barnabas_truman: (army)
"Here, hold this broccoli."

"Okay."

"And this other broccoli."

"Okay."

*puts broccolis on head*

*waits patiently for her to turn around and see*

"What are you doing with the broccoli??"

"They're antlers."

"What? Why antlers??"

"Because they are solid and will soon fall off. If they were hollow and permanent, they would be horns. Science!"

*glare*
barnabas_truman: (army)
"It's basically shaped like a snal."

"What's a snal?"

"A snal is a snek with a shell."

"I thought a snek with a shell would be a turtle."

"A turtle would be more a leezard with a shell. No wait, a tortoise is a leezard with a... with a mobile home. A turtle is a leezard with a houseboat."

Powering Up

Oct. 2nd, 2016 02:26 am
barnabas_truman: (kimiko)
With one last smash, the locked door bent open, and Ann Droid and young Apollo "Quasar" Jones burst into the empty bridge.

"They're all gone!' shouted Quasar.

"Hm. The pirates must have subdued our friends and taken them aboard their own ship while I was powered down from the EMP shockwave."

"I wish I hadn't been stuck in the ventilation shaft; I woulda fought 'em off!"

"No. They were many, and heavily armed. Be glad that they did not know you were there."

"Yeah, I guess. But we have to chase after them!"

"Indeed. Let us start the ship right away."

Quasar took a few steps towards the captain's chair, then cried out: "Oh no! They smashed the controls!"

Ann's eyes glowed red as she scanned the dashboard console.

"The damage is superficial. Many parts of the user interface are cracked or burnt and unusable, but the underlying systems are unharmed."

"But by the time we repair the controls, the pirates will be long gone!"

Thanks to the recent facial servo upgrade, Ann managed a slight smile.

"You, and apparently the pirates, are unaware of my full capabilities. As long as I have access to an undestroyed data port…"

She sat down in the captain's chair, folded back a hinged finger to reveal a datajack, and inserted it into the port under the console.

"…and the opportunity to concentrate without interruption…"

Her eyes dimmed and clicked off. The flashing red alert lights around the room went dark for a few seconds, then returned to the usual pale white. An echoing voice boomed from the intercom speakers:

"…then I do not need to control the ship, because I am the ship."

The hyperdrive began to hum awake.
barnabas_truman: (oldstyle)
Have you heard stories about "wild boars"? The Caledonian Boar from Greek mythology, Twrch Trwyth from Arthurian legend, the Wild Hog in the Woods from Appalachian folk song? Do keep in mind as you read these tales that the wild boar is not just a little pig with extra fur.

The wild boar is a primeval beast from the Pleistocene; larger specimens can be four feet high at the shoulder and weigh up to 700 pounds. It can sprint at 25 miles per hour and jump nearly five feet in the air, with enough force to knock down anyone short of Hercules. Snake venom has no effect on a boar; wolves run away from it; tigers that try taking one on will probably have a very bad day. The males have razor-sharp tusks, and during certain times of the year are covered with stiff bristles and an inch-thick extra layer of subcutaneous tissue. Good luck getting a spear through that. And if you do, I hope you're using a specially made hilted "boar spear," because if not, it will just keep charging up the shaft that's impaling it so it can bite you anyway.

Is it any wonder that the boar was spoken of with such fear and marvel in old songs and stories? These are legendary monsters brought to life.
barnabas_truman: (young whistler)
"Hummingbirds are so tiny. They make their nests out of tiny leaves and bits of lichen and moss and hold them together with strands of spiderweb."

"Are we sure they're not actually faeries? That totally sounds like something a faerie would do."
barnabas_truman: (young whistler)
"So do you know what xanthophyll does?"

"I know it's... yellow."

"Yes, and?"

"Aaaaaaaaaaand it's in plants."

"Very good. And do you know why we see it in leaves in the fall?"

"Becaaaaaauuuuuuuuse... it's all that's left after the chlorophyll flies south for the winter?"

>_<

"Ooh, that's the 'you were so close but then you ruined it' face, isn't it?"
barnabas_truman: (oldstyle)
Mars is a harsh desert world, far older than our own, lit dimly and coldly by pale red sunlight, howling with winds and sandstorms, laced with the crumbling canals and ruined ziggurats of a once great civilization of which nothing is left but dust and mysteries.

Beneath the permanent cloud cover on Venus, though, is a lush watery surface, not unlike Earth in its younger days, its tropical zones hot and humid and thick with jungle, in which the first expedition reports seeing fleeting glimpses of large reptilian creatures lurking in the shadows.

So who's ready to launch a zeppelin, activate the onboard aetheric bridge generator, and explore a new frontier from the comforts of a climate-controlled gondola suite?

Equinox

Sep. 22nd, 2014 10:11 pm
barnabas_truman: (oldstyle)
I smell an autumnal equinox in the air. That means we have reached the point when day and night are the same length, and henceforth--at least for the next six months--night will be longer than day. I for one am looking forward to cooler weather, and hope that the coming winter will bring California's mountains plenty of desperately-needed snowfall.
barnabas_truman: (army)
When our view of the Sun is obscured by Mercury or Venus, we call it a transit.

When our view of the Sun is obscured by the Moon, we call it an eclipse.

When our view of the sun is obscured by the Earth, we call it a night.
barnabas_truman: (dwarf)
1) Every automated system needs a manual OFF switch.

2) Every fluid intake pipe needs a way to be closed remotely.

3) Every fluid storage reservoir needs a drain that can be opened remotely.

4) All of these switches should be located at an elevation well above the fluid itself.

5) Anything that is going to be, or MIGHT be, anywhere near magma needs to be made entirely of steel or bauxite.
barnabas_truman: (army)
"What's that other thing that's in bones?"

"Hydroxyapatite?"

"No, that's when you're hungry for creme sandwich cookies."
barnabas_truman: (dwarf)
Ever wondered why I wear a feather in my hat? Must be my Neanderthal ancestry.

Caveman Couture: Neandertals Rocked Dark Feathers
barnabas_truman: (young whistler)
"It's not a real museum if it doesn't have at least one dinosaur bone."
barnabas_truman: (kimiko)
A conversation between a paleontologist and a police special agent:

"Bureaucrats! They might have known this [social unrest] would happen, if they'd properly studied Catastrophist theory. It is a concatenation of synergistic interactions; the whole system is on the period-doubling route to Chaos!"

"What does that mean, pray?"

"Essentially, in layman's terms, it means that everything gets twice as bad, twice as fast, until everything falls completely apart!"

(from The Difference Engine by Gibson & Sterling, pp 210-211)
barnabas_truman: (math)
The greatest progress is in the sciences that study the simplest systems. So take, say physics -- greatest progress there. But one of the reasons is that the physicists have an advantage that no other branch of sciences has. If something gets too complicated, they hand it to someone else. If a molecule is too big, you give it to the chemists. The chemists, for them, if the molecule is too big or the system gets too big, you give it to the biologists. And if it gets too big for them, they give it to the psychologists, and finally it ends up in the hands of the literary critic, and so on.

(from Noam Chomsky on Where Artificial Intelligence Went Wrong)
barnabas_truman: (oldstyle)
"People always think of technology as something having silicon in it. But a pencil is technology. Any language is technology. Technology is a tool we use to accomplish a particular task and when one talks about appropriate technology in developing countries, appropriate may mean anything from fire to solar electricity."

--Mae Jemison, first black woman in space
barnabas_truman: (army)
Here are some animated graphs displaying improvement in Olympic records over the past century or so. All three are excellent examples of the use of graphics to display data, especially the one of the 100 meter dash.

Running!

Swimming!

Jumping!
barnabas_truman: (dwarf)
I was having a lot of fun in the 19th century this weekend but last night the realization that a rocket-powered hoverwinch had successfully lowered a car-sized laser-armed robot onto another planet lured me back to the 21st.

(I'm using the Dwarf Fortress icon because any landing system that complicated must have been designed by dwarves.)
barnabas_truman: (oldstyle)
Saw the Pleiades tonight, did a bit of reading about them on Wikipedia, followed a few links, and these Bronze Age artifacts from central Europe turned up:

Bronze disk inlaid with golden symbols representing stars, probably including the Pleaides, and perhaps the sun and moon and solstice angles

Huge conical hats made of gold, sometimes decorated with complex calendars, apparently worn by priests of a sun-worshipping religion
barnabas_truman: (army)
In one program I am am recording my students' quiz scores in spreadsheets and saving them in HTML format. In another I am uploading them to the server hosting my course website. In a third I am conversing with a friend about the possibilities of automating some of this process for regular use, and in a fourth I am reading comics, checking on the updated site, and bragging about my multitasking. While all of this is happening, a fifth program is playing the soundtracks of old computer games that help me concentrate, and a sixth is juggling the processes of all the others and balancing requests for processor time. Isn't it great to be living in the future?

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