Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Case Against Robin

PhotobucketWill there be a Robin in the future installments of the Nolanverse Batman saga? Some arguments have been tossed around in the media. Christian Bale threatened to quit the franchise if they ever introduced Robin. Jeph Loeb, however, defends Robin. I can see where both of these guys are coming from, though I must admit I've never liked Robin.

The idea of Robin as Batman's little teenage sidekick has always bugged me. Why would a crazy loner vigilante hang out with some kid? There's Batman, a terrifying figure wrapped in a black cloak stealthily lurking in the darkest shadows...and then there's his teenage sidekick, dressed in bright primary colours and sticking out like a sore thumb. The original rationale for his introduction was to "brighten up" the gloomy atmosphere of the original Batman comics, which were seen as being too grim for its time. There was also a need for Batman to discuss his detective work with, like Watson for Holmes. Neither of these two points are relevant in the Nolanverse.

Ever since Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns became a huge hit, we've seen comic book characters become darker and grittier. Granted, this isn't always a good thing, but for Batman it just suits the character. The dark, grim Batman lives in a world populated by insane people, and whether or not our hero is just as insane as the criminals he catches is open for debate. It's this darkness that was captured so well by Christopher Nolan's Batman movies. There is no place for a colourful sidekick in that world. It would just break the subdued, realistic picture that Nolan brilliantly painted as a backdrop for the world of Batman.

Secondly, Alfred already serves as a great sounding board for Batman. The Alfred we see in the Nolanverse is wise, insightful and sarcastic. The banter between Bruce Wayne and his butler is brilliant and funny, and serves both for exposition and character development. Alfred is the voice of reason, the foil to Bruce Wayne's single-minded craziness, and has saved Bruce's life on more than one occasion.

Robin can be a good character when written well, in the comics. He works well as a standalone character too, if ever there is a movie to be made with him in it (perhaps a live action Teen Titans?). However, I sincerely hope Christopher Nolan leaves Robin out of his Batman movies. Perhaps it's time Robin is dropped from the Batman mythos. There is no reason canon can't be revamped.

This has been your Batman-related post for this week. Stay tuned for more. In the meantime, check out Kirsty's article on the Joker for more Batman goodness.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Computer Woes

Last week wasn't a good one. I've had to put up with an annoying cold and even more annoying computer problems.

On the 21st I had bought an LCD monitor for my desktop. It's a nice 19" widescreen Syncmaster 943NW. When I reached home, I encountered 2 problems with it. Firstly, the hinge on the stand just couldn't move. I couldn't adjust the viewing angle, which is frustrating. Secondly, Debian Etch refused to correctly display the native resolution. It works fine in the latest Ubuntu, so it had to be my X server being too ancient.

The solution is simple, in theory. All I had to do was return the stand thing to the shop to have it replaced, and then upgrade Debian from Etch to Lenny. I went to the shop first. The sales attendant did offer to replace or repair the stand, and it'd take 2 weeks (although he frowned at the thought of having to do this for me). My LCD monitor is now in a box and is unusable for the next 2 weeks.

Next was the problem of upgrading Debian. The official way to do this is to change all references of etch to lenny in the sources.list file. Then just do an apt-get update and an apt-get dist-upgrade. Simple, right? What could go wrong? Apparently, plenty. The installed borked, and now I can't even login.

Rather than spending hours to try to fix the problem, I just decided to wipe my root directory and install from a beta Lenny CD. However, the process of downloading updates to Lenny on this awful Malaysian internet line is estimated to take more than eight hours. Right now I'm just waiting for it to be done while typing this entry on a Mac, eating pizza. I love the pizza delivery service. At least that works right. Here's a safety tip though, the soda that the pizza guy delivers is going to be well shaken on the bike ride to your house. Opening it may lead to fizzy stuff flying everywhere.

My cat's asleep. I had to write this blog entry on my own. Sigh. It hasn't been a good week at all.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

On The Internet, Nobody Knows You're A Cat


It's true. I don't blog anymore. I leave the writing to Schröder. I just take the pretty pictures. Someday I'll let my cat do even that, and I'll just sit back and watch the site magically update itself.

If you find any factual errors in any of my posts, you know whom to blame.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Lunar Photography Attempt II


I'd say this is better than my first attempt. Too bad I missed the full moon, though.

F value at f/3.7, 1/640 seconds shutter speed, spot metering and ISO 200. I used my tele lens attachment to get a better shot so the focal length is 432*1.7 mm.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Cross The Streams

Photobucket Image Hosting

CERN's Large Hadron Collider has successfully come online! With a circumference of 27 kilometres, this is the world's largest particle accelerator. Located deep underground near the Swiss-French border, scientists will be able to shoot protons at mind-bogglingly high speeds and make them collide. One of the goals of these experiments is to find that elusive Higg's boson, the elementary particle that is predicted to exist by the Standard Model but has never been observed.

For a nice cliff-notes overview of the LHC, there's an ongoing series of comics by Jorge Cham over at Piled Higher and Deeper about his trip there (Part 1 starts here). Also, check out the highly amusing LHC rap video.

The title of the this blog entry comes from the 1984 movie "Ghostbusters", which incidentally featured high energy proton streams being used to catch ghosts (yeah, I know, fake science). Interestingly, the character Dr. Egon Spengler warns against colliding the streams ("don't cross the streams!") because it would be "bad". However, they eventually have to cross the streams at the end to defeat the Big Bad (spoiler, sorry).

To the team at CERN, good luck!

The photo above is derived from The Large Hadron Collider by Sarvagya Kochak, distributed under the Creative Commons (Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic).