bobquasit: (Default)
A scientist has discovered a way to put animals and possibly people into suspended animation with a poison gas:

http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/10/09/cheating.death.suspended.animation/index.html

This stuff just amazes me. Too bad it almost always turns out to be impractical or impossible to develop.
bobquasit: (Default)
A scientist has discovered a way to put animals and possibly people into suspended animation with a poison gas:

http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/10/09/cheating.death.suspended.animation/index.html

This stuff just amazes me. Too bad it almost always turns out to be impractical or impossible to develop.
bobquasit: (Default)
Sometimes I find surprising things on the web. Such as this.

It's a copy of Alfred Bester's 5,271,009, which happens to be my favorite story of his. What makes it interesting (or intereeesting, as my fingers originally told me) is that 1) it includes a few preliminary paragraphs apparently by Bester himself about how he happened to write the story, and 2) it's a dead link - the only way to reach it is to view Google's HTML version of what was originally a PDF document. The cache is a little screwed up, however, if you want to read the last page, you have to do a print preview or print it.

The missing tagline is, as I recall, "There was a blinding flash, and Jeffrey Halyson was ready for his 2,635,505th decision."
bobquasit: (Default)
Sometimes I find surprising things on the web. Such as this.

It's a copy of Alfred Bester's 5,271,009, which happens to be my favorite story of his. What makes it interesting (or intereeesting, as my fingers originally told me) is that 1) it includes a few preliminary paragraphs apparently by Bester himself about how he happened to write the story, and 2) it's a dead link - the only way to reach it is to view Google's HTML version of what was originally a PDF document. The cache is a little screwed up, however, if you want to read the last page, you have to do a print preview or print it.

The missing tagline is, as I recall, "There was a blinding flash, and Jeffrey Halyson was ready for his 2,635,505th decision."

Weekend

Feb. 1st, 2009 10:27 pm
bobquasit: (Default)
Saturday morning Sebastian and I joined his Cub Scout troop on a visit to the WPRI, channel 12 FOX Providence. We met Pete Mangione, one of the weatherman there. He gave the kids a talk about being a weatherman, answered a lot of questions (not all of which really made a lot of sense), and let the kids play on the blue screen a bit. I even got on the blue screen myself, since I was wearing a plaid blue shirt that made me look as if I were riddled with holes. The kids loved it.

I took some video and photos before my batteries ran out (damn it, that happens too often). Several of us sent photos to the troop Yahoo group, and the Cubmaster sent one of mine to WPRI. To my amazement and delight, they showed the picture on the broadcast! Pete even circled Sebastian and one of his friends, football-diagram-style, because they were the only two who had actually been looking at my camera instead of the one to my left.

I have the broadcast on tape, and I'll convert it to some computer format soon. I wonder if it's already online somewhere?

Weekend

Feb. 1st, 2009 10:27 pm
bobquasit: (Default)
Saturday morning Sebastian and I joined his Cub Scout troop on a visit to the WPRI, channel 12 FOX Providence. We met Pete Mangione, one of the weatherman there. He gave the kids a talk about being a weatherman, answered a lot of questions (not all of which really made a lot of sense), and let the kids play on the blue screen a bit. I even got on the blue screen myself, since I was wearing a plaid blue shirt that made me look as if I were riddled with holes. The kids loved it.

I took some video and photos before my batteries ran out (damn it, that happens too often). Several of us sent photos to the troop Yahoo group, and the Cubmaster sent one of mine to WPRI. To my amazement and delight, they showed the picture on the broadcast! Pete even circled Sebastian and one of his friends, football-diagram-style, because they were the only two who had actually been looking at my camera instead of the one to my left.

I have the broadcast on tape, and I'll convert it to some computer format soon. I wonder if it's already online somewhere?
bobquasit: (Default)
There was an amazing game that I only saw once, in the basement of a huge old hotel-mansion somewhere in upstate New York. I'm not sure if you could call it a video game, exactly. Part of it was actually a diorama, with a whole scene of little plastic trees and things. There was a little tank in the middle of the scene, and appearing on top of it was a glowing missile that seemed 3D, but also didn't seem solid. I think somehow a mirror was involved.

Anyway, enemies (planes? missiles? I don't remember, it was long ago) would shoot towards your tank from the night sky, and you'd launch your missile and try to shoot them down. The neatest thing was that you could steer the missile after you launched it. Once it blew up the target, a new missile would appear on your launcher.

I never saw that game again, and I don't remember the name of it. I don't even remember the name of the hotel. But the memory of that game has stuck in my mind for thirty years now.

And now thanks to Google I not only have been able to find the name of the game (S.A.M.I., or "Surface-to-Air Missile Interceptor") and a cheesy old ad for it with a girl in a silver lamé jumpsuit, but I've found video of it in action as well!
bobquasit: (Default)
There was an amazing game that I only saw once, in the basement of a huge old hotel-mansion somewhere in upstate New York. I'm not sure if you could call it a video game, exactly. Part of it was actually a diorama, with a whole scene of little plastic trees and things. There was a little tank in the middle of the scene, and appearing on top of it was a glowing missile that seemed 3D, but also didn't seem solid. I think somehow a mirror was involved.

Anyway, enemies (planes? missiles? I don't remember, it was long ago) would shoot towards your tank from the night sky, and you'd launch your missile and try to shoot them down. The neatest thing was that you could steer the missile after you launched it. Once it blew up the target, a new missile would appear on your launcher.

I never saw that game again, and I don't remember the name of it. I don't even remember the name of the hotel. But the memory of that game has stuck in my mind for thirty years now.

And now thanks to Google I not only have been able to find the name of the game (S.A.M.I., or "Surface-to-Air Missile Interceptor") and a cheesy old ad for it with a girl in a silver lamé jumpsuit, but I've found video of it in action as well!
bobquasit: (Default)
Did I already post this link? This Dahl story has stayed in my head forever.

http://www.classicshorts.com/stories/south.html
bobquasit: (Default)
Did I already post this link? This Dahl story has stayed in my head forever.

http://www.classicshorts.com/stories/south.html
bobquasit: (Default)
I'm still annotating old zines; there are a number of new ones online now. And did I mention that thanks to [livejournal.com profile] unquietsoul5 I've been able to post a complete copy of Interregnum #1? You can find it on the Zines page on my RQ site.

Anyway, I was reading my comments and ran across several references to a story by George Phillies that I'd liked very much: "Who Slays Satan". On an impulse I Googled, and sure enough, it's available as a free sample for his online book!

George is (or was) running to be the Libertarian candidate for President this year, incidentally.
bobquasit: (Default)
I'm still annotating old zines; there are a number of new ones online now. And did I mention that thanks to [livejournal.com profile] unquietsoul5 I've been able to post a complete copy of Interregnum #1? You can find it on the Zines page on my RQ site.

Anyway, I was reading my comments and ran across several references to a story by George Phillies that I'd liked very much: "Who Slays Satan". On an impulse I Googled, and sure enough, it's available as a free sample for his online book!

George is (or was) running to be the Libertarian candidate for President this year, incidentally.
bobquasit: (Default)

The Magic Tree The Magic Tree
Arnold Arboretum, May 2008


To reach it, go to the Arnold Arboretum and take Beech Path from the western, Hemlock Hill Road side to just over the crest of the hill. The magic tree is to the left, perhaps 100 feet off the path across a grassy meadow. Look carefully for a parting in the curtain of the leaves; it's the easiest point to enter. Watch out for branches, and prepare to be amazed!



Here's a shot with Sebastian to give you a sense of the sheer size of the inside of the tree. It's like being in a magical room with green walls all around. The birds still sing, high above you - much higher than you'd expect from the outside. You can hear people outside, but they don't know you're there. I've said all this before, and it's still inadequate.

Please be kind to the tree. Many people have carved things into it, and it deserves better treatment.
bobquasit: (Default)

The Magic Tree The Magic Tree
Arnold Arboretum, May 2008


To reach it, go to the Arnold Arboretum and take Beech Path from the western, Hemlock Hill Road side to just over the crest of the hill. The magic tree is to the left, perhaps 100 feet off the path across a grassy meadow. Look carefully for a parting in the curtain of the leaves; it's the easiest point to enter. Watch out for branches, and prepare to be amazed!



Here's a shot with Sebastian to give you a sense of the sheer size of the inside of the tree. It's like being in a magical room with green walls all around. The birds still sing, high above you - much higher than you'd expect from the outside. You can hear people outside, but they don't know you're there. I've said all this before, and it's still inadequate.

Please be kind to the tree. Many people have carved things into it, and it deserves better treatment.
bobquasit: (Default)
This is my first attempt at a substantive post over on the beta version of Salon's new "Open Salon" blog-like thingy. I was excited to find a link to Fredric Brown's wonderful short story "The Waveries" for it; if you haven't read that story, you should!


The automobile has been an essential part of the American national character for more than seventy years. It's arguably the definitive American characteristic, far more pervasive than pale pretenders such as baseball and apple pie. An America without cars is virtually unimaginable. But now that it has become painfully clear that we are witnessing the beginning of the end of petroleum as the dominant form of energy, can the American automotive dream survive?


Perhaps not. If the transition to new forms and sources of energy is handled poorly (or not at all), then the issue may not matter; people will be too busy scrabbling for food and the essentials to worry about personal transportation. Alternatively, a better-managed process might end up concentrating on mass transportation systems, most likely some form of light rail.

Local transportation would be by foot, by horse, or perhaps by bicycle. The author Fredric Brown painted a rather Utopian vision of such an American future in his classic short story "The Waveries". But such a peaceful evolution towards an idealized sort of 1890s level of technology is difficult to envision, at best. The United States government has not been noted for that degree of long-term planning and social engineering.

It is also possible that such a level of technology might not be sufficient to support current world-wide population levels; violence on an unprecedented scale would be the likely result. Whether or not the human species would survive is open to question.

But if one or more alternative sources of energy are developed and implemented throughout the US, the car is still in trouble. Developments in electric car technology do offer some hope; by decoupling the car from petroleum. Any energy source which can produce electricity on a large scale would be sufficient to charge an electric car.*

But driving habits would have to change, requiring a considerable change in attitude and behavior on the part of Americans. Long-range driving would be impractical or impossible. Cars would need to be charged overnight, every night before use.

The crux of the problem is this: gasoline, in addition to its relatively low cost and convenience to transport, is also an extremely dense form of energy. To refill the average gas tank takes a few minutes at most, and that full tank yields hundreds of miles of driving.

Even if battery technology improves to the extent that a fully-charged battery allows the same driving range, batteries simply cannot be recharged as quickly as a gas tank can be filled. Barring startling developments in battery technology, electric cars will require an hour or more to recharge. If you thought gas station lines were bad in the 1970s, imagine what they'd be like if it took an hour (or several hours) to refill at the pump!

The recharge speed limit also limits the long-distance range of electric cars. As such, it implies a fundamental rethinking of the American automotive experience (which might not be a bad thing, of course). But there is a way around it. While batteries cannot be recharged as quickly as a tank can be filled, the batteries themselves can be made quickly and easily replaceable.

The "gas station" of the electric-car future would maintain a stock of fully-charged batteries. These would have to be standardized on a national basis, although it is unlikely that only one type would be offered; larger batteries would probably be needed for trucks and heavier vehicles. On the other hand, it would be neither practical nor desirable for each manufacturer to use a proprietary battery - it simply wouldn't be possible for most stations to maintain a sufficient stock of each brand of battery to handle most eventualities.

The batteries would be designed to be removed and replaced quickly and easily, probably by machine. Security would be necessary, of course. Just as more cars are likely to have locks for their gas caps in the waning days of petroleum, batteries would be secured by lock and key.

Is such a future possible? It's fully possible using already-existing technology; it requires no technological breakthroughs. Is the US government and the American automotive industry capable of achieving it? That seems far less likely.

But would Americans adjust to it? Faced with Hobson's choice, of course they would - if the alternative is giving up on America's long love affair with the automobile.


* - There is also, of course, the matter of developing a non-petroleum-based industrial base capable of manufacturing such a car at a cost affordable to most Americans. But that's beyond the scope of this article. It is interesting to contemplate a future in which only the rich can afford automobiles, while the masses are forced to depend on less-advanced or convenient forms of transport. I rather suspect this would engender class warfare on an unprecedented scale.
bobquasit: (Default)
This is my first attempt at a substantive post over on the beta version of Salon's new "Open Salon" blog-like thingy. I was excited to find a link to Fredric Brown's wonderful short story "The Waveries" for it; if you haven't read that story, you should!


The automobile has been an essential part of the American national character for more than seventy years. It's arguably the definitive American characteristic, far more pervasive than pale pretenders such as baseball and apple pie. An America without cars is virtually unimaginable. But now that it has become painfully clear that we are witnessing the beginning of the end of petroleum as the dominant form of energy, can the American automotive dream survive?


Perhaps not. If the transition to new forms and sources of energy is handled poorly (or not at all), then the issue may not matter; people will be too busy scrabbling for food and the essentials to worry about personal transportation. Alternatively, a better-managed process might end up concentrating on mass transportation systems, most likely some form of light rail.

Local transportation would be by foot, by horse, or perhaps by bicycle. The author Fredric Brown painted a rather Utopian vision of such an American future in his classic short story "The Waveries". But such a peaceful evolution towards an idealized sort of 1890s level of technology is difficult to envision, at best. The United States government has not been noted for that degree of long-term planning and social engineering.

It is also possible that such a level of technology might not be sufficient to support current world-wide population levels; violence on an unprecedented scale would be the likely result. Whether or not the human species would survive is open to question.

But if one or more alternative sources of energy are developed and implemented throughout the US, the car is still in trouble. Developments in electric car technology do offer some hope; by decoupling the car from petroleum. Any energy source which can produce electricity on a large scale would be sufficient to charge an electric car.*

But driving habits would have to change, requiring a considerable change in attitude and behavior on the part of Americans. Long-range driving would be impractical or impossible. Cars would need to be charged overnight, every night before use.

The crux of the problem is this: gasoline, in addition to its relatively low cost and convenience to transport, is also an extremely dense form of energy. To refill the average gas tank takes a few minutes at most, and that full tank yields hundreds of miles of driving.

Even if battery technology improves to the extent that a fully-charged battery allows the same driving range, batteries simply cannot be recharged as quickly as a gas tank can be filled. Barring startling developments in battery technology, electric cars will require an hour or more to recharge. If you thought gas station lines were bad in the 1970s, imagine what they'd be like if it took an hour (or several hours) to refill at the pump!

The recharge speed limit also limits the long-distance range of electric cars. As such, it implies a fundamental rethinking of the American automotive experience (which might not be a bad thing, of course). But there is a way around it. While batteries cannot be recharged as quickly as a tank can be filled, the batteries themselves can be made quickly and easily replaceable.

The "gas station" of the electric-car future would maintain a stock of fully-charged batteries. These would have to be standardized on a national basis, although it is unlikely that only one type would be offered; larger batteries would probably be needed for trucks and heavier vehicles. On the other hand, it would be neither practical nor desirable for each manufacturer to use a proprietary battery - it simply wouldn't be possible for most stations to maintain a sufficient stock of each brand of battery to handle most eventualities.

The batteries would be designed to be removed and replaced quickly and easily, probably by machine. Security would be necessary, of course. Just as more cars are likely to have locks for their gas caps in the waning days of petroleum, batteries would be secured by lock and key.

Is such a future possible? It's fully possible using already-existing technology; it requires no technological breakthroughs. Is the US government and the American automotive industry capable of achieving it? That seems far less likely.

But would Americans adjust to it? Faced with Hobson's choice, of course they would - if the alternative is giving up on America's long love affair with the automobile.


* - There is also, of course, the matter of developing a non-petroleum-based industrial base capable of manufacturing such a car at a cost affordable to most Americans. But that's beyond the scope of this article. It is interesting to contemplate a future in which only the rich can afford automobiles, while the masses are forced to depend on less-advanced or convenient forms of transport. I rather suspect this would engender class warfare on an unprecedented scale.

Wavy Snow

Jan. 17th, 2008 10:47 am
bobquasit: (Default)
Check this out!

I snapped this with my cell phone when Teri was driving me to the train station a couple of days ago. Heavy, sticky snow had fallen the night before, and some quirk of melting made it fall into this odd pattern. Cool, huh? It looks like frosting!

Wavy Snow

Jan. 17th, 2008 10:47 am
bobquasit: (Default)
Check this out!

I snapped this with my cell phone when Teri was driving me to the train station a couple of days ago. Heavy, sticky snow had fallen the night before, and some quirk of melting made it fall into this odd pattern. Cool, huh? It looks like frosting!
bobquasit: (Default)
I was delighted to find one of the greatest episodes of MST3K ever over on Google video (it's not available on YouTube): Gamera vs. Guiron. The whole movie! It's downloadable in mp4 format, too.

bobquasit: (Default)
I was delighted to find one of the greatest episodes of MST3K ever over on Google video (it's not available on YouTube): Gamera vs. Guiron. The whole movie! It's downloadable in mp4 format, too.

July 2017

S M T W T F S
      1
2345678
9101112131415
1617181920 2122
23242526272829
3031     

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Oct. 18th, 2017 04:02 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios