stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Well, summer's over, as far as the university's concerned. "Fall" Semester begins on Monday. I'll be teaching three courses: Introduction to Algebraic Structures (junior-level, basically the rudiments of group theory), Linear Algebra II (we finally get to the theoretical stuff), and Foundations for Euclidean and Non-Euclidean Geometry (which I teach pretty much every year - I think it's been given to someone else once in the last fifteen years). The first two, I haven't taught in quite a while, and the first one in particular is rough on students - it's notorious for resulting in bad-to-mediocre student evaluations. We'll see how it goes.

It was a bad summer for the canine contingent. First Gracie developed an ear infection, and I had to smear goop in her ear for a couple of weeks. Then Buster had an allergic reaction, probably flea-related, and started chewing on his right haunch and tail. Steroids and antibiotics seem to have resolved that one, so it was Gracie's turn again, with an eye infection that culminated in a crust over her entire right eye. The vet removed the crusting (G had to be sedated), and now I have to put ointment in both of Gracie's eyes twice a day. She doesn't like it, but has stopped fighting it. I just hope I'm getting it right. I'll be taking her in again Friday.

I had a lengthy to-do list, not much of which got done. I do have a new toilet in one bathroom and a new faucet for the sink in the other; I have a new bedside lamp, but the stand I bought to put it on came missing a few pieces, and the supplier is so far unresponsive; the fence has been repaired (that one wasn't on the to-do list!); and earlier this week I came up with a new technique for my polygons project, which will come in handy in the third and fourth papers in the sequence. Still need to write a new conclusion for the first paper and get it submitted.

The forecast for Monday in these parts is "partly cloudy". We're just outside the totality zone - 99.4%, I think - and the university has a bit of a gala set up for the afternoon, with eclipse glasses being provided and a couple of video screens. We'll see how it goes; my only class that day is at 6PM, so I'm free to join in the fun.

Life goes on, even amidst catastrophe.
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
The contractor just came by to look at the fence. Afterward, he suggested I should do some landscaping (which is also part of his business): "You've got this nice corner lot, and all you have is that one tree." I replied, "Used to have three, but the city took two of them. That one there was split by the ice storm back in '05."

After he left, I thought about what I'd said, and realized that all it needed was an "Ayup" and a touch of a drawl to raise the image of an old Yankee farmer....

Tempus fugit.
stoutfellow: Joker (Default)
Susan Collins.
Lisa Murkowski.
John McCain.

Remember their names. They saved lives last night.

The fight isn't over; the White House has it within its power to throttle ACA by cutting subsidies. But for now, we can celebrate a victory.
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
A passage from the June 25, 1826 entry in Sir Walter Scott's journal:
Another melting day; thermometer at 78° even here. 80° was the height yesterday at Edinburgh. If we attempt any active proceeding we dissolve ourselves into a dew. We have lounged away the morning creeping about the place, sitting a great deal, and walking as little as might be on account of the heat.

Scotland is pretty far north; Gulf Stream or no, it's never been a warm place, I guess. But...

stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
This is a sculpture, in mammoth ivory, of a hedgehog. It is 40,000 years old - the oldest known sculpture of a hedgehog.

For some reason that makes me happy.

H/t to numerous people, but most immediately Dick King-Smith's twitter feed.
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
So I'm sitting at the computer, websurfing, and the randomized playlist brings up Pat Benatar singing "Out-a-touch". The song comes to the finale, as Pat warbles "I need you ... I need you!" and Buster comes up and puts his forepaws on my leg.
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
For some reason, I've been thinking about Neil Diamond. It seems that when you buy a "Greatest Hits" album of a singer or group you loved in your youth, it never contains all of the songs you want (unless it's a "Complete Works", and even that doesn't always work - my so-called "Complete Diana Ross" omits several of her songs from the Supremes. I found those later.)[1]

I have three Diamond albums. Two of them - Beautiful Noise and I'm Glad You're Here With Me Tonight - are from the late seventies, early eighties; they're good albums (I love "Dry Your Eyes" in particular) but they're not the Diamond I grew up with. The third is The Neil Diamond Collection, mostly from the early seventies, and it has some great stuff ("Sweet Caroline", "Holly Holy", "Brother Love's Travellin' Salvation Show"), but it's also not the Diamond I grew up with. It does have one song from that era, "Cherry Cherry", but - no. That song was written for and by someone a decade younger, and hearing it sung live, by the older Diamond, complete with grunting... just no.

The songs that introduced me to Diamond were on one album, belonging to one of my sisters. (I have no way of knowing which; they themselves sometimes disagree on the issue.) It was very early, mid-sixties Diamond: "Kentucky Woman", "Red Red Wine", "You Got to Me", "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon", "Solitary Man"... Yeah, some of them have probably been visited by one of the Suck Fairies (probably the Sexism Fairy), but that's what teen heart-throb albums were like back then, and I still remember them fondly. One of these days I'll have to get the CD.

[1] I can't decide whether the period goes inside the parenthesis or outside, when the parenthetical is a sentence and a half long. My rule of thumb - if the parenthetical is entirely part of the sentence, then outside; if it's a sentence, or more than one, in its own right, then inside - doesn't handle fractions well. Probably parentheses should be avoided then, but quod scripsi scripsi. :grmph:
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
I put out a call for estimates on the fence this morning, and have spoken to one contractor. His estimate, based purely on my possibly-flawed description, is something over a Kbuck, but I can handle it. I've decided not to let the mowers into the back yard until the fence is fixed; the gate is in the damaged section, and opening or closing it is likely to increase the strain. That shim won't last very long....

We had a bad thunderstorm, with much wind, the last night of the heat warning, and I suspect that wind was the final blow to an already weakened system. This morning I noticed my trash bin (about 4'x1'x1') had fallen over; there was only one bagful of garbage in it. The recycling bin, of the same size and right next to it, was still upright. It was also about half full. (I seem to generate recyclables more quickly than I do garbage.)


Jul. 23rd, 2017 01:32 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Default)
A current article in Atlantic contains the following: "[T]he FSB has built an empire in the same way, making minigarchs out of rank-and-file FSB officers whose salaries don’t square with the posh lifestyles they lead." I draw your attention to the coinage "minigarch", presumably a portmanteau of "mini" and "oligarch".

Of course, that's a bastardization reanalysis of "oligarch"; an oligarchy is a state in which there are many few [1] ("oligo") powerful people ("archon"). [I am no doubt messing up the precise Greek, but the roots are common enough...] Evidently the "g" has been reinterpreted as being part of the second morpheme rather than the first. (Compare, in English, "a nadder" > "an adder", or "helicopter", originally "helico-pter" ("helix-wing"), being interpreted as "heli-copter" > "copter".)

Just an oddity....

[1] Thanks to [personal profile] ndrosen for catching my error on this one.
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
That's "on" meaning "pertaining to".

After I bought my house, twenty-some years ago, my next move was to acquire a dog. (That would be the late lamented Murphy.) In order to allow him outside time, I then had a fence erected around part of the back yard - a plain, unadorned picket fence.

I have to admit that I haven't taken good care of the fence - hammering in the occasional loose nail, no more than that. Just now, I glanced out the window and saw that the western segment of the fence had broken; one of the supports had leaned out of true, and the section of fence north of it had come loose and sagged inward. If Buster had noticed it, he would have had an easy route to freedom. I shut the access to the doggy doors and went outside to inspect it. Armed with no more than a hammer and a shim, I managed to get it realigned, but it's no more than a makeshift. Among other things, it puts increased strain on the already-misbehaving gate.

No help for it; I'll have to call in the pros to repair the fence ASAP (and hopefully get the gate working properly again). At least the excessive heat warning that's been in effect since Tuesday noon will expire this evening.
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
James Nicoll just posted a retrospective on the old SF role-playing game Traveller. That brings back some memories of my own... When I was a student at Chicago, I got involved in a D&D group. At one point, our GM suggested we try out this new SFnal answer to D&D; we were all game for it, so he set up a scenario and let us loose.

At the end of the first session, our party was aboard a submarine, hiding from the Imperial Space Navy, who were hunting us on charges including poaching, assault (several counts), hijacking, kidnapping, trespassing on government property, theft of government property, destruction of government property, and extortion. We were, in fact, not guilty of poaching. We meant well, though...

