Things Heard and Seen on the Way to Mary’s Rock

So I carried through on my manly penance for my geeky shame by hiking up to Mary’s Rock. Right off the bat, I saw some sort of tortoiseshell or question mark butterfly (none of the pictures I have match the iridescent blue trailing edge of the wing, but that was the general shape if you’re inclined to look them up). Then perhaps fifty yards further on was a garter snake who was not eager to leave the nice warm trail. Seeing as there were people coming down the trail, I shooed him off as my good deed for the day. Since lots of people get weird about snakes, even harmless tiny ones like the garter, I decided not to point him out. I actually had to poke him to get him to move–he was a little chilly.

This being the best weather in some time, I was surprised just how chilly it was on the shady side of the mountain. I had a late start, but I think the main cause was the still-melting snow(!). A combination of that and my general lack of being sufficiently in shape made it a harder trip than usual. The leaves, sadly, were past peak (knew I should have gone last Sunday).

Right before I got to the summit, I passed three people coming down. Some sort of south Asian-descended girl said, “Tell us the story of Morgana.”

“Ah,” said a pinched-looking white female, “Morgane Le Fay. Well…” and at this point, I got far enough past that I couldn’t hear the rest of the tale clearly. I was just being boggled that my manly penance for geekery was being subverted by some SCA types (though they were the scrawny vegetarian SCA types, not the turkey-leg-inhaling, basement-dwelling SCA types).

Still, I happened to the top just during a break in people, and for the first time in years had it to myself. Just as I decided to come down, other people came up. Apart from a junko and the usual ravens, I didn’t see much else animal life (not counting the requisite deer waiting to commit suicide by the side of US 17).

Sunsets in the mountains are much more vivid than elsewhere, and I got treated to the sight of colored light hitting what fall leaves remained as I made my way back to the car.

All in all, I feel restored and able to take on some more science fiction without fear of ever knowing the touch of a woman again. At least not if I go to the UK, where female science fiction viewers now outnumber males (though as science fiction fans, they should have born in mind that the difference falls well within the error bars).

Missed That the First Time…

So I got the DVDs for the new Battlestar Galactica’s first season, including the opening miniseries. Watching the miniseries with a much higher resolution than my tape of the broadcast showed me something I had to go back and make sure I saw. Turns out I’m not the first one to spot that in the first scene with Laura Roslin in the miniseries, a Firefly class transport is shown coming in to land. So if you’ve seen Serenity, as I think you know you must, you’ve seen rather a lot of those ships.

Just a cool little bit brought to you via Zöic, the same company that did the effects in Firefly, the short-lived series that begat Serenity. Interestingly, they developed the handheld-camera-films-spaceships technique that is so characteristic of Battlestar Galactica for Firefly, though it wasn’t used at quite the same level.

The only thing else I think is, thank the Lords of Kobol that they didn’t carry forward the kid Boxy into the series. He really didn’t work in the first Battlestar Galactica, either.

Now I have to wait ’till January for more. Suck.

Harriet Miers Flies Delta

Ah, rats.

I was so looking forward to the circus. On the other hand, whew. The woman writes worse than I did in high school, and seems to have thought less about her judicial philosophy than I have.

Interestingly, even though pundits are dismissing it as the “official” reason, I suspect her withdrawal letter gives the genuine reason. Rather than endanger the imperial presidency, Bush will allow a rare reversal. I doubt anyboy who stops and thinks about it for a while believes that Bush cares what conservatives, liberals, or anybody else thinks of the competency of his candidate. Loyalty is the Rosa Parks of principles in the Bush administration, with competency taking the very back seat.

Wanna Know Why the Democrats Lose?

Well, one of their most powerful senators spends her time writing a romance novel that makes Harlequin look like Chekov. Their bloggers spend a lot of time catfighting.

But fear not, for the next election they are taking decisive action by coming up with a vacuous slogan.

Given that Bush has approval numbers in the 30s, I think we have a real contest going to see who can turn off voters faster. Time to vote Libertarian. I mean, even the blue guy doesn’t sound as dumb as Boxer or Bush.

Rashomon and Style

I just got through watching Rashomon, and I’m sure at some point I’ll have insightful things to say about it. But in the meantime:

  1. Women throughout time have had really, really weird ideas about fashion. Those eyebrows really freaked me out. Much worse than metrosexual crab people.
  2. During the woman’s story, the composer was just a wee bit “inspired by” (in the John Williams “completely ripped off” sense) Ravel’s Bolero.

I enjoyed it, but seriously, those eyebrows remind me of the old women I see who’ve shaved theirs and tattooed some weird arch over their eyes in a color unrelated to their actual hair.

Hit and Run DC Gathering, October 2005

Last weekend I attended a get-together for readers of Reason magazine‘s Hit and Run blog. (Does that make me a Hit and Runner or a Reasonoid?) Much thanks to smacky (rightmost in the photo below) for organizing. We met at Ireland’s Four Courts, in Arlington, allowing me to indulge in pints of Boddington’s on tap. (Note to self: remember the size of pints and the alcohol content of Boddington’s next time.)

Here’s the group, minus mk, who made a much-appreciated effort to drop by despite other commitments. Click the image to get a full-sized popup.

Left to Right: Me (Sandy), Martin, Kwais, Mr. Nice Guy, Steve, and Smacky

More photos and reminiscences after the break.

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A God’s Wrath a Mite Unpredictable

We all know, of course, that Katrina was a god’s wrath against the US for not being part of the Caliphate of bin Laden. So I wonder what Al Qaeda thinks a god’s position is on the earthquake that struck the last known hiding places of Osama and killed many, many more than were killed by Katrina?

Us crazy nonreligious types would say that maybe sad things happen and it isn’t the fault of capricious bearded men in the sky, but clearly it’s the worldwide Zionist conspiracy that makes us say that. My sympathy to the victims, who I don’t think are being punished for any wrongdoing other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The (Ig) Nobels Are Out

Nah, not the prestigious prizes in Switzerland, but the scientific equivalent of the Razzies, the Ig Nobels at Hahvahd. Here’s the list of 2005 winners, if “winner” is the appropriate term.

Some of them are just the sort of fluffy things one expects in rich societies, such as replacement dog testacles so Poochie doesn’t feel so bad about his trip to the vet. Others puzzle me–just how crowded is the avian biology field that you need to work out the physics of penguin poop in order to get a novel research topic?

Now, if only religion would join movies and science in ridiculing the stupid among you, we might get a “message from god” prize for idiots who start wars based on voices in their heads or morons who simultaneously accept that science is more valid than religion while attempting to deny scientific conclusions that don’t fit your creation myths.