Archive for February, 2011


“Atlas Shrugged” movie clip now available!

February 28, 2011

OK, I confess that I was very concerned about this movie when I first heard it was being made. I’ve made some comments on this blog about it, both expressing my concerns and my hopes for the film. The film will only depict the first third of the story, which is the only decision the filmmakers could make – like Lord of the Rings, it’s too big to do in a single film, no matter how brilliantly written.

The trailer came out a couple of weeks ago, and it’s pretty, but it doesn’t tell much. It did show that the film was going to be set in the present or near-future (some folks are speculating 2016 or thereabouts) instead of in an alternate 1950s or so. (There is a timeline on one of the Ayn Rand sites that speculates that the end of the story should fall in 1974; Rand was very careful to avoid references to anything that would date the book very much. I don’t think she could foresee the growth of the trucking industry, but otherwise, an alternate 1974 would have been perfectly believable.)

Now a clip has appeared on the film’s official site that shows an important scene from the film. While it’s not a pivotal plot point, it was a perfect clip to use to help those of us who liked the book feel a bit better about how Brian O’Toole handled the book in writing the script. It’s the scene where Hank Rearden comes home on the day he poured the first batch of Rearden Metal, and he presents his wife with a bracelet made from it. You can see it here:

If you’ve read the book, you know that Rand spends pages and pages describing the struggle inside Hank Rearden’s head during this scene. I’ve not compared the book and the scene, but the dialog seems very, very similar. The delivery by the cast is spot-on, especially Rebecca Wisocky as Lillian Rearden. Grant Bowler seems to do a good job as Hank Rearden; I couldn’t figure out what bothered me about him at first. Finally I got it – he’s too short! He’s barely taller than Dagny when she’s wearing heels! I’ve pictured northern-Minnesota-born Hank as a tall, Nordic, rawboned man, not as a smooth, well-groomed type comfortable in board rooms – more the type comfortable in the foundry. I have to say, though, that Bowler does a good job carrying off the feeling of Hank Rearden in this clip.

By God, I hope the rest of the movie is as good as this!


“Atlas Shrugged” movie merchandise available now!

February 28, 2011

The movie poster

The Atlas Shrugged film now has some merchandise available, mostly through Find the merchandise by using this link. The logo shown above is pretty cool, as an updated version of the well-known art-deco version used on the cover of the novel for years:

This cover has been used on many printings of the book.

Besides the usual shirts and such, there’s a nice iPad cover and iPhone with the design shown on the poster, and no text at all, which is cool and understated. There is also a lapel pin that’s about $15 of the same atlas design. I ordered mine before the site was even up. Mine came with a nice little thank-you card signed by scriptwriter Brian O’Toole!

Lapel pin


Shuttle launch from a passenger jet – lucky devils!

February 28, 2011

This flight out of Orlando left two hours late – and just at the right time to see the Discovery launch! And this guy shot this video with an iPhone! Well done, sir!


No more room at the ISS! And NASA’s budget…

February 27, 2011

Since Discovery docked yesterday, the number of visiting vehicles is up to five – the Russian Progress supply ship and Soyuz lifeboat, the Japanese HTV, and the European ATV-2 are all there. (So is the the Canadian Dextre robot.) There are also now 12 personnel on board! Article here.

THIS IS FRACKING HUGE, FOLKS! (Sorry.) Most people don’t even know we have people in space, or if they do, so what? It’s not the wheel-shaped station from “2001” we hoped for, but it’s a serious presence in orbit.

And we do it on a shoestring. With the trillions of dollars thrown around as deficits, and the tens of billions thrown around here and there in talking about how Obama and Congress might help this problem or that, NASA’s entire budget¬† – manned and unmanned – is less than three quarters of one per cent of the national budget. (In FY 2008 it was 0.6 per cent.) That’s under 19 billion dollars a year, folks. And that includes all the unmanned missions, infrastructure, the upkeep on the facilities, etc.

By the way, in 1966 – the biggest year, by percentage of the budget – it was just over four percent. And this was when the major expenditures in infrastructure for the Apollo program were being made – things like launch pads, the space center in Houston, that sort of thing. Not so much flying hardware.

If we had four per cent of the budget consistently, every year since 1966, I’d be writing this on the Moon, and watching broadcasts from the Martian outposts!

Oh, and by the way…here’s a quote from the end of the article referenced above:

“It may be a decade before the American space program can create a new heavy lift rocket and crew capsule to bring astronauts to space again, NASA’s chief technologist said.”

OK, maybe I should take back what I said about giving them more money. I mean, do some of these guys even read? I don’t know if Elon Musk is laughing right now or banging his head against the wall…

Elon Musk's SpaceX-designed Falcon 9 Heavy


Charlie Sheen quotes…with cats!

February 27, 2011

I never thought this was something I would comment on, but you have to go here and see these. It seems to put this whole Charlie Sheen thing in perspective! Brilliant!


Beautiful Space Shuttle Cutaway Model!

February 26, 2011


A modeler named Pete Malaguti took 900 hours to complete this 1/72 scale cutaway of the space shuttle. There are lots of other photos, and a step-by-step of his build, here.

Absolutely stunning work!


For the BSG fan who has everything

February 25, 2011

Useful, yet unbelievably overpriced!

I cannot for the life of me get why they made it…it’s funny, yeah, I get it, but the web site where I found it said it retailed for $ 300! (To be fair, they are selling it for half that, and I found it listed on eBay for less than that!)

And I’m a fan of things that are cool for cool’s sake, like fins on 1950s cars. I guess if it was forty bucks it would be great, but call something a “collectible” and it becomes insane.

Oh, and from the images I saw…it doesn’t look like it makes very good toast. Too bad. It doesn’t even have that little red light that scans back and forth.

Can I get it in brushed aluminum?


More snow!

February 24, 2011

Yeah, but it sucks to be in southern Indiana more!

Enough already! Another 3 to 5 inches of snow tonight? Noooooooooooooo! Last night we had THUNDERSNOW! That’s TWICE this year for thundersnow!

I think it’s because Rich Daley is retiring as Chicago’s mayor. <voice of Dan Ackroyd> It’s a sign from God!


ISS gets a lot of traffic!

February 24, 2011

Kepler during docking procedure

The ESA Automated Transfer Vehicle, named for German astronomer Johannes Kepler, arrived at the station and docked at the Zvezda module at 10:59 AM EST today. The Discovery launched this afternoon and will dock Saturday afternoon.

Discovery lifts off for the final flight

As I write this, no decision has been made yet if the ISS crew is going to do a flyaround of Discovery using the Soyuz docked at the station. I hope so – it would be cool to see the images they could take. We’ve seen a lot of photos of the ISS from a shuttle, but I don’t recall seeing a real photo of the ISS with a shuttle docked.

Images like that would be very helpful to NASA as well. ISS operations have become so mundane that people probably don’t remember it’s even there. Most people know what the shuttle looks like, though…seeing it with the ISS would give them a good sense of the scale of this gigantic thing men have built in space. It could help inspire the next generation of engineers who will build the follow-on stations and vehicles.



A Search Function

February 23, 2011

I added a search widget on the right side of the page. It’s pretty simple, right? Enter your search terms, hit ENTER. Electrons run around and matches on my site appear.¬† As the kids used to say, w00t.