October 3, 2005

Everyone's talking about it [Open Thread]

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at October 3, 2005 3:08 PM

Apparently the new Richard K. Morgan novel came out when I wasn't looking, and Franz Ferdinand's new album comes out tomorrow. So I've got some shopping to do. Maybe I'll be able to find that Wolf Parade album this time.

Serenity: The blogosphere is swamped with commentary on this movie, so I'll just say that it's really good. My brother came up to Berkeley to see it with me (I introduced him to the works of Joss Whedon, so it seemed appropriate), and we spent the rest of the weekend quoting it to each other. I think Jayne may now be my favorite character.

While on the subject of film: anyone seen Mirrormask yet?

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah: Not an instruction but the name of the band, and of their debut album. There's been a ridiculous amount of buzz about this band from indie rock critics, even when this album was only available from shady internet filesharing services. I always worry that my computer will contract some awful spyware infection from such services, so I waited until the CD was released. On first listen my reaction was a resounding "Huh?" It's not bad, but I haven't yet figured out what all the hype was about. (My first reactions don't correlate well with my eventual opinion of a given band—I had a similar reaction to the Arcade Fire, but after a few more listens Funeral became one of my favorite albums.) Anyway, there are some songs I really like on here, like "Details of the War", but I feel a bit like I'm missing something.

I still have a long backlog of music to review, so there's probably a big music post in the future. I considered doing this as an audio post where I could play songs interspersed with my commentary, or as a series of podcasts, but I'm not sure I have the time to do that properly.

Tags: Movies, Music, Open Thread

Didn't know Franz Ferdinand had a new one coming out, you'll tell us how it is?

"Well... I might..."

I didn't like Jayne quite as much as the others at first in the series, but after a) the introduction of Vera and b) the episode where they rob the hospital, he was as cool as they come.

Mirrormask is one of my big todos right now, but I'm waiting for the gang to see it. I cheated on Serenity because I knew I was going to want to see it multiple times anyway.

Needless to say, you've probably heard the buzz that Harvey Danger just made? I wouldn't say it's a great album, but it's probably worth a listen. I know I have an mp3 of Flagpole Sitta around somewhere...

Posted by: Lemming | October 3, 2005 4:16 PM

Lest there be another instance of a book coming out while you- or your readers- aren't looking, SCARED MONEY comes out in paperback tomorrow.

Posted by: JSpur | October 3, 2005 6:06 PM

I remember that song by Harvey Danger. When it came out, it annoyed the Hell out of me (in the grotesque combination of overplaying and my not liking it anyway).

In my music news, I was able to get one ticket to an upcoming Depeche Mode concert. I wanted to get 2 tickets so that my brother could go with me, and I was lucky just to get the 1. My hope is that some seat relatively nearby gets released, so that we can finagle things. (Thankfully, I know how to get to the Staples Center easily via public transportation.)

Also, my officemate erased part of my countdown to DM's new album on our whiteboard so he could perform some calculations. How dare he! :)

Posted by: Mason | October 3, 2005 8:26 PM

Morgan indeed came out with a new novel, Woken Furies, and I just finished reading it on the plane back. Excellent book, better than Market Forces, and as good or better than the first two Kovacs novels. :)

I've also seen Serenity twice now. Yeah, wow. :) Have not seen Mirrormask yet, haven't been in a region which has it showing nearby til just now.

Posted by: Zifnab | October 4, 2005 12:49 AM

Looks like Caltech will be getting new leadership.


Posted by: JSpur | October 4, 2005 5:57 AM

Yeah, I've heard a little bit of talk floating around debating the retire-retire versus "retire or we'll fire your ass"-retire, with a slight bent towards the latter. That could very well just be to his lack of popularity with the people I tend to be around.

Maybe next time we can get someone who's in a real field? *coughcoughjustkiddingdon'thitmecoughcough*

Posted by: Lemming | October 4, 2005 9:46 AM

I still remember Baltimore's comment at the 1998 commencement about who knows whether engineering will still be around in xx years, but basic science is here to stay. (I don't remember the xx, but his laughable comment essentially dissed roughly 50 % of the people graduating. I suppose he actually meant something else that may be reasonable, but I don't know what it is.)

Among the admin/alumni-association staff I know, I have always been under the impression that they mostly like Baltimore, but this is just a vague bit of buzz rather than anything concrete.

Posted by: Mason | October 4, 2005 4:02 PM

I forgot to mention:

Given that everybody else who is local has already seen Serenity, should I just go see it on my own or are there still plans to get together to do it?

Posted by: Mason | October 4, 2005 4:03 PM

Well, Mason, I certainly wouldn't mind seeing Serenity again. I found the second time much different than the first (because I wasn't out of my mind with suspense the whole film), and there's certainly enough interesting revelations to keep me occupied a third time.

And in the interests of keeping this open thread from having a coherent topic, here's something a new grad student just showed me: slime breeder. It's like pokemon for people with warped ideas of "cute".

