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December 14, 2003
"Never end a sentence with a preposition." Winston Churchill's response, when reminded of this by a pedantic speechwriter, was That is the sort of nonsense up with which I shall not put. Another rule we hear all the time: Never split an infinitive. What's their source? Bishop Robert Lowth, who wrote A Short Introduction to English Grammar in 1762. His idea was that our language, a Germanic tongue, should be made to follow the grammer rules of Latin... and since infinitives in Latin are a single word, one should always keep 'to' and the verb together, in English. Those who'd enforce language rules, even after they've become archaic, are called Prescriptives, and those that describe the language as it's currently being used are known as Descriptives. For example, many people consider the Dictionary to be the Law of Spelling, when in actuality any dictionary is just a snapshot of the language's vocabulary at the time of its publication. Another rule, of which I was unaware until this week, involves the comparatives 'less' and 'fewer'. The rule is, use 'less' before uncountable nouns (like sand, or furniture) and 'fewer' before plural countable nouns (like apples or chairs). Hence, Prescriptives cringe when they see the 'Less than ten items' sign at the express line-- but to me, and all science people, this discussion concerns '<' -- which is always less than. Descriptives observe a decline in the use of the f-word, such that it's maybe becoming obsolete (I know I don't like it).

December 12, 2003
Urgh, so sick -- a cold, or the new flu? Not sure, seems like symptoms of both are present; I did get a flu shot, a couple months back -- they give 'em out for free, at work.

This was enlightening -- traits of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, by Joanna Ashmun.

December 10, 2003
New interview with Noam, at the Guerrilla News Network.

The massive August 14 blackout caused by a military test, possibly involving an EMP? (Report from an under-publicized public comment meeting.)

Bill Murray doesn't want an Oscar.

December 9, 2003
More 'conspiracy' comics from Mack White, Dead Silence in the Brain -- the CIA Assassination of John Lennon.

Dear Mr President, by Felicity Arbuthnot -- About the Iraq National Symphony Orchestra.... (They just did a command performance at the Kennedy Center -- she details 'the rest of the story.')

* * *

Forever Bright sells LED Christmas lights, in five colors. Also, at a UK site, blue LED xmas lights: string of 40, £30.

Hmmm... further investigation reveals I didn't actually post about it before, so here's more Superflat information.

December 8, 2003
Takashi Murakami's Superflat Museum -- Japanese, colorful, inscruitable. I know I mentioned 'superflat' once before, but can't locate the place, now.

December 5, 2003
Excellent Bob's Comics Review, of "Peanuts".
Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.

Where's the Watchdog? summarizes the 9-11 investigation (formally known as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the US), and its lack of media attention. NY Times column about how it will devolve, with the departure of Max Cleland. Related: Ellen Mariani is a 9-11 widow who's written an open letter to the shrub.

Another Follow-up:
Jorn found.

December 4, 2003
You know how sometimes little suggestions your elders made while you were growing up, or seemingly trivial occurances, turned out to have an enormous impact later? (And they're often way different from the ones those elders would've prefered had greater impact?) Something I'm grateful to my Mother for, about which I'm sure she's long forgotten, was encouraging -- nay, insisting -- that I attend an amateur production of "Cabaret" some group put on in my high school's auditorium, in the summer of '71, when I was idling between my junior and senior years at that institution. The Liza Minneli film wouldn't come out until a year later, but I probably already had some familiarity with the music (since the show had been running on Broadway for years) but I didn't know anything about the story, and having nothing better to do, I went -- and Mom said something about it being important, in order to learn how things developed in Germany, before the war -- that we should know what that time was like, in order to recognize and prevent its ever happening again; that ignoring politics could be perilous. Some see similar trends developing today. David Neiwert, who wrote the great Rush, Newspeak, & Fascism exegis I've linked to before (and upon which I ponder, again and again) posted a long entry, the Political and the Personal to his Orcinus weblog -- he'd
...always presumed that mainstream, ordinary conservatives, whose decency I've never doubted, would act in concert with liberals in preventing any such thing from occurring here. But liberals, or at least their political leadership, have been simply too spineless to effectively counter such aggression; and conservatives, it has grown increasingly apparent, are now content to sit back and watch.
A little less than two years after I first saw the play, the school's Senior Class performed their own version -- and since banjo players were in short supply, my services were requested, in the orchestra. So What, which was omitted in the film version, was my big number, with its sentiments I now recognize as Buddhist:
For the sun will rise and the moon will set
And you learn how to settle for what you get
It'll all go on if we're here or not
So who cares? So what?
Anyway, great post -- read it all. 'Specially if you habitually vote Republican.

