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September 18, 2005
Something new: for the past couple years I've been delving into my adopted state's history, visiting historic sites. It's hard to find anything really old here, besides the rocks and the redwoods; but the originals of these are hundreds of years. In a seeming departure from my usual secular tone, I've made a couple dozen of my best photos into a page about the California Missions. I've now been to just over half of 'em... and my apologies if you're on a dial-up, even though they're thumbnails, it's a bit of slow-loader.

More photos: Germany, in 1929; in the US, mostly color, courtesy the Library of Congress, from the Great Depression to World War II; and from somebody's office window, View from the Top.

Those unfamiliar with the program may not quite understand the charge, that the shrub is a "dry drunk" -- this Huffington post by Ari Emmanuel explains.

Identifying Mysterious Buttons is a list of acronyms, possibly unfamiliar, if one is unassociated with certain political parties.

September 15, 2005
Hangar One behind the Moffett Field Museum's new home Strolled over to the Moffett Field Museum on my lunch break yesterday, to inspect its new site -- instead of being inside Hangar One, it's now located across the street. For the first time, I spoke with somebody who'd actually seen one of the big dirigibles -- when one of the museum's elderly docents was six years old, he remembers sitting on his dad's shoulders, watching the small planes fly up to the Macon and get hoisted aboard. Although his family lived in Richmond at the time, up in the East Bay, his uncle lived in Mountain View. Speaking of airships, check this suggestion for the Pentagon's Flying Walrus.

Katrina: The Gathering. Don't understand the initial paragraph about white, but then my MtG knowledge is practically nil (although it does rate a neon sign in the window of my local comics shop). Also, How to throw playing cards.

Inside the Convention Center: a first-hand account sourced to Lisa C. Moore, from an email forwarded to Edward Champion: People all thought they'd been sent there to die; and Haygood & Tyson, in the Washington Post: It was as if all of us were already pronounced dead. Related: if you scroll down to my Sept 11 entry you'll find the link to that slideshow corrected. Also, Ray Davies writes New Orleans, the ideal place to get shot -- last year, he was mugged there. Coincidentally, and all too obviously, the refrain of his "Lola" has been playing in my head these days, with the lyric changed to 'Nola'.

September 13, 2005
L'Oreal is experimenting with cosmetics based on butterfly-style nano interference.

Concerning Ian Fleming, Rudolph Hess, Aleister Crowley and Casino Royale.

Katrina's diaspora unprecedented in US -- Martha Mendoza on the storm's effects, summarizing historical precedents. Also, her Profile of New Orleans, Before.

The Rightwing Crackup by Ruth Conniff, in The Progressive; Finally Fooling None of the People by Robert Scheer (reprinted from the LA Times); and Al Gore's speech from last Friday, on global warming.

Smoked Out is an update on the WoD: no change, it's still a war on potheads, since they're the easy target.

September 12, 2005
Ira's "This American Life" this weekend was great radio -- about Katrina, naturally. Among other stories, interviews with those paramedic tourists from a couple days ago, whose brave little band of hotel-banished refugees were refused passage, by the Gretna police. Also, current tenents of FEMA relocation camps, from previous hurricanes.

On AxMeFi, they're saying Coke from McDonald's tastes best. Not just fountain, but McDonald's in particular. (I wouldn't know.)

September 11, 2005
Alvaro R. Morales Villa's amazing slideshow -- he lived across the street from local landmark Antoine's.
Update: Sorry, this seems to have disappeared. it just moved, link corrected!

September 10, 2005
Part of any pre-trip preparation is the research -- the more undertaken, the more rewarding the journey. I currently compile my information in a couple ways, which I'll now share -- perhaps you'll find it useful. First, on my data-transfer floppy, two files are maintained, which've been growing for many years now: gnotes.txt and jnotes.txt, for Germany and Japan. In the course of everyday web-surfing, anytime something interesting and applicable is discovered about these destinations, it's copied into the appropriate file, which eventually gets printed out, just before departure. (For this trip, I've also been building a Poland file, whose second half is the Budapest section. Second, at the Borders & Noble, perusing the travel books and taking notes. This is one of the times when, in addition to all the comfy chairs, I wish for a courtesy Xerox machine, over in the corner. Lugging around whole books is impractical, even dumb, when all that's needed is usually just a few pages. This time, however, I checked the travel shelves of my ever-excellent local library system, and behold! They've got all the good stuff, your Lonely Planet, Let's Go, Rough Guide, Rick Steve's -- they're all there, current, sometimes even this year's edition! Amazing. So, easy enough to check 'em out, and photocopy at leisure. That's the better way, actually, 'cause reading all this background & tips is best done while approaching or at that destination.

September 9, 2005
Concerning disasters and the status quo: Rebecca Solnit's "Notes on bad weather and good government" is (for the time being) on the Harper's front page.