Posted by: Lanth | October 4, 2005 4:20 PM

I talked to Tim on Sunday and he send Wednesday was good for him and Friday was doable (assuming he is up for an (n+1)st showing---actually, n = 1 the last time I checked). I'll move this to e-mail to avoid boring Travis.

By the way, I see one with wings that needs to be called Paragoomba. :)

Posted by: Mason | October 4, 2005 5:15 PM

My blog doubles as a scheduling tool! Take that, Outlook! :)

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | October 4, 2005 6:03 PM

Yeah, who needs email? Actually, at this point I'd prefer Friday over Wednesday, and I'm definitely up to seeing it again, N=1 still, and that doesn't cut it.

So, what other obscure and heretofore unknown tasks is the blog capable of?

Posted by: Lemming | October 4, 2005 6:57 PM

Turning obscure mystery writers into bestsellers?

Uhhhhhhhhhhhh, no.

Posted by: JSpur | October 4, 2005 8:47 PM

OK, by popular demand, we'll continue scheduling here. :)

The Friday showtimes aren't listed yet (at least on hollywood.com), but is everybody who wants to go ok with Friday?

Posted by: Mason | October 4, 2005 9:57 PM

I believe Doug wanted to see it also, and near the end of this week was a good time for him. But i'm not sure if that meant friday or others. So maybe he'll check here, or i'll chat with him soon. :)

Posted by: Zifnab | October 5, 2005 1:01 AM

Via Mason in e-mail, a Caltech prof (Grubbs) won the Nobel for chemistry today. Any of the chemists here know him?

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | October 5, 2005 3:46 PM

I seem to recall that JLau either worked for him, a student of his or possibly even both... I could be off my rocker, though. In fact, I am. Anyone seen it? About yay tall, made of wood...

Posted by: Lemming | October 5, 2005 4:48 PM

Dammit, I went and used my favorite word again. Bugger.

Posted by: Lemming | October 5, 2005 4:48 PM

I worked for Bob Grubbs (or yes, more directly, one of his grad students) for a summer. Sadly, my project didn't go as planned, so I never got to use any of the Grubbs catalysts that summer.

My knowledge of the field isn't the greatest, but here's a brief spiel on olefin metathesis: It's the formation of olefins from other olefins (olefin=carbon-carbon double bond). There are a few flavors of metathesis categorized by what reactants and products are involved. For instance, ring-closing metathesis occurs when a molecule with two olefin tails gets closed up to form a ring. Cross metathesis occurs when two different molecules (A and B) with olefin tails are connected; depending on what A and B are, one can predict whether A-B dimers will form versus A-A or B-B dimers. There are some figures and explanations at www.organic-chemistry.org.

Since massaging carbon-carbon bonds is important in chemistry--and sometimes more difficult than other reactions like oxidation and reduction--olefin metathesis has been a valuable tool for building molecules. Early metathesis catalysts were very air- and water-sensitive, and had the naughty tendency to react with other (non-olefin) groups in molecules. More recently developed catalysts are much more selective for the olefin group and/or much more stable.

Some of the catalysts used nowadays include the Schrock catalyst (molybdenum-based), the Grubbs 2nd generation catalyst (ruthenium-based), and various Grubbs-Hoveyda catalysts, among others. Incidentally, Schrock was one of the other two co-recipients of the prize.

Olefin metathesis is used in synthesizing pharmaceuticals, building polymers, and other things I don't know anything about. ;)

Posted by: Jolene | October 5, 2005 5:14 PM

Wow, I had no idea you'd worked for him. Thanks for the explanation. Another important question is, do you have any dirt on him? :)

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | October 5, 2005 7:04 PM

Hahaha, I don't think that I have any dirt on him. I've heard rumors that Grubbs and Schrock aren't on the best terms though, but that's not too surprising in light of typical academic rivalry.

Bob is really a good guy though, not the arrogant stereotype of big-shot professors at all. He's also 6'6" or something. Chemists I know have commented that they didn't notice this while he was giving a seminar, but then when they saw him standing next to other professors afterwards they realized.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2005 11:55 AM

Oops again, forgot to put a name there.

Posted by: Jolene | October 6, 2005 11:55 AM

Ok, in a delayed response to the first comment in this thread, I'm pleased to report that the new Franz Ferdinand album is awesome. As is the new Ladytron album, but don't bother listening to the 14th track on that one, as it is 9 minutes and 3 seconds of silence (I checked).

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | October 7, 2005 11:14 PM

I have a couple CDs with bonus tracks that have about 7 minutes of silence followed by a brief vignette of about 30-60 seconds.

In other news, the Astros-Braves game is now in the bottom of the 15th. This is delaying the start of my work today. If this keeps up, I might have to do it after the Angels-Yankees game. (I can't just ignore it, as there is stuff I need to do.)

Posted by: Mason | October 9, 2005 3:02 PM
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