Items Tagged: blogging

The Weird Universe explores a human and natural cosmos that is not only stranger than we imagine, but stranger than we can imagine. The usual suspects are Paul Di Filippo; Alex Boese, curator of the Museum of Hoaxes; and Chuck Shepherd, purveyor of News of the Weird.

Recent posts:

  • Sunbathing Bubble
    This looks like it would roast you to a nice golden brown. Human Hothouse: For comfortable sunbathing in the city or during cold weather, a California firm offers a Plexiglas bubble which lets in ultraviolet rays but keeps out sand, soot, and wind. The Fabor Sunbathing Capsule is 7 feet long and measures 3 feet wide by 18 inches high at the shoulders; it tapers to 30 inches by 15 inches at the feet. Hooded ventilators at the four corners provide fresh air. Fabor Robison Productions, Inc., of Burbank makes it and sells it for $67.50. Source: Newsweek - Sep 16, 1963.
  • Death By Flowers
    This is either a case of the unluckiest spouse ever, or a perfect murder by the husband. Original article here.
  • Brains and Bust Size — one medical opinion
    Back in 1964, Dr. Erwin O. Strassmann of Houston kicked up a controversy by suggesting there was a correlation in women between bust size and I.Q. And he managed to get his opinion published in a peer-reviewed journal. Kingsport Times-News - Aug 30, 1964 Curious to see exactly what he said, I tracked down his article. Turns out he was an enthusiastic follower of the now-discredited theory of "constitutional psychology." This was an effort to establish a link between body type and personality traits. Critics have dismissed it as an extended exercise in dressing up cultural stereotypes (such as, if you're overweight, you're lazy) in scientific language. For devotees of weird science, the entire field is a goldmine of strangeness. Here's the relevant section of Strassmann's 1964 article: Strassmann, E.O. (1964). "Physique, Temperament, and Intelligence in Infertile Women." International Journal of Fertility. 9:297-314.
  • The Animation of Joop Geesink
    We marvel at films like Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, or Wallace and Gromit, in which, during a given scene, one or two puppets might be in motion. I can't fathom the amount of work that Joop Geesink went through to create his films.
  • Fascinating Illusion
    Its awesome how realistic this looks when it is finished and fascinating how it is done as well.
  • Is your railroad invested in atomic research?
    An ad placed in Time magazine (April 26, 1948) by the "Federation for Railway Progress" boasted about their investment in atomic research, and urged railroads to join the federation to benefit from all the great advances that atomic research would soon bring to the transportation industry: Will your railroad have a place at the atomic research table? No industry stands to benefit more from atomic "vitamins" in its diet than the undernourished railroads... A new, lighter and stronger metal—which could be applied to the construction of light-weight freight and passenger cars—may well come out of atomic research. There is also the promise of new and more efficient lighting and heating systems, and other possibilities which only properly directed research could uncover. Almost 70 years later, is it possible to say if U.S. railroads actually did benefit in any way from atomic research? I've never thought of railroads and atomic research as being in any way related.

The Inferior 4+1 is a Livejournal community maintained by Paul, lizhand, Paul Witcover, lucius-t and ljgoldstein.

Recent posts:

