Tuesday, November 18, 2014

So, a couple of months ago, I went to a casting call in Cambridge. Someone on Model Mayhem had asked for runway volunteers for an alternative couture show on New Year's Eve. I like runway shows, because I get to wear mad things that I am in no way responsible for storing or dry cleaning afterwards, and I thought it might be a good idea to have something to do on NYE besides watch movies and get the rats drunk.

I went down to the call, which happened to be at a tiny gallery I knew mostly because I passed it every time I walked to the dance studio. It's well-known locally for reeking of weed in the evenings (common) and being the home of a very large, very friendly creature who is either a small bear or a Siberian husky, and who will occasionally try to follow you down Prospect Street, if you look like you might have food or time for ear scratches (less common). I managed to forget my runway heels and had to borrow from another model, but did bring a hoop just for the hell of it, and spun it around a few times.

I did not break anything in the gallery, which I am proud of. I startled myself a bit, actually, when afterwards I realized I had had an entire conversation and moved around the room while sort of absently spinning the hoop around, juggling it from hand to hand. Perhaps I've gotten better at that than I thought.

Time passed. I heard nothing. Usually this means they have forgotten all about me, which means I am not in the pile of applications that made it to the final round of casting. I figured I was probably too short or didn't look like the rest of the girls they wanted, shrugged, and went on with my life.

Unexpectedly, an email popped up from the producer of the show. I would not fit any of the runway samples, but would I be interested in performing? They were running an 18+ burlesque room, and listing that and the circus hooping on my application had apparently gotten their attention. Certainly. There was some back and forth about theme and music choices, and a meeting was scheduled at the gallery's new location, a much bigger place around the corner.

I inquired at the meeting exactly where our venue was, mainly because it affects how naked I can legally be on stage. You can get away with thongs in Cambridge -- and C-strings in Somerville -- but not in Boston proper. Given where our call was and what they were asking for, I had guessed it might be First Night in Central Square, Cambridge, perhaps in the YMCA theater. It's a nice little place with a couple hundred seats, if they open the balcony. There are a few other theaters in the area that would be big enough for a fashion show, and which I know have hosted burlesque and other adult shows before.

I guessed very badly, as it turns out.

We are not in the Cambridge YMCA. We are in the Hynes Convention Center. Our production is an official part of First Night in the City of Boston. We have a grant and everything, albeit a small one. If you're not familiar with the concept of "First Night", it is essentially a gigantic party thrown by the city on New Year's Eve. Boston started it, although I think it goes on elsewhere now as well. It is one of two holidays taken extremely seriously by the actual City of Boston -- that is, the municipal government, as opposed to just the general citizenry -- the other one being Independence Day. Boston shuts down and turns downtown into a giant street fair, with bonus fireworks. The MBTA stops charging fares at about drunk o'clock in the evening and runs several hours late, in the interest of getting a million inebriated people back home without involving cars.

I was assured that the stage at Hynes does have a full light bank with color gels, in an apologetic tone, as if they were sorry that fancier gewgaws were not available. I haven't been told what room we're in, but last year's burlesque was listed as being in a 500-seat theater. I was advised to make sure my number reads well from a distance, as the room would be open and the stage would be visible throughout.

I keep thinking I should not be nearly so sanguine about this. My first thought was, 'oh good, that's on the Green Line, I can take the train right in'.

Saturday, November 15, 2014


Just so's y'all know how my night is going:

I finally found someone who could repair my Wintel machine for a price within my budget ("Would you accept payment in baked goods?"), so Natasha is back in my custody, and charges once again. Since she's been gone, I've been working alternately on an Ubuntu 12 laptop (Maleficent, pictured at left) and a Macbook on loan from Circlet (Nekomata, pictured at right). Maleficent is fine for web browsing and she does technically run the software I use for work -- I switched entirely to using GIMP, Inkscape, Scribus, Neo/Open Office, and Chrome/Chromium specifically so that everything would work the same across all machines, in fact -- but she is elderly and slow, and does not like my graphics tablet. Nekomata works dandy but is a Mac, therefore not my favorite, and also not technically mine, so I daren't touch most of the stuff on the HDD.

Now that I have Natasha back, I have the unenviable task of migrating all of my scattered data back onto the computer I actually use. Maleficent doesn't have much work-related on it, but does have a lot of media dumped on her desktop, because I don't have the faintest fucking clue how to work whatever BitTorrent client may or may not be on the Mac. Most of my big work files are on Nekomata, but Nekomata has somehow gotten the idea that I don't have write access to BlackBox, my 500GB portable drive. Tasha and la mia Maleficenta do, but that isn't a help.

