Saturday, December 13, 2014

Two new species of pseudoscorpions discovered in Grand Canyon-Parashant. GC-Parashant is still decidedly not well known to anyone, and it's no surprise there are still new things to be found out there.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

An interview with Tim Powers, about the wellsprings of his ideas, his research methods and writing process.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Soviet geology: an exotic and romantic business:

Large sections of the country were still waiting to be explored and mapped. Foreign travel was still impossible for most Soviets, so idealistic youths were drawn to geology for the thrill of adventure and exploration. Some of them really thought they could find personal freedom, if not by going west, then in the distant corners of the wild east....

They mapped, carried loads of samples, fished and hunted, wrote poetry, drank vodka, and sang songs around the campfire. In fact, many Russian musicians and poets (Nobel laureate Joseph Brodsky included) started out as geologists or worked as technicians in those parties. Few outside of Russia know that it was geologists who started an important movement in modern poetry in St. Petersburg in the 1960s, called the “Geological School.” Furthermore, geologist authors dominated a genre of unofficial, often politically risqué songs (“bard songs”). The songs were about cloud shadows in the tundra, windy mountain passes, shamans and dervishes in time-forgotten villages, apatite [sic..... unless they mean the mineral], camaraderie, lack of cigarettes, and nostalgia for home and love during long field seasons.....

Even until the late 1980s, saying you were a geologist to girls in St. Petersburg was a great pick-up line — often greeted with admiring smiles and questions about exotic places and wild excesses in the field. Yet when I told my father that I was going to become a geologist he said: “Do you want to be one of those inebriated loudmouths with backpacks and guitars who bellow songs on night trains?”

Apparently, the composer Giya Kancheli (recommended) came out of such a background.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

The Mozart Effect in practice:

Progeny (age 2): "What's this song about?" [It was Guy Clark, for the record.]
Me: "I don't know, we have to listen and see."
Progeny: "It's about a guy getting attacked by a big snake!"

Not actually an unreasonable guess around here.

Friday, March 28, 2014

People say American taxes are too complicated, but I have no idea what they could be talking about. Nope, no clue: