Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Chinatown to Chinatown

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Pretty standard week thus far… Dizzy’s aunt has a retirement party this weekend… but aside from that, just getting excited for our trip to Utah next week. Free agency has been crazy in the NBA. The Warriors somehow convinced the Jazz to take on some dead weight contracts so they could get Andre Iguodala, which makes them a BEAST if they stay healthy. Aside from them & the Brooklyn Nets, everybody else seems to either be content with what they have or bailing on this year in hopes that they can get a good draft pick and/or free agents next summer. Management can’t really say it… but basically about three-quarters of the NBA seems to mark this year up as a loss, presuming that the Heat will dominate or something & they’re gearing for the next few years. Is it wrong? To tank in the present so that you can compete for the next few years (allegedly)? Eh… whatever, they’ll get their money because people will still pay… and that’s what really matters, right?
NBA 2K13 Update: No tanking for the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2013-2014 season in my virtual reality. We swept through the Celtics & 76ers. Now facing the Heat in the conference finals, then probably (barring the computer doing what it likes to do & making my team do random stupid things & the other team do amazing impossible things) the winner of the Lakers & Suns (GASP!!!) in the NBA Finals. My money’s on the Lakers since… well, they like to match me up directly against the best small forwards & two-guards like Paul Pierce, LeBron James, Kevin Durant & Kobe Bryant on a regular basis. I’m quickly becoming a defensive powerhouse to match my marksmanship on the offensive end now that I’ve figured out part of their ridiculous system. Oh… and I just turned 21 on the game so… I may be a hot commodity on the free agent market soon.
Monday night, the new roommate… we’ll call her Temp (since she won’t be around long) watched the Roman Polanski-directed film “Chinatown” starring Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway & John Huston. This is a classic film noir movie in the same vein as the Bogart pictures from back in the day… you know, private detective, dame in distress, lies, double crosses, murder, corruption, all that jazz. The story basically starts when a private investigator (Nicholson) is hired to catch a cheating husband… only he later finds out that it wasn’t the real wife (Dunaway) that hired him… it was somebody else… and now to save his reputation & business… and maybe his pride, he wants to get to the bottom of why he was played a fool. Also, the husband that he was found dead after drowning during a major drought… so now, he’s caught in a tangled web of corruption, power, money, wealthy family drama, and all that other stuff. The movie was shot splendidly to match the feel of 1940’s Los Angeles even though it was made in the early 70’s… and appropriate storytelling for the genre. I’ve only seen a few Polanski flicks (“The Ninth Gate” & “Carnage” recently) but he seems to thrive on keeping the audience in a state of confusion & unsettlement so that they better personify with the main characters… even when the characters have less than desirable traits. It’s a great system & it seems to work for him… now if he could just stop diddling teenagers he might be considered among the elite filmmakers… but hey, we all have our vices I guess. The flick is great. I’d say check it out. It’s on Netflix. You’re welcome. Here’s the news…
SF to LA in half an hour? – That’s right… there coming up with a way to go from Chinatown to Chinatown more rapidly. Commuting is a way of life for most Bay Area residents. Many people traveling from the East Bay to downtown are accustomed to an hour commute each way without traffic. Some people even commute to Southern California several times a month, spending several hours each way either in the car or fighting through airports. What if there was an alternative to flights and car rides? If it was up to Tesla CEO Elon Musk and a Colorado company, an answer could come sooner than we think. That answer is called… the Hyperloop System Musk, the man behind both Tesla Motors and SpaceX, has spoken about a high-speed transportation system known as the Hyperloop, a tube transport system that would allow passengers to travel at high speeds. The proposed system could reduce trips between San Francisco and Los Angeles to minutes, and reaching the East Coast from California could take under an hour. Okay, calm down, let’s hear it out. Crazy as it seems, the company ET3, based out of Longmont, Colorado, has already been hard at work making this a reality, calling their project the Evacuated Tube Transport. Yes… I’m thinking about Futurama too… it’s perfectly natural… but still, let’s hear it out.
