A place called "Bubblegun (Where
popular culture goes to die)" has a page
Things you didn't know about "A Clockwork Orange"
(with a tasty Nadsat glossary sidebar). Where it
suggests the possibility of the Rolling Stones as
droogs I've also heard "girls in miniskirts."
Courtesy my yob, the "Air Traffic Control System
Command Center", a real-time 'conus' map showing
the status of the traffic at major airports,
explained by this email fragment:
The ATCSCC public web page: http://fly.faa.gov
is now up and running! This is our first attempt
at taking the Traffic Management Initiative information
from around the country and putting it into plain
english so that the air traveler can get general delay
Bring it up before you leave, and click your
aerodromes to check.
Slate posted a diary
this week from food writer Jim Leff - he's got a site called
I've just begun to explore; the navigation's great so
just dig in at the
More about the decay of copyright in the
digital age -- Scott Rosenberg
my own sentiments in Salon today
about how musical performers are
being affected in this MP3 - Napster era:
In popular music, the notion of a class of professional
songwriters and musicians who might support themselves -- and
just maybe get rich -- through their music is not much
more than a century old. New technologies -- first sheet
music, then radio and the phonograph -- made pop-music
When steam power drove the hand-loom weavers of
pre-Victorian Britain out of business, they took
to smashing machines under the banner of mythical
"General Ludd" (I've heard they sometimes
used a more cavalier nom de guerre, "Captain
Swing"); today's recording
artists, fearful of being similarly economically
displaced, have taken their Luddism into the
legal system, and are attempting to smash
the new music machines with lawsuits.
Rather than insist that the way the music world does business
today is the only way imaginable, it behooves artists to take
a longer and more imaginative view. It's not as if the status
quo has served them so well. Today a popular recording artist
is basically a participant in a lottery, rigged by the music
conglomerates, with a tiny likelihood of winning a vast fortune
and overwhelmingly more likely odds of achieving only obscurity
and peanuts in royalties.
Rock Eater deconstruction of the "Al Gore said he invented
the Internet" lie, and why it's propagated in the media
"echo chamber." (More information on the subject in
this month's cover
story at the Washington Monthly.)
From The Nation,
by Tom Hayden regarding the growing
LAPD "Rampart" corruption scandal, etc:
Some 30,000 SWAT teams around the country are
central to the emerging paramilitary culture
in the law-enforcement establishment, a shadow
police state for ghetto and barrio youth that
would never be accepted in white suburbs.
The cover story is "Shopping Till We Drop," about
how unchanged Cold War economic policies doom
the current American prosperity.
Will the "Battlefield Earth" movie contain sophisticated
subliminal messages encouraging its viewers to join
L. Ron's Church of Dianetics? A central source for
associated controversy, skepticism and general tale-tellin'
might be www.factnet.org.
At the end of
short Time interview, Jonathon
Winters discusses his Poppa Smurf voice-work.
Courtesy Sam Smith's Progressive
Review, a site called Convential
Wisdom - "Selected Quotations Illustrating the Illusions of
Had the pleasure of being in Canada when "Blame Canada"
won the Oscar Best Song. I despise "South Park," so had
naturally never actually heard this "tune" before, although
I was aware of its existence. Only caught a bit of the
broadcast - I feel no obligation to watch, unlike many
the film aficionado; and I stay well away from anything
associated with the loathsome Billy Crystal; but I did
tune in for a couple minutes - Warren Beatty was droning
on, I switched off almost immediately. The next morning,
Mork's rendition of "Blame Canada" was unavoidable - they
played the entire segment on BCTV's "Vancouver Today,"
where the morning team found it amusing -- one thought
they were singing "Air Canada" -- and again
on the radio in a restaurant, I was forced to listen
a little later. The next day it was
news in The Globe and Mail.
Fourth long-weekend reconnoiter of
Vancouver, this time extending my sphere of
exploration across False Creek to Vanier Park
where the Vancouver Museum is, and beyond, to the
trendy Kitslano neighborhood; and over to the
'Camperland' district, where I acquired the
ultimate in all-weather Gore-Tex windbreakers
at Taiga - rip=stop nylon, velcro and zippers
everwhere, even the armpits. A main objective of the trip was the
Lights: Neon in Vancouver show, at the Museum,
but a bonus attraction was another fascinating exhibit
there called "All About
Colour that Changed the World."
Suburbia -- the Adbusters interview
with James Kunstler, author of The
Geography of Nowhere.
There are very few people in the United States
who don’t realize auto use is out of hand to
some extent. Even the people who love suburbia
complain about traffic. They just think we
need to build more highways and parking lots.
As a civilization, we’re no more special in the
eyes of God than the Romans or the Spanish in
the 15th Century or the British in the 18th Century
or the Aztecs or any other once-great
civilization. This idea that Americans in
the 20th century are the apex of human development
is very childish. We’re a childish and wicked
people who deserve to be punished.
