May 31, 2002
putting the 'fat' in fatwa

"Yasser Arafat cheese puffs are the new hit snack on the streets of Egypt's capital."

Posted by elia at 10:14 PM
Dead President Tells All

Fuck Gilles Deleuze, and fuck Peter Eisenman. Using "folding" to generate architectural forms is nothing new, except sometimes, when it is. Further folds in reveal covers up, and back covers as well, where the disasters foretold on the twenty are finally and harmlessly resolved.

Posted by at 02:54 PM
The headline is funny, but the story has some uncomfortable nuggets of plausibility...OK, maybe not

Sexual Tension Between Arafat, Sharon Reaches Breaking Point

Posted by tmonkey at 01:55 PM
Perhaps Best Left Unimagined But Anyway

Welcome. This is the place for nudists to talk about anything to do with model trains and to post pics of their layouts. Let's Keep this a clean site. Naturists and model train enthusiatsts are welcome. Adult photos and messages will be deleted. Keep those profiles clean. Hope to see you soon! Thanks.

I had to join to see the messages, here's one:

From: codancer01
Date: Sat Jan 5, 2002 5:04 am
Subject: Anybody do a Nudist Resort in HO scale?

It can be done-and MicroMask helps make the men
the men. Choose structures careful, depending upon
club setting-and I got into boat hull shaping because
of costs of HO scale boat kits available.
started me on a related modeling activity.
And use
latex-type paints for skin tones-more variety-and it dries
like a skin. You can add a "club" to your lay-out for
practically "zip."
The ingredients are out there.

Posted by at 11:48 AM
Doom Effect

I don't know what to say about this, except that it argues either for or against this.

Posted by at 11:43 AM
The Politics of Search Engines

Shaping the Web: Why the politics of search engines matters

ABSTRACT This article argues that search engines raise not merely technical issues but also political ones. Our study of search engines suggests that they systematically exclude (in some cases by design and in some accidentally) certain sites, and certain types of sites, in favor of others, systematically give prominence to some at the expense of others.%uFFCA We argue that such biases, which would lead to a narrowing of the Web%uFFD5s functioning in society, run counter to the basic architecture of the Web as well as the values and ideals that have fueled widespread support for its growth and development. We consider ways of addressing the politics of search engines, raising doubts whether, in particular, the market mechanism could serve as an acceptable corrective.

What happens when the Web (in the form of the major entrypoints into the web, ie, search engines) is "owned" by private companies? Will it follow the same trajectory as radio (anarchic, independent, controlled by a few major networks, then the fragmented but still influential existence it enjoys today)?

Posted by tmonkey at 11:18 AM
Strategy is nifty like that

Step one: throw stones.
Step two: throw really big stones.
Step three: wait for your dad to make the stone-throwing stop.

"The short Indian military operation is designed to capture territory and destroy the infrastructure of Islamic militants quickly. The battle-field scenario, says a senior Indian military official, is premised on the calculation that it will operate under the nuclear threshold and that the international community will step in to prevent the conflict from escalating."

Full story, Christian Science Monitor.

Posted by kio at 10:59 AM
Bush's Historic Speech

Who knew the Germans could be so funny? A word for word transcription of all the important things bush said in Berlin.

Posted by dbrown at 09:16 AM
May 30, 2002
Life Imitates Imitation of Life, Parts I and II

I. In Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace outlines the future for us, a future that includes "video-physiognomic dysphoria," a cultural and psychological disorder caused by the stress of the mass-adopted video phone.

In this future (written in 1996) people start to cope with the demands of the video phone by fabricating masks for themselves. This strange practice went even further, if I remember right, still images eventually replaced the mask, so no one had to stand there holding the mask to their face.

Stranger things have happened. Much stranger. Much.

II. In 1989, Mr. Butts came to life from the addled and sleeping head of a cartoon advertising creative. Butts set out to get teens on board with big tobacco, which -- from how it looks here -- requires a little persuasion.

Eventually the Man steps in and orders Butts to not only cease, but also desist. And Butts has nothing to offer the President to change his mind. It's a bad day for big tobacco.

That could never happen here.

Posted by at 08:11 PM
A Map With a Bullet In It

The network replaces the old system of paper maps and radio communications though these are on hand in case of a breakdown.

"A computer with a bullet in it is just a paperweight," Hauk said. "A map with a bullet in it is still a map."

Posted by at 05:04 PM
This dog doesn't hunt.

The semi-heartbreaking story of Raymond Crowley, a 91 year old reporter at the pentagon who "hasn't written a story in years." Human interest as only the wsjournal can do. Intrigue, bombs, and non sequiturs spouted to Donny Rumsfeld.

Posted by dbrown at 11:11 AM
May 29, 2002
And I think it's gonna be a long long time

Till touch down brings me round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home
Oh no no no I'm a rocket guy

(he's also an "inventrepreneur," too.)

Posted by elia at 09:25 PM
fanfic gone wild and distributed and I don't know what

From the NYT, via Kio, and I don't even know what to say about it. You tell me:

For Teenagers Nationwide, It's New York and It's 1904

Most of the young women involved agree that the frenzy all started because there were so many cute teenage boys singing and dancing in one place.

The boys were the cast of the 1992 Disney film "Newsies," a live-action musical inspired by the 1899 strike by newsboys against two of New York's most powerful newspapers, Joseph Pulitzer's World and William Randolph Hearst's Journal.

The movie, a kind of David and Goliath meets "West Side Story" with a dash of the Bowery Boys, was also a box-office flop. But for hundreds of young women in their teens and early 20's, the film struck a chord, spawning a cult following that spans the United States and extends even to Europe. Participants meet online, where they have set up virtual "lodging houses" for the characters, mostly orphaned teenagers, who are based on the film.

The first lodging house, in Lower Manhattan, was established in early 1999 by Maria Hanton, a "Newsies" fan who felt isolated when she found no like-minded friends near her home in Sarasota, Fla. Within weeks, that lodging house filled up with newsie characters created by fans who had watched the movie more times than they could count.

New houses soon appeared all over their virtual Manhattan, and when they filled up, they spread to Brooklyn and Queens. Their inhabitants, characters with names like Piggy Postlethwaite, Fingers Mulcahy and Giggles Malloy, speak in a New York accent heavy on dese, youse and heah.

The mostly female fans devise elaborate plots for their cast, which now has 637 characters (some share a creator) and includes newsgirls, even though the film's newsies were all boys. Time in the "newsie-verse" corresponds roughly with real time. It is now 1904 there, and a virtual theater, pharmacy, restaurant, dress shop and library have sprung up on the groups' shared Web sites to go along with the houses.

To open a location (there are currently 26), a potential house leader must carefully research a neighborhood's history, including whether that area was likely to have had a lodging house at the turn of the 20th century. "We're very, very big on historical accuracy," said Ms. Hanton, 19, who lives in Salem, Mass., but still runs a virtual location called Bistro Lucio in Midtown Manhattan. "I did a lot of research into opium dens and dance halls, because that's what my place is."

Elizabeth Osborn, 23, of Columbiana, Ohio, has developed a deep and quirky expertise on New York.

"I have a dozen period New York City maps on my computer, and bookmarks to things such as the histories of zippers, toothpaste and elevators," she said. Her library includes publications like "Crime Extra: 300 Years of Crime in North America" (the newsie-verse is well acquainted with crime and mayhem) and late 1800's volumes of Harper's Magazine.
AS the fans immersed themselves in New York history and lore, they thought more deeply about why the film had affected them. Some feel that the era's characters give them access to a basic human condition they feel is missing in modern life.

"Their everyday existence seemed to have so much more importance than everything I saw around me," Ms. Hanton said. "We seem so superficial. The fight to find food and keep clothes on your back, it's a very raw existence, and something about it just got to me. Like, I have all these things, but what if I didn't?"

Most characters are teenagers, and stories involve struggles for independence, and peers who can be both supportive and backstabbing. Some have escaped to the streets from stultifying homes. In one plot, Adrianne, who has run away to avoid her debutante ball, gazes at the street kids who walk by: "They seemed so happy, despite their obvious poverty. And here she was, rich and miserable."

Adrianne is befriended by a newsboy and welcomed into a house. But not everyone has an easy time. There are turf wars between neighborhoods, expulsions from houses and even rapes and murders (since some fans are as young as 12, nothing is ever more graphic than an "R" rating).

Sara Shandler, author of "Ophelia Speaks" (HarperCollins, 1999), a book about adolescent girls' writing, said the Web sites' success did not surprise her. "Teenage girls are particularly drawn to creative writing," she said. "A very important part of adolescence is having a certain amount of self-absorption, not in a bad way, but having to do with finding out who you are and putting it down on paper."

For some, it took the newsie-verse to spark that passion. "Amazingly, I didn't even start writing until I found the writing circle," said Kyla Sterling, 18, of Hilton, N.Y. It didn't even seem like something people did in today's society." Now, she plans to study creative writing in college.

Sarah Allen, 21, of Salt Lake City, added: "This may have started out as a bunch of teeny-boppers writing cheesy stories with bad characters and even worse dialogue, but it's grown into something much more than that. I've learned a great deal about not only myself as a person, but also how to really, truly write from the heart."

By now, the stories' links to the movie are tenuous; and the fans' original shared obsession has blossomed into friendships that are often, as Ms. Allen put it, "as close to me as my best `real' friends." Most have never met, though in 1999 around 30 of them converged on New York, where they visited the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, the statue of Horace Greeley in City Hall Park and other newsie-related sites.

Some have outgrown the site. Ms. Hanton thought she had, but found she missed it. "It gives you an outlet for your emotions," she said. "At the most unstable points of my life, when I was the most distressed, I could go in and create utter havoc with my characters and find a way to resolve it."

Posted by at 06:21 PM
Ask Me How!

Show me how! Tell me what! Show me where!

Posted by at 04:08 PM
We Always Want to Take the Money

"We always want to take the money," a senior advertising executive at this network said, but the Saudi ads are "not appropriate for our brand."

The Saudi ads, with the tagline The People of Saudi Arabia -- Allies Against Terrorism, are really no different than any other ad, they just, you know, tell the truth and that's about it.

Yet every single network has foregone hundreds of thou in revenue by refusing to air 30 seconds of simple truth. "Not appropriate for our brand," says big network, so everything that does make the cut (like, oh, liquor?) is, by extension, appropriate.

Operation Margarine? I can't believe it's not.

Posted by at 03:55 PM
May 28, 2002
the torporous horror of ngo's

I forget -- were ngo's supposed to be good or bad? The always blunt (do I mean not sharp? or just blunt) decimates the ruling middle class of politics. Or tries to, at least.

Posted by dbrown at 09:10 PM
It's just that there are so many great ones

in the Haxor Economist, that I had to point a few out. This, for example, this, this, and this. I know it was on memepool, but still. This one, too.

Posted by at 08:03 PM
The Unspeakable (reverse engineers)

Over at, the unspeakable remains unspoken, but when it's all binary, the name is the least important part. What's crucial is source code, or at least an awful lot of it available in any number of formats. Viewing source, as always, proves rewarding.

And who are these geniuses? Who, indeed.

Posted by at 07:22 PM
Not that it exists or anything

Not that it exists or anything, but life on Planet Entropia is getting sort of interesting, the way the paintings of John Wayne Gacy are sort of interesting.

Besides the fact that PE conflates virtual money with hard currency, other strange parallels are beginning to converge. Not so much in the case of the slovakian mercenaries, whose M.O. you more or less expect, nor these guys, who show up everywhere, but more in the case of these clever people, hard at work, the virtual world's oldest profession.

Posted by at 07:04 PM
The Bombshell Memo

This is linked from everywhere already, but worth your eyes -- the memo you always wanted to write, or something close to it, proving, to the whole world, that your superiors have their head lodged far up.

e.g., "The fact is that key FBIHQ personnel whose job it was to assist and coordinate with field division agents on terrorism investigations and the obtaining and use of FISA searches (and who theoretically were privy to many more sources of intelligence information than field division agents), continued to, almost inexplicably, throw up roadblocks and undermine Minneapolis' by-now desperate efforts to obtain a FISA search warrant, long after the French intelligence service provided its information and probable cause became clear. HQ personnel brought up almost ridiculous questions in their apparent efforts to undermine the probable cause."

Posted by dbrown at 04:23 PM
paging nicholson baker

The Bank of England has suspended distrubution of the new 5 pound note because the serial numbers rub off. Seems that a "a secret coating, designed to reduce wear and tear and extend the life of the note" may be the cause. The concatenation of new and old fails yet again.

