In Other News

This infrared image of the Helix Nebula, taken by NASA’s space-based Spitzer Space Telescope, is one of the most awesome astronomy pictures I’ve seen in a very long time:

The Helix Nebula, through NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope

Just looking at it gives me the chills. 

At one time I was quite the science geek.  I still have a telescope that my parents gave me for my birthday last year; it’s been quite awhile since I took it out a had a look.  When I was a kid, I had a telescope that I looked through a lot; I was particularly fond of checking out various nebulae, or looking at the moon, or at the sun (through the sun filter, of course).  And a couple of years ago I did take it out to look at Jupiter, and got to see its moons, for the first time.

I’m not so much the science geek anymore.  I still read blogs like Bad Astronomy and the Panda’s Thumb, and I still browse through the science section at Borders, and I think I know more than the average guy, but I’m not nearly as well informed as some friends of mine.  That’s probably due to my wasting my college years on role playing games, drinking, and a philosophy degree.

For tonight’s musical pleasure, I’m including Jonathan Coulton’s song "I’m Your Moon", which he wrote shortly after Pluto’s status as a planet was reconsidered by the international astronomical community.  Enjoy.  Go to Jonathan Coulton’s website.  Give him money.  He deserves it.


Last Night's Lost

I know that I’m part of a shrinking minority when I say that I’m still enjoying Lost; too many people I know who are still watching it are doing so out of a sense of morbid curiosity, like gawkers at a train wreck.  Even though I’m still enjoying it, though, I’ll grudgingly admit that there is something… lacking this season.  Especially the pre-hiatus episodes, with the overly dramatic Jack/Sawyer/Kate prisoner arc.  It has definitely seemed that as they keep trying to introduce new mysteries without resolving old ones, hoping to draw those out, the writers are starting to get a little goofy.

But last night’s episode was great.  After it was over, I turned to Jennifer and remarked that the episode was like "old skool Lost".  It had the mix of strangeness, backstory, and storytelling that made the show so hot in the beginning.  I was totally drawn in to Desmond’s story, even though it wasn’t the same sort of straight flash back that they usually present for a character.  The little Easter eggs that popped up from time to time were more than welcome, as well as the small Wizard of Oz references (what is it with that story lately?  last night we watched an episode of Scrubs that was also sprinkled with WoO references).  I was glad to see that the writers are starting to rediscover the elements that made the show so great before.

Back when I was playing Dungeons and Dragons on a twice-weekly basis, the campaigns I ran were something like Lost, so I recognize their creative process: just keep throwing weird shit at the story and make things up as you go along.  Unfortunately, that only works for so long, until your viewers (or readers or players) demand some sort of resolution.  It’s why I always set an endpoint for my games.  And it’s why I was so glad to hear recently that the creators of Lost are pondering an actual endpoint for the show.  All of its little mysteries — the Numbers, the Others, Desmond’s story, the nature of the disease that took out Danielle’s party, the mystery of the Black Rock, and so on — are great, but as they continue to introduce new maguffins, they need to resolve some of the old ones.

So, hopefully, we’ll definitely see Lost coming back to its roots.  I’m still enjoying the show, and make time for it, but I’d love to see it become the "absolute must see!" show that it once was.