When I was nineteen I worked at the Natural History Museum, part of the Smithsonian Institution in DC, for the summer. I was an intern for a meteoriticist, someone who worked on meteorites, not the weather. The job was interesting of itself, but I also went out at lunch and wandered around other museums. The [...]
Another Longfellow poem!
After Longfellow died his brother, Samuel Longfellow, wrote a book about him and included the below poem. It was actually written in 1842, when Longfellow was 35 years old but it was only published in 1886. The title, "Mezzo Cammin," is Italian for the middle of life. The words come from the opening line of [...]
Modern machines again
I am still digesting T. R. Reid's book, The Chip, about the microchip that we live with in almost every aspect of our lives today. Two different directions that have occupied my thoughts... One, Reid mentions W. Edwards Deming, a quality control expert from Iowa. One of the problems chip manufactures had to overcome was [...]
Quibbling with Sayers about Dante
Sayers writes in her Introduction to Hell about the use of allegory in The Divine Comedy. After saying that the best way to read the poem would be straight through, surrendering to the poem's own internal drive, she then spends pages explaining why this can't be done. One of her principal reasons for this is [...]
Earth’s evil twin?
I read an article the other day about Venus where it was called Earth's evil twin. In the same article runaway global warming was mentioned as the reason for the incredibly horrible, windy, acidic, hot surface of the planet. Now look at Venus. It has no magnetic field. It has no oceans. It has no [...]