Gods of Terra | “The Rani of Stars” Drawing Project


Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 22.42.41Caturday’s Astrophenia will be posted next week once the fortnight is over. This week, I’d like to mention an art project I’ve recently returned to.

I’ve gotten back to work on my Rani of Stars piece, having finished inking in the basic sketch with a new/old set of actual drawing pens instead of those awful ballpoints, with this as the result:

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As you can see, I’ve inked the lines, her braid, and what will be her star-field “face” in the final image. As an avatar of the King of Shards intended to deal directly with humans without driving them insane, she looks almost, yet obviously not wholly human in her guise. I’ve transferred her file to Pixelmator for further work to be concluded next week, digitally filling her in and making the lines smoother and crisper, while painting in her star-field in detail.

Here she is, just before cyber-editing, in color and greyscale scans, ready for Pixelmator to do its vile work:

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I’ll also add stars to the black gems in her headpiece, and once that’s completed, the lines get better-defined as well. I’m really enjoying this, and I’m eager to see what may come of it. I’ll post her when she’s finished in all her alien glory.

Just be careful not to look to closely at her star-field, lest you be sucked in and sent to some dismal part of the universe! After all, staring at alien divinities can be rude…

Fractals of the Week | From the Bleeding Edge of Chaos


Screen Shot 2015-11-27 at 13.38.40G’day. This installment features some new wallpapers, uploaded directly to WP, from recently created custom presets. These were fun to create, and represent the use of hybrid formulas involving in some combination Mandelboxes and Mixpinski formulas.

I’m taking this week and next to practice on and consolidate my learning so far in Bengali, concluding the first semester of study in seven weeks after, then moving on to the next period of eighteen weeks. I’ll keep you updated as I make suitable progress. Right now I’m focusing on vocabulary and script practice by hand, working on my penmanship and writing speed.

But on my break periods between study, I’ve been creating scads of new presets for cool images to post, rebuilding old presets to newer and better ones, and working once again on a project I’ve just returned to as of yesterday; the completion of my first color portrait of my Gods of Terra character, the Rani of Stars. I’ve completed the first hand-inked drafts, and now have the digital file set aside for later and more extensive editing; the lines, some of the color, and adding the Rani’s star-field before posting the final image. I’m looking forward to getting back to it over the next few days.

So, here are the favorites of my collection for the week. Have fun with these, and as always…

Tf.Tk.Tts.

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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 2016 by Troy Loy. I hereby permit the free, noncommercial use of these images, as long as proper credit is given for them.

The Call’s Gnuz & Lynx Roundup | 2016.01.26 | The Venting


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G’day. I was letting my thoughts wander the previous afternoon, and something suddenly popped unbidden into my head, something that I hadn’t considered before, at least not in the words that follow. Below is a paraphrasing and elaboration of something I’d posted earlier yesterday on Twitter:

I’d realized that it is nonsensical to have both causally independent free will and the threat of eternal punishment to impel obedience and submission without causing real problems in the same theology.

I’m referring here to certain branches of my former religion, Christianity, which teach of human or demonic free will, uncompelled by anything, including external causation, and the idea of an alleged afterlife of endless torture as a punishment for the thoughtcrime of unbelief.

This combination just doesn’t work. That’s because the use of threats of any kind to impel belief or compliance are by their very nature coercive, no matter how polite or subtle the threat used. It’s necessarily a violation of free choice. Even if done with a kind heart and a velvet glove. Coercion is coercion, even if veiled or only implied. The very awareness of the threat, real or not, skews the will against the freedom to choose between belief and non-belief. If you believe the threat exists.

Which I do not.

The use of threats like this is known as an ad baculum fallacy, an ‘argument from the cudgel.’ It is the use of force or even its mere threat to achieve a desired outcome in the one so threatened.

Here, compliance or conversion:

“Accept the conclusions I offer or else…”

“Repent or burn!”

Mind you, like most informal arguments, ad baculum is not always and everywhere a fallacy. There are times when it is an inductively valid (or strong) argument; it is not a fallacy when the threat issued is not used as a substitute for actual reasoning. It is not a fallacy when the threat so issued is real, justified, proportional, and relevant to the desired outcome.

And that’s just it. There is no plausible justification for infinite and hideous torture for finite, petty, and arbitrary thoughtcrimes, like believing in the ‘wrong’ god (out of a potentially infinite number that could possibly be known, including those yet to be worshipped in future religions) or not believing in any gods. There’s just no sane justice, relevance, or proportionality between the ‘crime’ and the punishment. And there’s just nothing outside of sectarian dogma to even suggest that the alleged punishment even exists.

I’ll probably be castigated by apologists and wannabe apologists for being ‘unsophisticated’ in my reasoning with this, but that’s cool. That’s because most of what passes as Sophisticated Philosophy™ in apologetic circles is pretentious moonbattery dressed up in obscurantist sophistry and absurd levels of false nuance to hide its complete lack of actual content.

