Sunday, January 22, 2017

ALT-FAQs


[LGB stolen from SenorSchaffer at Boing-Boing]

Latest from the Riddled Gifte-Shoppe

1. The latest model of our popular "Flying Nun" Surveillance Drone is now in-store. Also works at ground-level with wings retracted [right]! Undetectable by your neighbour!

2. Solar-powered drone-spotter telescopes. Just plant them in the garden and forget them. Bluetooth-equipped, to download and install new targets automatically. Keep one step ahead of your neighbour's attempts to spy on you!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Along the world axis
The Empress lay sleeping #2

"Please, Uncle Smut!" begged absolutely no-one. "How about you cobble together all of Titian & workshop's paintings of golden showers, into an animated Gif?" And so it came to pass, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROPHECY.

We figure that imagery of this genre will become increasingly mainstream during the golden reign of Emperor Commodus,* when American conservatives take on board the fact that someone important has a thing for water-sports, therefore it must be an acceptable taste -- if not obligatory for everyone -- and collectively retcon their moral judgement to reflect this new-found understanding. We're just getting in before the rush.

Some technical points, to be read out in the Explaining Voice:

1. The version in Oslo (with a weird metallic tent or spaceship cowling instead of bed drapery) is damn near impossible to find through the much-vaunted Gazoogle, apart from an entry on Tripadvisor and a couple of Flickr accounts. It doesn't even feature on the Nasjonalmuseet for Kunst's own website. But the brushwork in my memory is authentic enough -- apart from the "later modifications" -- and details of composition locate it to soon after the 1544 version (in the Capodimonte Museum in Naples**) and its several copies.

2. No-one really seems to rate for the Barker Welfare Foundation's copy either -- currently on loan to the Art Institute of Chicago -- on account of its generally sketchy provenance, but it does have a marginally larger presence on the Interducts. It is relatively unpopulated, apart from the face of Zeus, drooling golden fluids from up in the clouds. The Foundation dates it to "after 1554"... the puppy at lower left might invite comparisons with the doggage in the same place of the 1560s version in the Prado, but Titian liked painting puppies.

I am not sure how the process of connoisseurship works whereby some of the paintings from Titian's workshop receive the imprimatur of being the work of Titian his own self. Perhaps someone counts individual brushstrokes and decides if enough of them are assertive yet graceful enough to be the contribution of the Master. Time was when only four paintings had passed the gatekeepers to enter the Canon, but then in 2013 it was agreed to retrospectively recognise the Wellington Collection's version in Apsley House as a Authentic Work of Unmistakable Genius after two centuries of classifying it as a coarse copy, further ruined by over-painting and insensitive restoration.

3. What's that up at top right in the 2009 Riddled Mithrasmas Advent Calendar? Why yes, "Dec. 22" seems to be another version of Danaë's Golden Shower, located in Archduke Leopold Wilhelm's personal collection, when David Teniers was painting it in 1647-1651 as was the custom of the time.
What happened to that version in later years is a matter for art historians, but a very similar painting changed hands at an art auction in 2006.

4. Yet another early version passed through the hands of Parisian art connoisseur Le Brun some time in the 1770s, when M.-L.-É. Vigée (later Vigée Le Brun) painted a rather fine partial copy. There is talk of a Danaë that changed hands at auction in 2011, and speculation that it might have been Le Brun's version.

Then there are umpteen bootleg copies, and engravings, and reimagined versions by later painters using the same pose. Suffice to say that in the Riddled Amateur Dramatic Society staging of the whole saga, certain parts of each authentic workshop painting will prove to be the work of "LCF", and when all those sections are assembled into a single artwork, they will hold the power to open the Ninth Gate of the Kingdom of Shadows. I am available to play the role of the unscrupulous art dealer.
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* B^4 prefers the name "Little-Gloves" for the Imperator, i.e. Caestigula ["caestus" is a 4th-declension noun so (as any fule kno) it takes the diminutive suffix '-igula' or '-icula']. But here at the Riddled Institute for Crap Historical Analogies we rate for Commodus... the disastrous successor to Marcus Aurelius, who devoted his Caesarship to partying, corruption, playing at gladiator, avoiding responsibilities and generally undoing Aurelius' last-ditch attempts to hold the Empire together.

** That version was on loan to the National Gallery in Washington for July-November 2014, so American readers really have no excuse not to have seen it.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

"Bugger," said Pooh, as he read that Australian Manuka honey had flooded the market, just when he'd felled every tree and turned the 100-Aker Wood into a Manuka plantation

There is trouble here in the Shire, and bad feelings -- directed at our brash neighbours in Bree -- are running high enough for white-water-rafting adventure tourism. Specifically directed at the band of freetailers and coatloaders who comprise the Bree Honey industry. For our own Shire bee-vomit-merchandisers put in a great deal of effort of convince the rest of Middle-Earth that a particularly acrid, previously unsellable source of honey is in fact good for you, and therefore desirable, and because consumers are willing to pay stupidity-tax prices, it must therefore taste better than other nectar products. They settled on the name "Manuka honey" because "Halflinguka" or "Hobbituka" just sounded daft, according to intensive consultation with what was meant to be a Focus group but turned out as a Ficus group on account of a minor spelling mistake.

And now the perfidious Bree-folk are claiming that just because the same plants grow there, contributing the same medicinal flavours to honey in the form of methylwhatsit, they are equally entitled to make money from gullible numpties by selling them a watered-down product! They are calling it "elfuka" or "orcuta" to finesse our claims to legal protection of appellation, but NO-ONE IS FOOLED.
----------------------------------------------------------
Should be a commodity,
but a NZ-only commodity
It is a truth universally acknowledged that if a group of people are making a metric shitton of money from some manner of grift, then it becomes everyone else's responsibility to protect their income when it is threatened.
UMF, which represents a group of beekeepers, producers and exporters that account for 75-80% of New Zealand's manuka honey sales, last year applied to the Government to trademark the name manuka.
...
An English country estate cashing in on the lucrative manuka honey market has been given a stinging rebuke by Kiwi beekeepers who say, "You can't call it manuka."
...
"Manuka is a Maori word and the consumer, if you ask them, wants the imagery, the thoughts, the feeling they get that this product comes from New Zealand."
John Rawcliffe -- spokesmanuka for the UMF Honey Association -- may not have intended to admit that the real product being sold is a fantasy, and the putative properties of the honey are window-dressing and persiflage.
I hear that a lot from the Frau Doktorin, usually in tones of outraged suspicion.

Belatedly UPDATED with Bonus Weaponised Bees [courtesy of Lyle Zapato]

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

If you build it they will come

Our investigations of parallel time-lines shows that the aliens prefer to hover over very small buildings, preferably Legoland-size, to make their spaceships look more impressive.

It must be a tradition, or an old charter or something.

If the aliens have not crossed the dark lightyears to visit us in this reality, it is because our central buildings of government are all too large. We need to replace them with something scaled down, preferably constructed from wattle and daub so the visitors can feel superior about their own advanced technology. They have self-esteem issues and may be suffering from an edifice complex.
Right: No tiny buildings underneath
so possibly not an alien spaceship

Teste moaning

George Gallup often receives testimonials about unsolicited semen:
Evidence for the antidepressant properties of semen (Gallup, Burch, & Platek, 2002) is also revisited. Bolstered by additional data and unsolicited semen testimonials, it is suggested that semen sampling may be an embedded feature of human courtship and may unwittingly influence mate choice by women.*
I presume that "testimonial" is used here in the extended sense of "court restraining order".

George Gallup and his colleagues have previously incurred ridicule for their theory that women (or "human females" in the parlance of the trade) require regular oral doses of semen to maintain the proper functioning of their ladybrains (because oxytocin).

There is an obvious control study, on whether the benefits also work on males, but no-one has bothered to pursue that line of inquiry.
No antidepressant benefits for Martians
Fortunately Gallup is an Evolutionary Psychologist, and members of the discipline brush off criticism of this kind like semen water off a duck's back... they know that their critics are only negative because our species evolved that way, in the millennia on the savannah when our ancestors enhanced their reproductive fitness by pointing and laughing at evolutionary psychologists.

The other advantage of membership in the evo.psych. fraternity is that knowledge of human physiology and neurochemistry is not a prerequisite; indeed, it may be a disqualifier from the discipline, as such knowledge would impede one's freedom to work out what human behaviour should be like, from first principles, on the sublime refined plane of spherical cows falling in vacuum.

Gallup's original 2002 anecdote-bolstered results are too good for popsci churnalists and enstupidisers to ignore -- they might almost have been targetted for that audience -- and they regularly re-surface, much in the manner of two pints of late-ratted cask-aged Rheinheitsgebotulism.

Alternative title: Alea ejacta est.

Thursday, December 29, 2016