Rash weblog banner


March 2000

Friday 3-31
Alex A place called "Bubblegun (Where popular culture goes to die)" has a page of Twenty Things you didn't know about "A Clockwork Orange" (with a tasty Nadsat glossary sidebar). Where it suggests the possibility of the Rolling Stones as droogs I've also heard "girls in miniskirts."

Courtesy my yob, the "Air Traffic Control System Command Center", a real-time 'conus' map showing the status of the traffic at major airports, explained by this email fragment:

The ATCSCC public web page: http://fly.faa.gov is now up and running! This is our first attempt at taking the Traffic Management Initiative information from around the country and putting it into plain english so that the air traveler can get general delay information.
Bring it up before you leave, and click your aerodromes to check.

Slate posted a diary this week from food writer Jim Leff - he's got a site called www.chowhound.com which I've just begun to explore; the navigation's great so just dig in at the Quisp page.

Thursday 3-30
More about the decay of copyright in the digital age -- Scott Rosenberg echoes my own sentiments in Salon today about how musical performers are being affected in this MP3 - Napster era:
In popular music, the notion of a class of professional songwriters and musicians who might support themselves -- and just maybe get rich -- through their music is not much more than a century old. New technologies -- first sheet music, then radio and the phonograph -- made pop-music professionalism possible.

When steam power drove the hand-loom weavers of pre-Victorian Britain out of business, they took to smashing machines under the banner of mythical "General Ludd" (I've heard they sometimes used a more cavalier nom de guerre, "Captain Swing"); today's recording artists, fearful of being similarly economically displaced, have taken their Luddism into the legal system, and are attempting to smash the new music machines with lawsuits.

Rather than insist that the way the music world does business today is the only way imaginable, it behooves artists to take a longer and more imaginative view. It's not as if the status quo has served them so well. Today a popular recording artist is basically a participant in a lottery, rigged by the music conglomerates, with a tiny likelihood of winning a vast fortune and overwhelmingly more likely odds of achieving only obscurity and peanuts in royalties.

Red Rock Eater deconstruction of the "Al Gore said he invented the Internet" lie, and why it's propagated in the media "echo chamber." (More information on the subject in this month's cover story at the Washington Monthly.)

From The Nation, an article by Tom Hayden regarding the growing LAPD "Rampart" corruption scandal, etc:

Some 30,000 SWAT teams around the country are central to the emerging paramilitary culture in the law-enforcement establishment, a shadow police state for ghetto and barrio youth that would never be accepted in white suburbs.
The cover story is "Shopping Till We Drop," about how unchanged Cold War economic policies doom the current American prosperity.

Will the "Battlefield Earth" movie contain sophisticated subliminal messages encouraging its viewers to join L. Ron's Church of Dianetics? A central source for associated controversy, skepticism and general tale-tellin' might be www.factnet.org.

At the end of this short Time interview, Jonathon Winters discusses his Poppa Smurf voice-work.

Wednesday 3-29
Courtesy Sam Smith's Progressive Review, a site called Convential Wisdom - "Selected Quotations Illustrating the Illusions of Popular History"

Had the pleasure of being in Canada when "Blame Canada" won the Oscar Best Song. I despise "South Park," so had naturally never actually heard this "tune" before, although I was aware of its existence. Only caught a bit of the broadcast - I feel no obligation to watch, unlike many the film aficionado; and I stay well away from anything associated with the loathsome Billy Crystal; but I did tune in for a couple minutes - Warren Beatty was droning on, I switched off almost immediately. The next morning, Mork's rendition of "Blame Canada" was unavoidable - they played the entire segment on BCTV's "Vancouver Today," where the morning team found it amusing -- one thought they were singing "Air Canada" -- and again on the radio in a restaurant, I was forced to listen a little later. The next day it was front-page news in The Globe and Mail.

Fourth long-weekend reconnoiter of Vancouver, this time extending my sphere of exploration across False Creek to Vanier Park where the Vancouver Museum is, and beyond, to the trendy Kitslano neighborhood; and over to the 'Camperland' district, where I acquired the ultimate in all-weather Gore-Tex windbreakers at Taiga - rip=stop nylon, velcro and zippers everwhere, even the armpits. A main objective of the trip was the City Lights: Neon in Vancouver show, at the Museum, but a bonus attraction was another fascinating exhibit there called "All About Blue: The Colour that Changed the World."

Thursday 3-23
Deconstructing Suburbia -- the Adbusters interview with James Kunstler, author of The Geography of Nowhere.
There are very few people in the United States who don’t realize auto use is out of hand to some extent. Even the people who love suburbia complain about traffic. They just think we need to build more highways and parking lots.

As a civilization, we’re no more special in the eyes of God than the Romans or the Spanish in the 15th Century or the British in the 18th Century or the Aztecs or any other once-great civilization. This idea that Americans in the 20th century are the apex of human development is very childish. We’re a childish and wicked people who deserve to be punished.


The "Phasor Pain And Shock Field" unit sold by this source for security devices sounds remarkably like the ultrasonic machine the bad guys used in Inspector Imanishi Investigates, a book I read and rather liked, unlike this reviewer. They also feature transformers to electrify garbage cans, gardens, fences, door knobs, electronic equipment, jewelry boxes, gun cabinets, floor mats, vaults and safes -- even airborne objects. What airborne objects?

Yucks a-plenty with the Afrosquad of Planet Groovy.

Tuesday 3-21
Lucid, enlightening article about copyright and censorship in something called Open Spaces Quarterly - sometimes the text gets kinda dense; it's by a law professor.
The primary purpose of copyright is not, as many people believe, to protect authors against those who would steal the fruits of their labor. However, this misconception, repeated so often that it has become accepted among the public as true, poses serious dangers to the core purpose that copyright law is designed to serve.

The core purpose of copyright law is not difficult to find; it is stated expressly in the Constitution. Article I, section 8, clause 8 of the United States Constitution provides that Congress shall have the power: "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

This fundamental misunderstanding is perpetuated by the stern FBI warnings at the beginning of video tapes, by overly broad assertions of the rights in the copyright notices, and by the general lack of public discourse about the balance required in copyright law if copyright is to fulfill its constitutionally mandated goal of promoting knowledge and learning.

What I find so annoying is how that "limited time" grew from 14 years, with a possible renewal; to the creator's life plus fifty years, in 1978; to now, where the latest extension (set in 1998) is the life of the author plus seventy years. At this rate nothin'll ever get into public domain again.

Monday 3-20
Saw "Mission to Mars" and thought it a fine example of a realistic space movie, true science fiction worthy of the Martian genre. Reasons why the mainstream media are trashing the film remain obscure; from their consensus I was going to avoid it but fortunately read this dissenting view in Salon called A Nerd's Rhapsody. (I think the critics' reaction is partially because the film's derivative, but for me that was part of the fun -- it's a mix of What We Know Now with the occasional homage to What We Used To Believe.)

Friday 3-17
Several years ago in LA, I noticed this big weird vehicle parked just off Ventura Blvd, during a weekend foray up into The Valley. Its prow had GM letters in the font I recognized from the façade of the Futurama, in photographs from the 1939 World's Fair. I went back to take its picture, wondering what it was - at last, the mystery revealed, courtesy Mike's "Larkfarm" weblog -- it's one of the surviving Futurliners from the General Motors Parade of Progress!

The hajj is winding down - Eid Mubark! I've been searching on "webcam" and "Mecca" hoping to locate one pointed at the Kaaba for a live image like this, but no luck so far. For a flavor of what's going on over there I've been following the daily hajj columns at Arabia.on.line, where you can find stories, for example, about the eatery options at a mall named the Mecca Commercial Housing Center -- Fast food big hit in Mecca:

Mainly US fast food restaurants in the holy city thrive during the pilgrimage or hajj season when nearly two million Muslims from 100 countries flock to Makkah.

Pilgrims in seamless white robes queue outside counters of household names like McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Baskin Robbins to grab a bite or an ice cream during a break from worshipping.

Other articles describe the world's largest slaughterhouse (for the ritual sacrifices) and security measures to prevent stampedes. I hear that Brother Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam plans to take his hajj next year; that should trigger a lot of Western media attention - I wonder how much will be permitted? For a view into the complexities of the faith check the Determination of Salat Times for the mathematics of Islamic prayer timings - scroll down to see some lovely graphs.

Martian Dust Devils - sounds like a good name for a rock band or sports team.

Wednesday 3-15
Know the colored ribbons people wear and some put on web pages? Courtesy Pigs & Fishes, a site which compiles all of them, with links to their campaign sites. Of note: the neon green against leechers and lamers, the chrome to keep idiots off the net, and the Frames Free ribbon - I think that last one's gray, like its page's refreshingly retro Netscape 1/Mosaic background.

Speaking of leechers, and ham-handed efforts at controlling new media by old governments, Katz tackles copyright in cyberspace, voicing my own opinions concerning the so-called "theft" of streams of bits:

It's disingenuous to use terms like "theft" and "piracy," ancient notions of law and property, in the 21st century. They have little contemporary meaning in cyberspace. The fact is anyone who writes or designs on the Web understands immediately that culture can't be copyrighted online. There are too many ways to transmit and the linkage the Web has spawned presents too many distribution channels and opportunities to patrol.

Latest dance craze from Japan: called "para-para", it sounds rather like calisthenics to me.

Monday 3-13
Lindsay points towards this National Institue for Discovery Science summary of the UFO sighting over Illinois on the night of Jan 4-5; and John Pike's Mystery Aircraft site whose Exotic Propulsion Aircraft section refers to a December 24 1990 Aviation Week article, confirming its existence - I read it then, but was unable to relocate it later, making me wonder if I'd been seeing things. Supposedly, at higher velocities, the whole exterior of the "flying pumpkin seed" becomes its engine.

Good Salon today: the top story concerns realities in the Netherlands:

It's tempting to wonder whether features of Dutch drug policy - decriminalization of use combined with rehabilitation - could work in America. Detractors point out that America's Puritan heritage makes it unlikely, an argument that, if it ever made sense, becomes steadily less compelling as the U.S. goes global, multiethnic and multicultural.

Consider the Dutch: like Americans, they're always ready to "raise the finger" and preach; their roots are in Calvinism, a Puritanical form of Protestantism. Ask the Dutch what country theirs most resembles and the overwhelming response is America.

Reading a J. Bottum article about decadence, irony and music in the Atlantic: "The Soundtracking of America."

But the truth is that we all are terrorized by music nowadays. It's not so much the high school kids parading down the street with boom boxes, or the college students partying away a Saturday afternoon, or the insomniac in the next apartment pacing up and down to Beethoven at 3:00 a.m. It's, rather, the merciless stream of 1960s golden oldies drenching suburban malls, the disco-revival radio thumping out Donna Summer in the back of a taxi all the way to the airport, the tinny Muzak bleating from storefronts as you walk along the sidewalk, the tastefully muted Andrew Lloyd Webber seeping from recessed speakers above the urinals in the men's room. America is drowning in sanctioned music - an obligatory orchestration cramming every inch of public space.

In all previous ages of music a new musical form succeeded by replacing its predecessors. But now each new form joins its predecessors in our endlessly expanding library of music.

Tom Tomorrow has had his web site redesigned, with an easily remembered redirection URL:

Friday 3-10
An EW article about the draft form of "American Beauty" sounds like they threw out the last reel.

Thursday 3-9
Focal point for the growing boycott: noamazon.com.

Wednesday 3-8
iBionet.com calls itself a signs and symptoms search engine - check your problems off on a form of what ails you and submit, in response get some diagnoses and pages of links to the specific afflictions.

Tuesday 3-7
From this interview with Katz concerning his new Geeks book:
It's appealing to me that people who have always been perceived as outcasts, marginalized, different, have all of a sudden become the only people who understand how the world works. And you can see it's freaking out the rest of the world.


Salon posted an appreciation of Joe Frank (which doesn't mention the FAQ).

Speaking of public radio, the concluding factoid on last night's MarketPlace was the announcement of the revival of The Muppet Show! The German company EM.TV which bought the Jim Henson operation says twenty-six new programs will be produced, featuring the return of most of the characters: although Kermit, Gonzo and Miss Piggy were mentioned, no word on Beaker or Professor Bunsen Honeydew.

Sunday 3-5
At the library yesterday, reading the Valentine's Day New Yorker, for Spiegelmann's Schulz tribute "Abstract Thought is a Warm Puppy" - he begins from atop Snoopy's doghouse, speaking in his Maus persona, bent over a laptop; then moves on to mingle with Sparky and various others' comic characters. Elsewhere in the magazine, was made aware of a new trend: mass karaoke. The Prince Charles Cinema in London has been showing a version of The Sound of Music which is subtitled (in English) during the musical numbers, and the audience sings along, with gusto. The Guardian Friday Review has a column about the phenomenon suggesting additional titles to get this treatment soon, including "West Side Story." Let's hope this new British fad catches on stateside.
Friday 3-3
Feeling noir-ish? Perhaps wondering just what's implied by that French-for-black? Look into the subset World of Bowling Noir - its author wrote a book about "The Big Lebowski."

Also courtesy the Bird on a Wire weblog, this Barnes&Noble.com link allegedly displays a different New Yorker cartoon every day.
(Suppose my weblog should sport one of these non sequitur names; I'm considering "Hurtling Into the Abyss" after the vision Ignatious had on the Greyhound bus in A Confederacy of Dunces.)

Growing up in the 1960s I couldn't miss the SEE ROCK CITY signs and bumper stickers, usually observed during the annual summer vacation roadtrip. But what exactly is Rock City? I thought it was just an overlook view (of seven states!) from the "lovers leap" - turns out gnomes are the real attraction. This Devil's Elbow article provides a first-hand visit report. (And of course now they're www.seerockcity.com).

Thursday 3-2
Good Slate this week. Liked their "Frame Game" by William Saletan, about McCain's telling off the Wreligious Wrong, "Storming Virginia Beach." Also, from "The Week/The Spin" on the resignation of Austria's Jörg Haider:
Political opponents' spin: This is just another "dirty trick" by the crypto-fascist. Cynics' retort: Every time you call him a crypto-fascist, he just gets more followers.
But what I wanna know is, what is it about a fascist which makes him (female fascista being so rare) "crypto"?

Rash Weblog Archive: January   February   March   April

Back to current weblog

     space provided by
Wunderland.com banner
Other sections of this site:
Weblog | 1999 Journal | Stories | Links | Stats
Email rash@wunderland.com