Steve Jobs Quote

“Creativity is just connecting things,” Apple cofounder Steve Jobs said in 1996. “When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.”

From “Smarter Better Faster” by Charles Duhigg.

How does this compare to your ideas of creativity?

2+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar

Long-Lost First Movie of a Solar Eclipse Found, Restored

In May, 1900, British magician Nevil Maskelyne, Jr., travelled to North Carolina in the United States to observe and attempt to photograph the total eclipse of the Sun on May 28th of that year.  Maskelyne was the son of John Nevil Maskelyne, a celebrated magician who was also the inventor of the pay toilet.  (Neither should be confused with the unrelated Rev. Dr Nevil Maskelyne, the fifth British Astronomer Royal from 1765 to 1811.)  Solar eclipses had been photographed before, with the first completely successful photograph taken of the eclipse of 1851-07-28, but Maskelyne wanted to take the next step and make a motion picture of the eclipse.  He used a camera with a telescopic adapter developed by his father, which he had previously attempted to use to photograph the eclipse of 1898-01-22, but his film was stolen during the return to Britain so we’ll never know what it contained.

The film from the 1900 eclipse was stunning.  I have photographed four total solar eclipses (1999, 2001, 2008, and 2010), and even with modern equipment, dealing with the rapid and dramatic changes in light level in the seconds before and after totality is very challenging.  However Maskelyne managed to do it (nothing is known about his equipment or technique), the result was a total success, which was shown in British theatres.  The film disappeared shortly after its theatrical presentation and was believed to have been lost for over a century.  In 2018, a copy (it is unknown whether this was the original or a print) was found in the archives of the Royal Astronomical Society, whose curator did not know what it was, and upon consultation with the British Film Institute’s (BFI) curator of silent films, it was identified as the Maskelyne eclipse film.  The BFI’s conservators re-photographed the original celluloid film onto 35 millimetre film, which was then digitally scanned and restored as a 4K video.  Here is the restored film.  It is embedded here as a smaller video: click on “Watch on YouTube” to watch in full resolution.

Now, as eclipse videos go, this isn’t a competitor for those made recently, but it is one hundred and nineteen years old, the first successful attempt to make a movie of totality, and shows all of the principal phenomena of an eclipse including the diamond ring, Baily’s beads, inner and middle corona, and prominences.  It is a heck of a lot better than any movie I have made of totality.  It may taken the sleight of hand, sense of timing, and iron nerves of a master stage magician to adjust the exposure so precisely as the events of the eclipse unfolded—I know I could not hope to do it.

The Maskelynes were a creative family: Nevil’s son, Jasper Maskelyne, was the third generation of stage magicians in the family and, after joining the Royal Engineers after the outbreak of World War II, consulted during the war on camouflage and deception to aid British forces.

Here is an article from Atlas Obscura with additional details about the movie and its restoration.  This is the press release [PDF] from the BFI announcing the release of the restored film.

20+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

Big Brother Parking Lot

I just came back from a store. It has a parking lot that charges only after the first hour. It used to have the typical gate that opens and you take a card with a time stamp. NOW they take a picture of my car and its license plate. When I get done with shopping I go to a “Big Brother” machine and punch in my license plate number. After I put in the number it shows me a photo of my car and asks for money if I have parked over an hour. (I like free so I shop quickly. No dimes left my hands.) I then drive off the lot. There is no gate I have to pass through on exit but I am sure a camera gets a picture of my departure.

The system works by recording the car license. And if you didn’t pay the right amount and drove off, the police or collection agency would come after you. They probably put in this system because there is a sports stadium nearby and people were working the old system and paying the right amounts. Now they know exactly how long a car has stayed. Before you could switch time stamp cards with someone and get out of paying a lot.

I wonder how much Big Brother is tracking me and my car not just at this store but around town.

Do you have anything like this near you?

4+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Eva Brunne, the first openly gay bishop in Sweden, has said the following.

