Sagan love continues…

(Hat tip to onegoodmove) The Sagan Appreciation Society has a collection of videos about Carl Sagan, check them out! I never realized that Agent Smith was channeling Sagan. Watch this one and see what I mean:


The Curse has been Broken

This evening, Ariela and I saw the new Star Trek film, for the second time. Phil Plait and PZ Myers have both already reviewed it, but I think left out a few really interesting (and disappointing) things about the film, so I would like to add my own review to the pile.

To summarize, it was awesome. Despite a few plot holes, scientific inaccuracies, and awkward interations between characters, it was an excellent Trek movie, worthy enough on this description alone to have broken the “Curse of the Odd-Numbered Trek.”

Warning: Spoiler Alert – You have been warned. Continue reading The Curse has been Broken

Things I learned from Star Trek

The Onion, while lauded for its weekly satirization of pop culture and news headlines, has a less well-known component, its AV Club. While I do not often read much from this section, even though they are just down the street.

But now in anticipation of the new Trek movie coming out this weekend, The Onion’s AV Club put together an intelligent and funny review of the sociological commentary that Star Trek has provided over the years, whether written well or not. Read Space-Racism is Bad.

A few of my favorites are in there, such as a comment on the stupidity of the Borg Queen concept while talking about keeping perspective in First Contact, and some subtle lessons about both immigration and abortion rights in Up The Long Ladder. But the best part of the article was Continue reading Things I learned from Star Trek

The Haro von Mogel Maneuver

In Star Trek, Jean Luc Picard made a risky maneuver in battle. Rather than relying on sub-light-speed impulse engines and thrusters in a hopeless battle on board a ship known as the Stargazer, he decided to use the ship’s warp engines to move faster than light to strike. The idea, which would be very interesting if possible, is that your ship is now right in front of your enemy, opening fire, while they still think that you are a distance away. While the light from the ship’s original position is still arriving at the observer, they will see two ships. Who are you shooting at? I’m over here!

In the Star Trek realm, advanced ships also had faster-than-light sensors, which would foil anyone attempting to repeat it. Nevertheless, it was a successful strategy for the young Picard, catapulting him to Captain-hood.

Circumstances have dictated that I, too , must execute my own warp speed maneuver. I can’t give any details as of yet, but suffice to say I’m going to be in the lab late tonight and very very early tomorrow, attempting the fastest turnaround for a particular procedure than I have ever attempted. It may become a frequent feature of my life for the next two weeks, but if I can achieve faster-than-daylight pipetting, it will be worth it.

And if successful, I’ll have to call it the Haro von Mogel Maneuver. What are you amplifying over there? I’m right here!

3 Cubed

Yes, today I am three to the third power years old. 27 times have I orbited our sun, since having taken my first breath.

Amongst my birthday loot I got a very unique shirt from my spouse. Fans of Red Dwarf will understand the significance of this: It is a beige shirt that says in bright orange: “Give Quiche a Chance”. She got it made at a local shop. I laughed and laughed when I saw it. Perfect!

Special Request for Comments on the Mindcast

Okay, it is time to get things going again with the Mindcast. A new show will be uploaded this week, but before that happens I’m announcing a few changes and a few potential changes. You could read the brief summaries below, or you could listen to my audio explanation and hear more details below. Continue reading Special Request for Comments on the Mindcast

Alexander Courage dies

Composer Alexander Courage died on May 15, 2008. He worked on several television series, but is best known for composing the theme music for the original Star Trek. He stopped working for Gene Roddenberry after Roddenberry took 50% of the royalties from the theme song for himself. Would the quality of music have been better had Courage stayed on during the series?

Each Star Trek incarnation develops its own musical pattern, but pays homage to the original theme created by Courage. Either in the opening moments of the main theme, used as a baseline to come back to in the closing theme, or mixed somewhere into the score. Deep Space Nine and Voyager didn’t seem to obviously use the original theme, but still borrow some of the style and mood. Enterprise totally abandoned the style and went with Where my Heart Will Take Me, which, if you ask me, was half the reason why Enterprise failed. (The other half was the lack of relevance)

Later this year, as Star Trek XI comes out in theaters, Alexander Courage’s memorable musical phrasing is sure to be a part of the score. It will continue in the ST franchise, and continue to influence science fiction music. And he didn’t even like science fiction!

In which someone notices I’m a man

(Cross-posted at Sociologique)

Yesterday morning, Ariela and I were up at the crack of, no, actually we were up before dawn, racing down to WORT 89.9 fm in downtown Madison for a show of Other Voices. from 5-8 AM Ariela was playing some classical music performed by and/or conducted by women. This was, after all, a show intended to highlight the contributions of women to classical music.

You can listen to the show online here at this link, but it is not available to be downloaded as an mp3. (This will be available from now through May 4th 2008 – on May 5th next week’s show will record over it)

For the first hour and forty-five minutes, Ariela went solo, playing music performed by women, and its good stuff if you want to listen to it. At the 105 minute mark (you can skip ahead if you want to), Ariela cut the music that was playing to introduce the next topic: Holst’s The Planets, and some of its influence on science fiction film music. Let me tell you a little about its genesis, and what happened off the air during the show. Continue reading In which someone notices I’m a man

ALERT! Karl on the radio Monday

I’m currently preparing to go on the radio tomorrow morning for a little spot on a classical music show. The radio station is WORT 89.9 fm, and the show is called Other Voices. It’s a show that focuses on women in classical music. Then why the heck am I going to be on it?

Well, my extensive science fiction soundtrack collection has shown me consistent patterns and themes running throughout the SciFi film/TV genre. Not only have my ears picked these things out, but my lady-love Ariela has been sprinkling musicology terms in my midst and it’s hard not to think about them. Consequently, I have come to notice and understand the pervasive influence of Gustav Holst’s The Planets in science fiction music.

So Monday the 28th of April, I’ll be talking about Holst and SciFi music and the composers that wrote that music. All men. On a show about women. Actually, the feminine focus of this portion of this week’s show will be Continue reading ALERT! Karl on the radio Monday