This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at abulsme@abulsme.com are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.

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May 2009
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Cowburger and Fries

Curmudgeon’s Corner: Reuniting with Nukes

Sam and Ivan talk about:

  • High School Reunions
  • North Korea
  • Auto/Econ Update
  • More Phone Talk
  • Wilderness Republicans Again

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Note: For those using the “View in iTunes” link, it often takes iTunes quite a few hours to show a new episode after the episode is posted here. So if you are looking for the podcast very soon after I post this, use one of the other methods to find the new episode. For those who are subscribed, your Podcast software should pick up the new episode next time it checks for new episodes on its own, or you can always force a refresh. For those using the XML feed directly, the new episode is now there.

Kindle Ratio for 26 May 2009 – 45%

As I’ve done after the last couple of books I’ve finished, I’ve gone and looked to find out how many of the last 20 books I’ve read are available on Kindle. Last time it was 7 out of 20. This time it is up to 9. The book I just read is available, but in addition some of the previous books I’d read that were not available before, now are. So we’re up to 45%.

I’ve been saying since the Kindle 1 came out that I’ll “officially want one” once this ratio was greater than 50%. We’re getting close. But not quite there yet. :-)

Book: Until the Sea Shall Free Them

Author: Robert Frump
Started: 24 Jan 2009
Finished: 9 May 2009
341 p / 106 d
3 p/d

So, I finally got around to reading this book… by someone I know, by a person I used to work for… Now, it took three copies of the book to get this far. I think my first was the hardcover, and I’m pretty sure I had it signed by Bob. But during one of my moves it got stuck in storage. Now, eventually I got to one of Bob’s OTHER books in my reading pile, but then realized I hadn’t read this one yet, so I ordered a copy of the paperback. Then I got about a quarter of the way through it, and accidentally put it into a backpack full of some markers and a bottle of water with a loose cap… result, book with blue pages. Now, it dried, and I kept reading it for awhile longer. Then, I lost it. I didn’t know where it was. I waited a few weeks for it to turn up. When it didn’t, I ordered a third copy. Of course, days after the third copy arrived, I found the second copy… but I finished reading using the third copy, since it wasn’t blue.

Anyway, the book itself… I didn’t know what to expect, not having read any of Bob’s books before.

This is basically the story of a marine disaster, and the investigations which followed, eventually leading to some reforms in the American Merchant Marine fleet. The first part of the book is the tale of the sinking of the Marine Electric. Bob draws out the stories of not just the crew aboard the ship, but their families as well. As the story unfolds, he brings in stories of earlier incidents as well. At times these can be very poignant. After this, the book transitions into the drama of the investigations into what happened, basically indicting most of the American Merchant Marine industry, and the government agencies that regulated it for extremely lax safety practices.

Bob tells a compelling story and pulls you through the events. And teaches you a bit as you go. I certainly didn’t know any of this history before I read the book. :-) If there were two things I would say on the flip side… one would be that by the fourth or fifth time there was a “but this was not the first time this had happened, there was also the case of the SS Magoo in 1953” I could almost hear Wayne and Garth doing the little sparkly back in time memory thing… and second would be that when I read “In a conversation with the former Philadelphia Enquirer reporter…” I am not fooled. I know that is you Bob. Might as well break out the first person at some point. :-)

Anyway, good interesting book on a topic I have not read about in the past. I look forward to… eventually… catching up on Bob’s other books as well.

[2009 Dec 5 20:18 UTC – Fixed typo in start date]

Curmudgeon’s Corner: Pictures and Microwaves

Sam and Ivan talk about:

  • Microwaves
  • Broadband
  • Republican Future
  • Terror Prisoners
  • General McChrystal
  • Graphic Pictures
  • Looking Forward or Looking Back?

