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Watchmen Watched

mikej Re:I think you jumped the gun a little. (489 comments)

That's not true at all. I skipped work this morning to watch it with friends, and I've never read the book (though of course I've known about it for years). So, here's my take (in rough cuts):

It was long, but for the most part it didn't drag. There were definitely some plodding bits, but I didn't check my watch until the 2 hour mark.

The action was generally really good, though I thought the bones-breaking-through-skin aspect was a little overdone. I didn't enjoy the gore.

The storyline was totally coherent to me - Maybe knowing the full backstory makes it seem like they give certain things short shrift, but from my perspective it held together well.

Holy crap, Rorschach is a badass. "You're locked in here with me"? Best line of the movie. Also, umm, there sure was a lot of dong.

As far as negatives go: The makeup for some of the characters was absolutely awful. Man. The biggest thing to me, though, is if Dr. Manhattan can manipulate matter at the atomic level, why doesn't he just take the cancer out of his ex-girlfriend and be done with it? Instead he flees to mars and lets her die. Weird choice.

The ending with the egyptian temple motif and all that felt pretty hokey - I don't know how else to put it. Ozymandias was supposed to be some sort of superb ultra-nemesis, but he really just seemed sort of flouncy and lame (except for being fast, apparently). The tiger-thing at the end was also really dissonant. We hadn't been shown a world with that sort of engineering, so it was strange to see it with no explanation at all.

I guess that's really the only other major negative; Nothing about their tech or their abilities is explained, except for Dr. M. Wtf kind of mask is Rorschach wearing? Does it respond to his emotions or something? It looks like cloth, but the blood comes out... wtf? How are they all such amazing fighting machines? Owl guy is out of it for a couple years, getting flabby and out of practice, but in an alley he beats the snot out of an entire gang. How?

All in all, I really enjoyed it. I thought it was a well-done film, for the most part, except for the bad makeup here and there. I know they had to compress a long storyline, which is where I assume explanations for abilities and equipment went, but if there were critical plot elements cut I didn't notice the gaps.

more than 5 years ago
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How the City Hurts Your Brain

mikej Sidewalk Stare (439 comments)

I live in New York, and we have a term for the end effect of all this strain. We call it 'sidewalk stare'. I've walked not two feet from someone I know on the sidewalk, and had to reach out and touch their arm to get them to notice me. It's not that they were staring at the concrete, their eyes simply pass over your face and they don't recognize you.

Think about it this way; Understanding expression consumes an enormous amount of processing power. Taking a sub-second glance at a person's face and intuiting their mood, which you do without trying, chews up calories and other cerebral resources. If you stand on the corner of 18th and 6th Ave. around lunchtime for a minute, you're likely to see literally hundreds of human expressions. You can't stop your mind from distilling all those mental states, because human animals' minds are built to do exactly that. It's exhausting, though you don't always notice it.

Moving around in a crowded city is mentally and emotionally taxing. Some people thrive on that, and some people are seriously impaired by it. I don't know of a selection criterion other than moving to the city and seeing if you like it, but I think if nothing else it's easier when you're younger. When people talk about being 'tired of the city', I think it's a side-effect of the aging process. All that background effort is, overall, more taxing than it was.

An interesting corollary: The more money you have, the less of this you have to deal with. Hired cars, large apartments, spacious offices, and frequent vacations all keep this from having as much of an effect.

more than 5 years ago
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Another Way the LHC Could Self-Destruct

mikej Helium Bose Nova are Impossible. (367 comments)

It's impopssible for superfluid helium to 'go nova'. This impossibility is well understood by theory - It's not that there's a miniscule-but-nonzero chance, as there is that the LHC could spontaneously produce tiny dragons - In this case it's *impossible*.

Here's the explanation:
http://anticrackpot.blogspot.com/2008/09/there-will-be-no-bose-novae-at-lhc.html

And a personal request: Take a second to look some of this stuff up before you post an article like this that fuels unfounded (indeed, indefensible) fears.

more than 5 years ago

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