Thursday, October 30, 2014

Seven stars Had Ursa Major
Tables turning, turning
And rain maker

"Public consultation has chosen Watt for the next production from the Riddled Amateur Dramatic Society", said the Riddled Public Consultation Department. It is not clear precisely what the public were asked, nor indeed quite how they responded, since "Watt!" and "WTF!!" are interchangeable for the Pub.Cons.Dept which currently consists of Swearing Bob.

Anyway, Beckett's off-kilter combinatorial text does not lend itself to an easy transposition into dramaturgical terms. I said it would make a better opera with a Philip Glass score, but no-one ever listens to Uncle Smut. Thus Another Kiwi (RADS director and chief adaptationater) has chosen to interpret the story as Lovecraftian horror, as related by a classic unreliable narrator, driven to the comforts of madness and obsession by too close an encounter with inhuman otherness.

But did AK explain what is to be done with the circular bed in the mysterious upper storey of Knott's house, in which Knott changes his position from night to night as if linked to the stars in their sidereal sphere? DID HE BOGROLL.
Thus the long-suffering script-writing department (to whom no-one listens) has dredged up an early manuscript version of Watt, in which the bed is otherwise described; and we will work with that instead:
Meanwhile these are what the Props Department came up with. Apparently Evangeline van Holsterin's vile nephew Throgmorton liberated them cheap from the hospital but this is NOT WHAT THE SCRIPT CALLS FOR. I am driven to despair and there will be akvavit cocktails and shouting at the trees tonight.

Images hoicked from Derrick Cherrie

Images hoicked from Arthur Tress

Below: BONUS linkage to stars in their sidereal sphere.

The scariest ever comment from a corporate CEO, until the next Morning Report interview with a corporate CEO

There's still a lot of water to go under the bridge.
In context, this translates as "it is far too early to talk about those decisions and events, until such time as these decisions and events are already fixed and it is too late to talk about them."

The Great Gazoogle suggests that there is prior art for "There's [still / yet] [a lot / plenty] of water to go under the bridge". It is that rara avis, a verbal car-crash which did not come from a cloth-eared speaker-for-cliches right-wing columnist.

Monday, October 27, 2014

His meat was locusts and wild honey

"Animal trials" are not a topic to raise in the Riddled tea-room for fear of triggering traumatic memories, so let me make it clear right at the start that what I have in mind is the Medieval tradition of invoking criminal or canon law against animals (singularly or in swarm). As opposed to purely hypothetical episodes involving puppies, and the Evolvamat, and angry mobs standing in the way of progress, and sternly-worded letters from the ethics review panel.

Here are two hurebers.

After drying them and grinding them into coarse meal, they can serve as a basis for cakes or bread. Sam Beckett mentions them in Watt:
He was alluding (as any fule kno) to the 'Insect trial' of 1531. The insects lost their case, forfeited their rights of Usufruct, and were called upon to render up their bodies as a nutritious replacement for the grain they had consumed. They did not acquit themselves well under cross-examination.
Subsequent scholastic logic-chopping led to the ecclesiastical verdict that locust-based foods are not meat, and can be eaten on fast-days, much in the manner of another man's poisson.

At this point the blogpost was leading up to a disquisition on transforming commonly-available insects into perfectly serviceable substitutes for commercial snackfoods* (largely inspired by B^4's recent report on entomophagia). Unfortunately we have been thwarted by an injunction from Mrs Miggins (Proprietress of Pie-Shaped Products llc) -- accompanied by Writs of Estoppel and Mandamus -- alleging that our serving suggestions were a breach of copyright, infringing on her recipe for All-Kinds-of-Critter Fritter. Our legal counsel (Messrs. Trahison & Clerisy) assure us that in the course of overturning the injunction and bringing the suit to a favourable conclusion they will leave no tern unstoned, no camel unstrawed and no hour unbilled. However, this will take time.

To fill the temporary gap on the page, let me observe instead that early manuscripts of Watt went into more detail -- much, much more -- about the culinary aspects of the so-called 'Beaune Bread'. But Beckett's manuscripts are a nexus of errata and amendments and critical dispute, such that modern editions consist of more critical apparatus than auctorial text, trying to distinguish Beckett's deliberate errors and lacunae from the erroneous errors introduced by his handwrithing. In particular, the Beaune-bread footnotes were lost in the transcription from one draft to another.

They have recently been re-discovered in the archives of the University of Chester, and will shortly see  long-delayed publication in the university's literary magazine, the Flash.

Another Kiwi was heard to vouchsafe that "Watt's 'Bread-in-the-Beaune' will come out in 'The Flash'".
* Above: There are nine-and-sixty ways of preparing Frito-Lays.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

"What's it like to live inside your head?"
"Oh...! Think of a haunted house!"

A previous installment of the Riddled Cumulative Encyclopaedia of As-Any-Fule-Knoledge touched lightly upon the topic of Novelty Head-shaped Dollhouses. These are not so popular as they once were for they rely on a metaphor of 'neuropsychology as business office hierarchy' -- just as Body-shaped Dollhouses realise a metaphor of 'physiology as factory' -- which became obsolete when both sorts of jobs were outsourced.

Anyhoo, since sufficient realism in a doll turns into Creepy, it follows that a sufficiently realistic dollhouse must be even creeper. In the limiting case, the dollhouse is made for pampered royalty and like all the best stately homes is haunted by the ghosts of dolls that died under tragic circumstances in times long ago.

This is why this man has dressed up as a dollhouse to go trick-&-treating.
The dollhouse shown at right displays a curious posthumous spectral phenomenon or "haunting" causing it to sprout ginger hair. Meanwhile Another Kiwi is asperging the hair with Comfrey-&-Samphire Shampoo which he bought in bulk from Evangeline van Holsterin's well-meaning niece Dolores who works at the hair salon in High Street. There is a Carnacki Ghost-Hunter story in which a room is periodically possessed by a pair of giant ectoplasmic Irish-melody-whistling lips in the floor, but prodigious follicular activity is unparalleled in the field of psychic research.

I suspect that AK is actually dressed for Trigan-Empire Cosplay. He may win the Old Entomologist Hallowe'en costume competition anyway; other customers and barstaff have put a lot of effort into their costumes for the party but they are not entirely clear on the concept.

Readers who are familiar with the Wodehouse canon (and who else reads Riddled?) will remember the Ganymede Club, an exclusive institution frequented by gentlemen's gentlemen on their evenings off where they could enjoy intelligent conversation and argue about which of their employers would be first up against the wall when the Revolution comes. There is scope for Wooster / Wimsey crossover fiction (into which we shall not enter here) for Bunter was presumably an initiate.

It is not so widely known that Keats and Chapman had also acquired the coveted membership cards, the former because his plausible manner and forged references had earned him employment as a manservant to a dissolute scion of the ruling class, and the latter on the more questionable grounds that he was "a servant of the Muse".

Even in his pecunious and poverished situation, Chapman (relying on budgetary advice from Keats) found himself at the end of each fortnight too short of funds to buy any clothing other than the livery of manservantry. At the time of which we speak, he had been invited to a Hallowe'en party and was racking his brains for ideas for what to wear.

Keats was not particularly helpful. "Just go as you are," he counseled.

"My work clothes?" Chapman said, his mind focussed on the importance of keeping them relatively clean and un-puked-on.

"You would be an Uncanny Valet," Keats explained.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


There appears to be a dearth of Jean Michel Jarre-themed pumpkin carving on the Interlattice, so I am stepping in to fill the gap.

Here Wassilissa the Beautiful uses the carved pumpkin as the centrepiece of her Hallowène costume.
[hoicked from Feuilleton]
Either that, or she is a better-than-average-dressed proselyte for Sithrak.
Updated with BONUS HALLOWE'EN COSTUME suggestions.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Antisocial media

Hey monkey boy! Those annoying Tonkinese kittens from the next street over have their own FB page for their friends to Like!
You're cats. You don't have friends, only resources.

It is not good enough. Lola the Aro Park cat has her own FB page! Even her own beer! Why are we not on Furbook?

Tell you what, I'll credit you as co-authors on a paper, and you can have your own ResearchGate archives.

As long as it's not Mendeley or Academia or we'll be very very... um very... ummmmm

Friday, October 17, 2014

Memo to the Marketing Department

The proposed label for the Christmas Hopped Winterstipple Scrumpy did not go down well with last night's Unfocus Group at the Old Entomologist. Needs work.

My new Skype avatar

Thanks to Riddled a-mi-go Jeffrey Beall.

Oddly enough, corn smut featured elsewhere on the Interlattice just the other day.

Incidentally, let the record show that not all intelligent fungi reproduce by asphyxi-wanking. Myco-libel!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

N-sane in the membrane

"The N gland," I suggested, "was named thus by analogy with Blondlot's N-rays."

"Speaking of mysterious glands," tigris said, "remember Pishinger's Space?"

"It is akin to the Schade Organ," I said.

"I know that one," Another Kiwi vouchsafed. "Dr Phibes wrests doleful discords from its keyboard as a musical expression of the torment in his soul."

"They are both forms of distributed interstitial connective tissue," I interrupted in the Explaining Voice; "unknown outside of Alt-Health websites where the crank magnetism goes up to 11 Teslas."
...the extracellular space that contains the fluids that bath and feed each and every cell while carrying away the waste from those same cells...
This organ connects and holds everything in our bodies in place. This organ is composed of ligaments, tendons, sinew, and the finer fibers that become the scaffolding that holds every single cell in our bodies in place.
"Are you loonies ranting about telocytes again?" head barmaid Evangeline van Holsterin asked as she swept past to wipe the table-top dry before the spillage of Old Blandings Scythe Sharpener etched rings in the faux-bacon formica finish.
Special pint glass for Scythe Sharpener;
leaves no rings but prone to falling over

Indeed, arguing we were. In our defense, the prospect of the Telocyte as an entirely new class of cell is tremendously exciting to everyone at the Riddled Research Laboratory and Tractor Parts Exchange. Paying members of the public have grown increasingly skeptical of outlandish claims about 'stem-cell implants', so new cells with unknown and potentially unlimited properties are just what is needed for our commercial operation at the Bona Body-Part Embellishment & Rejuvenation Clinic (ask about this week's special on vat-grown penis!).

According to Professor Popescu [whom God preserve] of Bucharest, the distinguishing features of telocytes are the long, extremely fine 'telopode' extensions -- invisible to optical microscopy -- which wind their wendy way around other cells, occasionally bulging out in blobs of protoplasm in the manner of a partially-constructed balloon animal.
Skeptics might marvel at the way these filaments confine themselves to a plane as they meander around... a plane always coinciding with the slice taken for electron microscopy. But concerns are assuaged by the reassuring fact that Popescu and his colleagues -- having first encountered telocytes in gut muscle -- have since found them everywhere they've looked. They are the duct-tape that holds exocrine glands together (as opposed to endocrine glands which require ductless tape).
Also, telosites have their own webcyte and a Whackyweedia entry. Theory has it that they carry signals, providing a kind of cellular intranet, allowing the constituent cells of each organ to coordinate their holidays, exchange lists of jokes, and regenerate after injury.
Telocyte-seers Edelstein and Smythies are especially enthusiastic about the evidence. Fortunately the Frontiers journal is there as an outlet for the enthusiasm.*

Meanwhile the race to monetise telocytes is on, with Popescu's team at the Victor Babeş Institute regenerating damaged hearts with telocyte transplants! [transplants actually performed in Shanghai on account of pesky ethics restrictions].
"But what about the Keats-and-Chapman story?" Another Kiwi waxed indignantly. "You can't just finish here without a punchline!"

"Relax," I shrugged. "Lie back and think of N-gland."
* Frontiers appear to be repositioning themselves from the Frontiers to the fringe. Perhaps they are trying to fill the yawning lacuna created when Medical Hypotheses sold out to the The Man and turned all staid and boring (Elsevier hoofed out the old editor and instigated a new policy of having potential papers "reviewed" by "peers" to exclude the more egregious submissions, with a net loss to the gaiety of nations).

Friday, October 10, 2014

Boots—boots—boots—boots—movin’ up and down again!
There’s no discharge in the war!

The phrase "boots on the ground" can have positive connotations, e.g. when footwear is air-dropped to the occupants of a poor nation (along with tools and medical equipment) in order to help the locals out of poverty and undermine a communist insurgency there;

— or negative connotations, as when they contain the cloned feet of Hitler, in which case you should probably set bootstraps for them.
Retd. General Volney Warner is cautious as to the uses and the limits of military force, and when he used the phrase in 1980, his intended sense was neutral and descriptive. Scholars have been locked in mortal debate ever since whether to call it an example of synecdoche or metonymy.

Use of the phrase was rising through the 1990s as if in premonition, but shortly after 2000 something happened to turn it whelmingly positive. It entered the vocabulary of journamalists and duckspeak propagandists (but I repeat myself); and went Archaeobacterial as the kids like to say.

If you want a vision of the future, imagine pundits calling for "boots on the ground" — forever.

Speaking of Bad Moons Rising

Some cheeky researchers snuck this eye-opening diagram into a highly-respected journal,* as Figure 4 in their paper on mitochondrial function and regulation:
H/t to Paul Brooks, commenting at RetractionWatch

It should separate the sheep from the goats, eh. I refuse to believe that Substance McGravitas was not in some way involved.

* First published in 1947 as the beginning of Elsevier's rise to Evil Empire.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Upward behind the onstreaming it mooned badly

At some point in the last few years, journamalists stopped promising "lunar eclipses" and took to calling them "blood moons" instead. It is as if they are following the lead and accepting the framing of the crazy-pants fundamentaliban US preachers with their End-of-Days eschatology (which appears to be all about "the moon becoming as blood"), i.e. Revelation fanfic.

That is unpossible, however, for it ascribes some influence to a tiny fringe of demented grifters, while requiring that our media are so lazy that they simply parrot back whatever phrases they have heard most recently. I am sure that "blood moon" has always been the term of choice.

UPDATE: Science fiction writers in 1973 had some weird pessimistic notions on how psychotic and isolationist American culture could become. Disch's moon-themed "Anthology of Political Forebodings" includes, among many other fine stories, Sladek's "The Great Wall of Mexico" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROPHECY.

...Needs more Chrome.