Saturday, October 16, 2010

Benoit Mandelbrot, R. I. P.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — Benoit Mandelbrot (ben-WAH' MAN'-dul-braht), a well-known mathematician who was largely responsible for developing the field of fractal geometry, has died. He was 85.

His wife, Aliette, says he died Thursday of pancreatic cancer. He had lived in Cambridge, Mass.

Barbara Billingsley, R. I. P.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Even decades after the show ended, Barbara Billingsley expressed surprise at the lasting affection people had for "Leave it to Beaver" and her role as the warm, supportive mother of a pair of precocious boys.


The actress, who gained supermom status for her gentle portrayal of June Cleaver in the 1950s television series, died Saturday after a long illness. She was 94.


"We knew we were making a good show, because it was so well written," Billingsley said in 1994. "But we had no idea what was ahead. People still talk about it and write letters, telling how much they watch it today with their children and grandchildren."



Hat tip to Toby O'Brien.

Bouchercon Quote of the Day, Offered without Attribution or Comment

"Want to feel my pacemaker?"

General Johnson, R. I. P.

General Johnson, lead singer of the popular beach music trio Chairmen of the Board, died this week at age 69.

Johnson died Wednesday in suburban Atlanta of complications from lung cancer, his son, Norman Johnson, said Friday.

I Called Him "Hey, You."

LONDON (Reuters)Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards says in his new autobiography that Mick Jagger became unbearable over the years and reveals he also calls the imperious lead singer "Your Majesty" and "Brenda."

The memoir is peppered with references to other celebrities -- from Johnny Depp to John Lennon -- but it is the prickly dynamic between Richards and Jagger that dominates the 527-page book, which is to be serialized in The Times newspaper.

Hat tip to David Cranmer.

Top 20 Zombie Movies

Top 20 zombie movies of all time - Boston.com

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

Retro Review

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Tilt A Whirl -- Chris Grabenstein

Apocalypse Now

Hollywood Reporter: CBS continues to find new comedy ideas on the Internet.

The network has just bought a series concept from Ashton Kutcher's Katalyst Productions and the Schiff Co. based on the blog and Twitter feed Dear Girls Above Me.

Is the site about somebody recounting what they're overhearing on a daily basis? Why, yes.
Dear Girls Above Me is written by a guy who's driven to distraction by the ditzy roommates living in the condo above him. Unlike "$#*! My Dad Says," or the recently sold "Shh ... Don't Tell Steve," however, the entries often dervive humor from our unnamed protagonist's reactions and not just the quotes.

Simon MacCorkindale, R. I. P.

News: British actor Simon MacCorkindale, who starred on British television in "Casualty" and in the United States in "Falcon Crest," has died at age 58.

MacCorkindale died Thursday of bowel cancer in a London clinic, publicist Max Clifford said.

No Comment Department

ABC: Sure they can pull off a cha-cha-cha. But can celebrities manage a camel spin?

ABC television on Friday announced new series "Skating with the Stars", which pairs a celebrity with a world class ice skater for a live TV contest along the lines of the network's highest-rated series "Dancing with the Stars".

The Shamus Winners

The Rap Sheet's got 'em. Check it out.

The Way of Shadows -- Brent Weeks

Every year or so I feel moved to read a Big Fat Fantasy novel. This year it was The Way of Shadows. Some of the BFFs I've read in the past have been a problem because the authors are very slow to deliver the sequels, even though I might want to read them. In this case, the three novels in Brent Weeks' Night Angel trilogy were published in consecutive months, and they must have become monster hits because my copy of the first volume is the 13th printing. A rave review of the books on The SF Site encouraged me to give them a try, so I picked up the trilogy and started to read.

My first complaint is that there's nothing new at all here. A guttersnipe named Azoth wants to apprentice himself to a "wetboy" (an assassin who uses magic) named Durzo Blint. There's a magical sword. Azoth is more than he knows he is. There are shifting loyalties and political machinations. And 660 pages or so later, there's a lot of story left to tell. I doubt that I'll carry on. The writing is undistinguished, and the book could have used some severe pruning. For example: "It looked entirely normal, except that the sheath was made entirely of lead, and it covered the sword entirely, . . ." And then there are sentences that make an old retired English teacher blanch: "But with fire in one hand and a gleaming knife in the other, the horse was hardly calmed." There were times in the story when I wasn't quite sure what was going on.

Things like that don't bother anybody but me, I'm told. People today read for story, not for grammatical niceties or stylistic touches, and I figure they're amply rewarded with this book. It's filled with action, with violence and mayhem, with plot twists, and the overarching feeling that anyone can die at any time. Maybe after a year goes by I'll give the second book in the trilogy a try. Or not. Hard to say right now.

PaperBack

William Bernard, Jailbait, Popular Library, 1952.

Today's Western Movie Poster

Best Spoof Movies of All Time

Not a bad list.

Best Spoof Movies of All Time

Dust Be My Destiny

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bouchercon

I haven't been able to upload any photos from Bouchercon, but if you want to see a few, including one of me, Lee Goldberg has them on his blog.

Kasey Lansdale Update

Kasey Lansdale Vote for me here everyday and get a 20% off coupon each time you vote! http://mauricesmusic.sonicbids.com/THANKS!

Retro Review

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Dead Horse -- Walter Satterthwait

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

DEADLINE: File this one under tantalizingly possible. James Cameron and Sony Pictures Entertainment are exploring the very real possibility that he will direct Angelina Jolie in a 3D version of Cleopatra, an SPE adaptation of the Stacy Schiff book Cleopatra: A Life.

Freudians Will Have a Field Day with This One

Retrospace: Sex Sells #20: Alive with Pleasure!

PaperBack

Caryl Chessman, The Kid Was a Killer, Gold Medal, 1960.

Today's Western Movie Poster

Forgotten Books: THE EUREKA YEARS -- Annette Peltz McComas, Editor

I'm at the Bouchercon, named for Anthony Boucher, so this book is particularly appropriate for today. Even though it's not crime-related, it's related to another of Boucher's interests and greatest accomplishments.

Okay, how did I miss this one when it came out in 1982? Well, there's the cover, for one thing. Not exactly the most exciting one I've seen today. And then there's the title. The Eureka Years. What the heck? If I ever saw the book, I just ignored it without a glance at the subtitle: "Boucher and McComas's Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction 1949-1954." That would have grabbed me. But I didn't see it.


However, I did read Bud Webster's Anthopology 101, in which there's a chapter devoted to this anthology. Here's what Webster says at one point: ". . . it is unique in that along with reprinting some the best stories to appear in the magazine from 1949 to 1954, when McComas left, it also reprints correspondence between the editors and authors of the stories.

"But that's not all! Included, at no extra cost, are an introduction by Theodore Sturgeon, a preface by Annette McComas, autobiographies by Boucher and Mic McComas, a short history of the magazine by Ms. McComas, poetry by Boucher and Randall Garrett, articles by Boucher and McComas, a recommended reading list, and a handful of other, less definable pieces."

So after I read that, how long was it before I was on Abebooks ordering a copy? If your guess is "under a minute," you win. And now I have it in hand. What a great book. It wasn't expensive, and it's worth more than the cover price for the letters and connecting material in the history of how F&SF was born. If you like SF, the history of the field, short stories, writers, and all that other great stuff, you just can't go wrong with this book.

Johnny Belinda

Macavity Awards and Barry Awards

The Rap sheet has the complete lists.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Velocity -- Alan Jacobson

As the title lets you know, this is a fast-moving thriller. My only real problem with it is that it's a direct sequel to the author's previous novel, Crush, which I haven't read. And I mean a direct sequel. The action picks up right where the previous novel ended, and it took me a while to get up to speed. After that, the story, though complex, is easy to follow, and it jets right along.

Karen Vail and her FBI colleagues have just captured the Crush Killer, but all is not well. The killer is dead, killed by a cop, and Karen's boyfriend, Robby Hernandez, has disappeared. Worse, it seems likely that the cop, and maybe Robby, had ties to the killer. Karen gets right back into action, determined to find out what's going on, but she's suddenly called back to Quantico to work on another case. Vail gets a covert government guy named Hector DeSantos to look for Robby, and before long things get even more complicated, with drug kingpins and another serial killer. There's one surprise after another in this one, and just when I thought I knew where it was going, there was another unexpected twist.

If you're looking for a high-octane thriller full of high-tech details, interesting characters, and a plot that just won't quit, Velocity fills the bill.

Viva VHS

Retrospace: Viva VHS #5: 1983 VHS Catalog

In Case You've Forgotten

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Scholarly Website

PaperBack

James Hadley Chase, Kiss My Fist, Eton, 1952.

Today's Western Movie Poster

One More Tomorrow

Also at Amazon

Beat to Pulp: Round One is ready for purchase. As David Cranmer says I say, buy early and often.

San Francisco

We've arrived and registered for Bouchercon. I'm sitting in my swanky hotel room, looking out at the Bay Bridge. Life is good.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Get It Now!

Rancho Diablo #1 is now available at Amazon. This is a great action western, a return to the pulp tradition that you don't want to miss. It's the first in a new series, and after you read this one, you'll be eager for #2.

Will the Persecution Never End?

Police say an intruder has been arrested after a scuffle with a security guard outside Paris Hilton's Los Angeles home.

Police spokesman Bruce Borihanh says the man passed through the gates of the complex on a bike at about noon Tuesday, began banging on her door and refused to leave when security guards asked him.

Not me. I'm in San Francisco.

Hat tip to Ivan Shreve, Jr.

Bouchercon

We're practically on the way. The blog is staying home, so all the regular features should continue to appear as usual, with a few other surprises thrown in for good measure. If I get a chance, I'll put in a Bouchercon note now and then. I don't expect to have much time to answer e-mail or respond to comments until I get back next week. I won't be keeping up with the news of the world, so I hope nothing of note happens while I'm gone.

Magnum P.I. -- the Comic Book

Retrospace: Magnum P.I. Comic Book: Violence, Hatred and Death

No Comment Department

Pennsylvania school district settles laptop privacy lawsuit - CNN.com: "The settlement on Monday included $175,000 placed in a trust for Blake Robbins; $10,000 for Jalil Hassan -- the second student who filed suit -- and $425,000 for their attorney, Mark Haltzman."

PaperBack

Harry Whittington, Strictly for the Boys, Stanley, 1959.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Texan ballot papers sent out with flag of Chile - Telegraph

Texas Doesn't Lead the Way

Best Online Colleges: 10 Best Haunted House Attractions

Today's Western Movie Poster



The U. S. Doesn't Lead the Way

Americans not hitting their walking stride - Yahoo! News: "Americans have got some walking to do if they want to catch up with the rest of the world.

They are far outpaced by Australians, Asians and Europeans who walk much more, according to a new study.

Adults in western Australia average 9,695 steps a day. The Swiss followed with 9,650, while the Japanese clocked in with 7,168 steps. But Americans straggled far behind with just 5,117 steps."

Want to be Encased in Carbonite?

Now's your chance.

Paul Pape Designs General GeekeryStore

Split Second

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Blotter: Witness sees driver under attack from passenger | Denton Record Chronicle | News for Denton County, Texas | Local News: "The officers asked the woman what happened.

“His old high school girlfriend. That’s what happened,” she retorted."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Apocalypse Now

Thieves in Chicken and Gorilla Suits Steal Long Island Teen's Bike: "A Long Island, N.Y., teenager's bike was stolen by two gorillas and a chicken."

Has McDonald's Discovered the Secret of Immortality?

Happy Meal Goes Six Months Without Mold - The Daily Beast: "Have McDonald’s chefs discovered the secret of immortality? Artist Sally Davies has photographed a Happy Meal every day for the past six months—and so far it hasn’t begun to decay or grown a speck of mold. “The first thing that struck me on day two of the experiment was that it no longer emitted any smell,” says Davies. “And then the second point of note was that on the second day, my dogs stopped circling the shelf it was sitting on trying to see what was up there.” Davies says the food has grown hard and plastic-like, but there’s still no mold. As Salon pointed out when Davies’ project was younger, there are other ancient McDonald’s burgers lying around: One woman has kept hers without mold for 12 years."

Hat tip to Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.

Another List Nobody Will Complain About

Top 10 Underrated Fantasy Stories After 1937 - Top 10 Lists | Listverse

Part Two of Patti Abbott's Round Robin Story Challenge

One Bite at a Time: "Patti Abbott has another of her challenges running, this one a little different. Instead of giving a topic and seeing what everyone can do with it at once, she's proposed a round; the topic is jealousy. Patti went first."

PaperBack

Harry Whittington, Halfway to Hell, Avon, 1959.

New Website

Check it out if you haven't already.

The Crime Of It All

China Leads the Way in Texas

China stakes claim to S. Texas oil, gas: "State-owned Chinese energy giant CNOOC is buying a multibillion-dollar stake in 600,000 acres of South Texas oil and gas fields, potentially testing the political waters for further expansion into U.S. energy reserves.

With the announcement Monday that it would pay up to $2.2 billion for a one-third stake in Chesapeake Energy assets, CNOOC lays claim to a share of properties that eventually could produce up to half a million barrels a day of oil equivalent.

It also might pick up some American know-how about tapping the hard-to-get deposits trapped in dense shale rock formations, analysts said."

Today's Western Movie Poster

So THAT'S My Problem!

Damn night lights!

Too much light at night at night may lead to obesity, study finds: "Persistent exposure to light at night may lead to weight gain, even without changing physical activity or eating more food, according to new research in mice.

Researchers found that mice exposed to a relatively dim light at night over eight weeks had a body mass gain that was about 50 percent more than other mice that lived in a standard light-dark cycle."

Who's Going to Pay our Lawn Care Bills?

Senior citizens brace for Social Security freeze - Yahoo! Finance: "Seniors prepared to cut back on everything from food to charitable donations to whiskey as word spread Monday that they will have to wait until at least 2012 to see their Social Security checks increase.

The government is expected to announce this week that more than 58 million Social Security recipients will go through a second straight year without an increase in monthly benefits. This year was the first without an increase since automatic adjustments for inflation started in 1975."

'Dingo Ate My Baby' Case Reopened : Discovery News

'Dingo Ate My Baby' Case Reopened : Discovery News: "Australia has launched a new inquiry into the death of baby Azaria Chamberlain to re-examine claims she was snatched and killed by a dingo at Uluru, or Ayers Rock, in 1980, officials said on Monday."

Some Like It Hot

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Rap Sheet Has a Contest

The Rap Sheet: Heed the Starting Bell: "The Rap Sheet has three copies of the paperback Beat to a Pulp: Round One (generously provided by Cranmer) that we’d like to give away to our loyal readers. If you want a shot at winning one, simply e-mail your name and snail-mail address (no P.O. boxes) to jpwrites@wordcuts.org. And be sure to write “Beat to a Pulp Contest” in the subject line. Entries will be accepted between now and midnight next Monday, October 18. Winners will be chosen at random, and their names will be listed on this page the following day."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Off-Duty Police Officer Accused Of Stealing Money Box From Wedding - News Story - KFOX El Paso: "An El Paso police officer who was off-duty working as security for a wedding reception at Bebe's Hall on Saturday was accused of stealing a money box and then fleeing after partygoers confronted him, said police.

Alberto Madrid, an18-year veteran of the El Paso Police Department, was charged with one count of aggravated robbery."

Excuse Me. I Need to Check behind my Couch

Buffalo family's painting could be a Michelangelo - NYPOST.com: "This unfinished painting of Jesus and Mary could be a lost Michelangelo, potentially the art find of the century.

But to the upstate family on whose living-room wall it hung for years, it was just 'The Mike.'"

Gutter Books Update

Gutter Books has finally begun kicking out collections and novels and we aren't going to stop any time soon.
Available as of June is The Baddest of the Bad, a short story anthology featuring the most dangerous fiction and nonfiction from the first three issues of Out of the Gutter magazine. If you missed the impossible-to-get Issue 1 or just haven't sampled Gutterish fiction yet, this is the book you need. Our very worst, by which we mean our very best, stories from crime fiction's very worst, by which we mean very best, up-and-coming and established authors are in here, all arranged by read time the way you like them! You can get this book through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, direct from our home offices in the meth capital of the West, or for your Kindle device, by clicking HERE.
And, at long last, it's our first original novel, Stoker-nominated horror author Joe McKinney's Dodging Bullets! Reviewing this book, John Neal of The Celebrity CafĂ© says, "[McKinney's] prose is descriptive and powerful, and is often a sucker punch to the gut that knocks the wind out of you. Best of all, McKinney knows how to keep the tension coming . . . Dodging Bullets is full of twists and spins that keep you glued to the page." It's the story of Peto Hurst, a low level heroin dealer who decides to pull a fast one on the Mexican Mafia in an attempt to please his rich girlfriend. Things start out bad and don’t go anywhere but down. You can order the book from a variety of sources and in various formats by clickingHERE, and read the Joe McKinney interview HERE!
But wait, there's more! We also have On The Make, a brutal standalone novel from the magnificent John D. MacDonald. Talbert Howard is a disillusioned Korean War vet hunting down sixty grand in embezzled funds that he learned about from a dying friend in a POW camp. The only problem is that Earl Fitzmartin, a nearly superhuman psychopath, is hunting for the same money and taking no prisoners in the process. . . . Before he began the Travis McGee series, John D. MacDonald produced lightning-paced one-off pulp thrillers by the dozen, and nobody is spared in this early 50s masterpiece. Our edition comes with two scholarly essays for the complete reading experience. Preorders are going out this week and you still have a few more days to get free shipping by going HERE and ordering from the preorder button.
Also in the works is The Wrong Man, a vicious, regular guy revenge tale, The Prison Chronicles, humorous, violent and absurd prison essays edited by Seth Ferranti and Matthew Louis, and of course, Out of the Gutter 7, the U.S. vs. U.K. issue!
As a final note, The Flash Fiction Offensive is once again publishing on a regular basis with Bryon Quertermous running the show and aggressively bringing in new and exciting work. Go check it out.
Don't forget to follow our News and Events Blog and to friend us on Facebook, and don't be shy about leaving some kind words about our offerings on Amazon!
Thanks for your time and support!

MY Advice: Do Not Click on this Link

Shocking pictures of Vegetarian Festival participants piercing their cheeks with spanners, knives and toy guns - mirror.co.uk

I Would

Carl Mehling's Big Dream: Bringing Dinosaurs to Central Park: "I mean, who wouldn't want to see dinosaurs in Central Park ... right?'"

Bouchercon 2010

Yes, I plan to be there. I'm on a panel at 11:30 A. M. on Friday, and I'll be signing immediately afterward.
INTERLUDE
A story is more than just action
Chris Knopf(M), Robert Gregory Browne, Michael Dymmoch, Bill Crider, Todd Ritter
Room: Bayview A

This panel is opposite a number of interesting things, including an interview with Michael Connelly. I suspect that there should be seats available.

I'll also be signing at the Crimespree Table at 10:30 Saturday morning.

If you see me hanging around, be sure to stop me and say "hey."

Yet Another Interview that You Should Read

Bill Crider talks about the crime of it all.

Oops

Police fail to spot man had been murdered until undertakers find knife in back | swns.com: "Antoine Denis, 66, was found slumped on his back in the bedroom of his flat in Chatham, Kent, in January this year.

Detectives at the scene pronounced father-of-four Antoine dead but found nothing that suggested a crime had been committed.

It was only when undertakers arrived to remove the body that they found blood and a 12CM (4.7in) KNIFE stuck up to its hilt in Antoine’s back."

PaperBack

Harry Whittington, Prime Sucker, Beacon, 1960.

Good Questions

Answers at the link.

The Unfriendly Skies | The Weekly Standard: "So why, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, must our seats be in their original and upright position as we begin our descent, a full 20 minutes before we land?

What are the actual risks to unclipping our seat belts seconds before the plane has come to a full and complete stop?

Why can’t we use our cell phones while taxiing at LAX, but can do so at Heathrow?"

Today's Western Movie Poster

Headgear Update

Farmer Eric Robinson reaps £2.3m from treasure-hunter's helmet find - mirror.co.uk: "A hard-up farmer is celebrating after a Roman helmet dug up on his land by a treasure hunter made him a record £2.3million.

Eric Robinson, 56, thought the precious 2,000-year-old helmet would only fetch about £20,000 at auction when the unnamed student uncovered it his field."

And It Happened in Niceville

Husband arrested over pillow fight with wife | pillow, husband, wife - News - Northwest Florida Daily News: "Police have arrested a man for attacking his wife with a pillow."

But Still No Flying Cars

Private spaceship makes 1st solo glide flight - Yahoo! News: "Virgin Galactic's space tourism rocket SpaceShipTwo achieved its first solo glide flight Sunday, marking another step in the company's eventual plans to fly paying passengers."

Consider Yourselves Warned

Fox Envisions Comic Strip THE FAMILY CIRCUS as a Live-Action Franchise

Here's a List You'll All Agree With, I'm Sure

Top 10 Best Novels of the Last 20 Years - Top 10 Lists | Listverse

How to Marry a Millionaire

Sunday, October 10, 2010

New Story at BEAT to a PULP :

BEAT to a PULP :: Life on the Mesa :: Keith Rawson

Want to Make a Movie?

Read all about it at the link.

PWG: MADE YOU FLINCH THEATER - hermansgreasyspoon: "Okay, no more maybes. I want to do it. PWG's MADE YOU FLINCH THEATER. A YouTube channel for your mini-movies. We're talking ultra low-budget (actually, more like no-budget) crime flicks made with your cheap cameras and smart phones."

Solomon Burke, R. I. P.

Solomon Burke, 70, dies as he jets to gig | The Sun |Showbiz|Music: "SIXTIES soul sensation SOLOMON BURKE died on a plane yesterday as he flew to perform a concert.
Horrified airline staff on the flight from Los Angeles discovered the veteran singer's body when they landed at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport.

The part-time preacher, 70 - who wrote the Blues Brothers hit Everybody Needs Somebody To Love - was said to have died of natural causes.

In an internet message to fans, relatives said: 'This is a time of great sorrow for our entire family. Although our hearts and lives will never be the same, his love, life and music will continue to live within us forever.'"

Archaeology Update

Archaeologists Find Mini-Pompeii Buried in Norway: "Under three feet of sand, they found a settlement that has been undisturbed for 5,500 years.

'This is an archaeological sensation,' said Hakon Gl0rstad, a spokesman for the dig, according to the Norwegian website News in English.

So far, they've determined that the settlement contains stone structures, and found pottery and arrowheads preserved by the sand."

Bigfoot Update

Scientists to look for China's Bigfoot - Technology & science - Science - msnbc.com: "A group of Chinese scientists and explorers is looking for international help to mount a new search for the country's answer to Bigfoot, known locally as the 'Yeren', or 'wild man'.

Over the years, more than 400 people have claimed sightings of the half-man, half-ape Yeren in a remote, mountainous area of the central province of Hubei, state news agency Xinhua said on Saturday.

Expeditions in the 1970s and 1980s yielded hair, a footprint, excrement and a sleeping nest suspected of belonging to the Yeren, but there has been no conclusive proof, the report added.

Witnesses describe a creature that walks upright, is more than 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) tall and with grey, red or black hair all over its body, Xinhua said."

Oops

Laboratory Equipment - Apocalypse Calendar May be Off: "The Maya prophecy predicting the 2012 end of the world may be off by 50 to 100 years or more, according to a new book."

PaperBack

Clay Stuart (Harry Whittington), His Brother's Wife, Beacon, 1964.

This Is Depressing

A radical pessimist's guide to the next 10 years - The Globe and Mail

Why PaperBack?

Someone asked me why I started featuring the back covers of paperbacks. It was just a whim. You can find all the front covers you want to see at the great Bookscans site. But nobody's showing the back covers. Those are also interesting, to me, anyway, so I thought I'd do a few on the site. I figure I'll keep it going until I lose interest or run out of covers.

Today's Western Movie Poster

I For One Welcome Our New Automotive Masters

TheSpec - Google Cars Drive Themselves, in Traffic: "Anyone driving the twists of Highway 1 between San Francisco and Los Angeles recently may have glimpsed a Toyota Prius with a curious funnel-like cylinder on the roof. Harder to notice was that the person at the wheel was not actually driving.�

The car is a project of Google, which has been working in secret but in plain view on vehicles that can drive themselves, using artificial-intelligence software that can sense anything near the car and mimic the decisions made by a human driver.

With someone behind the wheel to take control if something goes awry and a technician in the passenger seat to monitor the navigation system, seven test cars have driven 1,000 miles without human intervention and more than 140,000 miles with only occasional human control. One even drove itself down Lombard Street in San Francisco, one of the steepest and curviest streets in the nation. The only accident, engineers said, was when one Google car was rear-ended while stopped at a traffic light."

Accentuate the Positive

Nick Patrick - Did Americans in 1776 have British accents?: "Americans in 1776 did have British accents in that American accents and British accents hadn’t yet diverged. That’s not too surprising.

What’s surprising, though, is that those accents were much closer to today’s American accents than to today’s British accents. While both have changed over time, it’s actually British accents that have changed much more drastically since then."

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes