Robert McCall has died

Artist Robert McCall, known worldwide for space art and portrayals of an optimistic future technology, has died. He was 90.

His poster art for the film 2001 is probably his most widely known work, but he also did many, many pieces for and in support of the NASA space program.

The piece of his I'm personally most familiar with is "Icarus Triumphant", a mural McCall did for the main branch of my local Glendale, AZ library. There doesn't seem to be a full image of the mural online, but here's a detail from the painting:

Among the comments to the news at collectSPACE.com was a note from "KSCartist" who shared some advice McCall had given in correspondence. Worth sharing, and it's advice McCall clearly followed in his own career:

To Achieve Success:
1) Evaluate your talents honestly
2) Set your goals realistically
3) Work tirelessly at your art and love every minute of the work.
4) Study the great art of the past
5) Come back from inevitable failures and diappointments with courage
6) Work relentlessly



Over at DerekMDesign, I found some wowser photos and an interview with John Learner, maker of some of the best damn gingerbread houses I've ever seen. Learn abut the maleability of Pop-Tarts, and why you should never vacuum chocolate dust!


The Future of Used E-Books

The recent Amazon-MacMillan brouhaha made one thing clear: people who read e-books don't want to pay a lot for that muffler!

Now if they read regular books, like most people, they could always go down to the local used-book store to browse for cheap books. But if you want to go down to the local used e-book store... umm, well there's a bit of a problem there, since the most popular e-books tend to have DRM protection on them, and you're not supposed to be able to transfer that data to another reader.

But, hey, I once donated five bucks to the National Association for the Advancement of Smart People, which makes me an honorary genius.

So here's what we need to do to make a used e-book store possible: Rather than the current DRM model, e-books need to be coded to follow the natural life-cycle of a regular book.

What gave me this idea was the sad fact of JPEG degradation: every time you change and save a JPEG image, the image degrades, eventually becoming illegible after enough cycles. I figure e-books can be deliberately encoded to do something similar. ("I have this great idea. If you do the programming, we can split the money fifty-fifty!")

So, the original e-book is pristine and spotless. Done with the book, you transfer your copy to an online used-e-book store.

For that copy, the style-commands of the book get changed, and the new buyer finds himself reading a book set in Aged Book Worn font. Any color contents fade slightly, like a poster that gets direct sunlight on it.

The next reader down will notice the pages on the screen starting to yellow. Some of the pages will have coffee-cup circles on them. If previous owners have bookmarked any pages, those pages are now actually dog-earred, with the page corners breaking off and falling down the screen at unpredictable intervals. Color fading continues to worsen.

Next reader: mildew stains.

Next reader: scorch marks

We get serious with the next reader in line: silverfish and bookworms start crawling across your screen, eating holes in the pages.

And finally: the binding comes undone, and whole pages and entire signatures rip loose from the left edge of the screen and fall down below the bottom edge.

And that's how you'll get used e-book stores.

[wild applause from the Internet]

Thank you, thank you. It was nothing. Next week, I solve global warming.


A Few Links

As promised, a few links of interest:

Good art, good sex, and a good cause: Endangered Species Condoms (SFW)

Our smart and charming niece, Lea, has spent the last year and a half in South Korea, helping Korean schoolchildren learn English and learning Korean in return. She has an occasional blog, A Geek's Eye View, writing about her experiences and travels.

Over at ConceptArt.org, the latest Team Chow contest (#3; collect them all!) had a Tarot theme. Lots of interesting entries there. The entire thread can be found here. (Page down past the polling area to find individual posts by each team, with larger images; most are on page 1, with a few more on page 2.)


I Did Not Mean . . .

. . . to let more than a month pass between posts here.

In fact, one of my New Year's resolutions was to post more frequently. It hasn't happened, for a lot of reasons. Some unavoidable, others that could have been with a little planning and forethought.

I'll try and do better. There may be more short fluffy posts, and links to other sites, rather than long rambling pieces of writing, but I'll try to maintain at least a presence, if not a personality, here.

Fame, No Fortune

I have, over time, captioned quite a few LoLs over at the I Can Haz Cheezburger? site. Generally this is for my own amusement. Occasionally, some of them get seen by others and get chosen to go on the viewer's list of favorite

One of my Lols recently got posted to the front page of ICHC's celebrity captions site, ROFLrazzi. The front page is where you want to be, because that's where you get lots of votes and even, hey!, comments. The groupies and the cash come later, I guess.

Here's the LOL, in all its glory:

This has actually gotten over a thousand votes so far. More proof that puns may be the lowest form of humor, but they're also the second-most popular, right after seeing some guy get hit in the crotch.

Here's a link to my LOLz page on ICHC, where you can view my other low puns, smartass remarks, and twisted interpretations and captionings of various photos. Some of them are actually funny, once you get past the sullen, bitter misanthropy. (I should probably put a link to that page in the sidebar.)