Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Back in Black cover

Really don't know what to think about this, but I'm find it fascinating in an odd way...

Public Service Announcement

Stay as far away from the movie The Brothers Grimm (2005) as possible. Despite boasting Matt Damon and Heath Ledger as the lead actors, this movie comes up short in so many ways. There's no discernible story, the dialogue is pathetic, Matt Damon appears lethargic - as does Ledger - and correcting for the 20 or so year difference in time, it appears to have roughly the same budget as the Conan movies of the 80's.

If movies had IQ scores, "TBG" would score on par with Ricky Martin or Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Worse still; we bought the freakin' movie for 59 NOK based on the premise that Matt Damon had a major role. Epic Fail.

Results GQ3: Mexican Standoff - Round 7

Let's get down to bidness. The songs were:
  • Song 171: Journey - Don't Stop Believin'. For whatever reason, AOR/Classic Rock legends Journey haven't gotten much love outside of the US. With that in mind, imagine the unbridled joy I experienced when some of y'all actually managed to find this one. Teh awesome.
  • Song 172: Iron Maiden - Run To The Hills. This song both kicks and hauls ass at more than 180 bpm. I don't know if it's obvious, but I really enjoy playing this song, and I've done it many a time. The bass part isn't quite Steve Harris, but it's a galloping, rumbling lower frequency presence, so there.
  • Song 173: Iron Maiden - Wasted Years. My favorite Iron Maiden song bar none. Also one of the Iron Maiden tunes you can play without having a semi-pro backing band, provided you know how to alternate pick pretty fast and cope with abrupt start-stop licks. From what's in my opinion the best Maiden album besides Seventh Son and Number Of The Beast.
  • Song 174: Led Zeppelin - Black Dog. I tried to record this one with a Page-esque guitar tone and with Page-like sloppiness. I may have gone overboard with the latter. Still; this was like the fourth song my former band rehearsed when we started out, simply because it was Zep - for instant yet undeserved cred - and because it's simple as crap to play.
  • Song 175: Megadeth - Symphony Of Destruction. Dave's biggest hit, from his best-selling album. Also the first Megadeth tune my former band rehearsed. I strongly suspect that my first attempts at slamming out the heavily muted main riff sounded somewhat weak played by a teenager with a Fender strat through a Peavey Bandit....
Now that the songs have been revealed, here is the Score for Round 7:
  1. Sondre (10 points)
  2. Cathy (8 points)
  3. Marius/Pigeon/Torbjørn (tied at 6 points)
  4. ...
  5. ...
  6. Anders (2 points)
The Total Score
before going into the final round of GQ3: Mexican Standoff now stands as:
  1. Sondre (42 points)
  2. Cathy (41 points)
  3. Anders (32 points)
  4. Pigeon (31 points)
  5. Torbjørn (29 points)
  6. Marius (19 points)
Congrats to Sondre
and good luck with the final round! Much can happen with 11 possible points...

Pourquoi - it's all teh rage

Not to be confused with Parkour

Friday, September 26, 2008

GQ3: Mexican Standoff - Round 8

The Final Round, y'all. Time to find a winner. To aid in this, there's a possible bonus point to be had. Find the common denominator here, and a bonus point shall be bestowed upon thee.

Submit your answers to mfactorquiz (at) gmail.com by the end of Monday 100608. Each song holds the potential of two points - one point for artist and one point for the song. Answers will be posted on Tuesday 100708.

Song number 176:

Song number 177:

Song number 178:

Song number 179:

Song number 180:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

ZZ Top - Just Got Back From Baby's

..better, Anders? My fave 12 bar blues AND my fave ZZ song, all rolled up in one.

Douse that light!

Helloween - A Tale That Wasn't Right

Here you go, Torbjørn. With Michael Kiske on vocals, of course:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Results GQ3: Mexican Standoff - Round 6