Posted by dbrown at 03:54 PM
Exact alignment, but with what, really?

received this just now:

------ Forwarded Message

What will future civilizations think of Manhattan Island when
they dig it up and find a carefully laid out network of streets and
avenues? Surely the grid would be presumed to have astronomical
significance, just as we have found for the pre-historic circle of
large vertical rocks known as Stonehenge, in the Salisbury Plain of
England. For Stonehenge, the special day is the summer solstice,
when the Sun sets in perfect alignment with several of the stones
signalling the change of season.

For Manhattan, that special day comes today Tuesday, May 28;
one of only two days in the year when the Sun sets in exact alignment
with the Manhattan grid,

fully illuminating every single cross-street
for the last ten minutes of daylight. The other day is July 12. If
Manhattan were perfectly aligned with the geographic north-south
line, then our special days would instead be the spring equinox, and
if we so designated, the autumn equinox -- the only two days on the
calendar when the Sun rises due east and sets due west. But
Manhattan is rotated 30 degrees west from geographic north, shifting
the days of alignment elsewhere into the calendar. Upon studying
American culture, and what is important to it, future anthropologists
might credit the Manhattan alignments to be cosmic signs of Memorial
Day and, of course, baseball's All Star break.

Because Manhattan is so small (13 miles long) compared with
Earth's distance to the Sun (about 93 million miles), the Sun's rays
are essentially parallel by the time they reach Manhattan, allowing
the Sun to be seen on all cross streets at the same time, provided
you have a clear view across Manhattan to the New Jersey horizon.
Note that some major streets cross the entire island without
obstruction, including 14th Street, 34th Street, and 42nd Street.
While only today's sunset qualifies as the exact day for this
auspicious moment, every other day this week will also work, as the
sunset point migrates slowly north from day to day along the horizon.
This migration brings with it an ever-lengthening day. Indeed, days
get longer until summer begins on June 21st, and then get shorter, as
they must, for every day of the summer. An obvious fact when you
consider that the first day of summer, June 21, is the longest day of
the year.

Sunset takes place all week between 8:20 and 8:25PM EDT, at a
street near you.

As always, keep looking up.

-Neil deGrasse Tyson


Neil deGrasse Tyson
Department of Astrophysics
& Director, Hayden Planetarium
Division of Physical Sciences
American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024

------ End of Forwarded Message

Posted by at 02:12 PM
Dr. Goodclone Technology | Our shiny happy clone future

It's always good to hear a cogent argument for something you wholeheartedly believe is wrong. Doubt is good. But do you really believe this statement: "Things that people don't see as beneficial are unlikely to be developed."?

Posted by tmonkey at 10:37 AM
Almost EU logo

Almost Rem's design for the EU logo? Though it is actually a mural of NATO flags, it begins to bear a resemblance. (In case you missed the earlier noise about it, here you go.)

Posted by tmonkey at 09:19 AM
May 24, 2002
Requisite Stoner Post of the Day

Yahoo! News - Bono, O'Neill Tour Catches Scent of Marijuana

Posted by tmonkey at 05:37 PM
Finally a place where even.

Beyond Found Magazine, as if it needed anything beyond it, is In Passing, a site which is a kind of auditory Found. Finally, a place where even the things that we say and hear can be put in jars, filtered through nested taxonomies, and, natch, commented upon by strangers.

All important collaborative steps on our way to a little something we call memory augmentation.

Posted by at 03:52 PM
way to whenever

The audio tapes in the Time Travel Timeshop might not work out for you; perhaps, where you are, the audio cassette hasn't been invented yet, or maybe it's obsolete. Either way, the ever-durable and time-tested form of the romance novel can still keep the edge off the loneliness, on your way to whenever.

Posted by at 03:19 PM
Borges Makes Me Cry

First read this short story: The Analytical Language of John Wilkins

Out of curiosity, you might be tempted to read this.

Then, proceed here to this story, which refers to the Google Labs which is really quite an amusing/amazing tool.