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Note: For those using the “View in iTunes” link, it often takes iTunes quite a few hours to show a new episode after the episode is posted here. So if you are looking for the podcast very soon after I post this, use one of the other methods to find the new episode. For those who are subscribed, your Podcast software should pick up the new episode next time it checks for new episodes on its own, or you can always force a refresh. For those using the XML feed directly, the new episode is now there.

Because I Can: Abulsme.com on Kindle

I don’t expect even one single subscriber, but because it now takes about 3 minutes to set up, I went ahead and made this blog available on Kindle. Woo!

The page to order this for your Kindle is here.

Glad We Left

Just got a Zillow update in my email. The above is the decline in the value of our house in Florida since we sold it. Ouch! I’d hate to be the guy who bought it from us! It dropped another 8% just in the last 30 days according to Zillow, and the the chart doesn’t look like it has bottomed yet.

DVD: Blue Planet: Seas of Life (Discovery Channel Version): Disk 2

So, once again it was time for a DVD we own but haven’t watched, and it was time for the second disk in this set.

This disk had two episodes. The first was “Open Ocean”. In this episode the most striking and memorable bits were the huge shoals of small fish, especially as they became “bait balls” and were attacked by various predators.

But the second episode, “The Deep”, was the one that got my attention this time around. I’d of course seen various documentaries about deep ocean life before, but it is always just amazing to see shows like this that show the almost completely alien seeming forms of life, especially in the deep sea, but not at the bottom. Bioluminescent creatures that glow and sparkle and often look like some sort of aquatic space ship. Others with strange and bizarre shapes. Just overall weirdness. But absolutely fascinating… and beautiful.

Great stuff. So far I’m liking this series a lot. Disk three before too long I imagine. But something else will probably be next.

Cinema: Star Trek

So, of course, last week we went to see the new Star Trek on opening night. I’ve always remembered that I’ve seen ALL of the Star Trek movies on opening night, but the truth is I can’t fully remember the earlier ones, although I have a vivid memory of going to Star Trek II with my dad, and hearing the people leaving the showing before us whispering about what happened to Spock.

In any case, we went opening night to an IMAX theater, although it was one of these new “IMAX Lite” kinds of places rather than the full since museum size.

In any case, I don’t have a huge amount to add over the many thousands of reviews that have been published over the last week or two. As a reboot it was pretty great. Out of all 11 Star Trek movies, I’d say it is definitely in the top 3 or 4 or so. It was a lot of fun. It did fan service in all the appropriate places (plus some). It was fast paced with things happening the whole time. It was hokey and campy like the original series in places. And it did the reboot itself in a fairly clean way.

The weakest point though was actually the bits with Spock Prime. I mean, it was OK, and I know he is an old aged tired Spock, but he seemed to be dragging through it. Including just accepting as a given that the damage to the timeline was irreversible, and not seeming all that upset about it. In past time travel episodes, the people from the future have taken elaborate measures to restore the original time line. Of course, you can’t do that and still have a reboot. But it did stand out to me that while Spock Prime did mourn some events in the new timeline, he didn’t seem to mourn the destruction of the OLD timeline, and you would think he would.

And of course there are tons of plot holes, and places where you think “well, why don’t they just X”.

But hey, that is Star Trek for you.

All in all, it was fun, it was good, it was a worthy reboot, and I’m ready to watch Number 12 on opening night as well. :-)

Oh, and in a rare event for me, I’ve actually already seen it twice. A week after I saw it the first time, I saw it again with a bunch of people from work who were going. It was good the second time too.

Curmudgeon’s Corner: Cheney’s Phoning Pig Brains

Sam and Ivan talk about:

  • Diseases
  • Smartphones
  • Brain Drugs
  • Cheney

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Note: For those using the “View in iTunes” link, it often takes iTunes quite a few hours to show a new episode after the episode is posted here. So if you are looking for the podcast very soon after I post this, use one of the other methods to find the new episode. For those who are subscribed, your Podcast software should pick up the new episode next time it checks for new episodes on its own, or you can always force a refresh. For those using the XML feed directly, the new episode is now there.