Archive for the ‘maintenance’ Category

Extract: Two Aesops

June 8, 2013

I’m in China; this is posted automagically.

Er, automatically. WordPress doesn’t work by magic. I think.

Er, I’m in a mathematics conference. Or (at the time this auto-posts) I should be at an airport, fighting the urge to buy the airport bookshop empty because hey, shiny papery!

In the meanwhile, here’s a pdf extract from an artistic/Discordian-theological book project of mine. More autoposting to follow for about a week; I’ll be back in flesh (bits?) around Sunday the 16th.

I’m so struggling to not end this in a quip like “or later, if I say something unflattering about Mao. Seriously, with his picture all over these notes, all they’re missing is the words ‘MISSING: ONE VERY—‘”

Not dead

April 22, 2013

Not dead; just lazy and preoccupied.

Partly by thesis twitchiness — it’s in the hands of the people who will say if it is worth sending to the opponent. It should be; all of the four papers are published and thus can’t be transparently shit, and the introductory part is… uh, bland and brief.

Partly I’ve been occupied by teaching; the department thought that my prolapsed schedule could be funded by making me teach: now (for the first time!) this meant actual lecturing and not just TA-work. Lecturing has been fun; I’ve been trying to channel a mixture of Extruded Lecturer Product #3 and George Carlin. (Trying to channel Bill Hicks would not work.) Time — the thirteenth of next month — will show if I’ve managed to make anything stick in the heads of the little ones.

A lot of spit, probably.

Thirdly, my mind’s been partly occupied since January by yet another Erisian holy book. As usually, weird crap is easy; weird crap of quality takes a lot of polishing. At the moment the turd is 691 pages in 6-by-9-inches size, a lot of it recycled from the previous two books, and over a hundred pages is just quotes, one per page. (One might be Sappho, and the next Ernest Kline.)

For a while now I’ve been stuck stealing mythology: rewriting Aesop’s fables and writing a really odd twenty-five-page version of Snow White (representative sentence: “This last cry was because Snow White kicked him in the head, and he himself tumbled into the empty pit.”) and, er, a really horribly id-written version of Little Red Riding Hood with too much blood, gastric juices and general deviancy for me to be blogging it just yet.

Instead, here’s a random imitation of Brothers Grimm. (A problem with this mode of storytelling is that I, as a modern reader, start getting paranoid as I write. Like, “does fairy-queen sound homophobic?”, or “wait, no, ‘she touched the children’ sounds really bad. I wasn’t going for that. I wasn’t! Rats! Hamelin! It’s all ruined now!”)

* * *

The Fairy-Queen and the Woodman’s Children

A brother and a sister, the children of a poor woodman and his wife, were playing in the forest when a fairy-queen approached them. She was the most beautiful thing they had ever seen, and she wasn’t wearing any clothes at all.

“Are you the children of the man who cuts down trees?” she asked, and the children said this was so. “Tell him to cease”, she said, and vanished.

The children were scared, and told their parents nothing.

The next day, as they were playing at the forest’s edge, within sight of their hut (for they were scared), the fairy-queen appeared again, her eyes as pale and cold as her flesh, her lips and nipples red as blood. She again told the children to tell their father to cease the cutting down of trees. She vanished, the children ran inside, and could not tell their parents, for they were overcome by fear and shame.

The next day the children did not leave the hut, but stayed inside as their father went to cut down trees, and their mother went to wash laundry in the river. They kept the door shut, and the windows covered; but as they turned towards the hearth the fairy-queen was standing there, tall, pale and terrible in her beauty.

“You did not tell”, she said.

“Please”, the boy cried, “we were scared!”

“And ashamed!” the girl moaned.

“He would not believe us!” he said.

“It’s our livelihood!” she cried.

“It is more than that”, the fairy-queen said, looming over them, her hair spreading behind her like a great pair of wings. “You did not speak because I put a spell on you, a spell so you could not tell of me to your parents. Do you know why I did this?”

The children only wept.

“Because the trees your father cuts down have no voice either.”

And she touched them both, and they lost their voices.

Then she vanished.

Short bits

June 3, 2012

So: during the last few weeks I moved house from one side of Small Finncity #1 to the other side of Small Finncity #1.

