Category Archives: Miscellanea

Once again, science links and science-fiction comics covers

Trump thinks Google is working for the Chinese government, based on the ironclad evidence of a discussion on Fox News.

An astronomer faked a video claiming a government cover-up of our imminent destruction by a rogue planet. People believed it.

With antibiotics losing their punch, are bacteria-targeting viruses a viable alternative?

I don’t want to contradict an obvious expert but I don’t believe country music actually changes listeners DNA.

Does the Superhuman email client software have a dark side?


Holy shit, tardigrades have landed on the moon?

What happens when a tectonic plate dies?


Baking bread with 4,500 year old yeast. I soooo want to do this now.

Changes in singing styles are why stars such as Adele keep losing their voice.

Debates in the medical world over whether the New England Journal of Medicine is on the wrong track.

Can genetic engineering save the American chestnut tree?

Has Sweden perfected recycling?

#SFWApro. Covers top to bottom by Bob Brown, Dick Dillin, Bob Brown, Lou Cameron, Ruben Moreira and Brown again, all rights to images remain with current holders.

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Science and comic book science fiction covers

Once again, a mix of visuals and interesting links.

A thought experiment suggests at least one of quantum mechanics’ principles (the theory is universal; it’s consistent; and two contradictory facts cannot both be true) are wrong.

How the right wing came to embrace the anti-vaxxer movement. Oh, and Russia helped.

“Someone I was dating asked me if I could reschedule my period so it didn’t coincide with his birthday.” A look at things too many men don’t know about women’s bodies.

How worried should we be about facial recognition software?

Andrew Wiles cracked Fermat’s last theorem. He almost blew it.

Researchers look at black genes to explain racial differences when they should be focused on black lives.

IP mapping and its discontents. An article at Citylab argues this is one reason why print maps are still useful.

“Most people struggle with the idea that medicine is all about probability.” A look at why a lot of what doctors do to treat us doesn’t make a difference.

#SFWApro. All covers by Gil Kane, rights to covers remain with current holder.


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Science and science fiction covers

Once again, a mix of science links with DC science fiction comics covers.

The many worlds theory of quantum mechanics says every quantum action creates a new universe. Philip Ball sees some problems with this. Researcher Heinrich Pas argues that all these universes are just faces of an underlying quantum reality.

Turns out blockchains aren’t unhackable.

The struggle to preserve Stonehenge.

Forensic science is more fallible than we think. And facial recognition systems in China labeled a woman as a jaywalker after seeing her photo on the side of a bus.

Why so many new transportation ideas founder because of tunnels.

Blogs and media threw a lot of attention at a study that claimed women had better orgasms with rich men. The later retraction by the authors? Not so much coverage.

Could elephants qualify for personhood?

Paleontologists claim to have discovered a major site that captures the day the dinosaurs died. National Geographic on what it means and why there are skeptics.

#SFWApro. All rights to covers remain with current holders. Covers top to bottom by J. Winslow Mortimer, Gil Kane, Murphy Anderson, Murphy Anderson, Anderson again and Gil Kane.

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Quotes for Wednesday

I can’t think of anything good to say myself, so I’ll let others do the talking.

“Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.”
― Jane Austen

“Honor is still worth living or dying for, no matter how tired or hurt or frightened you are. Face forward and seek the light; even if it’s gone out and you can’t remember where it was, keep going. It’s always right to care. It’s going to hurt like hell at times, you’ll think it’s beyond bearing, but if you let go of that then you have lost the purpose of existing at all.’—Anne Perry

“Opposition to tyranny is obedience to God.”—Benjamin Franklin

“The aim of art, the aim of a life, can only be to increase the sum of freedon and responsibility to be found in every person and in the world.”—Camus

“Guard your honor. Let your reputation fall as it will. And outlive the bastards.” — Lois McMaster Bujold

“To accept that principle that freedom is worthless for those under one’s control and that one has the right to refuse it to them forever is an infringement of the rights of God himself, who created man to be free.”—Immanuel Kant

(Cover by David Meltzer. Unrelated to the quotes, but I think it’s neat looking)

“Dissenters have been responsible for ending British control of the United States, for stopping slavery, for ending segregation, and for stopping an unwise war in Southeast Asia. In such situations, their opponents might well have said that the protesters hated America when really they despised flawed national policies.”— Margaret A. Blanchard

“Being good is exchanged for being better than, and then being better than is exchanged for feeling better than. And the downward slope is steep and slippery from there.” — Fred Clark

“To live in this world, you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your life depends on it; and when the time comes, to let it go.” – Mary Oliver

Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes even perceptibly worse than it was, before the crusade began. By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself.”—Aldous Huxley

“Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.” — Simone Weil

#SFWApro. All rights to image remain with current holder.

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Let’s science! SF covers and science links

Images and links have no relation to each other, in case you were wondering.

(Art by Schinella)

A prominent lab generated multiple research studies whose conclusions (kids will eat fruit if you just put a sticker of Elmo on it!) went viral. It appears they got the results by fudging data a lot.

The Stanford prison experiment showed that people given the power to abuse others will use it. Except it doesn’t hold up.

(Art uncredited)

Companies are embedding microchips in employees. With their consent, so far anyway.

(Earl Bergey)

How much does culture affect psychology?


Private space launches are now competing for aerospace with plane flights.

Meet the tardigrates, Earth’s most indestructible animal.


Lots of information now lies in programs so old they’re no longer readable, or on CD-Roms. Researchers hope to develop a universal virtual computer that can read them.

