In honor of Joel Hodgson launching a second Kickstarter to make more Mystery Science Theater 3000, I’d like to dedicate this Medium article to my favorite show. I’m a life-long fan who’s seen it all, and these are the 6 most obscure facts I’ve ever learned about MST3K. This is advanced material beyond what you’ll find in a Google search, and even includes a little original research, so please enjoy.

1. They actually gave a film its world premiere

Most films on MST3K were flops from decades ago, either unsuccessful movies or repackaged TV episodes. But there is one exception in the case of The Dead Talk Back.

The movie in episode 603 had been unreleased for 36 years before appearing on “MST3K.”

This…


The lesser-known rules that I follow as a published novelist

Photo by Yannick Pulver on Unsplash

I was working on the second edition of my novel, Jagged Edge Horizon, when I discovered a list of old writing rules I’d kept pinned to the top of my notes. I’d collected these so that I always had something fast to review before sitting down to write, something to put me in the right frame of mind to get the best product out while generating the least wasted effort. So I Medium’ed them up to share below.

1) Don’t just show things happening; show things changing.

Good books at least have interesting things happening, which means a good story, characters, and setting. But if nothing changes over the…


The 2018 video game Celeste has become popular in many dimensions: its mechanics, its story, its speedruns, and—in the focus of this article—its soundtrack. Typically a video game soundtrack just needs some catchy tunes, but Celeste’s score is well crafted to create progression, development, and denouement right alongside the game’s story.

Celeste is a 2018 video game that’s also famous for its soundtrack. Here the main character Madeline begins climbing a mountain.

Plot

Before we dive into Celeste’s score, we need to review its story. The game is descended from the Super Mario lineage of “platformers” where the gameplay is focused around jumping on 2D platforms. But while Super Mario never had a story beyond the simple MacGuffin of “a monster has…


Sources: launch costs and operational satellites. Cf. Moore’s Law.

Many have talked about SpaceX’s impact on the space market as having created another Moore’s Law. Meanwhile skeptics have pointed out that the physics of integrated circuits and of space access can’t be connected by analogy since the rocket equation doesn’t permit unlimited exponential efficiency gains. Another opinion holds that satellites are getting more powerful thanks to Moore’s Law proper, which has obviated the need for more of them and thus short-circuited a Moore’s Law for space. But these commentaries are now several years old, and in that time we have seen a continued reduction in payload costs and an…


I encountered this puzzle as a mini-challenge in a game my sister was playing years ago, and it turned out to be from a handheld game called Lights Out. It consists of twenty-five lights in a 5-by-5 grid. Clicking on any light toggles that light and those in the 4-neighborhood around it (excluding wraparound). The challenge was to click enough lights to make all twenty-five lights active at the same time:

A click on a light toggles that light and those in the 4-neighborhood around it.

Now, this problem was a kid’s game that was supposed to be solved by hand, but we were honestly having a bit of a hard time. That’s when I…


We recently purchased a puzzle game for our son, Rush Hour Traffic Jam, but eventually chewed through the forty included puzzles to solve. I realized the game is simple enough that I could write a Python script to generate and solve more puzzles, so this is that story. I like solving physical problems like this with code since pure algorithms might seem disconnected from the real world, but applying them to something you can get your hands on helps bring them to life.

A picture of the game’s puzzle #1 in initial configuration (left) and solved configuration (right).

A primer on the game mechanics. An ice cream truck is placed on a 6-by-6 grid and…


I just realized that the speed of light, c, is not only the speed of light but also the speed of everything in the universe. In fact, it is the only speed in the universe: all matter and energy is always moving through spacetime at this exact speed, without exception.

This may seem preposterous since we obviously move at different speeds just by sitting, walking, or running. But those are all changes of our velocity through space, and the catch is that they are always counterbalanced by changes of our velocity through time. …


Transitioning into any new role at work means absorbing many new skills as quickly as possible—and this is especially true of transitioning into management. But unless we take time to reflect on and express what we’ve learned in the process, we’re likely to forget most of it. So here are the top four pieces of advice I would like to go back and give my younger self on first transitioning into engineering management in Silicon Valley.

1. Your knowledge and experience have just reset

In Silicon Valley, engineering managers are typically drawn from the pool of senior engineers, and these are people who reached their positions by being…


Despite listening to Led Zeppelin for over twenty years, I just learned this week that their sixth studio album, Physical Graffiti, was actually two-thirds original material and one-third outtakes from previous albums. Apparently the band recorded three sides’ worth of material for the album but didn’t want to trim anything; so instead they made it a double album by sprinkling outtakes across all four sides.

There were eight original tracks recorded for the album and seven outtakes added. …

P.G. Baumstarck

Silicon Valley software engineer and novelist: https://amzn.to/2LmCH4Q My opinions are my own and not necessarily those of my employer.

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