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Eye see ewe

They’re cleaning the Ghent Altarpiece, a spectacularly beautiful and important early oil painting. If it doesn’t ring a bell, you’d definitely recognize bits of it if you saw them.

When they gave the panels a good high-tech examination, they were shocked to find about 70% of it had been overpainted a hundred years later, nobody knows why or by whom. It went unnoticed for so long because the techniques and materials were so close to the original. So they decided to peel off the later additions.

And they discovered THE LAMB OF GOD IS SCARY AS HELL. This is such a weird departure for the Van Eyck brothers, who were famous as the first painters who carefully observed and faithfully reproduced the natural world. Their original lamb is just acll kind of wrong. Though it does explain why the lamb had four ears in the overpainted version. (Comparison of the before and after).

It’s apparently going viral on the Internet now. Because of course it is.

Articles about it here, here and here.

January 22, 2020 — 8:53 pm
Comments: 2

Scooby doo made flesh

Neat article about super realistic silicone masks. It isn’t that they’ve gotten better, it’s that they’ve gotten cheaper. Used to be, only a big movie studio could afford them. Now you can get one for under $1,000.

Still a lot of money, but worth it if you were something like a bank robber. Which might be the back story to this guy, who robbed sixteen banks. He was either old or wearing an old man mask.

Nice selection to be seen from these people, who seem to be charging $799 for they typical mask. Hair included.

Turns out, changing the subject, that it’s Squirrel Appreciation Day. My Twitter feed has been fluffy and useless all day.

January 21, 2020 — 8:29 pm
Comments: 5

Any pilots in the house?

What is this weather pattern? Picture doesn’t show it very well (I nicked from someone else’s social media).

The sky was relatively clear on one side, rumply clouds on the other. But the line between them was…well, a line. A sharp line of demarcation from horizon horizon. Slightly curved.

The weather had been mostly sunny today. It dipped below freezing last night for the first time this season, and it will again tonight.

Never seen this before.

Oh, and happy MLK Day, which falls on Blue Monday this year.

January 20, 2020 — 7:36 pm
Comments: 4

Guess how we’re going to celebrate?

Today is the 100th anniversary of the Volstead Act, the law that put the teeth in the 18th Amendment. I speak, of course, of Prohibition. Interesting article about it here.

I know it was a disaster, but to be honest, I kind of admire us for trying. No way human beings would give up the joy of alcohol after who-knows-how-many millennia, but it’s neat that we did something so weird and radical and stupid with such grand American enthusiasm. Yay us.

Nobody quit drinking for long, of course. There were several loopholes.

Sacramental wine. Demand went up by 800,000 gallons a year.

Prescription whisky for them as could afford regular Doctor visits.

You were allowed to drink any alcohol you already owned when the law went into effect, so one wealthy judge reportedly bought a lifetime supply up front.

Poor people began to drink patent medicines and hair dyes and industrial alcohols and all kinds of dangerous and potentially fatal things.

And that’s before we get to smuggling, bootlegging and bathtub gin.

Oh, we drank. And we shall drink again. Good weekend, everyone!

January 17, 2020 — 9:39 pm
Comments: 9

That is a hecking big pencil

World’s biggest color pencil, y’all. It’s 26 feet long and weighs 984.1 pounds. It is yellow. (It’s not the world’s biggest graphite pencil, though. That’s in St Louis).

The big yellow pencil is part of the Derwent Pencil Museum, a popular visitor attraction in the Northwest of England.

“It is particularly popular with visitors from the county of Yorkshire, due to the importance of pencil production for the local economy during the 1930s.”

Y’all think I make this shit up.

January 16, 2020 — 9:34 pm
Comments: 7

Science is wild

We recorded 333 high-frequency vocalisations from 13 Holstein-Friesian heifers during oestrus and anticipation of feed (putatively positive), as well as denied feed access and upon both physical and physical & visual isolation from conspecifics (putatively negative). We measured 21 source-related and nonlinear vocal parameters and stepwise discriminant function analyses (DFA) were performed. Calls were divided into positive (n = 170) and negative valence (n = 163) with each valence acting as a ‘training set’ to classify calls in the oppositely valenced ‘test set’.

Did you get that? Researchers recorded cows mooing. Horny cows, hungry cows about to be fed, hungry cows not about to be fed and lonely cows. They analyzed them by cow and state of mind (‘valence’ in this context meaning mood). They wanted to know if cows have individual voices, and if those voices remain individually recognizable no matter how the cow is feeling.

Spoiler: they do.

Oddly enough, science is only beginning to explore domestic animals and livestock in this sort of way. I have thunk long and hard about chicken toys, and keeping chickens amused. Not so much for my own flock, which gets regular free range time and a view of the garden when they’re penned up, but I’d like commercial flocks to have happier lives. I like eating chicken and I’d like to feel less shit about that.

Pro tip: ‘animal welfare’ people are the ones trying to make livestock happier. ‘Animal rights’ people are the nutters who think monkeys have human rights and domestic animals are traitors for working with people.

p.s. the cow study was in Australia.

January 15, 2020 — 9:14 pm
Comments: 7

Purty

This is neat. Spanish photographer takes high resolution video of birds in flight and isolates the birds from the landscape. He uses movie cameras and slow motion and films them for several days before picking the image apart in Photoshop.

His name is Xavi Bou and if you click that link, it’ll take you to a Google Images search of his name. Do go look; my little black and white photos don’t half do him justice.

I love watching birds in flight. I could do it for hours.

But tonight, the storm rages, so I’d best be off. Go look at pretty pictures.

January 14, 2020 — 7:26 pm
Comments: 14

And the wind went ‘woo!’

Yes, you are correct. That is four people dressed as playing cards plus banjos. Came across my feed this afternoon. It’s the Court Cards Concert Company, 1899, from a newspaper in Bexhill in Sussex.

As I’ve told you before, Britain is the land of nutty banjos.

I’m currently listening to the wind howl (we’re having the tail end of Brendan tonight) and marinating chicken strips in milk and brine.

I make really bad Southern fried chicken for a Southern girl. I tried my mother’s recipe once and it was disgusting. Not when Mother made it, when I did. She’d start it with very hot oil, then turn it down, then turn the pieces over and ramp the heat up again. When I did it, it soaked up all the grease and was squishy.

So I burned up the Internet looking for recipes. The current one: milk and brine overnight (I don’t have buttermilk, so I added lemon to whole milk), then flour, then back in the fridge for at least an hour, then shallow fry for six minutes a side. It calls for hot-cool-hot again, so I’m apprehensive it will be another oily, horrible mess.

Who cooks good crispy fried chicken?

January 13, 2020 — 8:55 pm
Comments: 22

Woke-o Ono

Blatant ripoff. I saw someone post an image like this to Twitter yesterday and wished I’d thought of it. I was gonna post his image, but I looked and looked and couldn’t find it. Honest.

Anyway, neither one of us came up with Woke-o Ono. I don’t know who coined that.

As an American living in Sussex, you can imagine how delightful this episode has been for me. Common consensus: she’s a wrong’un and they should be stripped of their titles.

You and I, we don’t have to worry about such things. Good weekend, all!

January 10, 2020 — 9:00 pm
Comments: 10

You gotta have a gimmick

John Cleese has turned his Ministry of Silly Walks shtick into a phone game. There’s something very meta about that, but I can’t put my finger on it.

If you like that sort of thing, it looks cool. It’s got generated environments (so it’s different every time) and some pretty good rag-doll physics (the code dingus that makes dead bodies flop around convincingly in games). And only €1.99 (I get everything priced in Euros because my VPN usually puts me in France).

Also from my Twitter feed, this very gross but cool horror makeup video. The link at the video goes to Cultura Colectiva, which is a Spanish-language news site that doesn’t appear to have anything more about this artist. I made a feeble attempt, but couldn’t find her.

C’mon, it’s less than a minute long. How horrifying could it be? (Heh heh heh).

Tweet comes from Elvira. Yes, that Elvira. Still kicking it and looking good for 69.

Too much time hanging out on Twitter lately. I’ve mentioned I have a different Twitter account on every device I use. It is a completely different experience depending on the kinds of things you follow.

January 9, 2020 — 9:10 pm
Comments: 2