What if Borges were alive today? Would he be the CEO of


Posted by tmonkey at 01:30 PM
the pope is much, much worse than we imagined

Larry Weathers, an "Oregon barber," takes it upon himself to speak the truth about the Pope, billboard-style. Apparently he's the antichrist. "This is a direct attack against Satan and the organization he works through, which is the Vatican," Weathers said.

Posted by dbrown at 01:27 PM
Can you say Teletubbies?
Posted by tmonkey at 12:55 PM
Architecture and Game Design

(NB: you might have to login to get this. Use username: and password: 2x4staff)

Written not by an academic but by a gamer, so it is hardly as nuanced as a piece of architecture criticism -- hey, who says that's a bad thing? It does show an attempt by the Geek to apply concepts that architects know intuitively to a world that demands different things from its architecture (tension, artfully placed barriers and obstacles, vertigo, deception). I love the idea of looking at architecture as "potential event containers".

The author proves capable of some insight: "Levels are becoming more like movie-sets; highly detailed and subject to re-use." And "Level design is often only considered in plan, but New York is also an opportunity to consider it in section."

"At a more global scale, the highway system provides another study example. New York's complex network of express and parkways is a framework that can be sampled and abstracted for design purposes. The curves and overpasses could be used as a racing track at full scale, but also the diagram for a level at reduced size.

The many bridges and tunnels that cross between islands provide dramatic structures and are key nodes for player activity. The fact that many locations are under repair or construction is also occasion for game events."

This is very revealing in that it shows how much game designers view architecture in the same way that skateboarders do: as ramps for physical movement, the City as an extreme surface meant to be hurtled over at greater and greater speeds. The Architecture of Adrenaline.

Posted by tmonkey at 12:25 AM
May 23, 2002
Follow the Money

The Bushes, The Bin Ladens, the Carlyle Group...Has the patriotic forcefield worn off yet? I'm waiting anxiously for the Deep Throat footage taken by some ubiquitous surveillance camera that shows W high-fiving Dick Cheney after checking their burgeoning portfolios after 911. At the very least, we need somebody to make a infoporn that traces W's net worth before, through and after 911.

Posted by tmonkey at 11:54 PM
That Israel has the free time

That Israel has the free time to engineer the long-awaited but unanticipated featherless chicken, (they're still working on that red calf) seems like it must be a metaphor for something, but sadly, I think it's just, you know, reality.

Posted by at 09:33 PM
Those who do not

Those who don't remember the past can now attend it, a couple times a year, courtesy of the noble efforts of EventPlan, who "arrange and co-ordinate re-enactors/performers representing virtually every historical era for living history displays, battle re-enactments, multi-era 'spectaculars', documentaries and films."

If the parallel to the Civil War re-enactments in the U.S. isn't eerie yet, it's worth noting that it's a little stranger when enacted by, you know, Brits, whose role in the whole thing isn't exactly well represented in mass media. And maybe it gets a little stranger during one of the "multi-era spectaculars" in which those British Civil War soldiers duke it out with British Nazis, British Visigoths, and British Vikings.

But if all that seems too far away or too confusing to contemplate, perhaps you do still remember that nasty miners' strike of Thatcher's 1984, which, like some punishment or reward for all those involved, has been re-enacted by Eventplan: "The Battle of Orgeave", to be viewed again and again.

Posted by at 09:21 PM
Killing Z Softly

A prototypical AZ World story: the power of NGOs, and more to the point, Bill Gates as an NGO.

"Bill Gates thinks he's got a brilliant idea: fighting malnutrition abroad by fortifying food.

The scheme, backed with $50 million from the Gates Foundation, in part encourages Proctor & Gamble, Philip Morris' Kraft, and other companies to develop vitamin and iron-fortified processed foods. It then facilitates their entry into Third World markets."

One paragraph mentions a very compelling story I would like to know more about, namely the Brazilian town of Belo Horizonte which declared food a "right of citizenship," which apparently led to a series of innovations which run counter to Gates' brute-force technological solution of introducing more processed foods, etc.

Posted by tmonkey at 05:57 PM
How to get fired

First post! Like Jerry Maguire, but different. Memo: "Iím half your age, make a third of your salary, and after baby-sitting you for over a year, could do your job and still have time for a manicure. The copier is push-button, occasionally the printer does need paper, and the production department is just down the hall. Chimps could do half this stuff."

Posted by dbrown at 04:34 PM