Meet Smiley Swastika! He's a creation of
Canadian artist ManWoman. Last week, while browsing
the print section in the Shibuya Tower Records, I
found a stack of books on a display table called
The Swastika: Symbol Beyond Redemption?
by Steven Heller, who's the art director of the
New York Times Book Review. The slim
volume's an illustrated survey of the twisted cross
throughout history, and in it I read there's a
Friends of the Swastika
(which is run by ManWoman, who's trying
to publish his own book called Gentle
Swastika). The gist of both is probably
summarized in this reprint of a New York Times
from August of last year, which begins
It's a simple question: Can the swastika ever be redeemed?
Such a great symbol, and it's meant good luck in so
many cultures, for ages -- in Japan the manji
is used on maps to mark the location of Buddhist
temples. (Sure, it's backwards, but that distinction's
trivial, to me.) The Friends have a webring, another
member of which is Heathen World's
Not a Nazi Swastika Gallery.
Each title in this collection of Billboard
100 hits from 1961 to 1972 is a link
to the song's lyrics. (The site popped up
when I was searching on Donovan's "Atlantis,"
Reasons why we still love Tokyo -- a compilation by
some members of the expatriate community there, has the
curious effect of reenforcing my fantasy of joining them.
Two from GMT+9:
- A collection of
really more a gallery of the decorations one finds
attached to the other end. (My own is bare). Many
in the collection are amusing in that über-cute
Japanese way. The name of this hygiene tool is usually
translated as "ear-pick," although Geoff says a more
accurate term would be "ear-hoe." Almost everybody
I've enlightened about them has wanted one, and
then reported using theirs with gusto. The holdouts
are in the timid, waxy "nothing smaller than a football
in your ear" camp -- but in Japan, mothers use them
on their children.
- Seems like I linked to the
Space Art site a while ago. Chesley's contributions to
the field of space art are well known, but were you aware
he created his own
(Sounds pretty potent to me.)
has advised me how she learned from a documentary that
primates (or I guess it's really us humans) eat their
bananas upside down, and it's the better way -- just
pinching the nether end makes a nana pop open; sometimes
I've needed to cut the stem end to get one started -- no
longer, now that I know the trick. Thanks,
Mr. Chimp! She also sends along a link to this
News report, which states that
One-third of Americans with Internet access at home would
give up television if forced to choose between television
and the Internet, according to a new Arbitron study. "Since
Internet access is a relatively new phenomenon, it is amazing
that one-third of Americans with Internet access at home
would be more willing to give up the long established
medium of television,"
according to one of their VPs. Don't understand what the
medium's age has to to do with anything... scrolls
and tom-toms have been used to exchange information much
longer than television, but which would you rather use for
This looks like a good book -- you might think something
called Digital Copyright would be dense with the
is quite readable, where author Jessica Litman discusses
not only the present situation but the history.
American Life this weekend, about superpowers
(the kind you develop, for example, after being
bitten by a radioactive spider.) Ira had Jonathan
Morris on, a guy who does a website called
and Forgotten about Super Heroes who didn't
last -- he even mentioned the "3-D Man," a 1976 Marvel
comic-book I had (and now wish I'd held onto).
Couldn't find any cite on his site, however.
Another cultural event this weekend was at the Stanford
cinema: their current festival is Hollywood Musicals
of the 30s -- the one I saw was that creaky old W.C. Fields
chestnut from 1933, "International House." Hard to
figure why, but this drew a really big crowd. I went
because Baby Rose Marie was among the all-star
Paramount cast -- she's much more well-known from
the second stage of her career, when she was a
regular on "The Dick Van Dyke Show" -- just wanted to
see what the first phase was like, difficult to imagine
how she got any work at all, then. Also featured were
George Burns and Gracie Allen, another female whose
allure I find difficult to fathom. Peggy Hopkins Joyce
played herself, my reaction was "Who!?" According to
bio, she was quite a character -- a man actually
died for her.
Felt a small earthquake today, magnitude 4.4 -- in Central
California, according to the USGS Near
Real Time Listing. Later information said it was eleven
miles beyond San Jose, and five miles beneath the surface.
Chuck Taggart has a good (notorius, even)
page at his Gumbo site. Since I've already
tasted the real stuff (from a Spanish bottle, in
1982) my own interests are essentially historical.
Rumours of legal
in Thailand! (Shocked Belgian authorities confiscate all copies.)
The previous two links were harvested from Chuck Taggart's
whose entries for February 13 are outstanding. One
compares U.S. legislators who want to pass laws
banning flag-burning to the Nazis' same legislation
(always dangerous on the Internet, unfortunately,
because it gives weenies the chance to supposedly
negate the comparison by invoking
Law); in another, he discusses (but doesn't link to)
the for-Valentine's-Day Slate
by Eliza Truitt where she staged a blind chocolate
taste test. I also had problems with that, thought
her samples all wrong, sure she included Hershey but
how come no Cadbury? (Oh yes, I know
reason it's lousy, that's why it should've been
included, to expand the testing palette... along with
Palmer (or is it Palmer?), since bad American chocolate
was the subject.) Down at the bottom is this
choco-factoid -- maybe it's even true:
And now there are studies claiming that chocolate is actually
good for you because cacao contains antioxidants that when
eaten regularly increase good cholesterol levels.
Back from a week in Tokyo -- some random thoughts and
- A couple of posters stood out in the ever-changing
urban environment: one, down in the subway, portrayed
a cartoonish, leggy female passenger applying her lipstick,
oblivious to the annoyed salerymen seated on either
side. Among the kanji, this caption:
Good manners are more attractive than your makeup will make you.
I can't help but appreciate a culture which shames the
obnoxious. The other, plastered all over, featured their
Wakata who flew on
this Autumn, his second time up.
- Just like last time, no sooner do I get back than I
discover new places I want to check out. Like
Muji -- what's Muji?
A wonderful chain which sells all this great gear, plus
clothes and even food, like cookies and ice cream. So far
their only offshore stores are in Hong Kong, Paris and
the UK -- more details in this
article. I wanted to buy up a bunch of their stuff,
but it wouldn'ta fit in my carry-on -- however, a subset's
now available via Muji
- Don't expect a detailed report like was provided in
1999 -- wasn't there long enough, and my photos this time
were at best mediocre... but since people are curious,
I've whipped up a
page covering my visit to the new
- Is there anything more degrading about modern life
than in-flight dining? Most complaints focus on the food
itself; as I'm frequently famished by the time the trays
appear, they spell relief so it's hard for me to find
fault with that. It's the way we're forced to
eat, in our cramped steerage posture: we all bend our
heads and shovel up the mystery mixtures from the little
containers, blocking out each other and thinking thoughts
far and away from any gustatory pleasure. And it doesn't
help when you're seated behind some elderly party who
keeps her seat reclined for the entire flight, making
any items set on your tray-table slip into your lap.
Found some time and links, so here's one more update.
Smith site, by his daughter. He was an author who
wrote Norstrilia and other amazing stories
about the Instrumentality and the Underpeople.
Speaking of the great literature,
Plokta's Guide to Science Fiction rates over a hundred
of the best novels (love the icons, although they're not
really intuitive). Note: British titles.
Chads in the Third Reich!
and the Holocaust is a new book by Edwin
Black in which he claims
...that IBM punch card-sorters, a precursor of
computers, were used to facilitate all aspects
of Nazi persecution -- from the identification
of Jews in censuses in Germany and occupied
Europe to the running of concentration camp
No details yet, though. I'll find this story difficult
to believe until I see evidence: actual Hollerith
cards used by the SS.
This site's gonna be dormant until later next week.
Meanwhile, check out the
and then enjoy a few links harvested from the ever-excellent
Me Here weblog.
Kinda bleeped over most of the scienteefic text in
academic press release, but I enjoyed these quotes:
"Human genetics is not destiny, particularly when it
comes to a love for coffee and chocolate. The human
genome is powerless in the face of chocolate," Drewnowski
said. "We all eat it because we like it, and we
don’t need any scientific explanation to do that."
From the New Scientist -- Name
Sing a half-forgotten song to your computer and it will
name it, thanks to new software.
A NY Post
describes "Callers On Demand," a company that caters
to talk radio stations:
"Our army of ‘live' callers are standing by to
jumpstart your morning show,"
reads a pitch on the company's
"Let's face it, most mornings, if the callers suck,
you're out of luck. Why risk it?"
... The rise of
services that provide ready-made callers is part of a
growing trend in the media to spice up "reality"
programming with seasoned pros... "This is unbelievable,"
says Jack Swanson, programmer of San Francisco's
top-rated talkers KGO and KSFO. "If radio starts
hiring fake callers to spice up their shows, why not
start making up news stories on slow news days?"
You mean, they don't!? Hmmpf -- I disagree -- two
examples: Monica Lewinsky, and pilot JFK Jr's plane
Up to the City last night, off the BART and walking
down lower Market past FLAX -- destination: the
Get Lost travel bookstore, for a talk and book-signing
Hasbrouck -- didn't learn much new but it was fun
to meet him after the lecture, surrounded by a bunch of
San Francisco weenies taking notes. (The event was
promotion for the new second edition of his
Practical Nomad -- I read the first.) A
worthwhile site he mentioned was
which is for business-people, checking when it'll be
closed at the destionation, but it can also be used
as a planning resource.
Two Temari sites:
(lots of material; she even sells them) and
Temari California .
Some verbiage of my own on this topic can be found where
temari town Matsumoto.
in yesterday's Post explains strategies
against telemarketers. Among the rest, Marc Fisher
advises just hanging up -- that's the one I use. But
many people feel rude, and wait for the first break in
their pitch -- usually I do too, and say no thanks, and
then hang up. My parents' line at that point
is "we never do business over the telephone" -- but
Fisher is one of these gleefully competitive types
to whom the annoying interruptions is an opportunity
for combat -- one of his methods is to say
"All sales calls must go through Sector 14 for identity check. Please hold."
Astonishingly, some callers sit tight for this one,
which permits me to return as the Teutonic "Commander
Volt," asking rapid-fire questions such as, "How much
money do you make?" "What is your shoe size?" and "Did
you ever have a crush on a teacher?"
Seems there was an
involving a Type 1 VW body dangling from the
center of the Golden Gate Bridge this morning -- some
engineering students have been implicated in the stunt.
Catching up on the "Metaverse" site of the 'Zompist'
Mark Rosenfelder -- he has a new
page -- as is usual for his material, erudite and
cerebral. Also an excellent book/movie comparison of
Runner, plus a list of
rock band names, which has a slight overlap with
a much less extensive compilation of my own. Both
contain the DayGlo Abortions; plus 900 Foot Jesus
and the Jesus and Mary Chain. On mine this segues
into the similar sounding Liquid Jesus, Teenage
Jesus, Jesus Jones, the Brian Jonestown Massacre, the
Colorblind James Experience, Janes Addiction and
Jean Loves Jezebel. That's all I have -- mind, the
only one of these I'm at all familiar with is Jesus
Jones -- I have two of their albums: "Doubt," of
course (which contains the
song of Jerry Brown's 1992 presidential campaign);
in Hyattsville, from
of the United States -- a comprehensive site,
apparently compiled from years of respondents'
They're discussing Eric Schlosser's Fast Food
Nation in Slate's
Club dialog -- great reading -- the book's
receiving so much press I feel I may not have to
read it myself. One random factoid:
McDonald's makes most of its money as a landlord.
The real dough comes from owning its outlets and
renting them back to its franchise holders.
Living without a car for a week brings the whole bus
experience back into focus, especially the waiting:
standing there as traffic roars or trickles past,
peering intently down the roadway, trying to make the
fuzzy, moving blobs of the cars (or their headlights)
at the vertex resolve into the larger square bus-shape.
Finally it appears, slowly pulling up to a halt, the
doors opening with a hiss. On the other hand, it's great
being forced back into the bike saddle -- the weather
has been cooperating, it was mid-70s sunny today.
(When I locked up my bike on Castro this morning, to
stroll over to the Farmer's Market, my view was
exactly.) Often while cycling I break into song, just
a line or two, the subconscious conjuring up old
favorites like 2 HB
And for the first time I've taken advantage of that
wonder of Valley living, being able to
these two modes of transport.
Speaking of Castro, found another out-of-print
by AAAttanasio at the big used bookstore
there, but it just went into the ever-lengthening
to-be-read queue -- meanwhile I've been sucked into
another sci-fi, the fascinating "nano plague" 'cycle'
(so far, it's a trilogy) by Kathleen Ann Goonan. (Most
of the reviews can't help but mention Greg Bear's
groundbreaking Blood Music.) She has
her own site at goonan.com but it's essentially just
a collection of testimonials, try
one instead, it starts with a description of the
book I'm reading now. For more about the author,
there's a couple of interviews
DCA -- what's it mean to you? To me it's National
Airport, but today I learned it's also the new theme
park the Eisner juggernaut's created in the Disneyland
parking lot. Jim Hill's
Mis-Adventure tells the whole story, which begins
with the Disneyland Hotel; the Grand Opening's in just
a few days. In other news from Anaheim,
the "Pirates of the Caribbean" has reopened -- it
was shut down Wednesday after a woman holding an
infant fell, when their boat lurched as she got out
at the end of her ride, but that's nothing -- read the whole
article describing her mishap to learn about
some recent gruesome accidents at "The Happiest
Place on Earth." I have no desire to ever
return, myself; that's mostly a reaction to the Mouse
Empire's ever-increasing greed. To see the Magic Kingdome
as it was in the good ol' days, a visit to Werner's
is always fun.
Love a good "open journal" site; via
I've been perusing something a little different,
historical, but seemingly even more
interesting -- description from the
The correspondence of Jill Oppenheim de Grazia and
Alfred de Grazia, first lovers and then married,
conducted between February 1942 and September 1945,
has been almost entirely preserved and constitutes
some 1200 letters and 775,000 words.
page has links to pages organized by month.
The period detail is wonderful, a real nostalgic
"you-are-there" treat. Al starts out in boot
camp and rises to officer rank, involved with
propaganda, seeing action stateside and all over
Europe; Jill keeps the home fires burning in Chicago,
and they're very much in love.
"Caught From Behind" -- no wait, that's a series
of anal porn videos -- "LEFT Behind." The lousy
books are now a bad film. This
review contains an oddly naïve sentence which
begins with that charitable "mixed" phrase, a red
flag to any serious cinephile:
The movie, which has received mixed reviews, is
not for the meek.
Planes fall from the sky in balls of fire, at least
three people are murdered and there are suggestions of
(For more thoughts about this foolishness see my
Rapture journal entry.)
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