- The IEEE Spectrum reports on the increasingly tiny medical robots that can fix us from the inside. The Sangruse Device is pretty good at that, and the Protea Device is even better. Maybe we won’t have to wait until 2350 for such things after all.
- The more we look, the more influence we see of fragments of Neanderthal genes on the Homo Sap genome. I have got to try one of those gene tests that reports on Neanderthal DNA. (And doesn’t that artist’s conception of a Neanderthal guy for damn remind you of Tolkien’s dwarves?)
- This isn’t an especially good article, but look at the photo of the two skulls. To me, Homo Sap looks like a neotenic Neanderthal. The young are generally more flexible than the old. Maybe we outbred the Neanderthals by being more versatile and willing to adapt to changing conditions and new environments.
- Here’s a nice summary of the case for high-fat, low-carb diets, with lots of good supporting links. Our issues there (and in certain other areas of science) tend not to be bad science (which is common enough) so much as corrupt science.
- Wine and craft beer evidently weren’t enough: There are now meat-doneness snobs.
- Irene Governale Smith, one of my PC Techniques authors, has started a new online magazine for flash SF and fantasy, leaning toward fantasy. Nimue’s Grotto presents eight stories in its first issue, including what is probably the only time-travel story I’ve ever let the public see.
- I never gave this much thought, but it makes sense: When the CRTs in classic arcade games fail, they can’t be replaced, because the supply of 29″ CRT glass screens is almost gone and no more are being made.
- 37 years later, and I never knew this until today: My fanzine PyroTechnics came within seven recs of being on the final Hugo Awards ballot for Best Fanzine in 1980. It took 31 recs to get on the ballot; Pyro got 25. It was enough coming close; I don’t need the cigar.
- This startlingly ill-advised amusement park ride was never built. I don’t care. I still don’t like amusement park rides.
- More from DRB: Peculiar submarines, diving suits, and early submersible craft of several sorts. Plus a salting of modern subs, for comparison. What? The Turtle? But no Hunley?
- Whoa. I wasn’t expecting this: Several Republican legislators have introduced a bill ending federal prohibition of marijuana, returning control of the plant to the states.
- Answering the big questions: Was Kellyanne Conway sitting barefoot on the couch or not? Well, she could have been wearing nude shoes, which are flesh-colored shoes that come in several colors to approximate common human skin tones. Carol says they make the wearers’ legs look longer. That’s useful, I guess. I’m thinking that that the guy who develops chameleon shoes, which alter their colors to match the wearer’s skin, will make a fortune.
- And if Kellyanne Conway putting her shoes on the couch is the worst thing the media can tell us about these days, I’d say we’re in pretty damned good shape.
“Hey, Contra Boy! Are you dead or something?”
Me? No. C’mon, if I were dead I would have mentioned it. So I’m not dead, though I am something, and while I can tell you it isn’t ill-health (for either of us) I can’t say much more about the something beyond that.
It’s certainly gotten in the way of other pursuits.
Anyway. For the first time I am hands-up-to-the-elbows in Windows 8. Carol wanted a new ultrabook-class laptop for Christmas, and we shopped together. She chose the 11.5″ version of the Lenovo Yoga 2, which (like my Transformer Prime) attempts to be both a loptop and a tablet. Unlike my Transformer Prime, I think it actually succeeds. The pivoting display (see above) lets it work as a tablet, and while I’m still not used to grabbing keys on its virtual backside while gripping the little slab in tablet mode, the machine ignores the keypresses. If the keys themselves are robust, no harm will come of it. The 1366 X 768 display isn’t retina-class, but it’s gorgeous and good enough. It’s got a 1.5 GHz Core i3 and 500 GB hard drive, which is more than sufficient for how we intend to use it.
Like all retail machines, the Yoga 2 is loaded with crapware, some of which I’ve never heard of and haven’t looked up yet, like the Maxthon Cloud Browser. Some of the crapware is crapware by virtue of being preinstalled; Evernote is a worthy item but I do not want it on the machines I buy. Ditto Zinio. Doubtless a lot of the other dozens of thingies cluttering up the display are there for Lenovo’s benefit and not ours; remember that crapware slots on consumer machines generate lots of money for their vendors through sales conversions, and Lenovo gets a cut.
My biggest problem is that I will eventually have to replace the MacAfee crapware with something that works. We standardize on Avast at our house, but getting rid of security suite crapware is notoriously difficult. Most people eventually just give up and pay for it. Not me.
I’m spending considerable time on the project not only because Carol needs a machine that works well, but also because I need a new laptop myself. A 13″ Yoga might do the job, assuming I can learn to love Windows 8, or at least hold hands with it. A big tablet would be useful for reading PDF-format technical ebooks. Now, having been set up the way Carol likes, it goes back in its box, the box gets wrapped, and it joins the pile under the Christmas tree. Much better that way than trying to figure out what’s crapware and what isn’t on Christmas morning.
Quick summary of what I’ve been reading:
- The Call of Distant Mammoths, by Peter T Ward (Copernicus Books, 1997.) Why did the ice age mammals vanish? It wasn’t simply human predation or climate change. It was a combination of things, especially human predation and climate change. (Wow! The brilliance!) Cost me a buck plus shipping, and the gruel was thick enough so that I won’t claim the time spent on it was totally wasted. Still, not recommended.
- Neanderthal Man, by Svante Paabo (Basic Books, 2014.) It seems like carping, but the book is mis-titled. It’s not about the Neanderthals themselves but rather the sequencing of their genome, which the author spearheaded. Paabo’s writing style is solid and amiable, and he does a good job explaining how DNA can be found in very old bones (with tremendous difficulty and peculiar luck) and how it was teased out over a period of almost twenty years. I must emphasize that if you have no grounding at all in gene sequencing, it will be a bit of a slog. However, if you pay attention, you will learn a lot. Highly recommended.
- 1848: The Year of Revolution, by Mike Rapport (Basic Books, 2008.) My Duntemann ancestors arrived in the US in 1849 or 1850. We haven’t found the crossing records yet, but we have a strong hunch why they left: the European upheavals of 1848. Like WWI, 1848 doesn’t summarize well. The people rose up against their elites, who were in many cases so afraid they were facing Jacobin 2.0 that kings resigned, constitutions were given, and (alas) the roots of commoner suffering remained misunderstood and mostly uncorrected. Again, this may be a slog even if you have some grounding in European history. History doesn’t always make sense. Sometimes you just have to describe the squirming details of what will always remain chaos. Cautiously recommended.
The odd lots are piling up too. Will try to get some posted tomorrow.
- Older people apparently lose some of their ability to retain memories via poor sleep. So how much worse will it be someday for younger people who simply refuse to be in bed for more than six hours at a shot?
- Related, and also from UC Berkeley: Refusing to sleep makes you selfish and grouchy, and in some cases incapable of sustaining a relationship.
- Steve Jobs may have died from a high-fructose vegan diet. We were killer apes long before we were peaceful farmers, and we became peaceful farmers because it was that or go extinct. I’ve made peace with my inner killer ape; in fact, he’s got a chain around his neck and he does what I tell him–which is mostly shut up and eat your steak.
- Or krill. The total mass of all humans on Earth is far less than that of all krill. (287 megatons vs. 500 megatons.) So get out there and eat your krill!
- The World Trade Organization has given Antigua permission to ignore US copyright law and sell copyrighted works (movies and music, I’m guessing) without paying squat to copyright holders. The provision under which this was granted was approved by most nations, including the US.
- A standard deviation here, a standard deviation there, and sooner or later you’re talking new physics.
- The alphas doth protest too much, methinks. (See yesterday’s entry.)
- For more on tribal psychology and how alphas use it to dominate and exploit their people, see Colin Wilson’s book Rogue Messiahs. Also, virtually anything by the formidable Jared Diamond.
- If I didn’t love Newegg before (I did) I sure love them now.
- What? Pez still exists? I broke my last Pez dispenser by trying to fill it with candy corn in (I think) 1958. I might be a little more careful with one of these.
- Why do women hesitate to date short men? My theory: It’s a primal worry that short men may be Neanderthals. (I’m serious. Ok, half serious. 47% serious? What percentage of Neander/Sap pregnancies were sterile? That serious.)
- The Neanderthals were all over Siberia, and scientists have found that present-day Siberians have cold-climate adaptations that most of the world’s population do not have. Now, where d’ya think that might have come from? (Dating short men?)