Excellent Feed essay,
Perfect Storm -- Mark Crispin Miller describes and
deconstructs the topsy-turvy propaganda generated during
the Desert Shield/Desert Storm operations:
Throughout the war (and after), the Bush/Cheney team repeatedly
extolled our high-tech weaponry: the F-117A Stealth fighter, the
"smart bombs," and the Patriot missile. None worked as advertised.
Of the 88,000 tons of bombs dropped on Iraq, only 7% were "smart,"
and of those, only 60% were said to hit their targets. (Of all
those dumb bombs, less than 25% hit home.) The Patriot -- not
built for such a job -- created lethal downpours of debris, and
seems itself to have posed considerable danger. And the Stealth
fighter wasn't very stealthy. Three British destroyers stationed
in the Gulf had easily tracked the planes on their own radar. We
knew none of this, because the Pentagon showed us only bull's-eyes.
We were also kept in grinning ignorance of what was happening on
the battlefield, where untold thousands of Iraqi soldiers were
incinerated, buried alive, or shot down while retreating -- soldiers
who, in many instances, were forced into the fight by Ba'athist
goons. Such atrocious practice was enabled by our overwhelming
technological advantage, which made the "operation" not a "war"
such as, say, Clausewitz would have recognized, but an
old-fashioned imperialist massacre, recalling, say, the British
use of Maxim guns to mow down countless Zulus.
Two non-governmental flags:
On the left, the Aboriginal Flag, which you may
notice just off-screen during next month's
coverage of the Olympics -- more information
about this and other flags of Oz at
On the right is the Buddhist flag, which was
unknown to me until I read up on
self-immolation of Thich Quang Duc -- his protest
is depicted in
of the Screenshots -- see below.
is "a series of drawings from
an isometric perspective, in the style of a computer
game. The subject of each drawing is the image, or
images, that created a popular cultural event."
America offers tiny reproductions of the
work of night photagrapher Troy Paiva, who'd
rather you buy his beautiful prints than see
them online. Fortunately I don't have to squint
at the entire collection since he's currently
having a show in the lobby of Mountain View's
for the Performing Arts. (Click that to see
a representational image, larger.)
A site called "Modern Ruins"
has a New York World's
Fair section among others with photos of the military
airplane graveyard in Arizona, plus Ellis and Coney
Island, and many more.
Another photo site, great design:
And speaking of the Apple, here's a good assessment
lifted from the Pigs&Fishes guy's
On the spectrum from City to whatever the opposite
of City is (Suburb? Country?), New York anchors the
City end. There's just nothing Citier in the world,
or in all human history.
I think the opposite of City is Wilderness, or
maybe a vacuum.
Art in Children's Books 1950s-1970s contains
a multitude of beautiful images, a great many of
them familar from my childhood. Those without the
patience to wade through all of it should focus on
Clifford Geary, Willy Ley and Chesley Bonestell.
Recent roller coaster/thrill ride article in Feed,
It Like You Just Don't Care -- lots of details,
both physical and legislative.
This summer, the record for tallest and fastest
continuous coaster was set three times: first by
Goliath at Magic Mountain near Los Angeles, then
by Millennium Force at Cedar Point in Sanduski,
Ohio, [and finally] by Steel Dragon at Japan's
Nagashima Spaland. (Figures omitted, check the
article if interested.) And Son of Beast at
Kings Island near Cincinnati broke multiple
records for a traditional wooden structure:
a 214 foot initial drop, a top speed of 78
mph, and the first ever wooden loop.
Also in Feed, an
with Scott McCloud. Among other recent additions,
like a whole new Japan section, I've placed a pointer
to his excellent online Zot! comic on my
At the bottom of CNN's
to the inventor of the Lava Lite was a pointer to
penultimate list of lava lamp links, which
apparently haven't been updated in over a year.
