‘em y’all.

Anyway, Truvin does bad things to Gabriel (Gabriel who? I don’t know either) a vampire friend of Nik’s. When Nik gets all righteous fury on his ass, Truvin kidnaps Ravin, oh noes! and threatens to kill her. Then werewolves (Werewolves? Just roll with it at this point, serious) show up and kick some peoples asses – but not Nik’s cause he’s a phoenix now with all the witchy blood and sex in him and can totally walk in sunlight and everything.

Also, there is a first-born child subplot that seemed extraneous but maybe we’re setting up a sequel I don’t know, and the Devil (dun-dun-DUN) is around a bit more.

...and it was the best vampire novel beginning with eating a friend’s corpse and ending with werewolves prancing into the sunrise I ever did read.

Honest, in the Venn diagram of ‘Things I Like to Read’ and ‘Things I got from Harlequin”, this book does not make the overlap. It wasn’t bad, per se – it just wasn’t good. I can find no fault with the writing, and while the dialogue sounded like a broken record (“I love you!” “No you don’t!” “Yes I do!” “No you don’t!”), there is nothing I can put my finger on as being wrong. I don’t know. It was so far outside the realm of things I like, I think the fact that I didn’t dislike it should probably be read as a ringing endorsement.

I’d read something else by Ms. Hauf. The world-building was pretty fantastic and I enjoyed living vicariously in the Minneapolis she created. I’d probably not want to hang out with those particular characters, but the world merits further exploration.

14 September 2009

Gorilla discovers cooking... bakes bread

This hilarious caption comes from The Daily Mail. Why am I not surprised?

Damn right he invented cookery. Hell, in the time it took you to write this article he discovered bread as well. Good for him. What good's cooked meat if you can't have a sandwich? Am I right?

10 September 2009

Open Letter to E-Reader Manufacturers

Dear e-reader maker:

Congratulations, you have decided to enter the exciting market of e-reading! We are sure that you will remember all the things that made reading so popular in the past and use new technologies to make reading available to a wide variety of new consumers. We look forward to hearing how you are improving the literary world and to the revolutionary ideas that are sure to follow your undertaking.

What’s that? You are going to make reading a luxury good available only to those with shitloads of expendable resources? I see; the reader technologies are expensive to create. That’s no problem. With such a high entry price for the reading device, you can offset this by having lower prices on books. Without the physical price of publishing the book – paper, ink, other manufacturing costs like, I don’t know, very large warehouses – you can offer readers a reading experience that will eventually pay off in the long run...

You’re going to charge the same price for an e-book as a regular book? What could possibly be the logic behind that? You don’t have the same manufacturing costs! It costs exactly the same to create one e-book as a million. Ctrl-C, Ctrl-P. VoilĂ , a new copy of the e-book. I realise there is a set cost for original production: editors, proof-readers, and don’t forget to pay your authors! But, really, how can you justify charging the same price for an electronic version as one you have to print, bind, store and ship?

Seriously, we are going to start this experience with a $200+ entry cost for the reader, then pile on top of that there is a minuscule difference in the price of books? I’m basically paying you $200+ to change my reading experience? Honey, I’m not going to pay you a hundred dollars just to change my reading experience. You might talk me out of fifty.

Oh, I see, your reader exactly mimics my known reading experience up to and including more shades of grey than I ever knew existed. So my reading experience hasn’t actually changed. Okay, I guess that as far as storage goes owning an ebook is definitely...

Wait, what? I don’t actually own my books? My books always belong to the company/publisher from which they are purchased and in the event of a product ‘recall’ my books can be taken away? You want me to pay the same price for books I will not even own?

Are you on crack?

Let’s summarise. I have to pay $200+ to join this reading experience. I then pay the same price for an e-book as I would for a paper. However, if at some point in the future the author of my literary erotica (for example) decides to run for congress, they can reach out and remove all of their works from my e-libraries.

Again, are you on crack?

