And What I Find


Uhm … hi? I guess?

Oh. Oh, yeah, right. Monday. Mondays I usually spend telling people my mathematics blog did comic strips again. All right. My mathematics blog did comic strips again.

Why are you all looking at me like that?

Oh, sheesh, right. Yeah. Usually I have some kind of funny picture or a screen grab or something to put up and coax people into reading this anyway even though they’re not all that crazy about hearing about the thing they maybe already read. Where did I … um. I don’t know where I have one this week. No, Compu-Toon today parses too.

All right, I can work this. I’ve got like eighty thousand pictures, I just have to pick any of them and there’ll probably be something interesting going on. Let’s see.

The Clementi MRT station as photographed at night from the 14th of October, 2006, because that's when I happened to be there.
The Clementi station on Singapore’s East-West subway line. The station is above ground because you know subways are complicated things anyway. Not depicted: the great mass of warm, muggy air that makes walking around outdoors in Singapore so much like swimming through a heap of down comforters.

There, see, that’s got … uh … I can point out how … well, anyone should be able to make a good joke about …

Oh, this is bad.

Wait a second.

Hold on.

Computer, enhance. Again. Enhance.

Close-up on the train-arriving monitor as it shows some advertisement, surely, that involved some big alien-ish monster sprawling out.
You never really appreciate at the time that but you take a photograph of some boring scene there’s going to be something not boring in it.

On the information screen there. That’s almost clearly some kind of giant monster-y creature sprawling across the whole highway. This means something. Send our agents out right away!

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index dropped eight points in trading today. Investors had started to hope it would drop a clean ten points so they could joke about having scored a safety. The joke doesn’t quite make sense, but it won’t be usable at all until whenever football season gets started again in like July or August or whenever that is and they didn’t want to have to wait that long.

102

And Now For A Bit Of Fun


I know it’s been a rough … year … so let’s take a moment to relax. Here’s “Beauty And The Beast”, by Henry Kuttner, cover story for the April 1940 Thrilling Wonder Stories and it’s about a Venusian giant kangaroo-dinosaur monster that accidentally crashes his way through Washington, DC along the way to destroying the world although it’s not his fault. Um. Well, all right, how about this totally different story from the July 1940 Thrilling Wonder Stories about a gigantic reptilian monster that melts the ice caps and crashes through the New York harborfront and everybody acts like he’s the jerk?

Thrilling Wonder Stories cover for April 1940. A giant kangaroo-dinosaur crashes through the US Capitol dome while what's supposed to be a heat beam shoots him in the chin.
Fortunately the US Army had just completed testing of its powerful “tickle string ray gun” and was able to handle the monster reasonably well. Image and story from Archive.org which is just magnificent for this sort of thing. Also, when are we going to stop mindlessly bringing alien eggs back from Venus and raising giant kangaroo-dinosaur monsters in the Capitol’s backyard?

Science fiction: the literature of pleasant escapism.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index dropped one point on the debut of the rival Another Blog, Meanwhile index created by those dissatisfied traders I was talking about yesterday. We all thought they were bluffing, too. As it happens the alternate index dropped from its starting point of 100 also down to 99, which the alternate traders are saying is sheer coincidence and their index is going to take off like you never would believe. We shall see.

99

The Dustin Hoffman Question


My love and I got to thinking about Dustin Hoffman, as people will. We couldn’t think of what he might have been doing, acting-wise, ever since Sphere which came out in like … 1997? 1998? 1997 sounds plausible-ish. Let’s say that. We both are pretty sure we saw most of the movie, although in my case that’s just because there was this stretch from 2003 through 2006 when it was always on, at least up to the point where was that Samuel L Jackson stops reading 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.

Anyway, we were figuring that probably Hoffman isn’t still there, left on the set of Sphere, waiting to hear if there’s any more retakes to do or something like that. Wikipedia says he also did some voice acting for Kung Fu Panda and Kung Fu Panda 2, which both of which I think we saw, and The Tale Of Desperaux, which I know I saw because at one point in it a mouse fights a monster made of gourds and I didn’t make that up. Anyway, voice-acting you can do from anywhere so that doesn’t prove he isn’t still on the set of Sphere. So, does anyone know anyone who can check? Thanks kindly.

From The Evening’s Monster Report


I know I haven’t had many dream-world updates lately but that’s just how these things happen. There was a pretty detailed one this week, though. Apparently it was some sort of long-form documentary program about the differences between North American and Pacific Asian giant monsters. Turns out, it seems, that there’s a tendency for North American giant monsters to have many more sets of limbs and wings than their East Asian counterparts. And this apparently reflects longstanding cultural practices. Lest you think that’s an unchanging fact of life, though, apparently the Asian giant monsters are looking to add more sets of claws and wings to become more competitive in the world market. And somehow this documentary didn’t describe any of this as a new arms race.

It means something and I don’t know what.

What I Have Learned About Curing Werewolves And The Danes


First I should warn it was idle curiosity. My love and I were not looking up werewolf cures out of any need. We’ve had no trouble with the werewolves in the neighborhood. The ones down the block even took down a diseased tree before it could become an eyesore, never mind a menace. It’s left a sad unshaded spot on the street, and it’s enraged the squirrels who were still using the tree as a major traffic route. But it is responsible property management from the neighborhood werewolves. If all our neighbors were like this our neighborhood would be set for gentrification.

