11 Feb

Haunted items rake in the $ on eBay

Back in the early days of this weblog I posted about a haunted painting that was auctioned on eBay (here’s a site with photos of that painting and the original eBay ad text). Here’s a current item that’s another example of how calling an item “haunted” will increase its eBay value.

(Edited to add — I forgot to mention earlier that this link is via Neil Gaiman.)

11 Feb

CSS irritation

I would love it if someone could tell me why, when viewing this site through the Lemony Yellow theme, certain headlines look different from the rest. The Julius Schwartz headline and the Cola Through the Ages headline both aren’t showing the H3 style. But when I look at the code they look the same as the other headlines. Any CSS whizzes out there who can tell me what I’m missing? Originally the H3s did all look the same, so I must have broken it, but I’m not seeing what I did.

09 Feb

Terry Jones gets back at the Renaissance

“The main reason I wanted to make Medieval Lives was to get my own back on the Renaissance. It’s not that the Renaissance has ever done me any harm personally, you understand. It’s just that I’m sick of the way people’s eyes light up when they start talking about the Renaissance. I’m sick of the way art critics tend to say: ‘Aaaah! The Renaissance!’ with that deeply self-satisfied air of someone who is at last getting down to the Real Thing. And I’m sick to death of that ridiculous assumption that that before the Renaissance human beings had no sense of individuality.”

So begins Terry Jones’ explanation of why he made the TV series Medieval Lives. Jones was a Python, yes, but he’s also a “renowned scholar of medieval literature and history” who has a gift for making history not dry and boring, but funny and interesting. If you haven’t yet seen Medieval Lives, check it out.

09 Feb

Julius Schwartz, R.I.P.

Mark Evanier described Julius Schwartz as well as anyone could:

He was one of the founding fathers of science-fiction fandom and later of comic book fandom. For a time, he was an agent for science-fiction authors where among other accomplishments, he sold the first stories by a kid named Ray Bradbury. But you could only go so far in that field so when he heard about an opening as an editor of comic books, he grabbed it, figuring it might be good for a few years of increased income. On his way to the job interview, he later claimed, he read the first comic book he’d ever read. He apparently gleaned enough of the form because for the rest of his life, Julius Schwartz was not only an employee of DC Comics but, some said, the best comic book editor there ever was.

Some of the best comics I ever read in my life as a comics fan were edited by Julius Schwartz. I wanted to say thank you, so a couple of weeks ago I sent in an e-mail to an address that Evanier set up to receive well-wishes while Schwartz was in the hospital. Probably he never got to see my message, but I hope that the overwhelming number of messages let him know that there are a lot of people in the world who benefited from his work.

06 Feb

How well can you spot the fake smile?

Jason told me about this online test from the BBC which determines how well you can tell the difference between real smiles and fake smiles. I took it and didn’t do so well. I tend to think everyone is genuine. I guess I could have worse flaws.

There are a bunch of other psychological tests on the site as well, if you’re interested in that sort of thing.

06 Feb

Swastika on Beacon Hill

In my neighborhood, within sight of my home, a woman went to dinner last weekend, then came outside to find her car spray-painted with a swastika. And worse still, it was the second similar incident in four days. On Beacon Hill, one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Seattle, how could this be happening? Stupid kids who think it’s funny? Hateful outsiders coming into the neighborhood because they know it’s full of minorities? Or members of one local group full of hate for another? It’s insanity.

I’ve always felt pretty safe in this neighborhood, but in the last year or two it seems to have taken a giant leap backward. The South Seattle Star listed our area as one of the Central and Southeast Seattle neighborhood crime hot spots last issue — “Get your bread, milk and weapons here” — and, despite the folks on the neighborhood e-mail list who want us to shut up about this in order to keep their property values up, I don’t believe we should just watch in silence as the place falls apart. But I don’t know what to do. Some folks are doing a neighborhood watch walk occasionally, which is a start. But I guess I want instant answers, and there certainly aren’t any.

I suppose it’s no coincidence that the crime rate on the Hill went up when the economy in Seattle went down.

05 Feb

Scum of the earth

Spammers, that is. Scum, all of them. Today this blog got its first comment spam, selling a medication that I have no wish to advertise on these pages. The spam was deleted pretty near instantly, so the spammer was wasting his time. (Spammers are not only scum, they are idiots.)

If you are also running WordPress and being affected by comment spammers, you might want to read this thread on the WordPress support board.

04 Feb


I’m surprised I didn’t know this: Marvel and DC hold a joint trademark registration on the term “Super Heroes” and variations thereof. The link above includes an interesting discussion on the topic, and this article clarifies the situation somewhat. I do think that the term has become the generic term for costumed heroes, and I am surprised that no one challenged the original registration, since the term was generic by then as well.

Since I am discussing comics, I would just like to throw in an unrelated comics complaint (to DC, anyway, since I’m a longtime DCU fan). Bring back the damned lettercols. Thank you.

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