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July 23, 2002
Somebody scanned in the entire issue of Action Comics #1 (that's where Superman made his first appearance).

Phantom Plate sells "anti-red light camera and photo radar protection." Illegal? No doubt, if it works.

The Nixon-Agnew solution would be a long shot, to be sure.
It is growing obvious to many Americans -- from Wall Street to Main Street -- that George W. Bush is not up to the awesome job of the presidency of the United States.
Why does it take them so long, to realize what was clear to the rest of us from the beginning?

July 20: Moon Day
"That's one small step for a man..."
Washington Post article provides background and sums up that city's recent wave of blowgun attacks, where over a dozen people were hit by 4-inch steel darts.

Justin Hall mentioned successful access to some commercial web site with the userID/password combination of cypherpunk/cypherpunk, said it's an old tradition (and pointed to this page of links to define the term). Another useful combination worth trying, especially when trying to get into newspaper sites, is fmhreader/fmhreader, set up by the author of the Follow Me Here weblog. And if you're trying to get into the LA Times, annoying/annoying is working, for the time being.

"A fascinating piece of Lost Indiana": Burger Chef. Who knew that was this chain's source? And what happened to them? Like Roy Rogers, assimilated by Hardees (although the one I knew, just outside DC in Queenstown, disappeared long before... In the late 1960s, it was my introduction to the joys of the ham'n'cheese sandwich, a new addition to their menu).

Hey, let's go surfing! Or at least, to a surfing movie. Although Surf Movie Posters of the 60s has many, "Sea Dreams" isn't listed, although it does get a mention in the Surfing Bibliography - Surfing Films. ("A heavy, after a day of riding the heavies, has a heavy appetite.")

July 18, 2002
Concerning the Ernest and Bertram spoof of our favorite Sesame Street roomies.

Forget the Segway, and how dorky its rider looks; this is what I want (and it goes faster, too): a Personal Airboard (hovercraft).

A woman from Romania, of my approximate age, writes about her school years. (Very long, but a fascinating view behind the Iron Curtain.) Her main page is an enormous cookbook, very redolant of the Old World.

Dictionary of British Cultural References.

July 17, 2002
On her weblog, GirlHacker wonders (and rightly so) about the stubbier shape of sticks of butter, in California. Says it's also the way in Arizona, Oregon and Washington; I'm sure she means state, that this is a western thing; but the rule's not quite universal: I'd gotten used to this format, so during my three-year mid-90s hiatus back inside the Beltway I was pleased to note how Giant brand butter has that same west coast form -- therefore, theirs was the only type to be found in my fridge.

July 16, 2002
There's a new, long article at the Zompist's site, a paper, really: When do people learn languages? I found it fascinating, but I'm into that subject, unlike most of my fellow Americans. However, in passing, he links to his 1996 "Family Circus" review, which is not to be missed.
These panels don't even rise to the dignity of 'lame', and certainly not to the zen otherwordliness some find in Ernie Bushmiller. They just sit there, sucking up the reader's life force.

Religion in the News is worth the occasional perusal. The compiler isn't pious, and doesn't seem to update very often.

July 13, 2002
Where to find Joe is a comprehensive, alphabetical list of Joe Frank's radio programs, with links to their sound files on various sites. Very few are unavailable.

Saw this Yahoo! most-emailed-news photo of the North Korean military choir and recalled how the Non-Verbal Dictionary said they still goose-step, like the post-war East Germans and Soviets used to. (And after having some difficulty finding that site again, even though I've mentioned it before, I added it my links page... another interesting dictionary-type site I stumbled across this week is the Big List of Words and Phrases which describes historical etymologies -- well worth browsing.)

July 11, 2002

Ben Grimm is Jewish? Makes sense, I suppose: weird how the Thing's ethnic remained closeted during the Silver Age. Or maybe not. Also, great article about Japanese cool by Douglas McGray has sumo insight, and reveals Hello Kitty's last name -- it's "White"... and a whack from Jorn about the style of linkage I usually write -- it's not pragmatic.

By now you've heard of the California judges' ruling about the Pledge of Allegience's contentious "under god" phrase. (Inserted in 1954, apparently in reaction to the godless communists, at the height of the Red Scare -- a good pledge history is avaliable here; didn't know its author's brother wrote Looking Backward, which I've actually read) -- anyway, somewhere I heard how some interpret this bit of the Pledge as "... and we don't mean Allah!" Sigh... well, here's the Word from on high: God Refuses Pledge.
Reacting to the US Senate and House of Representatives affirmation of the amended Pledge of Allegiance using His name, God decreed today that He has never been, nor is He now a member of the Republican or Democratic parties, much less an advocate for the United States of America. He further stated that He never granted permission for the use of His name as an endorsement of any nation. When questioned about the intent of the Founding Fathers of the United States, God said a theocracy was not what the framers had in mind, far from it. Pointing to the recent statement by George W. Bush and the embarrassing display on the floor of the Senate, God noted that these politicians were not even alive when the country in question was founded, but that He, Himself, was present during their deliberations and noted more than few unbelievers in the crowd. "These foolish humans in Washington today know not what they say", God said, "Their efforts at gaining My endorsement for their nation, not to mention their sinful, inhumane and anti-environmental policies, are in vain!" He added, "You might say they are using My name in vain." It is not clear what further steps God will take to rectify the present situation in the US.

July 8, 2002
Still using film for your photographs? Don't stow it in your checked luggage, if you're flying! This USA Today article explains why (including the 1600 strategy) although I'll bet you can guess.

Here's a theme park I would visit: Soviet Sculpture Garden at Grutas Park (it's in Lithuania).

July 7, 2002
The Eagle Has Crash Landed -- great (albeit depressing) essay by Immanuel Wallerstein, which provides long-view details of America's place in history, and the current situation.
The real question is not whether US hegemony is waning but whether the United States can devise a way to descend gracefully, with minimum damage to the world, and to itself.
It's with no special glee that I report this; I love our land as much as any patriot, but it's been obvious to me that the nation's been in decline since we lost interest in the space program, as the last three Apollo missions were cancelled. Factoids like how we waste half of the food we prepare, and other ecological crimes (mostly related to our addiction to the infernal combustion engine), which we all became aware of in the 1970s (but so many chose to forget during the yuppie-Reagan era), make our inability to move foreward all the more discouraging. In 1996, the big picture became clear when I read Davidson&Reese-Moog's Soverign Individual (for what is Osama, after all?) -- how the system of nation-states will, and has already begun, to fade. Our own collapse may be the most painful to endure.

And what will that ultimately look like? Hollywood's been showing us for years. If you can access the NY Times, today's entertainment section has a lead article Picturing the Worst That Can Happen which starts with a capsule review of "Reign of Fire" and then surveys the post-apocalyptic film genre -- their favorite; "The Road Warrior" -- too bad Costner made such a shambles of "The Postman," the book was like the Oregonian version.

Awright, lighten up. Mozilla users, here's a bonus, something new: mouse gestures -- it's an add-on you have to download, but it's quick, and fun -- a new way to browse.

Also, in my current state of mind, the theme park's no longer a valid destination, ever: unlike when I lived in LA and made something of an annual pilgrimage to Disneyland, getting to know the Magic Kingdom well. But now, the idea's just too odious -- crowds, commercialism, bogus thrills, yechh. But if you still do, Slate explains the Disney theme parks' Fastpass, in contrast to Universal's variant. And Boing Boing's Cory posts his own reaction, being an experienced user.

July 2, 2002
Transcription of a recent speech by Bruce Sterling; he's always interesting. Vocab watch: "Ubicomp" (for ubiquitous computing, I guess).

It's such a great browser! On Boing Boing today I learned that
Mozilla was designed for use by people who live on the net. It was written by people who live on the net. And because it was designed by the net/for the net, it has excellent features that would never make it into a technology designed by someone who gave a festering shit about "business models." Chief among these is the ability to right-click on any banner ad and select "block images from this server" from a pop-up menu. A little judicious right-clicking on the sites you visit most frequently and the Web is transformed in a kind of anarcho-utopic marketing-free-zone.
News to me -- it eliminates the need for WebWasher! This feature, coupled with the "Open unrequested windows" toggle under "Preferences-Advanced-Scripts&Windows," makes this a real dream, the best ever. Why aren't you using it? Oh right, you gotta download the software. Go on, it's free!

July 1, 2002
Speaking of Tom Tomorrow, this week's strip is excellent, a quiz: Are You a Real American? And speaking of fruit, that square watermelons photo persists on Yahoo!s 'most emailed' page, but the caption doesn't explain how they make 'em -- "developed" implies they could grow that way, maybe some genetic modification; and they ARE grown that way, but what's different is baby melons, still on the vine, are inserted into cast-iron cubes, similar to the method of those whole pears are inside bottles of -- what is it, brandy? Some booze. Another thing the Japanese do that way is square-cross-section bamboo.

June 30, 2002
Anybody thinkin' everything with America's just fine, maybe wondering why some folks don't, should read Tom Tomorrow's entry from yesterday. (Trouble is, that sort's generally not curious, but oblivioulsly smug.) Also, The Reality Thing is a reprint of a NY Times analysis of the shrub administration, by Paul Krugman. It makes a reference to the Yangtze River which some readers may not "get" -- this relates to a famous bogus news photo of Chairman Mao swimming, from 1964. I always thought that was a cut&paste job ('cause it looks so fakey) but apparently the CIA concluded that head belonged to a double, due to his ear(scroll down).

Slate had an article on peeling bananas the 'correct' way last week; it's an issue I raised here over a year ago. I don't share their conclusion about those annoying little fibers -- neither method removes them, in my experience.

June 25, 2002
Apparently Apple's running a new ad campaign, named "Switch" or "Real People." (It's unfamiliar to me -- are these television commercials?) PC Magazine's John Dvorak is drawing heat from the weblog community, he wrote several negative books-by-their-covers judgements of Mac-people in the ads; check the reactions of a BoingBoing-er (who's featured in the ads) as well as Pigs&Fishes' (who's not). "The guy looks as if he wants to wash a camel with cream cheese"!? Yeah, what does that mean?

At the coffee shop today I perused some stray newsprint, where a cranky columnist was discovering the "blog phenomenon," or at least writing about it for the first time. Like many, he can't distinguish between on-line journals and weblogs, and admittedly if they're considered different (as they certainly are to me), there's a wide overlap... The difference: an online journal has hardly any links and a much more inward perspective, more a daily recording of what happened and thoughts about; whereas a weblog is a chronological listing of links, as they're discovered, with commentary; punctuated with a smattering of anecdotes from the author's life. I haven't fallen into an online journal for some time now; discovered one today that's triggered the old curiosity. Called South Coast Diaries, it's a quality production from a man who lives on the dole in Hastings, that southern English beach town I passed through in 1977. (I remember encountering a dodgy couple on the strand there, late one sunny morning: they had a monkey, and proposed posing me with their animal, for a snapshot; fee up-front but their Instamatic photo to be mailed later. Naturally I declined -- just what sort did they take this Yank back-packer for, anyway?) Back in 1973, Quadrophenia triggered an interest in this region which persists, still -- I'd love to go back. In fact, I'm way overdue for a UK return, but the time zone difference makes trans-Pacific tourism much more appealing, while I'm residing on the left coast.

Dinner last night: a mini-WTS gather with theGirl and John, the male component of Ginohn, from whom I learned about the technique of circular breathing, which he employs while playing the didgeridoo.

June 24, 2002
It's time for another sporadic installment of "Y'Know What I Hate?"
<rant class="geezer">
It's become tiresome, hearing (usually young, but it's a creeping contagion) people substitute "goes" for "said." A more recent, unappealing slang is often seen in print: the imperative "think" used instead of "like." Here's a sample, from a worthwhile article about air travel in yesterday's Salon:
Most were doomed to failure or corporate absorption (think People Express, New York Air, Air Florida), but nonetheless...
It's just a list of examples; introduce it as such, and stop telling me what to think!   </rant>

The shrub's comments about exercise were the first agreeable verbiage I've heard out of him (which I didn't actually hear, but read somewhere, since I preserve my serenity by changing the station automatically, instinctively, whenever that hateful voice comes on). Maybe he'll resurrect the Kennedy-era President's Council on Physical Fitness? Maureen Dowd's Hans, Franz and W provided many snickery details missing from this weekend's three-mile-run story -- she wonders,
Why does someone who [allegedly] bench presses 185 pounds still have an aura that's more scrawny than brawny? ("The chair," one Republican moaned, "has a way of swallowing him up.")
(Speaking of hateful, that's in the NY Times, so registration is required if you want access -- but if you share my aversion to such things, use the pseudo ID/password combo I set up: cyberpunk909/cyberpunk.)

June 23, 2002
Saddam Hussein Who is Saddam?
We all recognize him by now, and have this vague notion of bogeyman, but what else? Mark Bowden's Tales of the Tyrant from last month's Atlantic Monthly provides an in-depth view of the man and his world. Yes, psychotic rulers are fascinating, as long as one doesn't live under their thumbs, directly. I'm certainly no stranger to compelling interest in the lives of the dictators, especially der Führer, natürlich -- but Saddam is our present-day mega-thug, so here's a good way to get familiar with him. (Like my mother, he has an ailing spine, and finds comfort in frequent swimming.) The article's long, but if you take the plunge, towards the end things get really peculiar with details of his elder son Uday. For a brief intro, check this related interview with the author.

June 21 -- the solstice
Thinking about S&G's "America" this morning, found a wonderful composite of analyses which contains revelations: Kathy was Paul Simon's English girlfriend, but the bio quotes indicate that they never took that bus ride.

From the ever-excellent Jon Carroll's latest column:
The buck never seems to stop at George Bush's desk. He is surrounded by people whose job it is to wrestle the buck to the ground. If Bush is confronted with bad news (like the recent EPA report on global warming), Bush announces that he's read it and is not impressed. Oh, sure. Would he be prepared to answer 10 questions to test his comprehension of the unimpressive report he just read?

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