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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Keith Palmer's LiveJournal:

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Sunday, October 4th, 2015
4:00 pm
2015: My Third Quarter in Anime
Three months ago, even as I made up my second "quarterly summary" of anime watched in what's for me a multifold "anniversary year," I did dwell a bit more on one continuing development. While I'd pretty much liked the shifting mix of older and recent shows I'd just seen, I'd also sat out altogether the modern game of watching that season's new series week-by-week streaming. A complex mix of feelings had gone into that, and while they might all have been plain irrational, I suppose I could wonder where straight lines might point.

Straight lines can also bend, though, and just like in last year's summer I did manage to pick back up on streaming. While I wound up seeing a few people complaining the season felt thin for them, starting from zero makes anything more a plus. I suppose it helped that some sequels to series I'd seen were showing up: that's good for avoiding "not getting grabbed by the initial summaries" and at least did a bit to hold down the fear of "starting to watch something the discussion of turns to condemnation." I even managed to avoid being completely discouraged from beginning some series at all by thoughts that, despite even sounding sort of interesting, they'd only be available for later purchase as take-it-or-leave-it "quasi-imports" twice the price or more of any seemingly comparable amount of video sold on this side of the Pacific. With all of that, though, I was still watching plenty of "older and recent" series, taking them at my own pace and perhaps freer to let my reactions be my own with the majority opinions already set and not discouraging, at least in some cases.
An odyssey again completed: Gundam SeedCollapse )
Rounding out the anniversary: Psycho-Pass and Mazinger ZCollapse )
Back to streaming: Knights of Sidonia, Gatchaman Crowds Insight, Wagnaria 3, and Classroom CrisisCollapse )
A progression of sorts: Princess Jellyfish, Genshiken Second Generation, and Outbreak CompanyCollapse )
One-shot experiences: Little Witch Academia 2, Shirobako OVAs, Robot Carnival, and Mighty AtomCollapse )
One more to finish things: SymphogearCollapse )

This entry was originally posted at http://krpalmer.dreamwidth.org/244246.html. Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
Friday, October 2nd, 2015
6:56 pm
Not Retired Yet
I was setting up to set down a pretty long and involved post when a simple anniversary I'd managed to miss for most of the day caught my attention at last. Today just happens to be the sixty-fifth anniversary of the first Peanuts comic strip appearing in newspapers. That might be simple enough to think about, but I did also happen to think it's been over fifteen years since the last comic strip appeared; lasting that long as a complete entity in a medium that in its simplest form might be supposed to be found afresh each day and then just sort of put aside until tomorrow seems sort of impressive.

There are times I've felt down or troubled and pulled forth particular moments of the strip as, indeed, a sort of "security blanket," but also times I've turned back to a collection or two while feeling good. If other people can keep finding the strip to do the same sort of thing, I hope it'll last for a while longer.

This entry was originally posted at http://krpalmer.dreamwidth.org/244047.html. Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
Monday, September 28th, 2015
6:24 pm
Completed Collection Thoughts: MST3K XXXIII
Each new collection of Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVDs from Shout! Factory makes up a new "general description" on the back of the box for the merriment within. With this latest collection, I was struck by its invitation to "Choose Your Own MST3K Adventure," although in thinking a bit about it I can wonder if someone about my age would be most likely to remember those books, which might even put them in about the same place as me for having the cultural references particularly in the early episodes fly over their heads.

In any case, just as the second paragraph's own invitation suggested, I "chose" each episode in turn, interested in seeing if I could hit on any new perspectives to go with my previous experiences. The extras in these collections do seem to help there. This time around there wasn't any "Mystery Science Theater"-focused content other than the "Mystery Science Theater Hour" segments for "Daddy-O" and "Earth vs. the Spider," but there was something about the making of each original movie.

"Daddy-O" was an early example of the show moving a bit beyond its apparent purview of "mystery science," but also anticipated several more episodes where the main character just happened to perform several songs along the way, and it does happen to include a supporting actor who appeared in other movies in the "MST3K canon." "Earth vs. the Spider" was more "conventional" that way, of course. It's possible I took particular interest in "Teen-age Crime Wave" among of the episodes in this set, if also aware it might not be everyone else's favourite. Its special features were interesting, if a bit wide-ranging. A little documentary about the movie's producer Sam Katzman told the tale of a man who moved up in the movie world, from the really low-end studios to the mid-range ones to one of the most notable ones (if at a time when it was starting to get a bit run down itself); while it mentioned "Teen-age Crime Wave" in a moment's passing, it had already surprised me by mentioning Katzman had also produced "The Corpse Vanishes," another episode in the MST3K canon (and a movie subsisting almost entirely on Bela Lugosi's name). There was a bit more detail about the movie itself in an interview with its top-billed actor Tommy Cook, who'd started as a child actor on radio (if one playing roles that would be more than a little politically incorrect these days). The disc menu for "Agent for H.A.R.M." got off the Satellite of Love bridge to point out the episode's "host segment" storyline of Mike being put on trial for having blown up several planets over part of the eighth season, which got me thinking a bit of how anyone else watching the episodes as they're released on DVD won't have seen them "in order" and remembering how this was the first of the "Sci-Fi Channel" episodes I saw; I at least wasn't dwelling too much on previous impressions of the "riffing" tilting meaner towards the end. There was also an interview with the "movie"/unsuccessful TV series pilot's star Peter Mark Richman, who mentioned how he'd added the white streak in his character's hair (a streak I'd got to wondering just might have prompted a joke or two about skunks; whether that was "too easy" for the "Best Brains" might just point out the difference between them and me).

This entry was originally posted at http://krpalmer.dreamwidth.org/243900.html. Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015
7:58 pm
(Almost) Instant reactions to the new "The Muppets"
It's easy enough to suppose the Muppets of "The Muppet Show" are instantly recognisable to "surely everyone," but it might also be all too easy to get to thinking that from the moment that show went into reruns, its characters and all the puppety creations affiliated with them were left trying to live up to a greatest hour. In making a joke of this just a few years ago, their first new movie in years seemed to attract a lot of positive attention; I went to see The Muppets myself at the movies and liked it. However, I didn't get around to seeing its followup, and when I heard of a new television show declared to be trying a new take on things I could get to wondering about it having to try and climb that decades-high hill once more.

Part of the leadup to the new show was making a big deal of Kermit and Miss Piggy having split up; I might have just wondered about not having dwelt too much on them being together in the first place, but that's no doubt an artifact of my peculiar lightly developed interest in "shipping." I decided to try out the new show all the same. Setting it behind the scenes of a "talk show" left me reflecting on how "The Muppet Show" might have been the last big example of "variety shows," but it seemed a good way to update the concept while still bringing in guest stars. More than that, though, I could definitely tell some of the jokes were ones "grown-ups" would get. There are times I wonder about the follow-up to something that appealed to kids only seeming intended to appeal to those who used to be those very kids, but there might be a bit of an escape hatch in this one case in comments overheard about the very first days of Jim Henson's puppets (who, among other things, were making commercials for coffee). If it's "interesting because it does feel just a little odd," though, with some of the oddness seeming to be an emphasis on the current inherent unhappiness of the main characters, that's another thing again. I would be interested in seeing more episodes of this new show and where they go, but I'm also aware it might wind up another brief experiment.

This entry was originally posted at http://krpalmer.dreamwidth.org/243471.html. Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
Saturday, September 19th, 2015
6:00 pm
Small World, Redux
The full dataset from New Horizon's Pluto encounter is data-linking back, and even at speeds reminiscent of dial-up modems from the 1980s, or the Galileo mission with its faulty main antenna, there are some interesting pictures coming in. Some of the first ones I saw in the new set looked to have quite a few craters in them at last, even if still juxtaposed against the smoother and fresher plains of ices more exotic and cryogenic than water that first caught my eyes. One that showed up just a little later, though, was more purely "dramatic," and after a little while I started trying to articulate why.

 photo pluto_horizon_zpsevrkoag1.jpg

The rugged mountains were one thing, even if I wonder if they might look as smooth closer up as the moon's meteor-blasted terrain turned out to be after all those years of artists not thinking things other than "atmosphere" could wear things down. More than that, though, it was the rounded horizon of a world where mountains can stand comparatively higher than our own that wound up putting things together. I found myself thinking of warnings that "the vertical scale is exaggerated," and of old-fashioned planet models in science fiction movies and the like. That got me remembering a picture from New Horizon's Jupiter flyby I had decided could be taken to look like Star Wars itself and turned into a journal icon. If the resemblance is non-specific this time around, that just might make it seem more "itself."

This entry was originally posted at http://krpalmer.dreamwidth.org/243438.html. Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
Tuesday, September 15th, 2015
5:32 pm
Getting Around to Ranma 1/2: A Bigger Dose
Ranma 1/2 was popular. That much seemed clear as I started picking up on anime. One odd added proof of its martial arts-cursed transformations-comedy action's popularity, though, seemed to be my university's anime club not showing it, as if the executive figured we'd all seen it already. For myself, though, short of the money to buy anime on videotape and slow to figure out just where in the city to rent it, I was stuck trying to piece together secondary sources. There was an uncommon amount of fanfiction about it in the archives, but starting with plain text and a wall of other peoples' assumptions was somehow a difficulty. Its manga did catch my eye at a time when I thought of manga as "poor man's anime," but even there I might have dwelled on how many volumes there were, and didn't commit. At some point, I seemed to just accept Ranma 1/2 as one of those things too big to get into, which might have wound up applying to all of Rumiko Takahashi's works.
More than one second chanceCollapse )

This entry was originally posted at http://krpalmer.dreamwidth.org/243111.html. Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
Wednesday, September 9th, 2015
7:58 pm
One Bit of Prescience
A few years ago, I found an article in a fifty-year-old issue of the arts, culture, and history magazine "Horizon" that intrigued and amused me with its thoughts about the then-hypothetical idea of "universal libraries" on that old stand-by of microfilm. In going back my collection, though, I happened on an editorial comment in the very next issue that seemed that much more up-to-date. In discussing an article by Gilbert Highet dwelling on the bottlenecks ancient texts had to pass through to reach the era of printing (along with the whole "decline and fall" business and ideological pruning, there were issues such as having to copy papyrus scrolls to parchment codices), it managed to make a suggestion of its own:
The quote at some lengthCollapse )

This entry was originally posted at http://krpalmer.dreamwidth.org/242700.html. Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
Saturday, September 5th, 2015
6:05 pm
MST3K in the Post-Video-Scarcity Age
No matter how offbeat or obscure something to be interested in may be, I'm sure there are people interested in it who would like to see other people interested in it too. (This journal itself could be a variety of attempts at that, of course.) Because of the unusual way I became interested in Mystery Science Theater 3000, experiencing varied takes on its spirit and characters through text-based "MSTings" before I even knew what they looked like, I perhaps take a bit of interest in discussions about "how to introduce new people to it." One recent discussion on Satellite News, though, was focused on "millennials," people who might have been too young to have seen the series the first time around. Beyond the obvious issue that the "this reminds me of that" references that might have seemed even more prominent in the "Joel years" might lose their charm with time, there did seem to be a certain "kids these days" undercurrent every so often. I'm now wondering if anyone happened to think of how, back when the show itself was new, there were a certain number of people annoyed it wasn't encouraging the proper appreciation of the old movies they were willing to take a "non-ironic" interest in.

There were some more nuanced comments, though, about how the series was an elaboration of the local "horror hosts" who would introduce old movies on TV, and about how nowadays people aren't stuck just waiting for whatever happens to come on should they be interested in watching TV instead of doing anything else (and there, too, other people might be insistent there are other things to do...) I might have been a bit too young for even that; my family got its first VCR three decades ago, and after that we weren't stuck waiting for particular movies to come on TV. However, I did get to wondering about how, while MSTings might have affected just what I thought of "fanfiction," "fan works" started off a way to vicariously experience things I couldn't tape and couldn't afford. That age too may have passed; I may miss MSTings, but maybe in moving more lightly from work to work there are compensations too.

This entry was originally posted at http://krpalmer.dreamwidth.org/242617.html. Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
Tuesday, September 1st, 2015
5:35 pm
Early Days Over Again
With this year being the sixty-fifth anniversary of Peanuts and a major motion picture set to premiere, a variety of books are showing up too. The volumes of The Complete Peanuts I have lined up on a bookshelf perhaps put me in a mood where I've supposed I don't need anything else, but the announcement some of the very first comic strip collections were to be reprinted got my attention anyway. I'd already known plenty of strips hadn't been reprinted in those books; for some reason, wondering what had been had me contemplating the past experiences of the first people who hadn't made scrapbooks but still sought something more permanent than one strip a day in their newspapers. I started looking up the ISBNs for the reprint books so I could order them should I decide to; then, I found the first two of them on a shelf at the local bookstore and accepted the opportunity and the decision somehow made for me by buying both. They weren't that expensive anyway.
PeanutsCollapse )
More PeanutsCollapse )

This entry was originally posted at http://krpalmer.dreamwidth.org/242348.html. Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
Thursday, August 27th, 2015
7:40 pm
An End and an Unexpected Beginning
Today I read through the last of the PDFs of Softalk magazine. They had been pretty interesting, a bit different from the other computer magazines of the early 1980s anyway with their "here's what famous and/or interesting people are doing with their Apple computers" human-interest articles (even if there were occasional letters complaining those pages could have been used for the usual articles about what to do with their computers themselves) mixed in with the regular columns on more technical topics. I wound up a bit readier to understand why the sudden disappearance of the magazine (and its associated titles) had seemed like "the end of the golden age" to those who'd been reading it.

In an unrelated development, I also went back to the Internet Archive's collection of Creative Computing magazines, and was surprised to see some new titles in that archive, even if they'd been there for a few months already. The first three years of that magazine hadn't been available there (although the volumes that had reprinted most of the articles from them can be found elsewhere), but now some of the earliest magazines were available, including the very first, now more than forty years old and a few months older than the cover story of Popular Electronics that introduced the Altair 8800, back when the slim, printed-on-newsprint issue was meant for educators using minicomputers in high school or thereabouts classrooms. I might yet do better moving on to something a bit more different for now, but what I saw was interesting to see anyway.

This entry was originally posted at http://krpalmer.dreamwidth.org/242098.html. Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
Saturday, August 22nd, 2015
8:34 pm
Extragalactic Jetsam
I was in a nearby dollar store when I saw a good number of trade paperbacks of Dark Horse Star Wars comics on the racks, the "original trilogy-focused" titles they were publishing after the sale of Lucasfilm when they seemed to be trying to get ahead of the obvious curve but before the comics license was brought more in-house. They did all look to be numbered higher than "volume ones," though, so I at least had a different way out than just continuing to dwell on how the comics and novels and video games kept being talked up by certain people as "making up for the movies," such that it became easy to not bother with any of them. I did get to reflecting a bit, however, on just how easily spinoffs can be altered and replaced. It would be a bit too easy to project this into the future, of course.

This entry was originally posted at http://krpalmer.dreamwidth.org/241818.html. Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
Monday, August 17th, 2015
8:27 pm
From the (Library) Bookshelf: Broadcast Hysteria
A book at the library about "Orson Welles's War of the Worlds and the Rise of Fake News" caught my attention, and I decided to sign out "Broadcast Hysteria". While I might think of the radio program as a "secondary" development from H.G. Wells's original novel, I've heard the stories about the later work too, including watching a television documentary about it just a few years ago. It turned out the book's author A. Brad Schwartz had worked on that documentary as well, turning up letters people had written to Welles and the FCC right after the radio program to get a new perspective on the old tales of "mass panic" and the more recent suggestions those tales were in fact "tall."

Drawing on the contemporary records, the book squarely addresses the newspaper reports of panic (and the suggestions the whole problem had been people "changing stations"), but humanizes the people who were frightened from the object lessons they might have been made. In tracking beyond that to the later career of Orson Welles (also touching on in passing the conventional wisdom that the only thing that got in the way of Citizen Kane was the unwarranted hostility of William Randolph Hearst) and then the contemporary media landscape, I suppose the book just might invite a few loaded comments from some about it "overstepping itself." It got me thinking, though, and one thing it brought to mind was something it didn't touch on itself.

In describing the broadcast itself and the reactions recorded, the book suggested the people who panicked the most (if to "flee" only in rare cases) weren't thinking so much of "the Martians" as turning half-heard dialogue into more realistic contemporary threats. That had me thinking of how some of the first people to say the US Air Force was "covering up flying saucers," just as if to not believe "definitive proof" unidentified flying objects are alien spacecraft is hidden somewhere would be to face the possibility it doesn't exist, were thinking back to the newspaper reports of the the broadcast and concluding aliens were something people would uniquely "panic" about. Things shifted and twisted from there until the seemingly interesting idea of "life out there" was all but lost under accusations of the wickedness of authority, but I did get to wondering if they just might have been different had a subtler picture been known.