None of them can see each other on the network. I suspect, but probably couldn't prove without taking far too much time at it, that this is because we're not using our normal router. We're on a temporary internet connection, because Dudebro did not pay the cable bill in time. Again. I spent last Friday camping at Tufts and contemplating how unfair it is that 'loss of internet service' is not considered grounds for justifiable homicide in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We will be switching the internet into someone else's name, ideally someone who hasn't had a Comcast account before and is eligible for a year of super-cheap 25Mbit service, and we will not be re-upping all of Dudebro's nine thousand channels of futból, but until then, we're on some sort of temp wifi that stems directly from the (rented. rented! did he not think about this at all?) cable modem, and whose permissions and security settings are not within our control.

Right now I am engaging in the intricate and meaningful Dance of the Swapping Devices, in which I dig through my room to figure out how many jumpdrives I have (a lot. There is even one permanently attached to my house keys, just in case) and where all the HDD cables went, and plug shit in at random until I hit upon a combination that has full access in both directions and a useful amount of free space.

There is also an HDMI cable snaking out of Tasha's port bow. This has nothing to do with the file transfers. I am easily bored by watching progress bars, and she gives me the option to continue one desktop across two monitors, even when one of them is a Panasonic TV. The sound is routed through her internal speakers, because 1) there is some sort of firmware issue common to ASUS machines that causes the audio connector on the on-board HDMI output to fail at handshaking, and it requires faffing about with drivers and the BIOS to fix, and 2) if I used the speakers Jazmin left out here, I'd have to get up to adjust the volume. She's feeding QI Series L to the TV while I work.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Reasons I should not read comments basically anywhere ever

I have a confession to make: I'm starting to really hate the word 'zie'. Sometimes 'xie'. I have begun to twitch whenever I see it.

I have no quarrel with the job it's doing; being a gender-neutral singular pronoun is perfectly respectable work. If you ask me to use 'zie' when I talk about you, I'll do it, because I believe in giving basic respect to all humans. Hell, I'll refer to you in third person, if you want. But I will secretly in the very back of my mind cringe and start to think of you as one of those people who demands Special Snowflake Status just for the sake of getting it. It's a marker. Sort of like there's nothing I find inherently offensive about being Texan, being Christian, or being Republican, but anyone who makes it a point to tell me they are all of these in the same conversation is also implying a lot of other things about their beliefs and politics that make them someone I probably don't really want to talk to.

The reason for this is not that I'm thrown all higgledy-piggledy by running into someone who doesn't fit neatly into the gender binary; unless you are personally trying to get into my pants, I am totally uninvolved with your gender or lack thereof. You are whatever you say you are. More things in Heaven and Earth, etc etc etc.

The reason I twitch is that we already have a perfectly good English word for the thing you want. It's "they". "They" has been used as a third-person singular pronoun for a person who is not known to be either male or female since the 14th century. Shakespeare used it. Are you going to argue with Shakespeare? I'm not leeching off the library right now and can't directly rummage through the OED, but someone has thoughtfully posted all the included citations.

[I feel exactly the same way about every bit of invented gibberish James Joyce ever wrote, for the record. You can make up 90% of the words in your novel if you want to, but if you do that, you are not allowed to get huffy when nobody has any idea what the fuck you're talking about.]

This scorn for using 'they' as a third-person singular pronoun is the fault of the same movement that insisted that one was Not Allowed to split infinitives in English, which is also incidentally wrong. It was based on the fact that one does not split infinitives in Latin. Leaving aside for the moment that whatever scurrilous things Latin gets up to with its grammar are irrelevant to English because English isn't even in the same branch of the Indo-European language family, the reason you don't split infinitives in Latin is because you can't. Infinitives in Latin are all one word. I cannot immediately think of another language in which has two-part infinitives, in fact, and my head is full of languages, so that's saying something.

And don't complain that using 'they' for both singular and plural is confusing. Mainstream English hasn't had a separate singular and plural for the second-person pronoun since 'thou' dropped out of common use in the early 1600s. The more astute among you may notice that this did not cause civilization to fall. Chinese and Japanese barely use pronouns at all, and somehow they manage to keep track of their shit about as well as anyone else on the planet.

If you are a cisperson who is upbraiding other people for not using 'zie' instead of 'they' in generic writing, completely on your own initiative, then you make me my hammer my head on the desk. I am embarrassed to be considered part of your cohort. I curse thee in the name of readability. I hope the day's of your live's are fu'll of superfluou's apostrophe's and; inappropriate semicolon's.

It reminds me of the time I asked some of the Navajo students at NAU how they'd prefer non-Navajo people to refer to them. They said to use the tribe name if I knew, otherwise just don't be derogatory. I asked about 'Native American' vs 'Indian'; they rolled their eyes back so far they were staring at their own cerebral cortices and pointed out that if they gave a shit about it they could have changed the name of the Bureau of Indian Affairs a long time ago.

Christ Almighty, I need to remember never to read comments on anything.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

I don't know if you've ever run into it, but there's a thing on YouTube called the "accent tag". It's a list of vocabulary words and questions that you're supposed to answer on camera in whatever your native accent is, basically to show people on other parts of the planet how you talk. Most of them are pretty ordinary, but occasionally you get a fantastic mashup.

This young lady here popped up when I was searching for "transatlantic accent". She has not actually got one -- it's a specific regionless accent, popular among actors and some of the American upper classes prior to and during WWII -- but she dubbed hers this, as she picked it up accompanying her father on a lot of ocean crossings as a kid.

The word list is really just a collection of shibboleths, and it's very heavily biased towards American regional accents. "Wash" turns into "warsh" in Missouri; "caramel", "New Orleans", "mayonnaise", and "syrup" all have different numbers of syllables in different accents, particularly in most of the Southern ones; "aunt", "roof", "route", and "pecan" have different vowels from north to south; etc etc etc.

The questions are a little more interesting. She's amusingly confused by a lot of them. They're designed to evoke answers whose names are very strongly regionalized, and are also heavily biased towards Americans.

The list:

  1. What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?

    This is an American thing, so far as I know, which is why she has no idea what they're talking about. It's considered a teenage prank. It's also one of the traditional responses to someone who hands out crap candy -- or refuses to humor you at all -- when you're trick-or-treating, which is also an American thing, albeit one we've since exported to anywhere people are willing to dress up funny to get free candy. Depending on where you live, it's called "TPing", "papering" or "(house) wrapping".

  2. What is the bug that when you touch it, it curls into a ball?

    She's correct in that they're asking about wood lice, but the reason the question is on here is that Americans have several different vernacular names for them depending on where you're from. They exist all across the North American continent. We used to find them in the swimming pool from time to time in Phoenix. My father, from New England, called them "pillbugs". My mother, from Missouri/Illinois, used "roly-poly". I'm not sure what the proper regionalism was for Arizona, but I suspect my mother's was the odd term out here, since I was an adult before I realized it wasn't just a sing-song baby-talk name for them. I use "pillbug", and have since before I moved back to Boston; I say the rats have assumed "pillbug-form" when they curl up to sleep with their noses tucked under their bellies to keep their faces warm.

  3. What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?

    There's sort of a good-natured rivalry between "soda" and "pop" among Americans. My mother seems to have picked up the New Englandism "soda" from my father, and so did I; in Arizona, and most places west of the Mississippi, the customary word is "pop". There are a few places in the Deep South where carbonated soft drinks were generically called "coke", but it seems to have died, or at least be dying out, with the generation before mine. "Soft drinks" are also used for the general class, usually in places like restaurants where they need to be distinguished from alcoholic beverages. "Fizzy drink" is a Britishism, and while Americans would know what she was talking about, they would parse it as "fizzy (adjective describing a) drink (noun)", rather than as a set phrase.

  4. What do you call gym shoes?

    Americans use "tennis shoes" and "sneakers". (Technically, "tennis shoes" are specifically the kind with grippy rubber soles in white, which were originally used because black rubber soles marked up the courts. It's been generalized in American English, though.) "Trainers" is a Britishism, and it's probably worth noting that it covers a broader range than "sneakers" or "tennis shoes" does in AmE. "Trainers" to a Brit also covers the light canvas things sometimes called "plimsolls", whereas to an American, those would be "chucks" (short for Chuck Taylors) or "Converse" (one of the most famous brands). "Sneakers" are heavier athletic shoes with padding, like the kind you'd jog in.

  5. What do you say to address a group of people?

    She has no idea what they're getting at here, but does inadvertently answer it anyway when talking about time machines: She uses "you guys" to address a group of people. Americans can get pretty iffy about just using "you" to talk to a lot of people at once, without resolving the ambiguity between the singular and plural uses of the pronoun. There are a bunch of ad hoc constructions in use; "you guys", which she says in a distinctly American accent, is probably the most common. I picked up "y'all" (a contraction of "you all", which is sometimes used in full) from my mother's St Louis, MO, accent, which has a lot of features in common with various Southern accents. You can also use "all y'all," in things like "all y'all are welcome to come to the party with me," to emphasize that the entire group is invited all at once, rather than just extending the invitation to any arbitrary member of that group who cares to take you up on it.

  6. What do you call the kind of spider (or spider-like creature) that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?

    The name I know is "daddy long-legs", and the only thing I've seen it applied to is the cellar spider, otherwise known as the carpenter spider or vibrating spider, for the way they sit and resonate on their little webs. They live pretty much everywhere. Creepy and alien-looking but harmless to humans -- and to the cats, who occasionally used them as toys and snacks. I have a soft spot for them, as they're not harmless to black widow spiders, whom they eat. Black widows are the aggressive douchebags of the spider world, building sloppy webs wherever they want to and biting anything that looks at them funny. They are the spider equivalent of the unwashed redneck sitting on the porch with a shotgun full of rock salt on one knee and a beer on the other, shouting "git offa MAH LAND!", except instead of 'mah land' substitute 'those shoes you inadvertently left on the porch overnight'. The deserts of the southwestern US run a close second to the Outback in terms of how vocal Mother Nature is about wanting you to suffer.

  7. What do you call your grandparents?

    This varies widely throughout the English-speaking world. "Grandma"/"Grandpa" (or regional variants like "Gramma"/"Grampa") is probably the popular one here. There's a vocal minority for "Nan(n)a" and "Non(n)i" and the like, which come from languages like Italian, common among immigrants in the early 20th c. Americans don't really use "Gran" or "Nan"; those are Britishisms.

  8. What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?

    The umbrella term is probably "shopping cart" in the US, although there are other regional names. If you're specifically in a supermarket, it might be a "grocery cart". (Pronounced groSery or groSH'ry, depending on region.) My St Louis born-and-bred grandmother used to call it a "buggy", which is an old fashioned term coined by analogy to "baby buggy", i.e., a slang term for a baby carriage/pram. "Shopping trolley" is distinctly Commonwealth, and if you said it in the US, you'd get some odd looks. A trolley, to an American, is a streetcar or a tram.

  9. What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?

    Well, I call it "kitsune no yomeiri", but that's because I've had a lot of Japanese classes over the years. ("Kitsune no yomeiri" = "the fox-spirit's wedding". The story goes that if it rains while the sun is shining, the kitsune women get to go out and claim their husband of choice.) There are a variety of different folkloric explanations that the question is probably trying to get at, but so far as I know the generic term in English is "sunshower".

  10. What is the thing you change the TV channel with?

    The generic term is "remote control", often shortened to "remote". In very casual parlance, it's sometimes a "channel changer". The odd term I think they're trying to get at here is "clicker", which is almost more of an age test than a regional accent test. "Clicker" comes from the very earliest television remotes, which used tiny hammers to whack tiny chimes to produce ultrasonic tones that told the TV what to do. The only audible noise was a 'click', hence the name. In theory, anyway. I can hear panicky rats (~20kHz) and CRT deflection whine (~25kHz), so it probably would have driven me bonkers.
Her accent is indeed kind of a cheerful chutney of American and British noises, but I would bet that at least one of her parents is from the Midlands somewhere. There are a few places where she pronounces a hard /g/ at the end of an -ing verb, which is a distinctive characteristic of the regional accent. So far as I know, it's strongest Merseyside (listen to any of the Beatles); she's not very sing-song Norfolk-y, and the southern English accents mainly use /n/ for the final diphthong instead. If her father was a ship's captain running a transatlantic route, then somewhere in the general vicinity of Liverpool would do it.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Something which is often overlooked when studying media history is the history of individual pieces -- you can find a history of "silent film" or "Charlie Chaplin's silent films" or "Charlie Chaplin's last silent film", but rarely if ever do you find an investigation of one particular copy of that work. Most media historians I've met don't even know how to do this sort of archaeological excavation of a image. Some A/V engineers I've met have, but they don't; they're more concerned with observing the various tell-tale aberrations and eliminating them from the signal chain. The closest thing I know of would probably be a forensics position of some kind, dedicated to identifying sources and forgery.

Watching the picture -- not the contents of the picture, necessarily, but the raw unprocessed image -- can tell you a lot.

In 1914, a man named Winsor McCay made a short animated film called "Gertie the Dinosaur". It was uploaded to YouTube because of course it was uploaded to YouTube; it's still there, because it's long since passed into the public domain, and hence no one cares. Here it is:

In the early 20th century, dinosaurs were crazy popular. The first reasonable description of a giant fossil bone as belonging to a giant fossil lizard was just before the turn of the 18th century; the earliest citation I can find for the word "paleontology" is from 1822. The first dinosaur discovered in the US was in 1858. That one was found in New Jersey, but a lot of the subsequent successful digs were out in places like Utah, which were still hot, dry, untamed territories at the time. Americans lose their damn minds over this kind of thing, especially if making progress in the field involves ponying up wheelbarrows full of money and hiring a load of unsorted warm bodies to do what amounts to pernickety manual labor. If there are two things of which Americans have always had a massive surfeit, they are ready cash, and a willingness to work other people's fingers to the bone.

The entire idea of dinosaurs immediately became cool as fuck, to the point where several scientists built their entire careers on digging up new dinos before other scientists did. They were the kind of good old-fashioned sociopathic assholes the American public loves best -- they trashed each other in the press, sabotaged one another's efforts, blackmailed their colleagues, got each other fired, the whole nine yards. Many of them had no official credentials (or higher education, for that matter), other than the magical ability to convince investors that they were a genuine dinosaurologist. One of them managed to fabricate an entire dinosaur that didn't exist just to get credit for discovering something new, scientific accuracy be damned. Just picture Gordon Gekko running an archaeological dig and you have the right general idea.

Gertie appears to be an apatosaurus, or something like it. Big, stompy, flat elephant feet, a hefty tail for balance, and a longish neck for eating stuff from higher up on the nearby trees. The spinal ridges look a wee bit odd, but the ideas of "accuracy" and "logic" took a bit of a beating during the Dinosaur Wars, so all in all it's pretty reasonable. McCay took the unusual step of asking actual scientists how dinosaurs would have moved, and from the look of things, he supplemented it with knowledge of elephants and horses.

From the beginning:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I spent six whole hours of my life in Lowell this past weekend. Unless you have some sort of fetish for former industrial mill towns, I don't recommend you ever do this. It's a collection of old, rusted-out hulks being slowly overtaken by a collection of slightly-less-old hulks that haven't quite completely rusted out yet, broken up by a brief section of town that is being restored by a bunch of hipsters to a condition where it appears to be in the process of rusting out, but isn't. I understand there are people who enjoy this, in the same strictly-intellectual way I understand that there are people who enjoy living in the Sonoran desert. I am very much a city mouse, so mainly what it looks like to me is civilization giving up in its senescence, settling into a grayed-out state of minimal survival while it waits to eventually die.

The signs on the Commuter Rail fascinate me. They don't quite match the newer signs on the T. The typeface is subtly different than the one they use now. It matches best to the few signs downtown that were missed the last time anything changed, like the one that says the outbound Red train is 'to Harvard' rather than 'to Alewife'. They've been there for thirty years, at least.

I look at those signs sometimes and I wonder if they were the same ones my parents saw when they lived out here. I checked the CR lines while I was en route -- they have wifi on the train now, although their definition of 'service' when it comes to internet can be as loose as when it comes to bus schedules. When my father stayed out late with his buddies, the train my mother complained so bitterly about him missing was the Commuter Rail line out to Haverhill. And he would have been missing it from North Station. The platform at Porter looks like it may well have been there for forty years, but the subway station was part of the Red Line Extension and wasn't finished until after we left.

I don't think either of them have ever seen the current station at Harvard. There used to be a much smaller station there, when it was the end of the line, which is mainly gone; while they were blasting out the cavern that exists now, there were a couple of temporary station platforms that popped up at various places around Harvard Square. One of the station exits was in front of the Holyoke Center, and given the layout now and the fact that there's still a huge grate in the sidewalk, it's probably ventilation for the offices on the first landing. You can still see the temporary platform, if they leave the work lights on in the tunnel; it's got purple tile in an offset pattern, like in Central Square. They even left the ad poster frames up, although they're empty now.

The city changed a lot over three decades. The main things are the northern end of the Red, and the Big Dig finally being finished. I remember hearing about that when I was a wee little science-obsessed nipper in early grade school. I'm actually a little sad that I missed the elevated expressway through the city -- I know people on the ground loathed it, and the drivers on it weren't too crazy about it either, but I've read too much science-fiction to not be enchanted at the idea of a highway swooping around, high above the surface streets of the city below.

Characteristically, when they finally demolished the supports for the former Central Artery, they made the space into a string of parks. It's very Boston. I was following a treasure hunt on Something Awful Forums once when someone decoded a bunch of clues in a way that suggested the whatzit was buried out here, and naïvely asked if perhaps there were any significant parks in the city? The local goons laughed themselves stupid. The City of Boston proper is something like 15% greenery by area; if you add in the metro area, it's probably closer to 20%. Basically, whenever they find they have a plot of land and no plans for it, they check into filling it with either plants or train tracks, and plants are usually cheaper.

I suppose I'll have to be content with living out by the one section of I-93 that still is an elevated expressway. They're not likely to change it any time soon; several layers of it run directly over Sullivan Square Station in Charlestown, which has not only the subway tracks but also a Commuter Rail right-of-way, and the last el section of the Orange Line runs between the pylons until it dives underground south of Bunker Hill Community College. There's quite a view from the sidewalk outside of Sullivan, with I-93 flying by overhead as you look out over the lower terrain of the West and North End into the high-rises downtown, Charlestown to your left, and the Bunker Hill Bridge just out of sight beyond the station and highway supports to your right.

The Leonard P Zakim Bridge -- which I had to learn from Google Maps, because hand to God I have never heard anyone here call it anything but "the Bunker Hill Bridge" -- is enormously cool to drive through. I know it's just a regular cable-stayed bridge, and I realize that these things exist all over the world, but there's something about being in the middle of the fan of cables, passing under the tower at freeway speeds, that makes it a visually fascinating trip. The lighting is rather theatrical, and makes for a dramatic picture at night.

I am probably just easily amused by the trappings of civilization. Laugh if you want, but sit down for a second and figure out, if this wows me so much, what it must look like in Arizona where I grew up. Phoenix Metro has a population of 6 million, give or take, which is not far off from the population of Greater Boston. It's just spread out incredibly thinly, with the main goal of letting people avoid each other as much as possible.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Dear Facebook:

I do not think you are good at this computering thing.

I have a droidphone. Your app is on it. This is a native Android app whose purpose in life is to send and receive fairly small amounts of ASCII or Unicode text, plus sometimes some tiny-to-medium sized pictures.

I also have an app called SCUMMVM. This is a homebrew project. It purpose in life is to run games. The way it does this is by pretending to be an x86 architecture CPU (it isn't; it's a Qualcomm chip) running MS-DOS (it doesn't; Android has its own operating system) taking input from a PS/2 keyboard (no external keyboard; you can bring up the on-screen buttons if you need them) and a serial mouse (no mouse; it captures motion from the touchscreen and maps it onto a phantom 'touchpad'), and sending output via a set of DOS IRQs (that don't exist) to a SoundBlaster-compatible MIDI instruments table and FM sound chip (which is translated in software and passed to the speaker) and a 640x480x256 VGA video card (which is downscaled to 480x320 for the screen and mapped to the phone's native palette).

Emulation is notorious for being very buggy, and to blow through processor cycles like a bureaucrat trying to get rid of his budget surplus at the end of the fiscal year, because -- as you can see above -- whatever is running the emulator has to pretend to be a whole lot of things it isn't, on top of constantly talking to itself. It is also notoriously crash-prone, as programs tend to assume things about the state of the physical hardware which are not necessarily true if the hardware it's expecting doesn't physically exist.

SCUMMVM just ran flawlessly for the three hours it took me to get through The Castle of Dr Brain. The Facebook app, when it doesn't crash directly to the 'force close' dialog as soon as I tap it, is only capable of animating the loading ring, and then losing the connection. It is so crap that when it is working, I spontaneously lose bars of signal from both the wifi and the cellular gauges in the status bar. I didn't even know that was possible.

In a contest between "I send text and pictures back and forth" and "I am pretending to be all the parts of a completely different computer system in order to coherently run an arbitrary game my owner has fed me from a directory on my SD card", this second thing should not be winning.