August 2008


Not having children, I get a little out of touch with these things, but I was surprised to read that the early years of Sesame Street sport warnings that they’re “intended for grown-ups”:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/18/magazine/18wwln-medium-t.html

Apparently, anarchic behavior like cookie-glomphing, pipe-eating, and trash-can-grouching is now considered way too edgy for children.  If that’s the case, I predict a backlash when the children of today’s overprotective parents grow up.

Lethal... or goofy?

Lethal... or goofy?

jwz found an old article featuring British coppers puzzling over a Klingon betleH:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-387680/Lethal-Star-Trek-blade-seized-knives-amnesty.html

Now, My B.S. detectors go off whenever I see fantasy illustrations of oversized swords with claws and sharpened outgrowths.  I figure that the last 3000 years of combat have refined what makes a good edged weapon, and there’s a reason real weapons don’t look like what art directors come up with.  Though anything with a sharp edge can be dangerous, and I imagine the betleH could parry all right, it looks like it’d be lousy for thrusting.  I’d think a good swordsman would either chop at your legs, or knock it, twisting it into a position more dangerous to the wielder than to the opponent.

IIRC European swords actually got thinner over time– the rapier outperformed the longsword.

But, I’m just speculating.  Surely some of my readers are martial arts geeks and can offer a more informed opinion.

So, more TF2.  Do you know, I dreamed about TF2 the other night.  I was on the blue team, which lost, and the red CEO (he looked craggy, skin and suit the color of the red spy’s outfit) was giving a pep talk to his team motivating them to search out the survivors and kill them.  I managed to get away with several close shaves. 

Anyway, I think I’m solidly mediocre now.  Thanks to some small-team games with Frohman and others, I’ve been trying out the other classes.  Medic is pretty good, especially with a good partner (i.e. one who doesn’t forget that his medic buddy is made of styrofoam); it’s also an almost cheap way to rack up points.  Soldier is good when there’s someone to take care of long distance.  I kinda like playing Scout too, especially on CTF maps, or to sneak up behind the enemy. 

The new Arena mode is extremely well designed to showcase my faults, especially dying early and often.  But Badwater Basin is great.

What a difference a quagmire makes.  Just five years ago the Bushies were happy imperialists, eager to project limitless American might around the world.  Now Bush is reduced to squealing petulantly while Russia invades Georgia.  Saakashvili undoubtedly hoped the first-term Bush was still in power; he didn’t pursue NATO membership and send troops to Iraq just to get sympathetic words.  But that’s all he got.  Even a Cold War style proxy war seems beyond Bush’s power right now.

Bush’s supporters have always wanted him to be judged on his principles rather than policies.  But if you don’t act on them, principles do no good– indeed, they actually do harm.  If Saakashvili hadn’t thought he had American support, he would have acted less provocatively in South Ossetia.  And since Bush doesn’t think his non-invasion policy applies to the US or Israel, the rest of the world just considers him a hypocrite.

Taking a longer view, the war is another depressing episode in the US mismanagement of the Soviet Union’s collapse, a saga that goes back twenty years and is as much Clinton’s fault as the Bushes’.  Americans believe in their system and have trouble understanding why everybody else doesn’t rush to adopt it (or something tolerably close, such as whatever they do over in Europe).  But again, good intentions do harm if you don’t stand behind them.  Democracy and capitalism don’t succeed immediately by magic, and if a country tries them without success, they react against them and we’re worse off than before.

Went back to William Harrison’s 1587 text The Description of England.  A choice fact: the testicles of beavers are “of such medicinable force that (as Vertomannus saith) four men smelling unto them each after other did bleed at the nose through their attractive force” (p. 326).  And Vertomannus surely wouldn’t lie about such a thing.

1. Seeing a lanky guy in a red T-shirt at the grocery store and immediately thinking, Scout.

2. Carrying a flamethrower at all times.  Oops!  Hope he respawns OK.

Look at this picture of the Chinese Olympic mascots, bearing in mind that their names are supposed to spell out 北京欢迎你 Běijīng huānyíng nǐ “Beijing welcomes you”.  What leaps out at you?

Why, that the names don’t match!  What nefarious message do they have for us?

贝贝 Bèibèi uses the character ‘shells, valuables’.  Interestingly, the tone doesn’t match Běijīng.

晶晶 Jīngjīng is ‘bright, shining’.

欢欢 Huānhuān is ‘cheerful’; this one does match huānyíng.

迎迎 Yíngyíng ‘welcome, meet’ is OK too.

妮妮 Nīnī is ‘girl’; again a tone mismatch.

OK, there isn’t actually a subversive message; I guess names like “You-you” and “North-north” just didn’t sound cute enough.

福娃 fúwá is ‘happy’ + ‘baby’, not to be confused with Japanese futa.

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