Category Archives: Life

Naked 70% certified

Let us now turn our attention to this tube of moisturizing hand and body lotion. It claims some relationship to pomegranate and honey, which suggests it also might make a good dessert topping. It is called The Naked Bee, presumably a reference to the honey. It is also “70% Certified Organic.”

Seventy percent? Why seventy percent?

70 percent certified organic

If The Naked Bee is 70% certified organic, what is the other 30%?

Possibilities:

  • 70 percent is organic, the rest of it is inorganic.
  • 70 percent is certified organic, the rest is not certified; it could be (horrors!) uncertified.
  • Perhaps the “pomegranate & honey” is a clue: 70 percent is certified organic, 30 percent is certified Kosher?
  • 70 percent is organic, the rest is dark matter.

It also has “All the good stuff, none of the bad stuff.” Chocolate cake? Free-range bison?

Bottom line: can you eat it?

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Titles from a strange upbringing

There are many titles I wish I had read; I have bookcases filled with unread and partially read volumes. But here are some that are high on my list:

Untouched by Human Hands: The Last Dangerous Visions, by Robert Sheckley and Harlan Ellison. Ellison’s famous epic struggle to get his last Dangerous Visions anthology out is assisted by Sheckley.

All the Myriad Ways: Of Man and Monsters, Heroes and Horrors, Parsecs and Parables, Nightmares and Geezenstacks, Ice and Iron, Digits and Dastards, Murder and Magic, Ape and Essence, Fancies and Goodnights, Alchemy and Academe, Foundation and Empire, Visions and Ventures, Time and the Stars, by Larry Niven, William Tenn, Fritz Leiber, Robert Silverberg, Fredric Brown, William Tucker, Frederik Pohl, Randall Garrett, Aldous Huxley, John Collier, Anne McCaffrey, Isaac Asimov, Theodore Sturgeon and Poul Anderson. A galaxy and time-spanning story of nouns smashed together into subjects.

“Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman, Or All the Seas With Oysters, formed of Mist, and Grass, and Sand, and ruled by the Queen of Air and Darkness, will carry you Adrift Just Off the Islets of Langerhans: Latitude 38º54’N, Longitude 77º00’13″W, where you may watch The Dance of the Changer and the Three, and learn that Love is the Plan the Plan is Death, and that The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas must confront The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth, never to discover that Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones is the Good News from the Vatican, by Harlan Ellison, Avram Davidson, Vonda N. McIntyre, Poul Anderson, Terry Carr, James Tiptree Jr., Usula K. LeGuin, Roger Zelazny, Samuel R. Delany, and Robert Silverberg. This surprisingly thin science fiction-fantasy mix is essentially a fleshed-out expansion of the title.

Traffic directions at their finest

In an urban area, you learn to pay attention to traffic signs. In fact, the constantly cautious scan for some clue about driving conditions, because you never know when a one-way street will turn and become one-way going the opposite direction, or the Grand Eminent Statesman Highway will turn into Paisley Plaid Place.

But this traffic sign in Bethesda, Maryland, is genuinely baffling. The glaring orange is telling you to Pay Attention! This is important! The upper arrow appears to be suggesting you bend your car around a couple of corners and continue in the same direction. The lower one emphatically insists that you turn to the left, immediately.

The correct course of action was unclear: the road was entirely blocked.

Emphatic traffic sign

This sign in Bethesda, Maryland, is insisting that the driver wiggle around two corners and proceed in the same direction and, at the same time, immediately turn left.

Long line of bachelors and serial marriage

When George Clooney wed Amal Alamuddin in September 2014, The Washington Post, which normally is fairly well edited, published this on-line headline, as well as emailing it out to thousands of subscribers:

George Clooney wedding: the last of the eligible bachelors to marry Amal Alamuddin

Not only did the Washington Post have this as their on-line headline, they also emailed the same headline out to thousands of subscribers.

From this, we can conclude that:

  • The Washington Post has only one editor for both their website and their mailing lists, and that one person does not know how to read.
  • The Washington Post, in addition to their recent announcement about ending many pension benefits, also dismissed anyone who knew anything about copy-editing.
  • Least likely: Amal Alamuddin really has married a string of eligible bachelors.

The Washington Post didn’t even acknowledge my questions about the headline.

FOSE was gunning for business

FOSE is the largest computer conference and exhibition in the Washington, DC, metropolitan region. At one time, it had days of meetings, classes, speeches, and other educational events, plus miles and miles of aisles filled with the latest computer hardware and software. Every single hardware and software company of any note was there, either with their own branded booth or with a Beltway partner acting as a proxy.

This year, FOSE probably had more guns than computers. For a show that began life as the Federal Office System Expo, it was a bit alarming to see racks of shotguns, automatic pistols, machine guns, assault guns, silencers, ammunition clips, ammunition belts, special holsters, special transport containers for weapons and ammunition, body armor, and all manner of things not normally found at a computer show or an office. Unless you were planning on shooting a computer, it is unlikely this weaponry would make computers any more secure.

These assault rifles, manufactured by Heckler & Koch, a German arms manufacturer, were on display at FOSE, the largest computer show in the Washington, DC, region.

These assault rifles, manufactured by Heckler & Koch, a German arms manufacturer, were on display at FOSE, the largest computer show in the Washington, DC, region. The sales representative sported a US flag, with no sense of irony.

Seedlings tormenting me

When you arise at an early hour and head out to your freshly washed car, only to see it covered with seed pods intent on germinating in the car’s steel, glass, enamel and plastic, the only safe course of action is to go back inside and take more anti-allergy medications.

In biology, you learned about how seeds use natural forces to transport themselves over wide areas. Modern seeds use updated technology.

In biology, you learned about how seeds use natural forces to transport themselves over wide areas. Modern seeds use updated technology.

Early version of Google

This was the early version of Google. Using these humble wooden drawers, generations of scholars and researchers, desperate students and cunning spies, despairing parents and fanatical bibliophiles, and every other shape and size of reader delved into the depth and breadth of human understanding.

Something worth considering: Google contains only a fraction of the knowledge once cataloged by card catalogs. Technology has digitized and indexed only that which is easy to digitize and index; most journal articles, newspaper articles, books, scientific papers, notebooks and other written material are still confined to physical forms, and unknown to Internet search engines.

How I miss card catalogs.

The humble card catalog was the early version of Google. These wooden drawers held the wonder's of the world's past and the future of the universe.

The humble card catalog was the early version of Google. These wooden drawers held the wonder’s of the world’s past and the future of the universe.