Monthly Archives: September 2011

All the World’s Pleasures in a Single Post

I don’t think I’m usually in danger from the Flesh and the Devil, but every bibliophile is securely attached to certain parts of the World.

Michael Dirda on the wonders of Conan Doyle and the beauties of the Scholastic Book Club.

Via American Digest.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Why I Might Buy a Kindle Fire

1. Apple puts out a new device that is at least three times more expensive than anything else on the market.

2. Early Apple adopters with cash, rich kids, and kids with extremely permissive parents buy the thing.

3. When the price should go down, Apple puts out another new device instead.

4. Any Apple device released within a normal price range (or twice a normal price range, anyway) will lack essential features, memory, processing power, and a screen, but will still be thought of as “cool” by the really serious Apple-lovers.

And then, they run stories about non-Apple devices like the Kindle Fire targeting the “bargain hunting” market. Sheesh, people, that’s not looking for a bargain. It’s looking for something not sky-high expensive.

It’s pretty clear that Apple doesn’t want my business, never has, and never will. The last time anybody not living the upper-middle-class life could maybe afford an Apple without serious scrimping, it was the computer spelled with brackets. (That’s the Apple ][e, for you young’uns.) I’m sure as heck not going to scrimp for a phone with unnecessary features and exorbitant phone bill attached, or a dweeby little tablet, or an mp3 player.

So yeah, I can seriously consider any computer product that isn’t from Apple, because there’s actually a possibility it won’t cost too much.


Filed under Uncategorized

Close Your Eyes in the MRI

A new study shows that MRI magnets can make your inner ear goo slosh around, affecting your balance and sometimes making your eyes whirl around like Pinkie Pie’s. (OK, not that bad.)

So no, you and your relatives weren’t imagining that. Generally it takes pretty powerful fields, though, so not every MRI will probably cause you a problem.

It wouldn’t work so much with water, unless you had a whole lot of ions in the water for the magnets to do funky stuff with. If MRI’s weren’t so expensive to run, I suppose one could play… er, run interesting experiments with various fluids.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Some People Are an Embarrassment to Atheists.

Obviously a lot of people are embarrassments to a lot of beliefs, but today on Volokh, on a post quoting a Bible story solely as an example of the rhetorical use of sentences starting with “And”, we get a guy refusing to believing that Greek and Roman and Egyptian taxation could possibly be based on where your clan was from.

And of course, five seconds later some classics guy posts just such an order for people to get taxed at their nome of origin, and the guy still doesn’t believe it. Because apparently, in ancient times, he thinks bureaucracy was _more efficient_.

It’s the beautiful idealism of this kind of atheist, that I admire. Ponyville has onerous bureaucracy, Wonderland has onerous bureaucracy, but ancient Rome is where bureaucrats sing, dance, and give you chocolate marshmallows.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Well, the Postscript Wasn’t Pleasant.

So I’m home sick, and I watch this show about a big hostage situation from the Seventies in the Netherlands. A school and a train were held hostage for more than two weeks. It took a huge operation to free these folks, and people got killed.

Guess how long of a prison term the surviving terrorists got.

Nine years. They were out before disco was dead.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Dead Sea Scrolls Online

Very cool if you read Hebrew. I don’t, but it’s still cool.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What Susan Dexter the Author Has Been Doing

Apparently she’s now Susan Dexter the weaver and fabric artist, and she goes to festivals and stuff.

Unless there are two Susan Dexters in New Castle, Pennsylvania, which seems unlikely.

Gotta say I wish she’d write stories for us again, but the impression I got back when I saw her at a Pittsburgh con eons ago was that she wasn’t much into e-stuff, and that maybe she just didn’t have a great urge to write more novels. Of course, a lady can always change her mind. And apparently she has enough interest in Kindle to have put up her backlist — or at least her first trilogy and one of her Wildside Press books. Yay! (Presumably the other books are either still in her old publisher’s hands, or she’s just not in the mood for proofing everything at once.)

Here she is weaving. Her hands, anyway.

Here’s a photo gallery about her work called Weaver Fever and a newspaper story about it.

Also, she’s got horses and dogs and she paints portraits. (Scroll down below all the sad stuff about Remi the lost dog.) So yeah, maybe she’s just having too much fun doing other stuff to write books for us. Snif.

