Monday, May 31, 2004

Have You Seen Me? 

Whew, we found our missing black holes:

European researchers have found 30 previously hidden supermassive black holes anchoring faraway galaxies, which suggests there at least twice as many of the colossal gravity wells as thought.

Supermassive black holes hold as much matter as millions or billions of suns. The newfound black holes were long sought but went unnoticed because they lurk behind veils of dust and are so faraway that even the galaxies they anchor are difficult to examine in any detail.
They were found using the Astrophysical Virtual Observatory (AVO), a database of observations from various telescopes. Making the detections required analyzing views from three telescopes: the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory; and the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile.

The black holes were all in "active" galaxies, meaning they were actively consuming large quantities of galactic matter. Our Milky Way contains a supermassive black hole but the setup is not currently active. In an active galaxy, a swirling disk of gas and dust, known as a torus, surrounds and largely obscures the central black hole.

I'm so glad--I thought we'd never see them again...


An Alcoholiday 

There's a fixture in Burlington's north end--a hole-in-the-wall bar/dive called The Other Place. It's a townie bar that is frequented by old-timer barflies and a younger, fresh-out-of-college intellectual/alcoholic set who like to read, play chess and shoot pool there--and drink, they like to drink there too... a lot. I used to live across the street from the O.P. and have spent, cumulatively, somewhere in the neighborhood of a month or two within it's dark red carpet and mirror-covered walls.

Today is a beautiful, sunny day in Burlington and normally a walk past the front of the O.P. on a day like today would mean waving at familiar faces through the open garage style window/doors that open onto North Winooski Avenue. But today is Memorial Day and the O.P.'s proprietors must be patriotic veterans because the garage doors were down and the place was all locked up at 4:00 when we walked by. As we strolled through the neighborhood, we saw several O.P. regulars out on the streets. They looked lost and a little confused, their routine having been unnaturally disrupted by the closed bar. I felt bad for these wandering nomads. Would they find solace in another bar, where everybody would not know their names? Hadn't these poor souls been through enough after Burlington passed its no-smoking-in-bars law last month?

Then we walked past The Radio Bean and saw Mike. Mike is a DJ at a well-known classic rock radio station in Burlington and he is exactly who I would have expected to see sitting in the O.P. on a day like today. But instead of hanging his head in despair and wandering aimlessly though the streets of Burlington, Mike moved on to the Bean, got himself a coffee, and started writing. We stopped and chatted with Mike and maybe it was the caffeine, or the sunny atmosphere, but he seemed chipper, self-assured, happy. He told us that he had tried to go to the O.P. only to discover that it was closed, so he came here and sat down. He said he found it difficult to get any writing done at the O.P. since they redesigned the window seats there, and today at the Bean he had gotten six pages of his science fiction story done. Mike had blossomed. He had turned his lack-of-O.P. lemon into lemonade. Good on you, Mike.

Post Script: Reading Mike's bio at the WIZN site made me realize I need to hang out him more. Buckaroo Banzai, sci fi, Bill Hicks, Kevin Smith and quantum mechanics? Sign me up.

This is Really Important 

A small internet service provider is being prosecuted by the government, invoking a provision of the PATRIOT Act, for the political speech of his customers. The ISP owner and the ACLU are fighting the government, but the ACLU is prevented from publicising the case... by the PATRIOT Act! Bush et al are galavanting around trying to gain support for the controversial law while those who oppose it are prevented from discussing why it's a bad law. From the ACLU site:
In an extraordinary sealed case, the American Civil Liberties Union has challenged the FBI’s unchecked authority to issue “National Security Letters” (NSLs), which demand sensitive customer records from Internet Service Providers and other businesses without judicial oversight. Before the Patriot Act, the FBI could use the NSL authority only against suspected terrorists and spies. Thanks to Section 505 of the Patriot Act, the FBI can now use NSLs to obtain information about anyone at all.

The ACLU’s legal papers argue that the NSL statute violates the First and Fourth Amendments because it does not impose adequate safeguards on the FBI’s authority to force disclosure of sensitive and constitutionally protected information.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit under seal to avoid penalties for violating the NSL statute’s broad gag provision, a provision that the ACLU is challenging on First Amendment grounds. Similar gag provisions are attached to other controversial provisions of the Patriot Act, including Section 215, which the ACLU has challenged in another lawsuit.

While the challenge to the NSL provision was filed on April 6, it took nearly three weeks for the ACLU to reach an agreement with the government that allowed the disclosure of anything at all about the case. A redacted version of the complaint is now publicly available, but many details about the case are still under seal. The ACLU believes that the public has a right to more information about the government’s use of the Patriot Act and is committed to unsealing more information about the case as quickly as possible.
Read the ACLU's press "release."

via Metafilter

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Is There a Draft in Here? 

Recently there has been a lot of speculation in the blogosphere about a reinstatement of the draft in 2005 to help assuage our dwindling forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sites like this one are helping to spread the meme, which I notice Metafilter picked up on today.

According to, the Urban Legends Reference Pages, this is just so much fear mongering:
the draft issue has largely come to public attention due to pair of bills introduced in Congress (S.89 and H.R.163) which seek to obligate all citizens and residents of the U.S. beween the ages of 18 and 26 (both male and female) to perform a two-year period of national service (not necessarily as part of the military), and the Selective Service's advertising for volunteers to man draft boards around the country. However, both the Congressional bills were introduced back in January 2003 and have languished in committee ever since with seemingly little support, and the Selective Service maintains that the timing of ads to fill draft board positions was coincidental, part of a process of filling expired board positions that has been underway for several years...

...There is as yet no definitive answer to the question of whether or not the U.S. will reinstitute a draft. Obviously some thought has been given to the issue, but the possibility that such thoughts will be turned into reality appears rather small at this point. Still, conditions and attitudes can change very quickly — another event of the magnitude of the September 11 attacks could prompt some rapid shifts in government policy and public opinion.


Porkchop Sandwiches! 

Emily told me that Fensler was selling GI Joe shirts. Of course they are sans images of the Joe characters lest a mighty copyright infringement case be unleashed. I would like to get one or two of these, but alas they do not offer sizes in multiples of X. The XL might fit--there's usually about a 50% chance that a given XL t-shirt will fit me. Maybe with bicycling starting in earnest soon...

Oh yeah, and if you haven't experienced the videos yet, go to Fenslerfilm now and worship at the alter of Joe.


Saturday, May 29, 2004

Because There Aren't Enough Damn Blogs 

My wife Stefanie and I just started a travelblog to document our travels as we visit all 251 of Vermont's towns. Go there.

yo kikkoman, that ain't right, yo 

I'd forgotten all about that infamous Kikkoman flash movie until Bill linked to it yesterday. I'd also forgotten about the shot shown below, which flashes by so quickly that it's easy to miss.

Here, Kikkoman has doffed his cape and gloves and is lying in bed with a very young blonde girl. A box of Kleenex is conveniently within arm's reach. In Japan, this apparently sells soy sauce.

Dear dad, 

So my dad forwarded me an anti-Kerry chain email entitled "The answer is NO from a real veteran family." I checked and it's getting passed around a lot. I won't quote it here but it essentially says "Dear Senator Kerry, My dad was a better soldier than you and you were against the Vietnam war so there's no way I would vote for you." Read the whole thing here. The letter is signed, "Michael Connelly February 14, 2004 Dallas, Texas," but a google search reveals no evidence that such a person exists (he is not the best-selling author of the same name--that Michael Connelly lives in California). That fact combined with the ubiquitous "Forward this to EVERYONE you know" makes this letter's veracity highly suspect. didn't seem to have anything to say about it specifically. Anyway, here is my reply to dad:

Thank you for thinking of me when you sent this out but please don't bother sending any more anti-Kerry stuff my way. As you know, I was a Dean supporter, and among the slate of dem candidates, only Joe Leiberman was a more loathsome choice than Kerry for the nomination, in my opinion. I would much rather have seen any of the other candidates in the hot seat going into the general election.

That said, I am absolutely going to vote for John Kerry in coming election and I may even give him some of my money. I am angry that I am yet again faced with a "lesser of two evils" presidential election rather than being offered a real choice, but the greater evil in this case is *so* evil that I would even campaign for Kerry if I thought it would help. George W. Bush has truly inspired me in this sense.

Interesting that you throw this particular argument at me. Where Bush and Kerry are most similar is in their stated plans for the Iraq debacle. Both advocate staying the course and committing more troops etc. Kerry's only ace in the hole in this regard is that he *isn't* Bush and therefore may have a better standing with the international community, w/r/t getting the UN to help out (I mean really, a sock puppet would have more credibility after the shit he's pulled).

By the way, in August of last year Bush tried to cut the combat pay of 157,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tell your "real veteran family" that.

Anyway, I'll be in Florida for a couple of days in July, so I expect I'll be seeing you. Keep the AC on for me.



Friday, May 28, 2004

Even when I was 12 

Okay, so I'm a little slow. Only today did it occur to me that the title of the new environmental-porn blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow is a bit of a nod to that made-for-TV nuclear-porn mega-event The Day After.

"The Day After" was huge. I watched it with my dad and sister on our little TV in the den. I was 12. There were only one or two commercial breaks because, I think, most advertisers didn't want the American public to mentally associate their products with a radiation-ravaged Jason Robards. When the broadcast was over, CBS cut to Dan Rather, who encouraged viewers to "look out the window. It's all still there." And I did. I went and looked out the window, grateful that Ledoux Terrace hadn't been transformed into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. I cursed the leaders who'd trapped the superpowers in an arms race.

But what's there to curse after seeing "The Day After Tomorrow," except perhaps Roland Emmerich? I haven't even seen a trailer for this flick, but I'm willing to bet that the message, to the extent that one exists, is completely drowned by the flood of CGI. Bah. Plus, the "science" in this movie is probably 99.9% bullshit. But who knows, maybe that was the case with "The Day After," too. I dunno. I was 12.

Thank You Eric Idle 

For putting to music what I so sincerely feel. Here's a link.

via Metafilter

Gotham Equinox 

Hey Flatiron Dante! Get outside and Check this shit out!

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day:


More Strange Video From Another Culture 

This time it's just more Japanese weirdness, but this stuff never seems to get tired. These flash commercials for a Panasonic ISP in Japan are not as cool as the Kikkoman ad, but are still worth a look.

via Making Light

um... er, that is... huh? 

I am honestly very, very confused by this video. I think it must be sincere, despite my strong hope that it is not. The guy looks like Matt Stone's character from Orgazmo. I need to go take a shower now.

You touch my tra la la, my ding ding dong.

Help a Small Girl Out 

This is Laura:

Laura wants new boobs and needs $4500 to get them. The top 100 donation providers will receive more "personal" before and after photographs.

I am, for the record, 100% against it. Small boobs may be small, but fake boobs are ugly. she should take whatever money she gets and spend it on school or something else. Plus, have you ever seen video of breast augmentation surgery? The doctor just crams those implants in there with his/her fist. It looks really barbaric. Leave cosmetic surgery to people with real socially inhibiting appearance problems, like burn victims and people with birth deformities. don't have surgery to satisfy your vanity.

Thanks to MarkS for the link.

Update: I sent Laura an email telling her I wasn't going to donate any $ but that I blogged about her plight and she wrote back:
Thanks I hope this will help me out, and to show my appreciation I will include you in the top 100 people that will see the more "personal pictures" you will be 101.

Love Laura
See that? I knew blogging would be good for me!


