Did we land, or were we shot down?

Miscellaneous links and nonsense:

David Bentley Hart, from the May 2014 First Things:

Journalism is the art of translating abysmal ignorance into execrable prose.

A look at brilliant, psychotic Joe Meek, who changed the sound of music.


Stereo pictures from WWI. A couple of notes: stereograms made for hand-held viewers use the parallel method of viewing, not the crossed-eye. I.e., the right eye focuses on the right image, the left eye on the left. It is possible to free-fuse the images, though it is easier done than explained. Let your eyes relax and drift apart until the images of a well-defined region in the pictures, such a the bright sky through the roof in the above image pair, start to overlap. Focus on that region until the images snap together, and you should then be able to see the entire scene in perspective. (You’ll need to sit back at least two feet from the monitor if you want to see the full-size images at the link in stereo.)

Continue reading “Did we land, or were we shot down?”


No more fox

So Mozilla is cracking down on thoughtcrime. I need to find an alternative to Firefox that runs on my Mac. ((Safari remains my primary browser, but there are some operations that Firefox does better, and I’ve kept both handy.)) I experimented with several yesterday, and while they mostly worked tolerably well for my purposes, none were astonishing — except for Opera. WTF? Am I missing something? What kind of browser doesn’t allow you to use bookmarks?! ((Yeah, there is a “bookmark bar,” but it’s useless for storing more than half a dozen sites.)) I have a large, organized and frequently edited collection of bookmarks, which I need. Why the hell is this joke is being recommended as a replacement for Firefox?

For what it’s worth, Chrome seems to be the least annoying. However, it’s part of Google, and I don’t want to have anything more to do with that particular borg than absolutely necessary.

Update: Show Mozilla your frowny face.

Ken the Brickmuppet recommends Epic.


Guys und Panzer:

(Via the Borderline Boy.)

An ornithopter for Miyazaki.

The Sailor Senshi meet the Jetsons. (Via Project Rooftop.)

I think that when a human engineer lives a good life, he’s reincarnated as a beaver.”

Full disclosure: I am a creature of the sinister right-wing Koch brothers, just like Michael Mann. Both universities I attended, plus the one where I studied and photographed ballet and the one where I took part in the annual Renaissance Faire, have all received money from the Kochtopus.

Don’t expect a Calvin and Hobbes movie.

You probably shouldn’t expect another VEI 8 blast from Yellowstone, either.

I haven’t had a haircut in 20 years. Perhaps that is why I’m still alive despite riding my bike every day on the wild streets of west Wichita.

Notes on growing biochemical weapons.

Pride and Prejudice for academics.

Ikea or black metal?

Today’s musical interlude, lunatic bassist edition:

Word of the day


Nibiruistic (adjective), used to describe postulations, interpretations and opinions on natural phenomenae coloured by a wish for disasters on a Doomsday scale rather than based on scientific merit. The word is derived from Nibiru, the fictional planet invoked as the root cause for the disaster predicted by the Mayan calendar that would end the world on December 21st, 2012. Since the Mayan calendar was very ambiguous, it could be said to be the archetype for a Nibiruistic interpretation. Nibiruism (noun), a statement based on a wish for a disaster on a Doomsday scale rather than on scientific merit.


Now that we’ve considered what the fox says, what does the moose say? ((“Hey, Rocky.”))

The furry anthem is not the first crime the Norwegian Flight of the Conchords has commmitted. Here are some earlier outrages (N.B.: rough language and worse):


I abandoned Stella blah blah blah several episodes ago when it ceased to be fun. Ken the Brickmuppet stuck with it, and he has figured out what it all means:

We at Gainax hate you.
Our childhoods were miserable because we were a bunch of geeky, socially inept otaku who grew to hate our hobby (which we blame for all our lost opportunities). Nothing makes us sicker than seeing those who watch and enjoy anime for they remind us of our selves and our many personal failures. We hereby dedicate our lives to making you hate the medium as much as us, for we are transgressive and enlightened hipsters who understand the nihilistic futility of everything…Well…everything except the cruel pleasure we derive from getting you gullible fools to first enjoy something we create and then watch helplessly and despair as we dismember it without anesthesia before you. That is the greatest joy in all creation.That we are paid to do this is icing on the cake. It’s an ephemeral joy though. Your innocence thus defiled, you can bring us little amusement from this point on, but there are always others that follow the likes of you. Now get thee along, Aokigahara beckons you.