Well color me surprised. I was quite sure that this round would be much easier than what it apparently was. The songs were:
  • Song 166: Poison - Every Rose Has It's Thorn. Perhaps THE power ballad of all time. I actually like this song, in that it's simplicity itself - G - Cadd9 - D - which is what you'll find in "Sweet Child O'Mine" as well, but it's possible to do SO many variations here. Also, it kicks ass in a live setting if you've got a singer who knows how to work the crowd.
  • Song 167: Helloween - A Tale That Wasn't Right. Two of y'all got this Michael Weikath creation from "Keeper Of The Seven Keys Pt. 1". One of the few Helloween songs you can do live without necessarily having a virtuosos playing the back line, if ya know what I mean.
  • Song 168: Megadeth - A Tout Le Monde. Nobody got this one, which surprised me, seeing as how (i) the song was a hit, and (ii) the song caused a lot of controversy due to some teenagers committing suicide while listening to this song. Never mind that the song isn't about suicide - Dave still had to go to court. Much like Ozzy got some face time with the US court system because someone claimed that "Suicide Solution" was about just that, despite the fact that it's an anti-suicide song with an unfortunate title. Added to the GNP though, as I'm sure the lawyers got PAID.
  • Song 169: Thin Lizzy - Still In Love With You. Classic rock ain't y'alls bag, is what I'm getting from this. I would also have accepted "Gary Moore" as the correct artist, because what was recorded borrows heavily from his solos and verse rhytm.
  • Song 170: W.A.S.P. - Sleeping (In The Fire). Beautiful power ballad. Absolutely beautiful. This one is mostly based on their "Live..In The Raw" version. I've always loved doing this song live, as it allows for quite a lot of guitar escapism. When I first started playing guitar, I'd play for upwards of ten hours every day during my Christmas break trying to nail the songs from this live album.

As for the bonus point; all the songs were power ballads - three of y'all got that right. The Score for Round 6 looks like this:

  1. Sondre (7 points)
  2. Torbjørn (5 points)
  3. Anders (4 points)
  4. Cathy/Marius/Pigeon (0 points)

The TOTAL SCORE after round 6 now stands as:

  1. Cathy (33 points)
  2. Sondre (32 points)
  3. Anders (30 points)
  4. Pigeon (25 points)
  5. Torbjørn (23 points)
  6. Marius (13 points)

Congrats to Sondre, and also to cathy for being able to keep the wolves at bay. Good luck with round 7!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Close but no cigar

Wonderful new nanotechnology..is the title of a feature article by Kamilla Lein Kjølberg in this week's Morgenbladet. Or in the original language: "Vidunderlig ny nanoteknologi". Kjølberg is a PhD student at the Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities at the University of Bergen. The lead-in to the article reads: "Det er "stort", det "kommer", men hva er det egentlig?" (It's "big", it's "coming", but what is it really?) I thought this was an excellent start for a general interest piece dealing with nanotechnology, and the question is very pertinent regarding the very definition of nanotechnology and what makes that different from existing technology/science. After reading the piece, I'm left with the feeling that the question was not a rhetorical one, but rather something Kjølberg wished she had the answer to.

Let me put it like this; I am less than impressed with the candidate's command of the subject at hand.

Kjølberg has focused on what has been written about nanotechnology in Norwegian media from 2000-2007, and has reached the following conclusions: (i) The press coverage is predominantly positive. (ii) The focus is mostly on the potential realization of extreme visions in a distant future. (iii) Nanotechnology is often portrayed as a technology which allows for control over nature.

In short, Kjølberg argues in favor of more critical journalism regarding all things nano ("Jeg savner journalistiske vinklinger som kan provosere frem debatt og stille kritiske spørsmål"). Moreover, Kjølberg is very in favor of what she refers to as "lekfolksdialog" - an active dialogue wherein the government and media consult Joe and Sally Q. Public on matters regarding nanotechnology.

Am I the only one who immediately gets visions of text messages flashing across the lower part of the TV screen during debate shows like "Tabloid" where "the common man" gets to voice his or her feelings vis-a-vis whatever topic is at hand that day? Whenever I watch shows like the aforementioned "Tabloid" or "Holmgang" and I see what people see fit to bring to the table, I'm thinkin' "Dude; what did grammar ever do to YOU?" But I digress...

I'm not at all opposed to more critical journalism regarding nanotechnology - frankly it gets way too pie-in-the-sky most of the time. What I DO oppose is plain old incompetence and ignorance among those who have taken it upon themselves to communicate nanotechnology to the general public. It's even worse when they're doing it from behind a pulpit which lends credence to their argument, like being a PhD student with an official university affiliation. For example; Kjølberg defines carbon nanotubes as "karbon med en metallisk atomstruktur lettere enn aluminium og sterkere enn stål" ("carbon with a metallic atomic structure lighter than aluminum and stronger than steel"). Can anyone tell me whether there's a problem with this statement?

The source of my disappointment is altogether a different one though. It has everything to do with the fact that a very interesting topic for a critical general interest story would be how to separate "new" nanotechnology from the existing one, and the fact that a lot of nanotechnology is simply a repackaging of existing science utilizing new terminology and improved instrumentation. You want some examples, you say:

Ask the paper and fibre technology scientists who, not that long ago I might add, decided to christen their new technology "microfibrillar cellulose" despite the fact that the dimensions are very much on the nano scale.

Ask any biochemist - particularly one working with proteins - what separates what they always did from nanotechnology considering the broad strokes often employed to define this term.

