Friday, September 30, 2005BoingBoing reports on Otherworld Excursions, a company specializing in RPG-themed tours "coming to a city near you!" See Chi-town as the gargoyles and the vampires do...
See the occult architecture of Chicago as only Kenneth Hite can show it to you--then use this knowledge to survive (or, at least, be the last one to lose their mind) in an original roleplaying adventure of eldritch horror!
The Windy City is the birthplace of urban horror. Riding on the L with a faceless mass of drones being herded back to their soul-crushing jobs, Fritz Leiber looked out across the sooty rooftops and envisioned the kinds of ghosts that the metropolis demanded. In his classic novel Our Lady of Darkness, Leiber invented the arcane science of megapolisomancy, the magic of cities. Or so the story goes...spend a Saturday afternoon inspecting the architectural evidence. Then head downtown to the Hotel Intercontinental - which was constructed as an athletic club for the Medinah Shriners, but may serve another purpose for their secret masters. [keep reading]
Thursday, September 29, 2005UPDATE: Bibliofuture has posted the commercial on YouTube.
One chilly autumn morning in 1996, during my first rusty days as a news-video engineer at Channel 5 in Plattsburgh (before I became a commercial producer), I watched a most unusual TV spot on our large studio monitors. It started as a nightmarish urban scenario, where grimy citizens drag their disabled vehicles by torchlight into a distant urban Dante's Inferno; all darkness and storm, set to a keening baritone opera soundtrack. Where were these poor, wretched people [shades of Katrina refu...er...evacuees] going?
They were going to the LIBRARIA - a fearsome fortress guarded by attacking lion statues, where Dickensian children read Paradise Lost as red-jacketed stormtroopers goosestep and shush the already-silent patrons.
They were also going to the BANQ, where an endless queue of customers trails out the door, waiting for a mummified teller to stamp their deposit slip. A evil, portly security guard gives a deep villainous laugh as a young woman ages before our eyes, while a large spider crawls across the teller's motionless hand.
The camera pulls back from this tableau into a lightning-lit skyscraper shaped like a battleship superstructure, further and further until the dark city retreats into a sunny, peaceful meadow. Dissolve to a hypercolorful home interior, with a Packard-Bell desktop computer ready to save you a fruitless trip into Hell. The tagline asks, "Wouldn't You Rather Be At Home?" as the Intel Inside!™ chime plays. [See screenshots of the commercial on this Millard Sheets Library page]
The ad was eerie, over-the-top - and downright weird. I loved it. I never saw the full 60-second version again (only cut-down 30-second spots), but I did manage to capture bits and pieces on 1-inch commercial videotape and dub them down to VHS. Every now and then, I pulled the tape from my archives and watched it when I needed a dose of übergloom.
Little did I know that these commercials had sparked a miniature tumult at the time of their release, ranging from people who felt the PB ads showed a damagingly negative view of public libraries, to those who felt they would inspire people to use computers to withdraw from society, becoming pasty-faced agoraphobes who interact with the world solely behind keyboards and computer screens. Ahem. Some just thought the ads were awful, period.
Nearly ten years later, we actually do live in a world where online banking and information access are routine, and technologies these ads never imagined are now on the horizon. (Remember the earlier and cheerier 1990's AT&T adverts that fantasized an imaginative technofuture - with the punchline, "You Will"?) We may have traded some of the grinding effort of trips to Hell for new risks like spammers, phishers and identity thieves - but the ease with which we can now accomplish many routine chores electronically seems miraculous. However, with this ease of access comes a price: information may cost less to acquire in some ways, but at the price of becoming less "free."
Still, I think it's fascinating to look back at these ads' imagery, just to analyze how their promises and fears of the coming Information Age have played out so far. A few years ago, I found little or no online information on the ads. Now there seems to a host of writing and references to those 1996 M&C Saatchi spots; I'm glad to see others remember them as well, if not always so fondly. You can even watch them for yourself in QuickTime or .avi format courtesy of digital-age commentator Karen Coyle, who shares her insights on the subtexts of the 1996 Packard-Bell campaign in her article, "Home Alone."
Wednesday, September 28, 2005This weekend I stopped by my neighborhood Target™ to pick up a few of life's necessities, when I noticed something odd. All the cold medications from Alka-Seltzer Cold Plus™ to Nyquil™ to Sudafed™ (and their generic equivalents) were gone from the shelves. In their place were rows of reusable barcoded plastic cards hung on metal hooks, showing color photos of the missing products and the caption "This product is now available at the Target Pharmacy. Please take this card to the pharmacy counter to purchase." Wha?...
No, it's not really a surprise. I had expected this to happen for some time...legislatures have finally passed regulations placing all pseudoephedrine-containing OTC medications behind-the-counter, and limiting quantities of their sale.
What is surprising is that the prices of these products seem to have mysteriously doubled or tripled since the new law went into effect. Before, a 10-ounce bottle of Nyquil&trade cost approximately $3.50 to $4.00, and a equal-size generic version cost about $2.50. Now, I saw the same 10-ounce bottle of Nyquil™ priced at $9.55 - almost ten dollars. Administrative costs? Offsetting lost profits? Price gouging, if you ask me - making us pay through our collectively reddened runny noses. This paragraph in Forbes caught my eye:
Minimal Sales Impact in Illinois: Less stringent legislation that only requires single-ingredient PSE (pseudoephedrine) products (but not combination products), to be placed behind the counter, reported compliance issues in urban areas and a strong allergy season, post-legislation, reduced the sales impact in Illinois. While sales growth of non-PSE products has recently outpaced PSE product growth, the PSE growth trend in Illinois is positive.That doesn't seem to be the case at the store I visited, since all PSE-containing medications were placed behind the counter, not just the single ingredient PSE products. This may be a policy of this particular store chain; I'll update when I learn more. I am curious whether all this will actually translate to alleviation of the crystal meth problem. UPDATE: Grits for Breakfast details an early results from Oklahoma that indicate "no" - less domestic meth is ust opening up the pathways for Mexican meth.
Not to mention, you feel like a sleazy tweaker just by handing the plastic card over to the pharmacist, who gives you a once-over before selling you an overpriced bottle of achy-sneezy-fever-sore-throat-this-gubmint-is-driving-me-crazy medicine.
MORE: A strange cold-medicine store tampering case from the Seattle area [KOMO-TV]
Monday, September 26, 2005From Murphysboro, IL (not Murfreesboro, TN):
(AP) MURPHYSBORO, Ill. Police in Murphysboro have nabbed a 23-year-old man who tried to make off with a portable toilet in the back of his El Camino. Police say Gerad Gobel of Versailles took the outhouse from the site of the Murphysboro Barbecue Cook-Offs, which were held over the weekend. Authorities say the toilet fell out of Gobel's vehicle, but officers found a road barricade and a large amount of raw sewage left behind in the El Camino. Gobel was arrested early this morning and faces DUI and felony theft charges.Is toiletlessness next to lawlessness?
(AP) Manhattan, NY - Toiletlessness is a chronic problem in Manhattan, and many New Yorkers spend a lifetime assembling a mental map of those special hotels, coffee shops and bookstores about town that have clean restrooms open to the public. Some small amount of relief could be on the way.A dollar to use a public toilet? Are they trying to become the Starbucks of toilets? Let's hope New York doesn't install those dreadful optical bill-readers that reject all but the most pristine sawbucks. It could be worse. Pay toilets could mimic the Internet, forcing those unable or unwilling to cough up $1.00 to watch an infomercial or Disney trailer before the toilet door opens.
City officials announced this week that they have chosen a Spanish advertising company to install as many as 20 public pay toilets in Manhattan, as part of a larger project to replace 330 newsstands and 3,300 bus shelters. Under the agreement, announced Wednesday, Cemusa Inc. would install the toilets and other structures for free, and then hope to turn a profit by selling advertising on the kiosks and shelters. Patrons would pay a fee - no more than a dollar - to use the toilets, which would be in operation by 2007. The city would get a share of the advertising revenue -- perhaps $1 billion over 20 years.
[ABC News] Adams [age 82] died of a lung infection late Sunday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, his friend and former agent Bruce Tufeld said Monday, adding the actor broke his hip a year ago and had been in ill health since.I loved that shoe phone. Who wouldn't love to bang it on a table Khrushchev-style when telemarketers call? What? Khrushchev never banged his shoe on the table? Awww, it doesn't matter...it still makes for a great, goofy Cold War image - straight out of Get Smart.
As the inept Agent 86 of the super-secret federal agency Control, Adams captured TV viewers with his antics in combatting the evil agents of Kaos. When his explanations failed to convince the villains or his boss, he tried another tack: "Would you believe...?" It became a national catchphrase.
Smart was also prone to spilling things on the desk or person of his boss the chief (actor Edward Platt). Smart's apologetic "Sorry about that, chief" also entered the American lexicon. The spy gadgets, which aped those of the Bond movies, were a popular feature, especially the pre-cell-phone telephone in a shoe.
Friday, September 23, 2005
- "So, why don't we just nuke tropical storms?" [via feministe]
- Broadcast outlets and newpapers in Hurricane Rita's path anticipate going Web-only during the crisis [BoingBoing]
- Clickers bring remote control into classroom students' hands
- "Japan's coolest vending machines" will sell you porn, eggs, rhinoceros beetles - even refrigerator space.
- Someday your keyboard will snitch on you: UC Berkeley scientists have developed a way to spy on what is being typed on a keyboard from a distance - with high accuracy - just by the sounds of the clicking keys. Surprisingly, the keyboard emanations technique described by Doug Tygar, Li Zhuang and Feng Zhou doesn't require a "teaching sample" (an exemplar of each key's sound from a keyboard for comparison) for the method to work. [The just published paper linked on this page describes the technique in detail]
- Random observation: medium-gauge electric guitar strings will grow calluses on your fingertips with amazing speed. You've heard the old saw about "playing 'til your fingers bleed" (no thanks to Bryan Adams for that one), but I think the trick is to play 'til your fingertips are numb - after the pain stage, but just before blister stage, to the point where you experience slight peeling of the outer layers after a day or so. After all, if you get blisters, and the blisters peel off, you lose valuable callus-building epidermis. Thankfully, this only affects my (left) fretting hand, and I'm no southpaw. That is all.
- And now...the Friday Random Ten!
- Royal Crown Revue - "I Love The Life I Live"
- Sonny Rollins - "Opus V"
- Foo Fighters - "Friend of a Friend"
- The Style Council - "Long Hot Summer"
- Ladytron in the Velvet Goldmine OST - "Venus in Furs"
- Pedrinho Rodrigues - "Vivendo De Ilusão"
- KLF - "Rock Radio Into The Nineties and Beyond"
- Melissa Auf Der Maur - "Skin Receiver"
- The Magnetic Fields - "Take Ecstasy With Me"
- Karunesh - "Punjab (Chiller Twist Fruity Mix)"
Thursday, September 22, 2005WIRED News has an interesting Bruce Schneier piece that asks questions about the future of privacy laws - and what might happen when a not-so-big-on-"privacy" Chief Justice decides the constitutionality of developing surveillance technologies:
[John] Roberts is 50 years old...he could be chief justice for the next 30 years. That's a lot of future...[and] the decisions of the Supreme Court on these questions will have a profound effect on society.
Here are some examples. Advances in genetic mapping continue, and someday it will be easy, cheap and detailed -- and will be able to be performed without the subject's knowledge. What privacy protections do people have for their genetic map, given that they leave copies of their genome in every dead skin cell that they leave behind? What protections do people have against government actions based on this data? Against private actions? Should a customer's genetics be considered when granting a mortgage, or determining its interest rate?
New technologies will be able to peer through walls, under clothing, beneath skin, perhaps even into the activity of the brain. Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Delaware) rhetorically asked Roberts: "Can microscopic tags be implanted in a person's body to track his every movement.... Can brain scans be used to determine whether a person is inclined toward criminal or violent behavior?" What should be the limits on what the police can do without a warrant?
Quoted in a New York Times article...privacy advocate Marc Rotenberg laid out this scenario: Sometime in the near future, a young man is walking around the Washington Monument for 30 minutes. Cameras capture his face, which yields an identity. That identity is queried in a series of commercial databases, producing his travel records, his magazine subscriptions and other personal details. This is all fed into a computerized scoring system, which singles him out as a potential terrorist threat. He is stopped by the police, who open his backpack and find a bag of marijuana. Is the opening of that backpack a legal search as defined by the Constitution? [read entire article]
- Go into your archive.
- Find your 23rd post (or closest to).
- Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).
- Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
I've been fascinated with them for years but I've never actually eaten one, just read about them in old cookbooks and more recently in Neil Gaiman's American Gods, where the hero Shadow enjoys a preternaturally good Cornish pasty at a Wisconsin diner.That post, from January 2003, is called "Ghost of a Cornish Pasty." I suppose blogs are now gaining the 'weight' of books? But tell me, what is it about the mystical significance of 23 and 5?
Wednesday, September 21, 20053:45 PM Central Time: CNN and the AP just reported that Hurricane Rita has been upgraded to a Category 5 storm.
Katrina was a Category 4.
Head for the hills, Texas. The golddiggers haven't wasted any time, as the Washington Post reports "Oil Prices Surge As Hurricane Rita Nears."
No, the object didn't appear suddenly out of thin air - I meant to say it arrived that morning: as far as I know, we haven't perfected teleportation yet. Several local TV crew vans had descended on the scene, and a passel of nattily dressed people hovered about, waiting for their closeups. Whatever it was, it was news.
On my return trip, I discovered the mysterious object had been de-tarped. It was a huge brushed aluminum sculpture that resembled either a stylized cedar tree, a huge deer antler, or an upside-down lightning bolt - drawn by kindergarteners. It probably cost the taxpayers a million bucks.
"The Bean" it certainly isn't, and now I'm worried about the daily possibility of snagging my coat on the monstrosity as I walk by. So far, I've had no luck finding out the name or artist on Google™. Anyhow, you'd think something this enormous and shiny sticking up out of a busy sidewalk would turn heads and get people's attention.
Strangely, I noticed people were completely ignoring the giant metal antler, but were staring intently at something on the sidewalk below it. I watched with curiosity as each person stopped, looked down at the sidewalk for a moment, made a quizzical expression and walked away. What was all the excitement about?
Someone had dropped their (thankfully, still-wrapped) Tampax™, which had rolled into the crack between the sidewalk sections.
Who cares about a gleaming 30-foot high antler when there's a tampon on the sidewalk?
It has concerned many people who work in the high rise who were not screened as they entered Tuesday. "I think they should screen everybody who walks into the building because certainly the Sears Tower would be a potential target for terrorists,” said consultant Eric Deitchman...Employees still have large bags X-rayed and they swipe their ID cards. “For the last year we have been trying to strike a perfect balance between security, safety, comfort and convenience,” said Barbara Carley with CB Richard Ellis. Security expert Carlos Villareal headed security at Sears Tower after 9/11 and raised security measures then. He says the national trend is toward more technology.In the event there's an event. No kidding. I thought we were trying to prevent events?
“We've gone from analog recording to digital recording, so that in the event that there's an event, we have a trail to follow,” said Villareal with TrizecHahn Properties.
Relying on a more robust (?) security recording system instead of heading off problems at the door uses the same uncomfortable logic - and false sense of security - as keeping children's fingerprint and DNA samples on file somewhere in case of abduction and murder. Granted, you may have a better chance of "following the trail," identifying the (presumably unrecognizable) child and apprehending the suspect. Unfortunately, the child will still be dead.
In the case of terrorist attacks, I think a "few ounces of [metal detector] prevention" - in the country's tallest building - are probably well worth the protection to lives and property their deterrent value offers...not to mention umpteen billion dollars in future overseas military interventions, in the event of an event.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005For the past few years or so, the University of Chicago student association had been lobbying for a dedicated shuttle service from the South Side Red Line to campus (instead of the CTA bus), citing safety concerns during off-hours. The resolution is a bit old-school (640x480), so let me translate the handwriting. The top reads, "FOR RACIST A--HOLES!" and above the right-hand image, "WHY CAN'T YOU TAKE THE [#]55 [BUS] LIKE EVERYONE ELSE?" Thoughts?
Is it racist to use alternative transportation between a CTA train station and the University of Chicago? To be fair, robberies, muggings and assaults do occur somewhat frequently in the off-campus Hyde Park area - but the UC area isn't the only area with crime, and victimization risk isn't limited to when one waits for a bus. Other schools - like Loyola and Northwestern - also use private charter buses to shuttle students between their outlying and downtown campuses, but I haven't heard any accusations of racism because these students aren't taking the CTA.
[via Brutal Women]
C'mon, just admit it - you've given someone a jar of hastily gift-wrapped mustard at some point in your life; it may have been a fancy schmancy crock of Pommery Moutarde de Meaux or simply a plastic squeeze bottle of Jack Daniels Tennessee Old #7. I admit it: I have gifted a hastily-wrapped mustard...on more than one occasion. M. Diddy I ain't.
Friday, September 16, 2005
- The Clash - "Hitsville UK":
No slimy deals with smarmy eels in Hitsville UK
Lets shake'n say we'll operate in Hitsville UK
The mutants creeps and musclemen
Are shaking like a leaf
It blows a hole in the radio
When it hasn't sounded good all week
A mike'n boom in your living room in Hitsville UK
No consumer trials, no A.O.R. in Hitsville UK
- The Velvet Underground - "There She Goes Again"
- (The Young Ones) Neil's Heavy Concept Album - "Lentil Nightmare"
- Nicola Conte and Rosalia de Souza - "Tempo Futuro"
- The Special AKA - "War Crimes"
- Queen - "Princes of the Universe"
- Pete Townshend - "North Country Girl"
- Casa Loma Orchestra - "Casa Loma Stomp"
- Kiss - "Psycho Circus"
- Bloodhound Gang - "The Ballad of Chasey Lain"
- BONUS: Pazuzu's Banana - "A Half Hour Ago I Destroyed the Entire Day"
Thursday, September 15, 2005Sometimes a rat is just a rat. But sometimes, it's a mouse carrying the bubonic plague:
NEWARK, New Jersey (AP) -- Three mice infected with the bacteria responsible for bubonic plague apparently disappeared from a laboratory about two weeks ago, and authorities launched a search though health experts said there was scant public risk.As if you needed something else to worry about.
The mice were unaccounted-for at the Public Health Research Institute, which is on the campus of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and conducts bioterrorism research for the federal government.
Federal officials said the mice may never be accounted for. Among other things, the rodents may have been stolen, eaten by other lab animals or just misplaced in a paperwork error.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
- Bigfoot has been spotted twice in Illinois in recent days, and he's apparently flipping onlookers the bird [BoingBoing]
- UPDATE: Chicago Sun-Times' Carol Marin takes the foie gras kerfufflers to task over alleged city police torture in "Lily-Livered Pols Tough to Stomach." [via Gapers Block] Why Chicago alderman Joe Moore is making a big honking deal about banning the sale of foie gras in da Metropolis on da Prairie:
From the Chicago Tribune: "I have been asked on a number of occasions why I introduced this ordinance," said Ald. Joe Moore (49th). "The answer is very simple," he said. "Our culture does not condone the torture of innocent and defenseless creatures."Well, yes, I suppose...in the sense that "all flesshe is grasse." I've had foie gras; once. Honestly, I'll take deli chopped liver or liverwurst over it any day. In any case, I don't think force-feeding geese until their livers bloat is any worse than keeping antibiotic-and-manure-drenched livestock inside cramped cages until slaughter day; anyhow, I don't hear anyone calling for a Chicago ban on veal.
Moore said he wasn't sure if he had ever eaten foie gras. Of the seven aldermen who showed up Tuesday for the hearing before the Committee on Health, three said they were certain they had never eaten it. In fact, some weren't sure what it was.
"Is this [made] from grass or something?" Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) said he asked himself upon seeing the words "foie gras" for the first time recently.
- This Chicago news story has it all: chocolate, voyeurism, toilets, and a million-dollar lawsuit
- An automated poodle drying oven [via Gizmodo]
- "Chicago Faces An Attack Of The Spiders" [CBS 2 Chicago]
- What Supreme Court nominee John Roberts had to say about the little
criminalgirl that ate a French fry on the subway [Nat Hentoff in the Village Voice]
- George Washington's 110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation
Tuesday, September 13, 2005On September 11th, The Washington Post reported some details about the Pentagon's proposed stepped-up new nuclear arms plan. From the UK Times Online:
A PRESIDENT of the United States would be able to launch pre-emptive nuclear strikes against enemies planning to use weapons of mass destruction under a revised “nuclear operations” doctrine to be signed in the next few weeks. In a significant shift after half a century of nuclear deterrence based on the threat of massive retaliation, the revised doctrine would allow pre-emptive strikes against states or terror groups, and to destroy chemical and biological weapons stockpiles.
The new document is the first to spell out various contingencies in which a preemptive nuclear strike might be used, including:
The previous doctrine, promulgated under the Clinton administration in 1995 made no mention of the preemptive use of nuclear weapons against any target, let alone describe scenarios in which such use would be considered.
- If an adversary intended to use weapons of mass destruction against the US multinational or allied forces or a civilian population
- In cases of an imminent attack from an adversary's biological weapons that only effects from nuclear weapons can safely destroy
- Against adversary installations, including weapons of mass destruction; deep, hardened bunkers containing chemical or biological weapons; or the command-and-control infrastructure required for the adversary to execute a weapons of mass destruction (WMD) attack against the US or its friends and allies
- In cases where a demonstration of US intent and capability to use nuclear weapons would deter weapons of mass destruction use by an adversary.
Moreover, the new doctrine blurs the distinction that existed during the Cold War between strategic and theater nuclear weapons by "assigning all nuclear weapons, whether strategic or nonstrategic, support roles in theater nuclear operations", according to Kristensen.
Another particularly worrisome aspect of the latest doctrine, according to Oelrich, is its conflation of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons as one "WMD" threat that could justify a US nuclear strike, particularly given the huge disparity in destructive and lethal impact between chemical weapons, on the one hand, and nuclear arms on the other.
"What we are seeing now is an effort to lay the foundations for the legitimacy of using nuclear weapons if [the administration] suspects another country might use chemical weapons against us," he said. "Iraq is a perfect example of how this doctrine might actually work; it was a country where we were engaged militarily and thought it would deploy chemical weapons against us."
Critics also fear that resorting to nuclear weapons may have become increasingly attractive to the administration as the Army and Marines have become bogged down in Iraq and, to a lesser extent, Afghanistan. [continue reading]
Friday, September 09, 2005
- Some very unusual knitted sculptures [at left, "Accident III: Shark"] by Patricia Waller [via BoingBoing, who are doing some excellent mobile blogging from the Katrina Zone]
- They don't hate our freedom, they just hate our cholesterol
- Provocative, scathing reading: international readers' comments on allegations of racism in the aftermath of Katrina, on Aljazeera.
- "Why do people from 'Nawlins talk like dat?" [Slate]
- The amazing tale of the lawyer and his onion-scented handkerchief [Overlawyered]
- Could planet Earth survive the Sun's demise? [New Scientist] Perhaps that's a little too far-fetched to concern ourselves with, since no human civilization has lasted more than a few thousand years continuously at best (and they all thought they'd last forever).
- On a related note, MeFi features a link to analysis of a recent Katrina-like urban response to a natural disaster, the Chicago Heat Wave of 1995: "a city, in its decision to operate like a corporation, experienced the breakdown of massive social services" and the resulting "widening cracks in the social foundations of America's cities."
- Evacuation resistance and psychology: why are people still refusing to leave New Orleans? [Begging to Differ]
- AP: Unlike 9/11, country shows no signs of unification after Hurricane Katrina
- University of Chicago researcher Bruce Lahn finds evidence that the human brain is still an evolving structure [FuturePundit]
- Gizmodo has news about the Uturn, a small Bluetooth-enabled ultrasound device that tells you when your bladder is full, and Papero, the food-tasting robot. The NEC PaPeRo series is more than a novelty at this point - the Japanese manufacturer has bold plans to make PaPeRo robots a common household device. As someone once joked about the need for creating robots to supply a cheap workforce: it's easier and more fun to make them the old-fashioned organic way.
- The legacy of Chicago Joe Danno and the Bucket O' Suds [ChicagoIST]
- "The Only Thing We Have to Fear is The Chupacabra" - The Onion
Last December, I bought a six-pack of imported *Lion® beer from Sri Lanka for our beer files; shortly thereafter, the island nation was devastated by the Asian tsunami of December 26th, 2004. About two weeks ago, we bought some Turbodog™ and Purple Haze™ beer made by the Abita Brewing Company of Abita Springs, Lousiana. And y'all know what happened next.
If you'd like to guarantee your region's safety from watery inundation, kindly email me your geographic location and I will do my best not to buy any beer from your part of the world. I can't guarantee it'll work, but hey - I've got a few cans of tiger repellent left in my pantry, too. Works great.
* Deutsch-o-philes will recognize that the name "Löwenbräu™" also means "lion beer." However, I think it's safe to buy German beer, as it is highly unlikely that nation will ever see a hurricane, cyclone, or typhoon.
WASHINGTON -- Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown is being removed from his role managing Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, The Associated Press has learned. Brown is being sent back to Washington from Baton Rouge, where he was the primary official overseeing the federal government's response to the disaster, according to two federal officials who declined to be identified before the announcement. Brown will be replaced by Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen, who was overseeing New Orleans relief and rescue efforts.
Brown has been under fire because of the administration's slow response to the magnitude of the hurricane. On Thursday, questions were raised about whether he padded his resume to highlight his previous emergency management background.
This week, Brown has been called an idiot, an incompetent and worse, according to The Associated Press. The Oklahoma lawyer has emerged as chief scapegoat for what went wrong in the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina.
Jefferson Parish, La., President Aaron Broussard said the bureaucracy has murdered people in the New Orleans area. "Take whatever idiot they have at the top of whatever agency and give me a better idiot," Broussard told CBS. "Give me a caring idiot. Give me a sensitive idiot. Just don't give me the same idiot."
Thursday, September 08, 2005For some reason, my office is plagued with Drosophila melanogaster, commonly known as fruit flies. Perhaps my somewhat overripe banana is adding unnecessary appeal to an already fragrant area, but it's hard to tell your co-workers not to wear tons of perfume. As I write this, a red-eyed Drosophila taunts me from the top of my computer monitor. It's probably getting karmic revenge.
Why karmic revenge? My first job in college (after being hired as a mural painter at my old high school) was sexing fruit flies for the biology lab. No, I wasn't the entomological equivalent of a fluffer. To 'sex' flies, one first anesthetizes them. You take a sealed bottle containing a fly colony, and carefully insert a cotton swab soaked in a volatile chemical that smells suspiciously like poppers. Think ether-huffing Dr. Wilbur Larch in The Cider House Rules, only smaller and with compound eyes.
The trick is to apply just enough
After you separate the flies, you shake them into new culture-media filled bottles to start their own eugenicized colonies, so college students can endlessly repeat Brother Gregor Mendel's genetic experiments for themselves since textbooks are so unconvincing. These days, between Intelligent Design mandates and banning of contraceptive sales on campus, we'll surely see inherited characteristics experiments of a different variety.
Let's just say that during those long ago hazy days, I accidentally sent more than a few of our winged friends to the Other Side. This was almost 20 years ago, but probably only a blink in the eye to the Great Fly in the Sky: I'm doomed to forever waft fruit flies away from my bananas.
UPDATE: About one hour ago, one of people in my office suite asked, "has everyone been having problems with flies, or is it just me?" I related my Drosophila dilemma, and promised to check into it. Five minutes later, said faculty member emerges from office, exclaiming, "I think I know where all those flies are coming from!" while holding a plastic grocery bag filled with soggy bananas so old they dripped brown juice on the floor.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
- The Chicago Hot Dog and the University of Chicago get tapped as part of the Seven Wonders of Chicago [Chicago Tribune, reg. req.]
- "If Chicago is corrupt, at least it's corruption that delivers." -- Mark Alan Hughes for Philly.com, via Gapers Block
- What the world needs now is a Bad Haiku Generator: they aren't kidding.
- Bush didn't even wait until Rehnquist's body was cold.
- Neil Gaiman's Satanic tomato
- Chicago's cupcake restaurant [via Chicagoist]
- Mod a $20.00 toy Millennium Falcon into the ultimate geek machine [via Gizmodo]
- "Smile! You're on Pervert Camera!" [LA Times (reg. req.) via Slate]
- "Gilligan's Island" star Bob Denver dead at 70
Thursday, September 01, 2005The situation in New Orleans appears to be growing truly desperate; an on-the-scene account from CNN reporter Jeanne Meserve (available on the CNN blog) does a good job describing the extremity of the disaster:
I truly believe that apart from 9/11 this is one of the most significant events that has ever hit this country. Anybody who tells you this disaster is going to be rectified in a matter of months hasn't seen the situation.We've been holding our collective breaths expecting the next great American disaster to be man-made. Will it be an airliner crash? Gasoline trucks crashed into targets? Or perhaps biological agents or a "dirty bomb"? As Hurricane Katrina amply demonstrated, Mother Nature seems to have a terrorist streak at heart, too. [BoingBoing reports that Google maps will have extensive new flyover and satellite images of the Gulft Coast damage region available soon.]
People are carrying their children, trying to get them to safety. A woman coming down to the police, close to hysterics, saying, "My elderly mother is in a building over there, she needs dialysis. She can't get it. She is dying. Can you help me?"
And the police had to say, "There is absolutely nothing we can do. We don't have a precinct house. We don't have communication. There is absolutely nothing we can do for you." That was amazing to me.
The other thing that struck me was the looting. The police were standing in the middle of the street and right in front of them stores were being ransacked. And they didn't even make an effort to stop it. I don't think they could, under the circumstances.
They were totally outnumbered. They couldn't call for any reinforcements. And frankly, the priority now isn't property. The priority has to be people and people's lives. The police are there protectively, I think, in case things escalate even further. But they are powerless. They're powerless in this situation.
It turns out many of the visits have been from the Pripyat.com forum, named after the nearby abandoned town where Chernobyl's workers and families lived until the disaster. Since my Ukrainian is
Enter the year you graduated from high school in the search function and get the list of 100 most popular songs of that year. Bold the songs you like,And no, I didn't attend my 20th high school reunion...because apparently there never was one! It's also telling that whenever most of the songs on this list pop up on the radio, I'll change the station. I much prefer music from 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981 and 1982 (the year pop sort of went over the hill, in my opinion) to the overripe fruit that passed for music on this chart. Mind you, these are the songs most popular in the US during these years: the UK and Canadian versions are far more interesting.
strike through the ones you hateand underline your favorite. Do nothing to the ones you don't remember (or don't care about).
1. Careless Whisper, Wham!
2. Like A Virgin, Madonna
3. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, Wham!
5. I Feel For You, Chaka Khan
6. Out Of Touch, Daryl Hall and John Oates
8. Money For Nothing, Dire Straits
9. Crazy For You, Madonna
10. Take On Me, A-Ha
11. Everytime You Go Away, Paul Young
13. Can't Fight This Feeling, REO Speedwagon
14. We Built This City, Starship
15. The Power Of Love, Huey Lewis and The News
16. Don't You (Forget About Me), Simple Minds
17. Cherish, Kool and The Gang
18. St. Elmo's Fire (Man In Motion), John Parr
20. We Are The World, U.S.A. For Africa
21. Shout, Tears For Fears
23. Saving All My Love For You, Whitney Houston
24. Heaven, Bryan Adams
25. Everything She Wants, Wham!
26. Cool It Now, New Edition
27. Miami Vice Theme, Jan Hammer
28. Lover Boy, Billy Ocean
29. Lover Girl, Teena Marie
31. Oh Sheila, Ready For The World
32. Rhythm Of The Night, Debarge
33. One More Night, Phil Collins
34. Sea Of Love, Honeydrippers
35. A View To A Kill, Duran Duran
36. The Wild Boys, Duran Duran
38. Neutron Dance, Pointer Sisters
39. We Belong, Pat Benatar
40. Nightshift, Commodores
41. Things Can Only Get Better, Howard Jones
42. All I Need, Jack Wagner
43. Freeway Of Love, Aretha Franklin
44. Never Surrender, Corey Hart
46. Strut, Sheena Easton
47. You Give Good Love, Whitney Houston
48. The Search Is Over, Survivor
49. Missing You, Diana Ross
50. Separate Lives, Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin
51. Raspberry Beret, Prince and The Revolution
52. Suddenly, Billy Ocean
53. The Boys Of Summer, Don Henley
54. One Night In Bangkok, Murray Head
55. If You Love Somebody Set Them Free, Sting
56. Obsession, Animotion
57. We Don't Need Another Hero, Tina Turner
58. Material Girl, Madonna
59. Better Be Good To Me, Tina Turner
60. Head Over Heels, Tears For Fears
61. Axel F, Harold Faltermeyer
62. Smooth Operator, Sade
63. In My House, Mary Jane Girls
65. All Through The Night, Cyndi Lauper
66. Run To You, Bryan Adams
67. Glory Days, Bruce Springsteen
68. Voices Carry, 'Til Tuesday
69. Misled, Kool and The Gang
70. Would I Lie To You?, Eurythmics
72. No More Lonely Nights, Paul McCartney
73. I Can't Hold Back, Survivor
74. Summer Of '69, Bryan Adams
75. Walking On Sunshine, Katrina and The Waves
76. Freedom, Wham!
77. Too Late For Goodbyes, Julian Lennon
78. Valotte, Julian Lennon
79. Some Like It Hot, Power Station
80. Solid, Ashford and Simpson
81. Angel, Madonna
82. I'm On Fire, Bruce Springsteen
83. Method Of Modern Love, Daryl Hall and John Oates
84. Lay Your Hands On Me, Thompson Twins
85. Who's Holding Donna Now, Debarge
86. Lonely Ol' Night, John Cougar Mellencamp
88. California Girls, David Lee Roth
89. Fresh, Kool and The Gang
90. Do What You Do, Jermaine Jackson
91. Jungle Of Love, The Time
92. Born In The USA, Bruce Springsteen
93. Private Dancer, Tina Turner
94. Who's Zoomin' Who, Aretha Franklin
95. Fortress Around Your Heart, Sting
96. Penny Lover, Lionel Richie
97. All She Wants To Do Is Dance, Don Henley
98. Dress You Up, Madonna
99. Sentimental Street, Night Ranger
100. Sugar Walls, Sheena Easton