austin_dern: Inspired by Krazy Kat, of kourse. (Default)

May 2017

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Our movie was The Red Turtle, seen in the Annex Room. This is their third screening room, the one we didn't know existed, out far past the main theater and even the tiny screening room with the organ. The Annex Room is new, opened just a few months ago we think, using seats salvaged from the State Theater which is being renovated. It was tiny; maybe ten rows, about six seats across. No organ.

The movie, though? [profile] bunny_hugger knew a little about it, that it was a wordless film about a shipwrecked sailor and the turtle he finds on an island. I knew even less, that it was an animated movie [profile] bunny_hugger thought worth seeing. It was beautifully done, precisely animated and with some fantastic choices, particularly in the shifting between color and black-and-white pieces.

The movie has a big scene about a third of the way in, when the sailor confronts the turtle he (justifiably) blames for keeping him trapped on the island. And in that confrontation the movie changes its tone, and upends the way I had expected the story to go. It's a dramatically successful one, I'd say. And it makes for a movie that's overall beautiful and appealing. We were talking about it for a good while afterward and I keep going back thinking about it.

After the movie we did a lot of prowling around photographing the Michigan Theatre and wondering if I'd ever see a movie in the main room. (They'd had a concert that day.) Well, sometime.

Then we went across the street to the Dawn Treader used book store, partly to see if we might come across any of the featured bad books from the I Don't Even Own A Television podcast. I don't think we did, but it's always reassuring to visit there and I did find some science fiction novels that look wonderfully mid-80s mediocre and that I'll get to over the summer or maybe on an airplane flight.

While walking across the University of Michigan campus we noticed a great number of sets of folding chairs. Each had a blue or a yellow label covering it. It wasn't a mass of chairs in one group as they might put out for a public exhibition, it transpired. The labels explained this was an art installation, and that's why there were clusters of from three to ten chairs saturating the lawn. I don't understand the project, but I know that I like stuff which makes it more convenient to rest in town.

We went across the campus to get to Pinball Pete's. It was the Ann Arbor Pinball Pete's where we first saw signs for the Lansing Pinball League, so the place has even more special meaning as the one that launched us into our new lives as popular folks making up the second tier of the state's players. They still had signs for the first season of the Lansing Pinball League. Also some of the flyers for the third season, which Pinball Pete's had made on its own accord. We would spend a good while there, playing quite a few of the games, including ones that we used to ignore such as No Fear or Nascar. Some of that is the taste for novelty. Some of that is the realization we're better off with a little bit of experience on these tables for the odd tournament where they come into play. And some of it is, you know, why not? It's our time, why not play?

After our fill of playing --- including some attempts at geting onto the high score table on their bruised and battered FunHouse, which was repaired some since [profile] bunny_hugger's previous visit --- we thought about dinner in town. But it was Sunday evening and getting on and our best bet would have been the Fleetwood Diner, just enough of a drive or walk to be unappealing. We just went home, instead.

Postscript: outside Pinball Pete's we could see the storefront for Middle Earth, the longtime head shop that closed maybe a year and a half ago. Nobody had opened a new store there, but someone had put seasonal decorations in the window so it didn't look so barren. This past week [profile] bunny_hugger discovered plans by some former employees(?) to open/reopen the shop, in a new location. Brooklyn. Because ... that's just the world we live in, apparently.

Trivia: Britain's 35,000 soldiers, in the time of the American War of Independence, required about 37 tons of food per day. Their 4,000 horses required another 57 tons. Source: An Edible History of Humanity, Tom Standage.

Currently Reading: The History of the Calculus and its Conceptual Development, Carl B Boyer.

PS: Dabbing and the Pythagorean Theorem, a moment's reblog that will probably be my most popular post of the month.


Right, now, where were we before I was interrupted? ... Oh yes, I'd written almost all of this entry and then lost it because it came after the last Time Capsule save. Tch. Ah, right. Had just left The Peaceable Kingdom. We did stop in the coffee shop next door. It was one of many. The Peaceable Kingdom's owner said whatever the building because it would not be another restaurant or coffee shop. We were just there to use the bathroom.

Across the street was one of the few other shops of interest to us. It's Vault of Midnight, the major comic book and gaming shop in town. (And it's a little unsettling to me to realize the Lansing area has a broader variety of comic book shops than has Ann Arbor.) We weren't looking for anything particular which is how I ended up spotting and buying a DC Showcase Presents collection of silver-age Superman comics. I didn't know if this was a wise purchase for me, since I'm trying to read less stuff ironically, but I do so love that era's loopy blend of small-stakes and outsider-logic storytelling.

Also I spotted a book collecting O Soglow's The Little King and some other comics projects. I like Soglow because just look at his art, of course. Not quite enough to buy the book, on the grounds of budget (and this before I had the computer expense! If you know someone needing a little mathematics done please hook us up), but enough to flip through. Also this was amusing because I had that morning noticed on Comics Kingdom a strip with The Little King, one of the most famous mute characters in comics, somehow giving a speech on radio. And I flipped the book open to a strip in which he had to somehow give instructions over the phone. I suppose we're just supposed to take it as convention that he's the only character whose speech balloons we never see, but, you know?

And [profile] bunny_hugger ran across Mysterium, a game that looked compelling. It's a cooperative game. One player is a ghost, trying to give the other players, psychics, visions that will solve its murder. The ghost can communicate only by passing out vision cards, these beautifully painted surreal, dreamlike images. But it was just pricey enough that we thought it wise to wait, and read reviews, and see if the bookstore where she works might get a copy. The reviews confirmed she'd like it, and the bookstore had a copy, and it was seventeen dollars cheaper that way. We've played a few times and enjoyed it so far; we're looking forward to having a proper group to play with.

I believe we had just enough time to poke into Encore Records, beside the parking garage, before the movie. Not that there was time to browse, but that the shop would close right after or soon after the movie ended and five minutes in a record store is better than none. I don't think I picked up anything, but [profile] bunny_hugger did and I'm not sure if we listened to it the next day.

Trivia: Rutgers College's Board of Trustees elected Theodore Frelinghuysen as President in September of 1849. He refused the post, repeatedly, before finally accepting in April 1850. He was inaugurated Commencement Day, the 24th of July, 1850. Source: Rutgers: A Bicentennial History, Richard P McCormick.

Currently Reading: The History of the Calculus and its Conceptual Development, Carl B Boyer. Originally written 1939, and updated 1949, so that's why the author feels like he can pull a sentence like this: ``Pythagorean deduction a priori having met with remarkable success in its field, an attempt (unwarranted, it is now recognized) was made to apply it to the description of the world of events, in which Ionian hylozoistic interpretations a posteriori had made very little headway.''


I believe I've got the important problems with images worked out. And I'll return to posting stuff from Pinburgh later this week, barring surprises. Not today, though. I just don't have the energy to deal with it. I'll keep my postings about mathematics-blog content, though. It does exist as a Dreamwidth feed, and is still available on the LiveJournal feed, and as an RSS feed too. This was a quiet week in the number of articles posted, but one of them was a monster, big and I say important, so I feel satisfied:

So that was the week. As I say, pictures to come.

Meanwhile how about a bit of symmetry? What's Going On In Prince Valiant? February - May 2017 is the most recent post on my humor blog, and it describes the last couple months of action in the time of King Arthur there. Valiant and company are way out of England right now, off tromping around Tibet Or Something. Not to worry, they've found refugees harassed by brigands.

Trivia: In late fall of 1928 long-term loans from the United States to Germany and the rest of the world fell from $1.5 billion per year to just over half a billion per year, the start of the fiscal crisis that would ruin the German democracy. Source: A Nation of Deadbeats: An Uncommon History of America's Financial Disasters, Scott Reynolds Nelson.

Currently Reading: The Number Mysteries: A Mathematical Odyssey Through Everyday Life, Marcus du Sautoy.

And now, today, I have things that much closer to normal. I've found and recovered my music library and my apps, although I'm only partway through synching my iPod Touch up with the new computer. The photo library too, although I've had a startling discovery there.

You might have noticed I take a lot of pictures. Well, I do that. Thing is this has produced an absolutely titanic photo library. Somewhere high of 70,000 pictures and something like 200 Gigabytes. (!) (!!) Which is only a problem because the new computer foregoes a hard drive for a Flash-based drive. It's quieter, faster, and lower-power than the old drives, but it's also smaller. Put 200 Gigabytes of picture on there and there's not room for anything else.

As a practical matter this is tolerable, anyway. I've got my library on the external hard drive. And it's also on the dead MacBook Pro which, for all that it's expired as a usable piece of hardware can still be started up in emergency modes and used to copy data over. I just can't host all my pictures on this as it is.

What's saddening to me about this is I like having my desktop pictures draw from my whole photo library, changing every fifteen minutes or so. It often draws up pictures I had forgotten, or moments I hadn't thought about in years, and that's delightful. And that's not viable now. I could probably set up the external hard drive through the Time Capsule router so I can access it wirelessly, at least when we're home. I've done that before, when I had too little free hard drive space. But it's rickety, and prone to catastrophe when I take the computer away from home.

There must be solutions. I suppose the ideal one would be to draw a set of pictures at random from my library each time I connect to the external hard drive, and put those in a designated picture folder. It wouldn't be ideal, but it would approach what I want. I have no idea how to code this, though. Probably there's some AppleScript brilliance that could communicate it, but I never learned how to script well enough to do that.

It's such a small problem. There wasn't a really good alternative, though. A non-Flash hard drive would be bigger, sure, but they didn't have one available unless I put several hundred more dollars into the thing. I feel bad that I'm not half a week into owning a new computer, though, and find something about it I'd rather was different. All in all, I'd rather my old computer not have suddenly gone and died on me.

Trivia: To instruct the Apollo Abort Guidance System computer that the Lunar Module had touched down on the Moon an astronaut wrote into memory cell number 413 (octal notation) the value 1. (The Abort Guidance System interface was direct memory manipulation.) Source: The Apollo Guidance Computer: Architecture And Operation, Frank O'Brien.

Currently Reading: The Number Mysteries: A Mathematical Odyssey Through Everyday Life, Marcus du Sautoy.

My computer arrived! Defying expectations it got in about 3 pm, instead of the 5 pm I expected. And I had time to start the setup. The biggest challenge of the setup was getting my Time Capsule password reset. At some point I changed it from the default I'd had when I was on my PowerBook G4, to something I guess more secure. It's surely something logged in the Keychain on my dead MacBook, where if there's a way to get it out I don't know. (I wonder now if I could have found a way.) Anyway, with physical access to the Time Capsule I was able to reset the password and get my stuff restored from it. This was a lot of waiting, some of which I was able to do out at Trivia Night in a restaurant near Flint with our pinball friend MWS and his family. (We won first prize again, cementing our undeserved reputation as the ringers.)

Not perfectly, at least. Not yet. There's a bunch of programs that I had gotten at one point or other and carried over from computer to computer and whose origin is now a bit of a mystery. There's other programs whose origins I know: they're on CD-ROM or DVD-ROMs. This will be exciting since the mid-2015 MacBook Pro I have is one of those that doesn't have an optical drive. I have a viable workaround for that, in that I can use my PowerBook G4 to make a disk image of the DVD-ROMs and store that on a portable hard drive I got for backup emergencies like this. It's stupid but for something I only need to do once (well, in one stretch), stupid is fine.

A bigger issue is that I had turned off Time Capsule backups on my photo and music libraries, probably because those took so long to recover. So I've had to go into single-user mode on the dead MacBook --- and that's still working fine --- and mount my portable hard drive to copy stuff over. This is also clumsy and a little stupid, but it's workable at least. Does mean I probably won't be ready to resume posting images from Pinburgh or the latter until after Sunday. Sorry. (In case you or a loved one has a similar problem though, here's instructions on booting a Mac into single-user mode and mounting a USB stick or external hard drive and copying what you need over. Hope you don't need it.)

And there's setting stuff up. A lot of setting stuff up. Most of my preferences didn't make the transfer over and so I'm going around fiddling with fonts and window widths and whether I want stuff to scroll like this or like that. It's exciting fun, certainly. And it's a good chance to rethink the stuff I'd been doing without thought for five years. But on the whole I'd rather not have had to deal with it.

Trivia: At the launch of a Saturn V the Apollo Guidance Computer began running Program 11. In the event that the Instrument Unit failed to guide the rocket stack correctly the crew could enter Verb 46, a command which would make the commander's Rotational Hand Controller joystick give instructions to the main engine rocket gimbals. This would allow for manual steering of the rocket into orbit. Source: The Apollo Guidance Computer: Architecture And Operation, Frank O'Brien. (It would be all but impossible to steer the Saturn V by hand well enough to allow a lunar landing mission to continue. This would allow for the Earth-orbiting contingency mission, the second-saddest consolation prize possible to an Apollo mission.)

Currently Reading: The Number Mysteries: A Mathematical Odyssey Through Everyday Life, Marcus du Sautoy.

PS: Happy wedding day [profile] chefmongoose and lovely bride! Best of luck to you.

No pictures right now. While I'm getting my new computer up and running, it isn't there yet. And while maybe I could post some pre-2012 pictures and caption those I'm not at all sure I can successfully upload pictures to Dreamwidth so don't want to deal with that. I'll have more pictures sometime later. Meanwhile, this was on my humor blog this week, despite the fiasco.

Also, you know what? Let me post this here before the postscript. I wrote a heck of a big post for my mathematics blog and it gets into some real physics and diff eq and all that.

Everything Interesting There Is To Say About Springs. You might learn stuff here!

Trivia: In a Saturn V's Mode II abort the Apollo Service Module main engine lifts the Apollo capsule away from the second- and third-stages to get clear. Then on separation from the Service Module the Command Module rolls heads-up, to a full-life entry attitude. (The capsule's shape and mass configuration let it generate some lift.) Source: The Apollo Guidance Computer: Architecture And Operation, Frank O'Brien.

Currently Reading: The Number Mysteries: A Mathematical Odyssey Through Everyday Life, Marcus du Sautoy.


If I'd been about a half-hour faster to ordering I might have my new laptop today, and then I'd be able to continue my report from Ann Arbor. Too bad. I'm also not sure what I'm going to do for Thursday and pictures since I don't have more Pinburgh photos loaded and ready to go. Shall see.

Well, this is a small thing but it's done at least. Our basement steps have been getting less reliable, and back in fall the bottommost step snapped off one of its sides. My father recommended we get this sort of metal flange thing to shore up the steps from the bottom and then maybe paint the steps so they look fresh and new. With how distracted we always are and how the bottom step could be temporarily fixed by setting a pair of bricks underneath that kind of slid until a couple weeks ago, to [profile] bunny_hugger's only occasionally voiced anxiety.

What finally did happen was I got enough gumption to go looking for self-drilling screws for the flange thingy. And that led me to discover these six-inch deck screws that drive themselves in and looked quite promising for affixing steps to the side supports, which I also learned are called stringers. And with that I was ready to go! Except it turned out I needed a bit to go from the power screwdriver to fit the hexagonally-shaped screw heads. All right.

I also learned that all the steps had these flanges beneath them. The bottom step had seen all the screws sheared off, probably by long use. While listening to the highly recommended by [profile] bunny_hugger podcast S-Town I drilled in new screws for that, and found the step already felt a lot more stable again. With the deck screws in the side the bottom step felt solid, like it could never be shaken loose again.

So I went back to Home Depot and got more deck screws, as some of the other steps were starting to feel a little wobbly. And drilled them in right up until the power screwdriver was too weak to do it anymore. Then a several day pause as I tried to find the battery charger for the power screwdriver. It turned out to in the laundry cabinet drawer next to the dryer. Must remember this for future incidents.

But the good news: after a lot of time worrying that we would have to tear out the whole basement stairway and replace it with a new unit, we do not have to tear out the whole basement stairway and replace it with a new unit. The steps feel sound enough to jump on. It's a good start to the summer home-repair season. I'm hoping to crack open one, maybe two more of the painted-shut windows for it.

Trivia: Two minutes into a Saturn V launch the automatic abort circuitry is turned off. The first-to-second-stage staging would be violent enough to risk triggering an unnecessary abort. Source: The Apollo Guidance Computer: Architecture And Operation, Frank O'Brien.

Currently Reading: The Number Mysteries: A Mathematical Odyssey Through Everyday Life, Marcus du Sautoy.

I hadn't taken my old PowerBook G4 out of storage since July 2015 when my computer first got its logic board replaced for the defect that ultimately killed it. What have I learned about the Internet working on a computer that's basically frozen in 2011?

First, and this isn't really the Internet's fault, but the shift keys stick a lot. I concede I've been getting sloppy in my typing, since it's so easy to go back and redo a word rather than slow down and do the words right in the first place. But my shift keys were getting really gummy and I do not like the feel one bit. And the glancing blow I'd like to give the keys is only about half the intensity the keys demand.

Second, apparently back then we were still on Firefox 3. They've since got the thing up to Firefox Like 280. I know that's because they figure every little change ought to be a new version number but still.

Third, that the Internet is slow. Half of that is that every web site has a security certificate that none of my surviving web browsers can read because they're too out of date. Half of that is that every site has gotten so interactive that your old-fashioned web browser can't think fast enough to handle it all. Ajax and its compatriots can do lovely things in making a web site respond as if magic, but if a browser is too primitive for its designs then it's hopeless.

Fourth, I remember like one out of every five passwords to sites I use and I can't figure how to let DeviantArt even get to a login screen. If I have one.

Fifth, Apple changed its trackpad thing from where sliding your fingers up makes the document scroll down to the other way around, or vice-versa, and I have got so used to this change that I am not doing well at all changing back, and if the new computer doesn't arrive I'm going to have to give up and just stop scrolling altogether.

Sixth, as bad as web sites are with never quite finishing loading and then jumping you back to the top of the page and jumping all the content to somewhere else altogether? They're way worse about it on Firefox 3 and Safari 5. I don't remember these browsers being so hard to use back then.

I'm so hoping the new computer is in soon.

Trivia: In a mode 1-Bravo abort, triggered after 42 seconds into flight but before the Saturn rocket had reached 100,000 feet, the Apollo Command Module would be flipped over to the right orientation for splashing down by a combination of canards on the escape rocket and firing of the Reaction control system rockets. Source: The Apollo Guidance Computer: Architecture And Operation, Frank O'Brien.

Currently Reading: Heat And Thermodynamics: A Historical Perspective, Christopher J T Lewis.

So I was working on reading the AV Club during work hours when my computer screen started to glitch. It did some of those blurry and split-screen style effects you get when a computer is dying, and then went to a beige hotel-carpet pattern. That's got my day a little messed up.

The Mac service place up the street, who replaced my battery a few months ago, diagnosed it as a bad logic board. The guy told me that had I got in before the end of 2016 I would have been covered under the Repair Extension Program as this is a known issue for my model MacBook Pro. Had I got in as recently as two weeks ago they might have been able to get parts from Apple and a code for authorizing the repair under coverage. But now --- the best they could do was tell me who to call and to hope that Apple even had logic boards for a computer I'd had since 2011 or maybe 2012.

They didn't, and so I had to buy a new computer. I pulled my PowerBook G4 out of storage where it'd been since July of 2015 when I had my MacBook Pro in for servicing for ... we're pretty sure it was another logic board replacement. Anyway, I found a refurbished MacBook Pro that seems to be good enough and tried to order it and found I couldn't remember my Apple ID. It wouldn't send me a password reset either.

Which is why I ended up on the phone talking to someone at Apple Master Command to authorize the purchase of a new computer. And my credit card was declined as Discover Master Command suspected suspicious activity. They sent me an e-mail to ask if I approved these purchases, and it didn't actually list any purchases in the e-mail. Mercifully I could log in to their site and see that yes, they suspected the thing I wanted to do. We proceeded.

So if all goes well come Thursday I'll have a brand-new mid-2015-vintage MacBook Pro and will be trying to figure how to set everything up to working again. Meanwhile I'll be trying my deceased computer to try getting passwords for stuff like the Time Capsule off of it before the hardware dies altogether, which may have already happened. Fun.

Trivia: In a Mode 1-Alpha abort, triggered through the first 42 seconds of flight, an Apollo Command Module would be flipped over into the right orientation by canards, small aerosurfaces emerging from the escape rocket. The module's thrusters would be too weak to turn the capsule as needed in the time available. Source: The Apollo Guidance Computer: Architecture And Operation, Frank O'Brien.

Currently Reading: Heat And Thermodynamics: A Historical Perspective, Christopher J T Lewis.

Be one of us

May. 15th, 2017 12:10 am
austin_dern: Inspired by Krazy Kat, of kourse. (Default)

Had another average week on my mathematics blog, despite my plans for one piece getting interrupted by the power outage, so if you didn't see it on your RSS feed here's your second chance:

We didn't just spend all Sunday at Pinburgh looking at odd pinball games and weird performances. We also looked at old arcade and console games. For example:


Ancient console system playing what I guess is Pong maybe? I love how 1978 it all looks.


This is what every modern game console looks like to me. Well, they're having fun.


For the era that's an impressive shot of Generic Stadium. Also but heck that's a disheartening score for the ATLs. I mean, that's the kind of score you don't see since the Tripartite Agreement.


Person with a rather good costume chatting with an Imperial Stormtrooper. You would totally believe she's a little girl!


View of one of Pittsburgh's many bridges outside the side windows. I saw this a bunch of times because there was a vending machine with cheaper Diet Pepsi in it, most of the time, than any of the in-venue dealers offered.

Trivia: In 730 the Venerable Bede set out to prove the spring equinox did not, as commonly supposed, happen the 25th of March. Though a year of observation with his sundial he found the spring equinox of 731 did not happen on the same day as the year before, indicating the estimate of the year of 365 and a quarter days was not quite right. Source: The Calendar: The 5000-Year Struggle to Align the Clock and the Heavens --- and What Happened to the Missing Ten Days, David Ewing Duncan.

Currently Reading: Heat And Thermodynamics: A Historical Perspective, Christopher J T Lewis.

Just because everything changes out from under us doesn't mean we have to change what we don't like, of course. We maintained an Ann Arbor visit tradition by going to Ashley's for lunch, and for Stilton cheese fries, and if we took maybe more photos than we normally do it's not because we're trying to ward off the shocking news that the place is closing. We just want to be ready in case.

Then we went down to Main Street, the spot of The Peaceable Kingdom, and a part of town we'd slipped out of the habit of visiting because, well, there weren't so many shops of interest in the area. We did pass a street musician opposite the closing shop playing the Beatles' ``In My Life'' and getting the words just wrong enough to fret [profile] bunny_hugger. Also, considering the location, that's pretty on-the-nose. Cheap symbolism, reality; you could do better. We also discovered that around the block of The Peaceable Kingdom was a door still bearing the shop name Kresge. We'd never known it was there. I haven't seen a Kresge building since the last time I was in Schenectady. It makes for a neat little discovery.

The Peaceable Kingdom looked about like it always had, in my annual-or-so visits. They still had the gallery of art pieces on the main wall, and smaller, more affordable things on the aisles. Lots of cards. [profile] bunny_hugger stocked up on several. Between Middle Earth, which closed a couple years ago, and The Peaceable Kingdom now, we're running short on places to buy higher-quality and more exotic cards. On the bright side, we haven't needed so many cards since my fight with a Big Name Furry Celebrity cost us a bunch of friends at once. Sometimes life balances things out.

The one major concession to The Peaceable Kingdom's closing was that the place had a book of memories and an invitation for people to write theirs in. The cashier was warning people the place was shutting down in about a month, and encouraging people to write about what they had done, but the book didn't have much in it. I didn't feel I knew anything relevant to write. I did buy some postcards showing the place. At least one of them was commissioned for the shop's closing.

The center of the shop, and the thing that appealed ever to the young [profile] bunny_hugger, was the ``Cheap Thrills''. Plastic and rubber toys, some of them as cheap as a nickel, in a huge array of bins and given handmade, often cartoony, signs. Junk? Okay, so it's junk. If you're a kid, though, your imagination will be caught by a 50-cent tiny rubber Eiffel Tower or the like. We may not have examined something from every bin, but it came close. And in the end, [profile] bunny_hugger bought one of the rubber mice, made from the same mould (but painted differently) as one she had got in the shop decades ago.

A little thing around Ann Arbor are Fairy Doors. They're, well, small doors, to suggest tiny people going about their business without notice in town. The Peaceable Kingdom has one. I hadn't noticed it on previous visits but knew to look for it now. They didn't just have a door, though. They had a whole interior, laid out to look like a general goods shop. Some of the Cheap Thrills they sold are used there, where they look like full-size decorations. I discovered that they don't just have a fairy door in the entry way, but also a little window on the inside from which you can see the fairy-shop from another angle. And that there was another such window on the opposite side of the main door.

As we were readying to leave, a couple people nearby notice the door. We tipped them off that there was a scene to look at inside the door, and a window inside that they could look through too, and another window on the opposite side of the main door. They had no idea, and were delighted. And that was what we could leave The Peaceable Kingdom on.

Trivia: Of the 192,000 registered inmates of workhouses in England and Wales in 1889, some 54,000 were under sixteen. Source: Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the 19th Century to Modern Times, Lucy Lethbridge.

Currently Reading: Heat And Thermodynamics: A Historical Perspective, Christopher J T Lewis.


So while we were romping over Dallas and having a local pinball tournament some striking stuff happened in Ann Arbor. As part of the town's ongoing extreme gentrification, and the ageing out and retiring of the Baby Boomer generation that opened so many iconic Ann Arbor businesses, another iconic Ann Arbor business declared it was closing up. This one: The Peaceable Kingdom, a shop that's part art gallery and part collectible and knicknack shop, with cards and with a huge table of ``cheap thrills'' of stuff that, like, kids could afford. [profile] bunny_hugger has been going there her whole life.

The owner decided the shop wasn't getting enough foot traffic anymore; that whole strip of main street has lost the diverse set of small shops, as their locations have been bought up and the places converted to, it seems, an unending series of restaurants and coffee shops. Peculiarly, considering, the shop owner doesn't have to pay rents; she owns the building the shop was in. When I last heard there wasn't news about what would take The Peaceable Kingdom's place, except that she was determined it not be another restaurant.

But this moved us to change our plans from ``get to Ann Arbor some weekend, it's been forever'' to ``get to Ann Arbor this weekend, everything is closing and ending and the world is about to expire''. Maybe not quite that dire, but it did provoke us to go then, rather than sometime.

It also inspired us to think of the Michigan Theatre and see if they might be showing something on the main screen. I still haven't been to a show in the main, classic movie-palace, screen there; I'd just gotten to showings in the minor screening room. They had something we found interesting, the animated Red Turtle, but that would not be in the main hall; there was a concert going on which got that space. Nor would it be in the screening room: it would be in another secondary screening space, the Annex Room, which we didn't even know existed. That's because it didn't exist until recently. The State Theater, Ann Arbor's other classic old-style sidewalk theater, has been under renovations for a few months and will be for a few more. To provide some space for the lost shows, the Michigan's opened this second minor screening room, with the slight seating made up of chairs taken out of the State. We don't know if it'll be kept around after the State is back in business. Stuff keeps changing.

Trivia: In the 1760s George Washington introduced to the Virginia colonial legislature a bill to halt the transportation of slaves into the state. Source: The First American Army: The Untold Story of George Washington and the Men Behind America's First Fight for Freedom, Bruce Chadwick.

Currently Reading: Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-40, William R Trotter.


Didn't miss a day on my humor blog again, despite temptations. If it's not on your Dreamwidth Friends Page, or your RSS feed, then here's what you could see now:

Here's some more puttering around Anthrocon In The Off Season:


The experience of everyone playing Nascar: play Nascar or just sit impassively waiting for the thing to finish? I'm being too hard on it; there's some fun stuff on the game. We just always played savagely hard tables. In front of it, the Gottlieb mid-80s game Car Hop that's entirely based on roller skates and short skirts.


The classic arcade video game section was overseen by Car Dealership Santa.


So when I saw this Journey arcade I thought it was a refitted thing where some obscure early-80s game got the faces of the band imposed on whatever the original sprites were. Not so: the original game included digitized pictures of the band, with the objective being to reunite them with their instruments. Well, would you think that was legit if you encountered it in the field today? Especially with the digitized heads of the band on sprite-cartoon bodies?


Game console section, seen from a low angle so all the laser lights on the ceiling show. Also I show off my love for weird shadow and light play.


Small UFO serving the game consoles.

Trivia: Jay Ward's last TV pilot was a show, Fang, the Wonder (?) Dog, conceptually a Lassie spoof. Source: The Moose That Roared: The Story of Jay Ward, Bill Scott, a Flying Squirrel, and a Talking Moose, Keith Scott.

Currently Reading: Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-40, William R Trotter.

PS: Excuses, But Classed Up Some instead of another Why Stuff Can Orbit post.

And one more stray bit of business from March Hare Madness. One of [profile] bunny_hugger's friends from the bookstore, who'd had a job at the local cinema, donated to the cause of door prizes. This was a bunch of promotional movie posters. Most were in pretty good shape. Some looked appealing at first but then we realized they were for the Independence Day sequel. It added a nice bonus to what could be given away.

One of the posters was the advertising card for La La Land, and when he heard about this ADM declared he had to have it. This didn't strike us as the kind of movie he cared much about. That's what happens when you know a guy so much from one context you forget he has others. The movie is his girlfriend's favorite, and their first (or one of their first) dates was going to it.

The La La Land poster was among a couple of the largest, heaviest-stock prizes, so were going to be given out to the finalists, champion taking first pick, #2 second pick and so on. ADM figured he was a lock to be one of the finalists, surely, but to be safe asked the other likely-finalists to leave the poster for him. Easy enough to arrange. He wasn't one of the finalists, to everyone's surprise, his included. But he went on to deal-making anyway, offering to trade for it. He had a Game Of Thrones pinball backglass, for example, that he could offer. (He wouldn't accept assurances that we'd be happy to just give him the poster as a gesture of friendship.)

So, when we finally had the tournament done, CST came in first and didn't want or need another pinball backglass. So he picked some other poster. That left me picking, pro forma, the La La Land poster and discovering that it wasn't on the table downstairs where we'd left it. We panicked that the one door prize that someone specifically wanted had been stolen. A text to ADM confirmed he had taken it home, so, that was settled. The next time we saw ADM he had the backglass, rolled up in a poster tube, for us.

He had, we understand, framed the poster with the movie tickets from their date, and gave it to her on one of those new-relationship small anniversaries. Must say, that's well-done.

Trivia: An 1848 estimate counted some 233 boiler explosions in American river steamboats between 1816 and 1848, resulting in 2,563 deaths. 1838 alone witnessed 14 explosions causing 496 deaths. Source: The Railway Journey: The Industrialization of Time and Space in the 19th Century, Wolfgang Schivelbusch.

Currently Reading: Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-40, William R Trotter.

Oh, yes, right, the side tournament. I didn't have space to fit it in with the main discussion. The goal was a trio of closest-to-the-pin scores. We chose to do three closest-to-the-pin games, after the success of using Medieval Madness in such a format last year.

We picked three tables. Attack From Mars, which is basically the same game as Medieval Madness. Indiana Jones. Tales of the Arabian Nights. We thought they were the strongest picks for a game where there's skill in not letting your score run away. Attack From Mars has one strategy that builds scores rapidly, shooting the flying saucer. It's easy to go way past the score, though. Indiana Jones and Tales of the Arabian Nights are bonus-heavy games; you can easily score half your points on the bonus alone. The rules prohibit tilting your game (even by accident; that voids the attempt), but dropping your ball is fine ... if you've got a good sense of when your score plus your bonus will carry you close to but below the threshold.

Many people tried putting a couple scores up. I meant to, but never had the chance: I was staying alive in the main tournament. GRV, one of the state's all-time greats and a surprise early exit from the contest, put up solid scores on each of the games, coming shockingly close to the target score. I worried that people would give up, sure they wouldn't be able to match. But MWS, somehow finding the time, kept at it, and he and GRV began trading off the best scores.

And then MWS pulled it out: he got closest to the pin on all three games, thanks in part to a decision to go upstairs, to Tales of the Arabian Nights, and make one last attempt to get it in. So, he claimed all three of the prizes. That would be two coupons to the Klassic Arcade in Gobles, which is a tiny town in the outskirts of Kalamazoo, in the southwestern part of the lower peninsula, and a gift card to Schuler's, a bookstore with outlets in Lansing in the center of the lower peninsula, Grand Rapids on the west side, and Ann Arbor, in the lower east side. MWS is from Flint, in the center-northeast. Well, he gets to Lansing and to Grand Rapids often enough, and Ann Arbor sometimes. Kalamazoo, he was in last month. That's something.

So when we went to the Fleetwood diner, we weren't just celebrating my second-place finish. We were also celebrating his triple win in the closest-to-the-pin contests.

Trivia: The smallest plot of land buyable from the public domain in the (Old) Northwest was a half-section, 320 acres, in 1800. In 1804 this was reduced to a quarter-section, 160 acres, and in 1820 to a half-quarter section, 80 acres, at $1.25 per acre. Source: Measuring America: How the United States was Shaped by the Greatest Land Sale In History, Andro Linklater.

Currently Reading: Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-40, William R Trotter.

PS: How April 2017 Treated My Mathematics Blog, as I could hardly forget to talk about myself, could I?

Starting off March Hare Madness with [profile] bunny_hugger the first person knocked out was awful. It's demoralizing for her, of course, and it's none too good for me. I couldn't even offer much comfort: I was still in the running, and had to play games. Some of the games would be easy enough, relatively, to beat the minimum score, but I play worse when distressed and I got scared I was headed for elimination too. I floated just past it, though, several games in a row.

Her being knocked out right away had some good side. The main benefit is Amazing Race tournaments really need traffic control, and now she had nothing to do but tell people where they should go, and what scores they had to beat. I could step in and help and log scores and the like, of course, as could CST and MWS. But she didn't have anything to pull her away from tournament management.

There'd be surprises. GRV, who's been one of the state's top players for just ever, and who's already all but sewn up an invite to state finals for next year, was the fourth person eliminated. WVL, organizer of the Lansing Pinball League, would be knocked out on Medieval Madness, a game he has trouble not breaking fifty million points on. I was worried about that game myself; nobody had put up a particularly low score on it. The game lends itself to arbitrarily huge scores, if you keep control: just shoot the castle, in the far middle section of the table. Just catch the ball as it's returned to you, aim, and shoot. Sounds simple? It is, if you don't get to thinking about how if you bobble things the ball might go anywhere and you're gonna lose it. I'm able to keep my cool, though, and get past the unexpectedly tight gateway there.

The biggest surprise: after Iron Man, the last game on the lower level, there are four players left. The last four players go on to head-to-head play, for the finals. (The International Flipper Pinball Association requires some head-to-head play for a contest to earn rating points.) It's a rare finals appearance for me. It's possible I'll take back home one of the trophies [profile] bunny_hugger made.

The finals are three rounds of four-player games, scored by the Professional and Amateur Pinball Association rules. (Each match, the top scorer earns four points; second earns two; third earns three; last earns nothing.) The quartet: me, CST, MWS, and a Lansing league regulars, DC. The randomly-drawn first game: Lord of the Rings, upstairs where nobody's touched it since game testing.

Sometimes, in this sort of thing, you have a good ball. Sometimes it's a great ball. Sometimes it's an oppressively good ball. I put up an astounding performance, starting up all four of the game's normal multiballs and even starting the ``Destroy The Ring'' wizard mode. I don't finish it, but who cares? I've got a first-place finish and that against two people who can routinely clean my clock.

I forget what the second game was. It was similarly good for me, though. I go into the third and final game in an ideal position, sure to get a trophy. And the random number generator is most kind: it picks Austin Powers. CST and I are the only people in Lansing league who ever play it voluntarily; we've learned its important shots. We're all but certain to finish first and second, and given the way things go. As it is, the only possible way I won't get second is if MWS finishes first and I finish last.

So MWS finishes first and I finish last. I could not get anything together, which is a problem, since there's one really good shot in the game (the left ramp, for Fat Bastard Multiball) and one mediocre shot (up the center, for the Time Machine Multiball), and MWS has them and I don't. I'm not knocked into third place, though. We're tied, and so go to a one-game playoff that, to my amazement, I win. I get second place.

CST, taking home first place, offers to trade trophies with me. Why? Because the first-place trophy is the only one that has a picture of our lost Stephen on it. But [profile] bunny_hugger's goal in putting the picture of Stephen on it was to share his appearance with other people. And I'd feel dishonest about the record in ways I don't like to swap trophies this way. (I do like minor fibs in the record --- it's why I'll sign the wrong date if I have the chance --- but not this.) No; this was a gift of the view of our rabbit for CST. He remarked that now he had multiple souvenirs of other people's dead pets. I forget what the other was.

Afterwards [profile] bunny_hugger, MWS, and I went to eat at the Fleetwood diner in Lansing. It's the place that she and I, with her parents and brother, went that awful last full day of Stephen's life, after we got home from the airport. It had been a lousy meal, occupied with thoughts of whether our rabbit would be alive in a day. This was a much better meal, and after the memorial tournament to him. It resonated, closing the misery of that day. At the least, the Fleetwood in Lansing was no longer ruined for us.

Trivia: A mistaken report of the German surrender set off wild jubilation in New York City the 27th of April, 1945. Source: 1945: The War That Never Ended, Gregor Dallas.

Currently Reading: Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-40, William R Trotter.

Be one of us

May. 8th, 2017 12:10 am
austin_dern: Inspired by Krazy Kat, of kourse. (Default)

Spot of news for anyone who's missed what [profile] chefmongoose has been up to: he's been getting married. And this week had one of the people-getting-married nightmares: their wedding hadn't actually been booked and the venue wasn't available. On the old site he's got a slightly fuller explanation. The problem is it's way more expensive. Friends set up a GoFundMe, if you think you can do something to help a friend, or a friend-of-a-friend. Thanks.

So here's last week in my mathematics blog:

Some more puttering around at Pinburgh, on our free day.


I never knew what the deal here was, but these guys did look like they belonged there, and hey, The Motion Picture is my favorite of the Star Trek set, and I have altogether too vivid memories of Fangface for my health. Wouldn't this poster make for an incredible crossover fanfic? Don't look up Rickety Rocket.


Oh yeah, hey, Attack From The Back. What an Attack From Mars looks like from the platform high atop for reverse-game playing. It's amazing how fantastically wrong a game looks when you play from the reverse end, by the way. Just so creepy wrong.


One of a couple of free-standing posters in the hall: Did You Know that Mortal Kombat character Noob Saibot draws his name from designer Ed Boon and programmer John Tobias? Also that Ed Boon was the voice of FunHouse talking head Rudy? [profile] bunny_hugger sure did.


The playfield for electromechanical pinball game Blue Chip, presenting a fantastic vision of an impossible world in which the most financially important businesses are those which make steel, cars, refine chemicals, make pharmaceuticals, transport people and goods, and so on.


More evidence of [profile] bunny_hugger playing abnormally tall, and Python Anghelo-designed, game Big Guns. She recently put up the grand champion on another Big Guns at a barcade that just opened in Lansing, on her first game.

Trivia: In the European Theater during World War II British Army troops were ordinary withdrawn from the front line after twelve days of fighting. Many American units remained for sixty days. Source: The World Within War: America's Combat Experience In World War II, Gerald F Linderman.

Currently Reading: The Container Principle: How A Box Changes The Way We Think, Alexander Klose. Translator Charles Marcrum II.

We waddled in, with boxes of trophies and door prizes and cards and everything, to our hipster bar and found, mercifully, no disasters at the venue. I think there was just MWS puttering around testing the games again to see what was working. We'd gone through every game a few days before listed every serious play problem any game had. He asked what we had done to the games before understanding this was a serious pre-tournament inspection. On our inspection tour --- during a show, it happened, as that was when we were able to make it --- we also posted flyers for the event on every vertical surface in the bar.

There were a few machine glitches. Ghostbusters had a weird one: the left flipper would drop a tiny bit slow, compared to the right, when you get go of the button. We had enough games in the venue --- 24 of them! --- to do without. But to live is to live ironically: the lockdown bar had not been closed last time it was serviced. So we would be able to slide the glass cover off and free a stuck ball, something we can never do there. If we were going to play it. The lockdown bar would remain un-locked for a couple of weeks. I forgot to check last time were there to see if it was still merely a suggestion. It was still dropping the left flipper slower than the right.

We would start the course as we had last year, with Junk Yard, a mid-90s Williams table. And we'd make the course order, simple as before: move to the next table on the left. The venue's got so many tables now that they're split up, into four separate areas, and we had to set rules for which area was next. So we went posting index cards saying where to move when out of games in one area, and when to go upstairs. It turned out we didn't need to go upstairs, which says something amazing about how many games there are in just half the venue. Although we did our best to take the cards down after the tournament was over, we missed one of the ones upstairs which said where to go downstairs for the next game if needed. Last week it was still there and I'm curious if it'll ever be found by responsible parties. Or if anyone even notices it; it's on the Austin Powers backglass and that's already a visually busy, jumbled thing. It's easy to lose a game in it.

[profile] bunny_hugger worried about how many people would show up, given that it was a weekday tournament not in the comfortable hammock between Christmas and New Year's. And given the worry that the Amazing Race format would turn people off. And that some people did say they couldn't come, while many others never did more than commit to ``Interested'' on Facebook. Despite all these fears, people did turn out. 13 altogether, as many as we could have before the first round would eliminate the two lowest scorers. (Eliminating multiple people allows the tournament to finish faster; our hope was to get the main event done within three hours, and we just about hit it.)

The start! Junk Yard. Fun game with a classically 90s weird theme where you're building inventions to ... escape a junkyard ... and chase the owner down in space ... and you're guided by an angel and a devil and ... I don't know. It's fun, I promise. Everyone who's a Lansing League regular has played it and knows the basics and can expect around five million points or so, most days. Ten million points on a good day. Ten million points on a single ball on a really good day. [profile] bunny_hugger surprises herself, and me, by not quite cracking two million points, a terrible performance that puts her in the bottom, to be eliminated.

But. The loser of the first match is allowed to buy a second chance. She puts another five into the funds, and just has to beat the second-lowest score to carry on as if that didn't happen. (The second-lowest person would continue too.) We realize we haven't been keeping close track of every score: people who'd beat the lowest score went on without necessarily waiting for a tournament official to lot their score. But, if you break two million on this game, you can break 2.5 million, surely close enough.

Except she doesn't.

She has an even worse Junk Yard score, knocking her out as the first loser, and first eliminated, in her own tournament, held in honor of her own heart-rabbit.

Trivia: In the 15th century Bordeaux moved the earliest date foreign merchants could ship the year's wine from 11th of November to the 25th of December. French King Louis XI switched it to the 30th of November. Source: Gold and Spices: The Rise of Commerce in the Middle Ages, Jean Favier.

Currently Reading: The Container Principle: How A Box Changes The Way We Think, Alexander Klose. Translator Charles Marcrum II.

Two weeks after the Women's World Championship and the PinMasters tournament was ... another tournament. One of our own: [profile] bunny_hugger's second March Hare Madness. The stars aligned nicely for this one, as March had a fifth Wednesday --- meaning a week when neither Grand Rapids nor Lansing pinball leagues would be playing, giving us a slightly hungrier player pool --- and her school had off Thursday and Friday for no really clear reason. This used to be a two-day break at the end of term, and they moved it to the end of March, three weeks after Spring Break, for reasons that I suppose they have.

It would have new meaning this year. Our pet rabbit died the week before the last tournament, Silver Balls. This time we could be prepared. The poster would feature his gorgeous body, and the proceeds would go, rather than to the Capital Area Human Society, instead to the Rabbit and Small Animal Rescue of Westland. They're the agency from which [profile] bunny_hugger got Stephen.

Last year's March Hare Madness was done as an Amazing Race format and this raised planning questions, specifically: do it the same way, or try a different format? In favor of doing things the same way is that this is how you build traditions. In favor of a different format was some concern that people don't like the Amazing Race format. The basic Amazing Race format is, everyone plays a table. The person with the lowest score is knocked out. Everyone else goes on to the next table. What's good about it is that it's easy to pick up. It means everybody sticks around in groups near the current wave of tables, so they can hang out and socialize. It means once you've beaten the threshold score you can walk off the rest of the game, and walking-off a game is the best feeling in pinball.

What's bad about it is, first, if you have the lowest score so far you're stuck on a table watching for someone else to bomb worse than you did. It's a vulture-y sort of gameplay. Second, it really needs someone to traffic-manage because. Someone impatient will chance that their score will beat someone and then start playing ``provisional'' games on the next couple tables, games that count only if they turn out not to be knocked out. Someone else has to track that indeterminate state of the games. You can pay for a whole game --- a dollar on some of the new tables --- and play only part of your first ball. Emotionally fine if you have to beat a challenging enough score, but a waste if it turns out the threshold is something you can get by plunging without being unlucky. And, someone comes to the tournament, pays their money, and gets knocked out first round.

Despite suggestion/warnings that maybe a different format would be more popular, [profile] bunny_hugger chose the Amazing Race and I think it was wise to. I like having varied tournament formats and this is one of the few that isn't head-to-head play.

Also up for debate: the side tournament and how to run it. This would be a triple closest-to-the-pin contest: get as close as possible to a target score on several games, without going over. By making it three tables we could have up to three winners, and hopefully treble the side-contest entry fees. This meant we had to get prizes for all three tables. We had thought we had, in previous events, won or gotten three day passes to the Klassic Arcade in Gobles, in western Michigan. It's a fine spot with a good number of tables and the closest provider of Moxie Cola I know of; we just haven't had the chance to get there and use them. And it's cheap, so the prizes would be attractive but not too much for the side tournament's junior status. But we could only find two of them, so made up the difference with a gift card for Schuler's. Schuler's is a small local bookstore chain, with outlets in Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Ann Arbor, at least one of which would be near whoever won it. It was won by the guy from Flint, which is an hour away from the nearest of those. Well, you act on your estimate of what's most likely to happen.

And there'd be more. Several friends planned on bringing door prizes. [profile] bunny_hugger refitted several of GRV's donated old trophies to fit the theme, including hare figures got from Michael's and, for the first place, a head shot of Stephen. It looked just fine.

Trivia: At least one cameraman waiting for the arrival of the Hindenburg that 6th of May, 1937, grew tired of waiting for the ship and left early. Source: The American Newsreel 1911-1967, Raymond Fielding. (I concede this sounds like an urban legend cameramen would share about missing the big one.)

Currently Reading: The Container Principle: How A Box Changes The Way We Think, Alexander Klose. Translator Charles Marcrum II.

Happy actual doctorversary, love, since I got it wrong two days ago.

Another week without missing a day on my humor blog! It's there as a Dreamwidth feed, if you want to follow that, and also on RSS. Run in the past week have been:

Back to Pinburgh, and Sunday, a chance for a lot of wandering around and not doing anything particular.


Backglass for Gottlieb's 1966 Mayfair, an electromechanical game that hoped to piggyback on how the kids could not get enough of My Fair Lady. The game was also released in a version that gave extra balls instead of replays, named Hyde Park.


Merch tables! Besides admiring the pinball and video game machines you could buy stuff for your pinball and video game machines. Or other nerd-culture stuff. I don't know that these folks were actually selling their Hi-C stock or if that was just so they had something to keep them going.


Backglass for Gottlieb's 1967 Super Score, the pinball-themed game that avoids being an infinite recursion. But you know they were thinking about it. Mostly I admire the cleverness of the score reels. The four-player version loses that, in favor of another level of recursion.


``How am I supposed to let people know we're making this game in 1978?'' Williams's Disco Fever is one of two released games made with these curved ``banana'' flippers, which hold and fling the ball kind of like jai alai paddles. The flipper feeling is weird, but I think a good weird, and I think it's a shame more games haven't tried them. You get a different kind of control to the shooting.


Attack From The Back! [profile] bunny_hugger delights in one of the modded pinball games, an Attack From Mars played with flippers hooked up to the top. She's still irked that she had a slightly better-than-average game on it. The strangest thing about playing the game this way: trying to nudge the machine even though when you'd want to the ball is hopelessly far away from you, closer to the fulcrum of your nudge, so your efforts are inherently futile.


Mortal Kombat ripoff named Tattoo Assassins that caught my eye with its wonderfully goofy character biographies. The game, based on a concept about magic living tattoo ink (from the screenwriter for Back To The Future), never went into production and it's not clear how many of the prototypes still exist. The Professional and Amateur Pinball Association is believed to have two of them, so this might be legit. Anyway. Read everything you can about it, because it's one of those fiascos that just keeps giving. Not sure? The game has a Nancy Kerrigan expy. Also Hanna, who was ``a world class strip club dancer until a deranged killer'' and I'm sorry but what is the precise skill which differentiates a world-class strip club dancer from the merely very good strip club dancer? Plus they seem to have invented animalities and actually done nudalities. And that's not even counting the 90s Cyber stuff and the stuff that would be racist if it weren't so goofy and probably really is racist in that ``what, were we supposed to think?'' 80s-movie style.

Trivia: The word ``stamina'' is first recorded in a letter Jonathan Swift wrote to Irish dramatist Richard B Sheridan: ``I indeed think her stamina could not last much longer, when I saw she could take no nourishment''. Source: Semantic Antics: How and Why Words Change Meaning, Sol Steinmetz.

Currently Reading: The Boulanger Affair Reconsidered: Royalism, Boulangism, and the Origins of the Radial Right in France, William D Irvine.

PS: Why Stuff Can Orbit, Part 8: Introducing Stability, getting back into the swing of this series.