Also, she makes dolls. Here’s some for sale on Ebay from an estate sale. You can buy your own little Scottish warband.

Argh… Cuteness or novels? How to chooooose?

(Actually, my consistent policy has been to avoid Ebay, as I spend way too much money without giving in to the collector impulse and the competitive bidding impulse at once. But those are beautiful art dolls.)

But yeah, she does have an actual job job, like most of us. Apparently works in a Catholic parish office doing admin, which would probably take an awful lot of time and energy out of you. So yeah, gotta say that totally answers my questions as to where she’s been and what she’s been doing.

And yet, I still want novels. (Whine cry cry whine.) Medieval fantasy, Catholic parish urban fantasy, fabric artist fantasy: I’m not picky.


Filed under Uncategorized


Some environmental group is claiming that Dayton, Ohio is the 14th smoggiest mid-sized city in the country and the 4th in Ohio. Panic, panic!

Okay, first, let’s think how many actual cities there are in Ohio. Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton, Toledo, and then you can argue about Akron and Canton and Youngstown. Woo-frickin-hoo. Dayton is the fourth or fifth largest city in Ohio, depending how you count; so saying it’s the fourth smoggiest city isn’t saying much.

As for mid-sized cities in the US, I can’t tell you. But smog isn’t one of our problems. Ozone, sinus pressure, allergens, yes, thanks to the valleys and the weather patterns. Smog particulates, no.

Now, I remember back in the Seventies when we had multiple large smoke-emitting factories and all kinds of gas guzzler cars. Even then, even on the most foggy days, the air just wasn’t high in smog particles. I never really knew what smog was, until I visited LA in the Nineties. (And was instantly aware that the place really wasn’t fit to live in, as far as air is concerned. The burning of the eyes and nose….) The air is cleaner now than it was in the Seventies or the Nineties, by far.

The only exception to this is that, last year, there was a big junkyard fire for several days, where there was all this burning tire gunk in the air. This was an exceptional event, the kind that had people remembering the big barrel factory fire back in the Sixties. They really were warning people not to be spending a lot of time outside when the wind from that was blowing in their direction; but that’s not exactly counting as smog. Sheesh.

So either this environmental group is comparing incredibly minuscule amounts of smog, or they’re counting ozone days as smog days, even though they’re not necessarily the same. Either way, “total BS” is the obvious conclusion.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Making Progress

Bearing in mind that I skipped all the pre-Book 1 introductory Cliff Notes drawn from St. Isidore, and all the pre-Book 2 Cliff Notes section also drawn from St. Isidore, I’m getting along rather well with translating Beatus. I’m in Book 4 right now; and we’re up to Chapter 6 of the Book of Revelation. (This is the bit with the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. Instead of gloom and doom, Beatus is concerned with the leftovers from Jesus’ two loaf-multiplication miracles being a sign of the universal call to holiness.)

There are twelve books in all, but this is the last really long book. (Books 5-12 are all stuffed in Volume II of the Beatus critical edition, and that’s with half of every page taken up with footnotes and manuscript variation notes.) So if I don’t go back and pick up Isidore until later, it’s all downhill from here. But it’s becoming clear that, at least for the later books (like now), most of the basic symbolism stuff is back in the Big Huge Chunks o’ Isidore. So at some point I really do have to go back and pick that up. (Maybe between Volume I and Volume II.)

The problem is that careful translation and careful checking of sources really does take a looooong time. It’s been six months — albeit not six months of sustained effort, much less full-time effort. So if I were done with Book 4 and Isidore too, I’d be feeling much better about it.

I would now like to plug the Staedtler Triplus Fineliner marker-pen set. When a highlighter is just way too big, and when you’ve got three or four different sources to indicate on the same word, these pens are super-duper excellent. They have a very handy carrying case built-in, which actually props itself up on your desk for easier access to all the colors. Also, they don’t have that marker smell and don’t try to asphyxiate you. (Their webpage is boringly German and practical, but trust me about these excellent markers. Here’s the justly-awardwinning box.) I bet they’re even nicer for art.

Yellow (Amarillo): St. Apringius of Beja.
Orange: St. Caesarius of Arles.
(I guess this is funnier for New York pronunciations, but I did that by chance.)
Pink: Bishop Primasius of Adrumentum.
Indigo: St. Isidore of Seville.
Blue: St. Bede.
Green: St. Gregory the Great.
Olive green: St. Jerome.

