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Comment: Re:Hold on (Score 3, Interesting) 188

by MyLongNickName (#48370439) Attached to: Philae Lands Successfully On Comet

Now that I think about it, if Philae did not bounce off of the comet, then the screws must be doing their job and I would think the harpoons might not be needed at all. I would assume the harpoons were in the plans because the engineers couldn't be sure the screws would work on the surface of a comet.

Comment: Re:Hold on (Score 1) 188

by MyLongNickName (#48370383) Attached to: Philae Lands Successfully On Comet

My understanding is that the harpoons were one of two ways that ESA was going to secure the probe to the comet. There were also screws that were supposed to attach the legs to the surface. So if they can still fire the harpoons they ought not have an issue with Philae flying off into space, but does anyone with more information on the relative strength of each? And if the harpoons could not be fired... what is the real risk of the probe shifting? I mean what would cause it to shift in the first place once settled on the comet?

Comment: Re:Cue lawsuits!! (Score 1) 107

by MyLongNickName (#48326131) Attached to: Landfill Copies of Atari's 'E.T.' End Up On eBay

Well, they can certainly file, but they would lose. I remember a business law case we went over many years ago where Hallmark Cards trashed a bunch of their cards, someone salvaged them and got sued. The case ruled against Hallmark. I'm not finding it in a Google, but remember the case from the class.

Comment: Concern or convenience? (Score 5, Interesting) 165

by MyLongNickName (#48309435) Attached to: Some Virgin Galactic Customers Demand Money Back

I wonder if some of these folks were already regretting their decision to tie up money in a space flight. People's finances change, life situations change, priorities change... and this is a convenient way to try to get out of the financial obligation.

No evidence on my part... just idle speculation.

Comment: Sparks but no flame: Pianist Dejan Lazic at Kenned (Score 4, Informative) 257

Grandiloquence is an occupational hazard for a solo musician. There you are, alone onstage, playing works that are acknowledged to be monumentally great with breathtaking ability. It can be hard to avoid assuming the trappings of greatness.

Exhibit A is Dejan Lazic, who made his Washington debut Saturday afternoon as part of the Washington Performing Arts Society's Hayes Piano Series at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater. Lazic, 33, is a pianist, composer and sometime clarinetist. A few years ago, he made a strong mark as a performing partner of cellist Pieter Wispelwey. More recently, his claim to fame was turning Brahms's violin concerto into something dubbed "Piano Concerto No. 3," which he recorded with the Atlanta Symphony earlier this year. The feat ranks somewhere on the "because it's there" spectrum of human achievement: attention-getting, large scale and a little empty.

His recital of Chopin and Schubert on Saturday was unfortunately on the same spectrum. The selection of those two composers is usually a way to demonstrate a pianist's sensitivity as well as his virtuosity. This performance, though, kept one eye fixed on monumentality. Some of the pieces, such as Chopin's Scherzo No. 2, sounded less like light solo piano works than an attempt to rival the volume of a concerto with full orchestra. This scherzo became cartoon-like in its lurches from minutely small to very, very large.

It's not that Lazic isn't sensitive - or profoundly gifted. The very first notes of Chopin's Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante at the start of the program signalled that he can do anything he wants at the keyboard, detailing chords with a jeweler's precision, then laying little curls of notes atop a cushion of sound like diamonds nestled on velvet. Again and again, throughout the afternoon, he showed what a range of colors he could get out of the instrument, switching from hard-edged percussiveness to creamy legato, crackling chords to a single thread of sound. The sheer technical ability was, at first, a delight.

Soon, though, all of the finesse started to seem like an end in itself. Every nuance of the music was underlined visibly with a host of concert-pianist playacting gestures: head flung back at the end of a phrase; left hand conducting the right hand; or a whole ballet of fingers hovering over keys and picking out their targets before an opening note was even struck at the start of Chopin's Ballade No. 3. There were fine moments, but they stubbornly refused to add up to anything more than a self-conscious display of Fine Moments. The final movement of Chopin's Second Piano Sonata was in a way the most successful part of the program: sheer virtuosity, and perfectly unhinged.

Schubert's B-flat Sonata, D. 960, was a chance to shift into another gear and show a more reflective side, but it was a chance Lazic didn't quite take. The notes, again, were exquisitely placed, and there were things to like, but the human side fell short. All of the precision didn't help bring across the lyricism of the first movement's theme, or the threat of the bass growl that keeps warning off ease from the bottom of the keyboard. The second movement, instead of being a searching, tugging quest, was reduced to merely very pretty music.

The pianist was received with reasonably warm applause, but it didn't last long enough to draw an encore - which ought to get his attention. He's a pianist of prodigious gifts, and he's too good not to do better, to move beyond the music's challenges and into the realm of its soul.

Comment: Mixed (Score 1) 571

by MyLongNickName (#48150875) Attached to: Lockheed Claims Breakthrough On Fusion Energy Project

I am mixed on this announcement. While I hope it is true, I have a hard time understanding how anyone can promise commercially available reactors on such a short time frame and at such small scales.

ITER will take about a dozen years from site prep to construction assuming no more slips in schedule with operations occurring about a decade after that. Yet somehow, Lockheed will be (presumably) manufacturing these things in ten years? Hard to believe. But if it is true, the scientists involved in ITER will have a lot of egg on their face.

Comment: The Last Sentence of the Summary (Score 4, Funny) 191

by MyLongNickName (#48011475) Attached to: The Odd Effects of Being Struck By Lightning

The last sentence of the summary explains a lot:
"Those who attempt to return to work often find they are unable to carry out their former functions and after a few weeks, when coworkers get weary of 'covering' for them, they either are put on disability (if they are lucky) or fired or made Slashdot editors (if they are really unlucky)," she writes."

Comment: Re:Really? (Score 2) 517

by MyLongNickName (#48010471) Attached to: Utilities Should Worry; Rooftop Solar Could Soon Cut Their Profit

And Germany pays three times what the US pays for electricity http://shrinkthatfootprint.com...

If the US's cost suddenly tripled, I guarantee you that rooftop solar wold take off. I looked at it, and even with a 20% subsidy from Uncle Sam, I couldn't make the numbers work. But if electricity went up even 20% in cost, it would become worth it with the 20% subsidy. Without a subsidy, electric cost would need to go up 40% to make it worth it to me.

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