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June 20, 2004
outside Keppler's, looking in The picture shows late arrivals outside Keppler's. Inside, writer David Sedaris is reading from his work, his voice booming from speakers placed outside, for our listening pleasure. He said the lyrics to "Amazing Grace" could be sung to the tune of "Gilligan's Isle" -- and proved it.

Charles Mingus (!) documented his method for toilet-training cats.

One guy's Philosophy. Not that I'm endorsing it -- check that URL. He's obviously a flamer, but many of his bullets are valid (and many are obnoxious, as well). He's spent time teaching English in Russia, which is how I found his site -- after a chance encounter with a Russian vampire-nurse in the hospital lab (she drew my blood) I'm considering my alternate teaching destination -- not Asia, but Eastern Europe. Why not Russia? (Besides the climate, of course.) I'm looking into the language 'cause I certainly want to travel there eventually.

June 18, 2004
He's coming back! This time, with Doc Ock Great article in Salon -- well worth enduring the commercial, in order to read America's Blankness, by Stephen Holmes (from a speech he made in Tysons Corner on May 27):
From 9/11 Americans should have learned the importance, for US national security, of accurate, deep and up-to-date knowledge of political instability around the world. Political violence, in any possible country, is never farther than a plane ride away from major US urban centers. But instead of creating a national appetite for knowledge about the world, 9/11 had the opposite effect. It seems to have traumatized Americans, making them even less interested than before in non-American goings-on and points of view.

My Life Inside the Kingdom documents a British ex-pats experiences in Saudi Arabia. Her report mentions the mutawa'a, or Religious Police. Here's a weblog named The Religious Policeman but the author is not, he's just a Kingdom resident with the resources necessary to hide his internet activity from the authorities. Another weblog, wholly unrelated: Cheap Stingy Bastard posts information useful for those living the thrifty life, online.

Jon Carroll is one of my favorite columnists (except when he natters on about his cats). I heard him on the radio today, for the first time -- always that shock, when the voice imagined from the photo confronts the reality. This week, he published a report of his recent cross-country road trip, in three parts:   1   2   3
Flying back, he found himself in a situation with the TSA because of something in his luggage. This just happened to me, also -- f*ckers confiscated a rather novel wrench of mine, because 'tools are not allowed beyond the [BWI] security checkpoint' (even if they're not sharp).

An interview composed of Ten Questions for David Sedaris. He was on "Fresh Air" Monday night, and it was fascinating hearing him describe the obsessive behavior patterns which have ruled his life. In his 20s, these all involved time -- for example, he'd go to the same IHOP every night, at the same hour, and sit at the same table, where he'd read library books while partaking of their bottomless pot of coffee. He's giving a reading this Sunday afternoon, at Kepler's -- it'll be a mob scene, but I may particpate.

Thirteen Clutter Control Rules -- if anything, just read the first one.

June 16, 2004 (updated)
Hare Figwort I'd heard that Rasputin had a strategically located wart on his Piston of Pleasure, but Good Lord! Now it's on display in St. Petersburg, preserved in a bottle, so this claim can be verified.

Remembering Reagan uses a rhetorical pattern which is familiar from NPR, when their balanced reporting becomes what I call 'but' news. I hate it. Nevertheless, follow the link.

Details of Site R, the Dickster's Undisclosed Location, revealed!

Another example of Creeping Fascisim.
David Neiwert continues documenting the trend -- check the Proto-fascist thuggery post to his Orcinus weblog.

A roster of Doomed Engineers.

And the hand? It's Alison's, with a plant she identified as a Hare Figwart, or Scrophularia lanceolata.

June 14, 2004
family Just returned from a week back East -- was all over town Wednesday, riding hither and yon on Metro, a big day for DC because The Body arrived just in time to snarl the evening rush, as it was motorcaded and paraded between Andrews and the Capitol dome, for to lie in state. And of course, most horribly hot & humid that day. While on the Mall, I took refuge in the subterranean coolness of the Smithsonian's Sackler Asian Art museum. According to one of my brothers, a terrorist rumor evacuated said Capitol, at about the same time -- the high-heeled Cokie Roberts allegedly announced, "Take off your shoes, and run for your lives!" I think he must've been paraphrasing (because I can't find this string on Google) but I want the expression to get into cyberspace, so I'm logging it here. Anyway, the family all got together, up in the Shenendoah; here's an incomplete portrait, in our Skyland livng room: click the thumbnail to see my parents, various in-laws, my youngest brother and sister, and my older nephew. The man in white (your nimble narrator) entered the frame after configuring the Digicam to auto-shoot.

June 7, 2004
pine cone finial Just a fence around a traditional house in the expensive part of Mountain View, up near Los Altos. I pass it all the time, and the pine cone finials please me.

Great stuff at Fantasy Planes.

It's a tough one:
a True Test of Your Southern-ness -- my score was 39 out of 71, so I'm judged "almost a Southerner, but not yet."

The shrub's Erratic Behavior Worries White House Aides --
"We’re at war, there’s no doubt about it. What I don’t know anymore is just who the enemy might be," says one troubled White House aide. "We seem to spend more time trying to destroy John Kerry than al Qaeda and our enemies list just keeps growing and growing."

June 5, 2004
glass block in the Peet's rest room This is the same view as yesterday, kinda: opposite that building is the back door of Peet's, and their rest room has a glass block window in the wall. The glass blocks' style is ribbed faces 90° out of phase, which form a grid. This is one of them; the micro-scene inside each of of the plaid's little facets would be more recognizeable if that tree wasn't in the way -- it's blocking the ornamentation.

Expedition finds Titanic damaged by tourists and scavengers.

Unidintified mammal spotted in North Carolina -- back-yard photograph captured with a motion-sensing camera.

Albuquerque police overeact when two Muslim men are found praying outside a mall, at sunset.

Ray Bradbury objects to both Michael Moore and his new film. Also (not new, but topically interesting) Frank Herbert discusses how he wrote Dune.

Thy Will be Done, On Earth as It is in Texas by Joe Bageant.

June 3, 2004
Chippendale adornment crowning a Los Altos storefront, with shadows Saboteurs: The Nazi Raid on America is a descriptive review of the new book by Michael Dobbs. When "This American Life" did a segment about these raids in March, it was characterized as
Hogan's Heroes crossing the Atlantic in a U-boat, landing in the Hamptons, and taking the morning rush hour train into Manhattan.
And with a hundred grand in their pockets, those guys were really going to town. Even if they did meet up with the Coast Guard, back there on the beach. Not to worry, though -- JEdger's boys brought 'em in.

More Beatles Flash: Tomorrow Never Knows and I Feel Fine. These links courtesy the ever-excellent Grow A Brain, which also points at these stats tracking the specifics of "Come Together"s linkage, out there in 'blogdom'.

I imagine we'll be hearing a lot more of these two words in the news soon: Darfur and Janjaweed. The latter is an Arab militia doing ethnic cleansing in the Darfur region of western Sudan -- a million people displaced.

June 2, 2004
Rite Stop Cafe sign, in San 
Francisco, somewhere Peter Thorpe's Rocket Paintings -- what space travel used to look like. Colors!

Previously I've written about the ganguro fashion in Japan: kids (mostly girls) who want to be darker, so they spend lots of time in the tanning booth. Seems the fad's spread to the UK, where it's known as tanorexia or Posh and Becks syndrome.

This is great -- a Flash video of Come Together. Go. Do. (Unless you're on a dialup -- it's 8Mbytes.)

June 1, 2004
Geoff at his window. Up in the City yesterday, to inspect Geoff's new loft-space (here he is, with Twin Peaks visible through his window). We walked over to have great raw fish at the nearby Blowfish Sushi, with its techno, and anime on the monitors.

NY Times slideshow of Kodachrome photos from the Depression, from a new book: Bound for Glory: America in Color 1939-43.

Brian Eno's second record album was Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy). The title is borrowed from a Red Chinese opera, which Brian allegedly discovered in a series of postcards depicting the production.

May 30, 2004
Air Show I live real close to Moffett Field. This weekend, they're having an Air Show, featuring the Air Force Thunderbirds, among others. Often there's nothing to see, in the block of clear sky visible from my patio; but I just caught some tight formation work, four F-16s doing big loops. (Although I face the runway, the view is blocked here and there by some redwoods.) Unfortunately, the digicam's out in the car (and anyway, it often refuses to focus on the sky); but I had it with on the base yesterday, where this special red Learjet was doing the same sort of acrobatics -- here, it's ascending, to the left of Hangar One. The actual aerial part of the Air Show experience (looking up at the sky with your mouth open, ears full of That Sound) reminds me of the Bob Cummings Twilight Zone, about King Nine -- "Jets!" Speaking of the Zone, somewhere in the extensive Art of James Bond I read that for the cover of Casino Royale,
...the first pictorial representation of the character of Bond and his face was based on a photograph of American actor Richard Conte.
... star of another Zone favorite, which we call Jump, Edward, Jump!

In honor of Memorial Day, view this D-Day sand sculpture, remember, and be appreciative.

Dvorak predicts the Death of Email.

Italy sets strict pizza guidelines -- if yours doesn't measure up, you're not allowed to call it Neopolitan.

May 27, 2004
palm bark An abstract image -- the trunk-surface of one of the huge palms out front of my apartment bldg.

Some new products:
Digital Sundial, from Germany; the Conference Bike; the EasyGlider (avilable soon, but I think it's bogus: a small wheel-unit tows the rider); and PoMo Furniture for Pets -- love the Scratching Swirl.

Speaking of swirling, this bit of infinite-mirror breaks the frame and gets recursive. Another animated oddity is the woman's 'facemash' at bt3a.com, by Felix (scroll down).

