Monday, August 31, 2015

Higgs Particle Discussion

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

Sunday, August 30, 2015

My Review of "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon"

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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 her interpretations.

Second, King is so good at making everyday situations absolutely chilling. I think you really need to understand fear in order to write about it convincingly and not only does he do this here, but we also see it through Tricia who is only 10, but big for her age. It cannot be stressed enough, but to buy into a story like this, you need to be one with the characters. Man, he nails it here so well that it doesn't matter that the father and mother seem like cookie-cutter characters. Tricia's internal struggles compensate and we see that there is broken-down, beaten-up, world-weary humanity in the people around her and we can forgive the blithe interpretations because the complexity we are looking for doesn't even matter. By the end of the story Tricia is gazing into the souls of everyone and everything.

I'm not going to give away any of the ploy here, but there is a parallel obstacle as well and if it doesn't freeze your blood, then you have to stop doing the Surge anti-freeze shots.

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed the story and am going to rate it 4 stars (GG was 3 for me and Misery - scary! - was 4 or 5). I "loved". Yes indeedy.

I do wonder now if when Stephen King finishes one of these, does he point a finger to the sky?

My Review of "The Colorado Kid"

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

The Colorado KidThe 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.

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Saturday, August 29, 2015


Animal Collective Radio


MagnaBall Tweezer-Caspian

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!

Friday, August 28, 2015

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



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

Don't know Bibracte? Well...

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.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

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:

Highly recommended.

São Paulo is classified in the Quarter Finals of the 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.

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

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!!!

Ready for 2015-6!

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 Lord Barrington, a greedy sadistic man whose greatest pleasure in life is to see his younger brother suffer in pain and shame.

51500 words.
15 chapters and a short afterword.

Setting: America early 1900s

Elements: Historical fiction, mystery, thriller, horror, suspense

I recognize we all turn to books for different entertainment. My tastes are across a wide spectrum that I know that many do not share, so to protect those who do not want to read content that is offensive, I will describe possible issues in advance, so you can decide if you would like to read or not.

PG: Adult situations of violence but no gore nor mature language, however not YA. Includes psychological terror and characters of questionable morality.

Drugs: Alcohol and Laudanum are imbibed. 
Sex: Not very much and that which exists is mostly mind games, but there are some odd dreams that reveal character defects.
Violence: Some, but (again) very little gore.
Psychological Terror: Quite a lot really. I would be very pleased to be responsible for some nightmares.

I can provide PDF, EPUB, or MOBI.

Friday, August 21, 2015

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

Storm Front (The Dresden Files, #1)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 liking the guy, which may mean that I will start to suck socially too. I'm sure an amulet or something can be found to stop it from happening.

I am interested in the magic, but I have this feeling that a spell is there whenever Dresden needs it. He seems to not have any power and then all at once have enormous mana to fire off one spell after another. This didn't bother me when I read it but later on it came to mind. I hope the magic system is fleshed out in the other books.

As for the characters, I've already read a lot of criticism about their "tropish" nature and I'm not going to add more here. Again, their lack of depth and diversity hits harder after the story is done than when I was reading. I was completely hooked to the story and devoured the book in only a few hours.

All in all, this was a nice way to enjoy some time on the noir side. I'm looking forward to more.

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Sunday, August 16, 2015

My Review of "Joy Land"

JoylandJoyland 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 impressive and you end up caring about the characters.

Note: I don't care if some of the characterizations of the amusement park are inaccurate. It's fiction.

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I liked it.

A different story than I expected, but definitely interesting. The ending was pretty obvious. I wonder if that was intentional.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

My Review of "Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon

OutlanderOutlander 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 relationship between Jamie and Claire, which had its bumps too. I often felt I was intruding by reading as they frolicked from one moment of bliss to another. I am not easily shocked and I was never shocked here (it's 2015!), but sometimes I thought the characters deserved more privacy than what was doled out by the author. That's really what keeps me from giving it 4 stars. On the other hand, my first impression (let's say my first 10 impressions out of the 100) is that Ms. Gabaldon can write very steamy romance. My tolerance for it is probably not the same as her most dedicated readers however and that's my loss I suppose.

I'm not going to address the physics aspects of time travel, the inevitability of events, parallel universes, or any of that because Claire only lightly brushes on these. (I would have liked to go deeper her then every aspect of their bedroom conduct.)

I liked the vivid characters (especially Jamie's sister) and there were times when the plot warmed up quite nicely. When things stopped and things got comfortable for them, the miasma of love claimed the compass of the story's trajectory and I lost some momentum. Claire with the Wolves is better than Claire and Jamie getting it on in another haystack.

I want to end on a positive point. I was extremely gratified to find the level of competence and completeness in Ms. Gabaldon's research. I have no idea if it is perfect, but I could definitely see that a huge effort was made. I really enjoyed reading the descriptions of the highlands, the prison, the castles, and the monastery. When this talented author describes some of these places, it is quite chilling.

Anyway, thank you for a great read. I've bought the others in the series and will read them one day. :-)

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Monday, August 3, 2015

Man, I was sick when I took this picture. Fever of 102º Fahrenheit. So deranged, right?

Saturday, August 1, 2015

My Review of "Perdido Street Station"

Perdido Street Station (New Crobuzon, #1)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 felt forced. Everything was in its right place, all the time. The focus on the roles of the principal characters in the story was never lost and by the end of the story I nodded along thinking... yep, this feels right. I kind of wish someone could have repaid Motley for all his generosity.

I did think that the Weaver was a bit of a Deus Ex Machina element, but at the same time, he had enough negatives to keep the balance, so...

As for China Miéville's style, I found it very florid, lush even, with some exotic plants like oneiric &
kukris in the mix, which lend some color. Most often it reads too quickly and you want it to slow down. There are some sections, like when the weaver is introduced that are lovely and yet so chilling. I think that some of this book could be considered more horror than fantasy.

It is a big story and I took a long time to read it, because I was reading 4-5 other books at the same time. That's probably a mistake, but it's a habit. When the story gets its talons in me, I let go of the others, so it's first come first served. I think I finished this 3rd of that bunch (it's not really formal). One reason is that the book is longish. Not knowing the word count, I'd guess about 650 p is 240K words or more, so if you plan to read it in a skein, you better put some hardcore time together.

Anyway, this was a great effort, very enjoyable, and I'm glad I didn't listen to all the people that were so shocked by the gore (like the council construct's avatar). In this book, *that* is not terror. The terror is the overall air of repression which I'm hoping will be explored in the other two of the series.


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