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May 4, 2018

"To emphasize only the beautiful seems to me to be like a mathematical system that only concerns itself with positive numbers" — Paul Klee


I read the quotation above on the evening of April 6, 2007 (don't ask), in the opening sentence of a restaurant review by Lauren Collins that appeared in the April 9, 2007 issue of The New Yorker.

It's the best distillation I've come across of why things that seem to carry with them an air of decay, despair, and dismay have as much to offer — in the very best sense — as those that universally receive acclaim for their perfection and beauty.

A different way of looking at an essay by E. M. Cioran or a poem by Wislawa Szymborska.

May 4, 2018 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Nuclear War Survival Skills

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The threat never seems to go away, does it?

I read this book about 15 years ago and just happened on it, gathering dust down in the basement.

Cresson Kearny authored the original 1979 Oak Ridge National Laboratory edition, and then updated and expanded it for a new 1987 edition and added yet another section on hormesis (the positive effects of low-level radiation on the human body) in 1999.

It's a plain-spoken, clearly written, how-to guide to shelter and protection before, during, and after an all-out nuclear exchange.

Written at the height of the Cold War, this book was intended for average Americans who believed it not only possible but desirable to ride out a nuclear exchange with "The Evil Empire" and then emerge weeks or months later into a Mad Max-like world to rebuild.

The matter-of-fact prose about the millions of dead and maimed is compelling.

Even more so, however, are the pictures of what happens to structures and shelters after being exposed to a nuclear explosion at close range.

For example, in August 1945 one simple underground wood-framed shelter survived completely intact 300 yards from ground zero at Hiroshima.

Wrote Kearny, "Although the shelter itself was undamaged, its occupants would have been fatally injured because the shelter had no blast door."

"The combined effect of blast waves, excessive pressure, blast wind, and burns from extremely hot dust blown into the shelter (the popcorning effect) and from the heated air would have killed the occupants."

"For people to survive in areas of severe blast, their shelters must have strong blast doors."

I expect this book will be in print for a long, long time.

Odd note: the price is the same now as when I bought it in 2004.


May 4, 2018 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Adjustable Focus Reading Glasses


All the ones I've seen up to now look like someone's science project.

These don't.

From the website:



These glasses enable one to adjust the focus of each lens independently — from +0.50 to +4.00 diopters — with the turn of a dial.

Their unique focusing system employs a sliding lens held between two high-impact resistant polymer plates that move inwards or outwards, subtly changing the lens strength.

The focus dials are discretely placed behind the lightweight acetate frame.


The lenses have an anti-scratch coating.

They do not correct astigmatism.

Case included.



Tortoise Shell or Black: $89.95.

May 4, 2018 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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