Tuesday, February 28, 2006
RadioActive! The Nuclear Blog 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 

There's no promotion like self-promotion: if you're interested in nuclear news and Atomic Age history, visit the new and improved (Chernobyl 20th Anniversary Edition) RadioActive! The Nuclear Blog at http://corium.blogspot.com.

New visitors may wish to read the FAQ first. And for Pete's sake, it's pronounced "new-klee-er," not "new-cue-ler."

farkleberries Links du Jour 138 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 

Friday, February 24, 2006
Friday Random Ten: Tra La La All The Way to Bedlam 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
The Banana Splits TV show
"One banana, two banana, three banana, four
Four bananas make a bunch and so do many more.
Over hill and highway the banana buggies go
Coming on to bring you the Banana Splits show

Making up a mess of fun
Making up a mess of fun
Lots of fun for everyone

Tra la la, la la la la, Tra la la, la la la la
Tra la la, la la la la, Tra la la, la la la la
  1. Gene Rains - "Tiki"
  2. Magnetic Fields - "I Can't Touch You Any More"
  3. Lee "Scratch" Perry - "Telepathic Jah A Rise"
  4. Clan of Xymox - "Equal Ways"
  5. Cluster & Eno - "Wermut"
  6. Conjunto d'Angelo - "Charmaine"
  7. The Banana Splits - "The Tra La La Song (One Banana Two Banana)"
  8. Rush - "Mystic Rhythms"
  9. Kraftwerk - "Aero Dynamik (Riga)"
  10. Harold Budd - Chrysalis Nu (To Barney's Memory)"
Ah, nostalgia. There's a RealAudio stream available at the link, just in case you needed a recalcitrant earworm song this weekend. To paraphrase Gordon Sumner, "when the world is running down," watch mindless trippy kiddie TV.

Thursday, February 23, 2006
farkleberries Links du Jour 137 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 

Wednesday, February 22, 2006
farkleberries Links du Jour 136 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 

Monday, February 20, 2006
After All, Why Would a Global Superpower Need to Run Its Own Seaports, Dahling? 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Outsourcing Chicago bus shelters to French company JC Decaux: Not too bad. At least they're clean, and look Eurofab good.

Outsourcing the Chicago Skyway for 99 years to Spanish/Australian consortium Cintra/Macquarie Infrastructure Group: Fashionably global, but 99 years is a damned long lease - even in the global scheme of things.

Outsourcing management of six major U.S. seaports to a United Arab Emirates-based company: Brilliant, Mr. President...just brilliant. If it's actually more profitable for a foreign country to run our major seaports than for us to run them ourselves, you know this whole "global superpower thang" ain't long for this world. Thanks for your vote of confidence in our nation. Just don't lease our country out for 99 years, mmm-kay?

[insert "you'd sell your own mother" joke here.]

Sunday, February 19, 2006
Houston, We Have a Problem 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
I just wanted to alert everyone that something is seriously wrong with my Blogger account lately. For some reason I can no longer post new entries, and in the one time out of ten that a post actually "takes," others disappear - or my template disappears. Maybe I've run up against some server space limit in the "fine print" I never noticed. Perhaps more advanced users might have a clue what the trouble is?

In any case, you may not be seeing new postings here at this URL much longer. I'm definitely in search of more professional blogging accomodations. I'm grateful for the three or so years the service has worked fairly trouble-free - but now, losing posts I'd spent a good deal of time on or having them vanish randomly just isn't worth the trouble. Readers, if you could give me your personal recommendations for a better bloghosting service (no, it doesn't have to be free - I finally understand "you get what you pay for") I'd welcome your thoughts and suggestions.

Thursday, February 16, 2006
Bangus Interruptus: ‽ 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Minds out of the gutter, dear readers. If you can read the symbol in the post title and these parentheses (‽), you're looking at the one and only "interrobang." In profile it resembles a stylized boxing glove in mid-flight; in censorful times, when one needs to go for the mild instead of the wild, a ‽ is (almost) as good as a carelessly flung WTF in polite company, with fewer characters to boot.

A hearty shout-out to Bob the Corgi for helping spread the word about a punctuation mark whose time has truly come.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006
The Demon Fork 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
The Evil ForkNo one knows where the it came from, or when it first appeared in our silverware drawer. We don't remember buying it, borrowing it, or even bringing it home "by accident" from a restaurant - and it doesn't match any of our others. What's so strange about this fork, besides the fact it's unnaturally long and has only three sharp prongs, you ask?

It has very bad fork shui. It just feels intrinsically ... well, wrong.

When I'm on the receiving end of the Evil Fork - usually unintentionally - I snarl inwardly and tromp into the kitchen to replace it with a more manageable drawermate. I attempt to bury the fork deep in the recesses of the silverware, but the next day when I reach into the silverware to set the table the Evil Fork has somehow risen to the top of the compartment, daring me to place it amongst the unsuspecting innocent forks aleady on the table.

On daring days I've tried eating with it, only to misjudge its awkward length and jab myself in the tongue, or have it skid screeching across the dinner plate in pursuit of a fleeing carrot. It might be my imagination, but food even seems to lose its flavor when handled or pierced by this fork. Perhaps it was never intended for actual eating; maybe it was forged for the sole purpose of stabbing unruly pickles, or serving slimy slices of bologna to bridge partners from a polite distance.

Or maybe it just belongs in another dimension. I'm afraid to throw it away, for fear I'll open the drawer the next day and it'll be back.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006
4 X 4 X 4 More 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
In light of the weekend's discussions of the powers of triplicity,* oscillating agreements of forces,** and "cutting one's own switches,"*** may I offer you a fine meme spied recently.

Four Bloggers I'm Tagging
  1. Really Smooth Moves
  2. SillyLibra
  3. EclecticEveryday
  4. Frittenings
Four Jobs I've Had
  1. Television Commercial Producer
  2. Radio Announcer
  3. Mural Painter
  4. Lab Technician
Four Movies I Can Watch Over and Over
  1. Contact
  2. The Exorcist
  3. Star Wars
  4. Silence of the Lambs
Four TV Shows I Love to Watch
  1. The X-Files
  2. M*A*S*H
  3. C.S.I.
  4. Millennium
Four Places I've Been On Vacation
  1. Rome, Italy
  2. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
  3. Miami, Florida
  4. Roswell, New Mexico
Four Favorite Dishes
  1. Vegetarian Indian dishes ... yes, I know ... cop-out ... okay, masala dosa, dhal, or mattar paneer
  2. Maki Sushi
  3. Pad Thai
  4. The Pine Yard's Mongolian Beef
Four Websites I Visit Daily
  1. Google
  2. Bloglines
  3. CNN
  4. del.icio.us
Four Places I'd Rather Be
  1. With my Better Half
  2. A good used book store
  3. My kitchen
  4. Target
Four Books
  1. How to Live in the World and Still Be Happy by Hugh Prather
  2. The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman (yes, I know it's really a 'graphic novel,' but take my word for it, it is Literature.)
  3. Legion by William Peter Blatty
  4. The Aristos by John Fowles
* Sometimes known as 111.
** Isn't that all the universe really is?
*** Are we the recipients of switches we deserve, whether we cut them or not?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006
farkleberries Links du Jour 135: The Sometimes a Meat Edition 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 

Monday, February 06, 2006
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
A section of the controversial Mohammed Danish cartoonsYou've no doubt seen some news coverage of the escalating international rioting over some mysterious Danish newspaper cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad - perhaps, like me, thinking it's a sign of at least part of the world truly gone mad. Would you like to see these drawings for yourself? A quick Google search turns up a small copy of the Jyllands-Posten caricatures on Wikipedia, with the Wiki page editing wisely disabled for the time being, and links to a page on www.faithandfreedom.org depicting larger versions of the drawings.

CNN had this to say about reprinting the images in question:
The controversy began in September, when 12 drawings of the Muslim prophet were published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. The paper said it had asked cartoonists to draw the pictures because the media was censoring itself over Muslim issues. In January, a Norwegian newspaper reprinted the drawings. Some other European papers later published some of the cartoons, as a way of covering the controversy and also, some papers said, as a matter of freedom of expression.

CNN has chosen to not show the cartoons out of respect for Islam. ... Jyllands-Posten has apologized, saying it did not mean to offend Muslims and that the drawings had to be understood in their original contexts.

The paper's cultural editor, Flemming Rose, said the uproar came after "radical imams from Denmark traveled to the Middle East, deliberately lying about these cartoons," and saying that the paper is owned by the government and is preparing a new translation of the Koran "censoring the word of 'Allah,' which is a grave sin according to Islam."
"Respect for Islam"? Or perhaps out of worry their personnel and real estate will be targets of the extremist violence seen elsewhere in the world? I'd call that "fear of terrorism." Part of me doesn't blame CNN, but it's too bad robust values like "covering the controversy" and "freedom of expression" have fallen by the wayside.

Friday, February 03, 2006
If The Future Involves Candy Made From Underwear, I'd Rather Live In The Past 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
UPDATE: I just discovered an interesting essay on the same 1950 Popular Mechanics article at Analog SF Online: "One Crystal Ball, Slightly Used."

Sometime this weekend, take a moment and mosey on over to a cool site I recently discovered, HepcatWilly's. It's one of a few sites I'd like to tell you about in the near future that are jam-packed with retro treasures, like out of print Space-Age exotica and obscure jazz albums. It's the kind of website that represents one of the most endearing aspects of the Internet: amateur preservation (in the sheer "for the love of it" sense) of the past for fellow aficionados. If not for fans like these the music, memories, and images of yesteryear would soon be relegated to trash heaps, antique shops, dusty attics and online auctions.

I wanted to specially note one item at HepcatWilly's that caught my eye. It's a scanned 1950 Popular Mechanics article by New York Times science editor Waldemar Kaempffert, "Miracles You'll See In The Next 50 Years." Essentially, it's one of those futurist pieces that combines then-current scientific breakthroughs with popular trends and tries to extrapolate them into a vision of the future - usually with mixed results more shaped by wishful thinking and current social presumptions than the true unknown. After all, we're only human.

Although the predictions aren't all the overblown "hovercraft in every garage" variety, the article illustrates clearly that even if technology did develop in unimaginable directions, mainstream 1950's America had little clue of globalization and the international trends that would shape our lives even more profoundly than industrial miracles.

Practical concerns of that age differed from our own, as well. Save for some mention of solar and nuclear power, and alcohol-powered automobiles, scarcity of resources and the global need for conservation didn't seem to be an issue. In 1950, meltable plastic dishes you could flush down the drain with superheated water seemed an ideal solution for harried housewives. Today, we'd balk at the energy needed both to make the plastic and heat the boiling water, and the need for fresh water - not to mention wariness regarding food coming in contact with plasticizers needed to make low-melting-point resins. Today's better solution might be biodegradable dishes you'd toss in a compost heap.

The Popular Mechanics article augurs:What, no Dick Tracy watch-communicators? We actually have those now. If 20/20 is perfect hindsight, we probably know as little about our lives 50 years from now - Inshallah - as futurists like Kaempffert predicted our lives would be today, 50 years ago - and no matter how technologically advanced we become, scientists (and magazine editors) never waste a chance to depict housewives in kinky clothing.
"If old Mrs. Underwood, who lives around the corner...insists on sleeping under an old fashioned comforter instead of an aerogel blanket full of glass...she must expect people to talk about her 'queerness.'"
Of course, her rubber suit has nothing to do with it whatsoever. Some things never change.