A Journal of the Irrepressible

Archive for March, 2009

Ada Lovelace Day Posts

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Very cool! It’s getting toward the end of Ada Lovelace Day (which is at least 48 hours long, counting date lines and all that weirdness that only a female techie can understand), and there are so far over 800 posts listed here. I keep hoping to see them on the map, but so far the Yahoo Pipes dealie ain’t working.

Ada Lovelace herself is the most popular subject (33 posts so far), with Marie Curie, Heddy Lamar and Esther Dyson ranking in the high single digits. Meaning, then, that there about a zillion one offs – a fabulous single day enriching of the presence of women in tech and science on the Web!

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Written by Brian

March 24th, 2009 at 3:40 pm

Posted in ALD09post

Maria the Prophetess – My Ada Lovelace Day Women in Technology Pledge Post


alembicMary the Jewess or Maria Prophetissima or Miriam the Prophetess or – well, we don’t really know what her name was or when, exactly she lived, and so we call her any number of names, each according to her preference and ideology.

Mary was a chemist, avant le lettre, that is, she was an alchemist. She probably lived in the first century A.D. and probably in Alexandria, but may have thrived as early as the third century B.C. According to Wikipedia’s skimpy entry,

The most concrete mention of her name in the context of alchemy is by Zosimos of Panopolis, who wrote in the 4th century the oldest alchemy books known. The legendary Greek writer Ostanes mentions her as “the daughter of the king of Saba.” In the Alexander book (2d part) of the Persian poet Nezami, Maria, a Syrian princess, visits the court of Alexander the Great, and learns from Aristotle, among other things, the art of making gold. Whatever the epoch of Maria may have been, few doubt her existence.

Mary’s name is preserved in one of the names of the double boiler, well known to every cook: the bain-marie is used when a constant temperature is needed to heat a substance or when something needs to be heated gently. Hollandaise sauce, for instance, is just not possible without Mary’s invention. Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Brian

March 23rd, 2009 at 10:02 pm

Could These Bills Ban Organic Farming or Farmers’ Markets?


Megan Prusynski has an interesting, if not quite accurate, post on Planetsave this morning. Two bills, one in the Senate, the other in the House, seek to standardize a number of aspects of food production that, Prusynski claims, could jeopardize organic farming. She writes:

Provisions include mandatory registration and inspection for “any food establishment or foreign food establishment engaged in manufacturing, processing, packing, or holding food for consumption in the United States,” and sets standard practices such as minimums for fertilizer use. Any food that the agency deems “unsafe, adulterated or misbranded” can be seized and the food establishment or farm fined. It’s not clear how these foods will be deemed unsafe. The bills aim to industrialize farms, standardize farming practices, require registration and inspection for any one producing food, and make practices key to organic farming illegal. Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Brian

March 10th, 2009 at 8:23 am

Posted in agriculture, food, politics


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FLURB 7Rudy Rucker’s free webzine, FLURB, just came out with issue #7. One of my fav writers, Richard Kadrey, has a great story in this issue, “Trembling Blue Stars”:

You look very handsome for a corpse.”

Rucker collaborated with John Shirley on “All Hangy.” Brian Garrison contributes five poems.  And CharlieAnders gives us “The History of the Internet”:

It started with a girl named Tammy who said she knew where Xaxa and I could score some acid.

And everything is nicely glazed with Rucker’s images. Check it out!

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Written by Brian

March 4th, 2009 at 5:53 pm

Serious Spread of the Vine by Ancient Wine Makers

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ancient wineFrom the University of Pennsylvania’s Almanac research roundup:

Ancient civilizations responsible for the birth of grape cultivation and wine-making valued sweetness over any other wine characteristic. The finding proves more than the idea that times and tastes change. It also provides archaeologists with a marker as to when casual fermentation gave rise to serious, domesticated wine production in the Early Bronze Age. Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Brian

March 4th, 2009 at 5:37 pm

One Fish, Two Fish, Green Fish, New Fish

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It’s official! The DNA evidence is in, and so is Histiophryne psychedelica.

“Psychedelica” seems the perfect name for a species of fish that is a wild swirl of tan and peach zebra stripes and behaves in ways contrary to its brethren. So says University of Washington’s Ted Pietsch, who is the first to describe the new species in the scientific literature and thus the one to select the name.

Read more in Science News Daily…

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Written by Brian

March 4th, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Posted in drugs, science