Monday, October 31, 2022

Tallebudgera Alleygators

Hey baseball fan. Are you dreading the end of the World Series, after which you’ll have no reason to watch your television? Let me offer some alternatives: Caribbean baseball is a great option, thanks in large part to a man named Pedro Miguel Caratini, whose namesake cocktail consists of gin and carrot juice. And for the adventurous there’s Australian Rules baseball, which is played during their summer, when it’s winter here. It’s a very similar game to our own national pastime. The biggest difference is that, as a result of Coriolis forces, they run the bases in the opposite direction.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Baby steps

We’ve talked about binding energy, right? About how all matter tends over time to undergo fusion or fission into Iron-56 (or Nickel-62, which sounds like a crappy alt rock band) and how absolutely everything will turn to iron in the far future. The really far future. The really, really far future. Right now the universe in which we live is about 14 billion years old, give or take. Which is old, sure, but nothing compared to the 1015,000 years or so it might take for its final conversion to nothing but iron stars. We live at the dawn of time.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Are we not men?

You know what’s weird that I found out? Yeast, the single-celled organisms that turn sugar into alcohol and thereby make human life endurable, evolved from multicellular fungi. Maybe your conception, like mine, was that evolution tends to select for increasing complexity. If so, we were both wrong. The best way I can explain it, without getting too technical, is that stuff just does stuff. It’s like how the Mississippi has tributaries up north and distributaries down here. Things come together. Things come apart. And popular attributes like bilateral symmetry are as permanent and intentional as clouds that look like bunnies.

Monday, October 10, 2022

population 455

I won’t pretend there aren’t a lot of downsides to becoming an older person. That would be disingenuous and also you wouldn’t believe me. But I’m also aware that the aging process brings with it certain gifts – call it wisdom if you must, or a more mature perspective, or simply the moderating effects on the psyche of decades of accumulated experience. All I know is that the me of today is less likely than the me of decades past to dissolve into a fit of uncontrollable snot-nosed giggles upon discovering that there is such a place as Dry Prong, Louisiana.

Monday, October 3, 2022

The Kalashnikov of twang

I’m going to write about Leo Fender, America’s greatest inventor. If this is of no interest to you, feel free to fast-forward to next week. Okay. Henry Ford created the first car that normal people could buy, the Model T. It’s been obsolete for about a century now. Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. That’s obsolete too. Leo Fender sold his first Telecaster around 1950 and the identical instrument is available today from his corporate inheritors and scads of other makers. It’s the Platonic ideal of electric guitars, perfect and irreducible. He nailed it, right out of the gate.