Weekend

Jan. 24th, 2010 10:24 pm
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
Had a good and productive weekend.
  • Got the hydrangea trimmed back, and the property line cleared. The chainsaw made short work of both of those. Also got the front bed and mailbox bed weeded. All I still have left to do is chop the stuff I cleared up from the property line into firewood.

  • Went out to try the new barbecue place at Bridge Street - Smoke House. Sarah and I both really enjoyed it. The barbecue quality was as good as Greenbriar, and the atmosphere was actually good and not geriatric!

  • Made good progress on my goal of ripping all my DVDs onto the file server. With the AppleTVs in the living room and bedroom, it's like having our own private VOD system. Unfortunately, I'm still only on "A". :P

  • Got a bootleg of my new favorite movie on my iPhone.

  • Relaxed.

  • And finally, caught up with [livejournal.com profile] kubulai after 4.75 years. It as a good conversation - one I look forward to continuing soon. The only downside was it was nearly 2am before I finally got off the computer and even later before I got to sleep. Too much stuff going through my head.
kiranlightpaw: (avatar)
I told you I would be a lying sack of shit if I said I wasn't going to write about Avatar again. This entry, however, is only tangentially related.

Long before that movie, I was a big fan of the idea of interstellar travel - the idea of travel between the stars. Not so much in the Star Trek sense of warp speed leaps in hours between stars, but in a realistic, scientifically accurate understanding of what it would take to get to another star. It's something I've been following since about the age of ... probably thirteen or so, and has waxed and waned over the course of my life from and idle curiosity to a near obsession at some points.

Now, I'm not an expert by any means. I only consider myself to be a well-read amateur on the subject.

For those of you have reading for awhile, my first piece of published fiction (and, unfortunately, so far the only, but more on that at a later date) was a story called Beneath the Sea of Stars, that ran in the conbooks for Furry Weekend Atlanta 2004 and Rocket City Furmeet 2006. It was set aboard a sub-light starship. While mostly a little slice-of-life romantic story, I added in a few touches of reasonably accurate science (a sub-light starship featuring rotating compartments and a weightless center section, a reasonably close star system, gravity boosting, etc).

When the first trailer for Avatar came out about six months or so ago, the first thing I noticed that made me say "holy shitballs, I have to see this movie," was this shot of the spacecraft seen at the very beginning of the movie. My thought process at the time was: holy carp, a movie about space travel with a reasonably accurate picture of what an interstellar spacecraft would probably look like based on our current understanding. Umpossible! So I was reading a little bit about the ship today over at Pandorapedia. Once again, I was blown away by how much work Cameron and his team put into getting everything right in their universe, including the science on interstellar travel. Just read the article about a spacecraft that was featured on the screen for about 30 seconds.

Anyways. Enough fanboi. Back to interstellar travel.

In reading the article, a lot of the science and engineering work on it is pretty clearly visible. Acceleration, relativistic time dilation, methods of propulsion are accounted for in the article and all, really, are nothing that hasn't been talked about in most of the books and papers I've read on the subject. It keeps within the realm of current thought. So I kept reading.

Further down in the article where crew is discussed, I came across this:
Unfortunately, the cost of shipping back personnel precludes returning individuals still under contract who have medical problems that cannot be treated on Pandora, so they are euthanized there.
Ouch.

But then I paused. And at one moment, I realized that, in all my thinking about this subject from an engineering and scientific standpoint, I realized I had never considered the ethical, moral, and humanistic aspects of the subject. Even now, considering that this type of research is confined to the bleeding edge of space travel science (and these guys are thinking about it in their spare time), it wouldn't surprise me to know that, probably, not many ethicists, or psychologists, have been brought in to consult on the subject of interstellar travel.

In many ways, people on manned expeditions to another star would be more alone than any human in history. I mean, hell, even the journey of the Mayflower was about 10 weeks from England to the New World. Under the absolute best of conditions, we're talking years before a person on an interstellar expedition would see home again ... if ever.

So here you are, on a remote planet orbiting a star 11.9 light years from Earth. Even at .5c, it's about 22 years home. You are a pioneer, on the frontier just like the pioneers in wagons of old. There may be only a couple dozen people on the expedition. In a situation like that, if you are injured or become ill beyond whatever field medicine would be available, would euthanasia be acceptable?

It sure would make a fascinating paper.
kiranlightpaw: (avatar)
I would say this will probably be my last entry on Avatar, but I'd also probably be a lying sack of shit, too. So please excuse my while I fanboi out a little bit.

[livejournal.com profile] brodycatsmouth, Sarah and I went to see it (again) yesterday afternoon. It was even better the second time around. A lot of that was due to better seating. The first time around we were down on the in the very front section of the theatre, about 10 yards off the screen, and way off to one side. It was literally impossible to get the whole screen in frame at that location and the 3D effects were a little off. At that location, after a 2:40 movie, you're neck also hurts like hell. But this time around we were in the loft , right off center and well back enough to take the whole screen in.

It makes a difference. Several times I could have sworn ash was falling. Which again makes be believe that, if you haven't seen this in 3D, you haven't seen it.

More thoughts to follow (reflecting on lessons learned in RTVF, and how it relates to Avatar and furry).

More thoughts on plot. )

How it relates to furry. )

I'm trying not to geek out too much, but it's been awhile since I saw a movie that I felt like glomming onto the way I did this one. I'd probably have to go back to my experiences with Star Trek and Star Wars as a kid, or Jurassic Park and Stargate in the 90s. Both of those were ruined by what came after, unfortunately.

Avatar II

Dec. 20th, 2009 06:18 pm
kiranlightpaw: (avatar)
Saw Avatar again. It was even better the second time.

More thoughts later.

Avatar

Dec. 19th, 2009 03:14 pm
kiranlightpaw: (avatar)
I've been trying to come up with something to say about Avatar since last night. More than anything, the fact that, almost 24 hours later I'm still giddy about how good it was says a lot.

I didn't think there would be a movie, for me, that would top Star Trek this year. I was wrong. Avatar beat it by 50 light years.

It was the first movie since The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King that, after it was over, I immediately went across the lobby and tried to get into the next showing (which, unfortunately, was sold out for the rest of the freaking night). It's also the first movie since Return of the King that I've been to that got an ovation in the theatre.

Cut for potential spoilers )

It's also the first movie I've seen in 3D that didn't feel like ... a gimmick, if that makes sense. All the other 3D movies I've ever seen have treated 3D like an afterthought rather than an integral part of the movie. In watching the trailer, I was a little worried that the film would be a bomb based solely on that fact. But this comment on Techcrunch describes it best:
"After seeing the movie in 3D last night I now look at the 1080p trailer as Cameron's attempt to describe a Hawaiian sunset to a blind man. It’s not even close."
Even the Twitter reviews seem overwhelmingly positive. So yeah. Go see it. In 3D if you can, but even in 2D it will be beautiful.

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