Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

October 20th, 2008:

Odd Lots

  • Sorry to be gone so long here; I haven't felt well for some days and did not do my usual daily quota of follow-your-nose Web exploration. Part of it is the politics; I seem to be hitting the I-Can't-Stand-It-Anymore level about three weeks earlier than I did in 2004. The rest seems to be the result of eating too many MSG-laden barbecue potato chips.
  • Or maybe it's all the purely amateur reporting on the current financial crisis, declaring that it's either the end of the world or already well past it. Michael Covington (who would probably win any contest for World's Sanest Man) has some perspective on both the financial crisis and the stock market's recent fall. Read them, and heed the advice printed on the front cover of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
  • I learned yesterday that Herb S. Brier W9EGQ was a paraplegic and could not walk. Like John T. Frye, he lived in Indiana (Gary) and was almost entirely self-taught in electronics. Bob Ballantine W8SU wrote up a short bio on Brier, and if you ever followed his Novice columns in the 50s and 60s, do read it. The closeness of the two men's call signs (W9EGQ and W9EGV) is probably a coincidence; as best we can tell the two men did not know one another.
  • If you build radios, particularly tube or crystal sets, The Radio Board is worth a look. The sheer amount of cumulative tube-hacking expertise there is mind-boggling.
  • The local newspapers have been breathlessly reporting rampant theft of campaign signs from both sides of the spectrum, and now that several perps have been caught, it turns out that they were…junior high kids! Wow! (Like I couldn't have told you that.) The little snots are not being charged with anything; after all, theft is political speech. Solution: Force them to give their allowances for the next year to the parties whose signs they stole, and wear a T-Shirt printed with that party's canididate's portrait.
  • Pete Albrecht sent me a link to a PDF railroad map of Illinois, containing all currently active routes.
  • And while I'm at it, let me point you to Pete's photos of Stephan's Quintet, a group of five close-set galaxies (two are actually foreground objects) that are one of the meanest challenges for backyard galaxy collectors—especially if your backyard is in Costa Mesa. The group is fascinating, and this article about them is worth reading.
  • From David Stafford comes an article about what it's like to be a professional term paper writer.
  • Once again, The Economist proves itself to be one of the few intelligent print mags remaining by explaining why even peer-reviewed scientific journals are not as trustworthy as we would like. (The Atlantic is on my S-list again for running too much politics; maybe I'll resubscribe in December.)
  • Here's a robot that carries your houseplants to a spot in the livingroom where there's more sunlight. It's unclear what happens when the robot tries to share the sunbeam with the dog. I guess it depends on the dog; QBit would tear it to shreds; Aero would lift his leg on it. Suum quique.