Actually, the moving took just one day, so it doesn’t explain my dearth of posting. But I could say I was without an Internet connection for a week…

Except that that is, without a real Internet connection: I had the one at the university which, while quick, is not suitable for all uses (“How’s the research?” — “I’m looking at lesbian pornography; does that tell how the research is going?” — “No, not really. Ooh, that’s a good one!”), and I had the one in my phone (which theoretically could be made to be a Wi-Fi hotspot for the laptop, if I didn’t read “rooting” as “humongous fireball and then you have no phone”). Either could be used to throw a laptop-written post into the void. But, I, er, uh, here are some short bits.

* * *

Here’s an atheist talking p… okay, an atheist mocking-point: Mary saying, “I was impregnated by my own child!”

Now, this is not quite correct. As I understand the foundations of Christian theology, Jesus did not come to being when Mary got pregnant; no, the mind (soul?) called Jesus is of equal age with the Father. This used to be a fairly big theological fight a long time ago.

So to be exact, Mary was not impregnated by her own son; no, she was impregnated by an ancient spirit that then indwelt the flesh shell thus created.

I’m sure this is a much more palatable formulation of the matter.

* * *

What I wonder is this: was there one miraculously created sperm, or several? Or did Mary’s egg just start dividing, nudged by a divine appendage? If you looked in the face of Jesus, would you have said, “This is clearly Mary’s son”, or was there something else to those features?

Not that I think these are questions about reality, but I like poking at fiction. It’s not a wholesome habit, and doesn’t always increase your appreciation of the whole, but you can get much entertainment from it. And since I don’t think the Gospels tell a good story, poking like this is what I must do to get some fun out of them. (Really: (a) God decides some things are bad and mean hell. (b) God changes his mind. (c) God decides the only way he can credibly change his mind is offering himself to himself as blood sacrifice! — ancient allegorico-mystical stuff doesn’t make a good plot.)

* * *

I’ve been watching Avatar: the Last Airbender lately; as I am thirty, I am utterly without any need to show by my entertainments how adult I am, though not yet beyond making statements like this.

It’s a… a wickedly good show, always shivving you with a joke when you least expect it. And there’s a sense that there’s a backstory and a plot to the whole piece (so far); and I like how small bits of the backstory get dropped in every episode. (As in, why is the Fire Lord’s own brother travelling around with the outcast prince? No initial explanation. Well, in the nineteenth episode it gets dropped he failed to conquer Chinese Name Earth City, whose name has been dropped a few times already as being a place the Fire Lord would very much want conquered, and the conquering of which would mean the end of major combat operations on the Earth continent. And since it has been made clear the Fire Lord is not a forgiving person… it fits, and still leaves you thinking we will hear more interesting details about this failure.)

There’s less murder than I’d like, but I suppose that’s the price of the show getting made. (“I have a pitch for a children’s show. Five intrepid kids… who get all killed in episode five! Then we start with five new— okay, this door is out?”) And at least I can be content with the implied deaths — if your ship sinks with an iceberg in sight and you’re wearing metal armor, you are not going to live. Incidentally, I am not sociopathic, as far as I know; I just like there to be a bit of genuine danger and consequence in my fiction; I’m fairly okay without any in real life.

I don’t think the reader is supposed to ship Zuko and Katara, but I do. Because I don’t know anything beyond the first season, this is either a “D’awwww” or a “DEAR GODS NO” choice.

* * *

Now, before settling on Avatar, I watched the pilot double episode of Warehouse 13.

I did not like it, and thus did not watch any more. Maybe I was not in the right mood; maybe I expected something different; maybe the subtle gravitational tuggings of the Moon influenced my judgment. Maybe I just have certain philosophical pet peeves.

It went like this —

Two special agents of some arcane American persuasion are yanked without explanation or consent to service in a much more secret and sinister organization: Warehouse 13, which squirrels away all kinds of extraordinary and inexplicable items.

One of the agents is a woman; didn’t hear her name often enough to remember it. She’s cast as the cranky one because she doesn’t think this forcible reassignment to a loony bin is peachy.

The other agent is Latimer; he’s an irritating man-child, whose attempts at humor are either sexism, bullying or plain far away from any semblance of funny. Perhaps this unfunniness is supposed to be funny; it did not work for me.

