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Holy shit.


I’m sure all this schadenfreude can’t be good for me. My social media has been glorious today. The leading Remainiac warcries seem to be:

Old people shouldn’t have the vote because they don’t have to live with the consequences for very long.

Ordinary people shouldn’t have the vote, or at least important issues shouldn’t be decided by a popular referendum.

People who voted Leave didn’t really know what they are doing and regret the decision already. If we had a do-over this afternoon, the vote would be totally different.

All the educated people voted to remain. Stupid Leavers are only now doing Google searches of “What is the EU?”

And, of course, every variation of white people suck and are racists.

I am seriously proud of the British people for this vote. Sticking with the status quo is always the easiest and safest course (sometimes even the wisest). They’ve had had a firehose of scary claims trained on them for weeks. All the cool people begged them to vote Remain. And still they took this step into the unknown.

And, yes, my boss looked like a bulldog licking piss off a nettle this morning.

June 24, 2016 — 7:24 am
Comments: 43

Axed and answered


Feast your eyes, ladies and gentlemen. This is what ‘above average’ looks like.

Above. Average.

Nigel Farage has just come on teevee to say he thinks Remain will win by a few points. That’s been the consensus all week, but to hear Nige say it is depressing.

It solves nothing. The margin is likely to be slim, and all the passion was for Leave. In other words, half of this country is likely to wake up very pissed off at the other half tomorrow. Including a majority of the people who 23andme would call ‘the English’.

This will not end well, and it certainly will not end tomorrow.

Hm. Time to go practice more axe throwing, I think.

June 23, 2016 — 9:27 pm
Comments: 16

Twilight zone…

In case you missed the conversation, the blog is currently being migrated to another host. Because it’s been in the same place so long and I’ve been less than tidy in my workspace, the process is a little…messy. Anything I post (and any comment you make) during the transition is likely to be lost, so zero effort for tonight. I’ll ‘splain the particulars when it’s done.

June 20, 2016 — 10:11 pm
Comments: 11

Happy Sussex Day!



Don’t worry. Nobody here ever heard of it, either. I’ve had a good time today wishing people a Happy Sussex Day and getting that ‘dog hears hypersonic whistle’ look.

Well, the Sussex Police did post a lovely video, though I have no idea why they chose All Things Bright and Beautiful instead of the unofficial county song, Sussex by the Sea.

Go on, give it a listen. It’s a cheery march and a catchy tune. Brass bands play it at some of the fêtes and festivals (the ones that have brass bands).

I heard it played at a funeral once.

Sussex Day was invented in 2007 to celebrate the awesomness that is Sussex. Among the suggested celebrations, reading aloud the Sussex charter:

For all the people of the ancient kingdom of Sussex!
Let it be known: the 16 June of each and every year shall be known as Sussex Day.
Sussex day shall be celebrated according to the rites and traditions of Sussex.
Let it be known all the people of Sussex shall be responsible for the maintenance of those boundaries that join to those of our neighbours.
Let it be known all the people of Sussex shall be responsible for all the environs within those boundaries.
Let it be known, the people of Sussex shall recognise the inshore waters that lie inside a line drawn from Beachy Head, and extending to Selsey Bill as being, the Bay of Sussex.
Let it be known, the people of Sussex will undertake responsibility for the general well being of our neighbours.
Let it be known the people of Sussex shall be guardians of our wildlife.
Let it be known the people of Sussex will, through custom support all local business.
Finally, let it be known, as guardians of Sussex, we all know Sussex is Sussex … and Sussex won’t be druv!
In God we trust.
God Save the Queen!

We Wunt Be Druv — I love that — is the unoffical motto of Sussex. It doesn’t appear in print until the early 20th C, though it was described as a favorite motto. It probably originates in the Weald of Sussex, where also originated the two major revolts of the Middle Ages: Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, under Wat Tyler, and 1450 under Jack Cade.


The county flower is the round-headed rampion. I have never seen one; it’s a weird-looking thing. I think Dr Seuss had a hand in the design.

The crest and flag of the county feature six martlets, which is the heraldic version of either a swallow or a house martin. Ehhh…technically, it’s an emblem, not a coat of arms, as arms can only be granted to an administrative body (not a whole county) and Sussex hasn’t had a united one since the Domesday Book.

The martlet also appears on the arms of the fourth son of a noble family, as the martlet has no feet (only feathers) and so cannot land, and the fourth son hasn’t any land either. That doesn’t have anything to do with Sussex, I just thought it was a fun heraldic pun.

The 16th of June was chosen because it is the feast of Richard of Chichester (1197–1253), patron saint of Sussex. His shrine was once regarded as a place of miracles, almost as popular as the shrine of Thomas Becket at Canterbury, but mad King Henry VIII ordered it plundered.

We’re going to celebrate Sussex Day by playing a boules match against those rotten stinking foreign bastards, The Next Village Over. See you tomorrow.

June 16, 2016 — 8:00 pm
Comments: 12



Okay, one more from the weekend. This is the same fête that had the amazing model jets last year. Did I post about the amazing model jets? I can’t find anything about them. Well, they were amazing. And they weren’t there this year — I think the bad weather put them off. I imagine those things cost about as much as a small car.

But this dude was there with his badass heliocopter. It’s big — maybe a yard from tip to tail — and it runs on gasoline (or whatever petroleum product those little models use) and it was just gobsmacking what he was doing with it.

Nothing like the relatively slow and stately quad-copters, nuh-uh.

The maneuver in the picture he called “mowing the grass.” Yeah, he’s flying the thing upside down, inches from the ground. He got even closer at one point.

But what really astonished me was watching how hard and fast he could sling it around. I honestly don’t know how it took the momentum, or…what do you call it when you break out of the momentum? Anyway, as far as I’m concerned, he was definitely breaking several important laws of physics.

And if that’s what the civilian toys are like, I couldn’t help wondering what the military had at their disposal. You wouldn’t even have to weaponize them. You could drop one of these buzzing varmints in the middle of a group of Abduls and Mohammads and just fuck with them for a while. I bet you could get them shooting each other in no time, trying to bag the toy.

And another completely unrelated but interesting link: the Hill of Shards.

June 15, 2016 — 10:03 pm
Comments: 8

B-but…but…it’s a BMW!


Another one from a weekend fête. This here’s a bubble car, and yes it’s a BMW. A three-wheeler. Many bubble cars were.

See, ten years after the war — as you might imagine — Germany’s heavy industry was still in a spot of financial trouble. Bayerische Motoren Werke was no exception. They considered closing shop, but then decided to buy the rights to build this car from an Italian company. It’s called an Isetta and it saved the day. The motor was a modified version of a BMW motorcycle engine.

It wasn’t an original idea. The German airplane makers Messerschmitt and Heinkel (and others) were doing a roaring trade in bubble cars to fill a demand for affordable personal vehicles. They were dubbed bubble cars because Messerschmitt used airplane-style clear cowls on theirs. They were tiny.

Britain’s Austin Mini is widely thought to have killed them off, on account of it had four whole wheels and could seat more than one adult.

The descendant of the bubble car lives on in parts of Europe, though. In some countries, micro-cars are taxed and insured at the motorcycle rate, making them attractive to casual drivers.

And in a few — notably France — you don’t even need a license to drive one. The French call them VSPs, or Voiture Sans Permis (literally ‘car without permit’) and they have an awful reputation as a loophole for old ladies and people who lose their license to DUI.

I will leave you with this completely unrelated but fun link: bog butter.

June 14, 2016 — 9:04 pm
Comments: 15

It begins


Yeah, I made a doge. So sue me. The meme is only three years old, I checked. Hard to believe. That is a shibe (or part-shibe), isn’t it?

Anyway, the local fête season began for us this weekend. We managed to hit two over the weekend, and just dodged getting wet at both of them. We’re a little concerned that the weather will have made one in particular lose money, and that might kill it forever.

This act was from that one; a dog rescue outfit in Essex. They’re all about taking scrubby old mutts and making proper working dogs of ’em. There were a dozen dogs at the show, from little terriers to big shepherds. They did very well, too — even the newest dog, who was (paradoxically) fourteen when he came to the shelter and a little confused about how he got there.

The trainer unloaded an interesting stream of dog facts. Like, you know how both your eyebrows go up when someone comes into a room? Well, a dog will only raise one eyebrow, and that eyebrow tells you which is his dominant paw. Yeah, I know, but he swore on a stack of kibbles.

He also said he’s never met a dog with a natural fear of fire. And to prove it, he had the dogs leap through hoops and corridors of fire, past flaming torches. Even the little dudes had no problem with it. That would have made an awesome photo, maybe, but my photographer spotted a giant model biplane doing loops over the end of the field and I lost him.

The exercise in the picture was a little wince-some. The littlest dogs couldn’t clear all those crotches in one leap and landed squarely and repeatedly on that man’s taint. I hope he was properly equipped.

June 13, 2016 — 8:53 pm
Comments: 15



At the stroke of midnight I made my deadline! I hate to take on freelance work and never solicit it, but when I get axed I don’t know how to say no. Particularly as it’s a display for a local charity.

Charities. Making you feel guilty since…forever.

Anyhoo, in the comments to the previous post, the question came up — why does that banjo have four strings, but six tuners? See, this is why I love British banjos. They’re so gosh-darned weird.

That is actually a five-string banjo, and it’s strung typically for a zither banjo. Observe the headstock in the picture above (a banjo of mine, and one that I’m convinced was made out of a piano stool).

Four strings go directly from the headstock, across the nut to the bridge. One goes into a little hole (indicated by the arrow), under the fingerboard in a tube, and pops out at the fifth fret. That’s called a ‘tunneled fifth.’

And the sixth peg? Just for show. Some British banjo makers claimed that three pegs on one side and two on the other just wouldn’t look aesthetically pleasing, so they made the tuners pointlessly symmetrical.

I once suspected that this was boolsheet and they did it because standard three-on-a-side tuners were mass produced and cheaper, but you sometimes see this arrangement on the fanciest and most expensive of zither banjos. So…artard, I guess.

Sorry I gave you short shrift this week. What the hell is shrift, come to think of it? Oh. Google says it’s confession, like to a priest. If you give shrift, you are shriven. Okay. Back here tomorrow, 6pm WBT — DEAD POOL ROUND 86!

June 9, 2016 — 11:10 pm
Comments: 7



A man was walking around Dover when he happened upon a little antique shop, so he went in and took a look around. Way up on a high shelf he saw a little brass mouse figurine, and he really liked it. He asked the owner how much it was, and the guy said, “It’s £20 for the mouse, and £50 Mousefor the story that goes with it.”

Well, the man didn’t care about any old story, he just liked the little brass mouse, so he paid the guy £20 and walked out with the mouse in a brown paper bag. As he was walking home, he noticed the figurine was hollow with two little holes. Holding it up to his mouth, it made a melodious whistle. No sooner that he started, he was being followed by three little mice. When he stopped, they stopped. When he turned left, they turned left.

“Whoa, this is creeping me out,” he thought.

As he walked, the mice were joined by more mice, until our hero looked like the Pied Piper. He started to run, and he wound up at the edge of Dover’s White Cliffs. All the mice in town are right behind him. He is so freaked out that he throws the bag with the brass mouse over the cliff and into the water, and all the little mice jump after it, fall into the ocean, and drown.

“Man, this is weird!” he says. He goes back to the antique store, and the owner doesn’t seem surprised to see him. “Ahhh, you’ve come back to hear the story!” he says to our dilapidated hero.

“No, man,” says he, “I was just wondering if you have any little brass banjo players?”

Yeah, I fobbed you off with a banjo joke. I brought more work home with me tonight. I thought I was supposed to be semi-retired or something.

But don’t be sad — look at this beautiful banjo up for sale on eBay. It’s a Cammeyer Vibrante. If you ain’t never seen no banjo like ‘at before, it’s because it’s a zither banjo. A British thing that never made it back over the pond, for all kinds of reasons.

Well, Alfred Cammeyer, the inventor of the zither banjo, was an American, but he was stranded in London and forced to invent weird banjos to survive. We do what we must!

June 8, 2016 — 10:39 pm
Comments: 19

Lookit the pretties


Itō Jakuchū (1716–1800) was a Japanese painter and Zen Buddhist lay brother who painted many subjects in nature, but famously birds. Mostly famously CHIKKENS! Particularly roosters.

He’s well worth checking out — his paintings are more naturalistic and less stylized than many of his contemporaries, but nevertheless beautifully detailed and formalized. I’ve spent a happy hour banging around Google Images search.

This year is the 300th anniversary of his birth, so there’s lots of his stuff to look at online, though sadly much of the accompanying text is Japanese.

But this? This is not an Itō Jakuchū cockerel. This is a cookie in the exact shape of an Itō Jakuchū cockerel. And a pretty good copy it is, too.


Thanks to Bob Mulroy for sending me this fun link.

June 7, 2016 — 7:20 pm
Comments: 13