Rain, constant rain, unceasing hissy rain, sodden ground, damp dog, paw prints everywhere. The alternative is snow, so I'll take it. My standards for the start of snow still go back to 1983, when we got about 37 feet before Thanksgiving, and I took the train home to Fargo. Listened to Music for Apollo by Eno as the train slid through the back alleys of the abandoned industrial corridor, everything yellowish under the lights. Magical. I supposed it helped that I was in love. Same trip after being dumped, you want to slit your wrists if only to add some color to the landscape, and also because you'd been dumped and life was over. But it wasn't over, was it? That was the problem. So now what. The thumb of mopery pressed hard on your heart every day. For ever.

Some days the world is this:

And you can either look at the grim building, the bare branches, or the colorful leaves, and the lights. I'd never noticed them before; I think they just went up. The old building never had lights. The new building is a big tall building with its own culture, and things like this are part of it. Festive! Aren't you glad you're part of the Capella family?

Well, yes; yes I am. But that's another post.

Here's your answer to yesterday's "which part of the Bleat Banner can be confirmed as true?"

December 1959. Took me a while, but it wasn't hard.

The internet's favorite word to sound cool, as I've noted before, is "badass." It means "Unconcerned with social norms, proudly so, and slightly dangerous but not in any way that would transgress the accepted modes of behavior of people I admire and would like to admire me." Today's example in gizmodo, linked at io9: "Badass Historical Chemists: The Woman Behind Antoine Lavoisier." It is an interesting story. It doesn't overstate her contributions, or underplay them. The picture is haunting; they look so rational and Scientific and Civilized, and he was doomed to ride the tumbrel to the Revolution's great Egalitarian Enabler.


When condemning Lavoisier, the judge said “The Republic has no need of men of science.” Has some contemporary resonance.

Doesn't it, though? Those people who hate GMOs and nuclear power, I swear.

Eh? Not what he meant? Really. Anyway, it's a pity that io9 is getting wrapped into Gizmodo as part of Gawker's "rebranding" exercise; it's the only thing in their network I read, because it's fun and not automatically geared towards sneering and cynicism. It's amusing that Gawker is going to be all-politics now - gosh, there's an unexploited niche that was ripe for someone to fill. The new editor says they won't play favorites, which no one believes; they may give everyone who ventures into public service with snippy snarky bitchy nips, but if I named five issues you'd know exactly how all the writers would vote.

To use the standard lame psuedo-correlation phrasing beloved by cheap hit artists and lazy journalists, the move come at a time when Gawker is under fire for its treatment of women. Can't speak to that, but one of the worst things their Jezebel site does for women is to let some people hit "post." They're folding the Jez subsite Kitchenette, which I read for Horrible Restaurant Customer stories. Perhaps that will be folded into something something something else. It's a big mess, all of it, and no one quite understood the whole Kinja platform, or why they needed it.

No one needs any of it, really. There's not a thing Gawker does on a daily basis that seems essential. Same for BuzzFeed, which gets a billion hits. If it disappeared in a second it would be like taking every whale out of the ocean - the space would be filled instantly and there'd be no sign anything was ever there. No, amend that; if Buzzfeed vanished, it would leave behind the sites it influenced, with their lists and cliches about how the Struggle is Real (sometimes the Struggle is Real, Y'all) or how we must all examine 34 times Pasta Shapes Were Too Real For You to Handle or how there were 37 Times some helium-headed ninny was Queen (BOW DOWN, YASSSS) or how there are certain things All Professional Llama Inseminators Know to be True (the struggle is also real in this case) and so on. Oh, and serious journalism, right over here! With six shares.

I read a piece the other day about how the most apt analogy for the internet is a series of Lead Pipes: like the ones that gave the Romans running water, they improved life at first but eventually poisoned everyone and made them go mad. Yes and no. I never believed the Crazy Pipes theory - well, yes, I did, when I was at the age when grand theories that explained things and had a scientific veneer were attractive. But eventually, no. It's complicated. I found that link, and others, by typing "were the romans really lead pipes," which was enough for the Googleplex to figure out what I wanted. That's remarkable. I have a machine downstairs that answers questions by interrogating the internet, and that's hardly the equivalent of deadly effluent. It's not that the internet has made us crazy. It's that the internet has allowed the crazies to make the debate crazy, because they are the loudest and the most loutish, even when they're dribbling thier bile-froth over the most exquisite pastry in amusing and fascinating designs. Gawker has been among the worst. It sets itself up as a moral court that magnifies venal sins to cardinal for the sake of keeping everyone's preconceptions cemented in place, and allows the spectators on the curb to feel superior to the scientists in the cart on their way to the blade. That'll teach them for being something.

I always want to buy all the bottles. Except if you're a "Clockwork Orange" fan, this doesn't really appeal.

Surprised no one marketed "Clockwork Orange Fizz," now that I think of it. Anyway, Cal-cola Beverages of Chicago doesn't seem to have left much of a trace on the internet, aside from some mentions in trade papers. Hope no one lost all their money.

Gotta get that apostrophe S in there:

Wieco comes back as a glass manufacturer, which makes sense. We have all this glass-making machinery - why not make something to go in it?

Great name for a lemon-lime drink - and you know that's what it was, a Seven-Up pretender:


If you drank too much and burped you might say you had the Girps. I'm going to use that term for pop-belches from now on. Dang, I got the girps.





I'm not hopeful. Wikipedia says: "Flying Disc Man from Mars is a 12-episode 1950 Republic film serial. This is considered a weak example of the serial medium, even compared to other post-World War II serials." Hey, citation needed, right? Maybe the anonymous writer was wrong.


The first thing we see - just to get our attention whetted for the spectacles to come - consists of some guys in suits in the back country, testing out a new weapon. It blows things up from a great distance.

Keep in mind that most serials usually start out with lots of explosions, indicating that some force of havoc bent on destruction, or a force of destruction bent on havoc, is trying to take over the world or Gotham City oe something inbetween. We get this:

So the hero - who's named Kent Fowler - goes up in his plane, sees an object on his radio, and doesn't bother to establish radio communications or visual ID; just nails it. The mysterious object plummets to earth, and we learn something very helpful about alien technology: their ships are made of WOOD.

But a man escapes! Meet Mota.

Dammit, Martians are COMMIES? And why can't aliens just give us the proper name? The one you call Mars. Which we call KRarshomeral<kqspideshgia.

So he offers to take the guy to his lab. Where the secrets are. Meets a guy from Mars, and thinks hey, you were shadowing my experiments? Let me take you to where the magic happens. Well, the Martian says they will be helping Earth figure out atomic power, lest they do something stupid and ruin the solar system. The fellow tips his hand just a bit here:

And he wants the scientist to help. If the scientist's reaction to this whole supreme-dictator thing seems a bit restrained, it might be this: he has some experience with this sort of fellow.

That's a convincing denial. The Mars Man takes about 23 seconds to enlist the scientist in his plans for the whole Supreme Dictator thing. Back to Kent Fowler's office, where we meet Obligatory Peril Gal:

I'm sure we'll see more of her. Plot-wise, anyway.

Kent's underling Steve agrees to help Dr. Brandt guard his radium supply, since "the paper broke the story about him having a large quantity of radium on hand." As papers are wont to do. So Kent hangs around the plant, and sure enough two henchmen in hats show up. I think you know where this goes.



Steve hands off the crooks to Dr. Brandt, who thanks him and sends him on his way. When he's out of the frame, Dr. B enlists the hoodlums to steal some uranium, probably because they're dumb and expendable and if they get radiation poisoning, who cares. I mean, don't tell me we're going to be looking at these dorks for 12 episodes:

As it happens, to my complete surprise, the henches are told to steal uranium from a company our intrepid private security hero is also guarding, and he interrupts the theft. Gun battle; chase. And so:

The Wikipedia entry has the following note:


Kent Fowler survives the serial by bailing out of whatever vehicle he was in.

Will this actually be true? Will Mars Man Mota take over Earth for the Surpreme Leader? Will the Peril Gal get out from behind the desk? Tune in next week to see if this serial passes the test and earns a full viewing! (Hint: I think it will.)


As if all this was not enough, for FREE, the Not-Teen Teen Girls of the Whirlpool conspiracy conclude their attempt to enrich Alan Bunce, below.

I'd like to think that made sense to a few of you.



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