Category Archives: Miscellanea

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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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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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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