Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

... to everyone!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Space!!



Go check out the 50 best astronomy pictures of the year (the page may take a minute or two to load, but it's worth it)!

Fez tip to Maru.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sports Update

A little ago, it was observed that things were going rather bizarrely well in the sports world. Time, then, to check back, and see if the momentum has been maintained!



Back on October 18th, we wrote: "Millwall have lost exactly once since August, and are sitting a comfortable third. Today they beat Leeds United, something that has not happened in almost 20 years." Millwall have stumbled a little bit in the last couple of games, but are still sitting a comfortable third, only five points off the league lead. Tomorrow's match, at home against a struggling Yeovil Town, is pretty a must-win, though.



We wrote: "Napoli are leading Serie A, having just beaten Juventus (ok, there are teams right behind them with games in hand, so they'll likely be overtaken tomorrow, but still...)." Napoli have slipped to fifth in Serie A, not that there's anything particularly wrong with that. In fact, it's one spot better than I had them predicted to finish! So far, they've managed to defeat Juventus and Fiorentina, but lost (narrowly) to both the Milan sides.



Finally, we observed: "The Edmonton Oilers are 3-0-0, and in all three of those wins they've successfully defended a 1-goal lead. Furthermore, their big off-season acquisitions, Mssrs. Cole and Visnovsky, already have 3 goals between them. Oh, and their power-play is scoring goals too." It would be very easy to get all pessimistic here, because the Oilers have seemingly fallen off after their quick start to the season. They're currently 10th in the Western Conference, in other words out of the playoff picture at the moment. However... the Oilers are three points better than they were last season at this point, and the general sense is that things are coming together. Hemsky is putting up a point a game, more or less, and the powerplay for once is productive. The three-headed goalie monster has settled down a bit, with Dwayne Roloson cementing himself in place as the #1 guy. Now, if the penalty-killing were to improve, and Sam Gagner and Erik Cole were to boost their offensive numbers a bit, all would be well. As it is, there's reason for cautious optimism.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Theology of Cats

An interesting and apropos Lolcat:

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals


Which reminds me of the basic theological difference between cats and dogs. A dog looks at its owner and thinks "this person feeds me, shelters me, loves me, and takes care of me. This person must be a god!" Whereas a cat thinks "this person feeds me, shelters me, loves me, and takes care of me. I must be this person's god!"

And so forth...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Slingin' Sammy Baugh

A sad sports note. Sammy Baugh was the man who made the forward pass an integral part of football. In 1943, he led the NFL in passing (as a quarterback), interceptions (as a defensive back), and punting (as, well, a punter). That is probably not something we will see again.


Housesitting!

I have undertaken to look after a friend's house for the next couple of weeks or so, while he's away for the holidays. Beyond the usual snow-shovelling etc. type of tasks, this involves taking care of Benny, the resident four-year-old tomcat. So far, it's going fairly well. However, Benny, like most cats, has a bit of a personality. For example, here's a sample dialogue from yesterday:

  • Benny (pawing at back door handle): Lemme out! Lemme out! Lemme out! I want to go outside right now! Oh, why, why won't you let me go outside?
  • Chunklets (opening door): Out you go!
  • Benny: Hey, it's cold and snowy... no way am I going out there!
  • Chunklets (closing door): Ok then.
  • Benny (pawing at back door handle): Lemme out! Lemme out! Lemme out! I want to go outside right now! Oh, why, why won't you let me go outside?


For all that, though, he's a friendly fellow. He has perfected the feline trait of finding the spot on the bed that maximizes his comfort while minimizing mine, and then purring loudly about it. He also is quite fascinating with things moving under the covers. Feet, for example. Last night he pounced on mine from the top of the dresser as I was getting into bed. Anyway, he's a fun little cat.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Musical Interlude

I was lucky enough, when I was much younger, to get to see Odetta in concert here. Mostly what I remember about it is the fact that she had an incense stick on the end of her guitar - I recall thinking that it smelled very interesting. Anyway, she passed away last week, about a month before she was scheduled to perform at Barack Obama's inauguration. Here she is performing "Midnight Special."


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Yoga Time!

If nothing else, I have to give this guy props for maintaining concentration...



Fez tip to Maru.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Latin All Done



Well, another term of Latin 101 has come to an end. My students wrote their final on Saturday afternoon (blech!), and I didn't see anybody looking too dismayed at the end! This year they were writing in a gym, mixed in with about 400 Civil Engineering students. This meant, among other things, that it took me an hour to find one of them in the crowd. However, they were all there, and I have ended up with the right number of exams - hooray!

As usual, I shall miss my students - they were a good bunch this year!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Parliament Suspended

GG agrees to suspend Parliament until January
Decision gives Tories reprieve, thwarts imminent attempt to topple government

Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean has granted a request from Stephen Harper to suspend Parliament until late next month, a move that avoids a confidence vote set for Monday that could have toppled his minority government.


Well. It's going to be an interesting month-and-a-bit! I was rather hoping, as I'm sure you've gathered, that we would be getting Prime Minister Dion any day now. However, if nothing else, this whole process has shown clearly that Conservative bullying does not need to be tolerated, and can be opposed. Whether the Conservatives got that message remains to be seen.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hey Look! It's Ed!

Mr. Broadbent weighs in...

Harper 'lies' about coalition details: Broadbent
PM 'shameful' in portraying crisis as national unity issue, former NDP leader says

To save his own government, Stephen Harper is deliberately trying to deceive Canadians about the facts surrounding a proposed Liberal-NDP coalition, former NDP leader Ed Broadbent said Wednesday.

In an interview with CBC News in Toronto, a furious Broadbent had harsh words for the prime minister, saying Harper was also trying to pit English Canada against Quebecers in his attempt to discredit the proposed coalition to replace him if the Conservative minority government falls.


Yup. I could go on at some length about the whole the-coalition-is-bad-for-national-unity line of attack, but instead I'll just send you over to Peace, Order, and Good Government, Eh? to read Purple Library Guy's post on the issue. Wow, this blogging thing sure is easy...

I would merely point out here the hypocrisy of shrieking about the Liberals being in bed with the Bloc when it turns out that Stockwell Day was contemplating doing exactly the same thing a few years ago (read right to the end of the article). Goose, gander, good, etc.

"I've never seen the leader of a Conservative party, certainly not Bob Stanfield, certainly not Joe Clark, lie — I choose the word deliberately — the way Mr. Harper has," Broadbent said.

Yup again. Today's Conservatives are not, by any stretch of the imagination, the Tories of yore. One could very often disagree with the policies of the old Progressive Conservative Party (and I usually did), but one never got the impression that it's members viewed Canada with the kind of angry contempt so prevalent in today's Conservatives.

It also occurs to me that I would really, really, like to hear Joe Clark's opinion of this whole situation...

The former NDP leader, who helped negotiate Monday's deal between the New Democrats and the Liberals with the support of the Bloc Québécois, said Harper also lied when he said the three opposition leaders refused to sign their agreement in front of a Canadian flag because Gilles Duceppe, a Quebec sovereigntist, objected.

The funniest about that bit of hysterical mendacity was that the opposition leaders signed the agreement in front of not one, but TWO Canadian flags, AND a portrait of the Fathers of Confederation. So, if one were silly enough to measure the patriotism of the coalition leaders by their physical proximity to symbols of the nation, then they're actually doing just fine. Although... they could have brought along a beaver... and invited Paul Henderson... and arrived at the meeting by canoe... and so on and so forth.

In other news... Rally Tomorrow!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Viva La Revolución Del Jarabe De Arce!!

(with apologies to the entire Spanish-speaking world)

Gov. Gen. rushes home to deal with political turmoil
Last Updated: Tuesday, December 2, 2008 | 10:57 AM ET

Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean is returning home early from a state visit to Europe to deal with the upheaval on Parliament Hill, where she could decide the fate of the government in the next week.


Come on, GG, do the right thing! Take government away from Harper and his smirking band of twits and give it back to the people who are willing to govern in a more adult manner. You know, the ones who don't see political power merely as a hammer with which to hit people who disagree with them...

Let's get one thing straight here: The move by the opposition parties to form a coalition government is neither illegal nor undemocratic. The three party leaders involved, and their MPs, were all elected to Parliament fair and square, and it is entirely within their right, as elected representatives of the Canadian people, to act as they are acting (in fact, one could argue that, under the circumstances, it's their sworn duty to rein in Harper). The Conservatives, while they did indeed win more seats than any other individual party, were not entrusted by the electorate with a majority. And yet, they have insisted on governing as though they had been. That arrogance is now being slapped down hard, and the country is better off for that.

So yes, let's have this coalition government and the object lesson that it represents. For one thing, it should mean that Omar Khadr gets to come home.1

Important Note: A large tip of the fez to skadl at Peace, Order and Good Government, Eh?, who seems to have been the first to start labeling the current situation "The Maple Syrup Revolution." It's brilliant! Further Note: The sidebar coalition image is from here.

1On the Khadr situation: I'm aware that the incoming Obama administration seems to have plans to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, and may be planning to send Khadr back to Canada anyway. The point here is that Stephen Harper, disgracefully, wasn't about to raise a finger to help the kid out.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Interesting Times...

Dion to lead Liberal-NDP coalition, Liberals confirm
PM: Dion 'playing biggest political game in Canadian history'

Liberal caucus members agreed unanimously on Monday that Stéphane Dion will stay on to lead a Liberal-NDP coalition, after the two parties reached a tentative agreement to replace the minority Conservative government.


Let us deal swiftly with the outright hilarity of Stephen Harper accusing somebody, anybody, of playing political games. The Libs and the Dippers aren't playing any games that the Cons didn't start. All they're doing is calling a massively silly bluff.

In fact, this whole situation works well in poker terms. For about a year, and perhaps even earlier, Harper has been betting aggressively, daring the opposition (this is a heads-up game, by the way) to call him. Most of the time, however, the opposition has folded meekly, and Harper has collected the blinds. So this time, when Harper peeked at his hole cards and discovered 7-3 of clubs, he looked forward to more of the same, and bet big. He doubtless even looked forward to showing his hand after the anticipated capitulation, and to mocking his opponent for being bullied out of the pot.

However, instead of folding, the opposition grinned at him and re-raised all-in.

This puts Mr. Harper in a bit of spot. He could fold, which would leave him in control, but would also mean admitting that the opposition has him sussed, and that the bully bet, his favourite and perhaps only tactic, isn't likely to work anymore. Or he could call, and hope like hell that he flops something that allows him to beat the opposition's pair of queens. It could happen, but it's not really likely.

Anyway, it looks now like there's a pretty good chance that Stephane Dion will get to be Prime Minister after all. And I wouldn't mind that a bit.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Missing Something?



A graffito from Pompeii:

equa esiquei aberavit cum semuncis honerata a d
VII Kal Septembres Decembres
convenito Q Deciu Q l Hilarum aut L Decium L
l Amphionem citra pontem
Sarni
fundo
Mamiano


Translated (loosely):

"If somebody lost a horse loaded with saddlebags on the 25th of November, get in touch with Quintus Decius Hilarus (freedman of Quintus) or Lucius Decius Amphio (freedman of Lucius) at the estate of Mamius on this side of the bridge over the Sarno."

Nice to see people doing the right thing!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

At Dawn I Will Win!

Switching musical gears ever-so-slightly from the preceding post...

Quite recently I was chatting music with a friend of mine, and the topic came round to those pieces of operatic music which have become famous outside of the contexts of the actual operas for which they were written. The list of such pieces is fairly long. You've got "The Anvil Chorus," "La Donna E' Mobile," "Musetta's Waltz," "The Ride of the Valkyrie," (I am sure that there's a large segment of the population that, upon hearing "The Ride of the Valkyrie," subconsciously supplies either: a) the sound of Vietnam-era helicopters, or b) Elmer Fudd singing "kill da wabbit, kill da wabbit!"), "The Toreador Song," "The Queen of the Night's Aria," and many many others (Edit!:...such as "The William Tell Overture!" Thanks Llama!) .



There is, however, one piece that is the arch-overlord of all of the sort of "operatic popular songs." Here 'tis (watch, just as the three of them have finished singing, for the glance that Pavarotti shoots at his two colleagues. It is a glance that quite eloquently says "boys, we just nailed that..."):



I would have posted this earlier, but I had to watch the video to make sure it was working properly. About 47 times.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sic Transit Something Or Other

Right. Well, you can probably file this under "things I never thought I would see":



Here's what our esteemed Country Life Butter spokesman was up to about 30 years ago:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Rabbit Tale

One day, near my office...

"ZzzzZZzzzz*snork* "Huh, wha...?"


"Hey, who're you?"


"Ok, don't come any closer, Bub!"


"That's it, I'm outta here... Hey look! Grass!"


NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM


BONUS!!: Olde-timey rabbit appears... in sepia!!!


"You called?"


Ok, not much of tale... But it's a tale nonetheless!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Oh, I've Seen This Before!


funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

Shades of the departed Claudia cat, who used to enjoy very much lying on the hot-air vents!

Friday, November 14, 2008

You, Sir, Are My Hero!

You are also nuts.

The following is the in-car video from a rally-race in France. The goodness starts at about the 1:00 mark, when the car's throttle cable snaps. Race over, one would think. However, the driver quickly figures out that the throttle itself is still functioning, and merely cannot be controlled from the driver's compartment. What follows is truly epic...

Odd...



So I trotted up to my mailbox this afternoon, and discovered therein a mysterious envelope from Newcastle upon Tyne, England. "That's strange," I thought. "I don't think I know anybody in Newcastle." Turns out that the letter was a completely unsolicited offer to publish my PhD thesis, from an outfit that knows the working title but seems unaware that the thesis has not been, you know, written yet.

My first cynical thought was "hello, vanity press!" However, I've checked out the company's website, and they do seem to be into publishing scholarly works (a three-volume edition of the works of Statius, for example). I shall have to e-mail them and find out what's up!

I shall also check around this corner of the Classical 'hood and see what the 411 is on them, yo. More bulletins as events warrant.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

This Looks Interesting!

Google Earth revives ancient Rome

Google has added a new twist to its popular 3D map tool, Google Earth, offering millions of users the chance to visit a virtual ancient Rome.


I think I need to get a computer and put Google Earth on it! Then I can indulge in writing peevish blog posts saying things like: "Well, they obviously got the Temple of Mars Ultor all wrong..."

Kidding. I've seen a few virtual reality reconstructions of ancient sites, and they tend to be really really cool. It's likely that this one will be too!

The Temple of Mars Ultor, as it is today

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Milestone And Some Other Stuff!

Dydd-Llun, Dydd-Mawrth, Dydd-Mercher, Dydd-Iau, Dydd-Gwener, Dydd-Sadwrn, Dydd-Sul.

And what are those? Well, if you guessed "the days of the week in Welsh," then good for you! That makes Welsh, I believe, the only living language which has retained the old pagan Roman system of naming the days of the week in its entirety! In Latin, they were:

Dies Lunae, Dies Martis, Dies Mercurii, Dies Iovis, Dies Veneris, Dies Saturni, Dies Solis.

It's worth noting that Cornish and Breton also maintained the pagan Roman system, while the other Celtic languages (Irish, Manx, and Scots Gaelic) had adopted some of the Christian tradition. Cornish and Breton are, of course, no longer living languages.

All this, by the way, is courtesy of one of my students. I gave them my "Roman Calendar" spiel yesterday, and today discovered that she'd sent me a long and interesting e-mail about the Celtic languages and their days of the week. I do like it when they get into what I'm talking about!

In other news, this is the 100th post on this blog! So, to celebrate, have some 100th-post-suitable music:

Friday, November 7, 2008

Better. Than. Nirvana.

During the recent riot-grrrrl musical interluding, I left somebody out. Oversight corrected (Actually it wasn't really an oversight. I just wanted to post those two particular videos)!

Warning: NSFW language!



And here they are again, in a quieter sort of mood, mostly.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

On The Recent U.S. Election

Well, that was a fine, fine evening. In particular, here's to the voters in Indiana, Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, and probably North Carolina (CNN isn't saying for sure, yet), who removed their states from Republican hands, at least as far as the presidential vote was concerned. My favourite line of the night was trotted out by one of the CNN analysts (can't remember who it was, exactly). I'm paraphrasing here, but as he looked at the crowd in Chicago awaiting Obama's victory speech, he said: "It is difficult to imagine at this time how this country ever elected George W. Bush." Indeed, sir, indeed...

Update: The Onion weighs in!

Monday, November 3, 2008

In Which We Find August Company

Well, this is nice! Commenting on the whole CCF vs. Gencon story is this blog! And, in the middle of their commenting, we find the following (emphasis all mine):

"Because if you don’t take the check, and you can’t come up with a more sensible rationale than “we didn’t want people associating our charity with role-playing gamers”, a lot of people who would otherwise view your charity in a good light are going to ask what the hell is wrong with you. They are going to ask this of you directly and ask their friends, in public and online, at Daily Kos, the Gen Con forums, Pharyngula, RichardDawkins.net, Wizards of the Coast, RPG.net, Live Game Auctions, Giant in the Playground, Steve Jackson Games, Purple Pawn, De Koboldorum Rebus, Unscrewing the Inscrutable, ad infinitum."

Wowzers! And thank you!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Oh, C'mon!

As mentioned here, the gaming world was saddened this past spring by the death of Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons. Subsequently, as a way of paying homage to Mr. Gygax, the organizers of this year's GenCon gaming convention decided to give the proceeds of the annual charity auction to his favourite charity, the Christian Children's Fund. The auction duly raised over $17,000 dollars for the CCF.

Imagine, then, the dismay and astonishment of the GenCon organizers when the charity turned down the donation. And for what reason? It turns out that the CCF was unwilling to accept money that had been raised partially through the sale of D&D material. Fortunately, another, more willing charity was found, so the money did end up going to a good cause.

Now, I don't wish to bash on the CCF too much here. I know that it does good work all over the world, and has been doing so for a long time (the CCF was founded in 1938). Indeed, I could even see their point, had the funds offered been raised through the sale of, e.g., hardcore pornography. But D&D material? I mean, really! I've got the mid-1980s on the line here, and they'd like their irrational fear of a harmless and enjoyable hobby back please.

Update: First of all, a bit of clarification. CCF actually refused to allow itself to be associated with GenCon before the charity auction occurred, rather than turning down the money afterwards. I don't think that changes matters too much, though; they still refused to accept a donation from a group based on its ties to D&D.

A couple more things, here. To begin with, in CCF's favour, the organization has a bad reputation among some of the quite fundamentalist groups over the fact that it doesn't attempt to convert the people whom it feeds. Secondly, and not in CCF's favour, they've responded to the whole issue with a fairly mealy-mouthed statement saying essentially that the fact that they didn't want their name associated in any way with a gaming convention doesn't mean they dislike gamers. Hmmmm.

It is possible, of course, that the matter was out of CCF's hands. If the charity was pressured not to accept "D&D money" by some of its more important donors (and I'm sure that there are people and groups out there who donate far more than $17,000 to CCF), then the decision is perhaps more understandable. Anyway, there's a lengthy discussion of the issue, including CCF's statement of response, right here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Funny!

A large fez-tip to the friend of mine who pointed out this site to me! There's some very funny stuff there; for example, check out Hamlet as told through the medium of Facebook status updates!

Improbability

Canadians will miss Bush if NAFTA threatened, U.S. ambassador says
Last Updated: Wednesday, October 29, 2008 | 2:09 PM ET

Canadians will find themselves missing U.S. President George W. Bush if the next administration tinkers with the free trade deal, the American ambassador to Canada says.


The only thing that would be likely to make Canadians miss George W. Bush is a McCain-Palin administration. And even then...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

So, Do You Know What Day It Is?

It is apparently a bad day to be an Englishman at home in bed!





It's also, for the record, the anniversary of the Charge of the Light Brigade.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Inscriptions!!

When I teach Latin in the summer, I am usually placed in a so-called "smart" classroom, which has built-in multi-media capabilities. However, this fall I am in an old-fashioned classroom, and thus have to lug the multi-media in on my own. Which is why this morning found me hauling an LCD projector and laptop into the classroom and fiddling with them while my students wrote their quiz. Yes, today was their first introduction to Roman inscriptions! And here's what I showed them (Warning: Roman tomb inscriptions can be quite powerful!):



The inscription from the Pantheon in Rome! Translated, it reads "Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, made [this] during his third consulship." Agrippa, the son-in-law and close friend of Augustus, did indeed oversee the construction of the Pantheon in 27 B.C. However, his edition of the building burned down in A.D. 80, and was rebuilt under Hadrian. Hadrian, however, decided to go with the original inscription.



