2013.08 minutiae

  • My friend Mandy went on a road trip with her kids to a relative's vacation house in Florida which was equipped with cable television.  Mandy reports that this had an interesting effect on seven-year-old Lucy's questions during the long drives:

    • On the trip down: "When will we get there?"

    • On the trip back up: "Will we get to the hotel by 8:00/7:00 Central?"

  • I've never played a first-person shooter, but I assume that they're basically like logging onto Twitter on Sunday night and having Breaking Bad spoilers jump out at you around every corner.

  • A while back I wondered where right-wingers would threaten to move when their side lost elections, the way left-wingers used to declare that they were moving to Canada.  As a child of the Cold War, little did I dream that the answer would turn out to be Russia.

    (Though the way Stephen Harper is going, I suspect that soon the answer will be Canada, if it isn't already.)

  • Speaking of Canada, Lizzie was telling me about this musical instrument she heard about on CBC Radio — apparently it's only made by one family in Switzerland, and you have to fly in and be interviewed in person before the artisans will make you one.  That sounded like more rigmarole than it was worth, but then I actually heard the instrument.  It's called a "hang."  Listen to this thing!

  • Google used to say that I was associated with Andrew Plotkin, Emily Short, Nick Montfort, Graham Nelson, and Steve Meretzky.  Now it says I'm associated with Andrew Plotkin, Emily Short, Jon Ingold, William Crowther, and… Edward Bulwer-Lytton.  Yes, I know why, but still, harrumph.

  • The Associated Press reports, "Scientists in Sweden say they have confirmed the existence of a new chemical element, but its name may need some work."  It continues:

    The Swedish scientists say they conducted experiments which allowed them to detect the "fingerprint" of the short-lived but super-heavy element that's been dubbed ununpentium.

    The name, which refers to the element's 115th place in the periodic table, is only provisional.

    The element will likely get a new name if the discovery is formally approved by experts from the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics and Chemistry.

    Well-known chemical elements include carbon, silicon and iron.

    I look forward to the AP article that gives a brief account of Barack Obama's latest speech and concludes, "Well-known U.S. presidents include Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Abraham Lincoln."

  • I'm always impressed by the resilience of plants.  I have a basil plant sitting on my front patio.  I attend to it pretty haphazardly.  Sometimes I go out and the leaves have wilted down to little wisps of soft green film.  A little water, and next thing you know they're back to being robust and springy.  Or sometimes the leaves turn a yellowish-white.  A little water and they're back to vivid green again.  I have no idea how that works.

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