January 15, 2007

Creationist tall tales

In books sold by the National Park Service!

Posted by duver001 at 5:45 PM

Robert Anton Wilson, RIP

Announcement on his blog. Whether or not the last decade or two of his writings did anything for you, we're all the richer and wiser for the Illuminatus Trilogy. As always, watching the fnords.

Posted by duver001 at 5:01 PM

January 2, 2007

When libraries fail

Removing The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym in favor of some Oprah bestseller? Is this what libraries are supposed to be about?

Posted by duver001 at 3:00 AM

December 24, 2006

Imagining Dawkins on Santa Claus

I can't quite decide if this is a spot-on parody of Dawkins, or if it's a friendly homage. Funny either way I think.

Posted by duver001 at 10:53 PM

December 14, 2006


So, in addition to the classic, we also have howl.com from the era of the .com boom. And Yowl, the yuppie classic.

Posted by duver001 at 10:27 PM

December 7, 2006

Iraq study group report

Yup, it was all an unmitigated disaster. But the report isn't quite ready to say that there's no hope. That's the job for the next committee to report!

Posted by duver001 at 1:31 PM

November 16, 2006

35th anniversary of the Cannonball

Brock Yates is still reveling in his 15 minutes of fame. But it was a great moment. "At no time did we exceed 175 mph." Hopefully they'll figure some way of pulling off a 2007 version of the race...

Posted by duver001 at 11:44 AM

November 2, 2006

November fiction

November is National Novel Writing Month. Check them out and get started yourself.

For shorter work, check out the six word short stories on Wired.

Posted by duver001 at 12:42 PM

October 4, 2006

Quoting Adam Smith

An excerpt from "Wealth of nations"

"Wherever there is great property, there is great inequality. For one very rich man, there must be at least five hundred of the poor, and the affluence of the few supposes the indigence of the many. [. . .] It is only under the shelter of the civil magistrate [the police] that the owner of that valuable property, which is acquired by the labor of many years, or perhaps of many successive generations, can sleep a single night in security."

Posted by duver001 at 11:29 AM

August 25, 2006

The continuing struggle of science & education against theocrats & ignorance

Lawrence Krauss has a decent, albeit brief editorial in the New York Times after the Kansas School Board skewed back towards reality. I'm not sure in what forum his disagreement over "scientifically inappropriate attempts by some scientists to discredit the religious faith of others" appeared. Will have to take a look. Though I can see tactically why scientists might feel that, I think that it is hypocritical to argue for a reasoned, scientific approach in all matters other than other people's theology. The logical holes are there along with the incoherence of major religions, their ahistoricality, and their pernicious nature in practice (and perhaps in theory). I see little benefit in doing this, but little harm either. Deeply-held beliefs, whether sensible or not, are not likely to be changed by simple logic.

Just the other day, we see an evolving piece of the religious attack on reason and science. Due to a "clerical" (hmmm...that has two meanings...) error, evolutionary biology has disappeared from a federal list of university majors approved for federal student grants. Yup, follow the link and you can still (8/25/06) see the missing line, a blank line, for 26.1303. What a coincidence.

Posted by duver001 at 9:16 AM

July 31, 2006

For the hottest day in Minneapolis...

Let's read HST's classic, "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved." Enjoy!

Posted by duver001 at 11:44 AM

July 28, 2006

"Against the day"

Pynchon's latest (992 pages it is claimed) will be out in December. I think it would probably be the perfect Chanukah, Christmas, or Saturnalia gift for, well, for many people for whom it would be a good gift. From the claimed author's notes on amazon..."With a worldwide disaster looming just a few years ahead, it is a time of unrestrained corporate greed, false religiosity, moronic fecklessness, and evil intent in high places. No reference to the present day is intended or should be inferred."

Ouch! It's a reminder that Pynchon's last book appeared during the Clinton administration. Do we dare remember our crazy optimism at the time? A leader we disagreed with and even seemed foolish at times, but one you would be thrilled to have at your dinner party. We might press him on single payer healthcare, but at least we would be confident that he knew where Russia and China were. There were jobs, there was no war save for the occasional cruise missile blowing up aspirin factories or laser guided bombs hitting bridges in Serbia. But the book, yup, you can preorder it at amazon and surely at plenty of other book providers. Just like twelve year olds the day after a Harry Potter release, the Pynchon readership is likely to be out "sick" on the 5th of December. I will have to see if the convenience store in McMurdo, Antarctica will be able to get copies...

What other books are out there around a 1000 pages? Webster's 1867 dictionary to be sure, and there is Newfoundland from last summer. Oh heck, Clinton's My Life and many software manuals have gotten that long. For fiction, there's an online listing of novels longer than 1000 pages. Not sure one wants to be added to that list.

Posted by duver001 at 11:55 AM

July 21, 2006

Bad self-publishing moments


Posted by duver001 at 10:23 PM

June 28, 2006

Al Gore's presidential moment

Okay, truth be told, he's had several presidential moments and we all know that's a few more than the current occupier of the oval office. Still, what to say about An Inconvenient Truth? I saw the movie over the weekend and came away with a string of opinions and a fear that someone would note that I had driven to the movie theater rather than walked...

  • The science looked accurate. Scientists in the relevent field agree with a few minor caveats. Still, it's an interesting experience to hear a politician get facts straight.
  • The animated bear and frog are just ridiculous.
  • Not a bad powerpoint (or Keynote) presentation. I suspect that the interns/staff has a lot to do with it.
  • Apple advertising! (Thanks Anne for the thought.) If this movie gets the US working towards lowering carbon emissions, someday Apple will use it in an ad.
  • The bear and frog? Drop them in the director's cut.
  • The whole human interest bit with Gore's son, hit by a car, reeked of cheap manipulation. The story of his sister (who died as a smoker of lung cancer while the family farm grew tobacco) was much more effective.
  • There's a decent review of what's happening here from the New Haven Advocate.
  • And the NYT talking about geoengineering "solutions" to ameliorate the global climate change.

Posted by duver001 at 11:06 AM

June 26, 2006

Who's really screwing America?

A little exerpt from The Nation. I like the non-obvious nature of some of these listings. Dan Brown and Dick Cheney together at last.

Posted by duver001 at 11:30 AM

June 8, 2006

Reading bin Laden

The Nation has a fascinating piece on the publication of the bin Laden/Al Qaeda missives. The article has even made me interested in reading Mein Kampf which I had always put into the "if I lived in the 1930s I should read it, but why bother today" category.

Posted by duver001 at 1:59 PM

June 1, 2006

Cthulu Chick Tract

Do you remember those hilarious little Chick Tracts? The ones telling you that you needn't pack sweaters for the afterlife? It seems inevitable, now that the stars are right, that the Cthulu Chick Tract is now available. I want to be eaten first!

Posted by duver001 at 10:43 AM

May 31, 2006

Silly patents

At Patently Silly dot com. The cordless jump rope (why bother?) and the "cylindrical object" (rock) skipping on water are my current favorites. Another beautiful demonstration of (some) failures of the patent system.

Posted by duver001 at 10:21 AM

May 30, 2006

Marianne Faithfull as Ophelia?

Probably not a wise choice. One reviewer commented, "not convincingly virginal." Thanks Leni!

Posted by duver001 at 12:10 PM

May 16, 2006

Words that matter: Truthiness?

It's as current as the regime in Washington, more recognizable than "double-speak" and less risque than "bullshit." Truthiness.

I especially liked the line "Speak truthiness to power" as an explanation of Colin Powell's failure as SoS.

Posted by duver001 at 11:18 AM

April 27, 2006

Best of the Twin Cities

Best local website. Cursor.

See all of the listings online.

A special thrill was seeing Outsiders and Others be selected as best Art Gallery. My little ones have had their art hung there and they just held a most excellent sale and silent auction there last Saturday. Darn it, it looks like I wasn't the high bidder though...

Posted by duver001 at 2:31 PM

The tangled web of chick lit publishing

Plot and characters written, and then an author is found.

Posted by duver001 at 1:57 PM

April 21, 2006

Bush, the nuclear blunders

It's clear now how the Iraq distraction has harmed us in the pursuit of bin Laden, with North Korea's nuclear weapons, and now with the standoff with Iran. The US is immeaurably weaker today than when Bush decided to launch a war of aggression with Iraq.

Posted by duver001 at 11:46 AM

April 7, 2006

April is National Poetry Month & Math Awareness Month!

Comining the two...Fibonacci Poems!

Posted by duver001 at 12:13 PM

April 3, 2006

March 28, 2006

March 27, 2006

March 24, 2006

Bluffers guide to math

"If a five-piece jazz band can play 'Honeysuckle Rose' in six minutes, you might think a ten-piece could play it in three minutes. In fact, it would take at least 12, because everybody's got to have time to take a solo."

A physicist and a Mathematician were asked the same question:

Suppose you walked by a burning house. Next to the house is a hydrant and a hose laying on the ground not connected to the hydrant. What would you do?

Physicist: I would attach the hose to the hydrant, turn on the water, and put out the fire.

Mathematician: I would attach the hose to the hydrant, turn on the water, and put out the fire.

Then they were asked this question:

Suppose you walked by a house (not on fire) and also saw a hose connected to a hydrant. What would you do?

Physicist: I would keep walking, as there is no problem to solve.

Mathematician: I would disconnect the hose from the hydrant and set the house on fire, I would therefore have reduced the problem to a previously solved form.

Posted by duver001 at 2:12 PM

I haven't kept up with Hitchens that well since he left the Nation

But I definitely enjoyed his spirited defense of Denmark, the free press, and democracy. And I think we can safely ignore his praise of the Iraq War. I am impressed that he's remained steadfast in his opinions, hmmm..., despite evidence that they're wrong?

Posted by duver001 at 11:56 AM

Nature & Encyclopedia Britannica

The Nature study which compared the Wikipedia and Britannica is criticized by the latter party. It's an interesting business, was looking at the pdf's from both organizations attacking and defending the study (follow links at the Beeb site to find this bits). No conclusions from me exactly, but there certainly looked like an intellectual divide as much as anything else. See what you think.

Posted by duver001 at 11:09 AM

March 20, 2006

Welcome to the brain of the Don

The Donald Rumsfeld that is. Plastic has an excellent resume of web links from his halcyon days in the Nixon and Ford administrations to leading two failed wars (see what sort of freedom and democracy has brought to Afghanistan?) for Dubya.

Read his own words, justifying what has been accomplished in the past three years in Iraq. Believe any of it? Like Rummy's $50 billion dollar and 5 week estimates of the war costs and length? And what's up with his comparisons of very and sundries with Hitler? Do we really fear that a 1000 year Venezualan Reich is right around the corner? Or is he projecting a bit?

Going back to the resume, we have to reflect on his successful running of the Office of Economic Opportunity under Nixon and his back-room efforts to help get the US out of the Vietnam War. For that he was shuffled off to be NATO ambassador. Then triumph as chief of staff and defense secretary under Ford, fighting against the whole nastiness of detante. Off to the private sector until Dubya decides to bring the Nixon crowd all back to the White House. The epic Shinseki-Rumsfeld fight seems now to be a footnote in the story, but certainly marked part of the White House team's decent into unreality.

Afghanistan. Iraq. Some investigations into what Rumsfeld has wrought.

Posted by duver001 at 11:39 AM

March 2, 2006

Atwood (yep, one and the same) makes long-distance signing (of books) a possibility

It's a pretty weird tale of an author tired of exhausting book signing tours. And a science fiction solution.

Posted by duver001 at 12:51 PM

Breaking the last undeciphered Nazi German naval coded transmissions

They aren't especially significant transmissions, but there still something quite cool with finally deciphering these M4 Enigma transmissions. Let me also note, that since I went through a phase a year or two ago when I did quite a bit of reading on the U-Boat operations during World War II, that the "knife-edge" of victory over the German submarines is a myth.

Even when the Germans were winning, they were barely able to sink ships faster than they were being built, and they never were intercepting more than a percent or so of the ships bound for England. Clay Blair's two volumes (Hunters (1939-1942) and are certainly the definitive works on the Battle of the Atlantic. No knife-edge. No near thing. The U-Boats were suicidal operations by 1942 and even when they were most successful, were a small effect. There never were enough submarines to have a serious effect on British transport. And with the radar and cipher advantages, and by 1942 with the US also in the war, the contest was extremely uneven.

March 1, 2006

February 27, 2006

Worst book I've read...

...for sure recently, perhaps the worst science fiction book I've ever read, maybe even the worst book period that I have ever read. Certainly the worst good-guy vampires and secret agents travel to the hollow Earth to fight Nazis alined with ancient talking serpent people book I've ever seen. Oh yeah, there's also a plotline about a piece of Cthulhu that got stuck in a decapitated head and some nasty pedophile-baiting program from the NSA crossed with FEMA. Then everything suddenly ends 40 pages from the back of the book. Nuclear explosions, plotlines finished off. Characters that had a lot of development (not that you'd give a damn) who do nothing in the book die. The end.

The jacket picture is far better than anything in the book. The artist certainly didn't read the book, the "good guys" flew to the underland in a Nazi Serpent-person-antigravity powered flying saucer, they didn't walk down the stairs. Oh, did I mention the DNA memory of the Nephilim invansion of Earth? Merlin as the President's National Security Advisor? Vampires removing their fangs with plastic surgery (to better fit in, though they only go out at night still)? The off-screen 1-page death and rebirth of the main character? Within 50 pages of the end of the book.

And this book is some part of a quartet!?! With positive back cover reviews from Michael Moorcock and The Bloomsbury Review? I'm not sure how this book could have been worse. No, wait, it could have used a less readable font. Nope, that would have helped. Okay, I'm lost here, I can't think of how to make the book worse.

Wait! Would you like to borrow my copy? Anyone who is interested, just email me. It took me less than four hours to read it. Hours that I could have spent flossing a neighbor's cat or doodling on my forehead with a sharpie.

Posted by duver001 at 1:26 PM

February 22, 2006

Class email

A good piece in the NYTs on emails to professors about their class and learning. I've definitely been struggling to deal with the volume of email from a large lecture class.

Posted by duver001 at 12:28 PM

February 21, 2006

In secret, previously declassified documents are being reclassified

It's a pretty bizarre back-attack on Bill Clinton's 1995 declassification order. That was supposed to speed the declassification of materials that had no need to remain secret.

Documents that have been reclassified range from bizarre to embarassing:

  • "The CIA's assessment on 12 October 1950 that Chinese intervention in the Korean War was 'not probable in 1950' - two weeks before Chinese troops crossed into Korea."
  • "A 1962 telegram from the then US ambassador to Yugoslavia containing an English translation of a Belgrade newspaper article on China's nuclear weapons program."
  • "A 1948 memorandum on a CIA scheme to float balloons over countries behind the Iron Curtain to drop propaganda leaflets."

If you made a copy of them while they were public, you may now be in violation of the Espionage Act. Heck, pretty soon owning a copy of the Constitution is likely to be illegal, so a coverup of CIA misdeeds of 60 years ago may be the least of our troubles.

Posted by duver001 at 12:14 PM

February 15, 2006

If you haven't looked at hotzone before...

...you should now.

They have an ongoing, excellent, series of articles offering vignettes from both sides of the Israel/Palestine war. Doctors, film-makers, innocent victims. It's good reporting in a blog format.

Posted by duver001 at 3:12 PM

February 9, 2006

Thinking about William Gibson, Joseph Cornell, and Count Zero

There's this old article by Gibson in Wired magazine on re-mix culture. Makes an interesting case to connect Cornell and the boxes to mash-ups and remixes.

Following on to newer Gibson material, we again have the Cornell-like window montage for September 11th.


Object (Rose de vent).

Hotel Eden.

Window Facade.

Solar set.

Posted by duver001 at 2:38 PM

February 2, 2006

"A screaming comes across the sky."

100 of the best first lines in literature. Hmmm...well, in novels anyway. According to some folks or other. Though I do remember some of these, and what's not to like with the Pynchon, "dark and stormy night," Ishmael, and Joyce?

Posted by duver001 at 11:56 AM

January 31, 2006

The Frey publisher responsibilities?

The publishers assert that fact-checking is too costly. Nan Talese didn't have to pay a fact-checker, the Star-Tribune told her years ago that (at least) parts of Frey's work were false. She acts as though she had forgotten that though. Let's see, Talese and Frey make money, book buyers spend money, foolish people believe the books, and we're left with what? The power of the marketplace or some such?

John Dolan's thoughts are, probably, especially apt, if not a bit over-the-top.

Posted by duver001 at 12:06 PM

January 30, 2006

"Beaver" on Wikipedia

No, no, no! It's safe for work. We're talking about the rodent here.

Take a look at this, since fixed, entry on the second largest rodent. I especially liked the "citation needed" bit.

Posted by duver001 at 5:38 PM

January 27, 2006

January 17, 2006

Earwax removal

Me, I often have quite a bit of ear wax buildup though I do clean my ears on a daily basis. (Was that too much information?) Anyhow, this Canadian Medical Journal article details the emergency removal of earwax with a supersoaker loanded by a local four year old. It was "an off-label use" of the device. Not generally recommended, but something to add to your emergency medicine knowledge...

Posted by duver001 at 8:37 AM

January 11, 2006

Instead of reading Frey...

Wasted, by Black Flag

I was so wasted
I was a hippie
I was a burnout
I was a dropout I was out of my head
I was a surfer
I had a skateboard
I was so heavy man, I lived on the strand
I was so wasted
I was so fucked up
I was so messed up
I was so screwed up I was out of my head
I was so jacked up
I was so drunk up
I was so knocked out, I was out of my head
I was so wasted
I was wasted.

And save the "Million Little Pieces" of money.

Posted by duver001 at 8:18 PM

December 19, 2005

A nice case example of how lies spread in the media

The case of the Oreos!

Posted by duver001 at 3:01 PM

December 15, 2005

Turkey and the EU

Read about Orhan Pamuk's upcoming trial for mentioning the Armenian Genocide. It seems certain that the EU is watching very closely to see if Turkey can distinguish itself better than in the past.

Posted by duver001 at 5:24 PM

I hesitate to post this...

...since several of my friends who are religious will take this link as a statement of my thoughts on the subject. However, let me make the link to Harris's atheist manifesto with the proviso that some of his backing evidence as to how religious nations are more violent, etc. is not completely solid. The notion of the lack of sensibility for the label "atheist", likening it to the terms "non-astrologer" or "non-alchemist" is especially interesting, and, in my experience, novel.

Posted by duver001 at 3:16 PM

December 14, 2005

City News desk closes

Chicago's famous City News service is closed down by parent company The Tribune Corp. Many stories...some are in the short article.

Posted by duver001 at 6:31 PM

December 2, 2005

What's happening in Southern Fiction today

Plagarism "due to his 'ignorance concerning the principles of fair use.'" This from a Ph.D. in English, working as a professor.

Posted by duver001 at 1:37 PM

November 30, 2005

Decent discussion on the future of newspapers

At slashdot. I can see the "local" argument of the original poster, but the experiences of the advertiser (scroll down on it) provide a good counterpoint. Today, there's no way that I'd give up my Sunday newspaper, though I may endlessly gripe about the lack of good news coverage and the crazy right-wing nuts writing editorial (or "culture") columns.

Posted by duver001 at 1:46 PM

November 17, 2005

What rhymes with counterinsurgency?

A review of Here, Bullet from the City Pages.

Posted by duver001 at 11:37 AM

Austria and Herr Doktor Irving

David Irving arrested in Austria for Holocaust Denial. He's a pretty repulsive figure, trying to be the academic while speaking in front of neo-Nazi groups, always claiming to be objective, but the whole Holocaust Denial as a crime thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Posted by duver001 at 10:48 AM

November 1, 2005

Globe Shakespeare Company

We saw "Measure for Measure" at the Guthrie Theater here in Minneapolis. It was interesting to see a traditional-style of presentation for the play. Quite funny and definitely reminds one of the Monty Python -> Shakespeare connection.

Posted by duver001 at 3:30 PM

October 30, 2005

Even Anne Rice is getting swept up in the religion thing

As religion, or psuedo-religious hysteria, sweeps the US, Anne Rice launches a new novel of a young Christ. Drinking the blood of heathens?

Posted by duver001 at 6:46 PM

October 24, 2005

One in three people...

...in the UK have bought books to appear more intelligent. It's cast as a slightly negative story, since it is shallow and many of those books don't get read. Still, I'd take it as a good sign overall. Reading and books, it's not just for terrorists and the French any longer.

Posted by duver001 at 6:28 PM

How accurate is the wikipedia?

The Guardian asks some experts. It's an interesting article, I think, because the limits of wikipedia need to be made clear. It's sort of like Consumer Reports, if you really like cars, you'll hate their car reviews as much too shallow, if you're an audiophile, the stereo reviews grate, but we all appreciate the toaster reviews.

Posted by duver001 at 6:24 PM

October 21, 2005

Gore Vidal talking about the Junta

Article at The Nation.

Posted by duver001 at 9:55 AM

October 13, 2005

Nobel Literature Prize

Harold Pinter. It comes as a minor relief to me that I have, finally, actually heard of the winner before the prize. Looking back at the list of Nobel Laureates in Literature I'm reminded of the controversy this prize generates.

Look at those early winners, who do we remember other than Kipling? Then the 1930s-1960s seem reasonable---some of those folks are not as esteemed today, but still, they are sensible if somewhat anglophile choices. Then the prize branches out, but Patrick White? Odysseus Elytis? Novelty factor? Then again in the 90s, Gortimer? Saramago? And the controvery over last year's winner, Elfriede Jelinek, and her truly difficult work. Anyway...

Posted by duver001 at 11:57 AM

September 23, 2005

Why is a raven like a writing desk?

Ahhh...Lewis Carroll, that big kidder.

Posted by duver001 at 11:08 AM

Slate spotting bogus stories in the national media

Trend story from the NYT. On top (female) college graduates wanting a momma degree.

Also check out earlier exposes of bogus stories, such as the increase in child prostitution story. Or the EPA budget "cuts" article.

Posted by duver001 at 10:54 AM

September 21, 2005

Old technology fighting new technology

Some authors try to block google's digitalization efforts. Has the Author's Guild never heard of fair use? The whole content is blocked unless the author allows for it to appear.

Posted by duver001 at 11:32 AM

September 14, 2005

How Curious George escaped the Nazis!

Interesting little article in the Times.

Posted by duver001 at 11:35 AM

August 13, 2005

Read an online book, maybe even a banned one

I still prefer a book in my hand, but there's some impressive stuff available online.

Posted by duver001 at 10:41 AM

August 7, 2005

Book lists

Everyone has their lists of what they have read, should read, are embarassed to have not read, and read but regretted the hours we so wasted.

I feel pretty good about this list. I may be doing well for having never been an English major. Some more reading to do though...

The Times Online has a great list of summer reading books. Good stuff!

Posted by duver001 at 8:22 AM

July 25, 2005

Slate (and Nation) fest

I used to be pretty consistent in reading Christopher Hitchens in The Nation and now have to admit to reading a bit of his work in Slate as well. In fact, I have a slew of interesting Slate articles to link to here. Can't say I agree with all of them, but there's some good Bosnia and Zimbabwe articles here.

Posted by duver001 at 12:13 PM

July 18, 2005

Spot the taboos

I won't link the image, but it's a Casper, you know, Friendly Ghost, cartoon. Man, if I had realized, I would have cared about comics as a kid. The site, Super Dickery, has lots of unfortunate sexual innuendo, ridiculous propaganda, racism, and the like. All from the comics. I'm told that this site is even funnier if you cared about the comics, or Superman, or the like.

Posted by duver001 at 7:54 PM

July 5, 2005

Interesting amazon item

Happy 10th to amazon.com and just wondering who the heck would buy 1082 books with a single click. Hmmmm...actually, it would be an interesting art project...let me start writing the grant application...

Posted by duver001 at 6:50 PM

June 29, 2005

June 22, 2005

Being a superhero

"Until a man is twenty-five, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances he could be the baddest motherfucker in the world. If I moved to a martial-arts monastery in China and studied real hard for ten years. If my family was wiped out by Colombian drug dealers and I swore myself to revenge. If I got a fatal disease, had one year to live, and devoted it to wiping out street crime. If I just dropped out and devoted my life to being bad." - Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

From Forbes Magazine, the cost of being Batman!

And just how rich are those fictional characters anyway?

Posted by duver001 at 12:31 PM

June 16, 2005

Happy Bloomsday

This year's celebration.

Posted by duver001 at 4:11 PM

May 26, 2005

Bud Foote, RIP

One of my favorite professors from when I was an undergraduate, Bud Foote, has passed away. He taught the relatively infamous English Lit class on Science Fiction and is one of the promoters of Science Fiction within the academy. When he retired he also donated his 8000 volume collection of books and magazines to the university library.

"Never argue with a man who is convinced the earth is flat. You have thought about why it is round for maybe five minutes. He spends every waking minute thinking up arguments that it is flat, and he believes if only he could convince everyone, then the problems of the world would be solved" - Bud Foote

Posted by duver001 at 5:31 PM

May 23, 2005

Blame Canada! No, no, no, Newsweek!

Who else could be responsible for all that hatred?

Posted by duver001 at 9:30 AM

May 7, 2005

A good reason to watch the salon.com advertisement (Richard Dawkins)

As salon.com says, "Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins explains why God is a delusion, religion is a virus, and America has slipped back into the Dark Ages." a very good interview. Go ahead and watch the little advert and get free access to salon for a time.

Posted by duver001 at 8:46 AM

May 6, 2005

Molly's eyes?

Cyberpunk fashion accessory coming soon. Artificial eyes connected into the brain.

Posted by duver001 at 12:37 PM

April 30, 2005

Book burning

We all know the quote about what gets burned after books...

Guardian interview with the Alabama polito leading the battle to ban "gay books" from Alabama. The reporter makes it clear where this will lead.

Further coverage of this. Classics might be excused!

Harry Potter books being burned.

Posted by duver001 at 11:54 AM

March 31, 2005

Not exactly a book review

I got email asking me to promote this book on how God is evolving and getting better. Well, there wasn't a free review copy, so it's not likely that I'll be reviewing it any time soon. However, the web page for it is quite funny, for what it's worth.

Posted by duver001 at 4:11 PM

March 4, 2005

Another weird book

Think of this as only a lead, into books and music that you might otherwise not find. Secret Museum of Mankind.

Posted by duver001 at 11:42 AM

February 24, 2005

Hunter S. Thompson Appreciation Day

Shotgun Golf! The final article...

And the archive of his ESPN work.

"There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die" — HST

They might just shot his (cremated) remains from a cannon. Fireworks!

HST on Dubya.

Although HST's work is done, others take up the slack. Jewish journalist infiltrating a neo-nazi hate group? That meets at Applebee's? Yup, hilarity ensues. Gonzo continues. Film at 11.

Will Duke pass away now? Go not quietly into the night unless you have a huge wad of case, night-vision goggles, and a drug-filled date with a pair of Madonna look-alikes.

Nixon always brought out the best in HST. Especially the RN Obit.

From the Doonesbury FAQ:

Q: What kind of relationship, if any, does Mr. Trudeau have with Hunter S. Thompson? --H. Delano R., Long Beach, CA

A: Non-existent. The two have never met, although there was a brief but acrimonious exchange of letters in the mid-70s. Since that time, Thompson has uttered numerous public threats against Trudeau's person, threats Trudeau takes seriously.

There are a pathetically large number of HST fan site out on the web, but some of them have really good content. Like this one. Well, mainly this one.

Bill Murray met Hunter S. Thompson in the late 70's, prior to portraying him in "Where the Buffalo Roam." He was driving a car back from the coast for Lorne Michaels (I believe) and met Thompson in Las Vegas.

