Monday, May 05, 2014

Moving! Redux!

Just an FYI that I am moving the blog. I kept running into dead links among older postings. Rather than hunt-and-peck and fix bit by bit, I am in the process of moving to a new blog to make it easier to clean up dead links, edit as needed, delete posts that no longer apply and the like.

So visit me at Bernal Alpha. New posts! Old posts migrating! Special guests! (Well, not sure about that, but maybe!)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows all the currently operating uncrewed exploration vehicles crawling through our Solar System. about some crewed exploration?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Stone Tree, Star Arch

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Teide National Park in the Spanish Canary Island of Tenerife. Stone trees and the arch of the Milky Way. "Mouseover" the image to get a constellation guide.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Taste of the Peculiar

William Gibson: Distrust That Particular Flavor (Penguin Books; 2012; ISBN 978-1-101559-41-3).

I read this collection early in 2012, kept meaning to read it a second time and write a review, but never really got around to either. However, it was no fault of Gibson's, just my increasingly hummingbird-like way of acting these days as my attention span becomes increasingly fractured.

The essays remained in my mind and I would think upon them throughout the year and even haul the book out to re-read them. This past week, I read the whole collection through again, front-to-back. And I suspect that I will be dipping into this collection again and again, focusing on essays, paragraphs, phrases and even pairs of words.

As with his increasingly contemporary novels, Gibson brings his (sardonic and science fictional trained) eyes on aspects of culture, technology and more. The essays range from cities (or particular cities, especially Tokyo, London, New York and—most infamously for Gibson—Singapore) to film to music to individual bits of technology such as cellphones. In the year since I first read this collection, I have caught up (thanks to high-speed internet and the like) with the filmed bits of author and chef Anthony Bourdain, and it's interesting to see how their observations on countries and cities intersect, but, with those intersections, vary widely as to what is observed and what conclusions are drawn.

Gibson protests (too much) about his abilities as a writer of non-fiction. He is wrong here: he's a great writer, fiction or non-fiction. While I wouldn't want to see him take a few years off to write an in-depth study of wristwatches, I hope he continues to delve into wristwatches, coffee makers, manual calculators, film, music and more both in a fictional and a non-fictional sense for a long time going forward.

Made up of: Introduction—African Thumb Piano; Rocket Radio; Since 1948; Any 'Mount of World; The Baddest Dude on Earth; Talk for Book Expo, New York; Dead Man Sings; Up the Line; Disneyland with the Death Penalty; Mr. Buk's Window; Shiny Balls of Mud: Hikaru Dorodango and Tokyu Hands; An Invitation; Metrophagy: The Art and Science of Digesting Great Cities; Modern Boys and Mobile Girls; My Obsession; My Own Private Tokyo; The Road to Oceania; Skip Spence's Jeans; Terminal City; Introduction: "The Body"; The Net is a Waste of Time; Time Machine Cuba; Will We Have Computer Chips in Our Heads?; William Gibson's Filmless Festival; Johnny: Notes on a Process; Googling the Cyborg.

Counts as twenty-six (26) entries in 2013: The Year in Shorts. Previously read in 2012, but never reviewed for some reason.
Rainy Days on Saturn

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a storm on Saturn...many times larger than our small blue dot. Imaged by the long-lived (and long may it live) Cassini orbiter, this storm has been observed on Saturn since 2010.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

By the Way, Which One is Pink?

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day will have you breaking out your classic red-green glasses. Hey, look, we're on Mars! And there's Mount Lookitthat!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Maximum Sols

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a combination of a number of images, collected over a year, by the orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory of our quiet star. Doesn't look all that sedate now, does it?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Dark Side of the Moon

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a collage of images showing our Moon in various stages of being eclipsed by the shadow of our own planet.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Water is Wet

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a short video, courtesy of Canadian Astronnaut Chris Hadfield (who is doing a wonderful job of public outreach while in orbit). What happens to a washcloth in orbit? Can you get it really wet? And what happens when you wring it out? Great stuff, here.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows (in X-Ray light) the remnants of SN 1006, a star that went quite boom in the constellation of Lupus, in the year 1006. The Chandra X-Ray Observatory imaged the expanding bubble of gas, showing complexity unseen in "ordinary" light.

Monday, April 22, 2013


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a very different view of a (difficult to spot) object in the constellation of Orion: the "Horsehead" Nebula, found within the larger Great Nebula of Orion (Messier 42). I've only been able to spot it a few times from my lousy light polluted backyard.