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July 18, 2002

Cleaning house, and other inexplicable destinations
Posted by Teresa at 11:36 AM *

What happens is that Patrick goes plonking around on the web and finds useful and worthy information about stuff like books, computers, and politics. Me? The minute my mind wanders, I find I’m looking at a 17th C. painting of Jesus Christ eating a roast guinea pig. The first time Patrick showed me the web, back in 1993, he went off for a few minutes to do something, and came back to find me reading a discussion of saints and foot fetishism. I had no idea how I’d gotten there.

This keeps happening. I have come to accept the web as a sort of Rorschach Blot. Here are some of the things I’ve found while looking for other things, starting with the…

Secular pictures:

Molecular Expressions Photo Gallery keeps a Silicon Zoo of images which chip designers sneaked onto integrated circuits, like the one on this

85Silicon Graphics MIPS R12000 microprocessor. He appears to us to be a Tyrannosaurus Rex, but then again we’re not really experts on dinosaurs. Directly to the right of the dinosaur appears some of the names of the engineers who participated in the design of the chip, which was internally code-named the Trex. The silicon reptile is about 50 microns high.
Famous heroes of the kabuki stage depicted as frogs, by Ichiyfbsai Kuniyoshi (1798-1861).

A skunk that’s run afoul of a Coke can.

Religious images:

A wall painting from a church in Broughton, Buckinghamshire, c. 1470, showing Jesus being dismembered by swearers. You know all those guys in period dramas who swear by God’s wounds (“Zounds!”) and God’s knucklebones and the like? This is a warning against the practice.

In the same genre, this 15th C. wall painting from Michaelchurch Escley shows Jesus attacked by tools used by sabbath-breakers.

Jesus eating a roast guinea pig at the Last Supper. The cavy in question is that thing lying on its back on the central platter. This picture was painted for a church in Cuzco by a native artist who knew perfectly well what people eat at festive meals: red peppers, papayas, and roast guinea pig. (I found this on a site dedicated to the many excellences of Cuzco (or “Qosqo”), which site combines a wonderfully erratic grasp of English with an obvious passion for its subject.)

Back in July ‘01 I noted the availability of statuettes of Our Lord and Savior invisibly participating in baseball, football, basketball, track, hockey, and soccer alongside His children. No doubt due to overwhelming demand (it pays to advertise in Making Light!), they’ve now added a other sports, including martial arts, skiing, biking/rollerblading, gymnastics, ballet, and golf. The new set’s a little disappointing, though; instead of getting into the game, He just stands there looking benevolent.

Does a painting of The Blessing of the Vodka Shop count as a religious image?

A transitional object:

Biblical plaguedomes, from Products of the Apocalypse, are a gruesome variant on snowglobes. The basic model so far is a Swarm of Locusts globe you shake to make bitty floating locusts attack a harassed-looking man. They’re also developing a Three Days of Darkness model. These people should be encouraged.

Other utterly miscellaneous pages:

The Unofficial SFWA Awardball Statistical Abstract, subtitled “A Slightly Irreverent Look at SFFWA’s 31-Year Love-Hate Relationship With The Nebula Award.” Michael Kube-McDowell takes on the statistics of the Nebula Award with the same kind of loopy obsessiveness you see in baseball fans. (Yo, K-Mac! You need to update that thing.)

The Song of the Young Paleontologist, which turned out to be by Sasha Volokh of The Volokh Conspiracy.

Beowulf ond Godsylla, ‘nuff said.

Theory.org.uk Trading Cards are “…a pack of 24 cards featuring theorists and concepts close to the hearts of people interested in social and cultural theory, gender and identity, and media studies.” They don’t seem to have been meant to play with, but of course you can always argue about them:

Foucault tops online Trading Card popularity poll!

The estate of Michel Foucault was celebrating yesterday as news emerged that the French thinker had gained top ranking in the first online poll at the Theory.org.uk Trading Cards site.

Almost a quarter of the hundreds of votes cast on the site were for Foucault (23%). Fellow queer theorist Judith Butler came joint second, alongside Postmodernity (17% each).

Sociology fared badly, with Anthony Giddens (8% of votes) and Erving Goffman (5%) slumped at the bottom of the heap. Curiously, Theodor Adorno, critical theorist of yesteryear, didn’t do so badly (10%).

Analysts were divided over the results. Whilst some felt that it reflected the innate superiority of post-structuralist thought, others argued that it represented the triumph of superficial “trendy” theories over better-established sociological perspectives.

Furthermore, some commentators felt that the votes cast did not necessarily reflect an appreciation of each card per se. Anne Higgins, Chief Analyst at ADP Statistics, argued that “Users were simply voting for their favourite character. Many browsers visit Theory.org.uk for its Foucault content, and obviously will favour the Foucault card. That doesn’t actually mean it’s the best card. The Psychologists card got relatively few votes, perhaps because no-one likes psychologists. But in fact the card attacks the approach of many psychologists, and is my personal favourite.”

The Enchante Kiddie Karousel is constantly being redecorated, but day in and day out it’s the most relentlessly saccharine page on the web. Not for the faint of heart.

A collection of famous last stands, including Thermopylae, Hastings, Sempach, Waterloo, the Alamo, Camerone, Little Big Horn, Isandhlwana and Rorke’s Drift, El Alamein, and Bastogne. We pause here to remember the second most famous remark made at Bastogne, by then-Lieutenant Colonel Creighton Abrams of the 4th Armored Division: “They’ve got us surrounded again, the poor bastards.”

A recording of a 911 call from Joe, who’s taken shelter in a phone booth and “needs a bambulance.” It started, he says, when he hit this m@#$%f@#$%ing deer…

From the Department of the Navy’s Naval Historical Center website, which is full of interesting stuff, a page on The Philadelphia Experiment, sometimes known as “Project Rainbow”:

Allegedly, in the fall of 1943 a U.S. Navy destroyer was made invisible and teleported from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Norfolk, Virginia, in an incident known as the Philadelphia Experiment.

(…)

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) has stated that the use of force fields to make a ship and her crew invisible does not conform to known physical laws. ONR also claims that Dr. Albert Einstein’s Unified Field Theory was never completed. During 1943-1944, Einstein was a part-time consultant with the Navy’s Bureau of Ordnance, undertaking theoretical research on explosives and explosions. There is no indication that Einstein was involved in research relevant to invisibility or to teleportation.

It’s exemplary writing of its kind. These guys know how to lay a story to rest while fully appreciating that it was, in fact, a darned good story.

A collection of musician jokes. (Q: Barenboim, Levine and Mehta all went down in a plane crash. Who survived? A: Mozart.)

The Angry Corrie, “Scotland’s First and Best Hillwalker’s Fanzine.” I don’t know the people, I don’t climb the munroes, but any time I go near this site I find myself reading large chunks of it. It’s as true a fanzine as ever pubbed its ish.

Photos of puddings, including spotted dog, boiled (or drowned) baby, treacle-dowdy, jam roly-poly, cabinet pudding, and a floating island pudding in the form of the Galapagos Archipelago; with appropriate quotations from the works of Patrick O’Brian. This is from the website for Lobscouse & Spotted Dog: Which It’s a Gastronomic Companion to the Aubrey/Maturin Novels of Patrick O’Brian by Anne Chotzinoff Grossman and Lisa Grossman Thomas.

While we’re vaguely on the subject, How to determine the amount of batter to use in cake pans of different sizes and shapes; along with other formulae and calculations, plus odd facts like the standard bag-and-tip decorator needing twenty pounds of pressure to work.

Passepartout’s Alternate Rose FAQ, in which he explains mysteries such as shovel-pruning, what’s so special about David Austin’s English Roses, the color orange, rose cones, how all rugosas are the same plant, “substance”, improving the color of your roses, how to deal with rose names in languages you can’t pronounce, organic fertilizers, and much more. There’s also a wonderful chart that translates terms found in catalogues. Some samples from the FAQ:

Q: Hybrid Perpetual? What’s that?

A: It describes the stage in rose-addiction when rosarians become too critical of their perfectly good roses and throw them away. HT’s are the most susceptible, being perpetually discarded after a few years. Hence, the name.

* * *

Q: I found a rose on my newly purchased property in Santa Anita del Vista Ray Mar, California. It’s got pink flowers, thorns, grows about five feet tall. Can someone tell me what rose this is?

A: No.

* * *

Q: What’s this Leonidas rose?

A: It92s a recently introduced HT. It used to be available only from florists, but they weren’t making enough money selling it, so the breeder decided to place it on the open market.

Q: Ooooo. I *must* see it. Be right back!

A: (tuneless whistling for a while)

Q: I’m back.

A: What do you think?

Q: Weeeellll. It’s different.

A: And?

Q: It’s… it’s, brown. Am I supposed to like it?

A: If you are a slave to rose couture, yes, you must like it, and rave about it, too. Only newbies and dullards would do otherwise.

Q: I see. I’m so bourgeois. I do see its subtle shadings. Yes, and it really is in the avant garde of rose fashion. I’ll just get me five or so.

A: Before you go, have you ever smelled the pungent fragrance of Austrian Copper? Only the best rosarians cultivate it.

Q: Ooooo. I must smell it. Be right back!

Comments on Cleaning house, and other inexplicable destinations:
#1 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2002, 12:28 PM:

One might think of the Net as a memory palace, built under the instructions of Mrs. Winchester, to elevations by Maurits Escher, on the scale of Angkor Wat.

Or possibly it was laid out that way, but the original was lost during the Great Vowel Shift and we now see an artistic reconstruction by Bruce McCall.

#2 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2002, 04:08 PM:

Teresa, for a monet I wasn't sure if your were talking about the web, and thought that you had to keep yourself occupied to ward off recurring halucinations of Jesus chowing down on guinea pig.

I've been reading too much Tim Powers. (Did I mention that Declare is out in mass-market paperback?)

#3 ::: Arthur D. Hlavaty ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2002, 06:44 PM:

The word K-Mac is looking for is sfwametrics.

#4 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2002, 09:51 PM:

Although K-mac hasn't taken it to the logical conclusion. I can't find out how well Clarke does when nominated in east coast cities.

(If you think this is a joke, you've never seen The Elias Baseball Analyst. Last edition was 1989. Alas.)

#5 ::: Christopher Hatton ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2002, 11:51 PM:

Avram, "For a monet"? I would take this for a typo if we weren't talking about painting, and if you weren't such a clever fellow.

Hmm, "for a monet I wasn't sure if you were talking about the web..." AHA! You were distracted by a painting of some water lilies!

Is that right? Isitisitisit? :-)

Titivolus vincit!

#6 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2002, 09:46 AM:

Oh. My. God. It's a social-theorist Hugo gripe session!

I think, though, that "Zounds!" &c. are euphemisms for earlier theatrical swearing, which was outlawed from licensed theatres and publishing by an, um, Bible-minded monarch, James Stuart. Probably the ad campaign depicted at Broughton is part of what brought that about.

By the way, my explanation for the stylistic differences between the central figure and the surrounding ones (several of whom seem to have the same face) is that it's the result of a Cartoon Jam.

Cf. "Time Travellers Guide to Stuart England" at <http://www.channel4.com/history/microsites/H/history/guide17/part05.html> for the early C. 17 attitude toward swearing. If memory serves, the Tudors kept a court that was rather loose-mouthed on religious niceties, though very careful of avoiding any whiff of Politics.


#7 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2002, 09:48 AM:

Dear Dr Mike:

Yes, all that at the same time, and the habitants are all delusional schizophrenics.

#8 ::: Cassandra Phillips-Sears ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2002, 12:47 PM:

My favorite "what on earth were they thinking" site might be villiansupply.com.

http://villainsupply.com/doomsday.html

#9 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2002, 08:17 PM:

Oooh! Look! A cute little psychopathic villain with a doomsday device! Isn't he a cuuuuteeeee...

Definitely a page with some potential for making T. fall down and go boom.

#10 ::: Christopher Hatton ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2002, 11:51 PM:

I love the one with the very efficient, not terribly expensive doomsday device, that just needs one tiny...um, huge...diamond to work. And not just any diamond. A PARTICULAR diamond.

Reminds me of the evil overlord lists.

#11 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2002, 12:32 PM:

Just so, Mike. I like the part about the frogs best.

Avram, Christ eating a guinea pig is not one of my characteristic hallucinations. Mine tend to involve animate misbehavior on the part of hitherto inanimate objects.

Bob, I don't know about euphemisms, but "zounds" is a contraction of "God's wounds", and "s'blood" is a contraction of "God's blood". And if (as the site suggests) swearing by sacramental symbols and objects counts , French Canadians are still doing it.

I've known villainsupply.com for some time now -- and yes, I found it while hunting for variant Evil Overlord lists. I won't claim I've been from one end of this galaxy to the other, but I have seen a lot of strange stuff.

#12 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2002, 02:57 PM:

Teresa, what I meant was that an earlier generation just frankly swore, "by God's wounds!" or "by Christ's foot!"

Under Jacobean strictures on speech and the theatre (and in particular the accompanying fines and punishments) people quickly learned to say "Zounds!" or to swear "by Pharaoh's foot!"

The euphemisms and substitutions presumably saves Our Lord from gradual dismemberment as he uncomplainingly covered the bad debts left by false oaths. Or did so well enough that those who insisted on a higher degree of verbal purity had to move to Massachusetts to found a more Pious Commonwealth.

(Ah, if only they could see the Confederacy of Scofflaws and Generation of Pottymouths for whom they prepared the ground.)

#13 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2002, 10:21 PM:

So "Zounds!" is like saying "Geeminently Christmas"? Sheesh.

#14 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2002, 03:33 PM:

While "sheesh," of course, is an ablation of "baksheesh," implying "you couldn't pay me to say that."

JMF, Unstable Narcolepton Emitter

#15 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2002, 05:05 PM:

thud

#16 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2002, 07:41 PM:

I'm afraid that the proposed root of "sheesh" is a bak formation.

#17 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2002, 07:40 AM:

Kyrie elision.

#18 ::: Mark Bourne ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2002, 12:24 PM:

And then, of course, there's the most accurate and life-shaping astrology site on the Web (now *that's* saying something). I live by its Truth:

http://www.humorscope.com/

#19 ::: DM SHERWOOD ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2002, 07:18 AM:

Talking about pages found on the Web that you had no buisness even thinking about. Thought you might be interested in that Surrealist Work
'The Virgin Spanking the Chist Child before Three Witnesss' by
Max Ernst
URL http://www.duke.edu/web/lit132/spanking.html

I swear I was researching the Surrealists Honest
Yours DMS

#20 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2002, 03:16 PM:

What I don't understand is why no one is commenting on the rose FAQ. That's the funniest thing I've seen in a coon's age.

Of course, I just returned from a week in Oklahoma with my parents and my sense of humor may not yet be properly restored.

MKK

#21 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2002, 08:26 AM:

Mary Kay, it made me laugh out loud, and later when I went back and re-read it, it did it again. It's funny if you know anything about gardening, and cataplexy-inducing if you know from roses.

#22 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2002, 11:09 AM:

It's odd you know. I know all that stuff, or lots of it anyhow but I hate actually doing anything relating to gardening. I like looking at the results, but I hire someone to come and do all that work. My father can grow anything anywhere and I guess I picked up all that knowledge by osmosis. Well that and omnivorous reading.

MKK

#23 ::: Kip T. Williams ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2002, 10:18 AM:

Good coincidence I should read this just now. I was musing on a line from "Shakespeare's Lost Comedie" (Firesign Theatre) less than an hour ago: "'Snuts! What's happened to our righteous Speed?"

Just so you'll know, I forwarded the rose FAQs to two or three people, at least one of whom appreciated it, and another of whom I haven't heard from yet. One question I didn't see on there: "What is a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose?"

All this Christ Child stuff reminds me of an early National Lampoon article, a memoir by His cousin, which mentions how Jeez was kind of a weirdo, and the other kids used to 'leper' him, running away and shouting "Ding ding! Unclean!"

Then there was the Christmas when all the grandkids (our generation) received ceramic Baby Jesi. There was some conferring about what to do with them. The unimaginative were all for simply hiding or losing them somewhere. I wanted to try and collect enough to have a Baby J chess set, but since this wasn't realistic, I fell back on the notion of obtaining a second one, then drilling holes in the tops of their heads to make delightful salt and pepper shakers.

Kip

ps: What does "Remember info" do? I originally guessed it was so I wouldn't have to retype that stuff every time, but that doesn't seem to be the case. "Forget Personal Information" -- at our age, do we really need a button for this?

#24 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2002, 12:29 PM:

Okay, Mark, I put off looking at that humorous horoscope site because I've seen lots of humorous horoscopes. I finally went and looked. I see why you're so fond of it. That thing reads like Scraps DeSelby at his best.

DM, I'd seen it before, but that is in fact one darned strange painting.

Kip, "A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose" was Gertrude misunderstanding one of Pabs' complaints about Alice's boring cooking.

"Remember info" is supposed to keep you from having to retype it every time. It came with the template. I haven't tried the "Forget Personal Information" button because I'm afraid it would work.

#25 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2002, 02:12 AM:

I browsed a site that sells the Jesus athletic statues and they really missed a trick with the gymnastics statue: it should have been the iron cross on the still rings. The symbolism would have been rather compelling....

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