Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Wednesday Post

The Past is Virtually a Foreign Country
A package from Sweden

In the mail yesterday was a package graced with these handsome Swedish stamps in classic one-color engraving.

Inside, direct from Oslo-based developer Paradox Interactive, was an old-school CD copy of "Crusader Kings II."

Of this game, which came highly recomended by outgoing blog Dork Morgan, writes
This highly-developed mediaeval strategic game with an enhanced classic system made by Paradox offers a thrilling and absorbing experience of the uncompromising politics - or more precisely - of the European mediaeval life of nobility in the 11th to the 15th century. It doesn't matter if you build great dynasty of yours or not - there are always goals you want to fight for. Crusader Kings II lets you to recreate the history - don't miss this unique opportunity.
Game Informer speaks of its
vast, churning sea of information [which] is Crusader Kings II's greatest strength, but it also the reason the game is as niche as niche gets. You need to bring patience, discipline, and probably a notebook to even scratch its surface, but Crusader Kings II is massively rewarding in its own unique way if you're willing to put in the time and effort it demands.
And the game critic for Quarter to Three says:
there's something mildly sadistic about Crusader Kings II's complexity and reach.
So, yeah, you might not hear much from me for a while.  I'm pretending to be a Duke in 11th Century Iceland right now.

Obviously, this has nothing to do with DorkFest.  (By the way, all DF entries due immediately!)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round 2: Chardin v. De Chirico!

Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin
1699 - 1779

Crushed American William Merritt Chase in Round 1.


Giorgio De Chirico
1888 - 1978

Edged the original wrapper, Christo, in Round 1 by a two-vote swing. YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!!


Vote for the artist of your choice in the comments, or any other way that works for you. Commentary and links to additional work are welcome. Polls open for at least one month past posting.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Launch of the Avatar

The Hypothetical Hypermarathon has begun!  At midday on Saturday, my Avatar and I put on our running gear...

left the safe confines of Castle5000....

and began a long run out into the world.

We ran 3.2 miles together, as far as the campus of the Beaver State's most academically prestigious institution of higher learning, the highly dorky Reed College.

The Avatar poses on the long
path in front of Elliot Hall shortly before we part ways.

From there, I continued running to the northeast, but the Avatar continued southward.

He ran through attractive Crystal Springs Park and through the Sellwood neighborhood, passing right by the legendary "Bins" -- the Goodwill Outlet Store, a sort of controlled-environment dumpster-diving center -- but did not stop or pause, being insubstantial and having no need for material things.  

The second day's run took him through Gladstone and then Oregon City, the town that was the most important Europeanish outpost in the Oregon Country from 1829 to the 1850s but couldn't really keep up the pace thereafter.

Pushing up the hill from downtown, my Avatar ended up at a Starbucks near Clackamas Community College, a nice campus that I've gone to from time to time for work, and once for a 5K run.  He'll probably be hanging out there for a few days, until he and I next decide to run.  When he runs, I run.  When I run, he runs.

Whither the Avatar?

As the hypermarathon continues, the Avatar will follow Oregon 213 south through the fields and pastures of the northern Willamette Valley towards the charming town of Silverton, and from there turn west and south towards the State Capital, Salem.  His first destination is Oregon State University in Corvallis, where outgoing IAT Dork Morgan has invited him for a visit.  

From Corvallis, he'll cross the Coast Range westward to the Pacific, follow Highway 101 north for a ways, and then head back towards and through the City of Roses on his way to the inevitable eastward journey.  In four or five years he'll probably get to the Atlantic.

What does this all have to do with DorkFest?

Not a thing.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

DorkFest Marches On!

It has been a quiet DorkFest, which either means that you readers are slavishly putting together the dorkiest possible application packages and strategically holding on to them until the very last minute, or -- possibly -- that you are just not a very dorky group.

It bears mentioning, however, that Chuckdaddy has recently put in a rather strong statement of intent on the original DorkFest post.

Also, Nichim -- the incumbent Vice-Dork candidate -- has sent in a Dork CV this weekend that includes such phrases as "oldest extant copy of the Popol Vuh," "notary public," "They Might be Giants," "euphonium," "psychedelic space rock," "Central Vermont Fiber Community," "obsessive interest in... the taxonomy of fungi," and "Reed College." It runs to three pages. I say this not to discourage you, but to spur you on to do your damnedest.

Meanwhile, sisterjen -- who, as the name would suggest, is my sister -- has insinuatingly inquired as to whether I, Michael5000, am eligible for DorkFest.  The question has subsequently been parroted on a few occasions, I'm not sure why, by Mrs.5000.  The answer is: no.  I'm the blog's author.  I can't also be the blog's Dork.  It would be a total conflict of interest.  Say what you like about IAT, but we run a tight ethical ship.

Remember: the deadline for all DorkFest submissions is

12:30 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time on 10 Brumaire CCXXI 
(Thursday, November 1, 2012)

Meanwhile, and having nothing to do with Dorkfest...

The week before last, I posted a list of old classical vinyl albums I had bought at the Friends of the Multnomah Public Library Booksale for a dollar apiece.

Here's a list of old classical vinyl albums I subsequently picked up for 50 cents apiece at half-price day

Beethoven: Piano Concerto #5 (Emperor) – New York Philharmonic, Bruno Walter. Rudolf Serkin, piano (1942)

Dukas: “La Peri” & Roussel: Symphony #3 – New York Philharmonic, Pierre Boulez (1976)

“The Glorious Sound of Brass; Renaissance and Baroque Masterpieces” – The Philadelphia Brass Ensemble (1967)

Handel, “Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day.” New York Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein (1961)

“History of Spanish Music, Volume XV: The Songbook of the Duke of Calabria” – Madrid Madrigal Quartet (1974)

“The Philadelphia Orchestra Plays Victor Herbert” – Eugene Ormandy, conductor (1959)

“Ukranian Songs” – Eugenia Zareska, Mezzo-soprano (1960 or so)

Veracini, Nine Sonatas for Violin and Basso Continuo – Double album! (1980)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round 1: Daumier v. G. David!

Honoré Daumier
1808 - 1879


Gerard David
c.1455 - 1523


Vote for the artist of your choice!  Votes go in the comments.  Commentary and links to additional work are welcome.  Polls open for at least one month past posting.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Element of the Month: Gallium!

October's Element of the Month:


Atomic Mass: 69.723 amu
Melting Point: 29.7646 °C
Boiling Point: 2204 °C

Gallium is the lowest-numbered element that you don’t know a damned thing about. Well, except maybe Beryllium and Vanadium. Check it out: Element #26, Iron. Element #27, Cobalt. Element #28, Nickel. Element #29, Copper. Element #30, Zinc. Element #31, Gallium. On the periodic table, Gallium is the gateway to the unknown; there will still be a few familiar landmarks in the 30s (Arsenic), 40s (Silver), and 50s (Tin, Iodine), but they are scattered among all sorts of other esoteric Elements that you would never have heard of if you were not such an avid IAT enthusiast.

If I’m wrong, and you do know a damned thing about Gallium, you probably know it mostly for its curious physical properties. For instance, check out its melting point. Low, ain’t it! 29.7646 °C! That means that it is probably solid at room temperature, assuming that your room has good climate control. It melts in your hands, though, and certainly in your mouth, although the later experiment is not particularly recommended. Also, it is one of only a very few substances that increases in size as it freezes. In the case of water, this peculiar property makes life possible on our planet; but in the case of Gallium, it’s not such a big deal. It does, however, make it a bad idea to pour liquid Gallium into a rigid container and then leave it to set. Like ice cube trays, a Gallium container needs a little “give.”

The Centerfold!

Gallium is not without a certain appeal.

It seems like almost every metallic element we talk about is used in alloys with steel and other structural materials to add strength and durability. But since Gallium has the melting point of butter, it’s obviously not going to see much application in high-performance jet engines. It also reacts easily with both alkalis and acids, another excellent reason to keep it out of your alloys. It is so reactive, in fact, that it doesn’t exist in a pure or even a very concentrated form in nature. There’s a scattering of molecules here, there, and everywhere, but no nuggets, veins, or seams of the stuff; they all would have reacted away in the dim geological past. When humans want some, they are usually able to isolate it by sifting diligently through the leavings of aluminum smelting. A few of its compounds are handy as filaments in LEDs (or whatever – I don’t know if the glowy bit in an LED is technically a "filament"), and also in some esoteric way in the manufacture of certain kinds of electronic components. It is not, shall we say, one of the strategic minerals that people get all worked up about.

The endlessly clever Mendeleev looked hard at his spreadsheet of the elements and predicted that there ought to be another substance kind of like aluminum in the world, and it was only four years later that the also very clever Paul-Emile Lecoq de Boisbaudran was able to produce the stuff. Lecoq de Boisbaudran would go on to discover Samarium, Dysprosium, and Europium, but Gallium would always be special to him; not only was it his first element, but its discovery was an important early confirmation of Mendeleev’s whole setup. He named it Gallium to honor France (Gaul) or very possibly just to honor himself: Gallus is Latin for “rooster,” which is English for “(le) coq.” Personally, I feel that Boisbaudranium would also be a good elemental name, and hereby refer it to the IUPAC/IUPAP Transfermium Working Group for consideration next time a new fakey element comes down the pike.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Play-In Artist SubTournament: Phase 1, Flight 4

Phase One Rules:
  1. You may cast votes for up to four artists.  
    • One vote per artist per person.
  2. Since play-in artists were nominated by your peers in the IAT community, including myself, courteous and affirmative voting is in order
    • Which is to say, no baggin' on the aesthetic sensibilities of the nominators.
  3. Full rules, procedures, and anticipated timeline for the Play-In SubTournament are available on the Play-In SubTournament page, if I've gotten around to updating it with the recent revelations.  (I haven't, yet.)

Phase 1, Flight 2 closes Sunday, October 28.
Phase 1, Flight 3 will be open for voting for about one more month.
Flight 4 will be open for approximately two months.

Sharon Johnstone
date of birth unknown -- contemporary

Elsa Mora
b. 1971
Cuban; works in U.S.

Ansel Adams
1902 - 1984

M.C. Escher

German; worked in France

Stephanie Pui-Mun Law
1976 -

Robert Smithson
1938 - 1973

Damian Michaels
date of birth unknown -- contemporary

Vote for up to fours artists! Votes go in the comments. Commentary and links to additional work are welcome. This poll will be open for approximately two months past posting.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

DorkFest 2012: Questions and Answers

As the almost (but alas, not quite) palpable excitement of DorkFest spreads throughout the IAT community, we should pause to examine the state of play thus far.

Firstly, I can now announce that 2010-11 Dork and 2011-2012 Acting Dork Morgan has announced his intention to step down and assist in the DorkFest judging, which is in accordance with the great and noble tradition of the festival.

Mind you, 2010-11 Vice-Dork and 2011-2012 Acting Vice-Dork has telegraphed no such intentions, and indeed seems to be throwing down pretty hard in the early going.

Then, I shall endeavor to answer some very dorky questions that have been posted on the original Dorkfest post and its Facebook syndication:

Mrs.5000 asks: Just so we get this clear, does the week end Sunday at midnight, Pacific Time?

Answer: See below.

UnWise Owl asks, in so many words: Can we use the French Republican Calendar, with its ten-day weeks?

Answer: Yes, that sounds both reasonable and very dorky. That would make the deadline for all DorkFest submissions 12:30 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time on 10 Brumaire CCXXI, which is to say Thursday, November 1.

Mm Mud asks: Is it dorky to get excited about DorkFest?

Answer: Yes, very dorky.

Those are all the questions to this point, actually. If you have more, let 'em fly!

St. Luke, Supplemental: Last week, we celebrated St. Luke's Day.  Then this weekend, I happened to be knocking about the Seattle Art Museum and ran into three medieval depictions of the physician-apostle.  Borrowing an electronic device from the blog Shakespearean, who happened to be on the scene, I obtained these images:

None of the three involved painting the Virgin Mary.  All three, though, identified Luke with his symbolic animal.  In this first one, a winged cow hangs out approvingly on his writing desk.

...while in this carving, the cow nestles up companionably underneath the desk.

The third one is the weirdest:

St. Luke, the Minotaur!

Nothing to do with DorkFest, really.  Just wanted to share.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round 2: Cézanne v. Chagall!

Paul Cézanne
1839 - 1906

Didn't have much trouble with Benvenuto Cellini in Round 1.


Marc Chagall
1887 - 1985
Russian-born; worked in France

Defeated Philippe de Champaigne in Round 1.


Vote for the artist of your choice in the comments, or any other way that works for you. Commentary and links to additional work are welcome. Polls open for at least one month past posting.

Monday, October 22, 2012

It's DorkFest 2012!

Somehow -- I'm not sure exactly what happened -- it has become late October.  Worse yet, it has become late October 2012. And because it is October, it is time for DorkFest, the annual celebration of personal dorkiness and the mechanism by which this Blog selects its leading dignitaries, the Dork and the Vice Dork
The IAT Dork (formerly "the L&TM5K Dork") provides a range of ceremonial functions within the IAT community, most of which are fulfilled merely by existing as the Blog Dork. The Dork must also be prepared to take on occasional practical tasks, such as picking a random number, making an arbitrary choice between two options, and so on.  In recent years, the Dork has also occasionally pointed out broken links, brazen mistruths, and problems of that nature, although heaven knows that's not required. During one's tenure as Dork, one is expected always to act in a dorky manner befitting the high intellectual and moral standards of the IAT readership and the larger dork community.
The IAT Vice-Dork (formerly "the L&TM5K Vice-Dork") must stand ready to assume all the responsibilities of the L&TM5K Dork in the event of the Dork's incapacitation, decapitation, or defenestration. The Vice-Dork may also be asked to pitch in with the practical tasks as well. During one's tenure as Vice-Dork, one is expected always to seethe in resentment of the Dork, who is clearly not nearly as qualified for the position and is not doing nearly as good a job as one would have done oneself.
The Illustrious Past
In 2007-2008, g served as Dork, and FingerstotheBone as Vice-Dork

In 2008-2009, Rex Parker served as Dork, and Rebel as Vice-Dork

In 2009-2010, Eversaved served as Dork, and Jenners as Vice-Dork

In 2010-2011, Morgan served as Dork, and nichim as Vice-Dork

In 2011, I forgot all about it, and I suppose Morgan and nichim continued on as Acting Dork and Acting Vice-Dork
By the bylaws of the blog, a sitting Dork is not eligible to run again for the year immediately after his tenure.  Due to the curious circumstances of the past year, however, everyone (except me, of course) is eligible to enter.

New This Year!  If you are for whatever reason hesitant to apply for the positions of Dork & Vice-Dork, but would like to nominate yourself for some other honorary or functional role in the IAT community, knock yourself out.

The Application Process

For the remainder of the week, we will be accepting submissions of evidence.  Entrants should endeavor to provide evidence that they are dorky enough to fill the role of Dork with zest, aplomb, and a greater or lesser degree of occasional social awkwardness. There are three entry formats available:

DorkFest Standard Entry: The classic form of entry is to mention a dorky thing or two about oneself in the comments to this post.  This form of entry is quite acceptable.  The strongest standard-entry candidates have generally returned compulsively to the comments in order to disparage other peoples' entries and puff up their own credentials.

The Dork Resume: A resume laying out your training, experience, and special skills in the field of dorkiness may be sent in .doc or .pdf format to InfiniteArtTournament {at} This form of entry has something of an advantage over the standard entry in that it is inherently dorkier.

The Dorky Post: You may make a case for your own dorky qualifications on your own blog, or any other publicly available website. Just don't forget to post a link in the comments, to make sure it gets seen by the committee, and also make sure to really talk up Infinite Art Tournament so that lots of new readers flock to the site.

The Perqs!

By traditional, the newly-appointed Dork is awarded the Mr. Shain Memorial $16.40 Starbucks Giftcard.  The Vice-Dork gets nothing, which is a cause of considerable anger and resentment.  It is possible that there may be certificates.

Small Print

Anything you submit to the InfiniteArtTournament address might get posted on the blog.

IAT is not responsible to any damage to reputation, self-esteem, or social "pull" you may incur due to participation in DorkFest '12.

The decisions of the Dork selection process, whatever that turns out to be, are final and irrevocable.

Please do not create your Dork Resume while driving.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round 1: Dali v. Daubigny!

Salvador Dali
1904 - 1989


Charles-François Daubigny
1817 - 1878


Vote for the artist of your choice!  Votes go in the comments.  Commentary and links to additional work are welcome.  Polls open for at least one month past posting.