Thursday, May 27, 2004

Study: Tivo Users Watch More Commercials 

According to this study sponsored by InsightExpress and MediaPost, Owners of the Tivo DVR actually watch more commercials than non-DVR users. The reason: most non-Tivo people change the channel during commercial breaks, thus eliminating the commercial experience altogether, while DVR-watchers digitally zoom past the commercials--but still see them, albeit briefly. As a Tivo user I can say that while I do "see" a lot of commercials, they really don't have time to sink in at all. I doubt this study is any comfort to the hucksters.

vis gizmodo

Master of Space and Time 

Variety has announced that recursive filmmaker du jour Michel Gondry has signed on to adapt Rudy Rucker's cult novel, Master of Space and Time. Jack Black will star.

I've never read any Rucker fiction, but I was assigned his Mind Tools for a class I took on trans-finite mathematics.

via Boing Boing

Good Portland Tribune Decemberists Article 

Leave it to the Decemberists to do things differently. Lead singer Colin Meloy (he writes the songs that make the young girls cry) is looking around for somewhere in Portland to record his new album this July.

“We want to find a big space, a church or a warehouse,” he says, “for atmosphere, and for acoustics. I like drum sounds and vocal sounds that really use up a lot of room noise, and you don’t get that in a tight-packed studio.” He admires producer Steve Albini, who recorded drum kits in a cement cylinder, and the sound of old Led Zeppelin records, which were recorded in “huge mansions.” And he likes the slightly distant placement of microphones for recording a Broadway cast.


Take a bite out of spam 

A spammer is going to jail:
BUFFALO, N.Y. - A man who sent 850 million junk e-mails through accounts he opened with stolen identities was sentenced to up to seven years in prison on Thursday.

I wonder what the guy said to the judge: "Your honor, I know it's wrong to send spam, but for the love of God, it's not like I did it a billion times or anything."
Carmack was convicted of defrauding EarthLink and eight men from New York, Ohio and Washington, D.C. Last May, the company won a $16.4 million civil judgment against Carmack.

Eight men. Helluva response rate, pal.

Vermont Media and Democracy 

Chittenden Community Television and the Vermont Access Network are going to present the Vermont Media and Democracy conference on June 18th at St. Paul's Cathedral in Burlington. According to the website:
This special event is an opportunity for anyone who wants to work to protect free speech and democracy in the increasingly centralized and commercialized world of mainstream and electronic media. Celebrating 20 years of community media in Vermont, the conference seeks to focus public attention on the challenges of media consolidation and connect critical, creative and community media with active social movements so that we can secure media democracy in Vermont.
CCTV is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year (so is VCAM, where I work), but community media has existed for more than 20 years in Vermont. BCTV, Brattleboro's public access station has been around since 1976. Whatever. It looks like there will be some interesting stuff going on and I'm pretty sure VCAM will pay for me to go so I'll check it out.

I'm also looking forward to the Alliance for Community Media International Conference in July. Unfortunately, it's in Tampa... did I mention it's in July? I'm already sweating.

I Hereby Announce That This is the Greatest Thing Ever 


Okay, the greatest thing today.

via Boing Boing

DFA shows Potter some love 

I'm happy to report that Howard Dean and Democracy for America have endorsed Tom Potter as the next mayor of Portland.

Worshipful Potter-blogging can be seen here.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

I Can Stop Anytime I Want 

I'm overdue writing and shooting my current 6x6 film, which is to be based upon the theme of "reflection." I know what it's going to be about though: blogging.

I had this idea last month, shortly after starting Candleblog. The film will be about a guy who starts a blog on a whim, only to become so obsessed with maintaining it, that he neglects the rest of his life so he can constantly keep up with his posting. Eventually, he breaks up with his girlfriend who keeps nagging at him about his constant blogging--and he does it via the blog.
GIRLFRIEND: You spend so much time posting to that stupid blog. I'm serious honey, I think you're like addicted to blogging or something.

BLOGGER: Yeah, stormtrooper_79 said you'd probably say something like that.
Anyway, tonight after doing the Seven Days crossword at Muddy Waters, we were walking down Main Street and we ran into my fellow 6x6er, Alexis. She's been procrastinating about making her "reflection" film too and we exchanged jokes about how we were "working on it." After the encounter I promised myself I'd get on it and get the film made. Then it hit me, -irony alert- I had not been writing the film chiefly because I'd been spending so much time blogging. Most of my free computer time this past month has been spent reading or writing blogs. 90% of the writing I've done has been email or Candleblog-related. If I had been writing 6x6 scripts, they would all be done by now. I suppose I could consider it "research" for the film. ahem.

So I get home tonight and I'm caffeinated and ready to tackle the script, but first I just do a quick check over at Boing Boing and Metafilter to see if anything earth-shatteringly cool has been posted and what do you know... Metafilter links to this NYTimes article about blogging addiction. Too weird.
Blogging is a pastime for many, even a livelihood for a few. For some, it becomes an obsession. Such bloggers often feel compelled to write several times daily and feel anxious if they don't keep up. As they spend more time hunkered over their computers, they neglect family, friends and jobs. They blog at home, at work and on the road. They blog openly or sometimes, like Mr. Wiggins, quietly so as not to call attention to their habit.

"It seems as if his laptop is glued to his legs 24/7," Ms. Matthews said of her husband.

The number of bloggers has grown quickly, thanks to sites like, which makes it easy to set up a blog. Technorati, a blog-tracking service, has counted some 2.5 million blogs.

Of course, most of those millions are abandoned or, at best, maintained infrequently. For many bloggers, the novelty soon wears off and their persistence fades.

Sometimes, too, the realization that no one is reading sets in. A few blogs have thousands of readers, but never have so many people written so much to be read by so few. By Jupiter Research's estimate, only 4 percent of online users read blogs.

Indeed, if a blog is likened to a conversation between a writer and readers, bloggers like Mr. Wiggins are having conversations largely with themselves.
Anyway, I can honestly say that the time I spend blogging is mostly only taking away from time I would have spent watching TV or reading or doing some other questionably productive activity. I think it's been good for me. Now if I could just get this script done...

Hee hee 

Dear friend,
I am Princess Leia Organa only survivor of the royal family of Alderan.

I am moved to write you this letter, this was in confidence considering my present circumstance and situation. I was falsely imprisoned upon the Imperial Battlestation when my planet was hideously destroyed and ended by the very bad sith Lord Vader.

I escaped along with the aid of brave rebels and Wookies, and am now I am lying low due to the situation in the 4th moon of Yavin till when things gets better.

I have control here of the sum of $25, million in Imperial Credits deposited with a security company for safekeeping on Tatooine. the funds were shipped by a courier service as diplomatic items of high values to prevent them from knowing the content. what I want you to do friend is to indicate your interest that you will assist me by receiving the money on our behalf on Tatooine and assist in investing this money in any lucrative business like moisture farms and stock in multi-planetary companies and other safe lucrative investment in your sector.

May I at this point emphasize the high level of confidentiality, which this business demands, and hope you will not betray the trust and confidence which I repose in you.

In conclusion, in the event you are interested to assist me I will like you to contact my lawyer who I have stationed in Mos Eisley to witness the transaction to it's conclusion.

You can reach him on his direct line via mail, his name is Watto the Toydarian, I have the full trust in him.

Finally, I have set aside 15% of the total sum of the funds for your assistance, and 5% for any expenses that shall be incurred during this transaction.

I sincerely will appreciate your acknowledgment as soon as possible.

Help us, friend, you are our only hope.

Best regards,
Princess. l. Organa

via Hey, you


This is awesome.

via Boing Boing

Nerd Movie Alert 

We played this trailer on Video Free Burlington (website in production, BTW) a few weeks ago and I can't wait to see the movie. Today Boing Boing linked to this blogger's review of the Sundance press screening and now I just want to see the movie even more.
Girl's only want boyfriends who have good skills. You know, like nunchuck skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills...


Tuesday, May 25, 2004

At the End of the Tour... 

In the fall of 1988 I went with some friends to the Billings Student Center at UVM to check out this local band that had gained a large (for Burlington) cult following. I was a guitar nerd and was very impressed by what I saw and heard. I can still remember hearing Phish play Lizards that night. It cost five bucks to get into the show.

The last time I saw Phish was in the summer of 1995 at Sugarbush. The tickets were more than $30 and I was nearly crushed to death by the throngs of stinky fans pressing forward to get onboard one of the too-few busses that would ferry them to their cars.

On New Year's Eve, 1999--the big one, the Phish show in Big Cypress, Florida was the largest millennium-related gathering on Earth.

Today Trey announced that the big show they have planned for August in Coventry will be their last ever. I haven't had a desire to see Phish live in many years now but I admit to feeling a slight pull toward this show. It's in Vermont (the first outdoor show of theirs in the state since the last time I saw them) and it's my last chance to say goodbye, as it were--to put a cap on that part of my life. I was never a hippy, but I did sure like that band in the late eighties and early nineties. I used to go see them at The Front in Burlington. They would play 2 shows a month on a consecutive Sunday and Monday--the Sunday show would be 18+ and the Monday one would be 21+. I was just turning 21 so I would go to both. I have a few tapes from those days and they are really amazing.

Emily and I have astoundingly similar tastes in music, but I'm afraid this is where we part company. She simply cannot abide wee wee flashy guitar improv rock. It makes her eye twitch in that irritated chalk-on-the-blackboard sort of way. There isn't enough pot in the world to make her tolerate Phish, so I guess I would have to go solo. I don't know. Alone in the Northeast Kingdom with 100,000 patchouli-twerps for two days? Anyone want to go with me?

Llama t'boot t'boot. 


Last Friday night, I got together with Mike, Page and Fish to talk openly about the strong feelings I've been having that Phish has run its course and that we should end it now while it's still on a high note. Once we started talking, it quickly became apparent that the other guys' feelings, while not all the same as mine, were similar in many ways -- most importantly, that we all love and respect Phish and the Phish audience far too much to stand by and allow it to drag on beyond the point of vibrancy and health. We don't want to become caricatures of ourselves, or worse yet, a nostalgia act. By the end of the meeting, we realized that after almost twenty-one years together we were faced with the opportunity to graciously step away in unison, as a group, united in our friendship and our feelings of gratitude.

So Coventry will be the final Phish show. We are proud and thrilled that it will be in our home state of Vermont. We're also excited for the June and August shows, our last tour together. For the sake of clarity, I should say that this is not like the hiatus, which was our last attempt to revitalize ourselves. We're done. It's been an amazing and incredible journey. We thank you all for the love and support that you've shown us.

-- Trey Anastasio

On the one hand, I couldn't care less. I stopped buying Phish's albums years ago, not because I didn't like the music but because I used to see them at The Front, man, and I totally took lessons from Trey. In other words, the mystique evaporated long ago.

On the other hand, I feel sad. Not because their decision is regrettable, but because it means that the Phish era truly has come to an end, which in turn means that I must be getting old. People have always enjoyed mocking and deriding Phish--even its fans--but now that they've officially disbanded, it's up to Those Who Were There to tell the tale of Phish. And the summary of that tale is this: Phish created amazing, transcendent, beautiful, challenging, and widely misunderstood music. And they did it while jumping on trampolines and riding through crowds on giant hot dogs, rather than indulging in debilitating addictions or taking their own fan-given status as gods too seriously. For that I thank them. May future jam bands follow their example and strive for that blend of excellence and absurdity that Phish inherited from Zappa, who in turn got it from Spike Jones.

Thanks, Phish!

Hanky Spanky 

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Spanky, a clown with the renowned Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, has been arrested on charges stemming from a child pornography investigation, law enforcement officials said Tuesday. ...

"This man's profession as Spanky the clown brought him into contact with hundreds of families," said agent Albert Fitchett Jr. in Wilmington, North Carolina.

"Behind the clown nose, however, this man appears to have been supporting an industry that trades in the exploitation of children."

Fifty bucks says Albert Fitchett has already inked a contract for a book tentatively titled Behind the Clown Nose.

Even Pizza Putt? 

As long as I'm giving my fellow bloggers props, Amy at Fluid Motion today points out that the National Trust for Historic Preservation has named the entire state of Vermont as one of the 11 most endangered historic places of 2004.

All of the other 10 most endangered places are much more specific geographical spots--even individual buildings. Our whole state is an endangered historical place--even my condo. Wow. Does that mean I shouldn't paint?

A Good Rant 

Full Noodle Frontity over at Stories I Shouldn't Tell posted a stream-of-consciousness rant today about movies, R-ratings, and our country's skewed priorities. He echos thoughts that I have had many times. Check it out. R rating for saying the word "fuck"? We have to be a certain age to hear that word? I can drive myself to the theater, but I can't be exposed to a word? One person a few days different in age can be sent to die for his COUNTRY (what kind of abstract thought is THAT??), while a kid a few days younger can't be exposed to the word "fuck"? Or a cigarette? We can see pictures of REAL torture by REAL people of other REAL people on the front of every newspaper. FUCK FUCK FUCK. What is going on? Is this world real? Is this government guy, this representative of us, really spending his time on this? It makes me feel lost. And hopeless. And scared for my daughter.


Sign of the Apocalypse Du Jour 

I suppose this was inevitable.

via Metafilter

Giony be unto thee 

The wrapper on my chopsticks reads:

Welcome to Chinese Restaurant.
Please try your Nice Chinese Food With Chopsticke the traditional and trpical of Chinese gionous history and cultual.

Sleepy Cosmology 

It's 5:30 am and I haven't gone to bed yet. This isn't that uncommon, but it's starting to bum me out now that the weather is getting nice. I don't like to miss the few nice days we have here in VT. So I was clicking around online and found this story, which states that cosmologists have measured a size for the Universe. Apparently, it's 156 billion with a "b" light years wide. That's pretty freaking big. As Stephen Wright says, I wouldn't want to paint it.
The universe is about 13.7 billion years old. Light reaching us from the earliest known galaxies has been travelling, therefore, for more than 13 billion years. So one might assume that the radius of the universe is 13.7 billion light-years and that the whole shebang is double that, or 27.4 billion light-years wide.

But the universe has been expanding ever since the beginning of time, when theorists believe it all sprang forth from an infinitely dense point in a Big Bang.

"All the distance covered by the light in the early universe gets increased by the expansion of the universe," explains Neil Cornish, an astrophysicist at Montana State University. "Think of it like compound interest."

Need a visual? Imagine the universe just a million years after it was born, Cornish suggests. A batch of light travels for a year, covering one light-year. "At that time, the universe was about 1,000 times smaller than it is today," he said. "Thus, that one light-year has now stretched to become 1,000 light-years."

All the pieces add up to 78 billion-light-years. The light has not traveled that far, but "the starting point of a photon reaching us today after travelling for 13.7 billion years is now 78 billion light-years away," Cornish said. That would be the radius of the universe, and twice that -- 156 billion light-years -- is the diameter. That's based on a view going 90 percent of the way back in time, so it might be slightly larger.


Monday, May 24, 2004

McSweeney's Quarterly Concern 

I got my McSweeney's #13 in the mail today. It's an all-comics issue, hard cover, 300 pages. Chris Ware, Crumb, Daniel Clowes, Charles Burns, Jim Woodring, los bros. Hernandez, Adrian Tomine and many more plus an introduction by Ira Glass. It's a great primer--"of the finest in contemporary pictorial vulgarity." McSweeney's rocks.


What's the Buzz? 

Emily has a thing about bees. My thing is about spiders, her's is bees. She really shouldn't watch this wicked cool video depicting the complete slaughter of 30,000 European honey bees by 30 giant hornets.

via Making Light

TED: Get Your Mind Blown For $4000 

Thanks to Dan's post below about The Edge, I went digging a bit and discovered the site for TED--Technology Entertainment Design. I had heard of TED referenced in some Boing Boing posts now and again but had never gone to their site. Now that I have, I desperately want to attend one of the conferences. They are held in Van Nuys, CA each February and a ticket is $4000 and you have to be invited--you can't just buy a ticket (this may actually just be a gimmick--there's a way you can "request and invitation" to spend $4000 on a ticket, which seems like a clever way to make you think your $4000 is somehow better than the slob down the street's $4000, when all they really care about is the $4000). I could never afford it, but the videos that they have on their site are really intriguing. I just watched them all--each one was so interesting I had to click the next one. Check them out. You'll need broadband and the Flash plugin. In particular, look at the videos under the "provocative" heading.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Land of the Edge: The Edge 

If you are interested in high quality essays (no bboard ignoramus postings) on culture, mind, computers, reality, dualism, the soul and more, see The Edge.

If you are interested in essays by Richard Dawkins, Jaron Lanier, Daniel Dennett, Jared Diamond, Brian Eno, W. Daniel Hillis, Lee Smolin, etc., see The Edge.

It's my favorite site to browse, though not daily. Gotta go w/ Metafilter for the dailies ... >ahem< I mean Candleboy/weblog.


Land of Hubble: The X-Men leave their mark 

The Red-Rectangle Nebula.

Workin' Hard or Hardly Workin' 

It's Sunday and I've come into work early so that my co-worker can leave to go do family stuff. I did some quick math and figured out that if you include my time spent doing Video Free Burlington tonight, I will work 14 hours today. Well, "work" is a bit of a stretch. There isn't too much going on here--there's someone in editing until 6, a brief studio appointment in the afternoon, but beyond that I'm looking forward to a whole lot of sitting around and trying to come up with ways to amuse myself. Right now I'm thinking of trying to put up a VFB web page at I'll post it here if it ends up going live by the end of the day. Maybe I'll see if Gorno is home and get him to make a logo or something. Anyway, keep checking back today because either way, I will almost certainly be doing more blogging.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Congratulations, MM 

Holy shit. Michael Moore won the Palme d'Or at Cannes for Fahrenheit 911.

I have obviously not seen the film yet, but I bet it's pretty good. My feelings toward MM have been kind of love/hate--love the filmmaking (usually) and sense of humor and fundamentally agree with the politics; hate the MM persona and propaganda machine. Loved Roger & Me, hated The Big One, loved most of Bowling for Columbine--hated the end of it. As a lefty, I'm glad alternative-to-Fox points of view are being expressed in large, easy-to-read type on the (inter) national stage. As a filmmaker, I'm proud to see Moore, a doofy guy from small town Michigan, pull off this filmmaking coup and win the top prize at Cannes. As an American, I'm glad the rest of the world can see we are not just a nation of Bush-supporting assholes.

A cinematographer I know named Andy Black supposedly shot much of this film--at least enough of it that he was unable to come to Vermont in December and shoot part three of The Perfect Goodnight Kiss due to scheduling conflicts involving Fahrenheit 911. IMDb doesn't list the full cast and crew credits yet.

Congatulations, MM.

Lazy Saturday 

Today emily and I are off to see a matinee of Brad Pitt's Crotch... er, I mean Troy. Then I don't know what we're going to do. We're kinda poor right now so it will probably involve eating in and watching another movie on DVD (we currently have The Cooler and 8 Women out from Netflix, with Once Upon a Time in Mexico on the way).

In other Bill-at-home related news, I'm thinking of purchasing some new guayabera shirts. What do you all think of these?


Been Looking For a Really Great Vintage Toy Robot Site? 

Well look no further. Here it is.

via Boing Boing

Friday, May 21, 2004

Yo Oregonians! 

I can't believe this. Chris Funk, guitarist for the Decemberists, just sent the following email to the Youth and Beauty Brigade, the D's fan listserv:
Hi all.
I'm trying to stay out of your way on this forum, however I heard this one was almost sold out and I think of all friends chez YAB should have at it before tickets are gone. Perhaps you all know of this event already...anyway here it is...

Pixies * Death Cab for Cutie * The Decemberists
Saturday, September 4 @ 6:30pm
Les Schwab Amphitheater
344 SW Shevlin Hixon Dr, Bend, OR (Map)

Ages: All Ages
Tickets: TicketMaster
Price: 33.00
It's about a month late for me to be able to catch it on my trip out west, but maybe Spine and some of his Oregon cohorts can reap the benefits.


Thursday, May 20, 2004

Living in Squalor Redux 

This is a scary photo essay of the Grossest Neighbor Ever.

via Metafilter
See also this earlier Candleblog post

SETI@home Turns Five 

On Monday, SETI@home celebrated its fifth anniversary. The email they just sent me tells me that I have completed 1,433 "work units" since I signed up with them. When they find the little green ooze-people (who happen to transmit radio frequencies) from my work units, what should I call them? I get to name them right? I mean, it was my computer that did the work, so I get to name them.

I will call them "The Borg." Resistance is futile.


IsThis Scary or Cool or Both? 

According to NPR:
As subscribers pull the June Reason magazine out of their mailbox, something about the issue should look familiar. The magazine published 40,000 individualized covers displaying an aerial photo of the subscriber's home and the surrounding neighborhood.

Inside, the personalization continues. Subscribers can find out how many of their neighbors are college educated and what percentage of kids in their zip code are being raised by their grandparents. An ad for the Institute for Justice shows the number of eminent domain cases in their state where private property was seized and given to private developers.
You'd think Reason's editors were trying to scare their subscribers but from the article, it sounds more like they are trumpeting a golden era of information availability:
"Living in a database nation raises innumerable privacy concerns," writes Gillespie in the June issue. "But it also makes life easier and more prosperous. We may have kissed privacy goodbye -- and good riddance, too."
Here's a link to the NYTimes article hosted on Reason's website.

via Metafilter

Dear Maury, I love your blog. Can my cat be on your show? 

I am taking an extreme risk mentioning Maury Povitch on Candleblog. Look what happened to this guy's blog. As Brodie at Metafilter warned, "Have a sense of irony and 20 minutes handy before clicking."
Hi Maury my name is Darrelle Belks, I watch your show every day. I watch your show every day.I like the shows where you have the perternity test. I think it is important that kids and parents know their biological father. It is some times hart breaking and shamful that ladies and young girls have 4 and5 sometimes more than that, tested to see who is their babys dad. I like when you have kids that are 5 and 7 yaers old that are obeast.I really would like to help them but the problem is i'm only 12 years old.I love you Muary and i would like to visit you some times,but I stay in Starkville MS. Good bye hope to talk to you soon. P.S iwll you please mention my name on your show today or read my comments bye.
Posted by: darrelle on April 25, 2003 11:48 AM


Fill My Eyes With That Double Vision 

I just picked up my new glasses, which have my new prescription in them, so everything looks all weird. While I was at the glasses place, I had my eyes dilated so the eye doctor could check for glaucoma. My pupils are huge, which makes everything look all weird. So basically, everything looks all weird. and shit.

Wow, He Got His Own Domain and Everything 

Check this shit out.

via Metafilter

Here Come the Re-runs 

Emily and I just watched the series finale of Angel and I have to say, if you had asked me 2 years ago which fantasy show was more deserving of the chopping block, Enterprise or Angel, Angel would have been the obvious choice. This year, however, the vampire-cum-hero thing has gotten its shit together and I have consistently enjoyed Angel more than Enterprise every Wednesday night. Bear in mind that Enterprise had taken a pretty dramatic downturn last year and is barely recovering from it now (Hey Paramount, here's a hint: don't let Berman and Braga write the shows). It also helps that Spike has been on Angel this year (despite having been killed in the series finale of Buffy... what? He's a vampire and therefore already dead? Now you're just nitpicking).

