Monday, February 4, 2013

Link roundup

1.  Interesting discussion of the technological advancements in warships in the 1700's.  For example:

the British were the first to completely copper the bottoms of their entire fleet beginning around the time of the American War for Independence. This factor had a radical impact upon hull durability and speed, comparable with almost any changes in actual ship design. It was hugely expensive but kept ships out of dry-dock and improved their weatherliness and speed and helped assist uniform the speed characteristics of the whole battle fleet when in formation. This crucial change in itself was comparable in impact to the 20th century's incorporation of the microprocessor into modern naval electronics.
2.  From a discussion by Robin Hanson on the importance of status:
I would like to see a building, say, the Empire State, I would like to see on one side of it a foot-wide strip from top to bottom with the name of every bricklayer, the name of every electrician, with all the names. So when a guy walked by, he could take his son and say, “See, that’s me over there on the forty-fifth floor. I put the steel beam in.” Picasso can point to a painting. What can I point to? A writer can point to a book. Everybody should have something to point to. (Studs Terkel, Working) 
I’d guess that if building makers could get this if they were willing to take a 5% pay cut to pay for it, and that it doesn’t happen because such workers don’t want it that much. Anyone know how much of a pay cut people take to get their name in the credits of a movie? How much of a pay cut to get your name shown as author of a novel? Do artists care more about getting visible public credit more than construction workers? If so, why?
3.  I was intrigued enough from io9's episode summary to watch the Palpatine/Maul battle from the latest Clone Wars episode.  I guess I just can't get past the misguided character designs and overall dark look because I liked the summary a lot more than the cartoon.  But the black saber animation is very cool.  It's the very best thing to come out of the entire Clone Wars series.  Dramatically cooler than a red saber.

4.  Ann Althouse on the possibility that a school board will try to claim ownership of all work created by teachers and students:
God forbid that teachers might become entrepreneurial about their creations and amass personal wealth. It's important to keep them inside the system, teaching their wards that the government needs to possess everything in order to ensure that no one gets more than her share.


  1. Okay, I'll bite--what about the designs are misguided. I'm not trolling, I'm just curious on your take.

    1. I mean the marionette looking figures. Terrible. (I like almost none of the new ships and characters, either, but the real problem is the basic look of the show is not good).

    2. The basic look of the show is exceedingly geometric and angular. It's very unique and doesn't look like anything else, which is nice. But it is sort of weird and does make the characters look like wooden marionettes in a way.

      I've talked to a friend of mine who's done computer animation, and his take was that by making each moveable item essentially a collection of angled geometric constructs (rather than a conglomeration of curved unique elements), it makes the creation of new items and characters faster while also easing processor load (because new shadow and light responses have to be created for each new "piece" on any one item/character).

      There are things like Cad Bane's hat or Maul's horns that are essentially unique elements, but the faces and torsos and ships are collections of the same pieces (re-sized and re-arranged and colored). It's all computer drawn, so once an element is created, it's a (re)useable piece.

      Like John, I want to like the series more than I actually do at this point. The best cartoon I've seen lately is Tron: Uprising. The art on that is amazing, and I'm not a big Tron fan.

  2. I'd guess people get their names on the credits of films because there is minimal cost for the production company to include them. It might also have been a bargaining chip with the respective unions at the dawn of the film industry.

    To get your name engraved on to a building along side all the other people who chipped in would need a massive plaque, presumably costing hundreds if not thousands, and where do you draw the line? Would the PA of the boss of the building firm be included, how about the shops and food outlets in the area that fed the work force? Such a plaque probably wouldn't fit in most buildings.

  3. In response to #4: This is common practice for private and Charter schools anyways-- most employment contracts (in my area at least) require the rights to all intellectual property/products that you create while a teacher in their school. And many of these institutions are blatantly attempting to make a profit off of the creativity of their teachers without any remuneration. So, I have no sympathy for false outrage targeted at the public sector for exploitative behaviors that are common practice in the public sector.

    You should stop linking to Althouse, too-- it denigrates the quality work that you usually incorporate on this site...

    1. What makes you say that? I think she frequently has interesting takes on the news.