Friday Hodgepodge

Friday, April 30, 2021

Four Things

1. If you aren't a member of the ASMR club, perhaps you are a member of another portion of the population with interesting sensory responses. Visually-Evoked Auditory Response (aka VEAR or visual ear) is a synesthesia-like phenomenon, with around a fifth of the population reporting such experiences: Certain kinds of animated images evoke the perception of sound. You can learn more about this and view several images that such individuals can "hear" at the UK Guardian. (These made the rounds at Twitter under the NoisyGIFs hashtag a few years ago.)

No ASMR or VEAR for me, but I do experience ocular migraines, which are like the aura, but without a headache. This video does a decent job of showing what those are like. It's an easily-managed problem, but it was scary the first time it happened.

2. "The Dreams of a Man Asleep for Three Weeks" is a fascinating account of a man's memories of being in a coma:
In video game terms, the grassy plateau was my central hub, the area I returned to between subconscious fantasies. It's where I would realize whichever dream or nightmare I'd just experienced wasn't real. It's the only place in my reverie I felt I had any sort of control, if only imagined. "Waking" from a particularly harrowing vision, like a return visit to the wasteland, I would think "Something different, please," or "Don't take me back there." Sometimes it felt as if someone was listening, taking notes and influencing where I went next.
Filed under I hope I never find out the hard way how accurate this.

3. Most space and science fiction buffs would regard Mars as a better candidate for terraforming than Venus, mainly due to the extremely harsh conditions on the latter. Many would also bring up the extremely slow rotation period as a major obstacle to terraforming Venus. But that might not be a big problem:
It has until recently been assumed that the rotation rate or day-night cycle of Venus would have to be increased for successful terraformation to be achieved. More recent research has, however, shown that the current slow rotation rate of Venus is not at all detrimental to the planet's capability to support an Earth-like climate. Rather, the slow rotation rate would, given an Earth-like atmosphere, enable the formation of thick cloud layers on the side of the planet facing the sun. This in turn would raise planetary albedo and act to cool the global temperature to Earth-like levels, despite the greater proximity to the Sun. According to calculations, maximum temperatures would be just around 35° C (95° F), given an Earth-like atmosphere. Speeding up the rotation rate would therefore be both impractical and detrimental to the terraforming effort. A terraformed Venus with the current slow rotation would result in a global climate with "day" and "night" periods each roughly 2 months (58 days) long, resembling the seasons at higher latitudes on Earth. The "day" would resemble a short summer with a warm, humid climate, a heavy overcast sky and ample rainfall. The "night" would resemble a short, very dark winter with quite cold temperature and snowfall. There would be periods with more temperate climate and clear weather at sunrise and sunset resembling a "spring" and "autumn". [footnotes omitted]
The unique problems posed by Venus also yield interesting proposals for colonization without terraforming, such as high-altitude blimps.

4. And while we're indulging in the fantasy of improving other planets, what of the other extreme? From the Mission Statement of "How to Destroy the Earth:"
For the purposes of what I hope to be a technically and scientifically accurate document, I will define our goal thus: by any means necessary, to change the Earth into something other than a planet or a dwarf planet.
The author comes up with eleven methods, which he claims could work, according to current scientific understanding, and he assigns each a 1-10 "feasibility rating."

-- CAV


Snedcat said...

Yo, Gus, speaking of interesting reading, this is a fun bit of reminiscences by some of the early Two Tone ska musicians.

Also, I don't know if I sent this to you back in the day, but it's funny enough for a repeat: How to be a successful evil overlord.

And finally, this is a TVTropes page (but beware--don't go down that rabbit hole! I speak from experience) with links to all of another humorous and very very long list I might have pointed you to a decade or so ago of what not to do in an RPG.

Gus Van Horn said...


These are all good. From the last, "Ogres are not kosher," works well as a character race prohibition, and better as a dietary restriction.


Snedcat said...

Yo, Gus, finally had time to read No. 2. I've had mere nights like that from Robitussin and overwork, and it's dreadful. The thought of three weeks of that strikes me as like a stay-cation in the ash heaps of hell.

Gus Van Horn said...

My sympathy! Perhaps I am fortunate not to have had such nights.

Snedcat said...

Yo, Gus, yes, it's bad enough to dream of your work all night after working all day--that's why I always try to read a short story or such before bedtime--but Robitussin just makes sleep almost like molasses for my consciousness when coming awake: I'm stuck in it for 8 or 9 hours, and it sticks on me for a couple of hours after waking. However, it does kill coughs, and with the colds and flu I was prone to for several years, I was perfectly willing to undergo the weird nights. Plus, it can make for Lovecraftain nightmares of an entertaining sort.

Gus Van Horn said...

Oh, boy!

I get to this about half an hour before guests arrive, but it's the Speculative Grammarian, so I'll throw out a teaser: "Three shots of whiskey later I dragged myself to bed, certain by then I had only imagined the passage above."