Ramblings & ephemera

Ray Bradbury on an encounter that changed his life

From Sam Weller’s interview of Ray Bradbury in “The Art of Fiction No. 203” (The Paris Review: Spring 2010, No. 192): Circuses and carnivals were always passing through Illinois during my childhood and I was in love with their mystery. One autumn weekend in 1932, when I was twelve years old, the Dill Brothers Combined […]

All about freezing to death

photo credit: State Library of New South Wales collection From Peter Stark’s “As Freezing Persons Recollect the Snow–First Chill–Then Stupor–Then the Letting Go” (Outside: January 1997): There is no precise core temperature at which the human body perishes from cold. At Dachau’s cold-water immersion baths, Nazi doctors calculated death to arrive at around 77 degrees […]

The escape of Mr. Flitcraft

From Claudia Roth Pierpont’s “Tough Guy: The mystery of Dashiell Hammett” (The New Yorker [11 February 2002]: 70): There is one section of “The Maltese Falcon” that could not be filmed, and for many readers it is the most important story Hammett ever told. A dreamlike interruption in events, it is a parable that Spade […]

Weldon Kees, polymath

From The New Yorker‘s “The Disappearing Poet” (4 July 2005): [Weldon] Kees himself was toiling on a script, a spy thriller called “Gadabout” … Kees was introduced as “Mr. Weldon Kees, poet, painter, artist, etcetera, composer, critic, etcetera, etcetera, ad infinitum.”

The botnet hunters

From The Washington Post‘s “Bringing Botnets Out of the Shadows“: Nicholas Albright’s first foray into some of the darkest alleys of the Internet came in November 2004, shortly after his father committed suicide. About a month following his father’s death, Albright discovered that online criminals had broken into his dad’s personal computer and programmed it […]

Religion & evolution

From Salon’s “Religious belief itself is an adaptation“, an interview with Edward O. Wilson: Religious belief itself is an adaptation that has evolved because we’re hard-wired to form tribalistic religions. Religion is intensely tribalistic. A devout Christian or Muslim doesn’t say one religion is as good as another. It gives them faith in the particular […]

The mystery of the Voynich mss

From John Baez: The Voynich manuscript is by far the most mysterious of all texts. It is seven by ten inches in size, and about 200 pages long. It is made of soft, light-brown vellum. It is written in a flowing cursive script in alphabet that has never been seen elsewhere. Nobody knows what it […]

More proof of time travel?

From Ohio.com: It was 11:15 p.m. on a warm June night in 1950, and the area of Times Square was buzzing with people leaving the theaters. Suddenly, in the midst of traffic appeared an odd-looking man, about 30 years old. He wore mutton-chop whiskers and quaint clothing that had gone out of style decades before. […]