Things that go “Boom”

Gunung Agung on Bali may be ramping up to an eruption. If so, this could be more than interesting on the densely-populated island. Agung’s 1963 eruption was VEI5, i.e., at least as large as Mt. St. Helen’s in 1980. It has some noteworthy neighbors nearby on the Sunda arc. Rinjani is visible from Agung’s summit when the weather is clear. Tambora is a bit further east.

Meanwhile, there is a state of emergency on Ambae in Vanuatu.

If I had a hammer

The Hammer

Charles Martel

Update: Lydia McGrew comments on France and related matters.

What must be recognized is that the West does no good to the world at large by committing suicide through an excess of generosity and sentiment. Where will the refugees of thirty years from now, any of them, even a small number, turn to if Europe has become part of a Caliphate? How much can the U.S. help others or act as a beacon of freedom if its already weakened economy and infrastructure are further strained by bringing in numbers of people with problems we do not have the resources to handle? And as we turn into more of a police state in response to the terrorist threats we have fecklessly welcomed in, how much do we remain an exemplar of freedom to the nations and a place of safety for others to come to? And, finally, face this: The government of Germany, or the U.S., or France, has more of a duty to protect its own citizens from terrorist attacks than it has to welcome the destitute and oppressed from other countries. That’s just a fact. There are concentric circles of duty, though it is politically incorrect to say so.

See also What’s Wrong with the World.

Update II: Anthony Sacramone presents some notes on that magical era when Christians, Jews and Muslims lived in harmony in medieval Spain.

The most-shoplifted author in Britain

Pratchett and friends

I’m not sure which writer whose books I have the largest number of on my shelves. It might be Philip K. Dick, Gene Wolfe or R.A. Lafferty. Or it might be Terry Pratchett. Pratchet, long one of my favorite writers, died today.

There are various notices and such here, here, here, here and here.

The Pratchett shelf

Post script: It turns out that the quote from Death in the upper picture is one of Neil Gaiman’s contributions to Good Omens.

Ruffling the feathers

It was my good fortune half a lifetime ago to spend time around Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete, who passed away recently. Cardinal Seán O’Malley, in his homily at Lorenzo’s funeral, tells some stories that illustrate one side of Lorenzo’s memorable personality.

It was also around that time when Lorenzo first met Cardinal O’Boyle the Archbishop of Washington. Lorenzo and I spent a lot of time at St. Matthews Cathedral where I was working with Rosario Corredera and the Hispanic community. Lorenzo used to drive me very often. One day, as he was wont to do, Lorenzo parked in the Cardinal’s parking space… (Any ‘no parking’ sign was an invitation to Lorenzo.) At that moment Cardinal O’Boyle was approaching and confronted Lorenzo: “who are you,” he asked. Lorenzo replied: “I am the Cardinal”. Cardinal O’Boyle, who was something of a curmudgeon, answered back: “I am the Cardinal!” To which Lorenzo said: “yes, you are the day Cardinal; I am the night Cardinal.”

It is no wonder that after his first Mass, Lorenzo’s mother asked me to bless her new apartment. I said, “But, doña Conchita, your son was just ordained.” She said, “Yes, padre, but I think he is joking.”

There’s more at the Cardinal’s site. (Scroll down to “Tuesday.”)

No longer waiting

I listened to this every evening on the regional underground station back in ancient times. Some of his other songs were more popular and more listenable, but this is the one that comes to mind when I think of Lou Reed.

The wrong place

Yu Muroga was a Japanese delivery man. He was doing his round when the earthquake occurred on March 11th 2011. Like most people in the area, he did not feel under the threat of the tsunami as he was driving far from the coast. That’s why he kept on driving and doing his job.
The HD video camera on his dashboard did not only film the tremors but also the moments after the earthquake when several drivers were trapped by the tsunami waters.
The video camera was recently found by the police next to the passenger’s body.

Click on the quote above to see the video.

(Via a comment at Eruptions.)

Good news, bad news

The good news: There’s more Marie & Gali translated. Wasurenai is up to episode 27. That leaves 13 episodes to go of the first series, plus the 30 of Version 2.0.

Marika, a magenta-haired middle school student who favors EGL fashions and has no interest in science, finds herself marooned in Galihabara, an isolated town populated by famous scientists. They’re a little different there than they are in history books. Galileo is a buffoonish gonk, Newton is a snooty bishounen who only has eyes for his apple, Darwin is a robot, (John Ambrose) Fleming says “Yo!” a lot, etc. Fortunately for Marika, Madame Curie is relatively sane and provides her a place to stay.

Each of the five-minute episodes illustrates, sorta, a scientific principle. In the episode from which the screen captures above come, Archimedes, Hertz and Galileo compete in a fishing tournament. Through various ridiculous strategies, they catch enough fish and other aquatic creatures to capsize their boat, leaving them up lost at sea in a lifeboat with Marika. The episode ends with a brief lecture on bouyancy from Archimedes.

How much of the science kids watching the show will retain, I can’t say. It doesn’t really matter that much, though. Marie & Gali subordinates didacticism to broad, goofy humor, to its benefit.

The bad news: Captain Planet, the live-action movie. Please excuse me while I throw up.

Three impossible things

So there might be a live-action Noir? If it’s made, I expect it will be a botch, and I doubt that I’d watch it. Still, I’m curious to see how the crew handles the less plausible aspects of the anime, such as:

• Mireille’s magical skirt. It’s very, very short, yet there’s no panchira.

• Bloodless gunmen. Enough people are killed to furnish a small war. There should have been enough blood shed to float a battleship, yet there’s scarcely a drop shown.

• The lava lake in the basement. Both the heat and the gasses should have been instantly lethal, yet nobody even sweats. (And how could anyone possibly erect a building in such a place?)

Without socks

Diana Wynne Jones, one of my favorite writers, died Saturday. She is perhaps best known in anime circles as the author of the book Howl’s Moving Castle. ((Available as an audiobook here.)) However, if all you know of Jones is Hayao Miyazaki’s weakest movie, you don’t know Jones at all. Although she herself liked the movie, I found it far inferior to the superb novel, which I highly recommend. I’ve read and re-read a lot of her books; many of them are excellent and all of them are at least good. Some of my favorites include Dogsbody, Fire and Hemlock, Hexwood, A Tale of Time City, Archer’s Goon, The Homeward Bounders, The Dalemark Quartet, ….

Update: Neil Gaiman on Diana Wynne Jones. (Via Steven R.)

Update II: Eve Tushnet on Jones: “As always with Jones, childhood is no refuge.”

Update IIII: Yet another appreciation, this one containing the useful phrase, “unpredictable inevitability.” ((Which encapsulates the difference between Zombie and Madoka, by the way. Things just happen in the former, but in the latter every detail matters and each event, no matter how surprising, is logically connected to everything else and inevitable in retrospect.))

Rather than blather on, I’ll reprint an entry from my first weblog many years ago.

*****

At a used bookstore this afternoon I spotted Diana Wynne Jones’ The Tough Guide to Fantasyland. Should you ever find yourself on a tour in Faerie, you will find it handy.

Apostrophes. Few names in Fantasyland are considered complete unless they are interrupted by an apostrophe somewhere in the middle (as in Gna’ash). … No one knows the reasons for this. Nor does anyone really know how an apostrophe should be pronounced, though there are theories:
1. You ignore the apostrophe and simply pronounce the word. (Here Gna’ash = Gnash.)
2. You leave a gap or lacuna where the apostrophe appears. (Here Gna’ash = Gna-ash.)
3. You make a kind of clucking-sound to stand for the apostrophe. (Here Gna’ash = Gnaglunkash.) Persons with insecurely mounted tonsils should adhere to one of the other two theories.

Bath is something all Tourists crave for quite soon. After very few days of slogging along in all weathers and sleeping in your clothes, you will be ready to kill for a Bath. You will crave to wash your hair. The management is reasonable on this issue. Before long you will find wither a deep POOL in a RIVER of icy water (“icemelt;” see also HYPOTHERMIA, COMMON COLD and CHILBLAINS) or an INN with a heated bath-house. You will be able to leave your clothes, money, weapons and SECRETS on the bank or bath-house bench and wash in perfect safety. Management Rules state that no one ever steals your clothes/valuables or AMBUSHES you while you are immersed in a Bath.

