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March 18, 2004
Today's Jon Carroll column (actually penned by Scott Ostler) says
if you're not on the "His Dark Materials" bandwagon yet, there's still time. It's a fantasy trilogy with the form of young adult fiction and the concerns of regular old fiction. It's, I dunno, Harry Potter for smart people.
Yeah! My older nephew's trying to get me to read Potter but I have no interest -- I tell him that stuff's way too popular for me, a sentiment he can't relate to, at least not yet. (The wonderfully erudite Michael Chabon review mentioned in that column is Dust & Dæmons in the NY Review of Books -- but don't go there if you haven't read the books yet, spoiler alert!)

Testimony from one of the British nationals recently released from Guantanamo Bay -- our torture squad there is called the ERF (Extreme Reaction Force). The first time I became aware of "Git-mo" was in a Baskin-Robbins, in the early 1980s, reading down a list of their locations worldwide. Shortly thereafter, a former serviceman who'd been stationed there told me about the place -- I wondered how it could be on the island, but separate from Cuba. He told me the territory surrounding the base was so rugged, it provides a naturally uncrossable buffer zone. In The Disquieted American, an article about retired political science professor (and former defense hawk) Chalmers Johnson, he says
[...in 2001, the USA] maintained 725 foreign bases in 38 countries. "Due to government secrecy, [Americans] are often ignorant of the fact that their government garrisons the globe. They do not realize that a vast network of American military bases on every continent except Antarctica actually constitutes a new form of empire."
Another 38 he reports: we have 38 military bases on Okinawa, an island smaller than Kauai.

March 16, 2004
More new products:
Mr. T in your pocket; USB Swiss Army Knife (with 128Mbytes RAM); and the two-part Taggertrap, composed of the Surveyor (which senses an aerosol can's hiss), and the Stinger (which silently alerts the authorities). Also, a History of the Walkman -- originally names considered by Sony included the "Stereo Walky" and the "Sound-About." Unfortunately, the site doesn't use the correct plural form ("Walkmen"), but that other W-word.

Photos from another Chernobyl tourist -- a visit to her abandoned home town of Pripyat, now inside the Zone of Estrangement.

March 15, 2004
Sartre and Peanuts by Nathan Radke (he was on TtBooK last night) -- excellent! His discussion concerns 'classic' Peanuts, now available only to the researcher -- the reprints in the newspaper are all post-1974, well into the 'Woodstock' period, after Schulz decided to stop being "mean" (as he put it), and devoted his strip to the animals.

Concerning Spain, and their election -- just read Max. Incidentally, these 'Socialists' who just won there? True, they are members of the Socialist International, like the big liberal Partei in Deutschland, the SPD, who're currently in power; but they don't much resemble communists -- Kos provides some more info, scroll down to "Another Update."

Naturally I hate moving, such a chore. But one of its benefits is how the task forces me to inventory and assess all my stuff, with the subsequent ditching of low- and no-quality items, which would otherwise be piling up in the darker corners of my space -- I really hate that; it's a genetic tendency of mine, difficult to resist.

March 14, 2004
Whew -- finished moving, again. This afternoon, the final box was transferred, and the old apartment locked up for the last time. Most of today was spent cleaning, in order to realize some return on my security deposit. Landlords now expect you to maybe even wash the windows upon departure -- hah! Used to be you didn't have to do anything -- as long the unit was intact (no holes in the walls, major appliances still operational, etc) you'd get back your security deposit; but of late they expect the place to be in the same condition as when you moved in. I can relate, up to a point -- I do try to follow the old Boy Scout rule about leaving the campsite in better condition than you found it; but I've learned that with some landlords its like household chores, and women -- what meets my standard of "clean" is never clean "enough." Therefore, I'll be surprised if my entire deposit is refunded, so I refuse to rent one of those rug shampoo deals from the supermarket, just on principal now, 'cause I never have. Besides, both last time and this, I've received a move-in special of half off the first month's rent, which amounts to more than the deposit anyway.

These are my kind of headlines.

Tokyo Flash has more great new chronometers -- some might appreciate the 'maximum nerd' appeal of the to the max with a binary LED unit (sure, I could read it, but that would take a little while) but I'd really like the blue LED watch (sold out, alas).

March 11, 2004
In the Napa Valley Register: the Origins of Trader Joe's (and why Americans don't drink more wine).

