Kara Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

5 Articles from February 2009

  1. Ze Frank and Brain Crack

    I must admit that occasionally I succumb to the tempting siren calls of brain crack. The past couple of weeks have been so very busy that I haven't had much time for creative stuff, to the point that it's fermenting into brain crack whether I like it or not. I've been trying hard to relax at least a bit each day and push a couple of ideas out into the world, lest my head explode.

    So I bring you the Ze Frank Show on brain crack (via 43 Folders). NSFW.

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  2. Digital Water Pavilion

    It's a Wednesday. (That doesn't mean anything particular. I just wanted to point it out for those of you who hadn't noticed.) I haven't posted a new blog post in a while, so here's something I wrote a little while ago and never got around to posting.

    I first read about this in an issue of TIME magazine covering the best inventions of 2007. Recently it was featured in an episode of Daily Planet, so I thought I would share its existence with those of you who haven't heard of the Digital Water Pavilion.

    The Digital Water Pavilion is exactly what it sounds like. It's a pavilion, built in an outdoor space, with a floor and a roof supported by a couple of columns that double as an information point and office. Water running off the roof forms "walls" along the pavilion. But that's not the cool part. By controlling the flow of the water, the pavilion operators can actually use these water walls as a display device:

    The entire surface becomes a one-bit-deep digital display continuously scrolling downwards. Something like an inkjet printer on a huge scale.... The water itself is dynamic: it can display graphics, patterns and

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  3. Small break in the madness

    My reading week has suddenly left me swamped with things I'm normally doing but don't feel like doing right now, things I don't normally do and don't feel like doing right now, and things I wish I normally did and wanted to do this week but can't do right now. Still, I managed to go see Coraline last night, and I've managed to find some time right now to write a short blog post with my reflections.

    Let me get this off my chest first: I have never watched The Nightmare Before Christmas. I'll pause for a moment to let you gasp.

    As such, this is my first experience with the work of Henry Selick, and indeed, my first mature experience with stop motion animation. I don't watch Robot Chicken (more gasps); I've never seen any Wallace and Gromit; and I was too young to appreciate Chicken Run.

    The production quality on Coraline is amazing; indeed, if you didn't know it was stop motion, you could mistake it for CGI. The amount of artistry and craftsmanship required for such a production boggles my mind. The doll for Coraline had numerous different faces that could be switched out…

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  4. I take it back

    Once upon a time, I expressed a desire to live in Iceland. Unfortunately, these tough economic times have been even tougher on Iceland, what with the government collapsing and all.

    Our government came close to dissolving. It looks like that won't happen, however, now that the Liberal party has a new leader who's decided he'll support the Conservative budget. Many people are upset with this about-face by Michael Ignatieff.((Especially Jack Layton: "Blast! My evil plans foiled again! Nyaaah!")) Since I don't understand economics and don't know how to manage money, the best I can do is shrug and hope that our government isn't planning to do anything silly.((Read: We are. So screwed.))

    Meanwhile, I plan to switch back to the barter system. Think about how much the barter system benefits from the digital world! I don't have to trade chickens; I can just trade electrons with you. It is, by definition, electronic currency. If you prefer a rarer commodity as a currency, you may also trade positrons. Be careful with those, however, as they are liable to annihilate electrons--so I'd keep my bank accounts separate, if I were you.

    Now that we are indubitably living in the End Times,…

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  5. Birmingham outlaws the apostrophe--seriously?!

    Furious doesn't even begin to describe it. Town councilors in Birmingham, England have decided to drop apostrophes from signage. This unilateral decision about signage grammar is nothing less than a declaration of war against the English language. I call for a retaliatory preemptive strike.((You may be wondering how that is possible--suffice it to say, considerable amounts of power and some time travel would be involved.))

    I'm appalled that people have the nerve to desecrate the English language in such a manner. It's true that English evolves; we change the spelling of words, and we create new words to express new concepts. Yet this change is artificial and arbitrary, chosen because it supposedly clears up confusion around what a street name implies or how to locate it on a GPS.

    Apostrophes seem to be a very controversial punctuation mark. Mind you, all punctuation marks have their little quirks. The comma is the overused youngest child; semicolons are the misunderstood middle child. As the oldest child, the colon tends to pick up the slack from its younger siblings. Periods are: final, definitive, and ubiquitous. Dashes and hyphens are like fraternal twins--similar-yet-different. None of these, however, attracts as much controversy as…

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