October 25th, 2016

#5359: I just can't figure out what to say.

"...[I]t's possible I'll be out of contact for some period over the weekend."

Steven Den Beste has died, and that was the last sentence he wrote in his blog.

I find myself surprised at how broken up I am over it. I never met the man; I traded a couple of e-mails with him which left me with the impression he thought I was an idiot. I didn't mind; he was a very smart man and I can be really stupid.

USS Clueless--and Chizumatic after it--was one of the reasons I started blogging, myself, and my second-ever post here at the Fungus borrowed one of his schticks: "Too Many Words", referring to the scene in Amadeus where the king told Mozart he used too many notes.

Chizumatic is first on my blogroll, and has been for a long time. But no more updates will be forthcoming.

And so, to honor his memory, a little anime cheesecake:

We'll miss you, Steven.

#5360: Anos: "It's spelled A-N-U-S!"

In Ultima II there are moongates (inspired by the portals in Time Bandits) and there's a kind of nexus where there are four of them near each other, in several different time zones. To help the player know when he is, there's a helpful sign, and when you look at it, the text reads:
The sign reads:
Anos: 9,000,000 B.C.
Anos: 1423 B.C.
Anos: 1990 A.D.
Anos: 2112 A.D.
Anos: Legends!
Never understood what "anos" meant. Probably it's spanish, "años", meaning "years", only the 8-bit computers that U2 was made for didn't have Unicode fonts and used only some variant of US ASCII, and therefore lacked the ñ.

Regardless of why, it amused me to think of the title.

* * *

No more Chick tracts. The hyperbolic horseshit that man spread about D&D--

But I understand what he was trying to accomplish, and can't fault him too much.

* * *

Sun screens are coming! Heinlein's "Future History" was built, in part, on this sort of concept. The sun screens weren't solar panels; they were basically optical antennas, devices which would work much the way these do. Heinlein's assumption was that if you could get a crystal to oscillate at the frequencies of visible light, all you had to do to convert light into electricity was to build an array of such crystals, and the conversion from light to electricity would be pretty efficient.

It's what we do with radio waves; it's why a crystal radio can work at all: they measure the power of a transmitter in watts because you're actually throwing power into the air. (This same principle was what Tesla was getting at with his Wardenclyffe experiments.)

But of course the technical details are a little more complicated, and until now the best way we could convert light to electricity was the photovoltaic cell, which is staggeringly inefficient.

Well, we'll get there, I suppose.

* * *

Six species of vegetable from one plant, because humans have been genetically modifying food for thousands of years.

One plant is the progenitor of cabbage, brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi, broccoli, and cauliflower.

* * *

Well, it's my weekend, finally. Maybe I'll get to relax, a little.