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Showing posts from 2015

Plot Twist - The Hippies Didn't Actually Save Physics - Physicists Did.

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How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival by David Kaiser
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

In a word, ug.

Honestly, I was disappointed with the lack of physics. Aside from a solid explanation of the two slit experiment and Bell’s Theorem (which is used to assert quantum nonlocality), and the refutation of the no-cloning theorem there is very little here. This is not a book about physics, but a book about how the nature of philosophical questions about physics was preserved by the Fundamental Fysics Group (FFG), a group of disaffected from the mainstream physicists who tried their damnedest to use Bell’s Theorem as a basis for parapsychology, getting the CIA, DIA, and Erhard to foot the bill.

While I regard philosophical questions about physics to be of fundamental importance, but with all the book’s emphasis on Uri Geller’s “mental spoon bending” (were these people so easily duped?), EST seminars with LSD and naked coeds to attract physicists like Feynman…

Bob Dylan playing with the Grateful Dead

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Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again [6:03]
Tomorrow Is A Long Time [4:42]
Highway 61 Revisited [4:12]
It's All Over Now, Baby Blue [5:40]
Ballad Of A Thin Man [4:42] (cuts)

You can see most of the show in this video: Quality varies.

E Rutherford New Jersey, 7/12/87

Full Setlist:

Sunday, July 12, 1987
E Rutherford, New Jersey

Set One:

Hell In A Bucket [5:49]
West L.A. Fadeaway [6:46]
Greatest Story Ever Told (*) [4:04]
Loser [6:15]
Tons Of Steel [4:51]
Take A Step Back Tuning
Ramble On Rose [6:19]
When I Paint My Masterpiece [4:33]
When Push Comes To Shove [4:34]
The Promised Land [3:53] > Bertha [6:45]

Set Two:

Morning Dew [9:21]
Playing In The Band [9:09] > Drums [7:31] > Space [5:01] > The Other One [4:36] > Stella Blue [7:34] > Throwing Stones [9:12] > Not Fade Away [6:35]

Set Three:

Slow Train [4:01]
Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again [6:03]
Tomorrow Is A Long Time [4:42]
Highway 61 Revisited [4:12]
It's All Over No…

Rosemary's Baby - Review after my Happy Halloween reread

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Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ira Levin specializes in disturbing tales of enormous vision. As such, Rosemary’s Baby is a quintessential tale of terror, standing beside giants like Frankenstein and Dracula, because it creates a new, oft-imitated horror form. The book is essentially a psychological conflict set in New York CIty, the capital of the modern sophisticated world, where a young newlywed couple, composed of an ambitious self-centered actor and his made-in-Omaha housewife, are drawn into a world of Satanists for the express purpose of forging (with Rosemary’s reluctant assistance) Satan Incarnate. The book is set in 1966, “Year One” of the new era, a year of tremendous conflict and change, and this plays a role in the book’s setting and also figures in the plot:[part of Rosemary’s reaction is in response to the cover of Time that says “Is God Dead?” (hide spoiler)]



I’ve read it three times now and I’ve reacted differently each time. The first time I …

Thomas Tryon - Harvest Home

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Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Let’s take a successful, but troubled couple (Ned & Beth Constantine) with a daughter (Kate) who has emotional issues that manifest in physical illness out of the city and put them in the country where all their problems will be solved. Give them a rainbow to point the way. Now, let’s see what happens.

Is there a more frightening horror archetype than the fertility cult? Belief in Earth Mother, representing both the bounty of the earth and motherhood, is thousands of years old. We see figures that some archeologists believe represent mother goddesses dating back to Paleolithic times. The Venus of Dolni Věstonice (Brno, Czech Republic) dates from 29000 BCE to 25000 BCE. In Neolithic time both in Europe and the New World, there are mother goddess symbols associated with fertility. Later there are Isis & Hathor of the Egyptians and Demeter for the Greeks. There is Venus for the Romans, and Mary who was worshiped as a mother god…

My Review of Knebel's Seven Days in May (a reread after 35 years)

