Considering moving from Tiny Tiny RSS to Miniflux

For the past six years, since Google Reader closed in 2013, I’ve been self-hosting my RSS feeds via Tiny Tiny RSS. Overall it’s been OK, except for a few years I missed that the update method had been changed and I hadn’t updated. Then I learned the new method was to clone the git repo. I did it and kept up with it. There was something I didn’t set up way back when with my MySQL so it’s got a weird miscount between the app and the tab header. But otherwise it was working just fine enough.

Then I came across this post on the self-hosted subreddit. There were others that agreed with him that perhaps the code wasn’t as well-written as it could be. Also, he wanted to get back to a sane update mechanism. In one of the comments, someone mentioned Miniflux. At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted a minimalist OR opinionated feed reader. But it kept gnawing at me and so I decided to give it a shot.

First off, let’s compare when first logging in. Here’s TTRSS:

Tiny Tiny RSS on first login

It’s easy to get a quick overview of the new articles since you last logged in or last refreshed the “fresh articles”. You can click on any of the feeds, categories, or items quickly. It’s more of a dense view, but with the advantage of one-click to many different views.

Here’s the initial login of Miniflux:

Initial login to Miniflux

There’s a lot of great information available here, including the ability to mark it read without loading it, the ability to go to the original post, and to star it. At the very least, you can potentially do more without loading the posts, because TTRSS requires you to load a post to go to the original page or to star it.

Marking items as read without going into the items

To Minflux’s detriment, though, it’s a lot more tedious to get a quick view of the articles available via categories or feeds. At least, on the plus side, it did import the categories from the exported OPML:

Miniflux did import the categories

As I’ll show in a video at the end here, it is a bit more tedious to get around. Miniflux is helped by being written in Go and therefore EXTREMELY fast! Let’s compare how an article looks in each:

Tiny Tiny RSS opening an article
Miniflux opening the same aricle

There is definitely a certain elegance and cleanliness to Miniflux that comes from a more modern design, but overall it doesn’t seem to show any benefits outright.

A few other points before I show a video that illustrates some of my points when it comes to how many clicks are needed and how quickly things load. Tiny tiny RSS is always loading the newest articles if you have the page open (or have configured the cron job) while Miniflux needs one to click a link to load in the background. To be fair, I haven’t finished reading the Miniflux manual AND it’s very fast to load in the background. Finally, TTRSS requires a paid app to be useful on mobile while Miniflux has a responsive design. I have had some issues with TTRSS and the app and not syncing up correctly with the web page, so I’m looking forward to seeing how I like Miniflux on mobile.

I’m not 100% convinced that I should leave TTRSS, but I’m going to try Miniflux for a week to see how I like it. Here’s a video that also contains some of my first impressions that are easier to capture on video:

BBQ Thermostat Project: First Live Test

This is copied over from my page.

BBQ Thermostat: Arduino MKR 1010 and Therm Shield measuring temperature during a smoke

Today I was smoking a turkey so I figured it was a good time to do a live test of my project. There was good news and bad news. I think it’s illustrated quite well by the following graph:

Grafana graph of my BBQ Thermostat while measuring the smoker temp

On the good news front:

  • While I didn’t do a minute-by-minute comparison (because I was busy making some side dishes), the temperatures it measured seemed to be fairly accurate and reasonable.
  • The temperature was able to travel via MQTT to the InfluxDB and Grafana Docker containers.

On the bad news front:

  • I kind of already knew this from experience with my cell phone, but WiFi reception is garbage on the BBQ patio. The 45° line from 15:45ish to 16:28ish is because the device wasn’t reporting back. I went out with my laptop to see what was happening and it wasn’t able to connect to the wifi. I lifted it up in the air (connected to my laptop) and it was able to connect. Then I rigged it to an extension cord in the tree (rather than near the ground as in the opening picture) and I guess it was able to do a bunch of data connections. But I wasn’t done smoking at 1700, yet that’s when I have the final data point.

So it seems like I’ve at least got a WiFi problem to solve. But when I’ve left it going in the computer room in the past I’ve seemed to have seen it conk out sooner than I’d prefer for a smoker application. (Conk out as in refuse to continue sending data or losing the connection to the SSID, not turn off or something.

I’ve added in a timestamp to the MQTT to influx Python script so that I can truly see when the final message came through. While testing at my desk I may also need to temporarily lift the restriction I made for not sending bogus temps in order to know for sure whether it’s lost the WiFi or whether it’s just not finding legit values to send.

