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Random Ramblings: 01/15/2005

FortKnox (169099) writes | more than 9 years ago

User Journal 42

Last week was support week, so I have lots to say, and don't feel like making a new JE for each one.Last week was support week, so I have lots to say, and don't feel like making a new JE for each one.

Dune: I finished Frank Herberts Dune last weekend. Most people consider this their fav scifi novel. I completely see why. Lets take out the absolutely fantastic story, the completely indepth world (including science, politics, etc...) and you are left with a fantastic display of well written literature. Truely, truely a fantastic book. The best I've read. One of the taglines I read was (paraphrased cause I didn't memorize the exact quote) "Dune is to scifi as Lord of the Rings is to fantasy" IIRC that was said by Arthur Clarke. Anywho, if you haven't read it, even if you aren't into scifi, take it for a spin. Truely a fantastic book. When I finished, I was actually kinda mad... "That's it? I want to read more!!" Luckily, there are 5 more books. Looks like I'm gonna pickup #2 sometime this week, then maybe watch the old movie (yeah, I know, most people think its a desecration), followed by the scifi networks remake (which I heard was very good and its already on DVD).

Metroid Prime 2: Echos This was a Christmas present from my sister-in-law. I have been playing it, and must say, its really been a ton of fun. Its got all the goodness of the original prime, but its a ton harder, especially at the beginning. I find the challenge the most fun, and the story is even better than the original prime. Good stuff. I'm in the second world (bog) and am working on getting power to my second temple. I hear that after you get all 3 temples is when it gets really good. I guess I'll see in a couple weeks.

NFL & EA: I never really said much about the whole exclusive deal between EA & the NFL. I must say, though, that although everyone knows its bad (no competition == no innovation), it really hits home for me. I own Madden 2005. I wanted ESPN 2005, but they didn't sell it on the cube. Madden is still a fantastic game, but they have had to really kick it up a notch to compete now that ESPN was stealing some limelight. But, instead of raising the bar and coming out with a far superior product, they decided to just throw money at the situation. Honestly, I'm mostly mad at the NFL. What benefit do they get from an exclusive deal??? By allowing competition, you are allowing innovation, which can lead to more fans. I'm gonna have to write up a long, angry letter to send to the NFL.

Astronomy: I get a nice reflector telescope for Christmas. Automatic go-to computer points you to the correct stars if you triangulate it right and everything. Problem? It took 2+ weeks before it was clear enough to use it. First night, it was partly cloudy so I had too much trouble triangulating the thing. I finally give up and start trying to focus on saturn (the only planet that's really up right now in Cincy). Once I finally lock it up with my 20mm lense, I pull out the 4mm and the 3.5X barrow. I look in... see nothing. Stupid cloud jumped right in the way. Screw it, and have to wait another week to go out again. This time, I can triangulate it somewhat, but the temp is like 4F. After 45 minutes, I can't feel most of my body and have to give up. I know of a great place away from the city to do my stargazing, and am patient, but with this weather, I'm afraid I may not be able to go out until after April. Any amatuer astronomers have tips on stargazing?

Thai: There is a new thai place in (downtown) Cincy. Family owned. Best Thai I've ever had. Truely some fantastic stuff. Today I try the "Holy Basil" with beef. Good stuff... lotsa everything, especially big pieces of green bell pepper. As I'm eating and talking to my coworkers, I put some bell pepper in my mouth and stop. Funny, why did they keep the seeds in this piece. It was then that I realized smoke was coming out of my nose[1]. Yes, my mouth was entirely on fire. That wasn't a big slice of bell pepper, that was a big slice of a green chile (with the seeds, meaning extra hot). Now, I can handle some seriously spicy foods, but a straight, seeded chile in a very spicy sauce already was far too much for me to handle. Being polite, I try to force myself to swallow. That didn't happen. I eventually had to spit it onto my fork and back onto my plate. I only had water, so I end up shovelling rice in my mouth and even downed the water. Upon returning to my desk, I down a sleeve of saltines (IBS's best friend). My mouth is about back to normal, but my stomach is seriously pissed off. That's not my fear though. My gut isn't gonna be too happy. I already know I'm gonna be in a serious flareup tonight and tomorrow most likely. Ugh....

[1] No offense Sol, but now I know what its like to french-kiss a dragon.

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Dune: Stop Right Now! (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 9 years ago | (#11412238)

Okay, stop reading Dune right now. You've read the best. One or two books are sorta like "ROTJ" good. The rest are Episode I bad. Stop, stop, stop.

Re:Dune: Stop Right Now! (1)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 9 years ago | (#11412266)

but...but...but.... I don't even see if Paul unleashes the freman jyhad... I don't see if he actually becomes emperor. I wanna know how the story ends, dangit!

Re:Dune: Stop Right Now! (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 9 years ago | (#11412488)

IIRC, the second book is the 'ROTJ' quality story. Someone who has read the series more than once can probably fill you in a little better:)

Re:Dune: Stop Right Now! (1)

arb (452787) | more than 9 years ago | (#11416828)

They taper off, but even the worst is still better quality the Ep I.

By the time you get to the fifth or sixth books of the trilogy it can be a bit of a tough slog, especially if you are reading them one after the other, and it is somewhat of a relief to get to the end. But the entire series must be read at least twice.

Re:Dune: Stop Right Now! (1)

LPetrazickis (557952) | more than 9 years ago | (#11412500)

Relax. I like all the Frank Herbert books. Ignore the nattering nabobs of negativity, mkay?:)

Re:Dune: Stop Right Now! (1)

Brainboy (310252) | more than 9 years ago | (#11412440)

Come now, God Emporer of Dune is my favorite of the series. He can't miss that!

Re:Dune: Stop Right Now! (1)

peacefinder (469349) | more than 9 years ago | (#11413045)

I agree. That's a very good book. I see why many folks like the first book best, but God Emperor is my favorite. I don't think any of the ones Frank Herbert wrote suck.

As for the stuff Herbert's son is doing, I think this says it best. []

Re:Dune: Stop Right Now! (1)

buffer-overflowed (588867) | more than 9 years ago | (#11412502)

Do not desecrate Frank Herbert by comparing his works to Episode 1.

And they aren't bad... at all. Just not as good as Dune. They shift away from action/revolution into the political aspects of governing and Paul's quest to free humanity from what he is(although Leto does this, with the Golden Path). Unfortunately Frank died before finishing a sequel to Chapterhouse, and his Son just anywhere near as good.

Chapterhouse and Heretics are both quite good, and Messiah isn't disappointing(Sci-fi kinda combined Messiah and Children of Dune in their last mini-series). After Messiah, you have 2 books of pure politicking(the Bene Tleilax roxx0r, but Children and God Emperor are a little slow).

Dune: Keep reading! (1)

Ethelred Unraed (32954) | more than 9 years ago | (#11412654)

I agree. While the remaining books in the series don't reach the same (very high) level of Dune itself, they are still top-notch.

The Brian Herbert-Kevin Anderson prequels, on the other hand, are steaming piles of shit. Had Christopher Tolkien done to J.R.R. Tolkien's unpublished work what Brian did to Daddy-O's notes, ole Chris would have deservedly been lynched by an angry mob of people dressed as oversized hobbits.

(Who's up for a stillsuit-clad posse?)

The only reason I'm still reading them (I'm almost done slogging through The Machine Crusade) is that they are indeed based on Herbert's notes and background work, so they are still interesting to read -- if you can get past the amazingly sloppy writing and hamfisted plot handling. I would have much preferred just seeing the notes themselves or unfinished works, kind of like Christopher Tolkien did with his dad's stuff.

If there is anything comparable to Ep I in Dune, it's the prequels. Which has a nice symmetry to it. ;-)

(AIUI Herbert Junior has the notes to the sequel to Chapterhouse and intends to fuck that up^W^W^Wwrite that up as well. Gods below...)



Re:Dune: Keep reading! (1)

Talinom (243100) | more than 9 years ago | (#11415569)

Who's up for a stillsuit-clad posse?

I live in Washington state. Doesn't he live here, too?

Re:Dune: Keep reading! (1)

Ethelred Unraed (32954) | more than 9 years ago | (#11417843)

I live in Washington state. Doesn't he live here, too?

Hmmm...wearing a stillsuit in water-logged Washington State...

Maybe that's his cunning defense plan. Any Fremen who got plunked in the middle of Washington State would have had his brain seize up when seeing all the water.



Re:Dune: Stop Right Now! (1)

subgeek (263292) | more than 9 years ago | (#11412520)

that's what i did. i think some day i may read the other dune books, but who knows. right now my concept of the dune storyline is untainted.

Re:Dune: Stop Right Now! (1)

dead sun (104217) | more than 9 years ago | (#11412536)

Come now, they aren't bad, they're just not the same is all. Perhaps the biggest issue I had to warming up to them is the leaps of time that occur between books. Just kind of a pain in following along sometimes.

Re:Dune: Stop Right Now! (1)

Ra5pu7in (603513) | more than 9 years ago | (#11413154)

Don't stop, but don't expect consistent quality. The overall story is definitely worth reading all the books for. (Warning: if you've not watched the movie or TV series, you may never want to. I found they just couldn't live up to the mental vision I had of everything that went on (imagination rocks).

prime 2 (1)

nocomment (239368) | more than 9 years ago | (#11412274)

I can't wait for prime 2, I've been in prime 1 since x-mas. I've just left the magma world (I can't remember the name now mag-something. It's been a lot of fun so far. I also got Zelda's 4 swords. That s pretty fun too. But mostly because it's nostaligc. It reminds me a lot of the original zelda.

I loooooove spicy stuff, the spicier the better. In fact I'm on my way across the street to get some spicy chicken teriyaki. If you ever get to go to a Seahawk's game here in Seattle, go to "Porters BBQ". It's one of the vendors. They have a sauce called "The Man" and a little scrape of it is enough for your whole plate. HOT!

Cube News (1)

M.C. Hampster (541262) | more than 9 years ago | (#11412293)

I'm hearing that Resident Evil 4 for the Cube is awesome. It's a bit dark for me, but I might rent it to try it out. IGN went as far as to say that it might have been GOTY for 2004 if it had only been released a few weeks earlier.

Movie version (1)

John Harrison (223649) | more than 9 years ago | (#11412296)

There is a very long cut of the movie version out there that makes more sense than the theatrical version. I like it, and I also like the SciFi version. SciFi did a Children of Dune mini series as well I believe. No I am not the executive producer of it. Thanks for asking though.

Re:Movie version (1)

arb (452787) | more than 9 years ago | (#11416845)

The SciFi mini-series was infinitely better than the steaming pile of turds that the "movie" was. Even the "extended" version, which aimed to fix the problems with the released version is attrocious. Abyssmal. Abominable even.

Re:Movie version (1)

John Harrison (223649) | more than 9 years ago | (#11418867)

I thought it was darker than the SciFi version and the bad guys were a bit more insane/perverse. Maybe I just think it was a perfect role for Sting...

Dune: Stop now! (1)

johndiii (229824) | more than 9 years ago | (#11412429)

Rating scale: 0-10, where Dune is a 10.

Dune Messiah - Seriously sucks. The worst book in the series. 1/10.

Children of Dune - Not bad. Closest to the original in terms of how it protrays politics and religion. 8/10.

God-Emperor of Dune - Serious departure into a new universe. Several thousand year gap. Not great. 3/10.

Heretics of Dune - Another huge gap. Treat this as the start of a separate series in the same universe. Not too bad. 5/10.

Chapterhouse: Dune - Followup to Heretics. IMO, slightly better. 6/10.

There are two relatively new series. I have not read either; I am told that the first is not worth the trouble, but that the second one is a moderately interesting account of the events of the Butlerian Jihad.

My advice would be to branch out into other books by Herbert. The Dosadi Experiment is another very good one (9/10); read Whipping Star first for setup. I thought that The White Plague was quite good, though opinions differ on that one. The Godmakers was also worth reading, though it would have benefited from more detail, a la Dune. I did not care for Destination: Void or The Jesus Incident (sequel to D:V). I did not read The Lazarus Effect. Herbert also has some good short fiction around, if you can find it. I have a couple of his collections, but I know of none that are currently in print.

I should have written this comment as Jorj X. McKie. :-)

Re:Dune: Stop now! (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 9 years ago | (#11412525)

I knew someone would reply who knew more than I about Dune. I'm tempted to provide FK some spoilers to demonstrate how truly awful the sequels could be, but then, I'm not a spoiler unless requested.

Re:Dune: Stop now! (1)

Ethelred Unraed (32954) | more than 9 years ago | (#11412703)

I knew someone would reply who knew more than I about Dune. I'm tempted to provide FK some spoilers to demonstrate how truly awful the sequels could be, but then, I'm not a spoiler unless requested.

The sequels or the prequels? Personally I thought the sequels were all pretty good (admittedly Dune Messiah was the weakest, but I don't think it's as bad as johndiii makes it out to be).

Meanwhile, I already expressed my opinion of the prequels in another post above. Suffice it to say that I hope Frank is waiting on Brian at the Pearly Gates with a great big can of whoop-ass.

(Or maybe a lasgun? Maula pistol? Nah, atop a sandworm. Yeah, that's it.)



