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  • Michael Krakovskiy 3:05 am on October 10, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: book author, , , Ilya Miloslavskiy, Miloslavsky, , Nikolai Tolstoy-Miloslavsky, Rome, royal physician, , , , ,   

    Best Nickname Ever 

    When I was in school, I always considered History to be one of the easiest subjects, and also one of the most boring ones. Most teachers that I had concentrated on having us memorize facts and dates, and did not really try to make History interesting. I did have a couple of good History teachers in college, one of whom won a Pulitzer prize. Another made me regret not having the time to get a proper classical education.

    In any case, the biggest problem I have with history books is that everything in them is sanitized. I like my historical works HBO-style, with all the filth intact, like in Deadwood and Rome.

    Let me give you an example. I was reading “The Tolstoys: Twenty Four Generations of Russian History” by Nikolai Tolstoy-Miloslavsky. The Tolstoy family were always very important in Russian history. They seem to possess some talents that seem to be passed on genetically. These talents seem to fall into three categories: writing, politics, and to the lesser extent art. From founding the fist Russian secret police, through writing dozens of world-changing books, to revolutionizing Russian web design, Tolstoys left a deep mark. By reading this book I understood how much this one family line changed Russia and the world.

    But what I found the most enjoyable was not that, but a little episode about Ilya Miloslavskiy, the book author’s illustrious ancestor. Boyar Miloslavskiy was sort of an olde tyme oligarch. In 1600s he headed all of Russia’s most important (and profitable) ministries, Military, Medical, Treasury, etc. He was a man of limitless appetites, and stole amazing amount of money. Miloslavsky’s boss, tzar Alexei was not bothered as much by stealing, as he was by amoral behavior.

    Tolstoy quotes Dr. Collins, a royal physician and apparently Miloslavsky’s employee:

    “at last perceiving Eliah too kind to some of his Tartar and Polish slaves, he urged him (being and old Widdower) either to marry or refrain the Court. For the Russians highly extoll marriage, partly to people their Territories, and partly to prevent Sodomy and Buggery, to which they are naturally inclined, nor is it punished there with Death. A lusty Fellow about eight years since being at this beastly sport with a Cow, cry’d to one that saw him ‘Ne Mishchay, do not interrupt me; and now he is known by no other name over all Muscovy, than ‘Ne Mishchay’ “.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 8:03 am on October 22, 2006 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CTOs, , , , , DirecTV, , , , , , , , industrial manufacturing processes, , , , , movie review site, , , online scheduling, Richard, Roger, Rome, , , , , , The Job, , , , , well-designed dvd player   

    Boooo, HBO. Yay, Netflix 

    My TIVO has fallen on hard times. It seems that the network executives cancel shows faster than I find new ones to watch. The ones they don’t cancel, become bad. Let’s have a moment of silence for the dearly departed…

    Futurama, Firefly, The $treet, Invader Zim, Deadwood, Carnivale, The Restaurant, Six Feet Under, The Job, Insomniac With Dave Attell, Samurai Jack, Sex and the City, NYPD Blue, Friends, That ’70s Show

    SEO for CTOs and CEOs
    Note to those working hard on search engine optimization. How did IMDB get me to give them so many valuable links? Why does it have a pagerank of 9? Why didn’t I use some certain other TV and movie review site? Simple. IMDB does not change URLs every couple of years, the search is simple and fast.

    Well, in fact most of the shows that were on my old TIVO list. In particular, HBO has been especially keen on destroying my viewing list. Granted, some of the shows like NYPD Blue and Friends have lived longer than they should have, but on HBO Deadwood and Carnivale have been cut down in their prime, most annoyingly, not even ending cleanly.

    In light of this, and to protest the cancelling Deadwood and Carnivale, I cancelled my HBO subscription and got a Netflix subscription instead. I still like Rome and The Sopranos, but I can wait until they are out on dvd. So HBO, I have only one thing to say to you. Booooooooooooooooooooooo. Boo. Well, OK, that was two things.

