Historical-botanical footnote

Joseph Moore’s most recent post mentions the Iron Chancellor. That reminded me of a bit of horticultural history.

One rose I grew many years ago was a fine white hybrid perpetual called “Frau Karl Druschki.” That’s a bad enough name, but it could have been much worse. From an online discussion:

According to a reference, for some years from 1900 there was an annual competition for the best new seedling of German origin, to be named ‘Otto von Bismarck’. The rose described here is pink, from 1908. However there is an illustration dated 1900. Was that a different rose? (Or as a passing thought, a typo?)
1900 was the year that the rose eventually named ‘Frau Karl Druschki’ was entered in the competition….

… ‘Frau Karl Druschki’, at the time still unnamed, had participated in the original competition in 1900, but the judges found no rose to be good enough to be called ‘Otto von Bismarck’. So, Lambert named his rose FKD and commercialzed it and was out of the game. The original prize money of 1000 Marks was increased first to 2000, then to 3000, to no vail – nothing was good enough! Finally in 1906 Kiese’s rose made it. The irony is that FKD went on to become one of the hottest introductions of the early 20th century, while Kiese’s ‘Otto von Bismarck’ almost disappeared.

You can call the rose “Snow Queen” or “Schneekönigin” if you find “Frau Karl Druschki” too clunky.


Bonus foolishness: A note from the Modern Language Association’s annual meeting:

But amid the usual carnival of perversity there was one bijou we thought might interest our readers. No, it has nothing to do with, you know, literature. The denizens of the mla and indeed of the humanities departments of most of our universities wouldn’t countenance anything so retrograde. But how’s this, a session on “Vegetal Afterlives”?

“Advancing recent work in critical plant studies”—“critical plant studies”? alas, yes—“asking how plants offer vibrant models of resistance to environmental destruction through their persistent attempts to create a Plantocene, . . . panelists focus on the theme of vegetal resistance, considering how plants can offer models of resistance for human crises like systemic racism, unnatural disasters, and climate change.”

Leaping into the new year with Frieren

2024 is a leap year. If you save old calendars, those from 1996 will work again. Otherwise, you will need one calendar for January and February and another one for the rest of the year. For the first two months, calendars from 2018, 2007, 2001, 1990, 1979 and 1973 are useable; for March on, 2019, 2013, 2002, 1991, 1985 and 1974.

I like the format of Japanese anime calendars. Although they have only six pages, one for every pair of months, the images are poster-sized, 16.5 by 22.5 inches. It’s been several years since I found one worth ordering, though; the shows that catch my attention tend not to be extremely popular. This year I found one for Frieren at the Funeral1 Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End. I am a little disappointed with it — the pictures are all portraits of Frieren and her companions, which are okay, but I would have liked more illustrations like the cover. Maybe next year there will be a calendar for The Apothecary Diaries.

Return to Paragon City

2 a.m. December 1, 2012

Eleven years ago NCSoft notoriously shut down City of Heroes, the first superhero MMORPG. I recently discovered that it has been revived, albeit unofficially. Someone obtained the code several years ago and ran it on a clandestine server. Word eventually got out, the code was shared, and there are now several Cities available online. I’ve been playing a little on “Homecoming.” Avatars I’ve designed so far include “Alpha Ralpha” and “MacCruiskeen,” with probably “Willy McGilly” and “Jirel de Joiry” to follow.1

This might be of interest to John C. Wright, if he doesn’t already know.

Update: NCSoft has granted Homecoming an official license to host City of Heroes. It looks like the game will be around to play for a while.

Technical question

I plan to purchase a non-Apple laptop shortly. The one I’m most interested in comes in two varieties, identical except for the CPUs. One has an AMD Ryzen™ 7 7745HX; the other has an Intel® Core™ i7-13700HX. The Intel model costs $140 more than the AMD. If I understand what I’ve read online, the Intel CPU overall performs slightly better overall, but not overwhelmingly so. I’ll primarily use the new computer for music and graphics, but I might experiment with gaming, something that has long been a joke on Macs. Is the Intel CPU worth the premium? I suspect that it won’t make that much difference for me, and the extra money would be better used for upgraded peripherals, but I’m not sure.

I figure I probably will need some anti-virus protection for the new computer — something that I haven’t had to worry about with Macs. Bitdefender is the best-reviewed and is not terribly expensive. Is it reliable, or should I consider something else? Are free options adequate?

Still cuckou after all these years

Twenty years ago today I launched my first weblog, Mixolydian Mode.1 I intended to write mainly about books and music. My gimmick was that I would post a simple MIDI arrangement of a traditional, public domain melody every day. I never wrote all that much about what I read or listened to, but I did post a tune a day for over a year. Finding and arranging the tunes became tedious; I eventually reduced the frequency I with which I posted them, and finally quit altogether. There are over 600 of these MIDI files gathered here. Some of them are transcriptions of old music, but the vast majority are my own arrangements.

The first tune I posted, on April 14, 2003, was the thirteenth-century round, “Sumer is icumen in.” Here is the file. Back then, if your browser wouldn’t play a MIDI file, QuickTime would. This is no longer true. Here is the tune as an mp3, which should work in all browsers.

Here are the lyrics, if you’d like to sing along:

Sumer is ycumen in,
Loude sing cuckou!
Groweth seed and bloweth meed,
And springth the wode now.
Sing cuckou!

Ewe bleteth after lamb,
Loweth after calve cow,
Bullock sterteth, bucke verteth
Merye sing cuckou!
Cuckou, cuckou,
Wel singest thou cuckou:
Ne swik thou never now!

The first several years of the twenty-first century were the golden age of blogging. Even though I never had much to say, my site got a lot of traffic and a lot of links. At one point I was receiving over 400 hits a day, and it’s possible that most of them were actual visitors, not just bots. Sure, Glenn Reynolds got that many hits in a minute, but out here in the backwaters of the internet, that wasn’t bad. That golden age is long over, and I get less and less traffic every year. I expect that when I observe the twenty-fifth anniversary of my weblog, I may get a hit every other day from an actual human visitor (and a hundred from the multitudinous bots every hour).

Soon after starting Mixolydian Mode I discovered that some Japanese animation is worth watching (most isn’t, of course; Sturgeon’s law applies here as it does everywhere else). This led to contact with Steven Den Beste and the eccentrics who hung out at his place. Steven quickly became my most prolific commenter. Soon I began a second weblog for my anime explorations, so that readers of my main weblog who weren’t fascinated by all things Japanese would not be subjected to my obsessions.

Back when I started posting online, Blogger and Safari didn’t get along, and WordPress didn’t exist. Instead, I used the now-forgotten pMachine. It worked well for a while, but eventually it became impossible to efficiently clean up the spam comments that increasingly infested the blogosphere. When the pMachine people abandoned the free version of their software, it was my cue to move to WordPress. In April 2007 I re-launched my weblogs, calling them now “Zoopraxiscope” and “The Kawaii Menace.” Some time after that I merged the latter into the former so I just had one weblog to maintain. The original weblogs no longer exist. Some of the highlights are collected in the “ancient texts” in the sidebar at right. There are snapshots at the Wayback Machine for the morbidly curious.

Since 2007 I’ve paid for my webhosting, so that visitors are spared ads and I have adequate online storage and control over my websites. Some hosts are more reliable and ethical than others, and I’ve occasionally had to move my weblog. The WordPress migration tools don’t always work perfectly, and quite a few of the pictures from years past have disappeared into the aether. All the text since April 14, 2007 is still archived, though.

Blogging has changed over the past twenty years. As I recall, it used to be more social, more fun, more frivolous. You could discuss the ramifications of a recent political outrage, and then post the results of silly Quizilla quiz, or play tag with other bloggers. Quizilla is gone now; webrings are forgotten; St. Blog’s Parish has lost most of its parishioners. Part of the change is probably due to foolishness and triviality migrating to Facebook and other slums, and part of it may be due to the medium maturing, but I sometimes miss the old days.

There are those who are no longer with us. Steven, Charles G. Hill, Shamus Young, Wonderduck2 — all of them are missed, along with Zippy Catholic, Gerard Van der Leun and others. And then there are those who took their blogs private or just stopped posting altogether. I sometimes wonder how the Rat Maiden is doing these days, or Kashi, or the crack young staff at the Hatemonger’s Quarterly.

I’ll continue posting spasmodically until Big Sister takes my computer away from me or a Carrington event crashes electronic civilization. The frequency of posting will probably steadily diminish, but I’ll continue reading, watching, weeding, grumbling, thinking cynical thoughts, and taking pictures of everything.

Note on recycling

If you save old calendars, those from 2011, 2005, 1994 and 1983 will all work for 2022. Calendars from 2016 and 1988 will also be valid from March on. Calendars from 2000 will work in January and February, but those are probably not worth the effort of digging out.

Thrilling sports action — maybe

If you’re up early (it’s 7 a.m. here), you can catch the games of current world championship chess match here. This time Magnus Carlsen faces Ian Nepomniachtchi. So far it’s been nothing but draws, like the Carlsen/Caruana face-off, but perhaps there will be some decisive action as the match progresses.

Update: Eight hours and 136 moves later, we finally have a win in a classical game.

Update II: After starting with five draws, Carlsen won four of the next six games, winning the match and retaining his title.

Further iterations


I recently checked to see if there are any new fractal generators since I last played with them. Apparently not, at least for Macs not running the latest OS. Ultra Fractal is still the most capable. It’s pricey, but it does give you a month’s free trial. Xaos works well also, and it’s free.

Fractal Domains and Fraqtive have not been updated since I last used them over five years ago. It’s possible to make pretty, complicated pictures with them, but it’s a struggle, and to my eyes the results from the other two applications look better. Both are free now, so check them out if you’re curious.

Ultra Fractal
Fractal Domains

For all of these, right-click and open in a new window to see every little detail.

Continue reading “Further iterations”

Odds and ends, mostly odd

Today’s useful term: “counter-Renaissance.” E.g.,

The Nazi leader who described the National Socialist revolution as a counter-Renaissance spoke more truly than he probably knew. It was a decisive step in the destruction of that civilization which modern man had built up from the age of the Renaissance….

—F.A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom.


J Greely:

… for all the (mostly true) complaints about how horribly misogynist the Gor novels were, the core audience was female. The local bookstore clerks who more-or-less adopted me in the late Seventies often laughed about how women would come up to the counter with a Gor novel artfully concealed in the middle of their purchases.

I tried reading one of Norman’s novels once but gave up half-way through. He didn’t like women and had no understanding of them. Or so I thought — apparently he understood some well enough.


Greely found a little game:

“List 5 famous people you’ve either met or have been within a few feet of, but ONE is a lie. Then let your friends guess which one they think is a lie.”

Let’s play.

1. Wendy Whelan

2. Phil Keaggy

3. William F. Buckley, Jr.

4. R.A. Lafferty

5. James Lee Burke

(Don’t recognize all the names? All are legendary in their fields, though those fields might be ballet or music, rather than sports or television.)