krpalmer: (Default)
The news of it having been forty years since the Voyager missions launched might have helped remind me there wasn't much time left until the Cassini space probe, which has spent over a decade among the moons of Saturn the Voyagers flew through in a matter of days, burned up in Saturn's atmosphere (along with the shielded plutonium some people raised a great fuss about before launch a month short of twenty years ago) to make sure no possible microbes from Earth would make an accidental landing on moons now thought to have some chance to support life of their own. As I took in the features leading up to the final dive, I did get a bit conscious that while the probe has sent back plenty of photos over the length of its mission (making multiple gravity assists through the solar system to end up in a slow approach to Saturn suitable for braking into orbit), after a while I wasn't making the effort to keep up with the mission's official sites. Just this morning, though, with a scant few hours left before loss of contact, I did see an official e-book with plenty of good pictures in it and a few discoveries I hadn't quite picked up on before (such as the "propellors," big chunks in Saturn's rings visibly affecting the particles around them). This wealth of images does have me thinking of the previous gas giant orbiter Galileo, whose main antenna never opened properly (and there I'm conscious of swift and sour reminders this probably had something to do with the probe having been meant to be carried into Earth orbit by the space shuttle and the delays resulting from this) and which therefore couldn't send back many pictures. Cassini, in any case, was a regular presence and will hopefully leave lasting impressions.
krpalmer: (smeat)
While trying to come up with the next thing to post to this journal, I happened to think back to an article in the August issue of Scientific American about "inner speech," talking to yourself in your head. That a part of thought is unvoiced speech is an idea I've seen before, but all of a sudden I happened to wonder about the times I've just been trying to think only to find everything in my mind fragments, breaking off and jumping to something else. It felt a lot less involved than the "dialogues" I remembered seeing mentioned in the article, along with comments that reading dialogue in fiction can key into inner voices. I have been conscious for quite a while now of not reading fiction as regularly as I could. Even going back to the article and seeing a comment that inner speech can be telegraphic in brevity didn't quite help. The question is how to concentrate and stay focused.
krpalmer: (Default)
The Digital Antiquarian led off an eight-part series on Tetris with an introduction describing the first computers in the Soviet Union (which helps show how plenty of things could be said about that game) and their initial application to cybernetic economic planning. That did sort of surprise me by itself. Aware of how mainframe computers in the West could be viewed with suspicion ("Big Blue," after all, has the same initials as "Big Brother"), it had been easy enough to suppose that had some bearing on things over in the "Mirror World." (As it turned out, though, a later entry in the series did touch on attempts to apply computers to surveillance...)

The discussion that followed that first part made several references to a book by Francis Spufford called Red Plenty, described as a historical novel footnoted with hard research about the Khruschev thaw and the years when it had seemed the Soviet Union was growing faster than capitalism could manage. Looking up more information on the book, I became interested enough to order a copy through the nearest bookstore.
Thoughts on the book and thoughts inspired by it )
krpalmer: (mst3k)
I did take my time watching through the fourteen episodes of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 revival, which wound up putting me well behind even the measured-out organized discussions I'd seen about them. I suppose I went on to resolve that, as in certain other cases, I'd rather have my first reactions and reflections be my own (although there could also have been the half-acknowledged awareness that a single negative comment disagreeing with my own thoughts, even if not in response to me, can weigh heavier on me than any amount of positive agreement...) Deciding not to get too distracted from taking in the full experience by trying to scribble down memorable "riffs" to go in "episode thoughts" posts also meant keeping most of my first reactions that much more to myself.
General and specific thoughts )
krpalmer: (Default)
I knew a total solar eclipse was scheduled to cross the United States before I decided to use just about all of my vacation for this year on a cruise around northern Europe. The thought has come to me this is sliding back from the determination I'd managed to find to head to Florida and try to see one of the last space shuttle launches. However, I have managed to also think that in Florida I did see the Kennedy Space Center visitor centre before the contingency time I was able to visit Disney World with; travelling to even the most historically cloudless area for a few minutes of totality wasn't quite as appealing, somehow. I did, anyway, happen to hear in the final leadup to the eclipse another total eclipse will track across part of my home province in 2024: we just have to make it that far, of course.

While contemplating pinhole projectors and the card-shielded binoculars I'd rigged up for the transits of Venus, in visiting Best Buy to buy some external hard drives I happened to see boxes of eclipse glasses at the cash registers. I bought one of them, and spent a good bit of time afterwards wondering if I could really, really trust them to be legitimate and just would indicate the scratches that would require having to discard them. I did make another simple pinhole projector yesterday, just in case.

With the twenty-four news station always kept on at work showing the NASA feed reach totality over Oregon just as the first chip was taken out of the sun over here, I did take whatever risk the glasses meant, if through one open eye. Beyond the bite in the sun, I really did get a sense of the light dimming outside. While I'm still able to see through both eyes this evening, though, I'm trying to remember having seen instructions to build a simple viewer from dollar-store reading glasses.
krpalmer: (Default)
Along with the countdown to the solar eclipse, I've managed to pick up on another occurrence in space by hearing we've reached the fortieth anniversary of the launch of the Voyager probes. This was further distinguished by the probe launched Voyager 2 having been launched on August 20, 1977, only to be passed on the way to Jupiter by Voyager 1, which didn't leave Earth until September.

The Voyagers were "the more detailed follow-up" at Jupiter with Pioneer 10 and 11 having made it past that gas giant's dangerous radiation belts years before the launch we're now marking, and Pioneer 11 took a slow route to Saturn to take a few not especially compelling pictures still in advance of its successors. However, the Voyagers had their own important and impressive part in turning "dots in the sky" into a succession of worlds. I suppose I did experience "these first and once-ever revelations" at Jupiter and Saturn after the fact through National Geographic cover stories (although Voyager 1 had opened up enough of a lead to Saturn the second article only included its pictures, leaving the drama of Voyager 2's camera-aiming gear jamming to books I managed to find later). It wasn't until Voyager 2 got to Uranus (even that had seemed a carefully underplayed "maybe it'll last that long" possibility in the early coverage I've seen) that I was following along in the newspaper. That encounter was unfortunately followed by the fatal last launch of space shuttle Challenger, although getting to Neptune three years later made for a better ending. I have heard Voyager 1 could have been sent to Pluto had it not been sent close by Titan (an important enough target Voyager 2 could have traded Uranus and Neptune for it); in one of the books I've found, though, some program scientists were asked if they "regretted" having taken close-up pictures of a satellite shrouded in peach-coloured clouds only to explain there was more to detect close up than just surface pictures. Whether some pictures of Pluto would have made it harder to dismiss in the next decade as "not big enough to really count, and obviously not interesting," I don't know, but I suppose they wouldn't have been as good as the pictures from the brief encounter of New Horizons.

Beyond that actual ending, of course, the Voyagers have kept sending back information, enduring not just years but decades after their first estimates of longevity to reach uncertain stellar terrain. Beyond that, there's contemplation of the time capsule records attached to them, although I can also consider that in a mere four decades they've gone from "a durable record not quite like one you'd play at home" to "at least they'd long outlast a CD, and they might be easier for even extraterrestrials of unknown mentality to decipher" to "and now vinyl's not just a statement, but an accessible one again."
krpalmer: (smeat)
Writing up something for this journal at least once a week "because that's what I've been doing and I don't want to just stop" is a constant challenge even if I'm not that worried by thoughts it might only be writing "notes to myself." In the past few days, though, just saying something more about a "system" or a "construction" (and very often sort of looking back to do that) feels too much like being silent about more important things involving other people, at a moment when being silent seems a troubling choice.

I want to say something in support of decency, equality, and tolerance (with the awareness that like most things, tolerance can't become an absolute) and against "I'm content but I resent your trying to say you're not" and wallowing in offensiveness for kicks. I just worry I'm not articulate enough to be the slightest bit convincing, and I'm also aware of the smug sort of "I know you are but what am I?" dismissals. The most I can do, perhaps, is try to be self-aware.
krpalmer: (anime)
In acknowledging news of a new and "different" Robotech comic had sharpened a personal interest hardly dulled to oblivion before, I went so far as to say that should I happen to see some of the more amusing alternative covers at a local comic shop, I might go so far as to buy the first issue. It was raining on "new releases day," so I didn't get to the shop until a day later. Once there, I just saw a few of what I gather to be the "regular" cover, perhaps not quite "photorealistic" but a long way from the "anime-esque" variants that had looked more amusing in the previews. I can't say rarer covers hadn't been picked over the day before, but it is easy to suppose there weren't many issues ordered to start with. Even as my previous thoughts bumped against a lack of options, though, with an awareness of disdain from slices of whatever was left of the series-specific fandom and an assumption of unrelieved hostility from the anime fandom just "outside," the thought of buying a copy to form my own independent opinion did wind up unshakeable.
From one comic to another )
krpalmer: Imagination sold and serviced here: Infocom (infocom)
Every month, I go back to my old copies of the computer magazines 80 Micro (preserved and passed along through my family) and Macworld (which I managed to buy in online auctions for the formative years in advance of us getting a Macintosh of our own) and leaf through the issues from exactly three decades back. Moving through the summer of 1987, I've taken note of Macworld's enthusiastic promotion of the new capabilities of the Macintosh II and Macintosh SE, but 80 Micro's somehow uneasy mixture of technical programming tips for only some of the mutually incompatible computers still in the Radio Shack catalogs seems easier to just skim. Even so, in August that magazine did return to where things had started for it with a cover story marking the official announcement of the TRS-80 Model I on August 3, 1977.
Ten plus thirty )
krpalmer: (mst3k)
As the Roman numerals that take up most of the slipcase fronts of Shout! Factory's official Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVD collections have grown ever more elaborate, I've seen the speculation about what episodes might yet be released begin to dwell on a group of "problem episodes," whose rights are controlled by what seems absolutely intractable groups or people. A collection of the "Cinematic Titanic" movies (which I'm afraid I still can't shake suspicion to get around to watching) being released did get me thinking things would be wrapping up with the original series. Then, though, I was surprised to see the announcement of a thirty-ninth collection, but the notice went ahead to say that one of the four discs will be the "host segments" of a dozen episodes from the problem group.

At the same time, the three episodes in the upcoming collection can still catch my attention. It's been a while since I've watched "Girls Town," which seems to stand outside the most generous boundaries of "mystery science" and perhaps doesn't quite feel just like "juvenile delinquency exploitation" either, but has an eclectic cast famous both within and without the MST3K canon. "The Amazing Transparent Man" is more "conventional" at least compared to the rest of the series, but it will mean we'll get the second "Union Pacific safety short," a personal standout for me. As well, if this is to be the end it's appropriate that the super-criminal action (adapted from an European comic) of "Diabolik" is included; it even got me remembering Shout! Factory's first collection had included the previous series-closing-out episode.

With all of that to look forward to, I'm reminded I've been waiting to open the thirty-eighth collection. It had shown up right around when the revival was beginning to stream, and I suppose I'd contemplated the possibility "if I disagree with these new episodes..." That the dark outcome hasn't come to pass yet (even with three revival episodes still to watch) is a little heartening by now.
krpalmer: (kill la d'oh)
Not quite two years ago, I watched a "poetic reconstruction" of the scattered episodes of Robotech I'd managed to see "the first time around" three decades before to start me off down a path both long and perhaps a little strange. As I finished that project by at last getting through a parody-sequel video I'd long heard amusing rumours of and had available to watch for a while, though, I did wonder a bit if it might, to stretch the metaphor, either let or just make me step off a path now trailing off into lonely weeds.

After just a little while, though, it didn't seem to matter too much that the remnant of discussions "inside" seemed bitter in a "terrible food, and such small portions" way and the references from just "outside" go through a filter of fixed hostility, because there had been a time when my interest in Robotech had seemed to make me "a fandom of one." Some people can regale younger generations with tales of the days when "fandom" was carried out through the postal service, but even if I'd managed to hear about that before everything turned electronic I hadn't got to the point of trying it myself. After all those days with just one episode on tape, the novelizations, and the drawings in the first volume of the role-playing game, I did find myself still spending some idle moments contemplating the thoughts I'd had back then, and sometimes the reasons why I'd had them, back before everything had got a lot more complicated.
Some things that have happened since then )
krpalmer: (anime)
After all the dire portents and seemingly narrow escapes just in the English-language publication of Makoto Yukimura's Viking manga Vinland Saga, every new volume's become a relief in itself to see. What with the cliffhanger the eighth volume had ended on, the ninth was that much more welcome. Where I'd just been intrigued before by the introduction of the threatening bear huntress Hild, though, the revelation she'd been an inventor to begin with and had rigged up a circular saw did have me thinking all over again of "anachronism"; the author's note midway through, mentioning a Swedish children's book series that had been animated in Japan and had just happened to include the same invention in its own Viking times, did manage to offer a bit more perspective.

That plot arc's flashbacks, in invoking the violent past the manga's protagonist Thorfinn keeps trying to find a way to leave, did have me thinking we were being reminded of significant parts of the story. Those thoughts strengthened as more old characters returned and Thorfinn got deeper into trouble, although I could begin to wonder if this might end up being turned into a way to keep the story from having to travel all the way through Russia to Byzantium and back before the presumable endgame of heading for Vinland. With the English releases now seeming to be quite close to the Japanese ones, the feeling "this could go on for quite a while yet" was hard to shake. I wouldn't say I'm "weary" of the impressive-looking manga by any means, but the constant tension between Thorfinn's ideals and the reality he's stuck in and the toll that exacts on him can be harrowing in itself.
krpalmer: (Default)
Having managed to read a bit more fiction in the past little while than I've thought with mixed emotions to have got through for some time now, I found myself going a little deeper down a pile I'd bought from a library book sale to begin a science fiction novel that had managed to catch my eye there. The back-cover blurb for Christopher Priest's Inverted World had described a city being winched along tracks laid down in front of it and taken up from behind, struggling to pursue a moving "optimum" with fatal consequences should it keep falling back. I could think of other works of science fiction where humans struggled to survive in inexplicably altered worlds, and wondered how this one would turn out.
At the age of six hundred and fifty miles... )
krpalmer: (anime)
The fourth volume of Legend of the Galactic Heroes was one whose translation hadn't been promised back when the first appeared, so it was as welcome as any of them so far to me. I hadn't seen the part of the anime adapting it back at my university's anime club, so while I do have to admit to having managed to see it since then, as I read the book I did have a slight feeling of greater unfamiliarity. At the same time, I did have a sense the story was moving into an ominous endgame as the military genius Reinhard von Lohengramm exploits idealistic exiles and self-centred politicians while colluding with interstellar oligarchs to set up a full-scale invasion of his tottering opponent. I do keep thinking the focus of the series on "the appearance of an epoch-opening genius" can be balanced against "is it also possible a good many 'ordinary' people might only be convinced of that?", but just because a work of fiction raises a question it doesn't have to answer it itself.

