Friday, July 31, 2020

Season's Greetings

Didn't specify which season, but you can probably guess from this graphic.

Will have something constructive to say over the weekend.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Who's Next?

First a friend over Biloxi way retires back in February.  Then I hear that Eddie Stubbs is retiring (tomorrow! so don't forget his final broadcast -- starts at 7 CDT, runs to midnight on 650 kHz AM).  Then one of the ladies from the bank branch I generally use.  In fact, they're closing the whole branch, so that's also a retirement of sorts.  Last week a friend touched base to ask about some paperwork related to his impending retirement.  And now.... LawDog retired back in April!

Seems to be going around.  Wonder who else is lining up?

Monday, July 27, 2020

Olivia 8/250 = Old Entish

The Olivia in question here is a digital text radio mode, not a person.  Oh it works, but oh is it slow.  Still, picked up a couple of contacts yesterday afternoon on 30m, out as far as Bakersfield CA.  It does work, and work very well.  But it is slow enough that whatever you say should be worth saying.  Full Wikipedia write-up here.  Whatever mode it takes, it is good to have some traffic on 30m again.

All that hoom-hom-ing can be heard clear across the country.  I think the Ents are onto something.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Return of the Dragon

The SpaceX Dragon capsule is to return from the ISS next weekend.  Full details from NASA:

TLDR: Undocks from ISS at 7:34 PM EDT Saturday Aug. 1.  Splashes down at 2:42 PM EDT Sunday Aug. 2.

Just one week left.  Mark your calendars.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Music Review: Dylan's Rough and Rowdy Ways

It's more of an album of Bob Dylan reciting his poetry over background music than anything else.  But is it any good?  Yeah, it's good.  I mean, the guy's lyrics have always skirted the line with poetry and he's got a Nobel Prize in literature, richly deserved too.  But can you dance to it?  Most of it, not really.  One tune, False Prophet, has a pretty good swagger about it.  You could probably manage some kind of shuffle dance to that one, but it's more suited to walking over to the bar for another drink.  The rest though, it's mostly poetry recited over background music.

It's good stuff, if not precisely music.  Know before you buy a ticket to take this trip.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Apalachicola Bay Closing

Article in The Times.

Not happy about this, but it's got to happen.  And after they have a chance to grow, those oysters will taste all the better in 2025.  Maybe we can get the river water situation sorted out in the meantime.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Eddie Stubbs Announces Retirement

Long-time evening host on WSM 650-AM, Eddie Stubbs is calling it a day.  His last show will be next Wednesday, July 29th.  Details here at the  He's also retiring as the host of the Grand Ole Opry as well.

Stubbs' deep knowledge of the history of country music made every show a guided tour through the genre.  Many times he would finish a song and note a particularly impressive section, then say "wait a minute, let's listen to that part again," move the needle back up on the vinyl (vinyl! on AM!) and we'd all savor it once more.  More than a DJ, he's a teacher.  Additionally, listening via skywave to that 50,000 watt AM transmitter added a layer of patina and authenticity that an online connection just can't touch.  

Grab a few more listens while you still can.  Again, last show is next Wednesday.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

New Book: Devolution

Just out from Max "World War Z" Brooks, moving on from zombies, now the monster of choice is bigfoot.  Or more precisely, a whole troop of the things, that move in on a tiny eco-village in the wake of a larger natural disaster.

The structure of the book is quite different than the episodic nature of Brooks' earlier WWZ.  It's mostly one woman's diary written at the behest of her psychologist, along with scattered interviews with the head of the recovery crew, and a couple of NPR interviews thrown in.  It paints a complete picture, but it has to develop slowly, introducing the characters – mostly very annoying people – as they come into view.  The bigfoot encounters don't begin until maybe a third of the way into the book.  That's quite a way in, but the entire book is pretty short.  If it sounds like a snoozer, this is anything but.  The action ramps up to a crashing ending that is equally satisfying and horrifying.  What began as a forgettable story of a group of techno-narcissists whining in the woods ultimately twists into a parable on ethnic cleansing.  It is that metamorphosis that makes this book far more than just another monster story.

ps: Quentin Tarantino should make the movie adaptation.

pps: After writing the above, I had to sit back down and re-read the last two chapters and the epilogue.  It's that kind of book, and they were even better the second time through.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

LotR Re-Revisited

Following up on last April's post, yesterday I finished a leisurely read through LotR.  In taking a slow pace through the books – knowing after all what comes next, so there was never any rush to see – more details could percolate out.  There's always something new and wonderful to be found this way.

Well, on to Max Brooks' latest.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

This is Your Brain On Broken Fractals

Following up on yesterday's post, here's the interviewee's web site: The Genetics of Design

As you might expect, interesting stuff.  Of particular interest was this post on natural fractals and their echoes in good design.  It reminds me of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, with all of the bare trees around here.  Note that these were not just "stripped of their leaves" bare; rather, they had been stripped down to trunks and perhaps a few large limbs, with lots of broken parts hanging down.  Bad as that was, things got even worse over the next few months.  The trees, desperate to get any leaves out into the sun they could, quickly grew small twigs from every likely surface and extruded leaves from these.  The result didn't so much look like trees as broken pieces of wood with masses of greenish sponge applied in patches.  Very disturbing to be surrounded by these for months on end.  Finally, somewhere around the five year mark, things started looking somewhat normal again.

So yeah, look at fractals that have the right dimension.  It's good for your brain.

Shamelessly borrowed from the above-linked blog post.  I pulled out some Katrina pictures and was about to post those, but why put more ugliness into people's eyeballs?

Monday, July 13, 2020

Modern Architecture, WWI-Induced PTSD, and Other Ongoing Problems

All wrapped up in an hour long podcast at Kunstler's page.  Go give it a listen.

Yes, it's been a while since I posted.  It's the usual hot summertime doldrums.  Still here, not going anywhere.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

New from Gary Larson

Here's the link.  He explains how his cartoon art has changed with the advent of new digital tools and all that.

It's Larson, every bit as good and as weird as before.  He made a major change in his style(?) back in the early 80's, from curved lines throughout his cartoons to the more linear doodles most people are familiar with.  The humor didn't change though, that was the main thing.  The change in style here is of a similar magnitude, and again, it's the same brand of humor.  Go read his write-up explaining the changes, then click through to three new cartoons.  And be thankful that Gary's found the fun in cartooning again.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Dig it.

That is all for now.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Natural Fireworks

Red sprites, in an image shamelessly borrowed from NASA APOD:

Have a good Independence Day, all!

Friday, July 3, 2020

Net Outage

Probably until sometime next week, this being Independence Day weekend.  In the meantime posting will be light (if at all), in an effort to minimize cell phone hotspot data plan usage.

Back to the thrills, flames, crashes, and theoretical physics stunts soon.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Herd Immunity and the Mathematics Thereof

Article at Quanta magazine.  It's a slightly complex issue so there is no TLDR, but it is short.  You should go read it now.