On Hiatus

August 30, 2008

Dear Reader,

Due to the intense coverage of the American presidential campaigns as a result of the significant events this and next week, my blog is on temporary hiatus. Being an independent, and this being a moderate’s election, I am pouring through the internet – reading on the candidates and their positions, and then making an intense reflection on it all – I am not one to vote on such matters casually, and prefer to make informed decisions (as hopefully will become clear in my various posts). I encourage anyone reading to do the same – informed voting is the only way the system can effectively work.

I look forward to sharing more thoughts soon though, and already have a number of posts in the premise, background research, and writing phase. I hope you will check back soon.

– Morgan

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To the Reader: In Order To More Fully Present the Issue, I Advise Reading the Subsequent Commentary and Discussion, As New Information Subsequent to Its Original Publication Was Presented Which Alters the Eventual Conclusion – Yet the points made in this are still very valid.

Original Opinion Piece:

To begin with, I must assert that I am not conceptually opposed to nuclear power, indeed having often actively supported it in my youth on its merits. There have been many arguments made against it due to concern over radioactivity, particularly in the late 20th century subsequent to the minor and major accidents, yet given the record of 1st world nuclear energy since, have as-yet gone unrealized. Personally, I liveĀ  within about 50 miles of two atomic energy plants and do not mind it. I am not arguing against nuclear fission energy itself (as will be noted later).

Rather, I am going to argue against the construction of new reactors as a solution for the modern energy crisis, based on scarcity of non-renewable resources. Namely the very real possibility and inevitability of peak uranium, a concept analogous to peak oil. While it is true that Uranium is not a fossil fuel (coal, oil), it is not a renewable resource either (e.g. wind, water, solar). Uranium is exponentially harder to produce artificially than petroleum, requiring particle colliders or the like means involving physics rather than chemistry were one to try to create it from scratch. Second, it is a very rare element on the cosmic scale, not ejected by everyday stars in fusion, and thus unlikely that we could find a “miracle asteroid” full of it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Today I re-watched the classic 1950’s Sci-Fi/Horror film The Thing from Another World, about a horrific alien wreaking havoc in an Arctic research base.

Upon careful observation, I have concluded that it was likely filmed entirely on location (Montana), and not on a soundstage. I have an odd habit of trying to study the architecture of places in films and video games, and this was no exception. However, I found that the interiors of the film matched the exterior shots, including the aerial shots from the snowplane, almost EXACTLY. For those who have seen it, the notable corridor fork from inside is clearly visible in the aerial, the radio tower is exactly where the stairwell in the radio room appears to lead up to, and all the stovepipes on the exterior are where the interiors ones are. It would make little sense in a 1950’s sci-fi film to construct from scratch a full-scale exterior of a fairly large complex, then to build a complete interior of the same structure in a different location. The catch here is that it would have forced very tight filming areas, but it is possible that false walls and extended areas were added (and much of the internal space cannot be accounted for) – thus while I personally think it was, it’s still quite possible otherwise. Regardless, it is nice in fandom to find a film where the interior so closely matches the exterior, allowing for rather comprehensive understanding of the structure. [and that the design appears to be more than perfectly functional for an ice base – down to the twin radio transmission/ receiving towers. It would also make a somewhat nifty Wolfenstein: ET map (defend the generator room!)]

In a second note, I see a more than a small semblance between the film and aspects of the first section of The Empire Strikes Back, whether intentional or not. First, it should be noted that George Lucas is on record as having been inspired by the sci-fi films of the 1950’s, including TTFAW, as featured in the TCM documentary Watch the Skies – itself titled from TTFAW no less. So the assertion that it is a possible influence isn’t a stretch.

Basically, both films feature an ice base, with a captain and his love interest (a strong charactered woman) bantering inside it, long stretching corridors between rooms with planks laid down on the floors; whereupon an extraterrestrial object streaks through the sky like a meteor, crashes into the ice, leading main character(s) to investigate. A main character is attacked by a horrible bipedal creature with long claws, one arm of which happens to become parted from it. The Echo Base wampa subplot was all but removed from the final version, but in it the wampas would have inflitrated the Echo Base, and eventually been contained to a room (ala the greenhouse). Still visible in the final cut for a few seconds (in the stables scene) is a Tauntaun that had been slaughtered by the unknown beast, much like its fellow packanimal in “TTFAW” the sleddog.

My point though is not alleging direct copying or plaigiarism, rather that the above is just an yet another apparent influence in the fictional cinematic universe based almost entirely upon archetypes, mythology, history and film history.

I still have yet to determine the path for this blog, but I figure the stereotypical response to (actually useful) news and random musings might be useful if not a good way to vent it out.

Today, of all the newsmedia, only NPR noted that today is the 50th anniversary of the advent of instant ramen, invented by one Momofuku Ando of Japan. It is with amazingly delightful coincidence that today marks the beginning of the fall semester for a number of American colleges (including my alma mater).

It is yet another day to add to a list of invented observances. However, unlike things such as National Egg Month, instant ramen is not so utterly ubiquitous (though close) and singular in native form that for an individual to pick a single day to recognize what its inventor saw as a food for the masses would not be unreasonable. [I personally tried to taste several varieties as a way testing a means of celebrating – sadly my stomach got uneasy after 4 bowls]

In other news, all media (including NPR, for the sake of citation) seem to report the (surprisingly relevant) random science study that cattle appear to tend to stand naturally polarized along magnetic north-south. This is great news, in that a.) it is a surprisingly universal phenomenon for having not being noticed before, and b.) that it is perfect fodder for amateur and professional mad scientists everywhere, plotting means of using magnets to have various mammals do their bidding.