Re:Dune: Stop now! (1)

buffer-overflowed (588867) | more than 9 years ago | (#11412866)

Sigh, now I need to reread them(it's been a year or two I think... I last read through them when the Sci-Fi Miniseries Children of Dune came out[I THINK I brought them all up when I moved]) once I'm done rereading Discworld.

Messiah and Children blur together in my head after watching the Sci-Fi mini-series.

But yes, we could solve our energy problems if we could harness the power of Frank Herbert's grave spinning.

They're awful, but they have little factoids in them that I need. Just like the chapterhouse sequel.

And no one can say they didn't like the Duncans.

Re:Dune: Stop now! (1)

buffer-overflowed (588867) | more than 9 years ago | (#11412656)

The thing that pisses me off about Chapterhouse is that it ended on such an interesting note(New characters were introduced!) and Frank died before ever writing a sequel.

Re:Dune: Stop now! (1)

dead sun (104217) | more than 9 years ago | (#11412864)

Working on the 6th book of the prequels now, the last of the Butlerian Jihad books. Honestly, I'd reverse the assessment of the two new series.

The house books I enjoyed. I felt that, while not quite up to par, they were in the same vein with the originals. I won't give spoilers out, but there were a few political schemes, some wheels in wheels, some decent stuff. Not full of it, but not a bad attempt either. A couple spots stuck out funny, but not enough to ruin my enjoyment.

The Butlerian Jihad series, on the other hand, is not what I'd consider all that great. Okay, for most intents and purposes they suck. They involve Holzman and make him out to be a tard. They introduce the start of the spacing guild, but so far in a manner I don't care for. They explain the origins of the Jihad, and it completely sucks. There's no good politicing, no plots hidden in plots. It wears poor plot right out there on its sleeve. Everything is either obvious right away or it comes out of right field in a way that made me scratch my head and wonder what Frank would have thought about this. As it is, I'm finishing the series for a sense of completion and hope for some redeeming factor. Honestly, with two books and a start of the third down, I can say I preferred the mystery surrounding much of what's discussed.

Also, with regards to all six, Kevin J. Anderson and his annoying tendency to overuse adjectives and describe some mundane thing made up from a particular world in exquisite detail for "setting" creeps in waaaay too frequently. Anderson isn't a bad author, but I hate when he does that and you can completely tell he's responsible.

Re:Dune: Stop now! (1)

elmegil (12001) | more than 9 years ago | (#11412981)

Luckily, there are 5 more books.

I will echo Johndiii here. "Luckily" is not the word for them. I stopped at God Emperor, and have no idea how I even forced myself to get that far. I can't remember ANY of it except for the first book and snatches of stupid crap from the others.

Most? (1)

LPetrazickis (557952) | more than 9 years ago | (#11412470)

Dune is certainly a good book, but I am not sure if there actually exists a consensus about its supremacy or plurality.

Flare ups... (1)

bellus quies (585501) | more than 9 years ago | (#11412546)

...suck big floppy... well you get the idea

chile seeds (1)

Eye of the Frog (152749) | more than 9 years ago | (#11412579)

Sorry to be pedantic, but.....

Q. Where does the "heat" reside in the chile pepper? Many claim it is ALL in the seeds. I have also heard that the capsaicinoids are stored in the membranes of the chile. []

A. Capsaicinoids are located on the membranes of chile or in the placental tissue which holds the seeds, although many people believe the seeds to be the hottest, seeds do not produce any capsaicin but do absorb some from the placental tissues during processing but do not absorb hardly any in fresh pods.

So you could take all the seeds out of the chile and still fry your tongue to a crisp.

Dune: *** STOP *** (1)

Tet (2721) | more than 9 years ago | (#11412790)

I was going to say pretty much word for word what johndii and gmhowell have already said for me. Seriously. It's not that the sequels are all bad (although "Messiah" and "Chapterhouse" both fall into that category IMHO). Indeed, "Children" and "God Emperor" are quite passable books in their own right. But not a single one of them lives up to the promise of the original, and I guarantee you'll be disappointed. The Episode 1 comparisons are apt. How much more magical would the Star Wars universe seem if you'd never encountered Jar Jar Binks? You've already ready all you need to know about Dune. Don't spoil it by reading the others. Just MHO.

Best SF book of all time? That's a hard call, but it would definitely be in my top 5.

Re:Dune: *** STOP *** (1)

Ethelred Unraed (32954) | more than 9 years ago | (#11412865)

How much more magical would the Star Wars universe seem if you'd never encountered Jar Jar Binks? You've already ready all you need to know about Dune. Don't spoil it by reading the others. Just MHO.

I look at it differently. LOTR is that much more interesting for me because I've read The Silmarillion, The Book of Lost Tales and so on. Same goes for Dune and the sequels.

The prequels are almost too painful to bear, but the nuggets of information they contain make it (barely) worthwhile, based as they are on Frank Herbert's original notes.



Re:Dune: *** STOP *** (1)

buffer-overflowed (588867) | more than 9 years ago | (#11412955)

I think all the people telling you to stop were disappointed in the direction the series took after Dune.

It doesn't go where you think it's going to go. At all.

Note however, that most of them finished off the series. And probably reread them, and I guarantee that it changed Dune for them.

If you haven't read it yet, pick up Ender's Game, another one in my Top 5.

Re:Dune: *** STOP *** (1)

Tet (2721) | more than 9 years ago | (#11413927)

If you haven't read it yet, pick up Ender's Game, another one in my Top 5.

Agreed wholeheartedly.

Re:Dune: *** STOP *** (1)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 9 years ago | (#11414827)

read that a while ago. Good book, but I didn't go nuts over it like I did Dune.

Another funny thing about me? Asimov usually bores the tears outta me. Only a couple short stories of his actually hold my interest.

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (1)

Ra5pu7in (603513) | more than 9 years ago | (#11413207)

My son has certainly been enjoying this game (I haven't tried it yet). He tends to burn out on it after a couple hours of play - to the point of quitting and loading a game where he gets to shoot lots of people (read HL2, Doom3, or Halo2). Once you have all the areas (dark and light) it seems to take so long to get from one place to another just to accomplish the next task - if you can figure out where you're supposed to be going.

Re:Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (1)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 9 years ago | (#11414899)

yeah, that's actually kinda nice. There are kinda 'break points' in the game where I can put it down and not worry about it for a couple days. I kinda like it that way :-)

Thai (1)

Aggrazel (13616) | more than 9 years ago | (#11413322)

What thai restaurant are you speaking of?

Re:Thai (1)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 9 years ago | (#11414854)

You know where the old Longhorns (or was it Lonestar?) just north of fountain square (two blocks north). Its right there. Its across from garfield plaza... a block south of LeBoxx.

It just opened like two weeks ago. Really good food, though the service can be slow. I can give you better directions, if you'd like. Email me: marotti _at_

Well, you heard it before. But I must say it (1)

insanecarbonbasedlif (623558) | more than 9 years ago | (#11413357)

When I finished, I was actually kinda mad... "That's it? I want to read more!!" Luckily, there are 5 more books. Looks like I'm gonna pickup #2 sometime this week, then maybe watch the old movie (yeah, I know, most people think its a desecration), followed by the scifi networks remake (which I heard was very good and its already on DVD).

I think you mispelled "Unfortunately".

Seriously. The rest Suck. SUCK. Dune is Awesome, the rest SUCK.

that's oke (1)

SolemnDragon (593956) | more than 9 years ago | (#11413738)

///we're too hot for most people. No offense taken.

WTF? (1)

TechnoLust (528463) | more than 9 years ago | (#11413820)

Reading? Games? EATING? Am I the ONLY one here who realized that all these sensless activities are delaying Unread? Seriously Josh, I had you pegged as a responsible adult, but sometimes I question that! ;-)

Stargazing... (1)

arb (452787) | more than 9 years ago | (#11417012)

Any amatuer astronomers have tips on stargazing?

Rug up. Cold weather is good for astronomy - less atmospheric turbulence, so the seeing is (usually) better.

Get familiar with your equipment and make sure you know how to get it to point shere you want. It can take a little while to align the scope correctly, but with practice you'll find it gets easier and easier.

Make a list of things you want to (try to) see. Get a good astronomy magazine (Astronomy [] and Sky & Telescope [] were my two faves) as they'll have night sky charts and will tell you what interesting things can be seen each month. Learn to read sky charts and map out a few items to look for. Even with a computer-controlled scope you probably won't get to see many different things each night.

Take a thermos of hot coffee to keep you warm.

Use a red light to read your notes/charts/magazines when observing. That way you won't ruin your night vision. A couple of layers of red cellophane over a torch works well enough. You'll discover that sky charts are printed in such a way that they are quite readable under red light.

Remember to keep a log of what you have seen and anything interesting you might stumble across. Don't always go for maximum power - sometimes a lower magnification will let you see more detail.

The two sites linked to above should have some useful tips. Other sites to look at: LookSmart's directory [] and Backyard Astronomy [] .
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