What do you get when you cross a joke with a rhetorical question?

The calendar says it’s February, but it’s May outside. I took the day off, and in a little while I’m going to go out and enjoy the weather. While I’m out, here’s some miscellaneous nonsense for you. As usual, I forget where I found most of these.

The more Pope Frankie flaps his mouth, the more I miss Bennie and J.P.

Transporter before

Transporter after

Continue reading “What do you get when you cross a joke with a rhetorical question?”

Miscellaneous nonsense, John Cleese edition

Thought for the day, from Francis W. Porretto:

Silo Syndrome is one of the natural consequences of the sense that things are sliding down the slippery slope to Shitville, and there’s nothing one can do about it. The sense might be illusory, of course, but the consequences of it are nevertheless compelling.
The countermeasure is laughter, however administered or evoked. Jokes. Puns. Harmless pranks. General horseplay. Frivolity. Cat videos. The zany impulse indulged in an unguarded moment. Laughter might not be able to cure cancer, but it can make the chemotherapy a bit easier to endure.

Some vile ethnic humor, attributed to John Cleese:

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent events in Syria and have therefore raised their security level from “Miffed” to “Peeved.” Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross.”

The English have not been “A Bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from “Tiresome” to “A Bloody Nuisance.” The last time the British issued a “Bloody Nuisance” warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

Rationality

Years ago I attended a performance of a John Cage piece. The musicians sat on the stage in black turtlenecks while making gurgling noises with conch shells and water to the accompaniment of a recording of pine cones burning. After 20 minutes, one of the performers stood up and blew on his conch for five minutes, at the end of which his face was purple. I’ve also sampled recordings of Cage’s prepared piano music; the sonorities are novel, but the music itself is hard to pay attention to for more than a minute or two. Cage himself was probably aware that his music would not be universally appreciated, which is perhaps why he insisted that auditoriums where his music was performed have easily accessible exits.

Cage’s political philosophy is more interesting than his music, which makes him unique in history of music:

Cage—most famous for his 1952 composition 4’33”, in which musicians sit in perfect silence for four minutes and 33 seconds—was a gut anarchist. Asked about the word ecology, the composer replied that whenever he heard that seductive word he knew he’d soon hear the word planning, and “when I hear that word, I run in the other direction.” He boasted that he never voted.

Continue reading “Miscellaneous nonsense, John Cleese edition”

Odds and ends

Life is annoyingly busy, and I will have less time than usual for maintaining my websites until the middle of December. Expect even less activity here than usual. There might occasionally be posts of miscellaneous nonsense, such as what follows, but probably not much more.

*****

Magical algorithm 1

Flickr recently introduced a “camera roll” feature that displays thumbnails of your pictures arranged either by the date taken or according to its “magic view,” which sorts them into subject-based categories. The algorithms for the latter need a little refinement.

Magical algorithm 2

Continue reading “Odds and ends”

Notes from the Psychiatric Center for Research on Regressive Tendencies

Various odds and ends:

Fillyjonk linked to an old but not outdated story by Ray Bradbury, “The Murderer.” I found a couple of other favorites, “The Veldt” and “The Pedestrian.”

*****

Perhaps not entirely unrelated to the Bradbury stories:

Having time each day merely to amuse oneself, or just to sit and think, greatly improves one’s life. Yet we’re practically taught to avoid such periods – to stay as busy as possible virtually all the time. The emphasis on work, on “multitasking” (which, as a former expert in the architecture of multitasking operating systems for embedded devices, I can assure you is always an illusion) and on achieving ever more per unit time is using us up in ways we don’t always perceive and even less often appreciate. You’d almost suspect that time spent in introspection had been deemed an offense against the social norms.

(Via Dustbury.)

*****

While Sakurajima is ominously quiet, in the South Indian Ocean Piton de la Fournaise is putting on a modest, colorful show.

Continue reading “Notes from the Psychiatric Center for Research on Regressive Tendencies”

Suite in B

2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the discovery of P.D.Q. Bach by Peter Schickele. (Strictly speaking, the above isn’t P.D.Q.B., though it is from one of the early albums.)

Here’s another approach to Beethoven. (Via the Borderline Boy.)

1965 also saw The Baroque Beatles Book of Joshua Rifkin.

According to the liner notes of a reissue, Schickele was the first choice to write the arrangements, but he had just been signed to a different label, so Rifkin got the job. Incidentally, Rifkin sang in the first performance of P.D.Q. Bach’s “Iphigenia in Brooklyn.” A few years later, he would jumpstart the ragtime revival with his Scott Joplin recordings.

Here’s a more modern approach to the Beatles.

Glorieux’s Beatle recordings, which range stylistically from Bach to Bartok, are out of print, but you can find them on YouTube.

… comfy armchairs with ejection seats for emergencies

Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres:

“I am a conscientious objector to child conscription, on grounds that I should not have to suffer for a disintegrating school system’s failure to provide teachers or study materials of even minimally adequate quality.”

And:

Then again, Harry was standing in a bank that literally stored your money in vaults full of gold coins guarded by dragons, where you had to go in and take coins out of your vault whenever you wanted to spend money. The finer points of arbitraging away market inefficiencies might well be lost on them. He’d been tempted to make snide remarks about the crudity of their financial system…
But the sad thing is, their way is probably better.
On the other hand, one competent hedge fundie could probably own the whole wizarding world within a week. Harry filed away this notion in case he ever ran out of money, or had a week free.
Meanwhile, the giant heaps of gold coins within the Potter vault ought to suit his near-term requirements.
Harry stumped forward, and began picking up gold coins with one hand and dumping them into the other.
When he had reached twenty, Professor McGonagall coughed. “I think that will be more than enough to pay for your school supplies, Mr. Potter.”
“Hm?” Harry said, his mind elsewhere. “Hold on, I’m doing a Fermi calculation.”
“A what? ” said Professor McGonagall, sounding somewhat alarmed.
“It’s a mathematical thing. Named after Enrico Fermi. A way of getting rough numbers quickly in your head…”
Twenty gold Galleons weighed a tenth of a kilogram, maybe? And gold was, what, ten thousand British pounds a kilogram? So a Galleon would be worth about fifty pounds… The mounds of gold coins looked to be about sixty coins high and twenty coins wide in either dimension of the base, and a mound was pyramidal, so it would be around one-third of the cube. Eight thousand Galleons per mound, roughly, and there were around five mounds of that size, so forty thousand Galleons or 2 million pounds sterling.
Not bad. Harry smiled with a certain grim satisfaction. It was too bad that he was right in the middle of discovering the amazing new world of magic, and couldn’t take time out to explore the amazing new world of being rich, which a quick Fermi estimate said was roughly a billion times less interesting.
Still, that’s the last time I ever mow a lawn for one lousy pound.

There may be a Harry Potter fanfic worth reading, Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.

(Via J. Greely.)

Link-o-rama

Bingo

A game to play next time you read a second-tier fantasy novel. (Via J. Greely.)

Advisory

Some trigger warnings for other literature.

1944, near Naples

Italy, 1944:

88 airplanes were a total loss. Eighty-eight B-25 Mitchells – $25,000,000 [1944 dollars] worth of aircraft

Vesuvius, 1944

Update: More on Vesuvius here.

Anthony Sacramone’s list of the twelve funniest books ever written is better than most such lists, though it’s missing Terry Pratchett, Robert Benchley and a few others. ((I was pleased to see that someone else remembers Will Cuppy.))

“Let us build a fairyland for the people by dint of science!”

North Korean slogan or TED talk tidbit? (Via Jonah Goldberg.)

A large serving of silly nonsense is below the fold.

Continue reading “Link-o-rama”