The Tone Troll

Isn’t he a beauty?

Charcoal sketch of an angry-looking troll on some rocks holding up a tuning fork.

This image comes courtesy of Tessa Murphy. I’ve plugged Tessa before for her business, which used to be called Howling Pig. While I loved the name, the business is now Tessa Essentials and more accurately advertises what she does, which is make lovely scented soaps, lotions, and balms. Tessa is taking a Photoshop class and decided to make this charmer. He’s free for anyone to use. Just credit Tessa and give a link to her shop.

Now would also be a great time for anyone to consider starting their holiday shopping early, if that’s your thing. Tessa’s stuff makes great gifts, and she could use the income.

Via John McKay.

The Tone Troll

A Comedy Crush

I went to the taping of Wits last Friday. A couple friends are fans of Neko Case and Kelly Hogan, and they asked us whether we wanted to join them. We said, “Sure.” Case makes good music, even if it isn’t the sort of thing I listen to on my own, and we’d been curious about Wits for a while. In their case, encouraging your audience to live-tweet is great viral marketing.

It was good show. In fact, it was nearly tailored to my interests. The comedy bits were highly surreal, Case and Hogan had some very frank things to say about living in poverty and are funny themselves, there was the appliance guy who chalked everything up to angels, and I got to see a Minnesota public radio audience try to figure out what to do during an Iron Maiden sing-along.

Then there was the comedy guest. Continue reading “A Comedy Crush”

A Comedy Crush

Joking About Rape

Jamie Kilstein shows you how it’s done, at least if your joking about rape is supposed to be funny to anyone who understands that rape isn’t some far off abstraction.

It doesn’t even have to be done with a ton of forethought. Jamie and I joked about this stuff a little while back on Twitter. I don’t remember whether it was the incident he talks about here, or whether he’d just mentioned Rebecca Watson while spelling her last name correctly. Either way, he was sharing some of the most ridiculous tweets, and he remarked on the sheer volume (in both senses of the word).

So I asked him where the pushback fell on a scale of zero to “publicly vegan”. He laughed and responded that it was right around “Don’t want kids in Gaza to die”.

This is why, while my friends think I’m funny, he’s the pro.

But yeah, it doesn’t take great care to make a rape joke (though you can take such care and anyone unclear on the concept probably should). You just have to understand which targets are appropriate. Jamie has that part down cold.

Spoilers: For those of you who need more information before deciding whether to watch the video, most of it is Jamie marveling over internet dumbasses and recounting one particularly brazen bit of street harassment he witnessed. The last part, where he’s reading, relies very much on sarcasm, however. It’s Jamie saying stupid things other people say with the intent that they sound as stupid as they are.

Joking About Rape

What About Love?

JT gave one of the talks that opened Skepticon last night. It was a new version of his “Dear Christian” speech. It addressed numerous arguments that Christians have given him to try to persuade him into faith. One of the ones that resonated with me went something like, “If you admit you would feed that starving child where God does not, you admit that this world is not perfect. You admit that you are better than God.”

(I tweeted the quote above and had an answer waiting for me this morning. Someone tweeted back to me, “God delegates.” If so, he appears to have very poor judgment. Children still starve.)

Near the end of the talk, JT held out his hand literally and metaphorically to Christians with doubts an uncertainties. He said that while God has abandoned the believer, atheists have not. They are welcome to join us.

Then JT took one one more argument. “What about love?”

Continue reading “What About Love?”

What About Love?

Hungry, Hungry Chickadee

Most of the red meat we eat in this house is venison, hunted each fall in northern Minnesota. My husband filled his tag early on the first morning of deer season this year.

Once he did, he had a bunch of friends that will probably disturb some people. The blue jays, gray jays, and magpies all flocked around him, barely able to contain their impatience until he gutted the deer and created a nice little pile of offal to feed them.

The following is a still from a short video my husband took very shortly after gutting the deer. Tucked below the fold for the squeamish. Click on the picture to get to the video.
Continue reading “Hungry, Hungry Chickadee”

Hungry, Hungry Chickadee


Thomas Edison was an ass. These days, companies will lay claim to patents on ideas developed by their employees (and other things, but that’s another story). Edison took it a step further and patented them under his own name.

That problem we have with companies lobbying to have their standards adopted by fiat? Yeah, Edison was in on that action too.

Between the two behaviors, this is why we know Edison’s name so well. He was an inventor, yes, but much of his brilliance was as a business owner.

Nikola Tesla not so much. He’s mostly an icon to geeks. You don’t see Edison in episodes of Sanctuary or conscripted to be a mad genius in movies like The Prestige. Tesla? Oh, yes, and frequently as odd as they come.

The truth is a bit more boring. Tesla was a genius, but not terribly mad. Some synesthesia, a touch of OCD, a bit of a loner, with little time for marketing himself or his ideas. Thus, while his ideas have lived on and played important roles in our lives, Tesla himself has mostly lived on in speculative fiction.

We have an opportunity to fix that. Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal has the details:

Tesla’s laboratory, Wardenclyffe, was built to provide wireless energy for the entire earth. Unfortunately, funding for the project was cut off and in 1917 the Wardenclyffe tower was demolished and the land was sold to a photographic film manufacturer. However, the land, laboratory, and foundation underneath the tower are still there and very recently went up for sale. And right now, a non-profit organization is trying to buy the property and turn it into a Nicola Tesla Museum. [Note: Inman’s post has way more fun pictures than this.]

I want to go to a Tesla Museum in his old laboratory. I want to see where the eccentric genius worked. More importantly, I want history to treat Tesla better than Edison or his other contemporaries did.

If you want the same thing and can chip in a bit, go donate.