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Professor Liddle-Oldman

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Questions! We Have Questions [Jun. 21st, 2016|03:33 pm]
Professor Liddle-Oldman
[Tags|, , , ]
[mood |curious]

21 June 2016

I understand why there is such a rise in children with food allergies –the handraised, hothouse children have never been allowed to touch anything, have never been challenged in any way at all, so when their immune systems finally get a chance to be heard from, they go insane (like giving a Chihuahua amphetamines and a treat) and take the poor coddled children out in a flood of anaphylaxis. However – someone recently asked, parenthetically, why peanuts seem to be the main problem. I have no damn idea, and need to research this.

Additionally, as I was making tea this morning, my brain reminded me of one of the best kickass moments in the Star Trek universe; when, in First Contact, Data, who we believe might have gone over to the Borg, tells the Queen “Resistance is futile” and punches a hole in the coolant conduit, astonishing her and dissolving most of the infestation.

However.

How could he in fact astonish her, act with agency, and make a move against them? Why was he not already networked in?

I suspect that this is just something I will have to overlook, and have a few ideas (such as, the Evil Queen thought it was more delicious if he blew up the first FTL ship by his own will; after all, if he was just a servo, any drone could have done it), but it’s still a legitimate point.
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Gonna Have To Science The Shit Out Of This [Jun. 9th, 2016|06:51 pm]
Professor Liddle-Oldman
[Tags|, , ]

So I just read The Martian, which someone had loaned me. (Wish I remembered who...) I read it now because I had just seen the movie. And I have to say, I liked them both.

If one has not been clued, this is a book that was unexpectedly hot recently -- the story of Mark Watney, a member of the Mars mission Ares III, who ends up being left behind when his team has to abort in the face of a sandstorm strong enough to compromise their assent vehicle; that is, their ride back to their orbiting ship. The book is about his efforts to survive long enough to be rescued, in a fiercely hostile environment, with equipment designed to last for the 31-day mission, no way to communicate with the ship or with Earth (It was the comm dish that hit him and busted his bio computer, so he registered as "dead" on the team's screens), and nowhere near enough food to last until the next mission, in four years.

It's the hardest science science fiction, well researched (the author calculates interception orbits as a hobby), and both enjoyable and relateable. I can recommend it.

The surprising thing is that I can recommend the movie as well. Matt Damon plays the stranded astronaut well, and, more importantly, the filmmakers trusted the book. A lot has been trimmed for time, and they inserted a few bits, but what they inserted is minor, true to the spirit and letter of the story, and works. (Glorfindel, for instance, is not in the book, but the rest of the scene is.) The plot, developments, and giant wads of dialogue are straight from the story. (They succumbed to Cinematography Fever once or twice, but the movie survives it.)

Do you have any idea how rare this is? Even Peter Jackson used maybe 15% of the books, and filled the rest up with cinematic bullshit-- I'm surprised he didn't put in a car chase. The story goes that the producer of The Maltese Falcon thought of it as a nothing project, so he just handed the book to his secretary and asked her to "type this up as a screenplay", which is why it's a great movie, but otherwise to film a book is to ruin it. (I understood Tim Burton's Alice when I came across an interview in which he said that he hated the book and had never read it. I think his source document was the execrable Disney movie.)

So I enjoyed the book -- I sat up halfway to dawn last night to finish it -- and I enjoyed the movie. Full props and my recommendation.
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Mama, Just Killed A Man [May. 13th, 2016|09:38 pm]
Professor Liddle-Oldman
OK, no, I didn't. I did spend much of the day with my mother,though. She just recently moved from Marlborough to Somerville, and hasn't found new suppliers and services yet. She called me a couple of days ago to ask if I could drive her West, as her car is in the shop (with another mysterious Prius electronic problem.) She had to sign things at her lawyer's, in yet another act of the hallucinatory drama selling her house seems to have become. We met with the lawyer (well, she did, and I nodded sagely now and then.) We went to her optician, as she'd accidentally sat on her reading glasses. (They fixed them). She bought me lunch at our favorite Chinese buffet. We bought 50-lb sacks of birdseed and garden soil. One of the advantages of having children is having someone to pick up heavy stuff when you'r getting on. (She's 88). We stopped at an expensive western suburb supermarket and I found both fiddleheads and peas. All in all, we had a good day and a wide-ranging chat.

The drive home was long -- the Williams Tunnel looked clogged, so I went surface through the city, around the North End and through the industrial part of South Boston. But I got home just in time to watch Beat The Press, which has five panelists now that we have a new 21st century TV, and Jeopardy. I haven't had any supper, having eaten a couple day's worth at the restaurant, but that's no mind. Well, I'm off to eat some more Tums. Ta!
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I Am Determined To Prove A Villain, And Hate The Idle Pleasures Of These Days. [Apr. 22nd, 2016|10:33 pm]
Professor Liddle-Oldman
22 April 2016

Damn. This new keyboard – and the space key which does not space – is making me lackadaisical about posting.

I just started a new book, Digging For Richard III, which is about just that – the archaeological project that finally found the 500-year lost remains of the last Plantagenet king, Richard III, of poor reputation, despite Tey. This, of course reminds me of Alan.

Alan is my most senior friend—we met in 1967, when I was 12. Alan is one of the smartest people I know, and is interested in English history, despite being half Irish. He really ought to be teaching history somewhere, but he’s spent decades selling books. Once, when I was in the hospital, he came by to visit, and in the course of the conversation, his theory that the Wars of the Roses were more low comedy than high drama came up. Out of his head, with no prep, he sketched all of the major battles, including which units got lost, or attacked their own flank, or went over to the other side in mid-fight.

So. There was, at the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Bosworth Field, where Henry Tudor killed Richard and founded the Tudor dynasty, a re-enactment on site. Alan attended. He reports that, behind him, there were two young women who obviously supported Richard, and seemed to feel that if they made enough of a case, they could get a new outcome. Finally, when “Henry” plucked the crown (which Richard had worn on his helmet) from a bush and held it up, the two girls yelled “Put that back where it belongs!” Alan – and this warms my heart even thirty years later – turned to them and snapped, “He can’t. The princes are already dead.”

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of, well, Weymouth.
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Dry [Apr. 1st, 2016|05:51 pm]
Professor Liddle-Oldman
1 April 2016

I was listening to NPR, and they reported a perfect example of recursive meta. The official Chinese governmental news arm has published a notice that no-one should indulge in an April Fool's prank, as April Fool's jokes are inconsistent with Socialist theory -- and no one knows if it's a joke. I have decided to regard it as the driest humor possible, and acknowledge the expert level.
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There’s Truth That Lives, And Truth That Dies. [Mar. 3rd, 2016|07:16 pm]
Professor Liddle-Oldman
[Tags|, , , ]
[mood |aggravated]

I was not caught, though many tried.
I live among you, well disguised
.

3 March 2016

So, Chris Carter. Years after the sad and muddled end of The X-files, they brought the show back for a limited series; six new episodes. They – he, I guess – resurrected the impossibly tangled Alien Conspiracy, then complicated it, then subverted it. Then there were a couple of stand-alone eps. Then, the final episode of the new series, they pulled the vague threatening trigger Carter had been teasing the whole show. The Conspiracy, whoever and whatever it was, launched the endgame, which was basically 12 Monkeys. The virus that had been administered to (supposedly) everyone with their polio, or smallpox, or whatever, vaccine, was activated, and everyone’s immune system shut down. People started dying in droves. General panic, evacuation and gridlock. Scully, at the lat moment, figured out (maybe) that the alien DNA she had been infected with was actually protecting her from the FAIDS (Forcibly Acquired…), and used her blood to create a vaccine.

Mulder had gone to confront Smoking Man, who of course had been last seen getting a Hellfire missile right up the left nostril, but this is Chris Carter World. Villains are omnipotent and unconstrained by the limits of reality. Doesn’t matter anyway, as Mulder falls ill from some opportunistic infection and is dying along with everyone else. Another agent retrieves him and heads back to Scully in D.C.

Scully steals an SUV, and by driving on sidewalks and lawns gets most of the way to the car with the two men in it, bearing doses of her vaccine, and runs the last bit. She’s about to dose Mulder and the new guy, when an alien spacecraft appears and puts a Close Encounters spotlight on them. We dolly in until the screen is full of Scully’s eyeball – and the show is over. No rescue, no salvation, no resolution, and the last person this ship shone their light on was blown up by it.

If I ever meet Chris Carter, I am going to punch him right in the nutsack.
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X-Files Ep 6 [Feb. 22nd, 2016|09:05 pm]
Professor Liddle-Oldman
If I ever meet Chris Carter, I am going to punch him right in the nutsack.
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What Can I Say? Your Ten Thousand Kisses Fell On Me Like A Row Of Dominoes [Feb. 18th, 2016|10:53 pm]
Professor Liddle-Oldman
18 February 2016

I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in.

It’s in a mixed condition.

The leg is recovering nicely. We extended the PT by a couple of weeks, but I’m all weaned off the Giant Immobilization Boot and largely walking without a cane. I still use it out of the house some for stability, but, then, I was never all that stable.

The keyboard on this new laptop is driving me mad, and the space bar doesn’t work. I’m hitting it firmly after every word, and I still have to go back and clean the text up after.

The eyeball is still pretty obscured. I saw Dr. Eyeball again, and she said we’ll give it another three weeks, and then talk about surgery. It turns out there’s something they can do about this, but it’s eyeball surgery. Ewww. (I think it’s a vitrectomy – I still don’t know what they replace the sucked-out vitreous with.)

As a trump -- we got up yesterday at 4:00 AM, to drive Janet’s older brother in to the hospital – same place she got her radiation. Poor man underwent a valve replacement for his aortic stenosis, a genetic gift from their father. The father died of it, so they take it seriously. Good news, he came through the operation fine and is doing well. Bad news, the unfortunate Mrs. Professor has the same stenosis, and may have to have a valve replacement herself someday.

Keeping calm and carrying on.
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Never a Dull Moment -- No Matter How Much You Would Like One [Jan. 20th, 2016|05:33 pm]
Professor Liddle-Oldman
[Tags|, , ]

File under "I Did Not Need This". Saw Dr. Eyeball last week. She took a careful look at my retinas, found no activity, pronounced herself satisfied, and said to come back in eight months. So. I was sitting on the couch, reading, last night, and a serious retinal bleed occurred. The vision in my right eye is completely obscured -- I can't even read headlines though the haze of blood, and if it doesn't resolve some I may not be able to drive after dark. I did not bloody need this.

(We called the Joslin eye clinic this morning, and she said come right in. They dilated and examined and ultrasounded, and in the end thee's no retinal damage, just blood, which there's nothing really to be done about. Both reassuring and not. My lovely wife drove me there and back, thank Heaven, as it would have been quite beyond me.)

As long as I am complaining about health issues, during last week's exam, she mentioned that my developing cataracts are still manageable. I asked, so I could sort of set my brain, when I would have to think about having them done -- five years, ten years, twenty? Oh, no, she said, much sooner than that. So there's that to look forward to as well.

I'm doing PT for the Achilles's tendon rupture, and at least that's gong well. Mostly at this point it's stretching and working on flexibility and ROM. (Sorry, Range of Motion.) For a couple days the foot hurt as though someone had beaten it with a hammer, but Susan, who's done PT for a broken wrist, assured me that PT hurts. That's why, she said, people don't do it, and tell their doctor they did. Thank heaven that did clear up. I'm doing the little foot-wiggling exercises and seeing the therapist twice a week for the next two, three weeks, and we shall see.

I'm supposed to sleep in an upright position until I see the eye doctor in three weeks, to assist the blood in settling out. I'm going to try, at her suggestion, sitting in my wife's reclining Nanna Launcher, rather than propping myself up with pillows, but that means sleeping apart. Poo. I guess we can just pretend we're on Downton Abbey and have separate bedrooms like the aristocracy.

Just to put a nice cap on it, we finally have winter, after a temperate December, and it's threatening a foot of snow this weekend. I have no idea how I'm going to shovel the car out with this blessed boot on and my toes sticking out. This is definitely one of the times I sort of regret not having had children.

Well, ta, until the next whine.
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2016 [Jan. 4th, 2016|02:57 pm]
Professor Liddle-Oldman
Happy New Year, all! (Within the bounds of possibility. No warranty implicit or explicit. May not be available in all areas. Your mileage may vary.)
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