fruits of Crays
Tuesday, March 30 2010
It was a rainy day in March, so what better way to spend it than trolling at Redstate.com? The recent success accomplished by the Obama administration has energized me politically. I'm back to obsessively checking Huffingtonpost.com and DailyKos.com again, and then checking Redstate.com for a little schadenfreude. The ongoing head explosion among right wingers is something to behold, and it's all the more delightful because of its incoherence mixed with tribalism and selfishness. I'm not especially frightened by the death threats of homegrown terrorists, but that's only because I'm not on the receiving end of them. To the extent that these idiots carry out their violence, that's only more political capital for Obama to burn. He's come a long way since his birth in bumfuck, Kenya (or on some planet in a distant non-American star system).
The other day I'd been reading a review of an Atom 330-based motherboard that casually mentioned that this 6744 MFLOP/25 watt device is roughly eight times faster than a mid-80s-era Cray Supercomputer (which, I was soon to discover, used 155000 watts of power, or more than three times what my household electrical connection will support). In the Wikipedia article about the Cray X-MP, there was a mention of The Last Starfighter, a film released in 1984. Its connection to the Cray was that it featured over twenty minutes of footage completely generated by that brand of supercomputer. In those days computer graphics were difficult and time-consuming to produce, and twenty minutes of it was unheard of.
So I downloaded The Last Starfighter to see what those Cray-generated graphics looked like. By modern standards, they were fairly stark. Though they were high-resolution (big enough to fill a movie screen), the level of detail on the things rendered (including natural objects such as asteroids) tended to be low. And the renderings of explosions in these computer-generated scenes were clearly overlaid video clips taken of actual explosions. As for the movie itself, it was essentially unwatchable not just for its many doochey 80isms, but also for the crappiness of the writing and the anachronistic woodenness of the acting.
It being Passover, Gretchen and I have been subsisting largely on matza at least since this morning. She'd bought three boxes of off-brand Israeli matza at Trader Joe's when she'd recently gone to Maryland, thereby making an end-run around the kosher-for-Pesach collusion amongst the big three American brands.
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