Thursday, December 31, 2009

This monkey’s gone to heaven | Blog | Futurismic

Can't go wrong with stories that combine monkeys and robots.

Posted via web from "Here's to plain speaking and clear understanding."

Lots of UCONN in This List

ESPN's Top College Hoops games of the decade: The 2004 win over Duke on the way to the National Title, and the 6OT loss to 'Cuse in the 2009 Big East Tourney were the first to leap to mind and they're in there.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Inception

I've been blogging at Triptych Cryptic for ten years.  It's been a long, fun run.  However, since the other cryptonauts have all but dropped off ... only bonedaddy still pokes in now and again ... I've finally come to the conclusion it's time to let TC fade away and do my thing.  I'm not tech-savvy or, frankly, committed enough to go the whole domain/server/wordpress route so I'm sticking with blogger/google for better or worse.  I'm still on friendfeed, google reader sharing, twitter, posterous, and, in a less public way, facebook.  All of those other things fill a niche but I like having a proper blog for certain types of posts: the longer, more image-laden, possibly controversial (outspoken atheism, for instance) type stuff that the other formats aren't as conducive to sharing for one reason or another.

For the next little while, I'm going to try some cross-posting with an aim to, hopefully, luring whoever might still be reading TC over here.  And I'll still post to TC some, I'm still not ready to let it go completely.

Monday, December 28, 2009

C-Dog's Favorite Movies of the 2000s (Triptych Cryptic Import)

First caveat:  there are a lot of movies that I wanted to see this decade and didn't.  I suspect, of those well-reviewed unseen movies, too numerous to list, many would be on this list.
Second caveat: I only saw Sherlock Holmes once, yesterday, and loved it.  I may be riding high off the buzz.
Third caveat:  I'm a fanboy buffoon.  Barely, if even, more credible than the AICN commenter.

  1. "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"
  2. "Serenity"
  3. "Memento"
  4. "Fellowship of the Ring"/"The Two Towers"/"Return of the King"
  5. "Brick"
  6. "Michael Clayton"
  7. "Traffic"
  8. "Legend of the Drunken Master"
  9. "Erin Brokovich"
  10. "Snatch"
  11. "Star Trek"
  12. "Sherlock Holmes"
  13. "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back"
  14. "Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle"
  15. "Iron Man"
  16. "The Bourne Identity"/"The Bourne Ultimatum"/"The Bourne Supremacy"
  17. "The 40-Year-Old-Virgin"
  18. "Casino Royale"
  19. "Spider-Man"
  20. "Batman Begins"/"The Dark Knight"
  21. "Ocean's Eleven"/"Ocean's Twelve"
  22. "Inside Man"
  23. "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang"
  24. "City of God"
  25. "Fahrenheit 9/11"
  26. "Hotel Rwanda"
  27. "Shaun of the Dead"
  28. "Juno"
  29. "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World"
  30. "Gosford Park"
  31. "The Departed"
  32. "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"
  33. "The Royal Tenenbaums"
  34. "Kill Bill Vol. 1"/"Kill Bill Vol. 2"
  35. "Hot Fuzz"
  36. "An Inconvenient Truth"
  37. "The Prestige"
  38. "War"
  39. "The Transporter"
  40. "The Illusionist"
  41. "Ghost World"
  42. "Love Actually"
  43. "Ali"
  44. "District 9"
  45. "Sexy Beast"
  46. "In the Loop"
  47. "United 93"
  48. "The Constant Gardener"
  49. "I Heart Huckabees"
  50. "Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior"

Facial Recognition ... (Triptych Cryptic Import)

... If This Is Any Indicator, Is Not Reliable Technology
I mean, c'mon.  This celebrity matcher thing didn't notice my resemblance to Tom Baker or Mark Knopfler?

http://www.myheritage.com/collage

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sauce for the Goose

Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com - My Friend the President:
"In other words, the Leave-Obama-Alone protestations posted by Sullivan are fairly representative of the genre. How far we've fallen from the declaration of Thomas Jefferson: 'In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.'
With regard to many of the above-referenced criticisms -- as well as ones I haven't included -- there are reasonable disputes over the validity of the critiques, and many Obama defenders voice those on substantive grounds. Obama admirers like the ones featured above are a minority, albeit a vocal one. But far too many have an emotional attachment to him and investment in him that is deeply unhealthy, particularly when it translates into intolerance for the very act of objecting to his decisions and policies, as one sees on vivid display in the responses Sullivan posted."

I expect the Olbermanns, Maddows, Stewarts, and Colberts of the world to hold the Obama administration to the same standard they held the previous administration of crooks and con-men. We should all expect and demand a return to the rule of law.

Dishonoring the House of Mortak

'Family Ties' Actor Bonsall Facing Assault Charge - Denver News Story - KMGH Denver: Alexander Rozhenko, son of Worf of the House of Mortak, is either letting his Klingon instincts get the better of him or is a meth addict. The real-world money, if you click through to see the mug shot, is on "meth-head".

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Defying Gravity (Triptych Cryptic Import)

Never Saw Or Even Heard Of It But Liking:


Not breaking into the Top Ten or anything.  Still, irritating me that there was a sci-fi show I never even heard of, with Ron Livingston, that was totally off my radar.

Haverin' (Triptych Cryptic Import)

How Dollhouse Got in the Top Ten (Triptych Cryptic Import)




It's on hulu.com.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Best of the Aughts: TV (Triptych Cryptic Import)

A top ten for the first nine years of this decade and the last year of the last decade/century/millennium.
  1. Firefly - It goes without saying.  This is one where we'll have to agree to disagree, if you disagree. But, can you, really?  I mean, we saw the same show, right?  
  2. Deadwood - OMCFG this show rocked my world.  
  3. The West Wing - I hoped Obama would be Bartlett.  He's not.  But he's probably the closest we'll see in our lifetime.
  4. Veronica Mars - Really, for season one only.  I really grooved on season one.
  5. Arrested Development - I'm teaching my kids the chicken dance, that's how much I love this show.
  6. Curb Your Enthusiasm - The man in the cape makes me laugh out very loud.  
  7. 30 Rock - I want to go to there. 
  8. The Office - I like Jim.  The Office would be higher on this list if he didn't keep pulling that same face every time he looks at the camera.  It's funny nearly every time ... but there's a one-trick-pony effect holding the show back, in my mind.  Sometimes it feels a little like Frasier, I don't know if I can put the feeling into words, but sometimes you're just so embarrassed for a character it's not fun any more.
  9. The Daily Show/The Colbert Report/Countdown/Rachel Maddow - It was either a four way tie or exclude comedy/news shows all together.  Couldn't have one without the others but didn't want to fill the list up with progressive news over scripted dramas and comedies.
  10. Dollhouse - Yes, Dollhouse. Despite it's flaws, it's ahead of Gilmore Girls, Lost, Battlestar Galactica, & Chuck. So why does Dollhouse make it?  Alpha, mainly.  And Olivia Williams is pitch perfect as Adele.  Dushku as Echo didn't work for me until very near the end.  I can't say the series was particularly well structured but when it was brilliant, it was Whedonesquely brilliant.  I mentioned BSG even though I thought it was wildly overrated, not half the sci-fi epic Babylon 5 was. 
There are a bunch of highly acclaimed shows I haven't seen: Mad Men, The Wire*, The Sopranos*, Freaks and Geeks,  and Undeclared.   I keep hearing Freaks and Geeks and The Wire are not just best of the decade but best evah material; if I ever have time, I promise to do a dvd weekend marathon and see if I agree.

You may have noticed a glaring ommission: Doctor Who.  I was going strictly for US TV, here without really thinking about it.  If I include non-US shows, then DW comes in right after Firefly.  I'd also have to think about where the original The Office fits in, too. 


* Well, I saw one episode and didn't get hooked so I didn't give them much of a shake.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Jaw Dropped

ARTICLE VI:
"Sec. 8. Disqualifications for office.

The following persons shall be disqualified for office:

First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God."

Not that I was planning on it or anything but still ... it would've been nice to think I could run for public office in NC if I wanted to.  I guess I'm lucky they let me vote.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Above The Law



Boom-boom-krak-oo (Triptych Cryptic Import)

Boom-boom-krak-oo - Campbell's monkeys combine just six 'words' into rich vocabulary : Not Exactly Rocket Science:
"Many human languages achieve great diversity by combining basic words into compound ones - German is a classic example of this. We're not the only species that does this. Campbell's monkeys have just six basic types of calls but they have combined them into one of the richest and most sophisticated of animal vocabularies."

Monday, November 30, 2009

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Hanging My Head

Duke 68, UConn 59 - UCONN | Men's Basketball: Ouch. That was ugly. Kemba Walker, Jerome Dyson, and Stanley Robinson are all fantastically talented atheletes but are going to have to learn to play together much more effectively if this year's squad is going to have any chance of doing anything this year. This much talent shouldn't look like a middle-of-the-pack team.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Quiblling Over Lists, It's What I Do

The best books of the ’00s | Best Of The Decade | The A.V. Club
+1 for "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" among several strong selections.
-1 for "The Road." "The Years of Rice and Salt" would've been a better choice. Or "World War Z."

Non-Random Book, Non-Random Passage #2

For the last twenty plus years, Kim Stanley Robinson has been my favorite writer. Prior to that, it was either Robert A. Heinlein or Mark Twain. I already hit Twain in the random series, so I'll pick a Heinlein passage to take me back to the those heady high-school days when reasonably bright (I'll be haughty here and put myself in that category) kids' brains are soaking up knowledge like sponges, awash in destabilizing hormones, and still, for having ten or more years of schooling, remarkably empty.

Heinlein is like crack for teen geeks with a sci-fi bent. All that machismo, science, solipsism, and wacky libertarianism: Danger, Will Robinson! I shudder to think some of the stuff I thought back then, but I still treasure these old books, and there are lots of them. The juveniles, the classics, and even the ones near the end where (To Sail Beyond the Sunset, I'm looking at you) things were just getting plain weird.

Since Starship Troopers is first Heinlein that leaps to mind, I've got go with Major Reid and Johnny Rico in History and Moral Philosopy class.
"Are a thousand unreleased prisoners sufficient reason to start or resume a war? Bear in mind that millions of innocent people may die, almost certainly will die, if war is started or resumed."

I didn't hesitate. "Yes, sir! More than enough reason."

"'More than enough.' Very well, is one prisoner unreleased by the enemy, enough reason to start or resume a war?"

I hesitated. I knew the M.I. answer -- but I didn't think that was the one he wanted. He said sharply, "Come, come, Mister! We have an upper limit of one thousand; I invited you to consider a lower limit of one. But you can't pay a promissory note which reads 'somewhere between one and one thousand pounds' -- and starting a war is much more serious than paying a trifle of money. Wouldn't it be criminal to endanger a country -- two countries, in fact -- to save one man? Especially as he may not deserve it? Or may die in the meantime? Thousands of people get killed every day in accidents ... so why hesitate over one man? Answer! Answer yes, or answer no -- you're holding up the class."

He got my goat. I gave him the cap trooper's answer. "Yes, sir!"

"'Yes' what?"

"It doesn't matter if it's a thousand -- or just one, sir. You fight."

"Aha! The number of prisoners is irrelevant. Good. Now prove your answer."

I was stuck. I knew it was the right answer. But I didn't know why. He kept hounding me. "Speak up, Mr. Rico. This is an exact science. You have made a mathematical statement; you must give proof. Someone may claim that you have asserted, by analogy, that one potato is worth the same price, no more, no less, as a thousand potatoes. No?"

"No, sir!"

"Why not? Prove it."

"Men are not potatoes."
What I still enjoy in Heinlein is captured here.  What I outgrew is as well.  He's very directly challenging his reader to tackle questions of ethics and morality.  And he's strident about it.  All those italics and exclamation points, I didn't add those.  I don't mind that so much, sure it's a bit florid but I think that's a great approach to go after a young reader.  Pose the questions, demand an answer, then demand a justification.  The problem is he's sloppy.  Where he has Reid say they've established an "upper limit" of one thousand, no, that's not what they did at all.  That's saying up to one thousand prisoners are enough to go to war over, more than that is not sufficient reason.  I know what he was trying to say but you can't have a character say they're being held to mathematical standards of proof and morality is an exact science and be so careless with your words.  The whole situation is the kind of overwrought there's-a-terrorist-who-knows-where-the-bomb-is-do-you-torture-him-for-the-information scenario.  Obviously, a nation should not just forget about a P.O.W. still behind enemy lines.  But, neither do we need to suppose that immediately after the last signature is on the armistice document, the presence of P.O.W.s behind enemy lines means lobbing a nuke or immediately picking the rifles back up.  (Demand their safety, work out the logistics of their return, explain the consequences of failure to comply or discuss in good faith, then act accordingly.)  At heart, Reid and Rico are right, you risk more than one life to gain the release of a prisoner -- if need be -- because saying, "Well, it's just one prisoner, screw him," would clearly be wrong.  Just like torture is wrong.   The problem is Heinlein's bluster obscures the real process of how you reason through a dilemma like the one discussed.

