Saturday, March 30, 2002
'notes from the road'
i like eric gauger's travel website: a fine combination of evocative photographs and spare text. this picture taken from point imperial in the grand canyon and short account of a chance meeting is a good example of the understated style of the site.
Thursday, March 28, 2002
the roden crater project
roden crater is a natural cinder volcano situated on the southwestern edge of the painted desert in northern arizona. american artist james turrell has been planning to transform the crater into a large-scale artwork, that relates, through the medium of light, to the universe of the surrounding sky, land, and culture. looking outside in and inside out this web site is designed to provide an overview of the roden crater project. it includes background on the artist and his related work, as well as information which extends beyond art-historical concerns to complimentary issues: astronomy, ranching, ecology, history, and culture. less art than magic, i thought. i remember driving from winslow to flagstaff and wondering why my woowoo receptors were humming on what must be one of the most visually boring roads i have ever travelled on, but thinking we need eyes that see as well as look.
milton berle: classic gag from beyond the grave
until correspondents mentioned him, when i was mourning the loss of dudley moore, i had never heard of 'uncle miltie'. known as 'Mr. Television' his real name was mendel berlinger born on july 12 1908, died yesterday march 27 aged 93 and seemingly one of the reasons for the early sales of television in america (something that has been linked to less entertaining royal events in the uk). newspaper columnist walter winchell called him the "thief of bad gags" for his predilection for stealing jokes, a habit he readily admitted. "i laughed so hard I nearly dropped my pencil," he once said of a rival comedian. that's a definite entry in my great gags hall of fame with liberace's quip about his hypersensitive brother "he cries all the way to the bank".
Wednesday, March 27, 2002
comedian dudley moore dies
first spike, then dud... official recognition is beginning to look like the kiss on both cheeks. both were part of my formative years and will be sadly missed.
Tuesday, March 26, 2002
redact and confuse
a washington post.com article Energy Contacts Disclosed describes how released documents have been so heavily edited that only the conclusion stands clear: "Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham met with 36 representatives of business interests and many campaign contributors while developing President Bush's energy policy, and he held no meetings with conservation or consumer groups..." and all this just a few hours before the court-ordered deadline expired. the obvious question is, what was in the bits that were edited out?
the city called "Lost Wages" -- but whose?
seems gambling with other people's money is inclined to make gamblers reckless (well there's a surprise!) and whales are the worst offenders. gambling away from home seems a wise choice, however, when the penalties at home include execution!
the moon at perigee and apogee
i seem to remember a 'father brown' story where an event was never seen because it was always visible. same goes for the inconstant moon but john walker has the details as they say on the news channels. fascinating explanations of everynight events. british astronomer patrick moore (knighted by the queen [is that a joke?], host of the world's longest running tv programme and accomplished xylophone player) once did a demonstration of the same sizeness of the rising moon by holding a coin at arms length as the moon ascended in the sky -- but here are the more accurate facts. [thanks to jerry kindall]
Saturday, March 23, 2002
black hawk down: 18 americans killed, 7-10,000 somalis dead.
john pilger presents a radically different view of american foreign policy and the movie glamourisation of the american military.
"Pipeline politics taint U.S. war": Chicago Tribune headline
i have seen those "it's all about the oil" bumper stickers and resisted the temptation of the conspiracy theorists (my usual preference is for 'cockup theory'). this article in the 'chicago tribune' by salim muwakki [Please note: the resource has been removed from the hosting web site] quotes an allegation by uli averney, a former member of the israeli knesset, that the location of american bases created for the afghan operation follow the line of the projected pipeline to the indian ocean. "british" journalist (his website says he was educated in sydney) john pilger's assertion is quoted "bush's concealed agenda is to exploit the oil and gas reserves in the caspian basin, the greatest source of untapped fossil fuel on earth." muwakki himself claims that hamid karzai, the new interim president of afghanistan, and zalmay khalizad, the bush administration's afghanistan envoy, are former employees of the unocal energy corporation, a company said to be interested in building a pipeline.
maybe it's time congress looked into these matters.
Friday, March 22, 2002
the world gets smaller every day
tonight's treat was to go to a talk and slide show by 'ranger' bart anderson, former navy diver, retired haematologist, county coroner and explorer extraordinaire (the man is seriously busy). the talk was about the 'grand staircase escalante' which at 1.5 million acres is the largest national monument in any of the fifty US states and contains some of the most awesome scenery on earth. this weekend bart is leading an expedition to a nearby ghost town (not 'grafton' which is shown in the picture because it is our nearest ghost town about 20 mles distant), but more of that later..
ranger bart told two great tales about the derivations of two utah town names. 'modena' was not named by some homesick italian immigrant but by a chinese cook! when the railroad was coming through the feeding shack was too small to accommodate all the coolies in one sitting. so, when the second shift was due, the chinese cook would call out "more dinner" which sounded like 'modena' when said with an oriental accent. the town of 'levan' is, we were told, the geographical centre of the state of utah, so was named for 'navel' spelt backwards.
when we arrived back home i looked up 'ghost towns' on 'google' and found daniel's & carola's wonderful site. you want ghost towns? they got ghost towns! lots and lots of ghost towns. ghost towns in colorado, nevada, new mexico, california, arizona, idaho, montana and utah. 174 of them with 1,300 pictures and virtual postcards. so how can i end this piece with a clever, offbeat twist? oh yeah, i forgot... daniel ter-nedden and carola schibli live in switzerland, fergawdsake!
Wednesday, March 20, 2002
when john swenning retired his boss sent him a poem of acceptance. sample this extract:
"Disparaging trolls may piffle at what they consider the mawkish cutes you and I artlessly dispense, But we sagacious souls turn our gaze to the stars and away from fools sitting on a mud fence. If simple minded gherkins call us banal, They are welcome to osculate the bitter end of my alimentary canal." hahaha!
Monday, March 18, 2002
upgrade in progress
i have upgraded the blog to the 'blogger pro' service, so there might be a little flakiness while i am configuring everything.
where does he find the time?
this is the blog of evan williams the ceo of 'pyra labs', the major culprit for all this blogging stuff. he richly deserves the 1090 emails he found in his inbox!
is blogging really revolutionary?
well decide for yourself after reading john ellis's article. "This shift in the architecture of our communications -- from broadcast and client server to P2P -- has profound implications for serious news media. maybe.
delightfully wacky page about 'landships' built in response to h.g. wells' book 'the land ironclads' and featuring 'hmls ogress' versus 'smgs wilhelmina von holstein' affectionately known as 'der dampferkampfwagen'. maybe if little boys were encouraged to work off their agression doing this they wouldn't grow up to fly planes into skyscrapers.
'cybersquatting' and 'typosquatting'
i always wondered how ICANN resolved disputes in the murky world of internet domain name grievances. when 'knight-ridder inc' felt 'cupcake patrol' had registered 'miamihearld.com' and 'hearld.com' (note the spellings) in bad faith because they were confusingly similar to 'miamiherald.com' and 'theherald.com' the 'national arbitration forum' was called upon to resolve the disute. you may read their deliberations and the NAB decision, which for a document couched in legalese is remarkably concise and lucid. 'www.hearld.com' now forwards to a page offering "secrets to getting free passwords to top adult sites" and is still owned by john zuccarini (with a name like that substitution would be a sweet career choice) the respondent in the case. 'miamihearld.com' is now registered to 'knight ridder digital', which presumably is one and the same as the complainant, but doesn't go anywhere.
Sunday, March 17, 2002
more on the 'parcel post bank'
how a cunning builder took advantage of the US postal rates schedule when building the 'bank of vernal' which resulted in a change to the US postal regulations.
vested interests hard at work
eric eldred runs the 'eldritch press', a free online repository of works that have passed out of copyright. eric has launched a legal challenge to the mighty 'disney' organisation's efforts to have their copyright extended under the 'the sonny bono act' which adds 20 years for corporate authors to give protection for 95 years. if you are intersted in the struggle of interests between 'the people' and 'the people with money' and how the administration, the legislature and the law are involved in the issues, then visit 'openlaw' and 'findlaw's writ'. the articles under which the nation state of the US was formed by the 'founding fathers' are revered in that country, but it seems often more honoured in the breach than the obsevance. may the force be with you, eric!
the blog is back
after a lost week through illness while concurrently upgrading hardware and operating system (whew!) this blog will start updating later today.
Friday, March 08, 2002
well at least i can understand this
LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- A federal judge ruled Thursday that dying 89-year-old billionaire J. Howard Marshall truly loved his 26-year-old Playboy Playmate wife, Anna Nicole Smith, and awarded her $88 million in a bitter court fight with the oil tycoon's son.
a straightforward tale of need, greed and lust. my belief system can cope with this, no problem. i wonder if anna nichole smith would fancy slumming it with a fat, balding, boring git with no prospects but who is only twice her age? hope against all the odds is the only thing that keeps me going these days.
A woman accused of hitting a homeless man with her car, driving home with him lodged in her broken windshield and ignoring his pleas as he bled to death in her garage, is not the monster being portrayed by prosecutors, her attorney says.
any response i have tried to formulate seems wholly inadequate. i am not equipped to process this CNN report and incorporate it into any belief system i have for making sense of the world.
every cloud has a silver lining
can't you just feel the schadenfreude & greed welling up inside you as you get this chance to take advantage of the misfortune of others? a few moments of reflection and kind thoughts for the misery that this must represent. down the street from where we live one of these unfortunate individuals suffered the same fate. i never met him but feel a sort of kindred good will towards him. now then, how much under market price are they?
Thursday, March 07, 2002
new one on me
osborn's law: "variables won't; constants don't". sounds like the business plan i'm trying to write.
be re-assured, be very re-assured
if you are one of those people who watched the osama bin laden tapes and wondered how a spiritually vacuous coca-cola culture could face an implaccable enemy of poet warriors, then relax. the us attorney general john ashcroft is reported to lead his staff in prayer every morning and to encourage the singing of meaningful self-penned songs. this is obviously a man who has inherited the 'soldiers of god' tradition from those eighteenth century preachers who girded up their loins with righteousness and fiercely wore the breast plate of christian certainty. now through the miracle of the internet you can share ashcroft's own rendition of his composition 'let the eagles soar', sung at the end of a speech at a charlotte, north carolina seminary on february 25th 2002. i remember tom lehrer lampooning ronald reagan as 'the song and dance man' when he was a mere governor, with the line 'now he can really lead the public a song and dance' and looked what happened there. john ashcroft is reported to think dancing is the work of the devil, so at least we might be spared that.
Tuesday, March 05, 2002
mail order bank
steve silverman has a rich vein of trivia on his site including the tale of the bank of vernal, in vernal, utah. it is the only bank in the world that was built from bricks sent through the mail. way back in 1919 the builders realized that it was cheaper to send the bricks through the united states postal system (seven bricks to a package) than to have them shipped commercially from salt lake city... and did you know that some old women use preparation-H to shrink their wrinkles. on their faces, of course...
Monday, March 04, 2002
obsessed with my own mortality
because today i feel unwell, i used DayCalc.102 from Rijdat Software (mac osx & classic plus peecee versions available and it's FREE!) to see how many days remained to me based on the assumption that i am granted my full three score years and ten allocation (which feels unlikely at the moment). yikes! still, they do give the number of available weekends as 1,572 which reassured me a little, though the conversion to 1,179 litres is not offered. nice little app -- go get it... and while you are there check out their PDF indexer.
somewhat logical - but only somewhat!
i was assured when i arrived in utah that the road and street numbering system was entirely logical. seems not! [thanks to daniel stober]
riding the greyhound
picture from 'The Private Coach Enthusiast'
Sunday, March 03, 2002
if you don't know visit the Cardboard & String page to find out about the man who influenced post ww2 western culture far beyond his humour and comedy output. we have spike to thank for the realization that the real lunatics have taken over the asylum and the crazy people are the only sane ones left. as a special treat for fans of either or both enjoy the interview spike did with van morrison.
red green: the movie
the best teevee show in north america has spawned a feature length motion picture Duct Tape Forever. she who must be obeyed thinks it will be the ruination of a once great comedic institution. he who must obey will arrange a secret assignation if necessary. the show now has it's own website. you know you are in the presence of greatness with a man whose understanding of life runs to "Up here at Possum Lodge, we have our own rules about technology: if you're standing in a puddle, don't touch anything that hums". the beebeebceeb in the UK inflicted 'benny hill' on a worldwide audience. the least they could do as an act of contrition is to show the red green show. spike's spirit lives on!
we don't even have paid-for speech rights
this reprint (we were unable to access the original), from The Wall Street Journal, tells how the media megacorps will not accept your advertising if it is "inimical to our legitimate business interests" or "in opposition to the current economic policy in the United States". seems that freedom of the airwaves really does belong to those who own the networks. maybe a pledge to our local PBS station is a blow struck for freedom.
perhaps your tv should carry one. this longish article called The Zen TV Experiment is something of a test in itself: has your attention span been modified to the point that you find it difficult to read the whole article without a 'technical event'?
here are a couple of web pages that between them summarise all the known laws of the universe and all the known laws of life that you need to know to get by. good luck!
Saturday, March 02, 2002
legal issues by-passed?
let's hope that the development of cannabinoids does not become entangled with the movement to legalise cannabis for therapeutic use. seems that so far the establishment is supportive of the research into these potentially very useful modified natural products.
blast from the past
a survivor from the golden age of british motorcycling, a little bit of engineering history lives on in india where the Royal Enfield is still manufactured. chuck hawks' site has acres of interesting information if your idea of travel is two wheeled with the wind in your hair... or maybe blasting across your scalp these days. as chuck says "anyone who has not had the opportunity to thump down the road on a classic single has missed one of life's great experiences." been there! done that! [thanks to david murray]
Friday, March 01, 2002
was it ignorance or negligence? a CNN report quotes Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa saying "What we know is maybe the tip of the iceberg here. We know that there's been upwards of perhaps 15,000 deaths that are attributable to these nuclear tests." [thanks to steve osburn]
Monster GUI my review of 'monsterGUI'has been published on the MacDirectory website. i hope to be doing a 'Flash' implementation soon using this software which is definitely worth investigating if macromedia flash or director are your chosen environments. even without either of these the cds contain some awesome resources for web authors.
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Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)
"Ah! que la vie est quotidienne."
Oh, what a day-to-day business life is.
'Complainte sur certains ennuis' (1885)