What we had done was start idly talking about werewolf remedies. Silver bullets, sure, everybody knows that. But what did people do before they had bullets? And there’s no way that’s a universal cure, because there isn’t even a universal treatment for vampirism. The thing to do with a vampire depends on what cultural tradition the vampire comes from. It had to be the same for werewolves. So I could find some dubiously-sourced, arguably grammar-based explanations I dashed off to Wikipedia. Well, not dashed, because I’m scared of making my back angry again. But off to Wikipedia and I wasn’t disappointed.

And, yes, the silver bullet thing is a modern movie-created thing. Of course it is. Stuff is never as old as you image. The concept of zombies is actually newer than the Battlestar Galactica reboot. The first-ever reporting of the Loch Ness Monster dates to six years after Rerun van Pelt was added to Peanuts. There are no references to the legendary “Jersey Devil” from before March of next year. Most of the spooky creatures of our imagination are the result of scenes padding out Rankin/Bass specials.

Werewolves aren’t so completely new, though, if you believe Wikipedia. I choose to accept what Wikipedia says because that’s easier than doing research. I’m not disappointed.

The Ancient Greeks and Romans, allegedly, “believed in the power of exhaustion in curing people of lycanthropy”. Apparently, if you just put them to a lot of effort the werewolf would conclude it was too much work to go on being a werewolf and they’d go back to human. Or maybe they’d go to wolf, if that’s what they were better at being. I don’t know if the Ancient Greeks and Romans would be fine with a werewolf who stuck to being a wolf. I suspect so. I mean, yes, humans have always gone off hunting and persecuting wolves. But they’ve always gone off hunting and persecuting humans, too. Someone who won’t commit to being human or wolf must be particularly ire-raising. If they’d settle to one thing or another then society would know what to persecute them for.

But exhaustion as a way of curing lycanthropy. It suggests society could handle an invasion by werewolf hordes just by setting them to raking the leaves and painting the houses. We could save society and raise the property values all down the street. Of course I don’t know that the Ancient Greeks and Romans cared about raking the leaves. They got into some weird things, all the weirder when Pythagoras got involved. And now I’m sorry that I don’t know anything Pythagoras said about werewolves. It would surely have been among the ten funniest things humanity has ever expressed.

Wikipedia keeps delivering imagination-capturing data, though. I started reading: “In the German lowland of Schleswig-Holstein” and right there I stop and say, “The German lowland? I wonder what Danish Wikipedia has to say about that! I certainly recognize the territory Otto von Bismarck used as a cats-paw to manipulate Austria out of German unification! Nor have I forgot how the Schleswig-Holstein plebiscite Prussia agreed to hold following the 1866 war with Austria got repeatedly postponed until after World War I!” I’m not a history major. I’m not Danish. I’m not Austrian. I’m a mathematician. I took exactly six credits of history in college and that was all United States history. I have absolutely no reason to care about Schleswig or Holstein. I admit having enjoyed some products of the latter territory’s cows. This is why I wasn’t cool enough to get into the Dungeons and Dragons circle back in middle school.

Anyway. Back to stuff that does not make people want to slug me. Allegedly, a Schleswig-Holsteinian werewolf can be cured “if one were to simply address it three times by its Christian name”. And “one Danish belief holds that simply scolding a werewolf will cure it.” That can’t be all there is to it, can it? Or maybe Danish scolding is particularly chilling. But how are Danish werewolf parents supposed to keep their children in line?

“Jaan Damian Tage, you get in here right — oh, now he’s not a werewolf! Honey, run to the store and get some Lycanthrope Powder.”

“What, Jael?”

“I said, run to the store — ”

“I’m upstairs, Jael, I can’t hear you.”

“Run to the store — ”

“Let me get downstairs, Jael.”

“Oh, now we need a double case! Oh, Radolf, Radolf, Radolf, what are we ever going to — ooop!”

Anyway. I guess this all is why I don’t know any Danish werewolves. I can’t say I’m any wiser for all this, but it’s good to know.

Meanwhile, On A Bad Star Trek: Voyager Episode


Mutated lizard-man Tom Paris wears jammies and kidnaps Captain Janeway, because this made sense in context.
Screen capture from “Threshold”, which is a legendarily awful Star Trek: Voyager episode, and shut up, fans can too tell. And yeah, it’s pretty bad, but in its defense, it’s gloriously bad instead of being just boring.

Mutated Lizard-Man Tom Paris ponders, “You know, I thought this would make me happy for sure.”

Maybe We Should Just Skip To Second Contacts


A space alligator-cyclops makes ready to throw a boulder at things.
The cover to _Wonder Stories Quarterly_, Summer 1930, provided by PeterPulp of DeviantArt

The Peter Pulp account over on DeviantArt put up this cover, from the Summer 1930 issue of Wonder Stories Quarterly, and I guess it just shows how poorly we all handled First Contact back in the day. Obviously, I don’t know who started the fight, whether the wide-hipped spacemen with the guns or the alligator-cyclops, but as things stand now, the brave spacemen of tomorrow have to figure out a way to carry on their mission despite the near-complete destruction of their Bounce House. I don’t envy them their task. I’ve never been able to recover from more than a goat-hydra chewing on the restraint bar of my Tilt-a-Whirl car.

You know, I am guilty of assuming this is a matter of the alligator-cyclops throwing rocks at the Bounce House. But from just the still scene I don’t know if he’s actually busy removing rocks from it. He might be the hero of this scene, freeing trapped spacekids within, and what is he getting for his trouble? All the bullets he can eat. I bet that’s what happened; isn’t it always like that when you try helping spacemen with Bounce Houses, in your experience?