One of the inscriptions from the Arch of Titus (actually constructed by Domitian in about A.D. 81). "The Senate and the People of Rome [dedicate this] to the divine Titus, son of the divine Vespasian, and to Vespasian Augustus." The little holes in the letters are nail-holes; originally, there were inset bronze letters, but these have been looted. Interestingly, the name of the emperor does not appear here. This omission is possibly the result of Domitian trying to distance himself from his brother Titus, whom he quite possibly murdered.



Leaving aside public architecture, here we have the base of a statue from Britain. The inscription reads: "The soothsayer Lucius Marcius Memor gives [this] as a gift to the goddess Sulis." Sulis was a Celtic deity associated with the hot-springs at Aquae Sulis (literally, "Waters of Sulis"), the city now known as "Bath." What's interesting about this particular inscription is the tremendous use of ligatures, which is what you get when you combine two or more letters into one. Note, for example, the "M," "A," and "R" in "Marcius." Incidentally, we still make use of a common Latin ligature; it's "&," which is comprised of an "e" and a "t" squashed together, thus giving you the Latin word "et," meaning "and."



Most of our Latin inscriptions come from tombstones, of course (I mean, where would you go if you wanted to see a bunch of English inscriptions in one place?). Here's one that reads: "To the divine Shades and to Dionysius her most pious brother, [who] lived 21 years, Chrysopolis, his sister, made [this]." Given that we have Greek names showing up on a Latin inscription, it's very likely that both Chrysopolis and Dionysius were slaves. Obviously, though, they'd managed to salt away enough money to afford a tombstone; either that, or they had a master generous enough to pay for it himself and let Chrysopolis put her name on it. In either case, they were probably skilled slaves; field-hands or galley-slaves would not have been able to afford something like this.



This one's rather sweet, I think. We have here the tomb of a young boy. The inscription reads: "To the divine Shades of Anthus. Lucius Julius Gamus, his father, [made this] for his most sweet son." I particularly like the puppy; the Romans did keep pets (cats, dogs, birds, etc.), and if we are to judge by the image here, young Anthus had a little dog of whom he was fond.



"To the divine Shades of Minicia Marcella, daughter of Fundanus. She lived for 12 years, 11 months, 7 days." We actually know a little bit about Minicia Marcella. Her father, Fundanus, was a good friend of the writer Pliny the Younger, and thus we have the following, from a letter written by Pliny:

"Caius Plinius greets his friend Marcellinus." (i.e. "Dear Marcellinus") "I, very sad, write these things to you, the younger daughter of our friend Fundanus having died. I have seen no-one anywhere more pleasant, more lovable, or more worthy of a longer life than that girl. She had not completed 13 years, but already had the wisdom of an old woman, the dignity of a matron, and yet a girlish sweetness. How she clung to her father's neck! How both lovingly and modestly she embraced us, her father's friends! How she loved her nurses, her tutors..." The letter goes on to complete the portrayal of a well-educated, well-brought-up, and immensely beloved young lady.



And, finally, my favourite. This one's from northern England, up near Hadrian's Wall. The grammar in the inscription is a bit shaky, but, loosely translated, it reads: "To the divine Shades. Regina, freedwoman and wife, Catuvellaunian by nation, lived 30 years. Barates the Palmyrene [made this for her]." We have here the story of a man (Barates) from Syria moving to northern Britain, and one wonders how he dealt with his first British winter. There, he falls in love with one of his slaves, a Celtic woman named Regina (the Catuvellauni were one of the Celtic tribes of Britain). He subsequently frees and marries her, and I would take this opportunity to point out that neither of those would have been necessary if all he'd wanted to do was sleep with her. After her death, he commissions an enormous, elaborate tombstone (compare it to that of Minicia Marcella, whose father had been consul!). And, as a final touch, he adds, at the bottom of the inscription, a single line in Aremaic, his first language. It reads, poignantly, "Regina of the Catuvellauni, alas!" I nice little story, I think!

Anyway, the class seemed to enjoy looking at the inscriptions, which was the main thing. Hopefully, as well, it will have gone some way to reminding them that we are actually dealing with REAL people who ACTUALLY EXISTED! This message sometimes get lost when one is working almost exclusively with the canon of Latin literature.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Adieu Monsieur Dion

Dion to resign after Liberals choose new leader
Last Updated: Monday, October 20, 2008 | 6:08 PM ET

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion said Monday he will step down after a leadership convention, blaming his party's losses in the federal election mainly on its inability to counter Conservative "propaganda" against his Green Shift carbon tax.


I happen to think that Stéphane Dion is a profoundly decent human being. And, while I do think that attacks on the Green Shift policy played a role in the recent poor Liberal showing, I also perceived a particularly nasty sort of anti-intellectualism in play against Dion. The fact that this sort of flaunting and celebration of ignorance enjoyed the success that it did is very offensive and deeply worrying. "Read a damn book sometime; it won't hurt you," says I.

On a related note, and speaking of ignorance, I have read much since the election on the subject of the dreaded Bloc Quebecois holding the balance of power. Comments on this issue tend to run along these lines, generally and occasionally verbatim: "Only in Canada would a separatist party be allowed to hold the balance of power in Parliament." Um, no. First of all, while the Bloc has a share in the parliamentary balance of power, so do the Liberals and NDP. If any one of those parties chooses to support the Conservatives on a piece of legislation, that legislation will pass, simple as that. Secondly, separatist parties holding the balance of power is not a phenomenon in any way unique to Canada. In fact, it's pretty much the rule in any nation that has a parliamentary system and features either more than one large ethnic group with a solid geographic base or significant economic disparities between different areas of the country. There are separatist, or at least strong regionalist, groups holding the balance of power, or very close to it, in Belgium, Italy, and Spain, to name but three.

Here endeth the grump.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I'm Scared


Ok now, let's continue the circumstances:


  • The Edmonton Oilers are 3-0-0, and in all three of those wins they've successfully defended a 1-goal lead. Furthermore, their big off-season acquisitions, Mssrs. Cole and Visnovsky, already have 3 goals between them. Oh, and their power-play is scoring goals too.
  • Napoli are leading Serie A, having just beaten Juventus (ok, there are teams right behind them with games in hand, so they'll likely be overtaken tomorrow, but still...).
  • Millwall have lost exactly once since August, and are sitting a comfortable third. Today they beat Leeds United, something that has not happened in almost 20 years.

Yup, we're definitely through the looking-glass here...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

De Epistulis

So there I am, a couple of weeks ago, returning from a run to the airport in the wee hours of the morning. Close to home, I trundle past a solitary vehicle parked at the side of the road. And lo, the rearview mirror is lit up by a brilliant flash, not dissimilar to that produced by, let's say, a camera flashbulb!

And do you know what? It was a camera! I know this because today I got a letter with a lovely picture of me driving. Hooray!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Not Election Blogging!

Yes, we have an election today, and I am happy to report that I have duly exercised the franchise. I was somewhat disappointed to discover that that there were no members of strange fringe parties running in my riding.

In more amusing news, this is about the funniest thing I've seen in awhile, even without the caption (it's just something about the cat's facial expression):

cat
more animals

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Riot-Grrrrl-y Musical Interlude

A couple of things here to get you through the afternoon! First up we have The Muffs:



And we'll get The Distillers in here as well!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

An Engineer's Guide To Cats

Watch! Funny!



Fez Tip to Maru.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Latin Update!

In the week leading up to the first mid-term exam, I detected a bit of trepidation among my students this time out. This is completely understandable, given that, for many of them, it was to be their very first university exam ever. However, it seemed to me that the worrying was a bit more pronounced this year, so I spent a bit more time than usual preparing the class for the exam itself.

This may, in hindsight, have been unnecessary. My poor, poor, exam...

* Pauses to console exam, which is curled up whimpering on the floor *

Here, by the way, is a photo of the infamous Dalek, as mentioned in this post.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I Remember When...

...we used to have nice elections. You know, the kind where, yes, the various parties disagreed with each other, and probably disliked each other to a certain degree, but at least acknowledged each other's right to exist. The kind where a party would get into deep trouble if it ran ads making fun of an opposing candidate's appearance. The kind where a party whose platform consisted essentially of a list of reasons why one should hate and fear one's neighbours would be giggled at, and subsequently ignored (yes, Conservative Party of Canada, I'm looking at you).

Ok, maybe I've got the ol' rose-coloured specs on again as I gaze backwards in time, but I sure as hell don't recall this sort of shit going on in earlier elections.

I mean, really. Cutting brake lines? WTF?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

In Which We Raise A Glass



I was thinking that maybe it would be good idea to mention the other cats whom I have known over the years (and still do know, in many cases).

Therefore, and without further ado, here's to:

Abraham, Agata, Aiacina, Anthony, Bedelia, Belisarius, Benny, BPluff, BScreamy, Bubastis, Claudia, Cleopatra, Cooper, Delilah, Desdemona, Epaminonda (aka "Baffo"), Isaac, J.J., Ko-Ko, Lemke, Margherita, Micah, Misha, Nefertiti, Nuvola, Ophelia, P'tit Duc, Paint, Pest, Puah, Samson, Sarah, Taffeta, The Cat Whose Footprints I Found On An Ancient Roman Rooftile, The Nameless Kitten Who Lived With Us In Ossaia, and Yum-Yum.

This is obviously not a full list; for one thing, I can't remember the names of all of Bubastis' progeny (help with that, CR?), nor those of Baby Cat's sibs (Chorus?). Do feel free to suggest additions and corrections to the list! In fact, feel free to send in the names of cats that you've known. I'll add them to the list, and we'll salute them all!

UPDATE: I think we're getting there...

FURTHER UPDATE: Here are a couple of pictures of the recently departed one.



Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fabellae De Fele Taffeta

Well, as CR has already reported, we lost a friend this week. And so I thought I would take this opportunity to share with you a couple of the many, many, anecdotes generated over the years by a most sociable and excellent cat.



  • Did I mention that she was sociable? I recall receiving a phone call from the local elementary school, requesting that I come over and pick her up. She had gone over to play with the kiddies during recess, and had simply gone into the school with them afterwards. Tired out from her exertions, she had then decided it was naptime, and so, when I arrived, she was curled up fast asleep. On the Principal's desk, of course.
  • She once joined a pair of Jehovah's Witnesses who had come to our door, and set off accompany them on their rounds. We could here them attempting to dissuade her as they headed off up the block ("Go home, Kitty! Go home!"). Eventually they succeeded, and she returned.
  • She did, once, nearly meet her end as the result of a chance encounter with a wandering coyote. I had just come around the back of our house into our driveway when Taffeta went past me at about Mach 7, leaving me face-to-face with the oncoming coyote. It stopped oncoming, and we stared at each other for a moment before it turned and ran off. As near as I can figure, the coyote had trapped Taffeta under our neighbour's low-rider van, where it couldn't quite get at her, and my appearance on the scene prompted her to make a break for it.
  • Ah, but the truly epic Taffeta story involves the ash tree in the front yard, which she liked to climb up and perch in. She was, in fact, perching in it one fine autumn day, when a young woman jogged by beneath her (I mention that it was autumn because the tree was bare, and in no way up to camouflaging the presence of a 14-lb cat). As the jogger passed by, Taffeta went into full National-Geographic-Special-on-jungle-panthers mode, and actually leapt from the branch on which she was perching at the oblivious jogger. However, and fortunately, she came up well short, and had to content herself with running at the jogger's ankles, causing the young woman to skip in startlement. It was truly a fine performance.



She was an excellent companion for many years, and is very much missed.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cover Version Musical Interlude

I don't know why, precisely, but this is pretty darn catchy. It was recorded in about 1969, I believe.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Ground (Possibly) To Be Broken



And who is that nice lady? Well, her name is Kim Ng, and, if Sports Illustrated is to be believed, she may well be the person to whom is entrusted the task of fixing what ails the Seattle Mariners. This would, obviously, be a first for North American major pro sports, and an overdue and welcome one at that!

RIP Paul Newman

Obituary here. I'm going to have to go and watch Slapshot again, I think.

Friday, September 26, 2008

More Marine Mosaicing!

Here are a couple more pictures from the Womens' Baths at Herculaneum (note: yesterday's squid is visible in the octopus picture!





And, a story, related to edible marine life. My corner of The Warrens is a long, long, way from the Big Water, which is somewhat inconvenient given that I do like teh seafood! So, whenever I find myself in an area where such fare is plentiful and good (like, say, the Bay of Naples), I tend to indulge liberally. And so, one evening this past summer, I found myself in a little restaurant in Vico Equense, examining the menu and discovering that it included grilled calamari. This seemed to be just the thing, so I ordered it. The waiter made approving noises, took my order and went away. A little while later he returned, bearing a plate.

And on that plate, there was a squid.

And I do mean, here, an entire squid (grilled, at that). Well, the internal bits had been removed, but it was otherwise intact. Unfortunately, I did not have my camera at hand, or I'd show photographic proof. I am used to calamari being in the form of deep-fried rings and sort of tentacly pieces, and I had never seen it fully assembled like that.

So I ate the squid, and it was good.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Picture Of A Squid

Because why not, that's why!



Anyway, it's from the Womens' Baths at Herculaneum.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

In Which A Student Cracks Up Chunklets

So, to appreciate this, you need to think back to the iconic British sci-fi series Doctor Who, and in particular to the good doctor's implacable nemeses, the Daleks. For those of you unfamiliar with them, they were vaguely conical robotic critters who wandered around killing things and chanting "EX-TER-MI-NATE, EX-TER-MI-NATE" in a gravelly electronic voice. Here's a clip:



Anyway, I was marking my students' first quiz yesterday ("Here are two Latin verbs. Conjugate them in the present active, please"). As is their wont, some of them who had finished quickly had occupied the rest of quiz time by doodling on their test papers. The one that got me was the girl who had drawn, on the back of her paper, a little sketch of Dalek saying "CON-JU-GATE, CON-JU-GATE." It did make me laugh out loud (I took a picture of it, which I will post as soon as I can get it downloaded off the camera), and also seriously consider giving extra marks...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Destination Unknown...

...or a report on events that transpired down at the ol' concert hall the other night. Rather than try to write something that looks like an actual concert review, I present you with a series of random observations:

Pre-concert:

  • Massive lineup to get in, but fortunately we're well towards the front. Security very tight, with a large police presence, but everything seems fairly good-humoured. That's good, because it's not necessarily the default setting for events like this.
  • And now we're being separated into girls' and boys' lineups! I think that the last time I did this was about Grade 3.
  • Joe Keithley, lead singer of DOA, saunters past with a cup of coffee (*clonk* - sound of a name being dropped).
  • We're in! There are lots and lots of people milling about the merchandise tables and concession stands. Many young punks, but also a fair number of older folks, many of them presumably scenesters from back in the day. There's the odd skinhead wandering about. And, we seem to have a contingent of the "baseball-cap-on-backwards" brigade, for some reason. They are drinking beer in the beer gardens, and calling each other "Bro." The overall age range that I've spotted so far would be from about 10 to about 55.



Wednesday Night Heroes

  • I don't know too much about these guys, except that they're quite highly rated around here, enough to get them onto a ticket with DOA and Rancid.
  • They are enthusiastic, and loud. Particularly the lead singer.
  • They do manage to get a circle pit started at the front a couple of times, but it dies out after one or two songs. People are saving their efforts for later, I guess.
  • A tidy half-hour set. I think they'd be fun to see in a somewhat more intimate setting.



DOA

  • Funny story: Back in, I believe, the 1970s, the Soviet ambassador to Canada paid a historic visit to a Doukhbor community in British Columbia, an event that some historians consider a very early sign of the glasnost that was to come. In the last year or so, a reporter from a Canadian magazine went out to talk to that Doukhbor group about the ambassador's visit. After his interview with the elder members of the community was finished, and dinner had been consumed, the reporter was asked if he would perhaps like to hear some music. He agreed, resigning himself to an evening of Russian folk tunes. And then they took him to see DOA.
  • DOA have been playing punk rock for 30 years, which probably accounts for the presence of many of the older folks at the concert.
  • The band kicks things off with "World War 3," one of their very early songs. Pleasantly, they've turned the volume down a bit, having seemingly recognised that "ear-bleedingly loud" is not necessary.
  • Keithley looks very fit.
  • Yay! An expletive-filled anti-Stephen Harper rant from Mr. Keithley, right before, IIRC, playing "General Strike."
  • And, after a selection of their better-known works, the set is over. Sadly, they did not play "World Falls Apart," so I'll give you the video here to make up for it:



Rancid

  • Much excitement as the headliners take the stage launch into... I actually can't remember precisely what they started with. They played "Roots Radicals" very early on, though.
  • The crowd where we're standing gets a little bit squirrely at the beginning of Rancid's set, largely due to the actions of one Mr. Aggro (not his real name, probably). One of things that you get early in punk rock sets is people pushing their way to the front to dance, along with people pushing their way to the back to get out of the pit. So, you get bumped into a lot, sometimes quite hard. Mr. Aggro is not handling this very well, and in fact is taking swings at anybody who runs into him. Some of the people at whom he is swinging are objecting. Fortunately, crowd peristalsis moves Mr. Aggro away from our general area, and, as everybody gets to where they want to be, things settle down.
  • And... I'm goin' with the earplugs for this one. Sigh. Actually, they work really well. The music is still easily loud enough to let you know you're at a gig, but not loud enough to cause physical pain.
  • They band rolls through "Knowledge," an old Operation Ivy song. Neat!
  • Rancid have always been one of the musically more capable punk bands out there, and they are ON this evening. They're also, unfortunately, a little remote at the start of their set; it is, after all, opening night for this tour. However, as the set goes on they start interacting with the crowd a bit more, with guitarist/vocalist Lars Frederikson hauling most of the freight in this regard.
  • Lead man Tim Armstrong occasionally seems to get lost in his own little world (it is possible, possible, that there are pharmaceutical reasons for this). This, however, is fairly standard concert behaviour for him, and is actually kind of endearing.
  • Bassist Matt Freeman is contenting himself with being, IMHO, the best bass player in rock'n'roll (forget just punk rock) today. The band plays "Maxwell Murder," which gives him his very own solo, and he nails it.
  • Break Time! Three quarters of the band takes a breather, leaving Frederikson alone on stage to do a solo, almost gentle, version of "The War's End." Like so (the video's from a gig in Japan a few years back):

  • All-in-all, the band gets through most of what you'd expect to hear at a Rancid gig, including a really nice version of "Old Friend," which always gets people up and jumping around. Is there anything I'd like to have heard, but didn't? Yeah, probably, but I can't think of it offhand ("She's Automatic," maybe).
  • The close things off with "Ruby Soho," giving me an excuse to post this excellent video, again from Japan. Be warned! There's NSFW language in the pre-song banter:

  • Encore! Encore! They come back out and play "Time Bomb," and that's all she wrote! Very impressive, particularly Mr. Frederikson.



Post-Concert

  • Eximus omnes.
  • We get lost in the tunnels and parking garages under downtown, and end up surfacing over near Chinatown. Ah well.
  • And a fine time was had by most! All three bands did well, the crowd was in good form (Mr. Aggro aside), and it was all highly satisfying!

September 11th

September 11th, 2001, was a Tuesday. I remember this quite well, since back in them days Tuesday evening was D&D night, chez The Stealthy Dachshund (the world is a greatly changed place; D&D night is now Monday, and, while it is still at The Stealthy Dachshund's place, that place is now a different place, if you see what I mean). In the early afternoon, the somewhat sheepish e-mails started flying about: "So, um, what with World War III and everything, are we still gaming tonight?" Well, the chili was already cooking (that particular evening also being Chili Night), so it was eventually decided that D&D night would go ahead as planned, and so it did, with occasional breaks to check up on the latest breaking news.

The other personal memory I have of that day involved keeping up with events. I was at work, and it was, of course, nearly impossible to access any of the web sites for the major news services. I ended up getting most of my information about what was going on from the messageboards at one of the Millwall fan websites; people were watching the BBC's coverage of the attacks on television, and posting what they were seeing. Recently, that messageboard looked like it was going to shut down, prompting a fair amount of reminiscing amongst the longer-serving members. Turns out that I wasn't the only one who relied on the board for news that day.

