Monday, December 24, 2012

Dougintology Commandment #1

I'll be out for the rest of the week.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Not dead yet!


Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Links: December 21

Send some love to this project. They're making cups that change colors in the presence of the date rape drug. [link]

Thanks to Der Muffinmann for letting me know this hadn't posted.

Film of the largest iceberg calving event ever recorded. [link]

Official Minecraft torch. [link]

DARPA has injectable foam to hold your guts in place in case of grevious wounds. [link]

Facebook has taken to liking stuff against people's will. [link]

"Hello alien monsters. Are you ready to start testing?"

The Muppet Show pitch.

Photo tour of the old LA subway system. [link]

Dogs learning to drive cars. [link]

A penguin falls down. It's the sounds that make it.

Professional soccer/football juggler.

The source of bordom. [link 1] [link]

This video about introducing a bengal kitten to some adult cats shows more about how to introduce any new cat into a home.

Drive a tank. [link]

Thursday, December 20, 2012

For tomorrow we die

The Incans and dolphins know something bad happens tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sod Off Follow Up

Black Peter

I'd better cover Zwarte Piet/Black Peter. He got mentioned in conjunction with about every other St. Nick related creature.

Today he's a comically offensive character dressed in Renaissance page garb and blackface. His clothing comes from his depiction in a book around 1850 or so. Some try to claim that his dark skin comes from going down sooty chimneys, but that doesn't explain the frizzy hair or big lips. Or the fact that he's supposed to be a freed slave that now voluntarily serves St. Nick. Black Peter used to be a bit dim. Brains weren't expected from africans. But with an increase in immigration from colonies he became more respected and an assistant. Kind of how the elves are viewed in the US.

Not all stories follow that story. Some have him as yet another former demonic companion who has been mastered by St. Nick and now act as servant rather than equal. Having him as a slave doesn't really help the "it's not black face!" argument.

Efforts have been made by the Dutch to remove or revise Black Peter. There's lots of objections to the black face. But there are still greater protests about the break with tradition that bring him back shortly thereafter.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


I'm running out of month faster than I'm running out of monsters. So lets jump to one of the bigger names in Santa monsters - Krampus.

Alas, despite appearances dating back for 4000 years he doesn't have much of a story. Krampus has big curved horns, cloven hooves, a tail, a long tongue, and is covered in hair. Sometimes he's considered a pagan fertility figure.

Krampus is the bad cop to Santa's (or St Nick's) good cop. Be good and you get gifts. Be bad and the Krampus beats you with a switch, takes you away in a bag, or worse. Other punishments include ripping pigtails out, leading children off a cliff, sadistic ear-pulling, putting pre-teens in shackles, forcing children to beg for mercy, and throwing youngsters on a train to hell, or drowning children to death in ink and fishing out the corpse with a pitchfork.

Current rituals have them coming through town on December 5th. If you start to disbelieve a bunch of drunken guys in costumes may come to your house that night. They dance and yell and make horrible sounds outside your bedroom window. Then your parents invite them in for more drinking. The people in the costumes may have gone off into the woods some weeks earlier as part of a coming of age ritual. This is their return to town.

These days he's mellowed out a bit. While still playing the role of bad cop he's had to become tourist friendly. He's in cartoons, post cards, video games, and parades.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sod Off Monday: December 17

I'm moving up Sod Off Day this week because... because.

The Westboro Baptist Church is either a group of religious wackaloons of such epic scale that AlQueda distances themselves from the group OR they're legal trolls who try to piss people off so much that they do something that the church can sue them for. They have announced plans to picket the funerals of the victims of the recent Connecticut shooting.

I think we can all agree that deserves a huge "sod off". Like, if that sod off were to hit the Earth it would wipe out 99% of all multicellular life. If that sod off were famous the President would have to return his calls. If that sod off were an asshole he'd have his own church in Kansas and protest the funerals of 5 year olds.

Anyway, Anonymous has hacked the computers of the Westboro Baptist Church and published the personal information about everyone in the church. [link]

We're all looking forward to the day when Fred Phelps dies and his huge collection of gay porn is revealed to the world.

p.s. A petition to have WBC declared a hate group. [link]

Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday Links: December 14

Links sucks this week due to my crappy to nonexistent internet.

A history of video games sampled in rap music. [link]

Bluetooth short range trackers. [link]
No more lost keys or remotes.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

No post

Nothing today, sorry. Verizon's internet is doing it's impression of the Iraqi power grid.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12 - 12 - 12

Today is the last time this century you'll see repetitive numbers as a date.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Perchta, Berchta, or Bertha is a rare female Santa equivalent. She serves as a year round guardian of the beasts and leader of the wild hunt. During the Twelve Days of Christmas, between Christmas and Epiphany, she oversees spinning and weaving.

She may appear either pale and beautiful and dressed all in white or elderly and haggard. No matter what her form, she always has one large foot that she can't get rid of. Sometimes it's a goose or swan foot. It may be that foot that works the treadle of the spinning wheel.

Perchta has her own feast day during which you're supposed to eat fish and gruel. If you forget her feast or eat the wrong things she will slit you open that night and stuff you with straw. Alas, I can't find when her feast is other than some time during the twelve days of Christmas.

Also during those twelve days she enters homes at night to judge the children and young servants. Those who work hard and behave might find a small silver coin in a pail or their shoe. Those who did not would be slit open, their stomach and guts removed, and straw and pebbles placed there instead. Of particular concern was whether the girls has spun their quota of flax or wool that year.

Perchta controls strange beasts known collectively as perchten. The perchten are long horned, hairy, demonic bipeds. Some people would dress up as evil spirits to drive the perchten away.

Monday, December 10, 2012


Belsnickel is a German and Pennsylvania Dutch character. He shows up a week or two before Christmas looking dark, hairy, worn, torn, dirty, and haggard. He's come to beat the bad children. The children are supposed to escape unharmed, but scared enough to be good until Santa shows up on Christmas. He sometimes carries candy and nuts. Some traditions have him giving them as gifts so kids get a taste of what being good gets them. Others have him throw them on the ground so he can whip the kids scrambling for them.

Here he is in an episode of the Office.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Friday Links: December 7

The Geminid Meteor Shower will be Thursday night to Friday morning (13th-14th).

A good interview with director Brad Bird. [link]
It's a faster read than it looks.

The Amazing Randi with assistance from Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry.

Water and ice found on Mercury. [link]

Cheating rifle. [link]

Staples to get 3D printers for hire. Just not sure when it'll happen in the US. [link]

Babylon 5 cast reunion at upcoming ComicCon. [link]
It's a shame that G'Kar is too dead to make it.

Robot run restaurant. [link]

A completely insane patent. [link]

If you haven't read "Ender's Game" then you probably should before next November. Here's Harrison Ford playing Colonel Graff. [link]

A rash of hay theft across the mid-west. Listen to the bit with Sheriff Whittington. [link]

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star for astrophysicists. [link]

"Portal" for the Ti-83. [link]


Ridley Scott's "Star Wars".

Charlie Chaplain singing an autotune version his speech from "The Great Dictator".

Why, yes, North Korea. We ARE all convinced by your claim to have found an ancient unicorn lair.[link]

Totally convinced.

Another attempt at a Wonder Woman TV series. [link]
It may be good, but I don't think it should be considered Wonder Woman.

Yoko Ono is every bit the fashion designer that she is a singer. [link]

A crocheted Enterprise. [link]

Bill Murray on Gilda Radner. [link]
I dare you not to tear up a bit.

You should drink more coffee. It's good for you! [link]
I may have skimmed a bit.

Bread that stays fuzz free for 60 days. [link]

Who are you and what have you done with Pat Robertson? [link]

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Repost: Dougmas

Tis once again the Dougmas Season and I thought I'd remind you of what Dougmas is all about.

Dougmas is the time of year when we Dougintologists celebrate the birth of the Prophet Doug. Granted, Doug was born in May, but so was Jesus. May or June. Certainly not December. We're just jumping on the bandwagon of religions that have tried to make the ancient solstice celebrations their own. I'm just trying to help convert the heathen Jesus worshipers to the one true religion.

As Dougmas is new we're still getting a few traditions off the ground.
Here's a short list.

1) Instead of putting up trees in the house, either real or artificial, you should plant a Douglas Fir. Considering that the ground is likely frozen and hard to dig it is acceptable to wait until May 25, Towel Day, to plant your tree. The world needs all the trees it can get.

2) Doug preaches against giving money to religious charities. Most of the time religious charities require attending their church services as a prerequisite to being giving. Starting December 1st, put an empty jar near your front door (or wherever you empty your pockets). Instead of dumping your spare change into a Salvation Army bucket take it home and put it in the jar. On January 1st give the money, or a check for the equivalent amount, to a non-denominational charity or non-profit organization.

Doug's preferred charities include:
* Solar Electric Light Fund (
* Trees for the Future (
* Wayne Foundation (

For Douglas Adams I include:
* Dian Fossey Gorilla Foundation (
* Save the Rhino (

3) Dougmas is not tied to a particular day. It's more of a season that I alter from year to year until I can figure out a good fit. Last year I used December 20 through December 31. I still like those dates even though I'm saying the Dougmas Jar should go out on December 1st.
The reason I'm making it a season is because there are so many holidays with roots in the winter solstice (Dec. 22). There are many families of mixed faiths that will fight over which holiday they'll gather on. Many people have to try to rush to celebrations at the homes of multiple parents and grandparents or have to decide between relatives in different states.
The point of Dougmas is to spend time with family and friends. If your family is getting together for Christmas then be there for that. If your family gets together for Hanukkah then be there for that. Ditto for Kwanza, the Winter Solstice, New Years, Agnostica, or just Saturday night. Don't rush around in the cold and snow and try to choke down several big turkey dinners. Spend the time with the family.
Of course, if you can't stand your family you can still use the old excuses as an escape strategy.

4) Gift exchanges are so common with the other holidays that it can't be ignored. If you work somewhere that requires someone works on Christmas then go ahead and work that day and collect the extra holiday pay. Then celebrate Dougmas after the 25th so that you can pawn unwanted gifts on others or take advantage of the after Christmas sales. Thriftyness is next to Dougliness.

If the subject of religion comes up while visiting family just remember Dougintology bumpersticker number 1. "I'm wrong and so are you." This should help ensure merrier Dougmas.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Sod Off Wednesday: December 5

Maybe it's my old fashioned way of thinking, but shouldn't the "Cancel" button on the printer cancel the current print job? If not immediately then as soon as all the paper currently in the machine comes out? Granted, my life in tech support has shown that printers have almost always been the weak link in a computer system. Really, though, the problem should be getting it to start printing, not getting it to stop. A 300 page document that's cancelled on page 5 shouldn't stop around page 298.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012


Tomte started as a house spirit in the countries north of the Baltic Sea. Possibly the soul of the person who first cleared the lot for the house. He protected the house and family of farmers. But they were also easily offended. Cursing, rudeness, peeing in the barn, abusing the animals, or just changing how things were done were all good ways to get on his bad side. Being on his bad side could mean getting your ears boxed, dead livestock, tying cows tails together, turning things upside down, smashing things, or his venomous bite. A good way to get on his good side is to leave out some porridge for him. With butter on top. Gotta have the butter. On top. One common story has the butter being put in the porridge, Tomte killing the cow, then finding the butter, and hunting the countryside for an identical cow to replace the dead one.

A Tomte (a.k.a. Nisse) stealing hay
Honestly, he sounds like an all purpose threat. Be a brat and the Tomte will get you. Pull a prank and the Tomte will get you. Don't do things the way I do it and my father did it and his father did is and the Tomte will get you. Something went wrong! You must have made the Tomte mad! Much like how someone might say "you'll make the baby Jesus cry" today.

The myth changed as Christianity moved in. Tomtes would put your soul at risk or non-Christian rites were performed to get the Tomte there. Then, in the 1840's he started becoming the bearer of gifts. A painting of him made him look like an dwarven Red Cap or a tiny Santa Claus. He lives in a forest nearby or some neighboring country. He comes through the front door and delivers gifts directly. He's not overweight. Sometimes he rides a non-flying sleigh pulled by reindeer or goat, but he used to just walk.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Père Fouettard

I need some new material for the Dougmas season. Let's talk about the unsavory sorts that follow Santa around.

Père Fouettard (French for The Whipping Father) is a companion of St. Nicholas known mostly in the east of France. He's sort of the love child of Norman Bates and Sweeny Todd. According to legend there were three rich children going to enroll in religious school who stayed in his inn. There he drugged them, slit their throats, cut them up, made them into a nice stew. Apparently, this is what the French refer to as a "robbery". St. Nick revived the children and took Pére Fouettard as a companion. Opinion is divided over whether this was punishment or Pére Fouettard repented.

Other stories have the three boys getting lost while searching the fields for food missed at harvest. They come to Pére for shelter where they get chopped up and thrown in a barrel of brine.

While St Nick goes around handing out gifts to the good children, Pére Fouettard gives out coal and floggings to the bad ones.

His appearance differs from place to place. Generally he wears dark robes, sports a long, messy beard, and carries a whip, stick, or bundle of switches. Sometimes he has a backpack to carry away bad children. Other times he's nearly identical to Santa, but with a black suit instead of red. You know, much the way you tell good Spiderman from bad. His ride tends to be a donkey, but is sometimes a white steed.

He made some appearances in America in the 30's as Father Flog or Spanky.