Interestingly, series creator Joss Whedon did not direct the final episode and he only co-wrote it--a surprise considering his history with writing/directing important/pivotal episodes in Buffy's & Angel's runs.

Surprisingly, I will miss Angel.

We also watched the season finale of West Wing, which was, of course, great. I was concerned about what would happen to the writing of WW after creator Aaron Sorkin's sudden departure at the end of last season. Sorkin had written almost all (if not all) of the episodes of the first 5 years of the show and his absence seemed to spell doom for the continued greatness of the greatest of shows currently on TV--especially during the first few weeks last fall, when a sort-of soap opera drama-ness befell the show for several episodes. But the new writers rallied and by mid season, it was almost as good (if not as good) as the Sorkin-helmed WW.

Tonight's episode, along with boasting its usual combination of smart, witty dialogue, intense personal drama and fascinating moral and civic dilemmas, managed to express a very articulate and eloquent depiction of the efficacy of non-violence--and it used the Palestine-Israel conflict to do it with, which is nothing short of Pulitzer-level genius. Someone with pull on that writing staff is a believer in NV. Incidentally, the character who is giving voice to the strongest NV arguments is the new Deputy National Security Advisor--way to subvert our expectations!

Now I must go and struggle through tonight's Enterprise, which is waiting for me on the TiVo. Wish me luck.


Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Blogging From Borders 

I'm sitting with Greg. He's drawing. I'm all cool 'cause I have this shiny white iBook. People envy me. Ashley Kehoe respects me for my Plen-T-Pak. Is this the future?

Borders offers a subscription to their t-mobile "hotspot" for... $40/month! WTF?! That's freaking crazy--especially because there's another wifi network here that let me on for free. Thanks whoever you are!

There. Now that I've posted this to the blog, I've justified the $1000 I spent on the power book. Whew.

Serious Panther Security Problem 

According to this site, Mac OS 10.3 has got a very serious security issue that Apple has known about since February and has yet to address. Do these guys get their work ethic from the Bush administration? Anyway, instructions for the patch are:
1. Download the freeware tool MoreInternet.
2. From the disk image, run “install prefpane,” which will put the MoreInternet preference panel into your System Preferences panel.
3. Open the MoreInternet panel, and select the help: protocol.
4. Change the application it launches from the Help Viewer (which has the script-running vulnerability) to something benign. (I used TextEdit.) I used Chess, which, unlike TextEdit, gives me a clear visual cue that a page tried to invoke the help: protocol.
5. Make sure it worked by going to the scary but harmless example.

Update: In my comments, Jay Allen points out that you should repeat steps 3 and 4 for the disk: protocol, as well.
via Boing Boing

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Go Potter! 

I've been volunteering for Tom Potter's mayoral campaign, and yesterday I had the honor of introducing him to another guy who ran for something once.

Portland's daily newspaper, the Oregonian, not only ran a story about the connection between Potter and Dean but also promoted me from legal editor to lawyer, which I found very thoughtful of them.

Today is the last day of our mail-in voting for the primary. Potter and his main opponent have been polling within a few points of each other, which is interesting given that Potter has spent about fifty grand on his campaign and the other guy has spent a million.

Update: Oh, and the way it works here is that if no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote in the primary, the top two vote-getters face off in November. It's a good system.

Too many guitars 

Relax, Martin. It's not a race.

Old Studio 8 Photos 

Back in the days before Video Free Burlington, we used to do a little show called Studio 8 Live. In 1999, for some still unknowable reason, we decided to go live on the air for 24 hours in a row. The result was the Studio 8 Labor Day 24-Hour Marathon. We were very tired.

Matty the Greek has created an online gallery of still images from that show. Some of these pics show our friend Aaron, who died from a heroin overdose last year. Very sad. Check out the gallery.


Cicadas kill. Save yourself. 


Space Movies! 

NASA has released two 90-second videos depicting the first 90 sols of both Spirit and Opportunity.

And Cassini-Huygens is 43 days away from Saturn...

via Metafilter

What Do You Know? 

Andy Kaufman said he would return 20 years to the day after his death... and he did! Now he has a blog.

Vermont Blogging 

I just did a quick scan of other Vermonters who have blogger profiles online and I found Fluid Motion, a weblog kept by a 25 year old woman named Amy who apparently lives in the upper valley (which I think is the Norwich, VT-Hanover, NH area). Her blog is really good and you should check it out. Here are two highlights that I swiped:

Read this NYTimes article about fishing in Vermont... with GUNS.

"They call us crazy, I guess, to go sit in a tree and wait for fish to come out," said Dean Paquette, 66, as he struggled to describe the fish-shooting rush. "It's something that once you've done it . . ."

Also, remember when I said this was the best album cover ever? Well here is a site that has collected a whole bunch that make me question that assertion.


Monday, May 17, 2004

Mazel Tov! 



Pork Who?! 

Okay, this is a little juvenile, but Web Zen linked to this British food website. Make sure to check out the "Faggot Family."
The Doody family – true faggot fanatics – are the family recently chosen in a nationwide search to find a family to represent Mr Brain’s Faggots. Rather than create a fictional family, Mr Brain’s search was for ‘real faces’ - an ordinary family who loves and eats faggots on a regular basis. Mr. Brain’s wanted real people with real lives to be at the heart of the campaign. The essential ingredient? Each member of the family must be fanatical about faggots.


Official Land of the Home Website? 

This guy is a true emissary from the Land of the Home. Candleblog's challenge: see how much of this website you can read before your head explodes.
Claims of anything to force me to live without a wife or girlfriend, alleging, first too aggressive, yet this domestic violence they created with satellite time brain casts, when the " he is too aggressive" lie did not stick, they then came up with the so-called "forced celibacy" for religious reasons, when that did not stick, then all women aren't good for you. then when that did not stick, you are too fat, too broke, and too ugly and all women known you beat up on them, yet they use satellite time brain casts to alter my physiology and compel compulsive e eating, modify the pancreas insulin release rate, and shortened my body by time access genetic gene morphing, ruined my physical appearance, while claiming law undercover, which is a lie, yet the sole and main purpose to make me unpalatable for any female at all. Purpose is to force me into solitude to steal the prostate, and to hide their crimes by claiming continuous actions of law, military and justice, all to keep the status quote alive from day to day


Everything Must Be Slippery! 

This is great! Sometimes when my faith in the fundamental strangeness of people needs to be bolstered, a story like this crops up and my faith is restored. I really wish there were photos with this story, but alas, we must use our imaginations...
A man is accused of applying Vaseline petroleum jelly to every surface in his room at a Motel Six near Binghamton, New York.

After Roger Chamberlain checked out last week, the cleaning crew discovered mattresses and bedding were slathered with the slippery stuff. Vaseline covered the TV set, furniture, carpeting and towels -- and everything else in the room.

Police found 14 empty Vaseline containers and numerous pornographic magazines in the room's trash can.

Damage to the motel room and its contents was estimated at over $1,000.

A sheriff's deputy found the Virginia man a short time later at another motel. The deputy said the man was "smeared from head to foot with Vaseline."

Chamberlain was sent to jail after being charged with felony criminal mischief.

The motel manager says the room still can't be used.
via die puny humans

Never Send To Know With Whom the Van Rolls, It Rolls With Thee 

One of my favorite bands, The Decemberists, are beinning the second leg of their US tour tomorrow in Davis, CA opening for The Shins. After that they will headline every show and tour with opening acts, Long Winters and Places. Check out their dates page to find a venue near you. Here are a few key dates that may relate to your area:

Thursday 05/27 Portland, OR | Aladdin | all ages
Friday 06/04 Chicago, IL | Metro | 18+
Monday 06/07 Montreal, Quebec | La Sala Rossa | 19+
Thursday 06/10 New York, NY | Bowery Ballroom | 18+
Friday 06/11 New York | Bowery Ballroom | 21+
Saturday 06/12 Boston, MA | Paradise | 18+
Saturday 06/26 Los Angeles, CA | El Rey Theater | all ages
Sunday 06/27 San Francisco, CA | Great American Music Hall | all ages
Monday 06/28 San Francisco, CA | Great American Music Hall | all ages

There are a lot more dates than these, but these somehow seemed most relevant.


Sunday, May 16, 2004

Geek Alert: Star Trek-Related Blogging is About to Commence 

Star Trek: Enterprise is wrapping up its third year and I guess ratings must be slipping. At the end of last year, the story took a decidedly militaristic turn as a sort-of-terrorist-attack on Earth perpetrated by an alien species killed seven million Earthlings in Florida. So this year, the story thread has been about Enterprise hunting down these dastardly (but misunderstood) aliens before they can complete an even larger weapon that they've designed to destroy Earth completely. This year has also seen an amping up of the semi-nude scenes featuring T'pol (Jolene Blalock). If you want a really good rundown of exactly what was wrong with the franchise at the beginning of this season, read this great summary that Warren Ellis wrote after watching the first episode in September.

Fortunately the series' producers, Rick Berman and Brannon Braga, did not write all of the episodes this year and as a result, some faint glints of goodness did manage to sneak through the cracks. In fact, I can safely say that Enterprise is easily a more consistently entertaining and intelligent show than that turd Voyager ever was--which really isn't saying much. The franchise is in desperate need of either a complete overhaul with all new fresh creative blood, or a euthanasia pill. Anyway, supposedly the show has been on the chopping block and there is a campaign to save it as well as a campaign to kill it. I guess we'll just have to wait and see. Maybe Paramount will blame the show's producers and bring in some fresh creative meat--let's hope.

There is apparently a sequel to the amazing and wonderful documentary Trekkies--Trekkies 2, which premiered in LA on April 14th.

There is also a new doc about Klingon Language fanatics called Eathlings: Ugly Bags of Mostly Water. This film is premeiring at Cannes this month and the trailers don't look all that promising, but this quote from a BBC story about the film is pretty wild:
the documentary captures the lives, passions and quirks of members of the Klingon Language Institute during their annual qep'a (or conference, for you non-Klingon speakers).

KLI members featured in the film include Dr d'Armond Speers, a linguist who spoke only in Klingon to his son until age three and a half, and Rich Yampbell, composer of Klingon national anthem taHaj wo.
Maybe Jay Maynard will be at the premiere!

"Hi, I'm John Cocktoston..." 

Remember that movie Fletch with Chevy Chase as the investigative journalist who could get people to give him information by pretending to be someone they could trust? "C'mon guys, it's all ball bearings these days!" Well nowadays that technique of taking on a persona and an I-belong-here attitude is called "Social Engineering" and it has raised the bar on confidence schemes and shoplifting. I can't remember who, but someone once said that you can get into any secure building by carrying a clip-board and a pen. I have certainly experienced this to some degree in my freelance video jobs. It's pretty easy to gain access to sensitive areas if people think you're a TV journalist. A video camera can be as good as an actual press pass--unless you're Michael Moore--then your video camera will get the hand prints of security guards pressed onto its lens.

Anyway, this blogger was able to put his skill at social engineering to use aiding the loss-prevention department of the store where (I guess) he works. The names are changed to protect the gullible and he keeps the store name secret, but it sounds like it's a Target or Wal-Mart kind of place--maybe a Best Buy. Check it out, he was able to walk out the front door of the store with almost $4000 worth of computer gear... and smile at the cashier as he went.

via Boing Boing

People Are Reading... 

I just received an update from Sitemeter and as of 4pm today we have had 134 independent visits to Candleblog in the 3 1/2 days since I started counting.


Total .......................... 141
Average per Day ................. 27
Average Visit Length .......... 5:19
This Week ...................... 134

Page Views

Total .......................... 266
Average per Day ................. 50
Average per Visit .............. 1.9
This Week ...................... 252

27 visits per day, not too bad for a brand new blog. I guess we'll keep writing.


Another Report From the Land of the Home: Alien Artifacts on the Moon 

A member of the Vermont Astronomical Society sent this link to the VAS mailing list and asked for opinions. I think her tongue was implanted in her cheek as she typed the email, but who knows? The paper certainly sounds scholarly... maybe she's looking for converts.

The moon is an attractor of alien artifacts, Hence, the search for alien artifacts on the moon (SAAM) is a promising unique project developed by the Research Institute on Anomalous Phenom-ena(RIAP).SAAM activity and current results are reviewed.


In recent years, interest has grown among researchers in the search for traces of extraterrestrial intelligence within the solar system. It has been shown earlier that within the time of existence of our planet, approximately 10 stars capable of having inhabited planets approached the Son to dis-tances within 1.5 pc (Arkhipov, 1994a). Such distances can be covered by space probes even at the present day level of science and technology (Project Daedalus 1978.)

These researchers have chiefly concentrated on a search for artifacts which are in orbit, on the Earth, or on asteroids. It seems that this list should also include the moon (Graham 1990, Arkhipov, 1993a.)


Saturday, May 15, 2004

Bald Eagle Chicks 


The first pair of bald eagle chicks has arrived in Vermont as part of a program to revive the bird's population in the state. The birds will spend the weekend at an aviary in Sheldon before moving to their new home at the Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area in Addison on Monday.

The birds will be placed in open air containers placed on top of 20-foot poles near Dead Creek. They'll be given nests, and will be monitored and fed until they are able to hunt on their own.

Stef was telling me about this story yesterday. I was surprised to learn that VT is the only state in the Lower 48 that doesn't have any nesting bald eagles.

It's Official  

I'm wireless, baby. I am posting this using my new (well, refurbished actually) iBook. It's very white and shiny. Is this the future? It's pretty.

Dog=Opposite of God 

So we're going to see Lars Von Trier's new film Dogville tonight. Reba decided to look online for a review to see what it's about and the first google hit she got was this review from the Catholic News Service. I guess they weren't too impressed.
"Dogville" presents a miserable view of society, one where God is absent and men's hearts are full of pride.

Due to a nihilistic view of society, several scenes of rape and forced prostitution, brief nudity and some brutal violence, the USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is O -- morally offensive.


Friday, May 14, 2004


It was my day off today and I have been out doing stuff so I haven't had a chance to do any blogging. I just thought I'd write this one quick so that a whole day wouldn't go by without a single post--heaven forfend.

We saw The Lost Boys of Sudan tonight--it was very good. More later...

Thursday, May 13, 2004

I've Been Trolled 

An Israeli comics fan has spammed every blogger profile that lists "comics" as an interest looking for team members for his blog. This strikes me as an intense breech of netiquette, but what do I know? Here is his blog and here is the email I received:
My name is Eyal Rosen ( - Check my blogger file).
I'd just created my new blog named "thinx" (but you can change the name if you want....) and i wish you could join me as a member to my blog beacuse i see that we have same interest.
theres are few reasons why its recommend to join me:
1. I work on a private server that cost me money - not blogspot. you will not need to pay im will
2. More members = more quality posts = more visiters.
3. a specific intersts in 1 blog will be visited more...
4. i we will soon get a domain name with UNLIMITED web adresses that mean that you will get a mail box like this:
(im will pay for the domain)

my blog url:

He offers to let me change the name of his blog! Whatever.

So Now I *Don't* Need Sunscreen? 

Darker at noon: World appears to be dimmer:

Defying expectation and easy explanation, hundreds of instruments around the world recorded a drop in sunshine reaching the surface of Earth, as much as 10 percent from the late 1950s to the early '90s, or 2 to 3 percent per decade. In some areas like Asia, the United States and Europe, the drop was even steeper. Hong Kong saw a 37 percent decrease in its sunlight.
Satellite measurements show that the sun remains as bright as ever, but less and less sunlight has been making it through the atmosphere to the ground.

Pollution dims sunlight in two ways, scientists believe. Some of the light bounces off soot particles in the air and back into outer space. Pollution also causes more water droplets to condense out of air, leading to thicker, darker clouds that also block more light. For that reason, the dimming effect appears to be more pronounced on cloudy days than sunny ones. In some more pristine regions, there has been little or no dimming.

It's unclear how much dimming Vermont has experienced...

East Coast Cool Sky Thing Alert 

Tonight is the night that the International Space Station will occult Jupiter from certain vantage points within an 80 meter-wide stip running along the east coast of the US. The station will pass very close to Jupiter as seen from other locations. The close encounter will happen sometime shortly after 9:30pm EDT. Go outside and check it out (I hope it's clear tonight!). Go here for all the details including a map showing the path of totality.

I have also uploaded a sky-map to my website showing Jupiter's location. You can view it here. Be aware that this is from the perspective of a viewer in Burlington, Vermont. You may also be able to pick out Comet NEAT if it's clear and you have a pair of binoculars.


An Interview With Brother Guy 

I love this Guy. He's a Jesuit astronomer employed by the Vatican. Read the whole interview, it's pretty interesting.
AM: Why is it a religious statement?

GC: By religious I mean that it is based on certain fundamental assumptions you have about how the universe works and what your place in the universe is. And ultimately, that's a religious assumption. Whether it's my religion or somebody else's religion, lots of people with lots of religions are looking at science. I'm not saying it's only one religion that has that assumption. But I'm saying that there are religions that don't. There are brilliant cultures throughout history who have had fabulous mathematics and glorious ethical systems - and no science. It really is an important fundamental assumption that you have to have, especially day-to-day as a scientist. It's what gets you up in the morning.

via Boing Boing

Sound Science Petition 

My friend Nichole pointed this site out to me:
The Bush administration justifies environmental policies by misusing and misrepresenting science. The administration's harmful positions on climate change, pollution, forest management, and resource extraction ignore widely accepted scientific evidence. When the administration invokes science, it relies on research at odds with the scientific consensus, and contradicts, undermines, or suppresses the research of its own scientists. Furthermore, the administration cloaks environmentally damaging policies under misleading program names like "clear skies" and "healthy forests." As a result, the public and the media often wrongly believe that this administration uses sound science to help promote a healthy environment. In reality, the best available science indicates that President Bush's policies will cause and exacerbate damage to the natural systems on which we all depend.


Wednesday, May 12, 2004

R.I.P., man. 

David Reimer, the Canadian man who was raised as a girl until the age of 15 as a result of an infamous botched circumcision that incinerated his penis, has committed suicide. He was apparently despondent over some failed investments. I saw a documentary about this guy--it's an amazing story. Reimer almost singlehandedly disproved the then-popular notion that gender is a social construct rather than an innate trait.

In one of those pointless yet poignant ironies that can only happen in real life, Reimer's former employer in Winnipeg was the Transcona Golf Club.

Presi Traverse:pics 

Final details of the Presidential Traverse: 15 hours, 21 miles, 8,240' total vertical. Pics are here.

Ya hate to see someone get hurt, but this is kind of funny:

Gangs used Internet to plan street fight
DALLAS, Texas (AP) -- In a computer-age version of "West Side Story," rival gang members battled it out in the street in a rumble organized over the Internet. ...

Using their home computers, the gangs traded insults in a profanity-laced chat room, then decided to fight, setting the time and the place over the Internet, Garland police officer Joe Harn said.


All We Are Saying... 

Okay, I’ve been avoiding this since I saw the video yesterday but after reading some winger responses that NTodd linked to of the horrific depiction of the murder of Nick Berg, I have to throw in a couple of thoughts about this whole mess in the Middle East.

There’s a reason why it’s called a “cycle of violence” and this is a very good opportunity to point that out. Almost no one kills for “no good reason.” Sure, there are the Dahmers and Bundys of the world, but I think we can limit a discussion of war to discount psychopathic glee-killing and stick to deaths that result from ideology and revenge. Revenge is a very strong motivator. Just ask the comment posters to this right-wing blog post. The guy who wrote…
Too many of us have gone back to sleep.
It's time to wake up.
Kill them.
Kill every last motherfucking one of them and anybody carrying as much as a quarter of an ounce of sympathy for them.
No quarter, no prisoners, no mercy.
…is motivated by a strong sense of anger and revenge. His anger is understandable; the video is a graphic, horrible depiction of what those same men would do to him or me if they could. But the motivation that those masked terrorists had in beheading Berg is no different from that poster’s motivation to “Kill every last motherfucking one of them.” Does that make what they did right? No! And that angry blogger wouldn’t be right if he succeeded in acting on his rage, nor is the US government right in perpetuating the hatred and violence with its continued occupation of Iraq.

We have to stop the violence not because of some abstract moral principle about killing being “wrong” but because for every act of violence that we perpetrate, no matter how justified it seems to us, it strengthens the resolve of those who suffer from the violence to feel justified in their own hatred and violence. The terrorists need to learn this lesson too, because as we can see, for every head they saw off, it strengthens the justification some people feel to “Kill every last motherfucking one of them.”

This isn’t a hard concept to understand—it’s very straightforward logic. But to accept the truth of what I’m saying requires that we let go of our desire to revenge the death of Nick Berg, and ultimately, the 3000 who were killed on 9/11. That’s a really hard thing to do. The way to ensure that attacks like that never happen again is to end the cycle of violence. The way to do that is to stop behaving violently.


More Blog Tweaking 

I've added a site counter (that actually works, that is) to the bottom of the page. It started counting today so we're still in the single digits.

Also, I've added some links to the right side of the page and gone ahead and alphabetized them (I don't have OCD I don't have OCD I don't have OCD). Please patronize these fine online establishments.

This post was probably unnecessary but I had to post something new so that Brad Pitt's crotch was no longer the first thing readers saw when they came to Candleblog.

Step off, Aniston 

There are a few actors who bring out in me what SNL's Seth Myers has called a "heterosexual man-crush." In Brad Pitt's case, though, I think I might actually let him do me.

Interesting inside-baseball article here about Pitt's upcoming film Troy.

Direct Evidence of Exoplanet? 

I hope this is for real because I've been waiting for something like this for a long time. From BBC News:
The new Hubble image was taken by John Debes, a graduate student at Pennsylvania State University, US, as part of a project to look for planets around other stars.

"The big problem in seeing such planets is not one of sensitivity but of contrast," he told BBC News Online. "The presence of a bright parent star makes the relatively dim planet difficult to see."

That is why Debes and his colleagues looked for planets around dim white dwarf stars - stars at the end of their lifetimes that have shrunk to a glowing ball the size of the Earth.


I Think I Might Do It 

The time has come for me to go mobile. I'll drive down to Small Dog tomorrow and check it out. Then I'll be able to blog from anywhere! It may not be a ray gun or a rocket car, but it sure smells like the future.


H²G² Blog is Up 

Today is my mom's birthday (happy birthday mom!). It is also the anniversary of the death of Douglas Adams. According to the new film production blog, the film crew paused for a moment of silence today before beginning to shoot on the set of the Heart of Gold. We'll see you at the restaurant, Douglas!

via Boing Boing

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Okay, I guess Tuesday is politics day 

How stupid is the US government? This question has haunted the citizens of Earth for over 200 years. Now, thanks to the internet and, ironically, Fox News, we may be getting close to an answer. According to Time Magazine (that bastion of bleeding-heart liberalism):
An email to Pentagon staff marked "URGENT IT (Information Technology) BULLETIN: Taguba Report" orders employees not to read or download the Taguba report at Fox News, on the grounds that the document is classified. It also orders them not to discuss the matter with friends or family members. The emailed memo was leaked to TIME by a senior U.S. civilian official in Baghdad, who did not hide his disdain for the "factotums" in the Pentagon. "I do wonder how incredibly stupid some people in the Pentagon are," he emailed TIME. "Not only are they drawing everyone's attention to the report — and where it can be seen — but attempting to muzzle people never works."

via metafilter

Which is Worse? 

