Steven Den Beste, drawn by Beckoning Chasm.
Steven Den Beste, by Beckoning Chasm.

I discovered Chizumatic 1.0 when I looked for commentary on Serial Experiments Lain. What Steven Den Beste wrote made more sense than anything else I’d read, so I made Chizumatic a regular stop on my internet rounds. When he praised Haibane Renmei, I watched it and was impressed, and duly mentioned him on my weblog. To my surprise, he linked back to me, complaining that I had misspelled his name. Thereafter we occasionally posted links to each other’s sites, and during the past ten years he left many, many comments at my various websites, far more than anyone else. He wrote his last comment here the day before his last post.

It may be presumptuous of me to think so, but I came to regard him as a friend, albeit one whom I was unlikely ever to meet. I was glad whenever I could do him a favor, such as download an unlicensed series he was interested in. Through him I found such eccentric characters as Ubu, the Brickmuppet, Wonderduck, J Greely, Aziz, Pete, and many others. Steven was notoriously prickly and seemingly unsociable, but I think he enjoyed being part of an online community, as demonstrated by his enthusiastic particpation in our comment boxes.

I knew Steven was in failing health and near the end of his life, but losing him hurts. Still, I’m grateful for ten years of engineer’s disease, perceptive discussions of anime, music, history, technology and whatever was on his mind, accounts of beaver engineering and waterfowl behavior, and everything else, all expressed in clear, logical, readable prose.

Various tributes to and memories of Steven can be found aggregated here and here.

Memorial cheesecake

Wonderduck made a suggestion:

Those of us with blogs, we need to post cheesecake in [Steven Den Beste’s] memory. I think he’d like that.

Steven did indeed like pictures of pretty girls. However, I don’t share his taste for cheesecake. Instead, I grabbed several thousand of the pictures from the header at Chizumatic and assembled them into a slide show with music from Girls und Panzer. The pictures flash by at a rate of five per second; epileptics beware.

Links in the time of hurricanes

It looks like the Brickmuppet will get a reprieve from Matthew. Down in Orlando, William Luse might not be as lucky. He links back to his posts from 2004, when Charley and friends paid visits to the Florida peninsula.

Update: The Brickmuppet’s luck ran out.

Derek Lowe recently added another post to his “Things I won’t work with” file, this one dealing with a feisty nitrogen compound (“Recall that this is the compound whose cocrystal with TNT is actually less dangerous than the pure starting material itself….”) and anhydrous hydrogen peroxide.

I am told that I barely talked at all until I was nearly four, though when I did start chattering, it was in complete sentences. I was perhaps fortunate that this was back in the dark ages, when autism was a rare and exotic affliction and few people had even heard of Asperger’s.

Japanese dream

Roger, who is spending the current semester in Japan, recorded a theme from Someday’s Dreamers, playing both the piano and fiddle parts. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to embed Facebook videos on my site, but you can listen here.

Update: It’s on YouTube now.

Update II: Roger with some of his Japanese friends playing a different sort of music:

Something about a dragon?

Josh has seen fit to present me with another award. This time it’s the “Dragon’s Loyalty Award.” Gee, thank you, Josh. It’s a great honor, etc., etc., etc. Someday I may forgive you.

Dragon's Loyalty Award

These are the rules:

1. Display the award on your blog.
2. Announce your win with a post and denounce thank the blogger who awarded you.
3. Present 15 deserving bloggers with the award.
4. Link your awardees in the post and let them know of their being awarded.
5. Write seven interesting things about yourself.

These “awards” are a bit too much like chain letters, and I’m not going to pick 15 more suckers. Anyone listed in my blogroll is worthy of an award. If this exercise looks like fun, feel free to participate.

I’m running out of fascinating trivia about myself. ((The most interesting facts about me are none of your business.)) Let’s see, what haven’t I mentioned before?

1. I had piano lessons as a kid, but they didn’t take. When I was around 20, I got tired of being musically illiterate, so I bought an old upright and found a teacher. Later I took a couple of semesters of music theory at the university. I would have taken more, but the theory classes were scheduled for the convenience of freshman music majors, not non-major upperclassmen with jobs and complicated schedules.

2. When I was a kid, I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I still don’t.

3. I deliberately mis-matched my socks during my college years. Similarly, I often wore parti-colored hose when I was active in the SCA.

4. I prefer the fragrance of dianthus to that of roses.

5. I do know how to drive, but I generally don’t.

6. When I was 7, 8, 9, 10 years old, I wandered all over Brigham City, Utah, sometimes with friends, more often alone. Sometimes my friends and I rambled around the lower slopes of the mountain east of town, or we rode our bikes to campgrounds in the canyon to the southeast. I’d pack a lunch and spend entire days at the town park by myself. When I was 11, I explored much of San Francisco north of Golden Gate Park on my bike. I could ride to Baker Beach from home in five minutes, and I’d usually have the sands all to myself. Present-day opponents of free-range parenting would have been aghast.

7. I’ve had fun with depression throughout my life. I rarely mention it because, well, it’s depressing, and others have faced worse and written better about their experiences. I figure it cheated me of about ten years of my youth. Little blue pills have made life a bit easier for me and those who must deal with me. ((This is not a request for advice or inspirational messages. I most likely will never allude to the subject again.))

A world full of Walters

RetsbeilThe results of the Liebster project are in, and there are some interesting data uncovered about these three very different people. The Brickmuppet played trombone; Robbo was nearly run down in a parking lot by Antonin Scalia; Topmaker likes Ian Hunter and Nathaniel Hawthorne. But all three did mention the same name somewhere in their responses.

“I lieb’ ya, I lieb’ ya, baby, I lieb’ ya. Now lieb’ me alone”

Thank you, I think, Josh and Professor Mondo, for giving me the “Liebster Award.” Twice. It’s a great honor and all that. It’s also a fair amount of work. I’ll try not to groan too loudly as I comply with the terms.

This award has been floating around the internet for several years, and the rules have mutated over time. These are what I’m going by today:

LiebsterThe Quasi-Official Rules of the Liebster Award
If you have been nominated for The Liebster Award AND YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT, write a blog post about the Liebster award in which you:
1. thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.
2. display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post.)
3. answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.
4. provide 11 random facts about yourself.
5. nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information!)
6. create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.
7. list these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.) Once you have written and published it, you then have to:
8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)


Eleven noteworthy facts about myself that I haven’t mentioned before? This might be difficult.

Continue reading ““I lieb’ ya, I lieb’ ya, baby, I lieb’ ya. Now lieb’ me alone””

Psychopathological aggressor …

Ken the Brickmuppet condemned by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Details here.


For those of you who use your computer to make noise, Native Instruments is offering a nice little compressor for free through the end of the year. NI’s Mikro Prism is another interesting freebie, a soft synth with a distinctive sound.


Double word score?

Dark [K]night

(Via man with black hat.)

Collector’s item


So Steven is looking for girls with red half-rim glasses? Here’s one he might have missed: Tsukimi, from Princess Jellyfish. ((The frames look brownish here, but elsewhere they’re clearly red.)) (It’s a good show, often very funny, that badly needs a second season, but I suspect that it’s not quite to Steven’s taste.)

The truth about Lincoln …

… and Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding and Richard M. Nixon. Fred Himebaugh, a.k.a. The Fredösphere, who has neglected his weblog for too long, shares the results of his historical research. Content advisory: robots, alien gods, banjos.

Fred earlier wrote a chamber opera “They’re Made Out of Meat,” using the Terry Bisson short story as the libretto, as well as a touching ballad of interplanetary romance, “Earth Girl.”

A few quotes

Josh W.:

… while a massive philosophical gulf separates J.R.R. Tolkien and Hayao Miyazaki, their works both come from a strange and unmodern place, and speak to the part of us which is unmodern and strange; which is to say the human part of us.

Gilbert Seldes in 1928, quoted by Helen Rittelmeyer:

In the middle of the nineteenth century, the word “reformer” meant one who wanted to give liberty to others; today it means, briefly, one who wants to take liberty away. The change in meaning is accompanied by a change in method. There is a dislocation of the center of fear. Laws, lobbies, censors, and spies have displaced God as the object of awe and veneration, sometimes even as the object of faith. The great social and religious movements of the middle of the last century were based on the belief that man could be made perfect. The current belief is that machinery, including the machinery of government, can be made perfect. . . .
The typical zealot of 1800 was a man fanatically busy about salvation; in the 1840s he was as fanatically busy about improving himself; later he turned to uplifting his fellowmen and later still to interfering with their pleasures. . . .
Eighty years ago, [a reformer] withdrew from society, founded his own community, and preached Abstention. Today, he passes laws and cries, I forbid.

J. Greely:

When engineers sleep,
catgirl breeding runs amuck;
Steven, get well soon.

(This is in reference to this news.)

The many flavors of cheesecake

To save you the trouble of clicking repeatedly on the lower left corner of Steven’s header, I’ve collected 915 of the images and assembled them into a convenient slide show.

The singer is Mayumi Kojima. She’s probably best-known in the anime world for “Poltergeist,” the memorable opening theme of the otherwise disappointing Ghost Hound.