If the emperor really does have no clothes, then no amount of special pleading, ad hoc reasoning, or misrepresentation used to praise the subtlety of his nonexistent elegant fabrics will change that.

But I’ve vented enough for the morning, and my cat needs someone to curl up with…

Tf.Tk.Tts.

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The Fading Symphony with Tim Minchin

Caturday’s Astrophenia | 2016.01.23


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I’ll be minimalist on the text this fortnight, as #Snowzilla dumps ice crystals on the American northeast while I type this. I’m hoping that you are all comfortable and doing well wherever you are in the world, and whatever the weather. From my end, may you have a good morning and a happy Caturday. I’ll try the same, though still missing my fluffy old Rockykins terribly…

TfTkTts.

Sun Storm: A Coronal Mass Ejection

A Colorful Solar Corona over the Himalayas

The California Nebula

Reflections on the 1970s

Infrared Portrait of the Large Magellanic Cloud

Wright Mons in Color

The View Toward M106

The Galactic Center in Infrared

Proxima Centauri: The Closest Star

A Dark Sand Dune on Mars

Stars and Globules in the Running Chicken Nebula

The View Toward M101

International Space Station Transits Saturn

Big Dipper, Deep Sky

Image of the Week:

Weekly Astrognuz:

NASA Eyes Powerful Winter Storm Spreading Into Atlantic

xkcd: Possible Undiscovered Planets

What Haven’t We Heard from All the Aliens? Because They’re Dead!

Crash Course Astronomy: Everything, the Universe, and Life

Planet Nine: Are We Not That Special?

Weekly Space Hangout: Jan. 22, 2016

Evidence Found of a Possible Planet in the Outer Solar System

‘Creative Class,’ featuring Jill Tarter

NASA’s Great Observatories Weigh Massive Young Galaxy Cluster

NASA, NOAA Analyses Reveal Record-Shattering Global Temperatures in 2015s

Pretty Pictures: Bittersweet Goodies from Cassini at Titan, Enceladus, and Telesto

And Mercury Makes Five: See All Naked-Eye Planets in the Sky at Once

Alpha Centauri Planet is almost Certainly Not Real

Big Picture Science Radio Show: Winging It

Videos | What’s Up?

Hubble Spies a Rebel

Updates on China’s Lunar Missions

NASA Completes Welding on Lunar Orion EM-1 Pressure Vessel

Space Images | Enceladus Dalmatian Terrain Closeup

Space Oddity


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Cat Thursday | Goodbye Rockykins (2003 – 2016)


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Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It’s all for the love of cats!

This week, I bring back this series on a sad note, first though, something trivial and completely arbitrary: This marks the 2500th published post on this blog, a totally meaningless milestone given the sad news that I must relate with this meme:

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Rockykins, AKA RockyMister Fluffy, Fluffy-Man, the Fluff-Meister, Rocket J. Cat, among other names, has gone beyond the mortal coil into the ultimate mystery this last Tuesday morning, the likely cause being heart failure from a hereditary cardiovascular condition, in cats found only among his breed, Maine Coons, at a rate of 34% of the breed worldwide.

His end was sudden and apparently painless, as he was still warm when we found him, laying curled up on his favorite shawl on the couch. We took him to the vets to be cremated, and when we returned, Mr. Eccles was wandering the house sniffing things, seemingly looking for his big, fluffy buddy and perhaps even wondering where he was.

But it’s silly to attribute human attributes to Eccles. But whatever was going through his head, it’s apparent he knew something was amiss.

With Rocky gone, no longer will there be the well-worn Bullwinkle jokes about pulling magicians out of hats every time The “Big Floofy Kitty” comes out to eat in the morning. No longer. No more.

With him gone, the universe has gone from Cosmic Latte in color to an ink black Espresso without cream or milk that sucks the remaining light from all that dare come near it. As I typed this, I kept looking up, almost expecting to see Rocky curled up and purring under my workspace’s lamp. All evening, I’ve caught myself watching my feet lest he be underfoot and get his tail stepped on by accident. As of this writing, Mom has returned from the vets since Rocky’s final visit there the day before yesterday, and he is now sitting on his favorite spot on my desk with my two other fur-babies, Sammi and Misty.

He lived a good life with us, with lots of love, and his friendship with Eccles was wonderful to see in the few years he was with us.

Here are a few moments we spent with him, big, adorable, fluffy ham that he was:

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The Call’s Gnuz & Lynx Roundup | 2016.01.19


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Good morning. I’ve completed another unit of Bangla study this weekend, a few steps closer to doing my own verse. Here’s a smattering of what I’ve found out so far:

First, there’s pronouns, and what’s interesting about Bengali pronouns is that they are gender-neutral. This does wonders for inclusiveness, but can make getting the characters’ genders correct in translations of Bengali fiction into ingreji troublesome. There’s the subject pronouns, like the first-person singular and plural forms ami and amra, (আমি and আমরা) for I and We, the second-person informal singular and plural, tumi and tomra, (তুমি and তোরা) used for those younger, familiar, those lower or equal in status, and that in the formal apni and apnara, (আপনি and আপনারা) used for addressing elders, strangers of uncertain status, and superiors. There are more of course, with the third-person pronouns also used to indicate relative location, such as singular ini, uni, and tini, (ইনি, উনি, and তিনি) formal pronouns indicating he/she here, he/she there, and he/she elsewhere. There’s that grammatical gender-neutrality popping up in full view, with their informal singular counterparts being e, o, and se (এ, ও, সে).

There are the possessive pronouns, singular and plural, like the first-person amar and amader, (আমার and আমাদের) for my and our, and the formal second-person forms, apnar and apnader, (আপনার and আপনাদের) for your. I worked out a way to familiarize myself with these and other subject and possessive pronouns by first looking for patterns in the endings and roman spellings, (whether it ends with a vowel, or with an “r” sound, to name a couple) and memorize the pronouns of all types in the study unit by clustering them in groups based on those shared patterns, chunking the data as it were, and reducing the labor needed to remember. I looked for patterns and used those to create mnemonics for sound and usage.

There is also the unit following, dealing with things like the definite article for things (or at least certain types of things) using the singular suffix -ʈa and plural suffix -gulo (-টা and -গুলো) attached to the noun to be indicated. There was the possessive case for nouns, with a few differences from and sharing some features with possessive pronouns. In particular, there is the fact that bhai and bôu, (ভাই and বৌ) for brother and wife use either of two possessive suffixes; yer, unhyphenated, or a hyphenated -er (য়ের or -এর) after these words.

There was also discussion on demonstrative adjectives, the use of the verb-form ach- (আছ-) in both locational and possessive forms, both present and past tenses (There is apparently, in my studies, no future tense.). The negative of the zero verb, as with the English, “Mister Eccles is not a human,” a form which uses versions of the negative verb and suffix na (না).

What I thought was cool about the lessons so far, each taking about a week to complete, is how the demonstratives, third-person pronouns and the articles interconnect and relate to each other. This makes finding patterns in common between them and creating mnemonics even easier.

I’m starting on the next, unit 16, later this coming evening, using the methods I’ve picked up so far. I’ve created and am still adding to flashcards for memorizing vocabulary, and I’ve apps on my devices that randomly select a Word of the Day, which I add to a daily journal.

At this rate, things are coming along nicely. There is progress being made. Thanks, to all of my Bengali friends and others for your encouragement and support. I must say, this has been and is a blast…

I’ll do my best to keep it that way!

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Classical Music Mashup

Fractals of the Week | Random Acts of Zodd


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G’day. namaskar. slamalaikum. Ave. Ohayo gozaimasu.  Greetings in English, Bangla, and two other languages I’ve studied in my impetuous and impertinent youth decades ago; Latin in high school; Japanese during my days as a diehard anime fan in the late eighties and early nineties. Needless to say, I’ve lapsed in fluency in both over time. Like my Japanese teacher in community college once said, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” Mrs. Sayoko, you were, and are, so correct.

This week, I’ve a few more pieces that I’ve uploaded to my deviantART profile while I try to make time to study this morning and the next. But first, a few points on my study…

At this moment, I’m working on an issue which has long plagued my study of languages in recent years, particularly with the three languages I’m working with now: low confidence in my command of them despite any actual ability, and an irrational reluctance to “show off” when posting on my progress. I find this annoying, as it delays the crucial publishing of the Lost in Translation series on this blog, and impedes accurate perception of real progress in all of the three.

There’s also a dangerous tinge of perfectionism there as well. Bad Troythulu! Irrational thinking!!

But I want what I post on them to be the very best I can do. Most important is to be accurate, even given local variations in native speakers’ use due to regional differences (like the distinctions of use for speakers in West Bengal and Bangladesh, respectively). That last is most important, but also important is to allow myself to make mistakes during the learning process. For instance, I still sound just a little like a stereotypical foreigner in a Bengali comedy, with my pronunciation of consonants like ত, থ, দ, ধ, ট, ঠ, ড, and ঢ, though less so as I manage to squeeze in some practice. Proper aspiration of the consonants is coming much easier than before, and currently I’m figuring out the intricacies of the dialogue I’m on. I’m not moving on until I finish it and can fully, fluently, and accurately answer the quiz at the end of the unit.

So, here are the images. I had a lot of fun working with these, and new presets came out of the deal along with the pics. Here’s to conquering my perfectionism so that I can get those study updates finished. After all, I believe that strong claims require strong proof, and nowhere is that more obvious to me here at my workstation at this wee hour of the morning.

Stay awesome, people.

adab.

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 2016 by Troy Loy. I hereby permit the free, noncommercial use of these images, as long as proper credit is given for them.