They were sitting around a pool. Murray got tied to a chair (horsing around) and was thrown in the pool. He figured, no sweat, he could stand to his full height (6'1") and extricate himself from the socks that tied him to the chair. One thing though, when you are strapped in a chair, you are in a seated position and not able to extend to your full height. After momentary panic by the ever cool Bill, Thompson saw that Mr. Murray was floundering and hauled him out.

(This story was broadcast on "Focus with Bill Murray" hosted by critic Elvis Mitchell, and repeated last year by Bill Murray at the Brooklyn Academy of Music Film Festival devoted to him, 4/13/04). On the GettyWire Image page if you type in Bill Murray and scroll to all images within 12 months, and go back to April 13, 2004, you will see the photographs of the re-creation.

MsGeek.org thoughts on HST's death.

Longer quotes and stuff below...

"Some people will say that words like scum and rotten are wrong for Objective Journalism--which is true, but they miss the point. It was the built-in blind spots of the Objective rules and dogma that allowed Nixon to slither into the White House in the first place. He looked so good on paper that you could almost vote for him sight unseen. He seemed so all-American, so much like Horatio Alger, that he was able to slip through the cracks of Objective Journalism. You had to get Subjective to see Nixon clearly, and the shock of recognition was often painful." - HST, Nixon Obit

No relevance whatsoever for America. In 2005. Under the Dubya-crowd.

"This talk of sincerity, I confess, fatigues me. If the fellow was sincere, then so was P. T. Barnum. The word is disgraced and degraded by such uses. He was, in fact, a charlatan, a mountebank, a zany without sense or dignity. His career brought him into contact with the first men of his time; he preferred the company of rustic ignoramuses. It was hard to believe, watching him in Dayton, that he had traveled, that he had been received in civilized societies, that he had been a high officer of state. He seemed only a poor clod like those around him, deluded by a childish theology, full of an almost pathological hatred of all learning, all human dignity, all beauty, all fine and noble things. He was a peasant come home to the barnyard. Imagine a gentleman, and you have imagined everything that he was not. What animated him from end to end of his grotesque career was simply ambition — the ambition of a common man to get his hand upon the collar of his superiors, or failing that, to get his thumb into their eyes. He was born with a roaring voice, and it had the trick of inflaming half-wits. His whole career was devoted to raising those half-wits against their betters, that he himself might shine." - H. L. Mencken, on William Jennings Bryon (not Dubya believe it or not)
Posted by duver001 at 2:13 PM

February 21, 2005

Hunter S. Thompson pulls a Hemingway

I had sort of figured that Dr. Thompson would go more quietly, and follow William S. Burroughs into aged crankiness. Nope, shot himself instead. NYTs obit. The Guardian notes his oncoming beatification and links to proto-blogs. And then the comments degenerate from there. A bland AFB obit. The SF Chronicle has a bit better one.

Guess he didn't want to see the rest of Dubya's IInd.

Posted by duver001 at 2:27 PM

February 16, 2005

Grad admission files (Engrish and other disasters)

Having been on the graduate admissions committee in Physics for, oh I guess it's been four year or maybe five now, I've come across a good collection of Engrish submissions and other unfortunate occurances. Fortunately, I have written some of them down, so I can share the warmth, share the love, with all. (Actually, technically some of these, including the first one, are not Engrish, but rather are bizarre turns of phrase which probably are due to lack of familarity with English, or lack of familarity with writing in English.) Obviously these are totally anonymized and no small furry animals were harmed in the making of this post.

  • "When I was seven I was at the beach. I looked up and saw a flight of seagulls. Ever since then I've wanted to be a solid-state physicist." Maybe aerospace engineer and I'll buy it.
  • From a letter of recommendation, "He said that he wanted to conduct pathfind in lately science." I'll assume that that is a good thing.
  • From another letter (for the same candidate, "All of these reflected his strong ability to be a young man with the thought of team working and cooperation working."
  • "...starting his experiment as early as 9:30." Yeah, that sells the candidate pretty well.
  • From a personal statement, "Although I never exert my full strength for grades and ranks in any course." Thanks Bruce Banner for not harming your course.
  • Mentioning that you want to work with faculty members who have passed away is generally considered a good sign that you haven't looked at the website recently. "Mostly I would work with [deceased]."
  • "Due to exempting to study from 'Master English', I could have to study more time and energy other special courses." Ooops!
  • Sample courses taken: Military art theory, Cultivation of ethnics (that one scares me quite a bit), Culture of USA (barely passed), Plutonomy, Moral Accomplishment for Students, Mao Zedong Thoughts (quite a spread in grades there), Special Physical Education (the semester after failing Mao's Thoughts)...
  • "Foreign langue: English, excellent profish" Me, I'm anti-fish, I like sashimi.
  • Continuing the seagull bit, here's student did research work on "Sulidae Gannets and Boobies." Those would be seabirds I'm pretty sure. Though I fully support mid-career transitions.
  • "My life belongs to Condensed-Matter Physics." Run while you can!
  • "In life I want to be living with Theoretical Solid State Physics like Superconducting." Don't we all?
  • Remove the "admissionsletter.com" advertisement from the bottom! We know that you bought the essay, but we would like some mystery in life to remain.
  • When the letters of recommendation come from multiple institutions, do use different letterhead for each institution.

    Posted by duver001 at 12:10 PM
  • February 14, 2005

    Light and dark for Valentine's Day

    The "parents" of the Tsunami survivor "baby 81" are the parents.

    "Already the foreboding sky grows dark and silent!" -Renzo Novatore Arcola

    "...this time however I come as the victorious Dionysus, who will turn the world into a holiday...Not that I have much time..." -Nietzsche (from his last "insane" letter to Cosima Wagner)

    (It came from research, I swear!)

    Posted by duver001 at 6:33 AM

    Happy Valentine's Day

    It's the 75th anniversary of the publishing of The Maltese Falcon. No more would detectives have to merely cope with curare, dinner parties, and socialites with antisocial tendancies. "She tried to sit on my lap while I was standing up."

    Posted by duver001 at 5:13 AM

    February 13, 2005

    Cabinet magazine

    I thought I was the only person who had heard of them! Anyway, there's a New York Times article that just came out. Very positive. Makes me realize that I might just have missed my calling... You can check the magazine out online as well.

    Some of their great links include:
    The infinite regression of cats.
    The Hand Up Project: Helping hermit crabs.
    Computer paradigms by Ted. Expressed as one liners.

  • A history of airborne propaganda.

    Posted by duver001 at 5:35 PM
  • February 11, 2005

    Library in a town with a population of one

    She runs the tavern/restaurant and manages the five thousand volume library. Sometimes I can be a sucker for the human interest story. Especially late on a Friday afternoon/evening at work. Maybe I should go home soon, or go out.

    Posted by duver001 at 7:32 PM

    Arthur Miller Obit

    Arthur Miller is more important than just his best known plays "Death of a Salesman" (which I never cared a whole lot for...not sure why) and "The Crucible" (that mandatory early high school play, how obvious can we be in comparing the witch hunts of Salem to the witch hunts of McCarthy?). It seems to me that he represents in many ways a canonical 1900s man---put himself through college working as a loader and shipping clerk, his first play failed on Broadway, he was married to Marilyn Monroe ("To have survived, she would have had to be either more cynical or even further from reality than she was," he wrote. "Instead, she was a poet on a street corner trying to recite to a crowd pulling at her clothes.") for five years, never stopped writing, and traveled the world seeing his plays performed and meeting people. What more could one ask for? Marilyn, though she was a self-destructive nut, success with art, a long life, humble upbringing, everything that we're told is part of an American success story. AFP announcement. BBC Obit.

    Posted by duver001 at 10:46 AM

    February 8, 2005

    Ward Churchill

    You might as well read the original documents, instead of the op-ed pieces from both sides. This site collects the Dean's statement, the very bizarre letter from the Co Gov. Evans (to the College Republicans), and the controversial essay. The Wikipedia also has good coverage.

    My take on it? It hurts to be compared to Eichmann and, therefore, the banal evil of the aggressive US government. Maybe I'm becoming a softie, but I have trouble equating even those investment bankers on the 90th floor with the murder of Iraqi children, or with child labor in China. Maybe it's my failure to follow the money, or follow the chain of command, but it's too tentative for me to wholehearted latch onto.

    Posted by duver001 at 11:12 PM

    February 3, 2005

    Totally weird amazon, revisited

    A tank? Sort of a tank, anyway.

    Or you could buy a 2002 penny?

    Posted by duver001 at 5:40 PM

    January 28, 2005

    Proposed sticker for bibles in Cobb County, GA

    This book contains religious stories regarding the origin of living things. The stories are theories, not facts. They are unproven, unprovable and in some cases totally impossible. This material should be approached with an open mind, and a critical eye towards logic and believability.

    Makes sense to me since they wanted the "only a theory" stickers on biology textbooks. I suppose we could go further and put "contains lies" stickers on American History books. Put a second sticker on the bible "contains extreme violence and sexual degeneracy, mature audiences only." And a "this machine kills fascists" sticker (sorry Woody!) on poetry collections

    Posted by duver001 at 2:20 PM

    January 9, 2005

    I Zimbra

    David Byrne / Brian Eno / Hugo Ball





    For some reason, tonight after waking up, tossing and turning, with bad dreams and with general unhappiness at myself, I sat at this computer sending email (in an apology of sorts) and thinking about the Talking Heads song I Zimbra. From Fear of Music. Always liked it and Life During Wartime off of that album. Life During Wartime is also a fantastically good novel by Lucius Shepard. Sort of science fiction, sort of an attempt to exorcise the ghosts of Vietnam with a magical realist Central America and the next war of "liberation." Seems all the stronger with the current events. (Oddly enough, there's a Life During Wartime blog which seems to be mostly bitching about the economy, the election, and bad jobs.) Anyway, back to I Zimbra. Hugo Ball doesn't get many liner note references. Now, during the 1980s, or even back in the day of the Cabaret Voltaire and Dada over Zurich.

    Glossolalia of a sort, wasn't it? The Dadaists certainly made that connection to the Pentecost but I'm not too sure that David Byrne intended anything along those lines. Nor is it Sumerian eliminating a non-casual link to Stephenson. African rhythms and the "nonsense" words of Hugo Ball. (You didn't expect this posting to lead anywhere, did you?) The first time I heard the song I assumed that the words were in a language, prolly some African language. Glancing at the liner notes, I caught the vaguely familiar H. Ball and had to look it up. Was England's Dreaming already written at that point? No, it couldn't be, Jon Savage was still working on the official biography of the Kinks at that point. (Look it up!)

    So, I Zimbra got me to look up who the heck these dadaist were. A few years later, in my college library I discovered a copy of the Futurist Cookbook by Marinetti and that led to a whole 'nother world of weird books for me. The line from the Talking Heads to the Situationist Internation to the Temporary Autonomous Zone is far from straight (perhaps like the roads in Boston, paving over old cow paths) but the connections are there. Which brings us to Fight Club (see A., I'd have to bring it up in the blog eventually) where the connections between fascism (a la Marinetti and, well, a bunch of blue collar folks unifying with two shirts, black, one pair boots, black...) and the Temporary Autonomous Zone (if a fight club isn't one, then the Code Duello meant nothing).

    So, is that in some way a positive fascism? A friendly fascism? Certainly George Bush and company are more sinister than any Project Mayhem. Where we were supposed to be revolted, we cheered for the waiters and projectionists and testicular cancer survivors. And we hated ourselves for it. The Futurists wanted impressive architecture, and we got ovens, we wanted Pax Americana and got Iraqis in black hoods, like Hugo reciting his poem Karavane in the photo to the left.

    "Our cabaret is a gesture. Every word that is spoken and sung here says at least one thing: that this humiliating age has not succeeded in winning our respect. What could be respectable and impressive about it? Its cannons? Our big Drum drowns them. Its idealism?That has long been a laughingstock, in its popular and its academic edition. The grandiose slaughters and cannibalistic exploits? Our spontaneous foolishness and our enthusiasm for illusion will destroy them.” - Hugo Ball

    Posted by duver001 at 2:01 AM

    December 26, 2004

    Exam answers...

    In an English Lit class, in a physics class I'd be much more worried...

    Grading the final exams today, two sentences (from different people's
    exams, but answering the same question) stuck out to me:

    In the story, the main character mentions how his girlfriend's Pap smear
    results were "not cheery." The AIDS virus and STDs were rampant in the
    80s, so it could be a reference to that. [I sent her a link to a Pap smear
    info website.]

    Apparently people pondered love in the 80s; there weren't big wars or
    dramatic political or economic happenings. [Um. It felt at the time like
    things were happening....]

    I feel old.

    But then I get sentences like these to cheer me up (about John Muir's story
    of a dog. Both story and dog are named Stickeen):
    If Stickeen was a man, he could be called a man’s man, Ernest Hemingway’s
    in a previous life maybe. If Stickeen was a woman she would be beautiful
    and wild, like Laura Croft from the TombRaider movies.

    Posted by duver001 at 2:34 PM

    December 9, 2004

    Tintin au mode enfant

    Doctors explain why Tintin did not age. Repeated head injuries, 43 times in the Tintin canon! For Christmas, the Canadian Medical Association Journal typically publishes a medical analysis of a fictional character. "In 2000 the Canadian Medical Association Journal caused something of an uproar by revealing that Winnie the Pooh's continuous search for honey was caused by obsessive compulsive disorder, Piglet needed anti-panic medication, while Eeyore was massively depressed."

    Posted by duver001 at 10:19 PM

    Free Speech and Intellectual Property

    The Negativland-U2 business has been covered before here, see music links, but the Negativland iPod for sale on eBay was removed for violations of IP protections. Irony at its best. Perhaps the Negativland folks didn't want their images used for the sale? Or U2 was upset? Or Apple?

    Furthering the wonderful IP developments in the US is the new policy that US free speech only applies to Americans. Books banned by a foreign country can no longer be published in the US!!! Dr. Zhivago is the mentioned example of a book, banned by Soviet Russia, that under the current rules would not be publishable in the states. Best guess is that this is a Saudi Arabia concession. Though our government might be sponsoring the interests of the Chinese, Burmese, or Pakistani dictactorships instead.

    Society had become divided into two ideologically hostile camps, and each viewed the other with suspicion. - Thucydides

    Posted by duver001 at 7:34 PM

    December 6, 2004

    Quotes from Antarctica

    "Great God, this is an aweful place." - Robert Scott

    "Great God, this is a waffle place." - McMurdo waffle breakfasts slogan

    "We had discovered an accursed country." - Douglas Mawson

    "Polar exploration is at once the cleanest and most isolated way of having a bad time which has yet been devised." - Aspley Cherry-Garrard

    "If there is a hell, this is the place, and the sleeping bags are worse than hell." - Ernest Joyce, member of Shackleton's expedition

    "Countries condemned to everlasting rigidity by Nature, never to yield to the warmth of the sun, for whose wild and desolate aspect I find no words; such are the countries we have discovered; what then may those resemble which lie still further to the south? ... To judge the bulk by the sample it would not be worth the discovery ... Should anyone possess the resolution and fortitude to elucidate this point by pushing yet further south than I have done, I shall not envy him the fame of his discovery, but I make bold to declare that the world will derive no benefit from it." - Captain James Cook

    "The whole scene looked like the wreck of a shattered world, or as the poets describe some regions of hell; an idea which struck us the more forcibly as execrations, oaths and curses re-echoed about us on all sides." - Forster, member of Cook's crew, 1774

    "Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!" - Arthur Gordon Pym, Edgar Allan Poe, & H. P. Lovecraft

    Posted by duver001 at 1:35 AM

    December 5, 2004

    Postmodern boy adventurer

    The Adventures of Billy Dare are one of the recurring Ruben Bolling featurettes that I really enjoy. I remember looking at the pictures in Tintin as a kid (Tintin en Francais that is) and later reading the English translation. So, boy adventurer is probably not a genre that has much cache unless Tintin (or similar) was part of your childhood. Still...the postmodern literary device has the ability to ruin the innocence of any childhood book. Happily so in my opinion.

    Or for something more in the holiday spirit, check out the economic analysis of the 12 days of Chirstmas song with bricks and mortar compared to the internet purchasing.

    Posted by duver001 at 3:34 PM

    December 2, 2004

    100 Science-related Things to-do Before Dying

    100 Scientific Things To-Do Before Checking Out. The original article is in New Scientist, but I haven't found a link online, it looks to be available only, gulp, in print!

    Some of these are interesting, some useful, but some are a bit bizarre or even nonsensical.


    The description of the Choctaw facts in this article are misleading.

    Choctaw does have two past tenses, but they are not differentiated in the way claimed. The regular past tense, written -tok (or -tuk in older orthogrophies) is used for completed events ranging back about a year. The other suffix -ttook is for events that were completed more than a year ago. Furthermore, events that happened within the past few minutes and are still relevent for the current situation are often marked as "present" (-h).

    Choctaw, and a huge number of other languages in the world, also have what are called evidentials. These are suffixes that indicate how you know the statement is true. In Choctaw, there is a first-hand knowledge suffix -hlih, used when you have direct evidence of the claim (you saw it, heard it, smelled it, etc). There is also the suffix -ashah which indicates that you are guessing that it is true -- you have some indirect evidence, such as hearsay, or very circumstantial evidence.

    Tense and evidentiality are definitely distinct, as you can find tense and evidentiality marked at the same time on the verb.

    Checkout the papers by a Choctaw expert: Broadwell at Albany

    Online Choctaw classes are also offered.

    Posted by duver001 at 2:38 PM

    December 1, 2004

    The transition from 1960s radical to Green, but interventionist, establishment politician

    Despite the long, and dull title, let me highly recommend thisi (relatively long) piece of journalism. The Passion of Joschka Fischer. I found it to be an extremely interesting piece which connected strongly to me with the matter of humanitarian action (which typically has some military guise to it) for the Left. Kosovo? Heck, Rwanda which is heavily in the news these days for the 10th anniversary of the genocide. There certainly would have been antiwar protests had the US gotten involved there. Afghanistan? Bosnia? Fischer belonged to a European generation which was radicalized far beyond the crowd that Bill Clinton hung out with (it would be hard to picture a senior SDS person in the Senate, let alone on Pennsylvania Avenue).

    Also of note in the article is the dividing point for these radicals taking place at Entebbe. Realizing that the "noble PLO" was not so different from their parents' and grandparents' SS in either goal or method. If the article is interesting to you, I'd also recommend The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum (movie) and Televisionaries (book) as interesting, but by no means complete, touches on the subject of the urban terrorists of early 1970s Germany.

    Posted by duver001 at 4:36 AM

    November 27, 2004

    Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine. Anagram poetry and the rising tide of laundry detergents.

    Anagram poetry, how can you go wrong with T. S. Eliot's classic, Toilets?

    In a similar vein...
    A paragraph composed of sentences from Thomas L. Friedman editorials in the NYT, compiled by freelance writer Tamar Adler.

    "And now for a wild prediction. Real men drill wells. Don't know if they're right, but you gotta root for them. Deep down they all know it and they admit it to each other in private. You have to admire it. Because they are anything but crazy. Normally I wouldn't mind. But perfect isn't on the menu anymore. Think about it. This is dangerous. No really. It's pathetic when you think about it but also sad. Yes, yes, yes. No, no, no. Woo, woo, woo. That's embarrassing. Gotta tell you, it's the darndest thing I've ever seen. But you have to love this figure. It's kind of a two-for-one deal. A plus B equals C, but what will C be? Or does he know that I know that he knows? Say what? You guessed it. Not a bad deal. But guess what? There is a wall. Several actually. And that's the drama. But hopeless? Stay tuned. This is going to get interesting."

    Poppy Z. Brite's elegy to William S. Burroughs. Worth reading through to get the second to last sentence.

    French Intellectuals to be Deployed in Afghanistan To Convince Taleban of Non-Existence of God

    The ground war in Afghanistan hotted up yesterday when the Allies revealed plans to airdrop a platoon of crack French existentialist philosophers into the country to destroy the morale of Taleban zealots by proving the non-existence of God.

    Elements from the feared Jean-Paul Sartre Brigade, or 'Black Berets', will be parachuted into the combat zones to spread doubt, despondency and existential anomie among the enemy. Hardened by numerous intellectual battles fought during their long occupation of Paris's Left Bank, their first action will be to establish a number of pavement cafes at strategic points near the front lines. There they will drink coffee and talk animatedly about the absurd nature of life and man's lonely isolation in the universe. They will be accompanied by a number of heartbreakingly beautiful girlfriends who will further spread dismay by sticking their tongues in the philosophers' ears every five minutes and looking remote and unattainable to everyone else.

    Their leader, Colonel Marc-Ange Belmondo, spoke yesterday of his confidence in the success of their mission. Sorbonne graduate Belmondo, a very intense and unshaven young man in a black pullover, gesticulated wildly and said, "The Taleban are caught in a logical fallacy of the most ridiculous. There is no God and I can prove it. Take your tongue out of my ear, Juliet, I am talking." Marc-Ange plans to deliver an impassioned thesis on man's nauseating freedom of action with special reference to the work of Foucault and the films of Alfred Hitchcock.

    However, humanitarian agencies have been quick to condemn the operation as inhumane, pointing out that the effects of passive smoking from the Frenchmens' endless Gitanes could wreak a terrible toll on civilians in the area. Speculation was mounting last night that Britain may also contribute to the effort by dropping Professor Stephen Hawking into Afghanistan to propagate his non-deistic theory of the creation of the universe.

    Other tactics to demonstrate the non-existence of God will include the dropping of leaflets pointing out the fact that Michael Jackson has a new album out and Oprah Winfrey has not died yet. This is only one of several Psy-Ops operations mounted by the Allies to undermine the unswerving religious fanaticism that fuels the Taleban's fighting spirit.

    Pentagon sources have recently confirmed rumours that America has already sent in a 200-foot-tall robot Jesus, which roams the Taleban front lines glowing eerily and shooting flames out of its fingers while saying, 'I am the way, the truth and the life, follow me or die.' However, plans to have the giant Christ kick the crap out of a slightly effeminate 80-foot Mohammed in central Kabul were discarded as insensitive to Muslim allies.

    Posted by duver001 at 12:52 PM

    November 17, 2004

    November 16, 2004

    Don't misunderestimate the pertannually insubdurience.

    News article on a recent book claiming that Dubya and Blair are undermining meaningful uses of the English language. He calls it the "deadly virus of management speak." Enron, Halliburton, the European Union, the mission statements of universities... Check out the management ads in your next airline magazine.

    Posted by duver001 at 11:30 AM

    November 12, 2004

    Inventor of the Segway? Heinlein?

    "Gaines and Harvey mounted tumble-bugs, and kept abreast of the Cadet Captain, some twenty-five yards behind the leaing wave. It had been a long time since the Chief Engineer had ridden one of these silly-looking little vehicles, and he felt awkward. A tumble-bug does not give a man dignity, since it is about the size and shape of a kitchen stool, gyro-stabilized on a single wheel. But it is perfectly adapted to patrolling the maze of machinery 'down inside', since it can go through an opening the width of a man's shoulders, is easily controlled, and will stand patiently upright, waiting, should its rider dismount." - "The Roads Must Roll," from The Man Who Sold the Moon

    Posted by duver001 at 2:54 PM

    A new age military ("The Men Who Stare at Goats")

    Jon Ronson, one of my favorite investigative journalists (along with Ron Rosenbaum whose "Travels with Dr. Death" is a classic of the highest order), has a new book out entitled "The Men Who Stare at Goats." It examines the weirdness of US new age influences in the military, their influence in Psy-Ops, and how the craziness there led to Abu Ghraib and the other unfolding tales of US military occupation, torture, and psychotic behavior.

    Exerpts have been appearing in the Guardian: the road to Abu Ghraib and part two.

    The misogynistic and aggressive old chants ("I don't know but I've been told, Eskimo pussy is mighty cold...") would be phased out and replaced by a new one: "Om."

    See also the originator of much of this, the folks with the First Earth Battalion. Walking through walls, killing goats with a thought, and blasting Barney music at top volume...

    Posted by duver001 at 2:02 PM

    23 Fnord Illuminati (Don't let them immanentize the eschaton.)

    "I'm just going out to the shops to get some bread. Will you keep an eye on the children. Oh, and don't go in the attic." - Genesis P'Orridge

    I've been asked repeatly lately about the issue of the number 23. Or as the original questioner asked, "Anyone think it slightly suspicious that Ken Bigley was held for exactly 23 days before being decapitated by those CIArabs? Saddam was in power for exactly 23 years until the Illuminati terminated his contract!" Yes, twenty fnord three is a common sight. How common?

    Well, that's tough to tell because the accidental 23s are intermingled with the deliberate 23s. Michael Jordan's jersey number, chosen to honor his lifetime allegience to the Illuminated Elders of Mu, and the fact that the Unibomber killed or wounded 23 people are very different sorts of 23-numerology phenomena.

    Burroughs (and friends) and the 23 Enigma

    The '23 Enigma', as discovered by William S. Burroughs, presents itself as a good omen for some - disaster for others. Trying to convey the phenomenon to the uninitiated is as easy as describing the night sky to someone who has been blind from birth.

    When Burroughs was in Tangiers, he knew a Captain Clark who ran a ferry over to Spain. One day, Clark told Burroughs that he had been doing the route for 23 years without an accident. That day, the ferry sank . . .that evening, while Burroughs was thinking about the incident, a radio bulletin announced the crash of Flight 23 on the New York-Miami route. The pilot was another Captain Clark!

    Burroughs began to keep a scrapbook of 23s. When writing about Dutch Shultz, he realized that when the New York City gangster had put a contract out on 23-year-old Vincent 'Mad Dog' Coll, who met his end on 23rd St. Shultz himself died on October 23rd, 1935. As Robert Anton Wilson writes in 'Cosmic Trigger', the same night, Marty Crompier, another gangster was shot, but not fatally. "It's got to be one of them coincidences," he told police.

    Speaking of October 23rd, Seventeenth century scholar Archbishop Ussher reckoned that the earth was created on October 23rd, 4004 BC, while the Mayans believed the world will end on December 23rd, 2012.

    Hexagram 23 in the 'I Ching' oracle means "break apart." 23 in telegrapher's code means "break the line." Aleister Crowley defined number 23 as "parting, removal, separation, joy, a thread, and life . . ."

    Parents each donate 23 chromosomes to the fertilized egg . . .the human biorhythm cycle is generally 23 days, and it takes 23 seconds for blood to circulate through the human body.

    And so on . . .

    This inexplicable fascination with 23 has become a mind-virus, seeping into the music of 'Psychic TV', the art of H.R. Giger, the comics of Jamie Hewlett and Grant Morrison, the literature of Robert Anton Wilson, Arthur Koestler, Umberto Eco, and countless others. The pages of the 'Principia Discordia' supply another feast of 23s. It now reached a point where one has to be sharp to differentiate between the 23s meant as signposts for those in the know, and those which appear for no obvious reason, in the damndest of places. The Internet is these days littered with lists of historical and scientific '23s', some of which are not so ` - i.e. mere coincidence, some mind-boggling - beautiful synchronicity.

    The '23 Enigma' has its skeptics - those who say that it's a focusing of attention on just one number. This may be true, but as mentioned above, some folks have fun with 23s - the day-to-day synchronicity that raises a private smile - while for others it can be sheer hell, and we're not just talking about Burroughs' two Captain Clarks. Genesis P. Orridge (his band, 'Psychic TV', released 23 albums on the 23rd of each month for 23 months) told the members of another British band, 'Cabaret Voltaire', about the enigma. They showed interest, but skepticism. Two days later, Genesis received a phone call from them:

    "You bastard! . . . We've come to Holland to do three gigs, and in ever hotel we've had room 23, and the gig on the 23rd was a complete disaster. And everywhere we turn, there are 23s. What have you done?"

    "Well, I did say you'd start noticing it," answered Genesis.

    This 23 shit just goes on and on...... this comes from The Mirror.....


    By Ryan Parry And Rebecca Smith

    IT might be just a squad number to David Beckham fans, but many believe 23 has mystical properties.

    Pop stars and writers are among those fascinated by it.

    Late author William Burroughs was so gripped by numeric coincidences surrounding 23, he kept a scrapbook of his findings. It is said he was alerted to the number's power when a Captain Clark told him he had run a ferry from Spain to Morocco with no problem for 23 years. Hours later it sank, killing the skipper.

    Band Psychic TV were obsessed with 23. They released 23 live albums, each on the 23rd day of 23 months running.

    Whether Becks is touched by the number's supposed magic at Real is yet to be seen.

    But if he scores 23 goals to help Madrid win the league, no doubt he'll start believing there's something in it.

    Basketball legend Michael Jordan wore 23 for the Chicago Bulls. His dad was also murdered on July 23, 1993, during a botched robbery. Real's choice of number is a coup for agency SFX who handle both Jordan and Becks' affairs.

    William Shakespeare was born and died on April 23. His first folio of plays came in 1623. Wife Anne died in 1623.

    US catchphrase "23, skidoo" is thought to have come from A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens. In it a woman counts guillotine victims.

    As she says "23" the hero Sydney Carton is beheaded in the last act.

    Author William Burroughs kept a scrapbook about 23 and its appearances in history.

    He first spotted its power when a Captain Clark told him he had run a ferry without incident for 23 years. It sank and killed Clark hours later. That day Burroughs heard a radio report of a flight 23 which had crashed in the US - operated by a Captain Clark.

    World record-breaking basketball boy wonder LeBron James also wears the number 23 shirt.

    The 18-year-old recently signed for Cleveland Cavaliers after agreeing a four-year, £12million contract. And the much-hyped star, dubbed the "Chosen One" signed a £60million endorsement deal with sportswear giants Nike.

    Car giant Nissan is touched by a numerical coincidence. In Japanese, "ni" is 2, and "san" is 3. So Nissan would be 23.

    Writer Burroughs inspired author Robert Anton Wilson. It was from one of his books that the 23-letter name, Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu, was taken for the band which later became KLF.

    A US police car used in the video for the group's hit Doctorin' The Tardis had 23 painted on the roof, and their final performance lasted 23 minutes. They incinerated £1million on a Scottish island on August 23, 1994.

    William Burroughs' final TV appearance was in U2's Last Night on Earth video. The letter U is the 21st in the alphabet and adding the 2 gives 23.

    Sesame Street's Bert is a member of the national association of W lovers, the 23rd letter of the alphabet.

    When 23 or more people are in the same room there is a better than evens chance that at least two share the same birthday. Class sizes in schools are larger than 23, so more than half in Britain have two pupils with the same birthdays.

    The Latin alphabet has 23 letters. The German movie 23 explored an obsession with the number, based on a real-life story.

    On average, every 23rd wave crashing to shore is twice as large as normal.

    In the disaster movie Airport, the bomber has seat 23.

    It takes 23 seconds for blood to circulate through the body.

    In the Beatles film Yellow Submarine, The Butterfly Stomper, who destroys all things of beauty, wears a shirt with the number 23.

    Weird pop band Psychic TV are so obsessed with 23 that at one point they made the Guinness Book of World Records by releasing 23 albums on the 23rd day of 23 months in a row. They were influenced by the occultist Aleister Crowley who had been convinced of the power of 23.

    Parents each contribute 23 chromosomes, pictured below, to start a new human life during reproduction.

    On July 23, 1996 the "Mysterious Eyes" of comet Hale-Bopp are first sighted.

    The earth rotates on an axis of 23 and a half degrees. Alright, that's not strictly 23, but it's near enough to be considered a numerical coincidence.

    Rock star Kurt Cobain was born in 1967 and died in 1994. Both years bizarrely add up to 23 if counted as individual digits: 1+9+6+7=23. 1+9+9+4=23.

    ROMAN Emperor Julius Caesar was stabbed 23 times when he was assassinated.

    The average smoker gets through 23 cigarettes a day.

    In Oliver Stone's Nixon, Tricky Dickie's football shirt at Whittier is number 23.

    Twenty-three was the shirt number worn by tragic footballer Marc-Vivien Foe when he was at Manchester City. The Cameroon international died after collapsing on the pitch during a Confederations Cup semi-final last week.

    In Hollywood blockbuster Die Hard III the train derails in subway station 23.

    The human biorhythm is generally 23 days.

    The first song on Side A of the Beatles first album took 23 takes to record.

    US Cavalry legend General Custer was promoted to the senior military rank at the age of 23. The soldier was the youngest general in the US army at the time.

    In the final assault on the Death Star in Star Wars, Luke Skywalker is in Red 5. Red 2 and Red 3 start bomb runs at 23 degrees. The cell block holding Princess Leia, right, was AA-23.

    Gotta love 23 and you might as well check out Robert Anton Wilson's political party The Guns and Dope Party.

    Posted by duver001 at 11:24 AM

    November 2, 2004

    Happy Election Day

    `That's right,' said the Queen, patting her on the head, which Alice didn't like at all, `though, when you say "garden," -- I've seen gardens, compare with which this would be a wilderness.'

    Alice didn't dare to argue the point, but went on: `-- and I thought I'd try and find my way to the top of that hill -- '

    `When you say "hill,"' the Queen interrupted, `I could show you hills, in comparison with which you'd call that a valley.'

    `No, I shouldn't,' said Alice, surprised into contradicting her at last: `a hill can't be a valley, you know. That would be nonsense -- '

    The Red Queen shook her head, `You may call it "nonsense" if you like,' she said, ` but I've heard nonsense, compared with which that would be as sensible as a dictionary!'

    I was dreaming in my dreaming
    of an aspect bright and fair
    and my sleeping it was broken
    but my dream it lingered near
    in the form of shining valleys
    where the pure air recognized
    and my senses newly opened
    I awakened to the cry
    that the people
    have the power to redeem
    the work of fools
    upon the meek
    the graces shower
    it's decreed
    the people rule

    The people have the power
    The people have the power - Patti Smith

    Posted by duver001 at 10:21 AM

    October 31, 2004

    Doggerel from Phil Thibodeau, set in my old house in Port Matilda, PA

    Collector of Genius

    You left your changepurse on the stagecoach
    The search for its beauty spread far and wide
    The preacher who claimed he had E. S. and P.
    Said, ‘If she’s got i.d., you can make her your bride.’

    I am a collector of genius
    My electric museum still shines
    I keep my cool labelled in transparent boxes
    And I can, if I want, use your name for this rhyme.

    When the moon named her lover, the sun pulled a gun
    Yelled ‘Take all your phases, and move it.’
    The subsequent fight left the earth in the dark
    And I’ve got the clips that can prove it.

    A king who I know burned his fingers and toes
    >From a fire in his red lucite kitchen
    To keep off his blues and to find him new shoes
    All my anarchist friends had to pitch in.

    I am a collector of genius
    My acoustic museum still shines
    I keep my cool labelled in transparent boxes
    But I know when to have a good time.

    Imagine a custom ice house
    Where the ceilings are fans of the walls
    Where a map of the carpet
    Has never been finished
    And guides cross paths in the halls.

    My chef makes his soup with panache, and cheese
    Whenever we celebrate small victories
    On the nights of the whirlwind, when God mows his lawn,
    The lights may go out, but the feast will go on.

    I am a collector of genius
    My Shaker museum still shines
    I keep my cool labelled in transparent boxes
    But I wouldn’t mind having a sign.

    - Phil Thibodeau

    Posted by duver001 at 8:27 PM

    October 28, 2004

    The Crying of Lot 49 re-re-re-visited

    The shortest and easiest of Pynchon's books gets reread on occasion when I'm not feeling too well. This afternoon was a vividly ordinary rereading of the book: not feeling well, made coffee that was a bit too weak, pouring rain outside, and little impulse to tackle to the big problems of the world.

    R.I.P. John Peel.

    I also found one of the original reviews from 1966 of the book, though almost as much verbage was devoted to V. as to the CoL49 (hmmm...that makes for an odd abbreviation). Yotodyne and the impossibility of getting to the true truth seems like as good of a metaphor as I'm likely to find a week before this presidential election. But of what? WASTE and a parallel postal service? I remember getting strange items in the mail. Postal art in the 1980s. Real postage always on it. Flags upside down perhaps, but valid postage. Probably stolen from some office, pilferage rather than subversion of any paradigm.

    Fiat Lux, fictitious stamps?

    The reviewer was somewhat unhappy with the idea that the books might be naught but practical jokes and tried hard to connect V. with Vietnam. Trying too hard to be responsible and serious I think.

    KCUF, signing off.

    Posted by duver001 at 9:15 PM

    October 22, 2004

    Newly discovered Plath commentary

    "In Xanadu did Kubla Klown, a stately pleasure dome decree, where ALF the sacred fnord animal protectors ran to caverns measureless to mathematicians, down to the moonless sea...a young maid (making less than minimum wage because of NAFTA) played a hammer dulcimer to a crowd of people wearing black, except for the occasional refugee from a Renaissance Festival." - Sylvia Plath's commentary on Samuel Coleridge's "Kubla Khan"

    Posted by duver001 at 7:14 PM

    October 21, 2004

    Some interesting books in my office, and why...

    Although most of my office books are physics or math, I'm going to take a broad tour of covering mostly non-technical books and ones that are maybe a little out of the ordinary. I'll leave links out of this, all of the books are available new or used on amazon.com and amazon UK (Sheppard).

    Engineering in Emergencies, Davis and Lambert
    This is an engineering and logistics guidebook for humanitarian workers. Though focused mostly on 3rd world, non-hazardous duty, humanitarian efforts, there is quite a bit which is relevant to general expedition planning, scientific expeditions, and directed 3rd world work such as photojournalism or documentary film-making.

    Vehicle-dependent Expedition Guide, Sheppard
    The final word, until the next edition, on getting around to interesting and odd places using a vehicle, well, a 4x4 truck anyway. The book is more than just a tad bit British, but it covers all of the bases and is the book used by Land Rover for their classes. Some equipment availability is different in the US, and the high-tech items move from cutting-edge to obsolescent much quicker than a book could document them, but otherwise we have a beautiful piece of work here.

    Traveler's Handbook, Globe-Pequot
    This is an interesting and unexpected little volume. The book consists of two sections, the first is a series of essays covering most any imaginable type of travel, dealing with customs, photography, traveling solo, etc. and the second part is a series of facts, recommended readings, and so on. The former are brilliant, with some essays (such as the traveling artist and overland through asia) that are inspirations. The second part of the book is mostly worthless with the internet available. Who would guess that what looks like the most general possible travel book would actually be excellent?

    Wiley Encyclopedia of Energy and the Environment, Bisio and Boots
    Two volumes covering the hugely important area of Energy (generation and consumption) and the Environment (effects and mitigations). Obtained this back when I was teaching an Energy and the Environment class, this continues to be a useful reference.

    Jane's Mines and Mine Clearance & Brassey's Essential Guide to Anti-Personnel Landmines
    Here they are being used as more than military gear porn. I have been interested for a long time in humanitarian demining, especially using modern sensor technology (ground-penetrating radar and neutron-backscatter in particular). A worldwide health crisis that largely kills below the TV horizon.

    The Topos of Music, Mazzola
    Truly a strange book that I have not spent enough time with. Subtitled, Geometric Logic of Concepts, Theory, and Performance. 1300+ pages and a CD-ROM.

    Cosmic Rays at Earth, Grieder
    A massive compilation of cosmic ray observational data, but NO CD!!! No website with the data collected, just pages and pages of graphs. Useful, but limited by a lack of electronically available data.

    Short Speeches & Born Again & Fly & A New Species etc., Lawson
    Alfred Lawson. An interesting character. Invented, in the real world or his own mind, major league baseball, the airline, the airliner, regularly scheduled airplane flights, the great novel of the 20th century (Born Again), a morally acceptable alternative to the banking system, a new religion (Lawsonomy), the only university needed (of Lawsonomy), and organic gardening. Wow! Lots of life and history, albeit almost all of a terminally weird nature, in there. Also worth looking at is the biography of Lawson and his ideas, Zig-zag-and-swirl by Lyell Henry.

    Posted by duver001 at 6:20 PM

    Our ethics lesson for today, Thursday the 21st of October, 2004CE

    Consider the following case: On Twin Earth, a brain in a vat is at the wheel of a runaway tolley. There are only two options that the brain can take: the right side of the fork in the track or the left side of the fork. There is no way in sight of derailing or stopping the trolley and the brain is aware of this, for the brain knows trolleys. The brain is causally hooked up to the trolley such that the brain can determine the course which the trolley will take. On the right side of the track there is a single railroad worker, Jones, who will definitely be killed if the brain steers the trolley to the right. If the railman on the right lives, he will go on to kill five men for the sake of killing them, but in doing so will inadvertently save the lives of thirty orphans (one of the five men he will kill is planning to destroy a bridge that the orphans' bus will be crossing later that night). One of the orphans that will be killed would have grown up to become a tyrant who would make good utilitarian men do bad things. Another of the orphans would grow up to become G.E.M. Anscombe, while a third would invent the pop-top can. If the brain in the vat chooses the left side of the track, the trolley will definitely hit and kill a railman on the left side of the track, "Leftie," and will hit and destroy ten beating hearts on the track tht could (and would) have been transplanted into ten patients in the local hospital that will die without donor hearts. These are the only hearts available, and the brain is aware of this, for the brain knows hearts. If the railman on the left side of the track lives, he too will kill five men, in fact the same five that the railman on the right would kill. However, "Leftie" will kill the five as an unintended consequence of saving ten men: he will inadvertently kill the five men rushing the ten hearts to the local hospital for transplantation. A further result of "Leftie's" act would be that the busload of orphans will be spared. Among the five men killed by "Leftie" are both the man responsible for putting the brain at the controls of the trolley, and the author of this example. If the ten hearts and "Leftie" are killed by the trolley, the ten prospective heart transplant patients will die and their kidneys will be used to save the lives of twenty kidney-transplant patients, one of whom will grow up to cure cancer, and one of whom will grow up to be Hitler. There are other kidneys and dialysis machines available, however the brain does not know kidnys, and this is not a factor. Assume that the brains choice, whatever it turns out to be, will serve as an example to other brains-in-vats and so the effects of his decision will be amplified. Also assume that if the brain chooses the right side of the fork, an unjust war free of war crimes will ensue, while if the brain chooses the left fork, a just war fraught with war crimes will result. Furthermore, there is an intermittently active Cartesian demon deceiving the brain in such a manner that the brain is never sure if it is being deceived.

    Question: What should the brain do?

    Alternative Example: Same as above, except the brain has had a commisurotomy, and the left of the brain is a consequentialist and the right side is an absolutist.

    "Can Bad Men Make Good Brains Do Bad Things?" by Michael F. Patton, Jr.

    Just noticed that the author of this also has the Cliff Notes for the essay also available online.

    Posted by duver001 at 12:14 PM

    October 14, 2004

    Phil Roth, The Plot Against America

    I'm not the world's biggest Roth fan, but his latest caught my eye in the library. It's an alternate history "what if" Lindberg won the 1940 election against FDR and fascism came to America 60 years earlier. The Jews are deported, but not to camps, but rather to be spread out family by family across the states. Is this a book about Sharon? About the Patriot Act? Does the artists' intentions matter?

    Still, it's tied in to a dream I've been having lately (yeah, yeah, a non-Jewish persecution dream) of running through the fresh snow pursued by the faceless enemy. It ends, as it obviously would, with some leaving and some staying.

    Posted by duver001 at 12:12 PM

    October 13, 2004

    Good car pictures (special for today)

    Hmmmm...Jaguars are warm weather animals. Which reminds me of a great story about how I tracked on foot a mountain lion across the hills in Argentina while it hunted sheep. It's a good one, I promise.

    I should put a picture of my car up on the web at some point, but this is the same model and year. (Here's one in Japan.) 1998 Volvo V70R AWD. Good geek-mobile. Plus the twins like it when when cornering fast. What do the Aussies call it? Scoring on the curves I think it was.

    And the car that I would build if I had the time. That's right, build. You buy the Caterham as a kit and assemble it in your garage. How's that for geeky? There's a book called roadster about the author's construction of a Caterham Super 7. Links here and here (amazon). Oh yeah, there's also the cost. These things are affordable in the Uk, but really pricey in the states. Maybe that would be a good excuse to take a couple month car-construction-holiday in Leeds (or Hull).

    Posted by duver001 at 12:27 PM

    October 10, 2004

    The Great God Pan is Dead

    Success will write apocalypse across the sky. There's a particular thrill in understanding, appreciating, and reaching an understaning with the darkness. Who were burned alive in their innocent flannel suits. It needn't be a friendship, indeed, it had best not be. Lonely here and I think you knew and I'm waiting; And I wait in vain. A terrible logic is difficult to deny though and probably most of us thought up some large fraction of it ourselves---only later to find it had a name, a book, and a graffiti mark on the wall. Our contention is rather that it has been created, will be created, and is being created. This world or the make-believe one, and without a doubt ours is a lot more interesting. You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. On the other hand, there is entertainment and routes between the worlds. Choose the darkest colour you can find as the cardboard must be opaque to the light of a 100 watts bulb.

    Posted by duver001 at 1:11 AM

    October 9, 2004

    Derrida R.I.P.

    Jacques Chirac announced that Jacques Derrida had passed away at age 74. I'll pass on the possible jokes, and instead run with a Gysin-style cut-up. Not sure what Derrida thought, if anything, of Gysin, but what the heck...

    Derrida Obit

    Cut-up, hommage a Derrida

    When I thought first Leni. The sarcasm bought Derrida for wasn't there, about Jacques, I words was the a hero hard to knew that he was a What, in the end, I found far out of difficulty. was treated. had their war. They had their And what It's tell interpretations, popular treatments,with translations, A march of insects breaking down, the doors. I once harder than his Beginners for not in the words, not in the acts, or. Truth did he truly say? is postmodern, high "difficult" read. holy nature of how he cult-figure status, and teachers. Pupils even the movements. Making and on with delicate we have to know this as Americans. Europeans colonies. The world moves prose.

    Posted by duver001 at 11:53 AM