“The color of this cider is a beautiful pale-straw while the delicious aromas and flavors are robust and balanced as you would expect from the cool climate orchards of eastern Washington. Fragrant apple pie and fermented apple notes form a great presentation.”
Location: Chelan, WA
Dixon’s Thoughts: Chelan Gold has been one of my go-to ciders for a few years now. It’s a bit of a one-off from our normal fare, due to the fact that it’s a completely un-carbonated (still) cider. It’s also made with champagne yeast, and while that’s not completely uncommon, Chelan Gold is the only champagne-yeast cider that makes it into my regular rotation.
It’s extremely light and smooth, with a finish that borders on watery without being offensive. Drinking it is kind of like eating 6 different apples at once, which is how it’s made. Overall, this is a very drinkable cider that is light enough to be consumed in large quantities, but delicate enough with a strong enough presence to be served with grilled pork or lighter fare.
Mindy’s Thoughts: I rated this lower than Dixon did as it’s not a favorite of mine, but I basically agree with everything Dixon said — Chelan Gold tastes very apply but not overpowering. Really light, almost like apple champagne without the bubbles. Borders on so light that it tastes like water? Or at least not like cider. If you like to pair liquor with food, it would go well with a lot of subtler foods as it’s not overpowering but has sweet apple “notes”.
NASA released a few retro travel-agency inspired posters for planets in different solar systems that may be inhabitable. I love all of these, very cool! — The Register
With CERN starting another round of LHC tests this year, there is doubt being cast on the previous discovery of the “God Particle” and what it actually does. — IB Times
Nora Noffke, a geobiologist at Old Dominion University in Virginia published a paper in the journal Astrobiology which compares the morphological similarities of rocks on Mars and rocks on Earth. Life on Mars? If anyone is qualified to make these observations, it’s her, and it’s awesome. — Astrobiology
Syd Barrett was born on January 6, 1946 in Cambridge, England and less than 20 years later went on to found one of the greatest bands of all time, Pink Floyd. After Syd Barrett left Pink Floyd in 1968 due to drugs and/or mental health issues, the band went on to achieve their greatest commercial successes. In 1975, Pink Floyd started recording their iconic and beautiful “Wish You Were Here” album at the Abbey Road studios. The album is punctuated at the beginning and end by the epic song “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”, split into two parts and spanning 26 minutes total. This song, and much of this album, is a tribute to their friend Syd.
During the recording of “Wish You Were Here” at Abbey Road, Syd showed up unannounced in the studio. He looked nothing like his former self, and wasn’t even recognized by his friends and former band-mates. His behavior that day was extremely erratic, he barely spoke, and it was clear to everyone that he was not the same Syd. That day in the recording studio was the last time the members of Pink Floyd ever saw him.
Syd during his time in Pink Floyd (left) and at the Abbey Road sessions (right)
Roger Waters later went on to say, “I’m very sad about Syd. Of course he was important and the band would never have fucking started without him because he was writing all the material. It couldn’t have happened without him but on the other hand it couldn’t have gone on with him.”
From the late 70’s until his death in 2006, Syd lived in seclusion in his native Cambridge. He spent his days with his first passion, painting; which he went to school for before he became interested in music or founded the great Pink Floyd. In honor of Syd Barrett’s would-be 69th birthday, we share with you the masterpiece that is “Wish You Were Here”. While he is no longer with us, we still celebrate Syd’s life and his contributions to our lives.
Nobody knows where you are, how near or how far. Shine on you crazy diamond. Pile on many more layers and I’ll be joining you there. Shine on you crazy diamond. And we’ll bask in the shadow of yesterday’s triumph, Sail on the steel breeze. Come on you boy child, you winner and loser, Come on you miner for truth and delusion, and shine.
When you finish this game, you still won’t understand this picture.
Welcome back to our review of The Evil Within! In Part One we spent a lot of time discussing the game-play and mechanics, so now I’d like to focus on its other elements. The Evil Within is a game that turns out to be more than the sum of its parts, but we’ll start with discussing it’s story before moving on to the visual and design elements.
Dixon’s Thoughts: You are Sebastian “Seb” Castellanos, a tough, take-no-prisoners type of guy who is so hard boiled that he might actually be on loan from John Woo.
“I play by my own rules.”
You have embarked upon a strange journey through, as it turns out, the mind of a serial killer/brain surgeon/cenobite/all around mad scientist guy. Or not, because as it turns out, the ending of this game is completely ambiguous and wraps up both jack and shit equally. As far as other cast members there are you two partners, Juli “My first name is not a typo” Kidman and Joe “The Guy with Glasses” Oda. There’s also the Nurse we mentioned in our last review, a very irritating mental patient named Leslie, who might also be the game’s antagonist, and a greedy, self-serving scientist. Two of them, actually. They all ostensibly have a part to play, but the game does not explain what that part is in many cases. Kidman is constantly talking about her “orders”, which are never explained, while Joe’s sole purpose in life seems to be to get lost and then randomly show up later to endanger people and make things difficult.
The game opens with you in a car with both partners, heading to the Beacon Mental Hospital to investigate reports of some serious murdering. Within a few minutes, your partners are gone, and what ensues is a relatively simple plot involving rich landowners, barn burning, some guy named Ruben who is also named Ruvik, and brain surgery. At face value, it’s a typical, uninspired video game story about loss and revenge, with a heavy helping of the old “Resident Evil Megacorporation doing Evil Things” thrown in at the end. The problem is that this does little to explain what you, the player, are actually doing at any given point. The game is obsessed with throwing backstory at you, yet you are continuously faced with a never-ending barrage of blood-and-guts horror that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the events that you’re being led to believe have unfolded. The game does not explain why there might be zombies, or giants with chain saws, or massive human rendering plants. As you progress through the game you are witness to a multitude of atrocities, implied or otherwise, including giant vats full of body parts boiling in their own blood, a huge industrial facility that appears built for the sole purpose of processing human bodies and rendering them into more vats of boiling blood, and various other shock-value set pieces that, while totally bad-ass looking, are ultimately just confusing as they lead nowhere and have no explanation.
“We thought you might be tired of looking at real body parts, so here are some mannequins instead”. -Bethesda
After several hours of being barraged with confusing (yet badass!) level design, monsters, and plot, I eventually came to the conclusion that The Evil Within is not actually scary. It’s not even a little bit scary, outside of a few times where there were Jump-scare setups. The environment was designed to be creepy, and it accomplished that goal as long as you are not curious about your surroundings. Instead it’s generally confusing and gross, a maze of questions and prop pieces meant to shock you into moving on to the next room. Shock value is the name of the game, and the “why” has clearly taken a backseat. It’s also pretty obvious that large sections of the story have been left out purposefully, to be explained later in the assuredly multi-part DLC. This is what we at FYMFB call “fucking horseshit”. For your enjoyment, edification, or simply to save time, here’s the last hour of the game, including the last level, Boss fight, and end game dialogue.
Visually, The Evil Within is extremely good. This may be actually be its strongest area, with excellent lighting and particle effects, gorgeous environment texturing, and very little noticeable lag. Crappy-shitty-no-good story aside, the game is quite fun to either play or watch as an observer. One of the most annoying features of early survival horror games is that they all lean heavily on backtracking, especially when it comes to save points and storage crates. Hardware and design have both come a long way since those days, and as a result Evil Within doesn’t rehash a lot of content. This is refreshing when compared to past installments in the genre. Forced backtracking can be a good element to storytelling if it serves a purpose, but often it’s just extra padding.
On top of being mostly original, the environments and chapters or levels of the game are all very good at portraying emotional tension, or downright creepiness. Again, almost in spite of the story’s vague hand waving, the design stands on its own as a decent storytelling device. You’ll find yourself stopping to check out the environment more often than not, as the eye-catching details are often just too tempting. The only problem with the game’s visuals is that certain areas are left intentionally dark, for atmospheric reasons. Lantern or no lantern, often it’s impossible to see the detail, which is unfortunate. While the game’s color palette isn’t exactly stimulating itself, most survival horror games are dark and claustrophobic on purpose, and this game is no exception. It moves past the dark atmosphere with its excellent and often subtle lighting and shading, and some very good overall direction. The different worlds feel fresh and interesting, and a minimum amount of level recycling means you look forward to each new chapter.
At least the parts of it that you can see.
The Evil Within, as mentioned earlier, is a game that is more than its individual components. Its fun to play, enjoyable to watch, and offers a solid difficulty curve that feels correct in the context of both the genre and its predecessors. It is not, sadly, very well written, and this combined with the seemingly intentional decision to leave out key story elements for “later” only further weakens it’s overall impact. On a personal note, I was really looking forward to multiple endings, but as it turns out this game doesn’t do that. While it’s not a required element for the Survival Horror genre, the fact is that most of the major players in this sandbox DO have multiple endings, specifically games previously created by this game’s director. It’s interesting and a little disappointing that the endings are static, as this again feels like something that wasn’t possible if they wanted to sell DLC season passes. This, and the game’s decision to focus heavily on the first person shooter aspect combat, would normally completely kill a game for me. In this case, however, I feel like the game’s good components are so good that they make the game not only playable, but enjoyable. I just wish they had focused more closely on cohesion within the storytelling, instead of providing a flawless graphical performance.
Princeton University Press has recently published more than 5000 original Einstein documents, in both their original language and English. This collection includes all of his scientific papers as well as many personal correspondences. – Princeton University
Out of Brookhaven, a fascinating article on particle beam cancer therapy that covers recent developments and challenges in the field. Will the US get a state-of-the-art Carbon Therapy facility? Follow the money. – Brookhaven National Lab
CERN announces that it has successfully filled the LHC with liquid helium, an important milestone in the road to bringing it online in early 2015. Hit the link for the official announcement and a great summer-blockbuster style announcement video. – CERN
Finally, Professor Sabine Hossenfelder of the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics discusses a paper by Burrage, Copeland and Hinds that suggests looking for Dark Energy on the atomic level by observing the gravitational attractions of atoms. – BackReaction
While space is technically a vacuum, sound still exists in space. For some time now, NASA has used specially designed Plasma Wave antennas on its space probes to record electromagnetic vibrations within human hearing range (20-20,000 Hz). These electromagnetic waves come from interaction between the ionisphere, planetary magnetosphere, and the solar winds. Pretty cool, huh?
Recently NASA took a sample from a dozen different recordings of celestial objects (Saturn’s rings, Neptune, Earth, Uranus, Jupiter, etc) and compiled it into the above video. The result is something like a sci-fi soundtrack crossed with 1980’s whale sounds. It’s intriguing, strange, even a little eery, but mostly just very awesome. Give it a listen!
It doesn’t matter that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave this speech a year and a half ago, nor does it matter that I only found it a few months ago. What matters is that this intensely thoughtful and intelligent woman details what discrimination looks like, what women deal with every day, even in countries/states/cities that are “progressive” or “liberated”.
While long, this is 30 minutes of your time you will not regret spending on watching this video. It is powerful, direct, and inspiring; sometimes funny, and other times deeply emotional. Give it a watch and let us know what you think!
Here is Commander Chris Hadfield singing “Space Oddity” onboard the ISS, for the approximately four people left on earth that haven’t seen this video. It’s beautiful and poignant, and it’s a David Bowie classic! I love rewatching this video and seeing earth float behind him as he sits in the stillness. It makes me think about a future time when space travel is common and used by everyday people. I don’t think we’ll see that in my lifetime, sadly, but the next generation will stand on our shoulders, and maybe it will be possible for them.
In case you need some cool, soviet-era space themed Christmas cards you can email to your framily. — cthreepo
Big data is not only figuring out how to grow better Christmas trees, they are also doing science in the meantime! — Phys.org
To deliver presents to all fifty bajillion kids on the planet, Santa’s sleigh will need to move about 650 miles per second, which is 3,000 times the speed of sound or 0.35 per cent the speed of light. Good luck with that, Santa. — Daily Mail
Have you ever wondered wtf tinsel is made from and how it has changed over the years? This article tells you everything you need or don’t need to know about sparkly tinsel! — Chemical & Engineering News
One of my favorite parts of Minecraft is the weird, random happenstance that occur from programming an entire world to random generate. Statistics are important, and eventually if you play long enough, you’re bound to see some real interesting stuff. I wanted to take some time to share some of the funny little moments I’ve come across in my Minecraft time.
The picture above was taken in the nether; we had extensive nether rails running back and forth between distant areas of the world. Which meant that sometimes, those rails were blocked by zombie pigmen. And other times, they’d hop in your cart and take a ride with you!
Another nether adventure from when I was mapping out rails, this time, a baby zombie pigman riding a duck. This little guy just wanted to hang out and look at me for awhile. I hope the duck didn’t jump into lava.
In my previous posts about the wizard castle, you could see a nether portal on top of a hill. This was my main form of transportation when building the castles, so I could get to and from my other bases. Anyway, I came out of the portal one day to find a spider jockey hanging out on top of the hill. I don’t think I’ve seen one before that, or since then.
This was in a mineshaft I found that I eventually spent about two full weeks (with almost daily plays) cleaning out of treasure, wood, and ore. Hey cute little baby zombie riding a duck, why you tryin’ to kill me?
Another from inside the nether – you can even see a Ghast on the mini map mod. God damn zombie pigmen raided my rail ways (pre-rail) and there was one riding a duck. I often times will go on a massive killing spree of pigmen because they really piss me off, plus gold teeth are a good thing to have.
What are some of the weird things you’ve seen in Minecraft? It’s a world full of possibilities!