Friday, December 24, 2010

Best Flag Designs

"NAVA, the North American Vexillological Association, conducted a poll on its website, asking its members and the public their opinions of flag designs in the U.S. and Canada....

"Participants rated 72 flags on their design qualities (rather than on political, historical, or geographic considerations)...

"The public’s overall responses paralleled those of NAVA members quite closely... Their insightful comments showed a strong intuitive grasp of flag design and confirmed NAVA’s expert opinions on design principles. One doesn’t need to be a flag expert to know a good flag design....

"The highest-scoring flags all embody the five basic principles listed in NAVA’s publication on flag design, Good Flag, Bad Flag:

"1. Keep It Simple (The flag should be so simple that a child can draw it from memory...)

"2. Use Meaningful Symbolism (The flag’s images, colors, or patterns should relate to what it symbolizes...)

"3. Use 2–3 Basic Colors (Limit the number of colors on the flag to three, which contrast well and come from the standard color set...)

"4. No Lettering or Seals (Never use writing of any kind or an organization’s seal...)

"5. Be Distinctive or Be Related (Avoid duplicating other flags, but use similarities to show connections...)

"Good Flag, Bad Flag: How to Design a Great Flag is downloadable free from the NAVA website. It can help any organization, tribe, company, family, neighborhood, city, county, state, or even country design a great flag."

--North American Vexillological Association, 2001 June 10

1. New Mexico

3. Quebec

4. Maryland

5. Alaska

6. Arizona

9. Republic of the Marshall Islands

10. South Carolina

The flag of Maryland is one of my favorite flags. I hate the flag of Arizona; it looks like a nondescript mall decoration.

up over yawning emptiness

"Beneath me, there is the crust of the earth. Beneath that, magma. Go far enough, through the core, eventually there will be crust again, and the bottom of the ocean. Then sea water. Then air. Then the edge of the atmosphere. Then infinite nothingness, directly beneath my feet. The entire earth is a little trapeze, holding me up over yawning emptiness. And space extends to either side of me, in front of me, behind me, and above me as well, forever."

--Michael Cisco, "Machines of Concrete Light and Dark" in Lovecraft Unbound: Twenty Stories, 2009

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Nodak Fashion


faff : doing exactly that ; divided by a common language ; blogging in general

Dialect, 'blow in gusts'.

to faff (third-person singular simple present faffs, present participle faffing, simple past and past participle faffed)
(UK, slang) To waste time on an unproductive activity.
I decided to stop faffing about and get some work done.

Usage notes
Particularly used as faff about.

dick around (American)


The Book of Ratings on Superman's Powers

"Super Breath

"Yes, Superman has super breath. He can inhale and exhale large amounts of air without swelling up like Daffy Duck connected to a bicycle pump. We're dealing here with a man who can travel between the stars, who can change the course of mighty rivers, who can, in certain incarnations, reverse the flow of time itself. When does this guy encounter a problem that leaves him with no recourse but to breathe on it? At any rate, any potential uses are automatically offset by the fact that it's called 'super breath.' D"

--The Book of Ratings

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Everything's Better With Platypi

"He's a semi-aquatic, egg-laying mammal of ACTION!"
--Perry the Platypus theme song

"Some believe that the platypus proves that evolution is 100% real, because not even God could make that shit up. This is an animal that, upon being sent to a British natural history museum to catalog, was believed to be a taxidermist's prank. It looks like a beaver crossed with a mole with a duck's bill added for laughs. They belong to a group of mammals known as Monotremes, a group consisting of it and the echidna, which means they lay eggs. Additionally, they're an offshoot of mammals that evolved before teats/nipples evolved, so while they produce milk, they simply... sweat it out for their young to lap up. They also have ten sex chromosomes, where in most mammals there're simply two (X and Y). And their duck-bill? It's actually quite soft, and it acts as an electrical receptor. See, platypus eyes aren't too useful, especially underwater, so they use an electrolocation system in their bills to hunt shrimp and other aquatic invertebrates. (Sharks have a similar sense, in case they weren't scary enough.)

"And to top it off, they're poisonous. Yup, male platypi have poisonous spurs on their feet, and while the poison isn't lethal to humans, the cocktail of venom will usually incapacitate people, and can cause you to be in excruciating, incapacitating pain for months. And to top it off, morphine has no effect on said pain. So it won't kill you, it'll just make you wish it did.

"So, in short, it's easy to see how humans can become so interested in this goofy-looking creature. Odd appearance, cool features, and the ability to cripple you if you get stupid. What better metaphor for Australia? And it's an Inherently Funny Word. Also, baby playtpi are called 'puggles,' which is quite possibly the cutest word ever invented, and have been called so since before pugs were crossed with beagles to make the dog breed of the same name.

"Plus, if you want to talk about them in the plural, expect to confound linguists until the end of time. (Platypodes, platypi, and platypuses are all acceptable spellings.)"

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Law of Conservation of Ninjutsu

"In any martial arts fight, there is only a finite amount of ninjutsu available to each side in a given encounter. As a result, one ninja is a deadly threat, but an army of them are cannon fodder.

"You can have three guesses who's going to win. The first two don't count."

Monday, December 06, 2010

Old Russia in Color

The Empire That Was Russia: The Prokudin-Gorskii Photographic Record Recreated exhibition at the United States Library of Congress.

"These rare color photos by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii document the Russian empire between 1909 and 1915. With the support of Tsar Nicholas II, Prokudin-Gorskii traveled throughout the Russian empire in a specially outfitted train car conducting a photographic survey, according to the Library of Congress, which owns the original slides.

"Using a special technique that captured three black and white photographs in succession, the pictures could then be combined using red, green and blue filters to create realistic color. The result is vivid photographs that look startlingly modern."

Friday, December 03, 2010

Awesome Captured on Film: Orson Welles as Father Mapple in the 1956 movie *Moby Dick*

The sermon scene ends halfway through, and the following isn't worth watching, but this is the best-quality clip of Welles' performance on YouTube.

The set was reproduced from Melville's description, including the memorial plaques of the whalers lost at sea and the pulpit like a ship's prow.

"Delight is to him who against the proud commodores and gods of this earth, stands forth his own inexorable self...

"Yet this is nothing."