Thursday, January 14, 2016

5042 Something strange....

Thursday, January 14, 2016

"See, free nations are peaceful nations. Free nations don't attack each other.
Free nations don't develop weapons of mass destruction."
--George W. Bush, Milwaukee, Wis., Oct. 3, 2003--


There's a white spot in Sweden (inside the Arctic circle):'37.0%22N+20%C2%B055'10.9%22E/@68.3766825,20.9188504,490m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x0    My first guess was a frozen lake, but other lakes in the area are clearly not frozen.  Then I found this: follow the road east about 3000 feet, then take the spur to the north.  What's THAT cluster?!

A bit further north we find this:'37.0%22N+20%C2%B055'10.9%22E/@68.4549658,21.0819801,622m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x0

I scouted around a bit and found more solitary white circles, and more green-brown clusters, and in every case, roads go to them.  (I just realized, I'm assuming those are roads, but it's possible they are caribou/reindeer trails.  Leads to interesting thoughts.) 

Anyone know what these things are?   They don't stand up from the surface much, they are flat.  There are villages in the vicinity, but at a (safe?) distance from the spots, and roads go to the spots.  I'm not sure they're villages, either - they're widely scattered houses along the roads.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

5041 Random

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten.
– B. F. Skinner --


I thought this was amusing:  from Google Translate was criticised in Russia on Tuesday after it emerged that the service was translating the term “Russian Federation” to “Mordor”.  I assume that's the Ukranian Google, translating from Russian to Ukranian.

The explanation offered by Google is that humans are not involved in translations.  Instead, the service scans  hundreds of millions of documents to find the best translation. But, of course, not being human, it doesn't always "get" the context.  One has to wonder what documents were scanned, and how many led to "Mordor".


I'm reading the new Stephen King compilation of short stories.  I'm pleased to report that I'm halfway through, and so far only half of the stories get into horror.  I prefer King when he's more psychological or philosophical than when he's freaky.

One of the stories is about a couple who are just barely making ends meet, behind on the rent, can't afford the car insurance, and so on.  He is a substitute teacher, and she is a healthcare worker caring for a wealthy old man six hours a day, six days a week.  That's thirty-six hours a week, right?  Without giving anything away, the old man offers the woman $200,000 to do something.  The couple are debating whether to go for it or not, and she says that it would take her three years to earn that much.

My head spun. 

Either Mr. King, or I, have no idea what life costs and jobs pay these days.  That means she is currently making something like $67K per year.  And plus whatever money the husband is bringing in, that's not enough to support them?  I don't understand. Many decades ago I was a substitute teacher for a year, and I remember that it amazed me that an average of two days a week netted me more than what a salaried teacher made, so the couple had to be together currently pulling in well over $100K.  I guess I really have no idea what an average salary is these days, or what it costs to run a small household.  Either I don't, or Mr. King doesn't.  I don't get it.

Another story is about a Kindle that offers the user what appear to be alternate timelines, like one where Hemingway (and a bunch of other writers) lived longer and wrote some other books.  And you could look up newspapers and read about events that happened in other possibilities, including one where the Cuban missile crisis resulted in all-out nuclear war and the end of civilization.  It blows the minds of two college literature instructors and a student who go a little bit crazy looking stuff up.

I don't get their reactions.  It's not like they are just curious.  They seem to think this stuff really happened and that it somehow has meaning to them.  If I came across something like that, I'd think "fan fiction", and just be impressed that there was so much of it.  And I know that the Cuban Missile crisis didn't kill us all, so I'd figure that was fiction, too.  And even if it WAS material from "other time lines" (which I'd have trouble believing, but even so) I'd figure what the heck, it's not mine, has nothing to do with this life, and as far as I'm concerned it's all fiction.

I'm not all the way through that story yet, but I still think that the protagonists need a slap upside their heads.


I've been reading a lot of tributes to David Bowie.  Three things impress me - 1.) that everyone pretty much says  the same things about him, 2.) that everyone mentions Space Oddity, and 3.) that almost everyone who mentioned listening to his music over the past few days made a point of mentioning that said music was pirated, as if they thought he would approve of that.


The Wizard of Oz as never seen before: 

This one is called "Of Oz the Wizard".  Some guy (sorry, I didn't make a note of his name, but I'm sure it's Googleable) went through the entire movie, chopping it into pieces by individual words, and putting it back together in alphabetical order, but still in chronological order by word.  It's an hour and forty-one minutes long.  I went to it just out of curiosity, thinking it would be immensely boring, but it's not boring.  It's great!

Some sections are better than others.  I especially enjoyed "hhh", starting about 38 minutes in (skip ahead).  I've been watching in bits and pieces of down time, and am now at one hour in, at the word "now".


I still want to write up the "brush fires", but I just haven't had time.  This stuff required no thought....