I would love to jump on the e-reader bandwagon with you, but you need to pull your heads out of your asses and wizen up to the absolutely ridiculous market you’ve created.

Until then, screw you,
Hugs and Kisses,
The Heroine

09 September 2009

Go be freaky...

Okay, I know these commercials have been out a while but seriously, Visa puts out a commercial telling people it's totally cool to buy online porn?

What has the world come to?

08 September 2009

Final Review for Johnny 505

I read somewhere that the ancient Greeks had dozens of different words for types of love. There was brotherly love, romantic love, the love one feels for a battlefield comrade, etc. I’m not sure what the word is for the love one feels for an electronic reading device – but I’d bet it has ‘kos’ in it somewhere.

The reader does what it says on the box, and it does it (almost) perfectly. It’s easy to use, mostly intuitive, and very sleek and very very pretty. Actually, after the chorus of angels finished their refrain of ‘ah-ah-ah-ah-ah’ when the box was opened one alighted on my shoulder to mutter a cooing ‘aww...’. I’ve found I can read about a thousand pages worth of text before I lose the first bar. The final bar lasts right around that, maybe 850 pages. This is an easier way for me to gauge the battery than time as I tend to read during breaks, only 15-20 minutes at a time. The only reason it gets an (almost) perfect, rather than a perfect is that there is sometimes a significant lag when you ask it to turn a page. If I own a device that is meant to perform only one function, I want it to perform that function in a timely manner.

The Sony e-store software is very slow, but the interface is easy to use. It could be much better, and I look forward to a revamp when they release the new line of readers. However, if you are not running Windows, you are SOL in regards to your reader.

I made the switch back in July to Ubuntu which is a Linux based OS. Also, it’s awesome . The Sony e-library software is worse than useless on it however. The recommended alternative, Calibre, was supposed to be the best program for your reader evah! Instead, I got an obsessive, controlling, and manipulative program who wanted oversight over my every reading need. Not cool, Calibre, not cool.

I kind of wish there were a way to just go to a bookstore and wave my 505 in front of the book I wanted and voilĂ ! It will be on it. That may take out some of the ‘convenience’ of it though. I don’t know. If I were smart enough to solve these problems I’d be a whole lot richer than I am.

The thing is... when I’m not trying to put books on it, buy ebooks, or deal with my 505 in relation to another piece of hardware – it’s the most amazing gadget I’ve ever had the pleasure to use. It’s so convenient and I cannot tell you how great it is to be able to change books in the middle of a workday because the first lost my attention. The reader just lives in my purse, holding all the wonders of the world.

If all of the problems I have with the actual ownership of the reader were overcome (starting with the price, good god!) I would gladly purchase three of these. I’d be the coolest nerd in the archaeology department, not a difficult title to hold actually. As it is, I shall yearn for the days I can justify owning one as it is still definitely a luxury good and my student loans think I’m an idiot for even considering shelling out the moolah for something I don’t really need.

But man oh man, I want.

Update 29 Sept 2009: As I am not taking out a loan for my MSc (as I'm not doing my MSc), I went ahead and bought Johnny. Save 20k, spend a hundred bucks. not a bad trade. Insert picture of us running through fields of wildflowers here.

04 September 2009

Your Mom...

So it's one o'clock in the morning and I've been sucked into TV Tropes since about 8.30 last night (not last last night, five hours ago). I'm trying to extricate myself, I really am. I only have five TV tropes tabs open. I've got another hour, tops.

Anyway, I'm on the Older Than They Think page and came across this gem.

  • The Other Wiki goes into the usual humorously serious detail on how "Your Mom" jokes are older than people think; used, for example, by Shakespeare.
    • It probably wasn't long after the creation of language that every possible way to insult someone was explored in depth.
      • That's about the same time that your mom was explored in depth.
OMG, I laughed so hard at that. Honest, it's things like that which make the whole time-sucking vortex worth it.

Oh, and if you don't know enough about the internet to know to avoid virtually every one of those links, you are on your own. See you next April.