Screwdrivers, really? Yes, really. This is one of most interesting short videos I’ve seen in a long time. The History Guy takes on “Robertson, Phillips, and the History of the Screwdriver,” and if that sounds like a snoozer, trust me, it’s a fascinating take on invention, powerful personalities, world history, and why the heck most of us have Phillips-head screwdrivers (and screws) instead of the easier-to-use square-socket (Robertson) screwdriver that apparently is common in Canada. Those darn Canadians have beaten us again!
This photo and the following review landed in my inbox, from someone calling hirself “The Porg Apprentice” (or “Poppy Bunsen”). Seriously.
The meeting of the Porg Book Club is called to order!
Ingrid: “Today we are discussing The Reefs of Time, a new book by Jeffrey A. Carver. It is the story of friends who work together and make a good team. In previous episodes, I mean, books, they have saved the Earth and other planets from being wiped out by meteors and evil civilizations that try to reprogram people’s minds with nanotechnology. In this book, the friends are split up to fight the nanobots, which are trying to infect hyperspace. I liked it. I finished it in a weekend. What did you think?”
Sherie: “I liked the theme that friends can become found family. It reminded me of the Rebels and the Resistance who are a team that become family, and how sad they were when they were split up after Hoth and Crait. But they still had hope.”
George: “I thought it was funny that the people in the retro 1950s spaceship were somebody else’s UFO on a different planet!”
Lucky: “Because my friend Tag will ask, there are no porgs in this book.”
Snowy: “But there is a cat that exists in different dimensions! I wonder if Loth-cats and gokats can learn from each other?”
Sherie: “I liked that this book can stand alone, and I didn’t have to read the other books to understand this one. I missed the last book because I had a nest of porglets to take care of.”
Ingrid: “So I think we’re agreed, two wings up?”
Lucky: “Yes! Two wings up! You can find it on pretty much any bookseller, or ask your librarian nicely to order it from Ingram. They’ll know what that means.”
Mars Reconnaissance Observer (MRO) took pictures from orbit of the Phoenix Mars lander, roughly ten years apart. If this animated gif from NASA works correctly, you’ll see a blink comparison of the site ten years ago, and now. The evidence could not be more striking: Little Green Men (LGMs) have been systematically covering our lander with sand! They work slowly but steadily; they’ve even hidden the parachute (bottom). My theory is they’re part of the Flat Mars Society and are covering up evidence of life from off world. How devious.
This, combined with the famous hex-wrench socket on top of Saturn (see in motion here), offer clear proof of aliens meddling in and around our solar system. I suspect they live inside Saturn and go in and out through the hex hatch, but this has not yet been shown. Sciency research continues.
Every worldcon I’ve been to in recent years has had its own oddities. In Spokane, it was four days of breathing smoke from wildfires on the US/Canadian border. In London, it was staying an hour from the con on a cramped sailboat that had been misleadingly billed on Airbnb as a houseboat. Also, there was Wardrobe Malfunction Day, when my belt broke and I walked around the convention center holding my pants up with both hands.
In Helsinki, it was peeing in the convention center restrooms. The urinals looked perfectly normal, but there was nothing to warn you that they flushed automatically both before and after use. So you would step up to the fixture and before you could even reach to do what you had come to do—floosh!—the thing would flush energetically in your face. (It didn’t spray literally in your face, but it felt as though it was about to.) Granted, it fit with the image of Scandinavian cleanliness, but it was certainly disconcerting.
Startling, too, was the high-speed hand-dryer mounted next to one sink, so close that when you stepped up to wash your hands, you got an instant blast of hot air on your left shoulder.
Perhaps weirdest were the urinals in one restaurant, which apparently had been installed by a very tall Viking plumber—because they were mounted too high on the wall for a person of mere modest height like me to use. I briefly contemplated ballistic trajectories of peeing upward and outward and hoping for the best, but I finally opted to choose other means. I’m sure the janitorial staff thanked me.
We now return you to our regular non-weird programming.
Do Swedish authorities have a better sense of humor than British authorities? Maybe. The British public, in an internet poll, voted to name a new oceanographic research ship Boaty McBoatface (which, for the record, I think is an excellent name for a serious new science platform.) The UK’s Natural Environment Research Council overruled the poll, though, and named the new ship the Royal Research Ship Sir David Attenborough . They didn’t discard the Boaty name, thank Heaven; that name went to the remote submersibles that would be working from the ship. The new Boaty has already gone to work, studying the abyssal currents of the Antarctic, as part of climate warming research.
Meanwhile, in a Swedish poll to name a new train, the spirit of Boaty rose up and won the name of Trainy McTrainface. And the Swedish train authorities said, “You got it!” The new name will go on this handsome train.