Wednesday, September 30, 2009


The extreme skinniness of the shadow of the rings against Saturn's cloud top settles once and for all the extreme silliness of film depictions of spaceships flying through huge debris fields when passing through planetary rings. You can't even see it in the thumbnail, so thin the region is, so the pilot and navigator would have to be aiming for that razor's edge to be in the right place for it to be a problem.

Plus I'm pretty sure the contents of these ring systems is much smaller than the huge boulders the CGI team likes to toss around.

Roman numeral

Book title: Ten Years of Silk, for a personal memoir of a voyage of personal discovery along the danger-filled roads of central Asia

Posted via web from Poor Poor Thing

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Manipulation for fun and profit

apple core duo
apple core duo,
originally uploaded by sidknee23.
In this story idea of mine, Thomas H. wakes up one morning with a sense of things having changed somehow, which is confirmed by him in the bathroom when he discovers that he now has two navels and can feel two hearts beating side-by-side in his chest, whereas before he can nearly swear there was only one. He goes in to work and sees things that he is accustomed to seeing singly have been doubled: tree trunks, dogs' tails, the suns.

He does some investigation on the side which takes him to some dark places and comes to the conclusion that the maker of the world in which he is a construct had decided on a whim to split things down the middle one night, just to see what would happen. Far from being dismayed by this knowledge, Thomas H. uses it as inspiration to create his own virtual world where random items differ from the world around him by having a four-fold split, including a virtual Thomas H. whose reactions he observes avidly.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


my new (and first) tattoo
my new (and first) tattoo,
originally uploaded by megpi.
Good job on counting up the electrons and the ordering of the Bohr atomic shells in this tattoo, but to me the image suggests a valence bond relation, rather than an ionic bond appropriate for a compound of such widely varying electronegativities. That last electron does not want to have anything much to do with the sodium and is firmly in the camp of the chlorine ion.

If I were the wearer, which I'm not, it would bother me.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pride in what one does

Inspired presumably by the native Americans who used every part of the bison.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A written work your actions can affect directly

Another Kickstarter project has caught my fancy, this time along literary lines. And the interesting thing about it is that it is already guaranteed (as near as anything in life is for certain) to come to fruition, though the precise form that will take shape is not settled at this time. Depending on the amount of money that will be raised by the deadline, the form of the physical book that Robin Sloan will write will take various forms. Already at the time time I write this it has passed the point of a routine print on demand volume, and with the remaining time and additional backers it could turn out to be something much niftier. It is an interesting model, not completely unique, I know, for a fiction writer to be engaging the audience during the act of writing itself, and not only on promotional tour only after the work has been put to bed. It is my guess that if it receives much more of a push from its backers it may cause some amount of commotion among those pondering the future of publishing itself.
I will spare you my further opining on complementarity between observer and phenomenon. It's really just a book.
The author has also written the very entertaining short story Mr. Penumbra's Twenty-Four-Hour Book Store featured recently and memorably. at Escape Pod, which I recommend to SF fans.
Update: Funded! Hundreds of percent over! And it seems as if the literary production is keeping pace as well, so it should all culminate in one fine-looking edition soon.
Update II:It is arrived and it is great.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Private to public

sing love
sing love,
originally uploaded by rcameraw.
WQXR, the oldest commercial classical radio station in the US, is going to move over to public radio this 8PM October 8th, moving 9.6 MHz up the FM dial and going from its .com domain to a new .org domain as well. I hope they are able to keep the line-up of announcers: Annie Bergen, Jeff Spurgeon, Elliott Forrest, Bill Jerome, Midge Woolsey, Clayelle Dalferes, and the delightfully named Candice Agree. I will have to listen to the commercial spots between now and then to see if there's anything I'll be missing too.

They'll be swapping frequencies with Univision's reggaeton station La Kalle. Should make for some fun confusion for those not clued in on the shift.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Wait till it blooms

originally uploaded by Meatspider Studios.
This picture of a Shoggoth sculpted in polymer clay reminds me of the very nice reading of the Hugo award-winning novelette Shoggoths in Bloom by Elizabeth Bear. Do go listen to it if you like Lovecraft. It's more to the ebon side than the transparent, but the mouth full of teeth is nice, I think.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sounds good to me

Walking by the tubes.
Walking by the tubes.,
originally uploaded by Gabba Gabba Hey!.
A great many people give former Alaska senator Ted Stevens flak for comparing the structure of the Internet to a series of tubes a few years back, and I will not attempt to defend the gentleman's conception of the subject in full. Yet in the resulting furor, I would just like to point out that if I had to choose just one metaphor between "a big truck" and "a series of tubes," the tubes would win decisively. For what is more tubelike than the high-speed Intenet backbone network, the submarine cables, the dedicated satellite links, and the urban microwave trunks that do the heavy work of piping the traffic about, routing around congestion and breakages, rarely caught up in traffic jams, as photons rarely are wont to tarry? And if somewhere the end of a tube is exposed to our feeble senses, raw effluent pouring out in a stomach-churning mix, what can a modern net user do but express his or her wonder at the fluidlike medium that geeks in the know even refer to as a torrent? For something more like the opposite, look at the Netflix distribution scheme which relies on honest to goodness mail trucks to get the content to the consumer.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Why blogs are being pushed out by microblogs

I put up a new post on my sadly neglected writing blog Frabjous Times and noticed this odd development on the Feedback area of my admin screen.

One post from last February had 2790 comments on it, all of it flagged as likely spam. It is not that Twitter and Friendfeed and the like are free from spam, as any active user of those will tell you. It is that the spammers have not yet figured out how to crank up their engines of war just yet to trash them utterly. I give them a couple more months before they come up with a way to make those services nearly unusable. And then maybe some people will end up going back to their blogs.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Construction kits for big kids

It's a project to develop an open source hardware standard for builders, hobbyists, and anyone else who needs to create structures with lightweight, sturdy, reconfigurable and extensible metal parts. They are now in the process of raising funds through Kickstarter through October 24th. If that goes well, look for the first production runs to be done before the the year is out.
Update: Funded, with plenty of room to spare! I'm happy to be one of the first backers of what should be a fantastic enterprise.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The world's dullest console game

have an MP3 player by Nextar like the one in this picture, and I like it because it plays MP3s, it doesn't insist on crippling DRM, it is fairly durable, and didn't cost too much. One place that took some getting used to, however, is the operation of the controls. Here, for instance, is the sequence of button presses you need to do if you are listening to a track you are tired of, want to erase it, and start listening to the next track:


where S is the button on the side, L and R are the buttons to advance and go back, and C is the button in the center of the ring. (You don't need to touch the up or down buttons or the A-B button.) Typically I need to execute this maneuver one-handed, while driving, not looking at the screen, and I'm getting pretty good at it. Still, it seems like they could have done away with a prompt or four to simplify what should be a rather common operation.