Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's questions answered

Being well known as a self-described Mr.Knowitall means I get asked a lot of questions. The answers I give can be divided into three categories: the correct answer if I know it, an answer I make up to keep my Knowitall membership card, and the things that I can't make up a plausible answer for. So, here are some answers to my lovely girlfriends questions during a recent holiday road trip.

The start of the year on January 1st goes back to the Romans. This was carried forward in the reorganization of Roman dating which became the Julian calendar in 45 BC. Jan 1st was New Year's Day in all of the Roman empire and later all of christendom. Even though the first of January was New Year's Day, some countries continued using other dates to roll over the year. England celebrated Jan 1st, but did not change it's year number until March 25. England officially changed this in 1752, with its adoption of the Gregorian calendar.

The Chinese New Year is not a fixed date but a celebration starting on the first day of the first lunar month through the 15th (15th of the Gregorian month, usually January or February).

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Found this site via Boing Boing. Site is in Japanese, but many of the model boxes have some English on them. This model of an injection molding machine was both contemplative and so very meta.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Back with a link

Nice collection of links to punk album downloads. Most seem to be working too.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Which Polyhedral Are You?

I am a d20

Take the quiz at

Hmmm, well that answers that question.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Dr. Who music

Dr. Who music just made available on the truly wonderful X-Y-Z-Cosmonaut's CosmoBlog.

Ubik the Screenplay has arrived, will start working on making that available soon.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Lovely libraries.

Just ordered Ubik : The Screenplay through interlibrary loan. Found out from worldcat that 15 libraries in the states had it. Yay to libraries.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Review of Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch from Analog

By Philip K. Dick - Doubleday & Co., Garden City, N.Y. - 1965 -278 pp. - $4.95
An author can't come up with a "Man In the High Castle" every time, but in this case Philip K. Dick certainly didn't try. This time he's standing in for A.E. van Vogt, or maybe for a Pohl-Van Vogt collaboration. The result is wild, zany, and lively, but not very memorable.
Today's "Barbie" dolls are obviously the inspiration for Perky Pat Layouts, around which the story wheels and whirls. With a little aid from a nicely habit-forming drug, peddled sub rosa by P.P.E. along with the minutely detailed Perky Pat layouts, the bored people of the overcrowded future live it up by imagining themselves into the surrogate worlds they have built up. As with model railroaders and their hobby, there is no limit to the detail with which the miniature sets can be constructed; a goodly chunk of the economy hangs on it, and on the planets, to which segments of the overpopulated Earth are shipped to molder after being "drafted," these installations are all the life worth living.
Then a wheeler-dealer comes back from Alpha Centauri with a more potent drug and layouts of a more perplexingly entrapping type, and the plot starts to get tangled. Is the mysterious Palmer Eldritch the villain of the piece or the hero. In fact, just what is going on from moment to moment? The only way you'll ever find out is by reading the book, and you may be confused then.

Review by Peter Schulyer Miller form the August 1965 Analog, p. 152-153.

I posted this in response to the list of citations here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Brave and the Bold

Just found out that Batman was in a series called the Brave and the Bold! Which was not a soap opera but perhaps a space opera as it features the caped crusader teaming up with the Guardians of the Universe and/or Green Lantern. The things ya don't know! Also at the post at Comictreadmill is a page showing that the Guardians of the Universe are big Ramones or Freaks fans! Gabba Gabba Hey!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


I've been tracking down references for this post at Total Dick-head.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Advice for Librarians

What to Do When the Russians Come: A Survivor's Guide recently was returned at the library I work at. Flipping through it I found out it lists various survival tactics for after the inevitable Soviet invasion occurs when Reagan doesn't get his way. Part of the book lists tactics by profession, here is the librarian advice on pages 118 and 119:


Your job will be comparatively safe. Your first duty will be to carry out the removal from your shelves of a large part of their contents. Politically unsuitable books, together with those considered pornographic or decadent, will be proscribed; you will be surprised at the manner in which the labels of pornography and decadence have been extended to cover a very wide range of literature. Your old reference books, such as encyclopedias, will be withdrawn and pulped.

You should keep handy a pair of sharp scissors and a supply of paste as you will have to cut out or replace those entries in the new style encyclopedias and reference books that become politically inconvenient--a normal Soviet practice. As the years go by, even the more harmless books on your shelves will by gradually replaced as works commissioned and printed by the state begin to appear in adequate numbers. Experience from the Soviet Union and particularly from Eastern European countries suggests that you will not be kept very busy checking these out. If you can safely save and secrete some of the books that are being discarded, well and good; although your superiors will be on the lookout for this, and it may be hazardous for you or your friends to be caught reading them.

Duplicating machines will be usable by designated staff only, and will be available, even to degree, only in major libraries.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Whales should listen to MC Lars

The whales stuck in the California river delta should listen to MC Lars and his timeless advice for whales concerning river deltas.

Humphrey the Whale should have GPS,
Humphrey the Whale should get GPS.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Wonderous Spam Poem

This caught my eye in my spam folder:

shut in by deserts, on every side, by land; and the shoals, and abandoned to wild beasts, noxious reptiles, and huge and ferocious birds to attack the place. He accordingly advanced with a strong detachment of dangerous conspiracy which had been formed against the king. Alexander
attempt to tell the story of the origin of her population. Here stand represent to him that it would be much better, both for him and for his to the queen that a large box had arrived for her. The box was brought indulgence, and reckless cruelty and crime, which were exhibited with
The head had been left entire, that the wretched mother might recognize intended, that it still continues, after the lapse of twenty centuries and research, confined to the surface of the ground, have been occupied


Jerry Falwell is dead!

Good times!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007


We are approaching the long hoped for fusion future. The only green way forward.

An electrical circuit that should carry enough power to produce the long-sought goal of controlled high-yield nuclear fusion and, equally important, do it every 10 seconds, has undergone extensive preliminary experiments and computer simulations at Sandia National Laboratories’ Z machine facility.

Z, when it fires, is already the largest producer of X-rays on Earth and has been used to produce fusion neutrons. But rapid bursts are necessary for future generating plants to produce electrical power from sea water. This had not been thought achievable till now.

Sandia is a National Nuclear Security Administration laboratory.

Good pollination news

Finally some non scary good news concerning bees.

Whole hives are dying of the mysterious "colony collapse disorder," according to a succession of recent news reports.

It's a "Silent Spring" and - without the buzz of honeybees pollinating crops - there'll soon be nothing to eat except maybe the Soylent Green of B-grade science fiction fame. Right?

But wait: Oregon honeybees, it turns out, are more robust this year than they have been in years or even decades, local beekeepers say.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Friday, April 27, 2007

hype cycle

The life science hype cycle is a pretty good graph/idea.

Friday, April 20, 2007

the nanotech knoll

Morgellons Disease is an intelligently designed radio-receptive nanotech invasion of living human tissue

Morgellons is a very odd phenomenon on its own. It even has its own Morgellons Research Foundation now. The mashup meme of a strange new skin disease (dermatology problems are the most disgusting things I can think of) plus alien implant/conspiracy is crazy fascinating. I guess this would be promising vector for invading aliens, remaking a planet's inhabitants into yourself through nanotech.

So wrong

I was completely wrong about the Virginia Tech shooter. I was also wrong about the situation, I was convinced that with that many casualties that he was sniping. Amazed still that that many people were killed by a guy with two handguns.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Was shooter a Marine?

Gunman kills 30 at US university. The only question now is, was he a Marine?

Do any of you people know who Charles

Whitman was?

No response.

None of you
dumbasses knows?

COWBOY raises his hand.


Private Cowboy?

Sir, he was that guy who shot
all those people
from that tower in Austin, Texas, sir!

That's affirmative. Charles Whitman killed
people from a twenty-eight-storey
observation tower at the
University of Texas
from distances up to four hundred yards.

HARTMAN looks around.

Anybody know who Lee
Harvey Oswald was?

Almost everybody raises his hand.

Private Snowball?

Sir, he shot
Kennedy, sir!

That's right, and do you know how
far away
he was?

Sir, it was pretty far!
From that book
suppository building, sir!

The recruits laugh at
"suppository. "

All right, knock it off! Two
hundred and fifty
feet! He was two hundred and fifty feet away

and shooting at a moving target. Oswald got
off three rounds with an
old Italian bolt action
rifle in only six seconds and scored two
including a head shot! Do any of you people

know where
these individuals learned to

JOKER raises his hand.

Private Joker?

Sir, in the Marines,

In the Marines! Outstanding! Those

individuals showed what one motivated
marine and his rifle can do!
And before you
ladies leave my island, you will be able to
the same thing!

from Full Metal Jacket

Friday, April 13, 2007

We got the neutron bomb

US accused of using neutron bombs

Saifeddin Fulayh Hassan Taha al-Rawi told Al Jazeera that US forces used neutron and phosphorus bombs during their assault on Baghdad airport before the April 9 capture of the Iraqi capital.

I remember reading how France assembled some of neutron bombs in the late 70s early 80s and the US made some, but didn't assemble them. That was supposed to make people feel better. Obviously no proof but very interesting that this story came out.

Thursday, April 12, 2007