No links today, just best wishes for the
new year, and a couple quotes from Bertrand
The essence of the Liberal outlook lies not in
what opinions are held, but in how they are held:
instead of being held dogmatically, they are held
tentatively, and with a consciousness that new
evidence may at any moment lead to their abandonment.
The trouble with the world is that the stupid are
cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.
OTR -- to some the acronym stands for "off
the record" or "on the road" but to others
it means Old Time Radio, like Jack Benny and
Amos & Andy. Those are two of the
three programs I like best, the third being
the spinoff from Fibber McGee and Molly,
Great Gildersleeve! Elizabeth Thomsen's
site has moved since I linked to it a while
back -- found it again via
Killer List of OTR Sites. Looking
and Abner I find that unlike Gildy's
Summerfield, Pine Ridge Arkansas is a real
place, which now has a Jot 'Em Down
Store Museum -- that's a real tribute.
Two links from Follow
Me Here, and one from
Recent Daily Telegraph interview with
Arthur C. Clarke:
Tape fashion page
My initial reaction to that
Telegraph is quite positive, in contrast
to the domestic newspapers I follow online -- attractive,
colorful pages, and the text utilizes links intelligently.
to be born to, music to die to --
This is an article where people declare
soundtrack requests for their own births and
deaths. The "BMJ" source must be something like
the British Medical Journal -- one response I
particulary liked (since my mental jukebox can
easily conjure up the music) was
To be born to? Well, the "Dambusters" march, obviously.
There certainly are a lot of
to be found on the wwweb (and I'm grateful we have the likes
of Mr Pants
to find them).
A percentage of the enlightened, liberal community is
all a-twitter about "Traffic," the new movie about the
evils of the Drug War. Washington Post writer
Richard Cohen, of all people,
out the film's defects -- although he does
To list [all of] the
absurdities, stupidities and inanities of
this movie would not only take the rest of this column,
it would be pointless -- but something of a public
service. You will not likely find it done anywhere
else. Instead, all but one of the critics I've read
are in thrall to whiz-kid Soderbergh's movie-making.
I have a big problem with naïve, uncritical
moviegoers who're oblivious to the latter icebox, who
tell me to "just sit back and enjoy it." How can
I? My disbelief is no longer suspended.
It was Alfred Hitchcock who used the term "icebox
scene" to describe the moment when a moviegoer
realized that a part of a film made no sense. If
that moment occurs hours after the movie is
over -- when the person who has seen the movie
is reaching into the icebox for a late-night
snack -- that's permissible. But if the icebox
scene occurs as you are watching the movie, then
that is not permissible.
Back from the annual holiday Eastern Campaign; this
year's journey was particularly successful (with
off-topic visits including the
Nouveau show and the charming, historic
downtowns of Ellicot City and Charlottesville).
Although my flights were full, lining up the
tickets in August insured great seats, and
to my amazement they were both on schedule.
Although Patrick Farley's beautiful
Sheep comics site has new art on
the main page, which says it's v.3,
I perceive no fresh content. However,
he is linking to his excellent
once again, which should be required reading
for any of the multitude of historically
ignorant Christians who believe that Jesus'
birthday is the reason for the holiday season.
The celebration of the Solstice was officially
forbidden by the Christian Church, but continued
on among peasants and nobles nonetheless. Finally,
in the Fourth Century,
Pope Julius I acquiesced and created the holiday we now
know as Christmas, substituting the birth of Jesus (which
most historians have placed in September) for the veneration
of the Pangenitor in an attempt to transform the pagan
holiday into a Christian one.
points me towards jumptheshark.com, a
concept new to me. From the FAQ:
It's a moment. A defining moment when you know
that your favorite television program has
reached its peak. That instant that you know
from now on...it's all downhill. Some call it
the climax. We call it "Jumping the Shark."
From that moment on, the program will simply
never be the same.
Their page on
Heroes" has amazing trivia,
including the reaction from a viewer in Germany who
details the differences in the version shown there
(scroll to the bottom). The dubbed dialogue was
not a literal translation and seems to have been
distorted intentionally, and perhaps frequently, so
that audience wouldn't get upset -- keep 'em
laughing, it's just a comedy.
Two notes concerning on-screen translations:
- Viewers of foreign films (like me) are often
momentarily irritated when a character says a lot
but the accompanying subtitle is quite short. What
else was just said? Now I know to wonder: Is an
agenda the reason? Whose?
- In German-speaking (and perhaps other) countries,
translated audio-visual works are almost always
dubbed because that language doesn't lend itself
to easy "read-alonging," ie the text would take up
too much space.
Dr Phil Agre has finally regained interest in things
other than the election, so his Red Rock Eater Digest
has new "Notes and Recommendations" --
opens with the thoughtful "Thou shalt not appear
to spam" and has stuff about first-world myopia, and
survival skills elsewhere, like Brazil and Russia:
First-world myopia means that you can forget, or never
even know, about the elaborate institutional systems that
make it possible to live in a bubble. Then when an
institution does fail, for example if you are a victim
of identity theft and the credit reporting agencies and
cops aren't interested in helping you, then you are
clueless, stranded, completely on your own. It's not
something that first-world culture understands.
This is not a problem in Brazil. Everyone in Brazail is
painfully aware of the vast institutional background that
makes their lives possible, precisely because that
background keeps breaking.
Underbelly of San Jose is probably of no
interest to out-of-towners, but he
"reviews" one of those
public pay toilets like they've
had up the City for a while, and
also now in Palo Alto -- David called
the similar units in Paris the
"orgasmatron" after Woody Allen's
"Sleeper" and the use couples made
of them there.
points towards the
Pitch Drop Experiment -- reminds me of the Night Watchman's
tour I so enjoyed tagging along with, that night in
Rothenburg -- he described how in medieval times it
wasn't hot oil or the Hunchback's molten lead which was
poured onto enemies from atop the town walls, but
Pech, which means both pitch and bad luck,
info on the Pitch Drop Experiment -- it's been
underway since 1927.)
Heard about this device, produced by the Leningrad
Optical and Mechanical Organization, on
Marketplace story last night (scroll down).
Six years ago, two Viennese art students stumbled upon
a Lomo, a defunct Cold-War era spy camera, in a
junk shop in Prague.
They now have a web presence, naturally, including the
but navigation into its "shop" section didn't work for
me (I just wanted to see what one looks like). Fortunately their
site has a good illustration. Now of course, they've
become too hip, no longer mere Soviet surplus, are back in
production and priced above $200.
In reaction to 'it's abuse' I threw together a short
about the problem. Having vented, I feel better.
Ho Ho Ho!
an example of these groups -- they dress up in cheap
Santa Claus suits, then congregate in public places,
sometimes getting drunk and disorderly. The events
may have started with the
Society -- they call it Santa Rampage; contrast
illustration from a previous year, when they assembled
on the beach at Venice, with the mysterious summertime
variant -- we'll probably never understand why
they're carrying a "Saturday Night Fever" banner.
While browsing a bookstore a couple days ago,
I was reading in some 1930s book about the misery
of French military life along
Maginot Line -- site author Clayton Donnell has
done extensive exploration, visiting the areas in
1988 and returning a decade later. For
balance, also on Yahoo/GeoCities, the
Website details the pillbox bunkers the
Germans built along the coast. It's not as
attractively designed as the former (although
apparently in the midst of reconstruction),
but features lots more photos of the ruins
today; and both sites contain extensive information
about which facilities have become museums.
My previous linkage to aircraft carriers of the
Imperial Japanese Navy was stimluated by a
comic shop sighting -- the spinoff from Ted
Nomura and Ben Dunn's alternate history
series called "Kamikaze 1946." (I'd like to
link to their own web site, but for whatever
reasons Antarctic Press has never given
proper attention to their web presence.)
Now via Larkfarm
Mike I find Dan Johnson's
which details aircraft designs under
development in Germany at the end of WWII,
like the Horten
flying wings -- among everything else there's
even some heavier-than-air flying machines
produced by the Zeppelin corporation.
Popocatépetl is erupting --
news has a beautiful night photo from Friday
and a little more information; for a live view
el Centro Nacional de Prevencion de Desastres has a
to which I've linked before -- it updates every
two seconds. Was cloudy today, I'm checking back
at night hoping for something spectaular, but
nothing yet -- the glow may be too dim to
register on that camera.
Great Courtland Milloy column
in the Post, he was at a students' Q&A
with Judge Thomas of the Supremes, ends a little
prematurely -- what happened next?
Been absorbing Larry Hall's excellent
site, extensive detail marred only by the
author's all-too-common lack of familiarity
with the correct spelling of the third person
singular neutral possesive pronoun. (How it bugs
me -- "It's its!" I shout, "No
apostrophe!") Speaking of "The Prisoner,"
trivia reveals the big answer:
According to script editor and co-creator George
Markstein, Number Six resigned from his position
after discovering files indicating the existence
of the Village. The Village was an idea Number Six
had submitted to his superiors many years before
but had since decided was monstrously inhuman.
We all know George -- he's "the man behind the desk"
in the opening sequence, but that's just a cameo -- he
was heavily involved with the production but had a
major falling-out with Patrick McGoohan after the
twelvth episode had been produced -- a fascinating
with him is part of the above site. (I wonder what
they call "D" notices now... they must be quite
common.) The links page points towards another
Village site, created by Kipp Teague, but it's
more commercial, in that anti-deep-linking manner
which I consider both user-hostile and a challenge --
for example, his missing "Fall Out" scene
you hit the link or you'll be bounced back to his
top-level. (I've seen the occasional still from this
scene but never knew the context.)
Luddite Reader has
of selected films -- scroll to the bottom
for the Finchley Zone, and links to subsequent
decades. Somewhere in there it points
The website dedicated to exposing television for what
it is: An addictive device which keeps the lower classes
subdued; a perpetuator of violence and materialism; and
a silent destroyer of intellectualism.
Yesterday General Motors announced the
death of the Oldsmobile -- there's been
rumors about that division merging with
Buick for some time.
CNN article about the restructuring
also says Daimler-Chrysler announced
Plymouth's demise last year, although
I still see advertising for the Neon -- seems
like 2001 will be its last model year, and their
Prowler roadster will become the Chrysler
Prowler. Always thought Plymouth (or is it
Dodge?) blew it with the Neon by not utilzing
for its "badge," that logo-word written
with a tubing font on that vehicle's rear.
Speaking of phone numbers, they used to
begin with a word, like "PEnnsylvania 6-5000" (the
Glenn Miller song of
hotel). A while back I was pointed towards the
EXchange Name Project where you can look up
what yours used to be, if the number's not too new.
'experiments' link (from the "Special
Postage & Handling Issue" of the
Annals of Improbable Research)
mentioned in several weblogs before looking
myself; not bad.
The USPS appears to have some collective sense of
humor, and might in fact here be displaying the
rudiments of organic bureaucratic intelligence.
The design of aircraft carriers has stabilized; now
that we're used to them it's hard to believe they
evolved from a rather different design. This great
Navy site details the history of the Japanese
military afloat -- the appearance of their
carriers remind me of something out of the first
(new) "Batman" movie's Gotham City. I saw this
of the Shokaku at the Yaskuni shrine
museum, noting its weird downward-pointing funnels on
the port side. These vessels look odd to contemporary
eyes because their flight decks were built atop an
existing ship's superstructure, like our own primal
article from Wednesday's edition about longer
local phone numbers:
The Federal Communications Commission may require the
country to go to 10-digit dialing as early as next month
in a sweeping effort to conserve phone numbers and slow
the need for new area codes.
In my own area there's been rumors of forcing us
to dial eleven digits, should we
be forced to include the area code (suggested due
to the "overlay" scheme, already implemented in
some areas, where different area codes coexist
in the same place). When this is (inevitably)
foisted upon us, I'd prefer dialing just ten
digits rather than precede every phone number
with the long-distance "1" default. (But who
dials anymore? Actually I have one retro
telephone, found it by a dumpster; but most
folks nowadays punch their push-buttons.)
"This opens up a can of worms about when a consumer
is dialing a real long-distance call where they are
charged by the minute, as opposed to a local call where
they pay a flat monthly fee for unlimited usage."
This move will either hasten that period
predicted by Arthur C. Clarke when all phone
calls worldwide will be charged the local rate;
or (more probably) implement the scheme the phone
companies crave, whereby local calls are charged like
long distance -- no more flat rate. The article
goes on to describe an the underlying problem:
instead of the usual explanation for the shortage, an
explosion in new numbers for fax, pager and cell
phones, it's really the grossly inefficient (but
recently tightened-up) manner in which blocks of
commercial phone numbers are assigned. It ends with
... they're looking ahead at having to go to
12 digits well within the next decade.
Like other countries, for example France and Japan,
where they've added some integer to ther beginning
of all existing numbers, and then started all new
numbers with a different digit -- or perhaps the
chaotic British variant, where they change all
the existing numbers at the same time.
Two hours of terminally
cheesy 70's TV:
A major on-line magazine I try to resist
reading just had an article all about the
"Star Wars Holiday Special," but
Tokyo does a much better job.
Decoys -- Cell Phone Guns Discovered
Some days fill up with so much unusual activity
that a new journal entry might be appropriate,
rather than these sketchy weblog notes -- yesterday
was just such a day. After post-work dentoid
visit for re-installation of the crown which
fell out Thursday, the planned video-watching
evening was disrupted by a power outage -- merely
hunkering down by the light of my kerosene
had become boring, the radio had no
news of anything unusual. I decided to go
outside and have an adventure, whereupon
I became locked out of my
apartment -- not in the usual way;
the key wouldn't work since the
lock mechanism actually broke. Under
the cover of darkness I was able to peform
the alternate entry method: fetching one of
those old step-ladders stashed behind the other
building and climbing in through my balcony. My
assistant, holding the ladder, was the annoying chubby
skateboard-bully neighbor-kid, rendered meek with
voice a-quaver by the blackout -- his guardian
hadn't arrived home yet, so he latched onto me.
Standing atop the ladder, about to put my full
weight on the balcony railing, dark, silent
buildings all around, I wondered -- "Is this where
the aging brackets and the stucco walls detach
and I split my head open on that concrete down
below?" But no, it held; turned out this was
instead the time I disassembled two door locks
in darkness with a flashlight in my mouth -- a
part of the latch
had broken off, preventing the door's opening
until I finally extracted that half-inch piece
of metal. A little later the lights came back
on and civilization was restored. Where was my
doofus resident manager during all this? I heard
him starting up a big portable generator
inside his own unit -- as usual I
figured the prudent course was to just leave
him alone and resolve the dilemma myself.
Berry is just so dead on, like in
week's 100 Demons where she wonders
Why are some songs so perfect in a way that
never happens again on our lives? What is it about music and being
older than 12 but younger than 20?
Copied this from Usenet somewhere,
a thread of cheese appreciation in a
And who will ever forget the poet Leon-Paul Fargue,
who inhaled a noseful of French Camembert and
murmured, "Ahhh... the feet of God."
My socks are off to you.
The new Smithsonian magazine
has an article
about the Modcom googie preservationists has a nice photo of
an LA restaurant I know well -- on the spine of its
matchbook, "The Ultra of the Southwest."
Today is World
AIDS Day, when we remember the
friends taken by the disease, and pray for
those infected. For most of it this page was a
participant in the
Rash Weblog Archive: Last month Before
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