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Week of 21 September 2009


Latest Update: Thursday, 24 September 2009 09:03 -0400

Paying for this Place
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Monday, 21 September 2009
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10:26 - My balance is better than it was, but I'm still suffering from blurred/double vision, which is one of the listed side effects of the drug I'm taking. I apparently have labyrinthitis, which is an inflammation of the inner ear that affects balance and causes vertigo. The normal course of the problem is a couple of days to a couple of weeks. But at least I can work now. Also, I'm now able to read, which is a relief from all the video's I've been watching.


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Tuesday, 22 September 2009
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08:20 - I suppose it was inevitable.

From: Chris Christensen
  To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Date: Mon Sep 21 22:53:18 2009
  Re: ear infection

Robert: I always thought you were a bit unbalanced, but good luck with the ear infection!



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Wednesday, 23 September 2009
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13:12 - I'm still affected by vertigo, but fortunately it's having little impact on getting work done. I'm told that the normal course of labyrinthitis is a couple of days to a couple of weeks, although the duration ranges from only a few seconds to several months. I can adapt as necessary until it goes away. The most annoying part is not being able to help Barbara with routine household chores. I did manage to do several loads of laundry Sunday, but I can't bend down to load the dishwasher or even stand unsupported long enough to dry the handwashed dishes. I hope things improve soon.

I'm back to being able to read and use the computer normally, although for several days we watched a lot of videos. Most recently, we've been watching Castle with Nathan Fillion, whom we've both liked since we first saw him in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and later in Firefly. Barbara declares that he's an extremely good-looking man. I can't see it. He looks perfectly average to me. I think the same thing about Paul Newman and David Boreanaz, but all my women friends agree that they're something special. On the other hand, they don't see anything particularly special about some of the women I drool over. I guess we're all hopelessly heterosexual.

Work continues on the Make: Science Room stuff.


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Thursday, 24 September 2009
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08:12 - Julia Child was an extraordinary woman. Although best known for her cookbooks and television shows, Child was a very intelligent woman with wide-ranging interests. In WWII, for example, she joined the OSS, where she initially reported directly to William "Wild Bill" Donovan. She was later a part of the OSS research team that worked on developing shark repellents to protect downed aviators and to discourage sharks from accidentally detonating mines that were deployed to protect harbors against submarines. Eventually, she became a field operative for the OSS, and was stationed in Ceylon and later China.

Child was also fascinated with science. In this video, she explains the basics of abiogenesis by reproducing, in her own kitchen, the classic 1953 Urey/Miller experiment to illustrate how the essential organic building blocks of life might have been created by natural processes operating on simple inorganic chemicals.


This is an experiment that I've always wanted to reproduce, but the required equipment is complex enough that I've never gotten around to attempting it.



09:03 - These images reminded me a lot of many similar images I shot for the forensics book. They're of flax fibers, some dyed and some natural. What's extraordinary about these particular flax fibers is that they have been dated to about 34,000 years ago, to a time when H. sapiens sapiens and H. sapiens neanderthalensis still shared the planet. It appears that things were a bit more colorful 34,000 years ago than anyone previously thought.


Which brings up an interesting point. I recently read Aaron Elkins' Uneasy Relations. The plot was built around a (fictional) recent find of the skeleton of an H. sapiens sapiens woman cradling the skeleton of an H. sapiens neanderthalensis child, suggesting that H. sapiens sapiens and H. sapiens neanderthalensis cohabited. What I found disturbing was that throughout the book Elkins referred to "humans" and "Neanderthals" with the implication that Neanderthals were not human.

In fact, Neanderthals were almost certainly as "human" as you or me. If you passed one on the street, you wouldn't think twice. Here's a reconstruction of a Neanderthal child who lived and died more than 30,000 years ago. How could anyone think this child was anything but human?



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Friday, 25 September 2009
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Saturday, 26 September 2009
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Sunday, 27 September 2009
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Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 by Robert Bruce Thompson. All Rights Reserved.