Grg Lstr's linkdump and thoughts on science, family and things in the ocean that would kill you if given the opportunity.

Category: Dumb thoughts (page 1 of 16)

Pitch: Doc Savage and the Land of Terror

I’m a fan of public domain pulp weird, horror and adventure fiction.  My Kindle can hold a vast reservoir of books and I’m exceedingly cheap, so the public domain is a great source of good stuff.  Last night, I just finished reading my son the first two Doc Savage novels, which were published in these monster 100-page magazines for 10 cents a pop in the early 1930s.

I admit, I tend to do a little editing as we read along, as these books are a product of the time. I know we look for racism in every corner nowadays, and the first novel, at least, would generally be considered racist by today’s standards–Doc Savage and his team find a lost kingdom of Mayans. After killing some bad guys that were trying to exploit the tribe for their own end, Doc is named a member of the tribe and promised a never-ending supply of gold to right the wrongs of the world with his team of adventurers.  I see it more along the lines of Western imperialism, which was more of a cultural default position back then, but there you go.

What is perhaps more striking is all the inadvertent homo-eroticism. To put it in context, Doc is the first superhero–essentially Superman without much of the Christ allegory (although, some!). He had a Fortress of Solitude in Arctic, where he would go to devise new inventions or create new medical cures.  He, like Buckaroo Banzai 50 years later, had a super-mind. He was a surgeon-scientist-engineering-legal mastermind wrapped in bodily perfection. It is the bodily perfection part that gets a lot of play in these first two novels. “Kenneth Robeson” (Lester Dent) never misses an opportunity to point how physically perfect Doc is.  Superheros are new, I get it, but it gets a little weird. Doc is, in reality, quite asexual, although I’m sure, if the character were more popular, it could fill entire queer studies lectures.

OK,  so here’s the pitch, based off of the second Savage book, The Land of Terror, which is essentially a criminal mastermind-meets-Lost World novel. Here you go Hollywood, a ready made Avengers meets Jurassic Park/Kong script:

Summary: Adventurer Doc Savage and his band of adventurers chase a criminal mastermind Kar and his army of disposable goons across 1930s New York and to Thunder Island, home to dinosaurs, prehistoric animals and the secret of the Smoke of Eternity, Kar’s mysterious murder juice.

Think Dieselpunk: Doc’s world is full of incredible post-WWI gadgets and gizmos. This will be a New York in the Art Deco sci-fi mold of Metropolis or the Shape of things to Come. Let’s replace Doc’s conventional tri-motor plane with a full-on amphibious flying fortress.  Doc and his team carry his machine pistols, which will look like 45’s with little curved magazines attached. They’ll each hold 100s of tiny yet high-impact rounds.


Doc Savage, Man of Bronze. Full on earnest boy scout of a character driven to the point of being a little dark. Frankly, the Rock was a great choice, but he needs to be leaner in muscle tone, like his muscles are of metal themselves. And yes, it needs to be played by an actual bronze-skinned person.

Doc’s Team: Monk, Renny, Ham, Long Tom and Johnny. I want to see a multi-ethnic cast. Whereas each of them are experts in their respective fields, they posses the foibles Doc doesn’t: womanizing, drinking, etc.  Renny usually carries a sword cane. Give each their own distinctive weapons and talents.

Monk, chemist. Ape of man, he doesn’t need a weapon to fight

Renny, engineer. He’s huge. Give him a big machine gun, like a Lewis gun to lug around

Ham, lawyer. He’s average height and slim built. Vaguely aristocratic he carries around a sword cane. Ham and Monk have dueling personalities

Long Tom, geologist. Electrical engineer. Give him a goddamn ray gun.

Johnny, anthropologist/archaeologist. He’s nerdy with glasses (one lens is a magnifying lens). He’ll carry a machine pistol but make him a martial arts master.

Kar: the main villain. The twist in the story is that Kar turns out to be the man the team has been protecting all along. The script would need to build clues up Shyamalan-style, but not has hamfisted as in the book (Ben picked up right away that Bittman was Kar all along).



Free Corporate Samba

George Blood Audio in Philly’s Chestnut Hill neighborhood is doing the Lord’s work and digitizing old LPs to post them for free on the Internet Archive. Nice.

More info from Newsworks. 

The Internet Archive is kind enough to post share code ready made for WordPress, so going by the Samba filter, I found this little number from Bando Da Lua, a Brazilian group that tagged along with Carmen Miranda. It might be familiar to Disney fans:

And this one, a corporate commission by Monsanto, of all people. The “Onb Samba” has “Monsanto March” on the flip side.  Google hasn’t turned up any easy answers to what ONB might mean in this context, but that’ll come later. Castenada aside, I figure the Don Juan Quartet were session musicians.

Yet Another

OK, this is progress. It looks like an old plugin–Chemicalize, which was a novelty script that automatically added chemical formulas whenever I’d type the name of a particular substance, was causing a 301 error. Weirdness.

But that’s what happens when you’re trying to figure out the quirky errors made by 2012 You.

Linkdump: computing for kiddies

Stinkbug Manor houses two lovely and awful children, ages 4 (soon-to-be 5) and 7 (soon-to-be 8), and recently, I’ve noticed that they’ve spent far too much time hovering around my computer.
In general, I don’t have a problem with telling them no and booting them off. However, I also know that I want to blunt the emerging issues regarding my daughter, the 7 (8) year-old, whose friends are beginning to acquire either their own devices (iPods Touch, primarily) or laptops. There’s no way on Earth I want to give my daughter unfettered access to Girl Drama, and I certainly don’t believe any child of any means should own a device they can’t replace with the money found in a few holiday cards from Mom-mom & Pop-pop (seriously, Mom, St. Patrick’s Day cards? Really? They appreciate the $5, though.).

My lovely and talented daughter can barely make it through dinner without spilling her glass, I’d hate to see the damage she’d do to her own iPod. They are allowed to play games/Facetime on our devices, even unsupervised (but not far away), but they’re not getting their own. Uh-unh.

Still, I’d like them to use a computer. Even play games (although I’m trying to keep gaming to a minimum. I see no need to introduce gaming consoles any time soon. I fear they will become inevitable, but they are yet another thing that will try to keep my kids inside.

More this, less computing. But still, some computing

More this, less computing. But still, some computing

So, computer it is, and, I have an embarrassment of plans of how to deal with it. But let’s inventory the equally amazing embarrassment of computing options available:

  • A mac mini, purchased 2012 after the catastrophic failure of my old macbook’s hard drive.
  • A macbook, revitalized after the 2012 hard drive death.
  • An ancient Dell laptop, trash picked. Now runs Ubuntu. Doesn’t have a wireless card.
  • A new $199 no-name Chinese laptop bought on Ebay. Also runs on Ubuntu. I bought it intending to give it to the missus, but it was too icky slow for the Win7 it came with and so I decided Ubuntu would be good. It makes for a nice writing laptop, though, so I’m kind of loathe to get rid of it.
  • An ancient Dell Inspiron laptop what my wife uses for work and should replace for Gawd’s sake already. (Generally off the table.)

So here are the options:

1) I could give each child their own account on the Macs, complete with predetermined auto shutdown time limit thingies, which is nice.


  • I still don’t like the idea of them mucking about on the computer with all the Family Stuff on it.
  • They also tend to poke the screens with their little pointy appendages and it gets all icky.

2) I could give them each an Ubuntu laptop, with similar safety bits.


  • They’re not at all familiar with Ubuntu.
  • One of them would necessarily get the trashpick Dell, whose lack of WiFi card would prevent PBS kids and require tethering to the router. (Still, minecraft)
  • Inability to Facetime or Message with Apple-equipped peers, the little sh!ts.


3) Do nothing. Allow them to whine.

There’s no downsides to that, really, as the whinging hardly stops anyway. Still, I want them to be able to use a computer to discover how to do stuff and make stuff.

So, while I’m trying to decide, some helpful links. If you happen to read this, let me know if you have any ideas. Feel free to comment.


How to Create a Family-Friendly Ubuntu Land of Pure Bliss. Setup.

How to restrict my kid’s computing time.

Linux is Full of Educational Software.



How to Install DansGuardian

9 of the Best Linux Educational Games

The Linux Desktop: Rich With Educational Software

Child-proofing your Mac.

How to share your Mac with your family.

How to manage multiple Macs at home.

Support.Apple’s bit on managing kid computer usage.


Link Dump: Domes, Anasthesia, and Pick-pocketing!

Some items in my head that I think might be worth sharing.


We’ve barely begun winter, yet I find my thoughts drifting toward backyard project season. A few summers back, I put in a slate patio after scoring some of the material on Craigslist. (Just picked up a trail-a-bike for my son…I have a couple of topic-oriented RSS Craigslist searches saved on Google Reader.) This spring, I’d like to make good on my threat to build a pergola and, just maybe, a backyard studio. Now, I could convert the back-half of my garage, which seems doable, considering I just use it for storing bikes, the lawn mower, and all the leftover building supplies from re-framing the garage wall. Or I could buy (and finish) one of those nice Amish sheds. Or, I could build a dome using these nifty plates, some pressure treated lumber and some roofing material.

I’d have to consider power (which I might be able to get from the garage connection), legality (some small structures don’t need permits, I think…maybe), and approval (from my lovely and wonderful boss), but its worth investigating.

Starplates. Just add bolts and 2x4s.

Something like this right behind the pergola. Could work.


I think by now, the notion that you can wake up during surgery “locked in” to experience the operation, is common. This article, however, makes me doubt how real it is, though. Its a long read and I haven’t gotten to the end of it–so tentative opinion folks–but once I read about how most of the anecdotal evidence presented was solicited through hypnosis, my skeptical hackles started to rise. Still, some of the descriptions from patients share a lot of similarities with the old out-of-body during surgery tales you hear. It makes me wonder if patients are registering conversation some way while under anesthesia. Second, the concept of “emergence delirium” is real and poorly understood. I wonder how many stories of anesthesia-related trauma are poorly-recalled episodes of such delirium. Spicy! Need to read the whole thing. You should too.

End lesson: If real, its extremely rare, and should be the last thing on your list that would stop you from having surgery.


If you don’t listen to Penn’s Sunday School, you should. (Penn and I share similar fears of crustaceans the size of basset hounds, and we both cry over Matt Harding videos. See here.) That said, here’s another Atlantic article (mentioning Penn) about an entertainer in the same vein (and in the same magical circles…hmm…I wonder people googling Magic Circles will end up here?…Eh, why would they? Nobody else does! True, sadly.). Read about Apollo Robbins. Adam Green does a wonderful job of writing it.

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