Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Let's Go To Mars

Unfortunately, it's on Vimeo and Blogger will only properly embed videos from Youtube, but check out this "travelogue" put together by Finnish filmographer Jan Frojdman from MRO pictures.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Global Warming and Diabetes

Apparently, one of the problems caused by climate change increase in Type 2 Diabetes.

A Dutch team discovered - even if they adjusted the results by obesity - that a higher outdoor temperature equates to higher incidence. The theory is that exposure to cold improves certain parts of fat metabolism.

Which made me wonder. We can't go by current ethnic distributions of diabetes in the US, where black people are at higher average risk because of race and poverty issues (obesity has become a disease of poverty in this country). But the "faulty" gene that causes Type 2 diabetes is surprisingly common. It might be that it isn't selected against because even if somebody gets the disease, they've usually already successfully reproduced. And, of course, not everyone with the gene gets the disease, and the better their diet the later they get it (kids getting Type 2 is a very bad means we aren't feeding our kids right at all).

But what if the "genetic susceptibility" to Type 2 diabetes is actually factors that give a survival advantage in cold conditions? (There's no specific Type 2 gene, and obesity, etc, are a much higher risk than temperature). This would have developed in the last Ice Age. It's a thought, albeit a weird one.

When something is common, it usually means it conferred an advantage at some point in the past or under specific circumstances (e.g. sickle cell anemia).

Monday, March 20, 2017

Cheerios - And An Ill-Thought Out Plan To Save Bees

Cheerios has decided to save the bees by distributing millions of seed packets of wildflowers across Canada.

The problem is, as it turns out, they're sending the same packets to every household.

In other words, they're encouraging people to plant "wildflowers" that are not native to the area. Please, if you want to help bees, find out what already grows locally. Or just leave a corner of your yard to the "weeds."

Friday, March 17, 2017

Ridiculous Space...

...shooting stars to order. For a lot of money, of course. The project involves launching a satellite that will then release pellets designed to burn up in the atmosphere above the site.

Kind of very expensive fireworks. I dunno. I suppose if you have that much money to literally burn...

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Democracy in South America.

No, this isn't a politics post.

Apparently, indigenous South American societies were quite a bit more democratic than we thought. Albeit in their own way.

Candidates for senator in Tlexcallan, for example, had to stand firm while their constitutions hurled insults and objects at them, presumably to test their ability to handle being mocked during a debate, drilled on the law for two years and put through various ordeals before they could take their seat. I can't see the average American senator tolerating even a bit of those. Well, except the insult-hurling, which has apparently always been a part of politics.

And the study has helped archaeologists learn patterns - for example, cities dominated by plazas rather than palaces - that show when a society may be more "democratic" in some sense.

Worth remembering for world building. (Also, can we have more fantasy democracies? Please?)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Small Updates

The first of several feat books I put together for Avalon Game Company's Heroes Wear Masks setting is now available:

Heroes Wear Masks Feat Books: Acrobat Feats

Some of these may also be suitable for swashbuckling type characters, or give ideas for abilities for superheroes in other systems!

I'm also currently available for work - looking for proofreading, guest blog posts, RPG work, etc.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Stellar Vampires

How about this one - a stable binary pair consisting of a black hole and a white dwarf. The black hole is feeding from the white dwarf, but it could still last billions of years.

It's a great opportunity to study black holes and how they work. And the artists' impression is spectacular. I want to park a starship there and take pictures.