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Soooo…it’s a Jewish banana, then?

Repper is a design program that makes it easy to design big, complex, repetitive patterns. It works like a kaleidoscope — or a bunch of them — and then outputs a high resolution file suitable for textiles production and other fun artsy stuff.

Why anyone would use it to laser-engrave tiny Stars of David all over a banana, I could not say.

Anyhow, they’ll let you play with a trimmed-down online version for free. Which is fun. For about five minutes.

Hey, five minutes of fun! You’re welcome!

What, you expected me to weigh in on Egypt? I don’t think so. Too early to tell, but I’ve got a bad feeling about this one (mind you, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this one” is pretty much the only intuition I have. About anything. Ever).

Question: how come the US always seems to support the bad guy in the Middle East.
Answer: because they’re all bad guys.

January 31, 2011 — 9:34 pm
Comments: 17

Bad news: America enters the age of Sputnik 2

I knew Laika the space dog was never intended to return to earth. I always imagined her death something uniquely awful; agony fading into crusty dessicated orbiting dog mummification horror. Brrrrr.

Well, read and be comforted. She was one of several strays picked up on the streets of Moscow and trained for the mission. Though bringing her back alive was never on the cards, they didn’t intended to let her starve or suffocate or anything. After a week — which was as long as the radio transmitter had in it — her daily food ration was supposed to contain a euthanizing agent. So they say.

In fact, she died within hours of liftoff, of the heat — some thermal insulation came loose during launch, leaving the capsule too exposed. So, not nice, but essentially the same death that uncounted dogs face every year in the back seats of cars.

Five months later, Sputnik 2 re-entered the atmosphere and went to bits on the way. So the horrible thing I have drawn for you is not up there going round and round and round.

Rich Lowry has a terrific article in the New York Post today about Obama’s Sputnik myth — the grossly misguided idea that the appropriate response to scary events is a huge transfer of money and power to the government for a giant engineering project. He suggests we replace one of my least favorite phrases with this one: “If we can send a man to the moon . . . we can waste lots of money based on false analogies.”

Good weekend, all!

January 28, 2011 — 10:38 pm
Comments: 22

I’m so hungry, I could eat a huss

Also known as spiny dogfish, blue dog, common spinyfish, darwen salmon, dogfish, grayfish, Pacific dogfish, piked dogfish, rock salmon, spiky dog, spotted spiny dogfish, spring dogfish, spur dogfish, spur dog, victorian spotted dogfish, white-spotted dogfish, and white-spotted spurdog.

In Sussex fish and chip shops, they are known as huss. They’re related to sharks. We always get cod or haddock, but tonight we had to wait for our chips and we struck up a conversation with the fishnchips man. He told us the huss was local today. Eh, what the hell. Batter-dipped and deep fried, I’d eat worse.

It was good. Finer-grained flesh than cod with a slightly stronger flavor. They leave the backbone in and you eat around it. I’m not terribly keen on finishing my meal with a spine on my plate, but other than that…yeah, I’d eat it again.

I don’t experiment nearly enough with local food. I’d be missing the point of being an alien if I didn’t try some unfamiliar gnosh from time to time.

Of course, I yearn to discover the British equivalent of Ho-Ho’s, Ding Dongs and Suzie-Q’s.

January 27, 2011 — 11:14 pm
Comments: 29

Sputnick, salmon, high speed rail

Okay, I lied. I did watch Obama’s State of the Union speech. In fact, I’ve watched it over and over and over tonight.

See, I was going to make you a nice little YouTube highlight reel, but I just couldn’t grab a clean copy. Sometimes I managed to download video but no audio. And sometimes I got video but it juddered horribly. And sometimes…oh, fuck it. You get the idea. I gave up in the end. Clearly I have some things to work out, videographically.

So what did I think of the speech? Honestly? I didn’t think it was as bad as people are saying.

I mean, it was a mess philosophically. The Sputnik metaphor doesn’t work at all, and — oh, dear god! — high speed rail?! Really? That one’s older than I am. It was a muddle, but it was a low-key muddle.

He didn’t flip anybody off. He managed to look reasonably gracious congratulating Boehner. He didn’t come across as too stuck up or madder’n hell. He didn’t look like he was sucking a lemon.

I was terribly disappointed.

January 26, 2011 — 11:18 pm
Comments: 22

It is good to be the weasel

This morning I got a brand shiny new Photoshop CS-to-CS3 upgrade — installed, registered, activated and working great — for a bit over £100 from a reputable retailer. So I’m cool until CS6 (right? It’s three hops now, isn’t it?).

And Dead Space 2 was released today, so Steam is offering the original Dead Space download for the outrageously reasonable sum of £5. (Can something be outrageously reasonable? Yes! It can!).

Engineer sent to repair giant mining ship encounters ship full of mutant alien zombies cobbled together out of bits of the old crew. So, the usual. But gorgeous to look at. Oh, and head-shots don’t work — you have to hack off at least two necromorph limbs using power tools. w00t!

I’ve already had a dream about it, so there’s that.

And thank ke-rist the State of the Union starts at 2am my time, so I don’t even have to pretend to watch. The SOTU is the most degrading spectacle in modern politics. I don’t care who’s in office.

Guys from the president’s party hopping up every ten seconds, waving and high-fiving and giving him the standing-o. Guys from the other party sitting and sulking. Cripples, dudes in uniforms and designated nobodies in the gallery for Hisself to point to (Ronnie started this one). It’s like freaking Queen for a Day.

Oh, and then comes the shopping list of boring, expensive programs that probably won’t even get started, let alone finished. (Clinton’s last one was an hour and a half recitation of stupid shit that could never, ever come true because he only had a year to go).

I’d give a thousand quatloos to a president of either party who stood up and said, “no theatrics. These are serious times and we have serious things to discuss.”

Not going to happen.

January 25, 2011 — 6:48 pm
Comments: 35

This cat has never been out of this tree

Never. He was born in the tree, the other kittens grew up and left, then his mother did. So Wisconsin man Ron Venden built him a shelter in the fork and began feeding him a diet of meatloaf and salami in milk. Cat’s name is Almond.

Yeah. I wondered that, too. The article doesn’t say, but I bet Mr Venden is very, very careful how he walks around that tree.

What? Yes, that’s it. It’s Monday and I’m damned if I’m going to write about Rahm Emanuel.

January 24, 2011 — 9:24 pm
Comments: 20

Plus, we got some beans for the cow

Just a bit of Friday afternoon silliness. Have a good weekend, folks!

January 21, 2011 — 10:27 pm
Comments: 28

No post. Sulking.

Meh. We had a power outage and lost the artwork for tonight’s post (it wasn’t great, but you don’t know that). Then my server fell over and waved its legs in the air for a while.

Not my night. No post. Drink now.

— 12:11 am
Comments: 22

Where would I be without the easy ones?

Huh. I guess the National Enquirer thinks Obama has worms*. I’m not sure. When I click the link, I get “The content of this website is not available in your area.” That happens with Saturday Night Live skits, too.

See? England isn’t all bad.

In other wormy news, did you see the Cheezburger Network got a major capital infusion?

I love the Cheezburger folks, but I don’t know how they’re getting away with this. They pretty much admit they don’t know where most of the photos come from and that’s totally, no-doubt-about-it, not even a little bit legal. You can’t do that. You can’t nick other people’s stuff; it doesn’t matter if they’re amateur snapshots of pussycats and you supply the captions.

I assumed they got away with it because there weren’t any deep pockets involved, but $30M is a respectable pocket. Well, long may they escape the roving bands of aggressive IP lawyers that scour the internet (and ruin my fun on Zazzle).

*idea swiped from Anthropocon.

January 19, 2011 — 10:49 pm
Comments: 16

Filet of bitch

I don’t know why the Daily Mail floated this story to the top yesterday — it’s a couple of years old — but I hadn’t heard it and we were talking murderers. This is one of the most famous.

Hawley Crippen was a henpecked American doctor living in London with his horrible wife. She disappeared in 1910. When questioned, he told the police she had run off with a man and he was too embarrassed to admit it to their friends.

Then he vanished with his mistress.

So Scotland Yard dug up his cellar and found…a big, amorphous mass of rotting belly skin and a hair curler wrapped in his pajama top.

At trial, the pathologist swore the skin belonged to his wife because it had a recognizable scar. He was hanged.

The case is famous for two things: it was Bernard Spilsbury‘s first major court appearance (if forensic pathologists had rock stars, he’d be the first and biggest). And it was the first case to involve the telegraph wireless, as Crippen was breathlessly followed across the Atlantic by the paper-reading public rather like an Edwardian white Bronco.

Welp, somebody recently dug out the microscope slide of the supposed scar and had some DNA testing done. Not only is the skin not that of Mrs Crippen, it’s not even a woman (the things they can tell from DNA these days).

If you’re interested, you can watch an hour-long PBS program about it online.

I’m not persuaded by the toxicologist’s explanation, but I truly don’t know what to think about the new evidence. One thing we certainly agree on, though — I’ve always thought it exceedingly strange that a man would successfully dispose of all the bones, organs and limbs of his victim and then give up and bury a big, nasty slab of belly skin wrapped in his own PJ’s under the floor next to the kitchen.

January 18, 2011 — 10:11 pm
Comments: 28