Nov 272017

It’s probably for the best when nurses who want to kill babies post that information publicly. That’s *usually* the sort of thing that goes against hospital policy.

Indiana Nurse Under Investigation for Tweets about Killing White Babies

Can you imagine the cloud of legal liability the hospital would be forced to live under if they kept her on board? Even if she was the best, most conscientious nurse who ever nursed, if *anything* were to ever go wrong with a patient – especially a young white male patient – anywhere near to her care, the attack lawyers would come out in force. Such as in this case, where the presence of a hidden camera kinda changed the story about how a patient died:

Apparently the nursing home here got sued hard and agreed to some kind of settlement, even though it was the actual nurses who behaved badly not the nursing home itself. How does a hospital protect its patients – and itself – from medical staff who actively oppose the survival of the patients… unless the staff is actually caught doing or saying something along those lines?

 Posted by at 3:36 pm
Nov 272017

I just bet it is:

Huh. How does one pronounce”LGGBDTTTIQQAAP?”

Well, since they’re clearly having trouble finding enough room for such a vital meeting, I have a suggestion for where to put the overflow:

One wonders just how long these political acronyms can get, especially in Canada where the cultural drive to accommodate can drag on forever…


 Posted by at 10:44 am
Nov 272017

Blog readers who’ve been around long enough have seen me yammer on and on about Babylon 5. And why not: it was a great show. But I haven’t yammered on about Game of Thrones. Why? Because I didn’t watch it. When it started on HBO, I didn’t *have* HBO. It was already 3 or 4 years along before I got HBO, and I had no desire to start in the middle. However, over the years I’d catch the occasional snippet – unsurprising given the cultural behemoth the show has become. And so over the last year or two I’ve been slowly accumulating individual seasons of GoT on Blu Ray when I’d find used copies in pawn shops and thrift stores and the like for five bucks. I finally got the first six seasons, and over the last little  while I’ve watched seasons 1 through 6 and… holy carp, that’s a good show.

There is no immediately obvious link between B5 and GoT. They both started at roughly the same time… the pilot movie for B5 aired in 1993, the first GoT book was published in  1996. But while B5 was (reasonably hard, at least for TV) science fiction, GoT is fantasy (at least until in the closing moments of the series finale, likely to be aired in 2019, it turns out the whole place is an experiment set up 12,000 years earlier by Haviland Tuf). But I suspect that without B5, there’d be no GoT on HBO.

Prior to Babylon 5, virtually every TV series, certainly every science fiction series, was episodic in nature. Apart from – maybe – the series premiere, you could watch most of the entire series in a completely random fashion and not be the slightest bit confused. B5 upended that by making the series a “novel for television,” with a beginning, middle, end and a season-long post-credit scene. Stuff *happened,* it happened for a reason, there were payoffs that were planned years in advance. Characters had arcs; some were introduced or killed off for reasons of plot rather than because the actor got bored or dead or drunk.

Additionally, B5 introduced alien societies and political & religious systems in a way never before really explored for television. It made political intrigue interesting, even if the politicians were aliens.

And then many years later HBO made Game of Thrones, an arguably longer (8 seasons compared to 5, but with far fewer episodes per season) “novel for television” featuring political intrigue in “alien” political systems with wacky “alien” religions. B5 had Emperor Cartagia, GoT had King Joffrey; cut from the same cloth, they were both the sort of horrible king that pops up distressingly often in hereditary monarchies. They were both entertainingly evil to watch, and both entertaining to watch finally get what was coming to ’em.

And they both had twists and sudden deaths you didn’t see coming. And they both had deaths you didn’t *want* to see… “Sleeping in Light” and “The Door” can reduce fans to horrible gelatinous blobs of sadness.

A quarter century of technological advances mean that the production values in GoT make B5 look… well, kinda bad. B5 was there at the dawn of the first age of computer graphics for TV, and it shows. Where B5s visual effects were limited due to budget and technology, GoT has computers the likes of which the B5’ers could have never dreamed… and episode budgets vastly beyond what B5 was able to scrape together. GoT has scenes of a fully rendered navy attacking a fully rendered city… and that navy being assaulted by fully rendered dragons. Tens of thousands of individual elements, and it all *works.* As much as a dragon can be considered realistic, those on GoT are wholly believable. At least philosophically, GoT owes a debt to B5 for getting the ball rolling on the important use of CGI for TV visual effects.

Of course, GoT being on early 21st century HBO rather than late 20th century broadcast TV means that it can show things that B5 never could. It’s probably a safe bet that someone akin to Littlefinger had an establishment or two like his on B5… but we were *never* going to see that in all it’s NSFW jiggly glory. Interestingly: having binge watched the first 6 seasons, it seemed like the giggty-factor was high early on and has greatly faded. This makes some sense from a plot standpoint… at the beginning, the world of GoT was at relative peace and things took place in “civilized” environments. By season 6 everybody is too busy slaughtering each other for that sort of thing. Also: by this point, the show has about all the fans it’s going to. But early on, it was important to drag viewers in, kicking and screaming… and I suppose that was a good way to do it.

 Posted by at 12:23 am
Nov 252017

I’ve put five of my large format cyanotypes on ebay, with starting bids far lower than the usual selling price.




 Posted by at 5:14 pm
Nov 252017

This story reminded me of the years of wild hedonism that defined my youth:

IUP to remove 170,000 unused books from its libraries

The  Indiana University of Pennsylvania library says that about half of its 486,000 books haven’t been checked out in 20 years, so it’s going to get rid of them.


I spent *years* visiting the libraries of Iowa State University in Ames and the University of Colorado in Boulder, slowly and methodically scanning through the stacks of books in the science, engineering and aerospace sections. I found a *lot* of stuff (oddly, I didn’t seem to find a whole lot of parties, booze and women there, but oh well). The stuff I found formed the beginnings of my aerospace history collection… vast piles of photocopies made from books I’d pull off the shelves, go through page by page, copy what I wanted, then put back on the shelf. A minuscule percentage of what I found useful was actually checked out.

I understand that the engineering library  at UC Boulder has removed the bulk of the books, moving them to an off-site location. Students can still access them… you simply need to put in a request for said books and they’ll show up some time later. That’s fine, *if* you know what book you want. But how much useful research has been done by simply browsing? How often does someone find something useful in the book *next* to the one they were specifically looking for?

The claim for the Indiana University of Pennsylvania library is that they are going to focus their cleanout on books that are available digitally. But how many books, periodicals, papers and such are available as scans that are just *horrible* in quality? The NASA Tech Report server is filled with old reports that were scanned by people who clearly thought that diagrams, photos and artwork were wastes of space, best reduced to 2-bit B&W images that if you squint real hard while at a great distance might vaguely resemble the ghost of the original.

If the library needs money, fine. Take if from the athletic program. Hell, cut the coaches salaries by ten percent, that alone should just about do the trick. Every year have an auction to sell off the naming rights for the next years football team. Charge double tuition for grievance studies courses. Open an on-campus liquor store and pot dispensary, all profits going to the library. Cut the pay of all Socialist teachers to minimum wage. There are better solutions than getting rid of books by the truckload.

 Posted by at 7:51 am
Nov 242017

When you think of the sort of pet that people can be truly emotionally attached to, chances are *really* good you’ll think of either “cat” or “dog.” Any species other than those two, at least in the US, will either be far fewer in number or far less likely to be something you really bond with. A goldfish, after all, is more likely to be something more of a decoration than an entity you empathize with.

Me, I’ve had cats, dogs, ferrets. Bonded with all, mourned those who’ve died or left. I also had some Triops, some big brine shrimp sorta prehistoric monster critters; when they died, it was a disappointment, but not mournful. I’ve never had pet bunnies or sheep, but I’ve met such critters. Cute enough, but… meh. No connection. Why not? Because there was “nothing behind the eyes,” one might say. And… because bunnies and sheep are quite different from humans. They do not hunt. They have no “killer instinct.” They are… different from us.

Look at the natural world: the creatures we think of as being “smart” or ‘high up on the evolutionary ladder” tend to be vicious killers. Chimpanzees? Sure, they’re cute (-ish) when they’re young, but as adults they’re 600-pound murder machines who will rip your limbs, face and nads off. Dolphins? Sure, Flipper looks cute, but they will murder other species of dolphins apparently for fun. Orcas? OK, the alternate name of “killer whale” kinds gives it away, but they’re well known to play with their food. And their food tends to cute cute, fluffy-bunny seals.

Of course, “smart” isn’t exclusively the province of predators. Elephants are well known to be quite smart, with complex emotions. But… you tick off an elephant, and they turn into *giant* murder machines. They might not eat you, but they’ll kill you, and not purely for defense. They will attack other creatures simply because they’re ticked off.

So… being killers seems to correlate with making good pets… and with making them understandable. Of course it’s not a 100% match; go head and snuggle up with a shark if you want, won’t get you anywhere.

 Posted by at 7:04 pm
Nov 232017

A damned convenient way to get yourself dead during World War I was to pop your head up above a trench. But if you wanted to shoot the enemy, you kinda *had* to pop your head up above the trench in order to aim your rifle. Unless you had a rifle equipped with a periscope.

One such arrangement was the “Cameron Yaggi 1903 Trench Rifle” which added a complex and heavy mechanism to the 1903 Springfield rifle.The mechanism included not only a periscope and a 25-round box magazine, but additional levers to allow you to operate the bolt “remotely.” The end result is kinda spiffy, though cumbersome, and was not adopted by the US.

The modern equivalent would be to put a digital camera on the rifle, live video being directed to a eyepiece via a cable or Bluetooth.



Of course, many countries tried a similar setup. Here’s a trench Mauser that tries to do the same thing, but without the ability to work the bolt remotely.

 Posted by at 6:31 pm