Monday, August 15, 2016

Reading list: The Goblin Reservation

The Goblin Reservation, described as a forgotten classic and "more light-hearted than most of Simak’s other novels" comes with a 'highest recommendation' as "a near-perfect blend of action, humor, and conscience". It was also recommended by a Russian translator colleague.

Cover of the original Berkley paperback edition
of 1968, courtesy of Polite Dissent

Illustration by Soviet artist Eugenia Sterligova,
from Wikipedia

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Laundry balls

Laundry balls were all the rage a few years ago. The corresponding marketing claims always seemed somewhat pseudoscientific. Cf. Wikipedia. It seems quite a few 'eco stores' were taken in by the apparent greenwash propaganda – or worse, were perhaps 'complicit' in misleading well-meaning 'green consumers'. Could it all have been a load of balls?

Friday, August 12, 2016

Positive Psychology

Anyone suffering from symptoms of post-Brexit depression would probably be well advised to avoid reading the horror scenario described in an article by Tobias Stone with the title History tells us what may happen next with Brexit & Trump.

La Peste di Firenze, Marcello 1348

On a related note see Spiegel article under the heading The Horrifically Contemporary World of Hieronymus Bosch.

Hieronymus Bosch, "The Garden of the Earthly Delights"
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid/ Depósito de Patrimonio Nacional

You have been warned, but if you can't resist the temptation to read the article, it would no doubt be a good idea to put it into perspective by reading the article on positive psychology by Tim Lomas.

Interestingly, a few weeks ago the same author wrote an article on 'lexical limitations to happiness' under the heading How other languages can reveal the secrets to happiness, featuring the German terms Schadenfreude and Waldeinsamkeit, for example.

Learning the language of happiness. Kzenon/Shutterstock

Blast from the past: HP 15C

I still have my HP 15C calculator from my uni days (described here as "THE killer scientific calculator for engineers and chemists back in the '80s"), including the German Benutzerhandbuch. Looks like they are selling for USD 100 or more (see eBay or Amazon).

Website of the day: World Ocean Observatory

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Has Chris Huhne been brainwashed?

Chris Huhne's 'performance' at the memorable Shell/Daily Telegraph Energy Scenarios event in London back in 2010 was impressive. He indicated strong commitment to energy efficiency, renewables in general and in particular a European supergrid for renewables, notably telling the audience – in direct response to a question I put to him on this subject – that he was "completely sold on interconnection".

Equally impressive  was his apparently passionate broadside against anti-wind pontificators at the Renewable UK 2011 conference in Manchester, during which he referred to an "unholy alliance of short-termists, armchair engineers, climate sceptics and vested interests ... selling the UK economy short by their refusals to acknowledge the benefits that renewables will bring".

Sadly, his performance in an interview about the Hinkley C madness on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning was lamentable. In complete contrast to his previous enthusiasm for renewables, he pontificated about the variability or renewables in a manner one is used to from unenlightened renewables sceptics and about the alleged need for new baseload (which is an outdated concept), verging on enthusiastic support for the Hinkley C white elephant. A classic Victor Meldrew moment!

Tom Burke, on the other hand, was in his usual excellent form on the same programme.

You can listen to the programme here. The nuclear section starts at 2 hours and 10 minutes.

Chris Huhne at the Delabole windfarm in Truro, England, c.2011.
Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Virtual Reality

Memorable comment from John Humphrys at the end of a piece about Virtual Reality on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning:

We've had VR on the wireless for ages, of course – you just shut your eyes...