Skip Solar and Wind, Let’s Go Nuclear

ERCOT, the Texas power management organization, sent out an urgent plea this weekend for everyone who could to reduce power usage as much as possible. The system was strained at the seams. Wind and solar had both gone off line, natural gas supplies were not great, and peak usage pushed the rest of the generation capacity to its limits. The state now gets 23% of its power from wind, most of which had turned into turbine-cicles. That left coal and natural gas for power generation, since the state doesn’t have any commercial nuclear power plants.

I think the time has come to revisit nuclear, especially the possibilities of small, regional or even just urban nuclear power generators. Perhaps with a less inter-connected power grid, or perhaps not. Being able to transfer electricity from places with it (up here) to places that need it (down state) can be very, very important. Continue reading

It’s Almost Easy!?!

Last week I was sight-reading some of the choruses in Part II of Handel’s Messiah. There are two that are done fairly often, but more solos from Part II are sung than choruses. In fact, aside from recordings, I have only heard the entire Messiah done once, and that was over twenty years ago. Most people do parts of Part I, then a bit of Part II, and bits of Part III. Continue reading

Spare-Sounding Rock Music

I was listening to Floodlands by Sisters of Mercy a few days ago, and thinking “Wow, there’s not much sound depth.” Then realized that the same is true for the Clash, Queen, the Police, and other pre-synthesizer and computer bands. I’ve been listening to Nightwish, Avantasia, Xandria, Seven Spires, and classical works. When you go back to the big three plus vocalist (guitar, drums, bass guitar), the quality of the three or four musicians really makes or breaks the group. Continue reading

Fairy Tale Warnings

Why should you not . . . talk to strangers? Marry someone from outside your village? Drink from mysterious springs? Be rude to elderly women and men? Because uncanny, terrible things will happen to you. Just ask the grandmother or aunt or other teller of tales. At least . . . if you ask a real person, or read the original, unexpurgated stories. Even Andrew Lang, for all that he tidied up many of his stories in the Coloured Fairy Books, left enough hair on to make modern parents squirm and complain about the horrible examples. Continue reading

Cool Box!

My eye doctor recommended some eye-wipes (or spray) to deal with a minor but semi chronic irritation problem (in addition to the dry eyes that afflict everyone in the region whenever the heater runs). I found a box of the wipes at the local non-chain drug-n-stuff store. The box doubles as a display (for office use), and was rather nice. When I finished the box, I started breaking it down. Continue reading

Fantasy Armor Giggles

I wasn’t aware of the rule of inverse protection with fantasy until a discussion at Monster Hunter Nation a few years back. The source of the discussion was ultimately rooted in a bit of a furor in a professional writers’ organization over book covers. Specifically, there were complaints about book covers going back to the heyday of the Boris Valejo, Frank Franzetta style of cover art. Think of Conan or someone like him, and a chick in a armor bikini. Or go back to the 1940s-50s pulps (or earlier) and the era of the transparent space suit. The topic led to an amusing discussion of “the law of inverse fantasy armor.”

Continue reading

Product Review: MosoNatural air cleaners

MomRed decided that the litter box was too stout. Specifically, the scent of the litter box, whenever we couldn’t open the window for a few minutes/day to air the cat’s bathroom. So she decided that a charcoal bag was called for. Now, I didn’t notice a problem, but I spend more time around that part of the house, and so my nose might be more accustomed to kitty’s whiffy biffy. That, and I stir the litter several times a day (hourly) when I’m home, so it airs better. When I’m a Day Job, that doesn’t get done as often. Continue reading

That’s an Interesting Translation

This time of year, many Protestant churches that customarily incline toward more modern translations (and interpretations) of the Bible go back to the Authorized Version (King James) or Revised Standard Version for the gospel and Old Testament readings, because of the language. The slightly archaic words seem to fit what a lot of people think of as Christmas. While newer translations can be more easily understandable, the beauty of language can get lost. Continue reading

Because Paleomammals are cool . . .

Let’s face it. Dinosaurs get all the glory, but paleomammals went in some really odd directions before, well, various things happened, some of which either involved or coincided with* humans.

And if you thought that wasn’t odd enough, Australia said, “Here, hold my Toohey’s and watch this!”

In case you wondered what meeting some of the native fauna of Shikhari might entail . . .

The Americas, too, had some real oddities, especially South America. They seem to have died out when a land-bridge connected the continents and competition from North America moved in. That suggests pre-stress that affected the competitors somewhat less, or that the competitors were better adapted to deal with.

*There is a very heated controversy as to what role humans played in the extinction of the megafauna in the Americas and Australia. My feeling is that human hunting pressure, combined with the climate changes at the end of the last Ice Age, probably was too much, with climate shifts being the biggest difficulty for the paleomammals. If, as the geology suggests, large swaths of North America went from tundra to taiga to leafy forest to grassland in a little over a century, things like mastadons, mammoths, and giant sloths are not going to be able to adapt fast enough to cope with that enormous change in temperatures, precipitation, and flora.