Da Vinci Birthday

In addition to being Tax Day in the US, April 15th also marks the birthday of Leonardo Da Vinci (b. 1452)
Happy Birthday! It’s ironic that many people these days associate him with a Dan Brown novel rather than the merits of his work.
Some years back when I lived in NY, I saw an exhibit of Da Vinci paraphenalia (including pages from the original copies of his codex, in special chambers) at the Museum of Natural History (a special additional-fee exhibit). He was a brilliant mind, with many talents and abilities. As De Camp points out in Ancient Engineers, he is the last of the ancient thinkers and the first of the Renaissance ones at the same time.

Oxygen and the Permian Extinction

Lack of oxygen worsened ‘Great Dying’ – LiveScience – MSNBC.com
MsNBC reports on an article in the latest issue of Science which gives a hypothesis that an oxygen crash at the time of the Permian extinction would have exacerbated already bad conditions, and moreover, would have acted to accentuate natural mountain barriers. With oxygen levels in the atmosphere so low, it would be even lower on even modest mountain ranges, thus helping to isolate populations. This probably both led to the great-die off as well as provide greater opportunity for speciation once the crisis was over.

Sesame Street Changes

slacktivist: Illiteracy
Over on slacktivist is the news that Sesame Street is, in an effort to combat obesity and poor dietary choices in children, changing the nature of the Cookie Monster among other changes in the show.
I don’t dispute the need to improve the dietary and exercise habits of children (and many adults for that matter, glass houses and all that). But reducing Cookie Monster’s intake of cookies and introducing characters based on eggplant and carrots is not the way to go about it.
Didactic teaching of kids, especially, just doesn’t work. Sesame Street used to understand that.

Trump Art

Crossposted to Deck of Realities.
One of the pasttimes of a number of the members of our small Amber community is Trump Art. Since depicitions of characters on tarot-like cards is a feature of the novels and the game, many have taken to using photoshop and photoshop like products to depict their characters and other characters in Amber games.
So I present to you the Strange Bedfellows version of Princess Fiona.

Continue reading Trump Art

Shades of “The Core”!

Scientists digging to bottom of Earth – LiveScience – MSNBC.com
Scientists have been digging at the bottom of the ocean floor near the Mid Atlantic Ridge, in an attempt to reach the Moho, the boundary between the crust of the planet, and the mantle. That boundary is far shallower at the bottom of the ocean than it is on land. (As seen in the Core, the reason why they begin in the ocean)
Very cool indeed. The knowledge about the mantle of the Earth that we could get in coming years as the drilling reaches and pierces the boundary could answer a lot of questions about the Earth’s composition, oceanic crust formation and more.