Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Thrill of Clean Clothes, the Agony of d’ Laundry

Today is laundry day, or at least laundry morning.

The problem is that, once I sit down to do something else, I really really don’t want to get up to do anything else. Maybe not ever again. :)

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Man’s Best Bodyguard

Seeing eye dog fights off home invader choking his blind mistress, then calls 911 with a special device. Via Ace of Spades.

Good boy! Who’s getting a steak, hmm? I think it’s you, bud!

And a good job to his trainer, and whoever invented the 911 alert device… great stuff!

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Thinking Big: Academic Crackpot Edition

In the tradition of scholars throwing out ideas into the marketplace of ideas, you gotta love it. Except that it makes no sense….

Apparently there are a couple of German art historians (Heribert Illig and Gunnar Heinsohn) who floated the idea (back in the 1990′s) that everything that happened between the 7th century and the 10th century was actually made up by medieval German historians under Emperor Otto III; and that really these years didn’t exist, and so we’re really living in the year 1712 or so. This explains the dearth of archeological evidence for towns built in those times, the similarities between Merovingen and Romanesque art, and so on.

This ingenious and beautiful theory is unfortunately thwarted by cold hard facts, such as the monastery and royal chronicles and writings of lots of people in other countries, and the amazing amount of surviving paperwork that everybody managed to do in spite of Vikings, Muslims, and civil disorder. (They’re art historians, so that didn’t leap to their eyes.) Theology and church history and various saints certainly kept going, all over Europe. The post-Charlemagne Viking/Muslim pirate period of Europe was pretty bad, but it wasn’t quite that bad. (And Otto couldn’t possibly have paid or persuaded everybody to forge everything!)

Beyond that, there’s the evidence of the natural world. The stars kept moving and the tree rings kept growing, all those centuries. So unless Otto’s guys were supervillains or Time Lords, the “phantom time” theory just doesn’t work.

But you gotta love how they thought big…. :)

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Francis Koerber’s Birthday Canon

Check it out!

Extra points if you learn it and play it. :)

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This Is Why You Need Smofs.

Some people wonder why you need convention security, convention ops that’s open all night, and convention committees that spend tons of time worrying over what could go wrong.

Here’s one reason why. (Via Crunchyroll, with a picture of a guy banned for shoplifting at Oni-con.)

Fans were breaking the law in several ways. On Easter Sunday morning, no less. Not all fans were left healthy by this. At least one woman was passed out. (Not a good thing at a rowdy party, especially.) Some fan started kicking and punching EMTs who were there to help him. The Boston cops and the EMTs got a very bad impression of anime fans, which will not serve Boston anime fans well in the future. Boston parents and potential anime fans also got a bad impression if they read this story.

And now the hotel management is in trouble with the mayor’s office!

So yeah, because of one party, it’s likely that Anime Boston will have a hard time finding a hotel to take their convention next year. The convention committee is probably disgusted (with their own failure and with fannish failure of basic partythrowing skills), and may not feel like putting it on next year. There will probably be a lot of helpers who won’t go next year, and of course that will probably make things worse. The only bright spot is that every anime and regular convention in the country probably has the names of the party attendees by now, and none of them will be going to a fannish convention ever again.

Anime Boston seems to have a fairly comprehensive set of convention rules laid out, including telling people not to use drugs at the con (not that anyone should have to be told). Attendees ignored it. And they do have convention security checking on room parties, so the situation must have blown up faster than convention security was able to deal with things. This may be a case of people not doing their jobs; it may be a case where conrunners and security did everything right, and yet the attendees managed to make things go wrong. It may be that the convention had to call the cops; it happens sometimes.

Sigh. Every story has a moral.

If you want to have a convention next year, and continue to get sweet deals from the hotel, and love and tolerance from the hotel staff, and encourage more people to come with good news coverage as well as good word of mouth from attendees… you have to have attendees who mind their manners, and conrunners who ride herd on the attendees, to remind them to keep things down to a dull roar.

A convention is supposed to be safe and fun for everyone. That’s why we need the “Secret Masters of Fandom” — the administrative smofs who run this stuff. This was a smof failure and a fan failure. Fans at the party should never have let it get this bad in the first place, and convention security should have been keeping an eye on room blocks throwing parties. Ops should have heard about the party and sent security. It never should have gotten to the point of being a problem.

The open illegal drug use is amazingly bad. That alone could have gotten the whole convention in trouble, and I guarantee the hotel will find out. Even in California, there’s no convention that would put up with that kind of stuff. (And if it was some out-of-state visitor’s “medical marijuana”, some out-of-state visitor should have known better, too.)

It’s been said in the past that, in general, anime conventions don’t seem to be run as smoothly as traditional sf and fannish media conventions. I’ve found this to be true in the past, although to be fair, anime conventions have somewhat different demands than others, and newbies tend to be younger, have poorer judgment, and be less socialized than normal conventiongoers. Sf conventions have a smaller, self-selecting population; anime tends to draw anybody who watches video. The Crunchyroll article comments tend to support my feeling that anime cons often have to deal with problems of more than just the logistical kind. (Plus you get a bunch of stupid stoner comments. One of them actually tries to defend marijuana against a ghetto kid from Mexico who saw it ruin her family. Yeah, nothing like being self-righteous.)

Possibly anime conventions need to have more teaching materials about what constitutes good conventiongoing etiquette. Possibly anime conventions need to bring down the banhammer more, and make their reasons very clear to all. Definitely they need more convention security, and not just to protect the dealers’ room.

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Brain Freeze vs. Headaches

I read an interesting article the other day about research into brain freeze as an easy way to study headaches of certain types. It had some interesting stuff to say about the headache cause and effect with one of the brain’s major blood vessels, and how possibly they could do something just to relax the blood vessel and thus help headaches. They also confirmed that “put your tongue on the roof of your mouth to stop an ice cream headache” really does work.

Anyway, one of the main things with tension headaches is usually that your jaw gets all clamped up, which is why one of the standard DIY headache cures is to hold a pencil (latitudinally, from lip corner to lip corner) between your teeth.

I’ve currently got a sinus headache with a good chunk of tension stuck on, and I’m not really in a position to drink anything caffeinated today (my usual fast remedy). So I just tried putting my tongue on the roof of my mouth, as one does for brain freeze, and experienced a quick release of some (though not all) tension. Doesn’t do a darned thing for my sinuses, of course, but you can’t have everything.

So there’s another little trick to try until the aspirin, ibuprofen, etc. kicks in, if you don’t have a pencil or pen.

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Chesterton on Insanity

From Orthodoxy, “The Maniac”:

“What Dryden said was this, “Great wits are oft to madness near allied”; and that is true. It is the pure promptitude of the intellect that is in peril of a breakdown. Also people might remember of what sort of man Dryden was talking. He was not talking of any unworldly visionary like Vaughan or George Herbert. He was talking of a cynical man of the world, a sceptic, a diplomatist, a great practical politician. Such men are indeed to madness near allied. Their incessant calculation of their own brains and other people’s brains is a dangerous trade. It is always perilous to the mind to reckon up the mind. A flippant person has asked why we say, “As mad as a hatter.” A more flippant person might answer that a hatter is mad because he has to measure the human head.

“And if great reasoners are often maniacal, it is equally true that maniacs are commonly great reasoners… The last thing that can be said of a lunatic is that his actions are causeless. If any human acts may loosely be called causeless, they are the minor acts of a healthy man; whistling as he walks; slashing the grass with a stick; kicking his heels or rubbing his hands. It is the happy man who does the useless things; the sick man is not strong enough to be idle. It is exactly such careless and causeless actions that the madman could never understand; for the madman (like the determinist) generally sees too much cause in everything. The madman would read a conspiratorial significance into those empty activities. He would think that the lopping of the grass was an attack on private property. He would think that the kicking of the heels was a signal to an accomplice. If the madman could for an instant become careless, he would become sane. Every one who has had the misfortune to talk with people in the heart or on the edge of mental disorder, knows that their most sinister quality is a horrible clarity of detail; a connecting of one thing with another in a map more elaborate than a maze. If you argue with a madman, it is extremely probable that you will get the worst of it; for in many ways his mind moves all the quicker for not being delayed by the things that go with good judgment. He is not hampered by a sense of humour or by charity, or by the dumb certainties of experience. He is the more logical for losing certain sane affections. Indeed, the common phrase for insanity is in this respect a misleading one. The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason.”

There’s a lot of this sort of thing going on today, in the blogosphere and elsewhere. St. Dymphna, pray for us!

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Agency Personalities and the Cartagena Stupidity

We’ve heard a lot of quoting of the “rough men” thing, and that’s fair enough.

But the collective personalities of our various armed forces are not the same, as those of federal law enforcement agencies. They are not supposed to be exactly like local police departments, either.

The Department of the Treasury isn’t supposed to be hiring “wild and crazy guys” for the Secret Service. Treasury agents are supposed to be fairly introverted, compared to the other federal law enforcement agencies. Most of them are supposed to have accounting backgrounds, as opposed to the few traditionally hired by the FBI. They are supposed to get really into doing fairly abstract things, like looking for counterfeiters and bank hackers, or guarding American dignitaries of the Executive Branch at all times. The exciting stuff they do is supposed to be things like going out to their practice area and practicing defensive driving in souped-up limos, or practicing out on the range to better their amazing gun skills. Other than that, they’re supposed to be the kind of guys who relax by reading a book and having a beer, either at home alone or with their wife and kids. Wild and crazy is supposed to be a backyard barbecue with other Secret Service guys, where they drink multiple beers.

That was the Secret Service culture, because Treasury agents had to be incorruptible: not interested in bribes of money, drink, drugs, sex, or anything else; and not open to being blackmailed. This saved the Secret Service a lot of time and trouble. But now they’ve lost their tough reputation all around the world, and have advertised that they’re just as open to blackmail and bribes as a bunch of Banana Republic bodyguards auctioning off a coup.

So yeah, there’s plenty of reason to be disturbed about the Secret Service getting up to such shenanigans (especially the guys who passed out with hookers in their rooms, which was definitely a breach of security, and could have meant that their weapons and the President’s schedule walked out the door). Apparently, in the last twenty years or so, the Treasury Department has either changed its hiring practices, or the Secret Service has purposefully rejected its own institutional culture.

(The military culture can include “wild and crazy” for a lot of jobs, but I guarantee that as soon as someone approaches a job needing super-duper clearance, they start expecting said person to start acting much more circumspectly.)

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Dictionary of American Regional English: Love and Hate

Julie D. over at Happy Catholic has been posting about the fun Twitter feed from the Dictionary of American Regional English. And it is indeed awesome.

But one of their example words was the Kentucky word “hardboot”, which they define as “someone interested in horses, especially a horse trainer.”

Argh argh argh argh no. Not unless clueless people have been appropriating the word.

“Hardboots” are the tough, old, experienced horse trainers and horsemen (and sometimes horsewomen), who seem to know everything, and who are maybe a little hidebound. You don’t get to be a “hardboot” by taking an interest, or even by being a horse trainer. You get to be a hardboot by spending thirty or forty hard years working with horses, mostly for thoroughbred racing. And Kentucky hardboots are supposed to be even more hardcore than those elsewhere. Their training and handling methods are supposed to be old-fashioned, and he’s not afraid to stand in a wet field or on a muddy track and get dirty.

As one horse racing site’s glossary defines it, “A Kentucky horseman of the old school, because of the legendary amount of mud caked on his boots.”

It’s not necessarily a nice term, either. Not dishonorable, mind you, and you might be pleased if other people called you “one of the hardboots.” But you wouldn’t call yourself a hardboot unless you were being self-deprecating. And I guarantee you that racing people from other states are always complaining about the Kentucky hardboots.

Shrug. Obviously no single reference work can cover everything, but it’s bad to see mistakes that obvious.

Here’s a lovely old Damon Runyon article, chronicling the days when Kentucky hardboots gave authentic Kentucky rebel yells.

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The Usual YouTube Lawyer Junk

Last fall, the cast of How I Met Your Mother did the “wear red shirts on Friday to remember deployed military people” thing, and they sent Soldiers’ Angels a video to put up on YouTube.

Well, Soldiers’ Angels still has the post up about it, but Twentieth Century Fox’s genius lawyers took down the video as “copyright infringement.”

I’m sure you all feel safer, now that you’re protected from piracy by not seeing Hollywood stars do something good.

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St. John, Sleeping Hero

St. Isidore is so informative! But sometimes he collects info that’s just fun and not quite so certain.

I was reading the section on St. John from De ortu et obitu patrum, because it was one of the prologues people use. Apparently in his day, he had sources saying that some people in Ephesus thought that St. John the Evangelist was not dead, but sleeping until the time of the Antichrist when the Church needed him most. The proof of this was that the grave kept getting pushed up out of the ground (what’s the opposite of subsidence?) and dust would trickle out, and people would say that was John breathing. (And yeah, Isidore is very heavy on “some people” and “they contend”. He wasn’t believing it, but he recorded it.)

This is appealingly early, when it comes to a known “King in the mountain” story.

The “Golden Legend” focuses more on the idea some people had that John was assumed into heaven in a giant flash of light (living or dead, none knew), leaving nothing behind but manna. This came from some Pseudo-Jerome thing about the Virgin Mary’s Assumption, and how John got in on the Assumption gig also.

Of course, both these legends depend on John 21:21-23, and apparently don’t credit the Lord with sarcasm. :) They also had considerable legs. The Old English Martyrology knew about both stories, which is no surprise since Bede apparently had tons of Isidore to read; and it pointed out that the assumption thing could have been with John living or dead. And that’s interesting, because of course folks in the West tended later to get very insistent that Mary didn’t die before being assumed, whereas the East got very solid on that she did. If people could argue about John’s theoretical assumption, it’s not surprising that Mary would be the object of argument too. So I’m interested to find out more about this Pseudo-Jerome piece.

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Long Day

Working on Beatus. It turns out that there are MORE prologues than I’d seen, so I had to work up translations of two of them pretty quickly, and find the sources, and compare. Phew.

Looking for sources in this edition is really a pain. I can’t even tell you how much of a pain it is. I’m working with their footnote system, but I’m not enjoying it.

But the new numbering system for sections and sentences is a joy, so there’s definitely that.

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Pistol-Packing Gas Station Owner Lady

Some news stories are worthy of a full-length biography or a novel.

Check out the saga of Lulu Campbell, Georgia immigrant.

Don’t mess with those Filipino ladies!

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Things You Wouldn’t Do to a Dog

Englishman jailed for blogging for 89 days in downtown LA. It’s amazing how bureaucratic inter-agency jurisdictional nightmares like this never happen to bureaucrats. (Via Instapundit.)

There’s a plug for Catholic Charities. They’ve got a lawyer program called the Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project, which is apparently trying to help foreign folks in trouble. (Mostly Hispanic folks, as you can tell from the name, but other folks too.)

Once the poor guy got in touch with them through the chaplain’s office, a lot of the red tape went away and he got out.

There was a really disturbing article the other day about how many jurisdictions are charging extra fees on all sorts of court-related stuff, including charging people a fee to get a court-appointed lawyer. This article claims that a lot of people inside LA’s jail system go hungry, with extra rations for sale to those with money. Sounds very Newgate Prison to me, and not in a good way. Sounds pretty corrupt, in fact.

Jails and prisons should be Spartan, sure, but nobody should be going hungry. Everybody should know how long they’re going to be there. The way they’re running things in LA is obviously not working in any way.

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