18 May 2014

"He was one hundred and seventy days dying and not yet dead. He fought for survival with the passion of a beast in a trap..."

Google Street View continues to expand its offerings.  You can now virtually explore national parks in the United States and Canada.

The website of Minnesota's DNR links to an EagleCam, where you can monitor the progress of a newly-hatched eaglet.  With an overabundance of caution, they warn that "content may not be suitable for younger viewers."

Daylight savings time introduces a glitch into the birth of twins:  "Allison's time of birth was 1:06 a.m., which makes her 26 minutes older than her brother even though he was born first."

Beware of spam on Google Maps.

Had a rough day?  Compare your life to that of a Romanian living during the Ceausescu regime.  "Part of the sentence was a five-month period of torture by solitary confinement and starvation while wearing 45kg of chains day and night..."

A full-bush Brazilian is "the exact opposite of non-Brazilian bikini waxes, which shape the hair on the pubic mound but leave the undercarriage untouched."

A Salon article describes Shenna Bellows of Maine as "America’s most progressive Senate nominee."

The state of Tennessee will use lottery proceeds to provide free community college education to all high school graduates.

Keyboard tricks for Mac users.

Everyone who has played D&D is familiar with 4-sided dies and 20-sided dies.  Meet the 1-sided die.  (Try to figure out how to make one before you access the link).

"Numbers stations" are shortwave radio stations that are "probably remain the best option for transmitting information to agents in the field, some espionage experts suggest... It is easy. You just send the spies to a country and get them to buy a radio."

A belated happy fifth blogiversary to Rob's Webstek.

If you dislike the Koch brothers, here is more fuel for your fire.

Wikipedia has a page on the history of the two-cent coin.  I have a couple that I acquired as a child, and they have always fascinated me.

A Saudi Arabian prince went on a hunting spree, killing 1,977 rare houbara bustards.  The bird is considered to be at risk of extinction by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

An interesting map shows almost 5 million U.S. Census tracts that have no people living in them (though that doesn't imply they are wastelands or wilderness; some are urban warehouse districts).

Speculation that limitation of lifespan might be in part related to loss of stem cells (and therefore that banking of one's own stem cells might be used to prolong life).

"Normcore" is "the trend among the privileged toward anti-fashion clothes of the kind available at Wal-Mart" (also discussed in this NYT article)
"...kids would rather wear the blah average than try to keep up with an impossibly fragmented youth scene.The subject here is not the youth of America generally, but a very specific subset—the clued-in “über-elites,” the “truly cool,” the jeunesse dorée who are the marketing world’s No. 1 target."
If you are a film buff who has always heard about the Bunuel and Dali's 1929 film "Un Chien Andalou," but have only seen still images of the razor blade slashing the eyeball or the ants emerging from the severed hand, you can now view the movie in its entirety here.

The sentences used for the title of this post are the opening words from one of my favorite sci-fi books, Alfred Bester's acclaimed novel "The Stars My Destination," which continues...
He was delirious and rotting, but occasionally his primitive mind emerged from the burning nightmare of survival into something resembling sanity. Then he lifted his mute face to Eternity and muttered: "What's a matter, me? Help, you goddamn gods! Help, is all."

Blasphemy came easily to him: it was half his speech, all his life. He had been raised in the gutter school of the twenty-fifth century and spoke nothing but the gutter tongue. Of all brutes in the world he was among the least valuable alive and most likely to survive. So he struggled and prayed in blasphemy; but occasionally his raveling mind leaped backward thirty years to his childhood and remembered a nursery jingle:

"Gully Foyle is my name
And Terra is my nation.
Deep space is my dwelling place
And death's my destination."
If you are fascinated by the concept of teleportation, check out this book.


  1. I haven't read that book in over 30 years, but I think I'll dig it up out of the basement and give it another read. Early Bester was a terrific writer.

  2. The best way of dealing with time is to use UTC and only convert to local time zones when necessary. Then you avoid time warps when you change time zones thru travel or time zones change standard time to daylight savings time

  3. Re: one sided die. Wouldn't a weighted sphere with the numeral 1 painted on the side opposite the weight be sufficient?

  4. Thanks for the referral to the book. Been a while since I found some good sci-fi reading.

    1. Good. If you think of it, leave a comment re the book here when you're done.

  5. Finished the story today. Overall, I found it thoroughly enjoyable. There were some strange things with respect to the references that seem terribly old fashioned by today's standards, but I felt that only added to the charm of the book. Couple other things here and there didn't seem "sciencey" enough, but they were forgettable. I also felt that certain parts could have been better foreshadowed, especially the bit with the lawyer at the end, and other parts really needed more exploration, like the very ending and its libertarian message, coupled with Foyle's sudden, complete, apparent disregard for everyone.

    It's easily in my top fifteen favorite sci-fi stories. I've read a hundred, I'd guess, so that's a good place to be. I liked it as well as, though for different reasons, the first Rendezvous With Rama. Again, thanks for the tip!

    1. I also find anomalies in old sci-fi, especially references to recording or erasing audio tape or getting film developed. Thanks for the review and the comments; it's been years since I last read it, but the book stays on my shelf for rereading when I get (really) old.


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