Archives: January 2006
Tue Jan 31, 2006
The leaden screen
How far do you have to scroll down this list to find a movie that's actually fun to watch?
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Odds & ends, mostly odd
Pictures from China. (Via In principio erat Verbum.)
There's hope yet for Iran. Someone from the city of Irancheh came here searching for "progressive rock mode mixolydian."
Magritte's Apple is the new home of the Carnival of Music. The next one is planned for February 13.
Barbara Nicolosi will be in Wichita in two weeks. Unfortunately for me, she will be speaking to members of Legatus, an organization I'll never be eligible to join, but she will also sign books at Eighth Day Books Monday, February 13, at 7 p.m.
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Mon Jan 30, 2006
I don't fit anywhere, really
Let's get this week's quiz over with early:
|You scored as Babylon 5 (Babylon 5). The universe is erupting into war and your government picks the wrong side. How much worse could things get? It doesn't matter, because no matter what you have your friends and you'll do the right thing. In the end that will be all that matters. Now if only the Psi Cops would leave you alone.|
Babylon 5 (Babylon 5)
Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)
Galactica (Battlestar: Galactica)
Andromeda Ascendant (Andromeda)
Bebop (Cowboy Bebop)
Deep Space Nine (Star Trek)
Nebuchadnezzar (The Matrix)
Enterprise D (Star Trek)
FBI's X-Files Division (The X-Files)
Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile II: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? (pics)
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Well, okay, but Cowboy Bebop probably has the better soundtrack.
(Via the LLamas.)
Postscript: whoever coded this one did a sloppy job. Expect to do some editing if you post the results on your site.
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He says that mortal sin is extremely difficult to achieve.You have to basically say to God, “to hell with you!”. He said in the early church only three sins were considered what we would call ‘mortal’: killing someone, committing adultery and blaspheming (apostasy). He said it was the Middle Ages when monks got carried away with imagining that falling asleep during the Divine Office was a mortal sin and this lead to scrupulosity. He said back in the ‘40s the Dominican brothers taught him that you could steal $4.99 from your parents and it not be mortal, but $5 was. So he got to thinking you could just keep stealing $4.99 indefinitely. It would seem the Church pre-Vatican II was not as spiritually healthy as many children of the ‘70s might think.
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It's not easy being a god.
I departed from my policy of never downloading fansubs this past week. I've very much wanted to see Mamoru Oshii's 1985 Angel's Egg ever since I first read about it. Although it was licensed in the West several years ago, it has never been released in the USA, and at this point it looks like it never will be. This is partly understandable: if anime has ever produced an art house movie, Angel's Egg is it, and it will never appeal to a vast audience. But Oshii is an interesting filmmaker, sometimes as good as Miyazaki yet utterly different, and his movies deserve to find their audiences. So I overcame my scruples and downloaded it....
... Having watched it once, all I can say is that I'll have to watch it again before I write about it.
While I was at it, I also downloaded the first three episodes of Kamichu!, a series from last year that deserves to be released in the USA if what I've seen is representative. Yurie, a middle-school student in a small city, learns one night that she is a god. She has no idea of what sort of god, though, or what powers she has. Nobody else knows, either. When she tries to raise a wind, she accidentally summons a typhoon, and when she sneezes, it's like the gust front of a thunderstorm. Although she is a god, she is still also a bashful student with lousy handwriting, and the boy she likes can't remember her name. Overall, it's a sort of Spirited Away-lite. It's suitable for all ages. There's nothing objectionable (though parents will want to explain what animism is to youngsters), and there's enough wry humor to please adults. When -- if -- it's released in the USA, it will definitely be worth at least a rental.
The director and writer of Kamichu! previously worked on Read or Die, and the sharp-eyed viewer will notice Yomiko Readman sitting in the back of the classroom in the opening scene, reading.
Soundtrack: Yuki Kajiura, "Romance"
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I dug out my old copy of O'Neill's Music of Ireland and took a look at some of the less-familiar Carolan tunes.
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Fri Jan 27, 2006
Thought for the day
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Thu Jan 26, 2006
Wed Jan 25, 2006
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Tue Jan 24, 2006
A vote for tradition
Terry Teachout on technological progress:
The printed book is a beautiful object, "elegant" in both the aesthetic and mathematical senses of the word, and its invention was a pivotal moment in the history of Western culture. But it is also a technology -- a means, not an end. Like all technologies, it has a finite life span, and its time is almost up.
Not yet. There's a certain satisfaction in throwing a lousy paperback across the room. Throwing an e-book isn't the same.
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Mon Jan 23, 2006
Sun Jan 22, 2006
Frankly, Mr. Shankly
Blast the idiot who thought that the duplex apartment was a good idea.
And so, I broke into the Palace
with a sponge and a rusty spanner.
She said, "Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing."
I said: "That's nothing -- you should hear me play piano."
I'd prefer silence right now, but the considerate people next door are playing loud, bass-heavy crap, so I've got the Smiths on to cancel out the cacaphony. I hate using music as white noise.
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Fri Jan 20, 2006
Skip the popcorn
Barbara Nicolosi discusses Brokeback Molehill, Munich and What the West Needs to Know About Islam:
I saw a documentary on Sunday called What the West Needs to Know About Islam. Probably, it was a one-two-knockout combination to see this film right before Munich . Whatever. God willed it so. The doc has too much talking heads, and too much content, and several moments that are repetitive, and almost zero production design, but still packs a potent experience. I came away confirmed in my suspicion that Islam is an evil religion that is based on fear of women. It tells men that they can assimiliate the "greatness of Allah" - and subsequently Allah's above-reproachness no matter what. Islam validates the barbarian in man, that the love of woman usually keeps in check. It's a bad thing. It is certainly not a peaceful religion, despite the constant drumbeat to the contrary that comes from our politicos and cultural elites. Ask the wives of Islam how peaceful their life is? Islamic "peace" is built on domineering the hell out of women and infidels.
Soundtrack: Joe Satriani, "Dweller on the Threshold"
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If you're in the Wichita area this Sunday, you can attend a concert of chamber music featuring compositions by Vincent Ho, Brahms, Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Torroba, Greg Golding and Christian Woehr, performed by various small ensembles and soloists. It's at the First Unitarian Universalist Church, 1501 Fairmount St. (a few blocks south of WSU) at 3 p.m. Admission is free. Weather permitting, I'll be there. (Later: No, I won't. My bike's busted, and the bike shop is closed. Grrr.)
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The wrong Sisters of Mercy
There might have been the occasional polka Mass in the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, but at least there's never been a Goth Eucharist.
(Via a bunch of people, starting with relapsed catholic.)
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Thu Jan 19, 2006
G.K., J.M. and G.B.
Matt the Whapster discovered that G.K. Chesterton wasn't just a writer. Note the cast of this 1914 movie.
Soundtrack: Heart of Air, "Garasu no Yume"
Update: from the comments at the shrine:
G.K. Chesterton has a Bacon number of 4.
G.K. Chesterton was in Rosy Rapture (1914) with George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw was in Major Barbara (1941) with Robert Morley (I)
Robert Morley (I) was in Genghis Khan (1965) with Eli Wallach. Eli Wallach was in Mystic River (2003) with Kevin Bacon.
Pope Pius XII has a Bacon number of 3.
Pope Pius XII was in Veruntreute Himmel, Der (1958 ) with Senta Berger
Senta Berger was in Poppies Are Also Flowers (1966) with Eli Wallach
Eli Wallach was in Mystic River (2003) with Kevin Bacon.
Leo XIII does not have a Bacon number....
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Don't run with an armed hamster
The works of H.P. Lovecraft, online. (Via Lynn S.)
John Coltrane's "Giant Steps," graphically analyzed in real time. (Via Campagna.)
Transform your hamster into a fighting machine. (Via NRO.)
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Add one more dotted quarter note and you get a slide, in 12/8.
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Wed Jan 18, 2006
And the winner is ...
... Yuri, of the original Dirty Pair
As I expected, the Lovely Angel won easily with 50% of the votes. Lafiel, I'm pleased to note, finished a respectable second with 27%. The 2040 version of Priss finished third.
Here's the second round:
SF Babe Poll, Anime Edition #2
I'll leave it up for two weeks. You can vote once a day, so you can cast a total of fourteen votes for Kei. Or Ryoko. Or the other Ryoko. Or any of the other three candidates. It's okay if you don't recognize any of the nominees; just pick the one who looks most interesting. (It's safe for work; this is about babes, not bimbos.)
I received a few comments on the first poll. From HC:
I've been glad to see Lafiel doing so well in the poll - my only reason for not voting for her is that, while she is over 18, Abh have a much longer life-span and correspondingly slower pace of maturation. She seems too much a girl to be a babe... yet.
That's a good point. I figured that, while Lafiel is indeed very young as Abh go, she is nevertheless the captain of a battleship (and in Banner of the Stars II, an ambassador as well) and thus effectively an adult.
SDB on setting a minimum age of eighteen:
Unfortunately, this excludes the majority of characters in anime who are intended by the directors to be babes, since in Japan babehood is mostly the domain of joshikousei.
More than half of the characters I listed in my previous letter were 16 or 17 years old. (Including A-ko.)
In Japan 16 is the legal age for marriage. Would you consider age 16 as a dividing line instead of 18?
Hmm. Maybe I will lower the minimum age.
I've got two more slates of candidates for future polls. After that, I'd like to devote a round or two to babes from series and movies that I haven't seen. Obviously, I will need some help. So, send me your nominations, along with brief descriptions of the characters. They do need to be characters in science fiction stories, not fantasies. Please put the phrase "SF babes" in the header so I don't delete your email with the daily spam. Work-safe screen captures would be helpful (preferably medium-quality jpegs at least 500 pixels wide. Don't worry about formatting them; I'd rather take care of that myself).
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Tue Jan 17, 2006
Wednesday evening I'll post the second edition of the SF anime babe poll, so if you want to vote again for Lafiel or Yuri or Priss, do it now.
A curiousity I came across: Macs in Anime & Manga. I can add a couple of creators to the list: yoshitoshi ABe (Lain, Haibane Renmei) and Chiaki J. Konaka (Lain and virtually every other complex series) are both Mac obsessives.
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Another slip jig. This one is also known as "Give Us a Drink."
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Mon Jan 16, 2006
Words and numbers
It's been a while since I found a quiz worth posting. Here's one via TulipGirl:
| You scored as English. You should be an English major! Your passion lies in writing and expressing yourself creatively, and you hate it when you are inhibited from doing so. Pursue that interest of yours!|
What is your Perfect Major? (PLEASE RATE ME!!<3)
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As a matter of fact, my majors were English and Mathematics, though I took classes in dance and music (which is missing from the quiz) when my schedule permitted.
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The Grey Lady discovers anime
Here's a article on anime from the New York Times:
The typical American cartoon these days - including the good-to-great ones, from "SpongeBob SquarePants" to "The Simpsons" to "South Park" - is about arrested adolescence (with preternaturally wise children sometimes on hand to provide a point of view). The best Japanese cartoons, on the other hand, are about coming of age, with all the traditional narrative arc and character development that implies. In fact, what's most satisfying about them is just how traditional they are, at a time when American children's cartoons seem trapped in some sort of post-Hanna Barbera hipster echo chamber.
The article focuses on series shown on American teevee, which I don't watch, so I haven't seen most of the shows discussed. (I did watch the first third of FLCL, or "Fooly Cooly," which I don't recommend.) Two of them, Paranoia Agent and Fullmetal Alchemist, are on my list, though it may be months, or years, before I get to them. I was recently surprised to learn that Naruto is a favorite of my brother's.
Bonus link: Roger Ebert on Chuck Jones. (Via Cartoon Brew.)
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Add a dotted quarter note to a jig and you get a slip jig, in 9/8.
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Fri Jan 13, 2006
Notes from the Nantucket Nebula
Here are a few more links, and then I'm going to disappear for the rest of the weekend:
Kashi, aka "Kat," and her friends are planning to animate Moby Dick, and they've begun a weblog devoted to the project, Moby Dick: The Movie Production. (It's already been done -- sorta -- but apparently not very well.)
Beyond Mensa: entrance criteria for high IQ societies. It's a bit startling. My college boards would have gotten me into most of these, demonstrating that high test scores are not necessarily associated with useful intelligence.
(Via Magritte's Apple.)
Joseph Epstein asks, are newspapers doomed?
(Via The Daily Eudemon and TSO.)
Addendum: Here's a bonus link, a NYT article on go:
Go has simpler rules than chess but is so complex that no one has devised a computer program that can defeat a talented amateur, let alone Ms. Feng. Computers have, however, helped to overcome problems of geographical isolation, and players compete on go servers online.
Go has a much higher profile in East Asia. In China, weiqi, "the surrounding game," was historically considered one of the four arts that a cultured gentleman should master. It was condemned as bourgeois during the Cultural Revolution, but today there are roughly 30 million Chinese players and two television channels devoted to the game; Ms. Feng used to moonlight as a television commentator. Millions more play in Japan, the source of the game's name and much of its terminology, and in South Korea, now home of the world's top player, Lee Changho. These three countries are fierce rivals on a professional circuit sponsored by banks and newspapers.
I once considered studying go but decided against it. It would have required too many years of my life to learn well, and I didn't know any other players.
Hikaru no Go is available as both a manga and an anime, and in both forms it has received favorable reviews. It's on my to-investigate list.
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The return of the killer trees
Odds and ends:
In a discovery that has left climate scientists gasping, researchers have found that the earth's vegetation is churning out vast quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent even than CO 2. This is not a product of trees and plants rotting, which everyone already knew was a source of methane; it is an entirely natural side-effect of plant growth that scientists had somehow missed. Yet it is by no means trivial: preliminary estimates suggest that living trees and plants account for about 10 to 30 per cent of the methane entering the atmosphere.
Via NRO. Meanwhile, John Derbyshire has too much time on his hands:
DICKENSIAN POST [John Derbyshire]
Crumpets is wholesome.
Posted at 01:00 PM
JUST-TEEN FEMALE CORNER POST [John Derbyshire]
O my God! I'm so like EXCITED to be on the Corner! This is like AWESOME!!
Posted at 12:59 PM
POSTMODERNIST CORNER POST [John Derbyshire]
While ostensibly an attempt at a humorous contribution by an editor who has just finished one job of work and is a little too close to his lunch break to feel like starting another, this is in fact, you will find if you deconstruct it, a malign artefact of the oppressive white male heteronormative power structure. As it were.
Posted at 12:58 PM
KRAPP'S LAST POST [John Derbyshire]
(Those who understand, will understand.)
Posted at 12:57 PM
ZEN CORNER POST [John Derbyshire]
This is not a Corner post.
Posted at 12:56 PM
Gee, there's a lot about Samuel Alito I didn't know.
Via Fred, who recently discovered the Abston Church of Christ.
International De-Lurking Week thus far has been a bust. Lynn S. threatened to post animated gifs on her site if she didn't get some new commentors, and she's followed through on her threat. She's too much of a lady to post anything really obnoxious, though. I put a significantly more annoying gif below the fold; if someone new leaves a comment here sometime during the weekend, I'll leave the gif down there so you won't have to look at it every time this page loads.
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Thu Jan 12, 2006
Tue Jan 10, 2006
It's National De-Lurking Week, when shy readers are encouraged to leave comments at the weblogs they visit. So, feel free to leave a note. Just say "Hi" if you want to, or mention the best book you've read recently, the best CD you've listened to, or the best Hillary Clinton joke you've heard. Or write about whatever is on your mind.
While you're at it, join the select few who have stuck their pins in the Frappr map. It's by invitation only, and you're invited.
(Via Catholic Fire.)
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Kin of the Stars II
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Kin of the Stars
The good news is that the Seikai novels of Hiroyuki Morioka have finally been licensed for publication in the USA. These are the novels on which Crest of the Stars and Banner of the Stars I & II are based. The bad news is that they have been licensed by Tokyopop, whose translations are not noted for their faithfulness.
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Mon Jan 09, 2006
Sun Jan 08, 2006
Death, Darwinism and everything else
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How do you put a sparkle in a soprano's eye?
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April 18, 1906
2006 is the centenary of the San Francisco earthquake. Jack London was on the scene:
On Thursday morning at a quarter past five, just twenty-four hours after the earthquake, I sat on the steps of a small residence on Nob Hill. With me sat Japanese, Italians, Chinese, and negroes--a bit of the cosmopolitan flotsam of the wreck of the city. All about were the palaces of the nabob pioneers of Forty-nine. To the east and south at right angles, were advancing two mighty walls of flame.
I went inside with the owner of the house on the steps of which I sat. He was cool and cheerful and hospitable. "Yesterday morning," he said, "I was worth six hundred thousand dollars. This morning this house is all I have left. It will go in fifteen minutes. He pointed to a large cabinet. "That is my wife's collection of china. This rug upon which we stand is a present. It cost fifteen hundred dollars. Try that piano. Listen to its tone. There are few like it. There are no horses. The flames will be here in fifteen minutes.''
London was also a competent photographer, and he took his camera along.
(Via Dan Mitchell.)
Soundtrack: Djam Karet, "Feast of Ashes"
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Sat Jan 07, 2006
The pleasures of insomnia
There is no such thing as music at 2:30 a.m.
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Saving western civilization
About half of St. Blog's has linked to this transcript of Fr. Fessio on the Hugh Hewitt show discussing Benedict XVI and Islam for the good reason that it is well worth reading:
HH: And so, is it fair to describe [Benedict XVI] as a pessimist about the prospect of modernity truly engaging Islam in the way modernity has engaged Christianity?
JF: Well, the other way around.
HH: Yes. I meant that.