Pretty much anyone working within the colloidal domain has probably also experienced that a lot of what they have done has been repackaged as nanotechnology. How is a nanoparticle different from a colloid, for example?

Ask Dr. Martin Fleischmann what separates his surface-enhanced Raman scattering technique - discovered in 1977 - from nanotechnology in it's present form.

..and the list goes on. This could've been an awesome piece - both critical and educational. The difference between new and old nanotechnology doesn't exactly jump at you from what's written in this feature article. If a PhD student had handed in this as a term paper to me, it would've gotten a D minus. Awesome concept and potential though.

GQ3: Mexican Standoff - Round 7

The penultimate round is upon thee.

Submit your answers to mfactorquiz (at) gmail.com by the end of Monday 092908. Each song holds the potential of two points - one point for artist and one point for the song. Answers will be posted on Tuesday 093008.

Song number 171:

Song number 172:

Song number 173:

Song number 174:

Song number 175:

Two mo' movies

..starting out with:

Varg Veum: Kvinnen I Kjølsekapet (The woman in the fridge) (2008)
Fifth installment in the Veum series, and I still think it rocks. Some epic bad decisionmaking on the character's part towards the end of the movie, but for Varg Veum, this ain't nothin' new. I've read some of Gunnar Staalesen's books, but I can't remember which and it was a long time ago, so there's no conflict between the characters and scenes I associate with the series and what's in the movies. My faith in Norwegian movies is partly restored, but not enough that I dare start on some other promising-looking domestic flicks like "Mannen Som Elsket Yngve".

Be Kind, Rewind (2008)
Jack Black you motherf*cker! You're starting to amass money that should've been mine like we switched wallets. Epic crap movie. I turned it off less than one hour into the "action". Never thought it was funny at all. For purposes of comparison, I watched all of "Nacho Libre" including the bonus material, and I thought it was funny in one or two places. It's becoming abundantly clear to me that "School Of Rock" was just a fluke; the presence of Jack Black in the cast is a harbinger of absolute crap. I've enjoyed more Vin Diesel movies than I have JB flicks, so from now on, I'll avoid his short, fat ass like the plague.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Does such a thing exist in Norway?

If you're following the US election race at all, you've probably noticed that media actually reports on the factual content of the statements and claims being made by the candidates. Websites like FactCheck.org - a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization - play a crucial role in providing media with comparison of statements to published facts. Check this out from the mission statement of FactCheck.org:

"We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit, "consumer advocate" for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews, and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding.

The Annenberg Political Fact Check is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. The APPC was established by publisher and philanthropist Walter Annenberg in 1994 to create a community of scholars within the University of Pennsylvania that would address public policy issues at the local, state, and federal levels.

The APPC accepts NO funding from business corporations, labor unions, political parties, lobbying organizations or individuals. It is funded primarily by the Annenberg Foundation."

This is AWESOME, and something which I feel is sorely lacking in Norwegian media. Hopefully not the next VP Sarah Palin probably curses websites and organizations like this every night before she falls asleep - her claims of being an expert at energy policy, which were immediately followed by her claim of Alaska being reponsible for more than 20% of the US energy production kinda missed the mark. Alaska contributes around 3.5%, and the publication of this fact alone sort of negated both her statements. Really cool.

Does something like this exist in Norway? 'Cause with an election coming up next year, it'd be FANTASTIC to be able to follow the factual content every time (and there will be many such occasions) some politician opts not to answer a question in a debate but rather resorts to Ye Olde, time-tested "Our party - the Douchebag Coalition - proposed this already back in 1099".

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Results GQ3: Mexican Standoff - Round 5

