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September 20, 2004
three tourists in The City pose for a photo above the ruins of the Sutro Baths Up to the City yesterday to meet with old friends: Meg and Molly, sisters of me old roomie Tim, in town for a wedding. We last encountered Molly in these pages five years ago, when we visited the Getty. Tony snapped this photo of us up above the Cliff House, after we'd all had tasty (and reasonably priced) dim sum at Parc Hong Kong, a place I was compelled to experience after reading a thread in ba.food. Molly believes the sun has become perceptively brighter, probably due to thinning of the ozone layer. It's a suspicion I've had myself, but one I've blamed on a lack of native familiarity with the California climate. She wants to make money selling solar-protective gear, but fears that market may not expand rapidly enough for adequate profit (although there'll definitely be demand, in the future).

Speaking of the World of Tomorrow, this could've been my "Sky Captain" weekend, but I avoid crowded cinemas so I'll probably catch it next -- and besides, the reviews aren't quite as steller as hoped. But here's another film worth anticipating: next spring, a new version of "The War of the Worlds" is coming -- faithful to the book, set in the past (of la Belle Époque), unlike all the others. Und natürlich, if it's ever distributed here, I'll be seeing "Der Untergang" (reviews: at eFilmCritic and the NY Times). One might say this is a remake of that 1973 film starring Alec Guinness as der Führer, which I saw back then at the old Greenbelt theater.

Since I'm such a public radio junkie, the ability to play streaming audio files is mandatory. I've just replaced the despised RealAudio with Real Alternative -- no more blinking icon in the taskbar, and my laptop powers down gracefully again -- after the upgrade to Win98, I was usually forced to respond to a final, cryptic prompt in order to make it shut down. After this installation, which also required a lengthy DirectX download, the first things I listened to were at Why a Duck dot com. Did you know Groucho hosted a Pabst-sponsored radio program called "Blue Ribbon Town" in 1943 and 1944? In this episode Jack Benny makes an appearance -- a slightly jarring juxtaposition for me, hearing those two favorite and so well-known old-time voices talking together (although I knew they met way before they became famous, touring in the old vaudeville days. For details check this Jack Benny bio.) More about "Blue Ribbon Town" and the demise of the brewery -- I was not aware that Pabst disappeared in 1996, perhaps because I'm not much of a drinker anymore; but I certainly hoisted my share of Blue Ribbon bottles in the 1970s.

Today's is the last hunkabutta.cöm posting from Japan, alas -- he's moving back to Canada.

September 17, 2004
Mezzanine by Massive Attack About the tunes I'm into now -- this record came out in 1998, but I didn't get my copy until 2001; my first exposure was to "Inertia Creeps" on the soundtrack of "Stigmata" and that was essentially the only track I played, up until recently. This is an amazing CD! Every track is catchy, psychedelic trip-hop; some of the female vocals reminding me of the Cocteau Twins. Hmmm, reading the liner notes -- it's the same person, Liz Fraser. Also, in an entirely different vein, I've been listening to a lot of the 'brown album'... and I finally got an ID on that vaguely familiar waltz I've been hearing in Peet's, for years -- it's from Tchaikovsky's "Seranade for Strings."

Krugman column from last week, A Mythic Reality, worth reading. (Now that I'm aware of that archive, I'll no longer be linking to him at the registration-demanding NY Times.) More, commentary from Rafe Colburn:
I've sort of reached a point of peace about this Presidential election. Not to be too mean, but I have begun to feel like it's a referendum on the intelligence and attention span of the American people. It seems to me that to support [the shrub] at this point, you have to basically believe that everything reported in the news is simply untrue.
And even more: Our savage numbness regarding developments in Iraq, by Bob Harris (the guest poster to Tom Tomorrow's weblog, not Bill Murray's character in "Lost in Translation").

And in McSweeney's:
This Bible You Sold Me is Clearly Defective and I'd Like to Return It, Please. (I don't get the one about Noah and a cucumber.)

September 15, 2004
Where were you on Sunday, Sept 25, 1983? I was probably at home, on Biltmore Street, in DC -- what used to be referred to as "Ground Zero." By doing nothing, Stanislav Petrov saved my life that day. Yours too, perhaps -- he averted WWIII. Related: Pravda reports how the Soviet government tested troops with an atomic bomb, during Operation Snowball, in 1954.

The Goddess -- all about the Citroën DS, which I became aware of during my first trip to Europe, where I found its odd shape enchanting. A more common reaction I've heard stateside is, "That car's hideous!" According to the site, those distinctive tailights at the upper rear window's corners are known as "comets" (and quite rightly so).

The fanatic cycling community's in an uproar, due to the revelation that Kryptonite locks (or maybe just their latest model, the Evolution 2000) can be sprung with a Bic ballpoint. (Here's two links with details, at Bike Forums and engadget.) I've never had that type of lock (since its best usage requires tedious wheel removal), see no reason to ditch my own system: an extra-thick cable with the biggest Master key-lock that was available thirty years ago, when I lost my wonderful purple curly-cabled Falcon to a thief at the U of M. Three bikes later, and I'm still using that lock and cable (which shows evidence of unsuccessful tampering).

September 13, 2004
The 60s are over, by Matt Taibbi -- excellent! About the ineffectuallity of contemporary protest marching. In contrast, the civil rights demonstration from 1968, where they each carried a sign reading "I AM A MAN" -- and in 1970, when the 'hard-hats' marched in NYC.

Thinking out loud, the Social Future as seen by six SF Writers. A good short story by one of them (Pat Murphy) is Inappropriate Behavior.

New evidence for hard-working conservatives to disregard the indolent French: Bonjour Paresse (Hello Laziness), "The Art and the Importance of Doing the Least Possible in the Workplace" -- a new book by Corinne Maier.

September 11, 2004
Tony When Tony's in town he stays in the Richmond district of San Francisco, up near Cliff House. He's standing on Balboa, here, 'round the corner from his place, with the neighborhood cinema in the background, just before we had a meal down the street this afternoon, after walking over to (and then under) the Golden Gate bridge, around the Presidio in the summer fog.

Retro phones:
Pokia modifies old telephone handsets so they can be plugged in to cell phones -- the source is British, and they seem only to be available through eBay. Speaking of denwa, back before devestiture, Ma Bell had an iron lock on our (then-rented) telephonic hardware. Even so, the futuristic, one-piece Scandinavian Ericofon was available in catalogs, but actually having one -- wasn't that a violation? (These phones can also be found on eBay.)

"The fourth great breakthrough in aeronautical science" -- the Fanwing, whose propulsion is provided by a wing-spanning rotor. Flies slow and low, will make possible sky barges; reminds me of the Harkonen ships in "Dune." Its inventor, Pat Peebles, is a Leonardo for the 21st century.

September 9, 2004
Somebody scanned and posted R.Crumb's Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick, from Weirdo #17 (1986).

In the current New Yorker, David Remnick visited with Al Gore, at home in Nashville. Did you know Tipper plays drums, and keeps a full set handy in the living room? (Actually, I lost interest, didn't finish this article.)

In Rolling Stone, The Curse of Dick Cheney, by T.D. Allman. Also, one more Slate link, concerning agnosia in the Executive Branch: Diagnosing Dubya, by Timothy Noah.

Another long essay (except for the Crumb, that's what all of today's links are to) -- Why nerds are unpopular, by Paul Graham.

September 6, 2004
Cherry Orchard ceramic bench Today's photo is a ceramic art-bench at the Cherry Orchard mini-mall in Sunnyvale, so named because its parcel of land on el Camino was one of the last places in the Valley to lose its fruit trees -- up until a couple years ago, they were still there, white blossoms in the springtime.

British poll names Muppet Scientists Most Popular Screen Boffins -- my favorite Henson characters make the headlines. More Muppet news -- they're off to see the wizard.

Burning Man '04: SF Chronicle photo gallery and commentary by Robert Collier.

September 5, 2004
Visit the Fruit Emporium, where you can vote for your favorites! You get to nominate five... my choices were banana, cherry, mangosteen, papaya and peach. The selection is extensive -- learn of the Miracle Fruit, something like grapes -- when eaten, your sour taste buds are 'coated' such that you can eat raw lemons or limes for a half-hour afterwards.

"Ask the Pilot" is a good reason for enduring the commercial at Salon. This week he posts a bunch of neat photo-links on Soviet aircraft.

The shrub's missing year.

September 2, 2004
Cupertino City Center Ever heard of pica? It's when people crave eating non-food, like those weird kids who ate paste, in my early elementary school classes. One manifestation of this, peculiar to a specific ethnic group, is southern black women who eat kaolin, a white clay which they sometimes call "chalk" but which most folks think of as "dirt." The problem is characterized as a "culture-bound syndrome." An urban variation I've read about elsewhere involves eating cornstarch, right out of the box.

It's lame, I know, posting links from Slate; but these are good.Yes on Schwarzenegger. No on Bush has William Saletan, a Kerry Republican, reacting to the Governor's speech. He went off again in reaction to that evil Zell Miller's performance. Also, Jack Shafer holds forth on House Speaker Hastert, George Soros, and Lyndon LaRuche -- Hastert slandered Soros last Sunday on some Fox 'news' show, and the Speaker seems to be echoing the ideas of LaRuche. Finally, a Liverpool Slideshow from June Thomas, part of her week-long "Only a Northern Song" travelog. Did you know that Liverpool has a Yellow Submarine? (It appears to be a non-seagoing sculpture.) Apparently, that new "Yellow Submarine Adventure" in Berlin was short-lived, and closed now; the only visual I could locate (and it's hardly satisfactory) is here (scroll to the bottom).

Today's image is the Cupertino City Center -- I suppose there's a City Hall back in there somewhere, but it's not obvious, amid shops, condos, and a hotel. (At first I assumed those vertical blue lines were neon, but a verifying touch indicated otherwise.) More pictures, unrelated: a bunch of photos somebody snapped at the Axis of Eve demonstration.

August 31, 2004
When Nerds Protest -- a sign spotted in New York. Since I 'get it' I think it's great, but this one conveys the message better.

Garrison, enraged: We're Not in Lake Wobegon Anymore.

True, the authors of the Vice Guide to Everything have posted some valid information, even wisodm; but it's mixed with a lot of ignorant dogma and pseudo-clever juvenile attitude.

The '04 Olympics are history, and went very well, apparently. I don't pay much attention to the Games, but thought it was outrageous how that jerk pushed Brazil's Vanderlei de Lima, when he was in the lead during the Marathon. Also in the news, the Astro community mourns the passing of Fred Whipple.

August 30, 2004
Howard Visitor this weekend, my older brother. He's down south on business for a couple weeks, so drove up on his off days. Here we see him atop a fallen tree-trunk, amid the redwoods of Big Basin State Park.

Later, after he drove away, "Spiderman 2." Excellent! How 'bout them restoring one of Manhattan's elevated rail lines? Note the descriptive trivia in the IMDb which mentions how they used Chicago's el, says it's the 9th Avenue line, although the train seemed to me to be running along the East Side like the 3rd Avenue did. Ted White and Dave Van Arnam wrote a book called Sideslip in which the hero realizes that he's been shifted into an alternate 1968 when he spots this line, which was torn down in 1955. There's a great documentary available which is essentially a ride on that train, filmed just before it closed.

Another Random Quote Generator from "The Big Lebowski" -- since this one's illustrated, I'd call it a Random Vignette Generator.