Something about the translation did start feeling a bit odd to me as I worked through this volume, and I wound up going back to the earlier books to see they'd been translated by a different person. Whether this amounted to "an unfortunate cost-saving measure" or was just an inescapable necessity, I don't know. I had wondered on the way through if the entire book would amount to "preparations for battle," only for diversionary warfare to break out in the final chapters. This included a hand-to-hand battle between two high-placed subordinates, if one without quite as much significance as some might have anticipated. On getting to the end of the book without a preview page, though, I got to worrying again about this amounting to "everything hinges on how this volume sells if it hasn't already..." Looking a little further, however, did turn up some preorder listings for two further volumes. As I understand it this still won't complete the translation of the series, but there does seem to be a bit more to look forward to at the moment.
krpalmer: (anime)
It was something, anyway, that three months ago some of the capsule descriptions of anime series from the upcoming season were catching my attention, something that just hadn't happened at the start of the year. That, though, just put me in another uncomfortable, familiar dilemma. Knowing I'd be leaving on a month's vacation in the middle of the season, no longer able then to circle around to streaming shows every week with the small, helpful push of routine, had me remembering similar vacations now several years past where being left with my own thoughts just had me dwelling on how far the reaction threads had soured for the series I'd taken chances on, such that I found myself rehearsing end-of-the-quarter explanations for why I'd dropped them myself until I returned with accusing blocks of time empty on my schedule and uncomfortable thoughts about yielding to peer pressure. (At certain times afterwards, I would go ahead and buy the home video releases of some of those abandoned series just because I felt "sorry" for them, but a lot of those peculiar purchases are still sitting around unopened...) I'd already spent some vacation-affected seasons since then not starting anything brand new, and with all the previously made anime I have ready at hand to watch I was just in the same position as at the start of the year, but I do still feel aware of all the possible consequences of "disconnection" from other fans, even if it's only wondering if anyone else will find something in these reaction posts.
Getting started: Lupin the Third and Please Teacher! )
Queue-clearing with verve: Symphogear GX )
A major project begins: Mobile Suit Gundam movies )
A major challenge: Zeta Gundam )
Getting back to queue-clearing: My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Too )
Not what I'd thought: Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars )
Movie experiences: your name. and A Silent Voice )
More movies: Time of EVE and Strike Witches the Movie )
krpalmer: (Default)
 photo ca_100-b_zpss6ia1bwu.gif

It was a bit odd to really start picking up on the "Canada 150" logo "out in the wild" by seeing it on packages in the supermarket, and that might only have got me thinking back to the centennial itself and its assorted construction projects having happened well before I was born. I know free passes to the national parks are available, but I have to confess to feeling "camped out" ever since graduating from Scouts in high school (even with having travelled up north in an RV last year). However, once I'd begun remembering of an anniversary celebration that had happened while I was alive, I could start to see some new perspectives.

 photo canada125_zpsr2inrbfk.jpg

It had also felt a bit odd at the time to mark a "hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary" with its own logo, but there had been that worried feeling in 1992 that the country as it stood would crack apart in the next few years (and things did get pretty close those few years later), sometimes followed up by the feeling it would be a subsequent inevitability the flag left over those of us speaking English would be replaced not that many years later. For all that back then I did manage to get into an anniversary project called the "Young Space Ambassadors," which sent high school students to Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal to see science museums and aerospace companies, I can think at least some feelings have changed and there might even yet be a reason or two to prefer now over then.

 photo canada150_zpsx8617m5v.png
krpalmer: Imagination sold and serviced here: Infocom (infocom)
Seeing a bit of attention paid to "old computers" from an unexpected but notable direction did get me thinking of the home computer games I'd actually played when I was young (instead of managing to get around to them years later), and which of them might be called "personal standouts." I thought of the Pole Position imitation I would load and then twiddle the TV's tint knob until the blue "artifact colour" of the backgrounds changed to "green grass" (although the Radio Shack Color Computer 2 could start up with its blue and red artifact colours switched, which made for a different experience again), of the "first-person perspective maze" our disk had gone bad for unfortunately early on so that long years later it became one of my most notable pushes towards getting emulator programs working, and of several illustrated adventures, some easier to play all the way through than others. After remembering those and other Color Computer games, though, all of a sudden I reminded myself that before it my family had started out with a TRS-80 Model I. Even with its low-resolution black-and-white graphics (converted to black-and-green with a thick piece of green plastic foam-taped to the converted RCA surplus TV that served as its official monitor), we had some games for it. Two of them that came to mind right away were the Berzerk imitation "Robot Attack" and a "swoop a spaceship over an enemy base and through a cavern" game from a "software every month" cassette magazine, both of which I'd got working on emulators in recent years. That double revival, though, had also got me thinking of a third game stuck in my mind but which I hadn't been able to find in these latter days...
The third game, and some illustrated proof )
krpalmer: (mst3k)
Leaving on vacation meant taking a break from my slow and steady progress through the Mystery Science Theater 3000 revival. This was a decision rather than an imposition, given there's a "download to watch, at least with some things, and at least for a while" feature in the Netflix mobile application now. The only device running that application I planned to take with me was my iPod touch, though, and squeezing the high-definition episodes into a screen that small didn't really appeal to me. (I was fine with finishing off "Voltron '84" that way, however, perhaps even getting a bit more of that casual old sense of there being something a little suspicious to what the show tried to say about what it showed...)

Returning from vacation, I got back to the revival. Picking up with the new episodes again, though, did remind me I'd wondered just how I'd take one of them in particular from the moment I'd seen their capsule descriptions, and that just perhaps I'd been trying to put off a potential instant where a possible personal standout might turn into something actively unpleasant...
The crucial ninety minutes )
krpalmer: (apple)
I'm cautious about invoking "political content" on this journal, but when I saw some "Apple commentators" bring up a Twitter post on the account of the Prime Minister of Canada, my thoughts veered in a direction I did want to say something about. Seeing Justin Trudeau promote with enthusiasm (and in both official languages) an article about the Macintosh emulation now available on the Internet Archive got me supposing that while there are people who were using Apple computers in the 1980s and people who've seen themselves as having "bought into a story" afterwards (as I suppose I was, just earlier than some), they don't amount to a constituency to be talked up in an analytical fashion. I was therefore willing to suppose Trudeau had used a Macintosh back when the game Dark Castle was a standout on it, and from there I could wonder if Pierre Trudeau had bought one of the computers (although this does bring to mind all those smirking juxtapositions of "the computer for the rest of us" and Apple's pricing strategies, along with how the elder Trudeau had been well-off before becoming Prime Minister) after retiring from office, and if he'd used it himself or supposed himself "too old for this sort of thing" even with its much-promoted graphical user interface and left it to his sons. Of course, the computer could also have been in a school lab with games floating around.

In any case, I was already aware of those Javascript emulators, but can admit to thinking I'd rather stick with files saved on my own computer for use with the self-contained Mini vMac emulator, especially given its recent push from the small black-and-white screen of the original Macintosh towards the larger, more colourful screen my own family's purchase not that far into the 1990s provided us with. (There was a comment in the article wondering if the author's return to MacWrite could be extracted from the emulator; I can do that with Mini vMac, even if I don't do that often.) After a first bit of difficulty that had me supposing the PCE Javascript emulator demanded disk images formatted in a way Mini vMac couldn't do anything with, though, I did find at least some of the files from the Internet Archive can be put to that offline use, and that before this somehow amusing bit of unexpected attention paid to the whole thing.
krpalmer: (anime)
A few years ago, I mused a bit about how I'd managed to keep reading one long-running manga series for a full forty volumes. With that point made, every volume of Fairy Tail that followed did register on me; at the fifty-volume mark I did wonder a bit about making another post before putting the thought off. Now that I've reached the sixty-volume mark, though, I have managed to put words together.

It's simple enough to say the appeal of the series remains uncomplicated with its brawling guilds of eccentric magic-users, battles made a big deal of and then resolved through raw determination, and dashes of cheesecake, and that simplicity is what keeps me reading. I seem to have avoided wishing for "greater depth" or any of the other things that might amount to "frustation a story isn't what you first imagined it to be," even if I get back into every volume a bit fuzzy about where everyone's come from in the tall stack of past chapters. In the past few volumes, I have been wondering if an impression the story is working towards drawing a final line and ending is exaggerated, and then seeing the author's afterwords mentioning that very thing. That it does seem there's not going to be an eighty-volume mark at the moment, though, is easy enough to accept. It does, however, get me thinking of how I made a Kickstarter pledge to get the Skip Beat anime released over here, then decided I'd continue the story from there, and have now piled up thirty-six volumes of the manga (in three-volume paperback re-releases) without having read any of it yet...

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