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Look at that little face. LOOK AT IT!!!

How could anything so tiny and sweet produce such giant squishy radioactive turds five+ times a day? AND he’s starting to drop them in bad places, mostly under the wood stove, where they melt holes in brick.

We’re convinced he was pretty malnourished when he came to us. The home he came from was loving enough, but he was the smallest of ten cats in a small flat with nothing but cheap dry food and lots of competition.

For the first week, he did nothing but eat and sleep and poop and look adorable.

Week two: swashbuckling hell cat! Well, okay, ordinary rambunctious kitten. I’m delighted to see it, for all he’s a pain in the ass sometimes. It’s much more normal. And it’s all a tribute to my strategy of shoving high-quality calories in his little gob at every opportunity.

That probably explains the turds, though.

October 16, 2013 — 9:03 pm
Comments: 23

*insert metaphor here*

Holy cow — I’ve just discovered that my current Photoshop will import video and snip it into frames for export as animated .gif. That’s…well, if you can’t see how unspeakably exciting that is, I feel sorry for you. I’m having fun, fun, fun.

Well, fun, fun, drudgery, fun. Even a little bitty animation like this runs to 110 frames and takes considerable fussing and fluffing.

This is a clip from an 1897 Edison film called Seminary Girls. In the full version, the headmistress comes in and gives them all hell. Please note, the girl with the longest hair — the one who has her back to us most of the time — is smoking a cigarette. Nice touch.

You can find the whole thing at archive.org (and you can lose whole days of your life to archive.org, fair warning).

October 15, 2013 — 10:18 pm
Comments: 20

Oh, look…Steve won the Dead Pool. How very.

Sooooo…Steve won the Dead Pool. Again. I think this is win number five.

One could speculate that Steve is really, really up on current events. Or, you know, I could just turn over the keys to Steve and back away slowly.

You know what that means…be here.

Friday. Six sharp, Steve’s Blog Time. New Dead Pool!

October 14, 2013 — 9:03 pm
Comments: 27


That there’s a sculptural reconstruction of Oetzi the Iceman. ‘Member him?

I did not realize they’d fully sequenced his DNA in 2008 and published it a couple of years back. Turns out, he’s genetically more of a Southern Italian, if not a Middle Easterner.

It reveals that he had brown eyes, “O” blood type, was lactose intolerant, and was predisposed to heart disease. They also show him to be the first documented case of infection by a Lyme disease bacterium.

Lyme disease? Holy shit, that one had a slow fuse!

Anyway, it turns out Oetzi had a particular genetic mutation that is traceable. So researchers from the Institute of Legal Medicine at Innsbruck Medical University tested samples of all male blood donations that came through Tyrol (apparently, a different procedure would be needed for female blood samples). Of 3,700 samples, 19 modern men turn out to be related to Oetzi.

They did this without permission, which I think is a bit unethical. And they haven’t told the 19 men who their grandpa is, which I think is very uncool. I’d sure as hell want to know. But, well…I just thought that was a thing worth knowing. And now you do.

G’night! Have a good weekend!

October 11, 2013 — 11:05 pm
Comments: 23


So Michelle O’s “Let’s Move” postage stamp series was pulled and will be destroyed because some of the children weren’t wearing safety equipment. Dumb. But that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about how godawful ugly these fucking stupid things are (click the pic to see the whole set in color).

This isn’t loose. Or naive. Or graphic. Or playful. This is awful. It’s terrible. It’s shit. It’s just unspeakable. Who approved this crap?

It’s tempting to say that all government art is bad, but it’s not. I love a lot of classic propaganda art — the stuff that’s competently executed and way, way over the top. Bad guys, good guys — they all did some awesome posters back in the day. When I was a little girl, I secretly wanted to be a propagandist. Or a comics artist, before that became quite such a thing. Much similarity.

But this stuff, it’s just bad on all levels. What is it with this lot, that they see citizens as faceless nonentities?

October 10, 2013 — 11:02 pm
Comments: 28

A comedy in three acts

ACT ONE: Where we be at now. The Obamacare signup software totally doesn’t work. It is possible that nobody has successfully made it through the signup process yet (the media don’t seem able to find anyone, not for want of trying).

This is pure fun to watch, this part. In some ways, this mess is a trivial sideline to the abomination that is Obamacare (though I’ve never seen an IT project this big and this fucked up get fixed successfully, have you?). My goodness I’m enjoying it.

ACT TWO: When it gets rolling — however they manage to make it work — that’s when the fun begins. The people at the bottom and the people at the top won’t see much change — I assume — but there are chitloads of people in the middle who will find their costs going up (sometimes dramatically) or coverage going down or both. Who knows how many people fall in here, but it’s likely to be many millions of really, really angry people. Lots of people in this age and class believe they can’t do without insurance.

