I've only got a couple days left
with my ISP and no replacement
as yet (although there is a
likely candidate) -- but in
fact, I may go on a total
iHiatus for a while. Therefore,
postings to this page and even
(gasp) email may not resume for
an indeterminite time, probably
just a few days.
"Elsewhere on the Web" points at the
Russian Archive -- many, many links
and assorted stuff about Mother Russia
and the USSR.
Five good links recently harvested from
Weblog. The guy's amazingly prolific
(and of special interest to all Wunderlanders,
as he recently included a
to our own Rubik's Cube Art).
Air Force Museum Archives Gallery -- look up details about any
military aircraft, past and present.
- fiftythings "A
Cultural Inventory for the Next Millenium" --
things worth preserving, and/or just nattering on
about. (Fifty isn't a limit, but a figure
for the universe in the 'Asian tradition')
- Computer Virus
Rob Rosenberger has been tracking
them for years
perhaps the most interesting of these five offerings
wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald - what really
happened on Lake Superior, punctuated by (and with
commentary on) the Gordon Lightfoot lyrics. His
big, boring hit of a dirge was one of a few I
heard endlessly in 1976, while working grave
shift at Goddard, blaring out of the one audio
component in our "bullpen" office. This was when
I was involved with processing LANDSAT image
data -- the radio was tuned either to a top 40
or the then-novel disco station. (These
choices were mandated by popular consent, usually
unchallenged because reception was too poor at
that inside location, when we tried tuning in
Other songs I recall from the endless repetition
were the excremental songs by Boston and Peter
Frampton, and the worst: "Muskrat Love."
Lots of good stuff at The
Metaverse - try "How to tell if you're German" (or American, or
Japanese), his essay "Is
science killing science fiction?" and his review of
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
This David Sedaris
reference page has links to all of his RealAudio
on a Wire)
www.toyraygun.com -- a
collector's shrine to his hobby.
A couple tidbits of beauty in the May
Smithsonian magazine: from their
Show 2000 (an exhibition which seems
to have been open fpr only three days last
month), Valeri Timofeev's plique-à-jour
enameling, an intriguing technique
from pre-revolutionary Russia. Also, from
about iconoclastic Japanese houses,
House looks like a copper version of the
"2001" lunar spacecraft, which has landed in the
forests above Atami.
Re-reading Nevil Shute's
Trustee From the
Toolroom, his last novel
but the first of my mid-80s jag,
when I absorbed all his books. Curious
about the narrative's Congreve
clock I discovered
Sinclair Harding, English
clockmakers who build archaic
timepieces from exotic materials.
My Japan '99 report
has just been added to the Rec.Travel Library. Their
side of the road do they drive on...?" page
might be of interest, especially for its world
map depicting Right from Wrong (er, Left). The
information's not just limited to driving, but
also covers trains, boats, and the side
pedestrians swerve to (or not, apparently,
in the UK).
CNN reports recently declassified info about a
post-Sputnik plan to detonate a thermonuclear
device on the moon. Young Carl Sagan was
Home from work, sick, with some but
(fortunately) not the complete range of
flu and cold symptoms -- watching
Bergman's "Smiles of a Summer Night." I
wanted to see "Stolen Kisses" again
after reading this Salon
of "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoise,"
but the only copy they had at the Videoplatz
was dubbed. Antoine Doinel being made
to speak English? Impossible!
Geoff sends along an ABC
News report of seizures triggered by
sounds, like certain songs and TV shows.
I think it's a bunch of hooey, coming out
of the same headspace as the belief in
the efficacy of
Although it did well at the box office, I knew better
and went off to see the four windows of "Timecode"
this weekend instead of wasting my time with what
Slate labels the "Worst Sci-Fi Movie
Ever Made" -- their David Edelstein
the "Battlefield Earth" movie:
Here is a picture that will be hailed without
controversy as the worst of its kind ever made.
It could be renamed "Ed Wood's Planet of the
Apes" if that title didn't promise more cheesy
fun than the movie actually delivers.
Too old and, by his own description, too fat
to play the film's human warrior hero, Travolta
has taken the role of its arch-villain, Terl,
a 9-foot, dreadlocked "Psychlo." This is the
kind of bad guy who strokes his beard with
long (Lee Press-On?) talons, gloats over the
imminent extermination of the human race, then
adds, "Hah-hah-hah-hah-hah!" Fu Manchu would
roll his eyes. Ming the Merciless would
politely excuse himself.
although superficial in comparison, elaborates
by adding this report of audience reaction:
By the time the final credits rolled, two guys
behind me were performing loud imitations of
Terl's Snidely Whiplash villain cackle,
reducing the rest of the audience to
I have an interest in this film
because unlike many I've actually read
the original book -- it's really not bad.
The film I saw, Timecode,
involved various characters doing what
LA people who live up there do, as their
filmed-in-real-time stories unfolded
around the Tower Records--Book
Soup vortex of Sunset and Doheny.
I read this Atlantic Monthly
article in the podiatrist's waiting room;
finished it online, later: Does
Civilization Cause Asthma?
The biggest problem is that many patients
do not take the daily doses of anti-inflammatory
agents that prevent flare-ups, although
most are more than willing to use an inhaler
in times of crisis.
I am one of these patients, although I've
learned the benefit of taking the
anti-inflamatory, a steroid called
Azmacort. The "crisis inhaler"
contains the life-saving Albuterol,
often known by its Glaxo-Wellcome trade
name of Ventolin. As the article says,
A local [Bronx]
rap group wrote a song titled "Ventolin,"
named for a popular asthma reliever.
People who've watched my own reaction
when using the Albuterol have accused me
of getting off on the stuff too, but I
don't, it's just relief. Adequate oxygen,
once again! Those of you who don't suffer
just can't imagine. The article's conclusion
is we need to spend more time with farm
animals, especially when we're young.
"Everyone abuses it," Thomas Platts-Mills
says. On one of Rich's tapes a young girl
takes several deep breaths from her inhaler
(exceeding the prescribed dose) and, looking
dreamy, says, "I love this stuff."
More good stuff from Mister
patterns from around the world, past and present;
and the exuberant Japanese graphics of the
Fukushima Future Expo, scheduled
for 2001. This year we have the
Expo 2000 in Germany.
Wednesday night I was up in the
City to participate in my first
focus group. I'd called
the tear-off number of a flyer taped
to a newspaper machine out front of
and passed their phone-screen -- they
were seeking affluent, net-savvy
international travelers. Paid to
surf: $60 for a twenty-minute
web session bracketed by rather
unfocused discussions led by two
charming young women. Given four
destination countries (Ireland,
Japan, New Zealand and South
Africa) we were to choose the
most appealing we'd never been to, and
then "find out more about it on the
internet" -- all sites visited were
recorded, as were our discussions.
Mine was the most rebellious of the
five subject voices, declaring an
active disinterest in commercial
sites, mild skepticism about the
information posted on governmental pages,
and the most trust in personal
efforts -- when asked how I'd begin
pre-trip research I said I'd look
for travelogs and trip journals and
once we got online I found
one right away - their journey
reminded me of the couple whose
presentation about peddling
'round the world I'd
at the Sunnyvale library last year - trying
to recollect the brand of local
NZ ice cream they'd raved about,
I kinda disobeyed orders and was
searching on that when one of the
facilitators appeared, looking over
my shoulder; so I had to explain.
Eventually I got my answer, which I
announced so she could hear, even though
she'd moved away by then: "Tip Top"!
(They supposedly have a web
site but it doesn't respond.)
The Lighter-Than-Air Society has good LTA references at
page, and information about their upcoming
"Zeppelin Centennial Tour 2000" excursion
to the Fatherland.
(New to me) weblog called
Me Here points at
Creationists Hate, philatelic
about how Canadians can now create personalized postage stamps,
Current column which fills in the background
about why Marketplace
has begun acknowledging
MPR rather than PRI. Interesting site,
it's the online manifestation of "The Newspaper About
Public Broadcasting," an organ I really should've been
aware of long ago. Elsewhere they have information about
the "re-upping" of
Lathe of Heaven, with the news that the re-release
won't contain the original "With A Little Help From My
Friends." (And it'll be broadcast during pledge
time -- no surprise there.)
Find links to places that reveal what the authorities
would probably prefer remained hush-hush in this
Speaking of atrocities overseas,
Feed Daily details how the UN
and the Western powers' Chamberlain-esque
attempts at appeasement aren't
doing much good in Africa, either.
has posted selections from graphic novelist Joe
Area Gorazde -- they're stories he
picked up during his 1995 travels in Bosnia.
The "love bug" was all over the news this
weekend. The fact that it's never referred to as
an MS-Outlook Email virus indicates the
strength with which Microsoft has the ruling/media
class by the short hairs. Dr. Phil Agre illuminates
the big picture in a new
... CNET (5/4/00) quoted an unnamed "Microsoft
representative" as saying that companies must educate
employees "not to run a program
from an origin you don't trust". Notice the
nicely ambiguous word "origin". The virus arrives in
your mailbox clearly labeled as having been sent by
a particular individual with whom you probably
have an established relationship. It bears no other
signs of its "origin" that an ordinary user will be
able to parse, short of executing the attachment.
So what on earth is Microsoft doing allowing
attachments to run code in a full-blown scripting
language that can, among many other things, invisibly
send e-mail? Says the "Microsoft representative",
We include scripting technologies because our customers
ask us to put them there, and they allow the development
of business-critical productivity applications that
millions of our customers use.
There needs to be a moratorium on expressions such as
"customers ask us to". Does that mean all of the
customers? Or just some of them? Notice the some/all
ambiguity that is another core technology of public
relations. Do these "customers" really specifically
ask for fully general scripts that attachments can
execute, or do they only ask for certain features
that can be implemented in many ways, some of which
involve attachments that execute scripts? Do the
customers who supposedly ask for these crazy things
understand the consequences of them? Do they ask for
them to be turned on by default, so that every customer
in the world gets the downside of them so that a few
customers can more conveniently get the upside? And
notice how the "Microsoft representative" defocuses the
issue again, shifting from the specific issue of scripts
that can be executed by attachments to the fuzzy concept
of "scripting technologies", as if anybody were
suggesting that scripting technologies, as such, in
general, were to blame.
Microsoft shouldn't be broken up. It should be
Much Coffee Man today, at the comics
store. It's #9 and wonderful, real stories
instead of the usual one-pagers. Thanks
Today's Post has two interesting notes
related to driving in DC. (Like all that
newspaper's pages, catch it while you can -- the
link expires in a fortnight.) First,
Targets DMV 'Horror' -- about how Anthony Williams
says he's going to do something about the long
lines at the one inspection station. Well, I always
went there real early, first thing; so it's not what
I consider the true DMV horror -- that's the big room
at 301 C St, where drivers are made to wait in
line without their wheels. The other story is
actually revolutionary - the city
council is trying to change the license plate
slogan from the inane "Celebrate &
"Taxation Without Representation." The
decision is of course subject to congressional
"review" -- can it possibly get through? This
action's the latest (and most mainstream)
skirmish in the long struggle to get DC residents
true congressional representation.
I think a slightly more than conventional
degree of uncleanliness is not only unavoidable
but undesirable, since exposure and use
keep the immune system strong. Salon
has a two-part article of confirmation. A
quote from each part:
The number of people with asthma (currently
around 17 million Americans) increased by 46
percent between 1982 and 1993.
I got mine in '89.
It's possible that some organisms we find despicable are not that harmful. "They
may actually be important for our optimal health and we [may] need exposure
to them because of our nature," Weinstock says. "We now live in a unique
environment that the human race has never lived in in the history of man. Large
segments of the population are living in near sterility -- is that healthy? Maybe
we went too far."
For more on the asthma-specific angle,
UK Guardian article:
Asthma, a curse of modern times, could be drastically reduced by
an inoculation programme to expose babies to bacteria they are
deprived of in the hygienic homes and hospitals of the 21st
century, leading scientists believe.
Up A Child Inc. offers biblical action figures
in either chocolate (African Heritage) or
vanilla (Caucasian Heritage) - select one to
see the whole set.
Julian Dibbell equates weblogs with
Wunderkammer in his
Thank goodness somebody's challenging the
"conventional wisdom" of war protestors spitting
on homecoming Vietnam veterans.
Slate's "Press Box"
Jerry Lembcke argues that the story is bunk in his 1998
book The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy
of Vietnam. Lembcke, a professor of sociology at Holy
Cross and a Vietnam vet, investigated hundreds of news
accounts of antiwar activists spitting on vets. But
every time he pushed for more evidence or corroboration
from a witness, the story collapsed--the actual person
who was spat on turned out to be a friend of a friend.
Or somebody's uncle. He writes that he never met
anybody who convinced him that any such clash took
This is more in line with my own recollection of
the era. We protestors had contempt for the
upper-echelon types like Nixon, Melvin Laird,
and Robert McNamara, not the grunts in combat
who'd probably been drafted. For them the feelings
were more like awe, and pity.
Lembcke uncovered a whole lot of spitting from the war
years, but the published accounts always put the antiwar
protester on the receiving side of a blast from a
pro-Vietnam counterprotester. Surely, he contends,
the news pages would have given equal treatment to
a story about serviceman getting the treatment. Then
why no stories in the newspaper morgues, he asks?
Lastly, there are the parts of the spitting story up
that don't add up. Why does it always end with the
protester spitting and the serviceman walking off
in shame? Most servicemen would have given the spitters
a mouthful of bloody Chiclets instead of turning the
other cheek like Christ.
tests the new US Postal Service
stamp printing software. Strictly
for the meter users at this point.
Ominous Valve Works
Clinton ordered that at midnight GMT (8 p.m. EDT) on Monday
night, the U.S. military stop intentionally scrambling the
satellite signals used by civilians to improve the accuracy
of Global Position System receivers tenfold.
and recommendations on egalitarianism, and
the conservatives' "lizard brain" thinking.
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