Here’s a snapshot of me from about 2,000 years ago. It’s not too bad a likeness, and much more accurate than the ugly thing on my driver’s license. There are additional pictures from different eras below the fold. I found them here, where you obtain similar portraits of your own.
Update: a friend reported that she got a malware warning after visiting the site. There has been no mention of similar problems in the comments at Borepatch or Chant du Départ, where I found it, and there may be nothing wrong with it. I’m leaving the link for now, but it might be prudent to be cautious. It may be relevant that I use the Brave browser with ads blocked.
I want a hero: an uncommon want, …..When every year and month sends forth a new one,
Till, after cloying the gazettes with cant, …..The age discovers he is not the true one;
Of such as these I should not care to vaunt, …..I’ll therefore take our ancient friend Don Juan—
We all have seen him, in the pantomime,
Sent to the devil somewhat ere his time.
When I check the daily rankings at Pixiv, I’m usually content to enjoy the pretty, albeit anime-style pictures. Once in a while, though, I wish I could read Japanese, such as on the manga page above which caught my eye this morning.
(If you visit Pixiv, be aware that many of the artists are males stuck in randy adolescence, and not all the pictures are tasteful.)
In the picture above, the person at the piano is the protagonist of a rather silly manga. The others are Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Haydn, Liszt, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Wagner. Can you identify who one each is? I’ll post the answers this weekend.
Derek Lowe recently added nitro groups to his “Things I won’t work with” category. You don’t need to be a chemist to enjoy his Lowe’s appreciations of azides, FOOF and other exceeding noisy or smelly substances.
“Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.” This is, as everybody knows, Conquest’s Second Law. It is a true law, as all modern experience shows. But it says nothing about the pace or rate of the flight from Reality and Tradition.
A rock thrown upwards at the top of its flight is stationary. For a moment it neither goes up nor down. Then, a fraction of a second later, it begins it descent, but slowly, slowly. The speeds picks up, the rocks plummets faster and faster. It eventually crashes to the ground.
That’s the progress of rocks, a good but imperfect metaphor for the “progress” of human institutions. The imperfection comes in recalling a law Conquest didn’t mention: motus in fine velocior. Things accelerate toward the end. A falling rock has constant acceleration. Human failure is a force that feeds on itself.
The other thing that struck me was that Ginger looked like a mad wizard from a fantasy novel, impossibly aged, but terrifyingly powerful. He was three years younger than I am now. I think both his mistakes as a human being and his phenomenal talent aged him in dog years.
The ball went from being a simple bouncing ball to a bouncing ball that exploded into the sky.
We could see the bouncing star and its ball of light that seemed to follow its path.
It was an incredible sight, and the best thing I did was get myself in the back corner. Then we could film our friends and family watching.
If I had been on the phone with my wife, she would have called me at home to tell me exactly what just happened.
At the end of everything, this world gave us the opportunity to experience being an astronaut on board the Space Shuttle. I couldn’t have been more grateful for the opportunity and thankful to every single human being that saved our world. That we are able to share the story of the space shuttle crew, one of the world’s most successful and innovative organizations, with you, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the launch of the first Shuttle Space Shuttle program, is a truly wonderful thing. Thank you to our crew of astronauts and their families, who did so much for our country.
And now, I can say this: I will return to the shuttle. You were the only ones that would miss me there. If we ever return, we have to go through them all again.
* * *
Um, okay. Let’s try it again, this time with armadillos:
Back in ancient times, synthesizers such as those played by W.W. Carlos and Keith Emerson were assembled from various single-purpose modules, linked together by a multitude of short cables. To change the sound, the musician rearranged the cables and fiddled with the controls on the modules. It was laborious, but with perseverance you could make something like Switched-on Bach or Tarkus. Eventually these modular monsters were replaced by compact synths with fixed architectures, which were easier to program and to transport. Later ones added polyphony and memory for patches, so the musician could play chords and recreate sounds instantly.
Although many of the later synths were immensely useful and desirable, none ever sounded quite like their forebears. Emerson’s modular Moog in particular was legendary. During the past 20 years or so, there’s been increasing interest in modular systems. Notably, the Doepfer “Eurorack” format has become prevalent in certain parts of the electronic music world. A musician can buy whatever modules he wants from a variety of manufacturers and combine them as he pleases. Unfortunately, purchasing modules gets expensive.
However, if you have a reasonably powerful computer, you can run the VCV Rack, a virtual Eurorack. The basic rack, including all you need to make funny noises, is free, and there are many more modules you can download to play with once you get the hang of it, most of which are also free. It’s available here.
I spent several recent lunch hours fiddling with the VCV Rack, and a couple of things quickly became apparent. First, it’s not easy to get an interesting sound out of it. The early synthesists had to work hard to make their music sound good.
Second, videos are the worst way to teach anything. There’s very little text documentation for the rack, so I sat through a number of videos explaining the basics. Good grief, they’re such a waste of time. In principle, videos should be perfect for this job — you can see the connections being made and hear the sounds that result. In practice, you get a guy rambling for half an hour trying to explain something that could have easily been summarized in three minutes. Advice to anyone making an instructional video: before you plug in your microphone, make a detailed written outline of what you want to cover. Better yet, write out what you want to say and skip the video entirely.
Charles G. Hill brings tidings from Japan of a man who “married” a holographic representation of the vocal synthesizer “Hatsune Miku.” Hill linked to a video featuring Miku’s voice which is apparently extremely popular but which doesn’t show what the software is capable of. Here are a couple that better illustrate how a pathetic dweeb could become fixated on the computer-generated image of an anime-style girl: Miku in concert; Miku on a desktop.
Francis W. Porretto wonders if anyone remembers Vaughn Meader and David Frye now that their targets are gone. The First Family was before my time, but I do remember hearing one particular skit by Frye frequently at the left end of the FM dial.
It’s been scientifically established that nearly any pop song can be improved by remaking it as a polka or surf tune. In a similar vein, J Greely recently wished that the cast of Dr. Who had turned a recent episode into a Bollywood musical. I haven’t seen that episode so I can’t say for certain, but I expect that would indeed have been an improvement. I suspect, in fact, that most television shows would benefit from being transformed into Bollywood musicals. (Just wondering: are there any Bollywood musical production numbers featuring surf guitar?)
This is terribly unfair, I know, but Cardinal DiNardo in the picture above looks very much like how I visualize Wormtongue when I read The Lord of the Rings.