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Psychophant last won the day on July 14

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About Psychophant

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  • Birthday 10/01/1966

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  1. Psychophant


    In some time they will probably post excerpts in the website, as they did in 2003 and 2007. Otherwise I am waiting to see if one of his russian hacker fans the usual suspects puts it all online.
  2. Psychophant


    I think it is the first time I like the USA cover more than the UK. But this feels like republican rally for someone whose name starts with a "A". Maybe it is more subtle than it looks, like the Pattern Recognition hardcover.
  3. I have all the Stephenson's prior to Dodo. And I really liked Anathem, though I think he hit his peak with the Baroque circle. I think I gave away his collaborations with his uncle, but I have the rest, a big pile of dead wood. No updates on reading. Got hooked on Stellaris and only read a few pages the week-end. And they were om a from a French book, Matador Yankee, which I doubt will be translated to English.
  4. Strangely enough here they are disappearing, which I like because it keeps jobs and I did not like to work for the superstore. People disliked them, so they are usually empty, so the controller will usually be over your shoulder because he/she has nothing else to do. That sais, here credit card fraud is big, so the main role of the controller is checking the credit card with an ID, which again destroys any time savings you might get from the self.checkout itself. They are advertised for less than ten items, so that may be a factor. That said, most people still do a significant share of their food shopping in small stores, so automation is not (yet) welcome. In my case we have four bakeries, three fruit/vegetable shops, two butchers and two fishmongers within five minute walking distance
  5. I disliked Reamde and hated Seveneves, so I never got Dodo. I may be getting some Stephenson next time I am in London. Or in Barcelona. Meanwhile I am really enjoying Murakami's Killing Commendatore. It is like he is writing infinite variations of the same excellent novel, of male confusion, loss and discovery. With different props and locations. However I would like that as he gets older he explored elder people worries, ratyher than his typical confused male in his early thirties. I think Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his years of Pilgrimage had what I think was his eldest character, but as most of it takes place in the past, most of the framing is in his typical range. As a change of pace I am reading a quite technical book, How to Build a Car, by Adrian Newey. I actually got it for my father (a retired automotive engineer) but it is really a riveting read, and showing why designers are now the real deciding factor in F1.
  6. I would say it is easier to take a moral position in the service sector than in manufacturing. Specially in the current "almost free trade" situation. I sincerely would prefer a world where long supply chains are the exception rather than the norm. Some companies are starting to work on that, but it may need the collapse of a couple more shipping giants. Carbon footprints are getting huge, as many areas of the world are not self sufficient in some critical products. Or the strange stupidity that makes cost-efficient to ship raw materials from USA to Mexico and then ship the finished goods back, from toothpaste to shirts.
  7. Closed down the Coastal cruise that is the high point of this year holidays. To escape the local effects of climate change (this week we have maximums of 40 to 44ºC, 108-115ºF) we are going to Norway. It is intended also as a touchstone for my wife's dream trip (and I like it too!), crossing Canada by train and then taking a cruise up the coast to Alaska. Next year we should return to Japan but she is considering this as a better option for August, if she cannot move part of her holidays. Japan in August is a subtropical nightmare.
  8. I had not seen this video before, so I suppose others haven't. Though it is from 1990, it was released in 2013, when the old board was dying. Sound quality is awful, but that is also another part from the period that we have forgotten in this new crisp era of excellent sound quality.
  9. 20 year after the initial coining run of euros, it was expected that all the coins from the different countries would mix up and make people realize we are all together. So checking the huge coin pile I have for the coffee machine in my desk, I got some curious results: 2 €. Spain 2002; Belgium 2002; Germany 2002 (x2); 1 € Spain 1999, 2001, 2002 (x2), 2007, 2008, 2011; France 1999; Italy 2002, 2006 50 cts Spain 2000, 2001 (x2); Belgium 1999; France 1999, 2001, 2002; Germany 2002 (x4); Holland 2000, 2001; Malta 2008 20 cts Spain 1999, 2009, 2018; Germany 2002 10 cts Spain 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009 (x2), 2010; Germany 2002 (x3); Holland 1999. 5 cts Spain 1999, 2015, 2017; Belgium 1999 There are no lower denominations as the coffee machine does not take them. The coffee is 40 cts, so 20 cts coins are my first choice, which is why there are so few left. This made me check a few aspects, such as the huge German minting of 2002, or the really small runs of smaller countries, or even of big countries after 2002. Feels strange to have 20 year old coins in such numbers.
  10. It is possible. Objects with a little bit of our work in them, maybe. But the USA is not a big customer for us, and neither is Asia. So yes, if it is tires or luxury shoes from Europe. Or high performing mountain boots. Or fancy tiles. We have a small role in the inkjet printing for them, as well as some fancy enamels. And a sizeable proportion of the white paint around the Mediterranean, from Israel to Iran, passing by Greece and Syria, notwithstanding wars and sanctions. Not so likely in the US, but if you are having flavored chips in the Mediterranean, or even Eastern Europe, or a machine coffee, you will be ingesting also part of my work. The food part is not so good when you think about it, and anyway I cannot talk about most of it, but others are nicer, though as with much of the world, with shades of grey. We work with an Albanian company that makes ready to melt asphalt cubes, that are used for quick building of emergency roads and landing strips. The biggest recent customers were MSF and the Ukrainian army in Donbass. The same Israeli customer that makes fittings for drip irrigation sold worldwide also manufactures rubber clubs for riot police or rubber shoes so tank treads do not tear up roads. The biggest recent contract in Europe for shoe soles was 4 million boots for the Russian army. The only evil (which depending on your definition of evil could include from Saudi Arabia to USA, or Afghanistan to Russia, or from China to Sudan) country we do not supply is North Korea, and it is because they are not buying, not because we are not selling.
  11. Maybe we could get a book cover for agency, such as this...
  12. Psychophant


    This one has only a very Peripheral (Hah!) link with Agency, as it could have been without Trump, but I like it a lot, and still informs a lot about Twitter, his writing and time, and even the Jackpot. 13th August 2016. Business Insider. Really a late one about Peripheral, but it really touches a lot of things.
  13. Back from three days in Italy, visiting shoe sole manufacturers, plus Vibram which is in a class by itself. I am always impressed by the R&D department with artificial icy slopes, rocks, marble, climbing walls, etc., and young engineers acting as testers. They do that seriously, but then you have other companies making soles for 1000 € shoes (Prada, Gucci, Tod's, Chanel...) that depend only on the skill of an overworked chemist. And paid at less than 5€ the pair of soles. One of the differences is that Vibrams designs the soles and the others are designed by the brand and they have to find the material and the way to get the mechanical properties required, a good mould filling and all the color palette for the shoes, which is the really complex part. I can say that these horrendous (to me) soles will be available in silver next season... Do not try to run in the rain with them...
  14. For me this is the definitive version of this song.. Dylan is almost always better in covers.
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