The Call’s Gnuz & Lynx Roundup | 2015.11.23

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This week has been one of great change. With the world galvanizing itself to action after the brutal terror attacks of last week by Daesh and others, and my own country shamed by the racists and bigots with their fear and hatred of brown people and other religions, the future grows darker, at least in those things we can see crossing the threshold from future to present and then onward to tragic history.

Pity that, as one person put it “Prediction is a forgotten art.” But maybe that’s all for the better. The uncertainty of it all may be discomforting, but it keep things interesting.

Those who brought this on and those who, reacting out of primal, mindless fear, perpetuate this cycle of hatred and misery are, I believe, on the wrong side of history, and engaged in a lost cause. They pit themselves against the very best humanity is capable of, and they will lose, the fear-mongers and those they cynically manipulate alike. They will lose unilaterally, or they will lose because we all will lose.

But I’m optimistic, hopeful for a positive outcome while recognizing that the way to it is likely to be harrowing and dangerous. This could be the pivotal moment for our species, and perhaps things will get worse before getting better. But I’m confident that they will get better. It’s been said that if we as a species don’t annihilate ourselves in the next 200 years, our future will be bright.


The future looks dark only a short distance from now, but further out it is shrouded in mist, hopefully brightly lit by the end of the next century. We may become extinct, or we may survive and go on to reach for the stars.

I’ll wager on the latter outcome, but cautiously.


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Mean Teddies

A teddybear protects its human, in battle with the monsters under the bed. Brilliant stuff.

Lost in Translation | Bengali Progress To Date

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namaskar/a-salam-alaikum. amar nam Troy. ami aekjon markin chattro. ami ingreji jani, ar ami bangla shikhchi. ami besh bhalo achi. apnara keimon achen?…

…Okay, enough showing off for now. That’s what I think of it, at least. My Bengali study is coming along better than I’d thought, and at the same time not as quickly as I’d like. But then, it’s not wise to try to rush things in informal study, which is the path I’ve taken to learn the language outside of an academic institutional setting. I’ve given myself the equivalent of two 18 week semesters of study time before switching to the same period for both Tamil and Hindi each.

At this point, I can read fairly complex text in Bangla script that uses the basic letters and numerals, some diacritic signs, some basic symbols like the rupee sign and punctuation, and a few consonant conjuncts. There are many more of those last to learn before mastering all of the script. The dialogues in the two texts I’m using are quite good for that, though being smaller paperbacks the vocabulary is more limited than I’d like. So I’ve picked up this heavyweight to help:


It’s a pleasingly huge tome, and I’m using it a lot lately. My penmanship in the script is still horrible, about what you would expect from a man with poor fine motor skills like mine, and my study not as disciplined as I’d like, but those can be fixed with practice.


Caturday’s Astrophenia | 2015.11.21

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namaskar. This week, I’m rolling out graphic headers for all themed posts, and this installment’s features my favorite diabolical psycho fluffy furniture-destroyers Mr. Eccles and Rockykins.

The week has been good, with much accomplished but less study than I’d have liked, but that’s my only complaint – I’ll live.

This post from here on out will be published biweekly, so I’m featuring the Astronomy Picture of the Day links for the previous two weeks.

Thanks to twitterer @Ravenpenny for the inspiration to make and use graphic headers, and to Sharmishtha Basu for a huge portion of the inspiration to keep blogging.

I’m woefully behind in my studies, so there are Bengali books calling my name this morning and coming afternoon.

A Quadruple Sky over Great Salt Lake

Assembly of The International Space Station

AE Aurigae and the Flaming Star Nebula

An Unexpected Rocket Plume over San Francisco

Kenya Morning Moon, Planets and Taurid

The Tadpoles of IC 410

Wright Mons on Pluto

Leonids over Monument Valley

A Blazing Fireball between the Orion Nebula and Rigel

The Pelican Nebula in Gas, Dust, and Stars

A Sudden Jet on Comet 67P

Centaurus A

Leonids and Friends

Recycling NGC 5291

Image of the Week:

Veil Nebula Supernova Remnant

Weekly Astrognuz:

NASA Orders SpaceX Crew Mission to International Space Station

Watch the entire Cassini mission image catalogue as a movie

Weekly Space Hangout: November 20, 2015

Galaxies: Two photos of nearby spirals

Big Picture Science Radio Show — Skeptic Check: Paleo Diet

Partners in Science: Private Companies Conduct Valuable Research

Two JAXA mission updates: Akatsuki Venus orbit entry and PROCYON Earth flyby

It’s Finally Here: Comet Catalina Greets Dawn Skywatchers

Bobby Jindal: Anti-science GOP candidate mocked on The Tonight Show

Pluto’s Moons Spinning Wildly

Third Rock Radio | NASA

Planetary Radio | The Planetary Society

Curiosity Mars Rover Nears First Study Site of Active Sand Dunes Beyond Earth

Canada: New government appears to be pro-science

Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey — One Year Into The Study

Humans Orbiting Mars | A Website of The Planetary Society

Cinematic Mars

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Flash Fiction | Games People Play

The games had gone on for hours, never moving forward, never ending, never being judged by the Game Caller, silent and resplendent in his headdress of metal spines and platinum talismans. None of the players, all from other worlds, had any idea why or how they were there, in chains, feet manacled and tethered in place to the dry concrete, the Hierophants sitting in the stands, watching. At times thumbs either raised or lowered, signalling a player’s release or their demise. There was much wanting in the conditions of the players, with half-starved beasts venturing forth to feed from trap doors in the blood-soaked sands sparsely obscuring the concrete prison bunkers below. One player, Velq, had just filled the stands with applause after slaying an overeager Dinathogg-trullg which wandered too close to his thirsty blade.

Velq’s victory was short-lived as another player quickly sliced open an artery, purple gore spraying onto the already blood-soaked concrete. The Lead Hierophant finally signaled the games to end. Guards were summoned to the field, gathering up the corpses of the fallen, rounding up the survivors, putting them in carts to be carried off. They would help feed the ever-hungering Creches, bio-fodder for the clone engines of the Hierophants, raw material used to make new life from old for the masters of the Civilization and their chief servants.

In the Place of Creches, prisoners of war were all led chained together, the massive crystalline jewel that was the main AI stood staring at them like some enormous glittering diamond eye, with a light all its own shown in its brilliant facets. A hum came from it, a command to the guards it oversaw to lead the living fodder to the nearest banks of bio-vats, where they would be disassembled into the component molecules and recycled for a better fate than the games — warrior stock and domestics for the Hierophants of Varuulha. Trudging forward into the vats they were digested, biomass being transferred to the hungry and waiting bioreactors of the clone engines, flesh and fluids to be reconstituted in servitude.

“Great are the Hierophants, chanted the guards to the central AI as the fodder was digested, Great are the Hierophants, they repeated as the biomass was splashed into nearby separation tanks, nutrients to reconstitute into new forms, some suited for menial servitude and some for warfare — strong, obedient, and without fear of death — to further the glory of the Hierophants. One prisoner had escaped their notice, and that of the AI, by hiding among the vats after slipping his chains…

He moved silently, slipping out of a ventilation duct to a chute leading elsewhere, somewhere below ground on the island, that being about hundred miles across at its largest and honeycombed with tunnels.

He stood among the mushrooms and shelf-fungi, glowing with their own radiance, as he looked for a way out. Finding a path, he wound up in a forest of puffballs, molds, and giant morels at the end of a vast cavern complex leading upwards. Wait — was that sunlight?

He snuck forth, brushing aside barely phosphorescent moss as he cleared a path outside, leading to the surface and a port ready-stocked with small boats and the ornate barges of the Hierophants — his freedom was at hand…

He was on the verge of escape, climbing onto a seemingly unoccupied vessel, when a tendrillous mass reached over from the cockpit, its snaky grasp holding him tight, pulling him into the depths of the barge, closer, ever closer to the power plant, and finally thrusting him into the hungry recesses of the main bio-reactor. His last sight was that of a Hierophant’s leering face, gloating over him as his vision faded, his last thoughts of sun, and sky, and family, a family dead long ago.




Fractals of the Week | Attack of the Mandelboxes from Outerspace

Vanakkam, Namaskar, Slamalaikum, Namaste, or just plain G’day! These monstrosities were made over the last week or so, some experimentation with reconditioned presets.

I’ve been making new some old parameter sets, changing numbers around to make them somewhat satisfactory. I’ve uploaded these to my deviantART page, and hotlinked them here in all their glorious techno-hideousness.

In going through their respective presets, there were a number of things that needed fixing to make them viable, and who knows, I may have succeeded.

Time, and future trials with the preset files will tell.

Enjoy this Thursday. I’ve a game later today, so I may be already in bed by the time this publishes.

So, in proper Soruggon


All JPEG, PNG & GIF images in this post are original works by the author, created via a variety of apps and unless otherwise stated are copyright 2015 by Troy Loy. I hereby permit the free, noncommercial use of these images, as long as proper credit is given for them.