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Professor Liddle-Oldman

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If You’re A Goth, Where Were You When We Sacked Rome? [Sep. 15th, 2016|04:27 pm]
Professor Liddle-Oldman
[mood |thoughtful]

15 September 2016

The answer to Final Jeopardy the other day was “American Gothic”. The clue was a picture of the models in street garb. (As everyone knows, they were Wood’s sister and his dentist.) The sister had current hair and probably cosmetics, but the dentist, though wearing a suit, look precisely like the picture. As I was shaving this morning, it occurred to me to wonder if Wood actually got the idea for the painting in the chair, listening to the drill and looking up into that dour and severe face.
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Meet The New Boss; Same As The Old Boss [Sep. 14th, 2016|03:49 pm]
Professor Liddle-Oldman
[mood |reflective]

14 September 2016

I was sitting in my usual diner the other day, eating beef stew (which has just come back on the menu, despite the near-90 heat most days), listening to the radio behind the grill. There’s no telling what it’ll be playing day to day; I don’t know if it depends on which cook is up, or what the cook’s mood is, or some system of rotation between the preferences of the staff. In any case, that day it was playing an oldies station.

As an oldie myself, I was mostly enjoying the selections. (As usual, they were basically playing my record collection.) They played “White Room”, they played “Victoria”, they played "Baba O'Riley” (Teenage wasteland; It's only teenage wasteland). Which – as usual – caused me to imagine the survivors of The Who singing, now, “Hope I die before I get—oh, shit.”
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Daily News [Sep. 8th, 2016|12:48 pm]
Professor Liddle-Oldman
[Tags|]

8 September 2016

There are two interesting bits in the paper this morning. (Of course there's murders and trials and people blowing themselves and others up, as usual.)

One is that an elephant in the National Zoo has arthritis, poor thing, so she's been fitted for boots to assist. They've helped her become more mobile. They're about a size 20, EEEEEEEEEEEE wide.

The other is that North Carolina has had a spate of sightings of feral clowns. When confronted, they flee back into the woods. The police claim not to be able to find them, though I would certainly search, simply so that I could say "feral clowns" at a news briefing.

The headline for this second story, by the by, is "Is It Pennywise, Or Just Clown Foolish?", which I love almost as much as"feral clowns".
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More Sudden Thoughts [Aug. 6th, 2016|05:53 pm]
Professor Liddle-Oldman
6 August 2016

Damn, a month's gap? Mind, I was in New Hampshire for two weeks without even cell reception, but still.

Well, I came back from NH with Donald Trump figured out.

You know how the T. Rex was the king of the Cretaceous? (Despite the name of the park.) Well,The Donald is the T. Rump. Problem solved.
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Sudden Thought! [Jul. 6th, 2016|02:09 pm]
Professor Liddle-Oldman
It dawned on me this morning that there are two types of conservative. One believes that every word of the Bible is literal truth. The other believes that every word of Atlas Shrugged is the literal truth.
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Questions! We Have Questions [Jun. 21st, 2016|03:33 pm]
Professor Liddle-Oldman
[Tags|, , , ]
[mood |curious]

21 June 2016

I understand why there is such a rise in children with food allergies –the handraised, hothouse children have never been allowed to touch anything, have never been challenged in any way at all, so when their immune systems finally get a chance to be heard from, they go insane (like giving a Chihuahua amphetamines and a treat) and take the poor coddled children out in a flood of anaphylaxis. However – someone recently asked, parenthetically, why peanuts seem to be the main problem. I have no damn idea, and need to research this.

Additionally, as I was making tea this morning, my brain reminded me of one of the best kickass moments in the Star Trek universe; when, in First Contact, Data, who we believe might have gone over to the Borg, tells the Queen “Resistance is futile” and punches a hole in the coolant conduit, astonishing her and dissolving most of the infestation.

However.

How could he in fact astonish her, act with agency, and make a move against them? Why was he not already networked in?

I suspect that this is just something I will have to overlook, and have a few ideas (such as, the Evil Queen thought it was more delicious if he blew up the first FTL ship by his own will; after all, if he was just a servo, any drone could have done it), but it’s still a legitimate point.
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Gonna Have To Science The Shit Out Of This [Jun. 9th, 2016|06:51 pm]
Professor Liddle-Oldman
[Tags|, , ]

So I just read The Martian, which someone had loaned me. (Wish I remembered who...) I read it now because I had just seen the movie. And I have to say, I liked them both.

If one has not been clued, this is a book that was unexpectedly hot recently -- the story of Mark Watney, a member of the Mars mission Ares III, who ends up being left behind when his team has to abort in the face of a sandstorm strong enough to compromise their assent vehicle; that is, their ride back to their orbiting ship. The book is about his efforts to survive long enough to be rescued, in a fiercely hostile environment, with equipment designed to last for the 31-day mission, no way to communicate with the ship or with Earth (It was the comm dish that hit him and busted his bio computer, so he registered as "dead" on the team's screens), and nowhere near enough food to last until the next mission, in four years.

It's the hardest science science fiction, well researched (the author calculates interception orbits as a hobby), and both enjoyable and relateable. I can recommend it.

The surprising thing is that I can recommend the movie as well. Matt Damon plays the stranded astronaut well, and, more importantly, the filmmakers trusted the book. A lot has been trimmed for time, and they inserted a few bits, but what they inserted is minor, true to the spirit and letter of the story, and works. (Glorfindel, for instance, is not in the book, but the rest of the scene is.) The plot, developments, and giant wads of dialogue are straight from the story. (They succumbed to Cinematography Fever once or twice, but the movie survives it.)

Do you have any idea how rare this is? Even Peter Jackson used maybe 15% of the books, and filled the rest up with cinematic bullshit-- I'm surprised he didn't put in a car chase. The story goes that the producer of The Maltese Falcon thought of it as a nothing project, so he just handed the book to his secretary and asked her to "type this up as a screenplay", which is why it's a great movie, but otherwise to film a book is to ruin it. (I understood Tim Burton's Alice when I came across an interview in which he said that he hated the book and had never read it. I think his source document was the execrable Disney movie.)

So I enjoyed the book -- I sat up halfway to dawn last night to finish it -- and I enjoyed the movie. Full props and my recommendation.
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Mama, Just Killed A Man [May. 13th, 2016|09:38 pm]
Professor Liddle-Oldman
OK, no, I didn't. I did spend much of the day with my mother,though. She just recently moved from Marlborough to Somerville, and hasn't found new suppliers and services yet. She called me a couple of days ago to ask if I could drive her West, as her car is in the shop (with another mysterious Prius electronic problem.) She had to sign things at her lawyer's, in yet another act of the hallucinatory drama selling her house seems to have become. We met with the lawyer (well, she did, and I nodded sagely now and then.) We went to her optician, as she'd accidentally sat on her reading glasses. (They fixed them). She bought me lunch at our favorite Chinese buffet. We bought 50-lb sacks of birdseed and garden soil. One of the advantages of having children is having someone to pick up heavy stuff when you'r getting on. (She's 88). We stopped at an expensive western suburb supermarket and I found both fiddleheads and peas. All in all, we had a good day and a wide-ranging chat.

The drive home was long -- the Williams Tunnel looked clogged, so I went surface through the city, around the North End and through the industrial part of South Boston. But I got home just in time to watch Beat The Press, which has five panelists now that we have a new 21st century TV, and Jeopardy. I haven't had any supper, having eaten a couple day's worth at the restaurant, but that's no mind. Well, I'm off to eat some more Tums. Ta!
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I Am Determined To Prove A Villain, And Hate The Idle Pleasures Of These Days. [Apr. 22nd, 2016|10:33 pm]
Professor Liddle-Oldman
22 April 2016

Damn. This new keyboard – and the space key which does not space – is making me lackadaisical about posting.

I just started a new book, Digging For Richard III, which is about just that – the archaeological project that finally found the 500-year lost remains of the last Plantagenet king, Richard III, of poor reputation, despite Tey. This, of course reminds me of Alan.

Alan is my most senior friend—we met in 1967, when I was 12. Alan is one of the smartest people I know, and is interested in English history, despite being half Irish. He really ought to be teaching history somewhere, but he’s spent decades selling books. Once, when I was in the hospital, he came by to visit, and in the course of the conversation, his theory that the Wars of the Roses were more low comedy than high drama came up. Out of his head, with no prep, he sketched all of the major battles, including which units got lost, or attacked their own flank, or went over to the other side in mid-fight.

So. There was, at the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Bosworth Field, where Henry Tudor killed Richard and founded the Tudor dynasty, a re-enactment on site. Alan attended. He reports that, behind him, there were two young women who obviously supported Richard, and seemed to feel that if they made enough of a case, they could get a new outcome. Finally, when “Henry” plucked the crown (which Richard had worn on his helmet) from a bush and held it up, the two girls yelled “Put that back where it belongs!” Alan – and this warms my heart even thirty years later – turned to them and snapped, “He can’t. The princes are already dead.”

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of, well, Weymouth.
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Dry [Apr. 1st, 2016|05:51 pm]
Professor Liddle-Oldman
1 April 2016

I was listening to NPR, and they reported a perfect example of recursive meta. The official Chinese governmental news arm has published a notice that no-one should indulge in an April Fool's prank, as April Fool's jokes are inconsistent with Socialist theory -- and no one knows if it's a joke. I have decided to regard it as the driest humor possible, and acknowledge the expert level.
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