windows open and raining in

I came across some really interesting items while Propelling today, which I wanted to share, because I can:

Farmers Put 220 Acres Under Glass to Create Vast Artificial Environment

On the chilly Isle of Thanet in Kent, England, farmers are placing 220 acres of land under glass so they can grow vegetables all year round. The greenhouse, when completed, will house 1.3 million plants and increase the UK’s crop of green vegetables by 15%. Called Thanet Earth, the project will be a series of 7 connected grenhouses with a relatively small carbon footprint. And nothing grown inside Thanet Earth will ever touch soil.

This interests me a great deal because I’m considering some hydroponic gardening in addition to my regular gardening here, as we attempt to reduce our carbon footprint and become more self-sufficient. Climate change played an important part in the worldbuilding of the novella I’m working on, so I’ve spent a lot of time researching the future of agriculture; it’s interesting to me to see people experimenting with different techniques in the present.

A Professional Gambler’s Take on the Tim Donaghy Scandal

Haralabos Voulgaris leads a rare life.

He’s one of very few people — Voulgaris estimates there may be as few as four or five — who have achieved a high level of success betting full-time on the NBA.

And he does very well at it. “In the last eight years,” he explains, “the 2004-2005 season was the only year where I didn’t turn a nice profit, and I lost very small.”

His approach is intensively evidence-based. He has his own massive database that would be the envy of any stat geek. For instance: Given two line-ups of players on the floor, his database does, he says, a good job of predicting which players will guard each other. The database also tracks the tendencies of individual referees, and factors all that and much more into forecasts. Voulgaris also watches close to 1,000 games a year.

He designed the database as a tool to outwit oddsmakers, and it works for that.

But it’s also a fine-tuned machine for researching the claims and career of Tim Donaghy. And having used this database, and his contacts in the sports betting world, Voulgaris says that his confidence in the integrity of the NBA has been shaken, to the point that, despite his big income, he’s looking for ways to stop betting altogether.

“The league has made a big mistake,” he says.

I sort of knew Haralabos back in my poker-playing days, and really liked him because he was one of the first players who was really kind to me, even though he had no reason to be. I knew he bet on sports, but I had no idea he was as serious as he appears to be. His perspective on this whole scandal was fascinating to me, especially how his data and analysis support Donaghy’s claims. He says the NBA has done a great job of sweeping the whole thing under the rug. Unfortunately, I agree with him.

The Watchmen Motion Comic

Warner Bros. plans on releasing about a dozen 22 to 26 minute webisodes to help make the complex story of Watchmen easier for the uninitiated to digest. Recently, WatchmenComicMovie was shown a teaser trailer for these webisodes by an anonymous source. From what we saw these webisodes are going to be really well done.

The series of webisodes, which will be titled Watchmen: A Digital Graphic Novel, will be less like a slide show of original comic panels and more of the comic book “brought to life” with rudimentary animation techniques.

The teaser is simply a conglomeration of different scenes from the comic book given motion and set to dramatic orchestral music. In order to animate the comic, the production team has apparently dissected the elements from each panel that they wanted to move — such as a cloud or a character — and animated it in front of a restored or “filled in” background.

For example — they animated the iconic comic panel that shows The Comedian’s funeral from above to not only have falling rain and lightning, but wind that realistically blows the coats and clothing of the mourners surrounding the open grave. In another, Ozymandias sits in front of his monitor bank — each commercial and T.V. program on the screens in motion — scratching the back of his pet Bubastis’ head. For lack of a better way to describe the trailer, it’s like you’re watching an episode of Watchmen: The Animated Series.

DUDE! Even though living in a post-Phantom Menace world has made my default position on all these thing “apprehensively optimistic” I can’t wait to watch these. It seems like everyone involved in Watchmen truly gets it, so it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep my hopes nice and low . . . they want to go up and up and up.

This last story isn’t my submission, but that’s just because my fellow scout Keith beat me to it:

The Prisoner remake: details emerge?

The Prisoner Appreciation Society (Six of One) is reporting that this classic, surreal sci-fi/adventure series is set to return for a six-episode miniseries run. The announcement coincides with The Prisoner’s 40th anniversary.

Reports have Jim Caviezel playing the heroic Number Six — actor with a penchant for playing long-suffering characters (Bobby Jones, Jesus). Sir Ian McKellen would play arch-nemesis Number Two, while cementing his status alongside Christopher Lee as the greatest nerd project actors of their generation. Between the two of them, they’d own Star Wars, James Bond, Lord of the Rings, Dracula, Frankenstein and X-Men).

The Prisoner is my all-time favorite TV show, ever. EVER! After watching marathon after marathon of The Prisoner, I grokked what makes people become Trekkies or Browncoats. It did more than entertain me, it inspired me. I know that’s weird to say about something that’s so Orwellian, but it’s true. The Prisoner spoke to me when I was a teenager. I bought the GURPS book, bought all the video tapes, and picked up every fan-made book and map of The Village I could find. I bought rub-on transfer letters in the Albertus font so I could make my own signs for my dressing room, and I painstakingly drew my own Number Six badge to wear on my jackets. I read and re-read the graphic Novel Shattered Visage fruitlessly looking for clues about . . . stuff. My first big external SCSI Mac II hard disk, which I think weighed in at a mighty 30 Megabytes, was named KAR120C. Again, living in a post-Phantom Menace world makes me a little nervous, and we’ve been talking about this remake almost as long as we were talking about a Watchmen movie, so I don’t even know if this is as reliable as it seems. Regardless, I’m hopeful that there’s someone out there who can treat it right. And a six episode mini-series would be freaking brilliant.

Okay, one last bonus link before I go: years ago, I did an episode of The Outer Limits called The Light Brigade. I was watching The Time Tunnel last night on Hulu, and saw that The Light Brigade is there, as well. It’s useless for non-US visitors (can you use a proxy to fool Hulu? I haven’t tried) but if you’re in the US and want to spend 44 minutes watching me . . . um . . . act, I guess is the word I’m looking for . . . now you can.

41 thoughts on “windows open and raining in”

  1. I heard about a Prisoner remake a while ago. I have high hopes. I do hope they manage to keep the same atmosphere as that fantasic series, and film it in that wonderful village in Wales, I forget the name, could be Port Merion. There have been some excellent remakes of old Sci Fi tv shows recently. Battle Star Gallactica, Doctor Who, and a remake of Blakes 7 is on the way.

  2. Wil,,just wanted you to know you were my fav character on TNG. Any chance of you going anywhere near the middle of nowhere here in Idaho? You know the place..we are famous for thos potatoes and of course the foot tapping senator..:p

  3. Wow, that “Outer Limits” ep is an excellent story, Wil; thanks! I didn’t see the ending coming at all. Nice performance by Mr. Greene, too. Thanks again!

  4. I just remembered something geeky and cool, and added it to the body of the post: My first big external SCSI Mac II hard disk, which I think weighed in at a mighty 30 Megabytes, was named KAR120C.

  5. Wow. I remember that Outer Limits episode. I think I caught part of that when it first aired and I was in the hey day of my “ZOMG! Wil Wheaton! ZOMG! Wil Wheaton!” craziness. (Hey! It was 1996 and I was 14. 15, tops.) I was very excited. I think I taped it on VHS. I might have that in a box somewhere. Thanks for sharing that.
    I’ve got to get back into Propelling. I haven’t had the time to log in in forever. Climate change in the novella? Interesting. :)

  6. A Prisoner remake. Awesome!
    Here’s to hoping it doesn’t suck. Heres’ to hoping that they take it in a slightly different direction, and make a cool homage that adds to the body of work rather than making us want to stab the director in the eyes.

  7. Future of agriculture? You should read “The death of grass” by the brilliant John Christopher, science fiction novel with a similar theme… if you can get a hold of a copy. I think it’s out of print, but there should be a secondhand market for it.

  8. Oh, and re: the Outer Limits… I loved The Light Brigade! Well done on the ending, way to counter the Wesley Crusher image! 😉

  9. Cheese and Crackers. I can’t fucking believe 1996 was TWELVE fucking years ago.
    Goddamnit. Now I feel old. Thanks a lot TeeVee’s Wil Wheaton!!

  10. BTW… the ending was obvious, but only if you’re an nerd who’s watched waaay too many episodes of The Outer Limits.

  11. I sort of knew Haralabos back in my poker-playing days…
    Darn it.
    Two of my Goals on my list
    1. Meet Wil Wheaton
    2. Play against Wil in a poker game
    Now how am I gonna do that?

  12. OMG! You haven’t tried hydroponics yet? My father started doing that back in the 70’s as I recall and once it’s set up, it’s so easy to maintain. The modern easy way now is using EarthBoxes. ( I especially love how we would have fresh tomatoes and lettuce through out the entire season and I’m sure that if we had put up a greenhouse, we could have continued through the winter in Georgia.
    BTW, I caught you on the ‘chicken show’ I loved you as the ‘evil agent’ lol. You are my hero for putting up with that crew.

  13. Just re-watched the Light Brigade by your link. Classic! Graham Greene, extra classic. Hulu rocks, I don’t even pay for TV anymore cuz everything I watch is there (which admittedly beyond BSG, Firefly, and Miami Vice isn’t much). And I totally grok!! I still have an “I grok Spock” button somewhere.

  14. I’m a little skeptical about the Prisoner remake. Patrick McGoohan was instrumental to the original. I would have a hard time with anyone else taking his place. I’m sorry, but Jim Caviezel? No. 6 was tortured, but was ever defiant. All I can think of when I think of Caviezel is those puppy dog eyes. Sir Ian McKellan as No. 2 is inspired casting. If they can find a decent No. 6 I’m there. Otherwise this is going to be a huge mistake. Part of me already thinks that. It’s one thing to make something like the Watchmen into a movie, but remaking a TV show, especially one that had such a personal vision, seems like a bad idea.

  15. In response to Melvillian, I just wanted to say: Have you seen Jim in “Count of Monte Cristo”? He can do defiant well enough…

  16. That makes me think of agriculture here in America with all the invasive bugs and plants, greenhouse hydroponics maybe our future. In 2000 the Soybean Aphids were discovered. Most recently in 2005 we’ve brought the greening virus which may destroy 100% of Florida’s citrus industry, first it destroys the fruit then the tree, Our oriental plant loving neighbors are more dangerous than Al Qaeda, as this shit may destroy our food sources and its costing trillions nationwide to fight, which is crazy because Wal-Mart and the gardening industry got next years selection of invasives all lined up. Keep all plants on the continent they came from. Planting indigenous to ones region is even better as it helps increase biomass. Living on a midwestern farm I’ve seen the degradation and invasion of our environment and food production capabilities first hand thats why I’ve restored many acres to their original state, nothing lives in a vacuum, ecosystems are being destroyed for vanity.

  17. Can’t wait for your future writings.
    but you are bringing back my more geekish moments. I would love to play D&D but haven’t the time to get involved in a an extended campaign – my friends do it all the time…
    But you mentioned GURPS – I loved the simplicity of the GURPS system – very easy to learn and play with.
    Rock on, Wil.

  18. If you get a chance, you may enjoy reading The Human Experiment: Two Years and Twenty Minutes Inside Biosphere 2 by Jane Poynter, one of the original “Biospherians”. I picked it up because one of the other Biospherians was a childhood friend of mine, but I expected it to be a dry read. Fortunately, it turned out to be both entertaining and educational. It also left me feeling hyper-aware of the delicate nature and interdependence of this planet’s ecosystems – in the same way that reading Dune made me obsess for a while over how much water I was using.

  19. Most of what Alan Moore has written is a tough translation to screen. So much takes place between the frames and his writing is so thick and complex. I’m scared for Watchmen because it’s just so epic. Look at what happened to From Hell. Watched from an objective view point it might not be a total waste, but it was nothing like the book in any way.
    I’m sure I’ll go see the film version of Watchmen, but I still think that it would have made a much better HBO mini-series (I’m a huge Deadwood and Six Feet Under fan).

  20. Nice one. My boyfriend was just talking about The Prisoner, and knowing there’s a little miniseries coming soon is awesome…plus, now I know what to get him for his birthday – the complete series is like $60 at Amazon, wewt! Thanks, man!

  21. I loved The Prisoner. It was so bizzare and surreal, and yet it made so much sense, all at the same time. Anything at work at is number 6, I simply refer to as “The Prisoner.”
    Needless to say, nobody understands me.
    ALSO needless to say; I *like* it that way….

  22. Oh my God. I’m back. I’m home. All the time, it was…
    I’m a Maniac! I blew it up! Ah, damn me! God damn me all to hell!

  23. Hmmm…this Thanet Earth thing sounds intriguing, if a bit scary. I’ve just finished reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which you should pick up if you ever get a chance. It’s a fascinating read about grass-fed livestock and organic food, and farming to keep the land healthy (rather than just extract the most calories per acre from it.) I’m a city girl, but I was entirely hooked.

  24. You might want to take a look at a British TV show called LIFE on MARS.
    It’s about a present day cop that ends up in 1971 (maybe)
    2 Seasons (total 16ep), with a followup called Ashes to Ashes 1 season so far but #2 is underway (this one set in ’84?)

  25. I dunno. I wish that I could be unreservedly enthusiastic about the Thanet Earth project but every sustainability-oriented bone in my body is rebelling. The pest problems alone! Everything about it looks like the kind of fertilizer-dependent, monoculture, low-nutrient project that has been such a slow motion disaster the world over since the “Green Revolution” started bankrupting farmers and encouraging thousands of blights.
    Not only are ecosystems complex, they WILL assert themselves, whether you want them to or not. Just ask the Biosphere II folks about the bugs that infested *everywhere* after a while.
    If you want to see REAL high density plantings in a cold climate, head over to Milwaukee and visit the Growing Power greenhouses, where they grow tomatoes in fifty foot long trays on top of watercress on top of tilapia and perch fingerlings. On less energy with less water and waste per net calorie or nutrient than the kind of plastic and chemicals approach the typical hydroponics approach uses.
    To me this looks like hubris combined with excuses for government funding and agribusiness game playing. I could be wrong. Maybe after a few years they’ll replace some of their massively vulnerable monoculture “systems” with companion-planted, multicomponent ecosystem analogs. But I doubt it. I think that this has a lot more in common with the kinds of practices documented in Fast Food Nation than anything an ecologist would support.

  26. Regarding the basketball thing … one of the only professional games I ever watched (having greatly enjoyed college ball when I was in school) was the 2006 Mavericks vs. Heat final. Despite being from Dallas, I really would’ve been fine with the Heat winning fair and square. I did think their owner was being more of an ass than Mark Cuban, but nonetheless.
    Instead, though, I ended up watching as refs overlooked numerous blatant, shameless fouls by the Miami Heat. News of this refereeing scandal naturally made me Google that other game. Check this out:
    The Salvatore Side of the Story: ‘Crucified’ in the 2006 Finals (November 20, 2007)
    Skip past the Nowitzki-Wade call and get to Wade’s uncalled foul against Jason Terry.
    I’ll grant what was argued by one of the bloggers I read (maybe Abbott, maybe a different one — I forget already), that the better way is to play such a blow-out game that a single call doesn’t determine your fate. But I still say that sword cuts both ways: If Miami had played better, it wouldn’t have made such a difference that refs looked the other way when they played dirty.

  27. OK, someone is going to have to explain this to me, because I can’t seem to wrap my head around it. I know and agree that The Phantom Menace is the weakest of the Star Wars movies. But when did it get to be Battlefield Earth? It seems to have become this monster that destroyed childhoods, made cynics out of innocents, and is exhibit A in the indictment of George Lucas as the Antichrist. When exactly did this happen and why is it?
    (Difficulty: any response to the effect of “Three words: Jar Jar Binks” automatically fails. Yes, Jar Jar was a serious misstep, a tech demo who makes fart jokes and gets way to much screentime. But then, so were the Ewoks, and yet RotJ doesn’t take nearly the flack that TPM gets nor the derision it probably deserves.)

  28. This is sort of off topic, but I saw your latest tweet, so I wanted to say “Happy Father’s Day!” to you, too, Wil. Thanks for the special shout out to geekdads, which would include my husband, who is currently playing his Playstation 2. I’ve been working on a chain maille dice bag for him, but I just started it yesterday, so it’ll be a late gift once it’s done. He wants it inlayed with a sword on one side and a magical staff on the other. We’ll see how it turns out! Hope you had a great day as well as all you other dads out there!

  29. Hey, first time here. Really wanted to say that I am one of the people who loved Wes Crusher on Star Trek. My family had just moved a couple thousand miles and to an area where my mixed racial identity stood out and I was one of the few kids in school that loved school. Being a geek made me appreciate Wes. Been reading one of the books and I have to say, its good. Waiting for another.

  30. New commenter here, herroh! I’m not a consistent visitor, but I always feel like I can come here & read some cool stuff, have a laugh sometimes.. all that jazz. ^_^ Thanks for being solid.
    Cutting straight to the chase, have you considered aquaponics instead of hydoponics?
    It’s (IMHO) more of a closed system than hydroponics is, with fish feeding the plants that you grow, and you can eat the fish (or not). Depending on the type of fish you grow in the system, there can be less dependence on oil based/gas produced fertilisers etc than with hydroponics. (Of course, these things always depend on how you go about them..)
    There’s heaps of info out there; an Australian aquaponics forum is doing really really well, it has members from all over the globe (if you’re interested in checking it out. :) (No, I’m not selling anything, I’m keen beans to increase the ability of individuals & communities of becoming more self-sufficient..)
    I’m keen to start my own system in my courtyard of approx. 3×4 metres (it’s doable at any size really), the only thing stopping me is that I might be moving away to study.. *sigh*

  31. Hey, that’s a pretty neat article on farming in Kent. I have a friend who asked me not too long ago, that being a biochemist, I must be green, and she wanted to know if I was using the latest compact fluorescent lamp, which I replied unequivocally, no.
    Anyway she went on to tell me that by not purchasing my old cheap kind, I would be saving the atmosphere 10 mg of mercury per bulb. Which, I answered, well even if that were true, which I believe it only partially so, how far do you live from the utility company? Now measure the amount of cubic meters of atmosphere between you and the utility, and she says, where are you going with this? And I said, the rate of effusion of a gas is inversely proportional to the square root of the mass of its particles, and, the rate of diffusion of a gas is inversely proportional to the square root of its molecular weight. So, if the molecular weight of one gas is four times that of another, it would diffuse through a porous plug or escape through a small pinhole in a vessel at half the rate of the other. And she was like, what the heck are you talking about, and I said, your house does have walls? Well if you break your CFL like many other people do in their homes, then the concentration of mercury will be much higher in your home; mercury is a potent neurotoxin.
    So the point I was trying to make was, it doesn’t really matter much, what us piss ants try to do by making informed or not so informed consumer purchases, as long as we have coal generated power plants, they’re gonna disperse mercury and a handful of other pollutants, and if you use CFL and break them, or throw them in the trash like most people, you or someone else is going get a double whammy dosage of neurotoxin…eventually. Like, it’s gonna end up in my garden one way or the other.
    We can completely eliminate mercury emissions simply by utilizing nuclear power and using the excess electricity to produce hydrogen,
    There has to be a compromise on energy policy, and I say it’s the perfect time to seriously re-evaluate the nuclear option. Right now, France has some 16 or 17 plants providing more than 70% of their entire country with electricity.
    So there is the complete answer to all of our problems, in short. No coal powered utilities, no gas powered automobiles. Less carbon emissions for the CO2 fanatics :) , and no other toxic emissions for me. :)
    I know, there’s still the issue of spent rods, but our technology has come a long way reprocessing at about 95%, and it really pales in comparison to our current output of carcinogens, which is what really concerns me.
    But I’m not for a compete stoppage of petroleum, more than 80% of all pharmaceuticals come from petroleum.
    Less carbon emissions for you.
    Zero carcinogens for me.
    Independence from foreign energy sources.
    No more occupations of foreign countries.
    The Saudi family will have to cook their own meals and wash their own clothes. lol
    What the heck are we waiting for?

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