Links to Things

A sad wombat-related moment.

I’ve been unable to write much recently. I’m even behind on the comics. Exhaustion seems to be the problem; I come home in the evenings and can’t focus on anything much.

It’s been a while since I even did one of these links posts… but I do have a few links, so just to keep the blog going, here they are:

  • Apparently the Pre-Raphaelites were really into wombats. I recently read some doggerrel Dante Gabriel Rossetti had written about his wombat, and assumed it was some kind of parody. But no—Rossetti loved wombats. Here, from the website of the National Library of Australia, is a history of Pre-Raphaelite wombats:

    Much later, in 1857, by which time he was a national celebrity, Rossetti was commissioned to decorate the vaulted ceiling, upper walls and windows of the library of the Oxford Union. He mustered a large group of helpers, including his new Oxford undergraduate friends, the future artists Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris, as well as the artists Roddam Spencer Stanhope, Arthur Hughes and John Hungerford Pollen. Recalling the hugely enjoyable experience of working in the Oxford Union, another artist—helper Val Prinsep—recalled: ‘Rossetti was the planet around which we revolved, we copied his way of speaking. All beautiful women were “stunners” with us. Wombats were the most beautiful of God’s creatures.’

  • Dante Gabriel Rossetti liked wombats; Honoré de Balzac liked coffee. A lot. He described its effects in a delightfully crazy essay called “The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee”:

    Finally, I have discovered a horrible, rather brutal method that I recommend only to men of excessive vigor, men with thick black hair and skin covered with liver spots, men with big square hands and legs shaped like bowling pins. It is a question of using finely pulverized, dense coffee, cold and anhydrous, consumed on an empty stomach. This coffee falls into your stomach, a sack whose velvety interior is lined with tapestries of suckers and papillae. The coffee finds nothing else in the sack, and so it attacks these delicate and voluptuous linings; it acts like a food and demands digestive juices; it wrings and twists the stomach for these juices, appealing as a pythoness appeals to her god; it brutalizes these beautiful stomach linings as a wagon master abuses ponies; the plexus becomes inflamed; sparks shoot all the way up to the brain.

    He also observes:

    Many people claim coffee inspires them, but, as everybody knows, coffee only makes boring people even more boring.

    I think Starbucks should put that on their cups.

    Apparently Balzac died of caffiene poisoning; until I read the introduction to the essay I hadn’t realized that was possible.

  • At The Hooded Utilitarian, Ng Suat Tong reviews one of the saddest comics I’ve ever read: Tony Millionaire’s Sock Monkey Volume 3 Number 2.

  • Finally here’s a review of Farmville, an online game which I had never previously heard of, mostly because I don’t spend any time on Facebook but also because I really am completely out of it. Farmville sounds completely appalling:

    We are obligated to examine what we are doing, whether we are updating our Facebook status or playing Call of Duty, because the results of those actions will ultimately be our burden, for better or for worse. We must learn above all to distinguish between the better and the worse. Citizens must educate themselves in the use of sociable applications, such as Wikipedia, Skype, and Facebook, and learn how they can better use them to forward their best interests. And we must learn to differentiate sociable applications from sociopathic applications: applications that use people’s sociability to control those people, and to satisfy their owners’ needs.

    “Sociopathic application” sounds ridiculously melodramatic, but the author makes a good case for the term.