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April 2000

Sunday 4-30
Advice for those in the food service trade, how to maximize tips: the "Unconventional Wisdom" column by Richard Moran in today's Post breaks down an analysis of 23 major studies on tipping at restaurants and bars. Among the conclusions:
Drawing a smiley face on the back of a bill boosted tips for waitresses. But waiters who drew ol' Smiley saw the size of their tips plummet.

Saturday 4-29
1970s Soviet machine guns in space!
(Thanks Pigs and Fishes)

Had fun reading this week's Slate Diary, by an author named Daniel Handler -- he relates this observation of somebody at his gym:

Herb is a grunter, letting out those Uh!s that I suppose are involuntary, like being allergic to practically every food, but like being allergic to practically every food, how come it only happens to one type of person?

Status of the forthcoming release of a new book by J. D. Salinger, actually a reprint of his last published work, the extended short story (which seems to be a letter from Seymour Glass to Buddy) called "Hapworth 16, 1924" which was published in the June 19, 1965 New Yorker -- the best information seems to be at amazon.com which reports a price-rise from $15 to $22 and now gives a Novemeber 2000 release date (pushed back from March, and last year, and 1998, etc). Actually, I already have the story, hard copy of an anonymous Usenet post to r.a.b but I've never read it, whenever I begin I miss the italics and how can you read J. D. Salinger without the italics? And who's to say the text is authentic? Naturally under-the-counter sources for the reclusive author's "underpublished" material exist, like this latest bootleg compilation.

Tuesday 4-25
Yesterday was Drenching Monday in Poland - "smigus-dyngus" is how they do it.

Excellent essay: A Dao of Web Design -- why web page authors should resist the urge to control their readers' browsers.
(Thanks more.like.this)

In Feed, the latest "Screen Shots" column: Sam Lipsyte contrasts Old Paul Newman with Steve McQueen: We were probably spared some old man-on-a-motorcycle gags.

How Stuff Works.

Monday 4-24
A Field Guide to American Spacecraft has details of all missions and the current locations of all extant flight hardware. (Many years ago I annoyed some initially helpful volunteers at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum for just this information, which they couldn't provide.) Interesting to note that Snoopy, the Apollo 10 lunar module, is in orbit around the sun now. Also it seems that both a spare Apollo Command Module and a lunar lander are missing. How? Why?

Jorn points to this news about Ken Kesey's release of The Movie -- "Intrepid Traveler and his Merry Band of Pranksters Look for a Kool Place" -- with sound. (I've seen an hour or two of the original footage but the sound at that screening was dubbed from other sources - the article explains the historical difficulties.) Captain Trips is selling the whole epic story as a set of videotapes, out of his Intrepidtrips.com site - sometime I must see where the Merry Pranksters "do" the World's Fair.

Saturday 4-22
Exposure to some episodes of Tom Hanks' "From the Earth to the Moon" mini-series has kindled some long-dormant Space Race enthusiasm -- looking about for something FAQish, with links; hit on Jim's Apollo site. Other recent watchings include "Medium Cool" on video, an elusive film for me -- previous attempts to catch it have always been thwarted -- it's a fascinating window into 1968. Also, "Marnie" at the Stanford -- the Hitchcock festival there is winding down.

Friday 4-21
Mike's Weblog points towards a couple reference sites. First, The Great Ocean Liners has a page covering each significant ship -- I studied the original Queen Elizabeth, the Normandie, and the United States. The piece on the Wilhelm Gustloff is adequate, but many more details are at this memorial. Second, some vexillology: the World Flags Database, where I scrutinized those of the Swiss cantons and the German Länder, then the components of the Russian Federation, places like Altai, Ingush and Sakha - this is all in interesting contrast to the silmilar Flags of the World site where I can't find Ingush but instead, an extensive directory of the flags of the Soviet Union as of 1980 (they're mostly very red).
Wednesday 4-19
Noam Chomsky in The Nation - topic: "anarchists" in Seattle, etc. As ever I find his clarity astounding.
Tuesday 4-18
Mr Pants has added a "Happy Glasses" page to the zany Japanese artifacts available via the option menu on his junk page. Check 'em out.

Casting about seeking that good Peanuts site I've enjoyed in the past - it's not the obvious snoopy-dot- or peanuts-dot-, those bounce you into official UnitedMedia territory, rather: peanutscollectorclub.com.

CNN reports this news from Greece:

The legendary Colossus will once again rise over Rhodes in an exact form that is still a mystery because no one is sure what the original, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, actually looked like.

(I'm glad this page still exists - it's been around since the wwweb was new.)

Monday 4-17
More abuse in the name of copyright - in his article titled "Scrambled Signals" Mike Godwin explains the issues surrounding DVDs encrypted with CSS, and the newly "criminal" Linux programmers who'd just like to view DVDs they've purchased.

Easter time is here, and thoughts turn to intricate, symetrical designs on eggs. I've never learned how to dye them in the Ukrainian pysanky style; this how-to makes it seem not that difficult. But I must acquire (at least) one of the requisite kistka tools and this could either be the easiest, or the most difficult time of year to locate one in-stock.

Saturday 4-15
US Army Awards, Decorations, Campaign & Service Medals - what do those little ribbons mean? (thanks memepool)

Saw "High Fidelity" -- can't fault any film starting out with the electric jug of the Thirteenth Floor Elevators. I liked the film, but John Cusack has become tiresome.

Hours of my waking life is spent listening to radio, daily, and the unit's usually tuned to lower numbers. A few nights ago MarketPlace told about how IKEA is moving into Russia - the first big blue & yellow store's been open in Moscow for a month now, and it's very popular. The Ikea site's design is fiendishly dynamic, thwarting attempts at "deep linking", but I've skillfully extracted this complex URL which points to the local map for the Moscow store. (I find the graphic beautifully exotic - scroll down.)

Speaking of public radio, courtesy Bird on a Wire, a useful guide at home and abroad: Non-Commercial Radio Stations around North America and the World.

Tuesday 4-11
Here's a site about lost kids' TV shows; or rather, programs that grown-up kids remember watching. On a sub-page consolidating readers' letters, where somebody reminisces about the "Video Village" game show and somebody else mentions Ranger Hal but one must look elsewhere for a link to the shrine which has some fuzzy old pictures of Hal Shaw with Oswald, including one taken May 1998 (he died the following year).

Phil Agre's latest Notes and Recommendations discusses MP3-Napster file sharing as communism, and why some skepticism is approriate with regards to the census.

First of all, the Census Bureau was suffering from a dangerous case of mission creep. The most obvious problem is the huge variety of questions on the Census form that are unrelated to the Constitutional purpose of the Census. Every one of those questions has an interest group behind it, and the Census has little power to resist the piling-on of questions from every agency in the government. Much worse, the Census was under great pressure to conduct an infinitely expanding range of studies that would require Census data to be mixed with data from other sources.

Agreeable web-only Time essay by Lance Morrow: It's No Real Wonder the French Dislike Us

What's most troubling in all this [is] the insularity of Americans in their role as the smug, sole superpower, and even worse (because it is potentially dangerous), their apparent lack of curiosity about what goes on in the rest of the world.

Saturday 4-8
Two sites requiring Java: Play with (and even build your own) constructor creatures or enjoy the art at www.bewitched.com (some of it's interactive).

How far will they go, at the tip of the pyramid in our current Age of Excess, to keep it in the family? Read about the new vulture trust in this Washington Post editorial.(link will expire April 20)

"Antwerp!" (courtesy more.like.this)

Thursday 4-6
James Fallows has begun new, regular column in The Atlantic Monthly: "Fallows@large." The first one describes his Time Capsule Project in "The Fascination of What's "Obvious."
Most dispensers of political opinion have built-in public amnesia on their side. The old newspapers get sent out to the recycling bin, the old columns move to the bottom of the online index of a pundit's work, so there's no ready reminder of what people were saying six months ago. Newsweek's "Conventional Wisdom Watch" goes only one week back in charting the shift in views. But we'll keep the readings of this time capsule on display as they move from April to November, charting the changes in perceived political reality.

Here's a little story - I've been listening to a lot of The Who of late, the catalyst being the new "BBC Sessions" record. I'd never heard "Relay" before -- it's part of the abandoned "Lifehouse" project, the plot for which I now know.

The original story concerned a future time where most of the population lives underground in virtual reality suits feeding off the sensations of those on the surface. The surface is populated by feral teens and subsistance farmers. One of the old farmers tells the hero, Bobby, about a time when rock music brought everyone together. Bobby decides to recreate it, gets a band together, and holds an endless concert which draws the teens together. This somehow upsets the underground powers-that-be and they send troops to break up the concert. However, just as they reach the concert, Bobby finds The Lost Chord and he and all the teens transcend reality and vanish. Hypertext Who link courtesy Lindsay

One more dictionary: Latin-English

Wednesday 4-5
The Alternative Dictionaries compile (mostly sexual) slang in all languages - I focused on the Deutsch entries (Austrian, Swiss and German) but I suppose the English page would also be of interest (check the 'honky' etymology). (Courtesy Pigs & Fishes.)

Today's Salon features two letters: the "home-front"-Establishment drug-warrior reaction to their previous article about enlightened former front-line-drug-warrior Michael Massing's The Elephant in the Room, and his reply.

From Hermenaut on-line:

"Life in These United States©" is no more. Something called "Life's Like ThatTM" has taken its place. It's not registered like the others, for some reason; it's trademarked. Cute anecdotes sent in by readers from places like Lufkin, Texas, fill up the column just like they did when it was called "Life in These United States©." On the surface, all seems the same -- no change from when these almost sour anecdotes appeared each month under their old title. But "Life's Like ThatTM"? Why switch to such a lame title after years of building a tradition?

Tuesday 4-4
Geoff advises of the incredible bargains to be had in phone cards nowadays, especially overseas - 2¢ a minute. Although you can find them down to your local corner bodega, where he got into them; the best prices are had via websites like www.phonecardonsale.com which consolidates a bunch of the phonecard companies' wares, for comparitive shopping -- I like the page just for the worldly mix of the various cards' images.

Hearing the car guys talk about him made me wonder about Larry Walters and his lawn chair-balloon ride.

Reading Tony Horwitz' Confederates in the Attic has added the adjective "farby" to my vocabulary -- searching on it turned up this etymology, a doorway into the zany world of Jonah Begone. Alas, outside of the reenactor community, it's not easy to work that word (or "farb" or "farbulous") into casual conversation.

Go to Freaks -- Stranger Than Fiction and scroll down for the religious action figures. Collect 'em all!

Sorry about the banners from GeoCities pages today... remember, although that domain's much diminshed since Yahoo bought 'em, we pronounce it like a geoduck clam - that's GooeyCities.

Monday 4-3
Here's a weekly weblog of the weird: Quintesseence of the Loon (thanks to Mike.)

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