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Category Archives: Technology

Apple News+

There are two versions of Apple News. The free version, called just “Apple News,” is on all Macintosh computers, iPads, and iPhones. The subscription version, called “Apple News+”, costs $9.99 a month. For some years, I had casually used the free version on my iPhone, because it often showed me things that I had missed […]


Artist’s representation of the Artemis lunar module. Source: NASA via Wikipedia This is a twofold post. First, some gripes about the media. And second, a little about NASA’s program to return to the moon and, eventually, to go to Mars. Some gripes I fell for the clickbait and its down-with-billionaires appeal. NASA wasn’t on my […]

Mechanical math

Calculating at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. NASA/JPL photo. Starting, say, in the early 1960s, when computer chips started to become available, one of the first applications was making electronic calculators. That was a huge advance in technology, but it also is sad, because mechanical calculators became obsolete. A whole genre of elegant mechanical engineering was […]

It’s time to talk about galactic law

Hubble space telescope: the Sombrero Galaxy. Source: Wikimedia Commons “… the parties recognize Mars as a free planet and that no Earth-based government has authority or sovereignty over Martian activities.” — Elon Musk, Starlink terms of service Elon Musk’s long game Before the likes of Elon Musk started swaggering around the solar system, the question […]

Can we have some nice things now?

Pete Buttigieg at Washington Union Station. Source: Wikipedia. With “Amtrak Joe” in the White House, and the new U.S. secretary of transportation wanting to lead the world in high-speed rail (we’re now 19th) can we Americans now have some nice things? To people like me, who have ridden thousands of miles on trains (President Biden […]

Our own fresh taste of the 14th Century

The Covid-19 virus. Source: Wikipedia By historical standards, this plague has been a mild one. So far, worldwide, about 2.3 million people have died from Covid-19. The most fatal pandemic in recorded history was the Black Death, which peaked in Europe between 1347 and 1351. The Black Death killed between 75 million and 200 million […]

Understanding 5G

Source: Apple A great many articles have been written about 5G. Few of those articles are technical enough to help you understand the arguments over 5G safety. In addition, few of those articles are technical enough to help you understand which 5G cell phone is right for you, and which 5G cellular provider (such as […]

Industrial art

Click here for high-resolution version. From the moment I took these guys out of their boxes, I was eager to shoot their portraits. Justrite has been in business for 115 years. You can buy Justrite oil cans as antiques, including, of course, on eBay. The new cans seem to be even better made than the […]

Virtual emigration, anyone?

My 20-year-old Sony headphones, well worn but still working Ken, who is now back in Scotland after being stuck in the U.S. for six months during the Covid-19 lockdown, writes: “I can’t tell you how detoxed I already feel from U.S. politics…. No more Trump signs, no more awful religion, no more right wing madness…. […]

A flood of new data about prehistory

Who We Are and How We Got Here. By David Reich. Oxford University Press, 2018. 368 pages. During the past ten years, gene sequencing machines have become available that are thousands of times cheaper to operate than earlier machines. The analysis of human genes can yield an astonishing amount of information about prehistory, an area […]