In the Washington Post, Powerpoint: Killer App? Ruth Marcus makes excellent points, even though she begins by asking, Did Powerpoint make the space shuttle crash? Sigh... the space shuttle didn't 'crash' -- Challenger exploded at takeoff, Columbia broke apart during re-entry. TWA800 didn't 'crash' either -- like the Hindenburg, it exploded. Why does an explosive demise equal 'crash' to some? A crash requires a collision -- vehicle-with-vehicle, for example, or vehicle with tree. I guess the confusion's related to a falling Stock Market being considered a "crash."

Sam Smith remembers: 45th Anniversary of the Glen Echo protests.

My Polish studies continue, and since there's time, I'm looking into Magyar as well. (The language they speak in Hungary; the only other tongue it resembles (vaguely) is Finnish.). My favorite Polish expression is Nie wiem (pronounced nev-yem) -- means "I don't know." Very handy response to any question, one of the few I know in Spanish: No Se! Another related, equally useful Polish expression I fancy is "I don't understand": Nie rozumiem (which I remember as Nero Zoomium). Compared to the Magyar, Polish is no longer so strange. I'm only at this point able to retain the Hungarian "no" -- nem. Fascinatingly peculiar grammar constructs, although that exposure doesn't help with remembering the weird new vocab 'tall. Be advised, my departure's getting imminent, and I'm afraid you won't be getting any updates here until -- well, check back around Halloween, posting should resume by then.
(I may return to a green-on-black format -- wud'ya think?)

September 8, 2005
Darwinian-Libertarian attitude of post-catastrophe 'tough love' is taken to a logical extreme in this week's 'Slowpoke'.

September 7, 2005
Language Trouble -- according to this AP story, Jesse Jackson says it's racist to call American citizens refugees. The Washington Post and CNN aren't using the word, but the AP and the NY Times will continue (even as Safire decides 'flood victims' is the better term).

According to some, "detainees" may be more appropriate -- see Katrina: Our Experiences by Larry Bradsahw and Lorrie Beth Slonsky, NoCal paramedics (and NoLa tourists).

Update on the Displaced Person relocations: the California-bound transport's on hold, they may not be dispersed so far from home. In Oklahoma, a sinister report: I just got back from a FEMA Detainment Camp.

September 6, 2005
dollar store Fans of "That Thing You Do" laugh at this new dollar store 'cause of its name -- just opened, on el Camino. (As ever, click to zoom.) Unrelated -- speaking of that thing we do, Stephen Fry writes about the stench of humanity, in the context of the disaster.

On Marketplace today, discussion of the new Astrodome refugee settlement. The lights stay on, all night long, in the mega-shelter. Many of the new residents have no plans to leave -- nowhere to go. Its new zip code is 77230, and the community's calling itself Reliant City. Also, some numbers: California's getting a thousand Katrina DPs: something like 700 to San Diego, 200 to San Francisco, and a hundred to San Jose. Best of luck to them all.

September 5, 2005
Today we'll look at some new buildings.

Malmo is the second Swedish city. They call their new twisting 58-story skyscraper (by Santiago Calatrava) the Turning Torso (more: its blog.)

In London, something called 'Swiss Re' has a huge new rounded cone of a high-rise known informally as the erotic gherkin. (More: a what? Also, Samizdata likes it.)

In Linz, Austria: the Park Hotel offers wonderful little tube-cottages.

September 4, 2005
two purple temari foundations Nawlins, the Crecent City, Nola -- I've never been. Only know it from popular culture: A Streetcar Named Desire, "Easy Rider," "Angel Heart," A Walk on the Wild Side by Nelson Algren, and especially A Confederacy of Dunces. Seems the touristy French Quarter is undamaged (as it's on high ground) -- fortunate, but still, when restored, it'll be all different, and the city's heart may be irrevocably broken. Glen Ford on the inevitable gentrification: Will the "New" New Orleans be Black? (Naughty Nu-Nu!) More relevant articles -- Duncan Murrell in last month's Harper's (on termites) and Anne Rice's Do You Know What It Means to Lose New Orleans? She compares the devastated city with Pompeii.

In Slate, Newscasters, sick of official lies and stonewalling, finally start snarling -- Jack Shafer about the media finally "growing a pair," as Scalzi put it. One of the newscasters the article mentions was Robert Siegel on ATC, whose incident I heard -- I was also astonished when one of those smooth NPR voices actually contradicted a government official.

Today's photo shows another pair -- while acquiring more knitting supplies I got a spool of purple thread and started these two temari balls, one the obvious, basic 90° partitioned into 45°; the other, the more difficult but rewarding icosa-dodecahedron form (from which Bucky's geodesic spheres can be derived). Rather than the usual styrofoam, the cores of these are both large ball bearings, which give 'em a pleasing heft. My somewhat recent temari page has more info and links.

September 1, 2005
A couple blogs worth mentioning, for monitoring the situation: Chuck Taggart's Looka, at his Gumbo Pages -- longtime Cajun fixture on LA non-commercial radio, he's from New Orleans and maintains strong ties with the region; and the Interdicter, who's blogging live from a high-rise redoubt there, equipped with a diesel generator and somehow, an internet connection.

Trapped in an Arena of Suffering was the LA Times' report on the deteriorating conditions inside the "shelter of last resort." The corresponding NY Times story was Haven Quickly Becomes an Ordeal while the Washington Post went in-depth with 'Now We Are in Hell'.

How the shrub's policies doomed New Orleans mentions the merging of FEMA into the Dept of Homeland Security. Lots of anger about inadequate government response to the disaster is directed at FEMA. Eric Holdeman explained the merger in Tuesday's Post, Destroying FEMA, and more budgetary details are revealed in Did the New Orleans Catastrophe Have to Happen? as well as Tom Tomorrow's post from a couple days back, where he concludes that New Orleans is a casualty of the war in Iraq.

More current events, breaking news at gawker: Condoleeza's confrontation at the shoe store in Manhattan.

August 30, 2005
Breaking News from New Orleans.

A giant leech sucking all the creative energy out of every town in this country -- yes, I missed it, when Burning Man was still cool, and now I'm bitter (but I think that's true, about the leeching).

August 28, 2005
The past isn't dead. In fact, it's not even past.
    -- William Faulkner
Been watching lots of historical WWII video recently, courtesy the ever-excellent local library systems -- perhaps in reaction to current events, retreating into nostalgia when the war was actually justified, everybody sharing in the sacrifice, all around the world. First heard of Lee Sandlin's Losing the War on "This American Life," where an excerpt was included on a couple shows: 1 2. It's among the best discussions (he'd characterize it a belles lettre) I've ever read on 'the Big One' -- note his description of the Allies' Berserker rage. More Lee Sandlin at his site.

Mike Davis' Firebomb (actually "Berlin's Skeleton in Utah's Closet," in his Dead Cities from 2002) concerns the Dugway Proving Ground, and how the Axis working class was targeted and burned alive, via research there. These incendiary bombings have been bothering me especially since seeing Grave of the Fireflies. For more info, relevant Wikipedia entry.

August 26, 2005
Earlier this week, on "All Thing Considered" towards the end of an hour, when their news reporting fades into reviews of the latest entertainments, there was something about Henry Jacobs which I wasn't paying close attention to when suddenly "The Fine Art of Goofing Off" was mentioned in the wrap-up. This was a three-part public television experiment of the early 70s, which, due to bad timing, I only caught a few minutes of -- but what I saw was so amazing, decades later I'd still like to see the whole, and now it's available on DVD!

Kunstler interview, made annoying by the clueless interviewer's interrupting.

August 24, 2005
At the dentist yesterday, picked up a recent issue of US News & World Report which opened to this article about fresh produce, illustrated in the print edition (but not online) with a beautiful photo of an 'heirloom' variety of watermelon called Moon and Stars. The link's to some seed catalog's entry, with the same picture! Note how the melons' exterior seems to be a dark purplish blue. Herr Dentist wondered if those were true colors; an alternate image seems to confirm his skepticism, and better matches the stock description of "dark green skin speckled with bright yellow stars and half-dollar sized moons." The most exotic watermelon experience I've had recently was vaguely decadent: my first seedless.

Avocado is a fruit, since it falls from trees and is a seed-package. Once, on the radio, an heirloom variety was mentioned, but I've never heard anything else about it, perhaps a dream? The meat of "Julia" avocados allegedly tastes like ice cream. Which flavor? Wasn't specific... maybe, avocado flavor? That's one of the oddball ice cream experiments one occasionally reads about, like onion, bacon&egg, or wasabi. A search returns many recipes, most lacking any dairy ingrediants; usually the result is characterized as more of a chilled guacamolé, served as a garnish for gazpacho.

Something new at Trader Joe's: dried Dragon Fruit, beet-red/purple slices, like nothing you've seen before. The embedded black seeds make 'em crunchy.

August 21, 2005
Word from Cindy, Hypocrites and Liars:
I got an e-mail the other day and it said, "Cindy if you didn't use so much profanity. There's people on the fence that get offended." And you know what I said? "You know what? You know what, god damn it? How in the world is anybody still sitting on that fence?
I remember being baffled and dubious when the media dug up 'fence-sitters' during the run-up to the election -- how could anyone be un-opinionated, in today's world?

Ebert: What Place does Evil have in Films? It's in reaction to "Chaos", apparently the worst sort of slasher film. Saw the preview yesterday, at the type of picture I find irresistable: black&white, set in Paris in the 1950s or early '60s, avec sub-titles, naturellement. (It was great!) As for Roger, he's got a worst list; they only I've seen on it is "Swing Kids".

At J-Walk, a post more lengthy and thoughtful than usual: Making Fun Of Religion.

August 19, 2005
Some new products and ideas:
BadHill plots bicycle-friendly routes -- alas, only for Seattle at this point. YourEmblem.com should really be 'your initials dot com' -- they sell "chrome" letters with an adhesive backing (not metal, but that metallic plastic.) Fridgy is a soft, folding portable refrigerator. Y-shaped carbon nanotubes are ready-made transistors (but buckeyballs may be poisonous). Finally, PowerFlare sells LED 'Safety Lights' -- a clean, more robust, reuseable substitute for road flares -- says it's in use somewhere in Santa Clara County, although I haven't observed any.

South Korea Prepares to take Control in the North. Also, the shrub, Out Of Control?
There's real concern in the West Wing that the President is losing it.

Odd Fellows, Eagles, Rotary -- finally, a lodge for the tiki-lovers: the Fraternal Order of Moai (described in a Columbus Alive article).

August 16, 2005 (updated)
Interview with Ira Glass -- lots about PRI vs. NPR, but also touching on This American Life: the TV show, and movie(!), as well as his upcoming marriage. Another interview, with Julia Sweeney -- she was mentioned here last June when she was on his radio show, same subject.

In his weekly tirade, James Kunstler slammed Harry Shearer. (Don't miss the comments.)

Why No Tea and Sympathy? Maureen Dowd on Cindy Sheehan, and the Rolling Stones. Oh wait -- that was last week's column. Her latest: Biking Towards Nowhere.

August 15, 2005
'55 Imperial in the City The 'gunsight' turn-signal on a '55 Chyrsler Imperial, spotted up in the City yesterday. (another view.) Speaking of San Francisco on this V-J Day, the local celebrations got out of hand, the worst riot this town's ever seen. That in contrast to Times Square's benign, now-indelible image of the sailor and the nurse. A new statue commemorating their kiss has been installed there (for now -- its permanent home will be elsewhere).

For the Japanese, the definitive photo signifying the war's end would be from when the emperor met MacArthur. (Note the version shown on that page is cropped; the full-frontal original is easy to find.)

For many months after the end of the war, the Bomb itself remained mysterious -- only a handful of Americans witnessed the concluding detonations, mostly military personnel. A year later, the veil was lifted: Operation Crossroads, at Bikini atoll in the Pacific, when the mushroom cloud entered the popular imagination. Somewhere I heard the purpose of this exercise, the reason a fleet was targeted at sea, was to smooth ruffled feathers in the Navy, which was feeling kind of left out and put-upon by this new age of warfare, where all weapon delivery could conceivably be handled by Air Force bombers.) Among the many observers, some artists created paintings of what they saw. Skip to the fourth page for the Baker blast, but don't miss that first picture -- they painted the Nevada orange? The whole ship?

August 14, 2005
Castro Street sculpture This pair of sculpted stone blocks appeared recently at the entrance of a Mountain View tropical fish store, on Castro Street. Reminds me of that Van Gogh, On the Threshold of Eternity (aka "Old Man Mourning").

XXXXXXXL in the Baltimore City Paper says the extra-large white T-shirt
isn't showing any sign of joining one-strapped overalls and backwards pants in hip-hop heaven.

In Butte, Montana: Cool Water Hula by the Berkeley Pit. (Probably a one-time-only event.)

August 11, 2005
Japanese for the Western Brain -- very useful, even though my nihongo education is on low idle while I try to pick up some traveler's Polish, listening and repeating with a tape played while driving. It's really tough, their language has nothing I can grab onto, no familiar words already present in the vocab -- a truly alien tongue. (In The Warsaw Document, Quiller said it sounded like gargling with razor blades.)

Krugman on the real estate bubble: Flatland and the Zoned Zone -- that Hissing Sound.

August 10, 2005
Excellent: the Christian Paradox, an excerpt from Bill McKibben's latest -- how a faithful nation gets Jesus wrong.

In today's Slate, Jack Shafer posted a good reaction to the recent Newsweek cover story, the Meth Mouth Myth. With a lot of reporting on drug addiction, logic and history can take a back seat to the loud opinions of the misinformed. (Don't read this as an endorsement, in any way -- remember, kids: Speed Kills... and tweakers suck!)

August 9, 2005
Report from Crawford with Cindy Sheehan, who just wants to talk.
(intro, blog)

August 8, 2005
Heartless Bitches International on Nice Guys.        

Bizarre Celebrity Suicides

Sushi Encyclopedia

August 7, 2005
Chinatown A colorful view in Chinatown. I went on a City Guides walking tour there Saturday, and learned things (like: in the 19th century the white man thought the Chinese were nuts, for eating shrimp).

August 5, 2005
In the NY Times: NASA Redesign for Next Craft --- not the winged CEV Lockheed-Martin proposed, but a capsule (which won't splashdown, but instead land Soviet-style, with a hard bump). More space news: Titan Dry as a Bone, but there's at least one frozen lake on Mars, near the north pole. Related, in a way: the mother of a pair of new, youthful fans of Star Trek (TNG) quotes their reaction to current events, here on earth:
Why don't they stop fighting? We're never going to join a Federation of Planets if this continues. Don't they know that? Why don't they want to help end starvation instead? I wish we lived in the future.
I did, too; but the 21st Century isn't living up to its advertised promise.

The California Kid reports: My Happy Hobo Days in the 1950s, with terrific color snapshots.

August 4, 2005
Up in orbit, in an interview this morning, Commander Eileen Collins said that
Sometimes you can see how there is erosion, and you can see how there is deforestation. It's very widespread in some parts of the world. We would like to see, from the astronauts' point of view, people take good care of the Earth and replace the resources that have been used. The atmosphere almost looks like an eggshell on an egg, it's so very thin. We know that we don't have much air, we need to protect what we have.

A Rocket to Nowhere is a lengthy review of the space shuttle program.

August 3, 2005
I see numerous ads for teeth bleaching... but some folks fret about the other end, it seems. New cosmetic services are available for them -- Crapper's Quarterly reports on Anal Bleaching.

SpaceExplorers.com has a lot more pictures now. (It was in color? News to me -- at the time, like most, we were still a black&white family.) Says original films have been discovered, so perhaps a DVD will be made available, at some point.

Louis Armstrong remembers: My Life As A Viper. Somewhere recently, can't recall where, I heard that Jazz is the sound of God laughing.

August 1, 2005
Trouble in the Land of the Free -- John Atcheson, more outrage overload.

During the weekly telecom we wondered, is Paul Harvey still on the air? Or even alive? Unlike in years past, my orbit never crosses any radio stations which carry him, although things still appear to be pretty lively at his site... but for unspun info, these days we turn naturally to the Wikipedia, where his entry says a 1978 Esquire exposé:
included how he came to drop his last name of Aurandt: briefly, he stole an airplane and was discharged from the Army Air Corps in 1944 on Section 8 charges.
Now that's what I call, The Rest of the Story! Like a lot of old right-wingers he's having trouble rationalizing his country's current behavior -- said something pretty dubious, just last month.

July 31, 2005
Pacifica recycling bins Pacifica -- up the coast just south of San Francisco, their recycling bins form the bold primary triplet. (Photo of another set, don't miss!) Would be a viable place to live, if it weren't so remote.

Wikipedia entry explains difference between diaeresis and the umlaut... and as I'll be in the Balkans soon, let's review the caron. (These are the accents some non-English languages place above certain letters: the two dots, and the upside-down carot.)

July 29, 2005
Before "A Clockwork Orange" there was "if..." -- English public schoolboys in revolt. I saw it in high school, made quite an impression -- not so much for their revolution, just its sheer Englishness. Alex Thrawn has an extensive page on the film, which piqued my curiosity last night while listening to an old tape of the Missa Luba. Never seen the sequel ("O Lucky Man!"), really must, some time. Totally unrelated (but maybe just as obscure): a short Sprockets page. I've only seen one of these SNL segments, but naturally found it hysterical, would like to see 'em all.

Telling it like it is: that Georgian who tossed the grenade at the shrub explains, using the same sentence as me, when asked why I detest him. (Good translation, or is he just well-versed in the American vernacular?)

Followup from a week ago -- London utilities forcing that idiot 'artist' to terminate his "Running Tap."

July 28, 2005
USA map as perceived by Tremble's aunt. Once, I got an email from him, about my reaction to the "Home Page" documentary (which I'd link to, if it were still available, but alas).

PC World article says color laser (but not ink jet) printers embed teeny yellow dots in their output, for document tracking... and Xerox began doing this 20 years ago.

Cringely looks into the near future: the Impending War between Intel and Microsoft.

July 27, 2005
Doomsday Approaching? The End of the Housing Bubble is a column by a man who just sold the house he bought 25 years ago, and he explains why. Doesn't say where he's sleeping now, though -- maybe in a van, down by the river?

More political censorship in the funny papers: Garry Trudeau defends his 'Turd Blossum' comic from yesterday, says editing "Not Acceptable" (and the article provides a link to it).

In the year 2000, Zippy met Googie (and each strip is annotated with location info).

July 26, 2005
Why are the movies so bad? A search for answers, with David Thomson. Yes, Hollywood makes crappy movies. Nothing new it that -- just see films made elswhere. I'm catching excellent pictures all the time -- two this past weekend, in fact: "Me and You and Everyone We Know" (Ebert review) -- an independent, although it was shot in LA; and the British "Ladies in Lavender."

Great Mekka Blue guest strip, by Dresden Codak. His site is bloggish, as is the pleasantly talented Paige Pooler's Eyes Wide Apart. (She's so good, her art-work pays the bills.)

"You'll get this back at the end of the school year." You ever hear this, in grade school? I did, but in the euphoria of June's release, forgot all about requesting the return. So, the stuff piles up. A retired teacher's vintage stash is currently available on eBay.

July 25, 2005
The War on Terror as viewed from the Bourne shell -- brilliant! (But most likely gibberish if you don't know Unix.)

NASA Studying Unmanned Solution to Complete Space Station as Return to Flight Costs Grow contains this nugget:
The [Shuttle-C] launcher would be used primarily to lift and assemble parts of the return-to-the-moon fleet in low Earth orbit.
On-orbit assembly? Did they say fleet? Finally, somebody's being sensible! And not just at NASA...

Russia's Biggest Spammer found beaten to death. (Shame it's ESL he was peddling.) Related: the 50 people most in need of a vicious beating. A few I'm unfamilar with, but generally I agree (except for Maureen Dowd). And of course for most, not real beatings -- mere public humilation would be adequate, especially when coupled with some major asset confiscation.

July 24, 2005
statue in SF Spotted this staue while up in the City retrieving the god-daughter at the conclusion of her bus trip south, on her way back home. If by chance you're interested in being a volunteer field hand, see wwoof.org -- World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. There's lots of opportunities available.

Yesterday, while ramblin' 'round, I noticed a sign at a town's border which read "No Jake Brakes." This explanation says the notice is often made with the international 'no' symbol, the slashed red circle. Later, in a noodle restaurant, some Asian guy walked in wearing a T-shirt with the cross-under-circle female symbol overlayed with that 'no' symbol -- undernaeth, in bold black letters, the caption "No Ma'am!" -- what the hell? A militant homo-chauv? I thought it would make a good Men's Room sign, matched with the equivalent "No Sir!" for the Ladies' Room.
(Update: my cyber-neighbor Gina advises me that this is an artifact of that white-trash "Married, With Children" TV show.)

Concerning London: were the perpetrators suicide bombers? A specious explanation, apparently -- they were probably tricked into activating detonators they thought were mere timers. And it now seems the suspect police shot dead in the Tube a few days back wasn't actually guilty of anything other than running away. Flutterbye's reaction, worth repeating here: Like every needlessly confiscated set of nail clippers, this was a security failure.

July 22, 2005
Gushing Faucet Could Land Artist in Court, and rightly so. "Is it Art?" Long ago, I came to the conclusion that my definition is a creation or performance which provokes an emotional reaction. More recently, I've adapted a qualifier which I read spmewhere on the internets -- a positive answer to the question, "Does it haunt you?" is also required. This passes the first (my reaction being Anger) but not the second -- I'd classify "The Running Tap" mere Waste, not Art.

Jon Carroll's column is recommended today -- subject: his interview with Groucho, in the 1970s.

New commemorative silver dollar honors the USMC, naturally featuring their patriotism atop Mt Suribachi.

Amanda Fortini explores the Great Flip-Flop Flap. I've always remembered that Sirhan Sirhan wore flip-flops to his court appearance -- this article says shrub-daughter Jenna did the same. Also in Slate, an update on the school siege at Beslan last year, beginning with the trial of the only living Chechen terrorist involved.

On "Fresh Air" yesterday they interviewed First Lady of the Press Helen Thomas -- well worth listening to.

July 21, 2005
40 things which only happen in movies omits the thunder-lightening deal: on-screen, the two events always occur simultaneously -- and the reason why? I believe it's 'cause thunderstorms are rare in LA -- in other words, Hollywood film-makers lack the requisite experience. Nor is this mentioned in Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics.

Good-bye, Scotty. As a matter of fact, Jimmy Doohan is the one Star Trek actor I've seen in the flesh. Twenty years ago, I was talked into attending a Sci-Fi convention, which I found kinda dull except for his appearance -- he entertained a small audience, running through examples of his various accents. Glad he got to experience his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, just before he checked out.

July 20, 2005
It's Moon Day, and everybody's pointing at Google Moon, but some think it's not entirely serious.

And if your browser is Javascript-enabled, check any of my links with a mouse-over! (This trick was lifted from Look At This. I don't understand how it works, but to DIY, just "view source" and copy this file's single <script> line.)

July 19, 2005
With less than two weeks to go, and nothing acceptable located, I've called off the move and apartment search, for a few weeks. In fact, this chore will probably be postponed until just after my early Autumn trip to Europe, eliminating the usual long-trip worries about unattended dwelling security by placing all my gear into storage for the duration. Seems radical, but my searching's revealed a couple local motels with reasonable weekly rates (and WiFi internet access), so stay tuned.

Lastminute-auction.com somehow extracts under-$1 auctions on eBay, with less than an hour to go.

Great astro-pic: Saturn with ring shadows.

July 17, 2005
monks on el Camino Yesterday was the atomic anniversary: 60 years ago, the Trinity device was detonated in New Mexico. I heard a guy who was there, reminiscing on the radio -- he said the glow of the blast's mushroom cloud lingered for a long time afterward, in the sky -- minutes, not seconds. During my ever-futile apartment searching yesterday, I spotted these guys a couple times on el Camino, walking south. I think this was in San Carlos -- the one in front was chanting, while his partner kept time with that percussion instrument he's carrying -- they trotted by and I shot this through the passenger window, while waiting at a stop-light. A youthful media personage carrying a large camera was also tagging along. I immediately recognized them as Buddhist monks, familiar from the occasional sighting in Japan but never seen stateside. Today's Palo Alto Daily News explained their pilgrimage, in an illustrated story about how a little later on, they'd met up with that town's mayor (an anti-war WWII vet). The monks are carrying a small lamp which contains a flame lit from the fires of Hiroshima, and kept burning ever since. Their plan is to continue traveling SE in order to arrive in Alamogordo on August 6th, in order to "close the circle." The article only identified one of them (Daijo Ohta), and details of the earlier, previous aspects of their journey are unclear. (Were they allowed to fly across the Pacific while harboring an open flame in the passenger cabin?)

Krugman on Rove's America -- We're living in a country in which there is no longer such a thing as nonpolitical truth. More on the shrub's vizier, in US News' Washington Whispers: Eggies: the Secret To His Success.

Mike Davis on Dubai: Sinister Paradise -- Walt Disney meets Albert Speer on the shores of Araby. His books are valid, interesting, though dense -- so far, I've only read City of Quartz.

Japanese schoolgirls introduce Darth Vader to the camera-cellphone -- says it's scanned from last week's edition of Tokyo Walker. Totally unrelated, but another great photo: Green Toronto.

July 13, 2005
Variations of the Letter M, a collection of logos at the great Metro Bits, shows two for Tokyo. The second is the green gingko leaf of Toei but I was unfamilar with the first, was expecting the pointy "S" logo of the Eidan lines. Opinios has pictures of both and details of the switch to the curvy "M" logo, which happened a couple months after my last visit.

David Ansen wonders, Is Anybody Making Movies We'll Actually Watch In 50 Years? Speaking of the cinema, Keith Richards will appear in the sequel to "Pirates of the Carribean."

Eugene Dorr's NASA Mission Patches is excellent... didn't realize the American flag was the Gemini 4 patch, setting the tradition of the flag on the spacesuit/astronaut's uniform.

Making the rounds... Jerome Abramovitch says I am the only person in the world to do this!!

July 11, 2005
For tonight and the next couple of Mondays, a mini-series on PBS: Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel, about why things turned out they way they did. Back in '87, he wrote the Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race which covers the same territory as Daniel Quinn's Ishmael -- Agriculture is to blame; we should've all remained hunter-gatherers.

Propaganda posters: from Soviet Union, and Anti-Japanese, from the War.

Moving -- or maybe not, after looking at what's available... I'm discouraged, appreciating what I've got, even if the new neighbor is even noisier.

July 10, 2005
This weekend I was learning all about the War in the Pacific, especially Iwo Jima, adding Suribachi to my vocabulary.

There's a couple new books out on human computers, from before mainframes, when office workers really did number-crunching.

Some bloggish commentary on the language: Is English pronunciation unique? and about getting useta 'gotta'.

I liked what Eliot Gelwan had to say, On London. Rude the way their glee at winning the 2012 Olympics was abruptly derailed.

July 7, 2005
Specify a symptom, and the program generates a diagnosis of your affliction, and corresponding treatment: What is your body trying to tell you? (Its URL should be ianad.com -- that's I Am Not A Doctor.)

Moving again, just across town, by the end of the month -- the continuing quest for a perfect apartment, or at least a change of scene.

July 6, 2005
News of Jorn, the original blogger: Coined the term 'weblog,' never made a dime. Also in Wired, Confessions of a Cut & Paste Artist by William Gibson. (He mentions 'Kubrick' figures -- unrelated to the director, apparently. example)

Americans love the shower, and custom shower heads are appreciated... so how about the Electronic Light Shower? Supposedly there's health benefits from the bright lights in the head, pointing down (though what I find appealing is the LED trim) but some might balk at an electric circuit in the shower stall, sounds dangerous; and yet it seems such things are commen in South America, where the electrical shower head heats the water as it passes through. I've yet to visit, but this is always mentioned in travelogs. I couldn't locate a sample photo, but Jim provides a lot of detail, an example in Bolivia, in an entry he calls Frankenstein's Shower.

Latest Krugman: America Held Hostage. Also from the NY Times, travel tips from Ben Stein. And in the current New Yorker, Why adults hate Roald Dahl, by Margaret Talbot. (I'm barely cognizant of him, incredibly. This must be rectified.) And speaking of that magazine, last week's 4th of July cover was remarkable.

July 5, 2005
fine art homage Actually, we were just passing through the City -- at an organic farm up in Humboldt County, she's spending a few weeks as an intern. Since I'd never been to Humboldt, was curious, and had nothing scheduled for the long weekend, up we drove. I'd just been reading about about "American Gothic" so during the mandatory photo-op I grabbed a handy shovel. On the way back down there was time to explore the Avenue of the Giants, now a bypass off the 101.
(Click here to see another farm pic -- both were taken by her friend and travel-companion, Teresa.)

July 4, 2005
Val in GG Park The god-daughter breezed through town yesterday... during the obligatory Haight-Ashbury walkabout she bought an amber ring plus this skateboard -- irresistably priced due to tolerable cosmetic damage.

July 1, 2005
Making an Elvis mosaic from yellow stickies, plus blue and green, and some orange and lavendar (using Photoshop to map out the pixel-squares). Speaking of "sticky" -- I thought that's what "wiki" rhymed with, but after hearing Harry Shearer discuss one which the LA Times editorial page implemented (which was quickly inundated with porn) and pronounce the word as 'weekee' I consulted with a Hawaiian coworker, from Honolulu, and she agreed -- "It rhymes with Wai-kiki." But I still think wi-kee sounds better, and is in fact easier to say -- and that's the first pronunciation listed in the term's wikipedia entry. I've known the word since the late 80s, when I'd eat at Wiki Wiki Teriyaki (at least two LA locations, both gone now); also, riding the inter-terminal shuttlebus at the HNL aerodrome.

How to make a starship Enterprise out of an old floppy disk -- only the metal parts are used. Contrast that simplicity with the detailed instructions and experiences to help you build an R2-D2. That rectangular blue-and-white bit of interesting illumination-decoration is apparently an R2 unit's "Logic Display" -- some hobbyists do it with LEDs, others with fiber optics.

In Sunset magazine, 20 hours behind the scenes at Disneyland -- in two weeks, its 50th anniversary.

June 29, 2005
More goodness from Molly Ivins: Batten down the Hatches. Also, David Corn on the shrub's No-News Iraq Speech last night. Tom Tomorrow's summary: We really screwed the pooch, and now you have no choice but to let us try to clean up the mess.

June 28, 2005
At the BBC, an update on the man-made floating islands of Lake Titicaca.

In the Japan Times, new bullet train could be world's fastest. Check the 'cat ear' emergency air-brakes in the illustration.

Making the rounds, a series of photographs: Skills found only in China.

Peanuts Comic Book History. When I was a kid, a couple of the Gold Keys were floating around the house, and their content seemed peculiar -- now we know: Schulz only did the covers. (One story involved the usual crew on a road trip, in a station wagon -- Charlie Brown at the wheel, IIRC.) Fascinating, how they were initially packaged with Nancy and Sluggo, in the late 1950s -- and rather than Bushmiller, is he suggesting Schulz drew Nancy in that first issue?

June 27, 2005
near the Berkeley Bowl Streamlined-Moderne strip mall in Berkeley. Was that formerly a cinema?

June 25, 2005
farm house with windmill Almost to the day, a year ago, I mentioned thinking about Kansas... this year, am too, 'cause of reading Was by Geoff Ryman. Last year I posted a photo my Dad took of the farmhouse where my Mom grew up, from an earlier trip; they were just there a couple weeks ago -- hence, today's pic. Door's open, looks like a a viable squat, after just a bit of guano out-sweeping. Been through a couple owners since my grandfather sold it in the '60s, now the fields around it are being farmed, but the house stands vacant.

A report of ronin yakuza in Tokyo parks -- gangsters who've been 'orphaned' are thrown in among the unemployed urban campers, with their shelters of blue plastic.

Photo tour tour of Bonny Doon, Robert Heinlein's house near Santa Cruz.

June 24, 2005
Did you know the Lone Star state's then-Governor was issued a new drivers license in 1995, with (the very unusual) number 000000005? Rigorous Intuition has lots more information in this posting on the shrub's curious Doppelganger.

Check for that last word in the List of German expressions in common English. Has links to French, Spanish and Latin as well -- very useful.

Slate posted an article on Golf, the ultimate symbol of Republican corruption.

June 23, 2005
What Happened to Walter Jones? The inventor of 'Freedom Fries' and Republican congressman from North Carolina woke up, smelled the coffee, and realized the brew's been poisoned.

Downing St Memo commentary: David Michael Green and Molly Ivins.

June 21, 2005
In the Christian Science Monitor, Randy Dotinga reports on the popular new radio format called "Jack" (which I've yet to hear).

Five Pointers for a Left Media by Robert Parry.

New serial War of the Worlds online comic.

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