This entry was originally posted at http://krpalmer.dreamwidth.org/241453.html. Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
Friday, August 14th, 2015
6:33 pm
A Season-Specific Anniversary
Seeing it's been a specific number of years since a specific day in history and putting a few thoughts together about it has been one way for me to make up some content for this journal. This summer, though, when I wound up thinking it's now been twenty years since I "got on the Internet" I realised I don't have the exact day that happened recorded. The memories came back anyway. While it might have happened a decade after the period of "home computer history" I've dwelt on of late (when modems retrieved mere text little faster than someone could read it and you either dialled into a local BBS or a pricier and larger, yet still circumscribed, commercial service), it is something I hadn't missed big parts of at the time.
A process of discoveryCollapse )

This entry was originally posted at http://krpalmer.dreamwidth.org/241226.html. Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
Tuesday, August 11th, 2015
8:33 pm
From the Bookshelf: The Complete Peanuts 1995-1996
One thing I didn't mention when commenting on the previous volume of The Complete Peanuts was that with it, I already had "Peanuts in complete": a few years ago now, five paperback volumes collected "every strip per year" for the final years of the strip, and I wound up getting all of them. While their production values weren't quite as "dignified" as The Complete Peanuts, a thought that did come to me was that one of the final introductions in the three volumes then remaining might yet seem so dismissive of the last years of the strip as to feel unpleasant to me... That thought then returned when I heard the introduction to the latest volume would be provided by "Rifftrax MST3K". While I suppose it's interesting to see the "post-Mystery Science" project placed alongside the other figures who've provided previous introductions, and I at least remembered a MSTing of a "Peanuts fanfic" (among other things), the thought "I'm not interested in them taking cheap shots at current convenient targets I happen to like myself" that's kept me from taking chances on any of it popped up in a new context. I wound up reluctant to pre-order the book, instead waiting to see if it would show up in the local bookstore, where I could at least read its introduction first.

One of the volumes did turn up there. I already knew the introduction inside the book was "by Conor Lastowka and Sean Thomason," names not associated with the "Best Brains" of Mystery Science Theater; I supposed they had joined the Rifftrax writing staff. However, their comments were pleasant and entertaining enough, although they did make a big deal out of "selling the premise of Peanuts would be tough these days," which had me remembering how different and perhaps easily describable the strip had been in its first days. They also, however, brought up Snoopy's brother, the "ugly dog contest" winner Olaf, in a "he's big in Japan" kind of way, which was a bit more fun. The "riffed-on" comic strips also in the introduction, said to have been done by the more recognisable names of Rifftrax, were also quite acceptable, and with that (and the thought that both Charles M. Schulz and Mystery Science Theater were from Minnesota), it was on to the actual comic strips.
"Then a voice comes to me that says, "We can"t take your question now..We"re all out rollerblading..""Collapse )
"Aren"t you on the internest?"Collapse )

This entry was originally posted at http://krpalmer.dreamwidth.org/240996.html. Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
Friday, August 7th, 2015
6:01 pm
Two for the Price of One
Just when I was starting to wonder when the Deep Space Climate Observatory would get around to providing full-Earth pictures on the promised "regular" schedule after its first public debut, I ran into another striking one on the Astronomy Picture of the Day site.

 photo earth_and_moon_zpsrykue9e9.jpg

It's almost the same face of Earth as before (and again, I happened to notice there aren't any clouds over the Central Valley of California), but the "guest star" of the picture stands out, even if the far side of the moon isn't as photogenic as the one that's fixed our way. In thinking ahead from the specific to the pictures still to come, though, I did fixate for a moment on a bit of the first blurb I saw that said "about twice a year"; this, however, is just referring to how often the moon will get in the way (just as there isn't a solar eclipse every full moon).

