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Showing posts from August, 2013

An Aesthetic Chernobyl

They've shut down the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in order to complete the new eastern span, the portion linking Treasure Island to the city of Oakland. It's a marvelous illustration of how dysfunctional California government can be. In 1989, a portion of the eastern span of the bridge broke during an earthquake. Clearly something had to be done, and that "something" is the new eastern span that will open next week, 24 years later. Part of the reason it's taken so long is that the damage was repaired, the bridge reopened, and this gave all of the politicians years and years to fight over a long-term solution. Meanwhile, every day since 1989, millions of travelers have driven over a bridge that everyone knew would break if there was another serious quake. Everybody squabbled. Then-Mayor Jerry Brown (Oakland) argued with then-Mayor Willie Brown (San Francisco). The eastern anchorage of this portion of the bridge sits in Oakland, while the western anchorage con…

BD: Oblivion

Every now and again I am pleasantly surprised by a film. Oblivion is one such film and I'm still amazed at just how much I enjoyed it. Oblivion is a post-apocalyptic story set in the year 2077. Humanity has defeated an invasion by an alien race, but as a result the Earth has become essentially uninhabitable. Humanity has relocated to Titan, one of Saturn's moons. Apparently, the only two humans left behind are Jack and Victoria. Their job is to maintain a small army of flying drones. These drones, in turn, protect massive thingees that are sucking up all of Earth’s water in order to convert it to hydrogen for the survivors on Titan. This should make an eyebrow raise because that setup is just all full of WTF, as is the mandatory memory wipe Jack and Victoria had before reporting for duty. Security, don’t you know. Sure. Thus, right off the bat you know something is amiss and just what that is unfolds over the course of the film. Oblivion is the sort of film that is a continuou…

Blu-Ray Audio

Recently, my Sony PS3 started acting up. This was annoying because my PS3 is my Blu-Ray disk (BD) player, and when it "died" it meant I was cut off from my video disk library. Sadness ensued. While I was trying to figure out what was going on with my PS3, I bought a small Sony dedicated BD player. It was well reviewed, set up easily, and plugged right into my existing setup. My setup, by the way, is all-Sony…receiver, HDTV, etc. Call me paranoid, but it seemed the most direct way to ensure compatibility. So, all seemed well, but I was bothered by the audio. More precisely, there was an apparent drop in audio quality. Everyone focuses on the image quality of BD's, but of equal import is that audio quality. A BD film comes with uncompressed audio (e.g., DTS-HD) and when played properly it's awesome. Watch the launch in Apollo 13 and, if the audio is set right, you'll immediately hear what I mean. The issue came down to how my new player fed audio to my receiver. Th…