Okay, Sen. James Inhofe is an asshole, but at least he's clear about his message and not trying to kid us and himself into thinking he has a heart and a brain. Unlike Joe Lieberman, the democrat (yeh, right) from Connecticut. Here's what he said during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing where Rumsfeld gave his testimony last week:
LIEBERMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Secretary, the behavior by Americans at the prison in Iraq is, as we all acknowledge, immoral, intolerable and un-American. It deserves the apology that you have given today and that have been given by others in high positions in our government and our military.

I cannot help but say, however, that those who were responsible for killing 3,000 Americans on September 11th, 2001, never apologized. Those who have killed hundreds of Americans in uniform in Iraq working to liberate Iraq and protect our security have never apologized.

Atrios' shorter Joe Lieberman:
I just want to point out that some brown people unconnected to this event did some bad things!

via Atrios & Boing Boing

Project Grizzly 

Close Quarter Bear Research: "If you want to learn the behavioural aspects of bears, you've got to live with them. You've got to see what they see. It's different from studying films; it's different from studying them on location, from a distance.
"You have to sit with them, be there. They're walking around you. You're seeing what they're seeing, you're smelling what they're smelling. You're watching how they interact with each other, four feet away. That's close-quarter bear research."

Fuck Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) 

What an asshole.
"I'm probably not the only one up at this table that is more outraged by the outrage than we are by the treatment," the Oklahoma Republican said at a U.S. Senate hearing probing the scandal.

"These prisoners, you know they're not there for traffic violations," Inhofe said. "If they're in cellblock 1-A or 1-B, these prisoners, they're murderers, they're terrorists, they're insurgents. Many of them probably have American blood on their hands and here we're so concerned about the treatment of those individuals."

The problem with Inhofe's statement, of course, besides the implicit suggestion that evil behavior is okay as long as it's perpetrated by good people, is this:

Coalition military intelligence officers estimated that about 70 percent to 90 percent of the thousands of prisoners detained in Iraq had been "arrested by mistake," according to a report by Red Cross given to the Bush administration last year and leaked this week.


Teenage Wasteland 

Okay okay, I admit it. I’m a sucker for dumb romantic comedies. It’s a sickness and I’m trying to work through it. When I say “dumb” romantic comedies, I’m not referring to romantic comedies that actually have merit, like When Harry Met Sally or Say Anything, and I’m certainly not referring to the recent spat of romantic films that are legitimately great like Amélie, Punch Drunk Love, Lost in Translation and this year’s amazing Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. What I’m referring to is the sad fact that last month I stayed up late after Emily went to bed and watched all of Maid in Manhattan… and we have a lot of cable, I mean we get all the channels—I’m sure there must have been a repeat of Aliens on one of the 15 Showtimes we get or Apocalypse Now Redux on IFC, but there I was, on the couch in my boxers at 3:00am watching that wretched, wretched film.

So it should have come as no surprise to Emily when I suggested we go see 13 Going On 30 tonight. Her indignant open-mouthed stare was only remedied by my pointing out that we had missed the start times of all of the other films we wanted to see and she really wanted to go out to a movie, so off we went.

Now, in my defense, I did have some legitimate reasons for expecting 13 Going On 30 to be a decent film. It was directed, after all, by Gary Winick, who directed the indy hit Tadpole and produced the indies Pieces of April, Chelsea Walls and Tape—all very fine films. And the movie did co-star the darkly compelling Mark Ruffalo, who was in the aforementioned Eternal Sunshine and in the understated and disarming You Can Count On Me. So there was this glimmer of hope that what appeared in the previews to be a predictable, insipid Big meets The Princess Diaries little girl version of It’s a Wonderful Life would actually turn out to be a surprisingly good, offbeat flick that would defy genre and win over curmudgeons everywhere. Unfortunately, my hopes were dashed against the multiplex wall amid the dried up Pepsi and Sour Patch Staws.

13 Going On 30 is guilty of the same thing so many films that recall the glorious 80s are guilty of. In the film’s set-up we see 13-year-old Jenna in the year 1987. 1987 is apparently played in this film by the entire decade of the 80s. Jenna has a crush on Rick Springfield (Jesse’s Girl, released in 1981), knows every move to Michael Jackson’s Thriller (1982) and her dorky friend Mark likes listening to the Talking Heads’ Burning Down the House (1983--Jenna’s popular girlfriends, by the way, had never heard of Burning Down the House even though it charted for 20 weeks in ’83). Jenna also frequently quotes Pat Benatar’s Love is a Battlefield, which was released in 1989—two years after this important moment in her adolescence.

Okay, so the 80s all happened in one compressed year--I’m still onboard, things could get better, right? Then we see Jenna’s popular girlfriends, the “chicks six.” Alright, I’m sorry but when I was in middle school in the 80s the popular girls didn’t have a gang name and march down the halls like the gang from The Wild One, elbowing all of the less popular and glittery kids out of the way.

Moving onto the lame high-concept plot, Jenna is sick of being a teenager (who wasn’t?) and wishes really really hard that she was 30 years old while, coincidentally, magic dust wafts down upon her. She wakes up and… you’ll never guess… she’s 30 and a magazine editor in living Manhattan—no idea how she got there. She finds out that she’s a real “Bee-yotch” as a 30 year old and goes to find her old dorky Talking Heads fan friend for help. They fall in love but… he’s engaged! Oh cruel, cruel fate!

So as this is going on I start to wonder how all this will turn out. No really, I had this fantasy that the opening scenes of the film, where Jenna was 13, were actually part of some psychotic break that the 30 year-old Jenna had experienced wherein she “forgot” the intervening 17 years. As she and we learned more about her evil, back-stabbing nature, it seemed plausible that the sweet 13 year-old still dwelling inside of her was rebelling against the awful adult Jenna and had caused this sort-of amnesia. That would certainly be a more satisfying explanation than “magic dust” and it would also neatly explain the lame cartoonish treatment of the 80s. I mean, the 80s is kind of compressed in our memories—Thriller and Love is a Battlefield do coexist there. The mean popular girls did sort of behave like rogue gangs in the halls of middle school if you don’t think too literally about it. Of course! Jenna is having a breakdown! That explains why even though she supposedly has the mind of a 13 year old she can walk perfectly fine in high heels and do her hair and make-up in elaborate styles and has a completely adult vocabulary and manner about her. How very clever of the filmmakers! They have crafted a silly romantic comedy version of The Sixth Sense and I have figured out their big secret before the… oh. No, it was magic dust.


Monday, May 10, 2004

Brush With Fame? 

So my friend Alex, who starred in part 2 of my film, The Perfect Goodnight Kiss (the part I directed), is flying to NYC this week. While she's there she will be meeting with this guy about possibly acting in a film of his next summer. She tells me that in her talks with him, he was excited about working with her and seeing some of her work and was intrigued by TPGNK's premise specifically and filmmaking in Burlington in general.

Of course if he watches the whole film, he'll get to see my star shine too, since I acted in part one!

Anyway, not to jinx it or anything, but congratultions Alex! Break his leg!

What Do You Think? 

As long as we're in blog makeover mode (there must be something in the air, Dohiyi Mir is revamping, Blogger did a complete makeover and I'm... well, still tweaking), I might as well throw this out to all of Candleblog's (6-10) readers: I'm thinking of switching blog templates. The pea soup green thing is kind of nice and I've tweaked it a lot to make it somewhat my own (compared to the original template design), but with Blogger's new makeover came several new blog templates. What do you think of this one? I can't just try it out without deleting my current template first, which is scary since I know I basically like this one. I can back up the current template as a text file, but I'm still scared. Agent X (Jesse) told me I should go to a moveable type design, but he could not articulate why that would be a good thing, beyond my having access to great project management capabilities, which I really don't need at all. I don't know. Life is so hard.

New Comments Paradigm 

I have done away with the Haloscan comments, at least for now. From here on out we will try dealing with the Blogger-powered comments that they have begun offering. I prefer the way they are so seemlessly integrated into the blog interface. It's more elegant to look at. Less elegant is the actual comments interface--a whole new web page opens up when all you want to do is post a quick comment or read other people's comments, but I'm going to give this a try and see how it goes. I'd appreciate any feedback you readers might have. One neg I can see right away is that there is no place for you to automatically include your email and homepage when you post. One plus that I like very much is that it is much clearer where the comments are supposed to go with each post. So there shouldn't be any more adding comments to the wrong post. Anyway, we can always go back to Haloscan if this doesn't work out.

Oh, and I think all of the old Haloscan comments have officially been nuked. I hope no one had any really important information in there!

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Saddam's Interrogation Logs 

This is funny.

Interrogation commenced: 2000 hours

I told SH that we would be paid a visit by Baghdad's longest-running improvisational comedy troupe, and that they often ask for audience suggestions. I had one of the players ask SH for the name of something you'd return to a department store. He said "pliers." They did a quick scene about returning pliers, and then another "player" asked for a geographic location where one might hide WMDs. SH was quiet for a long time, and so I suggested Wal-Mart.

Interrogation terminated: 0122 hours


Oooh... Fancy New Blogger Interface! 

So shiny... so pretty...

Approaching Saturn 

Amid a lot of dumb environmental controversy in October of 1997, the Cassini-Huygens probe was launched atop a Titan IV rocket into space. The probe then headed inward toward Venus for a “slingshot” gravity-assisted acceleration maneuver and back to Earth for another gravity assist before heading out toward the solar system’s sixth planet, the ringed gas giant, Saturn.

Saturn is currently 9.6 AU from Earth (AU=”Astronomical Unit” [1 AU=93 million miles]) and it has taken Cassini 5 1/2 years to make its journey to the outer solar system. Now it is homing in on its target.

Cassini will study the Saturn system in detail, inspecting and photographing the ring systems and it’s 18 named moons and some dozen other unnamed satellites.

Cassini also carries with it the Huygens probe, which is set to descend into the thick hydrocarbon-rich atmosphere of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. Titan is a pretty interesting place. It’s the solar system's 2nd largest moon and it is larger than both Mercury and Pluto. It has a nitrogen atmosphere that is thicker than Earth’s. This atmosphere has kept Titan’s surface invisible to Earthlings, but Cassini will use Doppler radar to map the surface of Titan much as the Magellan spacecraft did for the surface of similarly obscured Venus.

This week, Cassini got its first glimpses of Titan. This is going to be an exciting summer.


Saturday, May 08, 2004

Gone Fishin' 

Those of you with broadband should check out this great 3D animated short called Rockfish from the Blur Studio. It's like a Heavy Metal comic that moves.

via Metafilter

Best. Album Cover. Ever. 

Thanks Reba!

God Bless This Man 

My friend Reba pointed me in the direction of this fabulous nerd. Her email was titled "I'm weak from laughter" and she wrote: "Just-just look at this guy. Just look at him." I'm looking, Reba. I can't seem to bring myself to look away. Full disclosure: I actually think his costume is kinda cool. Rock on, Jay Maynard.


Does the Plummer's Union Know About This? 

A bill just passed a Louisiana house panel that would make it illegal in that state to wear baggy pants that reveal too much underwear or butt-crack. If these morons can't think of a better way to spend their time and their constituents' tax dollars, they should really think about finding other jobs. Apparently, Louisiana is one big high school and its house of representatives are the vice principle. Aside from the rather obvious constitutional ramifications of legislating what kind of clothing people may or may not wear, the law would require law enforcement officers to interpret the intent of the loosely-attired offender. If they want you to see their shorts, they're guilty--if they lost their belt at the cleaners, they're innocent. I'm gonna go get my bible and see if this kind of stupidity is a sign of the apocalypse. Where's Louis Black when you need him?

via Boing Boing

Van Helsing = Wretched Shit 

'nuff said.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Mystery Blog?????? 

Burlington, VT. In a second case of post-blogpost mystery editing, another blog post to the infamous "CandleBlog" blog was mysteriously edited - this time made totally invisible. Blog poster dan "blog poster" zucker posted to the blog and after two comments were attached to the posted blog, found that the blog posting had be toasted, post-post. When asked about possible involvement, Uri Geller said: "I think he used bad color combinations." Zucker replied that he'd "understood nothing but the veneer of rhinestones and chrome set against the backdrop of the basic black of everyday life. I mean what the fuck? What happend to my blog post?"


My Secret Life as a Prostitute's Blog Reader 

I posted a question to Laura's blog yesterday and today she has turned it into a post. If you haven't looked at her blog yet, check it out. It's a compelling and provocative read.

Atomic Tourism 

Last week I bought this really cool coffee table book called 100 Suns that contains big, beautiful images of above-ground nuclear test explosions conducted by the US government in the middle of the 20th century. The images are both lovely and scary as hell.

I also recently downloaded a couple of great old informational films about atomic testing and technology from the Prelinger Archives. The films contain some of the oft-seen footage of test houses being hit by blast waves. For me, the scariest part of this footage is the brief moment following the initial flash, but preceding the huge blast wave, when the curtains spontaneously catch fire and the maniquins emit black smoke. That's the heat from the blast hitting the homes before the blast--it's what initially kills most of the people in a big nuclear explosion.

So check out the Bureau of Atomic Tourism, which is:

dedicated to the promotion of tourist locations around the world that have either been the site of atomic explosions, display exhibits on the development of atomic devices, or contain vehicles that were designed to deliver atomic weapons.

via Making Light

The Worm Within 

This is an excellent illustrated online story about one man's struggle with a really long tapeworm. Read it and rejoice that it's not you.

via Bong Boing

Presi Traverse: Day 0 

Steve is picking me up tonight - we'll meet Roland and Keith in Gorham and go over our route plan for our first Presidential Traverse Saturday. I've done extensive winter backcountry and mountain-top hiking but this going to be the biggest physical and mental challenge yet. It'll be between 20 and 25 miles with about 9,000ft total altitude gain - close to 12 hours of fast hiking and trotting w/ no more than 5 minute breaks. (We'll pick the route tonight after the evening weather forecast is issued.) Today's Mt. Washington forecast is for temps to drop to around 20°F w/ 50 - 70mph winds, which means crawling on all fours if the winds are as high tomorrow. I'll post again Sunday afternoon w/ photos.

Good for Kerry 


Senator John Kerry called Thursday for a "new bargain" with teachers, proposing to spend $30 billion over 10 years to recruit, coach and reward better teachers. In return, he said, he would require stiffer testing of new teachers and swifter ways to remove poor ones from the classroom.

Excellent. I hate the idea of students' performance on standardized tests being a factor in the evaluation of teacher performance, but overall I'm quite happy with what Kerry is proposing.

I read an essay a while back that proposed drastically increasing teacher salaries to make the profession more competitive, and I thought it was a great idea. It's a sad thing that, today, one must either be saintly or lacking in options to consider public-school teaching as a career.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

The Matrix: Evolutions 

I don't really follow celebrity gossip (not on purpose, anyway), but I'm surprised that I hadn't heard anything until today about the apparent fact that Matrix co-director Larry Wachowski is set to become a woman.

According to those close to the extremely reclusive duo, Larry is about to finally become "Linda.'' Wachowski, who has been living and dressing as a woman for some time, reportedly is preparing to take the final step and have sex-change surgery.

Right on, Linda.

I totally just had an actual conversation with Howard Dean 

I spent my lunch hour on a conference call with a few Dean supporters here in Oregon and a couple of people from the Democracy for America office in Burlington. DFA is getting ready to endorse candidates across the country, and they wanted to talk to us about the endorsement process. I was thrilled that they received and read my recent letter in support of Tom Potter, who's one of two viable candidates (in a field of more than 20) running for mayor of Portland. (Tom would love your $25 donation, by the way. On principle, he's capped his donations at $25 while his main opponent rakes in thousands at a time from business interests.)

Governor Dean happened to be in the office and he joined us for a few minutes. He asked about Potter and I chatted with him for a few minutes about the campaign. An endorsement from DFA seems like a real possibility, which would rule.

Anyway, it was great to hear ol' Howard's voice. I miss that guy.


Now you have a friend in the terrorist business. 

Breaking news on

Audiotape purportedly from Osama bin Laden offers gold to kill Iraq administrator Paul Bremer, top military officers. Details soon.

It's not as exciting as it sounds. I have an inside source on this, and I'm told that what bin Laden is actually offering is this tennis bracelet from the Shane Company:


It's about time, Simmon. 

Bill lets people with HIV donate organs


I'm a known addict. I visit the site many times a day, not only to see the latest news but also to see what the mainstream media are saying is the latest news. I usually just scan the page for new stories, but every now and then I take a step back and look at the big picture. And I think, God help us. And then I think, thank God for Jennifer Aniston and animal hoarders.


Cultural War Volley 

I hate the culture war in this country. I hated it during the Clinton years when I would see some winger wearing a t-shirt featuring a Monicagate joke, and I hate it now when an email is forwarded to me with a flash animation depicting Bush as a stupid redneck. The culture war is the problem. We need to get past our knee-jerk allegiances and argue about facts and issues. Having said that, check this shit out.

via metafilter

When I woke up this morning... 

... I did not think my day would include me seeing an image of Stevie Wonder ass-fucking Hitler. Nevertheless, here is a compelling little flash animation that was made to accompany this odd little ditty, A Blind Man's Penis is Erect Because He's Blind. Boing Boing quotes John Alderman as saying:

"Back in the '70s, John Trubee (weirdo prankster) saw one of those ads that offers to assess your poetic talent and set your poems to music. So--testing limits--he wrote the most offensive thing he could think of, pushing all the buttons, and sent it off. The refrain was originally 'Stevie Wonder’s penis, is erect because he's blind.' The company wrote back and, of course, told him he had talent, and would set his song to music and press disks if he'd pay them a little. But, because they didn't want to get sued, they had to substitute 'a blind man' for Stevie. The record was pressed and it became a sort-of underground hit in LA. Funny also because Trubee's prank calls were supposed to be the inspiration for Matt Groening's use of them. They were friends!"

I'm pretty sure the Groening prank calls on the Simpsons were inspired by the famous Tube Bar calls to "Red."

Hi... oops!, wife? 

Religious-tract legend Jack Chick teaches kids about the gay agenda:

Read the whole thing. Fun! But what I want to know is, where can I get one of those cute shoulder devils?

via Pandagon

Update: The images above were broken when I refreshed this blog, so I went back to Jack Chick's site and found that they had renamed the .gif files. Seems that they prefer that lefty blogs not link to them. (Pandagon gets a lot of traffic.) Tough shit, Chick!

Update update: They changed the filenames again. Screw it. Just go there yourself!


Infinity in your browser.

via The Bleat

Arcane Pop-Culture Reference of the Day 

Tonight's Angel was funny.

If you never watched Buffy or Angel, good on you, ignore this post. If you watched Buffy, but think Angel sucks, you're right, but this year has been a little better (Spike is on the show, which arguably killed the coolness of Buffy, but he's been a definite boon for Angel). If you loved Buffy right up to the end and think Angel is great, I feel sorry for you--get a life.

Anyway, for those Buffy fans who are still reading, tonight's Angel was funny. It took place in Italy (lots of funny Italian demon jokes) and Andrew made a guest appearance, which brings me to the point of this post: Andrew was wearing a Strongbad T-shirt.


Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Holy F%&*ing Sh!t 

This guy lived!

Isidro Mejia, 39, was rushed to hospital after his nailgun accidentally went off, shooting nails into his head.

via die puny humans

Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter 

Here's a nice review of what looks to be a real Fork in the Head movie watching experience.

Praetorious: "We're running low on skin. I suggest we harvest another lesbian."

Things I learned form this movie:
-Jesus is a stalker.
-Christ has powerful kung fu and even a special style.
-Vampires cannot swim.
-Thirty-six people can fit into a jeep.
-The Son of God has to be careful about what T-shirt he wears.
-Christ is not as good at playing "mercy" as you would expect.
-Drum sticks, canes, crutches, and even toothpicks are lethal to vampires.
-Rasputin was born again and eventually became an evangelist.
-Dodging intestines is a heck of a way to spend an afternoon.

via Making Light

Nebula, Oh Nebula, So Big, Bright and Bug Quickly 

Inside joke. Trust me, it's funny.

NGC 6302, AKA The Bug Nebula, today's Astronomy Picture of the Day:


Lemon Fresh Pledge 

I guess the Supremes are still deliberating about the challenge to the Pledge of Allegiance that was brought from the California doctor/lawyer last month and it will be interesting to hear what they have to say. I'm fascinated and frightened by the fact that most people--politicians and others--who speak about this case treat it like Newdow is some lefty activist crackpot and that the judges in the 9th circuit who agreed with him were "activist judges." This is an interesting review of the argument Newdow made before the Supreme Court. Pay attention to the last paragraph where the writer seems shocked and amazed that a compelling argument could be made against the inclusion of "under God." The words "under God" were added in 1954 during the red scare in order to distinguish us good Americans from the "godless communists." Newdow is so clearly right.

I say we go back to Francis Bellamy's original version of the pledge, which doesn't even mention the U.S.A. specifically at all. Bellamy had also wanted to include the word "equality," but felt it was too controversial. I'm sure it was in 1892, when the Pledge was written, but in 2004 we should get over it and include the word. So the original Pledge as written by Bellamy, including his wish for "equality" would be:

"I pledge allegiance to my Flag, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with equality, liberty and justice for all."

Now there's a pledge I can get behind.

Land of the Home: Our Baghdad Days 

High res LandSat image of Baghdad in April, 2003.

2004: a sea odyssey 

You know how Russian rockets always look so huge and powerful compared to the US ones? I mean, the Saturn V was a big rocket (okay, it was the biggest ever made), but the Soviets' launch vehicles always seemed to have these massive engines on them that encircled the bottom stage and made the rockets just look more powerful.

Well it just so happens that the Ruskies needed more power than the US. Why? Because of their comparative distance from the equator. The Earth, as you may already be aware, is a sphere (okay, technically it's an oblate spheroid) and it rotates toward the east on an axis. As with any spinning sphere, the latitude of fastest motion, relative to the sphere's center, is the equator.

When the space race began, the US had a natural advantage: Florida. The Soviets were stuck way up in the northern latitudes and as a result, their rockets had to use more energy to achieve escape velocity.

Well these days even Florida is too far north for some people. An international consortium of businesses including Boeing and Energia have built a mobile, sea-going launch facility called Odyssey. It launches orbital vehicles and satellites from the equator, meaning they can use less fuel and carry bigger payloads. How smart is that?

via Metafilter

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Land of the Home Redux 

David Call's show is on VCAM right now and a moment ago the following words were displayed on the screen:



Crooked "Lawyer" Wanted 

Hmm. From an email:

Seeking recommendation for a personal injury lawyer to recommend to a friend who "slipped and fell" in a store...thanks.


Stockstock, Here I Come 

I received my tape of stock footage today from the Stockstock Festival people. Here is my earlier post about this very cool film festival idea. I haven't reviewed the tape yet, but the info sheet that accompanied it lists chapter titles including: Tear Gas Demo, Making of a Shooter, Age 13 and The Story of Carpet among others. Should be pretty interesting.

Calculate the Speed of Light With Marshmallows 

Teresa at Making Light linked to this cool science gem:

Heat the marshmallows until they begin to melt in four or five different spots. Remove the dish from the microwave and observe the melted spots. Take the ruler and measure the distance between the melted spots. You will find that one distance repeats over and over. This distance will correspond to half the wavelength of the microwave, about 6 cm. Now turn the oven around and look for a small sign that gives you the frequency of the microwave. Most commercial microwaves operate at 2450 MHz.

All you do now is multiply the frequency by the wavelength. The product is the speed of light.


All work and no play makes Jack a dull bunny 

Those Angry Aliens have apparently found their calling. This time, the bunnies recreate The Shining.

NTodd is funny 

Check out this post over at Candleblog team member NTodd's blog. Thank goodness for CNN transcripts!

THE PRESIDENT: Lie about Kerry and spending and taxes.

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT: Empty talk about jobs and economic isolationism won't get anybody hired. But here's some anyway.

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT: We kicked Saddam's ass.


THE PRESIDENT: September the 11th, 2001. I'm taking names and kicking asses.


THE PRESIDENT: America kicks ass.



Floyd/Oz Party Moved to Friday 

Neil has informed me that his multimedia extravaganza has been moved to friday night instead of Saturday as previously posted. He writes:

Due to overwhelming popular demand, and the preponderance of other parties this weekend, we are moving the date of our party to this FRIDAY NIGHT. That's 24 hours less you have to wait to blow your mind, dude. And it's looking very likely that THE CUSH will play, to further facilitate just that.


Springtime in Vermont - 7 key transitional days 

Wednesday, April 28: working at computer, looking out window, saw sunlight casting long morning shadows. Robins hopping about the yard pecking at the ground, bright snowflakes swirling around in the air. Went for run in afternoon - wore gloves.

Thursday, April 29: warm out - not like yesterday - reached 70°F.

Friday, April 30: hot - reached 82°F. Bill S. took the day off to enjoy the sun. Party at the Planet for Mark S - pretty hot in there.

Saturday, May 1: hot again, went to party in Barre, VT at night - oppressive heat inside - kept going out for air. Tepid rain started.

Sunday, May 2: the spring grass is so green and the light green of the new, budding birch leaves shine in stark contrast to the hard, dark green of the fir trees. Dug in a new garden.

Monday, May 3: the rhododendron are blooming, daffodils are in full bloom, ducks are looking for mates and nests... ahh, spring busting out all over! Light cool rain filled the afternoon. The rain turned cold at night.

Tuesday, May 4: woke up to an inch of snow on the ground - blustery, blowing wind - will wear hat and gloves today.

"Of course you realize, this means war." 

A routine (and extremely vain) google search turned up this site. Egads! It's actually about candles!

There can be only one.

Never Mind 

I seem to have a handle on things now. I'm toying with the site's look and learning html as I go. If anyone can tell me how to get the word "candleblog" to appear as the page's title in the browser's top banner (without entering it into the blogger title field) please let me know.


If any of you html savvy folks out there can tell me how to get rid of the weird html crap above the blog title (or how it got there in the first place) please let me know. It appeared after I linked to the logo for my blog title. Ack!

Monday, May 03, 2004

We Have a Winner 

Last night was the deadline for the first Candleblog photoshop contest. There were three contestants and five entries. I was hoping for more (particularly from Candleblog team member Flameape, but I guess he was too busy farting around to be bothered). Still, the entries we received were very good and I am pleased to announce the winner of the $20 gift card to Borders Books and Music is... Spine, with this entry.

Feel the love, baby.

The One 

From the International Federation of Competetive Eating website:

There is an century-old prophesy within the competitive eating community, dismissed by most, that foretells the rise of the "One Eater," a woman who will electrify America's gurgitators and lead them to international victory once again. Like Joan of Arc before her, this eater will be slender of stature, but mighty in strength. In recent months, the prophesy has been mentioned more and more frequently as the eaters have watched Sonya Thomas excel in nearly every contest she enters.

And she's cute too...

via Making Light

Dark Side of the Rainbow 

Have you ever heard of that thing where you watch The Wizard of Oz and play Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and then freak out at all of the weird synchronistic conjunctions? I did it once in film school with some friends and it was pretty goofy--it was clear that the PF fans who "discovered" the similarities must have been massively stoned to see any deep connection beyond what would happen from random chance. Still, it was a fun thing to do.

Anyway, local rocker Neil Cleary is hosting a help-Neil-pay-the-rent party in Winooski this Saturday. You generously donate $5 to the worthwhile cause of keeping Neil from homelessness and he presents you with the crazy synchonistic film/music phenomenon, enough beer to make it seem pretty cool, and some live music later on. Not a bad deal, so all you local BTVers head over to Brett and Neil's secret Winooski hideaway on Saturday. The film will begin at 9pm.

Oh, and you'll probably see me at this party, unlike the last time Neil had a party and I chose to geek-out instead.


This is completely awesome.

via metafilter

"What does that tell you?" 

"Take Ernest Hemmingway: here's a guy who swallowed, bit, and orally sucked on the long barrel of a shotgun. What does that tell you? What does it tell you when a guy--in one of the more exotic cases I have heard of--hugs a stove, a hot stove, to death? Horrifying. But what does that tell you?"

-William Shatner, discussing various cases of suicide he's heard of

via 2004 page-a-day calender on my co-worker's desk

Burlington's Living Room 

The Radio Bean Coffee House sits on North Winooski Ave. on the north side of Burlington's downtown district. It's on a block accompanied by an Indian restaurant, a Caribbean place, a burrito joint, an Asian nails salon, a sandwich shop and The O.P. ("The Other Place," Burlington's hippest dive, where drunken townies and too-cool-for-school intellectual kids play chess, read Russian literature, eat dirt-cheap tacos, shoot pool and get stupid drunk). The Bean opened up three years ago and has carved a niche in town as the quirkiest of Burlington's many coffee shops. It is a tiny place and its wood and brick bohemian atmosphere would be right at home in the Upper Haight or the East Village or any big city neighborhood that caters to the fringe crowd. Lee, the shop's owner, has applied for a low power FM radio license and plans to actually run a community radio station out of the coffee shop (or from Lee's home, which is an apartment directly above the place). I met my girlfriend at the Radio Bean. My friend Arthur got locally famous playing regular gigs there with his fresh-out-of-high-school rock band. Some friends and I premiered a collection of films there. I spent most of 9/11 at the Bean listening to the news on the radio and then all of us running over to the O.P. (they have a TV) when we heard of some amazing new piece of footage on the TV. The Radio Bean is my coffee shop--everyone who goes there frequently feels some ownership of the place. One summer night the year they opened, Lee came downstairs from his apartment where he had been experimenting with a new ice cream maker. He had made a batch of lemon sorbet and he handed it out to whomever was hanging out that night. Stuff like that happens a lot. There is music almost every night and some of it is quite good.

And now they have a web site.

It's not a great site yet--still a few kinks, but the heart is there. You can feel the Bean's presence on the screen. To bad you can't download coffee over the net... yet.

Oh yeah, Lee looks weirdly like Abe Lincoln and makes a killer mocha.


Sunday, May 02, 2004

The Pillow Blog 


"I've got another puzzle for you..." 

So Tim Burton, who my friend Sean has acurrately described as "Stephen Speilberg with toy fangs," is directing a new adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with... you guessed it, Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka. Acording to IMDb they start filming this month. Now I like Johnny Depp quite a lot, and despite my love/hate relationship with the films of Tim Burton (love: Peewee's Big Adventure, Ed Wood; hate: Sleepy Hollow, Batman, Big Fish), I think of all of the famous directors out there, his sensibility is probably the best suited to the Chocolate Factory material. Having said this, my larger concern is: why remake this film at all? Are original ideas so hard to come by that we must rehash all of the old good ideas--even if there is nothing wrong with the original execution of those ideas in the first place?

Jonathan Demme is re-making John Frankenheimer's The Manchurian Candidate with Liev Schrieber as Raymond Shaw, Denzel Washington as Ben Marco and Meryl Streep as Raymond's demented and evil mother. They've updated it so the characters are vets of Gulf War 1 instead of the Korean War of the origianl film. Aside from a comparrison of Denzel's comparatively wooden personality compared to Old Blue Eyes', my main complaint about this is that it is filmic masturbation.

Remakes of good films are usually no where near as good as the original, and it's not like they're cleaning up at the box office (think Rollerball).

Movies are not pop songs to be covered by currently popular bands. I'm sure there are thousands of compelling, original screenplays out there that Burton and Demme and all the other A-list directors can cast A-list actors in and make a whole bunch of money off of.

I think these guys should start re-making bad movies--movies that need to be re-made--like Ishtar. Now there's a challenge for a hotshot director, re-make Ishtar but make it watchable--good, even. That would be a worthwhile endeavor.

Mean Girls: Heathers of the New Millennium 

We saw Mean Girls tonight in a theater packed with high school kids. The movie is funny and smart and predictable and surprising. It is like Heathers was in many important ways when it came out. It's not as dark or subversive as Heathers, but it's about the same stuff--high school popularity gone horribly wrong. I suppose if I were in high school now and saw Mean Girls, it would be an important film for me (as Heathers was in 1989), but from my 34 year old perspective, it's just fun popcorn.

One nit-pick: Why is it in all of these high school dramas and comedies that the cliques are always so incredibly distilled--there are the jocks, the stoners, the popular kids, the nerds.... I mean, there were certainly clear individual representatives of each of these stereotypes in high school--a nerd here, a jock or two there--but to watch these films you'd believe that every single kid in the place belonged to one or another clearly defined and distinct social caste. I hate obvious dramatic shortcuts like that--like in SF films where entire planets are dominated by a single biome--The Desert World, The Ice World, The Rainforest World, The Ocean World... eerg.

Did I mention my schoolboy crush on Tina Fey? she has so got The Glasses.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

The Vote 

We vote by mail in Oregon, and ballots for the primary election have started to arrive at homes throughout the state. I sure do love to vote. But after all the drama of the presidential primary campaign, after all those candidates, I'm left with three unexciting choices on Oregon's ballot: John Kerry, Lyndon LaRouche, and Dennis Kucinich. I don't care for these choices. It will be time soon enough to vote for Kerry, and I'll do so eagerly. Today, though, I'm voting for the guy I truly believe in.

I never would have thought, back in the heyday of the Dean juggernaut, that I would have to write in his name on the ballot--while simply filling in the oval next to my own.

As precinct committeeperson, I'll be canvassing the neighborhood I live in and getting people registered to vote. This is my gift to Kerry, in lieu of enthusiasm for the man himself.

Another Perfect Day 

Yesterday was great. I really needed it. I drank coffee, got some sun, rode my bike, hung out on church Street, had dinner and then got drunk (a very rare occurance). That's a pretty full day off. We had brunch today at the Penny Cluse--roast beef hash, fruit plate (no melon), large fresh squeezed OJ. Now I'm off to help MarkS move. He's off to the Big Apple for fame and fortune.

Later, I will tell the tale of "the man who took fashion too far."