Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The O-Light Project: What happened?

You may well ask, where's The O-Light Project?  One cover so far, and nothing behind it.

It harkens back to recurring dreams I once had, of new Tintin adventures.  Either I'd find books I hadn't seen before, or I'd be in the middle of a new Tintin adventure - sans Tintin, but with a cinematic style directly located in his world.

Then I discovered the world of Tintin pastiches: others had had similar visions but were better able to realise them, through art.

The most faithful renditions were covers of non-existent Tintin books - just like my dreams.  The best of these were executed by a Canadian with the pseudonym Harry Edwood.

Edwood's Le Projet O-Light is my favourite new Tintin book - yet it only exists as a cover.  There are several other good Edwood covers, including Le Rocher Des Kangarous (Kangaroo Rock), in which Tintin finally made it to Australia after Flight 714 For Sydney.

But early this decade, the executors of George (Herge) Remi's estate, Moulinsart, positively stomped on Tintin tributes.  In some senses this was fair enough: some of the pastiches were appallingly executed, and several were downright contre to the spirit of Remi (including the pornographic and the downright bloodthirsty).

Yet this sent the more faithful scurrying for the hills, which is a shame because the best of them are truly worthy of licensing - including several reverent, full-colour renditions of Remi's last, Tintin And Alph-Art - the best and most complete being Yves Rodier's.

More recent searching has revealed that Edwood's Project morphed into none other than The Voice Of The Lagoon.  For which he had already executed several pages - albeit in pencil.  It is set in Madagascar; the early pages are simply picaresque episodes of humour revolving around a diving suit.

Still, the O-Light cover is a brilliant rendition of Tintin, which compels the imagination to open up.

For the best completed work, seek out Rodier's Alph-Art.  The best current site discussing Tintin pastiches is http://www.naufrageur.com, although it helps to understand French.

08-Aug-2012 update: The comment below looks to be correct on the source of the image above.  For the record, here's Calculus/Tournesol Affair, page 31, strip/bande 1 - look carefully:

To be precise, look at the figures in the third image:

Well spotted!  It does seem to be extracted from this frame.  Not obvious at all: the rework is high quality.

From memory, the centrepiece figures in Edwood's Rocher Des Kangarous cover are extracted from somewhere in Tintin In Tibet.  I wouldn't begrudge him this.  The verisimiltude is preserved, within a well-executed background.

The tragedy in Microsoft's grammar checking software

In an email, I intended to say:

"it would be a matter of weeks before he could effect any changes.."

So Microsoft's grammar check wanted me to say:

"it would be a matter of weeks before he could affect any changes.."

(Yes, fair enough, I should have turned off the grammar check.  But I'd sucker myself if I spent all day tweaking every Microsoft annoyance.)

Oh so close but so far away.  Well not really.  They are different words, stored, analysed, parsed differently.  Rather, it suggests that the person putting together the algorithms succumbed to a simple high school error.

I acknowledge that it is valiant to even attempt grammar checking software.  But if you're game enough to release such, you must have some confidence in your product.  Or you're Microsoft, and your Quality Assurance has simply let another one slip past you.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Shortsightedness in kids: get outside!

There is an answer to the epidemic of short-sightedness - and it's not what you'd expect.

Studies of myopia (short-sightedness) tested children for the amount they read, the amount they watched computer/tv screens, the amount they played sports - none of these were factors.

What mattered was the amount of time they spent outside.

Send your kids outside more, to reduce the likelihood that they'll need glasses.

Reported in New Scientist this month.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The world is going to the dogs. Discuss.

Australia's largest carbon polluters are back on comfortable ground, spending big on advertising to persuade enough Australians that "jobs" is a better motherhood concept than "global warming" or "brace yourself for very disruptive changes".

My memory tells me that the last time the coal-based industries stomped in to defend their patch, they focused on their political muscle rather than a public campaign.  Still, they retain that in their arsenal if they aren't already using it.

And Kevin Rudd, as Australia's "more conservative than thou" Prime Minister, is gearing up for the climate change battleground by persistent abrogation of international principles on asylum seekers:
1) Continuance of  the evil John Howard policy of excision of Australia's territory (to whit, Christmas Island) from the geopolitical State;
2) fear-mongering over the Sri Lankan asylum seekers sitting in on the Australian Customs ship Oceanic Viking. -again, attempting to follow Howard's lead.

And not only does Rudd perpetuate another disastrously short-sighted Howard policy of incentives to parents to participate in a renewed population boom; he also claims Australia can fit in many millions more people over the years.  (the unspoken parameters: population is okay if it us, not them; we don't want a great influx of people who are too far removed from our culture; and - purportedly - baby booms protect us from our own ageing population, and provide the economic growth that makes us richer - that, perish the thought - asylum seekers couldn't do.

Which is all a load of alarmist claptrap, of course.

Meanwhile, the Government and Opposition are preventing implementation of any carbon emission policy by both arguing variants of the same weak stance on climate change.

Facing the pressing problems of the world... the wrong way.

This is just Australia.  You can fill in the gaps for the rest of the world.  Despite some valiant policy efforts from the European Union, nobody is going to the Copenhagen climate change talks with anything like the necessary power and will.

Brace yourself for decades of instability.  If the world's governments can't cope with prevention, how will they fare with the effects of rising sea levels?  The least of their worries will be the rich retirees already complaining about their crumbling coastline properties.