Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

Odd Lots

  • Ok. It's April 16, and outside it's 30° and blizzarding. There's about two inches on the ground already and we may get another 4″ – 6″ tonight. Would you fools please stop calling it “global warming” and start calling it “climate change” before the whole world decides we're idiots?
  • In one respect the snow is welcome: There were two very bad wildfires here in the last couple of days, one of them only about fifteen miles due south of me, and the smoke was bad enough to make my allergies go ballistic this morning.
  • Interestingly, the fire broke out about a quarter of a mile from where we intend to go RV camping the day after tomorrow. (As best we know, the campground has not seen any fire or other damage on their land.) Snow seems to follow us on camping trips. (That little adventure was on the last day of summer, people!) We're hoping this time will be different.
  • Democrats in Congress are spearheading an effort to compel states to collect state taxes on out-of-state online vendors. Far from targeting corporate fat cats, the effort will cost ordinary people, including some fairly poor ones, a great deal of money. Tell me, now: How is this supposed to help you win elections?
  • I just bought an off-lease, nearly flawless Dell Optiplex SX270 3.2 GHz Pentium 4 with a 60 GB hard drive and a DVD-ROM…for $199. Computers, like books, have gotten so cheap that they're basically disposable. If this machine dies any time soon, I'll just buy another, wincing a little to imagine that my 1978 Intersystems DPS-1 S-100 bus machine with a 1 MHz 8080 CPU cost me $3600 1978 dollars. (It was the first and still the coolest-looking computer I have ever owned that I did not build myself.)
  • The story I could not identify in my April 10, 2008 Odd Lots (about a guy who extracted gold from seawater) was “The Man Who Ploughed the Sea” by Arthur C. Clarke, and it was a Harry Purvis story from Tales from the White Hart.
  • From Bruce Schneier's CryptoGram comes a pointer to a wonderful little piece on what sorts of books bookstore shoplifters lift, and what sort of man a bookstore shoplifter is. (You do subscribe to CryptoGram, don't you?)
  • The lyrics to one of the funniest pop songs ever to hit the Billboard Top 20 are (legally) online, at the author's Web site: Dean Friedman's 1976 “Ariel.” It's one of the few songs I would ever consent to perform in public, though that would require that I learn to play some kind of an instrument. Maybe this.
  • Bob Thompson sent me a link to one of his posts relating (as my entry for yesterday did) to catalogs of the 1960s, in this case the Sears Catalog. His comments pertaining to chemistry sets are bang-on, though I would add that a significant amount of the value of chemistry sets lay in allowing kids to imagine themselves as scientists—chemistry has more identifiably iconic paraphernalia than almost any other scientific discipline—and what kids can't imagine themselves as, they generally won't become.

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