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September 22, 2006
The illustrious history of the yellow legal pad by Suzanne Snider. (Given a choice, I'd never write on paper that color. And fortunately, my career isn't in law.)

Chiho Aoshima's "City Glow" (which we saw earlier this year at the Ecstasy show) has been installed in a London Tube station. More recently in LA, Home is where the Art Is featured a real live elephant in the room, painted pink and gold for the occasion.

Rove is gloating about the upcoming October Surprise.

September 19, 2006
Did You Hear the One About Hitler? concerns a new book about humor in the Third Reich, Das Schwein ist Tot by Rudolph Herzog.

In the New York Review of Books, Joan Didion holds forth on the de facto President -- Cheney: The Fatal Touch.

At a cell-phone blog called Mobile Opportunity, European vs. American mobile phone use.

September 18, 2006
YouTube Tip (been going around, must share): Sister Rosetta Tharpe, an extraordinary gospel singer performing "Down By The Riverside" with an electric guiter and all-male backup choir. Hope your system's up to playing it; she'll grow on you. (An excerpt of this video was in "Amélie" but even though I saw that film twice, I don't recall this.)

In this weekend's show Garrison mentioned a new campaign called RASH, Reading Ain't So Hard. It would encourage politicians to read the newspaper. "If the leaders would read we might think about following."

September 15, 2006
The latest David Sedaris in the New Yorker, in the French doctor's waiting room: D'accord!

Top 10 Cars You`ve Never Seen and at the BBC, the Top Science Pictures Of The Year.

Kottke in Austria: Wurst Vacation Ever. He enjoys Semmel which is what Bavarians and Tyroleans call Brötchen, one of my main pleasures in Deutschland -- crusty rolls, blobs of French bread, a given on any breakfast table there. For more about Austrian hot dogs see my little street food essay from 1996.

September 13, 2006
Iranian currency scan Out of the blue yesterday, one of my Persian students gave me a 10,000 Rial note (she said was worth about a dollar), which is so intricate and beautiful I had to share -- adorned with the once-familar face of Ayatollah Khomeini, the Islamic boogie-man of the late Carter and Reagan administrations. Click for the full-size detail, cropped to omit a blank watermark area. The reverse shows their mountain, Damavand, the highest peak in the Middle East. Its crater must be smaller because it looks more pointy than the other sacred volcano I know from foreign currency, Fuji.

Highlights of Burning Man '06. That waffle musta been amazing. Also in the Chronicle, When the cable car fare rose to $5, many riders hopped off. I've resisted riding the system since its '84 upgrade, after which separate, special tickets were required 'stead of just a Muni transfer. By comparison, the cars run infrequently now, and they're just for the tourists.

Drivers Give Helmeted Cyclists Less Room or in other words, that helmet may be making you less safe. (Always a point of contention with me, who's forced to wear one just to get on base, and yet in all my bike accidents it's not the head, but hands, hips, knees, elbows and shoulders which bear the brunt of impact.)

In "We Have Not Forgotten, Mr. President" Keith Olbermann invokes Rod Serling's "Monsters on Maple Street." When MSNBC didn't get the desired result from their 9-11 'Question of the Day' online poll, they changed the question. And a depressing reflection on the anniversary, Twin Tragedies.

September 11, 2006
In Newsweek: This is the New (multi-ethnic) Japan -- Immigrants are transforming a once insular society, and more of them are on their way.

One of the classes I took for my TESL certificate was "English Teaching Through Popular Music" and today I got to use its technique. Our current financial unit's vocabulary includes "shop around" so I played Smokey Robinson and the Miracles' first big hit from 1960 while passing around lyrics sheets, and this turned out to be a sensation. "Play it again, Teacher!"

September 8, 2006
translators Eventually I'll post a group photo of my class, but at this point all you're getting is Keiko's hands. Many of my students have these electronic dictionaries, which don't just translate -- they can also play recordings of the words. This means every so often while I'm droning away, covering the white-board with vocab, I'll hear a tinny machine-voice out in the peanut gallery repeating a word I'd used a few moments previously (reminding me of the Speak-and-Spell vocal effects in Genetic Engineering by the mid-80s synth-pop band, OMD).

A recent column by Robert Freeman -- Rehabilitating Fascism: How Would We Know It If We Saw It? More in a 2004 essay by Thom Hartmann, the Ghost of Vice President Wallace Warns: "It Can Happen Here" which is of course a nod to Sinclair Lewis, who said
When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.

September 6, 2006
New addition to the blogroll: Deconsumption.

Great rejoicing in Japan as Princess Kiko gives birth to a boy. At long last, the Chrysanthemum Throne has a suitable heir. What will it be like during this future Emperor's reign?

September 4, 2006
derilect factory Derilect Deco factory-office bldg in the center of a chain-linked field, spotted in south San Jose Saturday.

Recent Brighton photos (from the seaside UK resort).

Tokyo Night Walker, a flickr photo set. What a cliche -- next I'll be linking to YouTube. Okay, just this once, for the holiday -- it's Safe to Dance!

Synergy discography at Larry Fast's site.

August 31, 2006
For many months now Paul Krugman's columns have been locked away behind TimesSelect but fortunately, somebody's posting 'em blog-style -- here's two recent: Wages, Wealth and Politics and Hoping for Fear.

Speaking of Harpo... an excellent review of his autobiography, by Robert Wilfred Franson.

August 29, 2006
The quote making the rounds today came from Sheriff Jack Strain of St Tammany, who complained to a TV reporter about the influx of "thugs and trash from New Orleans" and warned people with dreadlocks or "chee wee" hairstyles to stay out of his town. (Chee Wees apparently being a cajun Cheetos variant. Another Crescent City snack, no longer available, was Dr Nut, mentioned in Anthony Qualin's Virtual Tour of A Confederacy of Dunces.)

A Slate slideshow: Trainspotters of Google Earth. I've yet to play wth this software application, although its output is popping up many places now.

Giant yellowjacket nests in south Alabama perplex experts -- like the Argentine ants, another social insect being observed building multiple-queen mega-colonies.

August 28, 2006
So yeah, I flew last weekend, just after the latest "War on Moisture" regulations were foisted upon the travelling public. Fortunately, my flights were uneventful, unlike the recent incident involving the iPod in the airliner's head. That perpetrator's account of what happened has the Captain saying
We think it's probably nothing, but in this day and age ... you can never be too careful.
And there's the problem, why any incident triggers a wasteful, heavy-handed over-reaction. I submit that we can be too careful. Patrick Smith put it this way in his most recent 'Ask the Pilot' column in Salon:
We seem to be losing our grip, sliding from a state of reasonable anxiety to one of mass hysteria. At this rate, we're making the task of the terrorist easier by the day; nobody needs to actually destroy a plane anymore to ignite a debilitating plague of panic and foolishness.

Details don't matter, and it's your patriotic duty as an American not to allow logic, facts or clear thinking to dampen the perverse psychodrama of our "war on terror."
In What the Terrorists Want, Bruce Schneier reiterates.
...objection to ridiculous new rulings are now forbidden in our over-authoritarian society. Our politicians help the terrorists every time they use fear as a campaign tactic.
Contrast those politicos with our great Democratic president who led the nation to victory in WWII -- he said we were fighting that war to preserve Four Freedoms, including Freedom from Fear. Are 'liquids' something to be afraid of? According to Mass Murder in the Skies -- was the plot feasible? the answer is -- no. Finally, Ryan Air illustrates the New Airport Security Procedure, a coming attraction.

In this brief Q&A with Noam Chomskey he labels him "de facto President" which I think is a practice we should all adapt -- more at the Cheney presidency by Robert Kuttner.

August 27, 2006
The shrub's Disdainful Presidency -- apparently, he farts in the presence of junior White House staffers as a joke on them -- which reminds me of the Führer's flatulence, treated by his veg diet. Confirmation, in the marketplace: now available, a farting shrub doll.

Bob Harris photos of his seven favorite places on Earth.

Blue Lights, Dark City concerns a UK paramedic's new book, composed of extracts from his weblog, Random Acts of Reality.

August 24, 2006
An astro headline made the news today, a fairly infrequent phenomenon, all about a terrestrial decision: the demotion of Pluto. Now, it's merely a "dwarf planet", like the asteroid Ceres. An NPR voice about the distress this is causing gave a WTF reason involving the Walt Disney cartoon dog. I could care less, it's just taxonomy, but the most amusing expression of this grief I've seen online is the first half of a very short film Scalzi posted capturing his daughter's reaction.

Don't miss Hear the Voices of 9/11 by Garrison Keillor. He mentions what helicopter pilots saw -- from a set of hi-res aerial photos, this one shows one of the WTC towers collapsing.

Pray Ball concerns a new trend: Faith Nights in the minor leagues.

August 23, 2006
Two world maps: from the BBC, Where Water is Scarce; and the Magic Bean Shop which indicates where Starbucks is dominant (as well as their products' sources).

Joan Cole diagnoses Narcissistic Personality Disorder in the shrub's Monday performance. More, by Fred Kaplan: What a Moronic Presidential Press Conference!

Israeli stoners against Hizbullah. Meanwhile, in Fresno, desperate Republicans are trying to increase their party's numbers by deception, appealing to those in favor of legalization.

August 21, 2006
Ten Strangest iPod Accessories. #2 is the iLounge Toilet Paper Dispenser.

Muppets wiki

So -- my class; went well. The ethnic distribution this first day was six Chinese, an Indian, seven Japanese (six with names ending in -ko), an Ethiopean, a Vietnamese, two inseparable Persian ladies from Iran, a Korean, and the one guy, a smart-aleck from Hong Kong. Also met a couple co-workers, mostly my counterpart 'round the corner, wearily showing me the ropes. There's no bells in this high school -- instead, the PA speaker abruptly emits these sharp, achtung! buzzing tones to signal class changes, which are all irrelevant to our own schedule.

A few more statistics:
According to a recent report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 8% of Internet users (about 12 million American adults) keep a blog, while 39% of Internet users (about 57 million) read them.

August 20, 2006
Salish & Snoqualmie Home from a long weekend getaway to the Seattle area where I snapped this yesterday, a view familiar from "Twin Peaks" : Salish Lodge overlooking Snoqualmie Falls. The visit included the Sybaritic luxury of Tony's new wood-fired hot tub, as well as a Boeing factory tour.

Man survives chocolate ordeal.

August 17, 2006
Der Spiegel interview with Jimmy Carter.

How to Persuade Your Neighbors to Quiet their Barking Dogs. Confirmation that many dog owners are, in fact, sociopathic assholes -- it's why they have noisy dogs.

The Decorated Houses of Nubia (in the Sudan), and an extensive flickr photoset of Isfahan, Persia, which features amazing blue tiles.

August 16, 2006
Zeon Attack! is a Newsweek web-only report by Brad Stone about video arcades in Japan -- certain games now utilize smart cards. Also, there's hanko trouble brewing -- that's the little stamp (also known as inkan) which every Japanese uses for an official signature. This custom originated in China, where the practice is now obsolete -- the Wikipedia entry on seals explains the term "chop."

Hoarders vs. Deleters: What your inbox says about you, by Jeffrey Zaslow, reprinted from the WSJ.

Loss of Belief is a still-relevant post from last month by Douglas Rushkoff.

Tourist Zones by Rolf Potts. I recently read most of his Vagabonding book while making myself comfortable in a Borders & Noble.

August 14, 2006
Invasion of the Jellyfish: The secret life of stingers. With gourmet details. Due to overfishing of their natural predators (like tuna and swordfish) there's twice as many now as a decade ago.

Jewish themes in Star Trek (really just an ad for a book of the same name). Also, William Shatner to Save Star Trek -- by doing the vocals in a new video game. Finally, Star Trek motivational posters.

The Invisible Grip -- Tom Chiarella on using eye contact for intimidation.

August 13, 2006
San Jose City Hall, illuminated San Jose's new City Hall rotunda was being illuminated all week, an Akira Hasegawa installation snapped here on Friday night, part of the ZeroOne San Jose whatever.

Happy Slapping in the road, with traffic, in Spain.

August 10, 2006
Yesterday, the man I've identified previously here as my co-worker/supervisor passed through the office on a brief visit -- in a career shift, he's opening a Mexican restaurant in his current Arizona location. Part of our discussion revolved around retirement, and he was stunned to learn I was 52 years old -- thought I was much younger. My glib explanation, gesturing at the familiar open container on my desk: "Must be the carrots." And speaking of new careers: today, I put on my lucky Alfani brown-leather shoes, and a yellow 'power' neck-tie, went to the interview, and got the job. I'll start teaching professionally in a couple weeks (and subsequently requested a shift to part-time status on my "real" job, at thirty hrs/week, which is just enough to retain all my current benefits). Yowza!

Hiroshima Stories We Can't Tell, an essay by Tom Engelhardt. In commemoration of Nagasaki Day yesterday, a Yahoo!News Slideshow: Japan marks atomic bombings. Another slideshow, unrelated, at Slate -- Dud on Arrival concerns iconic buildings.

In Esquire, Seventy-one Things a Man Should Know About Drinking.
#31: There is no upside to karaoke.

Rocketbelts: High Time For New Technology.

August 8, 2006
Los Straightjackets Rare treat this evening, a free concert in a nearby Palo Alto park by -- Los Straitjackets! I know this surf band from their version of "My Heart Will Go On" (from "Titanic") which I'd hear on KFJC. Also aware that they perform in Mexican wrestling luchador masks, more easily discernable in this additional view, taken straight on. Note how they're all wearing black Chucks -- in a show of solidarity, I'll be wearing mine tomorrow, too, although compared to running shoes, Chuck Taylors can be uncomfortable (but always stylish). For more about the group, who put on a great show, check their site, which is very well-designed.

After 40 years of burrowing, William Lyttle, the Mole Man of Hackney, was ordered to stop. Seems his wine cellar hobby got out of control, but there's no photos -- unlike this set of a very different house, whose occupants dug an escape tunnel. Not clear if they got away, but their grow operation has definitely been compromised.

Musty Man writes about being an expatriate (Guatemala, in his case) and Hating America -- long, but well worth the read.

August 7, 2006
Sometimes I really detest modern journalism. Whatever happened to the four W's and the H(ow)? Instead, every story must begin with some individual's part in it. For example, take Thousands of Troops Say They Won't Fight in the Air Force Times. One must wade through the first third of the article (about some gyrene's story) before getting to the details of interest:
Since 2000, about 40,000 troops from all branches of the military have deserted, the Pentagon says. More than half served in the Army.
And don't get me started about those irritating Tom Swifty headline puns, which newspaper editors seem incapable of resisting -- they add nothing to the story, and IMO lessen the paper's crediblity. (But then, I'm not their audience -- I haven't paid for a newspaper in years, decades even. Oh, I read stray bits of left-behind newsprint at the gym, the coffee shop, on public transportation, etc; but NPR and the wwweb are where I receive my news-fix.)

Now that they're updating again, a link to gullible.info, a group weblog of fascinating trivia.

Great Image of the Day at We Make Money Not Art, featuring a man modeling a pair of ear boosters -- reminds me of Acoustic Location and Sound Mirrors (with its amazing photo of the Japanese Battle Tubas).

August 6, 2006
Best of Craigslist: Why Geeks and Nerds are worth it. Fifteen reasons -- what's not to like?

Walked past the Lincoln Center in May, but this was too early to see Nancy Rubin's Big Pleasure Point sculpture (multiple views in a t_a_i_s flickr photo set). More art, but on a much smaller scale -- Starry Night LEGO Mosaic.

A site devoted to the Automat: automat.net.

August 4, 2006
Berlin, Indirection, and Pink -- a posting at Click Opera. If you want to see a picture of those pink pentagons, there's more info on the Telespargel's Wikipedia page.

Time for another periodic review of the new stuff. More soccer balls: Barier houses. Inside the home, Plug-In is a stylish electrical outlet for the elderly, but I see no reason their appeal wouldn't be universal. As an alternate to that rechargeable emergency torch pugged in at all times, adding to your electric bill, why not park a Solar Flashlight on a sunny window-sill? A pair of Space Age cooking appliances for you campers: The BakePacker, and the battery-powered Spenton wood gas camp stove. And how about an Ultraviolet Water Purifier? For the wrist, Nooka offers a new way to look at time. Judi Patson has a line of jewelry incorporating carpenter levels. A pair of new ideas in footware: for the ladies, I've heard this Miuccia Prada creation described as the "post modern" shoe -- and for the boys who love noise, Dada 'Code M' shoes have built-in speakers. Your cell phone may soon provide real-time Chinese-English translation. Software you can use right now, at the office: Work Friendly takes a URL input and launches a browser which looks like an innocuous Microsoft Word window. Finally, Tesla Motors' Roadster will be manufactured just up the 101 here in San Carlos -- but are Lithium-Ion Electric Cars Safe?

A few days ago I mentioned a new Muslim team of Superheroes -- turns out they already have something called The 99, in England -- it's a soft-serve ice cream cone that comes with a Flake bar.

August 2, 2006
Pikapika: Lightning Doodle Project -- pen-light animated GIFs. Lots more at the site -- the link's to the page featuring those performed at one of my favorite Tokyo places, Shibuya.

Photos of the Wax Museum up in Tokyo Tower somewhere. I've experienced the night-time view from the top, but don't recall any other attractions there.

Some current headlines:
Wave of counterfeits sweeps France, as forgers crack the euro code

Wal-Mart pulls out of Germany

A disaster to take everyone's breath away -- drought in the Amazon

Federal Air Marshals Place Innocent People On 'Watch List' To Meet Quota

Jewish family flees school district's aggressive Christianity -- remember this when next you hear a conservative whining about how Christians are "oppressed" in the USA. And it was in Delaware, a supposedly Blue state!

August 1, 2006
Kitty-chan as Darth Vader (or vice versa) -- imagine this photo was taken at the just-ended Comic-Con in San Diego.

My new toy is a legal, Class IIIa green laser, unlike the higher-end pointers available at Wicked Lasers, a Chinese company selling even "Extreme" blue models for $500 -- hard for me to believe they squeeze that much power out of two AAA batteries -- claims you can light a match with 'em! Laser Pointer 411 has more info and ideas, plus DIY Laser Light Show shows how to create an at-home Laserium. In my experience, doing similar displays in the 1970s with a Helium-Neon laser, finding mirrors light-weight enough is a challenge (I used small pieces of a silicon wafer).

A while back, a photo of a custom, jet-propelled New Beetle was making the rounds. Ron Patrick's full explanation has many photos; claims it's street legal. Also jet-powered: the Switchblade, an unmanned swing-wing supersonic bomber, under development by Northrop Grumman.

Concept Cars -- look at these machines! So much to comment on, don't know where to begin -- except, check those dagmars on the Cadillac Cyclone! And the stern of the Ford X-2000 looks like it was an inspiration for the Starship Enterprise.

July 31, 2006
A while back, you may recall how I'd decided to move, adjacent tenents making my apartment's environment unpleasant; but no subsequent updates were logged on this issue (since I couldn't locate anything acceptable and was frankly kinda burned out, searching). But as of last month, the urge for going disapated all of a sudden when the noisy neighbors all moved away! The worst was next door, a young guy who'd ironically replaced another dude with the same name, both of whom would host annoying, weekly gatherings on the patio, and the more recent Dave also had inconsiderate stereo manners (and terrible taste, in music). But this weekend, a new man moved in there, who so far has been agreeably quiet. Hooray!

Observed my nephew playing a Harry Potter video game with a couple of his pals a couple years ago, and had to stiffle my inadvertant laughter when I peered closely at their screen and saw boys holding broomsticks in their crotches, angling upward. The kids were young enough to be oblivious to the suggestive nature of this imagery, unlike your humble narrator. So, How Did Witches Come To Ride Brooms? Prepare to be amazed (ergot was involved).

Here's something new -- Islamicomics! "The 99" is a Muslim super-hero team created by Naif al-Mutawa's Teshkeel Comics -- read the first part of the 'origins' first issue here. More info at adherants.com and Newsarama, which features more preview pages.

July 29, 2006
Discovered a real (as opposed to the 2005) Buffalo Nickel in my pocket change today. Typically, its minting year was completely worn away, but it has to be over 68 years old. Related: Hobo Nickels.

Why 'the internet' is superior to Mainstream Media: contrast the AP's way-too-sympathetic report of Mel Gibson's DUI with TMZ.com's.

July 28, 2006
In the New Yorker, Know It All is a long article by Stacy Schiff about the Wikipedia (which along with Google and ask.metafilter form my triumvirate of cyberspace info retrieval, making this a Golden Age).

Ten Types of Men to avoid -- love the illustrations.

25 Cinematic Cliches I never wanna see again, by Robin Bougie. #14 is unfamilar, and I think #2 is much more commonly played by a Magical Negro.

Mysteries of Canada.

July 26, 2006
Website Flags -- proposals for vexilollogy in cyberspace.

How to adjust your mirrors. I've been canting my side mirrors out like this since reading a similar article in Popular Mechanics about fifteen years ago, which used from-above diagrams showing the angular range of each mirror. This one uses photos to convey the same info, subjectively.

Riding the new train to Lhasa, in Tibet.

Big Hole in Russia -- says it's the biggest open mine in the world, and even though the followup comments disagree, well worth a look.

July 24, 2006
Open letter to the shrub, from Ralph Nader.

Make Way for the Sidewalk SUV is an article about those electric carts (like I'd use at the Safeway during my recent broken leg recuperation), and how lazy Americans are appropriating what some apparently call electric "scooters" even though they're able-bodied. Note that like a bicycle, an actual scooter is a 'two wheels good' -- and there are real electric scooters available, now.

From last month's Harper's, A Foreign Affair -- on tour with American bride-seekers in Kiev. Also, Peter Reitsma's Hitchhiking Russia, Summer 2004.

Excellent: Kristen Brennan's huge Star Wars Origins.

July 23, 2006
Stagnaro's Packed the tube into the Tercel last weekend & drove up to the City to bicycle around and through Golden Gate Park and explore the 'new Chinatown' of Clement Street in the Richmond District, a few blocks north of the park and home also to the counter-cultural Green Apple used book store. The exploration style was so successful, did it again yesterday down to Santa Cruz, leaving early to ensure parking at the free structure downtown, just off Front St. Changes everything, having a bike down there, so easy to get around -- eliminates the trudge between the beach and Pacific Ave. Out on the wharf, there's several restaurants, including Stagnaro's, seen here, at the very end (never eaten at any, but I hear Riva's is the best).

July 20 - Moon Day
The 25 Biggest Wusses in Rock, and the 32 Worst Lyrics of all time. The latter begins with "My Humps" which I've heard of, but fortunately never heard. Except for the America song, "MacArthur Park" and the Genesis (both too-easy targets), the Year 2525, Bloodrock's "DOA" (really?) "Muskrat Love" and "We Built This City", none of these are familiar. My own candidate for worst lyrics in a recent oldie would be Deep Blue Something's "Breakfast at Tiffany's."

From Zero to Hero -- Tintin as Literature. Also, How to tell Thompson from Thomson.

Readers of "Doonesbury" were entertained last week by Republican apparatchiks' attempt to stage a flag-burning media event, and discovering they're nowadays most often made of a durable synthetic, which doesn't easily ignite. That sequence begins here. Myself, I don't follow the Trudeau; given the funny papers, I check only "Dilbert" and "For Better or Worse." Curiously, the former has become optional (although it's always relevant) but I catch up on the latter via the monthly strip fix. Lynn Johnston, who's threatening to retire in a year or so, has discovered the animated GIF, as of June 19th, mostly manifest by her characters blinking (and 'bubbling' thought balloons). But regarding the flag, out in the heartland, Arrest and Death Threats for people flying it upside down.

July 18, 2006
A page of many strange vehicles, including the McLean V8 Monowheel -- says it's street-legal, but not where.

The radio news was babbling about something overseas and I kept hearing an amusing word -- ha-Dude. They were talkng about Pakistan and the word is more typically spelled "Hudood" as in the Hudood Ordinance. What a ghastly culture!

Ever had one of those alpha males in your workplace who'd do the creepy shoulder-massage thing to certain of the females? I recall being shown a Sexual Harrassment video using this as an example of inappropriate, undesired touching. Turns out (to nobody's surprise) the shrub does it, too -- with the German Chancellor! But it's okay, because "the President is always right." Glad we have that settled.

July 15, 2006
Atlas Shrugged on-screen -- as a trilogy? (It's not that long.) And with Angelina Jolie as Dagny Taggart?? Help me please.

Enormous new dam fails in Brazil -- fortunately, not during the rainy season.

I'm sure they're annoyed this news leaked out -- abandoning zero tolerance for reasons of economy, Wal★Mart grants first-time-only five-finger discount to shoppers between the ages of 18 and 64 who swipe less than $25 (and get caught).

July 13, 2006
Brian Eno, from 2001: the Big Here and the Long Now. The latter concept's familar from various articles about Stewart Brand's 10,000 year clock project but I first encountered the former yesterday, in this test (which I gave up on; no way would I be getting even a passing grade). For some fresh Eno, The Fahrenheit Twins is a short story by Michel Faber with new background music. That link's an almost 8M MP3; fascinating but leaves one wanting more. The story has a Boris who lives on the tundra. Unlike Morgenfrosch, this one 's named Fahrenheit.

Another interview with Shannon about his forthcoming Too Much Coffee Man opera, among other things. For those fans of that other most popular hot caffeinated beverage, A Nice Cup of Tea is a George Orwell essay from 1946 with eleven rules for brewing the perfect cuppa.

July 12, 2006
Discovered the new Dumb Angel Gazette yesterday -- this issue, #4 (their first since '89) is a major upgrade from their previously crude 'zine format, and it has a '60s Surf Teen Culture Meets Tiki' theme. Among its myriad of period illustrations is an ad for the Hawk "Silly Surfer" models. I had the Beach Bunny and the Hodad -- where'd they go? Lost in an early '70s cleaning purge, I suppose... but should be able to replace them now, if I were so inclined, since they were re-released in the mid-90s.

The Four Most Overpaid White House Staffers. The Director for Lessons Learned pulls down a salary of over a $100K -- what do you suppose he really does?

This week's Slate travelog is A Nuclear Family Vacation in Russia. In this first installment they visit the communist equivalent to the Trinity Test Site. One more Soviet sight: photo of one of their huge submarines, cruising past a beach.

In Gaza, "Never Again" Gone Mad.

July 10, 2006
memorial on the 101 at Marsh Rd Paused yesterday along the 101 north of Palo Alto to snap this photo; it's a memorial for those who died in a crash last Thursday, a catastrophe for the South Pacific monarchy of Tonga -- two members of their royal family died just after their California arrival. An 18-year-old (awarded her license just a few months ago, and unharmed) speeding on the freeway in her Mustang collided with their SUV, which rolled, killing all of its occupants (although they were all straped in). More info, SJ Mercury News article.

Nattering Nabobs: David Remnick in the latest New Yorker, from Spiro Agnew, to the current administration's war against the press.

In the Wilson Quarterly, The Resurrection of Pearl S. Buck by Sheila Melvin. One of these days I've gotta read The Good Earth.

My green laser pointer arrived today -- $38 all together, new via eBay.

July 7, 2006
"It's a series of tubes."
This is the latest laughable assessment of cyberspace by an ancient politician, in this case, Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). Your Own Personal Internet is a transcript of what he said in the Senate, and Net Neutrality Has a Spokesperson is Dvorak's reaction (which has more background).

The Rise and Fall of the Hit is an excerpt from the new book by Chris Anderson, The Long Tail.

I've been avoiding Boing Boing for a while, but a post titled Blast From the Past is exceptional. It's about a set of six photos documenting how atomic bomb testing in Nevada illuminated downtown LA's night sky, in the 1950s. #2 shows the late, lamented Richfield building -- before my time, but familiar from a book I acquired just after moving there, LA Lost and Found, which has a striking color photo of this Art Deco structure at night. The caption says it was replaced by the gray Arco Towers in 1972.

One-page Furry Freak Brothers comic, their first new adventure in ten years.

July 6, 2006
Is Cheney Betting On Economic Collapse? Mike Whitney looks into his investment portfolio.

Three from the news wires:
What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage -- Amy Sutherland trains her husband with positive reenforcement, which actually works (unlike nagging).

July 5, 2006
Why Conservatives Can't Govern by Alan Wolfe --
Americans have learned something about the consequences of conservative ideas during the Bush years that they never had to confront in the more amiable Reagan period. As a way of governing, conservatism is another name for disaster. And the disasters will continue, year after year, as long as conservatives, whose political tactics are frequently as brilliant as their policy-making is inept, find ways to perpetuate their power.

The film was so dumb, vulgar and/or boring, you walked out before it ended, hoping to salvage at least part of the evening -- but then you're curious, how did it turn out? Most reviews don't give it away, so instead, check the Movie Spoiler -- the film may have an entry in their archive.

July 3, 2006
Some new products: 2006 IDEA Awards (a Business Week slideshow). Nestle Timestrips -- brilliant! Plus two things for the front door (when it isn't yours): the Reverse Peephole Viewer, and the Peephole Promotion of Papa John's.

Blue Chip is a fascinating article (by Glenn Zorpette, from a five-year-old Scientific American) about how Shuji Nakamura invented them. For recent developments with light-emmiting diodes, another slideshow: LED Architecture.

June 30, 2006
Strolling 'round the neighborhood the other night, I was suddenly struck & momentarily dazzled by the beam of a green laser pointer. Dredged up a couple of memories -- first, my initial sighting of coherent green light, in 1974 (thankfully, not head on). David bid me accompany him downtown to see a wonderful, short-lived installation by the artist Rockne Krebs -- three very powerful green lasers, beamed across the Potamac onto the marble paneling of the Kennedy Center's façade. And it was a splendid June evening. Krebs is still doing these: New Orleans, 2001. In the early, Dada phases of his career he signed the screen of one of this kind of TVs -- I saw it in an art show. The other memory was -- I want one of those pointers. Trouble is, they're expensive (orders of magnitude more'n the red ones). But dropping in price, I see...

June 28, 2006
The Complete Tom Swift Jr. Home Page is one of the best sort of online cyber-shrines, chock full of amazing details. After the usual summary, each book's entry has discussion questions like How feasible is it to build a Triphibian Atomicar? and How much impact would a Duratherm Wing have on civilization? More TS Jr: an appreciation by Jeff Duntemann.

Interview with Shannon Wheeler -- It Ain't Over Till Too Much Coffee Man Sings. I've been with TMCM from the very beginning, but his new direction (an opera) is perplexing. Shannon's latest blog entry shows a fan's illustration of how this might turn out. (Update: sorry, this last one disappeared, for some reason. It was a purple and yellow TMCM in a tutu, singing.)

Never knew about this one: Repatriation -- the Dark Side of World War II by Jacob Hornberger, president of the Future of Freedom Foundation. Important reading.

Carey Voss reports on the troops dealing with the current conflict: Hacking Iraq -- hajjinets and Morale Welfare Recreation Cafés.

June 25, 2006
Jacaranda Jacaranda Time
Once again the trees are blooming, and dropping their lavendar blossoms. We don't have these back east so they make this time of year special, and their purple heralds the summer produce season. The cherries are here, and the sweet corn, too -- soon, the peaches! (I've learned to ignore the latter until July 1.)

Cheshire Crossing is a new comic book about Wendy, Alice and Dorothy getting together with Miss Poppins and Ernest Rutherford, and it's wholly available on-line. In other comic news, after a year's hiatus, Jason Little is updating his new Bee series again. (I find access via its directory more conwenient). One more comic, by Neil Swaab: Mr Wiggles wonders, What kind of blogger are you?

It's time once again for the Control Voice to take us to -- The Outer Limits. Two guys (brothers?) named Holcomb have produced a great site devoted to the series, with in-depth studies of seventeen of the programs considered critical. Don't miss the Fun and Games section which not only addresses the bubble-gum cards, but also presents four new ones. There's been previous mention here of the "Mars Attacks" cards; I also collected these, somewhat out of habit, 'cause they weren't near as good. (Here is the complete set, all together, in order to apprehend their lurid coloring and ridiculous texts -- and just for reference, the first ten years of Monster cards catalogs all the collectibles from this era we were all buying down at the dime store.) After a session reviewing my archival videotapes, I'm wondering -- is the last sentence of the Control Voice's greeting correct, grammatically? Since we're about to experience awe AND mystery, shouldn't it reach from the inner mind to the Outer Limits?

June 21, 2006
Foot Fashion is a short page on what they wear in Japan, traditionally, with a focus on the split-toed socks called tabi that're like foot-mittens. The heavy-duty version with rubberized soles are called jikatabi and they're allegedly worn by construction workers 'stead of boots. (If you're into some of these oriental kicks, Amazon has 'em.) And according to this New Scientist article, the Japanese company Asics, in partnership with the Japanese space agency JAXA, has created jikatabi sneakers for zero-G.

Rare "rainbow" spotted over Idaho.

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