Many of them are busted, but a few offer
how-to instructions. Since my own attempts
all failed, way back when, just after
initial exposure, I'm curious -- seems
the ingrediants are a blend of alcohols, and
mineral oil? I find this difficult to believe,
the assumption was always the lava is either
wax or some plastic, since it so obviously
hardens when the light's turned off. Speculation
Lamp Materials discriminates between
the homegrown oil/alcohol imitation and the
genuine article, whose lava could be wax mixed
with some powder or even a little gasoline.
More on "gravitas" -- it's Latin! How I wish
I'd been made to learn this language in school.
Couldn't locate a definition in any English,
French or Spanish dictionary; but William
gives the following synonyms:
weight, dignity, gravity, importances,
oppressiveness, pregnancy, and sickness.
Excellent Jon Carroll column yesterday,
Very Fine Five Commandments, where
he details the disagreements non-Christians
have with the rest of them, how some
faiths even find certain of the other seven
offensive and why that's a problem. Also he
describes the hypocrisy surrounding the graven
images and that difficult issue of coveting.
although he doesn't probe too deeply into
one God thing which I think leaves
a lot of Christians skating
on really thin ice: many factions
emphasize the Holy Trinity with its
vaguerly defined "Holy Ghost" (note:
3 != 1), and my impression
is the Catholics go way overboard with
the Holy Virgin Mary, just as the Islamics
do with the Prophet Mohammed -- but
evidence of the latter's not so obvious,
since they take the ban on images
The National Capital Trolley Museum site has a 1958
Trolley map, with clickable icons. They spawn new
windows containing beautiful color photos of the
trolleys in operation at the selected points.
Toaster Museum is amazing.
Yesterday was a two-movie day, my first
since 1988 when I saw "Tucker" at (Grau)Mann's
Chinese, and then a preview screening of "Married
to the Mob" at the Director's Guild, up on
Sunset. Must've attended double features
before that, and I know I've sat through
Beatle and Clint Eastwood festivals, but
that was in an era so long ago I'd now label
it pre-history, as far as the cinema goes. That
much screen-sitting time in one day is too much,
and in both experiences the later film tended
to dilute memories of the earlier. First was
"The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle" up at the Red
Vic, down Haight street from
past the tasty "Escape From New York" pizzeria.
Alternating between fascinating and irritating,
this was band manager Malcom Mclaren's telling
of the Sex Pistols story. Then at the Stanford,
"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty." The charm of
this film is elusive -- the large crowd roared
when it was 'funny,' but I hardly ever
laughed -- yes, Danny Kaye was a nice guy, but
his fast-talking schtick does nothing for me,
and the story just didn't send me. Loved the
technicolor footage of late 1940's Manhatttan,
though, and could certainly relate to the program
notes' anecdote that Thurber offered Goldwyn
$10K not to produce his short story for
the big screen.
has photos of the decorative props Lileks'
local supermarket hung up for their
"48-hour Fresh Fruit Jamboree Blowout" --
Mighty Mister Broc must be a distant relative
of Wunderland's own
and a pair of beshaded bananas resemble
Are you morbidly fascinated about the details
of how famous (ie show business) people died?
Probably not near as much as Scott Michaels,
the author of
and creator of the Grave Line Tour,
who writes with a perfect mix of sarcasm and
reverence. The entries include very precise
addresses (so useful during those
exploratory driving drives around LA) and
many photos, mostly snapped by Scott, who
sure seems to get around.
Culture Junk Mail.)
The cases I found absorbing include Flo
Ballard (the Supreme); Humphrey
Bogart; Nat King Cole; Peg Entwistle; the
Munsters, Adamms Family, Beverly Hillbillies
and Gilligan's Island casts; River Phoenix;
Ed Wood; and of course, Elvis and Frank.
Nancy Sinatra was foolish enough to admit that
the reason she wasn't at Dad's side when the
curtain rang down was because she was home
watching the final episode of "Seinfeld,"
adding sadly, "I could have taped it!"
Enjoying the vicarious pleasure of traveling along
with my trusted amateur movie critic from North
Carolina, Mike Legeros, as he motored home,
from Seattle. A specially interesting detail:
his vehicle, in true On the Road
style, was a 'driveaway' car.
page lists a multitude of food item checkboxes -- you
select the ones you've got on hand, hit the "Search"
button, and links to viable recipes are generated.
on a Wire)
realjapan.net -- lots
of great information, with a focus on contemporary
city life (rather than traditional Japan), and good
design -- she's a Japanese-American high school girl
from Virginia. Gaming types may want to jump right into her
Mania section, a sequence of pages describing
machines unknown in the US.
How does (did? The column fell off my radar screen many
years ago) "News of the Weird" group stories like
-- "The Continuing Crisis"?
A once thriving fishing industry off the coast of New York
lies ruined, after the mysterious death of 95% of
the local lobster population. The prime suspects are
pesticides -- which have been sprayed over the surrounding
area in a desperate attempt to prevent another outbreak of
West Nile virus.
Scientists estimate it will take at least 10 years for the
population to recover.
It's Elvis' Death Day, and Graceland is the place to be,
for the candlelight vigil. (Maybe, finally, this is the year
He'll come back!) Couldn't find a webcam pointed at
the gates (although this
text page has some relevant statistics) but if you're
interested in all that's happening there, this
page details the events you could attend in Memphis
during "Elvis Week."
Sunken U-Boats in the news -- thankfully,
something interesting's happened to sweep away the
boring coverage from the this week's
big Party Convention. CNN
backgroud on the Squalus rescue and
mentions the Thresher and Scorpion
disasters; and the LA Times
how some crew escaped from the WWII-era Tang,
which shot itself with their last torpedo -- that
article's punctuated with pictures of the Kursk
in happier times. Meanwhile, lots of
from Charleston about the raising of the CSA's
From the world of Pochacco, Badtz-Maru,
and Kerropi, a Hello
Kitty Cafe opened in June, in Oahu -- the
first if its kind in the USA. (Of course we've
had Sanrio stores for a while here, and I
actually know my way around their huge
two-story affair just off Market Street up
in the City.) Daihatsu is now marketing their
"Move" automobile in a
edition (as she's known at the source) -- check the
Walking past the local McDonalds, I noticed
posters promoting the new "Hello Kitty Happy
Meals" taped to the windows
Sanrio page has pictures of the prizes)
and thought, this stuff is garish, of course;
but in an oddly unnatural fashion, out of phase
with the Mayor McCheese and the Hamburglar
style. Even worse were the adjacent
"cheesecake" posters of Britney Spears and
N'Sync, a band I recently heard compared to
Herman's Hermits, as in: kids these days don't
get to have the Beatles, just Herman's
Hermits -- but I disagree, they're not
comparable. The latter group did in fact
have memorable, catchy songs -- even some
quality material, if you can move beyond their
(Don't know who I'm talking about? Collins
Crapo has a decent, comprehensive
about this band -- and the thorough scrutineer
of his site will come across a sample list from
my own running-tape tunes, the nature of which he
misunderstood -- but I don't mind.)
"dedicated to digging the music of Frank Sinatra."
Unreal (actually, all too real) -- so far my
exposure to "R2K" had just been text, and
the only stories I've found compelling were the
atrocities visited upon the demonstrators outside.
Purposeful World is Tom Tomorrow's summary
of the convention, in "This Modern World" style,
depicting what went on inside. More details of his
visit to Philadelphia are available on his
pages -- on the last one he quotes (the
probably loaded) Dick
Armey, when they met: "You guys make me
cry! In my kitchen! You really do!" (Find the
quote for the context, but I like it taken out of. They
were not in a kitchen at the time.)
Engrish samples -- link puts you into the recent
Previous sites of this nature I've pointed
out before include
knees engrish and Dan's
but this new one's the most extensive -- and
unlike the other two, still
Giant Robot has upgraded their site's
interface and added more features, like the
"transmissions." The one online
available from their latest issue tackles the
difference between Geek and Nerd:
As pure nerds have become rarer, their image has been
appropriated by socially slumming impostors.
Polyester-wearing hipsters with fake lisps, pale
twigs behind turntables, big guys in Hawaiian shirts,
and others, all united at the altar of Star Wars,
have corrupted the original concept of the lowly nerd.
Reminds me of when Slate
the differences between Nerd and Nebbish. That article's
etymological discussion claimed that "nerd" was
in prominent use by the 50s, but when I recall
my own late-60s school days I believe "twerp" was
the polite label and "dork" the stronger
put-down -- "nerd" didn't become part of the
popular vocabulary until the 1980s, in my area.
Good non-specific FAQ.
While searching on the term "mendicant" I came across Nick
One of them 'revisits' Martin Luther's 95 theses, nailed to the
door of the Wittenberg church -- it'll begin his Media
Trap, a forthcoming book which, based on these
excerpts, I look forward to reading. He's very interested
in parallels between the medieval Church and
contemporary Big Media.
The IMDb features this
painting of the end of "Planet of
the Apes" -- seems to be a component of
"PofA - The Evolution," a forthcoming
set of six DVDs.
Why do all these strange
things happen to Dan Rather, and not Peter
Jennings, Tom Brokaw, or Jim Lehrer?
(Thanks Bird on a wire)
SCA: The Society
for Commercial Archeology -- "the oldest national organization
devoted to the buildings, artifacts, structures, signs, and
symbols of the 20th-century commercial landscape" -- although
not now, in the past I've had a subscription to their
Hollywood Postcards -- Vintage postcards from
LA -- a few comics, too. Really weird how frequently
the last sentence of a postcard's caption is "Scientologists
have now taken over this building."
Good new issue of The Nation -- E. L. Doctorow
the non-reformation of campaign financing, "...the
rampant corruption in Washington, the vast, deep and dangerous mutant
character of the present state of things" and Arianna Huffington
from a Recovering Republican:
The indisputable fact that America has become two nations is brought
home every day that politicians celebrate our unprecedented prosperity
while one in four children live below the poverty line and people with
full-time jobs sleep on buses because of the lack of affordable housing.
And it is no less obvious every day the same politicians fail to do,
or even say, anything about our disastrous Drug War. (Though it remains
hugely popular with helicopter manufacturers and prison contractors...)
Yet both parties deny that the drug war has not only failed to stem the
tide of drug use but it is also driving America into an ever-tightening
state of lockdown--with 2 million behind bars.
I think she's great.
Facing divorce? Various friends of mine are
entering that all-too-common terminal phase
of marriage (and others I know who aren't yet
really should be, to restore their serenity).
Divorce Center summarizes the details
in handy tables, for all fifty states.
Deja Vu's History
of the Web features archaic browser emulators.
(Requires Netscape 4 or equivalent to work
night-time NASA GIF of Europe, North Africa and the
area the US military likes to call
"SWA." (= South West Asia, a
place of happy memories for them -- unlike
SEA. We had no business shooting up either
Check Sam Smith's Progressive
Review under August 3 where (in response to my query) he
discusses gravitas, a strange term the media often
use in conjunction with the Republican presidential candidate.
(He says it's the opposite of "airhead.")
Basically, gravitas is one of those words that serves a Washington
correspondent much as "like, you know" serves a teenager. It stalls
for time, substitutes for thought, and identifies you as a
certified member of the right group.
Had an all-day adventure up in the City yesterday, where
I spotted a great
bumper sticker. While searching for the slogan (which
seems to be one of NOW's, though I find it applicable to
all manner of the world's troubles, not just male hegemony)
came across Marla's
personal credo of lessons learned -- she's lists 39 little
of these little chunks of wisdom. Another recent bumper sticker
observation (on a car on my street):
WE ARE THE VEAL
The hell does that mean?
The Irwin Allen News Network is at
www.iann.net -- just
in case, for example, you need to check a "Time Tunnel"
Probing around the
magazine cover archive -- fans of
"The Right Stuff" will enjoy
two from September, 1959 (click to zoom).
"Thomas and the Magic Railroad" opens around these
parts this weekend, another
spin-off from a television program. The appeal of the
Thomas Tank Engine show is baffling to me (and I love
the railroad) -- if the train-faces can change
expressions, why don't their lips move when they
speak? Weird. Saw the preview, it was quite
enough; although the presence of Peter Fonda was
mildly intriging, where was Ringo?
points towards the
Daytopia Fragments, a project whose obscure intricacy reminds me
of the Codex
roller coaster story says the new Steel
Dragon of Nagashima Spaland in Mie Prefecture
is the world's biggest, tallest, deepest. Looking
at the photos, I wouldn't want to be caught
riding it during an earthquake.
inside Space Mountain Monday -- everything
stopped, and they turned on the lights.
Wonder if anybody was stuck while their
car was at an angle -- last year in Kentucky
people were trapped for hours that way, out
in the sun, some on a section where the track
(and their car) was almost vertical, banked
for a curve. A (possibly moribund) site called
"World of Coasters"
roller coaster accidents since 1973.
Attended a seminar at work today about
Section 508 -- this
is the federal mandate that all governmental
web content must be accessible to the
disabled. It's still a draft, won't be law
until something is signed; but it's imminent
and once passed there'll be a six month
grace period to comply. I agree with many
aspects of this; one in particular is an
acknowledgement that people use older
browsers -- incredibly, they'll be accomodated
(rather than receiving the usual irritating
admonishment to upgrade). Therefore expect
new authoritarian pressures: for one, resistance
to the increasing tendency I'm observing of using
a Microsoft browser) "onClick" event handler to
link rather than the basic <A HREF> tag. (I
Java turned off in my browser of choice:
Netscape 3.) An interesting link they
mentioned in the seminar was this
Viewer which simulates a page's
appearance when viewed with text-only
Notes and Recommendations from Phil Agre -- in
the middle section, more explanations of the
rhetorical tricks the media's foisting upon us,
how they're making Republicans (even more) irrational.
When Bush won the primary in South Carolina, the
press swung violently away from McCain -- the safe
conservative choice from their point of view -- to
Bush. The before-and-after contrast in coverage
is amazing. Bush's evil campaign tactics did not
change after South Carolina; what changed is the
media's willingness to print the Republicans'
attack messages as truth.
Polls show that voters agree with the Democrats on the
issues, but they are willing to consider a vote for
the party of tobacco, guns, impeachment, and the
religious right because of "character" -- because
of the slime they hear in the media.
The people who are ambitious enough to succeed
in the media are also ambitious enough to see
which way the wind is blowing and get on the
side that's winning, and they clearly see
something that most of us do not.
Speaking of conservatives, Harry Potter.
No, I haven't read the books -- no interest
since it's too popular a phenomenon. (Like
Scott Adams' analysis I once heard in a radio
interview -- he said there's people who
like new and quirky things... if and
when these things move into the mainstream,
the appeal vanishes. I'm one of those people.)
Of course, the Muggles trend is too
big to avoid; my favorite recent reaction is
cover of Harvey's latest American
Splendor which pictures him falling asleep,
while reading from a Rowling book to his
new foster child. Anyway, Chris Mooney
the varying conservatve reactions to the
series. Not all factions are disagreeable.
And speaking of too-popular trends, how
about this lame site: the Society
for Future Husbands of Britney Spears.
On the other hand, which is more pathetic:
just that I know who Bubbles, Buttercup and
or that I can tell which one is which? (And
I've never even seen their show, since I live
in a cable-free environment.)
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