(The GM later suggested that we had gone into a game set in civilized places with the mind-set appropriate to the barbarism of D&D. Nicoll's pet phrase for D&D adventurers is "murder hobos". (I think that was Nicoll, at least.))

Ah, me. Haven't played any of those games in decades; video games are a poor substitute.
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
I'm currently reading Orczy's The Scarlet Pimpernel. (I downloaded it from Project Gutenberg when I was on an adventure-novels kick; The Prisoner of Zenda, Captain Blood, and one or two others were also part of that haul.) Three thoughts come to mind.

1) Spoilers. Going into the novel knowing the identity of the Pimpernel probably diminishes its effect. (I would quite possibly have guessed - the trick Orczy played has become common since her day.) Fortunately, apart from the broad context, I know nothing more. I can foresee some of what will come - I just finished the scene where Marguerite is blackmailed by the French agent - but no more than in outline.

2) Reigns of Terror. Orczy, of course, makes an effort to get the reader to sympathize with the poor persecuted aristocrats, and I try to let that happen; but I keep remembering the bit by Twain, comparing the several-months-long and bloody Reign of Terror with the slow-motion, thousand-year Reign of Terror, in the opposite direction, which begat it. Lavoisier was certainly not the only unjustly condemned victim, but the whirlwind doesn't really care who sowed the wind. (I also find myself remembering the next-to-last paragraph of Lincoln's Second Inaugural; but that's another issue altogether.)

3) Typography. There are, naturally enough, numerous French or French-derived words and phrases in the text: entr'acte, coup, and the like. I would prefer to believe that Orczy wrote them, in the original, as I just did, and some blunderer, transcribing it for the Project, interpreted the italics as indicating emphasis and thus replaced them with ALL CAPS. If the Baroness herself is responsible, all I can say is QUEL DOMMAGE!
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
One of the phenomena that so excited Charles Fort is that of the vitrified forts, crude stone buildings which at some point were subjected to intense heat.

I'm currently reading Sir Walter Scott's journal, and just ran across the following paragraph: "Will Clerk says he has a theory on the vitrified forts. I wonder if he and I agree. I think accidental conflagration is the cause." (Dec. 11, 1825)

Just an odd coincidence...
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Note to self: just because a frozen dinner is labeled "Honey Balsamic Chicken" doesn't mean it doesn't contain Brussels sprouts.

Low Bar

Jul. 11th, 2017 08:56 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
I'm just going to leave this passage from Polybius, about King Ptolemy Philometor, here.
If any king before him ever was, he was mild and benevolent; a very strong proof of which is that he never put any of his own friends to death on any charge whatever.
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
It is the first week of July. The temperature outside is somewhere around 95F. Not a snowball in sight.

Why the hell am I being earwormed by "Silver Bells"?
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
There was a discussion yesterday on the American Dialect Society's mailing list. One of the regulars had heard an interesting expression used on the news, and he presented it, together with a proposed explanation of its origin. Another regular offered a different explanation, and I chimed in with yet another.

The original poster has written a brief (three paragraphs or so) article on it, and in it he cites and quotes the two of us who responded.

This is the second time in my life that I've gotten a mention in a linguistics post or article. In neither case was there anything of great moment involved; even so, I find myself inordinately pleased. (The title of this post is apropos.)

(I'm being deliberately ultravague about the actual content, because it's his article, and won't be appearing for a couple of weeks.)
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Why did Charlie Brown not ask Schroeder to hold the football for him?


Jun. 27th, 2017 03:31 am
stoutfellow: Joker (Default)
Happy birthday, [personal profile] nlbarber!


Jun. 25th, 2017 09:55 am
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Preliminary evaluation: I like Civ VI a lot. Maybe more than Civ IV.

I'm playing as Pericles, going for a Cultural Victory. This is different from a CIV Cultural Victory; in CVI, it requires your cities to attract lots of tourists. The main way to do that is to get a Great Artist/Writer/Sculptor to donate one or more of their Works to a museum in one of your cities. Later on, you can send Archaeologists out to ruins and shipwrecks, and put what they bring back in your museums. There are other tricks, too. This sounds like fun.


stoutfellow: Joker (Default)

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