Friday Notes (Jul 1, 2022)

The worst of it is the three posts in my Drafts folder that I can’t seem to move forward. They sit there, woefully incomplete, mocking me while other posts spring forth, quietly get dressed, and move on out the virtual door.

They’re stuck, in part, by a need for diagrams, and I’ve been stuck between whether to load my increasingly obsolete graphics app onto my new-ish laptop or invest (time, money, effort) in something new.

And life keeps happening, and that leads to another edition of Friday Notes.

There are more than three posts in my Drafts folder, of course. A handful are just templates I use for starting a post; another handful likely will never see the light of day. But there are five — three in particular — that I really want to push out that virtual door.

The most frustrating one is the follow-up to the last Sidebands post, Electronic Shortcuts. That was back in November. Have to publish the sequel before I can publish other Sidebands posts, so it tops the list. But it needs diagrams. I may go with hand-drawn just to finish it.

[My sense of production values makes me want diagrams that look more professional and polished (and, I tend to think, clearer). But the hand-drawn stuff seems almost trendy these days, so maybe it’s fine.]

There’s another about the notion of time-reversal in physics. It’s stuck because it needs diagrams and because I’m not sure it’s saying anything I haven’t said before (in the context of free will or determinism). A possible new angle is the part about convergence versus divergence of causality. Every event is due to a converging light cone, but every event is also the start of a diverging one.

The third is a piece about remakes, reboots, sequels, and adaptations. That one’s stuck because it’s such a big topic, and I don’t have clarity or a gestalt. I have several pages of notes, so it’s probably a multi-post series that’ll take some elbow grease.

But life keeps happening.

§

Normally, when my pal Bentley is part of a post, I find a cute picture of her for the lede. But the poor thing broke her left ear last month and has to wear a compression band around her head now, so she’s feeling, in her words, “Arful!” and has requested no pictures.

So, don’t tell her about these. (Fortunately, she’s a dog, so she’s more of a YouTuber than a blog reader.)

She was doing that vigorous head-shaking thing dogs do and banged it on a coffee table hard enough to break a blood vessel. I hematoma developed, and her ear swelled up with fluid. Hopefully time, immobilizing and compressing, and the prednisone, will let her dodge a bit of ear surgery.

Hope so! She’s already bumming about the restrictions. Surgery would mean more of the same. She’s an angel about it all (for the most part). It’s tough, because they don’t understand why this is happening. (I hope she gets from the apologies that we regret this, too!)

It’s tough on BentleyMom, too. Her job and family life can be demanding. Normally, things tick along smoothly, but dealing with a busted ear and hosting parents-in-town was a bit much, so I got to dog-sit my pal.

Which I love, but poor Bentley would have been happier without the extra gear. I have to say I’m impressed by the advances from the old plastic cones dogs used to be subjected to. Soft donuts and also soft collapsible cones, both designed to integrate with the dog’s collar. Kinda slick.

§

[Don’t get whiplash on this topic change.] Watched Top Gun (1986) again for the first time in, I’m sure, decades. It holds up very well.

But then it comes from an era of better movies. Before we became besotted with CGI eye-candy, superhero absurdities, and science fiction silliness. That was when movies often told careful, thoughtful stories rather than taking you on a colorful amusement park ride high on action and absent of sense.

I wanted to see it again before seeing the new one that came out this year, Top Gun: Maverick. It’s gotten good reviews, and The Critical Drinker’s video about it got me interested. I very much agree with his take on practical effects versus greenscreen CGI.

I haven’t gotten around to renting the new one, yet. Maybe tonight!

§

Speaking of the other shoe not dropping yet, recently I watched Life of Crime (2013), which stars Jennifer Aniston, Yasiin Bey, and John Hawkes. It also features Tim Robbins, Isla Fisher, and Will Forte.

The plot is vaguely reminiscent of Ruthless People (1986), where Judge Reinhold and Helen Slater kidnap Bette Midler to ransom her to husband Danny DeVito. Who hates her and doesn’t want her back.

That one seems an original work by the Abrahams, Zucker, Zucker team, yet it did come out eight years after the 1978 Elmore Leonard book, The Switch. On the other hand, Life of Crime, is definitely an adaptation.

The movie takes place in Detroit, in 1978, when two bumbling ex-cons, Ordell Robbie (Bey) and Louis Gara (Hawkes), hoping to get rich quick, enact a half-witted, poorly planned kidnapping of Mickey Dawson (Anniston). They hope for a big payoff from her husband Frank Dawson (Robbins), but he doesn’t want her back.

You see the similarities. Both movies involve an epiphany or awakening of the kidnapped wife due to the ordeal. This being Elmore Leonard source material, the character studies are pretty good, too. The movie was okay; a fine way to pass 99 minutes.

I’ve got the book, The Switch, on hold at the library, but it hasn’t come around yet. Maybe next week.

§

Speaking of movies, I liked The Adam Project (2022) a lot better than I did the other recent Netflix movie starring Ryan Reynolds.

I couldn’t get through Red Notice; bailed after 20 minutes. Just a string of thought-free cliches. Really boring. This one kept me watching, but… Eh!

It’s a time-travel movie, so the plot is fantastic despite the SF wrapper. And I’m just a bit tired of Ryan Reynolds. As with many modern actors, we get the actor not the acting.

And can movie “heroes” please stop tossing stuff they’re done with aside? I’m really fucking sick of this supposed macho toss your empties bullshit. Fuck off with your littering and disdain for others, ya wankers.

§

When we get a good hailstorm, I like to grab a few hailstones and save them in my freezer. I’ve had some decent ones over the years (see here and here) but no baseball-sized hail (let alone larger) so far. Not that I’m complaining. Hail that large is scary and destructive.

These hailstones are from back in May. They aren’t huge, but the lozenge-like shape intrigued me. That one in the upper left almost looks like some kind of cool mint candy.

Anyway, I wait for a cloudless, sunny day, and then I take the hailstones from the freezer and toss them out on the lawn. Surprise!

My little revenge for all the damage hail does.

§

I doubt many remember the 8-inch floppy disks from the very early days of computing, but a few may recall the first common ones, the 5.25-inch disks that we all used in our first IBM PCs back in the very early 1980s.

In their first incarnation, they held a paltry 360,000 bytes of data. That’s an amount that seems like a joke these days. I have log files many times that size, not to mention image and audio files.

And here it is, the 360,000 bytes you could fit on a 5.25″ floppy:

All the data an old-school 5.25″ floppy can hold.

The image uses eight-bits for each pixel, so each pixel represents one byte. The image is 750×480 pixels, which is 360,000 pixels. Click on it to expand it, and you’ll have an old floppy’s worth of data right there in one image.

The 3.5-inch floppies were better in many ways. They weren’t so floppy and prone to damage. (Those 5.25″ ones got folded sometimes!) And they held a bit more — up to 1.44 megabytes in their most popular format.

Which still makes for a manageable image:

All the data a slightly less old-school 3.5″ floppy can hold.

Same eight-bit pixels, but 1600×900 pixels, which is 1,440,000 pixels. Again, click on the image to see it full-size.

We’ve come a long way, baby. Some people may not even know what floppy disks even were anymore. Even CD-ROMS seem a thing of the past. My last two laptops have had no disk slots, just USB ports (and some other fancy ports).

§

That viral video of mine now has over 83K hits. Astonishing. I may have to return to doing some other videos along those lines. I’ve been asked to unfold a 5D hypercube into tesseracts, or to continue unfolding the tesseract into squares (which indeed can be done).

But for now I’ve returned to the pool balls simulations. These continue a series of “Entropy” videos I did using particles. Now that I have a better collision algorithm (one that handles glancing contact), I’m doing pool balls.

And moving into 3D:

I’m just working the kinks out now, but I’m hoping to create some interesting videos. I want to return to the idea of running a simulation for a while, then stopping it and reversing the momentum of all the balls, then running it the same amount of time to see if it returns to the starting state.

That was something I tried with the particle animations:

But the system only returned to roughly the original state. Still, it’s pretty cool to see the movement coalesce after all the random motion. It seems like a film running backwards, but it’s not.

With a better collision algorithm, I’m hoping for better results.

§ §

Stay noteworthy, my friends! Go forth and spread beauty and light.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

15 responses to “Friday Notes (Jul 1, 2022)

  • Wyrd Smythe

    While waiting for the Elmore Leonard book, I’m reading Murder in the White House (1980), by Margaret Truman (Harry’s daughter). Just started, only read a couple of chapters so far, but it seems okay. Too soon to tell, really.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      And, recently, I read the first two “Nikki Heat” books by “Richard Castle” — the fictional author played by Nathan Fillion on the ABC “odd couple” police procedural series Castle (2009–2016).

      On the show, (fictional) “Richard Castle” writes a series of books fictionalizing his adventures with the police homicide squad he works with. The books, their covers and titles, have appeared various times on the series.

      Turns out ABC has published those books. With those covers and titles. Fictionalized (and far more lurid) accounts of a fictional homicide squad written by a fictional TV character. It kinda makes my head spin. They were okay reads, but I think I’ll just stick with the series, which I’m slowly re-watching on Hulu. Now that I’m done with Elementary, it’s the only old friend I’ve got cued up.

  • SelfAwarePatterns

    At least you look at and keep working your drafts. My drafts tab is pretty much a graveyard. At best the ideas sometimes show up in other posts. But I don’t usually work on posts over extended periods of time anyway. At least not in written form. I more typically work on them mentally and then eventually splat them out in an hour or two, which obviously wouldn’t work if I did diagrams.

    Is Maverick available for renting yet? I’ll probably catch it when it’s streaming somewhere included in the subscription. Everyone I knew loved the original in the 80s. I didn’t think it was bad, but never had the enthusiasm for it most people do. But it’s been decades since I watched it, so maybe I’d feel different now.

    I remember 8-inch floppies, although I never used them. My dad often took some home for an off site backup from their office system. But I definitely used the 5.25 ones. 360k was the pinnacle though. The first disk drives I used could only store 88k. If I recall correctly, the 360k ones were double sided and double density. That 88k was still a big improvement over the tapes we started with, connected through the serial port to our Atari 400 with 16k RAM. Hard to remember in an era of cheap 128 GB thumb drives.

    Forgot to congratulate you last time on your viral video. Pretty cool. I like the idea of trying to simulate reversing entropy. I imagine not returning to the exact state is a floating point precision issue?

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Thanks. Really caught me by surprise. I think the curve is starting to flatten now. Doesn’t look like I’ll ever enter the Million Hits Club. 😃

      I’m pretty sure Maverick is available to rent on Prime. I’ve got it in my watch list.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Oops, sorry, I forgot to answer your question. I suspect floating point will still play a role even when (and if) I can eliminate the larger noise sources. Collisions with other balls, and collisions with the walls, introduces tiny deviations from what would occur naturally. Obviously, since the balls are virtual, they can easily intersect, so a lot of the burden is on detecting and handling collisions programmatically. The mechanics of physical collisions turns out to be much simpler than I imagined; it’s implementing it as a virtual reality that’s tricky. A huge trade-off is between how often I update the ball positions versus how much processing I’m willing to do. The finer I slice time, the smaller the error.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        I actually looked last night to see if Maverick was on Prime, but only found a pre-order entry. I did discover that the 2021 Bond film was available for free in Prime and decided to spend the evening watching it. A decent send off of Craig, although I’m now spoiled by anime and so felt they could have done a lot more with the villain.

        Thanks for the simulation explanation. Makes sense. Sounds like you could model it to arbitrary levels of precision, but eventually it would be too slow to be useful.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Damn. Well, it was available. Looks like I missed my chance. Hope it comes around again. I guess the consolation prize is that latest Bond film. I haven’t seen that, yet.

        The precision question is strictly related to time. The physical calculations are as precise as floating-point math allows and, as I said before, the noise they introduce is far below the noise from time-slicing. A simple strategy waits for a pair of balls to “intersect” — for their centers to come closer than the Pythagorean distance of (2*R)^2, which, because R=1, is 4.0. The algorithm processes the collision, exchanging momentum as determined by the collision angle, and moves the balls so they no longer intersect. A lot of complication lies in that last sentence. By the time the balls intersect, they’ve already collided, presumably in the time since the last time tick (or they would have been detected then). So, the actual collision dynamics happen sometime during the time slice. The smaller the slice, the smaller the error, but the more computation required.

        With a naive algorithm, the time resolution versus computing time tradeoff dominates, but there are some strategies that improve things. One can increase time slice resolution only while handling collisions, kind of like zooming in time-wise during the actual contact. Currently I estimate by backing both balls up one time slice, moving them forward a half-slice, processing the hit, then moving them forward (with altered momentums) another half-slice. Essentially, I split the difference of the pre-hit about-to-hit distance. Even so, the time-slicing remains a strong factor in precision.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        I’m sure it’ll be back in a few weeks. It’s still playing in the theaters, and I don’t think they’ll let it stream, even as a rental, until they feel like they’ve gotten everything they can from the theater. Personally I’m ready to be done with that model, but the studios apparently aren’t.

        Makes sense on the time resolution. Thanks!

      • Wyrd Smythe

        It was available to rent. I checked it out last night in my LG TV app and the page for the movie is different now. Box (with a red outline!) saying it’s only available for pre-order (and not via the app). It used to show the buy and rent buttons. Changed with the month, I suppose. (We also entered a new quarter and a new half-year.) I noticed The Fall Guy, which I also have in Prime Video My Stuff, is no longer available for rent, but can be purchased.

        Hulu just went through another round of advising a lot of its anime was about to expire and that not happening. Usually with only days left. Happened a bunch of times, now. It’s turning into Cry Wolf situation.

        I also have Spiderman: No Way Home in my Prime Stuff. It’s available for rental, but I’m finding I’m so over live-action superhero stuff that even $5.99 (IIRC) for a rental (in the comfort of my own home) feels steep ($2.99, and I’m in; even $4.99, but somehow $5.99 makes me uncertain it’s worth it). Last night I tried The Boys but bailed halfway through the second episode. Live-action superheroes are just… dumb to me anymore, and this “what shits would people really be if they had superpowers?” trope was already plowed ground when Hancock came out in 2008. (At least to readers of non-mainstream comics like The Authority and others. Superhero deconstruction has been around a long time.) The Boys was a lot of the same cliches, and I just couldn’t get interested. A lot has to do with how weird it seems to me to be in my 60s and still having superheroes in my stories. Science fiction took me other places a long time ago!

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        That’s weird with the Hulu anime thing. I wonder if it’s last minute negotiations. Or maybe their system just has built in warnings that are triggering off the wrong date fields.

        I watched Spider Man: No Way Home after my cousin’s glowing recommendation. I’m not a giant fan of Holland’s version of Parker, but I did enjoy it. It did a good job of making me feel the emotional hits. They use the multiverse to mix it up with the other Spider Man franchises. The multiverse also figures heavily in the latest Dr. Strange, which I watched last week, but that one I’d only rate as okay.

        I’ve never tried The Boys. The trailers just never interested me. As you said, superhero deconstruction has been around for a while. The Watchmen largely scratched that itch for me, to whatever extent I might have had it.

        I spent most of the weekend binging on the latest season of Stranger Things. Silly comic book level science, but sympathetic characters and fairly gripping stories.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I think the warnings are legit and it does have something to do with negotiations. It’s always tied to a month-end (maybe even a quarter-end). Assuming so, it suggests the contracts are short-term, though. As if Hulu might lose all that anime at any time. I do know platforms that own things are getting possessive. Netflix may never get any of the Marvel movies now.

        I’ve heard good things about Spider Man: No Way Home. Seems to have impressed even the more jaded and cynical fans. That second Dr. Strange started with a good buzz, but apparently didn’t hold up.

  • J Ryan

    I like your comment about ‘heroes’ littering. Made me laugh out loud. The disk images remind me of “magic eye” pictures.

  • Wyrd Smythe

    WTF? The library book, The Switch, is still on a two-week hold! It has been since I put it on hold back on June 15th! It’s now been over a month.

    WTF, library?!

  • Mystery Monday 8/15/22 | Logos con carne

    […] Last month I mentioned I’d seen the movie Life of Crime (2013), with Jennifer Anniston and John Hawkes (among others). It’s a cute crime caper movie based on an Elmore Leonard book, The Switch (1978). […]

And what do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: