A Fremen Mama

Well not really. I was immediately reminded of (a) where I grew up and (b) Dune when I saw this photo of a Bedouin mother and her child.

A photo of a bedouin woman and her baby by Ilo Battigelli
“Bedouin Mother”, Ilo Battigelli, 1948 (Source Unknown)

Intense and so beautiful. It was composed by this chap called Ilo Battigelli (1922-2009, RIP) who worked for Aramco’s oil refineries in Saudi Arabia until the mid-50s. The locals took to calling him “Ilo the Pirate” because he had his studio at a beach 🏴‍☠️. He appears to have had a long and lovely career as a photographer after leaving the Persian Gulf. You can read a little more about him here.

I was able to find this colorized version by Lorenzo Folli (Instagram).

A colorized photo of a bedouin woman and her baby by Lorenzo Folli
© Lorenzo Folli

Stunning stuff. Folli appears to be quite a master at colorizing history. Two quick favorites are this picture of a young Van Gogh (never saw this bro sans beard!) and Victoria with Abdul the Munshi.


© Lorenzo Folli


© Lorenzo Folli

On The People Who Truly Love The United States and Would Like to Restore it to it’s Former Glory

Just as terror, even in its pre-total, merely tyrannical form ruins all relationships between men, so the self-compulsion of ideological thinking ruins all relationships with reality. The preparation has succeeded when people have lost contact with their fellow men* as well as the reality around them; for together with these contacts, men lose the capacity of both experience and thought. The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.

Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

Here are two meditations in the form of Jordan Klepper’s excellent interactions with the deluded. I just wish that every supporter were as candid as the woman Jordan spoke to in this first one (starting 00:40) without resorting to shameless and awkward sophistry and whataboutism.

This is a fucking clown.

The most pathetic position, however, is one where you will readily admit to all of your Orange Leader’s “cruelties, collusions, corruptions, and crimes” but sigh and support the thrice-indicted buffoon’s second go at authoritarianism (with or without issuing a weak “both sides”). Consider this solemn Solomon from my home state:

It’s either malice or delusion. Either way, the Truth does not matter when they’re hurting the right people.

Letting the Cat Out of the Bag

From the United Automobile Worker magazine, 1937:

“What did you tell that man just now?”
“I told him to hurry.”
“What right do you have to tell him to hurry?”
“I pay him to hurry.”
“How much do you pay him?”
“Four dollars a day.”
“Where do you get the money?”
“I sell products.”
“Who makes the products?”
“He does.”
“How many products does he make in a day?”
“Ten dollars worth.”
“Then, instead of you paying him, he pays you $6 a day to stand around and tell him to hurry.”
“Well, but I own the machines.”
“How did you get the machines?”
“Sold products and bought them.”
“Who made the products?”
“Shut up. He might hear you.”

Sky Force: Reloaded

I installed this game in May 2018 and finally beat it five years later in June 2023. I wish I could somehow figure out the amount of time I’ve spent trying to beat this exquisitely-made scrolling shooter, for it would be the amount of time I’ve spent on planes, in Ubers, sick and bedridden, or just a little bored, which is mostly when I’d play it. Here’s what it looks like.

It’s fine on a phone (even on an iPhone Mini) but I loved beating some harder levels and modes on my giant iPad. It’s free but I paid to remove the ads and nothing else.

On vacation in North Carolina, my brother-in-law started playing this arcade game called 1944: The Loop Master which looked uncannily like Sky Force: Reloaded.

The Loop Master is, in turn, a sequel to 19XX: The War Against Destiny, which looks like if you applied an 8-bit filter to Sky Force: Reloaded and kept the WWII aesthetic of the boss monsters the same but modernized the player’s aircraft. Here’s a complete playthrough:

I tried to find out why it had a “Reloaded” in the names. It’s based on an older game, simply called Sky Force. I look forward to referencing this post in 2030 🕹️

A 1st Century Villa in Positano

When I was about 13 or so, I was blown away when I learned that ancient Greek and Roman statues used to be painted (paywalled; cached PDF) and were not commissioned to be ghostly-white. An all-time favorite is this Greek sculpture of a Persian archer.

Greek sculpture of a Persian Archer
Source: “We know Greek statues weren’t white. Now you can see them in color”, NPR

I tremendously enjoy any recreations of color in the ancient world. I find it an absolutely lovely feeling to imagine what life must have been like back then. So when I found this mostly intact home from first century Pompeii, I was tickled pink 🥰

Photograph of a first century villa in Positano 1

Photograph of a first century villa in Positano 2

Photograph of a first century villa in Positano 3

Photograph of a first century villa in Positano 4

Photograph of a first century villa in Positano 5

Simply astounding. I got those from Le Sireneuse Journal1. There’s a nice story of its discovery and a lot more detail on their site but the TL;DR is: Built around 1AD, belonged to a rich family (of course), was buried 36ft under a street for a while because of Vesuvius’ eruption, was discovered by a butcher who was digging out a cellar. Was looted.

I hope to visit one day 🤞

  1. The website is pretty but swallows the scrollbar hijacks the browser’s scroll behaviour to add a maddening level of inertial scroll. It would be nice if people just did normal web things. ↩︎

Cowsay! 🐮

I love me my cowsay. It’s a lovely amusement that greets me every time I open a terminal session.

Example of cowsay in action

People typically use it with the fortune command but my cow moos a random developer excuse. I generate that using this bash function and this invocation:

command -v cowsay >/dev/null 2>&1 && {
    # shellcheck source=/dev/null
    random_excuse | cowsay -s
    echo ""
}

I was looking for more cowsay templates and found this giant list. You’d use echo "Moomoo" | cowsay -f some_template.cow. If you need color, there’s Charc0al’s list which doubles as a converter in case you want to use your own images. Since I don’t trust things on the internet to continue to be where they are, I saved that repo here.

Sears Homes

Sears, the department store, sold DIY homes via catalog for 32 years between 1908 and 1940 through a program called Sears Modern Homes. They offered 447 different housing styles which you can see here.

The designs were not ‘remarkable’ in any way: Sears themselves admit that they were “not an innovative home designer”. These were just some popular styles at the times they were offered.

However, as a customer, you would have enjoyed a lot of agency in either customizing a home you picked as a starting point from the catalog, or submitting your own custom, crazy blueprint to Sears. Prices ranged from $600 - $6,000 ($18,620 - $186,200 in today’s money). You could get a 5-15 year loan at 6-7% interest.

Your “assembly required” home would have been dispatched to you via railroad boxcar. Your delivery would’ve had around 30,000 (or more) parts of all sorts: wiring, plumbing, bricks, mortar, lumber, staircases, nails, paint, varnish, and so on. To raise this barn, you would’ve either enlisted your family and friends’ help or contracted out the work to a local handyperson.

The most expensive home was an Honor Bilt and looked like this:

Sears estimate that they sold between 70,000 to 75,000 homes over thirty-two years. It is hard to estimate the number of these homes that are still standing for various reasons. For one, Sears’ own records of which homes were sold to whom were inexplicably destroyed during an enthusiastic “corporate house cleaning”. For another, Sears allowed homebuyers a generous amount of customization. Finally, the passage of time that naturally changes a home complicates its identification and authentication.

I was interested in what one of these dwellings looked like on the inside and found this media of a design called the Martha Washington. One was listed in February 2016 in DC for a million dollars.

Sources

K&R is the One True Indentation Style

Via Wikipedia. I am “not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke” the genesis of other styles. “Haskell Style” has to be a joke (like this masterpiece) and I just pray I don’t encounter it in the wild1 🙏

// Allman
while (x === y)
{
  func1();
  func2();
}

// Horstmann
while (x === y)
{ func1();
  func2();
}

// Kernighan & Ritchie
while (x === y) {
  func1();
  func2();
}

// GNU
while (x === y)
  {
    func1();
    func2();
  }

// Haskell style
while (x === y)
  { func1()
  ; func2()
  ;
  }

// Ratliff style
while (x === y) {
  func1();
  func2();
  }

// Whitesmiths
while (x === y)
  {
  func1();
  func2();
  }

// Lisp style
while (x === y)
  { func1();
    func2(); }

See also: “Vertical Hanging Indent” is the One True Indentation Style

  1. Update: Not exactly HS but good grief. ↩︎

Diatoms

They look like priceless brooches and are tremendously important to our planet.

A photo of diatoms through a microscope

Emphases mine:

Living diatoms make up a significant portion of the Earth’s biomass: they generate about 20 to 50 percent of the oxygen produced on the planet each year, take in over 6.7 billion metric tons of silicon each year from the waters in which they live, and constitute nearly half of the organic material found in the oceans. The shells of dead diatoms can reach as much as a half-mile (800 m) deep on the ocean floor, and the entire Amazon basin is fertilized annually by 27 million tons of diatom shell dust transported by transatlantic winds from the African Sahara, much of it from the Bodélé Depression, which was once made up of a system of fresh-water lakes.

Wikipedia

On Knowing Everything When One is Young

When he was young he had prided himself on being clever. Walking down the street, not even thinking anything, just walking along like every other moron, he’d had a distinct sense of how clever he was. He’d never done anything with that cleverness except write stupid articles and make occasionally clever remarks, most of them not even clever. He just felt clever, and it was a good feeling, feeling clever. Now he felt, with equal conviction (and rather more evidence), that he was entering the stupid years. The stupid years complemented the vague years. They went together. The vague years and the stupid years were the same years and they had already started. Well, bring them on. Forgetting everyone’s names - as those adverts in the newspapers were always reminding you - was embarrassing, but apart from that, being stupid was fine, like a premonition of enlightenment.

Geoff Dyer, Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi: A Novel

On Mullets

People ask me why in 2023 I’m still rocking a mullet. Easy answer. Without the lettuce I’m just a guy that says dumb shit all the time. When I say dumb shit with the mullet, it’s like my face is saying one thing out front, and my mullet is apologizing out back. My mullet is “Dumb shit out front, I’m sorry but I grew up in Oklahoma out back” Getting mad at something someone said with a mullet is like getting mad at a person with no arms for not waving at you at the mall.

Fake Quote by Mike Gundy

On the Tragedy of systemd

Spent a decent portion of my professional life with init.d. Had to deploy a set of Ubuntu servers last week (use FreeBSD at home), which marked my first actual brush with systemd after a long while of sysadmin-ing Linux systems. It’s weird, takes some getting used to, and has a lovely Enterprise™ smell to it1, but I don’t think I mind it too much, especially with a nice cheatsheet. Just ergonomics; no comments on its security and stewardship 🤐

I wanted to know more about it’s history and enjoyed this really excellent talk by Benno Rice. Had no idea that its creator received death threats and various other forms of online abuse over an innocuous set of ideas and piece of software. Unbelievable.

Some select quotes from the talk and about systemd:

People have a complicated relationship with change. I like to say that nerds especially have a really complicated relationship with change. We love it to pieces. Change is awesome when we’re the ones doing it.

Benno Rice

The moral isn’t “Don’t use systemd”, the moral is “Write stuff in better languages than C”. rsyslog doesn’t exactly have an enviable security record either.

@mjg59

and finally,

The moral is “Don’t use systemd. And don’t chain core system functionality to software from teams with a track record of imcompetence.” It’s about better, experienced programmers. Not “better” languages.

@hyc_symas

Word.

  1. I imagine that init.d did too when it was introduced. ↩︎

On Convenience in 2022

Definitely the future of television I had in mind was me having to google every movie I want to watch to see if it’s currently in one of its one-month windows on any of the seven streaming services I pay for. This is way easier than buying a DVD. I love it.

@chasemit

Crinoids!

These are fossilized crinoids found in Western Australia by Tom Kapitany. Crinoids are animals and belong to the phylum Eichinodermata which includes starfish and sea urchins (and they all have “pentameral symmetry”). This is all well and good but these things, in their fossilized state, look like so much like the sentinels from The Matrix I wonder if there was any inspiration here.

Crinoid fossils by Tom Kapitany

Sentinel robots from The Matrix

Here are a few more fossils

Crinoid fossil

Another Crinoid fossil
Source: Fossil Huntress

And their basic anatomy

Crinoid Anatomy

A Terrible Typeface on an Expensive Watch

This is the Patek Philippe 5131. It’s a world timer with a lovely hand-painted cloisonné enamel dial, a marvel of engineering and ingenuity from one of the Holy Trinity of watchmaking that will set you back at least $150,0001.

It also features one of the shittiest choices of typeface I’ve seen on a watch of its calibre.

Patek Philippe 5131

I wonder what the design process was at this august company when it came to this watch’s dial. It would appear that someone at Patek opened up Microsoft Word (at the last minute?) and just fell in love with the majesty that is the SHOUTING VARIANT of Lucida Calligraphy. The overall effect is one where you wonder if you’re looking at a knockoff.

A sample of Lucida Calligraphy in ALL-CAPS

I like to imagine they received feedback about this ‘bold’ choice since here’s the next version, the 5231, on the right (with its ghastly older brother on the left).

Patek Philippe 5131 on the left and 5231 on the right
Source: Revolution Watch

I got that picture from this exhaustive history of Patek’s World Timers. It’s well-researched, has a lot of pictures, and is a good read if you can withstand sentences like this written by the same bro who will definitely not teach you anything about after-dinner drinks.

As if, somehow, by losing myself in the beautifully rendered map of the Americas, Africa and Europe, I could remember how interconnected this world once was and hopefully will be again. So, I began to see my World Timer as a chalice of renewed hope to once more live the glorious opiatic maelstrom of transcontinental travel, even if for the time being this is limited only to my imagination as I write these words.

Cool man.

  1. If you’re new to the world of watches, this is a very reasonable price for a piece like this. Consider this Rafa Nadal-endorsed Richard Mille (RM 27-04) that costs well over $2.5M (here’s why). It is, again, a wonder of mechanical engineering and watchmaking. As far as time-telling goes, this legend that is the Casio F91W ($10 or less) is more accurate (and, I imagine, can withstand “12,000 g’s” while lasting more than a decade on its battery). ↩︎

Telugu Folk at The Movies

A theater-owner on Telugu moviegoers at RRR:

This fucking shit destroyed my theater opening night. The Telugu crowd specifically wrecked out shit. No issues with the Hindi dub or the Tamil dub.

Confetti cannons, spraying soda everywhere, littering in the parking lot, sneaking in more people than there were seats in our biggest auditoriums, screaming and shouting and chanting constantly.

I get the guy is something of a hero. I get you’re excited for your long awaited movie or whatever. Here’s an interesting thought thought: fuck off. :) Just fuck right off. Don’t be an animal and make my and my employees lives worse to have more fun at our expense.

The janitors saw the insane amount of glitter and newspaper shreddings and confetti explosions and said “hm, actually, second thought, fuck this. Nobody gets paid enough for this.” In-between every seat, every chair, in every row and even where there weren’t rows of seats, on every step, even up by the projector window. We’re lucky they didn’t damage the silver screen in any way, tbh, but that’s about it. Took days to fully clean.

Fuck RRR specifically for this reason. I know it’s probably decent, and a few friends watched it on Netflix, but out of sheer principle I just can’t bring myself to watch even a second of it now. There were some fun scenes for sure, but I think I’d much rather watch War or Baahubali 1 and 2 than RRR on account of the bad time everyone but the Telugu crowd had.

With the usual “not all of us” apologies from other Telugu folk of course.

I have never, ever understood this deeply embarrassing behaviour from my people1. At college, I remember watching a Chiranjeevi movie at some small town in Iowa. The poor folk who ran the theater had no idea what they were in for. Moviegoers littered the entire theater with glitter and torn newspaper and didn’t clean up after the show was done. Some set up an unsanctioned tea and snack station for the intermission (these refreshments were, of course, offered at a price). Chanted, chatted loudly, and generally made a nuisance of themselves.

I’ve been offered quite a few reasons as to why Telugu folk do this and they’re all pretty bullshit. I personally refuse to go to the first screening of any Telugu movie in Des Moines in case I have to deal with “passionate” people who don’t seem to understand that they’re rude, ill-mannered, immature, and annoying pieces of shit to everyone else around them.

  1. Those are things I could find in a few seconds for the recent release of a terrible movie. ↩︎

On Morals versus Ethics

What is the difference between ethics and morality? A morality functions according to principle, while an ethics functions according to experimentation. A morality presupposes a discontinuity between principle and action, while an ethics presupposes a continuity of action and character. A morality tells one what one ought to do, while an ethics asks what one might do.

Brent Adkins, Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus: A Critical Introduction and Guide

According to Britannica, most of us tend to use the terms interchangeably, and we tend to associate “ethical” behaviour with professions (like law, medicine, and engineering).

Ethicists today, however, use the terms interchangeably. If they do want to differentiate morality from ethics, the onus is on the ethicist to state the definitions of both terms. Ultimately, the distinction between the two is as substantial as a line drawn in the sand.

The way I understand it is: We mostly agree that gay marriage is ethical. However, it may be immoral to an adherent of a religion that proscribes it (but would they agree that it is ethical?)

On Living

What makes life worth living? No child asks itself that question. To children life is self-evident. Life goes without saying: whether it is good or bad makes no difference. This is because children don’t see the world, don’t observe the world, don’t contemplate the world, but are so deeply immersed in the world that they don’t distinguish between it and their own selves. Not until that happens, until a distance appears between what they are and what the world is, does the question arise: what makes life worth living?

Karl Ove Knausgard, Autumn

On Criminal Nature

The reason republicans get so incredibly huffy when any of the tools of law enforcement are ever turned upon them is they think “criminals” as an inherent class of people (who they of course could never be part of) rather than a descriptor for someone who commits illegal acts.

@opinonhaver

Not too far-fetched an observation. Consider the following:

Shorting Things

You predict (or have insider information) that the price of lawnmowers will fall. The current market price of a lawnmower is $1,000. You go to Eddie’s Lawnmower Rental Company and rent a lawnmower from Eddie for $10 a day. He doesn’t care about you returning the same lawnmower; he just wants you to return a lawnmower (assume that all lawnmowers involved in this story are in great working condition).

You sell this lawnmower to your neighbour for $1,000.

Ten days later, and as you predicted, the price of lawnmowers falls to $500. Now you buy another lawnmower for $500 and return a lawnmower to Eddie. So now you have gained: $1,000 - ($10 x 10 days = $100) - ($500 on the lawnmower you bought) = $400.

Now say you made a bad prediction and the price of lawnmowers went up to $1,500. So now you have lost $1,000 - ($10 x 10 days = $100) - ($1,500 on the lawnmower you bought) = $600.

Theoretically, there is no bottom to your losses. So you have to be very careful when you short things. It’s not for everyone. Stick to Index Funds if you don’t understand what you’re doing.

Finally, here’s some discussion on where the expression ‘going short’ may have come from.

My Undecided Thirties

Indecision has been a pretty huge problem in my life and this comment by /u/tomwaste hit home.

I’m not sure if people have experienced the same but when I entered my 30s I became convinced I was rapidly running out of time. Rather than using that as motivation I let it paralyze me with indecision because I “couldn’t afford to make the wrong choice.” Consequently, I’m now 39 and, though I’ve had great things happen in my 30s, I regret spending so much time worrying and so little time committing to a course of action.

What’s the simplest way out of this mire of Analysis Paralysis?

“One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked. ‘Where do you want to go?’ was his response. ‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered. ‘Then,’ said the cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.”

Their comment also reminded me of this Sylvia Plath poem illustrated by Gavin Aung Than of Zen Pencils.

The Fig Tree, a poem by Sylvia Plath illustrated by Gavin Aung Than of Zen Pencils

Zephyr Howls

This is Zephyr, a “captive-born gray wolf” at the Wolf Conservation Center in NY. Below, you can hear him and his friends orchestrate some of the most beautiful sounds you will hear today. I’ve watched this five times and it was somehow even better with my eyes closed.

Here’s the Wolf Conservation Center’s YouTube channel for more music. Fuck I love wolves ♥️🐺

Netsuke

Summary of Wikipedia article: Japanese kimono didn’t have pockets. They needed something to store their stuff in. So they made containers that they hung from their kimonos’ sashes1. The part that secured the container to the sash at the top was called a netsuke (“root attached”.)

Here’s a really cute one of a sleeping cat from the 19th century 😻

Japanese cat netsuke from the 19th century

Update

Here’s another. It’s a crouching tiger 😍

Japanese crouching tiger netsuke from the 19th century

  1. An obi, which is a favorite NYTimes crossword clue! ↩︎

The Valeriepieris Circle

This is from a while ago but I didn’t get the memo. It’s a little crazy:

A map of the The Valeriepieris Circle

It’s named after Reddit user /u/vaieriepieris, an ESL teacher from Texas, who made it for a map subreddit in 2013.

  • There are more Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Communists inside the circle than outside it.
  • It “pulls all of this off while being mostly water and including the most sparsely populated country on earth (Mongolia).” (Source).
  • It also contains the highest mountain and deepest trench.

On Doing Nothing At All

As far as Indian Gurus go, I find this guy more illumined and full of practical, actionable advice than, say, this guy, less full of shit than this one, and definitely less batshit crazy than this one.

Via LT 🙏

Update

The creator of the video is Masood Boomgaard. Here’s his YouTube channel. And here’s the Balm your Soul needs in its entirety 🙏 🌸

On One’s Work

Do not depend on the hope of results. When you are doing the sort of work you have taken on, essentially an apostolic work, you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself.

Thomas Merton, in a letter to Jim Forest dated February 21, 1966, reproduced in The Hidden Ground of Love: Letters by Thomas Merton (W. Shannon ed. 1993).

Check Everything and Twice

A couple from snowy Minnesota decided to take a winter vacation back in the simple Florida resort where they had stayed for a honeymoon twenty-five years before. Because of his wife’s delayed work schedule, the husband went first, and then when he got there he received a message that she would meet him soon. So he sent her this e-mail in reply. But because he typed one letter wrong in the e-mail address, it went by mistake to an old woman in Oklahoma, whose minister husband had died the day before. Here is what she read:

“Dearest,

Well the journey is over and I have finally arrived. I was surprised to find they have e-mail here now. They tell me you’ll be coming soon. It will be good to be together again.

Love as always.

P.S. Be prepared. It’s quite hot down here.”

Source Unknown

Senator Grassley, People, and Party

More people like this, and on both sides, please.

Senator Grassley is 88 years old. He voted to oppose Judge Jackson’s nomination.

“Having carefully studied her record, unfortunately I think she and I have fundamentally different views on the role of judges and the role that they should play in our system of government because of those disagreements I can’t support her nomination,” Grassley said.

Jordain Carney, “Grassley to oppose Jackson’s Supreme Court nomination”, The Hill

Via JK.

On Sitting on your Arse

I like nothing more in the world than sitting on my ass doing nothing. And it’s not my fault I have this attitude, because I happen to have an amazingly comfortable ass. It may not look like much, but if you could sit on this baby for two minutes, you’d realize that getting off this ass would be a crime against nature.

Lori Chapman

Kali

Drawing of Kali from 1900 at a Museum in Baltimore

Unknown artist, circa 1800

The terrifying goddess Kali, wearing a necklace of skulls and holding a severed head in one of her hands, is worshiped here by other gods. From the left, we see Indra, Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver), and Shiva (the destroyer). Kali is associated with violence and sexuality; she stands for the forces of destruction, but she is also a life-giver. Her posture is that of a woman giving birth.

Kali as the Supreme Deity”, The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

Not gonna lie: Her head reminded me of the Dust Bunnies in Spirited Away 🙏

An Anglerfish

Photograph of an Angerfish

What a strange, strange creature. Those bumps remind me of rivets on a submarine. But because they are anglerfish, the bumps are even more bizarre than you’d expect:

Since anglerfish are deep sea creatures, it took scientists years and years to figure this stuff out. They could never find a male. Females preserved in formaldehyde sitting on dusty museum shelves usually have strange lumps that appear to be parasites. They ARE parasites. Sexual parasites!

Those lumps are all that is left of the males! They had taken that last bite and had become absorbed into the females’ bodies and became nothing more than dangly bits. The male’s eyes and fins atrophy away, and nourishment comes from the female’s blood.

BioGeoPlanet

Lovely.

Dan Brown is Renowned

These articles are from a while ago. I love them a lot. By Michael Deacon.

That’s true, mused the accomplished composer of thrillers that combined religion, high culture and conspiracy theories. His books were read by everyone from renowned politician President Obama to renowned musician Britney Spears. It was said that a copy of The Da Vinci Code had even found its way into the hands of renowned monarch the Queen. He was grateful for his good fortune, and gave thanks every night in his prayers to renowned deity God.

Michael Deacon, “Don’t make fun of renowned Dan Brown”, The Telegraph

And the renowned encore:

His imagination was racing like a racecar made of brains. Picking up his personal copy of acclaimed tome The Da Vinci Code, he reread its exquisite opening paragraph.

“Renowned curator Jacques Saunière staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum’s Grand Gallery. He lunged for the nearest painting he could see, a Caravaggio. Grabbing the gilded frame, the seventy-six-year-old man heaved the masterpiece towards himself until it tore from the wall and Saunière collapsed backward in a heap beneath the canvas.”

Hmm, meditated the 5’9” caucasian male. There is no doubting the magnificence of the prose, from the effortless elegance of its syntax to the way it brings characters vividly to life through evocative details like “the seventy-six-year-old man”. But the young people of today wouldn’t know about museums or Caravaggio. I must start again from scratch – and bring the story right up to date.

Michael Deacon, “Look Out, Kids! It’s The Return Of Renowned Dan Brown”, The Telegraph

I read The Da Vinci Code when it was all the rage a long while ago1, and so much of what’s being ridiculed here reminds me of submissions to the Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest2.

Update

Here’s John Oliver on the phenonemon that was The Da Vinci Code. 19-year old Nikhil was absolutely mesmerized. His reaction at 5:45 is chef’s kiss

  1. My roommate at the time bought me the illustrated version for my birthday! ↩︎

  2. On my bucket list: Have a submission mentioned honorably 🙏 ↩︎

Steller’s Sea Eagle

The Steller’s sea eagle is one of the world’s rarest eagles. There are only around 4,000 left. It’s native to Russia and Japan. One was spotted in Maine and got bird watchers very excited.

“It would be like an elephant walking up out of Africa into Scandinavia,” Mr. Lund said. “Like getting a call that the Rolling Stones are playing in a field behind a warehouse in the next town over.”

Marion Renault, “This Eagle Is Very, Very Lost”, The New York Times

It also just happens to be an absolute unit of a bird at 20lbs with an 8ft wingspan 🔥🦅😍

Steller's Sea Eagle - 1
by Andres Vasquez Noboa

Steller's Sea Eagle - 2
Photographer unknown (source)

Steller's Sea Eagle - 3
by John Charles Putrino

Steller's Sea Eagle - 4
by Andres Vasquez Noboa

Dr. Lees said vagrancy, as a biological mechanism, could help migratory birds expand their ranges, a potential advantage as global warming redraws the contours of suitable habitat. Dr. Farnsworth said, conversely, extreme weather — which is anticipated to grow in frequency and intensity as climate change progresses — can also play a role in displacing birds by hundreds or even thousands of miles.

What’s next for the lone, pioneering Steller’s sea eagle? It could migrate along with native bald eagles down the coastline. It could find its way back to northeastern Asia. It could stick around Nova Scotia, as it is well adapted to the cold and seems able to survive there. It could die, out of range of its original flock.

“It’s like an avian soap opera,” Dr. Lees said. “We’re all rooting for it. Will it make it home? Or is it doomed to never see another species of its own in its lifetime?”

Nailbiter.