Cuppabits Aug 25, 2010

And here’s the sporadic Cuppabits, news and thoughts from all over, posted whenever the mood and the material strike me.

In celebration of the release of Mockingjay, the third book in the popular Young Adult adventure written by Suzanne Collins, my authorette wife Alison gave me her copy of the first book in the series, The Hunger Games. I read it quickly and enjoyed it. Unfortunately, it reads like a young adult novel. The differences between that and the other young adult series Alison provided and I devoured, the Harry Potter series could fill a novel by itself. While both protagonists are quickly faced with imminent doom by their otherworldly circumstances, I wasn’t surprised nor impressed with a single twist in the story. Once the situation was setup, neither the characters nor the twists were surprising or developed uniquely. It’s like watching a crime procedural on TV and not only guessing which guest star did the dastardly deed, but which twist they’ll use to trip the villain up.

If you don’t know the plot, in a distant North America where there is a central and fascist central government that’s really well off and advanced, there’s a yearly competition where the country’s under-privileged various districts have to send two young and mostly untrained teenagers to compete in a contest. The rules are simple. Kill your competitors. Be the last one standing. The general setting isn’t a whole lot unlike the Japanese book Battle Royale that was made into a couple of rather gory “splatterfest” movies.

Like most apocalyptic young adult stories, it has a romance. Mad Max (or in this case Mad Maxine) it is not.

Speaking of books and the lovely and talented author I live with, her book that drops in stores in a couple of weeks keeps getting talked about in Washington D.C. Here’s a video of the couple chatting up how they met and the book written by Alison describing their romance.

The first request from the trapped miners in Chile? They want some Chilean wine to celebrate the Chilean independence day. That, and not being dead and stuff.
Apparently nobody has told them it’s going to take four months to drill a relief well, I mean mine shaft, to pull them out of there.

Here in Texas, it’s the first week for school for many children.

Here’s a free public service announcement:

When picking up a child from school, particularly when the child is a young kindergartner,


Thank you.

In the category of “Neighbors being evil” department, which is worse

this about having various nasty fluids being tossed on others
this about tossing the cat in the garbage?

Make a list of pop music stars way past their prime. To put their name in front of Generation TV, they either appear on American Idol or Glee.

Latest in the long and seemingly endless supply of aged pop stars is Billy Joel.

I think Billy Joel’s last three hits were the ones he made with his Volkswagon into a light pole. And a fire hydrant. And a garbage bin.

Let’s hope his role on Glee is the Driver’s Ed teacher.

Speaking of reality TV that’s not real, Simon Cowell’s “X-Factor” has been taking singing talents and making them more talented. They’re auto-tuning the vocals of the contestants.

[BBC News]X Factor bosses have admitted using vocal enhancement processes on the ITV talent show.

Fans had claimed after the opening show that “autotuning” had been used to improve some contestants’ voices.

It is used in recording studios to improve performances by correcting pitch and disguising off-key mistakes.

An X Factor spokesman said post-production work was necessary on the show due to the number of microphones used during filming.

“The judges make their decisions at the auditions stage based on what they hear on the day, live in the arena,” the spokesman added.

“The footage and sound is then edited and dubbed into a finished programme, to deliver the most entertaining experience possible for viewers.

To keep you from having to watch the video/audio, the girl hits a bad streak and the robotic sound cuts in, and it’s done terribly. But the fact that Simon KNOWS this is going on and is watching it and knows everyone else knows he’s presenting faked vocals… well, this is the guy that wants to bring this crap to America.

I mean, we’ve seen faked crap on TV before, right?

It’s a bit like finding out your Miss [Fill in the location here] beauty contestants had their boob jobs paid for by the contests’ organizers.

My Samsung Galaxy Vibrant phone is doing quite well, and today we find out that it’s getting a big brother, a Samsung Galaxy Tablet.

If this keeps up, they’ll be no need for traditional laptop computers any more.

Of course, the Galaxy Phone I have has a weak ass GPS system, but it’s not like I use that for much [XKCD]

And finally,

how drunk do you have to be to forget getting shot in the head five years ago?

[…] the man recalled he had received a blow to the head around midnight at a New Year’s party “in 2004 or 2005”, but had forgotten about it because he had been “very drunk”

Talk about a hangover.

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Geologist writing SciFi