February 26, 2004

"SOBETSUCHO, Japan -- On winter evenings, men gather outside a hotel in Japan's frozen north to heat snow with an oil stove in a vinyl tent. When the powdery stuff becomes malleable, they shovel it into a mold resembling a giant cupcake tray, and stamp out 1,000 perfectly round snowballs of regulation size: no less than 2.56 inches in diameter and no more than 2.76 inches.

For the next three hours, they throw these snowballs at one another, hoping to recapture the title their team, now called Skyward, won in 2001: the Showa Shinzan International Yukigassen, the de facto world snowball-fight championship."

Posted by tmonkey at 01:50 PM
February 25, 2004
They'll want their tapes to look more like an adrian lyne video than a gulf war smart-bomb video

I've been wondering how to talk to kids in general. I've been wondering how to talk to them about evolution and other myths. I'm learning. These processes do not tell us how we get horses and wasps and woodpeckers. I'm learning.

Posted by kevin slavin at 07:53 PM
Rapid Disassembly

total rip-off from mistakesweremade.org: Euphemism Watch, part XXI, "Rapid Disassembly." From a recall notice from Kyocera for their cellphone batteries:

"Of the 50,731 units shipped in the United States, Kyocera has received four confirmed reports of rapid disassembly.... Continued use of the phone ... battery could result in injury in the form of burns due to the battery's rapid disassembly (which may appear as an explosion), or emission of excessive heat."

Posted by dbrown at 11:39 AM
February 24, 2004
Flying in Circles

This is not an asteroid post -- anything else seems like navel gazing, even when it's about the President of the United States and his "Airman" days: confessions of Dubya's former girlfriend.

My favorite quote: "I remember taking him with me to a lovely party, and a drunken person came up to him and said, ‘You’re a piece of shit, just like your father.’ And these were nice people! My friends! People were just awful to him."

Posted by tmonkey at 05:38 PM
February 22, 2004
Why didn't they bomb the tracks?

Wondering what kind of dad Mel Gibson has? Here's a transcript of an interview Gibson père did with Newsday.

for example,
"And (the Holocaust) it's all - may not all fiction - but most of it is. For instance the gas chambers and crematoria at Auschwitz would not do the job. Do you know what it takes to get rid of a dead body? ... They (the Germans) did not have the gas to do it. That's why they lost the war.
[I don't think he's actually saying the krauts lost the war 'cause they were killing too many Jews.]

I don't know what their (the Jews') agenda is except that it's all about control. They're after one world religion and one world government. That's why they've attacked the Catholic Church so strongly, to ultimately take control over it by their doctrine and make one world religion and one world government.

GIBSON: We're going to have to do something now in this country because that government is useless. There's a line the Declaration of Independence where somebody abolishes or sets aside or misgoverns, it is our privilege the constitution, it is the people's obligation to abolish that government. I think there is a way... There is a bloodless way to do it if we can swing it: secession. Just get all states to seced from the government and leave it there high and dry.

Posted by dbrown at 03:44 PM
February 20, 2004
the pepsi generation


The Pepsi/iTunes give-away has been hacked the old fashioned way.

Posted by elia at 05:59 PM
Contract For America

billmon/whiskey bar points out this choice Gingrich quote from last June:

Despite growing questions about whether the White House exaggerated the evidence about Saddam Hussein's chemical and biological weapons, President Bush and his aides believe that the relief that Americans feel about Mr. Hussein's fall in Iraq will overwhelm any questions about the case the administration's built against him...

"The president is 99 percent safe on this one," said Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House.

G.O.P. Dismisses Questions on Banned Arms Proof in Iraq
New York Times
June 17, 2003

Posted by dbrown at 05:27 PM
mystery science theater

In the spirit of asteroids and black holes...

Theorists seeking to explain the mysterious force have suggested that it could, in fact, become stronger or weaker over time — either finally tearing the universe apart in a violent event called "the big rip" or shutting down in the distant future. If the force somehow shut down, gravity would again predominate in the cosmos and the universe would collapse on itself. That version of oblivion is sometimes called "the big crunch."

Unfortunately, there are no artist depictions for either outcome, but I encourage all of you to submit any imagery you might have.

Posted by elia at 04:13 PM
February 19, 2004
Gaggle, 2/19/04

MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, the President has talked -- talks often about the importance of changing our culture, and one area, in particular, is the importance of ushering in a responsibility era. And that includes corporate responsibility. The corporate governance scandals that you bring up took a real toll on our economy. Some Americans lost their life savings, their lives were turned upside-down --

Q Are you speaking of Halliburton, by chance?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm trying to answer a question here, Helen.

Posted by dbrown at 05:08 PM
Windows as Text

[add your own academic subtitle here]

over at kuro5hin, someone reads the comments in the "windows source code" that got out the other week. Good things therein, e.g.,

"Some dissatisfaction with the compiler is expressed in private\shell\shell32\util.cpp:
// the fucking alpha cpp compiler seems to fuck up the goddam type "LPITEMIDLIST", so to work
// around the fucking peice of shit compiler we pass the last param as an void *instead of a LPITEMIDLIST"

Posted by dbrown at 01:18 PM
February 18, 2004
and now this


This an artist's Illustration of the RX J1242-11 system depicting how the catastrophic destruction of a star that wandered too close to a supermassive black hole may have occurred. A close encounter with another star put the doomed star (orange circle) on a path that took it near a supermassive black hole. The enormous gravity of the giant black hole stretched the star until it was torn apart. Because of the momentum and energy of the accretion process, only a few percent of the disrupted star's mass (indicated by the white stream) was swallowed by the black hole, while the rest of was flung away into the surrounding galaxy. (AP Photo/Credit: Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss)

Posted by dbrown at 04:09 PM

the best food piece in months is a story about a man who has never eaten in a restaurant. Except that one time in 1963, and maybe in 1964. Who knew linen was tref?

Posted by dbrown at 03:18 PM
February 17, 2004
A photography not my own

As some of us have seen up close, the Japanese are really interesting adaptors, taking bits or swaths of technologies (physical and ideological) from the West and doing their own thing with them. Neon, pet cemeteries, politicking via loudspeaker, youth-oriented culture. You know the drill. Photography made it to Japan just a little late -- for instance, as far as I know, there are no daguerreotypes made in Japan. But the second-wave technology of unique image-making, the ambrotype, gained purchase. Sakura-do, a Tokyo ephemera and photo dealer (if only I'd known), has put up two great galleries of them.

As interesting as the subjects and pose are, even more so are the cases. (Dags, ambros, and, to a lesser extent, tintypes are known as cased images, for obvious reasons. Some nuts collect only the cases.) In America (the main market for ambro's and tins -- Europe did dags and then switched to paper pretty quickly), cases were hinged and made of gutta percha, an odd early attempt at a plastic material. In Japan, ambros came in hand-made wooden boxes, often with something written, in brush and ink, on the exterior. The post-mortem is one of the best. And so is the wine party with three geisha, which reminds me of Nikko and Triangle liquor.

Posted by dbrown at 10:03 PM
February 16, 2004
Paging Guy Ritchie

>Relatives of a Taiwan kidnap victim trying to deliver $600,000 in ransom money injured a motorcyclist when they tossed the cash to the kidnappers from a highway overpass and hit the biker.

"What does this have to do with me?" asked a bitter Lu Fang-nan, 57, who suffered leg injuries when beaned by the loot.

Posted by kevin slavin at 02:29 PM
Dances With Lawyers

First, it was The Boob. Now CBS has to apologize for Outkast's dance number at the Grammys. Imagine that: Native Americans suing African-Americans for racial insensitivity. Actually, it's Native Americans suing the white man for allowing African-Americans to be racially insensitive.

Posted by tmonkey at 12:39 AM
February 15, 2004
Sleeping By the Light

and speaking of virtual geographic, never mind eBay category 1654. Never mind the imaginary girlfriends. There are bright new lines being drawn around nothing, and those lines are blurry, and that's why they're there.


I was born with white guys stomping the moon, so as far as intangible things go, the moon was never that mysterious to me. And I was only ten years old when the Lunar Embassy was established, so it makes sense that I missed out on some opportunities back then. But I've no intention on missing out again, especially now that Mars is also on the table. I'm not sure which table, but on the table.

Posted by kevin slavin at 10:43 PM
i guess it depends on what your definition of "peace" is

The Nobel Peace Prize awards committee reported a record 173 nominations for 2004, including President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair for protecting world peace.

Posted by elia at 12:40 PM
February 14, 2004

OK, so machinima, an immature medium that hasn't found its Orson Welles, or its Mack Sennet for that matter. Machinima hasn't found its Lev Kuleshov, even.

But that may be in part because most machinima is about gaming, and most great movies are about the world. And maybe you don't even have to pretend these game engines aren't games, to provide the emotional responses that machinima can aim for.


I got to work especially early that day. I did the usual routine of buying my coffee, going outside by West Street for my cigarette, and heading upstairs to the 87th floor to my office. I sat at my desk and responded to my e-mails when Amy, John, and Mike came in. Amy and I chatted, and it was about half past 8. Shortly after that I heard a noise, it sounded like I was on the platform of a subway station and the train was coming full speed ahead. I remember thinking "what the hell is that." It was then that I heard a crash, the ceiling came down, and fire consumed parts of the office and the entire hallway.

Unreal. This is virtual geographic, and no one ever said that could never happen here.

Posted by kevin slavin at 01:53 PM
Who will review the reviewers?

A "glitch" on Amazon "accidentally" reveals the identities of thousands of formerly anonymous "reviewers" and in turn, reveals a teeming underworld of literary "criticism."

Posted by tmonkey at 07:18 AM
February 13, 2004

from The Note, describing the ABC News buses following the presidential campaign(s):

Watching eight, yes, EIGHT episodes of Dawson's Creek on our day-long trip from Nashville to Milwaukee. In Tennessee, Dawson and Jen were dating. By the time we made it to Kentucky, Dawson and Jen had split and Dawson was now linked to Joey. In Illinois, Joey started gravitating towards Jack, much to the dismay of Dawson. And it all came to a head at the Homecoming Dance as we steamed into Wisconsin. We traveled many miles indeed.

Posted by dbrown at 05:12 PM
February 11, 2004


from an ebay auction of a small photo album made after the 1906 SF quake, this image of Jewville. Nobody would have ever known.

Posted by dbrown at 12:02 AM
February 10, 2004


Brendan Dawes creates a pixellated view of entire movies, 8px x 6px x 1sec, with 1 row representing 1 minute of film time. The results are fascinating.

Posted by tmonkey at 09:07 AM
February 09, 2004
Boheme Hill


"A bohemian is someone who believes they cannot be defined by their job. Bohemians devote their lives to the pursuit of things other than money, but end up with a stable income. Bohemians believe that there is a class system in America, and believe themselves exempt." -- via TMN

Posted by tmonkey at 03:23 PM
February 08, 2004
must read tv

Here's the transcript from the Bush/Russert interview on "Meet the Press."

My favorite quote:

Russert: Why do you think you are perceived as such a divider?

President Bush: Gosh, I don't know, because I'm working hard to unite the country.

Posted by elia at 12:53 PM
San Mateo February 2004

The comics store down the street closed. A games store opened next to it. The SPCA thrift store closed. The travel agent is now a cellular phone store. The hair salon became a furniture store then became a pawn shop and is now a furniture store again. The movie theater is a Container Store. The library is temporarily located in an empty floor of the new office building by the freeway, where the horse-racing track’s practice track used to be. There is a Peet’s and a Starbucks next to each other. The Pot Sticker chinese restaurant is now "Fusia," a chinese restaurant. The department store is now a chinese restaurant. One of the Lyons (Denny’s plus $1 per entrée) on El Camino is now a Japanese restaurant. The bank is now a 7-day-a-week dentist. There is empty office space everywhere. Burger King now advertises Low Carb meals. The car reupholstery place is now a Fast Signs franchise. The Harley-Davidson shop is now a Fast Signs franchise. The municipal airport is now a museum of aviation (that in San Carlos, not San Mateo). They just unearthed some human remains in renovating the Belmont City Hall: an Ohlone Indian, who were "prevalent in the Bay Area and the San Francisco Peninsula before it was settled in the 1800s." The computer game store in San Carlos is now a kitchen remodeling shop. The hot dog hut is a taqueria. The Long’s Drugs where I bought my first condoms is still a Long’s Drugs. The Neptune Society up the street from Long’s is still a Neptune Society. The only other business that remains the same on that stretch is a Mustang-only car shop. The bowling alley down the street still has a 30-foot-tall totem pole outside its front door. There is a place to eat in downtown San Mateo where they speak only Japanese, and don’t go out of their way to welcome ghosts like me. I am old, I am old.

Posted by dbrown at 01:30 AM
christ, who's next?

Jimmy Carter blogs from Africa.

Posted by dbrown at 01:17 AM
February 06, 2004
My life as a dog

Ok, so they found that schoolgirl in Florida whose abduction was caught on tape. They found her dead, of course. And for me the real pathos in the story isn't the fuzzy security camera image, her last portrait, but rather the fact that her classmates were met with the news of her death this morning at school, and the counselors arrived with "'comfort dogs,' which are trained to respond to emotionally upset humans, for the students to pet."

It also made me think about my friend James's story of working on the Police Museuem's 9-11 exhibit. He was making a video installation, and of all the footage he saw, the thing that really got him was some strange footage of rescue dogs, impatient and despondent at having no one to rescue. Every once in a while their keepers would lay down and play dead and let themselves be rescued to keep the dogs' spirts up. Sorry, no link to said video exists, but here's a nice quote from a dog handler:

"Morale is important... So it's my job as handler to remove her from the pile ... and then what we do is we set up a scenario for her that she can win at. We used a New York firefighter. He actually hid amongst a little bit of rubble ... and we sent her on a search. She finds the firefighter. He plays with her real good. She's real happy, and she's ready to go to work again."
— Mark Bogush, Tampa Fire Rescue, speaking about his partner "Marley"

Photo and full article here.

Posted by kio at 12:53 PM
February 05, 2004
take this job and shove it

Multinational Monitor has announced its list of the 10 worst corporations of 2003.

My fave:

Brighthouse: A new-agey advertising/consulting/ strategic advice company, Brighthouse's claim to infamy is its Neurostrategies Institute, which undertakes research to see how the brain responds to advertising campaigns. In a cutting-edge effort to extend and sharpen the commercial reach in ways never previously before possible, the institute is using MRIs to monitor activity in people's brains triggered by advertisements.

Posted by elia at 05:11 PM
Hail to the Cheney ... psyche!

From the Hilton where Reagan was shot, Dubya gets a scare. Whoa.

Posted by tmonkey at 03:26 PM
You Are What You Eat Eats

This is, in some ways, a continuation of Slavin's previous post and our discussion about our dependence on drugs. Michael Pollan (one of the most perceptive writers out there on food and ecology) observes in this Frontline interview, among other things, that the mass-production of livestock a) yields sick livestock and b) as a result makes us sick.

In a nutshell, we pack these cows into feedlots (essentially medieval cities with no real sewage systems, resulting in rampant microbial vectors for which antibiotics are needed), we feed them corn (and not grass, the stuff they were evolved to ruminate on) which makes them grow fatter and faster but which does serious liver damage to them (see Super Size Me) which in turn requires more antibiotics, which in turn breeds resistant microbes which in turn wreak havoc on our systems.

As Pollan points out, it's not the drugs per se that are fucked up, it's the system which created the need for drugs.

Posted by tmonkey at 10:54 AM
Titusville update

"Report of teenage girls going door-to-door selling cookie dough
for mother's funeral. Finally located by officers. Father was
with them, advised he needs to go to city hall to get permit."

Posted by dbrown at 10:12 AM
"You can't walk away from a K-22 paperjam!"

Meet "Terrible" Terry Tate, Office Linebacker, the Mr. T of our time.

Posted by tmonkey at 12:06 AM
February 03, 2004
a soft wind

from the blog corrente, the best whiff of conspiracy of the day:

Can anyone doubt that the real business of the CIA right now is not intelligence, but running a covert, Operation Phoenix-style operation of extra-judicial assassination against [Al Qaeda] (and whoever else Bush thinks, under the doctrine of pre-emption, deserves to be killed)? And that it's highly unlikely that Congress gave approval to this program? And that it's also extremely likely to have really bad blowback effects, and in the near term at that? Yep, I don't think George Tenet is going to be fired any time soon.

Posted by dbrown at 06:59 PM
The stars have a filament of blood

a random Brazilian person posted a poem in Portuguese to my fotolog today, which led me to babelfish for the first time in a while. Herewith, the translation:

The stars have a filament of blood grasped to the body of the Land. Capillarity of the memory. The land pulls out of the soil trees and astros. It thinks and it loves. To think is to astralizar the physical light. To love is to corrupt the forms of the day. Exilá-Ias of night in the sky. The stars are the imperceptible remaining portion of the blood of the land. Ideias that lives. The substance thinks. The Land when it sleeps frees celestial twinkles. The man in turn unfastens dreams. The land is the stream bed where the sick man if lies down. White handkerchiefs go up of its body. Each corpse frees the fIutuação of one tenuíssimo hemp cloth. Let us leave to die us. Reclineed against the land grown dark by the death and the love the insensitive palpitation of a sun goes up of us. It is therefore that the stars are in the land what of us in air if evola. They are livened up of sensible life in the purest abstracção of the forms. To the being the memory of a body we will be in the Universe the substance to estelar. Fogos, luminous, inconformes.

Posted by dbrown at 02:16 PM
Janet Jackson’s Boob and the Decline of Western Civilization

So now, Michael Powell – evidently possessed by the John Lithgow character in Footloose – wants to launch a federal investigation into the entire Super Bowl halftime show, because he was “outraged” at what he saw.

But besides the obvious point – that more children are seeing this boob because Powell and the media just won't let the matter fade away (although Janet and Justin should have understood that in the TiVo age the duration of the action doesn’t matter as much as the magnitude) – I can’t understand how the country can take such an active interest in this, when other, just as obvious events, with a lot more impact on all our lives go unquestioned. How is it we’re more outraged over a nipple than Halliburton’s blatant war profiteering, the lack of WMDs, etc? Is it just an easier mirror to face? Or is the mind control ray in Montauk really working?

Posted by elia at 10:30 AM
February 02, 2004
News from all over

From the Titusville police log: "13:32   300 N. Drake St.
Two juvenile females selling cookie dough door to door to pay for mother's funeral. Unable to locate."

Posted by dbrown at 03:37 PM
a boy named sue

In the famous Johnny Cash song, a deadbeat dad gives his son a girl's name to toughen him up. And you almost get it, until you hear about a technogeek dad who names his son 2.0.

Posted by elia at 08:40 AM
February 01, 2004
William Gibson's Job

"When it was... when it was confirmed that Michael Jackson... was going to marry Elvis Presley's daughter... a good friend, a good friend of mine living in the states faxed me... and he, he said, simply said this makes your job more difficult."

(William Gibson, from No Maps for These Territories, a mediocre doc about him)

Posted by kevin slavin at 11:58 PM
super weird

So, the Super Bowl was actually a good game for once. But it was the non-game related stuff that sticks out.

1) During the Pre-Game, Pre-National Anthem, some guy sang a ballad to remember those lost in the Columbia tragedy as a group of astronauts looked on. Then near the end someone in an astronaut suit feigned weightlessness and planted an American flag onto a replica of the moon.

2) Janet Jackson exposing her right boob.

Posted by elia at 11:29 PM