- Eating red meat will not hurt your heart. This is not news to people who’ve been paying attention. Alas, meat has been slandered as deadly for so many years that we’re going to be shooting this lie in the head for decades before it finally bleeds to death.
- There are at least two efforts underway to back-breed the aurochs, a very large and ill-tempered ruminant that went extinct in 1627. I made use of aurochs in The Cunning Blood; the Moomoos (basically, cowboys on Hell) had difficulty herding them until they domesticated the mastodon and rode mastodons instead of horses.
- Who will fact-check the fact-checkers? In truth, there is no answer to this question, which heads toward an infinite regress at a dead run. Nobody trusts anybody else in journalism today. To me, this means that journalism as an industry might as well be dead.
- Even the New York Times is willing to admit that cold weather is 17 times deadlier than warm weather. This is one reason we moved to Arizona: Winters have been nasty in Colorado for several years, and I have an intuition that flatlining solar activity may make things a lot colder before they get warmer.
- Russian scientists evidently agree with me. And y’know, the Russians might just know a few things about cold weather.
- The Army is accelerating development of a railgun compact enough to fire from something the size and shape of a howitzer. 10 rounds per minute, too. With one of those you could poke a lot of very big holes in very big things in a very big hurry. (Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link.)
- Can’t afford a howitzer railgun? How about a snowboard powered by ducted fans? The idea is cool. Watching the guy put it together in fast-motion is cooler.
- SF writer Paul Mauser suggests that publishing’s gatekeeper function has been crowdsourced on the indie side, and I agree. You can’t always tell if an indie book is good before you buy it. Guess what? You can’t always tell if a print book is good before you buy it. Manhattan’s imprints can barely pay the rent and want interns to work in editorial for free. Warning: It’s handy to have gatekeepers who know how gates work, and why.
- Gatekeepers? Where were the gatekeepers when Kaavya Viswanathan allegedly cribbed a whole novel together from other authors’ work and then sold it to Little, Brown for half a million bucks?
- Pertinent to the above: There’s a very nice site devoted to plagiarism, which is evidently a far bigger problem than I would have guessed.
- An obscure author (of three memoirs) claimed that indie publishing is “an insult to the written word.” Watch Larry Correia lay waste to her essay. Don’t be drinking Diet Mountain Dew while you read it, now. Green stuff pouring out of your nose is generally embarrassing.
- This item is probably not what you think it is. The manufacturer could probably have used a little gatekeeping on the product design side.
I’ve been low-energy for a month or so, following the worst chestcold I can recall. Still coughing a little bit; still low-energy. I’m working up the nerve to write a a series on health insurance that will doubtless infuriate everyone, but since I’m also furious, I guess it factors out. Stay tuned.
HBO is making no friends with their current stunt, which was to harrass a 13-year-old girl for posting a painting entitled “Winter Is Coming.” The painting has nothing whatsoever to do with Game of Thrones, as any fool with three brain cells could tell. Granted, it may be like me giving up whisky for lent, but it’ll be a cold day in hell before I ever give HBO a nickle. I’m a little surprised this hasn’t gone more viral than it has; give it a hand if you can.
Why did we move to Phoenix? Lots of reasons, but this recent video set from Montreal is the biggie: Frozen water liquefies on compression, greatly reducing the coefficient of friction. In simpler terms, when it snows, heavy stuff runs into other heavy stuff, and makes lots of broken stuff, including (in this case) a snowplow trying to stuff a police car into the hind-end of a city bus.
And here’s the reason we didn’t move to North Dakota, not that that was ever a possibility. Hell, I’ve already done my time in Chicago.
We’ve just seen the steepest drop in global temps since record-keeping began, almost certainly due to the end of the near-record El Nino we’ve been having. A temperature spike is not climate. It’s weather. What El Nino gives, La Nina takes away.
SF writers, heads up: Here’s one of the best sites I’ve ever seen on advanced rocket tech, much of which was completely new to me.
Articles like these can get tiresome if you’re not an enthusiast, but I continue to post them because we need to break people of the government-forged assumption that fat is bad for you. Eating more fat may help you lose weight, depending on the specifics of your metabolism. It certainly did for me. That said, making universal statements is impossible because of individual differences in human beings. As I said in my metadiet picobook, you are the experiment. Do the science.