A few links concerning today's English language:

About the Californian vowel shift -- the way (usually) girls speak. I first recognized it in Southern California, many years ago; but (typically) this article in the NoCal-centric San Jose Mercury claims it's a Northern thing (which is also heard in the South). What makes the article excellent is it uses literary dialect methods to identify and emphasize the sounds, something I've had difficulty doing, until now. (BTW, I loathe this accent -- fortunately, I'm not required to listen regularly to any native teenage girls.)

wasian, wapanese, and wigger -- the last one's like the opposite of 'oreo'... My sense is there's a lot of them in urban Blue State America (and to be polite, they should probably be referred to as W-words -- or maybe Wegroes?) This Tikkun article addresses the phenomenon, in contrast with Norman Mailer's 1957 essay entitled "The White Negro" (which I attempted twenty years ago, but found impenetrable -- the only time I've ever tried reading him).

Finally, the 100 Most Mispronounced Words (and phrases) in English -- get 'em right, if you want to sound educated.

March 10, 2004
The risks of waging 'culture war' by James Carroll discusses the history of Kulturkampf, a term coined by Bismarck. More: Culture War May Find WMDs concerns Clear Channel's dismissal of Howard Stern -- who'da thought he'd become a positive force in the struggle?

Lincoln bedroom in the news again -- Fund-Raisers Among Overnight Guests -- remember when this was such a High Crime, when it was going on in the Clinton White House?

March 9, 2004
I've finally finished up all the components of my recent Japan trip report -- enjoy! Meanwhile, over here in the weblog, there's not much original content, just some newspaper clippings. For example, check the graph in Krugman's latest, titled Promises, Promises -- it begins with
Despite a string of dismal employment reports, the administration insists that its economic program, which has relied entirely on tax cuts focused on the affluent, will produce big job gains any day now. Should we believe these promises?
What I can't understand about employment figures we hear in the media is how their relative lowness is often 'explained' with a footnote about people dropping out of the labor force, giving up on the job search, and therefore no longer being counted among the unemployed. The 'safety net' so vilified by Republicans was shredded by Clinton's signature on the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, so where are they going for money -- into armed robbery?

From today's Jon Carroll column:

Say, what about "indecency" on America's sacred airwaves? People get all weirded out about Janet Jackson's right boob at the Super Bowl -- do none of these people have premium cable? Did their cultural education stop at Fibber McGee and Molly? Suddenly it's become an excuse to censor almost everything.

Spalding's Suicide was confirmed yesterday... I'm reminded of Jerzy, another literary figure who's work fascinated me -- he also killed himself after his health began to fail, and his fame was receeding.

March 6, 2004
The US Army's current promotional slogan is "An Army of One" -- right. To compare the old enemy's Yin to our Yang, check out the 30-second Seaman Ship ad for the Japanese Navy (or, to be precise, their Maritime Self-Defense Force).

From the latest William Saletan column in Slate, subtitled "Confidence Man"
From foreign to economic to social policy, [the shrub's] record is a lesson in the limits and perils of conviction. He's too confident to consult a map. He's too strong to heed warnings and too steady to turn the wheel when the road bends. He's too certain to admit error, even after plowing through ditches and telephone poles. He's too preoccupied with principle to understand that principle isn't enough. Watching the stars instead of the road, he has wrecked the budget and the war on terror. Now he's heading for the Constitution. It's time to pull him over and take away the keys.
Why was he even give the keys to begin with? Steve explained it this way in No More Mr Niceblog:
In the 2000 debates Bush came off as a cocksure boy-man, the captain of the football team; Al Gore sometimes talked in a somewhat monotonous singsong, so it didn't matter that his positions were better or that he was smarter, better informed, and more honest than Bush -- Bush was "cooler," and that was that. If you don't believe me, ask the media, which loved Bush and hated Gore, and wasn't shy about saying so, especially with regard to the debates.
In other words, according to those Noam calls the Agenda-Setters, the choice was really between Biff and George McFly. In related news, the 9-11 Commision's showing some spine -- acording to the NY Times, they've
... decided for now to reject a White House request that the interview with [the shrub] be limited to one hour and that the questioners be only the panel's chairman and vice chairman.

today's "Living On Earth" they interviewed Peter Schwartz, one of the authors of the "Imagining the Unthinkable" study on abrubt climate change which the Pentagon requested. (That program archives whole transcripts of their shows, incidentally; not the usual public radio shortcut of a summary along with streaming audio links.)

March 5, 2004
Motorcycling through Chernobyl, with photos. (But -- what's she mean on page 11, by a "shining"?)

March 4, 2004
Kuro5hin thread discusses strategies for termination of free credit card offers.

Awww... just finished The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman, completing the trilogy of "His Dark Materials" -- man, that was good stuff.

March 2, 2004
Lots of tasty pictures, vintage SF, with a dose of scientific equations at Atomic Rockets.

A pair of English novelties: the Magic Roundabout (in Swindon) and a new way to view London.

More gloom 'n' doom:
Don Smith predicts only four more years, at best, until a total economic breakdown.

March 1, 2004
A little over a year ago I linked to a site in the UK which was all about Monowheels -- that site has disappeared, alas. But today's Yahoo!News has a tasty looking Chinese model (which they label an unicycle -- hardly!)

RFID Tags in new US bills? Maybe something explodes when they're microwaved -- I haven't confirmed this, yet. (For RFID background, another link from last year: Tracking everything, everywhere.)

This Is the Moment. Since the bottom line ain't gonna happen, my cynical, nihlistic "Atlas Shrugged" viewpoint is confirmed: nothin's gonna improve until after the Collapse.

February 26, 2004
A couple links lifted from the ever-excellent Mr Pants: McDonald's Latest Outrage -- www.i-am-asian.com (don't miss 50 Cups' commentary) and... this. I don't understand the Why of the subject matter (if the school was in North Korea, sure...)

Okay, let's get serious -- here's the latest from the 9-11 Comission's hearings: Stewardess ID'd Hijackers Early, Transcripts Show by Gail Sheehy in the NY Observer -- the comission seems to be ignoring vital information. Now, why would they do that?

Scalzi proposes calling intolerant prescriptive Christians "Leviticans." I thought they were who Jesus was talking about, the "Scribes and Pharisees," but perhaps this contemporary variant is deserving of its own contemptuous name. Not that any such labeling ever does any good... and if their religion is true, this disregarding of His message is going to backfire big-time, as the Zompist explains. (Oh, and the new film? Please -- just say no. Being a movie reviewer, Edelstein had to go; but you can avoid this ultra-violence -- just read his review.)

February 24, 2004
I remember reading about the dilemma of a recent immigrant, dispatched to the drug store to buy some shampoo or toothpaste, and such was their bewilderment at the variety of choices, they left with no purchase, thwarted by the Aisle of Plenty. Professor Barry Schwartz addresses this syndrome (with a focus on today's University) in The Tyranny of Choice:
My colleagues and I have begun amassing evidence, that increased choice can lead to decreased well-being. This is especially true for people we have termed "maximizers," people whose goal is to get the best possible result when they make decisions. Choice overload is also a problem for people we call "satisficers," people who seek only "good enough" results from their choices, but the problem is greatly magnified for maximizers.
I heard him on the radio last weekend, forget just where -- he pronounced "satisficers" like "satisfyzers" -- I guess the desire is to relate his new word to "satisfaction," hence its awkward spelling. His "maximizers" suffer from what real estate agents call "Buyer's Remorse." Read more about him in this USA Today book review.

ATM scam alert, in Texas -- pretty clever!

February 22, 2004
Good news and bad news. First, the good:
Finally, it's ready -- more than half, anyway. Photos from my recent trip to Japan: Close-Up and Sumo sections.

...and the bad?

I looked upon the face of Big Brother at a meeting last week, and it was double-plus ungood (ugly, too). A company called Presearch gave a presentation I attended (only because a colleague was out sick) -- they have a surveillance product they propose installing on all commercial aircraft, which works best with broadband internet (which they said was only a couple years away, aloft) but could even work over the Airfone. Their proprietary system modifies its data stream's refresh rate and resolution to provide real-time video, and they propose installing discrete cameras on the flight deck, in the hold and in the main cabin. Part of their demo consisted of a feed through the internet from their office in Fairfax -- they phoned their receptionist and had her wave at the camera in their lobby. They said cameras can now be made as small as a quarter, which can operate effectively through a pinhole. "If you must know, it's scary" said one the duo of salesmen, obviously former military men. As the Q&A began I was tempted to ask about the schedule for installion in private homes.

Also, the Guardian reports about the secret DoD report (which is being supressed by the White House) on abrupt climate change -- by 2020, the jig is up.

February 20, 2004
"Learned Helplessness":
Malcom Gladwell's SUV article from the January 12th New Yorker -- they didn't post it on their site, but now he's placed it on his own:
At the reptilian level they think that if I am bigger and taller I'm safer. You feel secure because you are higher and dominate and look down. That you can look down is psychologically a very powerful notion. And what was the key element of safety when you were a child? It was that your mother fed you, and there was warm liquid. That's why cupholders are absolutely crucial for safety. If there is a car that has no cupholder, it is not safe. If I can put my coffee there, if I can have my food, if everything is round, if it's soft, and if I'm high, then I feel safe.
Therefore, it's a point of pride that my vehicle (the smallest Toyota) has no cupholder.

The Limits of Dissent at retrogrouch.net is about a letter from an anonymous Marine -- the responses are the best part.
I think the saddest thing about people who think like the author of that piece is their conviction that anyone in the military has fought to defend our country since WWII. They've died in their thousands, been maimed in the tens of thousands and it's all been for nothing but the profits of crony capitalists and the paranoia of a misguided people.
I couldn't agree more.

February 19, 2004 (link updated, original not working)
Here's what I like -- a big dose of healthy skepticism: JFK, 9-11, and the REAL America: Tying It All Together by Jon Phalen:
What makes you think you actually KNOW what happened on those planes?

Until the full case against Al Qa'eda is made available for public review, we have absolutely no assurance that this "proof" isn't exactly like the "proof" of Iraq's weapons programs -- IE, a big fat lie from top to bottom.
It's long, but quite worthwhile reading. Regarding 9-11, his theory is the same as my initial reaction -- those planes were being manipulated by remote control.

But after all that, we need some levity: "The Big Lebowski" Random Quote Generator.

February 18, 2004
New interview with William Gibson: Squinting at the present.

Boyd Rice's Nine Favorite Places -- I've been to 2 and 5, and 7 (but not through the door of Club 33) and I've walked through 9, but I don't think that counts -- I hear they only seat celebs on one side, and make the tourists sit on the other.

February 17, 2004
The Christion Science Monitor explains Why the US fall election may be tart. Just "tart"? Well, that's merely the article's title -- further down, more realistic adjectives like 'nasty' and 'dirtiest' are deployed.

German commercial advertising during WWII -- knowing a bit of the lingo naturally helps with comprehending the copy, but it's not required, 'specially for that top-center Mercedes-Benz ad.

February 14, 2004
That bozo at Peet's must've slipped me real coffee this afternoon, instead of decaf -- it's past midnight and I've still got the jittery feeling that Geoff calls being 'jangly' and I'll probably have a headache tomorrow. (It's an interesting term; when I first heard it I immediately thought of "Mr. Tambourine Man" and the speedy LSD feeling its lyrics evoke.) Anyway, after the cuppa I went off to the Stanford to see "The Thin Man" and was delighted to see the film open with the familiar cover photo (it's the author) of the version I read in 1977, while riding the express train through Yugoslavia, from Athens to Munich -- my Grandmother gave me that copy which must've been a faithful reproduction of the original. None of the story was at all familiar, except for the names and partying by Nick and Nora -- even in my hightened, caffinated state I couldn't follow what was going on, too many characters -- that's usually the case with these rapid-fire, snappy-dialog films from the '30's, but I don't mind -- I just want to experience the movie, its window into 1934. The same thing happened (pleasant, bewildered confusion) when I caught a Stanford screening of "His Girl Friday" several years ago. I read all of Dashiel Hammett in the late 70's, and then all of Raymond Chandler; I preferred the latter, especially Farewll My Lovely (but 'Dash's Continental Op stuff is great). So, I'm toiling into the night, generating my new Japan page(s) -- it'll be quite extensive, I've finally got all the pictures ready, now I'm working on the text and the HTML.

February 11, 2004
Yikes! We're hurtling into the abyss. 'Course, we all became aware of this in the early 1970s, and unpleasant reminders have occured periodically, ever since -- but dealing with the oil crisis was just too hard, and then the Reagan administration put America to sleep, and the nation went into denial. If you don't want a rude awakening, just move along -- don't follow the link.

February 8, 2004
Great 'Ask the Pilot' last Friday, concerning recent transatlantic flight cancellations:
I'm perplexed by what remains a stubborn allegiance to the September 11 boilerplate -- the notion that an attack will follow the kamikaze skyjack script. Nothing seems able to temper our preoccupation with knives, sharp objects, and whether or not certain passengers are licensed pilots.
And although he details the fear of a holiday hijacking (in particular, the possibility of a Paris-LAX flight being diverted into Vegas) I've heard nobody point out the futility of such an attempt, if said 'boilerplate' is really being followed: the 9-11 flights made such spectacular damage because the planes were all tanked up, having just left their respective aerodromes. After flying across the ocean, fuel levels would be low, minimizing the airliners' explosive capability. But a new angle's been discovered -- from the Guardian, Terrorist bid to build bombs mid-flight.

Speaking of fuel, this morning I tuned in to "Car Talk" for a few minutes (which is all I can stand, before the less-smart brother's laughter makes me change the station), and they addressed the controversy I first heard of in an email from my Dad a few months back, where he passed along an article entitled "Gas Pump Fires Caused by Cell Phones." Perhaps you've heard of this... not having a 'mobile' myself, I'm somewhat oblivious; the interesting thing to me was it's essentially a female problem, since a study of 150 incidents showed that
Almost all cases involved the person getting back into their vehicle while the nozzle was still pumping gas,
Most men never get back into their vehicle until completely finished, and don't ever use cell phones when pumping gas.
I found the latter observation amusing, and valid -- we're content just to use the time to take a break, maybe do a bit of car-leaning, study the activity on-going at the service station, or watch the nearby traffic flow. However, I live in California, and the car guys pointed out how in a cold climate, getting back into the your vehicle while fueling is sometimes necessity. Moreover, they pointed out the wintery problem of static electricity, and how sparks can be generated at the gas station 'cause of that -- and yet, (my observation) winter-time news doesn't contain reports of gas station explosions. They also wondered if this could be an urban myth (which is the Snopes conclusion) even though one can apparently spot warnings about such posted at Shell stations (but according to this debunking, not stateside).

As usual, they way these things go, I discover I missed a William Gibson booksigning up in the City last Thursday; but realizing I have many readers in my native land Inside the Beltway, do check him out Monday, Feb 16 at the Bailey's Crossroads Borders at 7:30PM -- he's scheduled for a reading, and a Q & A session.

February 6, 2004
There's a two-headed baby in the news, in the Dominican Republic. Not the usual Zaphod configuration, but a hideous, double-decked mutation -- they just operated, removing her upper storey, with apparent success. Update on the two-headed American girl, the 'co-joined' Hensel twins, now twelve years old -- they were featured in a special on the Discovery channel a year ago, which I missed. "Co-joined" is the politically correct term for Siamese twins, but there's no getting around how the Hensel girl(s) are a real Zaphod Beeblebrox (cf. The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy).

February 5, 2004
Endgame for the president? by Robert Kuttner -- and it's a 'BFT, as I say. Related: Calpundit and Orcinus on the shrub's AWOL period, part of his shady past which is finally getting some 'traction' in the mainstream media. I'd like to see his drunk-driving arrests given some of the Whitewater treatment, also.

John Kerry's first appearance in "Doonsebury", in 1971, when the strip was worth reading. Refreshing and disappointing, looking back at the old stuff -- this was way before Trudeau adapted his weird, lazy, stupid practice of using floating, inanimate objects to symbolize public figures, which I find repellent.

Saw 2004's little poster at the Post Office today, and there's some great stamps coming out this year: Dr. Seuss in March, Henry Mancini (with a tiny Pink Panther down in the corner) in April, black & white photos of Noguchi stuff in June, Buckminster Fuller (which will be the great 1964 Time magazine cover) in July, and Clouds in October. Also, a new Nature set, Pacific Coral Reef, which is out now -- somehow I missed last year's Arctic Tundra. I like these for the imagery left behind, after the stamps are peeled off -- it can be cut up and used elsewhere. And -- (pretentious fanfare) The Art of Disney. If you followed that link and thought, "huh?" you're with me -- let's all sing it together:

One of these things is not like the other
One of these things just doesn't belong.

And speaking of music, Slate posted this "Smile" update. Brian Wilson should just retire, but I suppose he needs the money.

February 3, 2004
Back from Japan 7, all is well. Details to be posted soon.

Bypass Compulsory Web Registration -- enter a site's URL (like, for a newspaper) and get a listing of IDs and passwords from people who've already registered.

The BBC provides deep links into real.com for downloading expiry-free, spyware-free and nuisance-free versions of free RealAudio players. They had to offer these just to the BBC, for some reason (details).

January 20, 2004
Robert Reich on the new book: Paul O'Neill Has Done His Country a Favor. Listening to Terry Gross interviewing the authors last week was fascinating.

Christian anti-shrub site: BushRevealed.com

This website serves as notice to Christians across this nation that President George Bush over the past few years has compromised his "Christian faith" by promoting evil and openly supporting wickedness. It is our hope and prayer that he would Repent and turn from such blatant sin. He is not our friend and cannot be trusted.
How and why what the media calls his 'base' can't perceive this is baffling -- their naïveté has placed us all into a dangerous situation. And now, the creepy frat-boy is babbling about trips to Mars, via the Moon -- what idiocy is this? Just as we've finished building a true space station? There's the place to build an interplanetary ship, not all the way out in the lunar neighborhood. Realistically, however, we can't afford it now, and who would benefit? I sure won't, at least not in the short term -- if NASA's budget isn't to be increased, and this new direction is to be funded by cutting other NASA projects, mine is the type they'll be targeting. Nor will all the unemployed benefit, with American jobs hemmorhaging to Mexico, China and India. What's really needed at home is massive, New Deal-style public works campaigns. Not just rebuilding our existing, deteriorating infrastructure, but something truly progressive -- a project to keep America rolling after the oil runs out, and the airplanes stop flying: a high-speed national electrified rail system. With lots more windmills and solar panels to supply our power. That's the sort of 'vision thing' I'd like to hear about, from candidates in this election year.

In yesterday's lengthy disquisition on Light Emitting Diodes and chronometers, I neglected mention of their first appearance. James Bond films introduce new technology to their audiences (like Goldfinger's laser) -- such was the case in "Live and Let Die" when Roger Moore checked his new LED watch in a darkened bedroom sequence, early in that film. Related: The Pimp Watch is certainly cool (in an obscure way), but it'd be much better with some blue LEDs, like for the hour marks, maybe. Or why not go totally retro, with a Nixie Tube Watch?

January 19, 2004
After over two decades of trusty service, my old digital clock finally died. When I first got it my friend Eddie said "How can you buy a clock with blue letters"? (My attempts at persuading him to refer to the display's characters as 'numbers' always failed.) At the time (1980), the new-ish LEDs were all the rage in clocks, their color almost always red -- my first digital model was of this type; I'd received that unit as a gift around '77. (Chartreuse, yellow and orange LEDs were also available then, but it wasn't until recently that the blue LED was developed.) When I went shopping with Eddie and saw the blue one, I had to have it, naturally. A close scrutiny of the display revealed its numbers to be composed of teeny hexagons, like a honeycomb; unlike the solid bars of an LED (or, for that matter, an LCD) display. As with any failing electrical appliance, I made an attempt at repair by taking it apart, seeking out loose connections. This enabled a close look at the digital display module -- and to my surprise, it was encased in a flat glass vacuum tube! We're all familiar with digital readouts of this type -- smaller versions are quite common in microwave ovens and VCRs. If you've got one of those handy, look closely for the honeycomb. Today, I learned the details of this technology: it's called VFD (Vacuum Fluorescent Display, rather than Volunteer Fire Dept). Anyway, since I needed a new clock, I swung by Fry's. Most of their stock was ugly, back-lit LCD stuff, with a few old-fashioned red LED units. I was hoping for one with green LEDs, maybe -- I know they exist, I've seen 'em around. But of course, what I really wanted was a blue LED model, and figured, if these were being manufactured, Fry's would have 'em, but no. Internet searching was also fruitless -- however, I entered the same terms into eBay, just for kicks, and behold! Now I have a digital clock with truly blue 'letters' -- but like my original, it's too bright. I solved that problem then by gluing some blue plastic onto the front, filtering out all but true-blue wavelengths -- but LEDs are like lasers, monochromatic, emitting only a single wavelength; so I'm going to have to rig something with smoky gray plastic for this new unit... a more advanced model would have a dimmer control. After reading all this, maybe you'd like a digital blue clock, too -- and I know you, Internaut -- you want immediate, on-screen gratification, and cyberspace doesn't fail: the Arlington, Texas KoC provides.

January 18, 2004
Paranoid Shift is an essay by Michael Hasty, reaching many of the same conclusions I've come to, myself. John Laughland believes in the conspiracies, and says the real nutters are those who believe in al-Qa'eda and weapons of mass destruction. I agree -- a loose organization of religious-fanatic terrorists isn't SPECTRE.

January 17, 2004
Eulogy by John Perry Barlow -- Is Spalding Gray Finally Swimming to Cambodia?

January 16, 2004
There is much rejoicing in Blogville (at least, in the neighborhoods where I feel at home): Mr Pants is back! (after taking a vacation, for 2003.) He's also posted a new artifact: the Report Drug Smuggling Bookmark.

January 15, 2004
Some travel imagery:
On this image map of Moscow, click for incredible panormic views of Metro station interiors; scroll down here and click NEXT for a slide show of Osaka and Tokyo night-time street scenes; and finally, Susan's posting great bunches of South Africa photos -- in her latest entry, they visit a diamond mine.

January 14, 2004
Have just gotten into His Dark Materials. Where have I been? (Thanks, Jeff!) Speaking of zeppelins, the best part of my recent "Lord of the Rings" screening was the preview for "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" -- here's more info about the film, at a site devoted to British Airships.

Gross National Cool: What's Right With Japan -- from the Asian edition of Time magazine, last June. Don't miss the Gallery section, via that sidebar of articles. That title is borrowed from the Douglas McGray article in Foreign Policy I pointed to last July. Related, sorta: Dictionary of Japanese perversions.

Very strange custom cars (two out of four, anyway) and a motorized recliner (!).

January 13, 2004
Oh, Spalding. First this car crash, and now, missing -- I fear the worst.

Pictures at the Hotel Armageddon, in the NY Times -- all about Marienthal, the BRD "government relocation facility" like our own Greenbrier -- and the Germans' was built to house three times the personnel! (More about our the "Greek Island Project" at , including photos from the tour. But the pictures are better at the Times' slideshow.

January 12, 2004
Because they are guilty.

The Stop Motion Studies are kinda neat.

We apologise to our customers who've been insulted by the use of this drive-through speaker -- pranksters strike a Burger King somewhere in... England? Wherever Ananova is.

To get the HTML to place this up-to-date Sesame St. homeland Terror Alert Level security status icon on your web page (and to see the other colors), just click it.

January 9, 2004
The Bubble of American Supremacy -- George Soros in The Atlantic. Also, it was The Year of the Fake -- Naomi Klein, in The Nation, which moves into the same territory as Neal Starkman's "S" Factor Explains Bush's Popularity. (The more obvious answer to the Big Why; see below.)

Secret photo of a cowering dictator. Related: Saddam Capture Psyop.

January 8, 2004
Let There Be LEDs by Ian Austen, in the NY Times -- features the Vos apartment in London, illuminated entirely by Light-Emitting Diodes.
(Thanks, Girlhacker!)

January 6, 2004
Interview with Josh "Shag" Agle, at ModCulture.

January 5, 2004
What You Can't Say -- essay by Paul Graham.

January 4, 2004
Leave No NASCAR Dad Behind features an interview with Arlie Hochschild, UC Berkeley sociologist, who attempts to answer the Big Why question: Why does blue-collar America favor the shrub, even as his country-club party favors only top management?
I remember seeing a red state/blue state US map that was more purple, when the resolution was increased to the county level. Beyond Red and Blue by Robert David Sullivan breaks the country into ten political regions, which the zompist purpled, with commentary -- the Southern Lowlands may be the key area.

January 1, 2004!
Two useful links for you jet-setters -- I suppose you've all returned from your holiday jaunts, like me; but for that next trip, perhaps: a handy Time Zone Convertor, and some Tips for Traveling With Tech Gear, from PC World.

December 30, 2003
Good post at Making Light: Why We Hate America. (We don't, of course -- it's merely our more ignorant countrymen, which are hateful.)

The shrub's Desolate Imperium, by Bernard Chazelle.

December 29, 2003
Krugman proposes rules for next year's election reporting.
The approved story line about Mr. Bush is that he's a bluff, honest, plain-spoken guy, and anecdotes that fit that story get reported. But if the conventional wisdom were instead that he's a phony, a silver-spoon baby who pretends to be a cowboy, journalists would have plenty of material to work with.

How to identify a fake Rolex -- or "copy watch," as the street sellers in Hong Kong hawk them.

December 28, 2003
A bootleg favorite from the old days: MP3s of the Beatles' Christmas Greetings, originally sent to members of their Fan Club.

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