Anyway, one gentle request of the people both here and to the south of us, as we head forth to exercise the franchise in the coming months: could we please not elect the people who made, and continue to make, political hay out of the events of September 11, 2001? Thanks.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ridiculousness

You know, when the IOC considers things like the the level of international competitiveness in a sport - say, women's ice hockey, for example - it tends to look askance at silliness like this (note: link opens in a PDF). Seriously here - were the Slovaks actively trying to get get the sport turfed from the Olympics? What possessed them to run up the score like that? And how did the Bulgarians decide that it was a good idea to play in this tournament, given that they draw their national team from a grand total of 37 registered female players? How is this any good for anybody? Argh.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Amo, Amas, Amat, And So On



Another September, another group of bright young undergraduates yearning to be Latinists. Well, perhaps "yearning" is a bit strong, at least in some cases. Anyway, I met with my new group for the first time yesterday, and they seem promising. I've officially got 30, of whom 27 showed up yesterday, along with one fellow who wasn't on my class list on account of late registration. So it's a full class, which is nice. The students showed a willingness to come forward and volunteer answers, which is also a good thing.

One interesting thing came up yesterday. One of my "first class" exercises is involves giving the students the sentence "Latin is a(n)_______________ language" and asking them to fill in the blank. Then we discuss concepts like "dead," "Indo-European," and "inflected." Well, one of the suggestions offered up yesterday was "snobby." I sigh heavily at this point, but not in the direction of the particular student who gave that answer. I know exactly where he's coming from; I have had people accuse me, to my face, of arrogance and "elitism" based merely on the fact that I teach Latin. The perceived "snobbishness" of Latin has been used as a weapon to attack its inclusion in the modern curriculum, and if you wish to see that line of reasoning joyfully and deliciously beaten to a pulp, then I recommend Peter Jones' essay "Primal Scream," published in his book An Intelligent Person's Guide to Classics. The battle against the idea of "Latin as snobbery" has not been won yet, but I set out each September to do my bit.

On the other hand, the omens are good. As I mentioned some time ago, I've been tutoring a woman who is now teaching Latin at a local High School. At her first Grade 10 Latin class this past Tuesday, she had more than 35 students. This, I think, is a good thing!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Oh Dear.

Good: You are the New England Revolution, a modestly successful MLS franchise.
Even Better: You qualified for the preliminary round of the CONCACAF Champions' League.
Very Encouraging: You were drawn against a mid-table team from the Trinidad & Tobago Pro League.
Suddenly Very Bad: The team from T&T beat you.
Even Worse: 4-0
Oh God Make It Stop: In front of your home fans.
Crawling Away In Abject Humiliation: The team from T&T is called Joe Public FC.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Serie A Time!



The first matches of the new Italian season are nearly upon us, and, without further ado, here's what's going to happen in the upcoming season:

The Big Four: I think it's fairly safe to say that the Scudetto will reside in Milan come next May. However, it has the potential to be a tight race between Inter and AC. Inter, of course, have won the title three times on the trot, but there are enormous asterisks beside this seemingly impressive feat. To begin with, three years ago they were awarded the title after the season, when Juventus got in trouble for match-fixing. They duly won the title the proper way the following season, but that was with Juventus in Serie B, and AC Milan suffering a point penalty that made it impossible for them to compete. Last season, Inter looked to have the whole thing wrapped up by February, only to collapse and need a last-day win to fend off Roma. They got said win, but it was relief rather than ecstasy at the end of the season, and the manager was duly fired... and replaced with Jose Mourinho, who's done nothing but win championships everywhere he's managed. They've not done much in terms of player acquisitions, with today's purchase of Portuguese midfielder Riccardo Quaresma probably the biggest move, but with Mourinho in charge they're probably pretty safe standing pat.

AC Milan, on the other hand, could do anything but maintain the status quo. Last season was flat-out embarassing for the Rossoneri. They were unceremoniously dumped out of Champions' League competition in front of their home fans by Arsenal, and compounded that by being overtaken in Serie A by Fiorentina late in the season and ending up in fifth place. So, they'll contest the UEFA Cup this season, a great achievement for many teams, but a humiliation for Mr. Berlusconi, who's gotten used to seeing his boys in the Champions' League every season. AC responded to last season's disaster in a fairly predictable way; they hurled money at the problem, bringing in Ronaldinho, Mathieu Flamini, and Philippe Senderos, among others (the latter two, interestingly, were acquired from Arsenal; if you can't beat 'em...). With Ronaldinho, Kaká, and Pato up front (and Andriy Shevchenko subbing in, presumably), they're going to score lots and lots of goals, but there remain questions about their ability to prevent the opposition doing likewise. The error-prone Dida has been replaced in goal by Christian Abbiati, and Senderos will help, but the Milan defence is slow, a bit on the old side, and as a result likely to be vulnerable. As a last note, I could not possibly write about AC Milan without mentioning my very favourite Italian player, Gennaro Gattuso. And how annoying is it that he plays for AC Milan? Very. I would dearly love to see him in a Napoli shirt, but it seems that he will finish his career at AC.



The other two members of the big group, Juventus and Roma, don't look likely to be able to mount a title challenge this season. Roma are probably the better of the two, and the acquisition of Brazilian striko Julio Baptista means that they won't have to rely on the aging and injury-prone Francesco Totti as much as in previous years. Juventus, on the other hand, haven't made any really significant changes to their lineup, and will charge forward with last year's group. This is a bad thing, if you're a Juventus supporter, since last year's group is almost to a man past the point where a being a year older is a good thing for a professional soccer player. Also, Gianluigi Buffon looked mortal at this year's Euro championship, and if he doesn't return to his previous best-goalkeeper-in-the-world form, it's going to be a long season for La Vecchia Signora.

The Challengers: The best of the group outside the Big Four is undoubtedly Fiorentina, and if the Tuscan club stays ambitious (there is every sign that they intend to do just that), we could very soon be talking about a Big Five. They've bought very intelligently over the summer, and will be expecting to match last season's 4th-place finish (and accompanying Champions' League qualification) and possibly even better it.

It will also be worth keeping an eye on Napoli this coming season. They finished a worthy 8th last season, their first season back in Serie A in some time, and have managed to work their way into the UEFA Cup for this season. Last season also saw them defeat Inter, Juventus, and Fiorentina, and lay an epic thrashing on AC Milan in a game that AC really needed to win (it ended 3-1 to Napoli, a scoreline which greatly flattered AC Milan). However, they're going to have to learn how to pick up victories on the road; last year they won only three times outside of Naples. They have been active in the transfer market, and have harkened back to the glory years of Diego Maradona by stocking their front line with Argentinians. Napoli are probably not yet at the point where challenging for a Champions' League berth is likely, but they should improve on last season's results.

As for the other challengers, Sampdoria and Udinese are likely to be sniffing about, come sempre. Neither team did anything particularly stunning in the transfer market, but they're both solid, well-established teams, fully capable of taking points off the big boys every once in awhile. And is there anyone else capable of crashing the top eight? Well, Torino and Lazio, possibly. However, keep an eye also on newly promoted Bologna. They fended off an ownership bid by an American company this summer, and apparently their current owners have opened the chequebooks to improve the team. The seem to have spent the summer plundering the South American leagues, and if those new signings work out, Bologna will be good.

Palermo, whom I would normally count amongst this group, will likely start the season with eight new players in the starting lineup. Even if they all turn out to be good (unlikely), it will take them awhile to gel as a team. I do not see Palermo going anywhere above a comfortable mid-table position.



The Rest: It's much of muchness from here on down the table; there isn't a lot of difference betweeen the various clubs down here, and they're all hoping merely to survive the Serie A season. And who, pray tell, is not going to make it? Well, Siena have managed to ward off relegation for a number of seasons now, but I think the clock is going to run out on them. It's always a bad sign when you're buying up other teams' backup players and sticking them into your starting lineup. Also in trouble are Catania, who failed to win even one game on the road last season, and just barely avoided a trip to Serie B. The third victim could be one of a number of clubs, but, sadly, the Kobold seers are looking at Reggina, mostly because the Calabrian club has had a rough time this summer in the transfer market.

All right then! Here's a reasonable facsimile of what the table should look like at the end of this season:



1Inter
2AC Milan
3Fiorentina
4Roma
5Juventus
6Napoli
7Sampdoria
8Udinese
9Bologna
10Lazio
11Torino
12Palermo
13Cagliari
14Genoa
15Atalanta
16Chievo Verona
17Lecce
18Reggina
19Catania
20Siena

Thursday, August 28, 2008

In Which People Say Nice Things About The Kobold

Got the Instructor Evaluations for my summer Latin course back today. It really was a superb group of students this time around, and it was nice to find out that they seemed to feel the same way about me! A couple of comments from the evaluations:

"Chunklets is a good prof; he presents material clearly and is certainly quite knowledgeable in the subject material. The Friday activities were fantastic; it was good to do something Latin related that wasn't Wheelock. Overall great instructor and great course!"

"This is the first textbook based course I have taken where the instructor was not just an expensive babysitter for the textbook. I felt Chunklets was actually doing the teaching and the textbook helped him, not the other way around which is unfortunately typical."

There now. The ego has been nicely massaged, now on with the day!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Friday, August 15, 2008

Bonus Lizard-Bug Picture!

Here you go (it's the same lizrard as below)!



UPDATE: And here's a lovely Australian lizard!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bugs of Italy!

Editors' note: If you don't like creepy-crawlies, then you probably should read no further.

Anyhoo, this particular offering was made possible by the confluence of two circumstances this past May and June. These two circumstances were: a) I had a new digital camera, and b) there were bugs. Hence, pictures of bugs! Enjoy!



1. Ants:



Yes, it's blurry and fuzzy and out-of-focus (hooray for hendiatris!), but it was taken from a good 6 feet away. I really like my new camera...



2. Lizards:



Chunklets: I spotted this fine fellow... huh, what?

Kobold Minister of Accuracy: Uh, lizards aren't bugs. You do know that, right?

Chunklets: Of course they're bugs; they're like bats that way!

Kobold Minister of Accuracy: * Sighs *

Chunklets: Exactly. Now, I spotted this fine fellow sticking his nose out of a stone wall one evening, and for a wonder he hung around long enough to have his picture taken. I say "for a wonder" because this particular lizard was taking his life into his hands; he and his ilk were among the favourite prey of Agata, about whom we have written before.



3. Scorpions:



This is The Scorpion Who Lived Under The Window. It liked to relax in the cool damp space beneath one of the windows in the lab at Ossaia. This meant that throwing open said window first thing in the morning had the potential to be really, really, exciting if you forgot about the scorpion's presence. Note: One of these stung me once. It wasn't really all that bad.



4. Fred:



This is Fred, who was about the largest spider I have ever seen in the wild. She, too, dwelt in the lab at Ossaia, in a large and beautifully constructed web. She tended to sit, as shown above, at the entrance to the little funnel-y part of the web, presumably awaiting dinner (this was fine by me, since it meant that I knew where she was. The one time I went into the lab and discovered that she was "out and about" somewhere was a little bit nerve-wracking). Occasionally dinner would show up:



Yes, that is a moth. As I said, we are not dealing with a small spider here.



4. Snails:



* Sits on Kobold Minister of Accuracy *

They don't move so fast, as we all know, which is a bit of boon to the photographer. I also happen to think that they're pretty. I mean, is this not a thing of beauty?:



As always, click to see big pictures!

Lizards not bugs... what will they think of next? Sheesh...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Well, Yes, It Would, Wouldn't It...

Courtesy of the CBC, we have the runaway winner of the "Bestest Headline of the Year Award":

Inflatable dog turd sculpture escapes Swiss museum, wreaks havoc

37, going on 10. Why do you ask?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Footie Season!



Well, they're underway in England (and some other leagues, too!), or at least the lower divisions are. Millwall dropped their first match, 4-3 away to Oldham, much to the surprise of nobody. What was a bit surprising was that the Lions were leading an expected-to-be-very-good Oldham side 3-1 with 20 minutes to go. Perhaps there is hope for the season after all!



And what can we expect when the Premiership boys get going in a week or so? Go to it, Kobold seers (and we'll try to forget about the whole Mets-Tigers unpleasantness from awhile back):



  • First of all, it's reasonable to suppose that the big four (Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Arsenal) will divy up the four Champions League spots among themselves. Arsenal, at this moment, appear to be the weakest of that lot (sorry, CR!), and will probably be looking over their shoulders at possible top-4 interlopers like Everton, Aston Villa, and Tottenham Hotspur. Manchester City could nose their way in as well.
  • Expect a lot of attention to be paid to Hull City A.F.C., newly arrived in the top division for the first time in their 104 years of existence. It's an excellent feel-good story, particularly given that a mere ten years ago they were struggling at the very bottom of the entire League, and nearly folded. Prior to this season, they were primarily known for wearing a bizarre tiger-striped kit during the '92-'93 season.


    Gaaaaah!


    Sadly, their stay in the Premiership is likely to be a short one. Expect them to be relegated, along with Wigan and fellow new arrivals Stoke City.
  • Here, then, is a reasonable expectation of what the final table will look like come next May:

    1Chelsea
    2Manchester United
    3Liverpool
    4Arsenal
    5Tottenham Hotspur
    6Aston Villa
    7Everton
    8Manchester City
    9Portsmouth
    10Newcastle
    11West Ham United
    12Bolton Wanderers
    13Blackburn
    14Middlesbrough
    15Sunderland
    16Fulham
    17West Bromwich Albion
    18Wigan Athletic
    19Hull City
    20Stoke City


  • Finally, moving away the Premiership (a looooong way away), let us spare a moment to mourn the passing of Halifax Town Football Club. The luck finally ran out for the team that was once so poor it couldn't afford to feed the clubhouse cat, let alone pay the players (this situation was swiftly rectified by the team's supporters, who donated somewhat in excess of a ton of cat food, along with almost no actual money). They went out with a bit of a bang, overcoming a 10-point penalty for begin broke to avoid relegation from the Conference National Division (basically the 5th division of the English league structure. However, the good news is that the team has risen, phoenix-like, from the ashes, and will contest the upcoming season as FC Halifax Town in the Unibond Northern League Divison One (the 8th division, if you will). The cat's opinion of all of this is unrecorded.