Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

Odd Lots

  • Here is the entire sky projected on a plane, and zoomable.  (LINK REMOVED–SEE COMMENTS.) That doesn’t do it anything like justice. Cruise the image a little and gasp. (Give the site time to refresh; it’s newly slashdotted.) Read the rest of the page too–it’s fascinating, and full of great photos. Chile looks a great deal like Mars in some places.
  • There is apparently a correlation between sleep loss and amyloid tangles in the brain, which are a key element in Alzheimer’s Disease. Causation is still a little unclear, but I find it significant that in our era of Anything But Sleep, the incidence of various dementias is exploding. Be in bed by 10:00PM and keep your brain. Now there’s a deal I can live with.
  • Wired has an interesting retrospective on tablet computing, which I found worthwhile mostly for the mention of a steampunk-era electromechanical handwriting encode-and-transfer device, which ferdam sounds like what Sherlock Holmes would use to IM Watson.
  • Here’s another worthwhile perspective on the Google Books Settlement.
  • A chap who calls himself the Jolly Pirate wrote to tell me that the Pirate Party is alive and well in the US (I was under the impression that it was a European thing) and some interesting links may be found on its site, many of which have nothing to do with piracy. Now, would an American instance of the Pirate Party lean left or right? (Or would it be port and starboard?) I’ll be damned if I can decide…
  • It’s been a bad season for big-time wine critics, who can’t seem to find a business model and keep getting busted in conflict-of-interest scandals. The Internet allows the crowdsourcing of critique of all sorts of things–why should wine be any different?
  • Pertinent to the above: What we need is the wine implementation of the “People who liked this also liked…” mechanism I see (and use) in the book world. I very much like Campus Oaks Old Vine Zinfandel, though the 2007 vintage now in stores is a pale shadow of 2005. What would be a wine similar to that? (If you know of such a system for wine, please share.)
  • There are candy Legos.
  • The charger for my Kodak pocket camera is a thin little slab with two 110V power plug pins that swivel out to plug into the wall, and then swivel back into hiding when they’re not needed. Why can’t they build that mechanism right into the back of an ebook reader? (I was without my Sony Reader for a couple of months after I lost the charger.)
  • After an unexplained absence of several weeks, Fort Carson’s cannon is back. (See my entry for September 15, 2009.) Maybe the cannon was broke and they had to send it back to the factory for repairs…


  1. Note on the first item in this entry: Slashdot readers are reporting some controversy about the image, and the Web site is refusing to serve the page. The original link I placed here was a third-party cache of the material, which is dicey for a couple of reasons, and I decided to pull the link now that the original page has been offline for two days. I’ll report further if anything changes on this item, which is certainly worth seeing.

  2. Carrington Dixon says:

    I don’t know that I’d want my ebook reader to plug directly into the wall socket. My Sony Reader (which is probably a newer model than yours) can be read while charging (although not when connected to a USB port). That would be awkward if it were plugged directly into a wall socket, and many people would not be comfortable with a 120 volt extension cord in their lap.

    Speaking of ebooks, Cold Hands and Other Stories is nearly a year late. I realize that you have had other, more pressing projects, but can we have an update on when to expect the book?

    1. I had Cold Hands and Other Stories fully laid out by early last November, and found that it was a little short. On a whim I had moved my 1981 story “Marlowe” from the lineup back into Souls in Silicon, and found that this made Cold Hands and Other Stories a little too short. I was gearing up to finish “Drumlin Wheel” and drop it into the book to flesh it out…and then I got a fateful call from John Wiley & Sons, asking me how soon I would like to make a fur bit of money rewriting my assembly language book, which took just about everything I had for ten months.

      It may be for the better. In the year since I last worked on “Drumlin Wheel,” I got several insights about the storyline that will make it something more than a quick dash-off adventure in Drumland. It will doubtless make it a longer story, and it may edge up past 10,000 words, but I decided to work in the Grange (a mysterious organization claiming to be “just farmers” but are much more than that) and a couple of additional characters and plot twists. Stories (and books) just happen on their own schedule sometimes. I do have a wonderful cover image by Richard Bartrop that’s been in the can for this whole year, and it’s well past time to put it to work. Hang in there. The project is very much alive and even a little urgent, as it’s dedicated to Carol’s mom and I do want her to live to see it!

  3. Chuck Waggoner says:

    I hate power bricks. The ‘switching’ kind we have over here in Germany for 230v are so lightweight, there is no reason whatever is in them, cannot be put into the devices they power–including computers. I refuse to buy a shaver that requires a power brick. If I cannot plug it directly into the AC (with the universally available cord) then I don’t want it. Braun over here has taken a step backwards with all their new shavers, now requiring a power brick. But then they are all made in China these days, and maybe a power brick is a marvel to the Chinese. Travelling with power bricks is truly a hassle–especially when they all have to be removed for the airport security inspections.

    As far as safety goes, I have never been shocked by an AC power cord, but have had one power brick melt from heat, short out and blow a house breaker (and I mean that completely–the breaker had to be replaced); and another brick explode. I’ll take the cord for safety any day vs. the brick.

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