Saturday, May 28

Champion's League Final

Friday, May 20

The F-35 Disaster

F-35: Dodging One Bullet, Taking Another.
And, finally, Lockheed can expect fallout from McCain's apparent belief the company is avoiding shouldering any of the cost overrruns caused by its poor performance on the program. Carter said the current cost-plus development contract only allows the Pentagon to withhold awards fees. But the contract is being renegotiated...
Is there any way to interpret the F-35 program as something other than an unmitigated disaster?

We will never build the quantities necessary to approach any economies of scale and all the other savings that were promised have already evaporated.

Then, to add insult to injury, LockMart continues to profit from American taxpayers.

I used to think F-35 was too big to fail, but now it's starting to look like the failure will be too large to salvage. We will start to lose our international 'partners' and end up building many fewer jets. Will anyone else (besides the Israelis, who we basically give them to), hold out to buy any?

I'm starting to think the B will get canceled outright. Will any Cs get built or will the Navy go with Super Hornets til they can get to UCAV? Probably some As will get built, at least.

Can a good argument be made that we should just cancel the whole thing and make do with upgrades to what we have? Would it be possible to re-open the 22 line? Can we stomach doing any more business with LockMart?

What was the mistake? Overreach. We thought we could do more, more cheaply, than we really could. In hindsight, we never should have tried to build the 'Joint' -- three versions with a common planform. We certainly should have built more 22s. We should have stuck with more incremental developments of 16s and 18s and UAVs.

The Pentagon and LockMart are probably equally to blame, but only one of those is profiting in the midst of this disaster.

I said it before, I'll say it again: it's a good thing we probably won't be fighting with a near-peer air force any time soon.

Thursday, May 19

Our Elvish Names

I've known about Now We Have All Got Elvish Names since at least September 30, 2005. It came back up when I linked Speak geek: The world of made-up language in this Facebook post, partially in reference to the ElvenSpeak iPhone app.

As it says in the post linked above, I've known for at least five years that my Elvish name is 'Eruntalon'. Christine asked what hers would be and, based on NWHAGEN, I derived 'Christ-follower' into Eruhilyë. Then Christine asked about Elizabeth and Wil.

That's when I found this more expansive reference for Elvish names (linked from the bottom of NWHAGEN) by someone with more ability than me: quenya lapseparma. So, new method: look at both references for your names. If there are multiple choices, pick the one you like most (unless you have the Quenyan chops to do better ;-)

For myself, I'm sticking with 'Eruntalon', though quenya lapseparma says 'Erufailon' is better.

For Christine, she can go with my humble 'Eruhilyë', or choose from these options:
CHRISTIAN (m.) - from Latin 'follower of Christ, christian'; based on Helge Fauskanger's suggestion "Christ" could be translated as Laivino (from *laivina) "Annointed one", so Laivino itself or Laivindil ("Christ-friend") or Laivindur ('"Christ-servant"); in the meantime Tolkien's own translation of 'Christ' was published: Elpino, so we perhaps can derived an adjective from it: *elpinoina "christian", so Elpinoino

CHRISTIANA, CHRISTINA (f.) - fem. form of CHRISTIAN (q.v.), thus Laivine; or Elpinoine (see CHRISTIAN)
ELISABETH (f.) - Erunyauve, see NWHAGEN; it might be 'god's promise/oath'; Eru "god", vanda "oath", so Eruvande
WILLIAM (m.) - Old Ger. 'will + helmet'; níra, selma "will"; cassa "helmet", thus Níracas or Selmacas (-casso in declinations), another possibility might be Mercas (with an element mer- "wish, desire, want"; this name is already used)
There you have it :-)

Saturday, May 14

Four Chord Song Omnibus

I knew, of course, that you could play an absurd amount of popular songs by knowing just a few chords. That's what made it so easy for me to learn to play a little guitar 20 years ago: you learn the most common chords, let's say four, in the most common keys, maybe three or four of them. I only had to practice for about an hour a day for a week to be able to make the changes in rhythm (I already had a strong vocal music background and some instrumental work) and I was able to play along with many common songs.

My friend, Jeff, mentioned the 4 Chord Song, so I looked it up on YouTube:

Funny stuff.

Then I started to dig a little deeper:

The Axis of Awesome: Four Chords Song
"Four Chords" is one of The Axis of Awesome's best-known works. It is a medley of popular songs that all follow the pop-punk chord progression. The work is an attempt to outline the perceived formulaic nature of popular music. The "Four Chords", in Roman numeral analysis, are written I - V - vi - IV.[6] The band also uses a vi - IV - I - V, usually from the song "Save Tonight" to the song "Torn". The band plays the song in the key of E so the progression they use is E-B-C♯m-A. Many of the songs featured in the medley have been transposed from their original keys.

The medley of songs that composes the "Four Chords" song is continually varied, often incorporating new releases. The Axis' song "Birdplane" is always included (itself a parody of the Five for Fighting song "Superman"). The melody usually starts with Journeys Don't stop believing.
Pop-punk chord progression
In the form vi-IV-I-V this was named sensitive female chord progression by Boston Globe Columnist Marc Hirsh[2]. In C major this would be Am-F-C-G. Hirsh first noticed the chord progression in the song "One of Us" by Joan Osborne.[3] He claims he then began to notice the chord progression in many other songs. He named the progression because he claimed it was used by many members of the Lilith Fair in the late 1990s.[2]

Both are a variant of the doo-wop I-vi-IV-V "Heart and Soul" progression, familiar from songs such as "Earth Angel" and "Donna"[2].
50s progression

As you can see, you can play a ton of songs with just four chords in these three progressions.

I am very tempted to make a comprehensive list of the songs in these categories, or at least the ones I like. This would be one place to start: Axis of Awesome 4 chords song list?

This video takes the form of an expose, listing many of the songs with the pop-punk and sensitive female progressions:

Of course, there are different melodies and instrumentation. And I'm actually inclined to marvel at the flexibility of basic pop structure rather than belittle it.

And here's the funny Pachelbel Rant:

Hard to believe: a useful YouTube comment:
it's funny, but he's technically wrong towards the end. Pachelbel's Canon goes I, V, vi, iii, in keeping with baroque chord conventions.  Most of the songs he plays are I, V, vi, IV, which is a different phenomenon all together.

Monday, May 9

Will May 21 Be TEOTWAWKI? I Feel Fine.

I don't know about you, but we've got billboards all over Columbia that say Judgment Day is coming May 21st. The Bible guarantees it!

For our part, we're pretty sure Judgment Day is not May 21st. Elizabeth adapted the lyrics of It's The End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) tonight to accommodate May 21st. Point is, we're not worried

Turns out Family Radio Worldwide and Harold Camping are behind it.

It's pretty clear from the Bible that all Christians will be strange to the world in some ways. I wish some of us didn't have to add to the non-Jesus-originating strangeness. Kind of hard to sort it all, I bet, if you're not familiar with the different kinds of craziness. In my opinion, it makes the Christians look even worse for unnecessary reasons. It's sort of like friendly fire.

Just to confuse the issue, I do believe Jesus will come back one day and that the end of the world will come and justice will roll down like mighty waters. And I'm ready.

But I'm about 99.99% sure the Bible doesn't guarantee the May 21st date.

(Also, to confuse matters more, Camping believes in the 'rapture' and I do not. There could be a rapture, but I don't think there will be.)

The Young Victoria and More

Christine and I watched this tonight for Mother's Day. She loved it and I liked it.

One of my favorite parts was the repeated use of Zadok the Priest, which I think we sang my freshman year in high school (1986).

The Young Victoria has nine clips from the movie (including the trailer).

The Wikipedia article on Queen Victoria makes the movie sound pretty authentic, which is nice for a change. Unfortunately, though the couple was shot at, the movie has Albert actually getting hit.

Saturday, May 7

Short Review of Thor (no spoilers)

Stuff I liked:
  • fine for kids
  • reasonably humorous
  • Asgard - planet/dimension treatment
  • Loki 'origin'
The reviews I've seen act like it's not bold enough, too boring, maybe not edgy enough. I'm fine with that for the tradeoffs. A nice, family popcorn movie.

I was really disappointed with Natalie Portman's character, as you can see from this post on Facebook:
Pathetic female physicists in movies:

Denise Richards, The World is Not Enough
Elisabeth Shue, The Saint
Natalie Portman, Thor

NP's character was probably my least favorite part of Thor, probably at least half-due to writing and direction.

You should still see it. Wil and I are going tonight :-)

Monday, May 2

Osama bin Laden Is Dead

A few thoughts.

1. I'm glad. Part of me wants to celebrate ObL burning in hell right this minute.

2. However, I know there are Christian reasons to not be glad.

3. Furthermore, my understanding of Hell, especially following Tim Keller following CS Lewis, is a state for people who reject God to be away from Him forever. And God is love. So, it's not quite the 'happy' image of ObL roasting and brings home the eternal consequences of all of our decisions.

4. As I said in this Facebook post, it makes me sick that ObL was living in comparative comfort, including with one of his wives (so he got to have regular sex). I begrudge him every need and luxury.

5. I regret so much about our mishandled responses to 9/11 -- not so much attacking the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, but how we screwed them up. Too many Americans and Afghans and Iraqis lost their lives or their loved ones on account of our mistakes.

6. And, as I said on this Facebook thread, many of the things that we fought for and have tried to accomplish will likely be short-changed and squandered. What are the chances of a decent outcome in Iraq, not to mention Afghanistan and Pakistan?

That's it for now.