The "Phasor Pain And Shock Field" unit sold
by this source
for security devices sounds remarkably
like the ultrasonic machine the bad guys
used in Inspector Imanishi Investigates,
a book I read and rather liked, unlike
reviewer. They also feature transformers
to electrify garbage cans,
gardens, fences, door knobs, electronic
equipment, jewelry boxes, gun cabinets, floor
mats, vaults and safes -- even airborne
objects. What airborne objects?
Yucks a-plenty with the
of Planet Groovy.
Lucid, enlightening article
about copyright and censorship in something called
Open Spaces Quarterly - sometimes the text gets
kinda dense; it's by a law professor.
The primary purpose of copyright is not, as many people
believe, to protect authors against those who would
steal the fruits of their labor. However, this misconception,
repeated so often that it has become accepted
among the public as true, poses serious dangers to the
core purpose that copyright law is designed
What I find so annoying is how that "limited time"
grew from 14 years, with a possible renewal; to
the creator's life plus fifty years, in 1978; to
now, where the latest extension (set in 1998) is the
life of the author plus seventy years. At this rate
nothin'll ever get into public domain again.
The core purpose of copyright law is not difficult to
find; it is stated expressly in the Constitution.
Article I, section 8, clause 8 of the United States
Constitution provides that Congress shall have the
power: "to promote the Progress of Science and useful
Arts, by securing for limited times to Authors and
Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective
Writings and Discoveries."
This fundamental misunderstanding is perpetuated by
the stern FBI warnings at the beginning of video
tapes, by overly broad assertions of the rights in the
copyright notices, and by the general lack of public
discourse about the balance required in copyright law
if copyright is to fulfill its constitutionally
mandated goal of promoting knowledge and learning.
Saw "Mission to Mars" and thought it a fine
example of a realistic space movie,
true science fiction worthy of the Martian genre.
Reasons why the mainstream media are trashing
the film remain obscure; from their consensus
I was going to avoid it but fortunately
read this dissenting view in
Salon called A
Nerd's Rhapsody. (I think the critics'
reaction is partially because the film's
derivative, but for me that was part of
the fun -- it's a mix of What We Know Now with
the occasional homage to What We Used To Believe.)
Several years ago in LA, I noticed this big weird
vehicle parked just off Ventura Blvd, during a
weekend foray up into The Valley. Its prow had
GM letters in the font I recognized from the
façade of the Futurama, in photographs
from the 1939 World's Fair. I went back
to take its picture, wondering what it
was - at last, the mystery revealed, courtesy
"Larkfarm" weblog -- it's one of the surviving
from the General Motors Parade
The hajj is winding down - Eid Mubark! I've been
searching on "webcam" and "Mecca" hoping to locate
one pointed at the Kaaba for a live
like this, but no luck so far. For a flavor
of what's going on over there I've been following
daily hajj columns at Arabia.on.line, where you
can find stories, for example, about the eatery options
at a mall named the Mecca Commercial Housing Center --
food big hit in Mecca:
Mainly US fast food restaurants in the holy city thrive
during the pilgrimage or hajj season when nearly two
million Muslims from 100 countries flock to Makkah.
Other articles describe the world's largest
slaughterhouse (for the ritual sacrifices) and
security measures to prevent stampedes. I hear that
Brother Farrakhan of the Nation
of Islam plans to take his hajj next year; that
should trigger a lot of Western media attention - I
wonder how much will be permitted? For a view into
the complexities of the faith check the
of Salat Times for the mathematics of Islamic
prayer timings - scroll down to see some lovely graphs.
Pilgrims in seamless white robes queue outside counters
of household names like McDonald's,
Kentucky Fried Chicken and Baskin Robbins to grab a bite or
an ice cream during a break from worshipping.
Dust Devils - sounds like a good name for a rock band or sports team.
Know the colored ribbons people wear and
some put on web pages? Courtesy Pigs & Fishes,
which compiles all of them, with links to their campaign
sites. Of note: the neon green
leechers and lamers, the chrome to keep
idiots off the net, and the
Free ribbon - I think that last one's gray, like its
page's refreshingly retro Netscape 1/Mosaic
Speaking of leechers, and ham-handed efforts at
controlling new media by old governments,
copyright in cyberspace, voicing my own
opinions concerning the so-called "theft" of streams of bits:
It's disingenuous to use terms like "theft" and "piracy,"
ancient notions of law and property, in the 21st century.
They have little contemporary meaning in cyberspace.
The fact is anyone who writes or designs on the Web
understands immediately that culture can't be copyrighted
online. There are too many ways to transmit and the
linkage the Web has spawned presents too many distribution
channels and opportunities to patrol.
dance craze from Japan: called "para-para", it
sounds rather like calisthenics to me.
towards this National Institue for Discovery Science summary
of the UFO sighting over Illinois on the night of Jan 4-5; and John
Aircraft site whose Exotic
Propulsion Aircraft section refers to a December 24 1990
Aviation Week article, confirming its existence - I read it then,
but was unable to relocate it later, making me wonder
if I'd been seeing things. Supposedly, at higher velocities,
the whole exterior of the "flying pumpkin seed"
becomes its engine.
Good Salon today: the
story concerns realities in the Netherlands:
It's tempting to wonder whether features of Dutch
drug policy - decriminalization of use combined with
rehabilitation - could work in America. Detractors
point out that America's Puritan heritage makes it
unlikely, an argument that, if it ever made sense,
becomes steadily less compelling as the U.S. goes
global, multiethnic and multicultural.
Consider the Dutch: like Americans, they're always
ready to "raise the finger" and preach; their roots
are in Calvinism, a Puritanical form of Protestantism.
Ask the Dutch what country theirs most resembles
and the overwhelming response is America.
Reading a J. Bottum
article about decadence, irony and music in
the Atlantic: "The Soundtracking of
But the truth is that we all are terrorized by music
nowadays. It's not so much the high school kids
parading down the street with boom boxes, or the
college students partying away a Saturday afternoon,
or the insomniac in the next apartment pacing up
and down to Beethoven at 3:00 a.m. It's, rather,
the merciless stream of 1960s golden oldies
drenching suburban malls, the disco-revival radio
thumping out Donna Summer in the back of a taxi
all the way to the airport, the tinny Muzak bleating
from storefronts as you walk along the sidewalk, the
tastefully muted Andrew Lloyd Webber seeping from
recessed speakers above the urinals in the men's
room. America is drowning in sanctioned music - an
obligatory orchestration cramming every inch of public
In all previous ages of music a new musical form
succeeded by replacing its predecessors. But now
each new form joins its predecessors in
our endlessly expanding library of music.
Tom Tomorrow has had his web site redesigned, with
an easily remembered redirection URL:
EW article about the draft form of "American
Beauty" sounds like they threw out the last reel.
Focal point for the growing boycott:
calls itself a signs and symptoms
search engine - check your problems off on
a form of what ails you and submit, in response get
some diagnoses and pages of links to the specific
interview with Katz concerning his new Geeks book:
It's appealing to me that people who have always been
perceived as outcasts, marginalized, different, have
all of a sudden become the only people who understand
how the world works. And you can see it's freaking out
the rest of the world.
appreciation of Joe Frank (which doesn't mention the
Speaking of public radio, the concluding factoid on last
was the announcement of the revival of The Muppet Show!
The German company EM.TV which bought the Jim Henson
new programs will be produced, featuring the
return of most of the characters: although Kermit,
Gonzo and Miss Piggy were mentioned, no word on
Beaker or Professor Bunsen Honeydew.
At the library yesterday, reading the Valentine's
Day New Yorker, for Spiegelmann's Schulz
tribute "Abstract Thought is a Warm
Puppy" - he begins from atop Snoopy's
doghouse, speaking in his Maus persona, bent
over a laptop; then moves on to mingle with
Sparky and various others' comic characters.
Elsewhere in the magazine, was made aware of
a new trend: mass karaoke. The Prince Charles
Cinema in London has been showing
a version of The
Sound of Music which is subtitled (in English)
during the musical numbers, and the audience
sings along, with gusto. The Guardian
Friday Review has a
column about the phenomenon suggesting
additional titles to get this treatment soon,
including "West Side Story." Let's hope this
new British fad catches on stateside.
Feeling noir-ish? Perhaps
wondering just what's implied by
that French-for-black? Look into
of Bowling Noir - its author wrote a
book about "The Big Lebowski."
Also courtesy the Bird
on a Wire weblog,
Barnes&Noble.com link allegedly displays
a different New Yorker cartoon every
(Suppose my weblog should sport one of
these non sequitur names; I'm considering
"Hurtling Into the Abyss" after the vision
Ignatious had on the Greyhound bus in A
Confederacy of Dunces.)
Growing up in the 1960s I couldn't miss the
SEE ROCK CITY
signs and bumper stickers, usually observed
during the annual summer vacation roadtrip.
But what exactly is Rock City?
I thought it was just an overlook view (of
seven states!) from the "lovers leap" - turns
out gnomes are the real attraction.
Devil's Elbow article provides
a first-hand visit report. (And of course now
this week. Liked their "Frame
Game" by William Saletan, about McCain's
telling off the Wreligious Wrong, "Storming
Virginia Beach." Also, from "The Week/The
Spin" on the resignation of Austria's
Political opponents' spin: This is just another
"dirty trick" by the crypto-fascist. Cynics'
retort: Every time you call him a crypto-fascist,
he just gets more followers.
But what I wanna know is, what is it about a
fascist which makes him (female fascista
being so rare) "crypto"?
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