Nonsense and stuff

Presenting the Pulp-O-Mizer.

Prairie pulp

(Via dotclue)


While researching jurisimprudence, I came across some additions to The Rules:

Cunningham’s Law – The best way to get the right answer on the Internet is not to ask a question, it’s to post the wrong answer.

Muphry’s Law — The principle that any criticism of the speech or writing of others will itself contain at least one error of usage or spelling

Chuck Jones’s Law – If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a bunny.


Via the professor, here’s the Monty Python “Happy Valley” skit. which I hadn’t come across before.


I quit watching teevee decades ago, so I missed this classic commercial. (Via Robbo.)


When assembling a web page, be sure to close all tags. (How large a monitor would you need to read the final line above the footer?)

(Via Dustbury.)


Even rapidly-flowing, basaltic lava, such as that which Tolbachik is currently erupting in Kamchatka, is dense stuff, as illustrated by the process of taking a sample, above.

Here’s a spherical panoramic movie of a helicopter touring Tolbachik. You can click and drag to change the direction of view.

Since lava is so dense, is it possible, with the appropriate footwear, to walk across a fresh flow? Sometimes, if conditions are right:

At Etna you can walk on small lava flows with good hiking boots (it might be their last hike, though), because the lava is more viscous than on Hawai’i. However, you won’t try on a larger flow because heat radiation is so huge.

You go first.


Mt. Ranier

Mt. Rainier erupting the Milky Way.


Some true rock music, made with volcanic phonolite.

Take a look around

Thus far, my 360° panoramas have been of the interior of the Catholic cathedral in Wichita. It’s the most photogenic site to which I have convenient access. Wichita might be a tolerable place to live, ((except during July)) but there isn’t much to see here, and right now it’s at its dreariest. There are a few other buildings with interesting interiors I hope to photograph, and there might be a picturesque snowfall later this winter, but most of the locations I have in mind will have to wait for spring and summer.

In the meantime, there are plenty of panoramas from around the world to view at 360cities.com. Here’s a selection.

Continue reading “Take a look around”

Time to hang up your tights

… and Paragon City is no more.

I stayed up way too late last night to observe the end of City of Heroes. I spent most of that time getting in everyone’s way taking screenshots of all the players I had never met. It was the first time that the MMORPG actually was “massively multiplayer” in my few months of occasional visits.

There was a lot of sentimental gushing in the chat, with much affection expressed for the creators of CoH and contempt for their Korean overlords. I have a good deal of sympathy for the stranded players. Still, I came late to the game and never acquired any “friends” in it, so I have less emotional investment in CoH than most of the other players. For the sake of the people who spent up to eight years’ worth of free time in that online world, I hope that CoH is resurrected. However, I probably won’t be there if it is, even if there is another Mac version. I have other ways of connecting with people online, and I am just not that much of an RPGer. (On the other hand, it is fun to fly, and shoot exploding arrows, and wield a blazing sword.)

Screenshots are below the fold. They are all from the “Triumph” and “Infinity” servers.

Update: No surprise here.

Continue reading “Time to hang up your tights”

The end of a world

Some years back I spent a lunch hour or two with City of Heroes. I was not terribly impressed. It was difficult to design an avatar that pleased my eye, and the game itself seemed to be just a lot of running around, blasting enemies and exchanging canned dialog with automatons. I lost interest before finishing the tutorial.

Although I didn’t find the game interesting, some writers of note did, notably Neil Gaiman and John C. Wright. From the latter I learned that the Korean company that owns City of Heroes is going to shut it down at the end of this month. Curious to see what Gaiman and Wright found in the game that I had missed, I gave it another try.

The game-play, frankly, is boring. It is still mostly just a lot of running (or flying) around, blasting enemies and exchanging canned dialogue with automatons. As Wright observes, the best part is creating your hero. As a non-paying member, I can only have two characters registered at a time, so I’ve created and deleted a number of avatars: the heavily-armored Carolus Ludovicus, slayer of Jabberwocks; MacCruiskeen, a plain Irish policeman whose toys make your brain hurt (Paragon City needs bicycles); the Mathematrix, a manager at Hilbert’s Hotel who strives to transform the world into a well-ordered set, by force if necessary.

My primary character, and the only one I’ve bothered to level up much, is The Remarkable Miss Sakura. (She became “remarkable” at level 12. I would have preferred an adjective such as “modest,” “unassuming,” or “polite,” but title choices are limited.) Originally a mahou shoujo, she eventually outgrew her frilly dress and retired from the magical girl business. She missed the excitement, though, and decided to make a place for herself as an occidental superheroine.

New characters advance rapidly for a while, and it is mildly addictive to acquire new powers every time you log on. Eventually your progress slows down, and leveling up becomes a grind of blasting gang members, abominations, robots, occultists and Chinese, ((I wonder if the real reason NCsoft is shutting City of Heroes down is that someone was offended by the villainous “Tsoo.”)) interspersed with frequent visits to hospitals. There is currently an alien invasion underway to spice things up, but it’s not enough to sustain my interest. I might log on once more on the last day, but I’m otherwise done with City of Heroes.

I may have missed an important part of the experience, though. There are many opportunities to form teams and many kinds of chat, but apparently I managed to pick the least popular servers to create my heroes on. More often than not, it seemed that I was the only player logged on. When I did receive team invitations, they were usually badly-timed, and the few occasions I was able to accept an invitation, the experiences were frustrating, sometimes for technical reasons, sometimes for human. Asocial though I am, I might have enjoyed City of Heroes better on a more populous server.

Which is why I’ll stick to Second Life for my MMO needs, even if City of Heroes gets a reprieve. It’s much easier to meet people from across the country and around the world, and there’s no RPG to get in the way. You can just find — or build — a congenial café where you can listen to music or play your own (it’s fairly easy to stream music from your computer into Second Life) and chat with friends.


Superheroics of a different sort: Here’s a rather odd-looking Sailor Senshi.

Her colleagues can be seen here. There’a a different set of Sailor Avengers here.

A post including the word “paradox” and a mention of G.K. Chesterton, but not in the same paragraph

Very miscellaneous links and curiosities.

Quote of the week:

Lutherans are not Baptists. Catholics are not evangelicals. Methodists are not Presbyterians. Presbyterians are not Anglicans. No one is an Episcopalian.

From the same authority, an appreciation of Joseph Levitch.

Paging AC/DC.

A paradox of quantum etymology.

Expected real-life Batman generation rate.

The inverse law of sanity.

Schopenhauer in the key of E minor: Heavy metal keeps us sane. (Yeah, right. Oh, and G.K. Chesterton was a proto-metalhead.)

Tasted like chicken.

Is the heat wearing you out? There’s plenty of snow at Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Minimalist Marvel posters.

When it comes to Wonder Woman redesigns, skirts beat pants. Colleen Doran did some “high fantasy” concept drawings of WW, which you can see here, here and here.

Want your very own action figure, just like Danny Choo?

Who needs real musicians anymore? Who needs real singers? All you need are a computer, some good instrument sample sets and a troupe of Vocaloids. Here’s a lively twelve-minute musical vaguely based on Lewis Carroll. (I note with annoyance that the Cheshire Nekomimi doesn’t have a grin.)

Some of the above via The Rat, Jonathan Tappan, Project Rooftop and Vocaloidism.

From Parma Tyelpelassiva

Recognize this?

Man naeg mathal, ae maethor veren,
Erui reniol ar nimp?
I thâr pellen uin ael
Ar ú-linnar in aew.

Actually, you do know the poem of which this is the first stanza, though probably not in this translation.

There’s more poetry here, and much else about Tolkien’s languages, including downloadable courses. ((It’s oddly refreshing to see such an old-fashioned website.)) Here’s an overview of the Elvish languages.

Miscellaneous geekery

A girl band I’d like to hear, or at least see. (Via Project Rooftop.)

Catwoman on ice. (Via Eve Tushnet.)

Ball-peen hammers in World of Warcraft. (Via Nightfly.) Posted in revenge for this (eye protection recommended).

The dark side of World of Warcraft.

I’ve probably mentioned this article before, but it’s worth posting again: my favorite living writer on Tolkien. (Via John C. Wright.)

The Hairball of St. Felix.

Myriad menaces

Goodbye Kitty
Goodbye Kitty

(Via Dustbury.)


Why I don't have ads on my sites
Why I don't have ads on my sites


I'm with Eineus
I'm with Eineus


Old-fashioned nightmare fuel.


The OED fails.


Fortunately, I’m not a Linux user.


And now for something perhaps a little less frightening: a friend of my brother has released a new tune. If you like loud music, give it a listen. It has more cowbell.