So I’m pretty encouraged, even if things aren’t right where I want them to be yet.

Unity 2D Game 6: Tilevania

The sixth, and final, game of the Udemy class on Unity 2D was a tileset Metroid-Vania game which the instructors named Tilevania. I never played Metroid and maybe only played Castlevania once, but its legacy does persist in some newer games like Spelunky.

Tilevania in the Unity UI

This was the closest I’ve come to making a Mario clone. My favorite part of the development process was creating the tile editor rules that allows me to drag around the tiles for the foreground and have it automatically determine if it should be a grass piece, dark, or full of rocks. As usual with the games we used to learn concepts for the course, there is a lot left to do to make a fully-fledged game. I made note of a few items in the tickets on the Github page.

Here I am demoing what I developed at the end of the section:

You can play it on the web or you can go to the releases page of my Github repo and download a binary for Windows or Unix.

Now that I’m done with the course, where will my game development path take me? Well, I’ve got a couple ideas for some games I’d like to develop on my own. They’re not originals in the sense of a Completely Original Game, but they’d be my takes, on my own of some games I’d really like to play. Keep on eye on the blog for when I start those. It’ll be a while, though. I have a few other projects to catch up on. After that I’ll be delving into their Unity and Unreal 3D classes and that should be a blast!

Review: Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 132

Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 132 (Clarkesworld Magazine #132)Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 132 by Neil Clarke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Antarctic Birds: Some kind of science experiment with genetic engineering – I’m a little confused at first about what’s going on. My least favorite kind of story – at the end I still barely understood what was going on.

Little /^^^\&- – A very weird story about planet-sized aliens (or planets that have gained sentience?) messing with Earth. Wow, that ending was profoundly weird. It was still a pretty fun read, though.

“The Secret Life of Bots” – A hilarious story about the worker bots (think of the little bot that Chewie yells at in Empire Strikes Back) as well as a metaphor for multi-generational workplaces. Many great paragraphs, but I like this one:
“Bot 9 cycled out through the tiny airlock, and found itself floating in space outside Ship for the first time in its existence. Space was massive and without concrete elements of reference. Bot 9 decided it did not like it much at all.”

Pan-Humanism: Hope and Pragmatics – A coming of age story in a post-climate change world. Rather than go super apocalyptic, the world seems to be like ours with a few important differences in social life and how that maps onto opportunities. It’s a beautifully written story that constantly upends what I expect will happen and both does and doesn’t have the ending I wanted it to have.

Mobius Continuum (translated): A neat story involving a bit of hand-wavy science to explain a time loop.

Bonding with Morry: A story taking place in the not-too-distant future involving a retired man and the robot that is tasked with taking care of him. I’ve read a few different stories in this emerging genre (probably because so many boomer parents are reaching the age where they need care) and this one still found a way to be touching and different.

Warmth: A kind of sci-fi take on the old Victorian practice of having a nanny completely raise the child rather than the parents. I liked it quite a bit.


Artificial Wombs and Control of Reproductive Technology: A non-fiction piece about a new tech that can provide a womb-like environment for super-premies and perhaps help them develop internal organs without any issues. Then a discussion of what SF can tell us about how the tech may affect society as it develops further.

Occult Agencies and Political Satire: A Conversation with Charlie Stross – Mr. Stross discusses the evolution of his main character in The Laundry Files series.

Another Word: The Dream of Writing Full Time – An essay about the myth of being a full-time writer for most writers (ie not the Scalzis and the GRRMs). To summarize: to be a full-time writer requries the author to do so much work in PR and odd jobs to keep the income flowing that it’s actually easier to just have a regular job and writing as your side-hustle.

Editor’s Desk: Home for the Month – Neil talks of being home for a month an experiencing Worldcon via technology.

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Review: Make: LEGO and Arduino Projects: Projects for extending MINDSTORMS NXT with open-source electronics

Make: LEGO and Arduino Projects: Projects for extending MINDSTORMS NXT with open-source electronicsMake: LEGO and Arduino Projects: Projects for extending MINDSTORMS NXT with open-source electronics by John Baichtal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had been waiting to mark this book as read until I finished all the projects, but the reality is that might take years; not because the projects are hard, but because I can’t quite get the wife to justify all the extra expenses for toys.

This book is GREAT. It reignited my love for embedded programming (I’ve now got some Arduino MKR boards that I’m using for a BBQ Thermostat project and a few other ideas in my head for various projects and home automations). It also gave my daughter and I a very fun project to do together.

The only problem (and the authors are up front about it) is that this book is written for someone who’s got a giant box of spare Mindstorm and Technic parts, which I don’t. This means that for each project I have to search the Lego-equivalent of Ebay or Amazon (which they link to in the first chapter/project) to find the pieces. Or 3D Print them. Which means each project involves spending more money for something that is just a toy. This is not why I didn’t give this book 5 stars. It’s not the authors’ faults that I’ve got umpteen million hobbies and the only one that doesn’t cost me more money is software programming. (Unlike embedded hardware, photography, BBQing, cooking, and general love of building gadgets)

The reason it’s not 5/5 is that I go by what the stars say as the tooltips in Goodreads and 5/5 is “it was amazing.” While I love that this book has great projects and helped me bond with my oldest, it was a book a really liked, not amazing. Also, somewhere around project 2 or 3 they stop providing links for the extra pieces you need to get, which makes it a real pain to go to Lego Ebay and try and get the right part. (In fact, for the first (and only – so far) project, I got a piece that was ALMOST, but not exactly the right part and it meant it didn’t quite grip things correctly, making assembly annoying)

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Review: Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 131

Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 131 (Clarkesworld Magazine, #131)Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 131 by Neil Clarke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With this issue, there were a ton of stories that had killer endings and worlds that I wanted to spend more time in. Strongly recommend!!! See below for a per-story review that may expand on my status updates:

Twisted Knots: A story involving a character who sees the world in geometric terms. It turns out to be a beautiful story about loss and dealing with loss.

Reversion: A story that seems to serve as metaphor for being trans (and maybe larger ideas in the same plane) involving someone who married an Alien as part of a diplomatic mission and ended up with a psychic link with that person, only to have the mission called off. The author does a great job of communicating the inner feelings of our protagonist. An awesome story and I want more in this world!

The Stone Weta: A neat story about a group of scientists working against falsification of data told through clever use of code names relating to various animal and plant species. Love this story even if the reality it conveys is depressing.

In the Blind: A psychological story about a couple of astronauts stranded in space.

A Man out of Fashion (translated): Over time I’ve read MANY SF Rip Van Winkle stories (and seen many movies), but the setup of this one, with our hapless protagonist was so unique and great to read. The author has put a lot of thought into this new world and seeing our protagonist evolve as he gets used to it is great reading. And what an ending it has!

Fleet: A story set after a huge EMP goes off in South East Asia. Very interesting culture has grown in what seems like just one generation since the EMP. Protagonist is trans, seemingly in a culture that’s OK with it. Towards the end we find out the new timeline. And also, a GREAT ENDING. This issue is killing it with great endings.

Venice Drowned: In the aftermath of Global Warming – a piece about how those in Venice have adapted and made a new life. A nice piece. It has modest character growth, but what it’s truly about is survival in a world that has been ravaged by nature.


How to invent an Alien Language? A linguist perspective: A great primer on how to avoid various pitfalls when creating new languages for the aliens (or other creatures) in your SFF stories.

Pirate Pharma…Annalee Newitz: About her novel Autonomous and robot rights and economics.

The Subtle art of Promotion: Cat Rambo (SFWA president at least twice) talks about the challenges of promotion nowadays, especially with social media being such a fraught place for many folks. She also suggests some remedies.

Editor’s Desk: Clarke answers a bunch of questions from twitter. It’s fun and insightful.

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Review: Grave Peril (The Dresden Files, #3)

Grave Peril (The Dresden Files, #3)Grave Peril by Jim Butcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Harry Dresden continues to grow, making less of the same mistakes and earning new friends. I particularly loved his partnership with Michael and how their personalities compared and contrasted. This entry in the series finds Harry trying to figure out why there are more ghosts than usual terrorizing Chicago. This one was a little harder to try and predict the solution to the mystery, but it did make sense as things went on.

As usual, I struggle to say too much about a detective mystery without risking spoilers, so I’ll just say that it’s on to the next book, Summer Knight.

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Review: Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 130

Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 130 (Clarkesworld Magazine, #130)Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 130 by Neil Clarke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another awesome series of stories compiled by Mr. Neil Clarke. I loved all but the last fiction story and enjoyed the non-fiction. Here’s what I thought of each story/article:

An Age of Ice (a translated story): A story involving a multi-generational family and a world in which cryonics are realistic. About how the world changes because this exists. It’s a very short story, but quite poignant.

Travelers: Another cryro story. This one seems to be starting with the trope of being awakened too early on a spaceship. I was wondering if it was going to end up being horror or not. Don’t want to spoil, but Mr. Larson does some really good plotting.

The Significance of Significance: The way that discovering that the universe is a simulation affects various people in the world. Written in a quirky and fun prose that is a delight to read. Pretty much a perfect ending.

The Bridgegroom: On a visit back to his village, Alois finds himself saddled with a job he doesn’t quite understand, but is of utmost importance. Because so much of what makes this story great is in its unfolding, I don’t want to say more. But I *DO* want to read more in this universe.

Last Chance: OH MAN, SO AMAZING! A Post-apocalyse story told from the point of view of someone a little too young to understand a lot of what’s going on, but old enough that its not too annoying to read from that POV. I WANT MORE IN THIS UNIVERSE!

Forever Bound: Haldeman doing what Haldeman does best – military SF and awesome world-building that makes you wonder at how the world got to that point. Also, always slightly reminding the reader of the untrustworthiness of the military aparatus. I really, really enjoyed this story.

The Oracle: A story that jumps back and forth in time and is a bit confusing at first. The origins of an AI society and the fringes of how their existence has affeected the world.


Impossible Colors of an Infinite Universe: A discussion of the colors we can and can’t perceive in reality and how authors of SFF use that metephorically.

Dystopian Muder Mysteries…: A look at how Carrie Vaughn decided to create the world in Bannerless.

Another Word: Invisible and Visible: Engineering in Science Fiction: Where are the engineers in SF? For most writers they are in the background, not even supporting characters. The author does mention a few stories that feature engineers. But modern SF does not have too many. (The article doesn’t mention it, but I think they were more common in Golden Age SF)

Editor’s Desk: Listening to the Universe: Five years from his heart attack, looking back at what Neil Clarke has accomplished.

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Review: Noir (The Illumination Paradox, #2)

Noir (The Illumination Paradox, #2)Noir by Jacqueline Garlick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ms. Garlick picks up exactly where the last novel left off, so I would recommend reading this immediately after the first book, since I was a little confused for the first little bit until I remember what was going on. She uses this book to push the readers further into this world in two ways. First of all, she expands the POV characters so that we can get a first-hand look into more than just Eyelet and Urlick’s thoughts. Second, she dramatically expands on the world and the magic of the world that our characters live in. Primarily, and incredibly scary, is the exploration of the kingdom’s madhouse which not only leans hard on all the tropes of the evil madhouse, but also adds on top of that a layer of malicious magic. There is a bright spot with the comedic relief character in the madhouse that had me alternately laughing and gasping, given the circumstances.

Overall, this is a strong second book in a trilogy, so nothing is resolved by the end of the book, although many of our characters are closer towards various goals they wish to accomplish. There is some tragedy along with some relief and, for a series where I was a little unsure of whether I truly wanted to continue (yeah, I said I would…but I didn’t have to be bound by last year Eric;s commitments), I’m now very curious to see where Ms. Garlick is going and how she’s going to conclude the series.

For the most prudish of readers, there is a sex scene. That said, if I recall correctly, it’s more implied than anything else once the skirts are up, so to speak. In other words, I’ve read more explicit scenes in YA books.

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Review: NBA Jam (Boss Fight Books #21)

NBA Jam (Boss Fight Books #21)NBA Jam by Reyan Ali
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love the various titles in the Boss Fight Books series; all the moreso when they involve games that meant a lot to me. NBA Jam (which I had filed in my head as NBA Jams), is one of those games that my brothers and I sunk countless hours into. We were always more into arcade or silly sports games like Ken Griffy Jr. for the SNES or Midway’s NHL game for the N64 than sports sims. NBA was right in that perfect spot where it wasn’t too focused on b-ball and having lots of players on the screen. Instead it was fast-paced and easy and fun and silly – great for pre-teen to teen Eric and brothers.

This book gives a short history of Bally and Midway (which eventually merged) before jumping into the history of NBA Jam. There’s a lot I never knew because I never played it in the arcades, only in the home ports. Even though I was the right age for it, I didn’t really spend a lot of time at arcades. Most of my arcade time was either at Chuck E Cheese, this one pizza place that had Pac Man and Space Invaders, and bowling alleys when we got bored of bowling but the adults were still at it.