I'm glad I read Heinlein when I was young, I'm not sure I could stomach him now if I hadn't.  I'm glad because even though the prose and ideology are dodgier than I realized as a teen, the lesson that it's important to get to the right answer, that you arrive at it by reasoning, that there is a science to answering the hard questions (no appeals to mumbo-jumbo and mystical bullshit) -- as long as a kid comes away with that, that kid's going in the right direction.  I hope my kids read this stuff when they get older.  I also hope they don't stop with Heinlein.

And, I never did outgrow Twain.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

KSR Watching

Deals: 11/23/2009 - 11/23/2009 - Publishers Weekly:
"Orbit's Tim Holman inked Kim Stanley Robinson to a world English rights, three-book deal, with the first title in the agreement, 2312, slated to drop in 2012. Holman, v-p and publisher of the Hachette sci-fi/fantasy imprint, brokered the deal with agent Ralph Vicinanza. Robinson, who's won various genre awards including the Hugo and the Nebula, is best known for his Mars trilogy, published in the 1990s by Bantam's Spectra imprint. In the new novel, set 300 years in the future, human beings have fled Earth in favor of new homes within the solar system."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Non-Random Book, Non-Random Passage #1

Have I mentioned how much I love having my books all shelved and at hand? Yes. The random was fun (for me) but I'm itching to flip through some faves. Of course, it's Kim Stanley Robinson to start. The Gold Coast maintains a special place in my heart, even though The Years of Rice and Salt is currently my favorite of his novels. I've got a Hardback 1st and a paperback TGC -- liked it so much I bought it twice. Plus, I received a J'ai Lu edition en Français as a gift.

There's a bit that's always stuck with me, something I'd done, and I'm sure most folks have at one point or another where you count back generations to try to fit history in your head, make the scale of it intelligible. In the novel, the gang of friends need to get out of Dodge while some trouble blows over, so they jet off to Europe, hit some of the big tourist destinations, then decide to see the Pyramids in Egypt (and are underwhelmed), then Jim, our protagonist, suggests checking out Greece and getting off the beaten path to do some camping. They find some ruins and with the help of a few lines off the back of a map launch themselves into history:
"Well, the back of the map has a few sentences about it, and that's all I know, really. It began as a Minoan town, around 2500 B.C. Then it was occupied by the Greeks, the Romans, and the Byzantines. Under the Greeks it was an independent city-state and coined its own money. It was abandoned around either 900 A.D. or 1500 A.D., because of earthquakes."

"Only six hundred years' difference," Sandy says, "My Lord, the time scales!"

"Immense," Jim says. "We can't imagine them. Especially not Californians."

Sandy takes this as a challenge. "Can too!"

"Cannot!"

"Can too!"

About five reps of that, and Sandy says, "Okay, try this. We'll go backwards from now, generation by generation. Thirty-three years per generation. You tell us what they were doing, I'll keep count."

"Okay, let's try it."

"Last generation?"

"Part of Greece."

Sandy makes a mark in the dirt between flagstones. "Before that?"

"Same."

Five generations go by like that. Jim has his eyes squeezed shut, he's concentrating, trying to recall Cretan history from the guidebooks, his history texts back home. "Okay, this guy saw Crete deeded over from Turkey to Greece. Before him, under the Turks."

"And his parents?"

"Under the Turks." They repeat these two sentences over and over, slowly, as if completing some ritual, so that Jim can keep track of the years. Sixteen times! "That's one big Thanksgiving," Humphrey mutters.

"What's that?"

"Lot's of Turkey."

Then Jim says, "Okay, now the Venetians."

So the response changes. "And their parent?" "Venetian." Ten times. At which point Jim adds, "We've just no reached the end of Itanos, by the way. The end of this city."

They laugh at that. And move to the Byzantines. Seven times Jim answers with that. Then: "The Arabs. Saracen Arabs, from Spain. Bloody times." Four generations under the Arabs. Then it's back to the Byzantines, to the time when the church before them was functioning, holding services, having its doorsill scraped by the door's locking post, again and again. Fifteen times Jim answers "Byzantine," eyes screwed shut.

"And their parents?"

"In Itanos. Independent city-state, Greek in nature."

"Call it Itanos. And their parents?"

"Itanos."

Twenty-six times they repeat the litany, Sandy keeping the pace slow and measured. At this point none of them can really believe it.

"Dorian Greeks." After a few more: "Mycenean Greeks. Time of the Trojan War."

"So this generation could have gone to Troy?"

"Yes." And on it goes, for eight generations. Sandy's shifting to get some fresh dirt to scratch. Then: "Earthquakes brought down the Minoan palaces for the last time. This generation felt them."

"Minoans! And their parents?"

"Minoan." And here they fall into a slow singsong, they know they've caught the rhythm of something deep, something fundamental. Forty times Sandy asks "And their parents?", and Jim answers "Minoan," until their voices creak with the repetition.

And finally Jim opens his eyes, looks around as if seeing it all for the first time. "This generation, it was a group of friends, and they came here in boats. There was nothing here. They were probably fishermen, and stopped here on fishing trips. This hill was probably fifty feet inland, behind a wide beach. Their homes down near the palace at Zakros were getting crowded, they probably lived with their parents, and they were always up here fishing anyway, so they decided to take the wives and kids and move up here together. A group of friends, they all knew each other, they were having a good time all on their own, with their kids, and this whole valley for the taking. They built lean-tos at first, then started cutting the soft stone." Jim runs his hand over th eporous Minoan block he is leaning against. Looks at Sandy curiously. "Well?"

Sandy nods, says softly, "So we can imagine it."

"I guess so."

Sandy counts his marks. "One hundred thirty-seven generations."

They sit. The moon rises. Low broken clouds scud in from the west, fly under the moon, dash its light here and there. Broken walls, tumbled blocks. A history as long as that, and now the land, empty again.

At this point, some headlights break the characters' reverie and they are back in the present day. Whew, long passage to transcribe. I love it. Humphrey's Thanksgiving quip falls flat, unacknowledged once explained. The generations in the recounting wash up on empty land like a wave, then recede. The sand they are scratching in, the rocks that were scraped and cut, they abide. The repetition and ritualism, expanding their imagination of history. Jim's eyes are screwed shut until he reaches the first settlers. When he opens his eyes, I feel like I'm seeing the landscape the way he is.

And so we should, imagine backwards, then look at where we are. Where are we going next? How are we living in times that are like the times of our ancestors? How are things different? Then, of course, we need to think about what comes next, right? How to live now so when future generations count back, they don't say "bloody times."

Best Ofs Rolling In

The best TV series of the ’00s | Best Of The Decade | The A.V. Club: Oh my. Time for best of the year and decade lists again. I'd like to make some; will probably settle for reading them.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Jane Goodall on the Daily Show

The Daily Show | November 12, 2009 - Jane Goodall | Comedy Central
There's a good reason to link to Jon Stewart every day. Jane Goodall may not be the bestest reason of all; but, she's a favorite of mine. Of course, if Goodall isn't your thing, there's the usual pointed quips at the expense of GOP buffoons -- Stupak and Pence, for instance.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

High Degree of Silliness

Emmanuel Faye’s Book Questions Status of Heidegger - NYTimes.com
Whether, as the Pythons asserted, he was a boozy beggar or not, the question seems to be: could a dyed-in-the-wool Nazi really think anyone under the table.

On a tangentially related note, this reminded me of a dude I was in line behind in a coffee house in Cary a while back who, chatting up the barista, declared with hep solemnitude that he was getting his Masters in ... get this ... Theology. While the young lady professed admiration, it was all I could do to suppress guffaws. I mean, I could see if this were Europe in the Dark Ages, but in the 21st century they're still giving out advanced degrees in Santa Claus Logic and Easter Bunny Studies? It boggles the mind.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Rex Is Not Anything (Triptych Cryptic Import)

David Tennant to Star in American TV Pilot | Gallifreyan Embassy: It's got a horrible name (Rex Is Not Your Lawyer) but a mildly interesting premise -- in that I'm not sure I'd be interested if Tennant weren't involved but, since he is, it's one that has lots of potential.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Random Book, Random Passage #11

Doctor Who and the Daemons, Barry Letts. I went on a tear in 1983 and 1984 reading all the Target Doctor Who novelisations and still have an entire shelf to prove it.
'Yes, sir,' replied the Sergeant, obviously not believing a word of it, and moved away to sort out the junction boxes ready for the link-up to the electricity supply. The Brigadier moved as a close to the Doctor the heat barrier would let him.

'Do you know what you're doing?' he asked quietly.

The Doctor smiled charmingly. 'My dear chap,' he said, 'I can't wait to find out!'
Great old Pertwee-era Who with the Master no less.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Random Book, Random Passage #10

Not sure how to handle this one? Comic books and graphic novels will prove tricky, me without my scanner set up. Here's a fuzzy photo and all caps quoting from Los Bros Hernandez's House of Raging Women (Vol. 5 of the Complete Love and Rockets).

"BUT TO MY SURPRISE, SHARPE IS A REAL GENTLEMAN! AS HE'S ABOUT TO WIPE HIS SOPPING BROW HE NOTICES ME IN THE AISLE SEAT AND STOPS HIMSELF IN MID-MOTION AS NOT TO DRIP SWEAT IN MY BEER. MY FAITH IN HUMANITY IS RESTORED ... FOR THE MOMENT."
Not positive but I think these Fantagraphics editions of Love and Rockets were my first foray into comic book anthologies/graphic novels. I had beat old paperback collections of newspaper comics (Peanuts, B.C., Andy Capp) that were passed down to me, but I was never a comic book guy. I am more today in my late 30s than I ever was as a kid, oddly enough, and that's still not very much.

Scozzafava (Triptych Cryptic Import)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Drip

The Game is Afoot

First Holmes viral marketing message arrived by telegraphic despatch this afternoon:
London seethes with crime -- STOP -- find your partner upon whom you will rely -- STOP -- evidence secured for your advance assessment -- STOP -- the game is afoot -- STOP -- make all haste to 221B now STOP CLICK HERE
I know not everybody's thrilled about this project but I'm so eager for it I dvr'd the Hammer films Hound of the Baskervilles to watch some sleepless night.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Random Book, Random Passage #9

Old School Pulp Sci-Fi time.  Check out the cover on Andre Norton's Witch World, wouldja?

(Mine is actually the 1963 Ace first edition that retailed for 40¢)  I'm actually a little worried that opening it again may crack the spine but here's a bit from page 58:
"When a potter creates a vase he lays clay upon the wheel and molds it with the skill of his hands to match the plan which is in his brain. Clay is a product of the earth, but that which changes its shape is the product of intelligence and training. It is in my mind that someone - or something - has gathered up that which is a part of the sea, of the air, and has molded it into another shape to serve a purpose."
I never read any of the other books in the Witch World series, Norton's style is a bit stilted for my taste. But I dig that Blue Falcon with a Hair Dryer cover. I don't know much about Norton but a quick look up in The Anatomy of Wonder informs me she was a childrens librarian, so I like her for that.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Learn from Hitch

What I've learned from debating religious people around the world. - By Christopher Hitchens - Slate Magazine

The Greatest

The House Next Door: Fighting a Legend: Muhammad and Larry:
As heartbreaking as it is to see Ali now, crippled by Parkinson’s syndrome, this is almost worse. In 1980, Ali was 38 and hadn’t fought in two years. Just two months before the fight, he was overweight—ultimately slimming down by misusing thyroid medication as diet pills. Beyond all of that, it’s obvious now, if somehow it wasn’t then, that a career of taking blows to the head had taken a toll on Ali’s speech and motor skills. The beloved “Greatest of All Time,” whose most celebrated fights were the ones in which none of the experts gave him a chance, was brain damaged and about to step into the ring with Holmes, who at 29 wasn’t a dope who could be roped into a mistake—not that Ali was in any condition to capitalize on a mistake if Holmes made one.

Klingons on the Cutting Room Floor

Star Trek - Internet Trailer | SPIKE: Not awesome cut footage of Klingons from the DVD of J.J. Abrams's Star Trek.

Grieving Chimps

Do chimps grieve?:
"chimp.jpgLook at this photograph and just try to tell me the answer is no.
This incredible image was shot for National Geographic by Monica Szczupider, and shows chimpanzees at the Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center in Cameroon. They're observing as the body of an elder troop member named Dorothy is taken to burial. She died at 40 years of age, which is pretty old for a chimpanzee.