  • Late Thoughts about the Hugos August 26, 2015
    On the whole I think it was the best possible outcome.  Voting for No Award isn't optimal, of course, but if the nominees are terrible that's the only logical choice.  I probably would have cheered when No Award was announced in the Puppy-dominated categories, out of a pent-up sense of relief, but on reflection I can see where it might not have been a polite thing to do.  I've been there, losing awards, and it doesn't feel great.*  I can only imagine how much worse it would feel if people were applauding the fact that you didn't win.One thing that bothers me is the new Puppy talking point, that we all voted against the slates without reading the nominees, that we voted not for the stories but because we wanted to send a message.  It bothers me, of course, because I did read the nominees, and furthermore I showed my work here, discussing, sometimes at length, why I thought they weren't very good.  I guess it's easier to make up a reason people voted against something than admitting you just picked some bad stories.  (My favorite is Sarah Hoyt, who says that "Chicoms" voted for The Three-Body Problem without reading it, because it was from China.  I'm old enough to remember when "Chicom" was a word people used unironically for Chinese Communists, but is that really a thing these days?  I honestly first read it as Chicon, and I wondered why people at a Chicago convention would all want to vote for The Three-Body Problem.)Finally, I recently learned that the word for "leash" in Spanish is "correa."  There's a joke there, but damned if I can find it.* Yes, even though it's an honor to be nominated.
  • Panels at Necronomicon August 25, 2015
    Here are two panels I was on.
  • New Review at LOCUS ONLINE August 21, 2015
    I take a gander at Wesley Chu's 4th novel:
  • New Review at the B&NR August 20, 2015
    You know those 2 early novels by Murakami...
  • Three Moments of an Explosion, China Miéville August 18, 2015
    The first three stories of Three Moments of an Explosion left me feeling disgruntled.  I wasn't sure what the point was, and that made me wonder if I'd just missed the point, and that, in turn, made me grumpy.  I wasn't even sure if they were stories at all, and that made me think I might be too narrow in my definition of stories, and that really made me grumpy.  (I hate it when someone tells me my thinking is too narrow.  It might be true, but I still hate it.)Then I hit the fourth story, "The Dowager of Bees," and I loved the hell out of it.  It's about a newbie at a poker game where one of the players turns out to have a "Full Hive": one black Jack, three number cards totaling a prime number, and the Dowager of Bees.  The newbie is inducted into this way of playing poker and goes on to experience similar games, even getting one of these rare cards himself.Almost all these stories are like this, in one way or another.  You can't really call them weird ideas; they're ideas that no one else would come up with, ever, so off-the-wall they're in a completely different house, one that probably exists outside of Euclidean geometry.  Drowned oil rigs that return to land, in "Covehithe."  A socialist theory of geology, in "The Dusty Hat."  Bones engraved with artwork, in "The Design."That makes the book especially hard to review, because so many of the stories turn on a central conceit, and it's hard to avoid giving that away.  (I may have already said too much…)  There's a theory of psychology that I really liked, and a completely outrageous (but, I have to admit, somewhat intriguing) idea for a movie, but I can't discuss the stories these appear in ("The Dreaded Outcome" and "The Junket," respectively).  All I can say is that I think they'll repay your interest.The ideas here are a problem in other ways.  So much depends on them, and Miéville has a tendency to keep them hidden for no reason, deploying them at the end instead of a climax.  And sometimes the characters don't completely fit within their story: they seem to have very little to do with the particular concept or image Miéville's working with at that moment.  But however strange, even absurd, the idea is, he has the ability to really sell it.   (I realize this is a peculiar metaphor to use about a socialist, but I can't think of another one that's as appropriate.)  You absolutely believe it, if only for duration of the story.I also liked "In the Slopes," about a group of archeologists excavating a site similar to Pompeii, but one where the lava trapped a culture living in cooperation with aliens; and "The 9th Technique," about an underground trade in objects associated with torture, which turn out to carry a magic charge: "Lists make magic, the rhythm of itemized words: you do not list ten techniques, numbered and chantable, in austere prose appropriate for some early-millennium rebooted Book of Thoth, and not know that you have written an incantation."  I disliked others -- and I'm sure other readers would say the same thing, but would be talking about completely different stories.  But even the ones I bounced off of have that core of wonderful weirdness.  They exist in a world where, as Miéville says in "The Design," "beautiful, elegantly wrought secrets lie hidden less than an inch from sight."I may be reading the copyright page wrong, but it looks like most of these stories are appearing for the first time here in this collection.  This is an incredible gift for readers, from an author who could place his stories almost anywhere.  I hope the people who put together best-of lists, and the people who vote for awards, are paying attention.
  • The Planet Schoolboys August 17, 2015
    From a 1927 issue of BOY'S MAGAZINE here: