Starburst are one of my few favorite candies.

They meet the following requirements:

For every eight pieces you eat, you are injesting a total of 160 calories and 3.5 grams of fat. That's only 20 calories and less than a half gram of fat per piece.

The ingredients are: Corn Syrup; Sugar; Partially Hydrated Soybean Oil; Cherry, Orange, Stawberry, and Lemon fruit juices from concentrate; Citric Acid; Dextrin; Gelatin; food starch-modified; natural and artificial flavors; ascorbic acid; Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and Blue 1 coloring

Also, Starburst are distributed by the M&M/MARS Division of MARS, Inc. Their freshness and quality are guaranteed!

For those who enjoy using up
braincells with useless trivia:

In 1995, Starburst had to change its slogan from "The juice is loose" to "Turn up the juice," because of the O.J. Simpson fiasco.

(thanks generic-man)

A classic collection of 11 stories by early sci-fi great Alfred Bester. Published by Signet Books in 1958, it brought together some of his best and most influential work, pulled from such hallowed pages as Campbell's Astounding and Boucher's F&SF.

Though it was printed hot on the heels of his two most highly-acclaimed novels (The Demolished Man and The Stars My Destination), it stands well on its own merits, and as a brilliant example of what the 'Golden Age' of '50s pulp sci-fi was really all about.

Simply put, this is Bester hitting on all cylinders. Though it's a diverse showcase of his talent, his trademark style of streamlined, lightning-paced narrative and inventive use of language is prevalent throughout.

Starburst contains:

  • Disappearing Act. A wicked little tale, originally published in Star Science Fiction Stories (1953), about a future America unified in "The War For The American Dream". General Carpenter is the most charismatic leader the country's ever known. "We must become a nation of experts," he declares, "Every man and woman must be a specific tool for a specific job, hardened and sharpened by training and education to win the fight for the American Dream." But sometimes, even the hardest tools get broken. In Ward T of the St. Albans Army Hospital are two-dozen catatonic soldiers with psyches all but destroyed by war, just like thousands of other shock cases except for one strange characteristic: sometimes they're not there. Very sharp, very cynical; one of the best stories in the book.

  • Adam and No Eve. One of the first stories Bester ever printed, from the September 1941 issue of Astounding. A deranged scientist discovers an incredible new source of energy that will let him create the world's first rocket. But, in his mad dash for the stars, he sets off a horrifying chain reaction on the ground. In the blink of an eye, Steven Krane, the first man in space, becomes the last man on earth... I won't ruin it for you, but I will say that the ending to this one was particularly fascinating and well-written.
  • Star Light, Star Bright. Written in 1953 for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. I love the opening paragraph to this one: "The man in the car was thirty-eight years old. He was tall, slender, and not strong... He was afflicted with an education and a sense of humor. He was inspired by a purpose. He was armed with a phone book. He was doomed." The doomed man (and Bester actually refers to him as "the doomed man" throughout the story) is Mr. Perkins, the local school principal, who's looking through the phone book to track down a 10-year-old named Stuart Buchanan, who he believes to be a boy genius. But the nature of Stuart's genius is open to debate, and will ultimately provide the key to the mystery, and reveal the reason Perkins is doomed. Would make a good episode of the Twilight Zone, but the story is too similar to many others I've read for it to really stand out.
  • The Roller Coaster. A dark, hard-boiled story from Fantastic, also c. 1953. I can't even think of a way to describe this one without giving it away. What initially struck me about it was the casual seediness and violence of the setting, hallmark elements of pulp fiction. After reading works by modern writers like Gibson and Sterling, you can clearly see the influences of this earlier style.
  • Oddy and Id. Reprinted from a story in Astounding, 1950, under the title The Devil's Invention. It chronicles the life of Odysseus Gaul, a very lucky young man. Not "lucky" in the sense that he sometimes wins at cards. "Lucky" in the sense that he always wins at cards, along with everything else he's ever tried. Simply put, Oddy Gaul is a "fortune prone", the diametric opposite of an "accident prone", loved and adored by everyone he meets. But with absolute love comes absolute power... and isn't there an old saying about absolute power?... (One other interesting bit: in this story there's a side-reference to the Espers Guild, a strange bit of continuity, considering that The Demolished Man wasn't published until two years after this one was originally printed.)
  • The Starcomber, the longest story in the collection, and, in my opinion, the absolute best. Taken from a 1954 issue of F&SF, the story revolves around two main characters: Jeffrey Halsyon, a neurotic artist that has recently lost his mind and fallen into a state of childish regression; and Salon Aquila, the Starcomber, a cryptic man who seems to speak a dozen languages at once, and uses the phrase 'God damn' as if it was punctuation. While the first half establishes the characters themselves, the entire second half consists of a series of five hypnotic dreams, each induced by Aquila in order to teach Halsyon a moral lesson and to break the artist from his regressive tendencies. However, the real beauty of the story is that each of the 5 dream sequences is actually a playful and blatant satire on other sci-fi writers of the day. The second one, which mercilessly lampoons a *ahem* certain young author, who at the time was writing *ahem* robot murder mysteries, is pretty priceless.
  • Travel Diary, a short, previously unpublished story of two wealthy tourists traveling the cosmos. Interspersed with fictional excepts extolling the wonders of future technology are ridiculously banal accounts of shopping, poor service at hotels and run-ins with "rude" locals. The moral of the story is clear from the very beginning: rich American tourists are obnoxious, no matter what century you live in.
  • Fondly Fahrenheit. Another story from 1954's Fantasy & Science Fiction, this time about a man fleeing across the galaxy along with his psychotic android in tow. Or perhaps, is it the other way around? The key strangeness of this story is that it's impossible to tell whether it's written from the POV of the android or his owner. Bester literally shifts from one to the other, totally at random, sometimes right in the middle of sentences. As a literary device, this is pretty lousy, since it makes everything horribly confusing. On the other hand, of course, that may have been exactly what he was shooting for, in which case it was very effective.
  • Hobson's Choice. Reprinted from F&SF (1952). A post-apocalyptic tale of Addyer the statistician, who discovers that, in the aftermath of nuclear war, the population is still inexplicably increasing. To solve the mystery, he sets off on a quest into the blasted remains of mid-America, ending in a discovery that his favorite fantasy is actually his deepest nightmare. This is a cool one, too. Pity they buried it in the back of the book.
  • The Die-Hard. Another unpublished narrative. It introduces you immediately to an old man on a hospital porch, rambling in circles about "courage and strength and bravery and spirit and bravery..." He's the last of a dying breed, "a museum of pathology", the last man in the world to avoid a trend of surgical and mechanical augmentation. A compelling early take on the future of cybernetics.
  • Of Time and Third Avenue. A final story drawn from F&SF, this one from 1951, dealing with a temporal mix-up that leaves a 1950s man in possession a world almanac-- published 4 decades in the future! But if he intends to keep it, he'll have to outwit the agent sent to bring it back! I'm not a big fan of paradox stories, but this one had a certain charm. Made for a good ending to a really top-notch anthology.
  • Though not seen nearly as often with the advent of cheap VFD and LCD matrix displays, the "starburst" display can be used to display alphanumeric characters, much as the seven-segment display could display numeric characters.

    A starburst typically takes one of the following forms:

     ----A----          -A1- -A2- 
    |\   |   /|        |\   |   /|
    F \  I  / B        F \  I  / B
    |  H | J  |        |  H | J  |
    |   \|/   |        |   \|/   |
     -G1- -G2-          -G1- -G2- 
    |   /|\   |        |   /|\   |
    |  M | K  |        |  M | K  |
    E /  L  \ C        E /  L  \ C
    |/   |   \|        |/   |   \|
     ----D----          -D1- -D2- 
    14-segment          16-segment

    (There may also be a decimal point on some displays.)

    Look familiar at all to you? You may recognize the odd-shaped letters formed by this pattern from the old Speak & Spell toys from Mattel. A few letters certainly come out looking very odd (B and D come to mind), but are still quite legible to the average reader.

    Although the 14-segment version of the starburst could not display figures that relied on a half-bar on the top or bottom (such as square brackets), it was often favored over the 16-segment starburst, mainly because controller chips could be easily designed that handled either two seven-segment displays or a single 14-segment display, with no increase in pin count. Often displays would be broken into two sets of seven LEDs -- one for the upper-left and one for the lower-right, each with a common cathode. If you slow down the strobe rate for one of these displays, it will appear to flicker between these two halfs.

    LED starburst displays are somewhat rare now, but you will still occasionally see VFD or LCD starbursts when a more-complicated (and more expensive) matrix-style display is not required. If you ever get your hands on some as a hobbyist, they're fun to experiment with, as the starburst pattern offers all sorts of interesting effects you can do, and for far less effort and money than a pixel-addressable display.

    Here are some special effects you can do with a starburst. In the notes below, "X+Y" means illuminate segments X and Y together. Commas separate frames of animation.

    • Border spinner: A, B, C, D, E, F, repeat. Obviously one of the easiest, this traces the edge of the display.
    • Clock hand: G1, H, I, J, G2, K, L, M, repeat. Another simple one, does a little spinner thing around the center of the display.
    • Clockwise spinning bar: I+L, J+M, G1+G2, H+K, repeat. Essentially the above but with a long spinning bar instead of a short one. Great as a "wait" prompt.
    • Cloverleaf worm (16-segment only): I, A2, B, G2, G1, F, A1, I, L, D1, E, G1, G2, C, D2, L, repeat. Traces the path of a four-leaf clover.
    • Bouncing bar: A, J+M, E+F, H+K, D, J+M, B+C, H+K, repeat. This looks somewhat like a cross between the above two, with a bar bouncing around the corners of the box.
    • Bar graph: By using E+F, I+L, and B+C across multiple starbursts, you can create a progress bar that resembles that of Windows 95. If you use A1+A2, G1+G2, and D1+D2 on a 16-segment display, you have a makeshift three-column bargraph to use.

    You can get even fancier -- creating a "pie slice" display with a 16-segment, for example, or making the cloverleaf worm longer by keeping the previous segment on for two frames (making it I+A2, A2+B, B+G2, G2+G1, et cetera). The sky's the limit! Well, that, and the physical locations of the segments.

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