“We all have to think about which people we are and who we are living with. And in fact, we all have the same value. Although we do not speak the same language or pray to God in the same way or look the same, we have the same value, and we shall live in a country together and have the same rights,” she said, in comments reported by Nyheter Idag.

“I say that I sometimes have more in common with Muslims, those I meet, than with the right-wing Christians,” she said and went on to add that Christians have their own extremists, mentioning the Crusades and the witch burnings that took place hundreds of years ago.

“We hear a lot about terrorism and think that it is Muslims who practice this, which it is, but it is nevertheless a small, small minority of all the Muslims we know,” she added.

I wonder if she knows which team she is on. It is as if all the difference between the religions don’t matter and we should believe reality doesn’t matter. [Cheap shot] Of course as a lesbian I would take it as a given her not knowing much about mankind.

7+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

Book Review: Planetary: Earth

“Planetary: Earth”, Dawn Witzke, ed.This is the fourth book in the publisher’s Planetary Anthology series. Each volume contain stories set on, or figuring in the plot, the named planet. Previous collections have featured Mercury, Venus, and Mars. This installment contains stories related in some way to Earth, although in several none of the action occurs on that planet.

Back the day (1930s through 1980s) monthly science fiction magazines were a major venue for the genre and the primary path for aspiring authors to break into print. Sold on newsstands for the price of a few comic books, they were the way generations of young readers (including this one) discovered the limitless universe of science fiction. A typical issue might contain five or six short stories, a longer piece (novella or novelette), and a multi-month serialisation of a novel, usually by an established author known to the readers. For example, Frank Herbert’s Dune was serialised in two long runs in Analog in 1963 and 1965 before its hardcover publication in 1965. In addition, there were often book reviews, a column about science fact (Fantasy and Science Fiction published a monthly science column by Isaac Asimov which ran from 1958 until shortly before his death in 1992—a total of 399 in all), a lively letters to the editor section, and an editorial. All of the major science fiction monthlies welcomed unsolicited manuscripts from unpublished authors, and each issue was likely to contain one or two stories from the “slush pile” which the editor decided made the cut for the magazine. Most of the outstanding authors of the era broke into the field this way, and some editors such as John W. Campbell of Astounding (later Analog) invested much time and effort in mentoring promising talents and developing them into a reliable stable of writers to fill the pages of their magazines.

By the 1990s, monthly science fiction magazines were in decline, and the explosion of science fiction novel publication had reduced the market for short fiction. By the year 2000, only three remained in the U.S., and their circulations continued to erode. Various attempts to revive a medium for short fiction have been tried, including Web magazines. This collection is an example of another genre: the original anthology. While most anthologies published in book form in the heyday of the magazines had previously been published in the magazines (authors usually only sold the magazine “first North American serial rights” and retained the right to subsequently sell the story to the publisher of an anthology), original anthologies contain never-before-published stories, usually collected around a theme such as the planet Earth here.

I got this book (I say “got” as opposed to “bought” because the Kindle edition is free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers and I “borrowed” it as one of the ten titles I can check out for reading at a given time) because it contained the short story, “The Hidden Conquest”, by Hans G. Schantz, author of the superb Hidden Truth series of novels (1, 2, 3) and Ratburger.org member, which was said to be a revealing prequel to the story in the books. It is, and it is excellent, although you probably won’t appreciate how much of a reveal it is unless you’ve read the books, especially 2018’s The Brave and the Bold.

The rest of the stories are…uneven: about what you’d expect from a science fiction magazine in the 1950s or ’60s. Some are gimmick stories, others are shoot-em-up action tales, while still others are just disappointing and probably should have remained in the slush pile or returned to their authors with a note attached to the rejection slip offering a few suggestions and encouragement to try again. Copy editing is sloppy, complete with a sprinkling of idiot “its/it’s” plus the obligatory “pulled hard on the reigns” “miniscule”, and take your “breathe” away.

But hey, if you got it from Kindle Unlimited, you can hardly say you didn’t get your money’s worth, and you’re perfectly free to borrow it, read the Hans Schantz story, and return it same day. I would not pay the US$4 to buy the Kindle edition outright, and fifteen bucks for a paperback is right out.

Witzke, Dawn, ed. Planetary: Earth. Narara, NSW, Australia: Superversive Press, 2018. ISBN 978-1-925645-24-8.

6+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

Keystone Habits

I’m reading a book on habits by Charles Duhigg.  There is an important concept in the book called “Keystone Habits”.  This is a habit that is formed that changes a person’s life. I was wondering what Keystone Habits the Ratizens have.

Here are some examples.

  1. Daily Exercising
  2. Journaling
  3. Discipline learned through work, military, church etc

Some negative ones

  1. Snacking
  2. Drugs
  3. TV watching (This is measured in hours not minutes.)

Please relate about people around you that show Keystone Habits.

4+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

64 means “mushi”

http://www.misaki.rdy.jp/illust/child/gakkou/mushiba/sozai/103.jpg

Well, this is for June 4th. In Japanese, numbers can make words easily. 6 can have the “mu” pronunciation and 4 can be “shi”. “Mushi” means dental cavity. So June 6th is Dental Cavity Day. Okay technically Fight Against Dental Cavity Day but I like the looser translation.

Happy Dental Cavity Day!!

4+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

Experimental Feature: Liking a Post Requests Comment Notifications

Since comment notifications were added to Ratburger.org on 2018-02-20, the rule has been that when a new comment is added to a post on the site (I refer here to main site posts, not items posted in groups, which are handled entirely differently), notifications are sent to the author of the post and to all other members who have commented on the post so far (excluding, of course, the author of the new comment).  On 2018-06-10 this was revised slightly by allowing comments which contain just the text “follow” or “c4c” (an old-time bulletin board system abbreviation of “comment for comments”) to request notifications without actually appearing in the comments for the post or the “Recent Comments” box in the sidebar.

I have just revised this code so that in addition to the post author and other commenters, users who have “Liked” the post will also be notified of new comments.  It is common for posts to have a large number of likes but only a few comments, and thus for new comments to be largely invisible unless a user happens to see them in the “Recent Comments” box.  It seems to me that people who have liked a post will probably be interested in any comments it engenders, and that sending notifications to these people will increase engagement with the post and possibly stimulate additional comments.

If people find this change detrimental or annoying, it is easily removed.

Full details of the implementation will be included in tonight’s regular posting to the Updates Group.

12+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

Werewolves of Laredo

Before her retirement many years ago, my mother was a professor at an institution of higher learning in Laredo, Texas, teaching Spanish Literature and English as a Second Language. I ended up following her career path, though in a different discipline (History).

Anyone who has worked in academia will tell you of some of the strange and bizarre excuses that students come up with for missing class. My mom, however, encountered one that I doubt I’ll ever top. Once, a female student of hers who was pregnant said she couldn’t make it to class one evening because her parents, who were very superstitious, believed that if she went out during a full moon she would end up giving birth to a werewolf.

I wonder what Warren Zevon would’ve thought…

9+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

Jonah Goldberg Leaves National Review

After twenty-one years, Jonah Goldberg is leaving National Review.  Here is his final “G-File” at National Review Online.  He will remain a fellow at the National Review Institute (whatever that means).  The G-File will continue as an E-mail newsletter, to which one can subscribe via a link in the article.  He notes “(For legal reasons, I cannot take my subscription list with me, so I have to recreate it as best as possible.)”.

He and Steve Hayes (presumably this one)  are starting “something new” whose placeholder Web site’s title calls “NewCo by Steve Hayes & Jonah Goldberg”.

7+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

Monday Meals: 2019-06-03

Roast Goat Quarter

Roast goat quarter: ingredients

Easter dinner at Fourmilab is usually the traditional Swiss repast of roast leg of goat, served over rice with vegetables. This is an easy-to-prepare, can’t fail meal which is suitable for any occasion. Goat is considered a “red meat”, but I find it most comparable to turkey dark meat in flavour and texture. The taste is unique and not at all gamey. (Of course, this depends upon what the goat was fed. Swiss goats are usually fed on grass and forage; if your goat was fed on garbage and fish heads, all bets are off.)

Roast goat quarter: ready to cookStart with a leg of goat (it’s called «cabri quartier arrière» in the shops here—I don’t want to get into disputes between anatomists and butchers [is there a difference?]—I’m just reporting) between 600 and 1000 g including bones; this will serve two adults. The cut pictured above weighed 716 g, which is about average. Rub the meat with an ample amount of garlic purée (which I buy ready to use in a tube; if you can’t find this or insist on fresh, crush several cloves of garlic) and then sprinkle all over with salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Place in a glass casserole dish large enough to hold the entire leg (you may have to use some force to bend the joint in order to fit; in case it won’t go in, dislocate the joint and cut into two pieces). Peel a medium-sized onion, cut in half, and place the two halves on the top of the meat. A sprig of rosemary (supplied with the goat meat here) placed between the onions will add flavour as you roast the meat. Cover the casserole and place in the refrigerator for several hours (overnight is fine) to allow the garlic, salt, and pepper to season the meat.

Half an hour before you’re ready to start cooking, remove the casserole from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 220° C in circulating air mode if available. When the oven is at temperature, place the covered casserole in the middle of the oven. Make sure the lid fits well—otherwise the roast will dry out. (This is about the only thing that can go wrong with the recipe.) Roast goat quarter: cooked

Leave in the oven for 75 minutes. As you approach the end of the cooking time, make white rice the Fourmilab can’t fail way: take the desired quantity of just about any kind of rice (but not “wild rice”, which is actually grass seed), around ⅓ to ½ cup per person (I use “cup” to mean 250 ml), and place in a saucepan. (I prefer sticky short-grained risotto rice like Arborio or Carnaroli, as it readily soaks up the flavour of the juice from cooking.) Add twice the volume of cold water as rice and, if you like, a little salt. Stir the rice and water to sink any “floaters” then turn on the highest heat setting and wait until the water is boiling vigorously. Turn down the heat to the lowest setting (“simmer”) and cover the pan. Then do absolutely nothing for 15 minutes, at the end of which all of the water will have been absorbed and the rice will be perfect.

Roast goat: ready to serve

When everything is done, remove the casserole from the oven, place servings of rice into bowls, top with slices of goat meat and season with the liquid you’ll find at the bottom of the casserole, which will be a blend of the juice from the roast and onions. (Use a baster to transfer it from the casserole to bowls.)

When it’s time to clean up the casserole dish, soak it in warm water and dish detergent for a while, then use a stainless steel scrubber to remove any baked-on cruft, after which the dish grinder will finish the job.

Save the bones and any leftovers, place in a small sauce pan, cover with water, add a squirt of garlic purée and a tablespoon of vinegar, bring to a boil, and then turn down and simmer for around an hour. Remove the bones, place the stock in a container and refrigerate. The next day you can reheat the stock and serve as soup, as pure broth or after cooking cut-up vegetables in the stock. I usually add some starch-based sauce thickener to give the soup a little more body.

Bon appetit!

6+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

Learning Late in Life

I love flying craft of all kinds; however, my passion is more of an awe of the aesthetics and history of flying, and my technical knowledge is limited. That’s why I was delighted to come across this book at a thrift store. Despite the strange green stains streaking a page,  it’s a keeper.  It is right on my level and I’m learning some terminology and concepts that are new to me.

Here’s a question: There was an illustration of an early experiment with flight, when a monk leapt from a building in giant wings and broke both legs. Why did he not fashion a dummy about his height and weight and toss it off the building before dreaming of launching off himself?

3+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar