William Shatner Performs Palin’s ‘Farewell’

Posted in Politics, Random on July 31st, 2009 by Tom

Not a whole lot to say about this, except it’s awesome, and you should watch it.

I feel like this is a good note upon which to end the most prolific month in blogging Schrödinger’s Blog has ever seen! Thanks for reading. I will do my utmost to keep it up!

[NOTE: I did check NBC’s website for the official upload of this clip, but couldn’t track it down! EDIT: After NBC sniped the YouTube video, I was able to track down the official one. Which does look better, to their credit.]

[DOUBLE NOTE: (9.10.10) I keep losing this video because NBC is kinda fickle on what videos can stay up, below is a clip of the Tonight Show on MSNBC, introed by Howard Dean, which I think makes up for the slight degradation in video quality!]

Governor Considering Stay of Space Station Execution

Posted in Technology on July 30th, 2009 by Tom

issWhen I read recently that they were decommissioning the ISS around 2015, I was really perplexed. We’ve been building it since something like 1998. So it takes us 11 years to complete and you’re going to get scarcely four years out of it? And even that time won’t be terrifically useful, because upon completion, the shuttle goes out of commission, making it a little more difficult to get people up there. Compound that with the fact that the follow-up ship won’t fly until 2014, and that’s best case scenario…

It just kindof sounds like a mess.

Luckily, Sally Ride thinks we should hang on to it for a little while longer. Which I’m down for. It’s a little weird to look around at the financial crisis, there all being no money anywhere, and to think that in the next few years we’ll be setting the stage to head back to the moon, and then even someday Mars! I’ve heard a few people get a little uppity and say something to the effect of, “We shouldn’t be wasting all that money on stupid ol’ space when regular Earth People could use it better.”

::sigh::
This world, how it taxes me so. The easy retort to that is to ask them if they know how many people are employed by Lockeed Martin, MacDonald Douglas, and Boeing, combined. A hefty chunk of each of those companies is devoted to space contracts. Those people all just lost their jobs because aerospace is a bit of a niche market, especially if your job is to build a spaceship. NASA employs around 300,000 people, and contracts out about 18,000 additional people in industry, which is a good chunk of people. They have an operating budget this year of 17 billion, which might sound like a lot, but lets recall that the War in Iraq costs ballpark 150 billion a year.

I read an article that said NASA costs the American household about 150$ per year. The author went on to ask if that would pass if put to a vote, and felt it wouldn’t. I saw that number and thought it was a steal! I guess it just depends on how you look at it. For example, friend of mine used to ask the question, “NASA, what have you done for me lately?” I was in the JFK Memorial Museum/Library a few weeks ago, and I found the answer to that on a small plaque. It read as follows:

“The following innovations, products, and inventions are just a few of the by-products or spin-offs of the space program:

  • GPS Navigation Systems
  • Kidney Dialysis
  • Satellite TV
  • Interactive Computer Training
  • Virtual Reality Technology
  • Cordless Power Tools
  • Bar Coding
  • Medical Imaging
  • Invisible Dental Braces

So, if you were ever wondering, the estate of John Fitzgerald Kennedy asserts that you owe all of the above to the United States’ space program. No one thing on the list is indispensable, but a handful have saved a good many lives, and the rest have made our lives considerably easier.

It’s exciting to me then that we’re gonna keep the space station up there a while yet. Or at least we’re thinking about it. I know not everybody feels the same way about it as I do, and I can respect that. But we spend a lot of money on a bunch of stupid crap in this nation, and when those people start to bitch about an agency that has some of the most global and altrusitic goals of any in America, I guess I get peeved.

Anyways, rant over.
Yay space station!

Ghosts of Blogs Past

Posted in Maintenance on July 30th, 2009 by Tom

In the continuing effort to get the blog cleaned up and looking more presentable, as well as with the advent of the use of tags to offer a different organizational scheme for the music-blog component I’m trying to break in right now, I noticed and error.

The title of the page which listed all posts with a (tag) was all garbled:
“::Schrödinger’s Blog:: >> (tag)Category Archive for (tag) Archive”
Where (tag) was the name of the tag; we’re using it for the artist’s name. I’ve never had issues with our title code before, and I’ve been putting off fixing it since we started using them just a little over a week ago. Tonight I bit the bullet and began to try and decipher why this thing was acting so stupid. What our title code looked like was this:

<?php bloginfo('name'); ?>

<?php wp_title( );
if (function_exists('is_tag') and is_tag()) { ?>Category Archive for <?php echo $tag; }
if (is_archive()) { ?> Archive<?php } elseif (is_search()) { ?> Search for <?php echo $s; }
if ( !(is_404()) and (is_search()) or (is_single()) or (is_page()) or (function_exists('is_tag') and is_tag()) or (is_archive()) ) { ?> <?php } ?>

<?php bloginfo('description'); ?>

The big ugly thing in the middle is the important part. The long story shortened is that I found out that ‘function_exists(‘ ‘)’ actually calls for a plugin. In my case, it was calling for a plugin called ‘is_tag’. Um, OK? Kinda weird given I’ve never heard of that thing, much less installed it; why would I call it in the code?

Well, turns out that the tutorial I used to build my theme, just over two years ago during the Great and Final GreyMatter Crash, just had you arbitrarily insert that chunk of code. Which is fair, given that I’d have no idea how to write code like that just jumping into WordPress cold… but why the random plugin? I looked it up: it makes sense, given the function, but the tutorial never prompts you to download it…

Anyways. That’s fixed! Turns out just blasting that first ‘if’ argument fixes the whole thing! So, check off the list. I also rigged the year to automatically roll over down in the faux copyright, so no more of that awkward January-February time when I forget to update it, and everyone just kinda bites their lips and goes “Um, Tom, I don’t know how to tell you this…”

You might have also noticed that I’m working to slip in direct links to all of the posted mp3s. They look kinda like this: [ mp3 ♫ ], except the actual one is a link. I left the embedded player in because I feel that it is classy as hell, coordinating with our color scheme and whatnot (which took time to do, by the way). But those direct links are needed if we’re ever gonna get aggregated on Hype, so there they are. Also I guess you could download the file if you wanted, but I can’t really support that from a legal standpoint, blah blah blah.
(If the Unicode music note doesn’t show up for anyone, let me know. It shouldn’t be like a weird proprietary thing, but if it comes up as nonsense I want somebody to tell me.)

Still on the list:
New Banners – [when I get home]
Comment Form – [has always sucked and now has these strange little blank avatars since I don’t even know when. I’m just gonna get rid of them.]

Catching Up On the Editors

Posted in Music on July 29th, 2009 by Tom

editorsBesides sampling a bunch of tracks of the inter-web this summer, I also make an effort to go deeper into some of my favorite artist’s catalogs. It’s always great when I can get on board only one or two records behind, and get ‘caught up’. I call this ‘backlogging’ for whatever reason. One such record I picked up to accomplish that was The Back Room by The Editors. Now, if you’ve heard my radio program (which is more or less current, FINALLY), you know that I started to get into a major Editors phase last semester.

Me and that band are my patented Pandora Success story. I heard ‘Smokers Outside a Hospital Door‘ on my station one day, and I clicked the thumbs up. A few weeks later, it popped up again, and I liked enough to *cough*stealtherecordfromtheinternet*cough* listen to the entire album. I was pretty taken with it, and it became a staple of my Spring roster. I felt stupid for having overlooked it last near, thus earning it the title “Best Missed Album from 2008”, with Fleet Foxes also ranking highly up there.


[ mp3 ♫ ]

So I listened the pants off of it, and really enjoyed it. The Joy Division-esque veil of dark and brooding is probably one of my favorite musical gimmicks (see: Interpol, and the National on most days), and the Editors have that in spades. Sure, maybe it’s a little derivative, but Joy Division didn’t exactly churn out a very hefty library, and so I don’t mind somebody else trying to pick up the torch.

That being the history of me and this group, lets talk for a second about The Back Room. Honestly? I had a bit of a hard time warming up to it. There is one song I really liked, even from the beginning, ‘All Sparks‘, and a few others (‘Blood‘, ‘Fingers In The Factories’) that I was warm to, but it took some time to come out and say “I really like this record!” In the few short days we’ve spent together, we’ve made good strides…

backroom


[mp3 ♫ ]


[ mp3 ♫ ]

Which I guess brings up an important point: I hate basically everything the first time I listen to it. Sometimes there’s a song that’ll just grab you on the radio (‘When You Were Young’, ‘Starlight’, ‘Amsterdam’ (Guster), and so on…) but besides that I take a good five listens to like something. I kid you not, I didn’t even start to like Transatlanticism until 10 listens and two months of time. I think is OK, you know? It’s like how you have to build a friendship; you don’t just meet a person and decide to be best mates until the end of the world. That kinda thing takes time.

Anyway. I still think their sophomore album, An End Has A Start is better than their debut, but either way you turn it, the Editors are worth looking into. To really send this home, I decided to throw in a fourth track, off of An End…, ‘Escape the Nest‘. Also, if you like what you hear, keep your eye out for their newest record that lands September 21 called In This Light & On This Evening. I’ll post samples of that when I have them myself, but until then, enjoy!


[ mp3 ♫ ]

[NOTE: Two things-
I’d just like to say I’m officially on the board: I like neither of these closers, so take that, Ian!
And do I post too many tracks? I feel like giving people options is nice, but I’m not sure.]

The Back Room – Editors
An End Has A Start – Editors

Featuring:

Reading List Update

Posted in Books, Life on July 28th, 2009 by Tom

Just a quick head’s up: this is where my reading stands!

Catch-22 [Heller] (Carryover from Spring Semester)
Mountains Beyond Mountains [Kidder]
Pride and Prejudice [Austen]
The Man Who Invented the Twentieth Century [Lomas]
Slaughterhouse Five [Vonnegut]
No Country for Old Men [McCarthy]
Fahrenheit 451 [Bradbury]
Cat’s Cradle [Vonnegut]
The Martian Chronicles [Bradbury]
The Sunset Limited [McCarthy]
The Last Question [Asimov]
The Road [McCarthy]
Breakfast of Champions [Vonnegut]
Neuromancer [Gibson]
Lolita [Nabokov]

I was so ambitious when I first cobbled together the list, but I don’t know if I’m going to make it though! I couldn’t find the Road when I wanted it, so I just started No Country, which proved to be surprisingly dense. My mom sent Martian Chronicles along when she brought me Fahrenheit 451; it’s a really cool collection of stories. It’s a bit hard to approach because there’s no clear, driving narrative, but it’s interesting to see a really “big” story (the colonization of the planet Mars) told in a little piecewise fashion, through vignettes. It’s kinda like the Twilight Zone (a lot, really), but it takes place not in a ‘universe of mind’, but also byond that plain old one of ‘sight and sound’. In truth, somewhere between the two is the best way to describe it.

I read The Sunset Limited in just under two days; it’s a short play with only two people in it. It was well written, and I enjoyed it, but the ending kinda throws you for a loop. I would also love to see it performed; you can almost feel the characters struggling to get off the pages and trying to be more real than a bound stack of pages will allow. I have this weird ambition to stage it, but I don’t know how I’d even manage that, but I think it could be fun.

When school starts it’s really going to burn me that I can’t read as much as I’d like to, but I guess that’s the way it is; at the very least, I’ll have the desire to fight it harder. Gotta get back to learning, though, I suppose.