Shared posts

26 Oct 19:21

A Point of Duty

by Greg Ross

Secessionist Roger A. Pryor was visiting Fort Sumter just before the outbreak of the Civil War when he accidentally drank a bottle of poison. A Union doctor named Samuel Crawford pumped his stomach, saving his life.

“Some of us questioned the doctor’s right to interpose in a case of this kind,” wrote Union captain Abner Doubleday. “It was argued that if any rebel leader chose to come over to Fort Sumter and poison himself, the Medical Department had no business to interfere with such a laudable intention.”

“The doctor, however, claimed, with some show of reason, that he himself was held responsible to the United States for the medicine in the hospital, and therefore he could not permit Pryor to carry any of it away.”

26 Oct 18:08

Just so it's clear, Hillary rocks.

Listen, she at most kind of lists back and forth to a low tempo number clapping on the 1 and 3, but she is also literally the best person to be President.

26 Oct 15:15

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - The Grasshopper and the Ants


I really feel there's an entire field to be had by bringing together literature and economics. Like, does anyone else side with Scrooge during that scene where his nephew asks him to contribute to an unevaluated charity.

New comic!
Today's News:

Wednesday Book Reviews!

Bull’s Eye (Adams)

Of the three major books written on Gerald Bull’s life, this is probably the least good. It’s not a bad book exactly, but it’s very strange. The author was, at least in the early 90s, a reporter on international arms sales and the associated shady behavior of rogue nations. That’s fine and all, but the book ends up being nominally about Gerald Bull while having enormous tangents about the author’s area of expertise. So, you’ll get somewhat loose biographical details, followed by a remarkably in-depth discussion of particular artillery systems from the mid-80s.

The Science of Cheese (Tunick)

I bought this book thinking it’d be a nice light read on, well, the science of cheese. It’s quite good, but really more of a reference book on types of cheese and the chemistry that produces them. So, if you’re rather nerdily-inclined and want to know more about cheese, this is a great book, but I wouldn’t try to read it all in one sitting unless you happen to be a chemist.

Demon, volume 1 (Shiga)

A great little comic book! I mean, also horrifying. Like, really violent and disgusting, but underneath that a very clever story. I’m looking forward to reading the next volume.

The Invention of Science (Wootton)

A fantastic history of the idea of science. I mean, just great. I got this book looking for a sort of light read on early science. It turned out to be a very detailed history on the concept of science as a human behavior, encompassing everything from history to etymology to social science. It’s just absolutely fantastic, and it will probably defy your expectations. I’ve gotten used to books of this sort repeating the same tired sets of moments in scientific history. Wootton not only introduces all sorts of new (to me) parts of history, but he adds more nuance to parts of history you may already be familiar with.

In Milton Lumky Territory (Dick)

Another of Dick’s earlier non-scifi novels. Like the others, it’s good and has good characters, but just seems to be missing something. Honestly, part of what makes his early literary stuff hard to read is that it’s so relentlessly depressing. I don't mind sad novels, but relentlessly sad novels (Updike's Rabbit series springs to mind) always seem to me like they're a palette missing a color.

The other thing is that (perhaps because almost none of it was published), all of these literary novels by Dick hit on very similar territory, almost always concerning themselves with douchey men and crazy women, living dull pointless lives, often starting a pathetic small business of some sort.

That said, it was still a pretty good novel. Reading this early stuff is interesting, because it helps you see Dick’s trajectory toward becoming one of the best science fiction writers of all time.

25 Oct 19:58

Coming and Going

by Greg Ross

Edmund Wilson’s 1948 poem “The Pickerel Pond” has a novel feature — backward rhymes:

The lake lies with never a ripple
A lymph to lave sores from a leper
The sand white as salt in an air
That has filtered and tamed every ray;

Below limpid water, those lissome
Scrolleries scribbled by mussels
The floating dropped feathers of gulls;
A leech like a lengthening slug

That shrinks at a touch, ink and orange;
A child’s wrecked Rio Janeiro,
One fortress of which flies a reed
The cleft and quick prints of a deer …

Each pair of line endings (ripple/leper, air/ray) reverse one another in pronunciation, reflecting the pond’s mirror-like surface. They’re called amphisbaenic rhymes, after the amphisbaena, a Greek monster whose two heads allow it to move in either direction. Wilson’s poem contains 70 twisting stanzas of such rhymes.

26 Oct 00:47

Just so it’s clear, Hillary is actually the lesser of 5 evils.

Just so it’s clear, Hillary is actually the lesser of 5 evils.

24 Oct 21:02

More Cluster Fudge HERE

More Cluster Fudge HERE

25 Oct 14:18

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Progress


Now, it's time to create a pig that can fly.

New comic!
Today's News:
21 Oct 12:40

I work in client servicing at a reputable international advertising agency in the Middle East. One...

I work in client servicing at a reputable international advertising agency in the Middle East. One day, we had to evacuate because there was a fairly major fire in our building. This is the conversation I had with a long-time client when I called to tell him.  

Me: Hi! I’m sorry, but we’ve had a fire emergency in our tower and we had to vacate the premises. I apologize, but I will not be able to send you the designs today.

Client: Oh no! Can’t you just email it?

Me: Sorry no. The designer was finishing it when we had to leave, and it isn’t finished.

Client: Can’t he just access his email, download it and finish it?

Me: Sorry, it was on his desktop and, since it was quite a large file, he couldn’t upload it anywhere before evacuating.

Client: Can he go back to the office and send it now?

Me: Are you asking me to send him back to a burning building so he can finish a little more quickly?

Client: Oh, I guess that isn’t possible, is it?

Me: No. We’re all okay, by the way.

Client: What?

Me: Nothing.

> Want to know if freelancing is for you?

23 Oct 19:40

I am a white progressive. I am voting for Jill Stein, who is in no way a garbage fire of a candidate, because I value personal purity over preventing the real harm to poc and women that a Trump presidency would do. I prefer to leave unexamined why I hate Hillary for doing things that politicians do. I think it is more important to have class solidarity with racist elements of the white working class than be part of a multiracial coalition. How can I be racist? I don't like drone warfare!


17 Oct 22:48

poonany: pardonmewhileipanic: My type of petty oh merriam,...



My type of petty

oh merriam, you bitch, i love you

18 Oct 22:31

creative advertising

by kris


“yes, we’re open! but you have to tell me if you’re from the health department”

19 Oct 06:55

Special Order

by Greg Ross

a.p. herbert

In 1961, irate at receiving a bill for an £85 surtax from the Inland Revenue, A.P. Herbert sent them a check in verse:

Dear Bankers, PAY the undermentioned hounds
The shameful sum of FIVE-AND-EIGHTY POUNDS
By “hounds,” of course, by custom, one refers
And these progenitors of woe and worry

This is the second lot of tax, you know,
On money that I earned two years ago.
(The shark, they say, by no means nature’s knight,
Will rest contented with a single bite:
The barracuda, who’s a fish more fell,
Comes back and takes the other leg as well.)
Two years ago. But things have changed since then.
I’ve reached the age of threescore years and ten.
My earnings dwindle; and the kindly State
Gives me a tiny pension — with my mate.
You’d think the State would generously roar
“At least he shan’t pay surtax any more.”
Instead by this un-Christian attack
They get two-thirds of my poor pension back.
Oh, very well. No doubt it’s for the best;
At all events, pray do as I request;
And let the good old customs be enforced —
Don’t cash this check, unless it is endorsed.

To his astonishment he received this reply:

Dear Sir,

It is with pleasure that I thank
You for your letter and the order to your bank
To pay the sum of five and eighty pounds
To those here whom you designate as hounds.
Their appetite is satisfied. In fact,
You paid too much and I am forced to act,
Not to repay you, as perchance you dream,
Though such a course is easy, it would seem.
Your liability for later years
Is giving your accountants many tears;
And ’til such time as they and we can come
To amicable settlement on the sum
That represents your tax bill to the State
I’ll leave the overpayment to its fate.
I do not think this step will make you frown:
The sum involved is only half-a-crown.

Yours faithfully,

A.L. Grove

He wrote back:

I thank you, Sir, but am afraid
Of such a rival in my trade:
One never should encourage those —
In the future I shall pay in prose.

19 Oct 09:06


17 Oct 19:41

Pas de Deux

by Greg Ross

In Pale Fire, Nabokov notes an “absolutely extraordinary, unbelievably elegant” verbal curiosity:

A newspaper account of a Russian tsar’s coronation had, instead of korona (crown), the misprint vorona (crow), and when next day this was apologetically ‘corrected,’ it got misprinted a second time as korova (cow).

“The artistic correlation between the crown-crow-cow series and the Russian koronavoronakorova series is something that would have, I am sure, enraptured my poet,” he wrote. “I have seen nothing like it on lexical playfields and the odds against the double coincidence defy computation.”

17 Oct 22:49

liquidcoma: liquidcoma: liquidcoma: screenshotsofdespair: vi...





via ianbremmer

the English language is truly magnificent

17 Oct 14:52

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Riemann's Quaternary Conjecture


Also, negative infinity plus positive infinity results in zero infinity.

New comic!
Today's News:

Just one premium BAHFest ticket left, geeks!

14 Oct 14:42

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Anxiety


Oh neat! It feeds on its own self, then grows larger

New comic!
Today's News:
14 Oct 06:09

You’re Welcome

by Greg Ross

cross of iron

In Sam Peckinpah’s 1977 World War II film Cross of Iron, a soldier hears a rumbling noise, peers out of his trench, and shouts “Tanks! Tanks!”

The French subtitles read, “Merci, merci!”

12 Oct 04:00

Record Scratch

The 78-rpm era was closer to the Civil War than to today.
11 Oct 20:08


by Greg Ross

In 1942, uncertain whether one of its spies had been replaced by a German impersonator, Britain’s Special Operations Executive hit on a clever plan: After a regular radio communication, the British radio operator signed off with HH, short for “Heil Hitler,” the standard farewell among Nazi operators. His counterpart, “Netball,” responded HH automatically, giving himself away.

They confirmed this at the next session:

Netball was several minutes late for his sked (not significant) and signalled ‘q r u’ (‘I have no traffic for London’). Howell replied ‘q t c’ (‘We have a message for you’), and proceeded to transmit it (the message warned Netball never to send less than 150 letters). Howell then signalled ‘HH’, and Netball immediately replied ‘HH’.

‘Right,’ Nick was heard to say to his companion, ‘that’s it then.’

(From Leo Marks, Between Silk and Cyanide, 2001.)

12 Oct 06:33


by Greg Ross

wile e coyote, super genius

Cartoon laws of physics:

  1. Any body suspended in space will remain in space until made aware of its situation. Daffy Duck steps off a cliff, expecting further pastureland. He loiters in midair, soliloquizing flippantly, until he chances to look down. At this point, the familiar principle of 32 feet per second per second takes over.
  2. Any body in motion will tend to remain in motion until solid matter intervenes suddenly. Whether shot from a cannon or in hot pursuit on foot, cartoon characters are so absolute in their momentum that only a telephone pole or an outsize boulder retards their forward motion absolutely. Sir Isaac Newton called this sudden termination of motion the stooge’s surcease.
  3. Any body passing through solid matter will leave a perforation conforming to its perimeter. Also called the silhouette of passage, this phenomenon is the specialty of victims of directed-pressure explosions and of reckless cowards who are so eager to escape that they exit directly through the wall of a house, leaving a cookie-cutout-perfect hole. The threat of skunks or matrimony often catalyzes this reaction.
  4. The time required for an object to fall twenty stories is greater than or equal to the time it takes for whoever knocked it off the ledge to spiral down twenty flights to attempt to capture it unbroken. Such an object is inevitably priceless, the attempt to capture it inevitably unsuccessful.

There are 10 laws altogether, including “9. Everything falls faster than an anvil.” As early as 1956 Walt Disney was describing the “plausible impossible.” In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Eddie Valiant says, “Do you mean to tell me you could’ve taken your hand out of that cuff at any time?” Roger answers, “Not at any time! Only when it was funny!”

12 Oct 16:27


11 Oct 14:50

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - The Presidency


Yes, this is exactly how immunity works.

New comic!
Today's News:
07 Oct 23:20


by Greg Ross

Recreations listed in Who’s Who by eccentric Scottish MP Sir Nicholas Fairbairn:

1975: Creative
1976: Creating
1977: Bunking and debunking
1979: Upholding what’s right and demolishing what’s left
1980: Giving and forgiving
1981: The cure and eradication of British tick fever
1983: Being blunt and sharp at the same time
1984: Philanthropy and philogyny
1986: Ornitholatry
1987: Serving queens, restoring castles, debunking bishops, entertaining knights, befriending pawns
1988: Snookering the reds and all other proctalgias
1989: Draining brains and scanning bodies
1990: Growling, prowling, scowling and owling
1991: Loving beauty and beautifying love
1993: Drawing ships, making quips, confounding Whigs and scuttling drips
1995: Languishing and sandwiching

In 1973 he listed his recreations as “Making love, ends meet and people laugh.” He said, “I think most people, if they were honest, will admit that those were their main recreations — apart, perhaps, from Ted Heath, who would probably miss out on the first and third.”

(from Neil Hamilton, Great Political Eccentrics, 1999.)

06 Oct 13:54

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - The Fox and the Hedgehog


This result only holds for Euclidean fablespace.

New comic!
Today's News:

3 weeks to go, and we've sold 40% of BAHFest tickets. Buy soon or feel shame!

06 Oct 19:17

the dan ontology

by kris


the whole thing is dan’s. all the dimensions too. his roommate had some good ideas about the unit charge of an electron, but like 99.999% of this was dan.

dedicated to my friend liz

06 Oct 18:41



05 Oct 18:15


by Greg Ross

“Blasphemy depends upon belief, and is fading with it. If any one doubts this, let him sit down seriously and try to think blasphemous thoughts about Thor. I think his family will find him at the end of the day in a state of some exhaustion.”

— G.K. Chesterton, Heretics, 1906

05 Oct 14:07

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Exegesis


Dude, have You actually read this thing?

New comic!
Today's News:

Wednesday Book Reviews! Yong and Stiglitz were particularly good.

Sept 16 - I Contain Multitudes (Yong) Ed literally wrote the book on Microbes. If you’re curious about the microbes that live in your (or the bodies of other creatures) and how they affect behavior, disease, evolution, and cognition… this is it.

Sept 16 - A Brief History of Misogyny (Holland) Not a bad book, but a better title would be more like “Particularly interesting incidents of misogyny through mostly Western history.

Sept 19 - The Euro (Stiglitz) Stiglitz is always fun. This book is an argument either to eliminate the Euro or fundamentally change it. Part of what makes it interesting is that I usually associate an anti-Euro perspective with right wing economists, but Stiglitz is (by the standards of economists anyway) decidedly on the left.

Sept 20 - But What If We’re Wrong? (Klosterman)

This book didn’t really do it for me. The idea is basically that we are probably wrong about lots of things, even some of which we are certain of now. After that, it’s a few stories and anecdotes relentlessly restating the premise.

03 Oct 04:00



having worked in a factory, this is only the beginning

Despite it being imaginary, I already have SUCH a strong opinion on the cord-switch firing incident.