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Comment Space aliens (Score 1) 253

Scott Sigler has it about right in his Galactic Football League series ( Use science to explore the known galaxy. Recruit talented members of the appropriate ecospecies to fill the positions they're naturally suited for. Drugs, genetic mods and/or implants not permitted, but you've got sports medicine developed to the point where just about anything short of a severed head can be patched up and rehabbed in a couple-three days to get the player back on the field.

Comment WaPo article on Tucson as night-sky destination (Score 4, Informative) 130

A few days ago, the Washington Post ran a somewhat unconventional travel article on Tucson as a destination for skygazers, and mentioned the influence of the ISDA and the local astronomy community in creating the local ordinances limiting light pollution:

Comment Digital humanities (Score 3, Insightful) 489

I wouldn't have guessed that 240 comments could be posted, on Slashdot no less, in connection with the employment prospects of Ph.D's in literature without the phrase "digital humanities" having cropped up once. For folks with advanced degrees in the humanities plus the appropriate tech cred and skills, there are jobs out there. Most not tenure-track, but generally rewarding, and often in settings where one's colleagues are less ego-driven than in conventional academic departments.

Of course, earning a Ph.D. in say the poetry of Arthur Hugh Clough without having once touched a computer keyboard isn't the route to one of those.

Comment mbox + dovecot + mairix (Score 2) 282

I wouldn't posit this as the best way, but it's what I do. I keep my archival mail on a local filesytem arranged in directories, stored in the old-school mbox format. I run Dovecot under OS X for IMAP access to those messages from anywhere; when I need to search through the whole collection, I use mairix (an indexing and retrieval system).

Comment Community action *might* help (Score 3, Funny) 345

You don't live up the hollow from me, do you? Because your description fits my situation to a T, apart from my nominal 6 mbps speed. The rural DSL supplier in these parts, Verizon, did take some action in response to a well-publicized community meeting of residents in another part of my county who lobbied a year ago to get DSL extended to their neck of the woods. I think one of the county supervisors attended, and it seems that Verizon decided that it was in their public-relations interest to make a commitment to providing service, which they did in fact implement fairly quickly. In the meantime, Verizon has told me that the notorious evening slowdowns are the result of known "bandwidth exhaustion", which is supposed to be fixed Sometime Soon, for the usual values of "soon". Whether getting all the neighbors together to hold a bandwidth exhaustion protest would do any good is an open question.

Comment Lost Mark Twain recordings (Score 4, Interesting) 128

It has long been known that Mark Twain dictated part of his novel The American Claimant onto Edison cylinders. It was an experiment that he never repeated. Strangely, for someone whose manner of speaking was celebrated and often described during his lifetime, no one else ever thought to record him for posterity.

The American Claimant cylinders have long since gone missing. Keep your eye out for them in antique shops or your relatives' attics—if found, they would be worth who knows how many thousands or millions of dollars on the open market.

Comment Re:USPS (Score 4, Interesting) 398

I'm guessing you don't live in a rural community.

"Big government" aka the local post office in my central Virginia hamlet consists of a 400 square foot post office built by sectioning off the local country store. Along with the country store, it's the primary place to go to learn or pass along news, or to meet your neighbors. Of course it's kind of insane from a purely economic standpoint to maintain it, with a full-time postmistress, when there is a medium-sized PO five miles away in the next big town and a full-service PO a dozen miles away. But when that branch closes, and I suppose it will, it will mean one less point of human contact for folks around here, and some not insignificant additional burdens for people without a lot of money or with health problems for whom a trip to retrieve a package at a distance is not trivial.

Comment Re:Merry xmas, thanks for the free tech! (Score 0) 110

Let's see... do Virginia rednecks whose great-great-grandaddies undoubtedly fought for the Confederacy count as owning third-world mentalities? Because I'm in a rural service club in central VA that puts up a Nativity scene every year, and granted a couple of years ago when someone stole the baby Jesus doll and replaced it with a bottle of beer it was a Corona beer, but I'd still bet pretty good money that it was a Morris or a Shiflett who did it rather than a Gonzales or a Gomez...

Comment John Birch Society circa 1971 (Score 3, Interesting) 561

Nothing new under the sun. This dates me, but when I was in high school the local branch of the John Birch Society advertised an upcoming presentation called "Pot, Rock, and Revolution" that was going to expose how the jungle beat of rock & roll stimulates primitive brain responses and was part of a Communist plot to turn the youth of America into zombies. They seriously cited the Beatles' "Back in the USSR" as propaganda piece, clueless to its status as a parody of "Back in the USA", etc. So a group of long-haired kids went to the meeting, attracting nervous stares but surprisingly little outright hostility, and amazed the crowd by noting that several of us had straight-A grades despite a life-long diet of rock music.


Venezuela's Last Opposition TV Owner Arrested 433

WrongSizeGlass writes "AP is reporting the owner of Venezuela's only remaining TV channel that takes a critical line against President Hugo Chavez was arrested Thursday. 'Guillermo Zuloaga, owner of Globovision, was arrested on a warrant for remarks that were deemed "offensive" to the president,' Attorney General Luisa Ortega said. This comes on the heels of last week's story titled Venezuela's Chavez To Limit Internet Freedom."

Comment They've been doing this for years, actually. (Score 4, Informative) 336

The Australian researcher quoted in the story was co-author of a paper involving forensic use of C-14 dating of wines published in 2004:

U. Zoppi, Z. Skopec, J. Skopec, G. Jones, D. Fink, Q. Hua, G. Jacobsen, C. Tuniz, A. Williams, Forensic applications of 14C bomb-pulse dating, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms, Volumes 223-224, Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference on Accelerator Mass Spectrometry, August 2004, Pages 770-775, ISSN 0168-583X, DOI: 10.1016/j.nimb.2004.04.143.

and I'm nearly certain I saw published research in the 1990s using C-14 dating to establish wine adulteration, but as it's 3:40 in the morning insomniac me is not going to run down the reference

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