Another round, another surprise for me in terms of which songs are simple and which ones are hard. Hmm...sounds like a lost verse from "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town", so I'll move right along to the songs:
  • Song 161: Dio - We Rock. Look Out! The Sky is falling DOWN!! The one, the only, the world's tallest little person - Ronnie James Dio. Really kewl tune from "The Last In Line", an album no record collection should be without.
  • Song 162: Herman's Hermits - No Milk Today. Considering the absolute classic this is, imagine my surprise when everyone didn't find this. I even snuck in the vocal melody into the bass line in the bridge by way of a monster hint. Oh, freakin' well.
  • Song 163: Katrina And The Waves/KC And The Sunshine Band - Walkin' On Sunshine. Like ohmigawd this song is annoying. What might have thrown you all off is the fact that I played the horn section using harmonized guitar....still; this song absolutely, unequivocally sucks. Dragostea Din Tei on a shoe-string budget.
  • Song 164: Rainbow - Since You've Been Gone. Classic rock tune from the Graham Bonnet era of Rainbow. Bonnet went on to front Alcatrazz, a band which also sported a certain Yngwie Malmsteen on guitar, and later Steve Vai. The "Live Sentence" album has a fantastic version of "Since You've Been Gone", with a more - shall we say - intense guitar solo. Checketh it out today.
  • Song 165: Eagle-Eye Cherry - Save Tonight. Believe it or not, the strumming and chord changes in this tune really haul ass.
So; we have the following Score For Round 5:
  1. Anders (5 points)
  2. Cathy/Pigeon/Sondre/Torbjørn (4 points)
  3. ...
  4. ...
  5. ...
  6. Marius (0 points)
The Total Score
now looks like this:
  1. Cathy (33 points)
  2. Anders (26 points)
  3. Pigeon/Sondre (tied at 25 points)
  4. ...
  5. Torbjørn (18 points)
  6. Marius (13 points)
Congrats to Anders and Cathy
and good luck with Round 6!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

GQ3: Mexican Standoff - Round 6

Sixth round. With a possible bonus point. All you have to do in order to collect the bonus point is to provide me with the name often bestowed upon the type of songs recorded for this round (however, the label "crap" or something similar won't cut it, Pigeon).

Submit your answers to mfactorquiz (at) gmail.com by the end of Monday 092208. Each song holds the potential of two points - one point for artist and one point for the song. Answers will be posted on Tuesday 092308.

Song number 166:

Song number 167:

Song number 168:

Song number 169:

Song number 170:

Friday, September 12, 2008

Post-Symposium Reflections

Some of my reflections and experiences following attendance at a two-day international symposium in conjunction with the Kavli lectures here in Trondheim:

Of the Kavli Laureates present, only one gave a true science lecture at this symposium. The guy who didn't happens to be one of the absolute major players within my field. I mean absolutely no disrespect towards the laureate who actually gave a talk - mad props to Prof. Iijima - when I say that it major-league sucked that Louis Brus didn't talk here.

There are people - giants among men - who have repeatedly demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt that they are absolute, irrevocably, reproducibly brilliant. Their work has proven to be of paramount importance both to the academic community AND to the "real" world through practical applications of their findings. Brilliant as they are, they still can't present their work worth a damn. Regrettable as that may be, I still think it's unreasonable to hold that against them. Not everyone is good at doing the show-and-tell aspect of public speaking, but a far smaller percentage has the skill and tenacity required to contribute to major technological advancements.

The other side of the coin is that if your audience hasn't bothered to read your published work, a good (or even a mediocre-plus) scientist with dazzling stage presence and well-made slides appears much more impressive than the brilliant yet absent-minded Albert Einstein-like guy who shows up with four slides filled with illegible equations and a poor command of audience and the English language. The latter is absolute crucial; if you speak English with a heavy accent (not native to an English-speaking country), you are at a serious disadvantage. If you lack a decent vocabulary, it's even worse. If on top of that you're uncomfortable with facing an audience, you're much better off staying at home, unless you're specifically aiming to gauge and improve all of these aspects and view the conference/symposium/workshop as a training experience.

The traditional way of doing science has been on beaker-scale. Now, it's more and more becoming a game of microliters, and it's approaching sample sizes of tens of microns for more and more types of experiments. Which is cool for many reasons, one of which is a serious reduction in waste from R&D. The flip side of the coin: Going to micron scale for sample volumes is followed by hyooge cost increases, which further taxes budgets. Seeing as how the amount of money put into research and science isn't exactly skyrocketing, at least not here in Norway, there's an escalating mismatch between the available funds, the realistic scientific output and the "moon landings" which are expected by the governing bodies. Needless to say, that kinda' poses a problem.

Academics are extremely adept at hand-waving their way past legitimate scientific questions from peers. One of the time-tested tricks following an unexpected or hard question is to answer something like this: "That's a very interesting question, Sir/Madam - as a matter of fact, we're working on that exact problem right now in our group. Unfortunately I didn't bring any data to show you." Dollars to donuts you'll see that type of data published by some other research group 1-2 years before anything of the sort emerges from the guy who claimed they were working on it.

How come it's possible for a Professor to exceed his allotted 45 minute talk with 15 minutes and still having 10-15 slides left to show inthe talk? That right there screams hard-core arrogance, and/or epic lack of time management. One of these explanations is more plausible than the other - take your pick.

Still on the topic of arrogance; one big name started his talk - on plasmonics - by stating that to the best of his knowledge, no Norwegian scientists were working within this field. Which kinda' pissed me off, seeing as how that's what I do. Still, I realize that I'm way too fresh off the academic banana boat for a bigshot such as this guy to have noticed and amassed my publications. It was way worse for a Norwegian physics professor in attendance, seeing as how he's worked with this for more than 20 years and he has the publications and h-factor to prove it - now HE looked more than a trifle perturbed. Both of us were quite eager to ask this bigshot some questions following his talk, but because his presentation dragged way past his allotted time, we never got the opportunity. The physics professor left quite shortly after this. The funny thing is that if the bigshot had bothered to READ THE PROGRAM for the symposium or had bothered to check out the posters hanging right outside the auditorium, he'd have noticed that there were two posters being presented on plasmonics work by Norwegian scientists.

Musical taste linked to personality

I came across this article on the BBC news website. Professor Adrian North of Heriot-Watt University has carried out a study which set out to see if there is any correlation between musical taste and personality. No, Wilhelm, don't knock it yet. It could be something to it. Let's take us for example. My affection for blues is well know, and according to the results, I'm typically "High self-esteem, creative, outgoing, gentle and at ease". True that! You, on the other hand, is into heavy metal and classical music, so I gather you must be "Low self-esteem, creative, not hard-working, not outgoing..." and "...introvert and at ease". That's sooo you: A lazy bastard with no self-confidence, shy and stay in-doors all the time. But at least you're at ease with your position. Don't know why you are creative, I guess professor North just added that so your life shouldn't look all too miserable. Ok, so maybe I was a bit selective when choosing personality features for you, but still. :-D

Seriously, this is another completely waste of goverment fundings again, if I may say so. Just let us review the findings:

(1) Everybody is creative. At least if you listen to music (and in the reseach, the term music includes dance), which is about 99% of the worlds population. Except if you listen to chart-pop, then you're not creative, but that goes without saying

(2) Everybody is hard-working, except for reggae (must be the weed), indie (must be the reggae influence) and rock/heavy metal (must be those indie renegades).

(3) The only ones with low self-esteem is Indie (not sh*t, listen to the lyrics) and rock/metal (those pesky emo's!)

(4) Everyone with the exception of Classical, Opera and Rock fans are outgoing.

(5) If you're introvert, you are listening to classical music.

But the worst part of this study: They put country and western in the same genre, and they left out the music with the best personality of them all: Polka!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Boogie Chillun'

...to counter the current thunder and metal in the blog description. Just found this '98 RL Burnside concert from Bergen on YouTube. I was there (didn't know somebody was filming the show) and this ranks among the best concerts I ever been to. A double header with RL Burnside and T-Model Ford, just great old boogie and blues. What a night. During RL Burnside's set, even T-Model Ford ditched his crutches and startet to shake his ass off right next to RL. And he was 73 years at that time... So, as a taste of the raw Mississippi Hill Boogie, here's Boogie Chillun'. Enjoy (sorry, I can't embed the video).

Remember 9/11

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Poster Layout Win

Got the poster back from the printer just now, and for once it came out completely ok, despite the terrible twins of Microsoft PowerPoint and Adobe Distiller doing their worst.

Now all I have to do is stand next to it for about an hour tomorrow

Exhibit A

Check it, check it; the CERN Posse made a rap about the Large Hadron Collider.

Makes Vanilla Ice look like Eminem, and is the prosecution's exhibit A on why popularization of science should be done with some sense and taste.

Embracing another form of communication than the standard venues does not necessarily result in a less than abysmal outcome, as this video illustrates beyond the shadow of a doubt.

Don't know about y'all, but the only thing this video makes me want to do is go grab those geeks' lunch money.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


For about a week I've been working on a neoclassical riff/melody line I was really happy with. However, I had the nagging suspicion that it sounded familiar. Turns out it's the intro/main lick to "Heaven" by Swedish prog/neoclassical band Treasure Land:

The joke's on them though; I added way more notes to the turnaround of the lick, and I turned the main rhytm into a Dragonforce-like thing.

No; joke's still on me.

Results GQ3: Mexican Standoff - Round 4

Yet another round where none of y'all got a full score. Is this getting harder? Anyway; the songs were:
  • Song 156: Survivor - Eye Of The Tiger. Y'all had this one, which could be a testament to the popularity of the song, to the popularity of the Rocky movies or it could be an indication that y'all enjoy running the stairs/bleachers. It's also a very good song for beginners to practice their alternate picking on
  • Song 157: The Darkness - I Believe In A Thing Called Love. These people were everywhere for about twenty minutes back in 2003/2004. "Permission To Land" sold like a mofo. Then the band self-destructed in a classic "VH1: Behind The Music" fashion. Never liked them much. However; compared to the current version of the helium-voiced Bee Gees rip-off who goes by the name of Mika, The Dorkness is starting to look pretty damn good.
  • Song 158: Deep Purple - Black Knight. It appears that y'all struggle with finding any songs by Purple. Where's the love?
  • Song 159: Toto - Hold The Line. Uncharacteristically "straight" rock song from this bunch. Not much more to say, really.
  • Song 160: ABBA -Knowing Me Knowing You. Rather; the characteristic guitar break which appears several times throughout the song. Twin guitar dealie. I cheated, as I split and harmonized one voice using the Whammy pedal. Neat, huh?

Concomitantly, the Results for Round 4 stand as follows:

  1. Pigeon (7 points)
  2. Cathy (6 points)
  3. Anders/Marius/Sondre/Torbjørn (tied at 4 points)

The Total Score looks a li'l something like this:

  1. Cathy (29 points)
  2. Anders/Pigeon/Sondre (tied at 21 points)
  3. ...
  4. ...
  5. Torbjørn (14 points)
  6. Marius (13 points)

Congrats to Pigeon and Cathy and good luck with round 5!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Gene Simmons - KISS And Make Up

I never was a KISS fan, and the name of Gene Simmons has never given me a particularly warm and fuzzy feeling. Still; this book has given me a new-found respect for the man.

Gene Simmons is very upfront about his considering music to only be a vehicle for Simmons' personal business vision, which reaches way beyond the realms of a simple rock band. For Simmons it was never about the music; he is very open about him getting involved in the music industry to make money and get laid, not necessarily in that order. Moreover, he is very honest about having tried to jump onto different bandwagons in order to capitalize on emerging music trends - examples including the disco flirt with "I Was Made For Lovin' You", the boarding of the hair metal bandwagon with "Crazy Nights" and the more modern metal approach of "Psycho Circus". In some cases it was wildly successful, and sometimes it tanked. In a refreshing turn of events, Simmons not only admits to bandwagonjumping in order to further his business, he also takes blame for decisions which went wrong. Quite the rare occurrence in the world of rock star biographies.

Something I find to be quite interesting is that Gene Simmons describes himself as a pragmatist. This is interesting because in my experience, those who label themselves as pragmatists are frequently labeled cynics by others. I have never in my life - neither in academia nor in other avenues of life - found an example of someone being in complete agreement with their surroundings on labeling themselves as pragmatist. Just an observation.

Another reason to give Gene Simmons his due is that he actually bothered to take an education while pursuing his rock star dreams, and get a load of this ladies and gentlemen: in the very beginning of his music career he always held down regular jobs - plural. As did Paul Stanley. He never was a drug dealer or mooched off of others, which makes him one of the most honorable rock stars around. Mad props.

Naturally, the subject of guitarist Ace Frehley, Peter Criss and their drug habits and subsequent dismissals comes up in this book. There is no question that both these gentlemen were abusing drugs to the degree that they could not perform their duties. There are plenty of other sources citing that this and that musician really had to step into the studio and do a guitar solo or a drum part because Frehley or Criss would be lying on the studio floor, stones out of their minds.

KISS and Make Up is a surprisingly good book from a very intelligent man. No doubt does Simmons have the wherewithal to spin the facts in such a way as to make himself look better than others might remember in certain situations, but all in all this is even better than "Crazy From The Heat". Strongly recommended.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Tres movies

National Treasure 2: Book Of Secrets. (2007).
I don't know what everyone's whining about; I thought this was a totally decent action/adventure movie. It's a Disney movie, so you pretty much know things are gonna start off well, there's going to be a brief period where things appear bleak, and there's a happy ending. Did anyone expect something different? In my opinion it's well-made, and a much better Indiana Jones story than anything starring Harrison Ford.

Varg Veum: Falne Engler (2007)
I didn't expect much from this, owing to the unfortunate fact that Pia Tjelta is featured everywhere on the cover. She must have some sort of contract where it's clearly stated that she's to be featured in at least 85% of Norwegian movies - preferably as the same person in each and every one. If only she was a good actress, I guess it would be understandable considering the small available pool of thespians in a country such as Norway. However, Pia Tjelta is a terrible actress, so I can understand why the acting community in Bergen is quite upset that so few of the cast in the Veum movies - set in Bergen - are from that region. When the "guest star" which is brought in delivers the worst acting of the entire cast - and probably the majority of the crew - the local actors have every right to be upset. Luckily Tjelta disappears early on, after having done what she always does onscreen, and the dark cloud lifts from the production. "Falne Engler" is in my opinion the best of the Veum movies so far - great flick. Well worth watching. And considering how the story unfolds, it's no risk of Tjelta appearing in any of the subsequent Veum movies, which is to everyone's benefit (with the possible exception of Tjelta, who'll have to find another Norwegian movie to take off her clothes in).

John Rambo (2008)
Aaaaaaaaadriaaaaannnnnn!! No wait; that's the other one. This series is where he single-handedly defeats the Viet Cong, the Soviet Union and the Burmese army. Quite a lot of sheer violence packed into 90 minutes or so. Beside Sly, this flick features the annoying girlfriend from Dexter (Julie Benz), and much like in the TV series, she sticks to what she does best, crying, being the victim and making others feel guilty. Meh.

Axl Rose biography

W.A.R - The Unauthorized Biography of W. Axl Rose by Mick Wall.

It's a simple story; 1) rock journalist hangs tight with Guns'N'Roses, 2) journalist gets to hang backstage with the band as well as at their houses, 3) journalist writes something about the band which is not to Axl's liking, 4) journalist is put on shit list and even named in the song "Get In The Ring", 5) journalist writes an "objective" biography about Axl Rose wherein, wonder over all wonders, Axl doesn't exactly come out smelling like a rose. Hell hath no fury like a mediocre rock journalist who got to experience fame by association only to be cast out of Paradise City.

Although this is hardly an objective biography written by a neutral third party, I'll concede that I don't think anyone could be capable of writing a favorable book about Axl Rose. The best parts of this book consist of transcripts from interviews (with others) and from things Axl has said during concerts (also from other media outlets than from the scorned memory of Mick Wall). With Axl Rose, it's always someone else's fault, and he is just an innocent bystander. Every time he ever threw a hissy fit on stage or didn't bother to show up, it's always some phenomenally unlikely occurrence which is to blame. Or it's someone else in the revolving pool of hapless individuals which is the Guns'N'Roses organization which is to blame. It's never Axl; all Axl wants is to go out there and put on the best show of the fans' lives or to put out the best rock'n roll record in the history of Mankind. Sadly, Axl Rose is trapped in a region of time and space where normal things don't happen very often, and where he is constantly experiencing bouts of extraordinarily bad luck.

By the way; the journalist Mick Wall is the same guy who wrote "Run To The Hills", the official biography of Iron Maiden, a book so overenthusiastic about the band that as I read it, I was constantly amazed at how Mr. Wall managed to type with Steve Harris' dick in his mouth. and his balls obscuring his view. In "W.A.R", Mr. Wall refers to the time around "Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son" - characterized by Iron Maiden as well as Mr. Wall as the time in which Iron Maiden were on top of the world and had no peers in hard rock - as well past Iron Maiden's prime. Considering how many rock star biographies Mr. Wall has penned, I wouldn't be surprised if Mr. Wall has contributed more to the spreading of STD among rock stars than Bebe Buell.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Poster Layout Fail

I suck at making posters. Two or three years ago I made a poster template, and I can't seem to break free from that design. Today, I've spent way more time than I anticipated trying to find some snappy poster designs I could "get inspired" by - even to the point where Sondre and myself went scouring through the corridors of other departments looking for kewl posters.

On the plus side, I'm not the only one suffering from some form of poster design disability - as a matter of fact, there's a lot of unimaginative and plain ugly out there in the world of posters. However, this hardly helps us escape from our current predicament. The poster I'm making needs to be shipped off to the printer on Monday at the latest, and I'm apparently unable to do anything with the actual content of the poster beyond a planning stage until the design is up and running to my liking.

"Let's attend this thing and register posters - that way we'll get something to hang in the corridors to advertise our research. Much better than a talk." Yeah right - that's some epic decision-making skills right there. Writing a paper? No problem. Making a talk/presentation? No problem. Combining these formats into the form of a poster which doesn't look like a cross between "Wilhelm's House of Equations" and "Sesame Street: Ernie does Science" - big f*ckin' problem.

No es f*ckin' bueno.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

GQ3: Mexican Standoff - Round 5

Fifth round. And you guessed it; still no possible bonus points.

Submit your answers to mfactorquiz (at) gmail.com by the end of Monday 091508. Each song holds the potential of two points - one point for artist and one point for the song. Answers will be posted on Tuesday 091608.

Song number 161:

Song number 162:

Song number 163:

Song number 164:

Song number 165:

Selling out?

Later this week, I'm having a meeting regarding possible commercialization of my research. There's a separate "Entrepreneur" study at this university, and the Department Head has identified me as someone with potentially marketable research ideas. Thus, I'm having a meeting with some MSc students whose main project will emanate in some form of patent application (or so I gather from the information available to me at the moment) - in collaboration with the technology transfer office and the innovator, of course. At this stage, they're screening for some marketable ideas they can take to the next level of selection.

On one hand, this is potentially way cool. However, and hopefully without coming off as too much of a curmudgeon, I've had some experience with commercialization, and even before going into the quagmire of legalese, there are many substantial hurdles to overcome. Of course, this is all hypothetical since I haven't actually had the meeting yet, but commercialization doesn't promise quite the same silver lining for academics as it does for industry researchers. Unless a start-up company emerges from this technology - and the statistics are telling me that this is unlikely - there are few incentives on the horizon, despite commercialization being one of the fast-rising desired measurables in academia, along with "popularization" of science. The percentage I'd get from any future profits doesn't exactly motivate me - I don't remember the exact percentage my share would amount to, but after several branches of the university has taken their cut, I might be able to put down the first installment on a pair of laser goggles if I come up with a cure for AIDS, for example. Add to that all the limitations in publishing your results which comes with such a process, and you end up with what can be conservatively estimated as a gamble for a fresh-off-the-boat academic in a publish-or-perish cutthroat world.

I'm not gonna try to get into MBA classes just yet. Nor am I gonna legally change my name to Rockefeller Q. Gates.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Results GQ3: Mexican Standoff - Round 3

This must've been one of them there difficult rounds, which just underscores how much I suck at predicting the difficulty level for the quiz. Oh well; the songs were:
  • Song 151: Johnny Cash - I Walk The Line. Alternate bassline - check. Twangy guitar - check. Archetypical country music chord progression - check. Considering the surge in popularity which came with the movie "Walk The Line", I was surprised that you obviously didn't consider this a freebie. Oh well.
  • Song 152: Def Leppard - Photograph. Not their biggest hit, and what I thought was the hardest song to find in this round. I like this song, with it's simple rhytm figure floating on top of the muted pedal riff - awesome. No?
  • Song 153: Eminem - Superman. None of y'all found this. Damn.
  • Song 154: Jimi Hendrix - The Wind Cries Mary. One of the few Jimmy James tunes I like, and one I've played many a time. I'm actually very happy with how Hendrix-y the guitar sound turned out on this recording. Even using a guitar with high-output humbuckers and Mesa-Boogie type amp model.
  • Song 155: Ricky Martin - Livin' La Vida Loca. Ricky F*ckin' Martin, that's who. Enrique Iglesias' sped up about 35 bpm. Probably a perennial favorite on the "Absolute Ibiza Party Hits Collection 37: The Sans Vengaboys Mix.

Consequently, the Round 3 Scores are:

  1. Cathy (8 points)
  2. Anders (5 points)
  3. Pigeon (4 points)
  4. Sondre (2 points)
  5. ...
  6. Marius/Torbjørn ( both tied at 0 points despite a valiant effort)

And now for the Big Kahuna, the Total Score:

  1. Cathy (23 points)
  2. Anders/Sondre (tied at 17 points)
  3. ...
  4. Pigeon (14 points)
  5. Torbjørn (10 points)
  6. Marius (9 points)

Congrats to Queen Cathy and good luck with round 4!

Monday, September 1, 2008

After all...tomorrow is another day

Today has flat out sucked, and the above picture provides an accurate portrayal. I spent the entire morning differentiating something in the neighborhood of 250 spectra, then doing some quasi principal component analysis, and finally ending up with zero useful information, because the samples turned out not to reside within comparable time-domains. Epic. Fail. Then I spent most if not all of the afternoon trying to make some kewl figures using the "alternative" spreadsheet I complained about in the previous post. By 4:30 PM I had just about graduated to the level where I was able to figure out exactly why in the blue hell my many, many previous attempts at overlaying more data sets in the same plot had failed miserably. By then I had to take care of teachin' bidness, so net research output for the day: Zero. Another Epic Fail.

Fast forward to the gym, where I'm finally going to get some release from the pent-up aggression by doing squats and whatnot. First warmup set - using only the bar - my left knee starts hurting like crazy, and there was not much choice but to abandon resistance training and limp over to the treadmill. Which probably wasn't such a great idea either, but at least I got to do something. Epic Fail yet again.

And guess what; I'm starting tomorrow by being a censor on four or so oral examinations..............I'll think about it tomorrow....at Tara.....

Great idea........

Say; how about if we start using another spreadsheet package so as to be more compliant with (some of) our collaborators, thus facilitating a free exchange of data and figures? Wouldn't that be an awesome idea?

Only if everyone else switch to the software YOU'RE used to working with. Otherwise, a theoretically good idea turns into a big pile of steaming, infested, 100%, money-back guarantee, grade A monkey crap.

...enabling facile exchange of deliverables, my butt!!!!!!!!!!