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Comes a curious little story from the Isle of Man. It’s about a family on a remote farm haunted by a ghost/poltergeist/magical animal. As is often the case with stories like these, it’s hard to see how the affected family had any reason to lie about it or got any advantage from it. But, of course, it’s even harder to see how it could be true.

On one occasion he said he was merely ‘an extra, extra clever little Mongoose’, but on another he said ‘I’ll split the atom! I am the fifth dimension! I am the eighth wonder of the world!’ But the first time he was asked this question, Gef replied ‘I am a ghost in the form of a weasel. I will haunt you.’

It departs from the usual poltergeist narrative in a number of ways. What it reminds me of most is the Bell Witch. No, not the movies, though I did enjoy this adaptation based on the story.

The Bell Witch was a poltergeist tale from early Nineteenth Century Tennessee. So, naturally, I grew up with a copy of the Red Book, the nickname of the classic description of the phenomenon, written in the late 19th C by a descendent.

It was, you will not be surprised to learn, a little book bound in red cloth. And because of when it was written, the prose was almost completely impenetrable to me. But I do remember the pictures. And the description of the little girl who playfully bent over and put her heels behind her head and the witch made her stick!

I love stories like these. I don’t believe a word of them, but that almost makes them more curious than if they were somehow true.

February 22, 2021 — 8:23 pm
Comments: 8

Putting things on top of other things

The Adobe magazine is usually pretentious twaddle, but this article on focus stacking in Photoshop was interesting.

You’ve probably guessed that ‘focus stacking’ is combining more than one picture to arrive at a level of sharpness across distances that isn’t otherwise possible with a camera. You’d think it would stand out as fake looking, but it doesn’t.

That’s because, counterintuitively, it’s to the way we actually see. Even though the depth of field of human vision is more limited than a camera’s, usually, our eyeballs jump around and our brain stitches it together into one really eerily well-focused whole.

This is the opposite of tilt-shift, which you’d think would be closer human vision, but isn’t at all. It makes big scenes look like weird tabletop models.

First time I’ve heard of focus stacking of conventional photography. It’s a big, big thing in photo microscopy, as you might imagine. That’s why you’re seeing amazing amateur photos of super sharp microscopic subjects these days. There are neat programs to stitch your photomicrographs together — like, thirty fifty images isn’t uncommon.

That’s when you start asking when is a photo more of an illustration. I mean, you might ask that. I don’t. I don’t give a shit, if it looks cool.

January 30, 2019 — 10:11 pm
Comments: 7

The heartbreak of fish breath







Images from the Comedy Wildlife Competition.

Given the mission statement, I was kind of hoping for a better selection of funnies, but they’re mostly fairly meh. Still, I’ll look at animal pitchers all day long.










January 29, 2019 — 8:59 pm
Comments: 5

Kind of expensive, but way cool

The thing on the left is actually the thing on the right. They reclaimed the image using a freaking particle accelerator.

It’s a daguerrotype and it sounds this particular technique (or variant of the technique) only works with daguerrotypes, because the images were developed using a mercury vapor. The machine finds and maps the mercury. Though I don’t see why it couldn’t be done with silver or platinum or any other photographic emulsion. On the other hand, I’m not a partical physicist.

It is, as you might expect, REALLY EXPENSIVE to rent a particle accelerator and it took eight hours per square centimeter. So, you know, don’t go digging out grandma’s daguerrotypes just yet.

Here’s the item in Science News. And here is a heavier, boringer version in Nature.

I used to subscribe to Science News. I loved that rag. It was a tiny weekly — a dozen pages, maybe? — with short, interesting but not dumbed-down science items. Then they disappeared up their own assholes with globular warming and gender studies.

SJW’s — is there no wholesome thing they cannot pervert?

Have a good weekend, y’all!

July 13, 2018 — 10:20 pm
Comments: 13

Infrared is magic

I’m a little late getting the surveillance cam going this year. Probably not too late to catch a hedgehog, if we have any (but, sadly, I haven’t seen any signs).

I have a little problem when I have the cameras going: I can’t look away. There’s almost never anything on them, and when there is, it’s going to be a cat, a rat, a fox or a hedgehog. But I got to stare at the pictures like Bigfoot is coming to dinner.

Would you guys mind if I use you as a note pad? It took me forever to get the camera going tonight. It’s super easy when you know, but I didn’t make notes last year. So FYI (or, really, FMI):

I don’t always use Chrome, but it has the IE extension that lets the browser emulation Internet Explorer, which the camera software wants for some reason.

Excuse me, I have to go keep an eye out for the Squatch.

June 4, 2018 — 9:20 pm
Comments: 6

Sometimes I think my Twitter feed is taunting me

Then I remember how gosh-darned photogenic stoats are. Of course, Twitter being Twitter, I couldn’t find the photo again when I went back to look for it.

But I found it in the real world. This photo was a runner up (boo!) in the junior category for Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013. Here’s the photo in glorious color, with a bit about the young man who took the picture. He will go far!

April 5, 2018 — 9:49 pm
Comments: 10

This is why I hate the art world


Alcoholic Snow White? That’s hilarious!

Oh. Wait. You’re serious? Like very, very serious? Like Disney Princesses face Rape and Murder kind of serious?

Sigh. My first taste of this was Dadaism, which I thought was playful and fun when I first read about it as a wee lass. Turns out, it’s not. It’s super cereal.

Eh. The photographer is a kid still in art school. Good on her for figuring out how to manipulate her milieu into giving her asspats. Which a mature her can convert into genuinely good art, I hope. Maybe even something playful and fun.

May 10, 2017 — 9:16 pm
Comments: 12

That cruel thing I did to Debbie Wasserman-Schlutz’s eyeballs

I ran across this Mashable series of photos of inmates from a Victorian mental hospital in Yorkshire. It’s a sad browse, but interesting. I was particularly struck by this woman.

The caption says she suffers from “general paralysis of the insane” but it’s more usually called general paresis. It’s a sudden onset bugfuck crazy that used to be blamed on bad character but was ultimately recognized as the third and final stage of syphilis, when the bugs finally eat the brain.

It was tricky to work out because the madness strikes abruptly as much as thirty years after the initial infection, so the bad character explanation made as much sense as anything (a Victorian with syphilis being the very definition). But somebody got a Nobel in the thirties curing paresis by infecting patients with malaria (the syphilis bacterium can’t take the heat, so one good fever can kill it off).

My mother describes seeing a tertiary syphilis sufferer on Bourbon Street, stumbling along the road suddenly freezing with one foot in the air, having forgotten how to walk. The diagnosis comes courtesy of my grandmother being a nurse and jazzmen being no better than they should be, *sniff*.

Anyway, I mention it because this condition informs one of my most cherished phobias: Lyme disease. On account of it’s a very similar disease with a very similar progression: spirochete causes a small rash, disappears, roars back with a leather mask and a chainsaw thirty years later. Except Lyme is a lot harder to kill.

Summer is coming. Tick check, people!

March 17, 2015 — 9:05 pm
Comments: 9

I’ll see your woodpecker-riding weasel…

Nope. Not my work. Oh, also there is this (which is apparently real).

We’re starting to see the new lambs appearing in the fields, which cheers me up no end. We haven’t had a bad Winter at all (sorry ‘Merkins), but I’m still ready to see it go.

March 12, 2015 — 10:19 pm
Comments: 12

Tee hee




Is this true? It’s true enough for a weasel!

A site called breatheheavy.com claims the ‘true’ picture was emailed to them by somebody from the shoot. (Beware: my browser gave me a phishing warning while I was poking around that site).

Thing is, one of them has to be fake. And — speaking in my capacity as Photoshoppiste extraordinaire — whichever one is fake is really, really well done. So hats off to the pixel pusher!

Bieber embarrassed. Hostage-taking Muslim nutcakes dead. This weekend is shaping up to be a little happier than it might have been.

Happy Friday, all!




January 9, 2015 — 8:43 pm
Comments: 12