Category Archives: Miscellanea

I like tea. I like Sherlock Holmes

So when my sister got me a gift certificate to Local Spicery, which sells both spices and tea, I couldn’t resist buying this one.A satisfactory blend, in case you were wondering. I’m also pleased with the others I ordered: Assam, Darjeeling and Brobdingnag tea (an Irish breakfast blend). Though the latter should, of course, have come in a giant size tin.

Due to becoming caffeine sensitive with age, I have to drink all my day’s tea in the morning, which is occasionally frustrating, but better than getting even less sleep than I often do. I’ve begun having a cup first thing in the morning, which lets me squeeze in extra. And I love starting the day with tea, so hey.


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Image of a tree, reflected in a puddle

I fell behind in post-writing so you get an arty photograph of a puddle reflection.And because I keep forgetting to link to my Atomic Junkshop posts, here’s the most recent ones:

Why Geoff Johns’ The Three Jokers is a train wreck.

The failure of Jack Kirby’s Omac.And my entirely irrational fondness for B’Wana Beast, one of the last of the white jungle gods. But hey, anything where the villain has a hundred-foot tall crocodile mecha for his mobile base can’t be all bad.#SFWApro. Images by Jack Kirby (top) and Mike Sekowsky, all rights remain with current holder.

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Science and SF comics covers again

Along with preserving artifacts and sights of the past some scientists want to preserve smells.

Can we make a mummy speak?

A century ago, a British barrister bought Stonehenge at auction for £6,600.

The government spent tens of millions to get a treatment for chemical weapon attacks. The maker won’t guarantee it works.

Why we have too many ventilators. Not incompetence, just changes in medical procedure.

If you think social media and disinformation are bad now, deepfakes will make things worse. Forensic science can exposes fakes, but let’s face it, most of us (myself included) aren’t likely to probe that deeply.

Some ESP research may not have proved psi exists, but it shows a boatload of problems with psychological research. Not that psychology is unique in this.

Annie Jump Cannon developed the modern system for classifying stars. Like so many women in science, she didn’t get the credit she deserved.

I’ve read speculation that AI could eventually replace writers. Here’s an example.

Experiments question the fundamentals of quantum theory.

#SFWApro. Covers top to bottom by Murphy Anderson, Gil Kane, Nick Cardy, Kane, Kane and Kane

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Assorted writing and media-related links

Even if Marvel wanted to stop cops wearing Punisher insignia, there’s not much they can do.

How a l0w-budget indie horror film became the hit of the summer.

Foz Meadows recounts some really unpleasant interactions with the Red Sofa literary agency.

Publishers filed suit to stop Internet Archive lending out unlimited copies of digital books. The Archive stopped, while spouting bullshit about how this is an attack on the very concept of library lending (nope. Libraries actually pay for digital books).

Vice calls out an author for arguing pirating creative works is cool. Don Henley, meanwhile, has asked Congress to do more to fight digital piracy.

Wonder where President Tiny-Brain got the idea that old man police knocked down in Baltimore was a false-flag operator? From One America Network, which makes Fox News look like Walter Cronkite.

When blogs became a thing, a lot of right-wingers prophesied the end of the “lamestream media.” They’re still prophesying it.

Spotify now rules the podcasting world.

John Scalzi signed a record-breaking multimillion-dollar publishing deal with Tor a few years back. Here he reviews the first five years.

If you need sound effects, the BBC has your back.

Scalzi, again, this time on creatives who aren’t talking about politics.


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Filed under copyright, Miscellanea, Writing

Science/tech links and SF comics cover art

What is Stockholm Syndrome and does it really happen?

Could the U.S. government shut down our Internet?

How good are online DNA testing services?

Antarctic temperatures are hitting 60 and 70 degrees. It’ll get worse.

IBM touted Watson as the AI that could cure cancer. They overhyped.

The Pentagon is sitting on a lot of the bandwidth needed for 5G networks.

Some hospitals think a great way to train medical students in pelvic exams is to have them make exams on unconscious patients without their consent. This may be even creepier.

IBM touted Watson as the AI that could cure cancer. They overhyped.

What we can learn about the past by studying tooth tartar.

New ideas about how humans feel pain.

I’ve always thought of clothes moths as a problem left behind in our past. But no, they’re not.

The secrets behind the E-13B typographic characters.

With so much proprietary software in farm equipment, John Deere claims farmers have no right to make their own repairs.

#SFWApro. Cover by Jack Kirby, Bob Brown, Kirby, Brown, Sheldon Moldoff and Murphy Anderson.

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Merry Christmas, One and All

I was going to post some Christmas movie reviews, but they’ll have to wait until this weekend.

If you’re Christian, or celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas.

If you celebrate anything else, whether it’s Kwanzaa, Festivus, Yule, Solstice, Eid, Diwali, Hanukkah, or any other event, happy holidays!

To all of us, peace and goodwill. Neither is always attainable, but that’s all the more reason to wish for them.

We’re halfway through the darkest part of the year. Let’s hope/pray/wish for light to grow strong, in every way.

Merry Christmas.

#SFWApro. Rights to all images remain with current holders. Bottom cover is by John Howe.

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Would you like some cheese with that wine?

I have to drink red wine to boost my good cholesterol. I don’t particularly enjoy it, but I do like some of the labels:

Names too. What’s not to love about calling your vintage Banshee wine (though I don’t see where that bird image represents a banshee at all) or, like Gnarly Head (totally!)?

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


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Once again, science links and science-fiction comics covers

Wow, that’s alarming. Scammers are using computer voice-fakes to impersonate people and swindle businesses by phone.

How the anti-vaccine movement got so big.

Baby Tyrannosaurus rexes were covered with down, like chickens.

Scientist David Shiffman writes about dealing with anti-Semitism in science.

A blogger suggests creationists attend science conferences, if only to know what the science is.

Turtle tracks vs. creationists.

Pseudoscience about racial differences still shapes medicine today.

An extinct bird has re-evolved. It’s not as miraculous as it sounds: there’s an island where a flightless rail has been wiped out repeatedly, but rails continue to land there, repopulate and lose their wings once again. Still pretty cool, though.

My fellow Atomic Junkshop blogger Jim MacQuarrie on how our visions of SF future have changed for the worse.

Evidence for the twin primes hypothesis.

Scientific evidence our dogs love us.

Women in science vs. stereotypes.

Earth’s magnetic poles swap positions more frequently than we thought.

The impact of climate change on French wine.#SFWApro. Covers, top to bottom, by Gil Kane, Murphy Anderson, Carmine Infantino, Kane, Kane, Anderson, Anderson, Kane, Kane, Anderson. All rights remain with current holders.

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Quotes for a Wednesday, plus dog photos

So last week I went down to Fort Walton Beach to see friends and family, staying with my sister and our mutual best friend Cindy. I discovered they have temporarily taken in a dog for someone who can’t keep it at his current home. Temporary, in this case, has been since February, so I figure Chad is a permanent fixture. He’s 15 years old, very stiff in the back legs (he needs help standing sometimes) and has Dalmatian markings on a bulldog/pit bull cross. He’s a sweet boy.

“The more time goes by, the more I think that our moral lives depend, to an enormous degree, on our ability to stop and think before crossing certain lines; to recognize that it is time to stop acting in whatever ways come naturally to us”—Hilary Bok

“God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.”—Voltaire

“We don’t wait a lifetime for the perfect kiss from the perfect person because then we die alone.”—J. Gregory Keyes

“Want to know how to catch a mouse? Don’t try to learn from a pampered cat. To know the nature of the world, don’t study fine-bound books.”— Shih-Te.

“Give me an underground laboratory, half a dozen atom-smashers and a girl in a diaphonous veil waiting to be turned into a chimpanzee and I care not who writes the nation’s laws.”—SJ Perelman.

“So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find a Reason for everything one has a mind to do.”–Benjamin Franklin

“The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm but because of those who look at it without doing anything.”—Albert Einstein

“All sects are different, because they come from men; morality is everywhere the same, because it comes from God.””—Voltaire

“Fortune, if not blind, must certainly have her lunatic moments.”—John James Audubon.

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson

”Better to let them do it imperfectly than to do it perfectly yourself, for it is their country, their way, and your time is short.” — T.E. Lawrence.

“History abundantly documents the tendency of Government— however benevolent and benign its motives—to view with suspicion those who most fervently dispute its policies.”—Justice Lewis Powell

“To succeed it is necessary to accept the world as it is and rise above it”—Michael Korda

“Liberty is always dangerous, but it is the safest thing we have.”— Harry Emerson Fosdick

“The history of the human species is largely a record of the powerful having their foot firmly on the neck of the powerless. Democracy, equality, justice, these are still novel innovations.”—olvlzl

“We’re fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.”—Japanese proverb

“Be like Descartes: accept what you determine to be true. Be like Socrates: question everything. Be like Jesus of Nazareth: compassionate toward all, accepting of everyone.”—Robert M. Jeffers

“True peace is not just the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”—Martin Luther King

“The meaning of freedom begins with the still, small voice of conscience, when each of us decides what we will live, or die, for.”—Bill Moyers

“Unlimited power is in itself a bad and dangerous thing. Human beings are not competent to exercise it with discretion. God alone can be omnipotent, because his justice and his wisdom are always equal to his power.”—Alexander de Toqueville.


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Filed under Miscellanea, The Dog Ate My Homework

Old-school advertising inside a paperback

So while reading Andre Norton’s Sorceress of the Witch World, I encountered something from eons past: cigarette ads inside a book.

It’s not a bookmark, it’s actually bound into the book. I remember finding this annoying back in the day, but cutting it out would leave an annoying stub, so I never bothered.

Equally anachronistic, the flip side of the ad shows a woman relaxing with a cigarette while reading an airmail letter.

Air mail envelops were made with extra light envelopes and written on lightweight stationery so that the bill for sending them by air (faster that way) wouldn’t kill you. They were also marked with a border that indicated the country they came from, making it easier to sort them. According to the link, the USPS eventually discontinued air mail, though you can still by the envelopes for the decorative appeal.

In case you were wondering, Kent’s “Micronite filter” — doesn’t that sound like the equivalent of kryptonite for Atom or Ant-Man? — was originally made from asbestos. It was touted as a health breakthrough because it would filter out tars from the inhaled smoke. According to the linked article, smokers would have been safer with the tar.

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

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