How Does It Work? The Hyperloop has been vaguely described by Musk as a "cross between a Concorde, a rail gun, and an air hockey table." Well f**k, I’m sold!!! A better description might be an elevated tube system with a magnetic levitation system similar to high-speed bullet trains. The kicker would be the enclosed tube, which would provide a nearly friction-less surface for individual capsules to travel in. ET3's Hyperloop-like project already has a number of schematics and plans already in place. They claim an automobile-sized, six-passenger capsule constructed for "outer space" travel conditions could easily reach speeds of 4,000 miles per hour on longer journeys across the country or across continents. In theory, this elevated tube system could be built for a tenth of the cost of high-speed rail and a quarter the cost of a freeway (numbers which I’m sure will change once reality sets in). The projected cost for a passenger to travel from Los Angeles to New York is $100. (WHAT??? ON A BUS??? What do you base those numbers on? I want that deal. It says $299 on Greyhound’s as I type this) The tubes could be connected to form a new superhighway across the United States. They could go underwater and connect to Alaska, Hawaii, and the rest of the world… and then the moon. Oh, NOW you think I’m crazy? Anybody remember the proposed “elevator to space”? ET3 has already built mock-ups and prototypes and is planning a 3-mile test run by the end of 2013.
Expanding on Older Ideas - Despite the ingenuity of the idea, it isn't actually that new. In 1972, a paper written by physicist R.M Salter described a tube system known as the Very High Speed Transit System (VHST) that could send people across the United States in under an hour. The system was composed of a series of underground tubes arranged in a network across the country. While several technical problems existed with the idea at the time (no sh*t), Salter also concluded, "The general principles are fairly straightforward: electromagnetically levitated and propelled cars in an evacuated tunnel." The one primary difference between Salter's plan and ET3's is that the VHST would need to be underground, with massive amounts of excavation required. If the Hyperloop or Evacuated Tube Transport was built and succeeded, it could make California's current high-speed rail project obsolete. With a budgeted cost of $70 billion, the high-speed system currently under development would take passengers from San Francisco to L.A. in three hours, potentially six times slower than the Hyperloop. So what do you think? Bullet train going 150 MPH or riding one of those bank tubes at roughly five times the speed of sound? No coin rolls please. Yes, in theory, it’s a great idea… and I look forward to the results of their tests… but yeah, it’s up there with Hoverboards, Teleporters, Dilithium crystal-powered warp drives, Metachlorians, Hypersleep chambers, Unobtainium, Flying Cars, Death Rays, Death Stars, Weather Dominators, Unicorns, Pegasuses (Pegasi?), Dragons, and just about everything else that’s in “test phase” as it’s been for many, many, many years. Still, it’s an awesome concept… good luck, Mr. Musk!
Batman Update – Batman is more than a man… he’s a symbol… a myth… a legend with which some can use for good… or evil. Unfortunately, some young whippersnapper has briefly taken the symbol for evil. A 16-year-old boy wearing a Batman shirt and mask broke into a building at the Colorado State Fair… then turned himself in to police after seeing his likeness on the news. The Pueblo Chieftain reported that the boy is one of three accused of breaking into the Fair's VIP building early Thursday. The trio took televisions, a laptop and an empty cash register (Wah wah…). The suspects managed to lock themselves in the building and had to break out. KRDO-TV aired surveillance video of the suspect dressed as Batman. After the video aired, the boy turned himself in to police.  Authorities plan to seek charges including burglary and criminal mischief. The boy wasn't named because of his age (doubting it was Bruce Wayne… but wouldn’t that be funny). Spoiler alert: Police were still seeking the other two suspects… who unfortunately weren’t dressed as Superman and the Flash as part of Pueblo’s bizarroworld Injustice League (patent pending). By the way, this story just made me think of my dream from a few years back… and I’m thinking that I may have to see about turning that into a little bit of a comic (so that DC can sue me down the road for using their characters & get their cut, which I’m okay with… after expenses). I’ll keep you posted on that one… and now we need a story of a Batman saving people. I wonder if he was involved in that plane crash at SFO this weekend… the world may never know.