Rich people’s interest in the future of technology? Surviving while the world dies.

#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holder.

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It’s July 4, and I have nothing deep to say

Given the unpleasant results that are undoubtedly in the offing from Justice Kennedy’s retirement, I don’t feel inspired to pen a soaring hymn to America. But then again, I’m not ready to declare America’s experiment in democracy over. So I’ll turn this post over to some other speakers

“Yours is not the task of making your way in the world, but the task of remaking the world which you will find before you.”—FDR

“Opposition to tyranny is obedience to God.”—Benjamin Franklin

“Unhappy the land that has no heroes.”
“No—unhappy the land that needs heroes.”—Bertold Brecht

An African had no doubts about the meaning of the word ‘freedom.’ It meant the right to public assembly, the right to physical movement, the right to make known his views, the right to elect men of his choice to public office, and the right to recall them if they failed in their promises. At a time when the Western world grew embarrassed at the sound of the word ‘freedom,’ these people knew that it meant the right to shape their own destiny as they wished.”—Richard Wright

“You know, there’s not a single solitary example on the planet, not one, of a country that is successful because the economy has triumphed over the government and choked it off and driven the tax rates to zero, driven the regulations to nonexistent and abolished all government programs, except for defense, so people in my income group never have to pay a nickel to see a cow jump over the moon. There is no example of a successful country that looks like that.”—Bill Clinton

“We have to save the people in front of us, not murder the ones we’ve never met.”—G. Willow Wilson

“Law, when it ceases to be justice, ceases even to be law.”—G.K. Chesterton

“The American Dream is not that a few of us will get to be rich, but that all of us will have a fair portion of the good things in life. Time to be with our families. The chance for our children to get an education and the opportunity to make their own way in the world. Laws that protect us, not oppress us”—Richard Trumka

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places – and there are so many – where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory”—Howard Zinn.

“A nations of sheep will beget a government of wolves” – Edward R Murrow

“Evil, really, is the implicit in the narcissism of the illogical step that ‘because this is not mine, it is wrong.'”— commenter on slacktivist.

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. ~ Desmond Tutu

“There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.”—John Adams

“The powerful very often respond to a demand for respect by ignoring the content and saying ‘Shh, lower your voice!'”—Kit Whitfield

Cover images by Lou Fine — all rights remain with current holder.


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A thought for Sunday night

“Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.” — Simone Weil




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Insights from my blog’s spam comments filter

I think the spammers like me! Just listen to what they say about my blog!

“Everything is very open with a really clear clarification of the challenges. ”

“You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also defined out the whole thing without having side-effects”

“If ou fіnd yourself thinking about a new profession as a paralegal, there are a number of options whih youll consider.” [misspellings in the original]

“Very quickly it will be famous, due to its quality contents.”

“How is the whole thing, and what you desire to say about this article, in my view its actually remarkable in favor of me.”

“I have discovered It positively useful and it has helped me out loads.”

I am deeply moved by their admiration. In response, here’s a Kelly Freas cover!

#SFWApro. All rights to image remain with current holder.


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Atomic Junkshop Debut (#SFWApro)

A post on buying old trade paperbacks vs. new. With some samples below (all rights to all covers remain with current holder).

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No movies but theater! (#SFWApro)

Normally The Grand Duke would have been the Durham Savoyards’ last production this year, but earlier this month TYG and I went to catch a special show, combining Gilbert and Sullivan’s first collaboration, THESPIS, or the Gods Grown Old with their second, a one-act called TRIAL BY JURY. The latter was their first work for D’Oyly Carte, who would go on to supervise their greatest works.

Sullivan’s score for THESPIS is lost, so the Savoyards’ music director wrote his own (not the first time someone’s done that). While not up to Sullivan’s best, he definitely caught the feel and rhythm of Sullivan’s music. The story itself starts with the Olympian gods (Roman, not Greek versions) feeling increasingly old, powerless  and cranky. Hermes is the only one still capable of doing much, so the other deities force him to do most of their work. When a squabbling troupe of actors stumbles into Olympus, the gods appoint them as their replacements, then go off to explore the mortal world (Hermes is stuck behind, continuing as Olympus’ general dogsbody). As you can probably guess, things go horribly wrong, for example having a teetotaller (my friend Ada Milenkovic Brown) chosen to play Bacchus. As a result, grapes now produce nothing but ginger beer. The results were fun and the cast gave it their talented all, but it’s definitely not up to G&S’ D’Oyly Carte work. “He hates you and wants to take your life — now run along and get married.”

The difference is easy to see in TRIAL BY JURY (photo from an earlier Savoyard version, all rights remain with the current holder). The story concerns a young man dragged before a court for failing to honor his promise of marriage to the attractive young plaintiff. This is slightly ironic since the judge is at least as bad, having risen in the legal world by dating a lawyer’s ugly daughter, then throwing her over as soon he’d gained advancement. Switching to targeting British institutions worked much better for G&S than taking shots at the English gods, and I guess they knew it. In subsequent plays they mocked stage pirate dramas (Pirates of Penzance), stage Naval adventures (HMS Pinafore), British exceptionalism (Utopia Limited) and prominent British poets (Patience). Even The Mikado is more about Britain than Japan (Pooh-Bah represents the impoverished British aristocrats trying to monetize their name and title).

Next year the show will be Ruddigore, a delightful satire of British melodrama. TYG and I are looking forward to it.

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