Monday, March 25, 2019

Never Watch Monty Python, Girls

I was in line with Eli 17.7 for ice cream.

There was a woman in front of us who had two girls (age 10, roughly) with her. They were giggling. Constantly. They just couldn't stop, and the longer the did it, the sillier they got.

At first, it was mildly annoying, but happiness is infectious, and before long, we were both watching them and laughing.

"Stop laughing at everything!" their mother said. "Why is everything so funny to you?"

I looked at Eli. He looked at me.

They cleared the line. "Yes, kids, stop being happy," I said.

Eli laughed. "Why is everything so funny to you?" he asked.

"Maybe because we're not a sour old shrew like you, mom," I said, and he laughed again.

It's so discouraging to see things like that. Kids are only silly when they're comfortable and feel safe, so their mother was taking a really positive situation and turning it into something negative and sad.

As the mother paid, though, we saw the kids outside, and they were laughing their butts off. "Fight the power," I said.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, and it's an excellent read: How The Crooks, The Cons, And The Legends Built America's Largest Stadium For The Beating Of The Century.

From C. Lee, and this could come in handy: Grate Your Butter to Soften It Quickly. Next, and it could also be useful, it's The tiny breaks that ease your body and reboot your brain. If you can afford to live there: Vienna's recipe for living well. This is a remarkable story: In race for fluency in time for Olympics, Tokyo great-grandmother proves it's never too late to learn. This is so clever: Japanese Kaiju Figurines Apologizing at Press Conferences. Quite a lifespan: Faxing is old tech. So why is it also growing in popularity?

From Steven Davis, and this is fascinating: How Kaleidoscope Mania Seized 19th-Century England. Also, and this is very cool, it's The Secret of Parabolic Ghosts.

From Wally, and this is fantastic: Photographer Captures Toys In Amazing Action Shots. This is mind-boggling: The Embroidered Computer.

From Meg McReynolds, and it's a great read: Rascal Flatts restaurants failed nationwide. Did a Mafia soldier pull the strings?

From David Gloier, and it's bizarre: The U.S. Army Once Blew Up Tunnels In A German Town To Chase Away A Ghost.

From Geoff Engelstein, and it's incredible: Nile shipwreck discovery proves Herodotus right – after 2,469 years.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Welcome, Spring

Damn it.

I don't know if you can see it that well in the picture, but it's coming down hard.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

What the Hell is This? (Vol. 1)

When I'm about to go to sleep, I'll pretty frequently get phrases of dialogue or descriptions in my head, so I've tried to train myself to reach over and write the phrase down on a Post-it note.

However, given how sleepy I am, I often struggle with deciphering what I wrote.

Usually, I look at it the next morning, and I can remember, but this time, it was under another sheet, and I didn't see it for a week. Now I'm lost. Here, have a look:

The first part that's circled is "She favors bright pastels." The next two words kind of look like "and serves," but that doesn't ring a bell at all (the bright pastels do, though).

The second circled part is "I saw him."

The rest is gibberish, but I remember feeling that those phrases were going to be useful in some piece of writing, so I'm crowd sourcing the detective work.

If you can figure out what the rest says, you will receive both my eternal gratitude (in lieu of actual compensation) and a mention as a first-rate sleuth here on the blog.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Burger King Continues To Provide

DQ reader Syndi R. sent in these pictures, because Burger King is the gift that keeps on giving.

What I love about these photos is the composition, because it makes this Burger King look like it exists somewhere inside the former Soviet Union. Well, except for the cars in the parking lot. Need a few GAZ-24 Volgas and ZAZ-965s there instead.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Yes, I'm Wading Into This

Sorry, but nothing is funny today. I'll be far more restrained than I feel, though.

Please read this: White Nationalism’s Deep American Roots. Hate: it's always been one of our biggest exports.

After a terrible, terrible tragedy in New Zealand, it's incredibly important to remember the kind of framing and language that white nationalists use, because when people use that language, and those terms and phrases, they are weaponizing people.

If a person is weaponized, and can obtain weapons of war, that's what they will do: wage war.

So when a politician uses the phrase "invasion" to describe immigration (yes, our "President" uses this all the time), it's not just racist. It's straight from the white nationalist playbook, and it's language that is extremely dangerous, because it's describing a regulated process as an act of war, and stupid, unthinking people will respond to declarations of imaginary war with real war.

Pay attention. Listen to how these people talk. And vote them into oblivion. Because if you don't, this is going to happen again and again and again.

It will never stop, unless you help stop it.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Friday Links!

This is quite a story, and quite bizarre (thanks Wally): Fantasy's Widow: The Fight Over The Legacy Of Dungeons & Dragons.

Hopefully, you don't need this, but if you do, here goes: How a Bitcoin Evangelist Made Himself Vanish, in 15 (Not So Easy) Steps.

Also from Wally, and they're actually quite good: Vienna's Unpredictable Vegetable Orchestra. This is quite amusing: Exploding Chocolate Teacakes. This is quite a rabbit hole: The Curta Calculation Page.

From Steven Davis, and it's a fantastic read: How a Sneaky Furniture Expert Ripped Off the Rich and Tricked Versailles. And another fascinating article: Lessons from the Afghan Women Who Weave Modern War into an Ancient Tradition.

From C. Lee, and it's good information: Hundreds of hospitals punished for lax safety. Here’s how to see if yours is one. This is concerning: Your landlord turns your apartment into a smart home. Now what? This is incredibly interesting: Why parrots can talk like humans. These are stunning: New Masking Tape Paintings by Nasa Funahara.

From Ken Piper, and my brain exploded: Massive Attack album stored in a painting using DNA.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Thursday, In Which I Still Wish I Was Talking About Burger King

The Panasonic VT50 Plasma (2012) needs replacing.

It wasn't the best plasma ever made (Pioneer Kuro), but it was close. And it's been spectacular, but after seven years, it's starting to lose light output to a significant degree.

Replacing a TV is easy, right?

Not so fast, my friend. Upgrading creates a nightmare of dominoes. 

First off, we can't get an OLED (damn it), because the lighting and usage in the family room are utterly abusive, so an LCD is the only reasonable choice.

I found an LCD I could live with.

Here's the process:
--buy LCD
--buy multiple certified hi-speed HDMI cables
--buy new 4k Blu-Ray player and install (be sure it's compatible with soundbar)
--reprogram Harmony remote to work with new LCD
--calibrate new LCD
--upgrade DirecTV receiver to 4K
--buy new stand because legs on LCD don't fit on stand
--build new stand
--run Ethernet cable through house down to router (it's quite a ways) because wi-fi is garbage for streaming 4k consistently

I'm probably leaving five things out, at least.

So I was at Best Buy, finding out I had to go 20 minutes to another Best Buy because only they had it in stock, and then I pulled on one of these threads and my confidence sweater began to unravel.

Now I'm just huddled in the upgrade corner, weeping.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Wednesday, In Which I Wish I Could Have Talked About Burger King All Week

To read:
1.  College Coaches Took Cash Bribes As Part Of Multi-Million Dollar College Admissions Scandal
2.  These Are The College Coaches Accused Of Turning Rich Kids Into Fake Athletic Recruits
3.  Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman among 50 charged in college admissions scheme

Yeah, that's depressing. Also, why is it that coaches are always in the middle of every shitty thing? Boy, that's a tell.

The alleged scam focused on getting students admitted to elite universities as recruited athletes, regardless of their athletic abilities, and helping potential students cheat on their college exams, according to the indictment.

Authorities said the FBI investigation, code-named Operation Varsity Blues, uncovered a network of wealthy parents who paid thousands of dollars to a California man who boosted their children's chances of gaining entrance into elite colleges, such as Yale University and Stanford University, by paying people to take tests for their children, bribing test administrators to allow that to happen, and bribing college coaches and administrators to identify the applicants as athletes.

Everything in this country is about two things: wealth or race. Anyone who says it isn't is deluding themselves. There are elements of merit in our country, but it is not merit-based. It never has been.

Basically, rich parents who had kids with every conceivable advantage decided that wasn't enough and flat-out bribed people to get their unmotivated kids into prestigious colleges. They also got their kids classified as athletic recruits (lower admissions standards) or claimed some kind of disability so that they'd get extra time to complete standardized tests.

I can't imagine why their kids would be lazy. Teaching kids to be responsible for their actions and learning about consequences--oh, wait.

We're not talking about small amounts of money, either--anywhere from $15,000 up to $500,000, from what I read. $250,000 seemed to be the average payout for the athletic recruitment scam.


I've talked to Eli 17.7 on more than one occasion about what I call the Intent To Deceive rule. In short, it's that any situation where you're doing something with an intent to deceive is probably a very bad decision. It's always worth asking why you need to be deceptive in the first place.

Most situations like this have low risk but very high consequences, and it's hard for kids to understand that scenario. But this time, some very famous people revealed themselves to be absolute dirtbags and have been utterly humiliated, and they (and their children) are going to mocked for a very long time.

High consequences.

Big News (Dwarf Fortress)

Here's the announcement: Dwarf Fortress coming to Steam and, free version always updated and available,

In addition, the paid Steam version is going to include a new tileset (no ASCII) and enhanced graphics and audio.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Tuesday, In Which Burger King Becomes A Koan

DQ Guitar Advisor David Gloier sent me this email:
The Burger King by my house burned to the ground, and for almost a year, the burned out shell remained, with the sign still standing over it, proclaiming "Now Serving Flame-grilled Hot Dogs."


They finally rebuilt it. Shiny and new. Nice store, but you're right, nobody is ever there, and when someone is, they look miserable. This includes the employees.

I told him he should have taken a picture, but he was way ahead of me:

Then he sent me something incredibly profound:
I just realized...I guess I must look miserable when I'm in there, too. 

That's a Burger King koan.

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