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Blog entries from anciendaze

anciendaze has a total of 70 entries.

  1. anciendaze
    In The Reefs of Taprobane, Arthur C. Clarke recounted some underwater adventures he and Mike Wilson had exploring reefs around Sri Lanka. (He was ahead of his time in calling his books on diving the Blue Planet trilogy. That name was not used for a television series until much, much later.) In The Treasure of the Great Reef, he recounts how they discovered a wreck on Great Basses Reef, and...
    anciendaze, Mar 30, 2014
  2. anciendaze
    Many years ago there was a strange joke going around among aeronautical engineers: "What's bigger than an ox, has square corners, and flies?" After the victims spent a while trying to make sense of this they were told the answer was "a flying ox box." This fit all the stated requirements while failing to satisfy any lingering desire to make sense. A similar dissatisfaction strikes me when...
    anciendaze, Mar 15, 2014
  3. anciendaze
    Earlier I discussed some parallels between Mason-Pfizer Monkey Virus MPMV and beta retroviruses which cause mammary tumors in other species in my post Curse of the Monkey God?. In the post titled The Purloined Virus I mentioned a delta retrovirus commonly infecting domesticated cattle and found in unpasteurized milk, thus hiding in plain sight. I've also mentioned Equine Infectious Anemia Virus...
    anciendaze, Mar 1, 2014
  4. anciendaze
    In past posts I've already said some things about situations where normal distributions should not be expected. These actually turn up all over biomedical statistics, and the real puzzle is how researchers avoid seeing them. I'll repeat some of that in this post; bear with me. In this discussion of an unusually dry subject, I can promise to uncover a piquant irony. I've had some experience...
    anciendaze, Feb 19, 2014
  5. anciendaze
    While most people at some time use the term "trainwreck" to describe a situation with a particularly messy outcome, few have actually seen a real trainwreck. I have come quite close. I didn't see the actual impact, but I passed through one crossing minutes before it was blocked by wreckage, and passed through the crossing where the crash began immediately after the wreck. The only evidence of...
    anciendaze, Jan 22, 2014
  6. anciendaze
    Many sports fans will recogize the term "homefield advantage". Even I, who don't always know which teams are which, am aware that some consistently do better at home than away. This may depend on actual physical characteristics of that home field, which are less familiar to opposing teams, like the Green Monster in Fenway Park. It may also come from the lack of a need to travel to home games,...
    anciendaze, Dec 3, 2013
  7. anciendaze
    The BBC has a health news item on gaps in research on breast cancer. Research into "genetic factors" and "life-style changes" are always safe because they place the onus for disease on the victim. What is conspicuously missing is any search for a pathogen. ("We've already ruled that out, haven't we?") This hits me at a particularly bad time because even as I write a good friend is in surgery...
    anciendaze, Oct 1, 2013
  8. anciendaze
    Medical research has any number of difficult aspects, and the sociology of research is one of them. It would be nice to have fundamental laws which would deal with various conflicts based, not on subject matter, but on known characteristics of human beings which frustrate investigation of much simpler problems, like who failed to make fresh coffee when they took the last cup. I'm going to take...
    anciendaze, Sep 14, 2013
  9. anciendaze
    We often talk about some threat sneaking up on us as "coming in under the RADAR", even if we don't know exactly what that means. RADAR was of course the technological magic of WWII which allowed airplanes to be located long before they were seen or heard. (It also allowed the battleship Bismarck to sink the HMS Hood with a single shot. Accurate ranging is particularly important in gunnery.)...
    anciendaze, Aug 6, 2013
  10. anciendaze
    To say that religious mythology is not entirely consistent is like observing that the ocean can be rather humid at times. Christians may have Saint James buried in several places, one of which is called Campo Stella, and associated with the miraculous appearance of a star on the field of battle. (Secular historians may wonder if compostella, or burial ground, was retroactively corrupted into...
    anciendaze, Jul 6, 2012
  11. anciendaze
    Edgar Allen Poe is often credited with the origin of the modern detective story. His first such was The Murders in the Rue Morgue. The idea of murders in a place where dead bodies might be expected gives some insight into his thinking, though he did not capitalize on that at once. (He must certainly have been aware that the Paris morgue was something of a public attraction where the general...
    anciendaze, Jun 10, 2012
  12. anciendaze
    Joseph Conrad spent much of an adventurous life seeking out the blank spots on maps. What he found in one of them formed the shattering message of Heart of Darkness. He had gone looking for strange and exotic aspects of the non-European world. What he found was pathological behavior by Europeans outside the constraints imposed by civilization, and by Africans whose traditional cultures were...
    anciendaze, Jun 9, 2012
  13. anciendaze
    A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects....
    anciendaze, Jun 5, 2012
  14. anciendaze
    Three items in today's news prompted thoughts about trusting pharmaceuticals. The first is pretty obviously connected. If one-third of drugs you obtain are not what they claim to be what confidence can you place in treatment with them? Of course one can say that this is not a problem in countries where drugs are well-regulated, though the costs this imposes are substantial. (By the way, the...
    anciendaze, May 22, 2012
  15. anciendaze
    For impressionable antediluvians who grew up prior to television the passage in Robinson Crusoe where the protagonist finds footprints in the sand might raise hair on the back of the neck. It was not necessary for him to meet these visitors to know that he had company. (Probably just as well, since his visitors turned out to be cannibals. I remember being properly horrified by this, somehow...
    anciendaze, Mar 10, 2012