August 27, 2004
balloons Got in trouble, snapping today's image, while I was driving 'round, at lunchtime -- a cop saw me do it and pulled me over, took down my particulars because "you never know, these days" and then let me go, commenting about how it was a nice scene, the kid with the balloons. What drew his attention was also my stopping mid-block on a busy but then-empty street -- too bad about the windshield glare in the image. Related, Thomas Hawk's Editorial: On Camera Policies in Privately Owned Public Spaces.

Good post about demonstrations (in general, and in NYC next week) by Steve, at No More Mr Nice Blog.

The Real Issue -- the shrub is incompetent, by Richard Reeves; whose 1976 commentary about Ford is mentioned in Howell Raines' It's the IQ, Stupid.

August 26, 2004
"2001" FAQ and interesting take on "Excalibur", part of the stuff at "Underview."

Hey! It's That Guy! Index of character actors.

Yesterday's image is from the Naturalist (ie nudist) Nacktkultur of 1920s and 30s Germany. It's a scan from the book Voluptuous Panic and there's no identifying caption, but I like it: Light - Air - Life. Reminds me of the slogan of an inn I know in Tokyo, the Touganeya:
A new type of city hotel, full of green, light, and dreams.
For more about Naturalism,

August 25, 2004
Top Ten Ways to Live Authentically
, and the Top 30 choices, and winner of the Art Underfoot competition in Vancouver, for design of new manhole covers there.

Tricks of the Trade -- the Mechanic's is a great idea, a potato; I've always used a needle-nose, twisting the bulb's base.

A Police State of Mind: Don't You Feel Safer? by Nicholas von Hoffman --
We have learned that the cop or the government agent is an enemy to the terrorist but also no friend to us.

Converse, now a subsidiary of Nike, will be producing John Lennon "Peace Chucks".

August 23, 2004
I've been feeling too discouraged to post, but here's a good one: The Violence of Conservatism by Jeffrey Tucker.

Another dispatch from Kurt Vonnegut -- I Love You, Madame Librarian.

Everyone's linking to this latest little symptom of The Decline of the West: Child Pimp and Ho Costumes.

August 19, 2004
another flamin' truck Another photo of a truck with flames. This one has a matching grill.

Ted Rall on the upcoming fracas: NYC to GOP: Drop Dead!

Olympics torch-run and rings logo sourced to the '36 games, in Berlin.

August 17, 2004
man eating At the magazine rack, browsing the current issue of Gourmet is recommended, in order to catch David Foster Wallace's take on the Maine Lobster Festival. The link describes the August issue -- the story is not online; but Erik Marcus' review contains some excerpts, but not my favorite, which imbedded in a footnote, where he describes the awful Tourist Truth:
It is to spoil, by way of sheer ontology, the very unspoiledness you are there to experience. It is to impose yourself on a place that in all noneconomic ways would be better, realer, without you. It is, in lines and gridlock and transaction after transaction, to confront a dimension of yourself that is as inescapable as it is painful: As a tourist, you become economically significant but existentially loathsome, an insect on a dead thing.
Yeah, DFW. Don't skip the footnotes. Also, the latest Giant Robot (#33) has an article about the French artist known as "Space Invader" who does tile graffiti (sample tag, in London). Lots more photos at his own site... Artful Griots Physical Graphiti mentions him, along with Shepard Fairey (Obey!) and other contemporary street artists.

Nikki Finke in the LA Weekly: all about the IMDb in the context of Hollywood.

The Brains Thing: Intelligence matters more than "character". By Matthew Yglesias.

August 16, 2004
Anita apartment bldg, across from GG Park The Anita is an apartment building just south of Golden Gate Park. A couple years ago, its owner had it painted purple (according to a long-time tenant, visible in the photo).

David Szondy's Tales of Future Past -- tasty pictures of Yesterday's Tomorrows, in a unique presentation.

At the dentist today, the hygenist described how hers is a house which has, along with two little boys, a pet rabbit running around loose. She says rabbits love chocolate, come a-running when they hear a foil wrapper being unwrapped, and it's not bad for them (unlike for dogs). I wondered if this was why we don't have, for example, the Easter Turtle or the Easter Duckie; and how does her rabbit feel about eating a chocolate Easter Bunny? After she was done, my cowboy dentist scrutinized the X-rays, gave one of my back tooth a poke which induced a pain I could feel in my eye, and said #14 has to have a root canal. This will be number five -- my fifth crown, anyway -- I can only recall having two actual root canals. I've been lucky, lately -- the oral situation's been stable for way longer than usual; I've been overdue for some drilling.

August 15, 2004
fascist double eagle on a Masonic Bldg in SF Fascist double-headed eagle dominates the façade of a Masonic building in San Francisco.

This week's news headlines included "Giant mutant ant colony found in Australia" as well as "Cannabis extract shrinks brain tumours." Regarding the former, CNN used the less sensational "100km ant colony hits Melbourne". What's newsworthy is Australia is now involved in the Argentine Ant invasion, which also plagues California and the Mediterranean. "Giant Mutant Ants" sounds like a 1950s atomic monster movie; the mutation is actually a mellowing of the ants' agressive tendencies towards neighboring colonies, such that they blend (and they're a tenth the size of our native Califonia ants). Our 1000 km supercolony stretches between San Diego and San Francisco; the one in Europe, from Portugal to Italy. Better details in this Stanford Report from April.

Top 50 Fast Food Chains (by sales). I've been to a Sonic (#12) but do you know #44, another midwestern chain, Culver's Frozen Custard & Butterburgers? In'n'Out is #48 (ooh, down from #46).

August 14, 2004
new beetles One of the big persian rug dealers along University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto is having a liquidation sale, so their fleet of new beetles was arrayed out front to draw attention.

Interview with Ira Glass includes a readers' forum, in which he participates. Over at his radio show's site they're too busy too identify all the music associated with any given program, but they have compiled a listing of the tracks they use often, with RealAudio samples for identification. Since he's appeared on a couple episodes of "This American Life," not entirely unrelated: interview with John Perry Barlow of the EFF.

Science News:
LED coatings boost their light output -- this technology will probably replace most interior lighting. Coatings that fluoresce yellow are used with blue LEDs to make white, but this is a new developement.

August 12, 2004
tow truck Spotted in a parking lot: custom paint job, on a tow truck.

Everything You Know About Grilling Is Wrong. Well, not everything -- if you read my July 23rd entry, you already know marinating longer than twenty minutes is pointless, even counter-productive.

If the shrub was honest, this is the speech he would have made, laying out the reasons for Congress to declare war. (Constitution says it's their job, and it irks me to no end how they haven't, not since WWII.)

New York lockdown is a long but fascinating Guardian article about the various demonstrations which will occur during the Republican convention.

August 11, 2004
The NYPD is practicing Critical Response Surges.

Walking in the Air is a post at Falling Sky about the Amozozo installation in Glasgow.

Sunday on the Pot with George -- part of the collection at The Museum of Bad Art.

August 9, 2004 -- PM
on el Camino in San Mateo
Storefront in San Mateo.

Leeks from the bunker (on this, the 30th anniversary of Nixon's resignation).

David Edelstein on the cult of Lebowski.
August 9, 2004 -- AM
Illustrated Field Guide To Moscow.

Orange Alerts charted with shrub ratings -- there seems to be a correlation.

More Hightower: Is This America?

August 5, 2004
It's difficult for me to understand why so many of my countrymen have trouble with geography, since I peruse maps for fun, and love traveling; but here's more evidence of their ignorance: the global participatory Fool's World Map project. If you'd like to practice, here's a great exercise: unlabeled political maps, with prompts to identify each country -- click your guess, and recieve immediate feedback. Start with Asia. I only missed one or two there, and in Europe, and South America; haven't tried Africa yet.

1950's Flashback:
What Would Groucho Say? (to Tom Ridge, on "You Bet Your Life"). Also, in Popular Science, a whining 36-year-old New Yorker tried living for ten days like it's 1954.

Norman Mailer and his spawn, High Times editor John Buffalo Mailer, in dialog: Father to Son: What I've Learned About Rage.

Both the above links aren't just to 'print versions' of the articles, but to links they'd rather you didn't access directly: in the initial form, the articles are needlessly broken into multiple pages, but when their 'print version' link is selected, the page appears in a new browser window with location and toolbars suppressed. I hate that, consider it a challenge to derive the page's 'true' link, which are then passed along to you.

August 4, 2004
Bob the Angry Flower wonders, Who's Supporting the President? His creator was just in San Diego, naturally; look around to find photos of him at a Comicon table, a ring of flower petals decorating his head. I completely agree with his 'shrub on Mars' rant, from January -- scroll down to find it on this blog archive page.

Jim Hightower: Free Speech Zones Go National. Also in The Nation, a Naomi Klein column: Ditch the Distraction in Chief. (Really -- I'm so tired of dwelling on his crap.)

Barbara Ehrenreich: To Defeat Terrorists, try Listening to Feminists -- suggests heeding Osama's sister, who wrote a book called Inside the Kingdom.

August 2, 2004
Required reading: latest Krugman column, on the triumph of the trivial:
Somewhere along the line, TV news stopped reporting on candidates' policies, and turned instead to trivia that supposedly reveal their personalities.

Flights of Fancy is an appropriately sarcastic article by Gregg Easterbrook about why They don't fly commercially:
So politicians in publicly paid private planes are merrily wasting taxpayers' money, and creating security problems for Washington, in order to make themselves feel important, while celebrities and CEOs in private jets are slurping oil at a frantic rate.

The Zompist is ranting frequently, for a change. Why Bushonomics Matters is especially relevant (to me, anyway).

The daily photo is becoming a chore (as you've maybe noticed, it's kinda becoming optional). You do get a picture today, however -- way back in my green journal days, I prepared (but never used) a scan from a book by Steven M. Johnson called Public Therapy Buses. This Dutch bicycle-bus reminded me of it again, so here ya go: the Pedaltrain!

August 1, 2004: 801
pair of large glazed metal sculptures in downtown San Jose People call 'em 'rags' -- those free, weekly newsprint magazines available at the doorways of stores & such. The 'rag' publications I've been familiar with the longest are the DC City Paper and the LA Weekly. Here in the Valley of Heart's Delight, we use the Metro to plan our weekends, but there's a rival with a glossy cover which I usually ignore, since it lacks showtimes: The Wave. Their current issue has a fascinating article about Persian Gulf resorts in Dubai called Arabian Nights which features the seven-star Burj al Arab hotel. Among his many great travel photographs, Miguel Cruz has three of this amazing building, and this one includes some explanatory test. That horizontal disc mounted near the apex is a helicopter pad; Tiger Woods was up there recently driving golf balls off of it (four pages of thumbnails). But back to The Wave article -- scroll down and read about a vast resort under construction called "The World" -- I'm reminded of the map-of-Earth feature on the Ringworld.

Strolling through the Palo Alto Borders last weekend I noticed a new installment by Larry Niven: Ringworld's Children. As his Throne was so underwhelming I didn't pay much attention, but this review by Mahatma Randy has piqued my interest (and although there's no real spoilers, it's full of background, for those unfamilar with Known Space). If you can't wait and want to dive right in to the new one, Chapter 1 is available online.

Hugh, the artist whose medium is the back of business cards, has posted twelve tips on How To Be Creative. Previously, in a different context, I've encountered #9 (Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb). Not sure how well I'm following through, but in 1978, at a classy bar in Georgetown called F.Scott's, while my date was enjoyed her Pink Lady to my left, this older gentleman at my right was telling me that I have to 'find my Line, and then step over it.'

July 30, 2004
iTunes vs. Preservation -- Wayne Bremser details trends in losing important musical information (ie liner notes) associated with 20th century recordings.

Two reports from Capitol Hill Blue:
Nancy says No; and the shrub withdraws, into the bunker.

Brilliant! Ron Reagan Jr in Esquire: The Case Against ...
The far-right wing of the country -- nearly one third of us by some estimates -- continues to regard all who refuse to drink the Kool-Aid (liberals, rationalists, Europeans, et cetera) as agents of Satan. Bush could show up on video canoodling with Paris Hilton and still bank their vote. Right-wing talking heads continue painting anyone who fails to genuflect deeply enough as a "hater," and therefore a nut job, probably a crypto-Islamist car bomber. But these protestations have taken on a hysterical, almost comically desperate tone.

Bruce Mirken and Mitch Earleywine expose the 'Potent Pot' Myth.

July 28, 2004
T.H. Noodle neon "Transportation Futuristics" is a new show in a library at UC Berkeley. A visit may be unnecessary, since their virtual exhibit is so extensive -- lots of great pictures, almost all of them new, to me.

I wish there was a phone number one could call for information. Not just Directory Assistance, but anything. Google is better than nothing, but answerbag.com may be the better approach -- it's kind of like a 411 newsgroup. Here's a sampling of their current crop of unanswered questions:
  • Does Chewbacca have a penis?
  • Is C# just a copy of Java?
  • How was life created?
  • Did Bono ever find what he was looking for?
I registered, so I could post my own perplexing quandry:
  • Why are "Yellow Cabs" orange in certain areas?
A long-distance trucking line has the same identity confusion.

Neon sign afficianados are familiar with a vintage, no-longer-available color called Airplane Green. It was made with tinted glass tubes colored yellow-green, formed by adding uranium to the molten glass (just as adding cobalt makes it blue, copper green, and gold, red). Among many other things (like kitty litter) Radioactive Consumer Products has images of some uranium glass artifacts (and says it's also known as 'Vaseline Glass'). Only two of the noble gases are used now, in commercial neon signage -- the ubiquitous orange (like those kanji in today's image) that I've termed Pizza-Beer, but which glass benders call Clear Red; and Clear Blue, a color I favor since it reminds me of Europe, where signs made with it are common. Inside Clear Red tubes, the gas is just neon, whereas Clear Blue contains a mixture of neon and argon, spiked with some mercury vapor. Any other colors in neon signs are created by either coating the inside of the tubes with phosphors which glow different colors (similar to fluorescent lights) or by using colored glass. Airplane Green was uranium glass with the neon-argon mixture inside; I've only seen one example, at a neon artist's studio.

July 27, 2004
the Wall, in 1978 During her 2001 Lithuanian tour, once Marie-Mail hit Vilnius, she was compelled to immediately find the bust of Frank Zappa. Scroll down -- she also visited Grutas Parkas (the 'Stalin World' theme park). A couple days earlier she wondered, Is Latvia Latveria? An excellent question, and who better to ask? She used to color Dr Doom, when she worked at Marvel! While we're in Eastern Europe, check The Lost Border -- Photographs of the Iron Curtain, by Brian Rose. Incredible pictures (they're all thumbnails!), but the teeny gray-on-black text can be a problem. The Axel Springer building is mentioned; it's also visible, right-background, in today's image: my own Wall photo, which I took from one of the wooden platforms they'd erected along the edge of the Western Zone, so observers could see over, maybe wave to friends and relatives. I took this picture in 1978, before the grafitti bacame so commonplace.

I've been in the midst of one of my periodic resurgences in early Rolling Stones interest for a while now, and it's spiking at the moment due to my discovery of their 25 X 5 video at the library, along with getting Ian's perspective on those days in his wonderful Rock Odyssey. Just learned of an interesting coincidence -- readers of these pages may recall my occasional mention The Sovereign Individual (©1997) which predicts the collapse of the nation-state. This book is by James Dale Davidson and Lord William Rees-Mogg. The latter played a role in the Stones' 1967 drug bust (the most memorable scene from which may be the naked Marianne Faithful, who rolled up in a fur rug when the cops burst in). A film about this incident is in the works now; let's hope it turns out as well as 1989's "Scandal" (which concerned the Profumo affair of four years previous). Anyway, in '67 (before he was Lord) Rees-Mogg wrote a Times editorial titled "Who Breaks a Butterfly on the Wheel?" questioning the severity of the Stones' punishments, which probably contributed to their sentence suspensions. I've been unable to locate the whole editorial, but a key paragraph is quoted in the Stones' Wikipedia entry. If you're into more details of their Brian Jones era, see this timeline.

More about the decline of the nation-state, in Jim Kunstler's commentaries on current events: recent entries focus on the 9/11 commission's conclusions, and the downscaling of America's future.

July 26, 2004
Cardhouse posted a series of pages on Japanese arcade games.

Laurence Olivier is to be resurrected for a role in the "Sky Captain" movie (release of which has been pushed back to September).

In the NY Times magazine, The Roach That Failed:
Cockroach complaints between 1988 and 1999 fell by more than 93%. And although roaches long generated the most income for commercial exterminators, they have dropped down the list to #3, behind ants and termites, according to the trade magazine Pest Control.
This is consistent with my experience, although I'm surprised that fleas aren't in the top 3 -- I bet they're #4. The article mentions Combat bait traps (but not Muhammad Ali's D-Con), but I thought it was boric acid which turned the tide -- it certainly did the trick for us, living in downtown DC in the early 1980s. Ever heard Paul Harvey pitching Roach Pruf? Same stuff, a white powder the victim spreads under the fridge and etc; we used a local copycat brand called Mr. Cucaracha, which Tim and I referred to as The Señor. In 1987 I moved to LA, and have rarely seen a roach, since. The linked story's horrorshow beginning is familiar, again with Tim -- I remember once, around '74, hanging out at the flat he shared in Langley Park: I was crouching down to inspect the books on the lowest shelf. When somebody pulled a volume out from a shelf above, a shower of cockroaches fell on my neck!

July 25, 2004
statue in bamboo grove at the San Jose Buddhist temple Today's photo is at the big Buddhist temple in San Jose's Japantown, which is referred to almost everywhere as a Buddhist 'Church' (for tax reasons, no doubt) but it just sounds so weird, to me. I believe the figure's hat marks him as a monk, although that designation may not be accurate. I've spotted somebody similar amidst the bustle of a daytime Ginza street corner, in Tokyo, standing very still.

I didn't think Harper's made anything from their magazine available online except the Index, but here's a whole article from the February issue: The Oil We Eat by Richard Manning. Very depressing, similar to the conclusions reached in Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn: agriculture is our curse.

A Canadian reaction to Linda Ronstadt's "9/11°F" testimonial in Vegas, with fascinating details of the story, and much more: Where have all our heroes gone? by Heather Mallick, from the Globe and Mail.

I wish sinks were mounted about six inches higher, so I didn't have to bend my spine in order to wash my hands. Are there tall people who've had their bathroom and kitchen counters customized this way?

July 23, 2004
C-17 on the Moffett runway yesterday Who Would Jesus Torture? The Religion of ... mentions Ron Reagan, Jr, who was on "Fresh Air" last night and said, given five minutes with the president, he'd inquire if he thought the thousands of innocent Iraqi and Afghan civilians killed by US bombs over the past couple years would be getting into Heaven. I'd guess his answer would be a curt "no" since my impression is, he's one of those 'Christians' whose God cares about which church people go to. I enjoyed listening to him, because he made Terry Gross laugh, which I love hearing -- always cheers me up.

Also on NPR last night, "All Things Considered" concluded with some enlightenment on marination -- cookbook author Mark Bittman (How to Cook Everything) said Great Grilling Doesn't Require Lengthy Marinating, that there's no difference between a soak of 20 minutes and 20 hours -- in fact, you can wind up with something worse, doing it for hours. Made sense to me!

I'm a few days late on this, but the new Project Apollo Image Gallery is excellent.

July 21, 2004
decomissioned Mission-style Moffett Field bus shelter with Hangar One in the background The Washington Post reports on stealthy new auto accesories which seem to thwart automated stoplight cameras (like glare-diffusing aerosol sprays for license plates). More new products -- check that tubular printer!

Making the rounds yesterday: Google search request, c.1960; also a new Japanese gizmo: Bottle-cap Tripod (which creates more accurately a mono- or unipod). My reaction to that was, ten bucks?! I could make one myself. And today, we get the how-to instructions. (great domain name, BTW.)

¿Que es naco?
In Great Britain, they're known as "Kevins." In the US, the words "nerd," "redneck" and "cheesy" come to mind. For Mexicans, it's "naco."
This was on that Slate "Day-to-Day" show, which is unavailable in the Bay Area -- KQED tested it when it was new; popular outrage forced a retraction.

Poly Play was a c.1985 East German video game -- love the wooden cabinet. (A simulation is available for downloading.) Speaking of classic arcade games, Pac-Mondrian

Anish posted photos of the new "Cloud Gate" sculpture, in downtown Chicago, inspired by mercury. Another big one: the inflatable Airform 01.

Doing Right by America: Tom Daschle's speech. Also, a warning, from the ghost of Vice President Wallace: It Can Happen Here (by Thom Hartmann, describes Sinclair Lewis' book).

Moon Day: July 20, 2004
tiled stairwell in Palo Alto Up-to-date online archive of Harry Shearer's weekly take on the news -- his radio program, "Le Show." About eight years are available, although he's been on the air much longer -- I was listening, back when I lived in LA. One possible reason we're in such a fix, now: he's never been broadcast Inside the Beltway.

Speculation of election disruption targets California, due to our time-zone handicap. Plus: Jon Carroll proposes a contest: "Guess the October Surprise."

Erudite musings from Reagan's daughter Patti -- she assumes the shrub
...does love his conceptualized idea of America. But I donít think he loves us -- the people who make up this land. The huddled masses. The millions of citizens who just want a peaceful, safe life. Those who want to put their kids through school and see them grow up; who want to take vacations to other countries without fearing for their lives because so much of the world hates us. I donít think you lie to people you love. I donít think you send them off into dangerous situations on the basis of murky, cobbled-together information that isnít really information at all. I donít think you keep them scared all the time.
Some people say the man's a cunning psychopath, incapable of love or empathy. Krugman wonders if he's the Arabian Candidate -- sounds reasonable to me.

July 18, 2004
Sunnyvale Trader Joes Here's a view inside the Sunnyvale Trader Joes, up front, waiting in line. They have these olde-time local photos up on the walls at this branch; here we see Moffett Field in the 1930s, with the Macon off to the right of Hangar One. (This is a more contemporary view of the same area.)

Jargon from Friday's Real Estate sectiona: "Googlers," local residents and upper-echelon employees of that company, who'll become instant millionaires once their stock goes public. A few years back, folks like that weren't so newsworthy, 'round here. Related: Orkut is a Google-affiliated social network one can only join at the invitation of another member. Apparently, it's been overrun by Brazilians, much to the irritation of the English-speakers.

I always try to catch Pacific Time on KQED Thursdays -- it's an Asian-oriented radio show about current events. The most recent program mentioned Godzilla, how the franchise is now 50 years old, and the 22nd movie (Final Wars) is now being filmed in Shanghai, where Monster X will defeat him. Symbollic? Hmmm... Could this be the End of Gojira? Well, I've only seen his first picture all the way through, and I thought his death at the end of that one was pretty explicit.

July 16, 2004
the new microphones The Reactive SpiderMic came in, and isn't their look stylin'? ("Sensors on, Captain -- all four ears deployed, and receiving data.") Finally, great stereo separation in my field recordings.

Two more columns from Thomas Frank, author of What's the Matter with Kansas? Red-State America Against Itself; and Failure Is Not an Option, It's Mandatory in the NY Times. Also, in Rolling Stone, Doonesbury Goes to War -- Garry Trudeau talks about Iraq, the coming election and his old classmate.

Pistol-packin' Virginians exercising their "open carry" rights in Fairfax (WaPo article). I'm reminded of Heinlein's Beyond This Horizon which describes a future world where wearing firearms is mandatory.

July 14, 2004
San Francisco street-scene: bay windows, and a web of overhead wiring Motel Moderne points to a SJSU page, discussion for some class: Making Sense of the Gernsback Continuum (which is a story by William Gibson from the 1980s).

A worthwhile column by Rob Kall (Suspending, Not Postponing Elections; It COULD Happen Here) suggests reading Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here -- well, I tried, in '96, during my Viennese holiday, but found it impenetrable, and left the book behind, in some cafe. However, I can sing the Mothers of Invention song, from their first record:
Could imagine
That they'd freak out
Somewhere in Kansas?
Kansas Kansas...

Collected news items concerning the creepy little group of celebrating Israelis spotted in New Jersey on 9-11.

Streetcar Rennaisance in New Orleans.

July 12, 2004
seagull and the Pacific Ocean This seagull was watching the waves from the same place I was yesterday, the last turnoff of the Great Highway, in south-westernmost San Francisco.

Twelve British film-lovers pick their most hated movies of all time.

Newsweek posted an interview by Brian Braiker with Laurie Anderson (she's doing the Olympics' opening).

Party apparatchiks now openly discussing delaying or "securing" the election.

July 11, 2004
neon detail, corner of window, 
Menlo Park mattress store "Fresh Air" was fascinating Friday -- discussions with Elaine Pagels, author of The Secret Gospel of Thomas, as well as Bart Ehrman, who's written Lost Christianities and Lost Scriptures. He said to most people, 'thinking about religion' is an oxymoron. How odd -- I'm doing that all the time... in Borders yesterday, perusing all three books, as well as various printings of the Gospel of Thomas (since it was omitted, from my Revised Standard Edition).

Kos' summary of Friday's headline, how certain records that would prove the shrub went AWOL were "inadvertantly" destroyed.

Wired News article on burned-out bloggers.

July 8, 2004
Man buying peaches at the Los Altos Farmer's Market I probably won't be seeing it, I go to the cinema for escape, and anyway it's preachin' to the choir; but here's a reaction printed in the Daily Mail: A British General's View of "Fahrenheit 9/11". His description of the shrub's behavior reminded me of Bogart's Captain Queeg, while under pressure in stormy seas during "The Caine Mutiny."

Mangajin ceased publication several years ago, alas; but they're still online -- here's a sample article, from #25: The Japanification of American Fast Food by Elizabeth Andoh (mentions the Christmas-KFC tradition).

July 7, 2004
McDonald Farm Thinking about Kansas:

My Dad took this photo in 1997; it's my Mom's family's abandoned farm -- I slept inside this house, when it was still inhabited, in the Summer of 1961. Over a hundred miles east on highway 36 you find the town of Smith Center, where a tavern is almost precisely mid-America. This is what they're saying at Pooche's.

There's a new book (which has a recycled title), What's the Matter With Kansas? -- learn about it in an interview with author Thomas Frank. Reports of more dissent brewing in the establishment turns on Bush by Jack Lessenberry. This mentions "flip-flop," which is also addressed in this week's excellent Tom Tomorrow.

July 6, 2004
temari Finished up this temari ball yesterday. More temari imagery of mine is available here.

I was preparing this very linkage when they began discussing it this afternoon on "All Things Considered" -- the latest urban scourge, "Pocket Bikes," little teeny motorcycles. (Check these sample pictures of the hardware.) This SF Chronicle article says the police are cracking down, and a good thing, too. Although they're obviously incredibly dangerous, my main problem's with the noise, the too-loud insect whine of these pocket bikes and motorized scooters. A house almost adjacent to my previous address became a magnet for the latter; one of the catalysts for my last move.

Two Japanese photo collections, on the "Cerebral Soup" weblog: Tanabata -- the gaudiest festival in Kanagawa, and Painted Oiso -- sanctioned graffiti at a beach named Oisi, a collection of surfing paintings.

Details of late-stage Brando, living in "destitution" on Mulholland Drive.

July 4, 2004
neighbor cat A neighbor's cat. We often meet at this fence, in the morning.

The LA Weekly surveys print media -- only the Washington Post spelled out the F-word suggestion Cheney made to a Democrat on the Senate floor. What's that tell us 'bout the Post? Dunno.

Uncle Carl maintains an up-to-date listing of R.Crumb's late 90's and 21st century appearances in magazines like The New Yorker.

July 2, 2004
Marlon Brando died yesterday. He was 80 years old


A web site and a calendar: Pilots Who're Famous, but not for Flying. Its black-on-brown text is a tough read, but fascinating -- yes, Jimmy Stewart was also an Air Force (Reserve) General, but who knew Danny Kaye flew a 747?

More celebrities: Turning the Tide is Noam Chomsky's weblog. Also, the Alan Bean Gallery (thanks, Grow-a-Brain!)

Billy Bragg is a short, web-only "Amercan Splendor" story, illustrated by R. Crumb.

Finally, a fun photo from the local Hawai'i news, of a swimming pool mishap.

July 1, 2004
jumper inside a bouncy castle The Los Altos summertime farmer's market has expanded -- now it's three blocks, and has what Canadians call a "Bouncy Castle," with this spectrum-mesh window.

Long-time readers of these pages recall my links to blue LED stories, including about their development in Japan. Horticultural experts in that country have just created what they're calling a blue rose but those flowers look more like a shade of lavendar, to me.

Microsoft-owned Slate explains why Mozilla should be your browser, rather than Internet Explorer. Sure, to thwart hackers, and Tabbed Browsing is described; but no mention of its other three oh-so-important features: popup blocking, breaking out of frames, and blocking images from advertising servers.

Two links into the Washington Post. (can't get in? Remember bugmenot.com). First, about author Nicholson Baker's new assassination fantasy; and second, Moon and Stars Align for Performance Artist is kind of a fluff article, mostly background; but the nature of Laurie Anderson's NASA-sponsored art is revealed:
...a range of works, including a film on the moons of the solar system that will debut at the 2005 World Exposition in Japan and show for six months. (A US premiere of the film will come later.)
"Later?" Speaking of NASA, the first ring photos from the Cassini probe are coming in. (More at the JPL Saturn page. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) hosts all of the space agency's interplanetary missions -- they own the ringed planet, as well as Mars and Jupiter. JPL's security guards have the best of NASA's police uniforms, due to their embroidered Saturn patch on the shoulder.)

Also in the news, Cheney was booed at the Yankees-BoSox game: blog posting from a witness. Not unprecidented, of course -- this also happened to Harry Truman (because he'd just fired MacArthur), as well as Herbert Hoover.

June 29, 2004
peaches at a market in Los Altos Peaches! They're here. I bought some a few days ago, then realized I'd broken my rule: To Avoid Disappointment, Resist Peach Purchases until July. But these ripened fine, in their paper bag (you realize it's hopeless, buying a ripe peach, except from maybe a farmer's stand? But that's okay, just buy the hard stuff, and place the fruit in a closed brown paper bag for a day or two.) The early peaches are usually tasteless, or never ripen; so I've discovered that it's safer waiting until July. Or maybe the last week of June...

June 28, 2004
SJSU One of the older buildings on the San Jose State campus, which occupies four square blocks downtown. It's a gymnasium, inside, a basketball court with bleachers. The huge new library's right around the corner -- I was down there yesterday afternoon.

A week past, I linked to a story about an Italian pizza cook's trip to North Korea. Apparently, that all transpired three years ago; for something a little more current check these excerpts from a new book, Kim Jong Il's Chef. This one's Japanese, back home now, and writing under an alias.

Also in The Atlantic, Jack Beatty on 'strut' and the shrub's Monica moment.

June 26, 2004
war protestors These are war protestors at a busy corner of el Camino, yesterday, during the evening rush. You can't see him in the thumbnail, but the yellow-shirt guy in front is a doing a counter-demonstration -- I heard him refer to the group behind as "communists" -- what a quaint put-down.

ICS Toaster Museum -- this one's international, seemingly unaffiliated with the Toaster Museum I linked to four years ago, which is still on-line.

Three random links about music and movies:
... as compiled by the NY Times. I've currenly seen 349 of them. (That last link from Jason, who says he "usually doesn't like films made before 1970." What an odd, sad statement -- I guess he's part of that younger demographic which the colorizers of the 1980s were targeting -- research shows people under a certain age instinctively click past anything black&white while channel-surfing.)

Here Comes The Judge!

June 24, 2004
tiles Tile trim which decorates select storefronts in downtown Palo Alto.

Perverse Polarity (by Paul Glastris, writing in the Washington Monthly) discusses why the press is loath to blame the right wing for its polarizing behavior.

A while back, when it was new, I noticed a glossy catalog's listing for the JVC 'Kaboom' box (which is really a tube). As I recall, "Urban Assault" was in the description. As absurd as that design was, it's easily trumped by the (again, JVC) HX-GD8 Shelf-Help System. Just look at it!

Another radical design: new Canadian quarter -- initially, it angered me, but now I think I like it.

June 23, 2004
Noonday in the Shade is Krugman's latest column, about William Krar, the Texas Terrorist. I posted a preliminary link about his thwarted (but unpublicized) cyanide conspiracy last December. For the latest info on this story, check Orcinus.

Also in the NY Times, more about SpaceShipOne pilot Melvill, with details of love, fear, and those M&Ms.

More about Computational Origami: a David Huffman page and an LA Weekly article on the subject. I don't yet comprehend the how-to of this curved paper-folding -- how to make those folds uniform? A jig of some sort's required, I'd say.

June 22, 2004
in the Los Altos library The NY Times reports on Dr. Huffmann and his curved paper-folding technique.
Computational origami, also known as technical folding, or origami sekkei, draws on fields that include computational geometry, number theory, coding theory and linear algebra.

June 21, 2004 -- Solstice
Magenta flowers outside the Sushi House in Palo Alto "I made Pizza for Kim Jong-Il" in three parts: 1   2   3   Fascinating story of an Italian chef's summons to North Korea. He seems to witness grass being mown in Pyongyang by hand, by squads of workers using tiny scissors.

Roger Ebert on Objectivity, and his review of "Fahrenheit 9-11". Excellent!

First Civilian Astronaut Pilots SpaceShipOne into Space. Go! On NPR I heard pilot Mike Melvill describe releasing some M&Ms into the cockpit, when he achieved zero-G at the top of his sub-orbital arc.

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