web analytics



Ugh. I’ve come down with a real snot-fountain of a headcold. I guess I’ll do what anyone would do in my position — browse the internet for porn.

By which, of course, I mean Pinterest boards of banjos, banjos, banjos, banjo pegheads, banjo art and banjo tomfoolery.

I’ve just discovered I don’t have a ‘banjo’ tag. How odd.

The one in the pic is a Bob Flesher banjo. Bob’s a modern maker of unbelievable skill — especially, IMO, his inlays (even the best modern banjos, the inlay usually gives them away as lesser instruments). All of his work is hand work; none of this computerized laser stuff. He was an airline pilot who financed his flying lessons making fancy banjos. Go figure.

Gromulin informed me that Steven DenBeste has died. I read him, back in the day. I bet you did too. I didn’t realize he’d been off the blogosphere as long as he had. Makes me feel internet old. RIP.

October 25, 2016 — 9:12 pm
Comments: 5

Brit found dead at Spanish airport had ‘slice of ham on each buttock and his genitals in tuna can’


Yes, it’s a real headline. No, I have no idea. Nobody has.

Now that I have your attention, I’d like to talk about something else. Today’s Google doodle celebrates the 384th birthday of Anton von Leeuwenhoek. Unlike most Google doodles that promote obscure scientists I never heard of, von Leeuwenhoek is an obscure scientist who is a great hero of mine.

Because microscopes. Von Leeuwenhoek was the first great miscroscopist and one of the greatest ever amateur scientists (I used to be big time into microscopy. And amateurishness). He was a Dutchman who owned a draper’s shop and later worked a series of civil service jobs. Microscopes were a hobby.

But he made fantastic microscopes that no-one of his era could match. Hundreds of them using a process he refused to divulge. Everyone else was grinding and polishing bits of glass for hours and assumed he did, too. In fact (I’ve forgotten where I read this, I’ve read so much about him over the years) he dripped molten glass into water, which formed optically perfect spheres with no mechanical finishing at all. Genius.

He was the first human being to see lots of neat things: protozoa. Bacteria. Tooth plaque. Sperm. Yeah, he got those last two samples exactly the way you think he did.

In 1926, a man named Paul de Kruif (an American of Dutch ancestry) wrote a book called the Microbe Hunters that has never since gone out of print. It takes microbiology from von Leeuwenhoek to Paul Ehrlich. It was a breathlessly enthusiastic not at all nuanced ‘Hooray for Science!’ book of the kind that inspired thousands of young scientists, and that educators can’t abide these days.

I loved it. Buy it for a kid.

Shame about that poor bastard in the Spanish airport, though, huh?

sock it to me

October 24, 2016 — 7:02 pm
Comments: 19



This woeful beastie is Mapp Chicken, today. I really should have snapped a photo a couple of days ago — you can see here, the pinfeathers are already well grown on her neck. Monday, her neck was as nekkid as an oven-ready broiler.

And her tail! Just a sad nub of pink flesh (that thing we call the Preacher’s Nose and the Brits call the Parson’s Nose – or is it the other way around?).

Reminder: Mapp as she was meant to be. Sexy, sexy bird.

Molting is triggered by the first cold snap. It signals chickens to stop laying eggs, drop their feathers and divert all the protein they would have devoted to egg-laying into feather-building. It means they’re all fully feathered up and cozy by the time the real cold weather hits.

But it also means they face the first cold of the season part naked with uncomfortable quills sticking out of their tender places. They’re cranky as shit.

Which birds molt and how completely is affected by a variety of factors. It’s a rule of thumb that the better the layer, the more quickly and thoroughly the molt. Commercial layers — the kind bred to lay an egg a day for the first year — apparently lose them all at once, overnight. You go down in the morning and find a coop full of feathers and a bunch of joke shop rubber chickens on the perch.

Think of that, and this picture when you see photos of ‘abused’ birds from factory farms — this is what even a pampered family pet looks like during a partial molt.

Good weekend, and keep yer feathers on!

October 21, 2016 — 7:39 pm
Comments: 14

Police seek suspect in venetian blind theft


ZOMG, I can’t stop sniggering. Yes, that’s really what you’re looking at here: a daring daylight venetian blind robbery. Dudley is a suburb of Birmingham, BTW.

If you follow local papers — and you know I do — you can’t help but notice the percentage of crime perpetrated by people who are…not genetically English. (I have to be careful here. An indelicate word, especially on social media, could land me in a world of hurt).

Unlike the US, this country has only seen a major influx of immigration in the last fifty years or so. It was pretty monocultural before that. As you might expect from such a rapid population shift, the integration isn’t going that great. The only way they’re keeping a lid on major discontent is to bring the full weight of the authorities down on anyone who dares to notice.

Hard to see that as an effective long-term solution.

October 20, 2016 — 7:42 pm
Comments: 10

I shall call him…Channy


Engineers working for Scottish Power found this submarine in the North Channel off the coast of Scotland, and they weren’t even looking for it. It’s near a place called Stranraer (Elmer Fudd couldn’t hitchhike to here if his life depended on it).

It’s either UB-85 or its sister boat UB-82 – apparently, with the paintjob worn off, it would be impossible to tell the difference. Both were WWI wrecks. Everyone’s hoping it’s UB-85, because that one was scuttled by a sea monster. Okay, scuttled by the British Navy after the German crew surrendered, but it had been unable to dive because of sea monster damage.

The German captain described it thusly: “large eyes, set in a horny sort of skull. It had a small head, but with teeth that could be seen glistening in the moonlight”.

All the officers emptied their sidearms into it and it swam away, but it had damaged the forward deck plating so they couldn’t submerge. They had to float around waiting for the inevitable. The Royal Navy scooped up the crew and sank the u-boat, apparently without examining it first. I don’t suppose there’s anything left to see now.

I had a poke around, but the story just came out today and that’s all there is to it so far.

October 19, 2016 — 8:55 pm
Comments: 6

Sixty-eight days to Christmas!


Forget Vladimir Putin cuddling a puppy! That was last year’s calendar (no, really).

This year’s offering in the beefcake calendar market features Putin, among other things, with a kitten. Going straight for that internet demographic. Kitty does not look happy.

I don’t like the news around Mad Vlad at the moment. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say he’s right and we’re wrong in the Syrian conflict (I’m not absolutely certain sure I wouldn’t go that far, either), but I really, REALLY don’t like all the saber-rattling we’re doing.

By ‘we’ in this context, I mean the UK. I think the US is at least as bad, isn’t it? I’m only getting the news I occasionally glimpse between my fingers.

Whoever has the right of it, I’m absolutely as sure as I’ve ever been about anything that fucking Syria isn’t worth starting WWIII over. Could we not?

I could not come up with a good take on ‘Vlad the Impaler.’ Here are all the two-syllable rhymes for ‘impale’. Anything strike you as suitable?

abeille, airedale, airmail, amell, anael, ancell, arsdale, asail, assail, avail, avale, azrael, barksdale, barrell, bartell, bataille, beam scale, besayle, blackmail, black whale, borrell, brix scale, brown snail, bulk mail, cadell, camail, canaille, capell, cardell, carpale, carrell, cartmell, carvell, cattail, cicale, cigale, clinkscale, clout nail, clydesdale, coattail, cocktail, conrail, contrail, correll, curtail, cutrale, deer trail, defail, derail, descale, detail, dimsdale, dinsdale, doornail, dorrell, dovetail, downscale, drysdale, dugdale, e-mail, elayl, email, embale, empale, enscale, entail, euryale, exhale, fantail, fee tail, female, fence rail, ferndale, fife rail, fin whale, fish scale, folktale, forced sale, foxtail, fresh gale, full-scale, garrell, glendale, goodale, gorrell, gray whale, greenmail, greenvale, grisaille, guardrail, handrail, hay bale, hemdale, hillsdale, hinsdale, hobnail, holmdale, horsetail, houdaille, imail, impale, inhale, inrail, intail, inveil, jamail, jarrell, jerrell, kinsale, lambale, land rail, langdale, lansdale, large-scale, lavell, lawnsdale, levell, lonsdale, macphail, maleyl, marcell, mare’s tail, mcgrail, mchale, mcphail, medaille, mervaille, mikael, mikhail, minke whale, mireille, mishael, modell, mondale, montale, montvale, mortell, nadell, nasale, near gale, northvale, oakdale, oil shale, orrell, ovale, palmdale, parail, parcell, percale, perrell, plate rail, plymale, podell, poraille, portell, potale, presale, prevail, prunedale, quesnell, radell, rafale, ragsdale, rattail, regale, renail, resail, resale, retail, reveille, revell, ring mail, rocaille, rodale, savell, scarsdale, scotch gale, scottsdale, sea kale, secale, serail, shemale, slop pail, sociale, soft scale, soleil, split rail, springdale, spring scale, square sail, stockdale, stocksdale, strong gale, stub nail, subscale, sumrell, surveil, sweet gale, tagtail, tarsale, teasdale, telltale, the taal, third rail, thumbnail, time scale, tirrell, today’ll, toenail, toothed whale, topsail, tramell, travail, trouvaille, truesdale, turn tail, udale, ungueal, unnail, unscale, unvail, unveil, upscale, urteil, vandale, verrell, voicemail, wage scale, wassail, whitetail, white sale, white whale, wholesale, whole gale, wide wale, wind scale, withnail, yisrael, zapmail, zerwhale

October 18, 2016 — 7:31 pm
Comments: 6

SPOILER: Normans win


Friday was the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, which was actually in Battle. (Maybe. No artefacts have ever turned up in the field next to Battle Abbey, where It supposedly took place).

And what was Battle called before the Battle? Senlac. It was called the Battle of Senlac Hill for a while. True story.

Is it my imagination, or have the Saxons chubbed up a bit in the last 950 years? Eh.

There were, of course, all sorts of celebrations ’round our area, all of which we successfully avoided. Uncle B and I once went looking for fish and chips in Battle on October the 14th without remembering our history and wondered why the town was stuffed full of Normans and Saxons and whether we’d slipped through a time gate or some shit. Once is enough.

I noticed in some of the FaceBook pictures there were ladies in chain mail on the battle field. Weasel does not approve. This is the re-enactment equivalent of breaking the fourth wall.

First person who says Boadicea, I shall gut thee with mine trusty seax. She was a one-off and that was a thousand years earlier.

Yes, there was plenty of handwringing about whether the Conquest was a good thing. These people can sure hold a grudge. A good old Anglo-Saxon value, that.

October 17, 2016 — 7:49 pm
Comments: 18

Round 89: ’tis the season of rapid turnover

Bhumibol Adulyadej, known as King Bhumibol the Great, was the ninth monarch of Thailand from the Chakri Dynasty, as Rama IX. That’s what Wikipedia says, anyhow. Also, he dead.

This is the fifth dick for the Carls (Carl and Mrs Carl). The Carls have an insatiable appetite for dick.

Google, are you listening?

Dick. The Carls can’t get enough of it.

Fancy a little dick your own self? Here we go!

0. Rule Zero (AKA Steve’s Rule): your pick has to be living when picked. Also, nobody whose execution date is circled on the calendar. Also, please don’t kill anybody. Plus (Pupster’s Rule) no picking someone who’s only famous for being the oldest person alive.

1. Pick a celebrity. Any celebrity — though I reserve the right to nix picks I never heard of (I don’t generally follow the Dead Pool threads carefully, so if you’re unsure of your pick, call it to my attention).

2. We start from scratch every time. No matter who you had last time, or who you may have called between rounds, you have to turn up on this very thread and stake your claim.

3. Poaching and other dirty tricks positively encouraged.

4. Your first choice sticks. Don’t just blurt something out, m’kay? Also, make sure you have a correct spelling of your choice somewhere in your comment. These threads get longish and I use search to figure out if we have a winner.

5. It’s up to you to search the thread and make sure your choice is unique. I’m waayyyy too lazy to catch the dupes. Popular picks go fast.

6. The pool stays open until somebody on the list dies. Feel free to jump in any time. Noobs, strangers, drive-bys and one-comment-wonders — all are welcome.

7. If you want your fabulous prize, you have to entrust me with a mailing address. If you’ve won before, send me your address again. I don’t keep good records.

8. The new DeadPool will begin 6pm WBT (Weasel’s Blog Time) the Friday after the last round is concluded.

The winner, if the winner chooses to entrust me with a mailing address, will receive an Official Certificate of Dick Winning and a small original drawing on paper suffused with elephant shit particles. Because I’m fresh out of fairy shit particles.

October 14, 2016 — 6:00 pm
Comments: 60

One thing leads to another


Tonight, we went to a lecture on vernacular architecture. That’s basically any architecture built from local materials — and local materials, back in the day, were things like bricks dug out of and fired in your back yard. In Sussex, this is all very cool, because there are narrow bands of everything from sandstone to flint to clay, meaning vernacular buildings are VERY localized and very different to each other.

First hit when I did a Google images search was this Pinterest board on vernacular architecture. It fun, a lot of silly hippie houses, but still. Fun.

And that led me to this marvelous place — the one in the picture. It’s called the Hall i’th’ Wood and it’s a for-real half-timbered Tudor manor house. Like our house, only (I hate to admit it) even cooler.

And with that CARL WINS THE DICK! The King of Thailand snuck in and died on me, leaving me another dick in debt. This ain’t Carl’s first trip to the rodeo. Between him and Mrs Carl, that’s…how many dicks? A whole heap o’ dicks. The Carl family is blessed with dicks.

No. Nope. Never gets old.

Back here. Tomorrow. 6WBT. DEAD POOL ROUND 89!

October 13, 2016 — 9:52 pm
Comments: 13

No, I did not buy a banjo on eBay this weekend…

I bought two banjos on eBay this weekend. This one – the first one arrived today.

Pretty little thing. Not much wrong with it. Mostly cleanup and a new head (yeah, I’m going goatskin shopping!).

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before — Britain is the Land of Goofy Banjos. Banjo was the first musical fad to cross the Atlantic and it caught on like wildfire here — first with minstrel shows (nobody likes to talk about these now, on either side of the Atlantic), morphing into a peculiarly British style known as Classic (not classical) Banjo. It was a black-tie-and-tails sort of thing and featured some of the weirdest banjo designs ever.

For the eighty or so years that ‘jo was all the rage, they were manufactured in attics and backroom workshops to some very peculiar designs. Many of them were not terribly well made, and many of the designs were impractical, so all kinds of wonderful instruments can be had for not much money. Many of them falling to bits.

This one is pretty orthodox, with a lovely (if thin) scrap of ebony fingerboard. A project for the approaching cold Winter nights.

Say, do any of you have any favorite site scraping software? I like to keep the original eBay listings for stuff I buy, and it’s a tedium downloading all the pictures and bits manually. I’d love to have a piece of kit that just sucked it all down for me in one go.

October 12, 2016 — 9:12 pm
Comments: 7