Christopher Merle

Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be, but first I need more coffee.

Month: August 2007

Dang Django

I’m currently a big fan of the programming language Python. It has a great community. I’ve been to two PyCon’s and hope to attend many more. I use to think Perl was the bomb until I started web programming. PHP took care of that. I like PHP but Python definitely has the edge. The problem I’m running into is though I’d like to use a Python based blogging tool or CMS none of the webhosts that I’m willing to pay for support it. Python based web solutions require it to run as a process. Well, can’t do that with this host. Also, if I were to run Plone it’s not supported.

Now I’m learning Django. I was torn between learning Django and TurboGears and I’m still a little torn, but Django has the edge as far as I’m concerned. Neither are CMSes (content management systems). They are web frameworks like Zope which Plone sits on top of. Zope is the 800 pound gorilla of web frameworks. At least in Python anyway. I’m not getting up to speed on Django as quickly as I would like. I’m frustrated for two reasons. Zope has a steep learning curve, so I thought well I’ve already been through this before it should not take quite as long. I have a better graps of Python because of Zope, but the learning curve for Django is steeper than I expected. Also Django is advertised as something you can use to throw a robust website together in mere hours. It’s ready to rock and roll out of the box.

It’s probably just me. Once I figure out Django and get rocking with it I’ll be able to look at other web host providers. The one I’m using is decent but doesn’t support newer versions of Python or Python processes. Also, I’ll be able to get away from PHP. WordPress is awesome and keeps getting better. I think in the long run I’ll be better of with a Python solution but none of the Python based solutions are ready for prime time. At least not for me.

I still have high hopes for Django, but I can always fall back on Plone though Plone is a little heavier duty than I really need.

Exploding Castle Syndrome

So you are watching some cheesy pseudo-medieval fantasy flick, the hero impales, beheads, or otherwise causes the villain to die with poetic justice in his/her/its massive stone castle. Suddenly the whole place begins to fall apart. The hero and his companions must make a mad dash for the exit and not two seconds after their miraculous and heroic escape the castle explodes. Huh?

How in the hell does a castle explode? It’s made of stone. The simple answer is: Well, that’s Hollywood for ya. I say, pshaw. They are morons. Now, I love to watch things explode in movies. There is nothing more satisfying that watching the Death Star explode or the numerous things the Mythbusters blow up. What I don’t love is Hollywood expects me to drink their exploding castle kool-aid and enjoy their reality defying crap. Why is it that it’s always the death of the villain triggers a self-destruct that gives the heroes enough time to escape?

Let me start with the movie Krull. I wrote this as a comment on IMDB.

When I saw it in the theater with friends, the row behind us enjoyed our Mystery Science Theater 3000-style running commentary whilst the row in front of us did not.

I apologize for giving spoilers but I know of no other way to convey how bad this movie is. The only notable thing about this movie is the first use of Clydesdale horses for riding in a film. Other than that it has plot holes big enough to drive a Mack truck through. The movie couldn’t decide if it was fantasy or sci-fi. We have this castle that descends from outer space, but it can also teleport all over the surface of the planet. Then to catch up with the castle our heroes somehow manage to catch these flying horses in a box canyon. And when our heroes defeat the bad guys they all escape before the castle explodes.

We have a flying castle-spaceship. That teleports itself around the surface of the planet. It can only be caught up with if you use flying horses that can travel a thousand leagues in a day or some other such nonsense. First you have to catch the flying horses. Plot hole #1. They trap the horses in a box canyon. The horses are apparently too stupid to fly out of said box canyon. Plot hole #2. They ride these horses in scenes reminiscent of watching Santa Claus riding his sleigh through the sky and catch up with this castle-spaceship that can teleport. Apparently, the castle is too stupid to teleport away when the horses arrive. Maybe, they think Santa Claus is early.

You may think I’m reserving my ire for a bad movie, but I’ll go after the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. After Gollum bites off Frodo’s finger with the ring and falls into the lava, the rest of Frodo and Sam escape from the castle/volcano as it begins to erupt. Now, this is slightly more believable. I’m not sure why evil sorcerous villains have this thing about building castles on active volcanoes, but they do. However, what is not believable is that they can survive on a rocky outcrop in a lava flood without being vaporized from the intense heat.

I used to repair and install two-way radios. One time I did an on-site install at a steel mill. They had this huge electric vat with a telephone pole sized carbon rod to melt down the scrap steel. I had to pass by a spot where they had just extruded glowing hot steel bars about the size of railroad rails. I was standing about thirty feet away and the heat was intense. This metal was solid, but still glowing red. It was not a place you wanted to stand for very long. In the film, Sam and Frodo were much closer to the much hotter CGI lava. I have an appreciation of how hot big things can be and from how far away you can still feel the heat.

I use the term Exploding Castle Syndrome not just for fantasy flicks but sci-fi and thrillers as well. James Bond movies are notorious for ECS: You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, to name a few.

I’ve ranted enough on the topic. I may add more to this post or I may do a part 2 or I may not do anything at all.

Toxoplasma neoconi

After reading the website Media Matters, which takes the mainstream media to task, I can come to only one conclusion: brain parasites. Yes, brain parasites have completely taken over pundits like Bill Kristol, Mike Savage, and Neal Boortz. Nothing else comes close to explaining the the insanely hateful things they utter. I suppose it’s possible they are actually living in some sort of alternate reality that manifests in ours. But I doubt it.

Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite that can alter animal behavior in such a way that is detrimental to the animal but not the parasite. This is most often seen in rats and cats. Rats allow themselves to be eaten by cats and this allows the life cycle of the parasite to continue. I think what we have here is a variant which I have dubbed Toxoplasma neoconi. It’s primary symptom it makes you an inflexible asshole whose decisions are incredibly destructive for those around them.

Number Nine Number Nine Number Nine

Personality tests are rampant on the Internets. Which Star Wars character are you? Which Harry Potter character are you most like? Blah, blah, blah. I think everyone should take this test. It’s True False test and I scored a 9 out of 24. It says I’m borderline. I try to behave myself and comport as a civilized person, but it seems that sometimes people around me make that difficult. So I don’t find it hard to believe that I could be borderline. I also know that I’m not particularly clever. I used to think I was, but I discovered all I did was piss people off.

Is it my place to point out when others are behaving badly? Probably not. Further confirmation that perhaps my score is deserved. What do you do when someone writes “Everybody hates you, fuck off.” and it is not directed at you but at a close friend? I don’t know, yet I’m still deciding the best, most responsible course of action.

I hope the person who wrote it will realize that it could come back to haunt them and take action to rectify this grievous offense. The sin here isn’t just the offense. A gifted writer should never abuse their talents for petty insults. Words do have power. And a good writer knows what words can cut the deepest. A good writer also knows what words can heal, but they must be sincere.

The convergence of fuckheadishness continues. 2007 will be a banner year.

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