Reyan Ali was able to get lots of interviews and notes to really transport me back to 1992 and all the ups and downs involved in the production of the cabinet. Ali also does a good job explaining things so that anyone who was either too young or not around to experience NBA Jam can understand the video game and arcade landscape in the 90s.

This is one of the better Boss Fight Books (they’ve almost all been great, but this is in the top tier) and I recommend it to anyone who’s into game, but especially anyone with fond memories of NBA Jam.

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Review: Cook It in Your Dutch Oven: 150 Foolproof Recipes Tailor-Made for Your Kitchen’s Most Versatile Pot

Cook It in Your Dutch Oven: 150 Foolproof Recipes Tailor-Made for Your Kitchen's Most Versatile PotCook It in Your Dutch Oven: 150 Foolproof Recipes Tailor-Made for Your Kitchen’s Most Versatile Pot by America’s Test Kitchen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Some pretty awesome recipes that I can’t wait to try and one I’ve already tried. While not as full of photos as their Illustrated line of cookcooks, it’s still got a lot of great photos to showcase what your finished dishes should look like. It’s also got the signature America’s Test Kitchen recipes that tell you why the recipe works as well as where they’ve taken shortcuts that make it easier to cook without sacrificing on taste.

They’ve got dishes for every season and occasion, but I can’t wait to try their braises this winter as that’s one category of dishes I haven’t yet gained much experience with.

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Review: Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 129

Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 129 (Clarkesworld Magazine, #129)Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 129 by Neil Clarke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think the only story I wasn’t into was “Neptune’s Trident”. Otherwise, a top-notch issue. Especially liked the non-fiction essays this time around.

My thoughts on each story (a slightly wordier version of my status updates where character limits kept me from expressing it all)

Fool’s Cap: I was *so* sure I’d guessed the reveal, but the author got me. There were a couple subtle clues of what the ending would end up being, but I was already too committed to the one I thought was coming.

My Dear, Like the Sky and Stars and Sun: Awesome world. Probably the first feminist post-cyberpunk story I’ve come across. I like how the author hints at what Elspeth’s role is and how it gradually becomes more and more apparent. I would love to see more in this world. The story was both dark and beautiful and definitely sets up a potential for more. “They didn’t want us dabbling in mod’r science, getting the idea we can do things on our own.” – Is our author a Corey Doctorow protoge? Or is the movement spreading?

Neptune’s Trident: Some kind of global tradegy has happened, but in living memory. We follow a character who remembers how it used to be and is making do in the current world. Then the story shifts to the backstory how things ended up this way, ping ponging back and forth to the present. Very sad, but very powerful.

The Ways Out: Best analogy is a world in which there are mutants, but they never form The X-Men. They’re surveiled to see if they need to be contained (and maybe killed?). Told through reports of the government person tasked to surveil them. There’s a great meta-story there, but don’t want to give it away.

An Account of the Sky Whales (translated): A man goes to another planet to retrieve something. Things go horribly awry. A good SF story that helps us see truths about ourselves, by placing the story in the future where the distance helps the truths not hurt as much. A great adventure story.

Human Error: A miner working on an asteroid in the wake of some personal tragedy for her workmates. This story would make a great episode of a thriller anthology series. Perfect setting for it and a great story for it as well.

The Waiting Stars: Story weaves back and forth between two space-faring civilizations. One of those stories where the ships are not controlled by machine AI, but some kind of human-consciousness transfer. Seems to be a colonialism metaphor. So well set up that I only guessed at the twist a couple paragraphs before the reveal. Definitely want more in this universe.


How to Injure Characters without Killing Them: This essay reminds me of how I feel about technology stuff since that’s both my hobby and my career field. Talks about injuries that characters suffer that should lead to their death or hospitalization, but which most authors have them dust off. In particular: unconsciousness, blood loss, and wound management. ‘The brain is a complex organ, but most importantly, it is what is known as a “beat-to-beat” organ. It has no way of storing energy, no way of storing oxygen, and its survival and function are dependent on each beat of the heart.’

Astounding Scientists and Alternate History: A Conversation with Gregory Benford: A conversation with a SF writer who is also a scientist about his novel in which the A-bomb is developed a year earlier and dropped on Germany.

Another Word: The Depths of Sci-Fi Funk in the 70s: Wow, I had NO IDEA how much Sci-Fi Funk there was! Also, all the bands and their links to Afrofuturism.

Editor’s Desk: Recharding my batteries: Neil Clarke talks about how he takes a break from his touring schedule.