Terrorists with cyanide bombs were apprehended recently, in Texas. Didn't hear about it? How can this be? Perhaps, because they were domestic right-wing terrorists. I was going to link to a local CBS report, but then discovered how the Memory Hole has reprinted that and several other related articles.

Follow-up to a recent posting -- seems they won't be selling me any of the new fluorescent tropical fish -- at least, not at the local aquarium store. In October, Governor Davis signed a bill making them and anything transgenic illegal -- and aparently, California is the only state (so far) with a prohibition like this in place.

December 2, 2003
James Renner catches up with Bill Waterson, sort of, in Missing! Also missing is Jorn -- his Robot Wisdom weblog was an inspiration for my own.

At snopes.com, (Canadian) Rick Mercer's Apology to America. While we're at it, check Sam Smith's Apology to Younger Americans.

Ryan McMaken, Patrick Henry: Enemy of the State; Jay Bookman, This War Not Against Terrorists, and a new Krugman column on the Diebold affair.

December 1, 2003
I don't shop there -- read about why, and how they're destroying America in the Wal-Mart You Don't Know in Fast Company. Mentioned are Vlasic pickles, Huffy bicycles, Levi's (all part of their inventory); and the A & P.

The World's Heaviest People, at the web site of Dimensions Magazine, "a forum for those who prefer the large figure" -- several of them died while on various weight-loss regimens, literally starving to death.

November 30, 2003
Today, I finally went wireless, with Geoff's assistance and hand-me-down LinkSys 802.11b card, mated with my Tecra laptop in a coffee shop. No wires, no charge, amazing!

November 26, 2003
Reading the latest William Gibson -- this always enhances my reality. I remember the first time, belatedly catching up with Count Zero, when the Berlin Wall was falling. Two objects mentioned in the narrative so far, new to me: "Bibendum" (the Michelin Man's name); and the Curta Calculator, a collector's item, like a cross between a precision camera, the Magic Brain, and a peppermill.

Qeester is a few well-crafted pages documenting Qee, another collector's item -- little figures, made in Hong Kong.

Bikini Science!

November 24, 2003
At the aquarium store in January, genetically altered fluorescent red zebra fish -- gimmee! ($5 apiece.)

American Gods is a Village Voice article by R.C. Baker which reviews the new Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross and Arlen Schumer's The Silver Age of Comic Book Art -- "Kingdom Come," Uncle Sam, and Jack Kirby all figure in the discussion.

Team shrub wrecked the gardens at Buckingham Palace -- the Queen is furious. Related: "Have you seen that wallpaper?"

November 20, 2003
Fantagraphics will begin republishing all of Charles Schulz' "Peanuts" in two-year volumes -- the program to start early next year. Quite exciting, for those like me who love his earlier, pre-Woodstock work -- and lots of that stuff has never been reprinted.

A while back I quoted Bertrand Russell -- incorrectly, as it turned out. (Just as well -- I've always hated the word "cocksure" in the false version.) Here's the update:
The whole problem with the world is that fools & fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.
Not dificult, finding the former these days -- here's a prime example.

November 18, 2003
A curious segment on All Things Considered yesterday:
Gideon Rose, managing editor of Foreign Affairs magazine, [was interviewed] about the magazine publishing a speech given by Allen W. Dulles at the Council on Foreign Relations on December 3, 1945. Dulles was reporting on the fitful progress in rebuilding post-war Germany seven months after V-E Day.
Here's the article: That Was Then -- Dulles used the expression "iron curtain" several months before its usual first attribution, in a March 5, 1946 speech by Winston Churchill (but according to the Wikipedia entry, Goebbels used it even earlier, in a Y2K article!) What especially intrigued me was the tidbit about how the women of the Fatherland were bitter, since they'd learned of Eva Braun -- she was the Führer's secret girlfriend, they'd thought he was still available, to the very end.

New product (of dubious legality) -- personal cel-phone jammer.

November 17, 2003
Interview with Ira Glass -- don't miss! His show of this weekend was also pretty good, but a repeat, so I won't get into it. (TAL's actually slipped off my mandatory weekend listening, just because repeats've became so common.)

There's a comic shop in that strip mall at el Camino and the 85 which used to be Big Guy Comics, but the guy is gone -- there's a new sign with a triangular logo outside now, and inside, a sale -- lots of seventies and eighties comics for a dollar, and I found all three issues of the 3-D Man. (I spotted the first one at a news stand, back in '77.) Like new condition, 30¢ cover price.

Don't let 'em chump you! Stay Human! (Stan Goff in Counterpunch.)

November 15, 2003
Weird Cars -- on el Camino, I've spotted the "Calliope" (whose name I figured would have had instead some insect connotation) -- I think its photo (on page 3) was taken down in Los Gatos.

Bill McKibben's Worried? Us? (about global warming) and a new Gore Vidal interview in the LA Weekly. Also, Mack White has posted an annotated version of his Operation Northwoods, on his own site (that previous link was to the Comics Journal.

November 13, 2003
The Liberty bombshell.

Lava cooking in Hawaii.

Another new bridge, in France -- le viaduc de Millau -- it's still under construction.

November 11, 2003
The new Carquinez Strait bridge opened this morning. SJ Mercury News article describes the first suspension span in the nation with towers made of concrete instead of steel. I've only had one sighting, so far, coming back from Tahoe fourteen months ago -- the main cables were in place but there was no deck -- it was fascinating, a roadless bridge! Lots more details about the new structure on Mark Ketchum's Bridge Engineering Page.

November 8, 2003
Arts & Crafts
Last spring I pointed towards amazing, intricately carved pencils, mainly produced by Mizuta Tasogare and Kato Jado -- now, egg-shells by Al Gunther. Also, trends in logo design, and Cheeta Paints!

Family Unsure What To Do With Dead Hipster's Possessions (in The Onion), and Non-hipster refused entrance to "Lost in Translation."

Lots of great ambience at S.O.S. ('Sound of Station in Japan') -- there's samples of from Shibuya Yamanote station slightly superior to those I harvested in 1999. Also (entirely unrelated) the first, non-intro segment of This American Life this week summarized the incredibly serious issue of comprimise of the computerized touch-screen voting machines being foisted upon us. Yishh, touch-screen -- I hate that tech, since it's unreliable! Like the stupid 'Muze' search machines in Tower Records (which do work better now than they useta, I'll grant you.)

November 6, 2003
Operation Northwoods, an educational comic by Mack White. Don't miss his Television and the Hive Mind essay, over on his own site.

Election Day was yesterday, or the day before, and I was so busy I missed it, and didn't vote! (A rare occurance for me indeed). In California, of course, everybody knows about the special governor-recall election we had last month. It was held early because the recall law mandates its election being held within a certain interval after the petition signatures are validated. So this election's 'wacky California' aspect came from Bolinas, the 'quirky coastal hamlet' north of Stinson Beach, where Measure G passed -- it's now a certified nature-lovin' town. Blueberries, bears, hotels and motor boats, skunks, foxes, and airplanes to go over the ocean -- who could reject that? As for the Governor-elect, does he get to pick the quarter? No. According to caquarter.ca.gov, Governor Davis made the decision back in April, but that only narrowed the field down to five designs, one of which the Mint will choose. Let's hope they make the right choice: Waves and Sun.

Amy Tan describes the manufacture and cooking of potstickers (with illustrations). On Japanese menus, these are called gyozu.

November 4, 2003
Nicole Zeitzer provides twelve ways to break out of phone-menu hell (to get a human on the line). The methods are company (or industry) specific -- what I learned is, hitting that zero button just once may not be enough.

Margie Burns' Bush Watch: excellent!
Somehow the major media outlets have determined that Saddam's disappearance is a topic nice people don't mention. So the disconnect between major "news" personalities and organizations, on one hand, and the lives of citizens whose relatives died or were injured to remove this suddenly-unheard-of fiendish tyrant, on the other, is greater than ever.

October 31, 2003
Late last night I was walking 'round, watching the skies in hope of Aurora, but no. Marlene said she'd seem them earlier, on her side of the continent; and today supplied a link to the polar Map of Borealis coverage which unfortunately is showing California in the clear (but it updates, so check again).

Sick Soldiers Wait For Treatment -- 'Support The Troops' my ass. Plus, the shrub ignores soldiers' burials, hasn't attended a single one.

October 30, 2003
The Picture of Everything by Howard Hallis.

October 29, 2003
Two new road products:
The Terra Wind® home amphibious motorcoach -- a bus you can drive across the lake! -- and the personal MIRT, a Mobile InfraRed Transmitter, a little on-dash appliance which allegedly changes the traffic signal to green, on approach (naturally I'm extremely skeptical; apparently firetrucks & such have had this for awhile).

More George Lakoff -- in an interview he elaborates on frames, the strict father, and the nurturing parent; and on a totally different subject, John Perry Barlow --

If someone like Karl Rove had wanted to neutralize the most creative, intelligent, and passionate members of his opposition, he'd have a hard time coming up with a better tool than Burning Man. Exile them to the wilderness, give them a culture in which alpha status requires months of focus and resource-consumptive preparation, provide them with metric tons of psychotropic confusicants, and then... ignore them.

October 28, 2003
Cartoon Research FAQ, and 1969 Saturday Morning.

On the Outer Banks, they're repairing the new breach Isabel tore through Hatteras Island. Here's a compilation of 'hurricane damage and ongoing reconstruction' slide shows made by local folk, including some aerial photography -- choose one towards the bottom; I found more explanatory captions in the offerings there.

October 26, 2003
Jason Kottke posted these guidelines for focusing on learning and general getting-along, which are all excellent (for me, the first one, especially).

Erg, Daylight Savings -- did you remember to 'fall back'? I hate it, these biannual adjustments we're compelled to make. And why? In the interest of balance, let's hear from both sides. This ancient Cal-state-gov site (I remember first reading it with a Mosaic browser) details the history of Daylight Saving Time and offers persuasive explanations for why it saves energy, while standardtime.com promotes abolishing the practice altogether. I wish -- but I don't think it's possible, the stupd tradition is too ingrained.

Morning Sun sounds like a must-see, a documentary about the Cultural Revolution -- the site's an educational resource, not merely movie-promo. I got a taste last year while in Singapore -- I passed by the House of Mao, a trendy Chinese restaurant, which featured period video from one of those Red Guard spectacles -- I didn't eat there, just stood in the doorway, slack-jawed in amazement, staring at the monitors. "The East Is Red!"

The Great Scandal: Christianity's Role in the Rise of the Nazis by Gregory S. Paul, is long but enlightening. The facts about this are often muddled, in the popular perception.

October 24, 2003
Mark Pesce rejected Burning Man this year, and explains why in McBurners.

Worst Covers (of the 2002 romance paperbacks).

What exactly is this Vicodin, about which I'm receiving so much spam?

October 21, 2003
In the funny papers, it's Mystery Artist week at 'Dilbert' -- and for any readers out there Inside the Beltway who'd like to catch up on the 'Boondocks' you missed last week, the banned strips start here (something about the characters' discussion of Condoleeza Rice caused the Washington Post (and only the Post) to censor them).

In Slate last week, Seth posted reports from Tokyo -- he explored hentai, and just doesn't understand the prevalence of those manga comics:

I have yet to see an adequate explanation for why a nation with one of the world's highest literacy rates would become so obsessed with cartoons.
An Open Letter by Karin L. Kross in Bookslut addresses this condescending attitude. Also in Bookslut, an interview with Scott McCloud. Finally, a Tom Tomorrow interview at BuzzFlash.

Zero-G Sex! (or not)
Jason Kottke was at something called Pop!Tech where
An audience member asked space architect Constance Adams about sex is space (within the context of designing habitats for procreation), and she indicated that erections in space are difficult to achieve because in zero gravity, blood tends to collect in the head and feet.
Aww, man. Well, so much for the premise of The Revolving Boy.

October 17, 2003
The Frame Around Arnold by George Lakoff -- excellent! The battle's about persuading swing voters which is better: 'Stern Father' Conservatives or 'Nurturing Parent' Progressives.

Michael Abernethy deconstructs Ann Coulter -- I've never caught any video, only seen still photos of her, but in these she reminds me of the neo-nazi 'Eva' character in that Seinfeld episode

October 15, 2003
Does mention of the company Diebold make your blood boil yet?
A quiet revolution is taking place in US politics. By the time it's over, the integrity of elections will be in the unchallenged, unscrutinised control of a few large -- and pro-Republican -- corporations.
Andrew Gumbel wonders if democracy in America can survive the new voting machines. If election results are compromised by the openly-partisan contractors running the system, who'd know?

The (Agri)Cultural Contradictions of Obesity by Michael Pollan (in the NY Times, reg.required) -- in a way, Earl Butz can be blamed for America's obesity epidemic. Later, he got in big trouble over an open microphone, and a rascist remark involving 'loose shoes' (just do a search).

About Unicode and Character Sets by Joel Spolsky: the Absolute Minimum Every Software Developer Absolutely, Positively Must Know.

October 12, 2003
40 years of the Enchanted Tiki Room has inspired Shag.

Smurfy Albuquerque

Physical manipulation of fresh Polaroid SX-70 output -- faux Van Gogh.

To commemorate the recent passing of Neil Postman, a repeat of the link to Informing Ourselves To Death.

A pair of recent "Common Dreams" postings:
Mike Davis holds forth on what happened in Cailfornia: The Day of the Locust. I've read his City of Quartz, and Ecology of Fear is in my queue. Also, Rush May Teach Conservatives a Lesson, about liberals' public morality vs. conservatives' private, by Thom Hartmann, host of a syndicated daily talk show that runs opposite the big fat idiot.

Got my first Maine quarter in change yesterday, at the Safeway. Can you believe we've already reached #24?

October 9, 2003
Travel, by land and sea:
How to Road Trip, and the Yorkshire Pudding Boat Race.

October 7, 2003
Excellent Geoff Nunberg at the end of "Fresh Air" yesterday, Caucasion Talk Circles.

Wally George died Sunday (CNN obit). When I first moved to LA, in 1987, I'd watch his "Hot Seat" program in amazement -- extreme Orange County Republicans, my first exposure. (More about Wally.) Of course, angry right-wing television is no longer a curiosity, even if you don't have cable. Is it evil? This 'exegesis' by David Neiwert, Rush, Newspeak and Fascism, explains everything, wrapping it all up with Godwin's Law. Long, but recommended.

Early returns are coming in, and apparently the Austrian body-builder wins... what was that flop, from a few years back? "End Of Days"? Indeed.

October 6, 2003
The Catalog of Cool -- online!        

October 5, 2003
Album Cover Challenge -- I only got six definites, and of the remainder, only six were familiar, the rest unknown. Interesting, though.

A little over ten years ago I scored INTP, and since then, that's what I've always said I am... but today, I got an ISFJ (but since my "S" value was almost zero on the Sensing-Intuition scale, perhaps I'm really inadeqaute in all those skills?) My feeling is, it's all just a bunch of hooey, about as useful as astrology or blood type -- and anyway, the either/or nature of the test's questions make positive responses difficult -- who am I, to answer these questions? Seems like, instead, some competent psychological professional should be doing the judging, rather than accepting my own (possibly biased) answers.

Let Them Eat War attempts understanding of why 'Nascar Dad' likes the shrub, even as evidence mounts that his administration's policies are counter-productive -- traces the growth of Joe Sixpack's conditioning back to the Republicans' successful 'Southern Strategy' which was implemented in the Nixon era, and is still ongoing. Related: just this morning Harry Shearer reported that ... the more television news you watch, the more wrong you're likely to be about key elements of the Iraq war, and its aftermath. And the more you watch the Fox news channel the more likely it is your perceptions about the war are wrong according to the University of Maryland 'Program on International Policy Attitudes' in a study they released this week.

October 2, 2003
Last weekend I drove past Hawthorne High, where the Beach Boys went to school -- today I found hangouts, an alumini site from their peers (don't miss the slang page). I became familiar with many of the places described when I worked in nearby El Segundo, like the Wich Stand, Chips, and Holly's. Other highlights of my recent, too-brief SoCal journey included driving the length of Sunset Blvd, walking the Strand in Manhattan Beach a weekday morning, Zankou Chicken, and visits to the missions Santa Ynez (in Solvang) and Santa Barbara.

September 30, 2003
Australian David Harris' Living in America -- a compilation of observations and advice based on our first 18 months in the country.

Bruce Sterling on 'slipstream' fiction, 'mainstream' books with some speculative angle -- he compares the ossified sci-fi genre to the Communist Party, and supplies an interesting list. (Kem Nunn's on it -- Unexplained Territory I can see, but Tapping The Source?) More Bruce Sterling: Ten Technologies That Deserve to Die. (First sighting of 'taikonaut' for Chinese spaceman.)

A few thumbnails from my trip down south: the animated neon aquarium at the intersection of Sawtelle and Olympic; all that's left of the La Cienega Ships, the mutilated sign; and the Santa Monica Post Office.

September 28, 2003, late
Just back from a road trip to LA -- posting to resume tomorrow, maybe.

September 23, 2003
"Lost in Translation" --- mmmm. Scenes of Tokyo night-lights reflected in the curved glass of moving vehicles always get my approval. And if that's Bill Murray peering through the window, or Becky from "Ghost World," all the better. Only problem is the lack of subtitles -- it's one of those irritating pictures which force the audience into a character's shoes, rather than granting us the desired omnipotent comprehension. (What Else Was Lost in Translation? from the NY Times decodes what the director was saying in that key scene.) Nothing Lost in Translation is an interesting blog-review; don't miss the commentary in the followup. The LA Weekly had a cover story about film and director... as I've never seen a Godfather movie, to me she's Peggy Sue's little sister, or Diane Lane's in "Rumble Fish" -- back then, she was listed only as Domino, in the credits.

I used mailinator.com today, when I signed on with expedia, and it worked like a charm -- temporary, web-based email accounts, based on a name you supply. Any messages sent to it expire after a few hours, so you can retrieve passwords etc. without giving out your real email. Seems likely that some new form of mischief is possible with this.

Discussion at Plastic Bag about the 1938 "At Home With Hitler" article in House & Garden, scans of which popped up online recently.

Photographs of New York During the War -- a virtual exhibition from the City Museum.

September 22, 2003
In CNN's financial section, the Curse of the Quarter details bad things happening to places illustrated on the new coins. (I receved my first 'Missouri' last week, in change at Peet's Coffee.)

The long-dormant Mr. Pants visited the Watts Towers last month, and took some pictures.

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