Bits & Pieces 2012-08-16

Links and things that I’ve run across recently.

(I think I’m becoming more cynical and sardonic. Sorry about that. Might be time to read more Dave Barry.)

Spider Robots Take Over the Earth

Someone must’ve sent me this link, to a piece about a rideable spider-robot, named Stompy, being designed and built locally.

I couldn’t resist clicking on the link. But imagine how let-down I felt when the article revealed that the robot is, in fact, only a hexapod (like an insect). A spider robot has 8 legs, not 6. Talk about bait-and-switch, eh?

War, Peace, and Paradise

Last month, my friend and fellow artist Lawrence Strauss posted a succinct post on his blog pointing out how important it is to wrestle with one’s world-view. (Includes a Star Trek reference to Gene Roddenberry’s vision.)

BTW, see also another post he made, summarizing the story told by his latest album of folk music, Portraits.

The Problem Was, They Should-a Waited Till April 1

I’ve heard a user comment that Apple is intentionally using nonstandard screws in order to keep people out of their own computers. And I’m proud to say that my initial reaction was skepticism. I knew they used the funny little Torx screws, which are unusual but hardly nonstandard. (On the other hand, some of the nonsense Apple has been engaging in lately truly boggles the mind, theirs of which they have obviously lost.)

Now we know, however, that the “proprietary screw” rumor was just that, a rumor, a hoax. The fascinating part of the experiment—not surprising, but still fascinating—is that the further a person got from the source of the rumor, the less skeptical he was of the rumor. This jibes with my observations on numerous subjects, especially sociology and economics (and climatology), in which ordinary people have taken obdurate political views that they know to be totally unassailable, based on information that is mostly wrong.

Pinterest (Finally) Launches Android and iPad Apps

I have installed Pinterest on my Samsung Galaxy Nexus—yes, the phone that spurred Apple’s lawsuit against Samsung, which resulted in many of stupid-Apple’s trade secrets being revealed at court—but I haven’t tried out the Pinterest app yet. I’m hoping that it’ll result in me better maintaining my Pinterest pinboards.

In any case, you can get the free Pinterest Android app from the Google Play store, or the Pinterest iOS app from iTunes.

Yeah, But Paul Ryan Doesn’t Actually Matter

With all the hubbub surrounding Romney’s naming of his Vice Presidential running-mate, one fact has largely been ignored (at least in the very limited stuff I’ve paid glancing attention to): the VP candidate largely doesn’t matter (as poli-sci expert and senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution David Brady mentioned last month):

Russ Roberts: Will the choice of the Vice President matter? Does it ever matter?

David Brady: Well, when we run–social scientists run a lot of regressions; we can’t more than about a percent or so. Now a percent can make a difference in a close election, in some states. So, the last time we’re pretty sure that it made a difference was when John F. Kennedy [JFK], when he picked Lyndon Johnson–it probably caused him to carry Texas, which he wouldn’t have. And then in a close election, he would have lost. Since then–

…But the question is, so for me, Romney has done a terrific job of vetting. He’s not looking for anybody that can carry anything or anything spectacular. I think he generally wants someone who is not going to make a mistake.

On the other hand, Dan Quayle did not keep George Bush from becoming president, Al Gore did not keep Bill Clinton from becoming president, and… Who’s Vice President currently?… Oh yeah. Joe Biden does not seem to have hurt Barak Obama, either.

Kickstarter Hits Lowest-Common-Denominator with Star Trek Cast?

Michael Dorn, of Star Trek: The Next Generation fame, has gotten together a bunch of other Star Trek actors to work on an indie film with him. He’s raising money for the film through Kickstarter.

So far, so good. Sounds exciting!

The film, entitled “Through The Fire”…

…is a romantic comedy about a couple of dazzling New York urbanites who are set-up on the worst blind date ever, only to find out they have more in common than they realize. Despite their professional differences (she is an acclaimed Broadway actress and he is the theater critic who gave her a horrible review) they cannot get each other out of their minds. “Through The Fire” shows what happens in the ultimate battle between the head and the heart.

Wow! I wish I had written that story! In fact, I think I did, at least once, maybe more than once. (So have at least a gazillion-and-two other writers.) “A single-minded businesswoman and her fun-loving ex-husband find the meaning of their futures [after being set up on a blind date].” Except that I wasn’t going for uniqueness, but for character richness, which is why the blind-date hook didn’t even make it into the novel’s summary sentence.

By the way, an acclaimed Broadway actress should be able to take a horrible review and remain friends with the reviewer (as long as he was playing fair and expressing only his own reaction to her work). In fact, an acclaimed Broadway actress has probably received many, many negative reviews, because that’s part of
being acclaimed. On the other hand, if Broadway actresses are anything like authors, maybe she might not be able to accept the review or remain friends with the reviewer. The only reason anyone has ever unfriended me online, as far as I know, is because I publicly disagreed with them… and they’ve all been women, too. (Not a general truth, just a statistic.)

So, back to the topic at hand, I’m thinking this Kickstarter project is being fueled by Michael Dorn’s fame and his connection to Star Trek, and not on anything really exciting in the project itself. Hey, it could work! Look at Twilight.

Today’s Quote

“If you’re a successful business in America, you either quickly open a lobbying office in Washington, or Washington makes you regret that you didn’t.” — Radley Balko