Gerry Anderson, and the XL5 theme as sung by Neil Gaiman

Gerry Anderson died last Wednesday. I’ve mentioned previously how important he was to me growing up. I’m not alone. Here is Neil Gaiman singing the Fireball XL5 theme last night (New Years Eve):

One more Fireball reference I’d like to note – Alan Moore made a great joke in The Black Dossier: “Allan Quatermain and Mina Murray steal a rocket named Pancake XL4. Each ship of the series is traditionally named after the manner of her predecessor’s destruction. The Mushroom Cloud XL2 and the Shrapnel XL3 are named as other examples of the Fireball XL5′s antecedents. The Pancake XL4 is destroyed by a collision with a mountain, exploding in a huge fireball and earning the XL5 its name.” *

Dinosaurs and Time Travel

Ripped from the Twitter headlines! The genesis of this post:


I’ll pull @aeromenthe’s excellent link out and embed it. L. Sprague de Camp’s (1956) A Gun for Dinosaurs:


I think there’s a rule that any time travel yarn has to deal with a kill-yer-grampy paradox (did H. G. Wells address it? I honestly can’t remember.) de Camp’s universe won’t allow a paradox, but Ray Bradbury’s will – A Sound of Thunder (1952) is his time travel/dino hunting tale. Tangentially – while looking for an on line version of ASoT, I stumbled across a reference to another dino hunting story I’ve never read: Birian Aldiss’ ‘Poor Little Warrior!’

As regards time travel paradoxes, you’d need to go a long way to beat Heinlein’s All You Zombies. Warning – classic Heinlein attitude displayed throughout.

In A Gun for Dinosaurs, Reginald Rivers talks about using a .600 Nitro Express in the Cretaceous. A .600 NE is a huge gun, but whenever I think of dinosaur guns, one always springs to mind: the Holland & Holland Saurian 4 bore.


A little bit of history… Before there was modern smokeless powder, there was black powder. Both propellants get called gunpowder, but they are not the same thing. Black powder burns much more slowly than smokeless, and thus, with reasonable barrel lengths, just can’t produce muzzle velocities (how fast the bullet is going when it leaves the barrel) that hunters take for granted today. There are 2 terms in the equation for kinetic energy – velocity and mass. Since our black powder velocity is constrained, upping the mass is the option that’s left. The bore number is how may lead spheres of bore diameter it would take to get to 1 lb. A round ball bullet for a 4 bore weighs a quarter pound! Wikipedia’s entry on the 4 bore is quite good, if you’re curious.

I’m assuming the Saurian is built for black powder (or black powder equivalent) loads, though it’s somewhat academic. This is an art gun – an opportunity for engravers, smiths, stockmakers and cabinet makers to show their skills. I have an old magazine somewhere with more pictures of the Saurian – if I ever find it I will scan and post. The case, as I recall, included a glassed in area with a display of varous dinosaur fossils. Is the Saurian what I’d choose for my time travel dino hunt? Hell no. But it’s not like I’m going to have to choose anything any time soon.

And to finish, via @tetzoo, a major dino hunting disappointment.



Sims follow-up

A quick follow-up to my (holy crap) 5 year old post ‘Are we The Sims?‘ Some researchers think they can detect flaws in the simulation – if we are indeed in one.

…Savage said, there are signatures of resource constraints in present-day simulations that are likely to exist as well in simulations in the distant future, including the imprint of an underlying lattice if one is used to model the space-time continuum.*

I especially like:

For example, Davoudi suggests that if our universe is a simulation, then those running it could be running other simulations as well, essentially creating other universes parallel to our own.

“Then the question is, ‘Can you communicate with those other universes if they are running on the same platform?’” she said.

A better Skynet – the simulation host becomes a strongly godlike AI when it’s universes start comparing notes.

Khar Bii

Khar Bii is a televised ovine conformation show/Senegalese Idol/beauty pageant  on the air in (obv) Senegal. I heard about it this morning on NPR and loved it sincerely; I enjoyed Ms. Quist-Arcton’s report (she is always excellent), but I could have done without Inskeep’s mocking tone during the intro and outro. Yes, Steve, livestock are important to a lot of people, even in the developed west! Off to Youtube where a lot of the Khar Bii episodes have been posted. Here’s what’s billed as the finale:


Francophones, help me out. I can pick out a bunch of French – mouton is, for example, prominent and I pick out bits of the explanation of toxoplasmosis, but I’m mostly lost. Is it because my French skills are so horrible, or are the presenters speaking a mix of French and Wolof? Or perhaps Dakar-Wolof? I think I heard ‘nyami’.

TIL (things I learned, in internetspeak):

  • How to spell Ofeibia Quist-Arcton’s first name. A lovely name.
  • “Wolof words in English are believed to include yam, from Wolof nyami “to eat food”, nyam in Barbadian English [3] meaning to eat (also compare Seychellois nyanmnyanm, also meaning to eat [4] )” *
  • Concours Culinaire sounds much more inviting that Cook-off.
  • Fufu! Disclosure – I knew about fufu previously. I am loving the notion of a beauty contest where cook-the-contestants is a prominent element.

Coyote, Badger and Bear

  • Cat Urbigkit posted an extraordinary sequence of photos showing a coyote and a badger hunting together (tiny amt of background here). Coyote and badger are important characters in western Native American myth – sometimes they cooperate, sometimes the trickster coyote tries to take advantage of badger and occasionally he succeeds.


  • A very interesting post at The Atlantic by Emily Badger (I’m not making this up – check the by-line) on urban coyotes in Chicago and some speculation on what predator will citify next. I’m voting Black Bear – as Emily mentions, it’s already happening out west and in addition bears are happy omnivores & they’re well into exurban spaces here in the east (apparently Provincetown has an entire week during which they honor bears *grin*).
  • And proof that bears are here in the semi-rural east (aside from the bruin the dogs rousted out of my back yard a couple years ago) – we had a bit of excitement at work yesterday. There was a bear cub running around the grounds; no sign of mama bear, but everyone came inside for a bit. Baby bear was convinced to reverse direction: back to the woods and away from the highway he was originally pointed at. S/he seems small, but my knowledge of ursine development is pretty dang sketchy.

The cub came off the tree, made a break for it, got scared and…

…went back up the tree for a bit.

I wasn’t the only one snapping pics.

A Great Stirrer Up of Passions

Falconry, that is. Now that peacay has posted from The Book of the Hunt of King Modus &  Queen Ratio (what are you waiting for – click through – I’ll wait) I can turn this little bit of goofiness loose.


N. B. I discovered the image only because peacay pointed me to the book pre-post – all credit redounds to him and all blame to me.

And some explanation for non-falconers: sure seems like the protagonist is trying to whup on one of his hunting companions with a lure. A slip is a chance for a hawk to pursue game – it can be screwed up innumerable ways, but mostly by flushing game before the raptor is in position.


The local historians think that the Second Miskatonic Antarctic Expedition had 3 Sno-Cats (along with the with the LeTourneau Snow Train mothership): 2 Utilities and 1 Freighter and that those vehicles that weren’t destroyed were brought back to the Archive. I’ve been seeing this beauty on Rte. 236 in Eliot, Maine for a couple months and decided to stop and get some photos today. Mo Labrie is going to kill me, but I forgot to get serial numbers/VINs etc. I’ll have to stop again; no telling if the Goat Island Project historians can tie this Sno-Cat back to the 2nd Misky (as they call it), but they’ll need numbers to even try.

3/4 view

tracks and logo

I guess that sometimes you need to lay on the horn out on the Antarctic plateau.


headlight and wear

one of three hitching areas in back

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