    Compared to $12 a month for HBO, Netflix is a bargain at $9.99. The only problem is that I don’t like the DVD player’s interface – I have to wait for the menus to load, skip the previews. Fast forward and back is not as smooth as in TIVO and there’s no way to watch some other disk, and then come back to where I stopped watching another. I think I need something like Kaleidescape, except cheap and with storage for only a couple of DVDs at the time. Or maybe just a well-designed dvd player.

    Sadly, Netflix does not have a particularly impressive inventory. Peerflix has a much better one, and is also a good way for me to get rid of the dvds that I don’t need anymore and get some obscure stuff that I do need.

    All’s not too bad in TV Land overall though. I am frustrated with DirecTV TIVO not having networking and online scheduling and for that reason I am not upgrading to HD DirecTV TIVO. Tivo Series 3 does not work with DirecTV and is outrageously expensive. Well, at least there are some new shows that I like.

    At the top of the pile is How It’s Made. It’s a Canadian show that mostly takes you inside factories and shows you amazing manufacturing and automation techniques. There’s a number of similar shows around, but they are all suffering from the same problem: TV personalities. It’s annoying to see idiotically grinning morons making bad jokes and drawing attention to themselves rather than to what the show is about.

    For instance, Dirty Jobs is not really about messy, smelly, funny and horrible jobs. It’s about messy, smelly unfunny and horrible host, Mike Rowe. The last segment of Dave Attell of Insomniac with Dave Attell often had a segment similar to Dirty Jobs, but Attel, unlike Rowe is both charismatic and funny. Well, at least I think so.

    Overall I feel that in a show about working a host is not very important. Take This Old House, for instance. It’s really about Tommy, Norm, and the lesser subcontractors such as Richard and Roger. But you can take one host with another and then with another without the show suffering. I, for one, find the last host least annoying.

    Anyway, what’s different about How It’s Made is that it does not have a host, only an invisible narrator. The show walks you through various industrial manufacturing processes accompanied by the Wakka Chikka Wakka Chikka-like music and almost hypnotic narration. It’s pure engineering porn. It seems like youtube has pulled down most of How It’s Made clips, but there’s still one on google video.

    Now I can’t look at any mass-produced item without trying to picture the assembly line that created it. Some of the machines that I’ve seen are still haunting my mind–the ingenuity with which they are made are just amazing. I wish the show would interview the engineers who made the machines and spent more time on some of the more complicated ones.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 12:18 pm on August 30, 2004 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Frank DeLear, , Igor, Igor Sikorsky, , Rome, S-40, Sikorsky, The Last Guardian of Everness, , Ukrainian people   

    Dream A Little Dream Of S-40 

    If you’ve been readin my journal for a while, you might know how important dreams are to me.

    There are a lot of important and famous dreams recorded in history – Mendeleev seeing the periodic table; Kekule seeing the worm Oroborous and understanding the benzine ring; Chief Sitting Bull seeing soldiers falling upside down and predicting victory of the Little Big Horn, Hitler seeing the trench engulfed in molten lava in his dream and leaving it thus saving himself, Julius Caesar having a dream in which one website that will be left unnamed says “his mother appeared” and then “taking” Rome, etc.

    Over the weekend I was reading Igor Sikorsky, His Three Careers in Aviation by Frank DeLear, and in it was an example of a forshadowing dream that I haven’t encountered before.

    The book says that when he was 11 years old, Sikorsky had a dream in which he was standing in a narrow passageway. There was a bluish light overhead and the floor with a fine carpet under his feet. The floor was vibrating, but for some reason he immediately realized that it wasn’t a train or a boat, but a flying machine. He walked through to a door that led to a richly decorated lounge and then woke up. Since he was born in 1889, this would make it the year of 1900 when he had the dream. The Wright Brothers flight was three years away.

    Years later, in America Sikorsky was walking through his latest design, the S-40 plane and was struck by a sense of deja vu. There it was, bluish light of fluorescent lamps overhead, the vibration and the fine carpet and even the smoking lounge at the end.

    (the photo is from Igor Sikorsky, His Three Careers in Aviation) by Frank DeLear

    Next in my reading queue: John C. Wright’s The Last Guardian of Everness – a fantasy that deals with dream worlds and such. Figures.

     
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