Archive for April, 2007

De Patruo Iuniore

April 17, 2007

37. Several freakish Trolls used the same bus lines as Uncle Junior, and multitudes rode on the same metropolitan system. I had the opportunity to see, and on one occasion to talk to these folks. The trolls most easily identifiable are smallish in stature and have a somewhat scrunched face. These facts of physique undeniably contributed to their lot in society (users of public transportation). There are other trolls who can only be identified on close contact, after some conversation and observation into their personality. These trolls cling to non-troll groups. Their repulsive manner eludes them and they consider themselves to be not just human, but well-loved. They drive cars, and in the solitude of the automobile they lose much of their recognizability as trolls. The car, however, is just another form of the Troll Hole, a place unknowingly sacred to each troll. Be careful–a simple, guttural Troll Call can bring them forth into your presence, where they will stay long after they can be tolerated. Orquin will not rescue you from trolls. No trolls have Orquin: it cannot stand the creatures, and will not allow itself to be sequestered with them, although it is much less mobile than the trolls of my town.

56. I was always sure that the secret labs were underground. Where else is more secure? My image of the underground is limited to what I’ve seen: subways, the upper strata of the sewer system, a few caves, and stories of Hell and Molemen. Most of it, then, seems to be holding tanks: trains for people, pits for the dead, canals and pipes for waste. The earth is such a deep and invisible stash that surely, I thought, the secret labs must be underground. But recently I’ve changed my suspicions. Sitting on a bus, I passed some industrial-type building, and I realized that I didn’t know what went on in there, or in many of the other buildings the bus took me by. What was being manufactured, machined, or refined in all those places? I got to my neighborhood and I realized that 1) I didn’t know what happened in any of the houses and 2) the Orquin labs for secret science weren’t necessarily subterranean. City sidewalks and city streets are a blind tour through an expanse of closed curtains.

57. All sorts of wacky traps protected the basement laboratory of Uncle Junior. There were ball-bearings at the threshold, and trip-wires which tripped not a device, just the intruder. There were dogs, both organic and robotic, and tanks of knock-out gas (which Uncle Junior took hits off of in great moderation). Because of these traps, and the fact that no one with enough force ever even tried to get down there, modern knowledge of the lab is sparse at best. It is important that the pursuit of Uncle Junior’s records continues. (We know that he did indeed keep records because of an intercepted phone call from Uncle Junior to his brother.) An old joke says that in a fit of paranoia he chewed up his records. This was how his jaw fractured and later became infected. The nature of his experiments remains a mystery, although the general belief is that he conducted Orquin-electricity experiments. Since he never shared knowledge of his discoveries (What a waste, to not contribute to the corpus scientiae!) it is unknown whether or not his research led to the discovery that Orquin has neither a positive nor negative electrical charge, but rather a til-then unidentified “other” charge.

58. Did Uncle Junior conceive the experiments that went on in his lab, or was he merely Orquin’s hand man? “What the hell kind of question is that?” he screamed when I asked him. “That’s not an answer,” I said. “Shut the hell up,” he said, “you little wise ass!” Then, immediately, his temper changed and he peacefully asked if we could continue the interview. Seventeen hours later our discussion ended (he could have talked for two years straight. I went home to sleep and awoke with the two-week flu). All I had learned from the interview was what I had suspected: that he performed experimental research in his basement (“no, you can’t go down there”) and that Orquin was present when the research was in progress. I didn’t find out if there were multiple Orquins, and if anyone else was involved. Today I don’t know if Uncle Junior is still alive. I suspect he is, although he’d be a wretched 127 years old. He disappeared after the explosion. Paranoids, people like Uncle Junior himself, say he was destroyed by jealous, inferior government scientists. I believe he set the explosion himself. He would rather sabotage his own work than allow others access to his results, the manifestation of his driven soul.

59. On the strange death of the scientist Uncle Junior we have this report: “After years of study into Orquin-electronics, the direction of Uncle Junior’s research took an unexpected turn. For him personally, it must have been an overwhelming, enlightened revolution of perspective, for which he undoubtedly would have given credit to Orquin. The scientist suddenly began a wide survey of baking techniques. His interest in leavening, especially in the gaseous by-products of yeasts (saccharomycetaceae), consumed his final days. Eventually, he had what he wanted: a solution of yeast activated in a luke warm liquid (unknown) which he would inject into his own salivary gland. He theorized that incorporating another living culture into his own organism would create, as the yeast worked in his gland, a substance that had the combined ‘life force’ of both him and the yeast. He injected it with surgical precision into this particular gland because any excess material could be spat out readily. In his own body he had found a built-in safety valve for a fluid he would offer to Orquin. Some think he would have molded the pasty excreta into new Orquins, for distribution to fellow scientists. Such hopes were soon destroyed by infection. His jaw rotted, and he lost control of his salivary glands as they too rotted away, leaving him no way to release the venom that was destroying him. He was dead within days. The lower half of his head continued to ‘leaven’ until his body was discovered and cremated. His personal Orquin was not found at the scene.”