Common Cold. this is one of many viral nuisances not present. You can get as wet, cold and tired as you like, and you will still not catch cold. But see PLAGUE.

Costume. It a curious fact that, in Fantasyland, the usual Rules for CLOTHING are reversed. Here, the colder the climate, the fewer the garments worn. In the SNOWBOUND NORTH, the BARBARIAN HORDES wear little more than a fur loincloth and copper wristguards (see CHILBLAINS and HYPOTHERMIA). However, as one progresses south to reach the ANGLO-SAXON COSSACKS, one finds VESTS and BOOTS added to this costume. Further south still, the inhabitants of the VESTIGIAL EMPIRE wear short SKIRTS and singlets and add to this a voluminous wrapper on cold days. Thereafter, clothing steadily increases in thickness and quantity, until one finds the DESERT NOMADS in the tropics muffled to the eyebrows in layers of ROBES (see HEATSTOKE).

… In fact, Elves appear to have deteriorated generally since the coming of humans. If you meet Elves, expect to have to listen for hours while they tell you about this — many Elves are great bores on the subject — and about what glories there were in ancient days. They will intersperse their account with nostalgic ditties (“songs of aching beauty”) and conclude by telling you how great numbers of Elves have become so wearied with the thinning of the old golden wonders that they have all departed, departed into the West. This is correct, provided you take it with the understanding that Elves do not say anything quite straight. Many Elves have indeed gone West, to Minnesota and thence to California, where they have great fun wearing punk clothes and riding motorbikes.

Sing is used in a technical sense. This is because MUSIC is so powerful in Fantasyland that no one can really just sing a SONG without risking a Magical result.
The most frequent use of Singing is to speed a dead person’s soul on its way. On some tours no one is properly dead without it (see UNDEAD). Otherwise, Singing is an invocation, a SPELL, or a way of summoning nature MAGICS for some purpose. Tourists shoud be careful to avoid humming a casual tune. You may find you have summoned an ELEMENTAL, a STORM, or a selection of GODDESSES AND GODS.

Socks are never worn in Fantasyland. People thrust their feet, usually unwashed, straight into BOOTS.

There’s a lot more, including six pages on the various kinds of enchanted swords (be sure to have a qualified magician inspect a blade, just as you would have a mechanic look at a used car you’re thinking of buying). Jones’ lexicographical exercise subsequently resulted in her novel Dark Lord of Derkholm.

Tall, slender and on little wheels

Fred Himebaugh, a.k.a. “The Fredösphere,” who once wrote a jazz chamber opera using Terry Bisson’s “They’re Made Out of Meat” as the libretto, has unleased his idea of a pop song upon an defenseless world. “Earth Girl” is an a capella celebration of interplanetary romance. The performers are not credited; I presume they are Fred, Fred, Fred and Fred. Frëd is some kind of genius; what kind, I hesitate to say. It’s available at Amazon.com.

*****

It’s spring preview time again. As usual, little looks worthwhile. C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control is directed by Kenji Nakamura, who previously did Mononoke and Trapeze. Even if the story makes no sense, the visuals should be entertaining. I’ll probably also sample Moshidora to see if it’s possible to make management interesting. I might see how Dororon Enma-kun Meeramera compares to the original. The preview looks true to Go Nagai: too childish for adults, too pervy for kids.

There are times when I would swear that every man, woman and child in Japan is a pervert. I really didn’t need to read about Lotte no Omocha.

*****

Some visitors have come here looking for a “shinmoedake webcam.” There’s one here and a couple more here (the sixth and fifth seventh and sixth from the bottom in the box at right. The fourth fifth from the bottom ((The Suwanosejima camera is back (second from the bottom), though you still can’t see much.)) is Sakurajima, which is worth checking regularly). The Shinmoedake crater at Kirishima did erupt again Sunday, but it was not as catastrophic as the L.A. Times would have you believe:

If there was destruction and panic, everyone was over it in time to go to the mall the next day.

The big show was back in January.

If it’s “silly hindu stuff,” you’re looking for, I can’t help you.