The Make: Science Room launch is now two weeks away, with lots of
things still to be done. I finished migrating the chemistry articles to
HTML yesterday. There are 60+ of them, which still need to be
reformatted for the MAKE site. Fortunately, someone else is doing that
for me. Today, I'm starting on the forensics articles, of which there
are another 50 or so. I hope to get the initial translation to HTML
done for those this week, although that's really pushing it. In
addition to translating the articles, I need to extract the lists of
required equipment and materials and get those specified for bids so
that we'll have the necessary items available in Maker Shed. And I
still need to script and shoot some videos. Not to mention editing
them. I'm going to be covered up for the next two weeks, so there won't
be a lot here.
Apparently, not even fundamentalist Christians really believe the
bible is literally true. Here's an Australian TV crew in Texas, calling
their bluff. It's hilarious.
I'm making good progress on the forensics lab sessions, but I'm not
sure if we'll have them up for the Science Room launch. The problem
isn't the lab sessions themselves. It's that some of them require
special reagents and/or equipment that we haven't ordered for Maker
Some of them aren't a problem. For example, Marquis
Reagent (a presumptive drug testing reagent) is simply a small amount
of formaldehyde in concentrated sulfuric acid, both of which are
already Science Room items. But many of the forensics special reagents
require unusual chemicals that I'm not sure we'll ever stock. Instead,
we'll stock the reagents themselves in pre-made form. Of course, that's
not always an option, because some of the reagents must be made up
fresh, so for those we'll have to stock the individual chemicals needed
to make up the reagents. But before we can stock any of this stuff, I
have to decide what we need to stock, write up directions for making
the pre-made reagents, put everything out for bid, and so on. That
means it'll be at least a couple of months before we'll be able to have
some of this stuff in stock. And it also requires a lot of my time.
My to-do list is now regularly growing by two items for each item I mark complete.
- We finished watching series 2 of Californication
last night. Barbara's verdict is that the series is excellent, "better
than Weeds". Her opinion changed dramatically. When I talked her into
watching the first series, she almost gave up on it literally about
five minutes into the first episode, thinking it was about nothing but
foul language and naked women. Fortunately, I convinced her to stay
I've rated hundreds of discs and series on Netflix, and
given very few of them five stars. Weeds got four stars from me, as did
Poirot and many other series that are very highly regarded. I've
awarded five stars to maybe half a dozen of the series we've watched,
including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and Veronica
Mars. Californication is one of that select group.
writer, I appreciate tight writing, and writing doesn't get any
tighter than that on Californication. The dialogue is done stunningly
well. Anyone who's ever written dialog understands the usual
conventions for dialog in a book or movie, and how dramatically written
dialog differs from dialog in real life. In real life, people talk over
each other, interrupt themselves, repeat themselves, trail off without
completing what they were saying, hesitate, introduce multiple "ums"
and so on.
It's obviously impossible to craft realistic dialog
in that respect in a book, but it's nearly as difficult to do it for a
movie. And yet, these writers manage to do that, and to carry if off
believably, thanks in no small part to the actors' ability to deliver
their lines convincingly in the midst of one or more other actors also
delivering their lines convincingly. As a result, the viewer feels as
though he's present in the middle of the scene rather than watching it
on a screen.
On most TV series, if a couple has an argument, I
think, "Oh, that couple is having an argument." On Californication,
when a couple has an argument, I'm embarrassed for them, and wish I
could be somewhere other than in the room with them.
also do a superb job of presenting deeply flawed characters
sympathetically. As Barbara said near the end of the final episode last
night, "You know, these are all really good guys. They just can't keep
their dicks in their pants." Any writer who can make Barbara feel
sympathy and admiration for adulterers and philanderers has done his
job, in spades.
I've just been reading the blog of the evil SOB who shot up the LA
Fitness Center in Pittsburgh yesterday. (The blog has now been taken
down.) Here's the relevant paragraph from his last blog entry, made on
soon, I will see God and Jesus. At least that is what I was told.
Eternal life does NOT depend on works. If it did, we will all be in
hell. Christ paid for EVERY sin, so how can I or you be judged BY GOD
for a sin when the penalty was ALREADY paid. People judge but that does
not matter. I was reading the Bible and The Integrity of God beginning
yesterday, because soon I will see them.
the most frequent and most ridiculous claims made by fundamentalist
Christians is that we atheists have no moral compass. That without god
we're free to run riot--raping, pillaging, and murdering--because we
have no morality to constrain us. That argument is ridiculous on its
face. I know a lot of atheists, and in general they're a lot more
likely to behave well than are fundie Christians. You won't find
atheists burning witches, bombing clinics, chaining homosexuals to
their car bumpers and dragging them to death, or shooting down doctors
attending church just because they perform abortions.
problem goes much deeper, and it's perfectly illustrated by the final
ravings of this murderous Christian nutter. Christians--the True
Believers--are the ones who have no moral compass. They've punted that
responsibility to their invisible man in the sky. This man had no moral
constraints on his actions, because his god has already forgiven him
for anything he might do, including murdering women. There is nothing
more dangerous than a True Believer-- a man who's completely certain
he's right. And, while his god may forgive him for slaughtering these
innocent victims, I sure don't.
- Ten days until the launch of the Make: Science Room.
mentioned this morning that I'm always stressed out and crabby as
deadlines approach, but this really isn't a deadline. It's a milestone,
because it's just one step, albeit a significant one, in an ongoing
process. Nothing really stops or changes on the 17th. On the 18th, I'll
still be doing what I was doing on the 16th--working on articles,
scripting and shooting videos, putting together worksheets for items we
need to order, and so on.
I suppose at some point the Science
Room will be "complete" in the sense that we'll have all of the
sciences that we want to cover covered, all of the articles that we
want to write written, all of the items that we want to stock stocked,
and so on. But even then we won't be sitting back and resting on our
laurels. We'll be exploring new ways to popularize hands-on science.
That means there'll be new articles to write, new videos to shoot, and
new items to stock, so it's really a never-ending process.
launch is just a snapshot moment in that process, a point where we
decide that we've done enough to throw things open to the public and
see where things go from there. The team agreed unanimously that we
didn't want to go off half-cocked. The last thing we want is to make a
big to-do about the Science Room and have lots of people visit it once
and think "Is that all there is?" So we wanted to make sure there was
plenty of stuff there to hold people's interest. And there will be.
should have about 100 substantive articles available at launch, most of
them focusing on chemistry, forensics, and general lab procedures and
how-to's. The Maker Shed should be ready to roll, with maybe 175
chemicals in inventory and a reasonably full line of laboratory
equipment, from glassware and consumables to balances, microscopes,
calorimeters, and other lab instruments. The only lack at this point is
videos, and I intend to spend all of next week getting some initial
videos shot and edited.
Obviously, I won't have time to post much here until after the 17th.