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March 20, 2005
Fried Dough Around the World.

Russian Nuclear Weapons Museum.

How Fox covered the tsunami.

March 19, 2005
The day began with my notice of some old Hollywood war picture on one of the monitors at the gym -- no sound, but I eventually identified "The Dirty Dozen," which was among my initial exposures to WWII, along with the TV show "Combat" -- the latter is reminiscent of the book I'm currently reading, A Walk in the Sun by Harry Brown, which concerns an American platoon's mission in Italy. Aprés workout, it was off to "Der Untergang" -- whew, Gotterdämmerung, big time. Not to be missed if you're into this sort of thing, and it establishes the theme for all of today's linkage.

I've heard that certain ignorant voices try to denigrate experiments in egalitarian, collective governing by saying "Hitler was a Socialist." Well, his movement called itself National Socialism, true; but that hardly made it socialist. One can factually state, however, that Hitler was a Catholic. Read all about it at Hitler's Christianity by Jim Walker.
To deny the influence of Christianity on Hitler and its role in World War II means that you must ignore history and bar yourself forever from understanding how this atrocity occurred.
Don't miss the site's photo section -- and for some color imagery of the more general theme, Nazi postcards are available.

The anti-tobacco campaign of the Nazis is Robert N. Proctor's report on a little known aspect of public health in 1933-1945 Germany.
Anti-tobacco activists pointed out that whereas Churchill, Stalin, and Roosevelt were all fond of tobacco, the three major fascist leaders of Europe -- Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco -- were all non-smokers.
Sounds like an argument FOR smoking, to me.

Finally, not the Führer, but one of his fanatical followers, who wound up the same way, pointing a gun at her head -- I just read Breakfast at Tiffany's, where the name Unity Mitford is mentioned in passing (since the book is set during the war, unlike the movie). Who? Her Wikipedia entry says her family nickname was "Baa-Baa" so her Nazi sympathies led some of her friends to call her "Baa-Baa Blackshirt" (which is vaguely familar, can't say just why).

March 18, 2005
'The homeless' occasionally annoy me, but not often, and sometimes I'm struck by a ray of compassion -- then I give 'em coins, or even pause for a bit of unpredictable discussion. (Only the true crazies are frightening, and they're easy to identify and avoid.) The supposedly Christian Republicans, so stingy with their money, lack any empathy for street people, snarling "Get a Job!" -- but to me, they're not undesireable, just on the fringe, living a liberated, vagabond lifestyle, embodying an aspect of the counter-culture, which was a big influence during my formative years -- as Janis and 'Stofferson were singing at the time, Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose. So, how do people wind up on streets, "sleeping rough," as the British say? And why do they stay there, what with various social and faith-based organizations offering them alternatives and possible escape? Here's a couple pages delving into the why of the down'n'out: Bob Parson describes How kids get trapped on the streets, and Home Truths is a special in The Guardian about Alexander Masters' new book, Stuart: A Life Backwards.

March 17, 2005
Welcome to Canada is an article in the current issue of the right-wing Weekly Standard in which journalist Matt Labash ventured up north to explore the phenomenon of new political refugees from the States. After reading Hunger for Dictatorship in the American Conservative I'm ready to emmigrate, myself. 'Course, I have been, for some time; but inertia is so far too strong -- I need some personal disruption to get me on the move.

NASA is requesting proposals for a shuttle replacement they're calling the Crew Excusion Vehicle, or CEV. So far they've only released specifications, and it's sounding like another rocket-plane, but Don Nelson's looked at the numbers and says Administration's Space Goals Won't Fly. Supposedly this will be the vehicle to fulfill the shrub's dream of manned landings on the Moon and even Mars, but those objectives seem unrealistic for the CEV -- and what's especially ridiculous is the ISS is operational now, an ideal on-orbit location for assembling the components of viable interplanetary spaceships, using construction skills our astronauts has been developing for years -- but according to this update in The Economist American involvement in the space station might decrease to zero!

March 15, 2005
I observe these yahoos driving around with bumper stickers that say "Proud To Be An American" and despair at the ignorance running rampant throughout the land. Reading about how we torment prisoners in our gulags, in grotesque exageration of misplaced vengeance, my own sentiment is "Ashamed To Be..." -- no more so than when I'm reminded of the incredibly sad story of young California native John Walker Lindh. Nobody's more deserving of some compassion[ate conservatism] from our so-called Christian leaders than he.

In today's paper Jon Carroll held forth on torture and the TV show called "24" (of which I'm naturally oblivious, as I avoid all broadcast television).

March 14, 2005
The Toothpaste Election, by Noam Chomsky. Also, shortly after Election Day, this anonymous e-mail was making the rounds:
Not to worry. With the Blue States in hand, the Democrats have firm control of 80% of the world's fresh water, over 90% of our pineapple and lettuce, 93% of the artichoke production, 95% of American's export quality wines, 90% of all cheese production, most of the US low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools, plus Stanford, Caltech and MIT. We can live simply but well.

The Red States, on the other hand, now have to cope with 92% of all US mosquitoes, 99% of all Southern Baptists, 100% of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia. A high price to pay for controlling the presidency.

The Harold Series, part of a Crockett Johnson fan-site.

March 13, 2005
Today was the last day of the annual San Jose Film Festival, Cinequest. In years past I've only caught at most one of their offerings, but due to the paltry selection currently available at the cineplex, over the course of two weekends I attended five of the screenings, and they were all excellent (some features with the added bonus of cast and crew going up front afterwards, for some Q&A with the audience). Here's what I saw:

1. Wetback (the Undocumented Documentary). The film-maker tags along with two men heading north from Nicaragua, destination: Canada (although the movie ended once they reached the USA). The Mexican transit was the scariest, and who's ever actually seen people swimming across that river? (We call it the Rio Grande but south of the border, it's known as Rio Bravo.) Amazing footage.

2. The Cleaning Lady. Low budget, shot on location in San Francisco, oddly appealing due to the cast. She wants to study medicine and health care but her layabout husband gambles away her nest egg. Infidelity and amnesia figure in the plot.

3. I, Curmudgeon. Interviews with a dozen grumpy people, including some famous names like Fran Lebowitz and Harvey Pekar. A pleasant surprise was the unadvertised inclusion of Larry Josephson, who I listened to regularly on public radio, when I lived in LA. With few exceptions I'm in complete agreement with his rule, Josephson's Law: New is Worse.

4. The Almost Guys. A kidnapping comedy involving repo men in LA, with such mainstream appeal I can't believe it won't eventually get some distribution. Haven't seen Robert Culp in 20 years (when he played the mayor of New York in "Turk 182") -- his crusty old character of The Colonel was sidekick to writer/director Eric Fleming, who also played the protagonist, a divorced father with a predilection for tube socks. (In a 'plate of shrimp' coincidence, they're also the subject of this week's Slowpoke -- don't miss!) A bonus was the venue, my first time inside the newly re-opened and lovingly restored California Theater, a downtown San Jose movie palace even more lavish than the Stanford, that repertory cinema in Palo Alto where I often see old films.

5. Duck. (Audience demand for this film was so great, they added another show). Wonderfully moving story of a widower in near-future LA who's adopted by a duckling, which he names Joe. Music by Leonard Cohen and the Eels, and starring Philip Baker Hall, familiar from the annoying but memorable "Magnolia" -- he was the game-show host.

March 12, 2005
Update on Bobby Fischer, languishing in a Japanese prison -- Iceland is offering him asylum.

LA Weekly interview: At home with Tommy Chong. Lots of overlap with his appearance on Fresh Air last month, except for the Dennis Miller stuff. (Not familiar with the latter, although I'm pretty sure he's that foul-mouthed, non-funny 'comedian' who was on a tape somebody sent me, which I couldn't get through, and eventually threw away.)

Celebrity Atheists List -- also includes Agnostics, and the Ambiguous. (Uses that stylesheet trick I used to employ, which inhibits link-underlining; therefore it may not be immediatly obvious that details are available for each name.)

March 10, 2005
Yakusha is a DC-area photo-blog, by GU student Grayson Shepard. Made me homesick, until I noticed how everybody's still bundled up in the current pictures. Here in NoCal, things are positively balmy -- they're already having picnics in the park across the street. (It's obvious my own enthusiasm for posting a daily photo has petered out, although be assured you'll still see images here, as I come across things remarkable.)

Fan Death is a site documenting Koreans' dread of mechanical air circulation in sealed rooms. It also discusses their weird notion that snipping the frenulum improves one's ability to speak English.

A new Space Race developing, between the Chinese and the Japanese? Read about it in the Guardian.

Two sample posts from last year, at Rigorous Intuition (its tag line: What You Don't Know Can't Hurt Them): Suicide? Don't Fall for It, and Ten Things We Learned in 2004 about 9/11. As for the shrub's ongoing fracas, Tom Engelhardt provides an enlightened assessment in Which War Is This Anyway? Are We in World War IV? Short answer: definitely not -- that's just a metaphor, useful in propaganda.

March 8, 2005
Lively AxMeFi discussion today about the blessings one receives after sneezing. I'd been preparing my own question on this very topic, but somebody else got there first. (Did I still participate? You betcha!) His question was, is a Thank You required; I just wanted to know why it's done (among other things). Somebody pointed to a Wikipedia entry describing the custom's medieval origin, during the Black Death.

Making Sense of America's Strutting, in a Psychoanalytic Kind of Way -- a BuzzFlash interview with Stephen J. Ducat, author of The Wimp Factor: Gender Gaps, Holy Wars, and the Politics of Anxious Masculinity -- brilliant!
The shrub's regime today seems always out to prove something. They will fight any war (with or without allies). They will ram through legislation (with or without the Democrats on board). They will eliminate supportive social programs (since only wimps need "safety nets"). In other words, their America is a John Wayne/Rambo/Terminator figure. But why?

Edgar Derby's Dead, by Andrew Christie -- sigh.

March 7, 2005
Special in the Guardian, a visit with R.Crumb, plus assorted sidebars.

A collection of b&w beatnik photos from Venice Beach, in the 1950s.

In Wired, Revenge of the Right Brain, a selection from A Whole New Mind by Daniel H. Pink. Not to be missed if you fear for your job, because of globalization.

March 6, 2005
Been a while since I surveyed new products, so here goes. Proud of your porcine attributes? Complete the look with a Snout Mug!

A fly-swatter is one of those devices I see no reason for electrifying (same with the can-opener, and pencil sharpeners), but some people feel differently, and for them, the Electric Fly-catcher is now available.

Saw a building like this in Times Square, in December: thumbnails of a galleria in Seoul, covered with LEDs and colored lights. (If it's new to you, or the term conjures up visions of those enclosed streets in Milano, be advised that 'galleria' is now a name for high-end shopping malls -- a bunch of 'em are sprinkled around the LA basin.)

A source for Stick Family Stickers -- apparently, this fad started in Mexico City.

Not a product, but an idea: Tired of all the NOISE? Come to the Quiet Party! Maybe you'll even find love through silent dating! This sounds great, to me -- I especially like the idea of a No Talking situation, with flirting via the passing of little notes.

Not new; I've observed this stuff up on ledges and under eaves, but now I know who makes it: Nixalite Bird Control Products. I myself have avian issues but I think a rifle is the control product required, for the damn crows, cawing in the morning -- or maybe some biological warfare is indicated, I hear the West Nile virus has decimated their population, back East. No good, though, since that would affect other birds, and anyway the firestick option would be a lot more satisfying.

March 3, 2005
NACA logo Today is the 90th anniversary of the founding of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, which morphed into NASA in 1958. (Detailed NACA history.) The three NACA bases were Langley (in Hampton Roads, Virginia); Lewis, near Cleveland (which was renamed Glenn, for John, in 1999); and the Moffett Field Lab which became known as Ames, where I work. Many of the buildings here are so old, they retain NACA markings -- the NASA logo is well known, but who's ever seen the NACA? Those three old bases are currently engaged in budgetary battles -- they lack specific missions, unlike their more modern counterparts (for example, Houston and the Cape) and are having trouble creating new work. The old-timers say, They're taking the first "A" out of NASA! This was the theme of Saturday's front-page story in the SJ Mercury: Federal budget blueprint threatens jobs at NASA/Ames. The Orlando Sentinel had an article Monday with more information, and a broader focus: NASA funding waning for aeronautics research.

Hunter Thompson suicide story changing -- inconsistencies are making some wonder if he was the one who pulled the trigger (like, he didn't leave a note). For ongoing linkage about this, check Mack White's ever-excellent Villa of the Mysteries (even though it seems he's shed that name, for his weblog).

Recommnded: Jim Kunstler's latest, on the trouble with the Born Again -- the feedback adds important commentary. His previous was also link-worthy, but I didn't since its format was screwed up, until the next one arrived (but you can find it, once you're on his page).

March 1, 2005
Calvin and Hobbs. Every strip -- incredible!

Latest Krugman column discusses What's the Matter with Kansas, the battle against Social Security, and the AARP.

February 27, 2005
Aquarium at the new Cupertino Library The new Central Cupertino Library has this splendid wall of a salt-water aquarium. (That's a false thumbnail: links to another image, though both of the same place.)

My pregnant office-mate finally checked out Friday, delivery estimated in a week or two. Due to work-place dynamics, 'twas up to me to arrange her shower, a first -- I'd never even been to one before, much less coordinated such an event. After collecting the gift-kitty I made the scene at Toy'R'Us, buying a high-chair and a non-infant car seat (for later); purchases made based on advice from other women at work, and the party was a success. Thanks, ladies!

My second AskMeFi post, on the string cow orker.

Bill Maher says the religious have a neurological disorder which stops them from thinking. Also, "Diamond" Jack Holgroth has a proposal for a US flag updated to affirm the idea of One Nation Under God.

An online confessional: Not Proud -- a Smorgasbord of Shame.

February 25, 2005
So, Hunter S. Thompson, dead; glad I got to see him do a lecture at the U of M in '74. (I recall his request at the beginning for a roll of toilet paper -- the PA was causing feedback, his solution -- lodge the microphone in the roll.) A couple months back I was reminiscing about reading Fear and Loathing when it was first published, in Rolling Stone, back in high school. That novel was where I first encountered the concept of White Noise as sleeping aid. This is the last sentence of a chapter in Part One:
I walked over to the TV set and turned it on to a dead channel -- white noise at maximum decibels a fine sound for sleeping, a powerful continuous hiss to drown out everything strange.
(Why white? It's a mix of all frequencies at equal amplitude. With an equivalent mixing of light, you'd get white; hence. I've also come across Noise mixes scienteefically labeled pink, brown, and blue, but they all sound 'white' to me.) Also recently (last month), I held forth on the well-known novel with this title, as well as a new, unrelated movie, which apparently featured people hearing the voices of ghosts in the Noise, something I find not-implausible. There's only three ways to generate this rushing sound, which I use like everybody else, to mask ambient noise, suppressing distractions, in order to induce sleep. These three methods include either the playing back of recordings, or true generation, either electronic or mechanic. The mechanical devices sound harsh to my ear -- like a raspy buzz, instead of a waterfall; and they lack a volume control, so are to me completely unuseable. They're also much less expensive than the electronic, which still seem to go for a little over $100, what I payed in 1983, when I acquired my 'Sound Conditioner' from Edmund Scientific. (I know parents who habitually place the cheaper buzzers at their childrens' bedsides. Mistake, I think: their bedrooms are already plenty quiet, and kids fall asleep naturally anyway, even in noisy environments -- they don't require adult sleep-aids, not yet. Instead, I believe it's all about erecting a parental Cone of Silence -- but what about later, after the kids have become conditioned to this?) As for the recordings, by the time I'd acquired my Edmund unit, I already had several of the sound masking records offered by Syntonic Research in their "Environments" series, but being LPs there was always that interval of silence every twenty minutes, when the phonograph was set on auto-repeat; plus the vinyl scratches, which spoiled the whole effect. Nowadays many companies produce 'nature sounds' recordings, but here's something new: Pure White Noise CDs. Hmmm -- why is more than one necessary? Well, they're not all "pure" -- in fact, there's quite a variety (all of which have sample sound files available). One of the disks is titled "Radio Static"; hard to believe there's demand for such an item, but maybe it's of value -- I remember my night in a Copenhegan hotel room, positioned next to the noisy elevator, unfortunately -- recalling Hunter Thompson's TV, I tried to improvise with the in-room radio, but all of the static I found was contaminated: faint voices were always audible... ghostly voices?

More Hunter Thompson: Tom Wolfe and Ralph Steadman remember, today's news that the trigger was pulled during a phone converstation with his trophy wife(!); and his connection with the 'Jeff Gannon'/J. Guckert White House security scandal.

February 24, 2005
After a hiatus of more'n a year, Jorn's posting to Robot Wisdom again! (His is the original weblog.)

Excellent! New DFW interview about The Artist and TV (at least, initially -- it's long, and I've just started).

February 22, 2005
spanish music store Photo: a large 'discos Latinos' store in the Mission district.

Elephants paint on the canvas -- can there be any doubt of these beasts' intelligience?

To answer my question, Who would be watching televised football in 1941, I read up on The History of Television. Says commercial broadcasting began July 1, 1941. Must've been a novelty for the very rich, until after the war. Also at that site: photo of the modernistic German-made KUBA "Komet" console from 1961.

February 20, 2005
More sordid DPRK details in Der Spiegel, "The Tyrant and the Bomb" in two parts: 1, 2. (Wednesday was his birthday.) Gettin' scarey now, since we're in range here in NoCal! Let Improv Everywhere: We Cause Scenes take your mind off things with Agent Simmons in the mens room at the Times Square McDonalds.

February 17, 2005
NASA-Ames researchers claim evidence of Life on Mars!

Red Star Radiosite: Soviet Antique Radio Gallery.

My first AxMeFi post: Moleskine - Why the Fuss?

The M & O Subway was a private line in Fort Worth connected Leonard's department store (which eventually grew into Tandy Center) with the parking lot, and shut down in 2002 after running 39 years. Their original rolling stock was retired DC Transit trolley cars, also they had PCC (like we still have in San Francisco), plus some contemporary boxey. (photo gallery)

Rrr -- they're installing a traffic light on my street, down the block at the intersection with the road... the inexorable March of Time. Plus -- I heard the neighbors (with whom I have only a nodding acquaintance) call the white cat "Q-Tip." I kinda like it.

February 16, 2005
morning fog shrouds the upper reaches of the largest wind tunnel Cloudy this morning, driving past the biggest wind tunnel -- this is the one visible from out on the 101, the structure vaguely like a Drive-In.

At home with Roger Ebert.

In the news: BBC slideshow of Madrid's Towering Inferno (and what the building looked like, before). Also, the last Doggie Diner head (featured here just a few weeks ago) was installed in a new permanent location a block east, in the Sloat median; and a Hello Kitty crop circle was commisioned by Sanrio.

Also at the Flea Market, Laurie muttered something about Tom of Finland when Geoff tried on a black leather hat, and I started laughing. When I described the artist and his signature style, Geoff wanted to know how I knew about him? Anyway, back when I was first made aware of Tom's of Maine toothpaste the Finlandia Tom also came to mind, as it did with Dorothy -- check last week's Cat and Girl, Tom Tom Club.

February 14, 2005
the Game, on TV At the Flea Market Saturday I got an old Life magazine -- just barely pre-War, the October 6, 1942 issue. Not only are there ads seven pages apart for two different companies selling packaged donuts (Jane Parker 'Dated' and Doughboy Donuts), but this shot of a TV is from a full-pager paid for by the "United Brewers Industrial Foundation." The big caption is
Defeat and victory...both grow sweeter with a glass of kindly beer or ale.
I just wonder who these two old guys were, to be watching televised football in 1942. Captains of Industry? College Deans? (Click the thumbnail if you don't see them.)

Yesterday I mentioned Ward Churchill, but without comment. His essay seems reasonable to me, actually; but I can't explain why near as well as Eliot does in this FmH post (which begins with a link to said essay, although he would prefer to call that a 'blink').

The Torii at Central Park compares 'The Gates' with the Fushimi-Inari Shrine in Kyoto, exactly what I thought when I first saw the pictures. For more photos from Central Park (at the unfurling) see kottke's slideshow (and I'd echo what he said about the recent Neal Stephenson interview). One final reference from 'blog'dom: Xeni Jardin of BoingBoing has a column in Wired about the new Battlestar Galactica, which Andy has me watching -- it's quite good, when it is.

February 13, 2005
White Fang More often than not this white cat is hanging 'round -- sometimes even staying overnght, although I've yet to set up a litter box (and won't). There's a mirror in the background, notice the photographer? This cat's rear belly was recently shaved, leading me to assume that somebody had him fixed, so he's not my cat (although I do feed him).

The Futurama is coming true! Underwater hotels:
Poseidon will be the world's first sea floor resort complex.
But instead of via submarine, you'll get there through a tunnel.

A Slate article summarizes the Ward Churchill affair -- Why Is Bill O'Reilly chairing our faculty meetings?

February 11, 2005
Dr Jack Hyles uses the Bible to prove Jesus had short hair. If this is true, how will we recognize Him, when He comes back? Won't look like any of the pictures... Also, Jon Carroll considers The Rapture.

I've been learning how pleated pants are so 1980s (or 30s, depending on your perspective). Imagine my horror when an inventory of my wardrobe revealed that ALL of me trousers are pleated. Didn't used to be, but it's a look I got used to, and wearing 'em makes me look and therefore feel like Bogart, in an old Warner Bros picture. They're so roomy and comfortable -- reminds me also of a late 60s faddish-style possibly only happening in suburban DC, or maybe even just Prince Georges County. There was a delay before hippies became cool -- residual styles of the fabulous 50s/early 60s were mixed with Afro-American influences from downtown, forming something called "South-East." In contrast to the 'collegiates' with their button-down shirts, slacks and penny loafers or suede desert boots, the guys lacking in academic zeal in my middle school (or what was then called Junior High) wore an ensemble including a solid or textured Ban-Lon shirt, work pants, and low- or high-top Chuck Taylors ("Chucks!" Then only available in black or white.) Options included greased-back hair; thin, ribbed nylon socks, and a 'Peters' (or in the colder months, black leather) jacket. I never had the jacket (didn't ever want a Peters [that was the name on the label] -- a black, pale blue or yellow windbreaker), but years later I was actually considering getting a black leather jacket, and the more worldly Tony talked me out of it, due to the type such a garment would attract. (The Hyattsville hoodlums, who all dressed this way, bragged about wear they'd 'lifted' their "leathers.") The work pants, 'baggies' or "works" (which are probably still available) came in three colors: gray, navy blue and janitorial green, the most fashionable. The identifying feature of these drawers was their fat belt loops and blocky, loose fit. If you dressed like this the only sounds possible were 'Soul' music: rhythm & blues and Motown -- what they played on WOL and WOOK. (The new psychedelic music or anything by white groups wasn't tolerated.) And what about the girls? Frizzy, teased hair, various dresses or skirts at or about the knee, the same jackets, and sometimes white gym socks layered over their nylons, which were still kept in place by garters. This was just before dress codes relaxed, and the girls were allowed to wear pants, which happened in high school, and almost immediately the counter-culture Age of Denim began.

February 10, 2005
Two good essays, one short (just a column, really) and one long: William Marvel contrasts the Civil War with Iraq, and in the New York Review of Books, Europe vs. America by Tony Judt.

More about that 'Talon News' shill planted in White House press conferences, noted here last week: he's been unmasked. (Much more about this at the Daily Kos.)

Check that shiny new Wisconsin quarter in your pocket change: it could be worth over $500! There's variations in circulation -- their ear of corn has an extra leaf. That article doesn't mention it, but I heard these are all "D"s from the Denver mint.

According to John Dean (or maybe he's just quoting Woodward), 'Deep Throat' is deathly ill, and will be identified soon; but the article lists seven candidates, none of whom is 41.

February 8, 2005
Was Bush Sr Deep Throat?

Another historical enigma solved, probably: The soldier, his sweetheart and the suicide of Hermann Goering describes how he managed to check out at Nürnberg, in the same cyanide fashion as Himmler, Eva and the Goebbels kids, a year'n a half earlier. This is the type of revelatory deathbed confession we'll be hearing in years to come, concerning the Dealey Plaza event of November, 1963.

Made a MiniDisc of Broadway showtunes recently -- the source, CDs checked out from the library. Mostly WSS and Camelot... reading the latter's liner notes, I learned that show opened December 1960 and closed in 1963, an amazing coincidence! No wonder, the JFK association. As for West Side Story, among other things, the FAQ spells out the differences between the scores, stage and screen. (My compilation samples both.) According to the IMDb trivia, the director's first choice for Tony in the 1961 film was Elvis -- wouldn't thata been something? Also says the initial concept was titled East Side Story, involving a romance between a Jewish girl and a Protestant boy. That ever-popular derivation (over 46K Google search results) reminds me of this Time magazine cover, which commemorated Nikita Kruschev's visit to the UN. (Note Fidel Castro in the Anybodys role.)

Okay, enough of the past. I'm fascinated by the idea of monowheels -- unicycles with wheels so large, the rider sits inside. A Brazillian company called Wheelsurf seems to have perfected a design, and is selling powered units! Will the US allow importing, could they be street legal? Not a chance, I'm thinking -- who'd insure them? And unlike the pocket bikes, this apparatus would be too large to escape the authorities' attention.

February 7, 2005
In this post, Bob Harris addresses each of the lies in the shrub's latest State of the Union speech.

From a Crunchy Gods review of The Culture of Fear by Barry Glassner:
Americans are fed a constant media diet of terrifying "news items" that are often inaccurate, vague, or just plain wrong. There's no time for corrections, though, because the next terrifying story is already headed your way. Killer bees! Flesh-eating virus! Teen pregnancy! Internet predators! These hyped-up scare stories take attention away from actual problems that desperately need our attention, such as overpopulation, destruction of the environment, a failing educational system, and underavailability of health care.
Interesting site, lots of odd corners, and it identified an artist I've been wondering about for a while, now: George Tooker. I was first exposed to his creepy "Government Bureau" in my Psych 101 textbook, but the paper lanterns and the paintings with are great, like "In the Summer House" and "Garden Party" -- thumbnails of all three can be found when you scroll down past the bio at the Tigertail Virtual Museum.

I've yet to visit a LiveJournal site that wasn't rendered hincky by the picture IDs along the left of their comments sections, but this entry has comical photos taken at a Star Wars convention. Sometimes the captions are worthwhile, but after a while you just want him to STFU.

Speaking of which, The Cuddly Menace is a Christian kids book, with captions replaced.

February 5, 2005
Los Altos neon Has it really been a year since I returned from my last Japan trip? Alas... and it'll be at least a year before I can get back, as my plans for a Central European jaunt are firming up, for late September and Oktober. As is often the case, I learned of something worth seeing shortly after my return, last year, this being a mall called Nakano Broadway in Tokyo, which popped up again in yesterday's web-surfing. There's a new fad in Japan, triggered by anime: "maid" cafés, and a blogger there visited one called Tea Room Alice in Nakano.

Signed up with MetaFilter today. The provocation was the following remark, from this thread:
This is the kind of question I love AskMe for. I've never even heard of Undulated Staples, but somehow my life is richer now.

Pathetic Geek Stories -- as comic strips!

Little-known attractions of Central Virginia and Boilerplate, Mechanical Marvel of the 19th Century are great fun, but I don't believe a word.

The neon in today's picture is the sign of a fish&chips shop around the corner from the original Los Altos Peet's.

February 3, 2005
In today's column Jon Carroll holds forth on Collapse and the isolation of the elite. The book's one of those huge tomes I 'spect few people chattering about it now have actually read. (I certainly haven't, and this the third time it's come up, here.) Like other commentators, Señor Jon also ponders that Easter Islander chopping down their last tree, but doesn't mention Rapa Nui, a film which should be better known.

A blog I've recently gotten into is called "What Tian has Learned". It's just one of three he's writing. A recent post features a glossary of "2005 Work-Place Vocabulary" which includes Assmosis:
The process by which people seem to absorb success and advancement by sucking up to the boss rather than working hard.
Reminds me of a great book called Neanderthals at Work which taxonimizes workers into three basic types: Believers, Game-players (who they're now labeling Competitors) and Rebels. (More info at the authors' site.) In my world, many System Administrators, and some of the sharpest programmers have mainly Rebel attributes. I see myself somewhere on a Rebel - Game-player continuum. As a Game-player, I realize that Assmosis is only effective with a boss susceptible to brown-nosing (true, most are, but there's exceptions) however, as a Rebel, I find that practice contemptable.

An increasing problem: crime associated with Gypsy Hypnosis, in Moscow. Aware of this random statistic about that city? It's now surpassed London, Tokyo and New York as having the most expensive cost-of-living in the world.

February 2, 2005
In McSweeney's: Ladies and Gentlemen, This Is Your Captain Speaking.

In The Times, a fascinating report of order disintegrating in North Korea.

February 1, 2005
Time for Talk is a new essay by Deborah Tannen.

Anthony Wade wonders, How Much Propaganda is Enough for America? Describes the three recent uncoverings of journalists paid to express Administration opinions as if they were their own, plus -- the shill from 'Talon News' planted in the White House press conference pool.

Pia Zadora: The Mystery.

January 31, 2005
Zip-a-dee Do-dah!
According to the FAQ at SongOfTheSouth.net, the last time it was seen stateside was a 40th anniversary re-release in 1986 -- why was I watching "The Black Cauldron" then, 'stead of Brer Rabbit? Says you can't even get the tape abroad anymore, but the German Amazon may still fulfill.

The Vanishing by Malcolm Gladwell -- a couple weeks ago I linked to an excerpt from Jarad Diamond's Collapse; in last week's New Yorker, Tipping Point author Gladwell reviewed it. Easter Island and the Viking's colonization of Greenland are mentioned. The latter was news to me, immediatly I was in search of pictures of their Greenland cathedral ruins.

Attention travelers, planning trips: the dreaded Saturday Night Stay restriction has been eliminated, apparently because American went along with the recent fare-simplification structure adopted by Delta, so then everyone else follows suit. (more)

In China, instead of pumpkins, they carve watermelons.

January 30, 2005
San Jose duck That purple building the rubber duck is perched upon is the Children's Discovery Museum, in San Jose.

Slideshow of glacier shrinkage, contrasting photos from then with now.

Would you let your daughter wear this prom dress? Even with a sweater? It's just one of the examples in this NBC slideshow of the latest in revealing prom attire. Ah, kids these days.

Pakistani truck exhibition in Essen -- five pages of delicious thumbnails.

January 27, 2005
neon beams It's a rainy night here but warm inside, where it's illuminated by these neon tubes I've got attached to the ceiling beams.

From the transcript of a Seymour Hersh speech he gave last month at the Steven Wise Free Synagogue, in New York:
The amazing thing is we are being taken over basically by a cult, eight or nine neo-conservatives have somehow grabbed the government. Just how and why, and how they did it so efficiently, will have to wait for much later historians and better documentation than we have now, but they managed to overcome the bureaucracy and the Congress, and the press, with the greatest of ease.

How 'atrocity porn' was manufactured to justify the coalition invasions of both Kuwait and Iraq, and lots of wars, going back more'n a hundred years.

They Must Have Realized... -- and why the red face?

January 26, 2005
Bucky Time Last year the Post Office issued a stamp of Buckminster Fuller. The picture was originally the cover of a Time magazine from January 1964 and somebody's scanned in the accompanying article. This isn't mentioned there, but did you know he wrote new lyrics for "Home on the Range"?
Roam home to a dome
On the crest of a neighboring hill
Where the chores are all done
Before they're begun
And eclectic nonsense is nil.
Yeah, that last line is awkward, and there's worse in the verses -- the whole thing can be found in the Institute lecture archives. I learned of this at that great one-man "History (and Mystery) of the Universe" show. It inspired me to seek out that Time in the library myself, and what struck me was how infantile the current magazine seems, in comparison.

A revoltin' new development -- a trio of grown-up kids 'from the neighborhood' has taken to racing their remote-controlled model cars out in the street. There's a park directly opposite so things are generally quiet out there, after sundown -- but every evening for the past three they've taken up a position for hours, it seems like, and what's audible inside are loud, irregular buzzings, like very large wasps, or a chainsaw, even. I'm hoping they get bored with their new toys and go away real soon.

Inside-the-Beltway Ethnic Dining Guide, Tyler Cowen's detailed, lengthy, even exhaustive listing, with tips both general and specific. Here's something new: Chez Yonyon, a Haitian restaurant, in Hyattsville.

What is PostSecret? Postcards are requested, then scanned in and posted online. Mail your secret to 13345 Copper Ridge Road, Germantown MD 20874.

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