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Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself about life, culture, and business:
1. I happened to record a SyFy movie called THE END OF THE WORLD which was not just very realistic but hilarious as well. The heroes had packed a separate duffel bag for every possible emergency, from zombies to alien invasion to volcanoes. Some of that stuff turned out to be useful.
2. I put salt on chocolate cake. That sounds strange, but there is a chemical reaction between salt and chocolate that enhances the flavor. Not everybody likes everything (I cannot abide ketchup on eggs) but you shouldn't knock this one without trying it. I never, however, put salt on chocolate pie or pudding or cookies. That just wouldn't be right.
3. National Geographic is just full of interesting things I had never known. Tens of thousands of elephants are murdered for their ivory every year, despite the ban on ivory trading. Hundreds of thousands of songbirds (the size of sparrows) are killed every year migrating through Africa, where they are considered delicacies. (Each has about two bites of meat.) About 2.5% of our DNA is Neanderthal. For Australian aborigines, another 5% of their DNA is another (previously unknown human-ish species called Denovonia (known from two teeth and a tiny piece of bone.) The latest theory on solar system formation says that Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune formed much closer to Jupiter, were pushed out by its gravity, and the effect of those moving gas giants on the Kuiper Belt caused the infamous Late Heavy Bombardment.
4. Pluto (that thing that used to be a planet out there usually but not always beyond Neptune) has five moons: Nix, Styx, Charon, Hydra, and Kerberos. (That last one is better known as Cerberus, the multi-headed dog that guards the entrance to the underworld. I did a game once about a planet with that name.) Surely, with five moons, it deserves to be promoted back to planet? The New Horizons spacecraft will be there in 2015 and I expect I'll still be alive to watch it on live TV. The plans are to slingshot New Horizons around Pluto and aim it for one of the Kuiper Belt "planets" twice as far out there.
5. Shoot what they only have one of. That's what I was taught in the Army as the way to deal with a Soviet attack. The Russian Army had zillions of tanks but relatively few of the special support vehicles, such as mine clearing vehicles, bridge laying vehicles, or air defense vehicles. If you looked at a hundred attacking Russian vehicles and shot the thing they only had one of, then some critical capability would be missing. This applies (at one scale or another) to many military things. Iran has fewer than 100 oil refineries and fewer than 100 significant electrical generating plants. Destroy those and Iran has no electricity and no fuel. The Allies spent years of WW2 trying to destroy German ball bearings (on the theory that few plants made them) but these were easily replaced by smaller facilities. What we didn't know to go after was the German electrical grid, where less than 400 targets produced 82% of German electricity. It would take months to replace those huge generating facilities; they could be bombed faster than they could be rebuilt. You didn't have to get them all, but randomly picking 100 out of the 400 would hurt the Germans really bad. (Two power plants near Berlin would have blacked out that city for several months.) Back to Iran. It has a lot of rough terrain without that many railroads or highways. A week of attacks on bridges and tunnels would shut the economy down cold.
6. Bill O'Reilly says that his next book will be Killing Jesus, which follows the success of Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy. (These are lightweight history books that appeal to his many fans primarily because of his name. For people who have never read a serious history book, they are a fun read, more like an extended magazine article than a history book.) He might also consider Killing Caesar, Trying to Kill Hitler, Killing Czar Nicholas, Killing Rasputin, and Killing Doctor King.