Home from Korea

There is extensive coverage of Fr. Emil J. Kapaun’s return to Kansas here. His tomb is in the Wichita cathedral, which for many years was my parish church.

There’s quite a bit more about Fr. Kapaun here.

Incidentally, the first high school I did time in1 was named for Chaplain Kapaun, but don’t hold that against him.

Mysteries of the plains

According to Jules Verne in Master of the World:

“Lake Kirdall in Kansas, forty miles west of Topeka, is little known. It deserves wider knowledge, and doubtless will have it hereafter, for attention is now drawn to it in a very remarkable way.
“This lake, deep among the mountains, appears to have no outlet. What it loses by evaporation, it regains from the little neighboring streamlets and the heavy rains.
“Lake Kirdall covers about seventy-five square miles, and its level is but slightly below that of the heights which surround it. Shut in among the mountains, it can be reached only by narrow and rocky gorges. Several villages, however, have spring up upon its banks. It is full of fish, and fishing-boats cover its waters.
“Lake Kirdall is in many places fifty feet deep close to the shore. Sharp, pointed rocks form the edges of this huge basin. Its surges, roused by high winds, beat upon its banks with fury, and the houses near at hand are often deluged with spray as if if with the downpour of a hurricane. The lake, already deep at the edge, becomes yet deeper toward the center, where in some places sounding show over three hundred feet of water.
“The fishing industry supports a population of several thousands, and there are several hundred fishing boats in addition the the dozen or so of little steamers which serve the traffic of the lake. Beyond the circle of the mountains lie the railroads which transport the products of the fishing industry throughout Kansas and the neighboring states….”

If Verne’s account is accurate, Lake Kirdall would be in the Manhattan/Fort Riley area. I’ve lived in Kansas the larger portion of my life, and I’ve never noticed any mountains in all my wanderings around the state, let alone mountain lakes. Evidently French science-fiction writers know as much about the plains states as Japanese blues bands do about the deep South.

Joseph Moore mentioned the lake in his review of Master of the World, cited by John C. Wright in his list of “The Fifty Essential Authors of Science Fiction.” I hadn’t read Verne since grade school1 and was curious, so I tracked the book down. It was okay, but just okay. I’m surprised that Wright included it in his note on Verne. It may be that I expected the wrong things from it, or that I need to have read more of Verne to fully appreciate it. Brandon Watson gives it a recommendation, along with a couple of related novels.

The greatest mystery to me is, why did Verne invent a lake in a spot where two minutes with an atlas would have told him that it couldn’t exist when there was the quite real and remarkable Crater Lake in Oregon available?

***

David Breitenbeck:

Among its many other marks, one sign that the American education system is a complete fraud is the fact that English classes never present H.P. Lovecraft, Raymond Chandler, R.E. Howard, Walter B. Gibson, or the like as examples of American Literature for students to read.

Catching up: anime

Exaggerated and unfair, but true.

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The car over the harbor show

I finished OddTaxi. Noir with (mostly) cute animals works pretty well when the writing is strong. It likely is the best show of the year, though I can’t say for sure because I haven’t watched more than a few episodes of anything else. Considered as anime, it’s something out of the ordinary and worth sampling if you have an interest in animated storytelling. Considered as noir, I’m not so sure. My knowledge of the genre doesn’t extend far beyond “Watching the Detectives,” and I suspect that connoisseurs might find the ending unsatisfyingly upbeat. Iniksbane has mixed feelings. Nick Creamer discusses the first episode in detail here.

And that’s it for 2021. Nothing this fall looks interesting, so I’ll pop in a disc of Hozuki or Humanity Has Declined when I’m in the mood to watch something.

Continue reading “Catching up: anime”

Nine octaves

Does your Fazioli seem tame? Do you feel limited by your Imperial Bösendorfer? Try a 108-key grand piano from Stuart and Sons in New South Wales.

***

If you want the extended range but don’t have an extra $300,0001 handy, Modartt’s New York Steinway D goes down an extra octave to a very low A, and up a fourth to a high F. The additional notes aren’t particularly musical — the low ones are mushy and metallic, the high ones have barely any perceptible pitch — but they might occasionally be useful for musical eccentrics, and a virtual grand piano is a lot cheaper than the real thing.

Language, language

If you view the Constitution of the United States in the National Archives Catalog, you’ll see a curious notice on a background of light blue. You’ll see it also if you look at the Declaration of Independence or the Bill of Rights.

