Here it is, my home page. Yee ha. Most of the material here dates back to a period from 1997 to 2004. The main part which contains new material is the part called “The Future!”, and its sibling section “Paul Tries to Understand Science”, in which I try my hand at informative science writing. About the only other section that’s had much attention since then is “Music and Movies”, particularly the section that’s since spun off as Cape Jeer.
Use the links over there on the left to see this site’s various topic areas. For instance, under “Photography” you’ll find my old film-era online gallery of nature photography, my taxonomic index of bird species I’ve photographed, and so on. The “Muckraking” section contains my feature monitoring political corruption in and around the energy industry during the period 2001-2004, called Enron & Friends, plus miscellaneous other political writing. (Most of that is elsewhere now.) “Music and Movies” contains my subsite for reviews of superhero movies, Cape Jeer (which is now on hiatus as superhero cinema has taken over the world and become boring), and other film and music related content. And so on for the other topics. For each link, the related content will appear in this box.
Thanks for dropping by, and I hope you find something you enjoy.
For some reason, I started writing brief capsule reviews of movies based on comic books. Then I started seeing more comic book movies in order to review them: everything from Hulk to Howard the Duck, over a hundred in all. Witness the result. For those who want assistance in separating the mighty from the meek in the current deluge of superhero cinema, or those who find amusement (as I do) in reviews of crappy movies. Some of these films are so bad that that they really must not be missed. This is now a separate website with its own domain name... it’s called CAPE JEER!
Now with the magic of John Stanley! See the author of the Creature Features Movie Guide give four stars to Jean-Claude van Damme!
The newest reviews are The Wolverine, added February 2016. The next most recent is Ant-Man, added January 2016. (Yeah, updates haven’t been frequent lately.) Another recent addition is the usage of a wrecking-ball icon to denote deconstructive films, and as of 2015 it uses HTML5 and has more mobile-friendly layout, with nicer icons.
You may wonder why someone put that much time into such a silly-ass project. Honestly, I wonder myself.
Current Events Movies
Here are some other film reviews I was asked to do, unrelated to comics. They’ve mostly got something to do with politics — this group of reviews originally got started as part of the Enron & Friends section.
The index of titles is here. The most recently added title is Penn & Teller: Bullshit! (season 6). (Yeah, that’s not a very current event anymore.)
Miscellaneous B Movies
Finally, there’s another section of reviews of miscellaneous B movies, springing from my participation in the B-Movie Message Board. The latest addition is not really a B movie: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus — in context. Before that was Lindsay Lohan in I Know Who Killed Me.
Now, music-related items:
- Every once in a while, you listen to a record expecting something ordinary and get blown away by something fantastically good that you never expected. This is my list of great albums that have come at me from out of left field in that way, with a description of each. Most of them are relatively unknown. I’d love to hear your list of such albums. (updated 12/30/01)
- I have a bit of my own home-recorded music here. Nothing shockingly original... just something that answers the question: What if Richard Berry’s immortal rock classic “Louie, Louie” had been instead written by Peter Gabriel? Download Shock the Louie.mp3 (2.5 MB) to find out. (6/1/00)
- Oh, and here’s a little midi file of a silly tune I wrote for my cat Vespertilio. And here’s a waltz I wrote for the wedding of a couple of folk-music geeks. I had to keep it simple enough for the pick-up band to sight-read...
- And here for nostalgia value is another midi file: my very first attempt at computer composition, circa 1989, written somewhat under the influence of the modern composer Conlon Nancarrow. I’m still a bit surprised at how complex it managed to be, given that it’s only forty seconds long.
- Here is a page of micro-rants on arts & entertainment topics. (last updated 6/22/02)
- And finally, the thing that first motivated me to put up a home page way back in 1997 or so: a fan tribute to my favorite musician, Eric McFadden. (last updated 6/21/04)
I’ve been drawn to nature photography since I got my first camera at somewhere around age eight, and by now, I think I’m starting to get kind of good at it. My original online gallery has pictures spanning the years I shot with film — basically, the last quarter of the twentieth century. This gallery has not been updated since 1/27/02.
I haven’t yet made a gallery of my newer DSLR work. But here’s something: lately I’ve concentrated mostly on birds, often not even bringing any wide angle lens when I go out, and I have started to turn more and more into something embarrassingly like a birder. And what I’ve made of that is a page that lists all the species I’ve seen and all the local species I expect to see by taxonomy, with links to pictures on those kinds of birds that I have managed to photograph so far. (The latest additions are tundra swans, cackling geese, greater white-fronted geese, and a loggerhead shrike, 1/5/14. The next latest are vaux’s swifts and a barn owl, 12/24/13.)
Of the older photographs, the ones that have generated the most public interest are those of the Oakland hills fire of 1991. I have sometimes granted reproduction rights for some of the images from this series at no cost. Higher resolution scans are available. If interested, write.
There used to be other sections of minor photo content here, but none of them were worth keeping around long term.
My gear: my earlier film work was done with a basic K1000, then I got an Oly OM-2 which I used throughout the nineties. I finally got a DSLR in 2007 — a Pentax K10D. I now have a Pentax K-3 with five lenses, including a 300mm f4 which I use with a 1.4x teleconverter to shoot birds. I’ve also got a Pentax Q. Mounting that to the 300mm on a tripod gives really serious reach.
Note: this is all old material. If you want any thoughts on the politics of the current year, you’ll find some here and there on my little blog. If you really want to single out political posts, look under the “Categories” header on the right sidebar, and click “Rantation and Politicizing”. I’m winding that blog down, though; the plan is to bring the good bits from it over here.
The freshest item here is probably my review of the documentary Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room. I end up talking a lot more about the history of Enron than about the film...
(last updated 8/25/04)
In 2001, I had a page about the evolving California electricity crisis, and the mounting evidence that power companies were creating an artificial shortage to drive prices sky-high. Now it’s about the Enron scandal and the others that came after it, and their revelations of corruption in the White House; it’s called “Enron & Friends”. I gradually came to cover more and more stories of corruption. I finally ran out of gas with this project in 2004.
(2001’s original electricity crisis page is here, cut off at a point just before the Enron collapse. There is also a page of miscellaneous other energy-related topics here.)
Here is a list of other political articles I’ve written:
- Are you one of those who is itching to get rid of the obsolete and cantankerous apparatus known as the Electoral College? Read this discussion of some of the many reform alternatives available. If you’re a defender of the old system, you might find options here that are more appealing than what you’ve heard previously. (minor update 2/22/03)
- (This one’s also in the Humor and Rants section.) Take a trip back to those unforgettable fun-filled years of the Reagan administration, with a little software item called The Reagan Years. Any day you run the The Reagan Years program, it will write out a screenful of news about various events that happened on the same calendar day during the nineteen eighties. All the scandals, embarrassments, and fuckups, gathered into a single package organized by date. Go to the The Reagan Years page to read about it and/or get a desktop version, or go directly to http://paulkienitz.net/reagan/ to see today’s Reagan history right in your browser. (Current version is release 3; some further material for a release 4 has been accumulated.)
- There’s also a rant about economics here, as is natural in any discussion of Reagan. If you have ever wondered why the economy has done so well in the Clinton administration compared to the Reagan years, here’s my theory about why. (updated 10/21/01 with new statistics)
Here’s a rant about why
Republicans never seem to let the government get out of debt, which
has become relevant again as Dubya has made a push for a further big tax cut
for businesses and upper income individuals — the same groups who, as
investors, are already receiving a large part of your tax bill
as interest payments on the national debt. (updated 4/15/03)
(If you’re interested, you can view a copy, preserved for historical and archival value, of my pre-election screed on just how lame a candidate George W. Bush was in my view. Updated 4/15/03 with a postscript: “How well did I guess?”)
And here is somebody
else’s rant explaining the Supreme Court actions that got
Bush into office, which I am preserving a copy of because
it’s the clearest summary I’ve found of just what the court did.
(Did the court “steal” the election? I wouldn’t really say so — they only did damage control after the original plan didn’t quite work. The actual theft occurred earlier, when Florida’s voter roles were cleaned of alleged felons, some 90,000 of the names removed being people who were still legally eligible to vote. Florida admitted this illegality in court two years later, after it couldn’t change anything... and postponed corrections until after Jeb Bush’s re-election. They tried the same thing again for 2004 but were caught at it before the election.)
- One other political piece I’ve written is hosted on Mike Huben’s Critiques of Libertarianism page instead of here. He put it in his Liberal section. The article is called I’m Still Not A Libertarian. It’s about 12000 words.
- Finally, there is a page of micro-rants on political topics. (last updated 6/22/02)
Another site that has occasionally published my political writing is Democratic Underground, such as this short piece warning how our adventure in Iraq would end up supporting and funding pro-Iranian groups... one of the many “surprises” (all quite foreseeable by those who paid attention, including the torture scandal) that later embarrassed us there.
Assorted crap which generally is not important but hopefully is entertaining.
- New: The Movie Pitch Game! This is a game of fun and creativity for movie buffs. You give a three word idea for a movie plot, in the form noun-verb-noun, and then you get back such an idea jumbled together from three other players’ suggestions. Your job: pitch a movie based on that simple plot idea. Read other pitches and give them from one to four stars — some of them are bound to be as witty and clever as your own. The source is on github.
You know those silly online personality quizzes that some people
create? Well, I threw together a few of them for giggle value, never
intending to show them to more than a few people... they were:
- Which Classical Composer Are You?
- Which Science Fiction Writer Are You?
- Which House Paint Are You?
- Which Office Supply Are You?
- Are You A Republican?
The rest of this stuff is now pretty darn ancient...
- Does your life revolve around your psychological/spiritual growth process? Want to meet other geeks in the same condition? Follow this link to learn about the Personal Growth Geek Code! No, you won’t meet anybody here, but now you and they will have a tool to know all about each other at a glance. Well, maybe a prolonged squint. (current version is 0.5)
- Several years ago, I decided to write a little rant about a subject I found mildly bothersome, and spent about two days researching and composing it. It soon became the most widely-read thing I’d ever done, receiving hundreds of hits a day. So I had to keep updating and expanding it... It’s called 48 Reasons Not To Get A Boob Job. Gosh, I just can’t puzzle out why a page about breasts gets so many search engine hits. There’s also a page of even more reasons sent in by readers. (last updated 10/3/04)
- Another miscellaneous little rant: Why Aren’t We Fighting Spam In Traditional Media? (small update 6/21/04)
And finally... Micro-Rants! Here’s the original
Micro-Rants page... random opinions and notions on topics which could
have a full rant page written about them, but don’t — items important enough
to mention, but not important enough to put much time or research into.
It was something more than a static page and something less than a blog, and it’s
all very outdated now. The political
micro-rants and the arts & entertainment
micro-rants pages were spinoffs of this. (last updated 6/22/02)
And oh yeah, there’s also the miscellaneous energy topics micro-rants page. It contains information and advocacy on subjects having to do with energy issues — particularly eco-gearhead topics such as electric cars. (updated 11/3/02)
I have programmed a lot of different languages and operating systems over the years... assembly language on an ancient IBM mainframe, FORTRAN on a bizarre 36-bit Honeywell, SNOBOL on a DEC-20, REXX on an Amiga... I even learned TECO once. (Ah, the memories. Will anyone wax nostalgic someday about good old .Net?)
Back in those Good Old Days of the 20th Century, I wrote a bunch of freeware and shareware for the Amiga. This page lets anyone who still uses one of those download any or all of it, including source code. It includes Amiga versions of the Info-Zip Group’s Zip and Unzip tools, since I was a contributor to that group, and maintained the Amiga port, along with contributing to the common code.
Lately I’ve stuck a small toe back into the open source world. Here is my first little Github project: a very easy way to add AJAX to your website content. It’s intended to eventually be used on my other site, Cape Jeer.
soon someday: When I was a student, my very first
“big” software project was an old-school text adventure game called
Lugi. It was pretty silly, and fun. Recently
I dug it up and began porting it into Java... then while I was
at it, started making a parallel version in C#.Net. The
two versions can be kept tightly in sync, because the languages
are so similar. Each can be run with multiple choices of
IO interface: as a command-line program, as a web application,
or in the Java case, as an applet that puts a fake command-line
window in your browser. That latter form, at the very
least, will be available here once it’s complete and debugged.
The project isn’t ready yet, but if anyone wants to see samples of my current style in Java code, there’s an unlinked URL that will allow you to view a large subset of the current Lugi source files.
Writings about The Future! Yep, the place where we’re going to spend the rest of our lives. As a wise man once said, future events such as these will affect you in the future. These writings were originally part of a blog, but I kept tweaking and revising them, and also nobody was reading that blog — even this index page attracts a lot more viewers, oddly — so I gave them a permanent home here.
The most recent piece is The Obsolescence of Labor, added 11/6/16. The next most recent is Will There Ever Be a Material to Replace Steel?, added 8/17/16.
And now there’s another page: Paul Tries to Understand Science. In this section, I write articles about general science, as an aid to education. Not your education, so much as my own. If I get to the point where I can write a coherent explanation of a bit of science, I feel that I have managed to learn something about it. I’d be thrilled if someone else manages to learn something too.
The newest one is Rocket Efficiency, added 6/22/17. The next most recent is Consider the Roundworm, added 10/17/16. I have other topics in progress.
Most of these were originally just blog posts, which have then been revised and expanded for their more permanent home.
NEW! (sort of). I have added a major new section which was inspired by the rapid advances in the late 2010s in the field of commercial spaceflight. It takes in-depth looks at a number of new modern rockets and spacecraft, and while I was at it, also the existing rockets which remain in service. I’ve been gradually adding material to this since 2017. The original emphasis was on New Space private commercial ventures, but it turned out that as of 2017 most of these had yet to actually fly anything, so most of the rockets that actually worked were the older government-sponsored models. Since then an increasing number of the private ventures have made successful flights, but it looks like the number of companies which are hoping and struggling with little chance of ever making any profit is continuing to rise, as the industry tends to attract people who have big dreams of being disruptive innovators but lack sufficient appreciation of how difficult flying to space really is. Read it all here: Rockets of Today.