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.)


Peculiar visions

I had a brief, odd dream this morning. I was reading the Sunday comics. On the last page, where Pearls Before Swine usually goes in the Wichita paper, there were two wide panels depicting groups of unsvelte middle-aged women in classical garb, like troupes of Margaret Dumonts costumed as Roman matrons. Some were sitting, some were standing. All were holding holding Union Jacks, and all had beards. These two panels were in black and white, like illustrations from an old book.

Underneath, in place of Sherman’s Lagoon, was a single panel depicting a variety of mostly unfamiliar superheroes. The only one I recognized was Marvel’s Thor. All of them held some version of the Stars and Stripes. This panel was in glossy color, like the cover of an old comic book.

Then I woke up. Make of it what you will.

Unrelated update:

Where we are now, Mr. Despair was thirteen years ago.

Would it be prudent not to inquire whom else brassieres are for?