I have to get more colors for doing the Isidore section, though, because it draws material from all sorts of stuff he wrote. (Or repurpose the old ones, of course. But really, I already must have gone through a whole lot of Apringius-yellow and Gregory-green.)

Oh, you want to know why. Well, as I may have mentioned, St. Beatus tends to copy over his sources from other books which may or may not have been well copied. Also, he feels free to change parts of speech a tad, replace weird words with stuff from the Spanish vocabulary, and mix quotes together for added educational value. Some of his sources have already done the same thing with older sources. The critical edition deals with this by just telling you what line of the crit edition the quote is on, and then what line the source quote is on in the source. Everything else is up to you, buddy. So after a long career of highlighting only when necessary, I have a project where I’m doing a ton of it, just to save my mind and save me from having to go back and look stuff up again.

(Though actually, I usually underline. Squiggly lines for words that are similar but not the same part of speech, ellipses vertically indicated between words, plenty of space left over for more underlines from more sources.)

There is probably a way to do this text-marking directly with Migne source PDFs, but probably not without a great deal of trouble. In a few years, I’m sure it will be considerably less trouble; maybe in a few years there will be an ebook of the critical edition. But for now, I have markers.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Well, This Explains a Lot about the Last Forty or So Years.

Taking birth control pills filters women’s memory of events to make emotions more important than facts.

Yeahhhhh, this explains a lot about how some women today interact with the world.

Folks may also remember that being on birth control makes women think manly men are less attractive, and that boyish or androgynous men are more attractive, thus lessening their chances of finding a decent man to settle down with.

There are also other serious side effects of a more physical kind, and there’s the way doctors prescribe birth control hormones for just about any serious health problem that shows up in a woman’s reproductive system. But for a moment more, let’s just contemplate them abovementioned social apples. I bet you know a bunch of people whose love lives you suddenly comprehend. Unfortunately.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

My Kind of Social Commentary

Fashionista versus fashionista, olden days edition.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Tove Jansson’s Hobbit Illustrations

This is the woman who did the Moomintroll books.

Back in 1962, she also illustrated The Hobbit. Check it out — pretty wild stuff!

Also, somebody dug up a MAURICE SENDAK illustration of Bilbo!

If you read the comments all the way down to the bottom, you’ll discover that the publishers had previously negotiated for a VIRGIL FINLAY version of the Hobbit (which would have been pretty freaky, no doubt), and that the “wood elf/Hobbit” story is apparently not true.

The incredible Virgil Finlay.

Via the combox at Grognardia. Happy birthday, Bilbo and Frodo!

PS — In the original version of this post, I didn’t bother to check, and called Tove Jansson a guy. Nope, nope. This is a female Tove, like “Tovah”. Jansson is not a patronymic, but a surname. And her middle name was Marika. Sorry about that, everyone! And thanks to my commenter for setting me straight!


Filed under Uncategorized

More on the Finding of Kelly Jones

Okay, this is starting to sound a bit creepy. But again, it could just be a totally non-foul play misadventure.

Bonus: Irish comboxers who worry about the Sidhe! (Only a little bit. Not really. Except when it’s dark and spooky out.)

Still not really any US coverage of the poor lady.


Filed under Uncategorized

FTL Neutrinos?!?

Apparently at CERN, the neutrinos have gotten reallllll competitive.

Somewhere, a little subneutrino Scotty is making objections to a little subneutrino Kirk….

UPDATE: Because he is a preux sciencefictioneur, John C. Wright does not yell, “In your face, Mundane SF Movement!” or publicly count the moolah that sciencefictioneurs can expect to make from stories based on this discovery. Rather, he considers tachyons and the breaking of established models, or whether CERN’s machines are broken.

(When any cool discovery comes up, there’s a gremlin detailed to whisper “Cold fusion” into people’s ears.)

Gregory Benford, being a prudent physicist/science fiction writer, isn’t saying anything (yet). However, he already confessed this week to writing the world’s first computer virus (probably), although of course he just thought self-propagating code would be nifty. Only afterward did he predict the horrid possibilities, which of course nobody believed. (A lot of Cassandra in your basic science fiction writer.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized