Archive for February, 2014

Dumb Starbucks

Posted in Things You Should See, Weirdness with tags , , , on February, 2014 by melendwyr

I caught this from Diane Duane’s tumblr feed:  ‘Dumb Starbucks’.

No, it’s not a criticism.  It’s marketing itself as parody.  And its coffee as an art form.

I have no idea whether this can possibly endure, particularly given our totally sane and reasonable legal system.  But I find myself rooting for the little guys here.  Even though this flies directly in the face of the intention of trademarking… it’s not just inviting a confusion between products, it’s practically demanding it.

And Now for Something Completely Different

Posted in Things You Should See, Weirdness with tags , , , on February, 2014 by melendwyr

It’s perilous to link to videos at YouTube… they tend not to last, even when there’s nothing even remotely inappropriate or TOS-violating about them.  Let’s try it anyway!

Paprika:  Shine, Shine!

The unexpected is always the hardest thing to anticipate, isn’t it.

Word salad is very difficult to imitate.  You’d think producing chaotic speech would be simple, but it’s remarkably challenging to be both semantically incoherent and syntaxically valid at the same time.  If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to have a psychotic break, that clip’s as close as you’re going to get without becoming mentally ill or using scarily-powerful drugs.

I rather suspect that there is a fundamental connection between a schizophrenic-style delusion, the kind where you know your neighbor is bugging your tap water with the cooperation of Elvis and the CIA, and dreams.  Normal people enter delusional states every time they enter REM sleep.  But in normal people, the systems that integrate our perceptions of reality and our model of the world turn back on.  Perhaps, in crazy people, those systems don’t quite reboot right?

Gernot Katzer’s Spice Pages

Posted in Cooking, Things You Should Read, Things You Should See with tags , , , , on February, 2014 by melendwyr

If you have an interest in plants, unusual spices, the botanical aspects of cooking, or herbal etymology, either you’ve been to Gernot Katzer’s site or you should give it a look.

The topics range from common spices to ancient herbs extinct for millennia, but the kinds of information provided for each are similar.  Every flavoring entry discusses its source, including which part(s) of the plant are used, their taste and scent (as much as they can be described in words), some brief notes on their use in the kitchen.  The natures of the primary active chemicals involved are mentioned.  And, perhaps most importantly, the names of the spice in many languages are provided, along with historical notes on where they originated and what meanings they originally had.

This last is especially important if you’re dealing with cooking instructions that are in a language other than those you are deeply familiar with, or a recipe that is being translated from a foreign tongue.  Many vegetables and spices are improperly identified or poorly translated in such cases.  Local names and references frequently produce false cognates in other contexts or languages, and acquiring ingredients according to the instructions you’re given can produce highly variable results, from unpalatable messes to potentially dangerous toxins in some cases.

The illustrations are not only pleasant to look at but highly useful, making it easy to identify relatively exotic and unfamiliar flavorings when you’re looking for or encountering them.  And since people in temperate climates are unlikely to ever see such things as ginger flowers or fresh pepper berries, the photos are educational in addition to being informative.

Culinary backgrounds to linguistic data, it’s all here.  The only thing not present which you might possibly expect is information on finding or growing the source plants.  But that isn’t the intended function of the site.

For English speakers, the website is found at

Unpleasant Discoveries

Posted in Blogging on February, 2014 by melendwyr

A few days ago, I felt bad about having so little content here.  So I thought I’d throw together a quick post about a particularly funny panel series in a favorite comic and its philosophical implications.  (Because there’s no kind of funny like heavy funny.)

But when I went to the webcomic’s site to link to that particular gag, I found that its author had deleted the entire thing.  It seems he’s releasing a book (good!) and doesn’t want its material freely available on the Net (not so much!).

This made me realize that many of the links down the right side of the blog didn’t work or were outdated.  And even more of the private links to people and sites I’d built up here have become invalid with time.

So, I’m going to be making an effort to trim away all of the dead links, and be more timely in drawing attention to the good stuff I find out there.  Before it’s gone forever.

Neil’s Puppet Dreams

Posted in Fiction, Things You Should See with tags , , , on February, 2014 by melendwyr

I have just encountered “Neil’s Puppet Dreams” on YouTube.


I should probably note:  although clearly this awesomeness should be shared with everyone, it’s not exactly work-safe.  There’s only a tiny bit of inappropriate language in the first video, but they become increasingly NSFW as they progress.  Be discreet!

Unorthodox Revenue Stream

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on February, 2014 by melendwyr

Careeningly wildly through the Web, as I am wont to do, I came across the following:  Why Facebook Subscribers Stopped Seeing Updates.

I have never understood why entities like Facebook are so sought after, as it didn’t seem to me that they have any real function or way to produce value or revenue for the owners.  Now we’re starting to see how it can be made profitable:  condition people to be accustomed to using a site, then find ways to charge for said use.  And not necessarily charging the viewers, either.  Much as with credit cards, the average person wouldn’t pay for the service, so you charge the entities that the average person patronizes through the service.  A different kind of user.

I wonder who else is paying Facebook so that they can continue to connect with people through it.