Tuesday, January 15, 2019

On the independent recommendations of some friends whose taste I now esteem more lightly, I have started The Name of the Wind. I can say without exaggeration that this book is the worst commercially successful fantasy novel I've ever read--and I've read every Dragonlance novel ever written. The prose is atrocious, the plot non-existent, and the protagonist is the literary equivalent of Lin-Manuel Miranda, possessor of the world's most punchable face. IThe last character I hated as much as Kvothe was Dolores Umbridge. He is Thersites's self-insert Gary Sue.

I will probably blog more about this once I have cleared the taste from my mouth with strong drink.

Monday, January 07, 2019

Polyphonic pitch-shifting.

Want to hat-tip but can't remember where I found this; please comment if it's you.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

Just read a review of someone's writing that described it as "like a schoolboy's timed in-class translation of Xenophon."

Life goals!

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

A quick bit of corvid behavior for the new year:

Two crows, one up on a telephone wire and the other below. The one above dropped a largish piece of gravel on the one below, then flew down. The one below siezed the gravel in its beak, flew to the other's place on the wire, and then dropped the gravel on it. They exchanged places several times while I watched, before they flew off startled by a car.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Atmospheric Circulation of Hot Jupiters

The full-phase infrared light curves of low-eccentricity hot Jupiters show a trend of increasing dayside-to-nightside brightness temperature difference with increasing equilibrium temperature. Here, we present a three-dimensional model that explains this relationship, in order to provide insight into the processes that control heat redistribution in tidally locked planetary atmospheres. This three-dimensional model combines predictive analytic theory for the atmospheric circulation and dayside–nightside temperature differences over a range of equilibrium temperatures, atmospheric compositions, and potential frictional drag strengths with numerical solutions of the circulation that verify this analytic theory. The theory shows that the longitudinal propagation of waves mediates dayside–nightside temperature differences in hot Jupiter atmospheres, analogous to the wave adjustment mechanism that regulates the thermal structure in Earth's tropics.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

"....from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved...."
Parasitic fungus doses cicadas with psilocybin and makes their butts fall off.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Eidolon is generally not high on my list, but this article about teaching middle-schoolers Latin is charming.
Most 6th graders seem to readily adopt ancient language and culture. (I remember going through a serious ancient Egypt phase myself in the 6th grade.) They’re not only excited to speak a dead language — they want to live it. One parent shared with me that her son was regularly reclining at the dinner table “like a Roman.” Another set of parents shared that their daughter was calling them “mater et pater” at home. This engagement with the culture is most resonant in mythology. Many students come into my class with extensive background in Greek and Roman myths, partly due to the popular Percy Jackson series and partly due to classics like D’Aulaires. My jaw dropped the day I heard a 6th student casually include ichor in our informal discussion of the Greco-Roman pantheon.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Flaming Pudding Carol Lyrics

A public service, since these proved rather hard to track down via Google - the lyrics to The Flaming Pudding Carol:
Come bring with a noise
My merry, merry boys
The Christmas pudding a-flaming.
Bids ye all be free
And eat to your hearts' desiring.

With the last year's brand
Light the Yule Log and
For good success in his spending
On your psalteries play
The sweet luck may
Come while the log is a-tending.

Drink now the strong beer,
Cut the white loaf here
The while the meat is a-shredding.
For the rare mince pie
And the plums stand by
To fill the paste that's a-kneading.

Repeat first verse
(The recording has "Drink now with good cheer." Whatever.)
Season's Greetings in Reykjavik:
A new statue of the Icelandic Yuletide cat was revealed last weekend in Lækjartorg in the city centre. It's a five metre tall and fairly creepy statue of this strange folkloric being, known for eating children who didn't get new clothes for Christmas.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Bleg: what should I read to understand the Maronites?

Friday, November 30, 2018

"This possibly marks one of the few times in history when a computer generated code to be executed by humans": Knitting patterns generated by AI. Choice quotes from knitters:
 "...a bona fide eldritch horror..." "Okay, now who here has read Snow Crash?"

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

With the feast day of St. Hilda behind us, it's been time to butcher lambs. The first (Oscar) was done today, since his cousin (Willoughby) was too wily. Our neighbor sells the skulls, so we needed to clean Oscar's.

Our neighbor throws her rams' skulls to the chickens, and after my viking wife shamed her ancestors by refusing to assist with the process, we did the same. They have been hiding from it since this morning. Outfaced by dermestids--a sad day for team Vertebrata.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

IF Comp 2018 Review: Abbess Otilia's Life and Death

Triviality: if you can run a 400m in under 60 sec., you are moving as fast or faster than a (British, pre-war) cavalry charge.

Source: Doctrine and Reform in the British Cavalry, 1880-1918, by Stephen Badsey.

Creating a 'cavalry' tag for this, 'cause you're going to hear a lot more about it.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Markia hystrix, the Lichen Katydid - this particular one's apparently in Costa Rica:

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Through a tangled and half-forgotten path: Occupations of the Poor

Child-strippers: "Old debauched drunken hags who watch their opportunity to accost children passing in the street, tidily dressed with good boots and clothes"
River-finders, who would "haul[] out the flotsam of wood which might be used for firewood of a baby;s cradle, or the occasional corpse which could be turned in for a reward"; they were apparently a hereditary class.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

"Old men should not read the Romance of the Three Kingdoms; young men should not read the Water Margin."

Being 'nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita' (Saint Hilda and Saint David, pray for us!), I feel it safe for me to read either. The explanation for this particular proverb I received when I first heard it was that young men are given to fighting, and the Water Margin is excited, while old men are given to deceptions, and the Three Kingdoms is full of machinations and schemes. But on reflection I think this interpretation is wrong.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Friday, August 31, 2018

Some believe that [Vipera aspis. the asp] was introduced to Sicily by the Carthaginians during their conquest of the island in the years 398-368 BC, The basis for the speculation is that the Carthaginians were known to load a small boat with a collection of venomous snakes and push the boat toward enemy ships as a means of terrorizing their opponents prior to combat.
I'm skeptical, to say the least, but the claim is from Snakes, Gordon H. Rodda, Encyclopedia of Islands, ed. Rosemary G. Gillespie and David A. Clague, University of California Press, 2009, pg. 845.

Monday, August 06, 2018

In vengeance, Peculiar:

Some Limericks.

He must be a quintessential fool who does not realize that the following fifty limericks are a document of enduring value. And I beg leave to say that the collecion has been made not for such people, but for those who can appreciate its significance.
I shall quote none of them. Caveat lector asinum.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Further Mexica content: Emily Short's review of MEXICA, procedurally generated stories around Aztec legends.

The creator, Rafael Pérez y Pérez, has articles here :

MEXICA: a computer model of a cognitive account of creative writing
The Three Layers Evaluation Method for Computer-Generated Plots

As what we watch and read becomes more closely monitored, proc gen art will become the new pulp. I'm laying down a marker, here.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

I never know how late to these parties I've arrived, but here:

Things I Won't Work With

A quick paragraph or two from some selections:

From "Sand Won't Save You This Time":

Let’s put it this way: during World War II, the Germans were very interested in using [chlorine trifluoride] in self-igniting flamethrowers, but found it too nasty to work with. It is apparently about the most vigorous fluorinating agent known, and is much more difficult to handle than fluorine gas. That’s one of those statements you don’t get to hear very often, and it should be enough to make any sensible chemist turn around smartly and head down the hall in the other direction.
From "Azidotetrazolate Salts":

An early favorite has appeared in my “most alarming chemical papers” file for this year. Thomas Klapoetke and Joerg Stierstorfer from Munich have published one with a simple title that might not sound unusual to people outside the field, but has made every chemist I’ve shown it to point like a bird dog: “The CN7 Anion”. The reason that one gets our attention is that compounds with lots of nitrogens in them – more specifically, compounds with a high percentage of nitrogen by weight – are a spirited bunch. They hear the distant call of the wild, and they know that with just one leap of the fence they can fly free as molecules of nitrogen gas. And that’s never an orderly process. If my presumably distant cousin Nick Lowe does indeed love the sound of breaking glass, then these are his kinds of compounds. A more accurate song title for these latest creations would be “I Love the Sound Of Shrapnel Bouncing Off My Welder’s Mask”, but that sort of breaks up the rhythm.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

With Mexica in the news of late, what with tzompantli and skulls and whatnot, it's worth remembering what an astonishing civilization they were.

Here's the Florentine Codex online. If the Aztecs had survived Cortez, kids would watch cartoons informed by their toltecat aesthetic, play Eagles vs. Jaguars, and beg their parents to let them take macuahuitl classes.
Reconsidering the lurid tale of Nag Hammadi.

(ht to Marginal Revolution)