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November 2000

Thursday 11-30
AOL Instant Messenger      DDR Traffic Signal Male
AOL's Instant Messenger icon looks rather like the East German Ampelmännchen, that "traffic signal male" from the Soviet Zone. East German nostalgia is a business now, from a page of 'Ostalgie' links I discovered the appropriately crude Ost Kultur (link's to the English version) and a cold war Berlin-Ost S- und U-Bahn map. As for the Ampelmännchen, he's all over -- Mondos Arts has an amazing variety of Ampel-stuff available, Christmas cards and lights, even (die Lampenmännchen).

Ever read Larry Niven's Ringworld? If not, you should, it changed my life... Mike's ever-excellent weblog points towards a British Known Space site with a whole section on Pierson's Puppeteers -- has some great imagery, like the Lying Bastard approaching the Ringworld.

Just 'cause I like it, Georgia O'Keeffe's New York Night, from 1929. Use the arrow keys at the bottom to see more of her work.

Sunday 11-26
"Bo" took another trip, back to Vegas. From his travelogue I learn that they've roofed over the old downtown, which I beheld in its original glory in 1971 -- just wasn't the same, when I returned in '87, because of the Golden Nugget's white renovation -- now it's the Fremont Street Experience. See a photo by scrolling to the bottom of Bo's page. (Unlike the frequent diary entries he posts from his mental Cybercabin, his sporadic vacation writings interest me.)
Friday 11-24
It's Buy Nothing Day, but I don't play -- it's one of those ineffectual protests whose only result is making its participants feel virtuous. I find it too confining and the parameters too nebulous -- seems like the adbuster with true zeal wouldn't use any electricity or cable television this Day After Thanksgiving.

The Flying Crowbar, a nuclear ramjet weapons program cancelled in the early 1960s, sounds just like The Lost Missle, a movie I saw once as kid and never forgot -- as it turns out the film was produced at the same time the Pluto project was beginning development at Livermore.

More grim Earth-warming predictions in The New Scientist

Even if global warming is halted within a century, thermal expansion will eventually raise the oceans by between 0.5 and 4 metres.
Big Corporations Alter View of Global Warming -- "Unless..." said the Lorax, "Unless it's too late!" (Actually he didn't say that.)

Excellent Slate article on mattress buying confirms something I've always thought:

The secret to mattress shopping is that the product is basically a commodity. The mattress biz is 99-percent marketing. So just buy the cheapest thing you can stand and be done with it, because they're pretty much all the same.

Tuesday 11-20
Here's a new corporate logo, strangely familiar -- they've just opened a pair of McDonalds hotels in Switzerland.

This weekend I saw the new "You Can Count On Me," along with Björk's "Dancer In The Dark" -- Sundance vs. Cannes Grand Prize winners. Geoff advised how walking out midway's not a bad idea, so at 00:45 I slipped next door to catch all of the bro-sis movie. A subtle disorientation, switching from small-town Washington State then (1964) to small town New York now. This was a more consistent production, not such a relentless bummer -- liked seeing Laura Linney again (she was Mrs. Truman) but Björk's show was so much more compelling I went back yesterday and saw from 00:40 to 01:30. (The overlap in order to catch the musical production in the factory again, "Cvalda" -- reminded me of "Stomp.") Roger Ebert was at this film's first press showing at Cannes, he reports that

After the screening, the auditorium filled with booing and cheering -- so equal in measure that people started booing or cheering at each other.
"Dancer In The Dark" -- one of those love it or hate it deals. After "You Can Count On Me," around the corner to the San Jose Museum of Art for the Chihuly show, which was overwhelming, had to flee, it was just too much, will return later for a further appreciation. (He does fantastic things with glass.)

Monday 11-20
In the USA our states each have an official bird, seal, flower, and tree; and many have some other items designated (like here in California we have a state prehistoric artifact, the chip-stone bear). Canada's provinces do this too, they even have provincial tartans -- this handy chart has all the information. (The plaid graphics look much better full-sized.)

After years of a grinding noise on sporadic very cold mornings, my cable finally fweeped out -- the speedometer's busted. (Odometer still working fine, though.) It's weird not having ready access to that measurement, although after driving the mighty blue Tercel for a decade it's easy to gauge the approximate velocity by the engine's pitch and the gear I'm in.

Friday 11-17
All my life I've heard of the Electoral College, now of course it's in the news. But who goes there, how do you get in, what are the classes like, where's the campus and what sort of degrees do they award? Can't answer the latter questions but you can extract names, addresses, phone numbers and even email addresses of the students (or are they the teachers?) here. (Yes, I know; but so why call it a college?)

There was a story floating around a couple weeks back about a big pig which accompanied a first class passenger (in the cabin) on a USAir flight to Seattle -- this update from the Philadelphia Daily News names names and has a photo of the pair.

Urp! Saw this site on a Sun yesterday and it looks horrible! The default fonts are too slender, they almost disappear into the black background. Have to do a redesign...

Wednesday 11-15
31 people saw a huge UFO one night in '96, up in the Yukon. The report has two great (but dissimilar) images, based on the witnesses' descriptions.
Tuesday 11-14
thebeatles.com is up and running -- seems to be just an elaborate version of their new "1" record's liner notes, so far. (And it's all tarted up with Flash, Java & etc.)

In his new role as advice columnist, Garrison excused a gent's pornographic urges -- now the cyber-jilted wives (and furious daughters!) respond. (scroll down, second letter)


Battle lines are being drawn
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong.

Monday 11-13
Heard a thing on the radio about the .tv domain, how there's a trend to relate its sites to television, like the Germman music video VIVA channel's viva.tv. The domain belongs to a British protectorate out in the Pacific called Tuvalu (rhymes with "tootaloo"). I thought they were talking about Tuva at first, but whhen they never got around to the throat-singing I determined it was somewhere else.

Gut reactions -- scientists discover a second brain in the belly, made of a knot of nerve cells in the digestive tract -- thought to involve around 100 billion cells, more than in the spinal cord. The report's source is this article in the current issue of the German GEO magazine -- might want to feed that URL into the Babelfish translator.

Bald Monday -- excellent idea for retail promotion -- let's hope it catches on.

Saturday 11-11
Eno's having a show at a gallery outside Chapel Hill -- it's there for two more weeks. The exhibition images, which he created with a screensaver program, are available at the web site and they're really beautiful.

Edgar Governo, Historian of Things That Never Were, compiles links to numerous prominent timelines in the movies, TV shows, games and books.

The 8th Dimension Cafe caters to fans of Buckaroo Banzai.

Thursday 11-9
The science and romance of the Predicta legend has been resurrected and continued by Telstar. They manufacture replicas, with modern electronics and color picture tubes -- I want one! Doesnt't say exactly how much, just comparable with the average high-end TV you would find in your local TV store.

The thumbnail links in the psychedelic trucks of Pakistan are javascript and sometimes inoperable; if it's a problem at least parse the /images index.

After the painters have completed their work, the decorators proceed with attaching little chains, reflectors and other accessories. In the front and in the back of a truck colourful chains reach down to the ground. When the vehicle moves they add their characteristic tinkling to the sound of the machine. Some lorries or busses carry on the bumper plates reading "Peace to the Benevolent" or "The Road Is Ours".
This last reminds me of the triumphant title of an old sci-fi novel by the venerable Andre Norton: The Stars Are Ours!

Wednesday 11-8
Managing Software Engineers by Philip Greenspun -- kind of infuriating -- among other worker-hostile practices he favors are longer hours. Don't be put off by the apparent length; the lower half of this large page is letters of reaction.

Acme sells a wide variety of Klein flasks -- they're like a Möbius strip in 3D.

The Weekly Standard slams the Washington Post's terrible editorial page cartoonist, Herblock:

Regular readers of the Post may wonder: Has he always been this bad? A stroll through the new Library of Congress exhibit "Herblock's History" provides the answer. If the 121 cartoons he has donated to the library can be taken as a fair selection, then, yes, he has always been this bad.
(A link to their web site might be appropriate here, but in the cyber-Post illustrations are infrequent and their Editorial section never includes this cartoon.)

Monday 11-6
Been reading the collected Fried Society, a comic from five years back . Sloppy drawing technique, but Chris Kelly has some good material, like the "Dancing Fool" sequence, with its furry abstraction representing Dance in #5: "You... Used... Me!" Well, sure -- of course. Dating Games, Mingle and Puberty are also good -- they're all good.
Friday 11-3
The tone of this page is bound to offend somebody -- it's Jesus' homepage (you can even send Him email!) Speaking of blasphemy, a high school senior in Tennessee got in trouble for his costume -- he and his girlfriend had hoped to win the "best couple" award in the school’s Halloween costume contest by dressing as Jesus and Satan.

An irritatingly unenthusiastic article in The Economist titled A Waste of Space puts down the new International Space Station, but concludes with this rather novel news:

... perhaps the greatest irony is that since George Bush's rash promise to send people to Mars, the cost of doing so has dropped dramatically. The price of a manned landing, based on a radical new mission plan that involves extracting fuel for the return trip from the Martian atmosphere, is currently put at around $30 billion - less than a third of the cost of the space station.

Thursday 11-2
The election:
Just about the time I relent and think voting Green really is the right move I hear the shrub on the radio again and my resolve strengthens -- the objective is to keep him out of power, if at all possible, and it seems a vote for Gore will be the most effective way.

Japanese mystery card, from Glico. It's one of ten (super?) Hero Snack Cards. The production will remind many Americans (of a certain age) of Ultraman. Each shows three images, one large and two small -- the latter are frequently the more peculiar.
Mr Pants (where I got this link) recognizes them, by name.

He also points towards this well-designed Expo 74 site -- this is the one the Journal of Ride Theory's "Time Travelers' Guidebook to the 20th Century World's Fairs" spoke of this way:

The Spokane fair is like the paradox of the Least Interesting Man in the World: if you introduce him at a party as such, people will gather around, fascinated -- but he's still boring.
Nevertheless, after perusing this, I'd like to have visited. Too bad it was so far away...

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