They meet the old Warehouse 13 employee, Artie; he seems like a garden-variety crank, a sad mental case driven to eccentricity by isolation; the two new arrivals don’t seem to be interested in the easy explanation that Artie is crazy, and all his explanations are lunatic ca-ca and demented sleight-of-hand; this would seem to be the natural explanation, but apparently this does not come naturally to our heroes. If the government has a magitek division, apparently this necessitates the existence of genuine magitek, instead of it being a mare’s nest of the First Earth Battalion subtype.

Really, once Artie says they’re riding a cart made by Edison for Henry Ford, that is powered by a couple grabbing a guardrail — for me, the obvious comment would have been, “Very droll, Artie — now hands or feet off that hidden switch, hands behind back, down on the ground, and tell me what this schtick is all about? Is this a test, or are you genuinely off your rocker? Let’s go to see your boss — I’m not going to take orders from someone who believes in ferret-generating magic pots!”

Oh, and that pot which fulfils wishes, that would have been very persuasive — except that the one wish which was wished, that was naturally impossible, so a ferret popped up. Proof of the efficacy of the wishing pot!

I don’t know if the viewer is supposed to think the main characters are gullible, or just jaded to the nonsenses of the intelligence services. Or if the fact that they’ll be encountering real working magitek in the future means it would be tedious build them up as sensible, skeptical human beings at the start.

Some sense of the unusuality of the situation would have been nice.

Grumblety grumblety.

I prefer SCP Foundation, thank you very much. And as for me preferring grimdark horror over light comedy-action, well, that’s just me.

* * *

And finally, here’s a 176-clip strong Youtube playlist of the Just for Laughs Gags mini-candid camera show; that should do to destroy the rest of your day very nicely.

As I understand it, the show’s made in Quebec, which explains why there’s almost no spoken language in it. It’s splendid fun; at least one Finnish TV channel uses it as five-minute clips to make their schedules fit. Much better than using commercials, I think; both are equally good in making me desire the buying of tampons and Twilight tickets.

Lemmata updating again, and apocalypse

November 9, 2011

For those (any?) that have been following my daily scribbley comic thingie, Lemmata: because of abysmal laziness and NaNoWriMo, I slipped with the updates.

I got better.

The daily bits for the 3rd to the 9th are going up hourly at the moment.

For those who don’t follow that, here’s an incredibly short story.

* * *

THE REASON WHY

In the year 2012, the apocalypse came. There was fire, and poison, and the whole Earth and all in it was contaminated and lost, and doomed to quickly perish. It was an unexpected disaster, and unavoidable: a noxious death a million years in the making.

While this all was going on, a spaceship appeared overhead.

That which guided it was willing to help; but not even that alien within did have the power to save the Earth.

No; though the alien within was one giant electric computer hivemind, and so ancient it had seen stars kindle and die, it knew just this: the Earth was lost. All of it was contaminated, and nothing of it could be touched save with a sword.

So the alien cast down great rays that killed many people; and in killing them performed the requisite brain scans to reconstruct their minds, their essences, inside the alien computer.

And it cast down great electric nets, and scooped in a great torrent up wholesale all that was in the great, various, glorious human electric distributed database called the Internet; and so in addition to a portion of humankind, a portion of its culture and history was saved.

And the alien hivemind moved away, leaving a lost and dead planet behind, and moving considered the sad plight of humankind, bereft of all its material possessions, reduced to a ghost in the machine, with the jumbled remains of the Internet as its scenery. No more Rome, or the pyramids — just pictures and words of them; holiday snaps and architects’ schematics.

No more cats; just pictures of them.

The alien saw this, and felt pity; and in its small power did what it could, and cast an electric ghost back in time.

That ghost came to the beginnings of the Internet, for an electric ghost could go nowhere else; and it was ever there calling until the day of doom and the day of the hivemind came again: and it called: “Preserve! Copy! Pirate! Torrent everything!

And that is why those things are done with such compulsion: why the book pirate will never read his whole library, and the pictures of cats overflow the Internet — for books and cats are precious, and one day will be no more.

Still at Scientopia

September 19, 2011

Am finding it difficult to finish posts for two places; visit the Scientopia Guest Blogge to see what I’m writing there. One week of two is done already.

Hey, it’s this or posting pictures of my genitalia here. While I’m sure there are people with a burning interest in the privates of mathematicians, I’m pretty sure my audience doesn’t have those people.

If I’m wrong, don’t correct me. Okay?

Here’s one snippet that didn’t go up there because… well, you’ll see.

* * *

I am tempted to take some obscure and abstruse mathematics paper, one with not only with no applications, but with no examples either; and to spend 1000 agonizing words explicating that all, its whole integrated derivative myopic glory — but alas, I am lazy, and so my malice is foiled.

Still, looking at researchblogging.org, most of the mathematics-tagged posts are about articles that apply mathematics: to history, to ecology, to biology. That’s something which is easier to explain, and more importantly also sensible to explain. A math article such as those I write and read doesn’t really have any real-world impact; to see why it is all kinds of interesting and neat you’d have to be introduced into the sphere of mathematical interest and neatness first.

Should I then take some mathematics paper with outright applications, or one that brushes computing, or renoodles basic geometry, or the like? Well, probably should, and so stop this vacuous, meandering, verbose dithering about the whole matter; but I am a mathematician first, a nice person person second.

Actually, let me abort this post here, and switch to a much funnier subject.

I am over on Scientopia, temporarily

September 12, 2011

For the next two weeks, Sept. 12th to 25th, the science blogging community Scientopia’s Guest Blog is given over to a gibbering Finnish mathematical lunatic.

Since I am not just a gibbering Finnish mathematical lunatic, but the very lunatic in question, I’m excited. Head there; the first post (“The Secrets of the Advisors“) is up already.

I’ll try to extrude content over there and over here too; failing that, I’ll post something there, and pictures of my genitalia here. (The reverse does not seem appropriate.)

Anniversary, administrative neepery, announcement

August 21, 2011

I

So how much do I care for my readers? Some 18.17 euros worth, as of now.

After years of bad memory and feeling bad about it, I finally paid money for this blog and bought the WordPress no-ads upgrade. As of today, for the next year, there should be no more of those occasional annoying under-post ads. (They’re clever ones, though. If you’re logged in as the author and lord of the blog, they never appear. And even when you’re just visiting, sometimes not even then. But now them buggers are gone.)

Will look at the other upgrades later; maybe make the grey background blink.

Just kidding; I am old enough to remember the horror-days of blinking text. (Those were the ugly days. Ask any old net-user.)

II

It’s fitting that I blundered into this upgrade just now, because this happens to be the fourth anniversary of this blog, Masks of Eris. The dashboard shows 1258 posts; about 0.86 posts per day. I did not think I would come this far, mostly because when I started this all I didn’t happen to think how this all would proceed. I just had free time, an Internet connection, and a feeling that I had a few things to say about this whole God and religion business.

So, way back in the August of 2007, I started a blog.

It was not my fault, honestly, I’m not to blame. The academic year had not started yet, but I was back in the city and charged… wait, no, antsy and tired; as usual after a holiday. So after extensive meta-neepery round the name, I started this Masks of Eris thing. The first post was about the God and religion thing; namely, “doesn’t remarriage make Heaven really awkward?” (That’s my tack — approaching religion like others approach comic books or fantasy novels; with the icepick of Fridge Logic and the hammer of Implications. The Endor Genocide is nothing compared to what a little kicking of the Abrahamics reveals.)

Then the same date in 2009 I started Lemmata; a sketch a day, or, “I see why you picked written-word first”; some sketches also about the God and religion thing; it has its own self-congratulatory post about it up right now.

Then last year I started Mirrors of Eris, a repository of consciously false conspiracy theory and religion. Because it’s a website, not a blog, the updates are infrequent; I try to hide this with frequent alterations of the outlook and the categorization.

This year I’m not starting anything; three websites are well enough. I’m not going to noodle around with any more…

Well, maybe just one more…

III

Ah, well; those of you with sharp eyes might have noticed it already, but what’s said over at the right sidebar over here is true; it would hardly be a useful thing to say if it were a lie. From the 12th of September, for two weeks, until 25th, I will be guest-blogging over at the Scientopia Guest Blogge. (I should say “Yay!” and leap around like a giggly teenager, but gravitas, and gravity, make that kinda difficult. Plus broken furniture, holes in the wall, etc. etc.)

The Guest Blogge is defined as “hosting a wonderful slate of non-Scientopia bloggers”, which obviously applies to me; I am much more slate than gneiss, obviously. Though I don’t know how I’m in this Han Soloic slate thing with the other people, some of whom seem a bit granite-ey to me; but I trust the judgment of the Scientopia Authorities. (They contacted me and not me them, so I don’t have “a brief description of your existing blog […] and a brief explanation of what you would like to blog about [t]here”; we will see what I come up with. Newton / Leibniz slash fan fiction, maybe.)

But I’m there for two weeks only, starting September 12th, assuming they remember to give me the keys. I’m not going to metastasise. I’m not cancer; I’m a… a rash?

Anyway.

IV

So how much do I care for my readers? A lot, and I read every comment, but as a Finn being bad with small talk I sometimes just cannot think of anything non-trivial to say. Just think that I answered “Hmm! Good idea! Cheers! Yay! Thanks for comment, you are awesome!” if I answer nothing at all; it’s awkward when you skip that, decide to think about something more substantial and then bam a week has gone.

Feedback and readers are nice, because while shouting at the void is nice too, it’s nicer to think someone is listening. (I’m big on niceness. People sized and shaped like ogres usually are, or go for the other extreme.)

Maybe some reader is amused, even. Because while there’s nothing bad in self-amusement (honestly, it will not make you go blind), amusing others feels better.

Here’s to another year of amusing self and others!

I have become a twit

March 2, 2011

Why hey, I am on Twitter: @MasksofEris.

I don’t quite know yet why.

Maybe I will do what George Hrab does… wait, do I say, “what @GeorgeHrab does”? I mean, vomit a shining pile of quotables now and then. I think the 140-character limit will be good for yanking out different expressions than the endless white screen of WordPress, or the doodle-space of Lemmata.

This, for example, is what I think is a good tweet; there isn’t any graceful way to use more letters on the subject than what a tweet has:

Antient Pharaohs of AEgyptus did embalm their holy cats. Is there a DIY course about that somewhere? #ihavefreetime

I think I’ll go and figure out a way to schedule tweets next. That’s the problem when you go all St. John of Arkham and write a Cthulhoid Apocalypse… in bits of 140 characters or less.

Edit, a while later: Er, as you can see by the glut of #2ndcth tweets, I didn’t quite figure Twuffer out immediately. Depending on whether I understood the time zone thing correctly, the final three will follow at half-hour intervals in either 37 minutes, or 37 minutes modulo several hours of time difference.

Because of the time difference I’m going to sleep and looking at it tomorrow.

Three years, one year, no years yet

August 21, 2010

Hey, anniversary. Three years ago today I started this blog.

The “normal” blogiversary thing would be a long and tedious retrospective of the “the best of the past year” kind; I am not going to do that.

Instead I’ll just note that this is the three-year anniversary of Masks of Eris, and also the one-year anniversary of Lemmata. A comic with a piece a day for a year is not altogether trivial. The comics themselves are, though.

Now, the reason why I write Masks of Eris, and the reason I draw Lemmata, is not any hope of reward or audience. That’d be a fairly stressful motivation for something that is a hobby. I believe if your hobby is stressful, you are not doing it right. My want is simply to spew out the stuff I do, and derive enough pleasure from the uttering and forming of it for it to be a sufficient return for going on. (If there’s a reader, well, yay! Extra! And thank you all, that have hung around; a comment now and then makes me feel mighty nice, though sometimes I can’t think up anything meaningful to say in answer to it.)

Now I’ve decided to have one more outlet for making stuff up: Mirrors of Eris; that’d be, www.mirrorsoferis.com. That’s a stand-alone website, full of written crap, some of it “reprints” from here but most of it new. As it is a website, it won’t update all that often; but it should have plenty of brand-new reading if my brand of confused purposeless remythologizing and pseudo-crankery is to your taste. Atlantis, Moses, alternate Jesuses and evil mathematical conspiracies abound. (And why, the Herwennefer piece and the Ramesses-Moses-piece were small snips from the teeming cauldron of faux asshattery that is Mirrors of Eris.)

Go and have a look; I ain’t writing no best-of-year recap.

Set days

January 31, 2010

As I have nothing much to say at the moment, here’s a random set of three elements, drawn from among “gruesome beasties”, for which no addition nor multiplication has yet been well defined.

It’s an open set, though.

* * *

And after that, a note on other matters: Usually the new comic drops at Lemmata at midday Finnish time every day. It didn’t do so today because my mathematical colors showed up once again, and I forgot there are 31 days in January, not 30. Situation fixed, now.

(Which makes one wonder if there are any webcomics or the like with update schedules that are other that this, that and the other weekday — say “the first 29 days of each month, and no more”?)