Monthly Archives: January 2007

Technobabble Stream of Consciousness

Thanks to Thomas for the cool link that got me started on this one.

First, anyone who watches Mythbusters must see this Flash animation (click the “Download” button on the right side of the page).

Seen it? Okay. Jamie’s technobabble over the big diagram reminded me of an old electrical engineering in-joke: the turboencabulator. I have known for a long time about a video incarnation of this joke apparently made by some folks at Rockwell: The Rockwell Automation Retroencabulator.

However, what I didn’t realize is that Chrysler took a shot at this old joke even earlier: The Chrysler Turboencabulator. Keep listening. There are some screw-the-customer jokes at the end.

I love how this old joke just keeps coming back.

Bonus for the Mythbusters fans
Do pretty girls fart?
I hope they pay the poor girl well.

60’s References

One of my very favorite movies is That Thing You Do. I’m not exactly sure why, but I never get tired of watching it. I could go into a whole other post about why I like it, but I suspect that it just put together exactly the right mix of fun music, [mostly] clever dialogue, compelling story line, and well-chosen actors to hook me.

An interesting thing, though, is how much of the movie is concerned with period references. The movie is set in the mid-60s, about 10 years before I was born. So, I don’t have original memories of a lot of the little bones that they throw us in the movie. Some are fairly obvious (references to The Ed Sullivan Show and The Beatles, the TV interview with Gus Grissom, etc.). Others are ones that I figured out but were not quite so obvious. For instance, “Rick and Anita” in the beach movie are almost certainly thinly-veiled stand-ins for Frankie and Annette. One of the really obscure ones that I actually picked up on is that Guy’s father is using a Zenith Space Command remote control for their TV (see this web page for more info). Pushing a button on the remote caused a mechanically-produced (no batteries) ultrasonic tone that the TV “listened” for. There are a few that I actually had to look up. Guy’s “percussionist Foster Grant” line, I learned, is a reference to a famous ad campaign that sunglass maker Foster Grant ran back in the 60’s in which they asked, “Who’s that behind those Foster Grants?.”

One reference that eluded me for years, though, was Guy’s comment late in the movie that “If Jimmy’s a genius, then I’m (something that sounded like “ooh-TONT”).” I tried Google, but since I didn’t know how to spell the mystery word, I had no luck. I was talking to someone about it last night, and I decided to give it another shot. Thanks to this page, I finally found it. The line is actually, “If Jimmy’s a genius, then I’m U Thant.” U Thant was the 3rd Secretary General of the United Nations and would have been the current one during the time the movie was set. Thus, it makes sense that Guy’s response to “Who’s U Thant?” started with “He’s the Sec…”.

I think it’s interesting that Tom Hanks and company were able to make a movie that was appealing to younger moviegoers yet chock full of so many references that were so obviously intended for people who actually grew up in the 60’s. Bravo. :)

Six (?) questions (?)

As requested by Geof, here are my responses to a set of questions/challenges that mostly resemble the ones he got from his friend. I say mostly, because I decided to mess with a couple of them and downright refused to answer one or two. *shrug* It’s my site. 🙂 I’ll tentatively tag Amy, with the understanding that her brain is totally involved in organizing PHE right now.


0) What’s your name and website URL? (optional, of course)

My name is Jeffrey Heath McClure. Welcome to Sliding Constant.


1) What’s the most fun work you’ve ever done, and why? (two sentences max)

Easy: volunteering with the technical operations staff at DragonCon. I now spend every Labor Day weekend helping organize technical assistance for convention programming in one of the Hyatt Regency Atlanta‘s large ballrooms, and it’s the hardest work I’ve ever loved. 🙂


2) A. Name one thing you did in the past, no longer do, and wish to do again. (one sentence max)

I still keep hoping I’ll once again blunder into a group of people with whom I “click” who make music I deeply enjoy and have a Jeff-shaped hole in their vocal harmony.


B. Name one thing you’ve always wanted to do but keep putting off. (one sentence max)

Always? I don’t think I have anything that applies. The biggest thing I keep putting off is getting in shape.


3) A. What two things would you most like to learn or be better at, and why? (two sentences max)

I’d love to learn to play piano, and I would like to be better at dividing my concentration across time and subject. The first would allow me to be my own accompaniment, and the second would probably help ease the frustration of many friends.


B. If you could take a class/workshop/apprentice from anyone in the world living or dead, who would it be and what would you hope to learn? (two more sentences, max)

This one sounds an awful lot like “Who is the one person you most look up to?”, and I truly believe I have no answer to that question. I’ve come to realize that when it’s working right, most of what I manage to learn tends to come as absorbing different bits of knowledge and wisdom from different people. I find myself quite amused to realize that my philosophy, ethic, etc., is probably a composite of the little parts that I have most admired in many many others. I kind of like it that way.


4) A. What three words might your best friends or family use to describe you?

I, like Geof, hesitate to answer this one, but I have some guesses. I’ll let my massive readership judge their accuracy… perhaps: “distant”, hopefully: “consistent”, vainly: “perceptive”


B. Now list two more words you wish described you:

I think “athletic” is stretching it even as a wish. Let’s go for “fit.” For the second: “creative.”


5) What are your top three passions? (can be current or past, work, hobbies, or causes; three sentences max)

There’s no way the answer to this one has any kind of shelf life if I answer it with work, hobbies, or causes. Let’s go with three principles, the pursuit of at least one of which tends to drive any particular of my various passions/obsessions: mastery, consistency, novelty.


6) (sue me) Write–and answer–one more question that YOU would ask someone (with answer in three sentences max)

I’m skipping this one. You gotta tell me who “someone” is. Sue me. 🙂


[Bonus: What is one question you wish people would ask themselves?]

If the visible effects of me acting on my (faith/belief/conviction) are to engender hatred, exclude people, and dictate the behavior of others, is it possible I missed the point somewhere?