JF: Yeah, that Christianity can engage modernity just like it did ... the Jews did Egypt, or Christians did to Greece, because we can take what's good there, and we can elevate it through the revelation of Christ in the Bible. But Islam is stuck. It's stuck with a text that cannot be adapted, or even be interpreted properly.
HH: And so the Pope is a pessimist about that changing, because it would require a radical reinterpretation of what the Koran is?
JF: Yeah, which is it's impossible, because it's against the very nature of the Koran, as it's understood by Muslims.
HH: And so, even the dialectic that was the Reformation is not possible within Islam?
JF: No. And then a second thing which he did not say, but which I would have said, I might have said at the time, is that ... and this is from a Catholic point of view, there's no one to interpret the Koran officially. The Catholic Church has an official interpretor, which is the Holy Father with the bishops.
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Fri Jan 06, 2006
Some notes on the SF babe poll below:
I intended this poll to be an adjunct to the TexasBestGrok SF babe polls, and I therefore restricted the choices to characters from science fiction series or movies, and science fiction only. Lum may be the archetypical anime babe, but although she's presented as a space alien, her tiger skin bikini reveals that she's actually a creature of Japanese folklore, and thus belongs to fantasy, not SF.
Perhaps it's because I didn't read enough comic books in my youth, but I've never considered super-powers to be legitimate science fiction. Much as I would like to have included A-Ko, I can't quite call her an "SF" babe. (I might loosen the restrictions in a future poll.)
I set a minimum age of 18 for all candidates -- this poll is about babes, not jailbait.
While a good figure is part of babehood, it's only one qualification and not the most important. Attitude also counts, as do personality, intelligence and independence. I tried to pick candidates exemplifying a variety of approaches to babeness.
This is not intended to be the definitive poll but rather the first in a series (assuming that there is enough of a response to make continuing it worthwhile). I could have listed Major Kusanagi, Kei and Yuri, Ryoko and Aeka, Priss and Faye Valentine all at once, but what would I do for an encore? Also, there's plenty I haven't seen, and I've therefore probably missed several outstanding candidates.
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Thu Jan 05, 2006
Eye candy II
SF Babe Poll, Anime Edition
All the candidates are from science fiction stories. The chances are that most of you will not be familiar with them. That's okay; just pick the one who looks most interesting. (I've seldom heard of any of the women in John's polls, but that's never stopped me from voting.) The pictures are safe for work; I'm more interested in the nominees' personalities than their figures. You can vote once every day.
One of the candidates is from a sequence of series that I haven't yet reviewed, Crest/Banner/Banner II of the Stars. I'll eventually write at length about them, but I'll note for now that the three series form an unusually good war-in-space story, and I recommend them to anyone who'd rather read Robert Heinlein than watch George Lucas. (There are at least two other major babe candidates in the series, by the way, whom you might see in future polls.)
More anime fun: Anime Galleries dot net features thousands of screen captures and scans of anime and manga. There are plenty of sites with even more art, but what makes this one distinctive is that you can make a java jigsaw puzzle out of any picture there. Miyazaki is represented by Mononoke Hime (or Princess Mononoke) and Nausicaä, and there is an impressive number of pictures from Haibane Renmei; anime non-fans might enjoy these.
Fans of James Cameron might want to visit the page for Battle Angel Alita (or GUNNM) for a preview of his current project. Here's an interview with GUNNM's creator.
Soundtrack: Camel, "The Homecoming"
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Today's classic blonde joke ...
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I think that's enough 4/4 time for a while. Here's a jig with a charming title.
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Tue Jan 03, 2006
The culture wars are being blogged ...
... by Campagna at Magritte's Apple, a new weblog that might be worth keeping track of.
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Fun with physics
California energy officials are experimenting with "high-tech flywheels" to store energy. What happens if you scale things up? Steven Den Beste plugs in some numbers, and the results are entertaining.
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Here is a small selection of Nicolai Legat's caricatures. The victims will be familiar to anyone who knows anything about the history of ballet.
Soundtrack: Bert Jansch, "Ladyfair"
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Mon Jan 02, 2006
The pleasures of insomnia
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Sun Jan 01, 2006
How many names has the lady from Spleenville come up with for her weblog over the years? I'm running out of fingers.
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That Chesterton quote
When a Man stops believing in God he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes in anything.
Did Chesterton actually say that? Dale Ahlquist has the final word:
One of Chesterton’s most famous quotations. Except he didn’t say it. Which is wonderful. Because Chesterton was so often accused of misquoting others. It is the supreme irony that he should be so famously misquoted.
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