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Thoughts of comic book logic... [Feb. 18th, 2017|11:12 am]
John
There were times I thought that Marvel used a more scientific basis for comic books - and they might, in some fashion. And one of the times I thought about that most strongly was the decision that the Flash tapped into a "speed force" to drive his powers, and I thought that was stupid.

My mind has been changed in both directions. First, I saw some early Marvel super-hero comics, where the Invisible Girl (now Invisible Woman) developed a new super-power. You see, she could already turn invisible, but now, she could focus that power to create force fields - INVISIBLE force fields, see? Because she has INVISIBILITY powers!

Okay, that kind of wipes out much of DC's comparative sins. Sure, DC still has "power rings" (of multiple colors, reflecting multiple energies) and such, but Marvel really isn't all that pure either, with cosmic cubes, infinity gems and gauntlets, etc.. I mean, at least the Marvel magic is likely to have some Jack Kirby-inspired artwork, but that's not as much of an advantage in logic, science, and realism, as you might think.

(At least I hope not, or soon we might face the Trump administration, Now With Jack Kirby Inspired Artwork!)

But, come on, the "speed force"?

Well... it actually makes more sense.

(This reminds me of when I said I preferred the movie version of Snape's relationship with Lily, because it was more realistic for a master wizard to be able to move on, if he'd actually broken things as conclusively as he had in the books. This also reminds me that some folks have opined that there are expensive drugs consumed in an attempt to reach this particular state of mind.)

No, really, it makes more sense. The normal human body uses chemical sources of energy, and receive them in a *hideously* inefficient manner. A human being being able to "run" at 30 or 40 or 50 miles an hour can be reasonably considered, but as speeds go higher, the energy expenditure goes up extremely fast.

Next: critical velocity. Once the Flash is moving more than roughly 120 miles an hour, it takes more than 1g forward, but that means his feet have to be able to push the ground with more than 1g. That could happen if he was pushing forward from starting blocks used in sprints, but not from running forward normally.

Plus: a back of the envelope estimate says that in one mile, you can expect the curvature of the earth to drop by over one foot per mile. (1 mile forward in a straight line, drop a perpendicular there, estimate the sine of an angle is roughly equal to 1/x for small x, assume the earth drops 6250 miles (1/4th of 25000) in 4000 miles (radius of the earth - 1 mile is roughly the hypotenuse, and the opposite/hypotenuse is 1/4000 = roughly 1 mile/4000 drop.)

If he ran one mile in one second, 3600 mph, his feet would be leaving the ground. This is no problem for some of the newer speedsters who were limited to the speed of sound, but the original Flash could run the speed of light. At 36000mph, he's seeing ten feet drop in a second, and at 54000 mph, there's no way he can maintain his footing - a person doesn't fall that fast.

Except before he hits 54000 miles an hour, he's reached escape velocity, which, alas, is incorrectly named. Escape velocity is a *scalar*. If you are traveling at escape speed, and you are not pointing *at* the earth, you are now going to break free of earth's orbit (in a vacuum).

Put all these together, and the idea of a speed force that makes the changes required so he can actually do these things makes far more sense than "there's Something Special that makes him able to run that fast."

Of course, this breaks all reality, but then, so does a man from the planet Krypton having superhuman abilities because he came from a planet with higher gravity and a red sun.
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(no subject) [Feb. 10th, 2017|05:58 pm]
John
Dude, I get it.. You hate to be pushed toward doing the right thing. But don't call it terrible in pubic!
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Not *exactly* a filk, but I wrote it over the weekend. [Feb. 1st, 2017|08:41 am]
John
Intro:

So, this is a Simon and Garfunkel tune, heavy on the Garfunkel, who *still* has far more range than I so I need two things. COuld someone give me a reference note?
(friendly filker strikes a note on guitar) Okay, I was hoping for something written, that's why I asked for a 'note'. And one final thing that will protect the ears of those who have knowledge of voices... (looks around) Deborah? Where's the helium? Oh, well...."

TTTO: Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream

Last night I had a stranger dream than any I'd pull from my rump
I dreamed the Presidency went to Donald OhMyGod Trump
I dreamed inauguration day,
Attended by powerful men,
And with the speechifying we knew
There'd soon be more fighting again.
And when the speechifying's done
And a million freedoms frayed,
They laughed a bit maniacally
At thoughts of the wealth to be made.
And the people in the streets below
Were protesting all around
As ACA, enviro regs, were tramped on the ground.
Last night I had a stranger dream than any I'd pull from my rump
I dreamed the Presidency went to Donald OhMyGod Trump
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Filk part 3 of 3 [Jan. 29th, 2017|04:24 pm]
John
This is a filk I'd tried to write for a long time and it finally gelled. It's still a work in progress because it deserves to be sharpened up.

TTTO Big Bad John, though there are extra verses:

Intro: a lot of time, people complain that women heroes are built by a sausage factory - a group of men deciding what heroic women should be like. I tried to avoid the worst of it in this piece, but I reckon there's no way to avoid it entirely. You young folks here can ask your grandparents why I think this was funny.
(ObExplanation: Jimmy Dean, who later bent his efforts towards making breakfast sausage was the original author and singer.)

Just before the circle started you could see her arrive
She stood five foot even weighed 245
Kinda rounded at the shoulders, kinda broad across the ass
'N tweren't nobody 'bout to raise their glass to big Jan.
(big Jan... big Jan...) big broad Jan.

She worked pretty hard to try to fit in
'N magic worked better when she was within
The circle though she wa'ant no popular gal
No real friends just a couple a pals,
To big Jan.

Somebody said she'd battled through dreams
'N kicked out a beastie that was raisin' some screams
But a spell gone bad had burned to the bone
Burned out her heart and left her alone big Jan.
(big Jan... big Jan) Big lone Jan

She wasn't that pretty though quick with her wit
And always had time to help for a bit.
But never stuck around when it come time for play
So's I reckon we thought we'd lose her one day.

But she kept coming back, sometime wi'out a smile
'N helped shape the spellwork for us after a while
I started to realize she had more to her then
I knew we'd all see it, but I didn't know when, big Jan.
(big Jan... big Jan) Big deep Jan


One yuletide circle everthing was a fright
'N hellfire erupted instead of delight
We panicked as we felt the demon's dark spell
And everyone thought they were trapped in this hell 'cept Jan

Through the smoke and the fires of the demon from hell
Strode a hell of a woman nobody knew well.
Took up her stance, lookin' fragile as glass
Yet she stared down the demon - "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!"

(Big Jan... big Jan...) big bad Jan.

([rising] big Jan)
Her power shone, all the strength of her will
Pushed back the demon, deprived'm o'his kill
The rest of us escaped from that demon's planned grave
Now there's only one left back there to save, big Jan.

Before they could help her, the demon struck back
It was near dead certain as he made his attack.
Fire and despair would tear her to death
With everyone sure she'd breathed her last breath big Jan.
(big Jan big Jan) big bad Jan.

The death strike landed, that demon's best shot
(pause)
A defiant Jan asked "hey - is that all you got?
I've suffered through worse doing time in high school
Your power can't break me, you demonic old fool!"

With brand new hope they cast the next spell
Ta link 'em back to Jan at the gates of that hell
They were ready to help her if any was needed
twasn't no need, though - one bastard, defeated, by Jan.
(big Jan Big Jan) Big Bad Jan.

They never spoke much of what happened that night.
Never seemed proper to discuss in the light.
'cept for one big lesson they'd learned in the end.
Sometimes the quiet folks make a hell of a friend... like big Jan.


Addendum: "The spell gone bad" clearly did not burn out her heart, or I wouldn't describe her as "a hell of a friend". That line is there because the leftover trauma kept her from connecting as well with a new group as well as she might have otherwise - I also kind-of assume that the after-effects of Big John having killed a man kept John separated from his co-workers.
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Filk Part 2 of 3 [Jan. 29th, 2017|04:18 pm]
John
This one was going for "tearjerker" - it kinda works that way for me, a second one for Pratchett:

TTTO Blowing In The Wind:
How many books can an author give to us
When the fates have become so unkind
And why there's no more joys he can he at our feet
Is a question I'll admit I've often whined
How many more years would it be till he'd given
Us the contents of that wonderous mind?
The answer my friend...
(is blowing in the wind? One that never ends?)
...is blowing in the wind. The answer is blowing in the wind.

How many years can the Discworld be real
In the minds of so many loving fans
How many stories did we deserve to enjoy
About a strangely real seeming land?
Just how can you handle that the gods cheated us of
Even more books written by that hand?
The answer my friends...

Well the signal can't be stopped is a lesson that we learned
From the people who ran the Firefly
G-N-U Terry Pratchet has continued to this day
As a way to keep his mem'ry alive
But the question still remains, so be sure we will demand
That the universe explain to us WHY?
But that answer my friend...
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Filk committed... Pt 1 of 3 [Jan. 29th, 2017|04:11 pm]
John
So, I went to Conflikt this weekend, and while I couldn't participate much, I did decide to indulge my poetic, creative side..

After that five minute interlude, I decided to try to write some filk.

A filker mentioned there weren't enough Discworld filks, and there wasn't a "never set the cat on fire" song. I decided I'd try to start one, though others with deeper knowledge of the whole series could do better.. still:

TTTO Never Set The Cat On Fire
Never cross Gran Weatherwax
It's sure to bring you trouble
The elder witch is wise and skilled
And sure to leave you humbled.
And even if you're awful grim
Don't ask 'bout hedgehog buggrin'
No never cross Gran Weatherwax

And mind your manners in accordance with the facts
and never cross Gran Weatherwax.

Don't ever start a barroom brawl
when the city guard's aroundya
they're on a competency swing
and the troll might kinda poundya
And even if your life is hard
don't duel the over-tall dwarf guard
No never start a barroom brawl

And mind your manners in accordance with the facts
And never cross Gran Weatherwax.

Don't overbuild the pyramids
they'll warp time space continuum
The damage warping does to books
means the author can't continue 'em.
It will disrupt the graves of pharohs
So their kids would shoot you full of arrows,
no don't overbuild the pyramids.

And mind your manners, in accordance with the facts
And never cross Gran Weatherwax.

Added:
Don't bottle feed a baby dragon
It fills me with forboding
Just in case you knew it not
dragons often are exploding!
They breathe out deadly fire, friend,
or jet wash from the other end...
so don't bottle feed a baby dragon.

And mind your manners....

(Edited to fix a homophone misspelling)

(Note: in the books, it was an actual jet exhaust... but I couldn't get that to scan.)
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More fun than it ought to be.... [Jan. 10th, 2017|06:27 pm]
John
So, I was thinking of the misery of thinking of going out for yogurt and pro-biotics pills, and maybe a bit of this and that.

And then a thought came to me. Yes I work for "Amazon Web Services" but we're not called that because we provide web space to Diana Prince[1]! Gee, if only someone had used the wondrous cloud based tools to make an online shopping store that had overnight, and sometimes even same day delivery... oh, right! They had!

(That's kind of how AWS started. "Look at all these cool toys we built. I bet other people would like to use them. Well... let's find out!")

Prime Now had some grocery options - I got some Coke 0 and yogurt (and eggs). Well, the Coke comes off the shelf, but the refrigerated groceries were packed with dry ice.

Damn shame I have to wait, like, an hour to let the soda get cold... wait.

Fill the sink with cold water.
CAREFULLY break up the dry ice with a hammer. Put the dry ice in, and then the soda. The water mass is too large to get below 0 C but tap water is 50-60 degrees (ETA: 50-60 Fahrenheit - about 10C) right now; that alone is a quick way to partially chill the soda.

An added benefit I hadn't considered: the bubbling of the dry ice caused some agitation. In a sink full of water, and 6 cans of room temperature soda, I doubt agitation matters too much - but it does help ensure that there's circulation, so the warmer water near the cans is moved away.

Plus you get that whole "witch's (sink-)cauldron" effect.

The water in my sink is now about 3C - colder than my refrigerator, and water sucks heat out far better than air. This barely counts as "science!" but it's still fun.

[1] aka Wonder Woman - an Amazon, you see. Yes, terrible allusion-pun.
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PSA - recognize cellulitis... [Jan. 10th, 2017|12:05 pm]
John
So: Friday night, I thought I had a tiny zit on my nose. This happens with a CPAP, nothing to worry about.

Saturday, it felt like the infection was spreading - it looked like it had grown a bit, and it was redder.

Sunday, it had definitely spread, I could see it climbing up and across my nose and I felt a tad feverish (I wasn't, though). And I could see the skin that was definitely infected starting to ooze a bit, like a broken blister.

I went to urgent care, and it was definitely the right call - I had cellulitis, which can spread quickly and can quickly become life-threatening. I got a shot of antibiotics and more to take (and I was warned to go straight to the drug store, and immediately fill my prescription, and start taking them immediately), so I did.

I called out sick from work on Monday. Today, I'm out sick again, and I'm still wiped out, and all from an infection that was about the size of a quarter, or maybe just a bit bigger.

The good news is that it seems like we nipped the infection in the bud. It's definitely shrinking and looking like a skin area recovering from infection. That doesn't mean I'm completely out of the woods, but it's a good sign.

I hope I don't have to tell any readers to always finish any course of antibiotics - it's especially vital with something like this that can be fast spreading, and that might already be mildly resistant to the antibiotics you're taking.

Next step: yogurt and other pro-biotics. A ten day course can wreck havoc on one's helpful bacteria.
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Can we do this? [Jan. 5th, 2017|09:31 am]
John
Time Traveler: "I expected horrors... but I didn't expect The Donald presidency!"

(record scratch sound)

"NOBODY expects The Donald Presidency! Its chief weapon is deception! Deception and bigotry, bigotry and deception... its TWO main weapons are deception and bigotry... and bullshit. Its THREE main weapons are deception, bigotry, bullshit, and a fanatical devotion to incompetence and outdated social theories....

It's four... no, AMONGST its weaponry are such diverse elements as deception, bigotry, bullshit, and a fanatical devotion to incompetence!"

(The record scratch comes from the album version I heard most often. However, if you're completely confused: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WJXHY2OXGE - Monty Python link.)
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Cute tidbit... [Jan. 4th, 2017|09:34 pm]
John
I found this on Benford's law:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benford's_law

I reckon you could find low initial digits in some scientific data, and you might think it's really amazing... but the point of the law is that when reporting things, the first digit is the most significant, and a lot of times, people want a measurement that tends to make that important at 1. So if a Watt is a decently meaningful amount of power, then it's no surprise if you find that 1, or 10, or 100 Watts will be more likely to be meaningful than 5, or 50. If 5 Watts was a common, useful quantity, then the measurement probably would have been divided by 5 to make 1 (new) Watt a useful quantity.

Now: it would be kinda curious if it turned out that the number of miles (exactly) between the center of the sun and the center of other stars followed Benford's law for miles, or even for light years (since the 365 days of light's travel is arbitrary - I mean, forced by the length of a year, but "a year" on another planet could be vastly different.)

Heh. Though this reminds me of a story idea I had that I never did anything with. An earth scientist, shortly after the earth joins the league of planets comes with stunning news - delivered humbly, or perhaps boastfully depending on the story - about how the earth is actually the perfect center of the known universe. And everyone laughs... because there's always some measurement for any planet that joins the league that puts them in the perfect center, and a new planet's scientists always "discover" it shortly after they get their map of inhabited systems.
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