Friday, March 02, 2012
1. Baby Van Horn's development has been impressive lately. Hating "tummy time" caused her to start crawling a little late -- but frustration with immobility and a strong desire to grab our cat's fur have conspired to make her pursue crawling with great single-mindedness for the past few weeks. I've also been building towers for her to knock down. She got to one before I could finish it for the first time yesterday. We've been trying to sign with her lately, too, but so far, she favors her own "signs". For example, if she's hungry, she will reach out to be picked up and then reach for a bottle nearby. Her babbling started a little late, but impressively. I'll glow when her "da-da's" become purposeful. She's now sitting like a pro, and no longer cries when left alone in her crib for a few moments. (I came back to find her standing with the help of the rails for the first time this week.) The baby seems generally to be gobbling up and synthesizing information about everything lately, and progressing on multiple developmental fronts at once, contrary to a view I heard put forward (perhaps badly) in a parenting class I recently attended.
In the trivia department: We've been feeding Baby Van Horn solid food for some time now, but oatmeal remains her favorite food by a big margin. She loves the checkered pattern on our copy of The Real Mother Goose. She reaches out for the knocker on our door and raps a couple of times when I bring her home from walks in the Baby Bjorn.
2. A computer company is rolling out a full-fledged Linux computer that is the size of a pen drive.
FXI announced today that the Cotton Candy is available for preorder. The standard retail price is $199 plus tax and shipping. The product is expected to ship in March. The small form factor and relatively high specs make the product seem like a compelling choice for enthusiasts who are looking for an ultra-compact Linux system. [link dropped]The computer has video and usb/power adapters at its ends and both WiFi and bluetooth transceivers. It can function as a computer with as little as a monitor, a USB power adapter, and bluetooth-enabled input devices -- or it can be used as a conventional bootable USB drive.
3. Science fiction fans will enjoy reading about the fake chemical compound Isaac Asimov published several "papers" about.
I was in the homestretch and beginning to think forward to writing my Ph.D. dissertation. I rather dreaded that, since the obligatory style of disserations is turgid in the extreme, and I had by now spent nine years trying to write well and was afraid I simply might not be able to write badly enough to qualify for my degree.And anyone who has been through graduate school, but still knows how to write, will understand his motivation!
It occurred to me, however, that instead of writing an actual story based on the idea, I might write up a fake research paper on the subject and get a little practice in turgid writing. I did the job on June 8, 1947, even giving it the kind of long-winded title that research papers so often have -- "The Endochronic Properties of Resublimated Thiotimoline" — and added tables, graphs, and fake references to non-existent journals.
4. And, via BoingBoing, speaking of interesting papers on chemistry... I haven't read it all, but there's a report by O. Hai and I. B. Hakkenshit on how to synthesize the active ingredient of Sudafed from crystal meth. From their intro: "A novel and straightforward synthesis of pseudoephidrine from readily available N-methylamphetamine is presented. This practical synthesis is expected to be a disruptive technology replacing the need to find an open pharmacy." The "War on Drugs" has been a complete failure so far: At least now it can claim some modest success as inspiration for a joke.