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Why Geeks Make the Best Parents

AT-AT

They build their kids bunk beds that look like Imperial Walkers.

This triple-decker marvel has a sleeping area, a Hoth Lego display case, play/climbing areas, and a “clubhouse.”

The heck with the kids; I want one of these.

Lots more pics here.

Posted in Movies & TV May 17th, 2010 by Chip
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Master of Muppets

This is the kind of thing that the Internet was designed for.

See the whole list from Ranker: Top 10 Greatest Muppet Mashups

(via BoingBoing)

Posted in Humor May 14th, 2010 by Chip
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Trivia Thursday

  1. Who are the Draka?
  2. A vast alien spaceship passes through the solar system in this Arthur C. Clarke novel, using the Sun’s gravity to boost its velocity. Human explorers witness the brief blossoming of its artificial life system, but do not meet its makers. Name it!
  3. What SF magazine edited by Michael Moorcock was strongly associated with the SF “new wave” movement?
  4. Who used to go through the Wayback Machine?
  5. We is a dystopian novel by what Russian author?
  6. This useful term was coined by James Blish. His view was that in humanity’s colonization of other planets, we must either change the planet to make it habitable or change humanity itself to fit it for survival in an alien environment. The former idea is called terraforming. What is the latter idea called?
  7. For lack of a better word, the builders of the Riverworld were called this.
  8. These furry super-warriors envisioned by Larry Niven began and lost several wars against man.
  9. What is the second-largest planet in the solar system?
  10. In a future where technological sophistication has made the ersatz virtually indistinguishable from the real, the hero of this novel is a bounty hunter who must track down and eliminate androids passing for human. Name it!

(Answers below the fold)

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Posted in Ephemera May 13th, 2010 by Chip
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Send Fan Letters to “Martian” Crewmen

Over at BoingBoing, Maggie Koerth-Baker makes an excellent point: The six people who are going to spend 520 days in a mocked-up Martian spacecraft are getting kind of a bum deal.

You get all of the inter-personal stress, all of the isolation from family and friends, all of the crappy food, all of the monotony … minus space, minus the thrill of visiting Mars, minus the adulation of school children. It reminds me of Uncle Shelby’s ABZ Book: “Do you want to visit the wonderful far-off Land of Oz? Well you can’t, because there is no Land of Oz, and there is no Tin Woodsman, and there is no Santa Claus! Maybe someday you can go to Detroit.”

She’s going to try to find an address where we can all send “cute, home-made, crayon thank-you cards” so the team can experience another side of being a space explorer. She’s promised to keep us posted on her progress.

Posted in Space May 12th, 2010 by Chip
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I Find Your Lack of Maps Disturbing

Apparently the TomTom GPS system allows you to download voice files for several Star Wars characters, including C-3P0, Yoda, and Darth Vader. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the recording session for Vader’s voice.

I’m assuming they don’t have a Jar-Jar option because of the increased risk of drivers deliberately aiming for a cliff.

(via Weird Universe)

Posted in Ephemera May 11th, 2010 by Chip
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Link Dump

Voracious Brain – Awesome science-based stitchery. The artist also has an Etsy shop.

CosaNostra Pizza T-shirt – ThinkGeek has shirts that advertise Snow Crash‘s pizza parlor.

Escape from Earth Day – Suvudu ends the world in various interesting ways.

Alchemist Keyboard – Lovely computer keyboard mod.

The Office Kid – A kid-in-a-kit for childless people who are tired of fellow employees using childcare as an excuse to get out of work.

Octopus Chandeliers – Gorgeous tentacly things by Adam Wallacavage.

Savage Chickens – This amused me.

Unicorn Meat – An excellent way to get your RDA of sparkles.

Fight Club: The Return of Hobbes – A rather masterful dissection of Fight Club in which it is explained as (obviously!) a sequel to Calvin and Hobbes.

Posted in Ephemera May 10th, 2010 by Chip
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It’s the Cognitive Bias Song!

Everbody sing!

Lordy, I love the Internet.

(via Skepchick)

Posted in Science May 7th, 2010 by Chip
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Trivia Thursday

  1. What was the name of the ship that first encountered the alien in Alien?
  2. This book consists of ten short stories by William Gibson. It contains the title story, as well as “The Winter Market,” “Dogfight” (co-authored with Michael Swanwick), and “Hinterlands.” Name it!
  3. What planet was the birthplace of Paul-Maud’Dib?
  4. What was Kip Russell’s nickname for his spacesuit?
  5. This is one of the films in which former governor Jesse Ventura appeared. His catch phrase, “Don’t have time to bleed,” became the title of his recent autobiography. Name it!
  6. Who is the hero of The Futurological Congress, by Stanislaw Lem?
  7. What book begins with the line: “‘This is a slightly unusual request,’ said Dr. Wagner, with what he hoped was commendable restraint. ‘As far as I know, it’s the first time anyone’s been asked to supply a Tibetan monastery with an Automatic Sequence Computer.'”
  8. In the movie Men in Black, who is K’s first partner?
  9. What power did Cirrocco Jones have over the Titanide race?
  10. What is the name of the material used to construct the Ringworld?

(Answers below the fold)

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Posted in Ephemera May 6th, 2010 by Chip
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A Century of Gernsback

Hugo Gernsback’s novel Ralph 124C 41+: A Romance of the Year 2660 was first serialized in Modern Electrics magazine almost a century ago in April, 1911. Which, by most accounts, really sucked. But it also helped to kick off SF as a genre.

Ars Technica has an article about Gernsback and his contributions.

Posted in Books & Authors May 5th, 2010 by Chip
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Is a Deus ex Machina Science Fiction?

BoingBoing posted about this essay by Terry Pratchett, wherein he claims that Dr. Who is not science fiction because he’s gone well beyond “sufficiently advanced technology” and seems to be careening into the realm of straight up magic.

People say Doctor Who is science fiction. At least people who don’t know what science fiction is, say that Doctor Who is science fiction. Star Trek approaches science fiction. The horribly titled Star Cops which ran all too briefly on the BBC in the 1980s was the genuine pure quill of science fiction, unbelievable in some aspects but nevertheless pretty much about the possible. Indeed, several of its episodes relied on the laws of physics for their effect (I’m particularly thinking of the episode “Conversations With The Dead”). It had a following, but never caught on in a big way. It was clever, and well thought out. Doctor Who on the other hand had an episode wherein people’s surplus body fat turns into little waddling creatures. I’m not sure how old you have to be to come up with an idea like that. The Doctor himself has in recent years been built up into an amalgam of Mother Teresa, Jesus Christ (I laughed my socks off during the Titanic episode when two golden angels lifted the Doctor heavenwards) and Tinkerbell. There is nothing he doesn’t know, and nothing he can’t do. He is now becoming God, given that the position is vacant. Earth is protected, we are told, and not by Torchwood, who are human and therefore not very competent. Perhaps they should start transmitting the programme on Sundays.

The comments on BoingBoing went from zero to wharrgarbl in about 30 seconds, arguing about the nature of SF vs. fantasy and where the Doctor falls on the continuum. I think I more or less agree with the commenter who argues that a deux ex machina weakens SF without necessarily derailing it entirely, but I do have to question whether the Doctor’s tendency to solve every problem that way perhaps moves him out of the sphere of science fiction and toward something more akin to fantasy.

What do you think?

Posted in Books & Authors, Movies & TV May 4th, 2010 by Chip
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