Category Archives: Wobosphere fun


Am I the only nerd out there who doesn’t really give a pair of fetid dingo’s kidneys for logic puzzles? The blue-eyed islanders always tell the truth, except on Thursdays after teatime, when they put on the mauve hats and can only smoke Parliaments if the fox and the cabbage are left on the island simultaneously . . . If I wanted to fret about the behaviour of agents whose actions and character are unlike actual humans in every way, I’d be an economist.

(Also, I never made it further into Tolkien than The Hobbit, and my closest approach to superhero comics has been Sandman. Everything I know of RPGs I learned because I had a flatmate once who spent her evenings whacking things with a Keyblade. For a costweeting physicist, I have a surprising level of indifference to vast stretches of “geek canon” — as the Internets seem to define it. Maybe the notion of “canon” doesn’t mesh so well with the idea of a personality geared to intense interest in particular, more-or-less circumscribed subjects?)

If your logic puzzle ties into some larger body of mathematics, then I might be able to summon up interest in it, but in my experience, they’re seldom presented that way. When a puzzle has no connection to the larger weave of knowledge, to an actual -ology either pure or applied, I move on to ones which do.

Last Airbender Tweet-a-Thon

WARNING: This post rated NSFW-17 by the Mainstream Prose Association of America. Contains multiple instances of foul language, all of them, given the subject matter, entirely warranted.

Normally, I take a pretty sanguine attitude to arguments about movies. You can maybe argue somebody into finding a film historically significant, technically accomplished or philosophically interesting, but arguing them into liking or disliking it? I’m not so sure. The popcorn bucket has its reasons, which reason knows not. Debate over matters of sentiment is often a spectacularly futile effort.
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Calling All Elitist Bastards

It lacks ten days until the next Carnival of Elitist Bastards. The fourth instalment of this more-august-by-the-minute institution will be hosted here, at Science After Sunclipse, on the thirtieth of August. Entries for consideration should be sent to elitistbastardscarnival at gmail dot com by the twenty-ninth. If you’ve got writing which exalts the intellect; which details the life of sophistication and subtlety; which illustrates, by example, the pleasure and virtue of knowledge justly won — eh bien, alors, this carnival is for you.

INCIDENTALLY, if you’re looking for something to uplift your spirit, I have just been informed that the TV series Cosmos (1980) is available for sale on iTunes. I don’t have iTunes, so I can’t tell you much more than that.

Responsum Aucili

Gosh, I’ve forgotten a lot of Latin, but I think it goes like this.

Accusaties impudentes Dawkinsi deliberavi, et is inopia litterarum gravium me exacerbavit. Sermes magnarum singularum Roderigi Hispalis, de coriis conquisitis externisque caligarum Imperatorum non legavit, per speciem, neque consideratiem donat brevem opo summa laude dignum Bellini, De Plumis Illustris Petasæ Imperatorem. Scholas totas consecratas ut libos doctos de pulchritude vestimentum Imperatoris scribans habeamus, et acta diurna omnia magna pars de more regio comprehendant. Dawkinsus totum inflate dimittat. Etiam cachinnat ad disputaties gratiosissimas suaviloquentissimasque civis eius, Mawkscribblerius, qui clare monstravit Imperatorem aut gyssypium vulgare aut polyesteram molestam non gerat, sed subucula bombycis subtilissimæ gerenda Imperatori est.

Dawkinsus hæc reputanda alta philosopha arrogane prætereit, ut Imperatorem rude accuset nudi.
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After Patchwork

The spores of discontent have infected the nervous system of Warren Ellis, driving him to higher ground so that they may burst open his skull and spread their meme sequences upon the wind:

That’s been the job of half the web, for the last several years — collating links from the other half of the web. Last year, I started getting a little itchy about this.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could stand up now and say, okay, these are the post-curation years? The world does not need another linkblog. What is required, frankly, is what we’re supposed to call “content” these days. When I were a lad, back in the age of steam, we called this “original material.” Put another way: we like it when Cory and Xeni are the copy/paste editors for the internet, but we like it better when Cory writes a book and Xeni makes an episode of BoingBoingTV.

(In fact, if you read any of the abhorrent comments threads on BoingBoing, you could be forgiven for coming away with the notion that its readership would be happy if it shut down tomorrow.)

Trying to create “original material” does occasionally leave me with the impression that I should take lessons from my indie-rock friends on whining, “Won’t anybody listen?”

Non-Missing Metropolis Footage

And while we’re talking about classics being reinvented, here’s a bit of cinema news: it looks like additional footage from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927), lost since the original version was pulled from the Berlin theatres, has turned up again. According to Die Zeit, “The rediscovered material is in need of restoration after 80 years; the pictures are scratched, but clearly recognizable.” The Guardian reports,

The uncut version is said to solve the mystery as to why Maria, the workers’ insurrectionist leader, is mistaken by a baying mob for her doppelganger, a female robot.

OK, cinema buffs, here’s a question: did you find this part of the movie problematic or difficult to understand? I, for one, missed whatever is supposed to be the matter here. (Mobs are not noted for their fine powers of perception.) Perhaps the next time I watch my Metropolis DVD, I’ll smack my forehead and exclaim, “How silly of me not to have noticed that gaping hole all along!” Still, I’d be much happier to find out why Joh Fredersen wanted to let the mob into the Heart Machine. Did he just have a fantastically poor grasp of the consequences?

Extra details from the Guardian:

Schmale, a spy who is sent by the autocratic leader of the futuristic city, Joh Frederson, to pursue his son, Freder, plays a minor role in the cut version, but a significant supporting role in the original. “The role … can finally be understood,” Rother said.

A scene in which children are saved from the workers’ underworld is also said to be “much more dramatic” — and more violent — than in the cut version.

Yay violence!

Being the sort of nerd who listens to DVD commentary tracks and watches all the special features, I recall that the contents of many of the missing or damaged portions of Metropolis were deduced from the film’s censorship certificate. This document, from the Head Office of Film Censorship, listed the contents of all the title cards (I presume to certify that the film was acceptable for viewing audiences). It looks like the newly rediscovered footage thus contains either ambiguous dialogue or none at all.