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March 20, 2006
Slate offers up an Insider's Guide to Trader Joe's. Related: MetaFilter thread triggered by a now-archived NY Times article explaining the chain's imminent arrival in Manhattan.

Redwood Tree, California is a gallery of big trees picture-postcards.

An extensive Guide to the Gold Key 'Star Trek' comics.

Another recent discovery: Japanese for "sometimes" is tokidoki. For obvious reason I find it amusing.

March 19, 2006
SJ Library LL Discovered the basement trove of the main San Jose library, been enjoying the periodicals -- great having such ready access to old magazines. This mirrored wooden sculpture covers two walls down there, with low gray metal cabinets of microfilm between. Clicking this one's a must.

March 16, 2006
Thursday evening -- it's 'Game Night' for a some of my most loyal readers, when they congregate at the purple Wunderland house. But for me, it's become iconographic for a rather different reason -- this is when I attend Japanese class, one of the many evening offerings at Palo Alto High School ("Paly" in the local argot, not to be confused with California Polytechnic aka Cal Poly, that state school down in SLO with a satellite campus in Pomona). Pre-class, I'm across the street at the open-air Town and Country mall, having my usual cup of Peets decaf after an $8 "Combination D" from the nearby Sushi House. For any portion of the half-hour before class spent driving, the car radio's tuned to the weekly broadcast of Pacific Time. Paly's day-time Japanese classroom, where we meet also, is decorated with pictures of Mount Fuji, anime posters, and inscruitable projects a bit beyond our level. Sensei is a small, energetic woman from the southern island of Kyushu, who's been in America for five years. I love her, 'cept when she gets up real close -- then she's kinda scarey. (Also, when she makes us sing.) After the two-hour session I'm hungry again so the Thursday tradition concludes with a double-burger pause at the In-n-Out just off the 101 on the way home.

She's from Away is a cartoonist from NC, now living in Halifax.

The Girls Next Door in the current New Yorker -- Joan Acocella reviews Hugh Hefner and The Playmate Book: Six Decades of Centerfolds.

Previously posted Clooney link is gone -- explanation, the Huffington apologizes for making it appear that George is a blogger.

March 14, 2006
Securing Your Web Browser -- IE, Firefox, or Opera -- good tips, with detailed how-to.

George Clooney: I Am A Liberal.

March 9, 2006
Sleep position gives personality clue. I'm somewhere between the Yearner and Fetus. The Log and Freefaller seem very uncomfortable -- when I was much younger I'd sleep on my stomache, but never with a pillow; can't, anymore, since my head turned 90° for more than a little while gets uncomfortable.

Revenge of the Nerds, an Akihabara update. When I was last there that Yodobashi was a construction site. Hoping to return in October... and for this journey, the trip outside Tokyo will be to Kanazawa, on the Japan Sea.

Living Without Television by Christopher Westley. Very much like my situation -- they have a TV, for videotapes; what they actually live without is cable.

Scenes We'd Like To See: Steve Jobs instructing the Apple faithful to "Get a Life!"

March 8, 2006
The Scarlet Plague is a short story by Jack London, a tale of San Francisco set sixty years after the apocalyptic depopulation of 2013 -- similar to the The Wild Shore by Kim Stanley Robinson, and of course Earth Abides.

Back in August 2004, posted some linkage concerning Dubai, the country in the news now because of the ports deal the shrub's supporting, which many Republicans oppose. World-Beating Buildings in Business Week is mostly illustrations of models, planned projects in this obscenely wealthy emerite. The last one is their Space Port.

The Kansas Cosmosphere has just unveiled a stained glass tribute to the 17 fallen astronauts.

The Nine Most-Wanted missing Time Capsules.

March 7, 2006
Introverts of the World, Unite! A recent conversation with Jonathan Rauch, author of "Caring for Your Introvert."

March 6, 2006
If you're a moron, this is the time and place to be alive -- Gore Vidal on the Academy Awards, etc. (As usual, I didn't watch, could care less.)

Mark Ellingham, founder of Rough Guides, and Tony Wheeler, creator of Lonely Planet, urge fellow travellers to fly less and stay longer.

The Treasury and You is a followup on large transaction reporting to DHS, an insider's details.

March 3, 2006
We're already aware that any US bank transaction in excess of $5K is reported to government entities, a data flow inacted as part of WoD surveillance. According to Pay too much and you could raise the alarm, credit card payments in excess of this amount could be delayed, until the DHS approves. In Idaho, DHS hassles vehicle owner for bumperstickers. And in the Capitol, Senate Rolls Over on Patriot Act.

For the Love of Big Brother
Big Brothers
I postponed reading Nineteen Eighty-Four until the year of its title, found it a thoroughly depressing experience, definitely relevant in our age of perpetual war. To get into the Zeitgeist I was searching for an image of Big Bro from the John Hurt-Richard Burton film, to use as the desktop background in order to make my at-work monitor resemble Winston's. Couldn't find anything adequate, the best one was cropped and anyway it was too creepy, those eyes peering out. Interesting what comes up while searching on Big Brother -- to Generation iPod he's all about the Ridley Scott Macintosh commercial 'everybody' saw during the Superbowl. Seems the man ranting on-screen is Big Brother (although he doesn't have any apparent attributes I'd consider lovable) but Andy thought he could be the story's Trotsky-esque Goldstein character. Requiring a refresher on the novel's details, I naturally looked to Wikipedia.
    · Nineteen Eighty-Four
    · Goldstein's book
    · the Macintosh ad
Since the version of the commercial I know (also courtesy Andy) is probably a copy of a copy, the resolution's kinda murky; perhaps that's the reason I never perceived the Apple logo on her chest -- to me, she's always symbolized the LA Olympics. No, wait -- the wiki says it's not a logo but a "Picasso-style picture of Apple's Macintosh computer." Hmpf. Well, since I can't see that either, we'll just imagine the Olympics logo there -- a common sight on the commemorative license plates, even three years afterwards when I moved to LA, but now just a memory.

Chris Glass: How to catch a mouse without a mousetrap -- instead, use Mr Cardboard Tube! Humane, too.

The Chicago Tribune's Steve Johnson posted his 50 Best Web sites, a list which includes Ask.MetaFilter! Note his tasteful inclusion of Sherman and Mr Peabody.

February 28, 2006
I'm reading Ringworld's Children and it's wonderful, returning to Known Space, with its flycycles, autodocs and stepping disks. After the series' unmemorable previous volume (Throne) Niven's back in fine form. In addition to the usual glossaries included, the following external references are useful: the Puppeteer Home Page (for background) along with the Encyclopedia of Known Space.

Official announcement from the Sex Pistols, their response to an invite from the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame. More about that from Harvey Pekar.

We Are All Killers Until We Stop Flying -- George Monbiot says for the sake of the world's poor, we must keep the wealthy at home. (Like that's gonna happen.)

February 24, 2006
Saltair, Utah, March, 1997 First noticed Saltair in a magazine article photo about the lake's mid-1980s flooding, which didn't identify the curious, submerged building. Later, I saw the 1962 Twilight Zone-y cult film "Carnival of Souls" so got to know the second incarnation, in its derilect state. Several years ago the details were revealed via internet searching, but that was before Google Images. Scroll down to the bottom of the wikipedia page for a pair of fascinating, external links -- the full story, as related by locals. The first Saltair must've been quite the experience, but that Giant Racer roller-coaster -- incredible, and to have seen it blown down -- the mind reels. What's irritating is my Dad says we saw it -- must've been the time we went swimming in the Great Salt Lake in 1964. I certainly remember that swim but recall nothing of a big abandoned pleasure palace on a pier. (Maybe I was too young for it to register.) When I was driving across in '97 I approached its neighborhood at sunset. Pulling off I-80 and parking near the third incarnation, now high and dry (and appropriately deserted), I wandered 'round, but found no remains of the previous structures. Back in the car, night had fallen and I continued motoring west, accompanied by comet Hale-Bopp, visible through my passenger window out over the Bonneville Salt Flats. I interpreted its pointing towards California as an auspicous sign.

Shedding Light on Shadowland, the Truth About Frances Farmer, by Jeffrey Kauffman. I too thought the book was gospel -- now we know better, the lobotomy story was bogus! (If you've never you really ought to see her "Come and Get It" sometime.)

February 22, 2006
Sacco and Spiegelman respond to the Danish cartoons: A Right to Insult?

Ten of the Many Unusual Looking Buildings On Earth often doesn't have enough information in the captions.

February 21, 2006
What's that about owning a Mexican, but not a Canadian? Details at snopes: Leviticus & Dr Laura.

Suitable for Framing by David Sedaris from the current New Yorker -- Art, North Carolina, and dividing up the parentals' estate.

The Mystery of Duane Reade answers my Manhattan question, noticed on my first visit in over a decade: what's this store everywhere named Duane Reade? (Still unsure about how to pronounce the last name -- like "read"? Or ray-ah-de?)

February 20, 2006
Fox Oakland A pair of red sights from the weekend:
After passing the lit-up Oakland near the darkened Paramount en route to a film in the Naruse festival at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, saw a bicycling girl with one arm extended, carefully holding a square Bo Diddley guitar by its neck. On Haight Street the next day, this pseudo-chav in a red tracksuit appeared in the open doorway of Escape from New York Pizza, playing full-volume static on his boom-box and screaming while I was having my slice. A little later he was "entertaining" the people lined up at the movie theater with a spaz dance and I said "Loser!" when walking past, as we made eye-contact.

February 17, 2006
Hank Williams Something Old, Something New -- a brief mention of the current music. The clockwork sounds of Austin's Ice Cream Creatures (got their by-mail new CDR); and Hank Williams. Always heard about him but never really had any direct exposure until now, courtesy the library. What an amazing talent... lots of the tunes are familiar, of course, from other artists' covers.

A couple headlines, local news, East and West. In the Washington Post, Policing Porn Is Not Part of Job Description -- who knew Monkey County has its own Homeland Security Dept? And with no terrorists handy, a couple of its eager beavers performed a spot inspection of library patrons' internet displays. Fortunately, saner heads prevailed. Out on the Coast, Surveillance Cameras To Monitor Promenade, Pier -- 3rd Street and the Santa Monica Pier will be wired and monitored after suspicious people were observed taking pictures of some of the facilities there. Related: What Happened To My Country? by atomic veteran Steve Osborn. Also, Garrison Keillor says War on (Soft) Drugs A Foul Tragedy.

The tally on my poll had a big surge the past day or so. Mozzarella's knocked Cheddar out of the number one position, and my current fave Gruyere was in second place for a long time but no longer. Note that as of this writing nobody's given Havarti, Queso Blanco or Limburger a single vote.

February 16, 2006
About the Tom Corbett Series of science fiction from the early 1950s. I know many have fond memories of these books, but they weren't available to me, growing up. Later, I struggled through the first volume while idling in the waiting room at the Santa Monica courthouse (made famous a few years later by OJ) until being rejected from Jury Duty. (I'm always dismissed by the Prosecution.) The dustjacket art, illustrations, environments and characters all look promising, but what I found was a lot of faulty science and bad writing. With Willy Ley as Tech Advisor, how could this be? Dunno.. maybe author Carey Rockwell improved as the series progressed but I don't care, would recommend instead something like EE&nsbp;"Doc" Smith's Lensmen or a Heinlein juvenile. Alex Van Zelfden assembled a tantalyzing summary of the Space Cadet, but I repeat: you have been warned.

When Stupid People Won't Shut Up -- Scalzi on George Deutsch, formerly of NASA.

February 14, 2006    
At David Wong's Pointless Waste of Time, the Top Ten Sci-Fi films which never existed. Upper half's way more interesting than the lower, IMO.

Lengthy Kunstler essay in the American Conservative concerning the pickle we're in, and how it developed: Lumpen Leisure.

Too Much Coffee Man's Advice from Cupid.

February 13, 2006
Potsdam Platz Probably the last photo from my no-longer-recent jaunt to Europe to appear here. It's Berlin, in the Potsdammer Platz, and I thought it was a Dan Flavin installation, but actually much more interesting, since each fluorescent tube is a pixel! Unfortunately I was a month early, SPOTS hadn't finished City Gaze yet. More info about it at We Make Money, Not Art.

In contrast, some historical German art -- pre-1933 Nazi Posters.

LA's Future is Up in the Air is an editorial in the Times by Ray Bradbury promoting monorails as traffic solution. Hope it's still available for you, their links usually expire in a week or two. The accompanying futuristic illustration (Get Set for the 300mph Sky Train!) fascinated me when I first saw it on the cover of a Sunday supplement, while visiting my grandparents in 1963. (The original's in color -- thought I'd posted a link to it, somewhere, earlier, but havn't been able to locate.) Related: LA's Worst Transit Decision. Not really related, but also at monorails.org: another backyard project, this one for puppies!

February 11, 2006
Dvorak on the new Crappy-Looking Olympic Medals. He thinks "AOL" when he sees something resembling a Compact Disc -- what a peculiar reflex. Sure, their disks are ubiquitous, but just a teeny percentage of all the rest.

Excellent "Ask the Pilot" in Salon yesterday. (Worth sitting through their commercial, easily bypassed via the magic of tabbed browsing.)
[The LEO] makes sure to remind me ... that "we live in a different world now." Not to put undue weight on the cheap prose of patriotic convenience, but few things are more repellant than that oft-repeated catchphrase. There's something so pathetically submissive about it -- a sound bite of such defeat and capitulation.
Airport security dislikes his taking pictures -- this has become threatening now, suspicious; I have also been detained, briefly, for wielding a camera (although not at an aerodrome). Question: What was it exactly, which linked photography with terrorism? Or even, just 'plain-vanilla' crime?

Cartoons and Provocation -- John Sugg provides the story's context: conservative Danish bigots fanning the flames of hatred.

February 9, 2006
Good Jon Carroll today -- he mentions that Garry Wills piece I linked to last Tuesday. Also, the Unasked Question in the Domestic Spying Debate, by Greg Mitchell.

As tax time approaches, you may be considering charitable donations. Of course, they can find a way to spend your money any time of the year, but if you have concerns about where your donation actually goes, this tool can be quite useful.

February 8, 2006
Amazing: aerial photos of Mexico City.

Bombsite Boudiccas is director Ken Russell's 1955 b&w photo-essay of Teddy Girls, in London.

Deutsch quits the PAO at NASA (was he asked to resign?) He lied on his resume about graduating; this information discovered and made public by The Scientific Activist.

The Aquaman argument. Concludes with a vast cover gallery.

February 7, 2006
The Art of Propaganda -- paintings from North Korea, of Great [departed] Leader Kim il Sung, plus -- The Great Mother. As you explore the two galleries here's a pair of captions whose images I found especially remarkable: "Taking care of the foot soldiers" and "She defeated a bad person who had been harassing children."

Another quote (but I lost the source!)
If I wanted to be condescended to by someone less intelligent than me I'd go to the indie record store.
-- a reaction to the shrub's performance at the Capitol a week ago.

Technical enlightenment in O'Reilly Network's 'What Is...' pages -- summaries of new stuff like the BlackBerry, C#, Flickr, Greasemonkey, Ruby on Rails, Skype, and a whole lot more.

All Sojourners Can Feel Hua -- NY Times article about Chinatown. In general, and specifically, the old one in Manhattan vs. the new one in Flushing.

February 6, 2006
About George Deutsch, the Young Republican apparatchik in NASA's Public Affairs Office. More about his installation (as well as the caricatures of the Prophet) from John Scalzi, in Prioritizing the Idiots.

Kurt Vonnegut's Blues for America.

The Peekaboo Paradox -- what to rent for your pre-K birthday party in Maclean, or Ward 3 -- a bouncy castle or The Great Zucchini? (Note that the bulk of this article's on the last page.) Related, indirectly, and excellent: Million-Dollar Murray, by Malcolm Gladwell, in the current New Yorker -- Why problems like homelessness may be easier to solve than manage.

February 5, 2006
Reading Cruiser Scout, Paul McKinley's fascinating auto-bio, a sailor-aviator who shipped out on the San Francisco just before Pearl Harbor, flew in the battle for Guadalcanal and had a little house with his wife in Oakland. Made me realize, don't know the colors & shapes alphabet of the maritime signal flags, so getting familiar -- these spell out
romeo alpha sierra hotel

February 3, 2006
The outrage continues. Heard a British guy on the BBC last night in dialog with some Islamic cleric, trying to pin him down -- just what needs to be done to satisfy the offended? The newspapers have already apologized... no clear answer, in response. First made aware of the problem in 1977; Erik Sofge reports on the "The Message" and its discontents in Mohammed in the movies. Even with the taboo, the Prophet has been pictured for centuries, a great many example at the Mohammed image archive.

Almost all of them valid, Why? Why? Why? -- we have questions.

My experimental first Mr Poll -- What's Your Cheese? Vote early and often.

February 2, 2006
Headline: Large Haul of Bathtub Cheese in Riverside County.

The War on T-Shirts continues, two discussions: Steve Benen in the Huffington and a Madison Capital-Times editorial.

February 1, 2006
Death ray, fiddlesticks! Reminded of Charles Addams' "Death Ray, Fiddlesticks" cartoon, but couldn't find online. Since I recently photocopied a bunch out of a New Yorker compendium from the library, scanned & posted it -- because I noticed this weird, vaguely-similar illustration in some free New Age rag I picked up ("Vision") and this one was easy to locate: The Healing Light. The artist, Ray Ceasar, more in a slideshow of his work. (I liked his "Bubbles" also.)

Look to the Wikipedia for blasphemous Danish cartoon enlightenment, and uproar details. A casual glance might read the title as "Mohammed's Angst" however 'ansigt' means "face" or maybe, opinion (as in die Ansicht, auf Deutsch). They've frozen that page -- the devout keep deleting the image.

Short, excellent, reprinted from the Miami Herald -- Avoiding the Hard Questions by Robert Steinback. And yesterday, Here's What Really Happened -- Getting Busted at the SotU by Cindy Sheehan.

Some things you did not know about Japan... and one more picture, for the season -- just a stranger's random photo, posted on flickr: Chinatown New Years.

January 30, 2006
Burbank entrance The entrance to the Burbank, an inoperative movie palace in an odd, unincorporated pocket of San Jose. Click, zoom, and appreciate the hexagonal mirrors in the doors, and the terrazzo. Another view, of the towering sign and marquee. Nothing else today, just a couple quotes.

From Jared Diamond's short interview at the Sierra Club, Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed --
The most difficult values to jettison are those that have helped you in the past. You're inclined to cling to them.
and from an excellent review by Garry Wills of Jimmy Carter's new book, Our Endangered Values --
There is now an inverse proportion between religiosity and sincerity.

January 27, 2006
The World's 12 Best New Buildings, at Artinfo.

In today's Slate, Cinema Purgatorio -- Bryan Curtis on the horrors of art houses. We have Crinklers out here, too. In fact, I got one to stop, once -- an elderly party, seemingly doing it unconsciously, finally reined in and disarmed by his companion, when she noticed my glare.

A trio of oddities from the news wire: Florida Woman Becomes Quadruple Amputee After Giving Birth. Der Spiegel reports on French right-wingers serving "identity soup" to the local poor (pork being the key ingrediant of their broth). And in Australia, Falling Banana Kills Woman -- not because it fell from a great height, but because it scratched her. So be careful.

Not in the news, although it should have been: the Gonzales dissent at GU.

January 25, 2006
An essay from 1995, by William Snyder: Star Trek: A Phenomenon and Social Statement on the 1960s,. More SF, kinda -- Time Machine Cuba. Like me, William Gibson found his way into science fiction via HG Wells in Classics Illustrated although I think he confuses the black-and-yellow Fallout Shelter symbol with the triangular red white & blue Civil Defense logo. Tom Sanders' Conelrad page has details and an example of a radio dial with a variation but I recall the little triangles on AM radios... ironic how it's similar to another 50s logo, for EC comics.
Civil  Defense logo Fallout Shelter symbol EC  logo
At the bottom there's a link to a 1999 Wired article about his obsession with eBay, and collecting old watches. 'Sniping' is mentioned, a term I discovered only this week, although I'm certainly familiar with the practice, from my own biddings there. In other auction news, 'way back in my earliest of bloggings there was linkage about the GM Futurliners, complete with a photo I snapped of one parked off Ventura in the San Fernando Valley. Last Saturday the completely restored Futurliner #12 went for $4.32M! A great site was created to publicize this offering.

In the Monthly Review, What's the Matter with Ohio? -- James Straub on Unions and Evangelicals in the Rust Belt. Short answer seems to be, Fear of Homos. Related: the Beast revamped his Fifty Most Loathsome Americans listing for 2005.

January 23, 2006
LA Coca-Cola plant Back from a fast trip south, mostly to see the Ecstasy show at the Temporary Contemporary. Its neighborhood (adjacent to Little Tokyo) has changed a lot since I'd visit the Museum of Neon Art down there, early on in my California experience. (For a detailed flashback read my 1990 recollection of A Trip Downtown.) Way more buildings, no more vacant lots, and the MoNA has moved away. But this show was great -- the reason I went was to inspect an Erwin Redl but was most glad to catch "City Glow" -- a five-screen, seven-minute animation by Chiho Aoshima. Last year I 'just' missed the Little Boy show at the Japan Society, in New York; they used pictures from her world for publicity posters in the subway. Gotta quote the show's program, concerning the music: a highly nuanced soundtrack of ambient sounds and electronic murmers. Accompanied by Shari who liked Erwin Redl's piece the best, one of his Matrix installations -- a darkened room filled with a crystaline grid of LEDs, pale, old-fashioned green; they looked like static fireflies. (The diodes were strung along vertical strands, measured very carefully.) Driving away, I passed the iconic Coke bottling plant on Central -- since it was nearing sunset, the golden illumination demanded this photo.

On my way home yesterday, paused again on the Ridge Route -- love it up there. Hung out for an hour, pulled over, reading and knitting, another vehicle going by every five or ten minutes. Highly recommended, a half-hour detour for northbound I-5 travelers. Just take the "Parker Road - Castaic" exit and you're on it. Then, left onto the Templin Highway, and you're back on the freeway. Ridge Route barrier But the Old Ridge Route is closed, due to storms so severe last year an adjacent electrical pylon was toppled; I wanted to investigate this. If you keep going on straight after the Templin, this barrier appears just after the "End of County Maintained Road" sign, and the asphalt crumbles away -- so glad I completed the journey through (to the road to Lancaster), just before the '04 election.

Another pause, at a Burger King somewhere out in the San Joaquin. Unlike McDonald's, I find their burgers (barely) tolerable but this stop wasn't for food -- BK's the guaranteed no-hassle source for boiling water, as the coffee's right next to the serve-yosef soda fountain, and always has a "Hot Water" spigot in addition to the "Regular" and the "Decaf" taps. I fill my thermos and scram -- out in the car, adding the green tea bag. Almost went back in with the TV-B-Gone from my glove compartment, on an errand of mercy -- what a rude place to eat. Several monitors were hung from the ceiling, all active and very loud, tuned to CNN where the newsreader was practically hollering about Iran's Nuclear Threat!

January 19, 2006
Matthew Brörsma distills the Essence of Geek. ADD, aesthetics, and Aspergers are all mentioned. Related: the Nerd, Geek or Dork Test -- says I'm "Pure Nerd" but with the ratios of 52% Nerd, 34% Geek, and 47% Dork, I wonder about that alleged purity.

According to the NY Times, Trader Joes is opening their first Manhattan store this Spring, in Union Square. Due to Empire State liquor laws, their wine will be confined to a separate operation next door. In other specialty gourmet news, I've been a fan of Penzeys Spices for several years now. Although I've visited their St. Louis store, everything Penzey in my spice rack came via mail-order. My latest shipment arrived yesterday, and a study of the latest catalog reveals how they've embarked on an aggressive expansion -- stores no longer just in the midwest but Grand Central Station and even LA! (Well, Torrance -- Del Amo, from the address.)

Another slideshow making the rounds: End of the Line. It's about the shipbreakers of Bangladesh, familiar from those Edward Burtynsky photographs. A Baltimore Sun article describes the practice, and some more photos of Chittagong with explanatory text by photographer Michael Reichmann.

January 17, 2006
A Business Week slide show: Ten Wonders of the New China. Random China fact: the country will be building 108 new airports between 2004 and 2009. Bonus (a random flickr image): the new Mikimoto Ginza 2 building, designed by Toyo Ito.

Shutting Themselves In by Maggie Jones, about the agoraphobic Japanese hikikomori syndrome. (After reading that, I had to get familiar with Radiohead -- both copies of "OK Computer" were checked out but the library had a "Kid A" for me. I remember handling this disk in Tower Records, when it was new, but deciding against giving it a chance.)

Detailed, Subjective US-Germany comparison from 2004. (The peevish author is a German who's been here since '92.)

January 16, 2006
New Stuff: Not a new product anymore -- in fact, no Personal Flying Machine has ever really been available, but Bill Suitor was the usual 'pilot' of Bell Labs' Rocket Belt. Brian Malow tells his story in Where the Hell is my Jetpack? A pair of new developments, possible alternatives: the Japanese Gen H-4 Minicopter, and the Ultralight Flying Scooter.

January 15, 2006
In the Wall Street Journal, Albert Brooks on Looking For Comedy in an Uneasy World and his new film, "Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World."

Brilliant! Homosexual Space Opera at its Finest -- "West Side Story" as alternate history.

January 14, 2006
Lack of curiosity is curious -- J. Peder Zane on the current crop of college kids.
It's not that they don't know, it's that they don't care about what they don't know.
Reminds me of that brief interchange in George Pal's "Time Machine" --
Rod Taylor, as the Traveler through Time:
    Curiosity has died, perhaps even courtesy has died, but I have come a long way, and there are a few things I'd like to know.
Bored Male Eloi:
The film's IMDb's trivia re: Woody Woodpecker -- who knew? Say, whatever happened to SeñorWoody? I've been whistling his theme song of late, for reasons unknown -- they finally get to it on his wiki page if you scroll down far enough. Says he was retired by Universal in 1972. WSS logo Picture him somewhere in Toon Town, playing cards with Shermy, Yogi Bear and Joe Camel. Today's jolly illustration, another corporate character, scanned from a 1965 water bill unearthed during some holiday clean-up at my parents.

According to the BBC, researchers at National Taiwan University have developed fluorescent green swine! Says they glow in the dark... I thought the new Glo-Fish were actually phosphorescent, too, but it it sounds like, no. They're glo as in Day-Glo... but Sam I Am, those pigs are green!

Coming up on the 60th anniversary of the worst maritime disaster ever, the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustlof. Survivors are interviewed on this Radio Australia programme. Guess at over 55 minutes and 25Meg, its mp3 qualifies as a podcast?

January 12, 2006
Lots of interesting old sounds are available at the UCSB Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project. Mostly music, and it's a great thing about the internet today -- not just the new stuff, but all manner of creaky old recordings are seeing the light of day again. For example -- sure, we're familiar with the voice of Franklin Delano, but what about Teddy?

Easy to imagine TR's disapproval of this rational analysis by Dennis Perrin, concerning patriotic veneration of the armed forces: Freedom Granted, Freedom Won.

There's reviews of some great old SF chestnuts in the archives of Stomp Tokyo's Bad Movie Reports.*

January 10, 2006
Having much fun exploring Nick Scipio's Picture of the Day archives. Many are NSFW, as they say.

In the Guardian, Was Jesus a Stoner?

The Tiki scam is kinda difficult to explain.

January 9, 2006
A photo from my Euro trip -- Berlin on a sunny October afternoon, in trendy Kreuzberg. Not only do we wonder about the big red blob, but directly underneath, the reason for the picture -- there's swing a guy swinging through his open balcony doorway up there. (Both images, click for biggery, natch.) I opened the shutter at the outermost point of his swing.

January 6, 2006
Probing around inside songfacts.com, you're bound to encounter little nuggets like
The name of the group was derived from "We Seven," the first book about the Mercury astronauts. They were a California group, and the song first took off on LA radio station KHJ. It was not uncommon that summer to be stuck in traffic on the way to the beach and hear that song played at full blast from dozens of cars, making it the first "road party" song. People would pound out the last few drumbeats on their doors, and I watched one guy dent the door on his Ford Comet doing this. If you remember the Comet, you know how hard he had to be pounding. Their first album was carried by this song, but while several other songs were respectable, none was anything like this title track.
... from the comments to You Were On My Mind.

Transcript of O'Reilly's appearance on Letterman, a couple days ago.

January 4, 2006
Three unrelated picture-sequences: first, some 60s advertising -- watching b&w TV in the glass-walled homes of the Motorola future. From a journalist on the BBC: Unseen North Korea; and finally, in Slate, concerning McMansions: Supersize My House!

Eight years, Two Americas -- comparing Federal responses to the Red River Flood in 1997 with New Orleans in 2005. More, from Dan Baum in the New Yorker: When Katrina hit, where was the NOPD?

ESL by Anne Ishii, in the Village Voice, about recent Asian involvement in Hollywood productions.

January 3, 2006
Truly we live in extreme times -- it rained on the Rose Bowl Parade yesterday. (LA Times article) Usually the monsoon doesn't begin down there until a little later in January, but the rainy season up here's in full swing. Perhaps you've heard of the recent storms pummeling Northern California? I love the winter rains but this batch triggered a power outage starting New Year's Day and ongoing -- after a day, the novelty of heating up tins of food on the camp-stove out on the patio wears off.
Update: After 54 hours off-line, my piece of the grid was restored.

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