March 31, 2003
March 30, 2003
Steve's found a crazy little app for keeping an eye on geomagnetic storms. The guy who wrote it should see if he could get some product placement in The Core.
What I'd like to see is a tool that'll plug the most recently discovered Near Earth Asteroid into my current blog post. Or, even better, something like WeatherPixie that'll show if there are any planet-killers on the way.
If the end of the world's coming, I'd like to make sure it's captured on my blog in goofy pixeltoon format.
Posted at 21:05
In the spirit of LazyWeb, I'd love to see an english major write a thesis titled "Moses and the Cowboy: The Role of Extra-Narrative Characters in the Films of the Coen Brothers."
Okay, I'll give you some suitably pretentious chapter titles, too:
- Humor or: "Made me laugh to beat the Man"
- "Obstackles" : The Case for and against O Brother's Tiersias
- Deus ex Machina, the Clockmaker God
- "Is he really going to jelly up the sidewalk?"
Thanks for the nod in the acknowledgements section.
Posted at 15:59
March 29, 2003
The truth is I can't help myself.
The hardest decision I used to face was figuring out what to eat. Now, my weekday lunch and dinner choices are made for me ... and they're "all you can eat" choices.
Last Thursday I didn't stay at work for dinner and, when I got home, found my own devices sorely lacking. All I had was some apple sauce and a sack of popcorn kernels. So I decided to order pizza from the joint arond the corner. Went to pick it up ... not ready yet. Came back later ... they couldn't break a ten.
(In fact, I don't think they could break anything as all they had in the register was 3 singles, a twenty and a fifty. Honestly, how's that gonna work out for you Pizza Joint Around the Corner?)
I knew this libertarian who used to say that subjecting yourself to any moment of paternalism or dependency was to play the role of the animal being hand-fed by children.
He used to eat a lot of nasty-looking cheese steaks, that guy.
Posted at 10:23
March 28, 2003
March 23, 2003
Susan Sarandon's on stage with the gaggle of past Academy Award winners (Dead Man Walking). At the same time, she's on the Sci-Fi Channel spouting dialogue like this in Children of Dune:
"I won't be satisfied until every Atreides bastard is crushed beneath the jackboots of the Corrino Sardaukar."
I think there's a lesson to be learned about the nature of fame and glory. Or maybe I just need to stop watching TV.
Posted at 19:16
The War to End All Wars was the name of the 1914-1918 conflict until, you know, it didn't. So it makes sense that you'd want to put some thought into naming your military exercises.
With the benefit of 90 years of post-modern advertising, the naming of the Second Gulf War has been turned into a branding exercise.
For less important exercises and conflicts, naming is governed by the Navy's Code Word, Nickname and Exercise Term System - the regulations of which you can read here. I especially like section 7.d.5, "Exercise terms may not contain words that convey anything offensive to good taste or derogatory to a particular group, sect or creed."
I guess that's why Operation Chocolate Clarinet is on the permanent assignment list.
Posted at 17:16
March 22, 2003
Some time before us Bloggerfolk joined up with Google, Al Gore dropped by Mountain View HQ for a visit. He's a good tech nerd, that Al, and a Mac user to boot.
Which is why I feel really bad about the dream I had last night.
Al was a homeless knight, wrapped in chainlink armor and driven mad by circumstance. "I've not the wherewith to carry on," he babbled. It was hard to hear his voice; his chafed and windburned lips slurred his speech.
Yet, I felt he hadn't come to seduce those of us huddled around a burn barrel we'd found under a city overpass. A gathering of those made apostate from politics, those who felt caught bewteen both war and anti-war.
Al didn't say "It could have been different" or "I told you". He sat and watched the fire. And we watched his breath curl out from under scarred lips, leaving wavelets of moisture in the night-time air.
Posted at 14:52
March 20, 2003
In 6th grade, I had my mom for a teacher. Okay, it wasn't for homeroom or anything but still.
My biggest challenge was figuring out what to call her. Obviously 'Mom' was out of the question and 'Mrs. Goldman' was just going to crack up my friends. So I ended up never once referring to her by name. To get her attention, I'd sort of snap my fingers or subtly cough. It worked out alright ... except for the one time I really got under her skin by mouthing off and I realized that I was in trouble with both my mom and my teacher at the same time and therefore in about as much shit as a 12 year-old smart-ass could possibly be.
My mom's now principal at the same elementary school. Today she won the Pillar of Parkway award which is sort of the equivalent of being inducted to the School District Hall of Fame.
Congrats, Mom! I'm proud to say I knew you when you were coming up through the minors.
Posted at 21:56
March 16, 2003
You know, us Jews don't fit in so well sometimes. In elementary school, for example, I had to tell the story of Hanukah every Christmas as part of my ambassadorship from the dreidel-people to the land of the stockingfolk. But as I was the only kosher kid in my school, and since I don't actually know the story of Hanukah, I just made up a new one each year.
"Then Moses said, 'And I'll form the head!'"
And I've always felt left out that all the stories about seeing God in bread mold, or a skid mark, or a street sign invariably involve the big JC. Well, no longer. Enter the Carp that Spoke in Hebrew and was Presumed to be God (or Possibly the Devil) but Got Turned into Gefilte Anyway.
Posted at 14:21
March 15, 2003
Sure, the story about Don Johnson smuggling $8 billion over the Swiss border might seem like silly celebrity gossip. But since the Harvard Business School is reporting it, I'm confident that my interest is due only to the underlying issues of international finance.
Posted at 02:06
March 14, 2003
What press secretary told Tony Blair to go stand behind the Strangelovian mini-blinds? And not to go for the low-hanging stereotype, but the ashen toothy look is oddly reminicent of Brad Dourif from The Two Towers.
Oh, also, the accompanying story from the Guardian is a good read:
"Why, then, does the government say there is a legal case for war?
"It is difficult to know on exactly what grounds the government is basing its arguments that that is a legal basis for war."
Posted at 23:57
March 13, 2003
Under the reflected glow of a dry docked Carnival cruise ship, we partied it up at the Blogger/Google shindig last night.
Lots of smart and lots of funny, but I was more the latter and less the former when I said to myself:
- "I can drink all the whiskey I want and never get hungover."
- "Hey, Chris Pirillo's taking pictures ... try to look cool."
Posted at 18:03
March 11, 2003
The passengers of Caltrain #81 knew we were in trouble long before the conductor announced "We'll be trying to leave the station soon ... pray for us." After all,
cars on the 25mph frontage road had been passing us easily, putting the lie to our express train status.
An hour later, when we finally arrived in downtown SF, a concerned crowd was gathered to meet us. They were concerned as we had delayed their southbound departure on the same suspect train by half an hour. As such, the unstated sentiment between the arriving crowd and that departing was both one of well-wishing and misplaced resentment.
Posted at 20:04
March 10, 2003
The newly released Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas DVD contains a 1978 BBC documentary on Hunter S. Thompson. Basically, the BBC and Ralph Steadman show up at HST's place and try to re-enact the book. They roadtrip it to Vegas and then to LA, all the while trying to shake out the crazy. Hunter's not having any of it and ends up hiding from the camera most of the time. When he's not blowing lines from behind a clapboard, that is.
In the doc, Hunter says he has trouble with his public persona because people are usually expecting to meet Raoul Duke instead of him. And this conflict plays out in his commentary track for the movie. When he launches into a sustained high pitched squeal, or a sudden burst of "fuck you's" it seems somewhat like an act. On the other hand, he has great things to say about the book of Revelations and launches into an eloquent dressing down of Timothy Leary and his role in the demise of the 60's.
The other bonus features are a hoot, too. The producer, Laila Nabulsi, talks about how she tried to put Terry Gilliam on a dwarf quota. And when that didn't work, she tried to bribe him with midget porn in order to keep more little people out of the flick.
It didn't work.
Posted at 21:03
March 07, 2003
More quasi-comical dreams of being hunted. Last night I was pursued by a mad scientist who looked like a cross between Henry Gibson and Dr. Finklestein from the Nightmare Before Christmas. His dastardly plan was to get me locked up in the booby hatch by injecting me with a madness-inducing serum. At least he had a better plan than the shark.
I remember seeing the mapley syrup substance shot into my arm and thinking "Hey, being crazy's not so bad." Altho' there was a loud buzzer that went off just as the madness set in that was pretty annoying.
Later, after I'd been locked up, I heard the same sound while careening through the halls of my asylum. And I remember thinking to myself, as in the end to a sitcom, "Well, there's goes another one off to the booby hatch."
I was a little upset that the dream didn't end at that point ... it seemed like good closure.
Posted at 23:51
March 05, 2003
I've got this recurring shark dream. Sounds scary, huh?
Except, it's just me running through a dry sewer and the shark trying desperately to catch up. As there's no water, the shark is forced to flop around and pull itself along with its fins ... but, you know, menancingly.
Posted at 11:38
March 04, 2003
William Gibson waxes nostalgic on outmoded tech, including a grade school favorite, the mimeograph:
"You typed, once, on a waxed paper 'stencil', clipped this over a silkscreen device with a moving pad or drum of ink behind it, and your mimeograph ran off (or silkscreened, really) as many copies of your document as you required. Owing to the physical peculiarities of the medium, though, it was unwise to underline too frequently on a mimeograph stencil: the single unbroken line was particularly prone to tear, producing leaks and smudging."
Jason, Aaron and I were talking about the mimeograph and other printing processes and we couldn't figure out why blueprints were still in use since they seemed to involve such a wacky production process. I imagine it's both because of size and because draftsmen draw on trace.
I didn't remember the details at the time, but blueprinting is a wild scene. It was invented by John Herschel in 1840 (his father discovered that funny planet between Saturn and Neptune). It involves coating a piece of paper with a chemical whose structure is unknown and then explosing it to a ridiculously strong light. The process is so old that the blue produced is referred to as Prussian blue. That's like having a color called Ottoman orange.
I know it's still somewhat used because I saw the blueprint machine that belongs to the city of Baltimore do its crazy photochemical voodoo. Leave it to Charm City to keep alchemy alive.
Posted at 17:03
March 03, 2003
My stepdad is a vet with a purple heart and I'm a whiny liberal who lives in San Francisco ... which is why I'm often confused that we both love Full Metal Jacket. I think it comes down to appreciating the movie as a true depiction of what it was like to go to Vietnam vs. a statement of why not to go to Vietnam in the first place.
Kottke recently said something related to this, "it must be difficult to recruit someone who has seen the first 15 minutes of Saving Private Ryan or Full Metal Jacket (although some may sign up because of such films)."
It turns out the parenthetical is the truer part - at least, according to Anthony Swofford's Desert Storm memoir, Jarhead. In it he says, "Vietnam War films are all pro-war, no matter what the supposed message, what Kubrick or Coppola or Stone intended. . . The magic brutality of the films celebrates the terrible and despicable beauty of their fighting skills. Fight, rape, war, pillage, burn. Filmic images of death and carnage are pornography for the military man.''
Obviously there's a great documentary to be made on the free play of signs and signifiers involved when soldiers watch anti-war war movies in the battlefield. But moreover it shows that depictions of war, regardless of the political intent, are compelling because of the horror, not in spite of it.
Posted at 17:40
March 01, 2003
Last Thursday, I saw where the internet lives. It lives in a cold, glass box protected by biometric scanners and a regulated power supply the size of a bus. Knowing I had no business in the holy of holies, the internet winked at me as I trundled off to the Blogger alcove.
I'd never thought of internet security in terms of floor-to-ceiling black metal cages, but that's how it works where the electronic meets the physical. I never thought the internet had an off switch, but it's a start to see a set of emergency shutdown switches that would bring down the entire data center. Of course, like launching nuclear weapons, you have to press both buttons at the same time.
I once knew a responsible, well-mannered young woman who, as a girl, set off the fire alarm in her elementary school. Not out of mischief aforethought, but just because she felt her hand drawn to the big, red switch. The alarm pulled her.
Best not to think of such things.
Posted at 12:49