Friday, December 31, 2004As last week's Asian tsunami disaster continues to dominate headlines across the planet, it would be easy to miss this positive bit of news from the Eastern hemisphere: today marks the official opening of the skyscraper known as Taipei 101, at 580m* tall the official new Tallest Building in the World - surpassing Kuala Lumpur's twin Petronas Towers, now ranked #2.
With distinctive jade-green windows and a profile designed to suggest the resilient, versatile bamboo stalk, Taipei 101 (the tower has 101 floors) dwarfs neighboring structures in a startling fashion (see image at left, from BBC News online) - notice the number of floors in the next-largest building, and the massive scale of the giant tower becomes quite clear. But, after 9/11 (and now, "12/26") Taipei 101's status and geographic location have given many cause for concern: will the tower become a new terrorist target, or be at risk of collapsing in a major earthquake?
NPR's Melissa Block spoke with structural engineering consultant Dennis Poon of the Thornton-Tomasetti Group about Taipei 101's unusual architectural features, like its massive sphere-shaped internal tuned mass damper:
Block: "[I]t's a 650-ton sphere, pretty high up in the tower; describe what it looks like and what it's meant to do.Which may not matter in the long run; according to the Taipei 101 official site, building size bears somewhat different meaning in the East and West:
Poon: The tuned mass damper is located one meter above the 88th floor, which is the restaurant and sky observation tower. It consists of steel plates, stacked together to form a spherical shape, and it behaves like a pendulum hung from the 92nd floor. If the building is swinging, say to the left, this damper will be activated to swing to the opposite direction, to counteract the sway of the building.
Block: Mr. Poon, given the attacks of 9/11, and fears that towers are now a target for airplanes, leasing office space in Taipei 101 has been a bit problematic. Did you do simulations to see how the building would stand up if it were hit by a plane?
Poon: We did a lot of analysis together with local engineers to make sure the building has a lot of redundancy and robustness. This building has been designed in a very thoughtful way, to take into consideration many scenarios.
Block: I wonder, when you stand at the base of this building, in Taipei, you look up, as a structural engineer; what do you see?
Poon: I feel very proud of humankind, [that] we can still pull out resources and power together to overcome all sorts of obstacles and psychological fear about...accepting these challenges. I think many people, after 9/11, they are afraid of high-rise buildings. Actually, nowadays, I feel that high-rise buildings are much safer than low-rise buildings..."
Designing the 101-story building in the earthquake- and typhoon-prone region presented quite a challenge. Engineers had to account for the fact that the tower stands about 650 feet from a major fault line, and that it will face winds of 100 mph.
Still, Taipei 101 won't hold the title of world's tallest skyscraper for long. Buildings in Shanghai and Dubai are expected to surpass it, as will the Freedom Tower in New York -- on the World Trade Center site -- which is scheduled for completion in 2009.
In the West, a tall building demands respect and attention from the spectators. To the Asians, it symbolizes a broader understanding and anticipation of things to come: we "climb" in order to "see further".MORE: Taipei 101 (Taipei Financial Center) Official Website
NEW: There's a beautiful photo of the buidling on the cover of this PDF article at TechnologyReview.com, "The World's Tallest Building - For Now" [PDF]
NEW: With a speed of over 1 kilometer/minute, Taipei 101 also boasts the World's Fastest Elevator [Elevator World.com]
NEW: Some more Taipei 101 facts and drawings on SkyscraperPage.com
The World Federation of Great Towers
How the Taipei 101 tower was constructed [KTRT.com]
Listen: NPR interview with Taipei 101 structural engineer Dennis Poon [Realplayer or Windows Media Player required]
* NPR lists the tower's height as 1,666 feet, Infoplease cites the height as 509 meters or 1,670 feet.
- sushi powerpoint ugly worms (?)
Mr. Brain's pork faggots (they're actually a liver-based English meatball, but the mrbrainsfaggots.com domain no longer belongs to Hibernia foods, unfortunately. Try it yourself and see - but not if you're at work. Apparently the name provokes a wee bit of humour)
Midgets and Roman flavored candy
1970s pimp and ho costumes
mystery weekend train trips near Chicago
evil tollbooth operators
normal-looking odd underneath cockney
really hot Chicago polish girls (no hot Polish girls here. By chance, did you mean Polish grills?)
underwater hydrogen bomb indian ocean Tsunamis (always a conspiracy theorist somewhere!)
hot asian guy escort in chicago (can't help ya there, bud. Check the Windy City Times or the Reader)
catherine deneuve fanfiction
fun-shui front door lamp post (a more humorous version of feng shui?)
horn honking classical music german man in orange suit
most unusual ice cream in chicago
consumption patterns of halloween punch (by the German man in the orange suit?)
soy spray foam insulation stink
committing someone to a mental hospital in Illinois
penis enlargement crew (guys, if they come to your door - run!!)
male striper in door 21 in chicago
apocalypse now .wav that smell
does smoking confounds the relationship between outdoor work and risk of lip cancer
offal intestine cleaner
Thursday, December 30, 2004
- Gift cards may be the "hot" new present these days - but once again, as with spaghetti, gunpowder, umbrellas and the compass - the Chinese had 'em first. Behold this collection of ang pao (or hong bao) "Red Envelopes," a lovely traditional way to give the gift of moolah wrapped in the color of good fortune. [via No Milk, Please]
- According to Livescience.com, "feral, non-native camels" may soon overrun the Aussie Outback, a la the rabbit problem of old. Hmm. I can understand small, portable organisms like zebra mussels or water milfoil hitchhiking their way to foreign lands, but how on Earth did camels become feral in Australia? Unable to afford shipping them home, did bankrupt traveling circuses release them into the desert to fend for themselves? Are camels magnificently fecund? Somehow, "f****** like camels" just sounds too absurd (and awkward) to mention. At least they aren't Lake Michigan's Frankenfish.
- This year we lost Ronald Reagan, Fay Wray, Jerry Orbach, the VHS tape format; and soon the school milk carton will join them in passing. *sob* Remember picking up your lukewarm, sodden milk carton from the wet steel cafeteria serving table that reeked of canned peas and Clorox™? Vainly struggling to pull open the mushy paper 'beak' before the end-of-lunch bell rings? Tasting the milk, and realizing it's a bit "off" - then sticking one of those tiny plastic straws in and burbling a billow of milk-bubbles out of the carton onto the plastic tray? No? What school did you go to?
- What're we doing New Year's Eve? Not sure yet, though it will likely involve cooking Indian food and rented DVD's (no, I didn't mean that I will be cooking the DVD's). I've attended a few Burlington, VT First Night Celebrations over the years, though they tend to be frighteningly cold for outdoor events, but Edinburgh's Hogmanay parties sound like they'd be a blast. And, I really like Cindy at EclecticEveryday's refreshing ideas for ringing in New's Year's:
No way the little ones are going to make it to 12 PM? No problem! It’s always midnight somewhere! Consider celebrating New Year’s in London (7 p.m.) or New Year’s In Rio de Janeiro (10 p.m.). Plan your evening using the location as a theme – Brit Comedies videos or DVDs to add some quirky humor to the evening, or exotic Brazilian appetizers.
What’s New Year’s Eve without champagne? If you’re going to have some bubbly, be sure to include some festive options for the kids. Sparkling ciders and grape juices are available in a myriad of flavors at most groceries stores. Break out the blender and whip up some alcohol free daquiris – kids love the fruit flavors combined with the ice-slush texture. Be sure to serve their drinks in "fancy" glasses – little details like this make a world of difference to young party-goers. You can get safer, plastic versions of glassware at most party supply stores.
Another great beverage idea is a do-it-yourself milkshake bar: Put out a number of candy and fruit bits for the kids to select from, and whirl them together with some vanilla ice cream.
Borrow an idea from Chinese New Year’s celebrations, and create custom fortune cookies. Cut strips of paper ¼ inch wide and 1 inch long, and carefully write or type on fortunes. These can be encouraging "The New Year holds much promise for You!", funny "Your friends will think you look great with purple hair!" or bizarre "Seven kangaroos can’t be wrong!" Tuck the strips into pre-made fortune cookies, or make your own.
Kids bouncing off the walls? Put that energy to good use. Stop by the packing store and buy a few yards of large bubble bubble wrap. Spread it out on a hard surface – a wood or tile floor – and let the kids go wild. They’ll love jumping up and down to pop all the bubbles. Be advised that grown-ups also find this activity addictive – be careful to get enough bubble wrap to keep everyone entertained. [read more]
- And last but not least, the Blogger's Code of Ethics, from Cyberjournalist.net
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
- What's for lunch today? Vietnamese instant rice porridge, 4 for a buck at my local Asian grocery. Tasty, soothing winter-type food that's a change of pace from the ol' ramen noodles. Not spicy, but salty with a hint of cilantro; comes in chicken, fish and miso flavors.
- Paper of the day: The Cortical Topography of Tonal Structures Underlying Western Music, by Petr Janata, et al. "Music is a Doughnut." Do you ever notice how different musical notes or chords evoke different "moods" or "feelings"? There may be a neurological reason - varying tones stimulate different areas of the brain.
- The results of the Ultravox Covers Competition are in at the Ultravox Forum...and the winners are (as judged by founding band member Warren Cann)...drumroll, please...the exact same two songs I liked!!! Warren named "Extreme Voice" by Mike Lyden a Best Original, and "Mystère X" by Mehdi Touzani w/Fleur Lairet the Best Remix. Cool.
- Chicagoist has a story on local connections to the Asian earthquake-tsunami disaster; grasping the enormity of the tragedy is difficult, as the roll of the dead increases by leaps and bounds daily. Some estimates say the total number of fatalities from the event itself may top 100,000, and many additional future deaths from disease and malnutrition.
- From IMDb: a feature film based of the story of the West Memphis Three is in the works; slated stars include Michael Pitt [Murder by Numbers, Hedwig and the Angry Inch], Doug Hutchison [who played liver-eating mutant "Eugene Victor Tooms" on The X-Files, and currently portrays Sebastian Hulce on Guiding Light], Michael Madsen [Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2], Gina Gershon and Sophie B. Hawkins (who oddly enough is almost always credited as "herself" in TV and movie appearances).
- While I really enjoy Winamp's eclectic selection of free audio/video streams, recently I've discovered iTunes free radio, too - most of the selections aren't as outré or deliciously amateurish as Winamp's, but I dig the sheer number of ambient, IDM and jazz streams I can pipe at my desk. Oh - and iTunes has Jersey City's wild and wacky freeform WFMU on tap, as well! Now, as long as I can resist the draw of instant 99-cent song downloads, I'll be okay. I'm miserly when it comes to buying music these days.
- But not as miserly when it comes to DVD's. Doom-a-riffic! MillenniuM: The Complete Second Season hits store shelves next Tuesday, January 4th.
- This comes a tad late in the holiday season, but all of wintertime is a great season for latkes. Check out Rob Eshman's "In Search of the Perfect Latke," which delves into the roots and colorful present of this humble-but-delicious treat.
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
- Good reading this week: Judge Richard Posner guest blogs at Leiter Reports
- Twist your perceptions and tempt nystagmus with these 50 Classic Optical Illusions [via Fishbucket]
- Invisible Donkey Removal: aren't you at least curious?
- The reason today's film titles are so hard to tell from one another? They tend to fall into a repetitive naming formula - present infinitive + subject noun, occasionally only a conjunction separating the twain. [Film Threat]
- Tim Sandefur describes earthquake diplomacy [post from December 26th, early in the developing Asian tsunami tragedy], and neatly fisks Harry Jaffa's theory of "natural law"
- Fellow Chicagoan Kameron Hurley's [of Brutal Women, guesting at Alas, A Blog] insightful post debunking our culture's 'weight loss=happiness equation'
- I can't decide which idea sounds worse: coffee enemas or Vastra Dhauti (as opposed to Vatsara Dhauti, an altogether different yogic intestinal cleaning method)
- New year, new farkleberries frontispiece: a seven-segmented Aztec ouroboros, with a tip of the hat to the MillenniuM logo
Monday, December 27, 2004Talk about "what was he thinking?" - the 24-year old "Dude, Where's My Car?" actor was released early from a Pakistani jail where her was serving a seven-year sentence for drug smuggling:
[LA Daily News Santa Clarita] Erik Aude, a former football star at Lancaster's Bethel Christian High School who appeared in "Dude, Where's My Car?" among other small roles, was sentenced in January 2003 to seven years in an Islamabad prison, where he had been held since his arrest in February 2002 at the airport in Islamabad.Three years in a Pakistani jail. Poor guy probably never saw Midnight Express.
State Department officials said Monday that a Pakistani judge last week ordered a sentence of time already served and upheld a previously imposed fine of 50,000 rupees -- about $860.
Erik Aude had been hired to pick up leather samples from a manufacturer in Islamabad, Pakistan's capital city, his mother said. But after Aude picked up a suitcase containing the samples and got to the Islamabad airport, Pakistani customs officials found eight pounds of opium hidden in the sample suitcase's lining.
Friday, December 17, 2004I guess I am. [via Gapers Block]
Are You a True Chicagoan?
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Thursday, December 16, 2004How could I not make a tradition of sharing our traditional Glögg recipe from My God, It's Full of Squirrels! at least once a year?
Swedish Andersonville Glogg. Pronounced Gloog, the recipe posted on Squirrels is the high-test, Aquavit-bolstered version fit for Vikings and Uptown boozers. Personally, I like to make mine with wine only - here's the official house recipe.
Farkleberries' GloggThere you have it - Glogg at home! You don't even have to travel to Sweden or Andersonville - just think of us when you quaff some. Let me know how you like the recipe, and feel free to provide suggestions.
1 gallon of decent quality, full-bodied red wine. Concha y Toro™, Gallo™, or Turning Leaf™ are good inexpensive brands, or try one that comes in a glass jug (which you can re-use as a stylish retro terrarium). For heaven's sake, don't use the kind in a box - boxes are for gifts and dead bodies, not wine.
2 clean ripe oranges cut in halves, studded with a few whole cloves. Don't cheap out and toss a couple of unsmoked Djarums into the pot - use actual cloves. You don't have to turn them into pomanders or little Hellraiser-head Cenobites, just stick about a dozen into each orange for that spicy good flavor.
1 clean lemon cut in half, no cloves. It'll do the job adequately by itself. Why clean?
What, you want germs from a hundred holiday shoppers' fingers cooked into your glogg?
3-4 cinnamon sticks
1" chunk fresh or dried gingerroot
1 cup dark brown sugar, adjust more or less to taste
5 bruised cardamom pods
Place all of the above in a clean glass or enameled pot with a close-fitting cover - or try a Crock Pot™ if you have a few hours before your party. Slowly bring the mixture to a low simmer (it should never boil) and hold for 20-30 minutes to blend flavors. Adjust sugar, and serve in mugs.
And remember, don't glogg and drive. Take the "L," but watch out for those service cuts...
Tuesday, December 14, 2004The Plattsburgh-Burlington-Montreal broadcast area yesterday lost one of its legendary figures:
Local legend lostI just heard the news when I clicked onto my Plattsburgh-area friend Cindy's blog (EclecticEveryday) this morning.
‘Atlantic Weatherman’ Bird Berdan dies at 84
By STEPHEN BARTLETT, [Press-Republican] Staff Writer
PLATTSBURGH — Bird Berdan quickly discovered live television could be risky.
He was on air with his "Hot Dog Hound" puppet back in the 1950s when a co-worker lit a firecracker behind him, sending a frightened Berdan into the plywood set as viewers watched their program switch to a cartoon. "He had a great sense of humor," said Jim Gratton, production manager at WPTZ NewsChannel 5, where Berdan worked for 31 years.
The 84-year-old "Atlantic Weatherman" died at his home Monday afternoon. The cause of death has not been determined. Friends and family remembered the longtime Plattsburgh Lions Club member and local celebrity as a prankster, legend and gentleman. Born in 1920, Berdan grew up in a Depression-era suburb in New Jersey where his father worked odd jobs to support a wife, five daughters and three sons.
He planned to pursue an acting career while working part time at WRGB in Schenectady until he met and fell in love with an audio engineer named Dorothy Martin, who had been working there since 1943. The couple married on Sept. 9, 1947, settling in the North Country in 1948 at the home on Bailey Avenue that Dorothy grew up in.
Berdan spent seven years in radio, starting as an announcer and landing a job with WIRY in 1952 before moving over to television at WIRI, which became WPTZ. That station recently celebrated 50 years of broadcasting, and according to a timeline on its Web site, Berdan once reported using Polaroid snapshots in 1955. The "Weatherbird" made his television debut in 1961 and would become known around the North Country and as far north as Montreal where a radio DJ recorded a song about him. Berdan tried his hand in sports, news and weather.
Gratton, who started his career in radio, met Berdan at WPTZ in 1977. "He was famous back in the day when television was young and Channel 5 was one of the first stations on air in northern New York," said Gratton Monday evening. He remembered Berdan’s live afternoon shows, especially one in which a cow visited the station. After the animal’s exit, the "Atlantic Weatherman" joked that it had left its calling card on the studio floor.
"He became a cult figure," Gratton said. "When I think of Channel 5, it’s Bird Berdan and Tom Messner." Berdan retired in 1985, continuing to participate in church plays before returning to the tube as Rolla Parker’s sidekick in commercials for the Champlain car dealership. "He had a very dry sense of humor and was probably better playing the straight guy than the guy with the punchline," said Gratton, who sang Christmas Carols on Berdan’s porch Sunday.
In 2000, Berdan was inducted into the Vermont Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame. Dorothy, his wife of 56 years, died this past July at the age of 81. He never got over the loss, though he tried to look to the future and most recently kept busy filling out Christmas cards and decorating his home with his granddaughter, Anna Jolly.
He swam at the YMCA Monday around 1 p.m., as he did every weekday, stopping at the post office and store before returning home around 3 p.m. It was at that Bailey Avenue home, where pictures of his grandchildren adorned the walls, that Berdan passed away while hanging up his swimming trunks. His family of three children, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, received calls much of the day Monday. They had forgotten just how many people cared about Berdan. "People who didn’t know him felt like they did," said Jolly. "He was wonderful on camera and had the same personality off camera.
I remember working with Bird for a few years in the late 90's at WPTZ (that was the television station I was at back in Plattsburgh, NY as a commercial producer), with auto dealer/prankster Rolla Parker. We wrote, shot and edited a new zany "Bird and Rolla" TV spot each month, usually holiday- or current-event themed, and during the scheduled studio or location shoots, Bird was always the consummate, patient gentleman no matter how off-the-wall the action became.
(P.S.) Jim Gratton was my boss when I worked at Channel 5 - he's a true, unique creative and television talent as well.
Monday, December 13, 2004Somehow, this pair of stories struck me - Atlanta, Georgia police officials shut down the city's performances of off-Broadway hit Naked Boys Singing, and China held its first beauty pageant for women who are "man-made beauties", including some that were born male. From Georgia:
ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) -- Police shut down a bar that was showing a successful musical revue featuring nudity because the business didn't have an adult entertainment license.From Beijing:
The manager of The Armory bar in midtown Atlanta, Doug Youngblood, said police overreacted Saturday night. He said the show had been running since August and is theater -- not adult entertainment. The revue, "Naked Boys Singing," has spent six years off-Broadway in New York and road show versions are playing in several cities. The gay-themed show, billed as celebrating "the splendors of male nudity in comedy, song and dance," features six male actors who are in the buff for much of the performance.
The show received generally good reviews in New York City, where it ranks as the 10th longest-running off-Broadway show. In August, the city's tourist bureau pulled it from a list of discounted offerings for visiting Republican delegates after the Republican National Committee complained it wasn't suitable.
Liu is one of 19 finalists in China's first beauty pageant for women who have undergone plastic surgery, part of the country's increasingly fevered pursuit of beauty as the economy soars and people spend more money and time on their looks. The government says the country's fast-growing cosmetic surgery industry rakes in $2.4 billion a year as patients rush to go under the knife to widen eyes, narrow faces and fill out lips and breasts, emerging as "renzao meinu" -- manmade beauties.There's a wealth of cultural subtexts juxtaposed here, a mass of contradictions and countersurging trends: East versus West, NYC versus the Bible belt, natural versus surgically-altered beauty, public display of male bodies and sexuality versus female bodies and sexuality, our increasing capability of erasing the surface signs of age, gender and racial identity versus "baring it all" - and, neoprudishness butting up against neotechnocapitalism and what Sandra Lee Bartky in 1990 called the "fashion-beauty complex." I suspect a dissertation lurks within.
"Before, I couldn't imagine that it was possible to have places where the old could become young and the ugly could become beautiful," said Liu, who attributes her youthful looks to facelifts and surgery on her eyelids.
The finalists, aged 18 to 62, will vie for the top prize next Saturday after a week of rehearsals. Other individual prizes will also be awarded for best figure, biggest change and best stage demeanor. "This contest shows women's strong pursuit of beauty," said Han Wei, an organizer. "We would like to use it to unveil the mystery of manmade beauty and let society have a complete understanding of every aspect."
The quest for beauty has been part of Chinese culture for centuries. But after the 1949 Communist takeover, and especially during Mao's 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, the norm changed. Women were recruited for all jobs. Clothes became unisex as most donned army uniforms or shapeless blue or gray Mao suits and cotton shoes. In the 1980s, as China engaged the international community, Hong Kong and Japan -- and, later, the United States -- provided inspiration for women's body images.
Liu Xiaojing, a 21-year-old from the northeastern city of Harbin, was a man three years ago but does not feel that undermines her chances in the contest. "Becoming beautiful is everyone's wish," said Liu, who was wearing a strapless turquoise dress. "I am now legally a woman, and this contest is my first formal step toward womanhood."
Liu didn't tell organizers she was a transsexual, and they didn't ask. On Sunday, she revealed in front of reporters that she used to be a man. Han said no decision had been made on whether she still qualified as a contestant. "If they disqualify me, I will use legal means to seek fairness," said Liu, who has also had work done on her eyebrows, nose, chin and facial shape. "This is a turning point in my life."
Thursday, December 09, 2004
- Some more details are emerging on Wednesday's Ohio nightclub shootings; 5 were killed including the gunman and Damageplan guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, who appeared to be the main target:
12/10/2004 10:53 AM Associated Press (COLUMBUS, Ohio) - A former Camp Lejeune Marine who's accused of shooting former Pantera guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott during a concert claimed the heavy metal band stole his song lyrics.Billboard.com has coverage of the music community's reaction to the shootings, which ironically took place on the 24th anniversary of John Lennon's murder.
Nathan Gale once showed up at a friend's house saying he wanted to share songs he had written. The friend is quoted in news reports as saying pages of lyrics were copied from Pantera, but Gale claimed he had written them and that he was going to sue Pantera. Police say they may never know why Gale charged the stage at a heavy metal show and gunned down four people, including Abbott, who [was] considered one of metal rock's most revered guitarists.
A Marine spokeswoman says Gale was discharged in November 2003 after less than two years, which is shorter than the typical four-year stint. The spokeswoman wouldn't give the reason for his discharge, citing privacy rules. Gale worked as an auto mechanic with the Second Marine Division at Lejeune.
- Good post by Dave at Temperantia on surprising tolerance in one of the most unlikely of places
- CNN has a nice little piece on the delights of Christmastime at Chicago's newly-revamped waterfront
- Studs Terkel's new book on music [Guardian Unlimited]
- Guys, you might want to keep your laptop off your lap - if you value your 'manhood', that is - something about excess heat inhibiting spermatogenesis; but the account of how one man got his private parts burned by his laptop (while wearing trousers and underwear!!) sounds painful, painful...
- Ars schlonga, beata brevis: Congress just passed an anti-Peeping Tom bill that would criminalize surreptitious photographing of nude or partially undressed people, in situations when an expectation of privacy exists. This means "upskirt" and "downblouse" camera-phone shutterbugs could potentially face jail time or large fines. Apparently the problem exists on battleships, as well:
Navy officials in the past few years have twice found small cameras hidden in women's rooms on ships heading out of Norfolk, Virginia. In March, a female officer on the cruiser USS Monterey discovered a small wireless camera mounted in the changing area of the women's shower, and in November 2002, Navy officials charged a first-class petty officer on destroyer USS Briscoe with planting a miniature video camera in a women's room on that ship.
..."[The bill is] pretty narrowly crafted, and protects those parts of a person's body that they wouldn't want to be photographed or videotaped, and especially now that photography and video images can be downloaded and transmitted across the Internet within seconds around the world, it gives people protection from worldwide exposure without their consent," [Hanan B.] Kolko [a New York civil liberties lawyer] said.
- Saw Alexander last night with my B-movie buddy Matt; despite a cast of thousands, Persian legions, Indian war elephants, concubines galore and more skin that you can shake a spear at, the film is basically 3 not-very-memorable hours of Oliver Stone bombast. You may enjoy it if you're a diehard Colin Farrell or Angelina Jolie fan, or if togas and bleached mullets make you weak in the knees.
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
- 24 years ago today: former Beatle John Lennon is gunned down in New York City. 360degrees has a Quicktime VR panoramic of Strawberry Fields, Lennon's Central Park memorial. Where were you when you heard the news? I heard the news when my alarm radio went off to get ready for school...8th grade. The radio station, WPST in Trenton, NJ used the orchestral sounder from No.9 Dream as a "special report" intro all day.
- If you're sick and tired of listening to public cell phone half-conversations, you'll enjoy SHHH's [the Society for Hand Held Hushing] Fight Back brochure [PDF], packed with snarky print-them-yourself stickers and handouts to discreetly tip off clueless yakkers; it's the cellphone equivalent of the Hint Mint.
- Yet another reason to stay in the city: come January 1st, Illinois highway tolls will double, double! for all vehicles not using an I-Pass. Is it anything less than not-so-subtle coercion to "chip" resident's cars while reducing the need for human tollbooth operators (although I admit most toll lanes these days are "manned" by change-catcher baskets)? Making matters worse, some vehicle windshields are not I-Pass compatible because of the nature of the glass or a conductive coating. [via Gapers Block]
- Cellophane Sun's L-Word Transcripts
- Quote of the Day: "Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
LONDON, England (Reuters) -- Church leaders united on Wednesday to condemn a Christmas Nativity tableau depicting soccer star David Beckham as Joseph and his pop singer wife Victoria as the Virgin Mary. Anglicans, Catholics and Presbyterians called the exhibit at Madame Tussaud's waxwork museum in London a new low in the cult of celebrity worship.Ahem..pray tell, who is portrayed as the baby Jesus? And is it at all significant that Hugh Grant has a port-a-ewe tucked handily under his arm?
In the tableau, Australian pop star Kylie Minogue hovers above the crib as an angel while "Posh Spice" Victoria lays her shawled head tenderly on Beckham's shoulder. Tony Blair, George W. Bush and the Duke of Edinburgh star as The Three Wise Men. The shepherds are played by Hollywood star Samuel L. Jackson, British actor Hugh Grant and camp Irish comedian Graham Norton.
The Vatican was not amused. "This is worse than bad taste. It is cheap," an official Vatican source told Reuters in Rome. "You cannot use contemporary personalities as the central figures of the Nativity ... And it becomes worse, if that were possible, in that the people may be of questionable moral standing," he added.
Paul Handley, editor of the Anglican Church Times, thought the tableau was "just pathetic," he told Reuters. "It is yet another sign that people feel they can play around with sacred things. [But] God is not going to worry. He is going to cope -- but it is a bit depressing."
Tuesday, December 07, 2004In other words, blogging will be light for next few weeks - due to finals week at work and school, the holidays, and the fact that my workplace is moving down the road to a neighboring building (less that 50 yards away, but dammit, packing takes just as long). However, I will try to pop in occasionally with something short and
Monday, December 06, 2004Pop on over to 3hive today if you get a chance, and listen to "Whistler's Delight (full version)" by DJ Riko, a clever remix of nearly two dozen songs that have incorporated whistling, whether intro, outro, or somewhere in between. Lest you think it a sheer exercise in twee, DJ Riko's piece starts out with a thumping remix of Peter Gabriel's "Games Without Frontiers" whistle-break (which is strikingly similar to the the guitar solo break in Joan Jett and the Blackhearts' "French Song" from 1983, but that's another story) and segues into the Bangles' piping from "Walk Like and Egyptian."
Hey, any song that manages to meld Bernard Herrmann's "Twisted Nerve" (from Kill Bill Vol. 1) with the Theme from the Andy Griffith Show has got to be worth the download. If you think one catchy tune is hard enough to get out of your head, try 22.
Friday, December 03, 2004
- A hearty "thank you" to Gapers Block - a wonderful Chicago blog/zine - for linking our mention of yesterday's anniversary of the first atomic chain reaction at the University of Chicago! Plus, check out this Gapers Block piece on Chicago's vigorous political blogging scene
- Quote of the day: Omnia mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis [All things are subject to change and we change with them]. That would make the perfect storefront disclaimer for the holiday shopping season. But it still doesn't beat my all-time favorite: Omnia mutantur, nihil interit [Everything changes, (but) nothing is truly lost]
I first came across the latter quote in a Neil Gaiman book, but only today did I find out it's from Ovid's Metamorphoses. By the way, get a load of that little image of Picasso's Tod des Orpheus in the middle of the page. Wouldn't "kleine Tod des Orpheus" be more appropriate?
- Jim Hightower has a good little piece on Conscious Choice.com about Rep. Candice Miller's (R-MI) big-brotherly push for a national ID card system. Yep. Them's gooberheads, awright. More good commentary on Joe Kelley's The Sake of Argument.
- Where can I get my hands on one of these? The Space Cadet computer keyboard was originally designed for old Symbolics LISP machines, but don't you think one of these would look sharp on any geek's desk? Looks like they were originally manufactured by Micro Switch of Freeport, IL, now a division of Honeywell Corp.
- One of my favorite storyteller/bloggers is Brian over at House of Noh Journal - his twistedly funny posts never fail to make me laugh, cringe (in a good way) at the images he conjures up, smile, or think. His individual posts don't seem to be permalinked, unfortunately, but just click around and visit his monthly archive pages.
My teacher may have taught for thirty years, and she may have had a whole classroom full of stupid crap like old wasp nests, as well as possessing a sort of Theresa Kerry, not-really-sexy sassiness that played like gangbusters to the PTA. But she didn’t even give me any suggestions on how to avoid getting beat up. She just wanted me to feel ashamed. She didn’t give me a crash course in self-defense or teach me how to make a stabbin’ shank out of a plastic fork from the cafeteria or loan me one of the many heaters I’m sure she had stashed away in her multiple boxes of classroom quality bleached cattle skulls. She didn’t care about students. Not really...[read on!]I Noh you'll get a kick out of da House.
Thursday, December 02, 2004
- Today is a day of solemn note here at the University of Chicago: it's the anniversary of the first controlled self-sustaining atomic reaction that took place at 3:42pm on this date in 1942, courtesy of Dr. Fermi, et al, at our old Stagg Field. From then on, it's been ker-blooie ever after. Thanks to Tim Sandefur, for the reminder!
- Alas, A Blog's Amp has posted a fine compendium of 16 mini-posts [with links] on same-sex marriage
- Thoughts on Raich v. Ashcroft, the current medical-marijuana case up before the Supreme Court [Drug War Rant] P.S. You'll love the title of the post, and I love this Brandeis quote Pete has on the Drug WarRant sidebar:
"It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country." - Justice Brandeis
- Celebrity staplers for charity? Ooo-kay. So, whose punch-puppies currently have the highest bids? Jennifer Love Hewitt ($1205), Paris Hilton ($1015), Ringo Starr ($805) and Bill Gates ($801). I'd watch out for that Paris Hilton stapler - who knows where it's been? I'm not so sure about ol' Ringo's, either. [via Kottke]
- The Thanksgiving Prayer by William S. Burroughs [via Dong Resin's Joint] Okay, it's a week later - but hell, shouldn't the Thanksgiving spirit last all year?
- Philips announces the MiraVision Mirror TV:
Think a television set is ugly when it's turned off? So did the folks at Philips, who created the first flat-screen TV that becomes a mirror when not in use. Henderson applauds the "break away from the cold 'consumer electronics' aesthetic."Sure. But televisions are mirrors even when they're on, if you really think about it. ;)
Designer: Philips Electronics. Price: $4,200
Because of the Internet, anyone can be a journalist. Some so-called Weblogs - Internet-based opinion columns published by ordinary people - have hundreds of thousands of readers. I run a blog with more than 10,000 daily readers. We often publish news tips from friends or readers, some of which come with a condition of confidentiality.100 extra points if you know which song inspired this post's title. Think silly, think
The First Amendment can't give special rights to the established news media and not to upstart outlets like ours. Freedom of the press should apply to people equally, regardless of who they are, why they write or how popular they are.
Yet when everyone is a journalist, a broad journalist's privilege becomes especially costly.
On the one hand, tips from confidential sources often help journalists (print or electronic) uncover crime and misconduct. If journalists had to reveal such sources, many of these sources would stop talking. On the other hand, some tips are rightly made illegal.
The best solution may be to borrow a principle from other privileges, like those for confidential communications to lawyers, psychotherapists and spouses. The law has generally recognized that protecting the confidentiality of such communications is more important than forcing a person's testimony.
But it has also limited the privilege. Communications that facilitate crime or fraud, for example, are not protected. I may confess my crimes to a lawyer, but if I try to hire him to help me commit my crime, he may be obligated to testify against me.
Maybe a journalist's privilege should likewise be limited. Lawmakers could pass legislation that protects leakers who lawfully reveal information, like those who blow the whistle on governmental or corporate misconduct. But if a leaker tries to use a journalist as part of an illegal act - for example, by disclosing a tax return or the name of a C.I.A. agent so that it can be published - then the journalist may be ordered to testify.
Such a rule may well deter some sources from coming forward. But they will be the very sources that society should want to deter, to protect privacy and safety. In any event, the rules should be the same for old media and new, professional and amateur. Any journalist's privilege should extend to every journalist. [read full article]
Wednesday, December 01, 2004Yet another reason I'd love to boycott network television:
NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - CBS has refused to run an ad by a liberal church promoting the acceptance of people regardless of sexual orientation because the network believes the ad is advocacy advertising.Interesting that the network considers the scenario portrayed in this ad as "advocacy" - advocating what, exactly? If the ad is advocating anything, it wouldn't be homosexuality, but tolerance - is tolerance considred too 'hot' a topic these days as well? I agree with Rev. Thomas - the "Will & Grace is okay, but heaven forbid..." stance of these two networks is nothing less than hypocritical.
The church also says the ad was banned on NBC.
The 30-second spot, run by the United Church of Christ, features two muscle-bound bouncers standing outside a church, selecting people who could attend service and those who could not. Among those kept out are two males who appear to be a couple. Written text then appears saying, in part, "Jesus didn't turn people away, neither do we."
"Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples...and the fact that the executive branch has recently proposed a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast," the church quoted CBS as saying.
A CBS spokesman confirmed that the ad was banned, but would not comment directly about the above statement. "It was against our policy of accepting advocacy advertising," said the spokesman. NBC did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
"It's ironic that after a political season awash in commercials based on fear and deception by both parties seen on all major networks, an ad with a message of welcome and inclusion would be deemed too controversial," said Rev. John Thomas in the statement. "We find it disturbing that the networks in question seem to have no problem exploiting gay persons through mindless comedies or titillating dramas, but when it comes to a church's loving welcome of committed gay couples, that's where they draw the line."
The commercial can be viewed at www.stillspeaking.com. The church says the ad has been accepted on a number of other networks, including ABC Family, BET Discovery, Fox, Hallmark, TBS and TNT.
Perhaps there are some nuances I'm unaware of, but there are countless examples of "advocacy advertising" on network TV...military recruiting ads especially come to mind, not to mention ideological public service announcements of all flavors. Does anyone out there know if an ad's "acceptability" hinges on whether the advertisement is paid or aired gratis?