And another: Butter won’t hurt you. Margarine could kill you. New science shows animal fats to be harmless, but when you get to the end, read carefully: The supposed health experts in the UK simply reject the science out of hand, because to do otherwise would require them to admit that they’re wrong. Experts never do that, because if they did, it would mean that they’ve been fake experts all along. (Thanks to UK reader Dermot Dobson for the link.)
I call this sort of thing a sarcalisticle, and here’s one about the Republic (not the state) of Georgia. I’m interested in Georgia because it’s the world center of medical bacteriophage research. There may be a local-color thriller in that, involving a near future in which we’re confronted by a bacterial plague that defies all antibiotics. I hadn’t given any thought to actually going there, but I admit, the pictures make it look pretty good. Lonely Planet has more photos and additional information.
Here’s yet another way that Obamacare is screwing patients: Insurers publish lists of in-network providers, and those lists are often hideously inaccurate. There are rules governing directory accuracy, and those rules are rarely enforced. My solution: Require providers to remain on a network list for five years after signing up for it, and pull the licenses of providers who refuse to treat patients who are in-network according to the current directory. Better, fine insurers heavily (I’m talking many millions of dollars per error) for leaving errors in their directories. Better still: Forget networks (which are just back-door care rationing anyway) and go back to the days of “any willing provider.”
Narrow networks can be so narrow that for some patients, care is impossibly far away. To me, this is serious insurance fraud. Somebody should do hard time. I nominate Jonathan Gruber.
Although I generally don’t do politics, ESR published a brilliant essay about the recent election that I think needs to be read in its entirety by both sides, keeping in mind that he is not a Republican. (Neither am I; there are such creatures as political independents in the world, really. In fact, I’m pretty sure that independents decided the recent election.)
- I’m ok; stop fretting. I caught a very bad chestcold, which has had me spending a lot of time in bed for the past week or so, time I might otherwise have spent writing. Before that, I was trying to figure out how to obtain health insurance in a county where the cheapest plan costs $25,000 a year, with a $14,000 deductible. It’s been a yukky month, let’s say.
- Deciding what to write has been a challenge. People are complaining about the (lack of) size of my backlist, so what I really need to be doing is writing a few short novels, but writing them quickly. After all, Larry Correia’s two-word formula for success in SFF is “Be Prolific!” An ambitious novel set in the Gaean universe might take me 18 months. Drumlin Circus took me six weeks. I need to do that again. And again. And again after that.
- Spending time in zero-G is evidently bad for your eyeballs. Not yet precisely sure why, but it may be another case of humans being evolved for a particular environment, like, well, gravity.
- So far as we can tell, the efficiency of the Em Drive is related to the Q of the resonant cavity. What, then, might happen if we coated the interior of the truncated cone with a room-temperature superconductor? No, I don’t necessarily believe that it works. But damn, I sure hope it does. And as I said about cold fusion, even if the Em Drive isn’t actually a drive, it could be something else interesting and possibly useful. Research needs to continue.
- Lazarus 1.6.2 has been released. It’s all bug fixes, but still worth having.
- Giving children whole milk (rather than lowfat or skim) makes them leaner and generally healthier. Lowfat and skim milk are a scam. Producers tell you skim milk is healthy, sell you the skim milk, and then sell the cream to somebody else. Don’t fall for it. Skim milk is fed to pigs because it keeps them eating.
- Eggs are good too: Eating one egg a day reduces your risk of stroke by 12%. I eat two. Fried in butter. (Thanks to Esther Schindler for the link.)
- In 1919, big chunks of Boston were leveled by a tsunami of…molasses. This is one of my favorite episodes from American history, and here’s a good summary.
- As Glenn Reynolds said of this link, Choose your poison: Craft beer sales are dropping in states where recreational marijuana is legal.
- Testable predictions are the key to solid science. A University of Arizona scientist has told us that within ten years, climate change will wipe out all human life on Earth. Let’s put it on our calendars and show him how much we f&$@** love science, whaddaya say? We could make it the biggest story of 2026. The man deserves to be famous for such hard-hitting research.
- There should be plenty of takers: A global UN poll asking what people around the world consider important shows that climate change comes in dead last.
- A separate poll shows that Americans are more afraid of clowns than climate change. After thinking about it for a second…I am too.
- Cross a hot tub with a roller coaster and you get…what? I’m still not sure riding a roller coaster dressed in nothing but a towel couldn’t have, well, unintended consequences.
- It’s this simple, really: Fake news is news your tribe disagrees with. Keep that in mind when the scrubbing starts.
- Our night-time low here dropped into the 50s last night for the first time since we got back here in late July. The pool water is now down to 81, sigh. Autumn is icumin in; cul sinks the pul.
- One reason I’ve never written a sequel (much less a series) is that I have a terror of becoming boring by writing about the same people in the same setting multiple times. Pam Uphoff discusses this well on MGC. It’s not inevitable, but it has to be done…carefully. (I’ve dipped my toes in the water by writing several stories and a short novel set on the Drumlins World.)
- Melatonin may act against migraines. If that’s an issue for you, give it a shot…but keep in mind that melatonin does affect your sleep cycles, and taking it any time except before bed can be hazardous. Also, when I was trying it for insomnia after Coriolis imploded, my sleep timing went nuts, which isn’t typical but is clearly a possible side effect.
- The sugar industry bribed scientists back in the ’60s to push the blame for obesity from sugar to fat. Furthermore, the scientists they bribed were at all-powerful Harvard. Lessons: Science is corruptible (we knew that, from science fraudster Ancel Keys) and Harvard is just an ordinary university with a highly inflated rep and 35 billion dollars.
- I’m an inflation hawk. Here’s a good explanation of why. (Also see Adam Fergusson’s superb book When Money Dies .) I have a postage stamp here on my desk from Weimar Germany with the value 50 million marks, to remind me what’s at stake. (Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link.)
- Measuring sea level accurately (like, to millimeter accuracy) is well-nigh impossible for a whole ravening horde of reasons. The studies mentioned suggest that AGW contributes very little to sea level changes, and what contribution is real may not be determinable. (Thanks for the link go to Charlie Martin.)
- More from the sagacious McMegan: It’s almost impossible to determine how many people have gained insurance because of Obamacare. It might be 15 million people. It might be 20 million. Or 10 million. The problem, of course, is that it shot the policies out from under millions of other people (Carol and I included), who were enraged because we were promised from The Very Top that this simply would not happen. Period. End of story.
- Here’s a good, detailed explanation from Dr. Eades of the glycemic index and why it may not be as useful a measure as we’ve come to think. It’s probably a lot more useful than the BMI, which is not only worthless but damaging.
- From Esther Schindler comes word that American cheese is not as bad as you think. Then again, as with tomato soup and other things we had incessantly when I was a kid, I may have had quite enough of it, thanks.
- It appears that Learning Computer Architecture with the Raspberry Pi is a live project and will be published sometime late summer. (I don’t think the June date given on Amazon is realistic.) I’ll keep you posted.
- An art student built this bogglingly complex mechanical clock out of…wood. It doesn’t just tell the time–it writes out the time every minute. I think he’s in the wrong curriculum. (Thanks to Pete Albrecht for the link.)
- From Charlie Martin: Are black holes really quantum computers? Depends on whether there really are gravitons.
- Also from Aeon, an article that agrees with what I’ve been saying for years: Even if LENR (i.e., cold fusion) isn’t actually fusion, it might be something interesting and useful, and research should continue.
- I’ve also been saying this for years: Fruit juice is no healthier than soda. Both are nearly all sugar, and both will eventually kill you. Fruit juice is basically fruit-flavored sugar; all the stuff that might conceivably be good for you (fiber, mostly) is thrown away.
- It gets worse: New research suggests that long-term vegetarian diets predispose people to heart disease and cancer. It’s complicated; read the whole thing, and then consider this item from phys.org, which may be the research that the other article is talking about. What Cornell was researching were evolutionary adaptations to different diets, and if you eat against your evolution, you may be causing yourself problems. That seems reasonable to me.
- Something about this purely textual clock appeals to me.
- Here we have Wayne’s Radios, which focuses on vintage radios, some deco, most midcentury modern, all of them interesting. Oh, and a few dinner plates for flavor. Or something.
- Nonetheless, if you’re going out to dinner, insist on plates. Because eating dinner out of vintage radios can be hazardous to your health.
- This is by far the worst wine I’ve ever tasted. The runner-up was evidently so bad they don’t make it anymore. No other wine I’ve ever tried was even in their ballpark.
- Is there now or has there ever been a wintergreen cream cordial? I’ve kept an eye open for years for something that tastes like Canada mints and is the color of Pepto Bismol. Why? Because contrarian.
Twenty-odd years ago I remember reading a compendium of “real-world” ghost anecdotes. They weren’t stories, just individual reports from ordinary people who were not looking for ghosts but ran into them anyway. One of my favorites was a report from a widow in England who saw her recently deceased husband on the staircase every night for a week. The man looked happy, but said nothing until his final appearance, when he spoke one sentence: “There are lots of supermarkets where I live.” Then he winked out and she never saw him again.
Well. I can think of a lot of better things to tell your grieving spouse when you appear to them postmortem:
- I’m all right.
- I love you.
- I forgive you.
- God is good.
- There is $10,000 in hundreds stuffed inside the living room couch.
But…lots of supermarkets in heaven? That is so unutterably weird that it lends credence to the report. Why would the widow make something like that up?
Maybe she didn’t. My experience here in Phoenix for the last month and a half suggests that it may not be so weird after all. Work with me here: Until six weeks ago, Carol and I lived on the slopes of Cheyenne Mountain near a town of about 400,000 people. Colorado Springs is not a small town, but we still had to drive 75 miles to Denver for certain things, like The Container Store and any useful bookstore that wasn’t Barnes & Noble. Today we live in America’s 6th largest city (instead of its 41st largest city) and if you toss in suburbs like Mesa and Scottsdale, the metro area has four and a half million residents.
Nor are we way out on the fringes of things, like we were when we lived in Cave Creek in the 1990s. We’re right down in the thick of it all, three blocks from tony Scottsdale and a little over a mile from the Kierland neighborhood, where the primary occupation is spending money by the livingroom couchful.
The amount of retail here is staggering, as is the number and sheer diversity of restaurants. I didn’t know that Mexican Asian food was a thing, but it is, albeit what sort of thing I’m not yet sure. (When I decide to find out, well, it’s just a few miles down Scottsdale Road.) Driving around the area, Carol and I go into a sort of Stendhal syndrome trance at times, boggling at the nose-to-tail storefronts and shopping centers within a couple of miles of us. It’s not like we’re hicks from the sticks; Colorado Springs is hardly the sticks. But we’ve never seen anything even remotely like it.
There is a supermarket called Fry’s Marketplace a few miles from us that is about twice the size of any other supermarket I’ve ever been in. They have a wine bar, a sushi bar, a substantial wine section (something we didn’t get in Colorado due to corrupt politics) and plenty of stuff that may or may not be appropriate for selling in grocery stores, like…livingroom couches. (Eminently stuffable ones, too.) Outside there’s covered parking and a car wash. Oh, and valet parking if you don’t want to walk in from the far corners of the lot.
Now…what if we were hicks from the sticks?
I wager that we’d pass out in astonishment. Yes, I know, we all get lectured a lot about how we shouldn’t obsess on material goods. So who’s obsessing? I think I come out better on this score than a lot of people; granted that I hoard variable capacitors and never met a radio tube I didn’t like, absent the occasional gassy 6AL5. Read this twice: There is a huge difference between wanting everything you see and seeing everything you want. I don’t want all that much, but I appreciate being able to get things that I do want, weird or uncommon though they might be.
I can empathize with that poor old dead guy in England somewhere. Perhaps he lived all his life in a village in Cornwall, and ate the same things all the time because the same things were all there were in his village. Maybe he was poor. Maybe he just got damned sick and tired of bubble and squeak. He knew the world was a richer place somewhere, but his own circumstances didn’t allow him to get there.
Then his heart gives out, and wham! God drops him out in front of some heavenly Fry’s Marketplace, where your credit cards have no limit and you never have to pay them off. (Maybe he met Boris Yeltsin there.) Good food, lots of it, and never the same thing twice? That could be all the heaven some people might want. I think I understand why he came back to tell his wife about it.
So. Like most people, my collection of loathings has swelled as I’ve passed through middle age. I don’t like green vegetables, and haven’t now for 63 years and change. Along the way I’ve picked up loathings for certain philosophies and people, like Marxism, Communism, and the sort of virtue-signaling wealthy socialistic urban elitist busybodies who buy $59 titanium pancake flippers and then wear torn jeans to show their solidarity with the working poor.
Far worse are the people who assume that their way is the right way, and that if I don’t see things their way, well, I’m a [something]-ist and deserve to be re-educated in the gulag of their choice.
Choice, heh. Choice is a good word. Freedom means choice. Choice does not mean overconsuming. Choice means being free to consume what I want, and not what some worthless meddling government apparatchik thinks I should want. I walked into Fry’s Marketplace. It was a wonderland. I walked out with a smile on my face and a bag of gemstone potatoes under my arm. That, my friends, is America.
Slander it at your peril, and ideally somewhere out of earshot of the rest of us.
So another Halloween is now history. It was an absolutely gorgeous Saturday in Colorado Springs, sunny and in the low 70s all afternoon and early evening. I kept a mental tally of how many groups of kids came to the door. Care to guess?
Ahh, well. Nothing new there. Like entropy, Halloween is not what it used to be, and knowing what we now know about sugar, that may be for the best.
You don’t buy nine candy bars at a time, so Carol and I ate far too much chocolate for dessert this evening–and not great chocolate either. It was the Great Big Bag of Mega-Mass-Produced Miniature Candy Bars ‘n Things. I picked the bag clean of Rolos and Nestle’s Crunch. Carol grabbed the Reese’s peanut butter cups. Tomorrow the rest of the bag goes to the big candy bowl over at Canine Solutions. Every year it’s more or less the same: I remember how much I like Rolos, I eat a few too many of them, and then I won’t have them again until next Halloween.
Man, that’s a familiar routine.
This year’s Halloween brought to mind one of my favorite years: 1964. I was 12. It was the last full year before puberty’s hormone storms began washing over my gunwales, though I could already hear its distant thunder. I had discovered electronics–and the Beatles. My father was healthy. We had a summer place, on a lake. Better still, Halloween was on a Saturday…and it was warm! I could run around as a Barbary pirate without three sweaters under my costume.
I got together with a couple of my friends and we ranged all over the neighborhood, going blocks and blocks afield, and I ended up with a pretty fat bag of sugar. Diversity was the order of the day. There were lots more species of candy in the Halloween ecosphere back in ’64. Most of it was good. Some items I liked more than others. A few I wouldn’t touch, like the almost inexplicable Chicken Bones. I would have traded them to my friends for Smarties (which, alas, now give me headaches) except that they didn’t want them either. Ditto Mary Janes–wouldn’t touch ’em, though I remember getting a Turkish Taffy from my friend Art as swap for a handful. Individually wrapped Charms were about, if not common, though more common than the peculiar but compelling Choward’s Violets. And Snaps! Loved those, more for the not-quite-spicy coating than for the underlying licorice. The small red Snaps boxes all had “2c” printed in very big letters. Small boxes of Atomic Fireballs and Good’n’Plenty could be had here and there. I remember one house handing out very stale conversation hearts, from the previous February or possibly earlier. There used to be individually wrapped Chuckles, which I haven’t seen in a lot of years, as well as short rolls of Necco Wafers. I broke a tooth on a Necco wafer when I was in high school, and haven’t done them much since.
Every so often somebody would be passing out pennies. Meh–I got whole dimes rescuing returnable soda bottles tossed into empty lots. There was a house down on Hortense that was giving out flyers about Lutheranism along with Tootsie Pops. The nuns at our school were very hard on Luther, who was painted as the chief Protestant supervillain, though he got off easy compared to Arius, who according to Catholic legend was eaten alive by worms. And hey, nobody hands out fliers about Arianism, with or without Tootsie Pops.
I think you get the idea. We didn’t throw rolls of toilet paper into trees or anything like that, because it was a bad use of our time. We were in it for the sugar, and we all knew that Halloween on a Saturday was something we would not see again for seven years, and with summery weather, well, in Chicago probably never.
My sugar buzz is now almost gone, and it’s pretty much time to go to bed. I don’t eat a lot of sugar, and you’ve all seen my rants about how sugar is making us all fat. It’s not me being inconsistent. It’s about the notion of celebration, and how if we celebrate something for too long, that which we celebrate becomes ordinary, and loses its magic. If I ate Rolos all the time I’d get tired of them, and fat to boot. So I eat them once a year. Halloween is as good a time as any, and allows me to remember the buzz of being not-quite-grown at a time when kids could tear around for an afternoon without adult supervision, and no one would freak out. Like warm Halloweens on Chicago Saturdays, such will not be seen again for a long time, if ever.
- It’s Back to the Future Day, and apart from antigravity, well, Marty McFly’s 2015 looks more or less like the one we live in, only with better food and inifinitely worse partisan tribalism. If predicting 19 Jaws sequels is the second-worst worst flub the series made, well, I’m good with that.
- October 21 is also the day that the Northrop YB-49 flying wing bomber made its debut flight, in 1947. (Thanks to Charlie Martin for the reminder.) The YB-49 is my second-favorite undeployed bomber prototype, after the stunning XB-70 Valkyrie.
- Here’s a (very) long and detailed essay by a liberal Democrat explaining why he went from being a climate alarmist to a global warming skeptic. Loads of charts and links. I don’t agree with him 100%, but he makes a very sane and mostly politics-free case for caution in pushing “decarbonization.” (Thanks to Charlie Martin for the link.)
- Far from melting, Greenland is breaking all records for ice growth, having gained 150 billion tons of snow and ice in the last six weeks.
- Here are 18 useful resources for journalistic fact-checking. Pity that MSM journalists are unwilling to do that sort of thing anymore. (Thanks to Esther Schindler for the link.)
- The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has ruled that scanning books is legal. The court ruled against the Authors Guild in their 2005 class-action suit against Google. The Guild intends to appeal to the Supreme Court. If the Supremes take the case, interesting things could happen. If they don’t, the case is over.
- The secret history of the Myers-Briggs personality test. I am of three minds about Myers-Briggs. No make that nine. Oh, hell: seventeen.
- This is probably the best discussion I’ve seen (and certainly the longest) on how and why SFF fandom is actively destroying itself at the same time it’s dying of old age. Read The Whole Thing. Part I. Part II. Part III. (And thanks to Sarah Hoyt for the link.)
- Also from Sarah: Backyard atomic gardens of the 1950s and very early 1960s. I love the word “atomic.”
- I love it so much that, having recently bought a midcentury home, I may subscribe to Atomic Ranch Magazine. I’ve begun looking for a Bohr atom model to put on our mantelpiece.
- From the Elementary Trivia Department: The only way to make pink-tinted glass is to add erbium oxide to it.
- Thunderbird is getting on my bad side. It regularly pops up a box claiming that it doesn’t have enough disk space to download new messages. My SSD on C: has 83 GB free. My conventional hard drive on D: has 536 GB free. Online reports suggest that Thurderbird has a 2 GB size limit on mail folders. Still researching the issue, but I smell a long integer overflow somewhere.
- From Rory Modena: A talented writer explains the history of the Star Wars movies, and rewrites some of the clumsier plot elements right before our eyes. A lot of what bothered him blew right past me; I knew it was a pulp film and was in it for the starships and the robots.
- From Esther Schindler: A Mexican church long sunk at the bottom of a reservoir is emerging from the water due to drought. (This isn’t a rare occurrance; it happened last in 2002.) I kept hearing Debussy’s spooky tone-poem “The Engulfed Cathedral” while reading the article.
- McDonald’s recently went to a breakfast-all-day menu, to my delight. I’m very fond of their Sausage McMuffin with Egg, which is of modest size and makes a great snack anytime. Alas, adding all the new line items to the menu has caused chaos in some smaller restaurants, and franchise owners are having second thoughts. I doubt McD is facing “imminent collapse” but I’m now wondering how long the new menu will last.
- I posted The Cunning Blood on the Kindle Store 61 days ago, and in those two months it’s earned just a hair over $3,600. 46% of that came from KU page turns. Fellow indie authors, I think we have us a business model.
- Tom Roderick sent me a link to a very nice graphical COSMAC ELF emulator, designed to look as much like Joe Weisbecker’s unit from Popular Electronics (August, 1976) as possible. You can toggle in opcodes like we did almost forty years ago, and run them. (The Q line drives an LED.)
- In cleaning out the garage, I took a look at the motor/battery module of my robot Cosmo Klein (which I built in 1977-1978) and realized it wouldn’t take much to get it running again. The original Cosmo had two COSMAC systems and a glass-screen TV for a head (which made him very top-heavy) along with a cranky robotic arm. (Here are some photos of my COSMAC projects and Cosmo himself.) I could hide an RPi2 in that thing and you’d never find it. Funny how stuff changes in 38 years…or maybe not funny at all.
- From Astounding Stories: Spacemen beating the crap out of one another in zero-G with…yardsticks. By Edmond Hamilton. Not sure of the year, but you can download the whole thing.
- From the Weirdness-I-Just-Learned-About Department: The tontine, a financial arrangement in which a pool of people contributes equally to buy a pool of assets, and as they die, each deceased’s share is distributed to survivors. Apart from an inceptive to murder your tontine siblings, what could go wrong?
- In the fever of a house hunt, I missed this item: Amazon is going to create its own line of house brands for food. I have a peculiar curiosity about house brands, which is a sort of shadow business that doesn’t get much press. Why would an industry-leader cereal manufacturer sell its cereal in bulk to other companies to sell as competing house brands? It happens, but nobody wants to talk about it. Big store chains have house brand versions of many products, including most mainstream cereals. There’s a book in this somewhere, though I don’t intend to write it.
- If you’re not a balls-out supporter of nuclear power generation, I don’t want to hear a word out of you about global warming. We need base load, and neither Sun nor wind can provide base load. In truth, all that stands between us and a completely nuclear future is fear (i.e., political tribalism) and money. The money issue can be fixed. Alas, the gods themselves, etc.
- It’s been 119 months since a major hurricane (Class 3 or higher) has hit the American mainland. Unless Joaquin goes ashore along the east coast somewhere in the next several days (and current winds argue against that) it’ll be 120 months–ten years–come October 24. That’s an all-time record since records have been kept. Global warming causes everything else; why not better weather?
- And you wonder why I’m a global warming skeptic. Hey, fellow (potential) morlocks: I hear that our Educated Elite is delicious with melted butter.
- Americans are embracing full-fat foods, thus spitting in the face of government advice. As well they should: The War on Fat is based on fraudulent science put forth by ace scientific con-man Ancel Keys, whose only real talent was getting government to take his side. Go butter, eggs, and meat. You’ll lose weight, and feel better.
- Yes, I bring that up regularly, because I’m trying my best to ruin Keys’ reputation. His deadly advice has killed tens of millions, and is still killing them. “I’m supported by the government. I’m here to kill you.”
- Some good news: A judge kneecapped champion patent troll eDekka by invalidating its only significant patent.
- And more…for some people, least: Charlie Martin pointed me to an article from Harvard summarizing a study on the beneficial effects of coffee. Coffee appears to delay, improve, or prevent just about everything but insomnia. And what’s my main problem?
- There! A month’s worth of grouchiness in one Odd Lots! (With a few other items thrown in for spice.) I don’t do that often, but it feels good when I do.
- In order to adfertote plus catuli, you had better facite plus catuli first. A number of very sharp people I know are working on this. Their feckless critics will doubtless help.
- September 12 was the annual peak in hurricane activity. Alas, there were no tropical depressions, tropical storms, or hurricanes anywhere on Earth. And as best I can tell from the National Hurricane Center sit, there still aren’t.
- I said this back in 2010. Now, according to a book reviewed by National Geographic, I was right. I love being right. (Thanks to Bill Roper for the link.)
- Carol and I tried several flavors of this stuff when we were in Phoenix recently, and it’s mighty good in coffee. (I also poured some of the black cherry flavor into a bottle of not-quite-meh Reisling and found it much more drinkable.) The manufacturer told me that Wal-Mart sells it, but we looked in two stores and didn’t find any. However, you can order it from Amazon.
- Here’s a nice article on the world’s first science fiction convention, held in Leeds, England, in 1937. Arthur C. Clarke and Eric Frank Russell were there.
- Reader Scott Schad put me on to a phenomenon he’s discovered on Amazon, in which somebody is concocting fake tech books and publishing them under the titles of popular books, including my own Assembly Language Step By Step. I’m looking into this, but (as if it needs saying) be careful what you buy online.
- Esther Schindler sent a link to the earliest use of the F-word, which appears in 1310. I’m guessing it goes back a little farther than that.
- What are asteroids made of? No snipes or snails, one would hope. However, 810 times the amount of ruthenium in the Earth’s crust sounds really good. (Thanks to Charlie Martin for the link.)
- While we’re talking exotic metals, here’s a YouTube video of gallium melting in someone’s hand. (It’s a slow process; FF to about 4:30, where it starts getting interesting.)
- And another showing what happens when you pour liquid gallium on your iPhone 6. I love the way the guy picks up liquid metal with his fingers and drops it on the phone. Mercury doesn’t work that way. Then again, mercury doesn’t eat aluminum phones, either.
- Gallium became a short-term character in Metal Men, the only comic book I ever paid my own money for and read regularly.
- From the ya-gotta-see-this department: My old friend Doug Rice was a designer and storyboard artist on a cartoon filk parody of the Macarena, starring the Animaniacs.
- Take a look at Pastime Projects for vacuum tube ham radio kits, mostly centering around the 6V6 power pentode. There’s an associated blog for the site, and it’s worth reading if tubes are your thing.