Monday, February 28, 2011

March Madness: East Regional, Round 1

Welcome to this exciting opening day of the U.S. States and Territories Flag Tournament!!!
The Bracket

The Rules: Anyone can play.  For each of the pairs of flags pitted against each other, simply indicate your favorite.  Explication, derision, and/or analysis will not affect the scoring, but is nevertheless encouraged.  Each winner will of course advance to the second round.

In the first round only, you may select one of your six preferred flags as especially favored; for that flag only, your vote counts double.

East Regional Voting Deadline: 11:59 p.m., Friday, March 4.

Vermont vs. New Hampshire


New Hampshire

Delaware vs. West Virginia


West Virginia

Massachusetts vs. New York


New York

District of Columbia vs. New Jersey

District of Columbia

New Jersey

Virginia vs. Maine



Connecticut vs. Pennsylvania



Make your votes in the comments, of course.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Bear Chronicles

Greetings from Natural Bridge National Monument
Utah, 2006ish

Befriend The Bear on Facebook

Sixteen Awesome Posters, part four

Images taken from the out-of-print 1966 book Posters; 77 Plates in Full Color, by Attilio Rossi (1909-1994).  Some copyright regulations may apply.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Raskolnikov Revisited

Warning!!  Very Long Post!  No Pictures!

Corrected 10/2/2016

To the delight of some of you and the despair of a few others, I imagine, Crime and Punishment is a book that has steadily grown on me after reading, as some of its subtleties have percolated through the ol' brainpan.  It probably helped that Mrs.5000 picked it up right after I put it down, which led to various conversations as she worked her way through it (about three times as fast as me, true to form).  I read a few pages to her at one point, and was surprised by how well the text read out loud.  Then too, looking at some of the simplifications -- and especially tearing through the Korkos and Mairowitz graphic novelization, a kind of half-hour Crime and Punishment for today's active lifestyles -- made me a little more appreciative of the complexity of the story, which I dismissed in my original review as so much marching in place while Raskalinikov stewed in his own juices. 

Crime and Punishment was published in Russian in 1866.  Since then, it has been translated into English quite a few times, and as a classic it has also been simplified, synopsized, and made the point of departure for new works of literature many hundreds of times.  In the rest of this post, I'm going to lay out the first few paragraphs from a bunch of different translations (like I did once upon a time for Don Quixote).  This is a lot of work, but I'm willing to do it because I am awesome, and because I love you. If you do not see the value of this gift, well, we'll see you tomorrow for something about flags or postcards or The Bear or whatever.  

The Jesse Coulson Translation, 1953 (The one I read)
Towards the end of a sultry afternoon early in July a young man came out of his little room in Stolyarny Lane and turned slowly and somewhat irresolutely in the direction of Kamenny Bridge.
He had been lucky enough to escape and encounter with his landlady on the stairs.  His little room, more like a cupboard than a place to live in, was tucked away under the roof of the high five-storied building.  The landlady, who let him the room and provided him with dinners and service, occupied a flat on the floor below, and every time he went out he was forced to pass the door of her kitchen, which nearly always stood wide open.  He went past each time with an uneasy, almost frightened, feeling that made him frown with shame.  He was heavily in debt to his landlady and shrank from meeting her.
It was not that he was a cowed or naturally timorous person, far from it; but he had been for some time in an almost morbid state of irritability and tension.  He had cut himself off from everybody and withdrawn so completely into himself that he now shrank from every kind of contact.  He was crushingly poor, but he no longer felt the oppression of his poverty.  For some time he had ceased to concern himself with everyday affairs....

 The Pevear and Volokhonsky Translation (1993)
At the beginning of July, during an extremely hot spell, towards evening, a young man left the closet he rented from tenants in S___y Lane, walked out to the street, and slowly, as if indecisively, headed for the K____n Bridge. 
He had safely avoided meeting his landlady on the stairs.  His closet was located just under the roof of a tall, five-storied house, and was more like a cupboard than a room.  As for the landlady, from whom he rented this closet with dinner and maid-service included, she lived one flight below, in separate rooms, and every time he went out he could not fail to pass by the landlady's kitchen, the door of which almost always stood wide open to the stairs.  And each time he passed by, the young man felt some painful and cowardly sensation, which made him wince with shame.  He was over his head in debt to the landlady and was afraid of meeting her. 
It was not that he was so cowardly and downtrodden, even quite the contrary; but for some time he had been in an irritable and tense state, resembling hypochondria.  He was so immersed in himself and had isolated himself so much from everyone that he was afraid not only of meeting his landlady but of meeting anyone at all.  He was crushed by poverty; but even his strained circumstances had lately ceased to burden him.  He had entirely given up attending to his daily affairs and did not want to attend to them.
The Magarshack Translation (1951)

The McDuff Translation (1991)

The Monas Translation (1968)

The Garnett Translation (1914) -- Overwhelmingly the most common translation seen online, often unattributed.
On an exceptionally hot evening early in July a young man came out of the garret in which he lodged in S. Place and walked slowly, as though in hesitation, towards K. bridge. 
He had successfully avoided meeting his landlady on the staircase. His garret was under the roof of a high, five-storied house and was more like a cupboard than a room. The landlady who provided him with garret, dinners, and attendance, lived on the floor below, and every time he went out he was obliged to pass her kitchen, the door of which invariably stood open. And each time he passed, the young man had a sick, frightened feeling, which made him scowl and feel ashamed. He was hopelessly in debt to his landlady, and was afraid of meeting her. 
This was not because he was cowardly and abject, quite the contrary; but for some time past he had been in an overstrained irritable condition, verging on hypochondria. He had become so completely absorbed in himself, and isolated from his fellows that he dreaded meeting, not only his landlady, but anyone at all. He was crushed by poverty, but the anxieties of his position had of late ceased to weigh upon him. He had given up attending to matters of practical importance; he had lost all desire to do so.

The Penguin Reader Level 6 (?) "Retelling" (2008)

Graphic Novel by Korkos and Mairowitz (2008) -- Contemporary Setting.

NEXT on the Reading List: Rabbit, Run

On Deck: To the Lighthouse

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Font Fail

Now, I'm no graphic designer, but...

...if "Shingles" is in all caps, shouldn't "Vaccine" be too?

...and maybe without quite as much vertical space between them?

Your Thursday Boring Postcard from Michael5000

Loretta Lynn Kitchen
Exit 143, I-40 East/West, Hurricane Mills, TN, and
Exit 6, I-65 North/South, Franklyn, KY

Provenance: Sent by L&TM5K hero Heatherbee, November 2010.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Wednesday Quiz forgets the deep sea swell and the profit and loss.


The new weekly game of knowledge, intuition, inductive reasoning, and willingness to risk public embarrassment in a friendly and moderately supportive environment!!

Answers come out Fridayish.

1. Her other books included Daniel Deronda (1876), Felix Holt, the Radical (1866), and Romola (1863).

2. What country are we looking at here?

3. Who said this?
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.
4. What Italian novelist created William of Baskerville and his young protege Adso?

5. It's the amount of work done by a force of one dyne exerted for a distance of one centimeter. Or in layman's terms, it's equal to about 100 nanojoules.

6. Built in 1964 as the first of its kind, this ship is still in use today.

7. Who was the television character who mentioned this bisque in this line:
I met this lawyer, we went out to dinner, I had the lobster bisque, we went back to my place, yada yada yada, I never heard from him again.

8. What's that word that means "a theory of knowledge that asserts that knowledge arises from sense experience, and thus supports observation and experimentation."

9. What city are we looking at here?

10. Some think that this stanza of poetry is, as they say, "better than Cats."
I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.
Who wrote both?


The tie-breaker: Name five important people, living or dead, whose last name begins with this week's letter.

O you who turn the wheel and look to windward, put your answers in the comments.  

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

March Madness: Get Your Bracket Ready!

What U.S. State or Territorial Flag will emerge triumphant?  Pick your favorites now and be ready to cast your votes throughout March as 56 flags go head to head on Vexillophilia & The Life and Times of Michael5000.

First Round Schedule

February 28: East Regional, Round 1
March 1: South Regional, Round 1
March 3: North Regional, Round 1
March 4: West Regional, Round 1

Second Round Schedule

March 7: East Regional, Round 2
March 8: South Regional, Round 2
March 10: North Regional, Round 2
March 11: West Regional, Round 2

Monday, February 21, 2011

Michael5000's "Which U.S. President Am I?" Quiz

In celebration of Presidents' Day (U.S.)!  Those of you from countries without U.S. Presidents should feel welcome to play along!

Clarification: This is not the kind of "Quiz" in which there is a correct answer.  This is a hilarious send-up of the kinds of personality quizzes popular on Facebook and in magazines.  Really, it's a hoot.  I kept chuckling to myself while I was writing it.

Instructions: Respond to each statement with "Yes," "No," or "Sometimes."

1. I have truly awesome facial hair.

2. I think that preserving the right to own slaves is really important.

3. My life and career are tainted by scandal.

4. I do love me a tariff.

5. I am going to die in office.

6. I issue vetoes at the drop of a hat.

7. I look at the territory of neighboring nations with a certain covetousness.

8. I hail from the Buckeye State.

9. I wrangle with the Judicial Branch.

10. I am basically coasting on the success of my military career.

Scoring: Read any standard political history of the United States, or any detailed summary of the lives and accomplishments of the U.S. Presidents, and pick the one who best fits your answers.  Then, post your result in your Facebook profile.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Your Sunday Boring Postcard from Michael5000

Area Attractions:
Oil Sands, Northern Lights, Ski Slopes, Campgrounds, and Snowmobile Trails.
See you along the way.

Postmark: "SuPPort Mental Health; APPuyez la sante mentale."

Provenance: Sent by L&TM5K reader Aviatrix, September 2010.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Bear Chronicles

Relaxing after summiting the highest point in New Jersey.
Perhaps 2005

Sixteen Awesome Posters, part three

Images taken from the out-of-print 1966 book Posters; 77 Plates in Full Color, by Attilio Rossi (1909-1994).  Some copyright regulations may apply.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Flag Friday XXIV

Flag Friday is a periodic discussion of the world's national flags; the project is explained and indexed here.

These discussions are about graphic design, and perhaps about nationalism and national symbolism in general. They should not be taken as critical of the countries, ideals, cultures, or people that the flags represent.


Parsons: It has "bad colours" but salvages a "B", 73/100.

Michael5000: How come I've never noticed the Mauritanian flag before?  It's pretty slick.  Plus, I like the colours.

Grade: A-


Parsons: "Hey, lots of countries have a tricolour," writes Parsons, speculating on the thought process behind this design.  "Why don't we have a quadricolor?  Big mistake."  With "bad colours" that "make [him] nauseous, it only escapes with a "C-", 50/100.

Michael5000: Going from the three stripes to the four stripes is such an obvious move that it would be surprising that more countries hadn't tried it -- or would be, if it just didn't look so wrong in execution.  Whether this is simply a product of everybody being accustomed to tricolors, or if there is something culturally or even biologically less satisfying about a series of four stripes, I could not speculate.  Clearly, picking the colors of IKEA children's toys don't especially help.  Slight mitigating factor: distinctiveness and recognizeability.

Grade: C-


Parsons: With "graven images" and being "too busy," it barely tops Mauritius with a "C-", 52/100.

Michael5000: See, I almost have to recuse myself from looking at the banner of a next-door neighbor of my own country.  Clearly, the eagle-serpant-cactus-island retelling of the national origin myth is way too detailed to be properly flaggy, failing with gusto the Betsy Ross test and foiling all but the very most talented of child crayon artists.  And yet I am fond.  You have to admit that, as national seals go, it's a pretty boss national seal.

Grade: B


Parsons: Without comment, it gets a "B-", 66/100.

Michael5000: Pretty much the only thing I like here is that the stars are set so as to create a squarish negative shape in the center.  But beyond that, we have four white stars.  In a field of sky blue.  Boring enough on the page or screen, this thing must be essentially camoflaged when flown up on a flagpole.  On the up side, it won't really matter when the flag gets old and the color is all washed out; washed-out color is built into the design.

Grade: C-


Parsons: With a trio of complaints -- a "bad shape," "graven images," and being "too busy," it barely tops Mexico with a "C," 55/100.

Michael5000: It is a bit leggy, being one of those 1:2 ratio flags despite the relative lack of British influence.  Moldova has deep cultural ties with neighboring Romania, and its flag is basically the Romanian tricolor with a seal on it.  The seal is undeniably busy, an eagle clutching something with each leg, and with a crest on its chest.  (It is, incidentally, an interesting convention of heraldry that makes it seem perfectly normal to represent birds of prey with crests on their chests.  Birds almost never bear heraldic crests on their chests in real life.  But I digress.)   But two things mitigate the busy-ness.  For one thing, the seal is graphically simple, and the entire flag is rendered in five colors plus black.  It's not especially kind on the local Betsy Ross, but if she's got her skillz she'll do fine.  The other thing is, the crest is of a cow with a moon, sun, and little flower.  I find this slightly enchanting.

Also: distinctive.  Romania and Chad are the only other two countries to fly an all-primaries tricolor, and neither of them have a cow.  Or any seal at all, for that matter.

Grade: B

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Deficit omne quod nascitur(e).

The Street Horse featured in this post, two weeks later.

Your Thursday Boring Postcard from Michael5000

Northern Pacific transcontinental trains go through the Northern Minnesota "10,000 Lakes" area for many miles.

Provenance: Unknown.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Wednesday Quiz hath loosed the fateful lightning of its terrible swift sword


The new weekly game of knowledge, intuition, inductive reasoning, and willingness to risk public embarrassment in a friendly and moderately supportive environment!!

Answers come out on Friday, unless I'm busy.  And it looks like it's going to be a busy Friday.

1. The first one got started in the year 222, the second one was around from 1088 to 1099, and the most recent one -- the eighth -- died in 1644. Who are we talking about here?

2. What country is this? (Extra dork points: what's the unusual color scheme of its flag?)

3. King David, the beloved hero of the Old Testament, got his loyal and conscientious soldier's wife pregnant, and to avoid a scandal arranged to have the soldier killed. What was the hapless soldier's name?

4. It begins with the word "Stately" and ends with the word "yes," and has around a thousand pages in between.

5. Its other two members are Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton.

6. If you saw this flag flying over the Donetsk post office, what country would you be in?

7. What movie includes this line of dialog:
Keaton always said, "I don't believe in God, but I'm afraid of him." Well I believe in God, and the only thing that scares me is Keyser Soze.
8. What's this?

9. His best-known character is Rabbit Angstrom.

10. Sir Thomas More thought it would be the ideal kind of place.


The tie-breaker: If YOU had been writing today's quiz, what are a few more answers (or questions) you would have included?

The Wednesday Quiz's truth is marching on!  Answers in the comments, yo.