The photo appears in the November issue of National Geographic Magazine, in the 'Visions of Earth' section. [ Thanks, Marilyn Terrell ]"

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Random Book, Random Passage #8

I didn't think it would happen so soon but random shelf, random book actually yielded a duplicate already, so I redid the book selection and got My Friends The Wild Chimpanzees by Baroness Jane Van Lawick-Goodall (the book was published in 1967 while she was still married to Baron Hugo van Lawick).  This is a slender hardcover volume with a bunch of beautiful color plates. I think I got this as a birthday present when I was living in Madison, WI. My memory is not so great. From page 75:

Nor do the adult male chimpanzees always sit huddled and passive in the rain.  Sometimes when the first drops hit them they begin a display, wildly and rhythmically swaying from foot to foot, rocking saplings to and fro, stamping the ground.  This spectacular performance we call a "rain dance."

Chimpanzees may also respond in the same way to a high wind and to a particularly stimulating social situation, but it is typically their reaction to a sudden downpour.  On two occasions I saw group performances of these rain dances. The first will always haunt my memory.
That I'm fascinated by apes and monkeys is no secret.  It would be hard to explain why beyond the obvious.  We have a cousin, out in the wild, an animal "other" that is very human upon closer inspection.  It is very possible that they will be extinct in my lifetime.  And it will be humanity's fault.  We're killing (and eating) the species, of all the animal kingdom, with which we share the most recent common ancestor.  Their greatest champion over the last 40 years has been been Jane Goodall; her descriptions of the family life of Flo, Flint and the other chimps in Gombe will always haunt my memory.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Random Book, Random Passage #7

The Saint in Action, by Leslie Charteris.  A 1980 edition of the 1937 short story collection I picked up at Books 'N Such in Springfield, MA back in the mid 80s.  I was hoping to land on The Last Action Hero, my favorite of the Saint series, but am hoping a passage here will stir some memories of reading this one.
"You ruddy bastard --"

"That'll do, " Simon intervened crisply.  "And I wouldn't take any chances with my health if I were you, brother.  That Betsy of Hoppy's would just about blow you in half, and he's rather sensitive about his family.  We'll go on talking to you presently."

He turned to the others.

"I don't know how it strikes any of you bat-eyed brigands," he said, "but I've got a feeling that this is the best break we've had yet.  After all, a lot of weird things happen in this world of sin, buy you don't usually find girls in overalls riding on smugglers' trucks with a cargo of contraband swagger soup."

"You do when you hold 'em up, " said Peter stoically.
Yeah, fun stuff.  Makes we want to pour a glass of the ol' swagger soup and finish the story. It's a shame the Val Kilmer movie a few years back didn't lead to a revival.  Kilmer wasn't the right guy for the role though and I doubt we'll see another series or movie any time soon.  A shame, really.  AMC or Turner Classic played some of the old George Sanders Saint movies not that long ago. I was impressed by Sanders as Templar but not much else.  The novels and stories are just sitting there waiting to be made into a franchise for whoever the next George Clooney is.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

And I Just Like How This Picture Came Out



Bender

One of My Favorite (Non-Random) Bookshelves



Shepard

Random Book, Random Passage #6

The first reference book to come up in this series, Asian Cult Cinema. It's probably not totally random that I flipped and stopped at a picture of Chow Yun-Fat, but I could've stopped on Jackie Chan or Sammo and kept going. Here's a bit about Ringo Lam's Full Contact:
Filmmaker Ringo Lam delivers his masterpiece. While it may be too violent and bleak to woo the mainstream audiences, it emerges as a film that simply can't be ignored. Unquestionably, it's the final word on the ultraviolence craze in HK cinema. Plus the pic benefits from, perhaps, Chow Yun-Fat's finest performance.
It goes on to describe the typically over the top plot and acknowledges the importance of the bullet's-eye view shot.  The writing style of the reviews isn't this book's strong point, so I'm not going to quote the whole thing.  I haven't seen Full Contact in a long time, I wonder how it's held up?  It's certainly not Chow Yun-Fat's finest performance.  At least, not any longer.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Random Book, Random Passage #5

Randomness brought me to The Year's Best Science Fiction 1984 this time. It's got Lucius Shepard (twice), Kim Stanley Robinson, Gene Wolfe, Robert Silverberg, John Varley, William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, it's quite a collection. But my random page puts us in Dozois's Introduction. Random giveth and random taketh away. Still, he writes:
So instead I'll limit myself to commenting on the novels that I did read this year, I was most impressed by Neuromancer, William Gibson (Ace Special); The Wild Shore, Kim Stanley Robinson (Ace Special); The Man Who Melted, Jack Dann (Bluejay Books); Them Bones, Howard Waldrop (Ace Special); Green Eyes, Lucius Shepard (Ace Special); Frontera, Lewis Shiner (Baen Books); The Man in the Tree, Damon Knight (Berkley); Heechee Rendezvous, Frederik Pohl (Del Rey); Across the Sea of Suns, Gregory Benford (Timescape); Stars in my Pocket Like Grains of Sand, Samuel R. Delaney (Bantam)...
I'll stop there even though several more outstanding novels follow in his list (Icehenge and Job: A Comedy of Justice not the least of them).  Many of the books Dozois lists are classics, and are sitting on shelves in front of me, waiting for the randomizer to select them.  How about they eye for talent whoever did the selecting for the Ace Specials had, eh?  My Ace Special editions of The Wild Shore (signed) and Green Eyes are prized possessions.  (I sure hope my kids like to read sci-fi when they get a little older, I can't wait to share these with them.)  A little further down the page where Dozois discuss the small press, it brings a smile to my face to see how he acknowledged Zeising for publishing novels by Gene Wolfe and PKD.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Random Book, Random Passage #4

Nice Vintage edition paperback of Martin Amis's The Rachel Papers. Read this back in 1992 or 1993, I believe. I've soured a bit on Amis (Martin, not Kingsley though) over the years and haven't read him since The War Against Cliché. I remember liking this one though. Flipping at random to:
It seems improbable now, but on the way there we talked about DeForest's infrequent and ham-cocked performances in bed. (We laughed, too, wholly without malice: an example of prelapsarian high spirits which as of tonight will be another experience unavailable to me.) DeForest's chief, though by no means his only, problem was that he tended to come before either he or Rachel could say - 'Jack Robinson'. He would slap on the contraceptive and surge into her with the look of someone who had just remembered he ought to be doing a terribly important thing elsewhere, like attending his mother's funeral.
Is it possible to grab a passage from Amis and not have it be immediately recognizable as his?  I've learned that bit about Jack Robinson doesn't refer to Jackie Robinson, as I thought (being quick on the basepath), but is a British turn of phrase with cloudy origins.

I should probably revisit Amis.  I think I went off on him because I got a vague, and perhaps ill-informed sense, that he might be a bit of a ... well, not racist ... but that is anti-Islamism might be sort of racially motivated.  He's against nuclear proliferation, as all rational people are and I've learned he endorsed Obama, so I can be reasonably confident he's not a right-wing nutter.  Around the time he was jousting with left-wing nutter Terry Eagleton I probably camped him in my mind with the right.  It didn't help that I found TWAC tedious.  Money, though, brilliant.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hah

library joke:
Library joke

Random Book, Random Passage #3

My random picks just took a turn for the totally random.  I seriously spun myself around and waved my arm with pointed finger at the bookcases with eyes closed and wound up picking Luke Rhinehart's The Dice Man.  Instead of flipping through the book, I'm going to get extra random and use a random number generator for page and line number.
'Obviously the old therapies couldn't solve this dilemma.  Whereas conventional psychoanalysis sees the desire for an Immaculate Anus as neurotic and counterproductive, we maintain that the desire, like all desires, is good, and causes trouble only when followed too consistently. The individual must come to embrace, in effect, both the Immaculate Anus and the excreted lumps of turd.'
He was standing in front of Dr. Cobblestone and leaned on the table in front of him with both immaculately tailored arms.  'We look not for moderation in the excretory functions, but a joyful variety:  a random alteration, as it were of constipation and diarrhea, with, I suppose, sporadic bursts of regularity.' 
Oh yeah. The Dice Man.  First, I'm not sure "alteration" is the mot juste in that last sentence?  Maybe if it went on to say "from constipation to diarrhea" instead of "of constipation and diarrhea"?  You can alternate between the state of being constipated and the state of having diarrhea -- things taking turns -- where alteration is the act of making something different. That aside, if you haven't read The Dice Man, I would suggest you get a die, roll it, and, if you roll a 1-5, then read it.  If you roll a 6, then wait a day or two and roll again.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Random Book, Random Passage #2

I went left last time, so right this time. I reached for a middle shelf last time, so this time a little lower. Eyes closed, fingertips run over the tops of several pocket size paperbacks and the first one I bump into and pull is Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. This is a book club edition, one I got back in high school, probably 1985 or 1986. I don't remember if I saw the Sean Connery/Christian Slater film in theaters, but I'd be willing to bet this was right around the time of its release. Don't recall what else I got in that introductory special offer ... whatever they were, likely sold them to used book stores long ago. I watched the movie recently, so the memory files of reading the book are partially and indistinguishably overwritten by scenes from the movie. For example, I knew full well that William of Baskerville was the investigating monk, but couldn't recall the narrator's name; it's Adso, of course, but I easily recalled he was played by a still fresh-faced Mr. Pump Up the Volume.
Jorge sneered. "Even in the episodes the preachers tell, there are many old wives' tales. A saint immersed in boiling water suffers for Christ and restrains his cries, he does not play childish tricks on the pagans!"

"You see?" William said. "This story seems offensive to reason and you accuse it of being ridiculous! Though you are controlling your lips, you are tacitly laughing at something, nor do you wish me to take it seriously. You are laughing at laughter, but you are laughing."
Baskerville goes on to go reference Biblical passages from which one could infer the Christ character was written with a sense of humor, infuriating bitter, twisted old Jorge.

Random reflection: every year around this time some religious leaders get their undergarments in a twist about Hallowe'en and the danger of kids frolicking around dressed like devils.  Hallowe'en, of course, being the gateway drug to Satanism, blood sacrifice, ritual murder, and the like.  Parishioners are warned, fun-loving parents and teachers chastised, and every attempt made by the pious to shame normal people into feeling like they do -- guilty and repressed. There are still plenty Jorges out there who would poison the page of any book that makes people laugh because they can't laugh themselves.  Fear of laughter is fear of self-knowledge.  What are all these religious nutters so afraid of?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Random Book, Random Passage #1

Now that all my books are within arm's reach, I can play grab, flip, and share. I have a lot Mark Twain, so it's fitting that when I lurched towards the left-most bookcase and grabbed a book it turned out to be The Innocents Abroad. It's a Signet Classic edition from 1966. Obviously a used bookstore purchase as it's got "J. Borell" scrawled in ink along the bottom (the part that sits on the bookshelf) but I don't remember when or where I picked it up. Probably while in high school or college, so the off-campus bookstore in Storrs or the great used bookstore in Manchester (the name of which frustratingly escapes me right now Books & Birds) are likely candidates. Flipping and stopping at pg. 120 I let my eye drift to the first paragraph break and read:
I only meant to write about the churches, but I keep wandering from the subject. I could say that the Church of the Annunciation is a wilderness of beautiful columns, of statues, gilded moldings, and pictures almost countless, but that would give no one an entirely perfect idea of the thing, and so where is the use? One family built the whole edifice and have got money left. There is where the mystery lies. We had an idea at first that only a mint could have survived the expense.
I love it. Note where the mystery doesn't lie. It warms my atheist heart.  As with all expenditure of resources and time for religious purposes, I wonder how much better the world might be already if yesterday and today's wealthy elites decided to pour that wasted energy into building quality public schools or other infrastructure improvements for the common good instead.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Money is Not Speech

FORA.tv - Noam Chomsky: Philosophies of Language & Politics: The Supreme Court will consider ruling corporations have the right of free speech like natural persons, effectively allowing them to buy elections directly. Meanwhile, Democrats and Republicans try to prove they each are more savage than the other by emphasizing how they want to deny healthcare to undocumented aliens. And by "undocumented aliens" we mean "actual human beings."

Good Times

Monty Python Meets the Roots - ArtsBeat Blog - NYTimes.com

Friday, October 9, 2009

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Moonlighting Fallacy

The Office: Why Jim and Pam's wedding is good for TV comedy | New Jersey Entertainment - TV & Film - - NJ.com:
"But because of The 'Moonlighting' Fallacy, far too many TV writers and executives have come to believe that resolution=doom. 'NewsRadio' creator Paul Simms more or less destroyed his relationship with NBC by having Dave and Lisa sleep together in the show's second episode - they wanted him to tease it out forever, so they'd have an angle to promote - even though he wound up getting several seasons of material out of their affair."

Speaking of 'Moonlighting,' why -- with all the cable channels -- is it easier to find a reality show about people taking dumps on the stairs than it is to find a 'Moonlighting' or 'Northern Exposure'?

World War Z News

“World War Z” May Be Moving Forward : Slice of SciFi: The director and writer (of the first draft at least) sound like good choices.

And Then Came the Trains and the Trucks with Their Loads

More FF X-Posting

Zombie Bait

Raleigh is America’s Smartest City | New Raleigh: Word.

Pitch Perfect President

Jimmy Kimmel Live - Obama On Auto-Tune: Fine for what it is. But the Auto-Tune the News crew should get royalties.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

There Goes Whatever Respect I Had for Some Pretty Talented Directors

Lynch, Mann, Wenders, Gilliam, Scorsese, Allen and tons more just made it impossible for me to separate watching their movies from the fact they apparently don't think it's that bad to drug and rape a 13 year old girl.

Get My Drift?

If “Mark Twain Said It,” He Probably Didn’t | GOOD: Twain cited as America's leading recipient of Churchillian Drift.

I wonder if even us non-famous folk have a similar effect with our name on it. Like, C-Dogian Drift might be when you think you know somebody who has a copy of that book, and whether it's c-dog or not, that's who you cite as having it? I hope it's something that mildly endearing. More likely, it's someone got drunk, hurled, was thrown out of the bar, and eventually passed out someplace in Storrs, CT. "Oh, I think that was c-dog."

Saturday, September 26, 2009

rEMOrse

The Get Up Kids apologize for helping invent emo:
'If this is the world we helped create,' guitarist James Suptic said, after looking into the crowd at a reunion gig, 'then I apologise.'

Friday, September 25, 2009

No Swimming

4. Nuclear Waste Pools in North Carolina | Project Censored: Errrr, I don't like this at all.

Seventh-Generation Eye

Ralph & Ayn: "
only-the-super-rich-can-save-usThe other day, browsing at the local B&N, I came across an alarmingly thick novel written by Ralph Nader, and now the New Yorker takes a closer look at this development. The book — Nader eschews the term novel for it; prefers the hilariously oxymoronic “a practical utopia” — is called Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!. (The exclamation point is a part of the official title and “super-rich” is even underlined on the front cover, leading me to believe the novel — sorry, the practical utopia may have been ghostwritten by an 11-year-old girl.)

This is, as far as I can tell, the final step in Nader morphing into the left’s Ayn Rand. For instance, the naming department: Not cowed by the difficulty of beating Rand’s Ragnar Danneskjöld, Nader’s stand-in for the real world’s already-goofily-named Grover Norquist is “a conservative evil genius named Brovar Dortwist.” (The magazine deserves a major prize for coaxing this from Norquist: “I have warm fuzzies for [Nader] on a number of levels.”) But surely Nader can’t match Rand’s imagination when it comes to outlandish blueprints for ideological wish fulfillment? Well, check out this sentence fragment: “Yoko Ono, who in the book invents a logo called Seventh-Generation Eye that causes millions of people suddenly to shed their political apathy . . .”

Oh, my. The book is ranked 166 on Amazon as I write this, so it appears people are actually reading it."

I saw this the other day and thought maybe it was a joke, so didn't post it.  Now it's showing up all over and doesn't seem to be a hoax.  As ridiculous as it sounds, it can't be as ridiculous as Objectivist fiction.  Can it?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Don't Tell Roger Corman About This

Beware the Bearsharktopus - Boing Boing

The Coywolf

Wylie Coywolf: The coyote-wolf hybrid has made its way to the Northeast: Scientific American Blog

Army of Yetis

Sam Raimi is going to give Yetis the District 9 treatment:
"One of the prerogatives of being a blockbuster director/producer is that you can shepherd new talent, as Lord of the Rings' Peter Jackson nurtured South African director Neill Blomkamp and his hit sci-fi action drama District 9 this summer.
Spider-Man's Sam Raimi is now taking a similar route by sponsoring a newbie British director named Corin Hardy and producing his proposed supernatural horror movie Refuge, about a remote town terrorized by a Yeti, the mythological creature native to the mountains of the Himalayas. (That's 'abominable snowman' to you.)"

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hammett FTW

Ellroy in Paris:
paris-review-fall-09The new fall issue of The Paris Review features an interview with James Ellroy. In the excerpt available online, he trashes Raymond Chandler and praises Dashiell Hammett:

Chandler wrote the kind of guy that he wanted to be, Hammett wrote the kind of guy that he was afraid he was. Chandler’s books are incoherent. Hammett’s are coherent. Chandler is all about the wisecracks, the similes, the constant satire, the construction of the knight. Hammett writes about the all-male world of mendacity and greed. Hammett was tremendously important to me.

But what wisecracks and similes! Ellroy also accounts for himself during the years 1965-1975 — a section that is, er, not G-rated — and bemoans the focus of the attention he gets:

I’ve told many journalists that I’ve done time in county jail, that I’ve broken and entered, that I was a voyeur. But I also told them that I spent much more time reading than I ever did stealing and peeping. They never mention that. It’s a lot sexier to write about my mother, her death, my wild youth, and my jail time than it is to say that Ellroy holed up in the library with a bottle of wine and read books.
Still getting used to blogging items from other folks Google Reader Shared items. Credit this to Jorn Barger. I wish when using the 'send to blogger' function, Reader made it a little easier to cite the original sharer.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I Do Not Think That Word Means What You Think It Does

ohnotheydidnt: Dan Brown's 20 Worst Sentences:
17. Deception Point, chapter 8: Overhanging her precarious body was a jaundiced face whose skin resembled a sheet of parchment paper punctured by two emotionless eyes.

It’s not clear what Brown thinks ‘precarious’ means here.

16. The Da Vinci Code, chapter 4: A voice spoke, chillingly close. "Do not move." On his hands and knees, the curator froze, turning his head slowly. Only fifteen feet away, outside the sealed gate, the mountainous silhouette of his attacker stared through the iron bars. He was broad and tall, with ghost-pale skin and thinning white hair. His irises were pink with dark red pupils.

A silhouette with white hair and pink irises stood chillingly close but 15 feet away. What’s wrong with this picture?

15. The Da Vinci Code, chapter 4: As a boy, Langdon had fallen down an abandoned well shaft and almost died treading water in the narrow space for hours before being rescued. Since then, he'd suffered a haunting phobia of enclosed spaces - elevators, subways, squash courts.

Other enclosed spaces include toilet cubicles, phone boxes and dog kennels.

14. Angels and Demons, chapter 100: Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers glorified the four major rivers of the Old World - The Nile, Ganges, Danube, and Rio Plata.

The Rio de la Plata. Between Argentina and Uruguay. One of the major rivers of the Old World. Apparently.