In the News:
Deer crosses Golden Gate Bridge (doesn't pay toll); Forest Family concerns a father and his (now) 12-year-old daughter who lived for four years in the woods near Portland, until some Australian tourists snitched to the authorities; and out in the Empty Quarter they're excavating a giant human skeleton, the remains of a Titan.

May 26, 2004
The jacarandas are blooming, their delicate lavender blooms frosting all LA and even up here, to a lesser degree; my attempts to get an illustrative, true-color photo for today were unsatisfactory, try this page or the picture I took last year. While seeking out the above informational link, I also discovered a site for a Japanese Beatle tribute band named Jacaranda.

The shrub gave a speech Monday... that dreadful voice kept forcing my car radio away from NPR, while I was driving 'round post-work. Today, his opponent, the guy who actually won the election, also gave a speech, and it was excellent -- read the transcript.

Some uplifting news: the Axis of Eve.

May 25, 2004
casino Today's photo shows the façade of a new casino (Larry Flynt's "Hustler") in Gardena, which is one of the many little towns filling up the LA basin. Those neon rings are all winking on & off. Speaking of the daily image, hope you've noticed how I always add some explanatory text to its 'alt' attribute; and sometimes, that's all you get. A mouseover reveals the <img>'s alt text, at least with most modern browsers/platforms. Otherwise, you'll have to check the source code.

William Swislow's "Interesting Ideas" site gets my approval, since he uses "walkmen" rather than that other w-word, when discussing personal stereos. Here are three of his essays:
Hal Crowther says 2004 is the worst year to be an American.

All about the Amber Room of the Summer Palace, in St. Petersburg -- did you know it had been restored, a year ago? -- with over half the expenses provided by Ruhrgas, a German energy company.

May 24, 2004
Stafford Hotel on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood Up on Sunset, at the Stafford Hotel, there was some kind of arty happening, according to the television in my motel room; but I didn't catch the details, only saw a shot of the outside, compelling my checking it out. Didn't discover anything all that unusual (except their sign, mounted upside down) but the building fulfilled a fantasy of mine: replacing a standard mid-rise dwelling's balcony lamps with the blue lights from the aerodrome -- in fact, I want to control them, switching them on&off in some meaningful sequence. These lights weren't quite airport blue (and around back, they were orange -- part of the deal, or their default appearance?) but it was good enough for me.

Regarding the Torture of Others by Susan Sonntag. (Way earlier, she wrote Fascinating Fascism, which sounds better than it is. The newer essay's much shorter.)

A new record: 81 naked Britsh students all rode the 'Nemesis Inferno' roller coaster in Surrey.

May 23, 2004
LA branch of Flight 001, not on Melrose, but on W 3rd Spotted this stylish travel boutique (with its great logo) while driving around last night; it's their new LA branch, had to take a picture. I was down there on a fast weekend: pauses in the journey included Pismo Beach, Santa Barbara, Long Beach, and San Fernando.

May 19, 2004
the cyclists converge at Peets Every Wednesday just before 6PM, groups of bicyclists meet at the Peets in Los Altos, as part of their peddlings along Foothill Blvd. I took this picture from where I park sometimes, across the street. This is early, they're still gathering; eventually there's over a hundred of 'em, and they all ride away at once.

Aperger's Syndrome -- sometimes the characteristics are familiar, but was I that nerdy?

Twilight of the Info Middlemen -- James Fallows on file-sharing, blogs, scientific journals, and the weather.

Great stuff at Unpop Art -- but to get in, you must accept the conditions.

May 17, 2004
B-24 port rudder This is the tail of a B-24 Liberator, an aircraft from World War II. I've worn a black sweatshirt adorned with one for years, and this is the second time I've seen this plane (which travels around the country along with a similarly-restored B-17) at the base, where half-hour rides are available for only $400. (More about this B-24.)

Lesser Known Facts of WWII (they go on & on). Sample:
During the war American and British bombers made emergency landings in Switzerland. The crews were interned by the Swiss authorities in camps at Adelboden, Grippen, Les Diablerets and the notorious punishment camp at Wauwilermoos (for escapees). They were supposed to be treated like POWs under the rules of war but in many cases living conditions were little better than German concentration camps. In all, around 1,500 American servicemen were interned in neutral Switzerland.

50 fishy circumstances about the Nick Berg killing (I haven't watched it) and 50 years of Pop.

Show and Tell Music is a great repository of thrift store records: cover art galleries and some MP3 samples, like Radar Blues.

Sunday May 16, 2004
perforated roof of a Santa Clara strip mall on el Camino Takin' it easy -- just some random quotes, for today.

We are all in the gutter, but some us are looking at the stars.
    -- Oscar Wilde

Sometimes I think the Web's primary function is aggregating stupidity.
    -- Jason Kottke

They sort of Europeanized us all. Before them, our society hadn't been the Great Society as much as it had been the Revlon Society.
    -- Dustin Hoffman on the Beatles (1989)

Just because everything is different doesn't mean anything has changed.
    -- Irene Peter

Is Man one of God's blunders, or is God one of Man's blunders?
    -- Nietzsche

I Married the Janitor's Girlfriend
    -- a paperback book cover

May 14, 2004
pickax fish sculpture out front of the Los Altos library Cold Turkey is a new column by Kurt Vonnegut -- among other things, he talks about the adage we used to hear, when discussion turned to dictators -- I'd read John W. Campbell hold forth on it, in my dad's castoff Analog magazines:
Power Corrupts, and
absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The Coca-Cola Nazi Advert Challenge.

1950's-vintage photo offerings of the Glasgow Underground and Disneyland.

May 12, 2004
the old blue chair out on the patio Worthwhile: a new rant from the Zompist. (If you're wondering, the blue chair -- what's the connection? There is none -- it's just the thumbnail-photo du jour.)

In The Wafer Watch Continues, Amy Sullivan discusses church attendence by Kerry (and how the 'news' of that event is given a negative spin by the 'liberal' media) and by the present and former occupants of the White House -- she's a member of Foundry Methodist, and describes sitting in front of the Clintons at a Sunday service.

Brighton by the Sea has many photos of the West Pier, including the fires.

One more Mandala, a 9-11 gift from the monks of Tibet. "View archived daily images of the construction."

May 10, 2004
somewhere in Mountain View The news has been all about the Abused Iraqi Prisoners for over a week now. I've had no comment, suffering from outrage overload; but here's some links to well-reasoned rants. The 'Daily Brew' suggests that We're All Wearing the Blue Dress Now, and Tom Engelhardt comments on those Postcards From the Edge.

David Neiwart proposes Media Revolt: A Manifesto and George Dvorsky, Ending Biblical Brainwash.

May 8, 2004
rear-view dangly I've updated what I dangle from my rear-view mirror. The blue crystal of chandelier glass has been replaced by this string of teeny round green characters, which I bought in Tokyo.

Dream Buses from Japan -- 'for the kids.'

Dave the Brave.

May 5, 2004
class Slipped away for a long lunch, at the Bechtel I-Center on the Stanford campus, where I taught my 13th classroom session -- this was my view, from up front. The classes offered there ostensibly cover topics like American Life and Culture (since the students are all very recent arrivals) but it's just a cover for ESL training, what I've been studying and just finished a particularly lengthy class in. This recent teaching (I also did it twice, last week) was to meet some of that class' requirements.

Benny Shrub! An image gallery of the smirking chimp rubbing or slapping the heads of bald men. Related: the The Divine Calm of...

Review of a recent Kraftwerk performance. in England. As is the depressing usual with such things (Concerts I'd Like To See), I missed their local appearance, just ten days past. I did attend a free lecture at Stanford Art Linkletter gavea month or so ago, but that's hardly a consolation.

May 4, 2004
SP2E fin This detail is the port wingtip-gizmo of an SP2E Neptune sub-chaser on static display out by the big runway where I work -- I drive past it all the time. The starboard wingtip's leading dome is transparent plexiglas with a big reflector behind it, I guess for a bright light -- you can see it clearly on this page of SP2E photographs.

During the December holidays, my rental car turned out to be an Alero, which I dubbed "The Last Oldsmobile" in honor of this one, which rolled off the assembly line last week. Everybody signed it, and then the vehicle went to the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum in Lansing.

Muslim Wake Up! interview with Noam Chomsky, by Ahmed Nassef.

May 2, 2004
Ernie A San Jose native, he's 80 years old. Third-generation Japanese-American who spent 1942 interned in one of the Poston relocation camps. To get out, he joined the US Army and saw action in France, at the Gothic Line. His unit was at the liberation of Dachau, but he was in hospital at the time. I met him inside the JAM in San Jose's Japantown, on the occasion of their Nekkei Matsuri spring festival.

May 1, 2004
shoes I gathered all my shoes together for a group photo, just before moving; and here they are, from sandals to hiking boots. Protruding into the frame from below are my feet, shod in my everyday sneakers (what the British call "trainers" but I call running shoes. To me, 'sneakers' are shoes like Chucks; you can see two pair in this photo; but I hardly ever wear 'em anymore, only when a stylish look is required, and I know I'll only be walking short distances -- their flat-bottom design lacks the support I've become accustomed to.) I usually have two sets of running shoes: the newer pair, only for the gym -- once they get squishy they're demoted to everyday slob wear, and replaced. But for a while I had three pairs, and noticed that alternate sides of the older pairs made squeaky noises (which I hate) so the noisemakers were discarded, and I now wear mismatched shoes. Although they're the same brand, the sharp eye can spot differences, but nobody's called me on it yet.

I'm so tired of hearing about Iraq -- I usually change the station now, when they start yakking about it. But if you're not (tired of it), here we go: Four pages of photos "identified only as some pictures a friend brought back from Iraq." The Whiskey Bar weblog compares the occupation with Manchuko (where the Japanese installed the Last Emperor). At the end, he mentions the flag situation; the proposed Iraq flag is depicted in this BBC article. Finally, photos of buried Iraqi Air Force jets being excavated. Why were they buried, in the first place? No explanations are offered.

April 30, 2004
poppies It's poppy season here in Northern California, and there's big wild patches of 'em alongside the roads. I've been trying to get a good shot, and I think this is a fairly good representation; but it's hard to capture the intensity of their orange color. As usual, click the thumbnail for a wider view of this little bloom. Bonus -- I put two more photos of whole bunches on a new, separate page. I remember my Dad bringing back some souvenir seeds of this plant while on a business trip Out West, and growing them in a little flower bed out front of the Glassmanor house, when I was a very small boy. He showed us how they closed up, in the evenng.

Photo sequence of Tibetan monks creating a big one with brilliantly tinted sand, and then sweeping it up and casting the components into a river; Solas Art documents mandalas made from colored stones; and finally, with a clever Flash application (evocative of the Spirograph), you can do it yourself.

If you checked in here yesterday, this page looked awful; I've had unnoticed format troubles since I started this daily-image business, which I made a lot worse just before I figured out what was wrong -- a misunderstanding about the nature of comments in HTML -- they can't be nested! (I've found a way to do that, but my big trouble was caused by placing '--'s inside <!--comment tags-->, which can screw things up royally -- most visibly in Mozilla, which hardly any of the WWWebbing public is using, but still.)

April 28, 2004
Charlie Brown Those who check the bottom of this page know I'm currently reading the first volume of The Complete Peanuts, the source of today's image. This is the very first time Charlie Brown ever landed on his back, due to a girl with a football, and it happened before Lucy's initial appearance -- instead, the girl is Violet (yes, that's how she looked back in '51) and the situation's a little different.

Jesus endorses NoVa restaurants. The turf of this Jesus is mostly out in Fairfax, hence the only one I've been to is Tachibana, in McLean. He also approves of TJs and In-n-Out, plus salmon, and Abortion(!) -- but not B, B & B. Interesting, erudite guy, with a nice site, built with the purpose Carl Steadman described in Justin Hall's "Home Page" movie -- to attract his "bo-bo," or ideal mate. If you don't care for His reviews, try one of the sermons, like A Short Guide to Life.

Boeing is developing a new airliner, the 7E7. Sadly, this won't be their high-speed Sonic Cruiser I mentioned three years ago (that whole program's been scrapped), but instead, the "Dreamliner." All the artist conceptions of this plane I'd seen depicted circular passenger windows; until today I hadn't read any description of this detail (and all those previous pictures had been exteriors). Here's a couple links into a new image gallery -- one shows round windows from inside, but they're lozenge-shaped in another (whose caption says they'll be much bigger than today's norm) -- maybe they'll only get the portholes up in First Class. Yeah, looks neat; but it's just cosmetic, incremental -- not the revolutionary jet we should be flying in the 21st Century.

April 27, 2004
Penny Farthing Driving home from Peet's, I passed this penny-farthing rider, peddling down San Antonio. Poke the thumbnail to see the complete family procession -- Dad, riding tall; Junior, his escort; and Mom bringing up the rear, on a recumbent. I drove up ahead and pulled over, to snap this photo.

Brotronic Weapons. (Don't miss the Death Ray commercial -- "Yesterday's Future, Today!")

John Kerry Is a DoucheBag but I'm Voting for Him Anyway dot com -- until now, I had not considered the attribute of "douchitude." I look foreward to Alan's completion of all five of his essays.

April 26, 2004
In-n-Out This is an exterior neon detail of the Mountain View In-n-Out on el Camino. In a recent posting to his Whatever web-log, Scalzi responded to the "What do you miss about California" question with
The thing I miss most is In-N-Out Burger. God knew what he was doing when he created the Double-Double with Grilled Onions, Animal Style.
Although the insertion of the Almighty into the discussion is surprising, there's no denying that In-n-Out does up a fine burger. What's remarkable is the perception that so many places screw up the cooking of such a simple foodstuff. Incidentally, 'Animal Style' is an unlisted option -- means they grill the patty in a big dollup of mustard. Okay if you're into mustard, I suppose; but I don't care for it with beef (although it's mandatory with any non-breakfast wurst sausage) -- I prefer my burgers with just lettuce and tomato, which is why McDonald's lost me when they discontinued the McD LT.

April 25, 2004
This circular 'Tower of Babel' shelf unit is on the fifth floor of the wonderful new main library in downtown San Jose. It's about seven feet tall, and like a lot of the nearby shelving, holds theses. I'm not sure how the top-most items are accessed (nothing like a curvy ladder-unit is handy), maybe they're not meant to be; but I like the design.

Just finished Gladiator by Philip Wylie -- he's one of those once-popular authors that nobody reads anymore. Fascinating book, perhaps the first American super-hero story -- his scientist-father injects his pregnant mother with a substance that makes him incredibly strong, and invulnerable; but ultimately miserable. The book was an influence on the creators of the original "Superman" comics (which appeared a couple years after Gladiator was first published, in 1930), and fans of The Watchmen can spot a copy on Hollis Mason's bookshelf (in parts I and VIII). As for Wylie he's best remembered these days for When Worlds Collide but his most memorable to me are A Generation of Vipers, Tomorrow, and his last book: The End of the Dream, from 1968, with its amazingly prescient description of the plane crash into the Regency Towers skyscraper in Manhattan -- this event occuring not on a bright summer day but during a freezy cold winter night, during a blizzard; and his double-deck airliner didn't explode, but just stuck there, impaled.

The NY Times reports on the hostile reception received by those Japanese hostages (taken in Iraq), now that they've returned home. When their story was in the news something I assumed was, they were members of the Japanese Self Defense Force (ie Army) pledged to the Coalition, but of course well-armed soldiers were unlikely to have been taken hostage. Trouble was, the media I'm tuned in to didn't say anything about them, except that they were Japanese. Actually, they were idealistic young people who felt compelled to travel to Bagdhad to help out, where possible.

From gentle Jesus to macho Messiah.

April 24, 2004
Here's something new: I've decided to jazz things up around here with a Daily Photo -- ideally, one I snapped earlier, on the day of its actual posting (although that rule may become too ambitious). Naturally, they'll be thumbnails -- click to zoom. Today, we're inside Keppler's book store, in Menlo Park, where every few days they feature literary speakers and book signings. That's Stanford linguist Geoff Nunberg (who I enjoy hearing on "Fresh Air") interviewing Lynne Truss, author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves, a popular new book about punctuation. I haven't read it yet (although it's intriguing) -- the title refers to a joke about an armed panda bear in a restaurant (and she mentioned a bawdy version from Down Under, involving a koala bear and an Australian man).

The Washington Times reports on my kind of Preacher-man: Bishop Pearson, who teaches a "Gospel of Inclusion." His church's web-site has more info about it (which uptight fundamentalists are calling heratic).

In the comics, a Language Log analysis of the recent 'Whom' in the Fusco Bros; Joe Sacco's Meanwhile, in America (in the Washington Monthly); and the latest installments of Get Your War On:
"Complicated times call for simple language! How else do you justify being allies with Pakistan without your goddam head exploding from the cognitive dissonance?"
Also, James Kochalka's ideas for a couple of cartoons he's pitching in LA this week (personally, I favor "The Jolly Rogers").

April 21, 2004
Every so often, elements of my life Before pop up, to remind of the way things were. In the last year of David's life he persuaded me to attend the free, weekly presentations Marianne Williamson was giving, in the grand ballroom of the Santa Monica Sheraton -- I went to four of them, and the final one turned out to be the last of those sessions that she ever held. I remember her saying the recent LA riots were like society's cancer. At that time, she was well-known for teaching the Course of Miracles -- she didn't write those books (nor did I ever get into), but later, I read her Healing the Soul of America. War and Peace is a column she just wrote for the Detroit Free Press.

Scalzi holds forth on The Meaning of Life (and he's an authority, since he has a degree in Philosophy).

At Scamorama, Ignatius responds to a Nigerian spammer (pretending to be Winnie Mandala).

Today's fun fact concerns the contrived Disney town of Celebration (which reminds me of "The Truman Show"s Seahaven Island) where they get winter-time snow -- in Florida! Who knew? From this week's dispatch in Slate, reporting from the Great American Pie Festival:
In Celebration, between Thanksgiving and early January, the streetlights blanket the downtown with fake snow every night. "No, it's really neat," says Taylor's mother. "And in the fall, they bring in colored crepe-paper leaves."
Only in America.

Pantone, the color company, has determined your birth date's color -- kind of astrological. Says mine is Mellow Mauve, which actually does nothing for me -- way too bland. (As if I'd have anything to do with mauve -- it's almost as bad as beige.)

There's some good trivia at Whatever Happened To, like the Dave Clark Five, and Eddie Haskel. (Lumpy is his real estate agent?) I think President Haskel might be a good euphemism for the shrub, but don't popularize that meme, if you please -- it would taint the source.

April 20, 2004
"Lost in Translation" just opened in Japan, according to this CS Monitor article. Reaction isn't positive, for reasons detailed by the Tyee, with which I agree. More: Lost in Racism. Also, concerning modern things Japanese, a Wired interview with J-Lists' Peter Payne.

I Like is a stylish blog from Britain. The most recent entry concerns the Chocolate Wrapper Museum -- scans of candy wrappers, from all over the world. Bonus: I Like Visits Bulgaria -- my low opinion of that country is confirmed. I posted all I know about Bulgarian tourism in an entry of my '99 journal. (Just so you know, 85% of that was archived offline, in Decemeber.)

According to Pravda, Saddam's wife says that's not him, but one of his doubles.

April 17, 2004
The arrival of blue laser media:
Sony Establishes Mass Output Technology for Blue-Violet Laser Disks -- looks like we'll be calling the new technology "Blu-ray." (Blue light's wavelength is slightly less than half of red's -- ergo, digital blue media can hold twice the information of old fashioned red). And this article says the new disks can be made out of paper. (Access the first one with anon@anon.com/anonanon)

Ideological Hegemony: Thought Control in America -- looong, excellent essay.

April 14, 2004
The shrub appeared on television yesterday, ostensibly to answer questions, which he didn't, in his usual appalling manner. For a summary of what was said, check A Busy Person's Guide to the Press Conference. Also, Saletan's analysis of the man and his performance, in Slate.

Related: Some Dare Call It Treason -- Wake Up America! by Dr. Robert Bowman, USAF Ret.

There's only one space after a period (a discussion thread). I'm in complete agreement with the title.

April 8, 2004
The Poor Man has posted the face(s) of the war, one of those big composites -- this one's made from our casualties in the conflict, and each 'pixel' is unique.

I'm reading through an extensive travelog compiled from on-the-road reports of a musician/journalist from Portland, who rambled around South America during the recent winter months. In addition to the usual photography, he also made some field recordings, which are also available.

April 7, 2004
Afro Asiatic Allegories. There's girls in Japan who use make-up (or extended visits to the tanning salon) to radically darken their skin, and they also mimic various African-American mannerisms... they're known as ganguro (blackface) and there's some cross-over with the yamamba girls (characterized by bleached hair, white make-up and platform shoes; a style which I understand is now rather passé). Iona Rozeal Browna is a black artist (in Chillum!) doing ukiyo-e style paintings of them -- more info: For Japanese Girls, Black is Beautiful, a NY Times article about her, with two of her pictures.

Speaking of black, two peculiar new novelty items: Black Thinking Putty and Magnetoids.

Finally, this is making the rounds: a bilingual tag discovered on a garment; the French section is augmented with a political comment.

April 6, 2004
Avocado Memories is Wes Clark's documentation of his life in the 60s and early 70s. He's a kid (two years younger than me) who took lots of pictures, while growing up in Burbank. His father had Polynesian aspirations involving their swimming-pooled back yard.

Great Jon Carroll today, about why the shrub administration doesn't ever admit error, or apologize -- they've learned from Nixon's mistakes (or so they think).

If you went to read that Molly Ivins column in the previous entry, but were stymied by the DFW Star-Telegram's login window, remember bugmenot.com, AKA Bypass Web Registration, which I've added to my links page (under "Reference"). For that newspaper site, it returns password "hasnone" for user "bugmenot2004@yahoo.com." As is common these days, a valid email address is used for the account name -- and many of those listed on bugmenot are from the quite useful mailinator.com.

April 4, 2004
Molly Ivins' latest column describes how this most intense, expensive Presidential campaign ever will play out -- if you're in solid blue or red areas, you'll be oblivious, since the propaganda activity will only be focused on the nineteen 'purple' states of AZ, AR, FL, IA, LA, ME, MI, MN, MO, NV, NH, NM, OH, OR, PA TN, WA, WV and WI.

Art of the Japanese Postcard is a current exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston -- A new graphic art for a new century. My favorite is this Bayer sign, in Osaka.

More big Metro photos, this time: Paris! How well I recall trudging up those stairs, at the end of the Boulevard St. Michel station platform!

April 2, 2004
This Tom Toles editorial cartoon was in the Post today: "Why do you have to testify together?" Related news article: Kerry proposes debates again, White House refuses.

Don't miss this cover of a 1958 publication, The Dude, from the Gallery of Forgotten Girlie Mags.

One more from the BBC (with repeated disclaimers -- although posted yesterday, they say the story's no April Fool): Plans to fill nuclear land-mine with chickens to regulate its temperature were seriously considered during the Cold War.

April 1, 2004
Two tech articles at the BBC:
The Simputer is the first computer to be designed and manufactured in India -- the user can web-surf, e-mail or organize finances, using a stylus like a PDA. Runs on Linux, is branded the "Amida Simputer," and priced under $250. Also, courts award inventor of the Blue LED $1.5M -- his employer initally gave him only a $200 bonus.

Eve Tushnet holds forth on "The Watchmen" and Shakespeare, etc.

March 31, 2004
Josh Parsons assigns letter grades to the world's flags.

My recent mentions of Giant Robot concerns their new San Francisco shop, but they've been a magazine for some time. A duo called Kozyndan created the wonderful cover of issue #28, called Uprising. I wondered about their Yum-cha Militia (which I've seen in the store) -- what's the story? ('Poke' that link, to find out). They do lots of detailed panaramas -- I like the idealized view inside the original GR store, on Sawtelle in LA.

Do you miss my rantings about things political? Oh, I'm still compiling links of that nature, as I come across them; but it's all become so tiresome, I just don't feel like posting such things now. And we have seven more months of campaigning to endure? Yeesh.

March 30, 2004
Arnold made the wrong decision! Here's the favored design -- I was looking forward to the tactile sensations, feelin' those waves, dude. Instead, we'll have a collage of Half Dome, a Condor, and a Prospector.

Up in the City Sunday; at Giant Robot (around the corner from Amoeba and Escape From New York pizza), the guy unexpectedly demonstrated the Vinyl Killer -- the shop's quiet suddenly broken by tinny transistor music, an old pop tune. I looked over by the cash register and an LP was lying on the counter, with a little blue Type II VW doing very precise 33 1/3 donuts upon it!

More neat stuff:
the Blog shoe; the '55 and '56 Dodge La Femme (a Chrysler just for women); and the Australian-designed Scubadoo underwater motorcycle.

March 27, 2004
How the Blues Affected Race Relations in the US is worthwhile. Related: Blues Language provides definitions for the arcane terminology in those great old songs, which I've been tapping into of late, after hearing Terry Gross' interview with Blues Historian Dick Waterman. My first exposure to this music was covers by the young Rolling Stones, who are releasing some tasty new box sets of their earliest material next month. And speaking of blue -- at work, I'm a frequent member of the Blue Shirt Society.

About David Brooks: a year after the red state/blue state election, his One Nation, Slightly Divisible article in the Atlantic Monthly seemed reasonable; but after reading Boo-Boos in Paradise by Sasha Issenberg I realize it was specious -- she checks up on his reportage, and finds it bogus. My (granted: limited) experiential wisdom is confirmed -- people are the same all over.

March 26, 2004
At the multiplex this weekend: "Scooby Doo Two"?! An incredible opportunity was missed with that title. Not that I give a flyin' about the franchise (vaguely repelled, although I've never seen an episode; not part of the original's targeted demographic) but really. Something about monsters? C'mon! It should be "Shaggy in Paris," or something with clones (set in Cannes, for instance), and titled "Scooby Deux"! (More about the Doo -- who knew his voice was (and will ever be) Casey Kasem's?) Also, 100 Movies That Deserve More Love (but none were made before 1981).

March 25, 2004
A large repository of animated GIF files lives at Whole Wheat Radio. Using the same medium, in conjunction with CAD software, Matt Keveney has created a beautiful and educational collection of Animated Engines.

Dead Corporate Mascots is a painting featured among the excellent trivia of the Manbottle Library of Arcane Knowledge.

Crop Art is dedicated to the beauty of seeds pasted on a board to make a picture. One example: Curious George Looks for WMD.

And in the news: Red Iceberg, by Danish artist Marco Evaristti.

March 23, 2004
Details of Garry Trudeau's AWOL shrub contest -- nobody could prove that he ever showed up, so the $10K prize went to the USO. Related -- with the boy-king on the campaign trail -- he's just had a big-screen TV installed on Air Force One, for basketball game watching. (That's in the NY Times, so registration's required -- or not: just visit bugmenot.com to get a user/password combo; they got me in to the Washington Post site today -- haven't been there in quite some time.) Finally, Protests, Even Buttons, Verboten in Crawford -- visibly dissenting out-of-towners are in for a heap o' trouble, down there.

New York pizza history, parts 1 and 2.

www.quiet.org -- the Right to Quiet Society (it's Canadian).

March 21, 2004
Dashed out to catch the new one, and found it good. Glad to finally see Montauk Point, a place known previously only from Joe's mention in Strange Cargo Hinterland -- doubtful that I'll ever go there in real life, only been on the beach of Long Island once before. Weird to see snowy sand -- brr, shivery! Speaking of film, I saw "Vanishing Point" when it was (almost) new, and didn't really 'get' it; think it's time to give the movie another chance. From a recent comment posted to the IMDb:
...a "fin de siecle" story, a unique requiem for a quickly dying age -- a now all-but-disappeared one of truly open roads, endless speed for the joy of speed's sake, of big, solid no-nonsense muscle cars, of taking radical chances, of living on the edge in a colorful world of endless possibility, seasoned with a large number and wide variety of all sorts of unusual characters, all of which had long made the USA a wonderful place -- and sadly is no longer, having been supplanted by today's swarms of sadistic, military-weaponed cop-thugs, obsessive and intrusive safety freaks, soulless toll plazas, smug yuppie SUV drivers, tedious carbon-copy latte towns, and a childish craving for perfect, high-fuel-efficiency safety and security.
More Road Movies (but beware, it's an image-intensive slow-loader).

The Mad, Mad World of Pixels Per Inch explains things -- or does it? I feel like I know less now, than before... although it does explain why 72 and (and to a much lesser extent) 96 are so common on web page images, something about Mac for the former and Windows, the latter -- but I'd still like to know their metric equivalents, which the article doesn't go into.

LitraCon -- Light transmitting concrete is set to go on sale later this year -- embedded fiber optics do the trick.

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