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Review: Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 128

Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 128 (Clarkesworld Magazine, #128)Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 128 by Neil Clarke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After last month’s reveal of James Tiptree, Jr as a pseudonym, pretty funny to have a story of “his” in this issue! Overall another great issue. I think my favorite universes were from “We Who Live in the Heart” and “Running the Snake”.

Here’s what I thought of each story (a slightly more wordy version of my status updates):

Streams and Mountains: I knew immediately what the reveal would be from the clue they find to the location the story takes place in. But then the author takes that and goes off in a directions I NEVER would have guessed. Great story!

We Who Live in the Heart: A story about a group of humans who live within some floating creatures on another planet. A neat world the author has created and a fun meditation on why humans congregate in the groups they do. I’d love to see more of this world.

Baroness: A crew explores a distressed sub. A trope we’ve seen a million times in SF, but done very differently. I like both the changes to the trope the author makes as well as the way the story is used to explore ideas of emigration, acceptance, and adapting to your new home.

The Person who saw Cetus: In contrast to last month’s Chinese short story, this one (apart from a couple odd turns of phrase) does not seem to have anything inherently Chinese about it. And this is one of the great aspects of reading SFF from other cultures – at times it’s heavily influenced and other times it’s about something so fundamentally human, that culture doesn’t enter into it. This one involves a woman trying to come to terms with her neuro-atypical father and their interactions as she grew up.

Running the Snake: There are a couple of potential anachronisms that make it so I’m unsure if this is a story that takes place during the days of the Roman Empire or in an alternate Earth where the Roman and Celtic empires lasted into modern times. Either way, it takes place in the realm of Boudicca of the Celts when they’re in a Britain that abuts the Roman Empire. Starts off as a fun story about a confidence scheme, but becomes a fun detective story. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to spend more time in this world.

The Man Who Walked Home: The end of this section reveals it was published in the 1970s. It certainly has that feel – similar to George RR Martin’s old SF back before he started on the path of ASOIAF. It’s almost more a mystery and sociology story than SF, again like some of GRRM’s old SF short stories. I tend to enjoy these types SF stories where it’s almost less a story and more a wikipedia entry about how the world changes in the face of the disaster that opens the story. (Well, minus the opening italicized text which makes no sense until late in the story). It was, indeed, an enjoyable story and I liked seeing where the author took it.


Cut, Fold, and Conquer the Universe: Apparently there’s a whole world out there of people who create paper models of SFF things like Star Trek space ships. I had no idea!

Fallen Angels and Water Dragons: A Conversation with Aliette de Bodard: An interview about a book series that takes place in 19th century Paris.

Another word: The Elizabeth Effect: How being an SF fan affects the way you see the world. How regular folks engage in multiple timeline thinking all the time.

Editor’s Desk: Talks about teaching and helping those who are behind you on the career path.

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Review: Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History

Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural HistoryBreasts: A Natural and Unnatural History by Florence Williams
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was depressing as hell. I added it to my To Read list 5 or so years ago when I heard about it on Fresh Air. Don’t get me wrong, the author has an entertaining style. There were lots of chuckles as I read various witty things she said. It’s just that the core thesis of the book – or at least the thread that seemed to tie everything together – was that the modern world was screwing over everyone with breasts, men included.

And that’s where things got depressing. More or less everything has endocrine disruptor chemicals that come off of it – from car seats to plastics to various medicines. The chemical companies have so much money that regulators in the USA aren’t doing anything. And when they *do* as that a chemical be changed – like the bromine (or some other element) based flame-proofing – the chemical they pick to replace it is just as bad.

Also, there’s the fact that I’ve grown a lot as a reader of non-fiction and I’m a lot more wary of these scientifically proscriptive books. The problem is not that I’m conspiracy-minded or that I don’t want my mind changed. It’s that I’ve seen too much quackery peddled as science that I’m not sure how much this book should freak me out about about my daughters’ and wive’s potential health issues. A lot of animal studies don’t end up to mean much when transferred to humans. On the other hand, we have a long history (lead in paint/gas, medicines given to pregnant women, cigarettes, etc) where we’re told that things are OK and they aren’t.

So I think my frustration comes from a mix of being powerless against rich corporations and not knowing how much of what’s in this book is valid science.

My favorite chapters were about the evolution of breasts (both in terms of animal evolution and culturally/socially) and how a lot of what science believed (believes?) about them have been greatly colored by societal and moral beliefs.

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