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Monthly Archives: September 2021

Summer 2021: Some of us had it easy

Tomato bisque from tomatoes I grew and canned Nature was not kind to everyone this summer. There were terrifying fires in California and Australia, and deadly floods in the United States, Europe, and Asia. But here in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains, it was like 1950 again. The temperature here in my woods never […]

Remember the stars?

The Human Cosmos: Civilization and the Stars. Jo Marchant, Dutton, 2020. 388 pages. Marchant is concerned about how modern people and our cultures have lost touch with the sky. Paradoxically, we think of ourselves as living in a larger world than our ancestors. But in truth, by cutting ourselves off from the sky, we live […]

Deep frying with olive oil?

Rutabaga-Roquefort fried pie, deep fried in olive oil We have learned in recent years that olive oil is more stable at high temperatures than we knew. Research has shown that the stability of vegetable oils when heated is more complicated than the temperature at which they begin to smoke. In any case, I can testify […]


Whatever this is, it’s not Foundation. If Foundation is what it’s supposed to be, then it’s a complete failure. It’s something entirely different from Foundation. Whatever the difference is supposed to be, it’s nothing new. After watching the first two episodes, I find myself angry, partly because it’s not Foundation and partly because it tries […]

Centrist authoritarians

A radical centrist disciplines a partisan. George Cruikshank, 1839, Wikimedia Commons. I believe it was Paul Krugman who came up with the term “radical centrists.” Here’s how I would define them: Smug, preening, mediocre intellectuals who strut their undoubted moral superiority, claiming an ability to see “both sides” and believing themselves to be innocent of […]

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 […]

The French paradox

Roquefort Several news outlets carried stories yesterday about a Swedish study which found that full-fat dairy products not only may not be harmful to heart health but actually may be beneficial. For example, there was this story in the Guardian: “Research suggests a diet rich in dairy fat may lower the risk of heart disease.” […]


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 […]

Who doesn’t love a band?

Stokes County’s biggest public event is the Stokes Stomp, an outdoor music festival that happens each September on the weekend after Labor Day. The Democratic Party had a booth, of course. But I sneaked away from the booth when the army band arrived. As the band regrouped at the stage for the national anthem, I […]