Why Soccer Sucks #523 – Now, I consider myself a fairly passionate sports fan. You may also agree that soccer fans are among the more passionate sports fans in general as well. Yes, I said soccer, so it’s not mistaken for REAL football. Obviously there are players in the NFL that… are basically horrible human beings. Just watch any episode of Sportscenter over the past 15 years or so… and I’m guessing there’s at least one reference to yet another player assaulting, murdering, stealing from, running over or shooting at somebody else (or themselves if your name is Plaxico). However, the game itself is typically not life or death (that comes afterwards with the head injuries) like it is with soccer. The latest tale: One man has been arrested in northern Brazil after a referee who fatally stabbed an amateur player over his refusal to leave the field was decapitated by a mob, police said on Saturday. I didn’t make that up. Referee… STABBED a player. Why? Because he wouldn’t leave the field. Repercussion for the referee? Trial? Discipline? Nope. Decapitation! Basically it's the equivalent of the "Fail Mary" referee then stabbing Golden Tate... and the Seahawks crowd ripping him to shreds. Instead, I think they met up earlier this week to "hug it out" or something. Twenty-year old referee Octavio da Silva stabbed the thirty-year old player Josenir dos Santos on June 30th after dos Santos refused to heed his order to leave, police spokesman Kena Souza told Reuters. A mob then turned on da Silva, killing him before severing his head in the remote town of Pio XII, named after a former pope (pope during WWII). A 27-year-old man was arrested on July 2 and police in the regional headquarters of Santa Ines will continue to investigate the incident, Souza said. Brazil has made significant strides in lowering homicide rates in recent years, as millions were lifted from poverty (and placed in poverty adjacent further away from the town center), but it faces mounting pressures to show it is a safe place for tourists before 12 Brazilian cities host the 2014 soccer World Cup and Rio de Janeiro the Olympic Games in 2016. In Rio de Janeiro on the day of the brawl, Brazil's national team handily defeated Spain in the Confederations Cup, considered a test run for next year's much bigger championship. The eight-team tournament was marked by an unexpected wave of demonstrations, some violent, in part to protest the $14 billion being spent on World Cup preparations amid a lack of adequate public services. So yeah… Brazil isn’t prospering as a nation… but hey, they’ve got the World Cup & Olympics coming. Look at what that did for Athens in 2004!!! Anyway, angry dads at little league games don’t seem so bad now, do they?
Apocalypse Update – My God! This may be the most frightening update yet… the evil reptile would-be overlords have become aware… and our using our own infrastructure against us. A French post office employee had the fright of her life when a meter-long (3.3-foot) python slithered quietly out of a parcel and rubbed against her. The woman was alone in the post office in the village of Blenod-les-Pont-a-Mousson (which I believe means “Village of the Mouse Pants” in French… Lilie?) in eastern France on Friday evening when she felt the chilling caress and screamed for help. Firemen caught the fugitive reptile and discovered a second one in the parcel. The pair were identified by a vet as ball pythons - non-aggressive snakes that coil up into a tight ball when threatened - and donated to a nearby zoo. "They're not dangerous but they're very impressive," an officer said. Ball pythons are popular with snake enthusiasts as pets but are also a protected species for which owners need a legal certificate stating they have not been taken from the wild. Customs officers raided the home address, in France, of the parcel's sender, where they found no certificates but two other snakes, a stuffed caiman and a stuffed turtle which the owner had been trying to sell over the Internet. The post office stressed that its terms and conditions clearly forbade the shipping of animals, live or dead… and I’m sure the offenders were given a stern talking-to as opposed to a fine or felony or something. What does this mean? Certainly these miniature ball pythons were test subjects… like sending monkeys into space first… test the waters to see if their heads would explode before the mass transportation of weaponized viper squads throughout the world. They may have to reconsider their strategy after being caught… but perhaps that’s just a few “biohazard” stickers away. They’re cunning… they’ve been around since the dinosaurs… they’ve already survived a few apocalypses that they may or may not have had a hand in… so they’ll do what it takes. We just have to be ready. Be careful out there opening your packages. Always have a machete ready. Besides… it helps with opening the package sometimes too.
Anyway, that’ll do it for today. We’ve discussed basketball, movies by pedophile directors, bullet trains to hell (LA), Batman going bad, deadly soccer mobs & slither bombs. Kind of a busy day for most blogs… but not for us… and just think, it was a slow past few days. Have a great day everybody!!!

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