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January 2000

Monday 1-31
Blackfoot Nation to declare independence from US and Canada February 12:
Saturday 1-29
Fascinating, highbrow review of a new "Seinfeld" book by William Irwin: Seinfeld and Philosophy: A Book About Everything and Nothing. Although the author's an academe he's aiming for a broad audience.
Other essays in the book include "George's Failed Quest for Happiness: An Aristotelian Analysis," "Kramer and Kierkegaard: Stages on Life's Way," and "Plato or Nietzsche: Time, Essence, and Eternal Recurrence in Seinfeld."

Thursday 1-27
Enjoyed listening to Ken Smith on Whad'Ya Know last weekend - he's the author of something new called Mental Hygiene (Classroom Films 1945-1970) which I'll have to peruse. (LA Weekly book review.) They discussed the obvious, 60s Anti-Drug and 50s How to Date - and then veered into unexpected territory: shock movies for driver's education classes. Some of these were notorious and required permission notes signed by a parent to see; I remember hearing ominous scuttlebutt from the older guys about "Mechanized Death" and Smith mentioned "Red Asphalt" which was no doubt in the same (footage of actual accidents) category, and "The Last Prom" - that was shown in my (1970) driver's ed class; at the time my reaction was disinterested boredom since it was so archaic (and no special permission note was required).

Concise, astute essay on things Kubano by Michael Moore (courtesy Pigs & Fishes, a new weblog to me).

Cuba was seen as "the one that got away." It became an embarrassment to us. Here we had every nation in this hemisphere in our back pocket- except those damn Cubans. It looked bad. Like when the whole family goes out to dinner and the one bad seed, little Billy, just won't sit still and do what he is told. Everyone in the place is looking at the parents and wondering just what kind of job they're doing. The appearance that they have no discipline or control is the worst humiliation. So they start whacking little Billy, but forget about it-he ain't ever going to finish his peas.
Tuesday 1-25
Skin troubles? Not sure? Self-diagnose with the images available in the Dermatologic Image Database courtesy of the University of Iowa College of Medicine. Can't find any boils though; that Biblical affliction remains obscure.

Took the Kingdomality quiz - conclusion: my aptitude would be most suited to the medieval profession of Shepherd.

Today in history courtesy the NY Times:

The Treaty of Utrecht was signed, marking the beginning of the Dutch Republic.
the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, inaugurated U.S. transcontinental telephone service.
American Airlines opened the jet age in the United States with the first scheduled transcontinental flight of a Boeing 707.
President Kennedy held the first presidential news conference carried live on radio and television.
A Louisville (KY) man received the first hand transplant in the United States.
Born this date: Robert Burns (1759), W. Somerset Maugham (1874), Virginia Woolf (1882), Antonio Carlos Jobim (1927).

Friday 1-21
Courtesy of bud.com, a couple "out there" links. First, a flamboyant yet amusing page called House of Diabolique which contains a Hall of Honorary Members among whom is Lamar of "Revenge of the Nerds" - the author claims another member, the kid from "Terminator 2," "lacks the charm and style that I exude so effortlessly." (Nice turn of phrase, that - have to work it into my own repertoire.) Also, this report of a place to eat in Taipei with a peculiarly unappetizing theme:
A new restaurant in the Taiwanese capital, Taipei, themed on famous prisons and featuring artefacts from, and pictures of, the Nazi death camps, has outraged Jewish and German groups.

Patrons of "Jail" can order stir fried clams and other local delicacies while the emaciated faces of Jews incarcerated in Auschwitz, Dachau and other concentration camps stare out from black and white framed photographs on the walls. A huge wooden sign over the door leading to the toilets is carved with the words "Gas chamber".

Thursday 1-20
Curt Suplee writes about changing climate and Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) in the Washington Post:
Historical climate data indicate that such warm phases dominated from 1925 to 1946 and again from 1977 to 1998 or so... cold phases prevailed from 1890 to 1924 and from 1947 to 1976 ... [TOPEX] satellite data, released yesterday, show that sea surfaces are 3 to 9 inches higher than normal in a giant horseshoe shape around the western Pacific rim, and the same amount below normal near Central and South America.
Since it's not higher everywhere, perhaps global warming isn't melting the polar icecaps? At least, not yet...

Wednesday 1-19
In Salon, Damien Cave holds forth about that pesky "back-office" problem with online commerce:
As anyone who has ever tried to hold down a job and take possession of something sent via the United Parcel Service (UPS) knows, the ability to receive packages at home when you're not there would make buying things online a whole lot more appealing.
It's why I've been discouraging UPS usage for years. Interesting info about companies developing new technologies to resolve the problem, like DVault and MentalPhysics, whose
...approach is to attach a tamper-proof box to your house; the box's lock will be wired to the Internet, and when you make an online purchase, a temporary access code will be assigned to the courier. Once he or she has opened the box, the code will be deactivated.

New Jon Katz column, where he tackles the (curiously unchallenged and irritatingly presumptuous) conservative perception that viewing images of undressed people harms youngsters:

Both journalists and politicians not only confuse sexual imagery with pornography, they also equate any exposure to sexual imagery with danger. This makes anything like a sane public policy discussion of sexuality and the Net impossible, either in Congress, at local school boards or private homes.

The very notion of pornography is a relatively new concept in human history. It came about in Victorian England when researchers from the British Museum dug up the ruins of Pompeii and were stunned to find artworks of all kinds - carvings, vases, paintings - in the ancient Italian city that featured shockingly explicit sexual activity, from oral sex to bestiality. The researchers were amazed to learn that these drawings were displayed all over the homes of Pompeii.

The British decided that women and children were too vulnerable and wanton to see these things, and hid them away in the museum's basement for generations. The idea that sexual imagery is dangerous was born, and soon took root in Puritan-settled America.

Tuesday 1-18
Discovered the British Bizarre magazine, and dropped everything to absorb their "Ask Bizarre" on-line archive. Among the trivia, this discovery:
...there was a pornographic Star Wars trading card issued in 1978 by the Topps company in the US of A. It was card #207 in the fourth series (aka the "Green Series", so named for the color of its border).

No one is quite sure how the boner occurred, but myth states that it was a disgruntled airbrush artist who added the appendage to the hapless 'droid. The additional artwork was eventually noticed by Topps personnel, but not until thousands had been collected by unwary 10-year-olds all over North America. A corrected version was issued, but it is actually scarcer than the naughty one.

They say they're quoting James Addams, of Blue Harvest, a "Star Wars" fanzine. Verification: the Urban Legends people have some more information.
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