Nov 172015

Example from Dartmouth on November 12: students were studying in the library when a large group of protesters came in and harassed them. Reports include a whole lot of profanity and bullying, trying to force everyone in the library to abandon their studies and take up a life of following the herd and chanting mindless slogans.

It’s good that everyone has access to video-capable cell phones these days, but if I was attending a college today I’d make sure to have one of those small, disguised wearable cameras on me at all times.

It seems no actions have been or will be taken by the university against these students who were behaving in a way that is clearly beyond the pale. Scream your head off all you want out on the quad… but in the *library*? Get bent, chucklefarks.


 Posted by at 4:54 pm
Nov 162015

Racist joke found written underneath one of the world’s most famous paintings

In short:Kazimir Malevich painting ‘Black Square’ from 1915…

After looking at the painting under a microscope, experts found that the inscription says: ‘Battle of negroes in a dark cave.’

I suppose that’s racist enough. But if you *really* want to be offended, consider this:

‘Black Square’ has long been considered one of the most important artworks of the early 20th century’s avant-garde movement.

When I think of “important artwork, guess what I *don’t* think of:


Well, at least the title is honest. But really, how pretentious does someone have to be to see a square of black paint as Important Art?

Don’t answer that.

 Posted by at 12:47 pm
Nov 152015

Some religions are quite clear that “evil” is a Real Thing. Other religions are vaguer. A lot of secular worldviews hold that evil is not an objectively real thing. But even the athiest of atheists generally accept that “evil” is often a useful way the sum up a value judgement. And then there’s this guy:

Candidate for Minnesota House Ends Campaign After Tweeting That “ISIS Isn’t Necessarily Evil”


Dumb. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

 Posted by at 5:56 pm
Nov 132015

Well, hell.

Paris shootings: 18 reported killed

A little vague and lean on the details. Hostage situations, AK-47s and explosions.

At Least 18 People Reported Dead After Explosions, Shootings Rock Paris

Shootings at at least three restaurants and explosions at a stadium.


At least 35 dead after shooting, explosions, hostage-taking in Paris

Additionally, at least 100 hostages in a theater.

UPDATE: Now it’s 60 dead.

UPDATE: Deputy mayor of Paris announced at least 118 dead. France has closed its borders, something I would’ve thought problematic in the European Union with the whole freedom-of-movement thing.

 Posted by at 3:13 pm
Nov 122015

For the past few months, companies have been cranking out “Star Wars” branded merchandise. While I am kinda by definition the target market for the new Star Wars movie, having seen the original Star Wars in the theater three times at the age of seven, the vast, vast bulk of the Star Wars merchandise means precisely *nothing* to me. Plates and dishes and underwear and cups and soap and sex toys and breakfast cereal and board games and pop-up books and hats and socks and napkins and posters and whatnot, all plastered with the image of Kylo Ren or Finn or any of the other characters I know squadoo about? Meh.

On the other hand… toy spaceships. Those occasionally cause me to pause and take note. Probably shouldn’t come as too much of a shock. As money-sucking vices go, I imagine picking up the odd five-dollar toy spaceship is pretty minor compared to getting regularly likkered up or smoking like a chimney. So… new Star Wars spaceships. Woo!

The spaceships for the new Star Wars movies look like they follow in the best Star Wars design tradition… they look cool and don’t make a lick of sense. One of the craft featured in several toy formats is the “Kylo Ren Command Shuttle,” which is apparently a personnel transport for the main bad guy. The Shuttle, like the Imperial Shuttle from Return of the Jedi, features inexplicably large wings (what does a spacecraft equipped with antigravity need with wings of *any* size?) that fold up vertically for landing (just when wings might be most useful). The oddity is that all of the Command Shuttle toys or models I’ve seen any reference to all feature the wings in the vertical, landed configuration. I’ve not seen any with the wings in the “flight” configuration, which you’d think would be most interesting to the kiddies.

disneyThe die cast Disney Store toy.


lego The Lego kit



micromachines The tiny Micromachines toy

revell The Revell model kit

And here’s the Hasbro “Titanium Series” toy. These are small, but reasonable quality part-die-cast, part-plastic toys:

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Oddly, these are painted white, while every other available depiction of the ship shows it black. Hmmm.

Starting as a kid, I found enjoyment and even a little income making models; I have a little talent in that area. But in recent years I’d started ramping back on working on models of all kinds; hobbies are less important when you’re trying to figure out how to pay the mortgage. And at the end of 2013, an attack of bronchitis truly trashed my lungs for several months; chemicals and dust seemed like *really* bad things to be around. So for going on two years now I’ve not really spent any time working on something I’ve long loved to do.

Some time back I picked up one of the Hasbro Command Shuttle toys. I was disappointed at the fixed-landing-configuration, but it seemed to me that with some effort it could be modified to show the vehicle in flight configuration. So far, there have been few clear images of the shuttle, so it’s unclear just what angle the wings are at in flight. The best bit of video so far shows the wings already in the process of folding up, so all that can be said is that the wings fold down *at* *least* this far:

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 7.15.36 PM

So, I thought I could replicate that at some point. Never had any hard plans… like many modelers, it was one of those “one of these days I’ll get around to it” sort of things. Well… then came this last Sunday and Monday.

Sunday Raedthinn was injured and taken to the vet. Didn’t get to sleep until ridiculously late that night, and woke up relatively early, so I was a tad tired Monday. I spent the day sort of puttering around waiting to hear something, trying to be productive. But creative writing proved impossible. CAD modeling proved disastrous. CAD diagram work proceeded with some success… couldn’t draw worth a damn, but some make-work projects of scaling up some images to go on 11X17 pages proceeded well, because it required no real thought. And at some point during the first part of the day, I converted one of the Command Shuttles into flight configuration.

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The weird thing: I’ve no recollection of actually doing that. Later in the day Monday I picked up Raedthinn from the vet, brought him home, took care of him for a bit and then collapsed on the couch… to find the Shuttle sitting there, completed. Nothing magical about it; it was surrounded with the tools and epoxy and such I used to make the mods, I just somehow failed to install any of the relevant memories into long-term storage. It is, I suppose, a bit of artistic creativity, but it was clearly so straightforward that I did it without putting a great deal of hard thought into it.

A little odd. But… shrug.

I’ve a few more that I’ll convert the same way, and then likely paint black. Then… probably put ’em on ebay, I suppose. Anybody interested?

 Posted by at 3:06 pm
Nov 052015

Sneaking bombs in the luggage? That’s the obsolete approach.

Note: you can bet your keister that you’ll see just this sort of thing used in an Action Movie in the very near future to plant a bomb on a plane, or remove a passenger from a plane, or sneak onto the plane, or something, even though the jetliner here could easily quickly outpace the jetpacks… and anybody in a jetpack who tried to get close enough to the jetliner to touch it would almost certainly be tumbled into oblivion by the wake turbulence.

All that aside: can you imagine the ruckus that would ensue from an A380 smacking into downtown Dubai, perhaps taking down the Burj? Just wait till ISIS gets it into their pointy little heads that the UAE is too cozy with infidels.

 Posted by at 2:18 pm
Nov 052015

Saw this today on the road to Logan. Only got one dismal photo with the camera phone.


If you can’t make out what it is… on far left is a cat. At far right, atop the hay bale, is a very large hawk. The cat was trying to sneak up on the hawk. As it happened, the hawk flew off just after this photo was taken; the cat immediately dashed for the tall grass. But no good could have possibly come from a cat taking on a raptor that size.

 Posted by at 12:46 am