Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Does whatever a spider can 

We're going to go see Spiderman 2 tonight. My expectations are high because:

1. Sam Raimi knows comics in general, and this character in particular, really well.

2. The previews include the shot of Spidey's costume on top of a garbge can with PP's sillohette walking away from it down the alley accompanying the words "Spiderman, no more." This is taken (indirectly) from the cover of Amazing Spider-man #50--how cool and arcane is that?



3. one reveiw I saw said that this is the "greatest super-hero movie ever made."

So it'll probably suck.
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Adventures in customer service 

I got used to being called "sir" years ago, and once that happens to a man, his ability to tolerate poor customer service quickly deteriorates. I was at the amazing Powell's bookstore during my lunch hour, looking for a map of Portland to send to my dad. I was hoping to find the kind of map that is drawn by hand, with all the neighborhoods drawn charmingly out of scale and with major landmarks shown. You know what I mean.

I couldn't find one, though, so I approached a clerk--a young guy with punk rock hair, sitting behind a desk and absorbed in a book. He looked up, and I told him I was looking for a cartoon-style map of Portland, drawn charmingly out of scale and with major landmarks shown.

He kept his book positioned just below and in front of his face. And he replied: "Honestly, I haven't really looked through the maps. And I can't just enter 'cartoon-style map' over here." He gestured to the computer.

He wasn't mean or spiteful about it, but I'd almost prefer it if he had been. No, his tone was neutral. He's just lazy, you see. He's not accustomed to reaching for one iota of information more than what is already stored in his mohawked head. His paycheck is an entitlement, not something to work for. Kids these days.

I make no claim that I wasn't exactly the same way.

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The (not as funny as Spine's, but still quite funny) Note You Didn't See 

This one was apparently sent to Cheney.



link

via Metafilter
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In the words of Rod Stewart... 

...Tonight's the Night. After seven years of travel and a stupidly controversial launch, Cassini is scheduled to enter Saturn orbit this evening. The action will begin to get interesting at about 9:11pm EDT (6:11pm PDT) when Cassini turns away from Earth and toward Saturn. We'll start to get some images tomorrow or the next day after it's maneuver has been completed and the images are sent back to Earth. Everybody keep your fingers crossed.


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Numerological Significance 

My friend Katie just sent me an email saying she was checking out my blogger profile and noticed something interesting:



33,333 words written! Of course, my writing this post will throw that off, but it's still sorta cool.

In related news, Candleblog has received a whole lot of traffic in the last couple of days because Ntodd and Spine have been blog-whoring some recent posts (my review of F911 and Spine's hilarious Condi Photoshop job) around the political blogosphere. Welcome all.
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Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Chew, S. F. 

Amy over at Fluid Motion has pointed out today's winner for Most Unfortunate Name. Poor woman.
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Suicide Bomber Barbie 



via die puny humans
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It's official... 

... I'm sick. I started feeling a bit weird a few days ago and I think I've been successfully fighting off a bug... until today. At breakfast I got the scratchy throat. Went back to bed and slept all afternoon and that seemed to help. Then I went into work in the evening I've been in a downward decline since. My throat hurts, my neck glands are swollen slightly and I'm developing a fever. What sucks is that I have to fly to Florida on Saturday for a week. I sure hope this thing runs its course before then--being sick in south Florida in July won't be fun.
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Candid Condi 

For some time now, the corridors of power in Washington have reverberated with speculation and rumors of forbidden love. But on Monday, the usually guarded Dr. Rice finally made public--in her own sly way--what many of us have long suspected.



I think we all recognized the change in our NSA. Here's Condi before that one weekend in Crawford:



And here she is after Bush got done "clearing the brush." Way to go, 43!


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Monday, June 28, 2004

Hitler's IMDb Page 

I'm currently writing a post about objectivity in documentary filmmaking and as part of my research I had to look up the IMDb page for Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will. While there, I noticed that Hitler has an IMDb page. It makes sense, I guess, since he is an important historical figure who is featured in many films about WWII, but here is what I found odd:

1. No photo.

2. The ubiquitous Amazon.com link contained the unintentionally funny phrase, "SHOP Adolf Hitler."
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Apologize You Fucking Bastard 

Jan Backus, who is running for Lt. Gov of Vermont, has an online petition telling Dick "I Mean That Literally" Cheney to apologize to Senator Pat Leahy for telling him to go "[expletive] himself" (ooh, did I not say that out loud?). Go sign it!

Here's the message I included:
I'm astounded that the Right castigates John Kerry for using the F-word in a Rolling Stone interview, but is fine with Dick "Big Time" telling a Senator to do something anatomically impossible on the Senate floor. So much for bringing honor and dignity to Washington.


Yeah, yeah, this amounts to nothing. But it feels good to throw a little FU back to Dick

ntodd
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What, is Yahoo News trying to be like The Onion? 

Here is the photo:



And here is the actual text that accompanies it:
Harrods Department Store owner Mohammed al-Fayed looks down at a Piaget 18 carat white gold and diamond necklace priced down to $32,760, from $68,432, worn by singer Christina Aguilera (news) during a tour of the Harrods store in London, Monday June 28, 2004. Aguilera opened the Harrods' summer sale. (AP Photo/Richard Lewis)
Yeah, right. He's looking at her "necklace." Link

via Silly Old Bear
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Oh Puh-lease 

Shorter Larry Eastland: Silly Democrats, aborting all those liberal fetuses.
As liberals and Democrats fervently seek new voters and supporters through events, fund-raisers, direct mail and every other form of communication available, they achieve results minuscule in comparison to the loss of voters they suffer from their own abortion policies. It is a grim irony lost on them, for which they will pay dearly in elections to come.

I was too creeped out to read this thing carefully. So I made no effort to determine whether Eastland's analysis is valid or shot through with logical fallacies. I suppose it doesn't matter, because I'm sure someone could produce an equally illuminating report on the cumulative effects on society of unwanted babies born to troubled parents.

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Sunday, June 27, 2004

More on Moore 

I promise that's the last "Moore" pun from me. Here are some interesting links that Metafilter has put up (be sure to read the heated comments below the MF post!):

ABC News interview excerpts in which MM must repeatedly state his reasons for not parroting facts that are already widely reported in the mainstream media.

Yahoo News reports that Fahrenheit 9/11 topped $8 million on its first day and is the number one film in the country in terms of box office receipts.

Draft MM for President
. Whatever.

Google search fo "Michael Moore is a big fat idiot."

And, of course, michaelmoore.com.
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Saturday, June 26, 2004

Less Moore is More 

So I saw fahrenheit 9/11 yesterday. I didn't have my full critical helmet on--I'll wear it next time I see the film--but my first reactions are pretty positive. We saw the first show on opening day and it sold out to all of the (apparently unemployed) Burlington lefties who put down their soy chais and seitan burgers to attend the afternoon screening. The choir that this film was preaching to could have done The Times They are A-Changing in 8 part harmony.

By the way, this crowd must never go to the movies. They seemed amazed and annoyed at the number of previews before the film (some openly hissed and booed at the trailer for Polar Express, which I found a little odd). They were also genuinely outraged by and indignant of the Pepsi ad. Apparently they were unaware that all movies have too many trailers and ads before them now. It's been like that for a few years, I guess they don't get out too much. Jayne even told me about one woman she saw who, after waiting in line for a ticket only to be turned away at the counter after the show had sold out, had a melt-down and yelled at the ticket person insisting that they really needed "a system." Um, this place hosts popular films all the time. They have a system. It's called "first come, first served." Get there early like the rest of us who had tickets. The Roxy was even selling advance tickets days before, but we were able to get ours two hours before show time. /digression.

So the film was pretty good. It's slanted to a particular point of view, but then so is every documentary ever made. Moore is not subtle, which will anger some folks, and he takes some cheap shots (like using news feed footage of Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, Rice and Wolfowitz in pre-interview mode looking goofy), but some of the points are right on target and quite damning. There were even a few surprises in there. Refreshingly, there is less of Michael Moore's righteous indignation and self-aggrandizement in this film than in his more recent films (Bowling For Columbine, The Big One) and more substance. I mentioned to Jayne afterwards that I was happy that this film (probably the most important film Moore will ever make) came after those others so that he had had a chance to hone his documentary filmmaking chops a bit.

It will be interesting to see how the MM detractors and Bush supporters will try to attack this film. After Bowling For Columbine, many people attacked some of Moore's documentary tactics. Like the scene of him getting a gun in a bank after opening an account--they dont actually give you the gun right there, as it appears they are doing in the film, you get a certificate for a gun that you take to a gun shop and go through the waiting period and background check and then they give you a gun. Moore "cheated" in the eyes of his detractors by showing footage of him actually receiving a gun in the bank lobby, but that is just a visual shortcut that all doc filmmakers do to one extent or another. The point (which is about the pervasiveness of the gun-culture in America and is still quite amazing and damning) is that you GET A GUN if you open a certain type of account at that bank.

There are a lot of those types of shortcuts and juxtapositions, there are effective uses of musical cues and slo-mo techniques that add emphasis to certian points, etc. The film may not be "fair & balanced," but it speaks the truth in larger ways.
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I dunno. I got it from Warren Ellis... 

...but it sort of reminds me of a conversation I had at DJ Hummuspants' going away party tonight, so here it is. Make sure you're looking at this when your boss is standing over your shoulder at work.



via die puny humans
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Friday, June 25, 2004

God Bless The Daily Show 

It is truly a candle in the dark.

This clip starts to really heat up after the 3-minute mark.

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The Perseids Are Coming 

The annual Perseid meteor shower is coming, and forecasters say it could be unusually good.

The shower begins, gently, in mid-July when Earth enters the outskirts of a cloud of debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle. Dust-sized meteoroids hitting the atmosphere will streak across the night sky, at first only a sprinkling, just a few each night, but the rate will build.

By August 12th when the shower peaks, sky watchers can expect to see dozens, possibly even hundreds, of meteors per hour.

This is a good year for Perseids, for two reasons, explains Bill Cooke of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. First, the Moon is new in mid-August; moonlight won't spoil the show. Second, in addition to the usual shower on August 12th, there might be an extra surge of meteors on August 11th caused by a filament of dust newly drifting across Earth's orbit.
Full story here.
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With Friends Like Hummuspants... 

...I'm way ahead of the curve.

Back on June 5th (ancient history, blog-wise) I posted a piece about Hatebeak, a death metal band with a parrot as a lead "singer" that DJ Hummuspants (AKA "H. Panty") had told me about. Well today, weeks later, both bOING bOING and Metafilter have finally caught up with Candleblog. Unfortunately, Candleblog was not where these popular sites learned of the gimmick band, so we will not benefit from the enormous influx of traffic that blogs typically see after they have been linked from there. Still, we can revel in our secret pride that we were there first thanks to Hummuspants.



On a sadder note, this is the DJ's last weekend in Burlington as he is packing up and moving to Vancouver on Sunday to go to some fruity art school. Aw what the hell, he never reads Candleblog anyway. Good riddance.


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Thursday, June 24, 2004

Go get 'em, Pat 

Cheney curses Leahy on Senate floor
WASHINGTON - Vice President Cheney cursed at Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy during a confrontation on the Senate floor while members were having their annual group picture taken earlier this week, Leahy and Senate sources said Thursday.

The incident occurred on Tuesday in a terse discussion between the two that touched on politics, religion and money, Senate aides with knowledge of the encounter said.

According to aides, Leahy said hello to Cheney following the taking of the Senate group photo on the floor of the chamber.

Cheney, who as vice president is president of the Senate, then ripped into Leahy for the Democratic senator’s criticism this week of alleged war profiteering in Iraq by Halliburton, the oil services company that Cheney once ran.

Leahy and other Democrats have called for congressional hearings into whether the vice president helped the firm win lucrative contracts in Iraq after the U.S.-led war that toppled Saddam Hussein.

During their exchange, Leahy noted that Republicans had accused Democrats of being anti-Catholic because they are opposed to some of President George W. Bush’s anti-abortion judges, the aides said.

Cheney then responded, "F--- off" or "F--- you," two aides said, both speaking on condition of anonymity.

Leahy, D-Vt., confirmed that the confrontation took place but would not provide details.

“I think he was just having a bad day," Leahy said. "I was kind of shocked to hear that kind of language on the floor."

I saw Leahy on Church Street a few years ago during a trip to Burlington. He's a big man and has got a bit of a swagger. I was kind of surprised--I suppose I had mistaken his lack of hair for meekness. In any case, it's nice to know he's there in Washington, getting a rise out of Tricky Dick II.

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X-man in the making 

Somewhere in Germany is a baby Superman, born in Berlin with bulging arm and leg muscles. Not yet 5, he can hold seven-pound weights with arms extended, something many adults cannot do. He has muscles twice the size of other kids his age and half their body fat.

DNA testing showed why: The boy has a genetic mutation that boosts muscle growth.

The discovery, reported in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine, represents the first documented human case of such a mutation.
Full story here.

via die puny humans
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A Ray of Hope 

I just received this from the folks at the Prometheus Radio Project:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: FEDERAL COURT PRESERVES STAY OF RULES, CALLS FCC
DEREGULATORY TENDENCIES 'IRRATIONAL' AND 'INCONSISTENT'

Contact: Pete Tridish, 215.727.9620, 215.605.9297, petri@prometheusradio.org
Contact: Hannah Sassaman, 215.727.9620, 267.970.4007, hannahjs@prometheusradio.org

In a lengthy decision of over 200 pages, the Third District Court today told the Federal Communications Commission that its attempts to further deregulate the American media system are unjustified. The court determined that the FCC relied on "irrational assumptions and inconsistencies" in determining the new cross-ownership caps, and ordered them to make a new decision that takes seriously their duty to regulate media to preserve the public interest.

The court's decision in this case requires the FCC to reverse its controversial June 2003 decision relaxing the regulation of ownership of the newspaper, television and radio industries. Judges faulted the FCC's methodology in measuring concentration, and rejected the FCC's argument ownership limits should be removed unless evidence could be shown to warrant their retention. With the burden of proof back on the FCC, consumers groups, parents, activist organizations, and even FCC Commissioner Michael Copps joined Prometheus in celebration of the Court's decision. "The rush to media consolidation approved by the FCC last June was wrong as a matter of law and policy," said Commissioner Copps in a released statement. "The commission has a second chance to do the right thing."

"This outstanding decision comes at a time when unprecedented debate on the role of media outlets in Americans' lives is taking place," said Prometheus Program Director Hannah Sassaman. "Thousands of Americans are telling the Commission and everyone who will listen that consolidation is bad for their communities and families. It is of paramount importance that the FCC use that testimony to inform new ownership rules that will preserve and protect America's diverse, local voices."

The Prometheus Radio Project is also currently working to expand the number of Low Power FM (LPFM) Radio stations in the United States. FCC Chairman Michael Powell, Senator John McCain of Arizona, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, and many thousands of Americans have looked to LPFM to provide a good source of local, diverse content in an era of profoundly consolidated media. "Senators McCain and Leahy recently proposed Senate Bill 2505, which will, if passed, bring thousands of low-power community radio stations to America's cities and countryside," said Prometheus Technical Director Pete Tridish. "Now that the American people, members of Congress, and the courts have all said that consolidated ownership of media doesn't serve us, we urge Congress to pass this bill, and bring more truly independent media outlets to our country."

Prometheus brought the original motion to stay the rules on behalf of their constituents, the many thousands of Americans fighting to build low power, independent radio stations. The Prometheus Radio Project is an activist organization that fights for more democratic ownership and regulation of media. Prometheus advocates for community organizations that want to start radio stations, and has helped build the first radio stations owned by civil rights and environmental organizations in the United States.

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mmm... Double Double, Double take 


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Double Double Take 



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Double Take 


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Juris Imprudence 

Eww.
While seated on the bench, an Oklahoma judge used a male enhancement pump, shaved and oiled his nether region, and pleasured himself, state officials charged yesterday in a petition to remove the jurist.

No wonder the guy doesn't have a problem with people smoking in restaurants.

Also, a loogie suddenly doesn't seem so offensive.

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Dear Ralph 

To: Ralph Nader
From: John Kerry

Ralph,

I received your letter urging me to select John Edwards as my running mate. Your praise of the senator from North Carolina suggests that you would enjoy seeing him serve as our country's vice president. That's nice. Feel free to help make that happen, you fucking tool.

Sincerely,

John

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Dog Toy or Marital Aid? 

Take the test.



via Metafilter
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Zinn Film Update 

My friend Deb just emailed me with an update on the Howard Zinn documentary she directed, You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train. It won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Provincetown International Film Festival! In her email, Deb wrote:
Hey, saw your post on your blog, and thanks!

We opened in Portland, OR last weekend and did well, in fact, it has done better after the weekend than it did on the weekend, meaning word of mouth is good. We open in Boston this Friday, 6/25 at the Coolidge. I'm psyched.

We won Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Provincetown International Film Festival last weekend. And, there's a nice article in the Boston Phoenix on Thursday. (here)

As always, thanks for the interview footage that looks better than every other interview in the film! It's nice that you were involved. Now... crossing fingers!

Deb

PS. Yes, the title does come from Zinn's autobiography, "You Can't be Neutral on a Moving Train", a concept central to his world view.
Here is my original Candleblog post about the film.
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Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Another Milestone 

We passed 2,000 hits today. #2,000 was from one of those annoying numerical IP addresses. Thanks, whoever you are! Summary:
VISITS

Total 2,013
Average Per Day 45
Average Visit Length 4:56
Last Hour 3
Today 39
This Week 315

PAGE VIEWS

Total 3,689
Average Per Day 78
Average Per Visit 1.7
Last Hour 10
Today 57
This Week 546

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Matty the Greek on Pocky 

I just checked out the latest from Magister Matt G. Paradise's online journal, Disclosures, and I found this funny bit on the Japanese snack food, Pocky, which is essentially a saltless chocolate covered pretzel stick--very yummy:
5 June 04 - ON THE SUBJECT OF POCKY
My friend, Mark came up this weekend from The Big Apple to visit and work. What he brought me as gifts consist of a few things, including Pocky -- a very thoughtful and complimentary gift, if I may say so. In addition to the "Hello Kitty" variety, I also have a pack of Men's Pocky -- presumedly, to be eaten only by men. Real men, perhaps? Who knows? There certainly aren't many (if any) instances of American confections being assigned to each gender. Should I feel a greater sense of masculinity by eating this andro-centered snack? And where is the damn science behind this!? Should I covertly give one of these treats to a female houseguest? And, if so, what will transpire? Also, what would my feminist mother say about all of this? Too many questions for a candy. Aw, shut up, Matt, and just eat the friggin' things!

[three hours later...]

Okay, I've now eaten half a box of Pocky! Not sure if I'm really more "manly" as a result, but my female cat is now giving me some rather strange looks... and purring fiercely! (Incidentally, she WON'T eat the stuff, and this is in spite of the fact that I normally NEVER give her "human" food.) What did those wacky Japanese candy manufacturers put in this stuff?! Aw, crap, may as well eat the other half of the box. Here goes...

[thirty minutes later...]

It's now definite... I am now officially addicted to Pocky! Damn you, Mark, the entire nation of Japan, and their crunchy stick wafers tipped in chocolate goodness! At this point, I'm now going to devour the "Hello Kitty" Pocky... gender separation and Hilton sisters, be damned!

[five minutes later...]

Holy crap! The cat is EATING the "Hello Kitty" Pocky! What hath I wrought?! And, now, how do I stop her from pouncing on me? You should literally SEE the junkie glaze stare in her eyes right now. It's downright obsessive! "Go away, Kitty... no Hello for you."
Unfortunately, I see no way of linking to specific posts at Disclosures (one of the pitfalls of eschewing free blog templates), but you should go there and check it out. He also has a post Media & Democracy conference de-briefing (we sat together).
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Vermont Crime Spree! 

Yahoo News:
BURLINGTON, Vt. - South End residents are keeping their eyes peeled for a possible flower burglar.

One couple has had three raids on their annuals this year. Jager Di Paola Kemp Design was hit, too. A flower bed at the Indigo Salon on Battery Street was destroyed. Handy's Lunch, at the corner of Maple and South Champlain streets, lost 35 marigolds, geraniums and pansies from its bright flower bed in one night.

Owner Earl Handy said the spate of burglaries is a shock given how "tight-knit" the neighborhood is.

No one in the area has seen anything.

Resident Gayel Favali is "irate, to say the least."

She loves flowers, and hers, she said, were "spectacular" this spring. They seemed to cheer neighbors and passers-by on the busy street. Now they are gone.

The final straw, she said, was last Friday evening. She and her husband, Rob, sat on the front porch sipping a drink and chatting with neighbors until about 8:30, then went inside. At about 10 p.m., a neighbor knocked on the door and told them someone had taken more of their flowers.

"It's an insult to the community," she said.

Deputy Chief Walt Decker said police are stepping up patrols in the area.

"It's such a low theft," Favali said. "What kind of person would do that? It's like stealing your pet."

Favali imagines the thief is an adult, because the plants were neatly dug up rather than torn out and thrown in the street, as kids might do.

But it doesn't make much sense, she said. The crime doesn't fit the friendly neighborhood.

She's not much worried about what it would cost to replace the flowers. It's the idea of someone digging up a flower bed.

Handy agrees.

"Stealing flowers," Handy said, speaking past the lunch crowd at his diner. "That's just not right."
Since when is Battery and Maple the "south end" of Burlington? That's totally "downtown." I used to live a block from that intersection and I never thought I was in the south end. Now I really do live in the south end and I want nothig to do with those downtown, flower-stealing bastards! :)

via Fluid Motion
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Kicking and squealing Gucci little piggy 

The UMass Front Percussion Ensemble plays Radiohead's Paranoid Android.

via bOINGbOING
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It's a bird... it's a plane... 

Waiting for the bus?


Ever vigilant.


via bOINGbOING
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Tuesday, June 22, 2004

The Spine 

They Might Be Giants' new album, The Spine, is due out in July. Yay! The album includes a track called Spine and another called Spines. I think Candleblog team member, Spine, may have grounds for an intellectual property suit. Any thoughts on that FID?


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Common (Hyperlinked) Errors in English Usage 

This is a good idea. I will make use of this site often.
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Cory Doctorow on I, Robot 

Author, copyright advocate, Boing Boing contributor and nerd extraordinaire, Cory Doctorow, has written a piece about the I, Robot filmic adaptation and Asimov's legacy for Wired Magazine. Here.

Excerpt:
Yet Asimov's reductionist approach to human interaction may be his most lasting influence. His thinking is alive and well and likely filling your inbox at this moment with come-ons asking you to identify your friends and rate their "sexiness" on a scale of one to three. Today's social networking services like Friendster and Orkut collapse the subtle continuum of friendship and trust into a blunt equation that says, "So-and-so is indeed my friend," and "I trust so-and-so to see all my other 'friends.'" These systems demand that users configure their relationships in a way that's easily modeled in software. It reflects a mechanistic view of human interaction: "If Ann likes Bob and Bob hates Cindy, then Ann hates Cindy." The idea that we can take our social interactions and code them with an Asimovian algorithm ("allow no harm, obey all orders, protect yourself") is at odds with the messy, unpredictable world. The Internet succeeds because it is nondeterministic and unpredictable: The Net's underlying TCP/IP protocol makes no quality of service guarantees and promises nothing about the route a message will take or whether it will arrive.

This need for people to behave in a predictable, rational, measurable way recalls Mr. Spock's autistic inability to understand human emotion without counting dimples to discern happiness or frown lines to identify sorrow. It's likewise reminiscent of scientology, which uses quantitative charts of personality traits, such as "lack of accord" and "certainty," to help people become 100 percent happy, composed, and so on.

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Paging Dennis Quaid 

Baseball size hail pounds Texas
AMARILLO, Texas (AP) -- Wind gusting to 70 mph and hail the size of baseballs pounded the Texas Panhandle, smashing almost all of the windows on one end of a six-story hospital, where one patient was injured by flying glass.

"It blew out the lobby. The windows are shattered. They blew in on the patients," said Mary Barlow, a spokeswoman for Baptist St. Anthony's Hospital.




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Monday, June 21, 2004

Get Your Voyeur On 

UploadYourImages.com is a free image hosting site that anyone can upload photos to and link from (for ebay, blogs, whatever). That's cool, but what's cooler is they have this one page where every time you reload, you see a randomly selected example of one of the thousands of pictures. For example, I just found this image:



Warning: this leads to lots and lots of page refreshes. Some images may not be work safe.

See also Tinypic.com for more random image-browsing fun.

via Metafilter
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Did Somebody Say "Police State?" 

Louise Jones said it happened after she pulled up to her house near 50th and Euclid and saw a police car. She honked, and an officer got out of the vehicle.

"He said he could give me a citation ticket for honking my horn. I said it was an accident. It's not like I laid on the horn; I honked, right in front of my house," Jones said.

Jones said the officer went to a call at another home, then returned to her house to give her a ticket for honking.

"He grabbed me and I jerked away from him, and he said, 'You assaulted me,'" Jones recalled.

Police said Jones wouldn't cooperate and hit the officer. That's when the officer pulled his Taser gun and shocked her, Pitman reported.
Full story here.

via die puny humans
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U.S. Supreme Court Takes Us One Significant Step Closer to a Police State 

In a five to four split, the same five U.S. Supreme Court justices who apointed G. W. Bush to the Presidency today ruled that all U.S. citizens must "show zeir papers" when told to by police.

The specific case was about a Nevada man who was parked on the side of the road and approached by police. When he refused to provide identification, they arrested him. He was not drunk, nor was he driving, nor was he parked illegally. Police had received a report of a man and woman fighting. The man was with his daughter (who was in the driver's seat of the truck) and they had been arguing. The man had asked her to pull over so he could get some air. When the police showed up he was leaning against the truck chatting with his daughter. That's when the trouble started. Here's the story. And here's the Nevada defendant's website.


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mmm... it's gagtastic! 

My co-worker showed me this when I got to the studio today:



It's pork fat covered in chocolate. This BBC story has more details, if you can stand it...
Forget deep-fried Mars bar. One of the unhealthiest snacks in the world can now be found in Ukraine.

For years people here have loved pork fat, known as salo.

Normally, small slices of the white fat are eaten with black bread, raw garlic and vodka.

But this new twist is designed to appeal to Ukraine's love of all things fatty.

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Sunday, June 20, 2004

Eschatological Documentary 

I always wanted to use the word "eschatology" in a sentence and now I have an opportunity. Last week I TiVoed a documentary called From Here to Infinity. It was made by the BBC science show, Horizon, and re-broadcast on the Discovery Science Channel show, Mission Control. The doc was about this guy, a physicist named Saul Perlmutter, who stunned the astronomical community by inventing a way to observe distant supernovae on demand. Basically, he developed a way to do high resolution, wide field photography of many extremely distant galaxies in a single frame. By observing many galaxies at once, he was able to dramatically increase his chances of catching a supernova occuring in one of the galaxies in the frame. Besause these (type Ia) supernovae are "standard candles" (always the same absolute luminosity with the same spectrographic characteristics), Perlmutter was able to use this data to determine the expansion rate of the universe to a more accurate degree than ever before and he discovered something amazing: contrary to what every cosmologist assumed and apparently in conflict with some pretty basic laws of physics, the universe's expansion rate is increasing. The universe is accelerating in its expansion. Ever since 1929, when Edwin Hubble showed that the universe is expanding, scientists have assumed that the gravitational force exerted by all of the matter in the universe should be slowing that expansion rate--the only question was whether or not there was enough matter to eventually halt the expansion. Perlmutter turned that assumption upside down and now scientists are faced with the question: how is this possible? Moreover, the discovery means that eschatologists like Frank Tipler have to dramatically re-think their predictions.

I have known about this discovery for several years, but it wasn't until I watched this documentary that I learned about the man responsible for it.

Add Perlmutter to my list of personal heroes.
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The editors at Salon must read Candleblog... 

... because they have published an article claiming that the common-sense traffic zoning practice of separating cars from pedestrians and bicycles is actually a bad idea...
When it comes to reconfiguring streets as community spaces, ground zero is once again Holland and Denmark, where planners are removing traffic lights in some towns and cities, as well as white divider lines, sidewalks and speed limits. Research has shown that fatality rates at busy intersections, where two or three people were being killed every year, dropped to zero when controls and boundaries were taken away. (This is food for thought among alternative-transportation advocates in the United States, who extol northern Europe as a model precisely because so much space in these countries is dedicated to segregated pedestrian spaces and bike lanes.)
Click here for the whole article. You can skip the subscription by spending 30 seconds watching a free day pass advertisement.

via Boing Boing
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Saturday, June 19, 2004

Slow Blogging... 

Got my bike fixed up today and went on a short ride with NTodd and AlexC. We got yelled at by a redneck in a BIG TRUCK and his loser girlfriend. He told us to "get on the sidewalk!" Apparently they were unaware that bikes are technically vehicles and are not only allowed to be on the road, but are required to be there by law (as opposed to on the sidewalk). Whatever. Jerkface.

More tomorrow...
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Friday, June 18, 2004

Media & Democracy in Vermont--Debriefing 

12:45 pm
It's lunchtime at the Media & Democracy conference at St. Paul's Cathedral in Burlington.

During this morning's key-note address in the sanctuary of the cathedral, I was seated next to Magister Matt (Matty the Greek) G. Paradise of the Church of Satan, whose ironic presence was underscored by his goatee and usual 3-piece suit amid the sea of media hippies who were attired in the much more casual summer-wear you might expect.

My first clue that this conference was not going to exceed my expectations came at 10:10 am when our hostess introduced the "musical interlude," which was one of the PEG access providers singing folk songs on an acoustic guitar. The performance was fine--run of the mill political folk songs that would have been perfectly appropriate in a coffee house or open-mic setting, but they were little more than a time-filler in this venue. These songs were indicative of one of the problems I feared I would have at this event: liberal bias.

Don't get me wrong. I'm a liberal. I am politically aligned with most of these folks on most issues. However, my passion for PEG access TV and democratic media is necessarily non-partisan. I believe in de-centralization of media and strong regulatory controls over corporate media interests because these things will make society more free--for everyone--for radical leftists, anarchists, right-wing militia, soccer moms, NASCAR dads, teenagers--everyone. Singing about Howard Dean taking the country back is nice and all, but it limits the message being presented here to a small slice of the population.

3:36 pm
Now I have left the conference. A panel discussion continues but I had heard enough. I'm more or less familiar with all of the information being presented and with many of the panel participants, personally. Besides, in terms of media diversification advocacy, they were preaching to the choir.

Some petty complaints:

1. CCTV sponsored the conference and kept referring to 20 years of public access in Vermont when they know perfectly well that Brattleboro, VT's channel 8 has been on the air since 1976. This fact was not mentioned once. 2004 is CCTV's 20th anniversary and while Lauren-Glenn has done a tremendous amount of PEG access advocacy in Vermont and the role of CCTV should not be underestimated, they did not re-invent the wheel.

2. In a large room filled with A/V gear and dozens of technicians, there is no excuse for poor audio. The first 1/3 of the day was marred by inadequate sound.

3. During the key-note address by Jeff Chester from the Center for Digital Democracy about open access and broadband consolidation and other net-literate topics, whoever they had running the projected web screen was clearly an internet neophyte. It would have been a lot less distracting if when Jeff asked them to bring up a specific web page, the operator knew that typing "http://www" in the address bar of the browser was not necessary. Also, having someone who could spell the word "visible" would not have hurt.

4. Why bother having a rear projection system if the conference staff is going to frequently cross the projection beam anyway?

5:44 pm
Reading over the above paragraphs I realize that I should really say some nice things about the conference. It's events like these that are the beginnings of grassroots organization that can result in some real change. Jeff Chester said some important things about the big media owners and their plans and what we can do as citizens to counteract them or at least have a say in the legislative process. Many access producers were deservedly recognized for their years of volunteer work in the medium. Getting together is always good, even if it's only to reassure ourselves that we are not working for free speech in a vacuum. Lunch was nice.

All in all, I was happiest with the out-of-towners who brought a fresh perspective to the scene, and least happy with the same old lefty media clique who have been around for years. But then, I'm jaded.
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I'm out 

I'm at Borders now, decompressing after attending today's Media & Democracy in Vermont conference. I will post a full report on the conference later, but for now let me leave you with these two words that sum up my chief problem with the conference in general and its organizing body, CCTV, in particular: liberal bias. More later.
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Thursday, June 17, 2004

Has anyone else noticed... 

...that Groove Salad has begun inserting pithy little comments between songs in a kind of pseudo-Stephen Hawking computer voice? Is anyone else annoyed by this?
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Kerry/Dean? 

Oh, what the hell...I'll perpetuate this baseless rumor. From Kos:
(Start rumor.)

Sure, Kerry is a cautious guy, but the existing veep possibilities are flawed. Gephardt brings labor, but he's not going to set the race on fire. Edwards is missing something (gravitas?). The supposed flirtation with McCain is evidence that Kerry is looking for a pick that would change the equation of the race.

Kerry is also worried that Nader may screw him in various states. The fact that Kucinich drew 16 percent of the Oregon primary could be evidence that the party's left is dissatisfied with Kerry and may look to Nader as an alternative. Hence, Kerry brought Dean along on a campaign trip.

(This is all still rumor..)

Kerry's aides are grudgingly realizing that Dean helps neutralize potential dissatisfaction with the party's left. Kerry and Dean supposedly got along well during their Oregon swing. Dean supporters raised $1 million for Kerry, including $500,000 the day Kerry put Dean's bat on his site. And the Fox poll and a new one from Zogby just out show the ticket polls well.

Hence, Dean is now getting consideration.

(End rumor.)

I know there's a "Draft Dean for VP" site out there, and I'm not surprised that large numbers of Deaners would be agitating for a Kerry/Dean ticket despite the various pieces of conventional wisdom that render it highly unlikely. I didn't think anything of it until Zogby did a poll to see what kind of numbers such a ticket would get. That made me think that at the very least, Kerry's people might not think the idea preposterous.

It seems a bit misguided to me, but then again, so does picking Gephardt.


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Is This For Real? 

WhiteSmoke™ doesn't seem possible.

via Making Light
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Funny, Relevant Daily Show Clips 

Here is a link to a few clips from recent episodes of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I saw these on TV and I think The Daily Show is one of the best and funniest metafilters of news going. Watch these and laugh and cry. Particularly fun is the one where we get to see Ashcroft squirm in from of a congressional committee. Biden looks pissed.

via Boing Boing
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The Reality of Running Away from Stuff 

Here's a chart showing maximum speeds for some of the more common Hollywood hazards measured against the fastest speeds that an Olympic level human can deliver (all in meters/second).
via Boing Boing
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Okay, so I'm a little late... 

...but Curb Your Enthusiasm is awesome! I don't have cable, so I never saw the show until I rented the first six episodes at Blockbuster. Predictably, the show is similar to Seinfeld, but is much edgier and thus much funnier. No commercials, no slap-bass musical segues, no Kramer acting wacky for cheap laughs.

I'm not surprised that the forums on the CYE website are full of threads in which fans try to figure out who the "real" Larry David is. But I'm not going there. I'm just going to rent the next six episodes.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2004

"Oh my god! There's an axe in my head." 

Here.

via Metafilter
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You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train 

My friend Deb Ellis co-directed a documentary about historian Howard Zinn called Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train. It's premiering in several cities and I want to encourage any candleblog readers to go check it out. I shot one of the interviews for the film and have worked with Deb on several projects. I've seen an early cut of the film and it is quite good. Zinn is a facsinating and charismatic man. Go check it out. Here is an email she sent out about cities and dates:
I just want to let you know that my film, "Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train", is screening at the Provincetown Film Festival on Thursday and Saturday this week.

It is opening in Portland, OR on Friday June 18; Boston at the Coolidge on June 25; and Cinema Village in NYC on July 23. There are a few other dates in between, and others later in the summer. NYC reviewers' screenings are scheduled for July.

No Vermont bookings yet, but will keep you posted. Its coming out at a good time.

Deb Ellis, Co-Producer/Director
Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train


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Bill Bitch-Slaps Seven Days 

Reproduced below is my letter to the editor that appears in this week's Seven Days (out today). Here is a link, but they don't archive so it's only good for a week.
SMOKED OUT

I’m writing in response to Karen Shimizu’s article, “Trial by Fire” [June 2], which was about her experience at a Vermont “firewalk.” I don’t understand why people are so incredulous when a used-car salesman is trying to sell them a lemon, but completely gullible when it comes to scams like firewalking.

Ms. Shimizu dismisses the claims of “skeptics” as if a few die-hard curmudgeons are scratching their heads in wonder and desperately trying to explain away what clearly cannot be explained. Ms. Shimizu writes: “One theory says that evaporating moisture from the bottom of the foot forms a vaporous shield that keeps feet from direct contact with the coals. ... Others claim that coals are poor conductors of heat. Neither argument seems to fully explain firewalking...”

Um, actually, yes they do. Both “theories” are correct and fully explain the firewalking effect, though it’s the second one that’s the key. Any human can walk across smoldering wood coals without being hurt as long as they don’t linger there for too long. No chanting or meditating or other dressing up is required. The fact is that neither wood nor the skin on the bottoms of your feet is a very good conductor of heat.

Interestingly, nowhere in the article does Ms. Shimizu reveal how much it costs to attend and participate in a firewalk. I realize the piece is not hard-hitting journalism and that the writer should not be expected to cover every possible angle and get all the cold, hard facts, but I would appreciate a bit more research and incredulity in the future. As it is, the article is little more than an advertisement for this new-age con game.

One of the gimmick phrases mentioned in the article seems pretty apt: “FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real.” Yup, that about sums it up.

Bill Simmon

BURLINGTON

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Land of the Home: Requiem for Charlie, Part Zwei 

I posted an obituary for my son-in-law Charlie Turnbaugh a while back, not sure where in the archives it ended up, but my son Stephen just told me something that I thought would be a fun-filled addendum thereto. The words are mine, but the story is Stephen's:

After the body was removed, Stephen and his girlfriend cleaned out the room where Charlie was living (under house arrest). When they emptied the waste basket, Stephen found some syringes that had remnants of their contents: a cherry red fluid. Figuring it couldn't be blood (which would be dark brown), he sniffed a syringe and immediately recognized the contents: cherry-flavored cold/cough syrup. Yes, apparently for those that are hard up for a high, injecting Nyquil directly will apparently provide some relief.


I, for one, was completely startled, but as Stephen pointed out, a shot of syrup might take a full 1/2 hr when swallowed, but a mere seconds to hit the heart and head. God save us all.
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Tuesday, June 15, 2004

J. K. Rowling Ends Harry Potter Series After Discovering Boys 

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND—Speaking though her publicist, author J.K. Rowling shocked fans and the publishing world Monday when she announced that she has opted to end the best-selling Harry Potter series because she has discovered boys.

"For many years, writing the Harry Potter books was the most important thing in Joanne's life," said publicist Mark Knowles, who is "just good friends" with Rowling. "She's been experiencing a lot of changes lately. She still wants to keep in touch with her fans, but she doesn't feel she can sit in a room at her computer all day while there are so many cute boys running around."

According to Knowles, instead of working on the as-yet-untitled sixth installment in her series, Rowling has spent the past two months sunning herself at the beach, reading fashion magazines, and talking on the phone for hours.

"I know many of you are upset by this news," Knowles said. "But Ms. Rowling was tired of devoting herself to something that no longer held her interest—namely, writing books about wizards, flying broomsticks, and candy that jumps. She's a lot older than she was when she wrote the first book. She'd much rather be going to the mall, looking for cute outfits, and talking to the boy with the curly red hair who works at the Hot Sam pretzel shop."

Friends of Rowling say her increasing interest in boys first became obvious during the 2003 release of her series' fifth installment, Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix. At book signings, Rowling often had her longtime friend Mindy Harrison pass notes to cute boys in line. But according to Harrison, the author would blush and be unable to speak whenever one approached her.

In fact, sources say delays on Phoenix stemmed from Rowling's unrequited infatuation with Randy Powell, winner of the PEN Center USA West Award for Children's Literature and author of Run If You Dare and Tribute To Another Dead Rock Star.

"She had such a big crush on him, it was crazy," Harrison said. "She'd call his house and hang up. She'd draw pictures for him, but never send them. If she wasn't looking him up online, she was talking about him endlessly. She finally got the courage to e-mail him, but he never responded. I don't think I've ever seen her so depressed. The only reason she finished Order Of The Phoenix was because she knew it would outsell all his books put together."

Many of Rowling's fans disapprove of the author's decision to quit writing the Harry Potter series. Some here also complained about the amount of makeup Rowling has begun to wear, her choice of friends, and her recent decision to get her belly button pierced.

"I can't believe she would give up something she worked so hard on, just because people might think it's not 'cool,'" said Nancy Listrom, a Boston resident and fan of the Harry Potter books. "I blame that Mindy girl. She's a bad influence."

Added Listrom: "And I can't believe her publicist allows her to show up at a bookstore appearance dressed in that pink skirt. It barely covers her butt. Her writing is a better way to get attention."

Philadelphia fan Jack Powell said discipline is the solution.

"If it were up to me, I'd ground her until she finished the series," Powell said. "If we let her quit now, what kind of message does that send?"

It seems unlikely that fans' comments will do anything to reverse Rowling's decision. Last week, the author said she can't believe how "immature" her novels are.

"When I look back at these books, I am, like, humiliated that anyone read them," Rowling said in a June 12 article in the London Times. "I wish they would all just go away. Whenever I meet a boy that I like, someone always shows him my books and makes a big deal about how they're the best-selling books in the world. It's so embarrassing."

Knowles reassured fans that Rowling is "probably just going through a phase."

"Ms. Rowling loves writing, but she's just a little boy crazy," Knowles said. "Like any 39-year-old woman, her hormones are raging. Right now, all she wants to do is go to parties and daydream about her wedding, but that won't last more than a few years. Watch what happens after her first big breakup."
swiped from The Onion
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14 Defining Characteristics of Fascism 

From Rense.com (conspiracy-nut alert!) comes this eerily familiar sounding list(originally published in Free Inquiry Magazine):
Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread
domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

6. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.
via Metafilter
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Transit Tales 

NYTimes(free registration required):
The sight brought cheers from a crowd of about 100 - astronomers, students, residents, visitors, startled tourists who gathered on this Nantucket beach in the gray hours before dawn, armed with a bevy of portable telescopes, binoculars, special goggles and coffee, to greet an apparition last seen anywhere in 1882.

For almost two hours in the caramel light of dawn, the beach party watched what looked like a bullet hole in the Sun, clean and round, work its way slowly toward the edge. It was only at the end that clouds began to intrude, and for half an hour the Sun and Venus played hide and seek.

Then the clouds parted again, long enough for everybody to get a good final glimpse of Venus crossing the Sun's edge, appearing like a black half-circle taken out of the Sun. "Imagine that," said Dr. Dorrit Hoffleit, 97, who was the director of the Maria Mitchell Observatory here for 25 years. "We thought it was gone, and it came back."

Then the sliver of Venus slowly melted off the Sun.
via Making Light
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Cassini is in the hizzy with Pheobe 

Cassini-Huygens mission page



Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for Operations (CICLOPS)

SpaceRef.com story about Cassini's flyby of Saturn's moon, Pheobe


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Make Your Own Pirate Radio Station 

Avast, me hearties, build your own radio staion using iPods, aarrr. Engadget has the dirty details here. And here's an excerpt for you scaliwags:
First, to become your own pirate broadcast station you’ll need to increase the range and signal of your iTrip mini. Turns out, there is an antennae built inside the iTrip mini. All you need to do is remove the top sticker-like protection which hides the antennae and then using tweezers or your fingernail, pull the antennae out. We’ve found a 20% to 30% increase of range on average. This likely voids the warranty, so there, we said it.

Next up, if you’re using the iTrip mini, then you know that you can install all the stations on the dial to broadcast on. At first we we’re really sure we’d ever use them, but now we have good reason. So make sure you’ve installed all the stations, on the go you might need them to switch to. Remember, the iTrip is a FM broadcasting device, intended to broadcast 10 to 30 feet to a FM radio.

Next, choose your broadcast, it can be any song or a spoken word MP3, don’t worry we have a few suggestions. A lot depends on the situation you’re in.
via Boing Boing
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Benjamin Creme and Maitreya and The Antichrist and ... 

If you haven't read about the Ascended Masters, or the satanical conspiracies or The Light Bearers or Maitreya or ... , check out this site. There's a lot more Excerpt:


Alice Bailey founded the Lucifer Trust, which she later changed to the Lucis Trust -- what did she mean by Lucifer?

Lucifer is the name of a great Angel, not an upstart in heaven who revolted against God and was put down into the nether regions as the Devil....the angel who ensouls the human kingdom; every person, therefore, is a fragment of Lucifer. According to the esoteric teaching, the human souls individualized 18.5 million years ago. Lucifer, the Oversoul, diversified itself, and each fragment became individualized.


And

Whether Benjamin Creme's channeled "Master" is, in fact, the antichrist or not, remains to be seen. However, the teaching of man's divinity is the crux of the New Age-New World Order, and its various "light-bearers" have successfully ingrained this idea into the minds of humanity — a clear invitation to partake "in fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil". We know who brought that first message in the Garden, and the startling thing is that they readily admit that its Lucifer bringing this same "initiation." Incidentally, New Age leader John Randolph Price admits that, "Those who follow the path of Lucifer are called 'light-bearers' in the world."


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Monday, June 14, 2004

Land of the Home: We practically kidnapped Rusty! 

"We wined him and dined him and hounded and stalked him and finally he accepted!."


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Happy Blog Day 

Candleblogger Ntodd's main blog, Dohiyi Mir, turns one today. Congratulations Ntodd. Keep up the good work.
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Some excellent questions... 

...from Teresa Nielsen Hayden regarding the efficacy of electronic voting. Here.
4. If you put a dollar in a change machine and the machine refuses to take it, do you throw the dollar away?

(If your answer is “no”, then regardless of your other political affiliations and opinions, you know that a hand count is more accurate and reliable than a machine count.)

5. When James Baker stood up in front of the mikes at a press conference during the fuss over the Florida miscount, and asserted that machine counts are more accurate than hand counts, how come no one asked him what he does when change machines reject his bills?

Failing asking the obvious question, how come no one asked him how he thought he could get away with that statement, given that it’s a long-established fact that hand counts are more accurate?

(He might as well have announced, “We’re lying, and as long as the U.S. press keeps mum, we don’t care who else in the world knows we’re doing it.”)

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Global Warming: Fact and Fiction 

Here is a nice interactive site sifting through the global warming issue.

via Metafilter
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Damn... 

I was afraid this would happen.
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Sunday, June 13, 2004

Is the U.S. like Germany of the '30s? 

Candleblog bodly invokes Godwin's Law. Excerpt from Chicago Sun Times:
Today many Americans celebrate a ''strong'' leader who, like Woodrow Wilson, never wavers, never apologizes, never admits a mistake, never changes his mind, a leader with a firm ''Christian'' faith in his own righteousness. These Americans are delighted that he ignores the rest of the world and punishes the World Trade Center terrorism in Iraq. Mr. Bush is our kind of guy.

He is not another Hitler. Yet there is a certain parallelism. They have in common a demagogic appeal to the worst side of a country's heritage in a crisis. Bush is doubtless sincere in his vision of what is best for America. So too was Hitler. The crew around the president -- Donald Rumsfeld, John Ashcroft, Karl Rove, the ''neo-cons'' like Paul Wolfowitz -- are not as crazy perhaps as Himmler and Goering and Goebbels. Yet like them, they are practitioners of the Big Lie -- weapons of mass destruction, Iraq democracy, only a few ''bad apples.''
via Metafilter
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10 Most Popular Words 

The fine folks over at Merriam-Webster Online have announced this year's 10 most popular words. Are you excited yet? Is the suspense killing you? Are you feeling a tad persnickety that I'm keeping you in suspense? Is your day becoming discombobulated because I am not yet revealing the plethora of words that have been juxtaposed by M-W due to their popularity? Here they are:
1. defenestration
2. serendipity
3. onomatopoeia
4. discombobulate
5. plethora
6. callipygian
7. juxtapose
8. persnickety
9. kerfuffle
10. flibbertigibbet
via Metafilter
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Carpe Diem 

The feature speaker at the Danville High School graduation today was Rusty Dewees. He was very funny. The valedictorian's speech was ok, and the salutatorian's speech was pretty good but Rusty was very, very funny - and interesting. He is very tall. I had my picture taken with him afterwards and had to stand on my toes to match his height and I'm 6'-2". He said "lose the moustache" so I shaved off my moustache and beard which was a kind of a goatee thing. Now I'm clean-shaven because Rusty told me to be.
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Saturday, June 12, 2004

Day off... 

Won't be blogging much today. I'm going to put air in my bike's tires and hit the bike path, maybe wind up in downtown Burlington for mochas and people watching.
Rest of today. Sunny. Highs in the upper 60s to lower 70s. North winds at around 10 mph.


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Friday, June 11, 2004

Best cover ever. 

The Portland Mercury is an occasionally entertaining, mostly useless weekly rag here in Portland. (Its sister paper, Seattle's Stranger, is a bit bigger and better.) Its covers are always good, though, and this week's is simply brilliant.



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CANADA REFUSES TO CHANGE ITS NAME TO RONALD REAGAN 

From the Borowitz Report:
Canada today rebuffed a proposal made by Republicans in Congress to change its name to Ronald Reagan.

The controversial proposal, which appeared to have broad backing from congressional Republicans, was suggested as a way for Canada to show its appreciation for the kindness and friendship that Mr. Reagan extended during his eight years as president.

But moments after the proposal was floated, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin gave the notion of renaming his country Ronald Reagan a frosty thumbs-down.

“Canada has no intention of changing its name to Ronald Reagan, Ronald McDonald or Ronald anything else,” Mr. Martin said in a speech to Parliament. “For one thing, it would require a total rewrite of the song ‘O Canada.’”

But in Congress, leading Republicans said that renaming the Canadian national anthem “O Ronald Reagan” was “no biggie” and attributed selfish motives to Canada’s refusal.

“After all Ronald Reagan did for them, these Canadians are acting like a bunch of ingrates,” said Senator James M. Inhofe (R-OK). “It’s no wonder some of them speak French, if you catch my meaning.”

Mr. Imhofe said that if Canada held fast to its position, the U.S. would ask Mexico or possibly England to change its name, “but if all else fails, there’s always Iraq.”

Elsewhere, the Bush re-election campaign announced today that after a week-long hiatus, it would resume airing blistering attack ads about Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) at 12:01 AM Saturday.

The ads will air on a relentless, round-the-clock basis in every state of the country because, in the words of Bush strategist Karl Rove, “We have a week’s worth of catching up to do."

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Off to Middlebury... 

... to drop off my friend Gabriel at Japanese summer school. He has agreed to speak only Japanese for the next ten weeks starting today. Before we release him into his culturally-shifted environs, we'll stop by the local A&W for some of that frosty-mug taste. The waitresses actually wear rollerskates at this joint.



Talk amongst yourselves.
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Thursday, June 10, 2004

Fun Flash Time Wasters 

Shoot

Park

Contemplate

via Metafilter
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Yeah, this is gonna work (sarcasm) 

via Neil Gaiman's Journal
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I'm not making this up. 

October 15, 1982
White House Briefing Room

Q: Larry, does the president have any reaction to the announcement--the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, that AIDS is now an epidemic and have over 600 cases?

LARRY SPEAKES (chief White House spokesman): What's AIDS?

Q: Over a third of them have died. It's known as "gay plague." (Laughter.) No, it is. I mean it's a pretty serious thing that one in every three people that get this have died. And I wondered if the President is aware of it?

SPEAKES: I don't have it. Do you? (Laughter.)

Q: No, I don't.

SPEAKES: You didn't answer my question.

Q: Well, I just wondered, does the President--

SPEAKES: How do you know? (Laughter.)

Q: In other words, the White House looks on this as a great joke?

There's more.

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Cats vs. Dogs: Jury Still Out 

For 15 or 20 years, my brother Rob and I have been having an on again, off again argument about the relative merits of cats and dogs. Rob is very much a dog guy (not "against" cats, per se, but to see him interact with either animal, it's clear on which side of the divide he falls). I, on the other hand, prefer cats (only very slightly) over dogs (as pets, that is, not as dinner). My reasons are fairly practical: cats require a lot less attention and care, bathe themselves, don't generally smell like anything (as long as you are not in close proximity to the litter box), and they are very cuddly and affectionate. Dogs, by contrast, require a lot of care and attention--walks, play time, baths, poop/piss time, etc. They smell like dogs--particularly the bigger breeds, and their affection toward humans is largely frantic jumping and barking when you get home, and little in the way of cuddling/stroking/purring.

Anyway, somehow our argument over this descended into an argument about the animals' relative intelligence. Mind you, how smart a pet is, is not the main criterion I use to choose which I prefer, but this is where the argument is, so I'll play.

Today Rob sent me this link to a Washington Post article about some scientists who claim to have discovered a dog that can reason by a process of elimination--a trait formerly believed to belong to humans exclusively. Also, there is the famous study involving cats where most of the animals' brains were removed, leaving only their brain stems to take care of the basics--breathing, eating, pooping, etc.--and then they were given to new owners who could not tell there was anything amiss. This is evidence in favor of dog-superiority, smarts-wise. Also, dogs can understand a fairly wide lexicon of human language and gestures--cats seem to not understand or not care about this level of communication.

Cats, on the other hand, are notoriously sly hunters. They are able to sneak up on prey. My cat can open doors by turning the door knob--show me a dog that can do that. Cats can be "trained" to use the toilet (though, not to flush, unfortunately). Cats are famous for being "curious." Perhaps cats are less trainable because they are so smart. Their brains are just too occupied with higher reasoning to stoop to simple positive/negative reinforcement techniques (yes, I know this is not the case, I'm just saying...).

The truth is, of course, boring. Cats and dogs have been highly selectively bred for very different purposes. Dogs are bred for obedience and to be hunting companions, cats for mousing and cuddling, and both are bred--inhumanely, IMO--for dog and cat shows. Trainability is clearly not a factor beyond selective breeding, as wolves (very close relatives of dogs) are notoriously difficult to train.
Excerpts from a Dogs Diary

Day number 180

8:00 am - OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVORITE!
9:30 am - OH BOY! A CAR RIDE! MY FAVORITE!
9:40 am - OH BOY! A WALK! MY FAVORITE!
10:30 am - OH BOY! A CAR RIDE! MY FAVORITE!
11:30 am - OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVORITE!
12:00 noon - OH BOY! THE KIDS! MY FAVORITE!
1:00 pm - OH BOY! THE YARD! MY FAVORITE!
4:00 pm - OH BOY! THE KIDS! MY FAVORITE!
5:00 PM - OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVORITE!
5:30 PM - OH BOY! MOM! MY FAVORITE!

Day number 181

8:00 am - OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVORITE!
9:30 am - OH BOY! A CAR RIDE! MY FAVORITE!
9:40 am - OH BOY! A WALK! MY FAVORITE!
10:30 am - OH BOY! A CAR RIDE! MY FAVORITE!
11:30 am - OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVORITE!
12:00 noon - OH BOY! THE KIDS! MY FAVORITE!
1:00 pm - OH BOY! THE YARD! MY FAVORITE!
1:30 pm - ooooooo. bath. bummer.
4:00 pm - OH BOY! THE KIDS! MY FAVORITE!
5:00 PM - OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVORITE!
5:30 PM - OH BOY! MOM! MY FAVORITE!

EXCERPTS FROM A CAT'S DIARY
DAY 752 - My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while I am forced to eat dry cereal. The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of escape, and the mild satisfaction I get from ruining the occasional piece of furniture. Tomorrow I may eat another houseplant.

DAY 761 - Today my attempt to kill my captors by weaving around their feet while they were walking almost succeeded, must try this at the top of the stairs. In an attempt to disgust and repulse these vile oppressors, I once again induced myself to vomit on their favorite chair...must try this on their bed.

DAY 765 - Decapitated a mouse and brought them the headless body, in attempt to make them aware of what I am capable of, and to try to strike fear into their hearts. They only cooed and condescended about what a good little cat I was...Hmmm. Not working according to plan.

DAY 768 - I am finally aware of how sadistic they are. For no good reason I was chosen for the water torture. This time however it included a burning foamy chemical called "shampoo." What sick minds could invent such a liquid. My only consolation is the piece of thumb still stuck between my teeth.

DAY 771 - There was some sort of gathering of their accomplices. I was placed in solitary throughout the event. However, I could hear the noise and smell the foul odor of the glass tubes they call "beer.." More importantly I overheard that my confinement was due to MY power of "allergies." Must learn what this is and how to use it to my advantage.

DAY 774 - I am convinced the other captives are flunkies and maybe snitches. The dog is routinely released and seems more than happy to return. He is obviously a half-wit. The bird on the other hand has got to be an informant, and speaks with them regularly. I am certain he reports my every move. Due to his current placement in the metal room his safety is assured. But I can wait, . . . it is only a matter of time.

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Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Reagan To Be Honored With $5,000-A-Head Funeral 

WASHINGTON, DC—Former President Ronald Reagan will be honored with five days of memorial services, culminating in a $5,000 a head funeral in Washington's National Cathedral Friday, Paul Darlington, a spokesman for the Bush re-election campaign, said Monday. "At 5:15 p.m. EST, former President Reagan will be escorted from the U.S. Capitol and received with ceremony at the Washington National Cathedral, where a dinner of baby arugula, roast beef, and herbed red potatoes will commence," Darlington said. "As Reagan lies in repose, a host of leading Republican party members will be available for photo opportunities. President Bush, who will deliver a eulogy at the close of the solemn gathering, is urging all Americans to dig deep into their hearts to honor this great leader." Several thousand people are expected to pay their respects.

swiped from The Onion
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Yeah, what he said. 


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Lysenkoism in Washington 

Read this article in Wired by Bruce Sterling about the Bush administration's willful ignorance of science and the ways in which it is similar to Stalin's politicized handling of science through his #1 science stooge, Trofim Lysenko.

via Boing Boing
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Decemberists Live Show Online 

Youth and Beauty Brigade Member Stewart Russell has put up mp3 files of the June 6th Toronto show (appropriately, "D" Day) at his website.

They're not bad for audience recordings. They'll certainly give you a sense of the D's, but of course you need the albums (or to be there live) to really appreciate them.
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MODIS: Dust Storms 

View cool dust storms here over Namibia from the MODIS satellite.
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Amazing Venus Transit Photos 

This guy had the right gear.



via Metafilter
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Hairlip 

Some friends and I have been having this ongoing discussion about moustaches. I'm against them. I don't mean that all upper lip facial hair is wrong--I myself have a full beard and moustache combo--I mean the moustache all by itself, with no goatee, chin beard, jazz beard, mutton chops or other offsetting facial hair to balance out the face. It's... well, cheesy.



There are, I admit, a few exceptions to this rule (yes, it's a rule, now shut up). Sam Elliot, for example:



...is not only okay with a moustache, the presense of a moustache is an absolute necessity on his visage. There are very few faces you can say that about. Cheech Marin may be another one. There are people (by "people" I mean celebrities) who we are used to seeing with a moustache (Tom Selleck, Ron Jeremy, Charles Bronson, Hitler, that guy from Mettalica), but who still shouldn't have one. moustaches deserve the same social derision that the much maligned mullet has achieved, yet somehow, they continue to walk among us, unscorned.



now that that's out of my system, take a look at these amazing exceptions: moustache art.


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Tuesday, June 08, 2004

cheesyjesus.com 

via Metafilter
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A Family Walks Into a Talent Agent's Office... 

On September 29th, 2001, two and a half weeks after 9/11, Gilbert Gottfried took a wrong turn, humor wise, in front of the New York audience attending Hugh Hefner's Friar's Club Roast. The way he recovered was to reach into his bag of tricks and pull out The Joke. It's an inspiring story. Read about it here.

Read the above link first, then watch South Park's version of The Joke here (NSFW).

via Metafilter
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via Boing Boing

See also: Combover: The Movie

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Monday, June 07, 2004

That Great Herbal Taste is .... ??? 

What do Jägermeister, Campari & Moxie all have in common? Some kind of bitter taste that those of us who love bitter tastes really get off on. What is its source? No clue. I've been a Campari and Jägermeister lover for some time and had my first Moxie tonight! So why post this? It has nothing to do with Reagan or the Transit of Venus, but it does have a punchline. But first: I planted all my purchased and pirated perennials this weekend, save one - which was a lovely herb - dark green foliage - simply set aside in the hubub. I noticed it tonight as I pulled into my driveway. As I climbed the stairs I thought: "...hmmm, better go out...". As I opened the door: "... in the morning and ... ". As I opened the 'fridge: "... plant that ...". On reaching for and examining the ingredients of my first can of Moxie (put in to chill on my way out this morning): "... gentian ...". That's the only flavor ingredient listed. It's the plant on my driveway. It's the answer to the question. I drank the entire can in a series of rapid, bitter gulps. Mmmmmm....

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
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IN A WORLD... 

I'll admit it: I'm impressed. John Ashcroft has really taken his press conferences to a new level.

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NTodd calls it like it is 

Today at Dohiyi Mir, NTodd takes Bush to task for his stupid words on Dateline with Tom Brocaw. Check it out.
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Great Summation of Reagan's Legacy 

University of Michigan history proffessor Juan Cole has written a succinct and damning summary of the Reagan Years.

Excerpt:
Reagan hated any social arrangement that empowered the poor and the weak. He was a hired gun for big corporations in the late 1950s, when he went around arguing against unionization. Among his achievements in office was to break the air traffic controllers' union. It was not important in and of itself, but it was a symbol of his determination that the powerless would not be allowed to organize to get a better deal. He ruined a lot of lives. I doubt he made us safer in the air.
via Metafilter
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Land of the Home: Galactos 

Yahoo News:
Cosmic single currency unveiled in Bulgaria

Mon Jun 7,12:45 PM ET

SOFIA (AFP) - A cosmic single currency for use in financial transactions between Earthlings and extra-terrestrial civilizations has been unveiled at a conference on unidentified flying objects here.

"We are offering the galactos as a means of payment between plants. It will represent the Earth in financial relations in the Cosmos," Kiril Kanev, chairman of the Bulgarian foundation on cosmic intelligence research, said Sunday.

The coin, made up of chrome and nickel, weighs three grams with the inscription "galactos" and the year of issue 2004. It will be identified by the letter G with two parallel lines like the US dollar.

The Bulgarian foundation sent its official currency proposal to Bulgarian President Georgy Parvanov, Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg and the Bulgarian Central Bank governor, Kanev said.

"Extra-terrestrials come into contact with insignificant, ordinary people. We're not talking about government-level relations," he added.

But he said high-level contacts to launch the "galactos" will be possible after peace is established among peoples on Earth," he said.
via die puny humans
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Astronomy Stuff 

Well tomorrow's transit of Venus is looking good for observers here in Vermont:
As it stands right now, it looks like tomorrow morning around 5 should be pretty much clear. There's a slight chance there could be some high clouds around the area. It also looks like there will be no problem with fog. Dewpoints will be around 60.
I do not have the appropriate gear to observe this event, but I will certainly be checking online for cool animations and such. I have seen some good SOHO images of Mercury transits and I expect this to be similar. The last time a Venusian transit was visible from Earth was in 1882. Astronomer David P. Todd captured that event on photographic plates and the fine folks at Sky & Telescope Magazine used those 147 consecutive plates to make a very cool movie of the event. In fact, given the early date of the images, this could actually be the oldest movie ever made!



In other astro-news, Warren Ellis' blog today points to a discovery by astronomers concerning the puzzling origins of some intense, radio-emitting filaments found near the galactic center. Space.com has the story.



Over and out.


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Apple does something smart... I think 

According to the Apple website, their new AirPort Express allows you to create a mini 802.11 connection with this tiny, affordable devise. Just plug it into an electrical socket, run your ethernet, USB and/or stereo mini cable into it and voila, it broadcasts data at 54mbps to your airport-outfitted notebook or whatever. How cool is that? Really cool if you can use it to network multiple machines. I'm not sure if you can though. The thing costs $129.


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Blame KITT 

Hasselhoff arrested for alleged DUI
David Hasselhoff was arrested over the weekend on suspicion on driving while intoxicated, police said Monday.

A motorist who had been driving behind Mr. Hasselhoff said the television star tailgated at least four different semi trailers, flashing his lights and shouting at the drivers to lower their ramps.

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Sunday, June 06, 2004

Bring. It. On. 

"Fahrenheit 9/11" trailer here.

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A Journalist's Experience at LAX 

I found this story linked at Neil Gaiman's Journal. It's an excellent example of the basic problem with the PATRIOT Act and its ramifications. America is little by little becoming a nasty place to live in and visit. Read the whole article, it's an eye-opener.

Exerpt:
At this moment, the absurd but almost friendly banter between these men and myself underwent a sudden transformation. Their tone hardened as they said that their "rules" demanded that they now search my luggage. Before I could approach to observe them doing this, the officer who had originally referred me to his supervisor was unzipping my suitcase and rummaging inside. For the first time, I raised my voice: "How dare you touch my private things?"

"How dare you treat an American officer with disrespect?" he shouted back, indignantly. "Believe me, we have treated you with much more respect than other people. You should go to places like Iran, you'd see a big difference." The irony is that it is only "countries like Iran" (for example, Cuba, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe) that have a visa requirement for journalists. It is unheard of in open societies, and, in spite of now being enforced in the US, is still so obscure that most journalists are not familiar with it. Thirteen foreign journalists were detained and deported from the US last year, 12 of them from LAX.

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Love and marraige, Ron and Nancy, bacon and eggs... 

Victor Wooten of new-grass/jazz sensations, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, is quite possibly the greatest electric bass player of all time. This guy does bass-obatics, flipping the thing around his body while playing. His solo-bass tunes were my favorite moments of Flecktones shows.

Well if you've ever longed to experience masterful bass tutelage from this greatest of electric bass players AND learn wilderness survival skills and animal tracking techniques while you're at it, then this camp is for you!

Some of the things covered at the camp are:

* Awareness (in Life and in Music)
* The role of the Bass Guitar
* Playing techniques
* Theory
* Soloing techniques and concepts
* Acoustic Bass
(each student will have the opportunity to play one of the Acoustic Basses provided)
* How to use focusing and unfocusing to your advantage
* The 4 basic elements of survival
* Fire making techniques
(each student will get the chance to make a bow-drill fire)
* How to find food and water
* How to make a quick emergency shelter
that can keep you alive in below freezing temperatures
* Basic animal tracking
* How to walk and move in Nature
* How everything relates to Music
* Much more
via Metafilter
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Land of the Home: Reverend Hank Strikes Back 

Even though I'm known as "Sue's nice jewish man that likes to garden", I went with Sue to the Methodist church in town today. There was a graduation day service and Sue's son Nick was among those being specially blessed. Reverend Hank spoke fondly of the potentialities of youth, warned against wasting one's god-given talents and gave each young person a brand-new Cambridge New Revised Annotated Standard bible. With this gift, he said something like this:

"I personally reviewed all the bibles that are listed with the [3-letter acronym of some Methodist governing body]. I wanted to choose between a light, portable edition that you could keep in your backpack and one that would prove durable and invaluable for research and inspiration in your future studies. And so I selected this, to be your most cherished ... [at this point he pauses for a good 5 seconds, leaning forward on his toes as he searches for a word, which upon identifying, gets barked out suddenly and loudly] ... TOOL!"


It was clear that I was the only one trying to suppress a snorting, choking laugh. I tried to explain myself by muttering "... uh, he said 'tool'...", but I think I was alone. The congregation probably thought: "jew".
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Saturday, June 05, 2004

Why is this man smiling? 



Oh, no particular reason...

Update: Here's a picture that CNN.com is running:



It's such a familiar and evocative image for me. The brown suit. The wide tie. The ruddy cheeks. The photo was taken in 1985, when I was 14. If there were a timeline showing my evolving awareness of my own personality, inclinations, and interests, the biggest spike of activity could very well be over 1985. I hated authority then, and I hated Reagan best of all. His grandfatherly age and unrelenting cheerfulness provided cover for what I perceived--in my uninformed, adolescent way--as his personal responsibility for everything that was wrong in the world.

It's a remarkable thing to have come of age during the Reagan years.

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Crunch crunch crunch squawk! 



This was forwarded to me from DJ Hummuspants. It's from the Aquarius Records site:
HATEBEAK / LONGMONT POTION CASTLE Split (Reptilian) cd 3.50
It had to happen. And of course, the minute we heard that it actually had happened, we knew we had to have it. A death metal band... with a PARROT on lead vocals!!! How completely and stupidly brilliant! We love it! And so will you. The music is furious and blasting death metal, grinding riffs, pounding drums and crushing bass. Only, the usual cookie monster grunts are replaced by the evil squawks of Waldo the parrot. And Waldo does a pretty decent job, offering lots of unintelligable grunts and growls and other birdlike vocalisations. Our pal Brian at WFMU tried to get Hatebeak to perform on his show, but apparently Waldo can't really handle loud sounds (death metal included) and records his 'vocals' separately, so Hatebeak will sadly remain a studio only project. The artwork is pretty inspired as well. They appropriate Judas Priest's Screaming For Vengeance metallic bird cover, change Hatebreed's logo just a litle bit (and include a little bird-hatching-from-an-egg graphic) and title their side of the split Beak Of Putrefaction (a play on Carcass' Reek Of Putrefaction). Awesome! And there's a rumoured upcoming split with a band called Caninus fronted by a dog! We kid you not.
The other side of the split comes courtesy of AQ fave crank calling phenom Longmont Potion Castle, who instead of his usual phone prank schtick, offers up two "metal interludes", all instrumental blasts of blazing noodly metal! The perfect compliment to Hatebeak. And he's also sampled at the beginning of the Hatebeak side. Maybe the best split 7" of all time (at least until that Hatebeak / Caninus split)!


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Ah, I get it (finally) 

One night I spent a very long time in my friend Joe Paul's kitchen holding a small toy Federal Express truck and jumping up and down like a cheerleader chanting "FedEx truck, FedEx truck, I've got the FedEx truck!" over and over in order to figure out one of these stupid games (it's a long story and I can't show you over the net so ask me when you see me). Once I got it, I tortured everyone I knew with it, of course. This is like that.

via Metafilter
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Friday, June 04, 2004

Re-fueling My Kitty Karma 

Okay, so back when I first started Candleblog, lo those many weeks ago, I made this announcement concerning "cat-blogging." I was against it. Having spent a lot of time at Dohiyi Mir, where Ntodd engages in quite a lot of cat-blogging, I wanted to make sure Candleblog would be devoid of this self-indulgent, "oh look how cute my little kitty is," "hang in there!" type of blog experience. It's not that I don't like cats, I love cats. We have a British Blue named Phineas and I am very fond of him, I just don't feel an intense desire to take pictures of him and write about him a lot online. The fact is, I've been at the receiving end of "cat-people" conversations far too many times and the straw that broke the camel's back came so long ago that the camel can no longer be seen for all the straw.

However, I fear that my admonishment against cat-blogging, combined with Dan's sadistic (but funny) Ford Sportka ad post might put in some candleblog readers' minds the idea that we are somehow against cats. This could not be more wrong. Dan has a cat--I think he may even be getting a second. Spine has two. We all know about Ntodd's cat fetish. Flameape is allergic, but inside you know he's a cat guy. We are cat-bloggers-at-heart who refrain only because we want to produce the finest possible blogging experience for our readers.

All of this is lead-up to the reason for this post. This week, as if sensing a disturbance in the Kitty Force, Web Zen has posted a series of cat-zen links. I re-produce them here for your amusement. Meow.

cat blog
cat enema
i need your love
da mow mow
cat dancing
infinite cat project
post modern pets
sleepy kittens
cat teasing
cat with hands
zombie kitties

and the classics...
on a beach
in a gay bar
smoking in paris
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Mini Cooper vs. Ford F150 

The Mini wins.



Via Neil Gaiman's Journal
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Thursday, June 03, 2004

I Know I Shouldn't Be Laughing... 

In any online dictionary, the entry for "NSFW" (Not Safe For Work) should link to this flash animation, Doo Doo Caca.

Thanks Flameape!
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A Milestone 

We passed 1000 visitors to Candleblog since May 12th a short time ago today. Mazel tov everyone.
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Speaking of Meteors: or, Move Over Bacon, Now There's Something Meteor! 

Today's Metafilter links to this wacky winger who's been posting messages from an anonymous "astronomer" who claims the end is nigh. It's a very entertaining read.
EXCERPT: P.S. About the debris cloud....can you think of a better explanation as to why the sun is almost a white star, explain the massive increase in meteorites and comets lately or why the sky (even on clear days) seems fuzzy? www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/nation/2566165 Can YOU think of a better way to keep the public uninformed than what I have described? Tell me...if YOU were the PTB what would YOU do....would you TELL everyone of their impending deaths...OR if you knew about it would YOU put a plan into action to keep everyone asleep. Comets approaching fast and no one is looking for it...a job well done.
Also linked was this hoax story of an Olympia, Washington man who lied about finding a meteorite.
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Did we mention the service was limited? 

Found this at Making Light:
FreeEditing Services

Keep in mind that this is a free service. We are offering very limited help with manuscript editing.

We do not quarantee perfection, but we do offer an extra pair of eyes to try to catch common mistakes you may have missed.

If you are interested in this service, please email a brief synopsis of your manuscript. As there are few of us at the present time, this service will be very limited. You will be notified of our decision either way. Decisions will be based on time available to do the job.

If you are interested in helping authors edit their work, please email your qualifications. Please note that you do not have to be a professional editor, but basic skills are a must. A sample chapter will be sent to all volunteers to test your editing savvy.

If your work is accepted for editing, we can not guarantee perfection, or be held responsible for mistakes we might miss. All we are offering is a free service for those who may want our help.


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Meteor flashes across Northwest sky 

Damn! We didn't get to see this here in Portland.
A meteor about the size of a computer monitor flashed across the Northwest sky early Thursday, setting off booms that stunned witnesses.

"I ordered a flat-screen, dammit!" God was overheard saying.

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Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Not a "cat person"? 

Found this video clip at snopes.com which confirms it was really produced by Ford in this article... not for the faint-of-heart.
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Dissing Delay 

Hating Tom Delay is even more fun when I can do it with my wallet. In 2002, I gave some money to Tim Riley, who was running an admirable but somewhat quixotic campaign to wrest Tom Delay's seat in congress away from him. This year, Delay faces Richard Morrison, an opponent with a better chance of pulling off such a miracle. Morrison is getting a lot of support from the blogosphere, including Daily Kos and Democracy for America. He may be a long shot, but I would part with quite a bit of cash simply for the pleasure of seeing Delay sweat a little. And every minute that he's back in his Sugarland district trying to boost his tantalizingly low approval numbers is a minute that he's not screwing the entire country from Washington.

Throw Morrison a few bucks!



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End of an Era 

I first handled a 35mm single lens reflex camera in a high school photography class. It was a Pentax K-1000--no frills, all-manual, metal body, battery-free shutter (the battery was only for the light meter)--a tank. I loved the thing.



After high school I continued with my interest in photography and even worked in several camera stores and mini labs in the area for extra cash before my interest turned to moving images and I went to film school. During that time I had the opportunity to try a lot of different makes and models of cameras and they all had their plusses and minuses, but for the money, you could never beat the K-1000 as a good, solid, starter camera. Sure, the photophile in me knows that you really need Nikon optics, but the Nikon FM was expensive compared to the K-1000, which you can still get for under $100 on ebay. I have long since parted with my Pentax but Emily still has hers, so there's still one in the family, so to speak.

This is from Boing Boing today:
A report out of Russia claims that Pentax are announcing a complete withdrawal of manufacturing of compact and SLR film cameras by the end of the year. It could be just a localised thing but some are suggesting it just the first of the "big five" camera manufacturers who will all make moves in the coming years to go digital (to different extents).
I imagine Nikon will always manufacture some kind of chemical film camera, but I suppose this was inevitable. It won't be long now before using chemical film will seem quaint, or pretentious and artsy--like doing daguerreotype photography seems now.

Somewhere I have prints (developed myself, of course) from the first roll of 35mm film I ever shot. I was 16 and one shot on the roll is of me taking a picture of my own reflection in the mirrored wall of the University Mall in South Burlington. It's black and white. In it, I am wearing a tan fedora hat and a dark winter jacket. I have big 80s hair. Picture it, because if I had it handy I would post it here. In my hands is a Pentax K-1000.
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Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Who needs metric? 



This toddler weighs exactly half a Gwyneth.
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Weather is Cool 

No, it's not a scene from The Day After Tomorrow, its from the NOAA's photo library.



via Making Light
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Letter From a Vermont Mother 

I found this through Metafilter. It's a beautifully articulate response to those who fear the "homosexual agenda" written as a letter to the editor of the Valley News in White River Jct., Vermont.
Many letters have been sent to the Valley News concerning the homosexual menace in Vermont. I am the mother of a gay son and I've taken enough from you good people.

I'm tired of your foolish rhetoric about the "homosexual agenda" and your allegations that accepting homosexuality is the same thing as advocating sex with children. You are cruel and ignorant. You have been robbing me of the joys of motherhood ever since my children were tiny.

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Alohaarrrgghhhh!! 

Oh, that Howard Dean. The guy flies to Maui, drinks a pina colada, dons a Hawaiian shirt and a lei, and he's still pissed off.


Howard Dean gives the keynote address during the Hawaii Democratic Party State Convention, Saturday, May 29, 2004, in Honolulu.
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Synchrodeanity 

Woah! Just as I logged on to Blogger to post about the first of Howard Dean's brand-new syndicated columns, I heard his familiar voice coming from my computer speakers. He's on Air America right now, talking about the scourge of electronic voting, which is also the subject of his column today. You go, Howard.
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