Images upon request

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Micro-Molds from the Pastryverse

April 14, 2007

I’ve invented a cake, and that reminded me to remind you that, when making a cake, put the dry ingredients in last, and as soon as the flour etc. is incorporated into the batter, stop fucking with it. Give it a few minutes of repos, so the salts can absorb some of the liquid and get it full of bubbles. Then the liquid is baked out of the bubbles; the texture is deceptively light. My cake tonight, I substituted some of the flour with dried, grated coconut, which I lightly toasted and then added a (healthy) shot of Cointreau, and let that steam away slowly. There’s also loads of lemon juice in it. I made it in four different micro-molds. Cooking time varies based on form.

Where do I begin?

April 14, 2007

heaven comic

Thurn und Taxis

April 13, 2007

“Teledigi-mail” is quite popular in the 21st century; I assume it’s because you are all a bunch of cheap bastards who don’t want to buy a stamp*, plus you’re impatient and want some of that infamous instant gratification. Try this, I say, as I offer you an alternative means to get your postal fix on the cheap: don’t put a stamp on a postcard, and mail it anyway. It will reach it’s destination. In tests performed by the Free Us! Cavebot Kids exclusive research group, all postcards sent lacking postage arrived at the correct address in an amount of time similar to normal (id est paid) delivery. An alternative, nearly-free , and perhaps prettier, method is to go to a stamp-shop, a philatelist, and buy a bag of un-cancelled stamps from around the world. It won’t cost you much, they look good, and it works. No envelopes, and yes, you can expect others to read what you write (UK LeGuin says, in The Dispossessed, that if someone is going to do the labor of delivering your letter, they can read it if they want). And then there is the time-travelling: the letter-writer often experiences “the two presents”: the moment of writing, and the moment of reading. , the the pyschological confusion when composing a letter often experienced as a result of the two presents, that of the writer and that of the receiver. See for yourselves.

*Not that that makes any sense–computers sure aren’t free.

The Invisible Prison

April 11, 2007

This is a follow-up to my previous post, specifically about funding education.

I did not want to imply that, by suggesting an alternative use of large amounts of national treasure, I endorse an educational system that is so outrageously expensive for students. Public education is a right, if anything is. That it costs such huge amounts is criminal. While not meaning to sound paranoid, it does indeed seem like the system of high tuition and the subsequent high debt incurred to pay this tuition is ideal for ensuring that every year, a new crop of workers, trained at their own expense, enters the workforce so laden with debt that they have no choice but to work, whatever their salaries may be. Once hired, the employee feels a grossly disproportionate importance for job security, lest their debt go unpaid. As job protection is weak in the United States, work conditions that should be unacceptable are tolerated, out of fear. The forty-hour work week is already bad enough; the lack of vacation time is truly uncivilized; and health care being considered a ‘benefit’ does not deserve a comment, but rather a re-defining. And one source feeding the roots of these practices is student loan debt. Debt is a prison without bars, and often the prison cell is euphemistically called a cubicle.

Comparative Mathematics

April 11, 2007

Here’s some mathematics for you:

a) For $500,000,000,000, you can get:

less than one pre-emptive ‘war’ (invasion) or

four years of university education in the United States for 2,000,000 students

(based on $50,000 per year per student all expenses, plus $25,000,000,000 per year for bureaucratic administration of the program).

b) 9/11=0.8181…

The Return of Quality Journalism

April 10, 2007

Although it seems the early 21st century is a dark age for journalism, where the narrative of contemporary history is being written by meek hacks who are under the control of their capitalist masters, there is, finally, a bright spot! Starting yesterday, reporter Jim Meddick has begun to report on a fellow time-traveller, a certain Professor Xemit. I do not know this Xemit, and he appears to be using a different means of temporal displacement than my own (remember, I am dependant on no technology for my wanderings). We do however share a (temporarily) common fate: we are both stranded here, myself indefinitely, Xemit as he awaits retrieval by the “temporal relocator” (I am unfamiliar with this technology, but many eras have time-travel capability, employing quite a variety of systems). You can follow Professor Xemit’s foray into this era, via Meddick’s artist rendition of his visit, here (first installment of daily reports):

http://www.comics.com/comics/monty/archive/monty-20070409.html

Enjoy, and remember: Tempus omnia vincit

Filth

April 9, 2007

I’ve heard it forever, that using ‘four-letter’ words, i.e. swearing, cursing, foul-talk, whatever you want to call it, is for those of limited intelligence and vocabulary. Bullshit! I overheard a conversation once, in which two people were discussing a friend that, much to the surprise of their sensibilities, is a linguist who curses like a sailor. Are the two incompatible? No way! Through the force of intonation and precision of usage, a single word can be endowed with multiple meanings, and there may be, to the refined ear, nuance to rival the greatest poets. Is it always necessary? Of course not; only recently, after a phone conversation with a most beautiful girl, I realized that I had been swearing a bit on the heavy side, and I regretted it. But let’s not exaggerate: is no attention to be paid to content? Do the details of lexical choice demand more of our attention than the substance of the discussion? Does the underlying reality of, “She fucking saved his goddamn life by putting her ass on the line and facing a shitload of danger”, seem less noble, because of the language, than, “By executive decree, following a persistent series of mendacious declarations, a bare minimum of 3,000 enlistees have been sent out and have successfully verified that a human life is indeed finite”? Or, “I shall gleefully, through the use of bicepular exertion and with the aid of a length of thin, serrated metal, cause your head to become irrevocably separated from your body”, rather than, “Them foreigners make some of the best fucking food I’ve ever tasted. Not only that, but the chicks are hot, and some of the books they write will blow your fucking mind. Invade their shitty little hell-hole? Fuck that! Let’s give them a goddamn hand. Peace now!” All that is a long-winded way of saying, Don’t lecture me about civility and the use of language when you support actions that are inhuman, demeaning, aberrant, and otherwise unacceptable to anyone whose mind is enlightened by the firings of more than two neurons. It’s my goddamn language, and I’ll do whatever the fuck I want with it.

“de gustibus non est disputandum”, but still…

April 8, 2007

There are places where it is common, and seen as acceptable, to put an egg on a pizza. This often happens in places where you can see dogs in restaurants. Let the dogs stay (everbody has to eat), but keep the eggs away from the pizza. You want eggs and cheese together? Try a quiche. The egg is usually cracked onto the pizza after the pizza has been in the oven for a while. This requires opening the oven, thus reducing the interior temperature of the oven and increasing cooking time. Usually the pizza is considered done before the egg has fully cooked. Runny eggs literally turn my belly; I prefer burnt to any liquid egg. I’ve heard the egg called the crown on the most regal of foods. Keep this intruder away before its unwelcome presence dethrones pizza, the king of food. Do you want to hear the story of the guy who ordered a quattro formaggi with an egg and mushrooms? I’m sorry, I can’t tell you…just remembering it brings on the depths of despair and fills my head with the horrible images of a paradis perdu.

It Makes Me Sick

April 7, 2007

My investigation into 21st century life has uncovered a ghastly fact: despite the advanced state of your primitive medical sciences, there is a nation whose citizens are not guaranteed health care. Most amazingly, it is a rich, powerful nation. There, a person’s access to health care, as well as their family’s access, is quite often linked to their employment status! Unbelievable but true. I’ve heard arguments in favor of this system, but all of them so far make me hurt. Most annoyingly, it has been said that the implementation of a government-controlled system would create a huge bureaucracy, as if all of the paperwork patients must fill out during visits to their doctor, with each insurance company maintaining its own particular system, is not part of a bureaucracy. Bureaucracies are not a monopoly of the state! It was argued, during one feeble legislative attempt to institute universal health care, that a patient’s choice of their doctor would disappear. With the failure of this initiative rose private conglomerates, which provided lists of doctors that could be visited by patients in that company’s fiefdom. Choice was taken away, even from those in favor of the private sector. The most barbaric argument I’ve heard was that the more affluent would be paying for the health-care of those less financially able to make their contribution. It is quite simple to destroy this heartless reasoning: yes, the rich would pay more, based on their income. Would it exceed what their insurance premium already is? No. The choice then is whether the excess money they’ve paid (premium minus their health care costs) should go as profit to insurance companies, or to help cover their neighbor. If you hesitate answering this question, you need a psychologist; let’s hope you’re covered.