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Seven Days In May by Fletcher Knebel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the third time I’ve read Fletcher Knebel’s novel about a beleaguered president whose job is threatened by a charismatic military man. Before I go into my new impressions I will give a short summary of the political situation of 1961-2, when the book was written, coinciding incidentally with my first year alive. President Eisenhower (a two-term president who was a famous military commander in World War II) left the Oval Office in Jan 1961 after President Kennedy’s election in November of 1960. Kennedy was also a WWII war hero for leading his crew to safety after his torpedo boat, PT-109, was cut in half by a Japanese destroyer. Kennedy was matched against Nikolai Kruschev, a formidable player in the Cold War. 1961 saw American embarassment in the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, a summit in Vienna, and the construction of the Berlin Wall. The novel was set in the 1970s (1973 I believe) in an alternate America where a war…

Moving Interview with Trey Anastasio - New Yorker

Alec Wilkinson interviews Trey Anastasio:

(1) Conversation about songwriting, influences, playing with the Dead, summer tour, parenthood, much more.
(2) Performances of "Blaze On", "The Line", "Joy", "Cartwheels", "Farmhouse", "Backwards Down the Number Line", "Sample in a Jar"


Listen to show here!



I loved the story of counting down "Althea".

Bold is the Thirst of a Butterfly

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The Year the HEAT is On.

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#HeatNATION


Flowing Water on Mars

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NASA announced this news today, but the title is not quite right. It's evidence of flowing water on Mars. It's briny so it doesn't evaporate. Briny makes me think of the presence of microbes, so I think the next big Martian news may make us all reach for David Bowie:



That's Mike Garson on the keys. :-)

Presence of water below the surface and frozen at the caps has been known for quite some time.

This is the Google doodle for today.

Luna Park

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In one of my stories, this old amusement park is visited:




Sept 27 2015 Lunar Eclipse

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Photo by NASA

Project Humor

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An Imgur Exploit.

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An opportunistic exploit of images by injecting java script during an upload stores malicious script on the Imgur server that is downloaded to the computers of unwitting users. If you love pokemon foot porn, clear your cache. Want to know more?

Complete History of the NBA - Find Your Team's

Roller Coaster Patents

Live Music Archive and other sites.

My review of The Martian

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The Martian by Andy Weir
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yeah, this was a great romp. Good story, well told, and left me dreaming of space travel.

It's really rare to find a good science-fiction book that relies on good science, but it sure is a pleasure when it happens, and it's done right. The Martian is really special in this regard, but that alone wasn't what made it work so well for me. I also really enjoyed Watney and the others on the crew. Yeah, I agree that we didn't get to see everyone fleshed out as much as I'd like, but the concentration of the book is on the individual vs (lack of) nature conflict, not issues of individual vs government bureaucracy or individual vs individual (though those both came into play at some point).

It's always a bit tricky to talk about books without giving spoilers, and, of course, there is a movie with Matt Damon that is out October 1, so everyone will know the plot anyhow, but there is enough to say about style, humor, and the…

The Deed of Paksennarion - my review on Goodreads

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Such a good book. One that I fought with, but came out loving it even more because of the challenge. Do you want to see how to do polytheistic cultures?

The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s pretty hard to talk about a book of over 1000 pages that sprawls across a continent and cataclysmic heroic events without spoilers, but that’s my goal here. Before I start, I want to say that I fought with this book for the longest time, but resistance was futile. I ended up in love with the characters and the world-building impressed me tremendously. Elizabeth Moon, your imagination is amazing. Your story will live in my mind, if I am lucky, until my last breath. Thank you for writing it.

I bought these 3 books on sale at Amazon. I read the first one in an 2 week period last year (that’s trudging for me) and bitched the entire time. My first impressions were that Paks is some perfect, order-following recruit that gains favor by brown-nosing relentlessly. Just call…

Animal Collective Live At 9:30 Club Released

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It sounds great. Here's the track listing:

Live at 9:30

1. Amanita 
2. Did You See the Words 
3. Honeycomb 
4. My Girls 
5. Moonjock 
6. New Town Burnout 
7. I Think I Can 
8. Pulleys 
9. What Would I Want? Sky 
10. Peacebone 
11. Monkey Riches 
12. Brothersport 
13. The Purple Bottle 


Don't Let Life Get You Down - You Aren't Very Important Anyhow

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The Galaxy Song

I am a Goodreads Author now.

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Here is a link to my Goodreads author page:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14247287.Michael_Gouker


The best part is the photo I use so I'll reprint it here:





This was a gift from Roger Misteli and Sandra Just! :-) That's a real picture of me eating wasabi.


Pato Stays!

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Alexandre Pato vai ficar no São Paulo FC pelo menos até Dezembro 31.

Pato stays in SP! :-)

GMT Project 500 Mentioned on 538.Com

This is about Kickstarter crowdfunding of board games:

http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/crowdfunding-is-driving-a-196-million-board-game-renaissance/

Project 500 is a GMT Games program that gets pledges for games and then publishes:

http://www.gmtgames.com/s-2-p500.aspx


Higgs Particle Discussion

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Brian Greene and Lawrence Krauss discuss the Higgs Particle and the Higgs Field.


The original video was Dec 13, 2012.

The Higgs Field gives all particles mass. Particles with more mass have more interaction with the Higgs Particle.

Siberian Totem - 12000 YEARS OLD

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My Review of "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon"

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The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Nice.

So, I avoided reading this for years because I thought it would be another one of the "Can you survive the _____?" books like Misery and Gerald's Game. Oh, and I'm also not a Red Sox fan. ;-)

It seems to be a recurring theme for Stephen King to put his characters into abominable situations, let them adjust, make it worse again (as they get hungry, thirsty, whatever), let them adjust, give them a small amount of hope, tear it away, et cetera. As I feared, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is along the same lines, but any misgivings about repetition faded because the author brings a lot more to the table.

First, Tricia is a wonderful character, likable in every way and SO realistic. She makes adjustments for everything wrong in her life and this flexibility pays off for her when the world gets tight and mean. I love how she channels the sayings of her mother and father and we learn about them through …

My Review of "The Colorado Kid"

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Usually I love Stephen King books but this fell flat for me.

The Colorado Kid by Stephen King
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Well, I see. Yes, mystery is important, but let's talk about Sudoku. Imagine a game of Sudoku that gets to the last few moves, just when you have to make the deepest analysis - essentially when you win or lose the game because of your skill - and then, well, you put the puzzle away and keep it in your pocket. You think about it off and on but you don't really make progress. Then you spend an entire afternoon telling someone about the game that you couldn't win. And then nothing. Instead, you say, "Sudoku is important."

I did like the characters. I like the setting - really familiar turf.

That's about it.



View all my reviews

Here is ANIMAL COLLECTIVE radio!

Animal Collective Radio

http://radio.myanimalhome.net/

Well?


MagnaBall Tweezer-Caspian

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I hope this link isn't removed, but here's the high point (for me at any rate) of MagnaBall, Phish's 10th festival that just ended at Watkin's Glen.



Prince Caspian has been a jam vehicle before, but this time is historic. What a show!


What you'll get if you send $1 to Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption

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http://imgur.com/a/YcQsb



Inside:









Bibracte

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Well, my friend Larry crushed my Helvetii in Bibracte, but it was certainly a lot of fun.

Don't know Bibracte? Well...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Bibracte

In our game my Helvetii never got it going, and the legions stacked up. Consequently, the battle was over almost before it started. The Boii and Tulingi never even showed up. Next up The Rhein.

I bet you wonder what Bibracte looks like today. Pleasant countryside, right?




The helm from an unlucky Roman.


The actual battle I think the Romans did a little worse.




We are going to Alesia, but we're going to take the long way.


I found this version of Chalk Dust Torture (from the IT Festival of 2003). With so many great CDTs in Phish 3.0, it's a good idea to sometimes revisit where this song already went:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=966&v=xG6magkY-KE

Highly recommended.

São Paulo is classified in the Quarter Finals of the Copa do Brasil

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http://www.gazetaesportiva.net/copa-do-brasil/sao-paulo-reage-vence-o-ceara-e-avanca-na-copa-do-brasil/

Rogério Cení, our 41-year-old keeper, made a goal (penalty) and closed our goal against Ceará! Bigger challenges are ahead though.


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It looks like I get to play the Barbarians against the Romans:

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/7843/caesar-conquest-gaul

Bibracte - 58 BC (vs the Helvetians)
The Rhein - 58 BC (vs Ariovistus's Germanic tribes)

Bibracte was Caesar's first major battle at the age of 42.

Here are some pictures:



Dwyane Wade Posted This on Instagram. READY!!!

This is quickly becoming real as I get feedback from beta readers on Goodreads. It's weird that the third novel I start writing is the first one complete, but the others are much bigger in scope. Anyway, it still might change, but this is what it is now.

Here is the blurb of my new novel:

Bartholomew Barrington, a troubled young man of the Gilded Age, is beset with difficulties of every kind, amplified by his angst of being part of the leisure class that he despises. His dysfunctional family is rocked by the death of their father and its perilous aftermath. Bartholomew's struggle is to grow in this turmoil of loss and danger, surrounded by an environment of greed and despair, murder and lust, but first he must survive.
Protagonist: Bartholomew Barrington - an economist and a card-shark of dubious morality. Antagonist: Nona “Sapphie” Barrington - heiress and trendsetting star of Ziegfeld Follies, a woman who is used to getting her own way. Antagonist: Sterling Barrington - The new …

My Review of "Storm Front: Dresden Files #1"

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Storm Front by Jim Butcher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Delicious, but like a snack with too much salt rather than the healthy hearty meals to which my reading self is accustomed. Jim Butcher has built a picturesque world, but Storm Front is only going to give us tastes of what's inside. Still, I'm very intrigued and the series is huge, so I'm definitely enthusiastic about what will come. This review deals just with Storm Front though.

I gave 3 stars, but it's actually a little closer to 3.5, in that I really did enjoy the way the plot came together. I cannot give 4 because I wanted *more* depth, but maybe that doesn't really come with the territory. I also did not feel much affinity for any character (not even Lt Murphy who was the best described outside of Dresden, who basically is no one anyone would want to meet, including Dresden himself).

On the other hand, I did think Dresden was interesting, and I'm afraid if I read more of the series that I might end up likin…

My Review of "Joy Land"

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Joyland by Stephen King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3 stars is about right. I definitely enjoyed the story. There were interesting characters and a terse tight plot. I actually guessed the culprit, but not through the clues, but the psychological trail. All those women were charmed. When Jonesy suspects Eddie but realizes it was a bad choice, I started asking myself if there was someone that fit the bill better and the answer leapt out. The actions afterward solidified my opinion so I wasn't too surprised.

A bit of a deux ex machina to save him, but if you except psychic revelations - as you are asked to from the beginning - being valid, you won't have a problem with the plot.

Not a bad story at all but definitely it was not a horror story, despite the actions of spirits from beyond, so if that's what you are looking for, choose one of his other books. On the other hand, this is a good example of how well King's talents work in other genres. His stories are almost always imp…

My Review of "Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon

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Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Overall a 3 star rating (I liked it) is correct.

Diana Gabaldon has a very expressive voice, especially when describing surroundings. There were times when I could read a paragraph close my eyes and BE inside this world she painted. I had a bumpy ride through the plot, which had moments of good effect and others where it really dragged on. I understand that she tries to be realistic, but sometimes this became a triptych about Claire, who often made curious choices.

A lot of reviews point to the violence and even rape-culture-advocacy in this novel. Frankly, I think that's overstated. The world described (18th century Scotland) was a very violent place and women were often second-class citizens. She makes this point very effectively and it does chafe at 21st century sensitivities, but isn't that the nature of historical fiction, to immerse yourself in those times?

Actually what bothered me more was the obsession with the loving r…
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Man, I was sick when I took this picture. Fever of 102º Fahrenheit. So deranged, right?

My Review of "Perdido Street Station"

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Perdido Street Station by China Miéville
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved so many aspects of this story. The world-building - a broken-down, dismal place where industry and magic work together and compete with each other - astonished me. This book drips theme. Some readers may find this time spent on the vivid description disconcerting, but not a moment was wasted in my opinion. I loved the constructs, the remades, and the alien aspects of the species.

The characters really took time to grow on me. I instinctively did not like Isaac and Lin repelled me, even though her uniqueness won me over first. Yagharek, I immediately decided was a victim of unfair judgment. Damn those Garuda! How could they do that to him? Clearly with all his bravery in the struggle, he lived up to my expectations. ;-) Damn those Garuda!

I enjoyed Derkhan most of the others, along with that nice fellow who gave Lin that job when she needed a diversion.

I'm not going to comment on the plot, except to say it NEVER…

My Review of "At Home" by Bill Bryson

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At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found this book to be very illuminating. It is well-researched, but it reads more like a conversation than a history treatise. Bryson introduces characters who recur in the story, but in different roles. The end result is a fullness of understanding that is beyond the sum of the facts. In short, you are immersed in their history through their lives.

One thought I had towards the end - after the discussion of how children are treated - is how people will look on us in the future. Certainly our society will seem strange to them too, right? I actually spent the last chapter with this in my mind and it may have taken away from the discussion of the landed gentry's troubles, along with the plight of the good parson.

It was a very enjoyable book. I do enjoy his style and it's inevitable that it suffers a comparison to "A Short History of Nearly Everything", which is imnsho, one of the best book…

My Review of "Kushiel's Dart"

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Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ok, first let's look at the positives. There is a good story with top-notch political intrigue. The main character is touched by Kushiel and, thus, has an interesting method of acquiring important information. First she is used by her master to gain secrets but he also teaches her to do critical thinking, empowering her to make great choices on her own. I liked all of this and especially the rich world where it takes place. The characters were good (not great though - sometimes they were a bit too cliché) and the plot moved well until about the middle of the book (60% mark).

Then things just worked out too well. I'm not a huge fan of perfect endings and I know there was bravery, risk taking, death, and sacrifice, but still...

Anyway, I enjoyed it, but I wanted a little more.


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I loved it but...   ;-)

My Review of "The Conjure Book" by A A Attanasio

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The Conjure Book by A.A. Attanasio
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was quite pleasurable. I'm not really sure why I chose to read it with several hundred books on my to read list, but about a month ago I started it and promptly forgot. Today I found it again in the pile and a few hours later I'm sad it finished so quickly.

What's to like:

1. Wicca theme. It is drenched in the mood of the supernatural.
2. The faeries and gnomes were fun.
3. BEST of all: the seductive hook of dragging Jane in deeper each time she makes a choice. She becomes responsible.
4. I enjoyed the cat familiar and the fox villain.
5. I actually enjoyed the philosophical idea of multiple existences of now.

What's not to like:

1. Jane at 13 seems pretty naïve. That actually may be believable given her sheltered background.
2. The solutions to the problems are too close to the presentation of the problem.
3. I would have liked a more tragic end. It came off a little too well for the protagonist.

I finish every book…

My Review of "Snow White and Rose Red: Curse of the Horseman" by Lily Fang

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This is a nice story, novella sized:

Snow White and Rose Red: The Curse of the Huntsman by Lilly Fang
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Very enjoyable retelling of a fairy tale that reeks of Faerie in the same way that Smith of Wooten Major or Stardust does. This is a less ambitious story, but the magic is there below the surface.

The main characters in the story are two maidens who are beset with a host of problems that young women face (courters, rivalry, envy, poverty), while simultaneously being hunted because of their link to magic. It's a beautiful story of self-discovery and growth as well.

I thought this was very refreshing and I'm looking forward to the sequel.


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