Preference Personnelle
Monday, May 31
McSweeney's has a collection of sestinas. A sestina contest, even. Fresh.
Friday, May 28
"People putting their clothes on backward: Isn't that a sign of something gone wrong? ... People with their hats on backward, pants down around the crack, isn't that a sign of something, or are you waiting for Jesus to pull his pants up? Isn't it a sign of something when she has her dress all the way up ... and got all type of needles going through her body? What part of Africa did this come from? We are not Africans. Those people are not Africans; they don't know a ... thing about Africa."

"With names like Shaniqua, Taliqua and Mohammed and all of that crap, and all of them are in jail."

"We as black folks have to do a better job.... Someone working at Wal-Mart with seven kids, you are hurting us. We have to start holding each other to a higher standard."

"These people are not parenting. They are buying things for their kids - $500 sneakers for what? And won't spend $200 for 'Hooked on Phonics.'... They're standing on the corner and they can't speak English. I can't even talk the way these people talk: 'Why you ain't,' 'Where you is'... And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk. And then I heard the father talk... Everybody knows it's important to speak English except these knuckleheads... You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth."

--from Bill Cosby's remarks at Howard University's Brown v Board of Education 50th Anniversary gala

Here's a partial transcript. Here's some Washington Post commentary, and some from (that briefly addresses the complete-transcript problem), and some from Working for Change and Dissident Voice, and, on the other side, the Washington Times and Rush Limbaugh.
Thursday, May 27
Via Slashdot, a map of Springfield.

And, via Boingboing, a Harvard Magazine article about the historical origins of obesity:

"The French explanation for why Americans are so big is simple," said Jody Adams, chef/partner of Rialto, a restaurant in Harvard Square, speaking at the Oldways conference. "We eat lots of sugar, and we eat between meals. In France, no one gets so fat as to sue the restaurant!" Indeed, the national response to our glut of comestibles is apparently to eat only one meal a day—all day long. We eat everywhere and at all times: at work, at play, and in transit. "Japanese cars—the ones sold in Japan—don't have drink holders," New York Times health columnist Jane Brody said at the Oldways conference. "The Japanese don't eat and drink in their cars."

Also, did you notice Al Gore's lengthy Bush dis? Of course you did. Why couldn't Gore do anything this statesmanlike when he was running against the jackass?

And Carnival of the Vanities--lotsa links.

Lastly, here's some stuff about SUVs and crash safety (first link discussion, second a New Yorker reprint from Malcolm 'Tipping Point' Gladwell's site).

During the design of Chrysler's PT Cruiser, one of the things Rapaille learned was that car buyers felt unsafe when they thought that an outsider could easily see inside their vehicles. So Chrysler made the back window of the PT Cruiser smaller. Of course, making windows smaller--and thereby reducing visibility--makes driving more dangerous, not less so. But that's the puzzle of what has happened to the automobile world: feeling safe has become more important than actually being safe.

In psychology, there is a concept called learned helplessness, which arose from a series of animal experiments in the nineteen-sixties at the University of Pennsylvania. Dogs were restrained by a harness, so that they couldn't move, and then repeatedly subjected to a series of electrical shocks. Then the same dogs were shocked again, only this time they could easily escape by jumping over a low hurdle. But most of them didn't; they just huddled in the corner, no longer believing that there was anything they could do to influence their own fate. Learned helplessness is now thought to play a role in such phenomena as depression and the failure of battered women to leave their husbands, but one could easily apply it more widely. We live in an age, after all, that is strangely fixated on the idea of helplessness: we're fascinated by hurricanes and terrorist acts and epidemics like sars--situations in which we feel powerless to affect our own destiny. In fact, the risks posed to life and limb by forces outside our control are dwarfed by the factors we can control. Our fixation with helplessness distorts our perceptions of risk. "When you feel safe, you can be passive," Rapaille says of the fundamental appeal of the S.U.V. "Safe means I can sleep. I can give up control. I can relax. I can take off my shoes. I can listen to music." For years, we've all made fun of the middle-aged man who suddenly trades in his sedate family sedan for a shiny red sports car. That's called a midlife crisis. But at least it involves some degree of engagement with the act of driving. The man who gives up his sedate family sedan for an S.U.V. is saying something far more troubling--that he finds the demands of the road to be overwhelming.

Two things he brings up that resonate with me: first, the idea of learned helplessness. This is a major theme in Barry Schwartz' 'The Paradox of Choice,' which I just finished reading (too much pop psychology and not enough cultural studies, but still very good). And second, the idea that SUVs tap into a desire not for safety but for the appearance of safety. That's another excellent tool for understanding modern life, I think, the way that the appearance of something has come to substitute for the thing itself.
Wednesday, May 26
Overcoming Your Fears:
I've learned a few things over the years about flying, and I'm sure we all think we could write the book on the guerilla tactics of travel. Mine are very simple:

1. Get suicidal. This one is easy for most of us, and it's by far the best way to overcome any fears of flying you might have. My big breakthrough came on a particularly turbulent flight from DFW to Dayton, Ohio on something called a Fokker 100, which I later discovered was made by the Dutch. I love the Dutch, and going to Amsterdam is one of my favorite things to do. But last I checked, the main attraction of Holland is not compatible with precision craftsmanship and highly disciplined record keeping. But anyway, I was so depressed on that particular trip that instead of fearing my almost-certain death, I yelled (silently, of course) to my God, "Go ahead and take me you bastard. What difference does it make? They'd all be better off without me anyway." After that, I wasn't afraid to fly, because I wasn't afraid to die.

2. Don't get your hopes up. Let's face it. We all know that the way the world really works is that when you least need the headache, the time delay, the stress, or the intestinal upset, the more likely it is to happen. So simply expect your bags to be lost, expect there to be long flight delays, expect surly service and screaming babies. And definitely expect everyone to jump up the minute the fasten-seat-belt sign goes off even though the doors won't open for another 15 minutes and there's absolutely nothing they can do except bash into each other as they struggle to get their oversized bags down from the overhead and pull out the handle because they're too weak to carry their bag 10 feet to the door.

3. Drugs. If there is ever a place for mind-altering substances, it's while hurtling through thin air at 600 miles-per-hour in a vehicle that weighs fuel by the ton. Better to contemplate how something this big and this heavy could possible fly, while enjoying the brighter colors and better music of a hallucination. If you anticipate taking pharmaceuticals of any type, may I suggest a window seat?

The air-travel one really sealed the deal. Here are Gene Gable's writings for design, the history of the smiley face, laws about counterfeiting--entertaining stuff.
Tuesday, May 25
He held out a small baggy filled with old lapel pins commemorating the Soviet space program. "Take one," he said.


"I'm uncollecting. I buy collections on ebay, and I disperse them out to people again. I have to be like an entropic force to collectors, otherwise all of this stuff will get sorted."

He is also uncollecting dolls, dice and fossils. Of course, the mere fact that he is uncollecting has not stopped him from acquiring things on his own.
--from an interview with Sims creator Will Wright, linked on Slashdot.

Also linked to on Slashdot lately, because, hey, what the hell, an editorial about nudity in upcoming games and an article about Ribbit King. Very few comments on the latter, which is kinda disappointing.
Monday, May 24
I recently read Suzi Parker's Sex in the South: Unbuckling the Bible Belt. It's been out for a good while now, and I read the Skirtman chapter in a bookstore months ago, but I digress.

I found 'Sex in the South' occasionally funny, but mostly unremarkable, and devoid of any deep (read:non-obvious) insights into either sex or the South. Her two main conclusions seem to be that many Southerners are wildly different in their public and private lives, that more people are big perverts than appearances would suggest, and that 'Your kink is not my kink, but your kink is OK.' Oops, that's three conclusions. But the last one is quoted directly from an amateur-porn group in Alabama. It reads like a collection of profile pieces from an alternative weekly. I think expanded foreword and afterword (Parker gives 'em cutesy names, but screw that shit) sections, like the kind I'm hoping to see in the paperback edition, would really flesh out (boo) the thesis.

And there's nothing wrong with a collection of profile pieces from an alternative weekly, especially if the profiles are about a bunch of kinks. And, of course, all these kinks have websites, which Parker includes in a helpful resource list that I'll include here (I added a couple):

Linda Brewer--Passion Parties
Dale 'Skirtman' Miller
Miss Gay America pageant
Lori Foster and Iron Belles
Cindy Charms (of Southern Charms)
Angelo Dixon
Platinum Plus strip-bar chain
Trigger the Human Equine
Aqua Fantasies
Dr. Eddie and the Intimacy Institute
Torchy Taboo (of Dames Aflame)
Mendi Teats (of BBW Divas)
NeeCee Belle (another Southern Charms model)
Learning Institute for Women
Saints and Sinners Literary Festival

Alas, I was unable to find a good link for the Impact Institute, a Memphis BDSM group (I suspect they're on the dl these days), and Gennifer Flowers' Kelsto Club, a French Quarter piano bar.
Saturday, May 22
Impossible objects, of the ship-in-bottle variety, via Metafilter.

Ooh, and here's an upcoming Frontline: The Way the Music Died, about the music industry's, uh, increasingly-outdated business model.

Update: Somebody on Slashdot saw the same Frontline I did.
What can you do in twenty-four hours? You could make some art. Scott McCloud, the 'Understanding Comics' guy, had this notion about creating a comic in 24 hours. It caught on (thanks Kristi).

Or go for a bike ride. Granny Gear Productions puts on 24-hour mountain bike relay races. Bike ride too grueling? How about the famed Le Mans auto race? Or, hell, how about playing NES?

Or make a bunch of Flash shorts, like this guy.

Or watch television, as with the author of this blog, an experiment in 24 hours of MTV viewing. But why limit yourself to watching? If you're Courtney Love, you can actually host MTV2 for 24 hours, which is more than they ever gave Weird Al Yankovic. Don't like teevee? How about movies?

Let me put it another way: if you had to do something for twenty-four straight hours, what would it be?

And here are essays on freedom from the '24 Hours of Democracy' project. And here's the site for 24 Hour Party People, about Madchester, Factory Records, etc.

There are no doubt other things you could do for twenty-four hours. Why, I've been 'revising' this post for four days.
Friday, May 21
After having been an Opera partisan for many years (like, since 3.62), I've recently switched over to Mozilla Firefox (this was touched off in equal degree by the Mozilla install on my work computer and the glories of the AdBlock extension, which will serve me well if I ever wean myself from the increasingly-dated Junkbuster proxy that runs on my router).

It took a while, but, for me, the Gecko-based browsers are finally ready for prime time. Among the many benefits relative to Opera are more sophisticated ad-blocking, wider customization options (via extensions) and, maybe most notably, a GPL license (that's 'free as in speech' and 'free as in beer.'). Opera is wonderful, especially if you don't want to screw around with downloading a bunch of extensions (that's also why I still use Trillian instead of GAIM), and it's got some power-surfer tools that are as yet unmatched, but the only thing that disturbs me more than looking at ads is paying for software. There is a third option, of course, but while I'm happy to give Microsoft the ol' screw-job, I'm not so thrilled to be doing the same thing to Opera.

There might be other Opera fans who feel the same way. Some of them might have become Mozilla extension developers, which leads directly to Operaesque Firefox extensions like 'Reload every' (great for news sites and webcams) and 'Add bookmark here' (great for basically anyone who tries to organize their bookmarks). One can even mimic Opera's 'Single Document Mode' with 'Tabbrowser Extensions,' which I use, or 'Tabbrowser Preferences,' which is lighter. This single-window functionality nullifies one of my biggest Mozilla beefs--tabbed browsing isn't nearly as useful when half the links one clicks open new browser windows. Other people (which is to say, other Mozilla users) can have their separate windows full of related tabs--I'll just keep 'em all in one, thanks.

There's some weird synergy going on here, between the Opera-style Mozilla extensions on one hand and people trying to make Opera more like Firefox on the other (here's one effort). There's also a lot of partisanship and fanboyism from both sides. It's kind of a shame, if only because the Opera browser is such a good product, but I think this is a battle Opera is destined to lose. Their mobile and embedded browsers still get top ratings (and seem to be the best indication of where the company's efforts are focused these days), but the regular browser is losing ground fast, and I'd attribute most of that to the advantages of open-source. It's like BeOS and Linux, kind of.

Opera has always been a browser for power users and customizers, people who don't mind reading documentation and slogging through huge option lists. Unfortunately for Opera's business model, these folks are also pretty likely to have little patience for advertising--and, dare I say it, these same power users that... well, if they're not more likely to use cracked software, they're at least more likely to know how to find some. And while Mozilla's large set of Preferences and plugin-central architecture are daunting for Joe AOL (the dumbed-down, XP-esque Firefox prefs are a step in the right direction, at least when it comes to marketing to this crowd), the Opera heads in the house will likely be undaunted.

(A brief soliloquoy about IE: I wouldn't even consider it. I don't think anyone else should either. Microsoft has been dragging its feet on tabbed browsing for years, and anyone expecting Redmond to come out with ad-blocking, popup-blocking and easy privacy settings is living in fantasyland--they can't even properly secure the damned thing. Uninstalling IE entirely is, for most home users, more trouble than it's worth. I could say the same thing about actually using it for browsing.)

(A few sentences about email clients: Mozilla's Thunderbird, from what they tell me, is pretty nice. I haven't used it (I've never used Opera's mail client either. I like The Bat. But it's not free, in any sense of the word). And Outlook/Outlook Express--well, take the things I said about IE, and multiply 'em by about a kajillion.)

(A sentence about newsgroup readers: See above, except substitute Forte Agent for The Bat.)

(Some bookmark-related information to ease the migration process: Both Opera and Mozilla automatically import IE bookmarks upon installation. There's a program called Bookmark Priest (yeah, I don't like the name either) that can export between Netscape/Mozilla/Firefox, Opera and IE. It's not perfect, but it's the best I've found. There used to be a page that would take an Opera bookmarks file and produce a Netscape/Mozilla style html list, but it seems to have vanished.)

So, to summarize: If you use Windows, and you're using Opera, you should really give Mozilla (or, better yet, Firefox) a try. If you're using IE, what the hell's wrong with you? Get Firefox. Do it now. That's not a joke--I'm at least as serious as Bill Hicks telling people in advertising to kill themselves. If you're using OSX, try Camino--I've never used it, myself, but what do you have to lose? If you're using Linux, or something else, and you haven't tried Mozilla (or Opera for that matter), give it a shot.

And, if you're using Mozilla, you might enjoy trying out some of my favorite extensions (all available here or here):

AdBlock: Without it, Mozilla's ad-blocking is pretty good. With it, it's better, by far, than any other in-browser solution I'm aware of. Wildcard filters enable you to block, say, all those stupid Livejournal mood icons, or Google AdWords.
Mycroft: Search plugins. In Mozilla, these appear in the sidebar, which is okay, but in Firefox, they appear in the built-in search bar. I find myself searching with Gamerankings and All Music Guide nearly as often as I do Google, and now all three are just a drop-down list away. And there are hundreds more Mycroft search plugins where those came from.
Firesomething: Give your browser goofy randomly-created names.

Add Bookmark Here: A key component in any Operaization attempt, this allows filing bookmarks without opening cumbersome bookmark-management windows.
Mouse Gestures: Mouse gestures are one of those things, like tabbed browsing, that, once you get used to it, you won't be able to go back.
Tab Scroller: Move between tabs with scrollwheel-and-button combinations. Another mouse gesture, another Opera feature replicated.
Focus Last Selected Tab: Another good Opera idea, this does exactly what it sounds like--other extensions do the same thing, but none in so small and unobtrusive a footprint.
Tabbrowser Extensions: A key component of Operaization, this extension contains within it, among many other features, the secret of single-window mode. (Note: this extension doesn't seem to cooperate well with Multizilla--which is okay, as I think Multizilla's kind of broad-grained overkill anyway. Ditto All-in-One Gestures. Both, however, could be nice for the new user.) Tabbrowser Preferences claims to do the same thing, and in a smaller file size, but I have yet to try it.
CopyImage for Windows: Allows copying an image to the clipboard, rather than just an image URL. Very useful for graphics work, and fun for IMing.

BlogThis: It installs as a right-click context-menu option, which is for me more intuitive than a bookmark and less obtrusive than a button. Plus, I just love right-clicking.
Deepest Sender: A Livejournal client. The name's an anagram.
Download Sort: Default save folders for different file types. Put the images in the 'Images' folder, the mp3s in the 'Music' folder and the warez in the 'Warez' folder, all automagically.
Launchy: Another right-click context-menu kinda thing, Launchy lets you easily open files with the appropriate program. I like it for opening .mp3s in Winamp, and opening .torrents and similar with Shareaza, but those are just hints. Simple and powerful.
Nuke Anything: Like AdBlock for the short term. Is that looping animated .gif driving you nuts? Is that photo proving too distracting? Is poor design rendering a site unusable? Kiss it all goodbye.
Things They Left Out: Does Firefox's artificially-limited option set make you feel like you're wearing bondage snow pants? Here's a partial remedy.
Kind of old, but I don't think I ever got around to it: More fuzzy math from the thoroughly honest and aboveboard folks at the RIAA.

Similarly, a video remix of 'Pinball Number Count' (Mefi post). Now I just want Sesame Seventies back up. That old post also mentions Lego. For consistency, or something, here's a link to that Lego Thriller that got linked around town recently. I'm sure I saw it at that Hip Hop Commentary blog.

Ooh, and Computer Stupidities, and a closely-related Slashdot thread. And, speaking of stupidity, imagine that I made a blog entry about, say, Maury Povich. Now imagine that people arrived here from Google, and somehow got the impression that this was Maury's site, and that messages posted here would be communicated to him. No, really. Similar stories abound--Oprah, Michael Jackson, Overhaulin', even Bill Gates and Dean Kamen. Closely related is confusion w/r/t British comedian Tony Hawks' (note apostrophe placement) email.

Also, Curves, that gym-for-women? The owner is a born-again Christian who donates millions to pro-life causes. Here's a Salon article.
Wednesday, May 19
Slashdot has a post about, a site that's critical of electronic voting machines, specifically Diebold's, and how the FBI is reported to be trying to get the site's traffic logs.
Sunday, May 16
Via metafilter, Shinyshiny, a gadget weblog for women. And when I say 'women,' I mean, y'know, people who are concerned with the world's smallest hairdryer, mp3-playing teddy bears, fake-fur iPod cases and, most of all, hip cellphones--this Vivienne Westwood Motorola and faux-Louis Vuitton Nokia are representative examples.

Via kuro5hin, 50 inconsistencies about Daniel Berg's death. I'm not sure what I think about that. Also, Choose Your Own Adventure: WTC.

Update: Here's another CYOA. NYC, from Metafilter (I just wanted to spell something out).

And from Slashdot, Google IPO Swami. Ludicrous. Some great comments, though.
Okay, this is the coolest thing TechTV has ever done: instructions on how to build a stun gun with a disposable camera. Via Slashdot, who got it from Bruce Schneier.
Friday, May 14
Here are some books I've enjoyed in the past few months, and some that I hope to get back to another time. To paraphrase I-think-it-was-Groucho-Marx, I've been not reading so many books lately that I haven't had time to get around to not reading these. (These are all Amazon referrer links, for crying out loud. Hit me--I need the money.)

Books I've read recently:

Michael Jackson: Unauthorized, by Christopher Anderson. Combine this with J. Randy Tarraborelli's fairly fawning Michael Jackson: The Music and the Madness, and the sum might be something resembling a fair treatment. (Skip Freak! Inside the Twisted World of Michael Jackson--it's pretty bad.) Anderson's book is from '94, after the first molestation allegations but before the current crop.

The Hungry Gene: The Science of Fat and the Future of Thin, by Ellen Ruppel Shell. It's not quite as good as Greg Critser's Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World, or for that matter Eric Schlosser's wonderful Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, but it's still a very worthwhile read for people interested in the topic, and perhaps more even-handed than the other two titles I mentioned.

Growing Up Fast, by Joanna Lipper. Besides its obvious utility to teenagers as a birth-control device, this is a poignant and well-written piece of journalism. It's got a blurb from Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, whose Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble and Coming of Age in the Bronx is another very good book along similar lines. Another blurbist compares it to Winesburg, Ohio, and Nelson George (who also wrote a book about Michael Jackson) compares it to 8 Mile. What kind of book has blurbs from Nelson George and Naomi Wolf? A good one. And speaking of Eminem:

Whatever You Say I Am: The Life and Times of Eminem, by Anthony Bozza, is the best book I've seen about the man. I have little doubt that it's the best one ever written. That's small praise, certainly, and I'm waiting on an interlibrary loan of White Noise: The Eminem Collection, a critical anthology edited by Hilton Als and Darryl A. Turner, which looks like a strong contender for the title. On the other hand, I feel confident that Byron 'Big Naz' Williams' Shady Bizzness : Life as Marshall Mathers' Bodyguard in an Industry of Paper Gangsters is even worse than Frank Alexander's Got Your Back: The Life of a Bodyguard in the Hardcore World of Gangsta Rap. At least Alexander spells 'gangsta' right. The bodyguard memoir isn't what I'd call a rich literary genre.

Ghetto Celebrity: Searching for My Father in Me, by Donnell Alexander. Wonderful, lyrical autobiography from the man who wrote 'Why Black People Are Cooler than White People,' anthologized in both Step Into a World: A Global Anthology of the New Black Literature (edited by Real-Worlder Kevin Powell) and the Might magazine collection Shiny Adidas Tracksuits and the Death of Camp and Other Essays (full-text in the first link).

Songs in the Key of Black Life: A Rhythm and Blues Nation, by Mark Anthony Neal. There's no getting around it--I think Neal is brilliant. While I'm at it, I'll also recommend his What the Music Said: Black Music and Black Public Culture, and Joan Morgan's When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: My Life as a Hip-Hop Feminist.

Mercy, Mercy Me: The Art, Loves and Demons of Marvin Gaye, by Michael Eric Dyson. Dyson rocks my socks. Not long ago, I plugged his Tupac book, Holler if You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur. This book is even better. While I'm on the subject, David Ritz's Marvin Gaye bio, Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye, is still the canonical one, but the recent Trouble Man: The Life and Death of Marvin Gaye, by Steve Turner (not the guy from Mudhoney), is also very good. I'll also mention Nelson George's Where Did Our Love Go: The Rise and Fall of the Motown Sound, while I'm thinking about it. George is all over this thing.

Nothing Feels Good: Punk Rock, Teenagers and Emo, by Andy Greenwald. I'm as comfortable on the emo-bashing bandwagon as the next guy, but this is a good read--more sociocultural criticism than music journalism, and that's fine with me. Read it for a much better understanding of what emo means and only a slightly better impression of what it sounds like.

Hollywood Animal: A Memoir, by Joe Eszterhas. Do you like Joe Eszterhas? You'll likely also enjoy his American Rhapsody. Do you like sleazy tell-all Hollywood memoirs? Allow me to recommend Robert Evans' The Kid Stays in the Picture (there's also a documentary, and why isn't Kid Notorious on DVD?), and Julia Phillips' You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again and Driving Under the Affluence: The Secret of My Excess. Along similar lines, there's also Peter Biskind's Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'n' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood, which I've read, and his recent Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film, which really belongs in the next list.

Books I hope to read soon:

Nanocosm: Nanotechnology and the Big Changes Coming from the Inconceivably Small, by William Illsey Atkinson. My body of knowledge of nanotechnology, alas, could also be described with the phrase 'inconceivably small.' One of the blurbs compares Atkinson to Richard Feynman. Which reminds me--there ought to be a website that keeps track of who's writing blurbs for whom. That's a network I'd like to see diagrammed.

Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror, by Richard A. Clarke. There are a lot of library patrons on the hold list for this one--I'm going to bump myself to the back of the list and let them have a shot at it.

Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends and Other Realities of Adolescence, by Rosalind Wiseman. Supposedly a large part of the impetus behind Mean Girls, and it's gotten mostly excellent reviews besides. In the same vein, I also keep meaning to read Rachel Simmons' Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls.

Against Love: A Polemic, by Laura Kipnis. I like a polemic (I also like polenta). Kipnis is the author of Bound and Gagged: Pornography and the Politics of Fantasy in America, which is up there with Nadine Strossen's Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex and the Fight for Women's Rights among the best books about pornography I've read.

Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Farina and Richard Farina, by David Hajdu. (Not to be confused with James McManus' Positively Fifth Street: Murderers, Cheetahs and Binion's World Series of Poker, as if anybody would. But if you like that book, you may also enjoy Ben Mezrich's Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions.) I have no idea why I haven't read this yet, just like I have no idea why I haven't read Larry 'Ratso' Sloman's On the Road with Bob Dylan (he's also written a few other Dylan books, and Reefer Madness: A History of Marijuana), or seen Mickey Jones' Bob Dylan - World Tour 1966: The Home Movies. I am reminded of a lame expression about so many books and so little time. How does it go again?
Thursday, May 13
Petals Around the Rose --it's a puzzle. The first three links are just different versions, while the last is a lengthy forum discussion (contains spoilers).

Here's a very different kind of game: Hold the Button. I was going to say it's even dumber than it sounds, but in fact it's precisely as dumb as it sounds.

Here's a page that seeks to expose creative-writing scams. Here are two others. What I'm really looking for, though, is a guide to how to set up one of my own.

Update: Here's another site exposing the International Library of Poetry, including some poems that, while terrible, weren't nearly bad enough to avoid becoming Semifinalists.
Wednesday, May 12
Here are some links about artist Oskar Reutersvard, who specialized in impossible figures. Alas, he died in 2002.

Along similar lines, I also like Tamas Farkas, Guido Moretti, Sandro del Prete and Shigeo Fukuda.

Completely unrelated, here's a Slashdot review of a book about schools and computers, 'The Flickering Mind.' As for the author's opinion, suffice it to say he also wrote an Atlantic article called 'The Computer Delusion.'

Via mefi, here's an LA Weekly article about the people behind the Vaults of Erowid. Also syrup, and an are-you-on-drugs quiz, and Bob Marley's 'Legend.' Pretty druggy couple of days on Metafilter.

And here are's 'How Much Is Inside Stuff?' features (amazing Herbalife report, too), and a couple other geeky and Thanks, Simon.

At least 28 high-level federal officials, including nuclear regulators, have, in the words of the Washington Post, "bogus degrees" from "diploma mills." And, of course, they went to class (well, didn't go to class, actually) on my dime. Here are many, many more articles on the topic, and an Ask Slashdot. I, for one, hope this will blow up into a huge scandal that leads to massive reform, but I don't think there's much chance of that.

In the meantime, perhaps you'd be interested in getting a phony degree of your own. Here are a few places to start:
Pacific Western University
Barrington University
Lacrosse University
California Coast University
Columbia Pacific University (shut down in 2001)
Chadwick University
Kennedy-Western University
LaSalle University (not to be confused with the one in Philly, a legitimate institution)

Ooh, and check out Wow.
Won't somebody please think of the children? Patty Wetterling, whose main qualification seems to be being the mother of a missing child, is running for Congress. Here's a great quote from Wetterling:

"Some have said that I'm a single-issue candidate, focusing too much on our children. I'm guilty. There's not one single issue that does not affect our children."

And, speaking of guilty, guess who's running for a seat in the Michigan state legislature? That's right, John Ramsey. Here's a quote from the man himself:

"We cannot let [continuing allegations that he murdered his daughter] intimidate us. I cannot let evil win. Our family will go on with its life. We have contributions to make."
Tuesday, May 11
Here's an essay called 'Sesame Street, Epistemology and Freedom.'
Monday, May 10
Here are links about Bush and religion, and the weird pseudoscience of search engine optimization (Salon story, Slashdot thread). Speaking of weird pseudoscience, here's a Slashdot thread about the Mars expedition as a 'teachable moment.'

Ooh, and here's some great bear-suit stuff: Slashdot thread, Mefi thread. And here's an Ask-Mefi about man-bear knife fights.
Sunday, May 9
Here's an old Atlantic essay about Scrabble, and an essay about political correctness. I don't agree with ol' dude on much, but it's worth reading.
Friday, May 7
Here's a guide to low-end Mac laptops. Low-End Mac, of course, is also a great resource. That said, I still may be inclined toward the ThinkPad. Maybe a nice 570, or a 770, or something from the 600 series. Advantages to the IBMs: easier Linux compatibility, better keyboard, pointing-stick input device. To the Apples: Mac OS 9, battery life, user community. Surely there's a lot I'm not seeing.

Also, here's a link to, and one to Seattle Wireless' Linksys WRT54G page. I daydream of upgrading my router to something quieter, smaller and more energy-efficient. I need to do some more research on that Linksys box. Mainly, I want to find out whether anyone has gotten an ad-blocking proxy running on it. After getting used to Junkbuster running on my Freesco router, I'd hate to go back. That said, Junkbuster has been supplanted by Privoxy, which I should really start using.
Thursday, May 6
"Ask me where is the road to utopia, and I would guess that it probably can be found two blocks south or one block west, around the corner or across the street. Ask me to visualize the City on the Hill, and I would say that it is best understood as a 'no place,' a distant light on a far horizon, a generous idea whose time has not yet come."
--from a Lewis Lapham essay.
Here are some photos of celebrities without makeup, and some scary Photoshopped ones. Speaking of scary Photoshopped celebrities, check out this Michael Jackson soundboard, and the prank phone calls people use these soundboards to create. Also, visual artists create imaginary album covers for favorite musical artists. If that made sense. And Something Awful posters try to 'intellectualize' rap lyrics. These last links are all via Hip Hop Commentary.

Also, via Mefi, Negativland's Mashin' of the Christ, and 2000 election results correlated to average IQ.

Update: Here is another Mashin' link, to bittorrent downloads

And some Slate stuff: a review of digital versions of the newsprint versions (yeesh) of the NYT, Washington Post and LA Times. And two 'Friends' articles, one about how something so un-ironic became palatable and one about how sitcoms became soapcoms. In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that Slate is owned by Microsoft, and I really only started visiting it when Salon went premium. Also, I don't think Friends is particularly good. But, y'know, people love it. I can't wait to see what kind of sales the quickie DVD release of the finale racks up.
Sunday, May 2
Here's a great Metafilter post about exurbanism, and the David Brooks article linked to therein. And here's a post about orgasms.
Saturday, May 1
"Perhaps the name "FairTax" itself is the most telling part. If I established a new car manufacturing company and named it the "We Won't Rip You Off, Honest We Won't Motor Company", what would you know to expect when you met a salesperson at my showroom?"

Ooh, soon it will be new teevee pilot season. And a great discussion of the 'Fair Tax' proposal. It doesn't seem to me like a 'Fair Tax' (basically a consumption tax) is such a terrible idea (read: no worse than what we've got now), as long as it's combined with a draconian estate tax, meaningful capital gains taxes and a negative income tax. Of course, that's not quite what the FT folks have in mind.

Also, I want an old laptop. Say, a Pentium II, somewhere in that area. I think I lean toward the Panasonic Toughbooks, or perhaps a nice Thinkpad. I need to do some research, and I need to keep pestering my pal Katy about her old laptop, which she's promised to one of her other friends, who I'm hoping to buy off with a faster, more powerful secondhand desktop. But I digress.

Also, will someone with a paid Livejournal account please add this page to the syndication list?
A set of links inspired by my book group:

Here's the WILPF program, and the other links, to Thom Hartmann and Wikipedia, that Andy included.

Here are Thom Hartmann articles (search link), and articles about Kasky v. Nike and corporate personhood (and another).

Here's some media ownership stuff, for all the fans of subsidiary companies.

Here's a page for PBS' 'The Jesus Factor,' and one for another GWB documentary, 'Journeys With George' (and an article about it from The Atlantic). Let's hit the trifecta with 'Uncovered.'

Here are some pages listing campaign contributions. The first is a very good general resource, while the second allows geographic searching for individual donors. Arkansans, find out how many Clark donors there are in your neighborhood! Whee!

Here's and Multinational Monitor. Here is a list of the world's largest economies, from 1995. Here's another. I vouch for neither, and if there's a better list, I'd love to know about it. In any case, there is some quibbling about the statistical method. Ooh, and here are two more pages on the subject.

Here's an interview with Ted Koppel discussing the recent war-dead Nightline episode. Here's a Washington Post article and some Metafilter discussion, while I'm at it.

Here are Google results for Grover Nyquist (not much there, alas). Here's a page about Otto von Bismarck. Here are some a few pages about height and presidential candidates. Here are the lyrics to 'Cop Killer.'
A lagniappe of cultural kitsch and B-movie claptrap

10/01 / 11/01 / 12/01 / 01/02 / 02/02 / 03/02 / 04/02 / 05/02 / 06/02 / 07/02 / 08/02 / 09/02 / 10/02 / 11/02 / 12/02 / 01/03 / 02/03 / 03/03 / 04/03 / 05/03 / 06/03 / 07/03 / 08/03 / 09/03 / 10/03 / 11/03 / 12/03 / 01/04 / 02/04 / 03/04 / 04/04 / 05/04 / 06/04 / 07/04 / 08/04 / 09/04 / 10/04 / 11/04 / 12/04 / 01/05 / 02/05 / 03/05 / 05/05 / 06/05 / 07/05 / 08/05 / 09/05 / 01/06 / 02/06 / 04/06 / 05/06 / 07/06 / 08/06 / 10/06 / 11/06 / 12/06 / 01/07 / 03/07 / 04/07 / 05/07 / 06/07 / 07/07 / 08/07 / 09/07 / 10/07 / 11/07 / 12/07 / 01/08 / 02/08 / 03/08 / 04/08 / 05/08 / 06/08 / 07/08 / 08/08 / 09/08 / 10/08 / 11/08 / 12/08 / 01/09 / 02/09 / 03/09 / 04/09 / 05/09 / 06/09 / 07/09 / 08/09 / 09/09 / 10/09 / 11/09 / 12/09 / 01/10 / 02/10 / 03/10 / 04/10 / 05/10 / 06/10 / 07/10 / 08/10 / 09/10 / 10/10 / 11/10 / 12/10 / 01/11 / 02/11 / 04/11 / 05/11 / 06/11 / 12/11 / 01/12 / 02/12 / 03/12 / 04/12 / 05/12 / 06/12 / 11/12 / 10/13 / 01/14 / 02/14 / 03/14 / 08/14 / 06/15 /

Powered by Blogger