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June 19, 2003
Today is Juneteenth. On the left, behold -- the flag of this Afro-American holiday. On the right, the (well, a) Flag of Mars. This design abides by the Martian Rule of Three (and it's reminiscent of their eyes, in the movie). Click the flags for more info.

Yesterday, I met Laurie Anderson! She was being given a tour of the base, and just after the Division Chief finished a briefing on our systems, on the way out, by careful maneuvering, eye contact was made and I got an autograph. (She augmented her scrawl with two 'X's and a waving hand.) Since then, been berating myself, thinking up all the witty things I should have said, or interesting questions asked, but at the crucial moment I was tongue-tied, star-struck, couldn't quite restrain my urge to babble on like a fanboy. And hardly anybody else even knew who she was!

Definitely cherry season now -- rejoice! Fresh, ripe peaches soon.

June 17, 2003
Welcome to the Future! -- of the Air Car, a vehicle which runs on compressed air. Hmmm... in our troubled present, the latest thing in transport is the electric Segway -- you probably saw the photos, now read about the shrub's spill -- he apparently hadn't powered up yet, so the internal gyros weren't spinning to provide stability. That is a reverse from what we intuitively know -- the driver gets into/mounts his car/airplane/motorcycle and then turns the key.

History of Camp David has a sidebar menu with links to detail pages of each administration's activities there. Didn't realize it was originally called Shangri-La -- hit that link to learn about a bit of FDR disinformation concerning Jimmy Doolittle's Tokyo raid.

Two Photoshop how-to links:
Sharpening 101 and How to Photoshop the Matrix code.

June 14, 2003
On the Car guys' website, the top ten Ultimate Gay Cars.

In Esquire, What I've Learned, by Arthur Miller. I was hoping for something about Marilyn, but no. Still, a good listing.

Now, some clarifications; let's discuss a few disparate terms from current events. In the news, we hear about: Poland joining the EU, terrorist strikes in Israel by Hamas, troubles with Fannie Mae (or was it Freddie Mac) -- what is all this? I have trouble telling the difference between:
Medicare and Medicaid
The Motley Fool says Medicare is the retiree medical insurance program with which most people are familiar. For retirees, Medicare kicks in at age 65, and it has two parts, Part A and Part B. Part A covers hospitalization and Part B covers doctor visits and various other medical services. For almost all Medicare recipients, Part A is free. Part B, though, has a monthly premium that changes each year. [Note: no mention of perscription drugs.] Medicaid is a medical welfare program funded jointly by the federal and state governments and administered solely by each state under general legal guidelines. So... Medicaid is for the poor folks, whereas you're eigible for Medicare if you're collecting Social Security?
Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae
The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp (Freddie Mac) and the Federal National Mortgage Corp (Fannie Mae) are public/private entities, Government sponsored Enterprises (GSEs), and Slate's wonderful "Explainer" just posted the enlightening What Exactly Does Freddie Mac Do? where I finally achieved some comprehension. The Home Ownership Alliance FAQ has more info; they also discuss Ginnie Mae (the Government National Mortgage Association) which is part of HUD.
Hamas and Mossad
Something alliterative about these two make them hard for me to distinguish. According to this, 'Mossad' (the Israeli espionage agency) is Hebrew for "institution." Elsewhere, I learn that 'Hamas' is both a word meaning courage, bravery and/or zeal; and an Arabic acronym for Islamic Resistance Movement -- it's a radical organization which became active in the early stages of the Intifada.
And finally... it used to be the Common Market, then the EC, or European Community, now it's the European Union -- so, who's a member? To keep tabs I put together a little chart comparing EU members with NATO; plus, for travellers, € territory as well as those countries abiding by the Schengen agreement (the open borders thing). Euro (€) holdouts are Scandinavia and the UK (the latter just reaffirmed that they'd rather not give up the £ yet).

June 11, 2003
Air Brush Hirayama is all in Japanese, but don't let that deter you. Scroll down -- it's a page of links to picture-pages, some of them, him airbrushing, but mostly of the most outlandish, tricked-out trucks, at a meet or something.

David Sedaris has a new story in the New Yorker, set at the beach in North Carolina -- Our Perfect Summer.

About the battle for fotolog.net's soul, in Wired -- just as in other online communities, with growth comes problems with newbies.

June 10, 2003
Nice comic: Harvest Gypsy, one of those keep-scrolling-right deals. (A new word is needed for that format -- it's not a comic strip, since future frames are hidden until the user manipulates the scroll controls. Comic Scroll? Graphic Scroll?) Also, this week's "Cat and Girl" is pretty good.

Remember "Fargo"? I didn't much care for, but it was memorable -- didja hear about the Japanese tourist who supposedly went there in hopes of finding the ransom money? And was found, dead, with a crude map? This was in the news a year'n a half ago. Paul Berczeller was intrigued, did some research, and made a documentary about Takako Konishi -- read about them in the Guardian, Death in the snow. Seems the movie wasn't a factor.

From a worthwhile interview with Terry Tempest Williams, environmental writer and poet:
I'm also thinking of the whole idea of shadow. Whether we like it or not, George Bush is our shadow: arrogance, impatience, entitlement, greed capitalism; we are all complicit in that.
More about the 'shadow' (an intriguing concept of Jungian Psychology).

June 8, 2003
Long-time readers here may recall Susan, the Computer Store Woman. She's been through some changes, and is now rambling around Arizona or somewhere, and has just begun documenting her travels online at custer180.com. Before she left town she handed-me-down her old camera, and urged me to add more images to these pages with, so here goes -- some local color, photos snapped today (thumbnails). (It's an Olympus D-600L, my first SLR and my first digital, henceforth referred to as the Digicam -- clunky, not nearly as compact as theGirl's Canon, but I've learned to love it.)

It's June, when my favorite blooming native tree comes out, adding a delicate purple wash to the landscape in SoCal -- up here, the lavender-shaded Jacaranda (also seen spelled with a 'q') is not so common, but they're all over downtown San Jose.

There's a big Vietnamese grocery store down there called Dai Thanh which I enjoy browsing -- they have a whole wall of interesting religious articles, like these Buddhas.

Susan also sent along this scary link about Auto-ID, ePC and RFID -- the near future of inventory control. 

How to Make Business Card Cubes -- origami to utilize all those leftovers.

June 6, 2003
People are getting upset as they realize they were lied to about the reason for the invasion -- the situation is mushrooming. Or perhaps not -- seems to me we're all jaded and/or oblivious. The Follow Me Here weblog guy, Eliot Gelwan, laments --
Why does nobody, outside the progressive political commentators (who preach only to the converted) and the weblogging community (which only talks to itself) care? Is it the credulity or the apathy of the audience, or the increasing skill of the propagandists? Perhaps most of the public is just averse to living with the necessity of such constant rage at our leaders (which, after all, dates back to the Big Lies of Vietnam and the worldwide Communist conspiracy), whereas some of us, because of our own character pathology, thrive on ragefulness instead...If the outcry mounts (which is an open question in my mind, since the American public seem to be rolling over on this one as much as they have on Bush's theft of the election two years ago), I predict the dysadministration will conduct some sort of token witchhunt for "intelligence failures" to divert attention from the reality of the baldfaced lies at the policy level.
As may be, but I remain hopeful. Sister Joan is asking all the right questions: Is there anything left that matters?
Finally, they told us that we were invading Iraq to destroy their weapons of mass destruction. Now they say those weapons probably don't exist. Maybe never existed. Apparently that doesn't matter either.

Except that it does matter. I know we're not supposed to say that. I know it's called "unpatriotic." But it's also called honesty. And dishonesty matters.

And from the same source (the National Catholic Reporter), details and analysis of the Chris Hedges commencement speech mentioned here, ten days ago.

Tyranny of the Rich by Michael Kinsley explains how the old relation between democracy’s political majority and capitalism’s affluent minority has broken down. The latest example is this dividend tax cut -- obvious class warfare.

June 4, 2003
A 12-Step Program for Regime Change at home.

June 3, 2003
Not only do they have a lot of them -- seems to me, they're the default here in California: sliding glass shower curtains in the bathroom. Since we're living in a seismic zone, this makes little sense -- broken glasss is the last thing I want to be around when I'm wet and naked. Antipixel posted this entry describing an earthquake experience while bathing, during the temblor they felt last week in Tokyo.

The California Coast Project is neat even though 'Babs' objects, doesn't like it since you can bring up photos of her estate north of Malibu. It's the work of a husband-and-wife team of aerial photographers who're documenting the entire coast -- and because of the controversy, they've placed their photo of the Streisand property at the top of the page.

June 1, 2003
Dvorak looks up and announces -- Blogs: The Next Big Thing!

The word from Cannes (and Cleveland):

"A morose funk has settled on this year's festival, in which each film is more despairing than the last, and the overall message is: Life is hell, and then you die," wrote film critic Roger Ebert. But, he continued, "There are films here I've loved. The Sundance winner 'American Splendor,' about the blue-collar comic book author Harvey Pekar, is one of them, but it's out of competition."
Among the screenings available at Cannes, I'd find "American Splendor" irresistable (after all, I have every issue Harvey's ever published) -- but I'm much more curious about The Brown Bunny. (reaction)

There's a new malady out there, Night Eating Syndrome, or NES; and I think I have a mild case.

May 29, 2003
Two or three unique cars: explorer Richard Byrd took along the enormous Antarctic Snow Cruiser on his 1939 expedition -- says it was last accounted for down there in the 1960s. On television around that time, you might have caught the Supermarionation of Lady Penelope motoring about in her pink Rolls-Royce. Her show (The Thunderbirds) is being remade into a live-action movie, and according to this (which has pictures of both old and new) her vehicle will still be pink, but instead of a futuristic Rolls, it'll be a Ford T-Bird concept car.

The current issue of Smithsonian features Doo Wop by the Sea, an article about Wildwood, New Jersey. I looked around that place two years ago, during my second business trip to the Atlantic City area -- I remember a sign for the "Hawaiian Rumble Pancake House"(!) and how a lot of the motels' swimming pools were fringed with obviously fake palm trees.

Another worthwhile transcript: Gore Vidal on the "United States of Amnesia" -- interview from a couple weeks ago.

May 26, 2003
A nineteenth-century visit to the steam-powered drum machine at the Museum of Techno.

Charlotte Observer story, from last Monday -- Luke's in the news -- Marianne, diamonds, Russia.

The Swimmer -- fan shrine to the 1968 Burt Lancaster flick. I just caught this, on video. Always thought it must've been set in LA, but Connecticut, actually -- John Cheever territory. Any good? Well...

May 22, 2003
Chris Hedges, author of the new War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, gave a graduation speech at Rockford College, Illimois, where he was booed. (transcript)
For war in the end is always about betrayal, betrayal of the young by the old, of soldiers by politicians, and of idealists by cynics.

We have lost touch with the essence of war. Following our defeat in Vietnam we became a better nation. We were humbled, even humiliated. We asked questions about ourselves we had not asked before. We were forced to see ourselves as others saw us, and the sight was not always a pretty one. We were forced to confront our own capacity for atrocity -- for evil -- and in this we understood not only war but more about ourselves. But that humility is gone.


Another recent speech, this one more interesting, perhaps; by William Gibson (at the Directors Guild, in LA).

May 19, 2003
Calvin Pees -- all about those little stickers.
Where do they come from? I’ve never seen one in an auto parts store, although I’ve only looked a couple of times. As far as I can tell, the biggest source seems to be guys at carnivals with a computer and vinyl cutter. They set up shop with about a hundred tacky decals of witty sayings like "Shit Happens" and ripped off cartoon characters. By far the most popular variation is Calvin peeing on something.
I recall seeing them for sale in the mid-90s -- little piles were up by the cash register in this emporium at the NC state line on the way to the beach. In their version, Calvin's stream was directed at the President's name.

May 17, 2003
Rock Paper Scissors Spock Lizard 

Photos of the A.H.Smith #5, a scrapped steam locomotive on a siding in Branchville, MD.

About the test cannon they're using to shoot foam at components from the space shuttle Enterprise to simulate Columbia (with picture).

May 14, 2003
Short Wired column by David Weinberger articulates what I've frequently tried to get law'norder types to see:
We all understand that before the law there's leeway -- the true bedrock of human relationships. Sure, we rely on rules to decide the hard cases, but the rest of the time we cut one another a whole lot of slack. We have to. That's the only way we humans can manage to share a world.


The Zompist has posted another refreshing Rant, this time concerning the ever-offensive William Bennett (the Book of Virtues blowhard who pissed away $8M in Atlantic City casinos). Somewhere else I read the suggestion, that since he finds illegal drug use to be such a problem, how come he didn't donate some percentage of that cash to drug treatment programs? Then he'da felt truly virtuous (and it would've been tax deductable, as well).

Glad I saw the preview yesterday, 'cause the review's in (from a reviewer I trust), and I ain't goin' --
The grim news is that "The Matrix Reloaded" is as messy and flat-footed as its predecessor was nimble and shapely. It's an ugly, bloated, repetitive movie that builds to a punch line that should have come an hour earlier (at least).
Please, save your money. Resist the hype. Life's too short to waste it being bludgeoned by bad Hollywood movies. There's so much good cinema out there -- for example, catch "Le Cercle Rouge" before it gets away!

May 13, 2003
While in Fry's today I passed a big flat-screen desktop monitor which began a "Matrix: Reloaded" preview just at that moment. Looked fascinating, naturally; but I'm suspicious of all sequels and wondered if I was seeing all the good parts. Reading a few of these 50 Reasons to reject "The Matrix: Reloaded" dampened my anticpation somewhat; and avoid the link if you don't want to encounter any spoilers! The weblog I got it from (FmH) suggested the whole thing was a troll, but this reason sounds more like Ignatious:
I had attended a showing of "The Matrix" in May of 1999 with a lady friend, because we are both big Morgan Freeman fans. An hour into the film, as I observed what dreck we were wading in, I walked up and stood before the screen and tried to explain to the audience that this vomitus was below their dignity. I was greeted by some of the most vulgar insults imaginable, until some began throwing objects and one man even knocked my pipe from my hand. Do you wish to be associated with a group of such character?
In hindsight, I consider my own reaction to the original a pretty good entry -- it's here, if you're curious.

May 12, 2003
Quite beautiful, extraordinary, really -- at work, I tweaked the big image a bit, and set it as my PC's desktop-background. The Deepest Photo Ever Taken is a Sky and Telescope article about a 3½ hour Space Telescope exposure made with the Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary Camera, pointed towards the neighborhood of the Andromeda galaxy.

Australian news article describes India's planed moon shot (unmanned).

Martin Sieff, Senior UPI News Analyst: Probing Columbia's Fiery Fate -- he compares it with the Titanic.

May 5, 2003
I'm in a heads-down phase of staying late at the office for the next couple weeks; don't expect much in the way of updates here until this thing blows over.

Somewhere recently in Scalzi's Whatever he said that It's been noted that Man can do anything, so long as it's not the thing he's supposed to be doing at the moment.

Sam Smith's great new essay is Coalition of the Shilling -- not in the sense of the British coin, but as in those "... who pose as satisfied customers to dupe bystanders into participating in a swindle."

May 3, 2003
David Corn's latest "Capitol Gains" column in The Nation on the shrub's "Top Gun" Photo-Op summarizes his spotty service record. More details on that in this Washington Post fourth of seven articles.

Another little animation-video from the Space Station -- High Tea -- with chopsticks!

May 1, 2003
Here's something new -- available in Europe now, a true 3D monitor -- it's like a crystal ball. Not the annoying, so-called '3D' which tricks normal eyes (but not my own; that effect seldom works for me) but the real thing, like in Star Wars -- you know, "Help us Obi-Wan Kenobi -- you're our only hope."
The monitor consists of a transparent volumous bulb in which a high-speed spinning "plate" revolves, displaying images from pixel points on its surface.

Moonset from low earth orbit -- animations from the Space Station show how the lunar disc flattens, its image distorted by the Earth's atmosphere.

Everybody's linking to this today, the Montana time capsule --
In 1952, a Roundup grocery store closed their doors because of a death in the family and was never opened until a few months ago.
Now the contents are being auctioned off -- lots of intriguing thumbnails, photos of the inventory.

April 30, 2003
Weird, appaling "Fresh Air" yesterday, about how agents of both the Left and the Right have managed to get references to anything which certain groups consider objectionable eliminated, from school textbooks and standardized tests. The interview was with Diane Ravitch, who wrote the recently published Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn. Another segment of the show was a repeat of Geoff Nunberg's Politics of Polysyndeton -- it's a rhetorical device used by columnists of both persuasions.

April 27, 2003
Hinky -- I've been asked, what does it mean? Often my answer is, that's what Tommy Lee Jones said, when he heard an underling use this adjective in the "The Fugitive" movie. (And since his explanatory response was unsatisfactory, I'm giving it a go, here.) Sometimes its been observed spelled with a 't' (hincty) (but if that's the correct spelling, the 't' is silent -- pronunciation: rhymes with "stinky"). Means Something silly, juvenile, nerdy, childish, unmanly; something you're supposed to do, or used to do, or be into, but don't anymore because the cool guys would never. (Ideally, you've outgrown it on your own, rather than abandoning the thing via peer pressure.) Example from my own experience: Although "Lost in Space" was still in the prime-time schedule, winding down in its final seasons; as the clearly superior "Star Trek" was running its first season, "Lost in Space" had become hincky by 1967 (although it was quite cool when it first began). Maybe that's a definition of hincky -- the opposite of "cool." But it's not that simple. Another example -- flipping through the latest issue of Giant Robot I saw this URL: www.hinkyfluff.com -- perhaps there's more clues at that site.

April 26, 2003
A Deck of Cards for US regime change.

Andy helped me get into James Burke a decade ago, loaning me his videotapes of "Connections" and "The Day The Universe Changed" -- a few years later, he let me catch up with the forgetable "Connections 2" which appeared on The Learning Channel, rather than PBS. Now I'm watching "Connections 3" (which was also screened on TLC) courtesy the ever-wonderful Los Altos Library's video section, and I find it as good as the original -- unfortunately, they only have that series' first three programs. For more information, (naturally) turn to the Internet, where Tony Palmer has put together the James Burke Fan Companion -- follow its links to Ambrose Video (which sells them) for individual episode descriptions.

Memorable SARS photo (which reminds me of those pictures from the 1950s, taken inside 3D movie theaters) -- audience at a Hong Kong SARS symposium.

All about "Wipe Out", the Surfaris' instrumental (whose drumming rhythms we loved to imitate on any handy surface, in 1967) and the many phonies who claim to have been in the band, including a chairman of Nevada's Republican Party -- in fact, a slacker I had to surpervise, while I was living in LA, told me his father was the band's bass player (but his name wasn't Connolly).

April 24, 2003
About Slats, an amusing robot recently observed on the streets of Berkeley (although the report was published in Modesto).

The 'most astounding web page of the week': The Secret Arsenal of the Jewish state -- pinpoints locations of their "WMD." (It's buried in the MS-NBC site; more info in this explanation.) Also, in the interest of balance, they have another article, about North Korea, with a similar map (scroll down). The latter has way more little icons, and both require Flash.

Does "Orange Alert" affect you, at all? Does me -- Security cranks up their degree of employee harrassement (ie, random vehicle searches) at the gate, going in to work. Well, now that the alert's back to "Yellow," all's back to the 'normal' -- Presto! In other personal news, I just returned from a quick Easter jaunt East, where I picked up a cold. Aye, seems to be my burdon of late, getting ill annually, in the Spring. Adding to my misery, the pain in my right arm I've developed this past month was diagnosed yesterday as a malady related to computing all day -- no, not Carpal Tunnel, but Tennis Elbow -- and I don't play tennis! (Although I do find some interest watching women play, but only if they're garbed in the sport's traditional livery.)

April 23, 2003
Today marks the traditional feast day of the Green Prophet, Khizr, or Elijah -- Islam's patron saint of cannabis.

April 22, 2003
Recently I've noticed a couple instances of people collecting the pull-tabs from aluminum beverage cans, for charity -- don't they realize it's an urban legend? Not exactly -- naturally, the snopes crew has compiled the low-down -- these metal bits are, in fact, collected; but
It needs be stressed yet again that pull-tabs are far from "found money" -- even Ronald McDonald House gets only 40 cents a pound for them ($474 per million tabs, according to their web page). You'd still do far more good organizing a local soda can recycling program and donating the proceeds of same to Ronald McDonald House (or indeed any other charity).

Another good Scalzi post: The Terror of Bad Chocolate -- thought it would describe an encounter with a Palmer product (this being Easter'n'all) but no, something even worse, I suppose... but since the redemptive denouement involves a Cadbury product, his standing as a discerning chocolate gourmand is dubious.

April 21, 2003
Excellent -- A Chill Wind is Blowing in Our Nation -- Tim Robbins speaking at the National Press Club. (He was in "Bull Durham"? Thought that was a Kevin Costner picture -- I didn't see it, although I did catch "Field of Dreams" -- that one had a refreshing 'victory over the town censors' sub-plot, which I gather is now forgotten. How come Kevin wasn't involved in this Cooperstown fracas? My memory of the Hall of Fame: sitting out in the car, reading, while the rest of my family took way too much time absorbing the 'wonders' inside. I believe this was when I was twelve years old.) Anyway, Scalzi's reaction to Robbins' speech is also useful: "Free" Speech and its Enemies.

Debunking the Beaver -- exposing the cracks in Mayfield's picture windows.

April 16, 2003
Howard Zinn sure gets it right in A Kinder, Gentler Patriotism --
As a patriot, contemplating the dead GIs, should I comfort myself (as, understandably, their families do) with the thought: "They died for their country?" But I would be lying to myself. Those who die in this war will not die for their country. They will die for their government. The distinction between dying for our country and dying for your government is crucial in understanding what I believe to be the definition of patriotism in a democracy.
Me, too, brother. I think that distinction is lost on those who instinctively trust the government, a trust I can't share -- after Vietnam, Watergate, and Iran/Contra, how can any administration be trusted? Especially Republican, especially this one, installed in such a dubious, sinister manner. Like the bumper sticker says, I Love My Country (but fear its government).

Norwegian Cruise Lines bought the United States! (press release) Speaking of ocean liners and cruise ships, check this news photo from Long Beach.

The Seattle Windshield Pitting Epidemic of 1954 was an example of what the Music Man called 'massteria.'

City of Tomorrow is a compendium of lots of familiar stuff, but still worthwhile.

April 15, 2003
Another tragic report out of the anarchy in Iraq: Yahoo!News on the looting and burning of the National Library in Baghdad, as US troops stood by, doing nothing. Somebody compared this loss to the Alexandria Library fire.

Michael Wolff's story -- his reputation is now wise-ass war reporter, the Yossarian of journalists, as he dared ask "Why are we here?" instead of "General, is the war going well, or is the war going extremely well?"

The question it turned out, spoke powerfully to people who think this whole thing (not just the news conference, but, in some sense, the entire war) is phony, a set-up, a fabrication, in which just about everything is in service to unseen purposes and agendas. But it seemed to speak even more dramatically to people who think the whole thing is real, pure, linear, uncomplicated, elemental. For the former I'd addressed something like the existential issue of our own purposelessness, but for the latter, I seem to have, heretically, raised the very issue of meaning itself.

Searchable Time magazine cover archive.

Followup on subway/bus fares in NYC: World New York discusses the best MetroCard options. For this weekend visitor (who's been absent from the Apple for almost a decade, alas) the $7 Unlimited 1-Day Fun Pass sounds like the only way to go. Another followup, on Astro Boy's birthday: Japan Times reports on the Tokyo parade, in his honor.

Gross -- how to do Neti yoga (illustrated). It's all about forcing water up your nose, a rite of purification. On this one, I'm with Lindsay (from whom I got the link): "I cannot stand having water in my nose" -- myself, I refuse any medication involving a nasal spray delivery system. Reminds of the weird stuff coke and meth fiends do, like snorting some saline, or even a few drops of wine, when things get too dry up in there -- yuckah!

April 13, 2003
Latest SARS updates -- at Yahoo!News: Cathay Pacific losing $3M/day, 3 more deaths in Canada; in-Depth, at Forbes magazine: mysteries, "supershedders." Personally, I believe we're all going to get this disease, in a month or two we'll all be sick. Hopefully I'll not be close to any fatalities, that Americans' robust health will see us all through.

April 12, 2003
From the null device weblog:
You've seen the historical images of the newly-liberated people of Iraq toppling the statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad? Well, claims have emerged that the whole thing was staged. Apparently the square was sealed off by US Marines, with the newly-liberated Iraqi people kept well away from the scene. The statue was pulled down by a US military vehicle. The celebrating Iraqis seen in the square were members of the militia of Ahmed Chalabi, Washington's favourite for Leader of Free Iraq. The whole thing was staged for the benefit of the media as a propaganda exercise. Mind you, people have said similar things about the moon landing.
The link's to an annotated long shot of the event, located at the Information Clearinghouse, which I've placed on my links page as a news source.

Snapshots of the chaos: Looters Ransack Baghdad's Antiquities Museum (from Yahoo!News). More details: The state of Iraq by Brendan O'Neill --

As a consequence of America and Britain's intervention, Iraq is spinning out of control, its tensions and divisions rising to the fore. The routing of the old regime has already triggered battles for power, as small, armed and opportunistic groups move into the vacuum left by the war.

The Bush administration has always been more interested in Iraq as a platform for itself, than as a state with problems that need resolving. For Bush officials, Iraq was useful as a focal point for Washington's post-9/11 attempts to reassert a sense of mission on the world stage. They weren't interested in Iraq as a nation state with its own tensions and divisions.

Speaking of the shrub, a second opinion confirms the psychopath diagnosis -- but rather than dwell on the iniquities of the present, let's turn our attention instead to one of the founding fathers, the great Thomas Jefferson, who got that incredible deal on the Louisiana purchase, from Napolean -- did you know that he was into karate?
  (Thanks, Jeff!)

April 10, 2003
George McGovern: The Reason Why, in The Nation. He was the first presidential candidate I voted for, in the '72 election, when Nixon was reelected, by a landslide.

Jon Carroll describes Hi, a magazine about American culture to be distributed in Arabian lands.

I've traveled in Egypt and Dubai and Oman and Muslim northern Nigeria, and they just weren't "hi" kinds of places. They were "you are very welcome in my home" kinds of places, and "you must pay the double because-it-is-Wednesday fee" kinds of places, and even "once again you have misunderstood everything, but please have some flat bread" kinds of places.

But not "Hi!"

Doesn't sound like the publication will be a profitable enterprise.

"Vertigo" San Francsico, Then and Now.

April 9, 2003
About the new Organic LEDs:
two articles, from zdnet, and Business Week -- the latter describes how Ching Tang invented the technology, and that green and blue came first, as opposed to the development of regular LEDs.

Wow: Farewell, subway token -- NY Times article says tokens will be sold for the last time this Saturday. Turnstiles won't take 'em after midnight, although theyll still be good on the bus through calendar 2003. From now on, the MetroCard, which I've yet to handle. (Of course I'm familiar with the concept, introduced via the DC Metro Farecard -- I've got a couple of its brother BART farecards in my wallet right now.) And let's see -- hmmm. I have a pair of the early 80s solid tokens, a pair of the late 80s/early 90s bi-metallics, and one 1979 75th anniversary commemorative (with the diamond cutout). Therefore, I'd trade the extra of each of my doubles for a Y-cutout, and a pentagon cutout -- anybody interested?

All of today's links came from the Girlhacker's Random Log.

April 7, 2003
Today is the day Astro Boy (AKA Tetsuwan Atomu, or 'Mighty Atom') was born, in Takadanobaba (or 'Baba,' as I've heard it's called -- one of the few Tokyo bookstores I know of with good English selections is there). Although the guys I was in Boy Scouts with in the early 1960s taught me how "Made In Japan" meant flimsy, and about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I like to believe my first actual exposures to things Japanese came with origami (for which I showed an aptitude; my parents encouraged it by putting me into a weekend crafts class offered at a local school) and -- "Astro Boy" cartoons! (Mmmm, origami... I still recall the Dewey Decimal code for where you can find books on it, at the library: 745.54 .) Anyway, this is the actual day Tezuka Osamu tagged as the date Dr. Tenma brought his creation to 'life' -- a Yomiuri Shinbun article describes the festivities planned in Japan, to celebrate. Myself, I've begun reading the original manga, translated by Frederik Schodt -- really great stuff!

The latest from Noam Chomsky, a March 21 interview: Iraq Is A Trial Run --
This is not pre-emptive war; there is a crucial difference. Pre-emptive war has a meaning, it means that, for example, if planes are flying across the Atlantic to bomb the United States, the United States is permitted to shoot them down even before they bomb and may be permitted to attack the air bases from which they came. Pre-emptive war is a response to ongoing or imminent attack.

The doctrine of preventive war is totally different; it holds that the United States -- alone, since nobody else has this right -- has the right to attack any country that it claims to be a potential challenge to it. So if the United States claims, on whatever grounds, that someone may sometime threaten it, then it can attack them.

The doctrine of preventive war was announced explicitly in the National Strategy Report last September. It sent shudders around the world, including through the US establishment, where, I might say, opposition to the war is unusually high. The National Strategy Report said, in effect, that the US will rule the world by force, which is the dimension -- the only dimension -- in which it is supreme. Furthermore, it will do so for the indefinite future, because if any potential challenge arises to US domination, the US will destroy it before it becomes a challenge.
For some reason this reminds me of Quadberry's message, issued just before he flew off to 'Nam in Barry Hannah's "Testimony of Pilot" story: "I am a dragon, America the Beautiful, like you will never know."

April 4, 2003

Somewhere in today's Salon, this lament: Isn't it possible to critique the president without giving aid and comfort to the enemy? Indeed it is -- of course we all 'support the troops' -- that emphasis is just authoritarian rhetoric meant to derail dissent -- Brooke explains why it's a red herring. In the Baltimore City Paper, Brian Morton provides confirmation: This Is America --

In case you haven't gotten it yet, here it is in a nutshell. Criticizing the president is not the same thing as criticizing the troops. Criticizing the president is not the same as criticizing America. And criticizing the president is not "giving aid and comfort to the enemy," which is the classic definition of treason, a federal crime that earns felons the death penalty.
And David Greenberg at Slate agrees --
In short, the claim that by protesting dissenters are showing insufficient 'support' for the troops is specious.
Love that word -- it has its own debate-terminating attributes. Also in Slate, the ever-useful Explainer tackles the ubiquitous cakewalk -- it's a black thing!

  Two unrelated music-artist sites which might be of interest (they are to me) -- Link Wray's Net Shack; and a comprehensive, enlightening review of the Four Tops' recordings.

Also, Hempen Culture in Japan -- long, historical.

April 3, 2003
The National 9-11 Commission had its first hearings Monday and Tuesday (transcript links, listed by witness). Mindy Kleinberg, whose husband was a WTC victim, really had her testimony together. Read it, and wonder... on the other hand, Abraham D. Sofaer's makes me rather hawkish, of a sudden.

April 2, 2003
Analysis of yesterday's USA Today concerned shrub-stroke, with excerpts -- that detail about the sweets turned my head; Jose recognized what it signifies. (And don't miss the Wayne Madsen should-happen he links to.)

Wonderfully sarcastic, refreshing essay by Arundhati Roy (winner of the Booker Prize, a major literature award) -- she's anti, naturally:

It's odd how those who dismiss the peace movement as utopian, don't hesitate to proffer the most absurdly dreamy reasons for going to war: to stamp out terrorism, install democracy, eliminate fascism, and most entertainingly, to "rid the world of evil-doers".

Simple, graphic and appalling representation of the costs associated with the invasion.

March 31, 2003
A former CIA analyst writes how the US was 'conned' into war. Also, Robert Cuttner on How war distracts from outlandish Bush policies --
This administration's slogan might as well be, "Sacrifice is for suckers." While young men and women risk their lives in a war whose rationale remains to be proven, the larger Bush program diverts money from services to ordinary Americans, even our homeland security -- to give tax breaks to multimillionaires.

Margaret Atwood, Canadian author of The Handmaid's Tale, has written an open Letter to America.

A scene from Amoy Gardens in Hong Kong, the apartment complex where authorities have quarantined 214 residents for ten days after 92 new cases of the deadly virus were reported there. Santana has joined Moby and the Rolling Stones in cancelling Honkg Kong tour dates. (Those previous three links are to Yahoo!News stories -- for more information about the disease check the SARS inDepth Backgrounder.)

March 29, 2003
As the American press is biased, and we're all wired now, many of us are getting a better newsfeed from sources abroad -- for example, from an English reporter on the scene, Marines losing the battle for hearts and minds -- also, a column about Fear -- both are from the Guardian. And speaking of news from Britain, the creepy, derelict West Pier burned yesterday (that's a BBC report; here's more photos, from a webcam).

March 26, 2003
Why Nerds are Unpopular, by Paul Graham -- the social hierarchy and tribes of American secondary schools -- long, but worthwhile.

March 25, 2003
What's to say? I'm numbed by the war, can't write -- for more reading, some links...
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