Archive for April, 2013
30 Apr 2013

Look What’s Happened To Stanley Anne’s Baby

, ,

30 Apr 2013

One More Good Reason Not To Buy Apple

, ,

Cory Doctorow gleefully passes along some decidedly damaging accounts of sanctimonious corporate malfeasance.

Consumerist’s Laura Northrup rounds up several years’ worth of stories from Apple customers who say they were denied warranty support on their computers because they’d smoked around them. As an annoying ex-smoker, I can sympathize with a tech who doesn’t want to work on a machine that smells like an old ashtray, but that’s what painter’s masks are for — I’ve also serviced machines that reeked of BO and other less savory odors. This just feels like a way to weasel out of doing warranty service and forcing customers to pay for new machines. If the company has a policy of not fixing machines if you smoke near them, it should say so when it sells you the warranty: WARNING: IF YOU LIGHT UP NEAR YOUR LAPTOP, WE WON’T EVER FIX IT, EVEN IF IT IS MATERIALLY DEFECTIVE.

30 Apr 2013

Microtech Halo 3X

, , ,

Microtech knives are hideously expensive, not easy to find, probably illegal for you to own or carry, but avidly collected by macho men everywhere with a weakness for “tactical” gear.

When I saw this video featuring a giant, oversized version of the classic (if the word “classic” can possibly be applied in this particular context) Microtech Halo, I assumed all this hyperbolic rhetoric was pure satire, but, no, examples of this oversized version (which must be so illegal as to carry multiple sentences for possession) are actually on-sale*.

* for a mere $8999 shipped!

Hat tip to Vanderleun (who shares my own interests and perspective so perectly that I think he must be my evil twin).

Confession: I used to own one Microtech (not a front-opening Halo), but it was too valuable to use, and I concluded it was too heavy to carry, so I sold it.

29 Apr 2013

The Major Ills of the World”

,


Henry Grady Weaver (1889–1949) worked as a mechanic, salesman, and draftsman before becoming director of customer research for General Motors. He was placed on the cover of the November 14, 1938 issue of Time magazine.

From The Mainspring of Human Progress, 1947:

“Most of the major ills of the world have been caused by well-meaning people who ignored the principle of individual freedom, except as applied to themselves, and who were obsessed with fanatical zeal to improve the lot of mankind-in-the-mass through some pet formula of their own. The harm done by ordinary criminals, murderers, gangsters, and thieves is negligible in comparison with the agony inflicted upon human beings by the professional do-gooders, who attempt to set themselves up as gods on earth and who would ruthlessly force their views on all others with the abiding assurance that the end justifies the means.”

23 Apr 2013

Your Picture Here

, ,

Worldometers put up one of these little men to represent each and every living human being in the world on a single page.

Hat tip to Vanderleun.

23 Apr 2013

Moving This Week


South view of log home built in 1812 by Christian Baughman.

My apologies. Blogging will be sparse for the next few days, as Karen and I will be packing and then moving our household north to our Pennsylvania vacation home. We travel tomorrow, and I’m not positive that working satellite Internet access will be up and ready when we arrive.

23 Apr 2013

St. George’s Day

, ,


Hans von Aachen, St. George Slaying the Dragon, 16th century, Private Collection

From Robert Chambers, The Book of Days, 1869:

Butler, the historian of the Romish calendar, repudiates George of Cappadocia, and will have it that the famous saint was born of noble Christian parents, that he entered the army, and rose to a high grade in its ranks, until the persecution of his co-religionists by Diocletian compelled him to throw up his commission, and upbraid the emperor for his cruelty, by which bold conduct he lost his head and won his saintship. Whatever the real character of St. George might have been, he was held in great honour in England from a very early period. While in the calendars of the Greek and Latin churches he shared the twenty-third of April with other saints, a Saxon Martyrology declares the day dedicated to him alone; and after the Conquest his festival was celebrated after the approved fashion of Englishmen.

In 1344, this feast was made memorable by the creation of the noble Order of St. George, or the Blue Garter, the institution being inaugurated by a grand joust, in which forty of England’s best and bravest knights held the lists against the foreign chivalry attracted by the proclamation of the challenge through France, Burgundy, Hainault, Brabant, Flanders, and Germany. In the first year of the reign of Henry V, a council held at London decreed, at the instance of the king himself, that henceforth the feast of St. George should be observed by a double service; and for many years the festival was kept with great splendour at Windsor and other towns. Shakspeare, in Henry VI, makes the Regent Bedford say, on receiving the news of disasters in France:

Bonfires in France I am forthwith to make
To keep our great St. George’s feast withal!’

Edward VI promulgated certain statutes severing the connection between the ‘noble order’ and the saint; but on his death, Mary at once abrogated them as ‘impertinent, and tending to novelty.’ The festival continued to be observed until 1567, when, the ceremonies being thought incompatible with the reformed religion, Elizabeth ordered its discontinuance. James I, however, kept the 23rd of April to some extent, and the revival of the feast in all its glories was only prevented by the Civil War. So late as 1614, it was the custom for fashionable gentlemen to wear blue coats on St. George’s day, probably in imitation of the blue mantle worn by the Knights of the Garter.

In olden times, the standard of St. George was borne before our English kings in battle, and his name was the rallying cry of English warriors. According to Shakspeare, Henry V led the attack on Harfleur to the battle-cry of ‘God for Harry! England! and St. George!’ and ‘God and St. George’ was Talbot’s slogan on the fatal field of Patay. Edward of Wales exhorts his peace-loving parents to

‘Cheer these noble lords,
And hearten those that fight in your defence;
Unsheath your sword, good father, cry St. George!’

The fiery Richard invokes the same saint, and his rival can think of no better name to excite the ardour of his adherents:

‘Advance our standards, set upon our foes,
Our ancient word of courage, fair St. George,
Inspire us with the spleen of fiery dragons.’

England was not the only nation that fought under the banner of St. George, nor was the Order of the Garter the only chivalric institution in his honour. Sicily, Arragon, Valencia, Genoa, Malta, Barcelona, looked up to him as their guardian saint; and as to knightly orders bearing his name, a Venetian Order of St. George was created in 1200, a Spanish in 1317, an Austrian in 1470, a Genoese in 1472, and a Roman in 1492, to say nothing of the more modern ones of Bavaria (1729), Russia (1767), and Hanover (1839).

Legendarily the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George was founded by the Emperor Constantine (312-337 A.D.). On the factual level, the Constantinian Order is known to have functioned militarily in the Balkans in the 15th century against the Turk under the authority of descendants of the twelfth-century Byzantine Emperor Isaac II Angelus Comnenus.

We Lithuanians liked St. George as well. When I was a boy I attended St. George Lithuanian Parish Elementary School, and served mass at St. George Lithuanian Roman Catholic Church in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.

22 Apr 2013

Hitler Finds Out Gun Control Failed In The Senate

, ,

22 Apr 2013

“Put on the Whole Armour of God”

,

Margaret Thatcher’s granddaughter Amanda traveled to the funeral in St. Paul’s Cathedral from her home in Texas. The younger Thatcher was elegantly composed and very decorative, and she delivered a fighting passage from St. Paul that caused the British media elite to squirm in discomfort.

Foreign Policy says Amanda Thatcher “stole the show” at Nargaret Thatcher’s funeral.

21 Apr 2013

Superman’s 75th Anniversary

, ,

Glen Weldon Superman’s biographer), in the New Republic, traces the Man of Steel’s history and the changes to his persona and characteristics over the decades which mirrored those of America’s changing culture.

Seventy-five years ago, every red-blooded American kid read comic books.

Churned out on cheap paper, these comics sold for ten cents a pop, a not inconsiderable amount of money considering that the Great Depression still hung in the nation’s doorway like a party guest who can’t take a hint. In exchange for their dimes, kids could spend an entire afternoon at the movies, gorge themselves at the soda fountain, or take home a comic ablaze with the four-color adventures of Tarzan, Buck Rogers, Popeye and other well-known strips hastily reprinted from the newspaper funny pages.

Then came Action Comics #1.

Like the other comics of its day, Action adopted an anthology format, offering eleven different features of varying length. These features, however, were different. They were, for the first time, original stories starring brand new characters. Despite their brawny, evocative names—Scoop Scanlon! Sticky-Mitt Stimson! Pep Morgan! Chuck Dawson, Fastest Gun in the West!—none of them would last.

Well. Except one.

The guy on the cover? That circus strongman hefting a green Studebaker over his head? That guy?

He’d hang around. In fact, he’d do much more than that. Scant months after Superman’s debut as the lead feature of Action #1, he would leap from the comics page into the funny pages and from there into the toy box, onto the radio, the movie screen, and the television. Over the course of a 75-year multimedia push, he would transcend the various media that convey him and infiltrate the collective consciousness of the country, and the world. He would construct his own archetype, powered by a uniquely American fuel mixture: our power and privilege, our violence and spectacle, our noblest ideals.

Read the whole thing.

I predict that Superman will go Gay, and have an affair with Archie in 2020.

——————————–

Of course, the best take on Superman comes from Bill:

21 Apr 2013

If Salvador Dali Was Reincarnated as a Bird…

, ,


Inca tern (Larosterna inca).

Photos: Ellen van Yperen at My Modern Met.

Via the Dish.

21 Apr 2013

Irony

, , , , , , ,


The Mercedes SUV hijacked by the Chechen bombers bore this bumper sticker.

———————————-


Full size

19 Apr 2013

H.P. Lovecraft… Philosopher??

, ,


Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937)

In Salon, Brian Kim Stefans discusses a new book by “Speculative Realist” philosopher Graham Harman (who teaches at the American University in Cairo, not at Miskatonic), which attempts to identify the early 20th century author of pulp horror stories as a literary philosophic opponent of Kantian Phenomenalism, materialism, and linguistic analysis.

Evidently, Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man gibber und kreischen über von einer Band aus amorphem Flötenspieler Begleitet. What we cannot speak about, we must gibber and shriek about, accompanied by a band of amorphous flute-players.

Few movements in recent philosophy have had as startling a rise as that of the writers loosely grouped under the heading “Speculative Realists.” Attention to this movement, which includes Harman, Ray Brassier, Iain Hamilton Grant, Levi Bryant, and Quentin Meillassoux… is growing exponentially, not just in universities but also among the unaffiliated continental philosophy junkies who troll the blogosphere. The one principle that is inarguably shared by these philosophers is quite simple: they wish to retrieve philosophy from a tendency initiated, or at least made unavoidable, by the work of Immanuel Kant. Kant believed that the subject (meaning a human being) can ever know anything about the external world due to the very fact of subjectivity. For him, reality is always mediated by cognition, and the thinkable has a basic handicap: it is just thought. Nothing comes from outside into the mind, in other words, that is not turned into thought; the radical epistemologist argues that all we can know lies in the firm foundations of what is available to the senses, while the radical idealist argues that nothing remains in this thinking of whatever it was that spawned the thought, leaving one at the impasse of believing that all of reality is virtual, a bunch of mental actions. The result, according to the speculative realists, is that philosophy since Kant has been stuck with making this very mind→object relationship the locus and subject of philosophy, thus shutting down the project of metaphysics, the search for absolute laws beyond what can be established by experimental science.

Quentin Meillassoux has dubbed this mind→object relationship — the impasse that is at the heart of the Kantian tradition — “correlationism,” and the term has become a rallying cry for speculative realists. Harman’s philosophy displaces the mind→object relationship with that of object→object, the “mind” being just one object among many. Oddly, though Meillassoux names correlationism as the primary curse of the Kantian tradition, he also seems the most devoted of his peers to preserving the best part of it by making it the one place where he claims anything like an absolute exists. To Meillassoux (who, coincidentally or consequently, is also a fan of Lovecraft), the universe is not characterized by necessity (God-given or inevitable laws) but by a radical contingency, a “hyper-chaos” amidst which the only thing that could be seen as absolute is the mind→object relationship itself. ….

In Weird Realism: Lovecraft and Philosophy, Harman enlists Lovecraft in his battle with epistemology and materialism — Lovecraft himself expressed loathing for normative science, and certainly had no love for legitimate academics — but also against correlationism: the conviction that all the mind could ever know are purely mental phenomena, which ultimately led (and here we are brushing with broad strokes) to the so-called “linguistic” turn of much 20th-century philosophy (most characteristically that of Wittgenstein and Derrida). To that extent, Lovecraft’s failure to engage in the linguistic experimentation of his high Modernist contemporaries does not make him some kind of recalcitrant provincial, but rather a sensible (if xenophobic) voyager who simply did not want to make the claim that language was all there was. Lovecraft’s language “fails” only insofar as the narrators fail to get into words, to journalize, some experience that simply cannot be fully available to the meager human senses and mind. For the most part, Lovecraft is happy to use language as a simple, functional tool, rather than to insist at every moment through linguistic estrangement — like, say, a Stein or a Beckett — that language is not what you think it is (and, consequently, that language is everything). For Lovecraft, it’s the universe, not language, that is not what you think it is. So what is it then? Well, weird.

Weird Realism
opens with an idiosyncratic set of short essays that lay out the method of the book. Harman notes that there is a choice that philosophers generally make between being a “destroyer of gaps” — those who want to reduce reality to a simple principle — and “creators of gaps” — those who point to those areas to which we will possibly never have access. He deems the latter “productionists” (in contrast to reductionists) and writes: “If we apply this distinction to imaginative writers, then H.P. Lovecraft is clearly a productionist author. No other writer is so perplexed by the gap between objects and the power of language to describe them, or between objects and the qualities they possess.”

19 Apr 2013

News

, ,

#BostonMarathon In case you’re just joining us, here’s what’s going on.

Your are browsing
the Archives of Never Yet Melted for April 2013.















Feeds
Entries (RSS)
Comments (RSS)
Feed Shark