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July 2000

Friday 7-28
Just reread one of the first books I ever, and its quality knocks me out: The Call of the Wild by Jack London. My father brought a copy to the hospital, where I was recovering from the removal of my appendix in 1963 -- the link's to a complete-text-online version provided by the good people at Bibliomania. I was delighted to discover that Buck's story begins in the very valley where I now make my home.

And speaking of where I live, the Palo Alto Weekly just did a nice feature story about the Stanford cinema, which I visit so often -- this weekend's repertory treat will be "Roman Holiday."

Keen observers of this site may have noticed how the venerable Salon has slipped off the radar screen of my links page. I was a fan of theirs since the beginning, but the recent profit-based editorial decision to phase out interesting material in favor of the salacious, coupled with their ineptitude regarding "This Modern World" (the link to the new week's strip is frequently busted) means I no longer check the site regularly. Tom Tomorrow's latest is quite excellent, however.

Meet Mirsky and his T-shirts. Yucks a-plenty, but the Shockwave plug-in is required.

Wednesday 7-26
The "goog" delights of Coffee Shop Classics, as well as Googie Central, are elements of the "Roadside Peek" site.

Jennifer Ringley's current status in Sacto. Most followers of the online diary and webcam scene are familiar with her JenniCam -- if she wasn't the original, she was one of the first people to set up a site based on a live full-time webcam feed from inside their quarters. Her recent behavior's being labeled scandalous by her peers, but to me the idea of someone "stealing" somebody else's lover is bogus -- if one can be lured away by another, that relationship was none too strong to begin with.

Today's Slate explains the concept of how discounts can be had online via group shopping and also states why the G7 should be disbanded:

One of the reasons that the Japanese got so worked up about [the recent G7 summit meeting in] Okinawa... was that they -- according to one European diplomat who deals with the Far East -- have increasingly come to see it as a substitute for the U.N. Security Council that they have abandoned hope of entering. Everyone knows the Security Council no longer reflects the balance of power in the world; everyone also knows that it is impossible to alter, without all hell breaking loose.
Note: Although I agree with the statement in this case, it's not always true. Labeling the media/political class' conventional wisdom as "everyone knows" is a not-so-subtle attempt at propaganda -- everybody they know knows, perhaps. But free thinkers may have different perceptions.

Kalakala: the ship that launched a thousand electric shavers. (It's a streamlined ferry in Seattle, whose curvy lines remind me of St. Louis' Admiral, which is now a casino.)

Check this silly mouse-clicking animated GIF -- it's from NASA's Space Educators' Handbook, a good starting point for any NASA research.

Friday 7-21
Ship of Fools illuminates the Christian faith with a humorous light of skepticism. It's British, so expect vicars. Don't miss the Gadgets for God.

Thursday 7-20 - Moon Day
Geeks and nerds of various stripes muse about what that life actually is, which so many people talk about getting, in this kuro5hin thread.

Wednesday 7-19
Justin reports on the Miss Klingion Empire beauty pageant at Dragon*Con.

Found the ZAiUS Post Human Archive via a gmt+9 pointer to their Sigue Sigue Sputnik tribute (in the Hits section). I owned the original SSSputnik CD for years, and heard "Atari Baby" this morning -- the song's on one of my running tapes. As to Zaius, the name should be familiar to "Planet of the Apes" fans.

Monday 7-17
Saw the latest IMAX spectacular, Adventures in Wild California and I thought it was exceptional, especially for the redwoods scene -- views from the tippy-tops, or "domes" of giant sequoias, and even from deep inside one. Other thrills included: walking the cables of the Golden Gate Bridge, riding the Big Thunder Mountain roller coaster in Disneyland, and sky surfing over San Diego.

No mention of bungee-jumping, however. Wondering about the "Bridge to Nowhere" I did some searching and came up with a few hits, but nothing near satisfactory -- wish I'd remembered to take along my camera that time, in 1990. It's located in the rugged, mountainous country northeast of Pasadena, in the Angeles Forest. They built a highway there in the 1930s, but it was all washed away a few years later by the 'massive debris flow' from a huge rainstorm. The undamged, multi-lane bridge led into a tunnel which was filled in long ago, so now the bridge stands isolated -- very strange. To get there's a five-mile hike, with wet-feet fordings as the trail crosses the adjacent stream often. Somehow this company called Bungee America bought the bridge; their site details how they do jumps; less details but better pictures on their page at California Adventures. Another photo's available halfway down this Landscape Photographs site; and for more background information about the bridge, scroll to the bottom of this page, about hikes made in that vicinity.

Two good pointers culled from Lindsay's Bifurcated Rivets weblog:

Friday 7-14 - Bastille Day
The Gallery Of "Misused" Quotation Marks documents one of life's little annoyances. Numerous examples, but no explanation of the phenomenon is provided for the clueless; "If you have to ask, you'll never know."
(Thanks Fruits of Chaos!)

The author of the Tiki Bar Review pages succumbed to his obsession recently -- check his Trip Journal to Easter Island if you're at all curious about Rapa Nui -- includes many photos of the Moai he saw there.

Thursday 7-13
Feed discusses the Impala + JATO story today, in reaction to a Wired article from the current issue which hasn't appeared online yet -- looking for that I found the cover story from last month, all about the upgrade to Roy Bates' Sealand -- I've wondered about this place for years. A derelict platform six miles off the coast of England, built for defense during WWII, which was subsequently occupied by Bates -- he declared sovereignty in 1967, and although no government has officially recognized Sealand, the UK authorities have left his pied-à-terre alone for so long that certain national precedents have been established. Now, a new company is building a server farm there to create an offshore internet data haven. If they can sustain their autonomy, this is the type of operation which will hasten the end of the era of nation-states, because that's where extra-governmental cybercash software will live. To those who scoff at the notion of cybercash replacing the coin of the realm, I say it's already happening via frequent flyer programs. Now you can earn miles even by using your Safeway Club card -- soon you'll be able to exchange those credits for goods in special stores; and eventually any business will accept them.

The latest Notes and Recommendations has tipped my own ambivalent reaction to the Chicken movie into the negative.

But now the "Wallace and Gromit" guys are playing by Hollywood rules, and the result sucks... The parody gradually falls away, and one is transitioned insidiously into the most tiresome bunch of Hollywood cliches... be warned: despite surface appearances, this is most emphatically not a film for young children.
I attended a weekend matinee for the inexpensive ticket price, knowing full well I'd be watching with a bunch of kids. I wasn't prepared to experience their trauma, however; and I grew quite irritated with the parents in attendance who a) don't adequately screen what they expose their children to, and b) selfish, immature, insecure and unqualified breeders who use their kids as passports into places where the parent(s) actually want to be, but wouldn't enter alone. One little girl's father had the sense to exit immediately, once she began wailing; other kids in the audience weren't so fortunate -- which also reminded me, with mounting annoyance, how so many unsophisticated adults still think "kid stuff" whenever confronted with any comics, animation or fantasy; stubbornly oblivious (despite evidence to the contrary, now accumulating for decades) that these media can and are being used to tell grown-up stories.
A little mindless excitement is okay, and a lot of mindless excitement can be okay sometimes too, but I have a problem with the relentless competition towards ever more amplified mindlessness and ever more amplified excitement. It's everywhere, and it's turning us all into idiots.
Tell it, bro. The participation of Mel Gibson in the production should've been all the warning I needed, but I thought since the length's only 85 minutes, whatever happens should be tolerable. In fact, the story seemed to take much longer (but I did like the subterfuge with the garden gnomes).

Wednesday 7-12
Here's a new software product, without a doubt vital in certain households:
When cats walk or climb on your keyboard, they can enter random commands and data, damage your files, and even crash your computer. This can happen whether you are near the computer or have suddenly been called away from it. PawSense is a software utility that helps protect your computer from cats. It quickly detects and blocks cat typing, and also helps train your cat to stay off the computer keyboard.
How? Most cats dislike the harmonica. (Wintel version only; Mac not available.)
(Thanks Mr Pants)

New book, sure to provoke controversy: The Holocaust Industry -- "Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering"
review   excerpt

DIG is the Disneyland Information Guide -- lots of good stuff for the past and potential visitor; in its "news" section I found this article about an appalling (but not really surprising) alliance -- they're letting McDonalds into the Magic Kingdom!

Another unsurprising new partnership: last month Time reported that

In a stunning move certain to transform American politics, the Democratic and Republican parties announced that they will merge to form a giant new mega-party called DRP.

Under the terms of the merger, secretly negotiated through intermediaries over the last three months, Al Gore and George Bush will run on a single presidential ticket in the 2000 election and will share power as equal partners after the merger becomes final at the inauguration in January 2001.

Sunday 7-9
After laying dormant for months, Getting It has come back to life -- an article relating Underdog to the Pledge of Allegiance points at this short page by Richard McDonald about our national vexillum, says the real should be like that vertically striped flag we see on the customs form.

Saturday 7-8
Loved reading Nina Paley's cartoons in the LA Reader -- then when I moved away I lost touch. Caught up today at her site where a few of "Nina's Adventures" are even in color. Seems like the latest offerings are a year old, from when she was enjoying the liberation which accompanied her first buzz cut.
(Note: the illustration is somewhat atypical -- click for source strip.)

Seen the new Amtrak logo? Government's forcing 'em to go completely private, cuttin' 'em loose in a couple years.

The Flubber Disaster of 1963.

Two more sites featuring Russian technology, old and new: ekranoplanes are those Wing In Ground effect (WIG) aircraft sometimes called Caspian Sea Monsters, which fly at very low altitudes; and the Null Device weblog points at a BBC article about the new gasoline-powered running boots -- speeds up to 25 mph are claimed.

Thursday 7-6
News of that huge six-engine Soviet cargo plane, the An-225, built for transport of their stillborn Buran space shuttle. The Ukrainians want to restore one; apparently there were two, both in the Ukraine when the USSR was disolved; those aircraft fell into disrepair. Unfortunately, however, there's no news about a reconstruction program for their eight-engine ANT-20 Maxim Gorky from 1934 -- that was the largest plane aloft, in its day.

Two recent Bibles I came across:
the Thomas Jeffersonian Bible, and the Extreme Teen Bible. Extreme Teen? Whatever. If you have a need to access the usual Biblical texts, they're all available online at www.bibles.net.

Monday 7-3
FYG. Know what it is? Feed had an article last month about new colors in road signage -- lots of interesting background, it's mostly about the upgrade of crosswalk signage to Day-Glo colors from the old "safety yellow." (For collections of these signs from around the world see Bartolomeo Mecánico's site.) The new tint is officially known as FYG (fluorescent yellow green), and many don't like it. Feed also just posted a head-shaking essay about Expo 2000 called "Fair is Foul" which wonders if this will be the last World's Fair.
The disaster started in the planning stages. In 1990, the medium-size city of Hannover beat out Toronto for the right to host the Expo. (It won by a single vote -- ironically, that of East Germany in one of its final acts of state.)

Speaking of Reinventing Comics -- its author is easy to mock -- Pigs & Fishes also points towards this two-page comic of Scott McCloud having a not-good-enough idea, in Mark Martin's Big Britches. (Some familiarity with Marky Mark is required for comprehension.)

A conceptual work: the Advanced Lightning Facility. (They want to build two huge Tesla coils to make sparks the size of a football field.
(Thanks Lindsay)

Saturday 7-1
Sites about tarantulas and dragonflies.

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