This entry was originally posted at http://krpalmer.dreamwidth.org/240818.html. Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
Thursday, August 6th, 2015
4:43 pm
The Compromised Hero?
While I approve of a "Star Wars Prequel Appreciation Week," the "pick your favourite" nature of each day of it does more or less just get me thinking of how I always seem to steer clear of that, even if identifying something as "favourite" doesn't have to mean dismissing everything else as "not favourite." However, that doesn't quite mean I've been watching the choices of other people go by, devoid of my own thoughts. When people happen to say Obi-Wan is their "favourite character" with the end of Revenge of the Sith at least included in their discussion, I start wondering again if I'd rather interpret him as something other than "the hero who did what had to be done," someone in fact a bit more "compromised." I can then wonder if it might be accused of "fictional character assassination" to shape and share the thought that to show up when he did in the final confrontation between Anakin and Padme was on some level trying to provoke his old apprentice to do something terrible in front of him, so that he could burn out the last bit of doubt that the person he'd known was gone...

Not every appreciative interpretation of Obi-Wan has to be seen as suspecting everything else in the new movies, of course, so I do keep wondering if I'm "trying to fold in too much complexity." If it ties in with "questioning the authority" he's often seen as in the old movies, there I can both suppose he could be "questioned" from just that one trilogy and wind up asking in a bigger way at what point you stop "questioning authority," or at least acknowledge the answer to your question can be to be convinced by them after all. Perhaps it's more a matter of wanting to indulge in a "tragedy" with no genuine heroes left by the end, something I don't do that often with tragedies at all. There, I suppose, it's a matter of the "happy ending" already existing. It is something I think about, anyway.

This entry was originally posted at http://krpalmer.dreamwidth.org/240519.html. Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
Friday, July 31st, 2015
7:47 am
Manga Thoughts: Akira
At some point early in the 1990s, in a way now obscured by time, I became aware of an animated movie called Akira. It took about a decade for me to see that movie from Japan, and until now to read all of the manga it had sprung from. While I know I'm slower than some at getting around to certain much-mentioned works, this particular gap of time does stand out. A few things might have affected it, though.
History up to the momentCollapse )

This entry was originally posted at http://krpalmer.dreamwidth.org/240141.html. Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
Sunday, July 26th, 2015
9:16 am
The Flip-Book of History
I read the daily reruns of Peanuts online (a habit formed even before the volumes of The Complete Peanuts started being published and kept up to the point where now there's the interest of seeing how the strips have been coloured and there's some interest to be found in the comments), but my newspaper is still re-running For Better or For Worse. While in the last years of the actual comic strip things had shifted to a combination of sentiment and melodrama that seemed to trigger certain groups of people online in a quite unpleasant way, I can at least avoid thinking too much now of my own reactions to all of that in these current "good old days." It's easy enough to see the comic strip as more or less timeless; however, when I read the latest Sunday page (which my paper has always run on Saturdays) I experienced the electric shock of connection to a certain topic of recent history my personal interest in may push to odd levels.

The page had Michael and his friend Brian programming "this neat jumping man on the computer!"; after Michael has enthused to his mother Elly about how "It took us hours! Just look at the length of the printout!", Elly replies she can "do the same thing in minutes with two pieces of paper!" Understanding what sort of capabilities the home computers of the 1980s had, I also know there was an undercurrent of "but what actual good are they?" from people who made a big show of being pragmatic; I suppose it's interesting to see one more example of that even as I remember how around the middle of the decade the fad went a different kind of "soft", whose who'd embraced "systems exploration" and "cyber-utopianism" were left with a hangover, and things were left in a limbo I'm not quite as familiar with to be re-colonized in the next decade by elaborations of a rather more uniform "business standard."

If it's the contrast between "then" and "now" that makes this particular comics page stand out to me, I can suppose that nowadays you might well make two (or more) drawings on paper, scan them into a computer, and enhance the drawings to make a simple animation that way; I can then wonder about that being much more a matter of "using programs someone else has written and sold" than "working on a low level," except that I can turn around and wonder if even "assembly language" might then be taken to a still lower level of first principles, such that there is something to "accepting and building on the work of others." Having familiarized myself with the Apple II in particular of late, I am inclined to think it wouldn't be that hard to create a "flip-book" even in Applesoft BASIC by using the computer's two "graphics pages"; I then wondered if the "computer" in the Sunday page could be taken to be an Apple II, and how easily the same sort of thing could be done with any other home computer, whether the Commodore 64 with its "superior hardware" much less accessible to a casual programmer or my own family's Radio Shack Color Computer, which in its very first incarnation might also look like the "computer" drawn. However, all of that doesn't quite distract me from thinking a bit of how the comics page could be interpreted to get indignant about Elly "being condescending" to kids "who'll never grow up to be successful programmers now," which I'm afraid brings me back to one particular starting point.

This entry was originally posted at http://krpalmer.dreamwidth.org/240075.html. Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
Tuesday, July 21st, 2015
8:19 pm
Meanwhile, Back Home...
While continuing to look for new pictures of Pluto to be radioed back to Earth, I also happened to see that the solar monitoring satellite I recorded the launch of a few months ago has sent its first full-disc picture of Earth back. The blue of the Bahamas banks caught my attention first; I then went looking for my own neighbourhood to see there were clouds over the northwestern Great Lakes but things were clearer over the southeastern ones. It was an attractive picture in total, one that has me thinking about other hemispheres hopefully to come. I can suppose, though, that remembering the "environmental outreach" aspect of it I did pick up on how there were no clouds over California's Central Valley, and also remembered the articles I've been reading about the drought there.

 photo earth-2015-07-06_zpsoanpa0d0.jpg

This entry was originally posted at http://krpalmer.dreamwidth.org/239630.html. Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
Thursday, July 16th, 2015
8:38 pm
It's A Small World After All
As the days counted down to New Horizon's closest encounter with Pluto I was making regular checks of the mission's official site, but I suppose I was also worrying about how nothing can be taken for granted when it comes to outer space. If I wasn't thinking that before the "safe mode" incident at about ten days to go, first hearing about that little interruption from a weblog post with a possibly panicking title did impress it into my mind. Even when more approach pictures started appearing again and, with hardly any days left, Pluto crossed the threshold of "Mars on the eve of Mariner," I was still wondering about the possibility of each new picture being the best we'd get. While "one space pebble in the wrong place" did come to mind, so did "equipment malfunction" or just "some other subtle bug in a complex system," kindling uncertain thoughts that even if the probe did manage to turn back to Earth after its closest encounter, it just might have lost track of where everything was and wound up taking pictures of empty space...

On the evening after closest encounter, I tuned in to the official NASA streaming video and saw mission control picking up the carrier just as the hosts cut to them; the positive telemetry followed after not too much of a wait. With that small reassurance, even as I held to my resolve to wait for the first encounter pictures to be radioed back, the very last picture sent back before encounter was starting to impress itself on my mind.

 photo pluto_500_zpsyc5gjt2l.jpg

Even more than the "heart" people had been picking up on just days before, something as small as the picture being in colour might have done it for me. With "orange" modulating to "peach," all of a sudden the old mental models and artists' conceptions that could be brought to mind which had always seemed to suggest "it's _cold_ out there," with a good dose of "perpetual twilight" too, now seemed replaced by "well-lit, inviting, and oddly pleasant." Even the recent artists' renderings with their dramatic large, ragged-edged blotches of orange and black promoting the encounter hadn't been quite the same, and yet I didn't quite seem to be missing them either. It was also rather different from "craters on craters," the less interesting and not that unique yet seemingly quite plausible possibility I'd been wondering about, and that mattered a bit more.

Driving back from work the day after closest encounter, I heard on the radio that the first encounter pictures had come back, and was intrigued to hear there weren't any craters showing up in the close-up. As soon as I could check on the picture, it also got my attention. In these first days of instant analysis, Pluto does seem more "active" than a small body without a gas giant to provide some tidal squeezing would seem to be, and rather more distinctive than "just one lump that happened to be noticed decades before any of the other ones and was hard-sold to start with." I can see the point of "looking at things in context as a system," and understand there can never be "nine" planets going around the sun again (we're already well above "ten" or even the "eleven" science fiction would invoke to be really daring), but when I wonder about being told "this is science, hard truths that have to be faced without sentiment!", I can now start to think there might be a hard truth to, just as most of the universe is made of something other than what we're made of, there being "worlds innumerable" out beyond the tidy interior too.

This entry was originally posted at http://krpalmer.dreamwidth.org/239369.html. Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
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