Yeah, this warning about language probably appears on every single National Archives Catalog page, not just these three. The website crew can’t possibly think the Constitution itself contains “potentially harmful content.” Right?

Virtual noisemakers

Possibly of interest to those who make music with their computers or might want to do so: IK Multimedia is currently running a “group buy” of much of their software. If you purchase one of the eligible items, after you install and authorize it you can then download at least eleven thirteen twenty-four more software packages of equal or lesser price for free. I stretched my budget a bit to participate, but it will be a while before I know the new toys well enough to discuss. The “MODO” Bass, at least, I’m pretty sure I’ll use.

I got curious about the music software I most frequently use and noticed something odd. IK Multimedia is an Italian company. Applied Acoustic Systems is Canadian. Arturia is French, as is Modartt. Native Instruments and u-he are both German. My digital audio workstation is Logic, an Apple product, but Logic originally was developed by the German company C-Lab/Emagic, from whom I initially purchased it over twenty years ago. There are a lot of other music software developers, and it’s possible that there are some significant makers from the USA that I’ve overlooked. However, the synths and samplers I usually load in my DAW are all from foreign lands.

Thistles, plums and limestone

Cirsium undulatum

I recently visited a nearby “nature center.” It’s no substitute for the botanical garden in Wichita, but it’s not a waste of time, either. Its focus is on plants native to Kansas, and there are a number of trails there that I will explore on future visits.

I did find some color there, and a plum.

Lobelia siphilitica
Cassia fasciculata, or Chamaecrista fasciculata. Or Cassia chamaecrista.

Continue reading “Thistles, plums and limestone”

Further iterations

Xaos

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
Fraqtive

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

Continue reading “Further iterations”

Miscellany

Illustration from The Traditional Catholic Weeb.

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Clarissa:

I’m writing this because I think it’s time for everybody to figure out their hard limit in the creeping totalitarianism we are experiencing. I’ve thought about mine, I have figured out what it is, and it’s very calming to know it. I highly recommend thinking about where you stop accommodating the totalitarians. What is off limits? We are all different, and everybody will put their boundary in a different place. That’s OK as long as we all find the boundary.

***

Morgan Freeberg:

When we know something is *not* so, there’s no need to censor it. There’s no need to censor phlogiston theory. There’s no need to censor “That wrestling match was totally legitimate.” There’s no need to censor “The moon is made of cheese.” The need for censorship exists when the message is provably true, or open to question with an outright refutation being impossible.

Joseph Moore:

History is full of Richard Richs.

***

The Z-Man:

The thing is, Alex Jones claiming the vaccine will alter your DNA is no nuttier than much of what is in the mass media. In fact, a ridiculous claim is far less harmful than the plausible, but inaccurate claim. Few people will think the vaccine will turn you into Big Foot, but most people will believe we need to make kids wear masks. Far more people have been harmed by official lies than by goofballs on the internet.

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J Greely:

There are two kinds of people who say, “don’t tell your parents what we did today”: child molesters and woke teachers.

Okay, maybe that’s just one kind of person.

Notes on fairy tales from a Chesterton conference:

Some modern renditions of Cinderella replace the “…and they lived happily ever after” for things like, “…and they lived and had their ups and downs, sometimes angry with each other, sometimes sad, and sometimes happy.” But this destroys the point of the tale, which is that Cinderella and her prince (in Grimm’s German literally, “the king’s son”) are an image of Christ and us, and that the “happily ever after” is Heaven. In an effort to make it more realistic they unwittingly make it less realistic since Heaven is, in fact, happiness ever after.

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Welcome to the new dark age:

The history of the computer is the destruction and replacement of record making and keeping systems by newer ones that are not backward compatible. Computers destroy history. Future historians (if any survive, 2525) will label our current era as a dark age, because there will be no records of what happened.

***

Bonus: a B. Kliban record cover from 1977.

Paging Dr. Boli

Where has the Celebrated Magazine gone?

Update from Dr. Boli:

Please Stand By
[Illustration: Enemy hackers storming the walls]
…while we fight off an army of malicious hackers. Enemy agents are well aware that the key to disrupting the economy of our fair land is the control of Dr. Boli’s Celebrated Pub­lishing Empire. They have been foiled, of course, but it may take a few days to restore normal service.

Update II: The magazine is back at last, and on a new server.

Continue reading “Paging Dr. Boli”

Joyous multiples

It’s been a while since I last ran a poll. Let’s see if I can remember how to set one up.

(For the significance of “joy multiplier,” see here.)