ACT THREE: This is when the youngest, healthiest adults refuse to sign up, in droves. Obamacare is absolutely dependent on these people to fund the system. But young, healthy people don’t need doctoring (by definition), don’t have much money and believe themselves to be immortal. If the fines for not having insurance are smaller than the premiums, you’d be an utter moron to sign on. After all, if the law says they can’t turn you away for being sick, why not wait until you’re sick to sign on?

And then…well, no matter what PR hit the Wacko Birds may take right now for being obstructionist, there will come a day when they’ll be happy to say they did everything in their power to stand athwart O’care shouting halt. Which is nice and all, but what does it matter, if our entire healthcare system is a smoking crater?

p.s. Really sorry for that illustration. Brrrr, that’s creeping me out, man.

October 9, 2013 — 9:46 pm
Comments: 20


A hundred and one years ago, workmen demolishing Wakefield House in Cheapside, London swung a pickaxe into the cellar floor and heard it thump against a wooden box. Inside, they found almost 500 rings, broaches, gems, watches and other awesome examples of the jeweler’s art. They stuffed their hats, pockets and hankies and ran to everyone’s favorite local fence, Stoney Jack.

Fortunately for history, Stoney Jack wasn’t a thug, but a respectable antique dealer named G.F. Lawrence — also head of acquisitions for the brand new London Museum. Which, you’ll be astonished to learn, ended up with 99% of the collection.

Among the jewels was a broach engraved for the first Viscount Stafford, which neatly dates the collection after 1640 when he took the title but before the Great Fire of London in 1666. Why the hoard was buried and never retrieved, no one knows but, as a jeweler’s working stock, it proved priceless to historians. If you’re at all interested, do hit the links (especially the first one; that’s the best article I read).

The hoard is (finally!) going on display in the Museum of London this Friday. Why they didn’t have it ready for the 100th anniversary, I do not know.

That thing in the picture, by the way, is a tiny watch…inside a single enormous hollowed-out emerald. A Google image search is highly recommended.

October 8, 2013 — 10:13 pm
Comments: 7

Maybe own a bit of history, kind of

That up there is the Wesley Tree in beautiful Winchelsea, the ash tree under which John Wesley preached his last ever outdoor sermon, 223 years ago today (spooky — I didn’t realize it when I started writing this post, but the date was October 7, 1790).

Actually, it’s not really. Tourists (or the devout, if you prefer) picked bits off of the original tree until a strong wind came along in 1927 and blew down what was left. This substantial tree was grown from a sapling taken from a cutting. So it’s kind of the historic tree.

Anyway, sadly, we’re having a serious ash die back over here, caused by a fungus, Chalara fraxinea. It turned up in Poland in 1992, ripped across Europe (Denmark lost 60-90% of their ash trees) and arrived in the UK in 2012, in a shipment of young trees from the Netherlands. There’s a lot of ash here, so this isn’t good.

So when the Wesley Tree looked unwell, everyone feared the worst. Well, it turns out the bugger has an altogether different fungus, the Hairy Bracket fungus. Which may or may not go along with an even eviller fungus, White Rot.

Damn, this tree hugging is complicated.

So what they’re doing up there is lopping off the affected limbs and hoping for the best. They’re also appealing for locals to take cuttings and seeds and grow backup trees, in the event of a bad outcome.

I was going to say, if any of my readers are Methodist arborculturists, you should totally ask for a cutting. And then I realized that might import ash dieback to the US.

So, bad idea. Forget I said anything.

October 7, 2013 — 10:55 pm
Comments: 26


Uncle B had to go into London for some tiresome bidness thingie, so this is pretty much what it looks like at Badger Acres today.

The original is not my .gif — it’s something I loved and snagged off the internet a thousand years ago — but I spent a good hour squeezing it and tweaking it and getting weasel all over it (the eye twitch at frame 35 is mine). The current iteration of Photoshop has some much improved animated .gif tools and I’m just getting around to playing with them. I could swear they weren’t there a few months ago, so it must have been a silent update.

I’ll be thrilled if they’re still updating this thing. Adobe is trying so damned hard to get me on the cloud version of P’shop.

Right. And now I think it’s naked videogame and potato chip time. Good weekend, folks!

October 4, 2013 — 5:46 pm
Comments: 20


Roast beef, roast potatoes, carrots and peas…in a bowl made of yorkshire pudding. I know…food always looks gross in black and white, but I can assure you, this was a bit of alright.

I lumme some yorkshire pudding.

Honestly, folks, I don’t know what to say about politics at the moment. It’s not that I’m not following. I am. But damned if I can figure out where it’s going. Everything has an ominous, oppressive feeling, like the heavy air before a thunderstorm.

Though I should probably let you guys know, my gut feelings are *always* wrong.

October 3, 2013 — 10:39 pm
Comments: 28