I don't have anything against Mr. Brown. I read The Da Vinci Code and didn't think it was the worst pop novel I've read, or the worst written. FCOL, remember The Historian? Anyways, I feel a little mean and would hope that if I ever lived the dream and published well-loved novels that I wouldn't have my every sentence diagrammed and critiqued. Check the history of my posting here for a lesson on How to Mangle Syntax -- I'm clearly in no position to judge. I do think it's worth pointing out that you can be a hugely successful author with, one supposes, handsomely compensated editors reviewing your work and still produce your fair share of laughable clunkers.

If You Are Among the Very Jung at Heart



I Trust KSR's Judgement In These Matters

Science fiction author hits out at Booker judges |Books |guardian.co.uk:
"Kim Stanley Robinson, one of science fiction's contemporary greats, accuses the Booker prize judges of ignorance"

Sadly, I haven't read the winners or his suggestions for who should have won. But now that I know, I can take the list to Lazy Lion tomorrow when I collect my $10 gift cert won for getting their Twitter trivia question right.

"He believes this year's prize should go to Adam Roberts's science fiction comedy, Yellow Blue Tibia, which didn't even make the longlist. In 2005, when John Banville took the Booker for The Sea, he believes that Geoff Ryman's Air should have won; in 2004 – when Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty won – it should have gone to Gwyneth Jones's Life, and in 1997, the year of Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things, Signs of Life by M John Harrison should have triumphed."

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Ys Are Throwing Me

Girl, 6, helps mom give birth - FUQUAY-VARINA, N.C., Sept. 17 - UPI.com:
Johnson, a nurse at Raleigh's Tammy Lynn Center, said Diyana helped her deliver baby Madisyn before emergency crews arrived. Johnson and her father, Torris Jones, praised the 6-year-old for her help and bravery during the incident.
'I just thought that was awesome,' Jones said. 'She said, 'I almost cried when my mama was screaming. You told me to be a big girl, and I was a big girl.''

FF X-posting



Wednesday, September 16, 2009

DIY Space Cam

weeklyrob � Cheap Pics:
These guys spent just under $150, total, to send a camera into SPACE and take pictures. Or, almost space. Close enough for me.
Go have a look, and read how they did it. You could do it, too, ’cause they’re gonna post instructions.
[Link from Wired’s Gadget Lab.]

This Makes Negotiating Busy Intersections Much Easier for Them

Gene Therapy Cures Color-Blind Monkeys: Scientific American Podcast:
In one type of squirrel monkey, the males lack a visual pigment called L-opsin. Its absence renders the monkeys color-blind, unable to distinguish reds and green. Most of the females, on the other hand, see in full color. So the scientists got to wondering: what would happen if they gave a boy squirrel monkey the same opsin that girls have.
Using a harmless virus, the scientists introduced the pigment gene into the eyes of color-blind adults. Lo and behold, about a month later, the monkeys with the new L-opsin gene were able to see hues they’d never seen before.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Barrel Monster

Barrel Monster at SparkCon | New Raleigh:
"Guerrilla Artist, Joe Carnevale, is working on a new Barrel Monster for SPARKcon. The new project is expected to be a “Seventeen foot tall dinosaur.” Look for it at the corner of Hargett and Fayetteville Streets."

Barrel Monster looks a little less ominous in the light of day.

Lenny the Rat

Lenny Dykstra would like to sell you his 1986 World Series ring - Big League Stew - MLB - Yahoo! Sports:
For years, Lenny Dykstra used the glare from his World Series ring to fool people into believing he was building a vast financial empire that would eventually make him the modern day equivalent of John Pierpont Morgan.
Now that Dykstra has gone from fake financial wizard to a fine pawn shop jeweler you have the opportunity to do the same!
As reported by the NY Daily News over the weekend, the World Series ring that Dykstra won as a member of the 1986 Mets is part of an upcoming auction featuring memorabilia from Mr. Chew's career.
Dykstra, you might remember, recently filed for bankruptcy and said he only had $50,000 in assets to $31 million in debt. The championship ring is currently listed by Heritage Auctions at a bid of $7,000, but is valued at over $20,000. If only super Mets fan Bernie Madoff were around to make an offer, Dykstra might have found his way out of this mess.
It's wrong to take pleasure from the humiliation of a fellow human being, even an '86 Met.
It's wrong to take pleasure from the humiliation of a fellow human being, even an '86 Met.
It's wrong to take pleasure from the humiliation of a fellow human being, even an '86 Met.
I keep telling myself that and yet, all these years and two (!) World Series titles later, I still like to see Keith Hernandez hawking magic marker for your greybeard.

Two Too Many

BBC - Earth News - Scale of gorilla poaching exposed:
An undercover investigation has found that up to two gorillas are killed and sold as bushmeat each week in Kouilou, a region of the Republic of Congo.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Smell-O-Vision

Book Review - 'Inside of a Dog - What Dogs See, Smell, and Know,' by Alexandra Horowitz - Review - NYTimes.com:
Dogs do not just detect odors better than we can. This sniffing “gaze” also gives them a very different experience of the world than our visual one gives us. One of Horowitz’s most startling insights, for me, was how even a dog’s sense of time differs from ours. For dogs, “smell tells time,” she writes. “Perspective, scale and distance are, after a fashion, in olfaction — but olfaction is fleeting. . . . Odors are less strong over time, so strength indicates newness; weakness, age. The future is smelled on the breeze that brings air from the place you’re headed.” While we mainly look at the present, the dog’s “olfactory window” onto the present is wider than our visual window, “including not just the scene currently happening, but also a snatch of the just-happened and the up-ahead. The present has a shadow of the past and a ring of the future about it.” Now that’s umwelt.
Sounds like an interesting book. As a dog lover, I'd like to read it. And, I like the title -- "inside of a dog it's too dark to read." But the problem I have with the passage above is the idea that because dogs smell things on the breeze, they have this totally different perception of time that includes "the up-ahead." Sounds kind of cool and mind-blowing at first glance, but don't we see things up ahead as well as what's right in front of us when we're walking? And we can smell the peanut roasting wagon that's around the street corner that we can't see yet, too. So, maybe not as much as dogs do, our perceptions would seem to give us the now and the up-ahead in the same way. This reminded me of the whole "eskimos have twenty words for snow" thing, like it's supposed to blow my mind there's more than one way to refer to snow. I'm no eskimo, but I have lots of words for snow myself: flurries, flakes, blizzard, white-out, drifts, slush, powder, sleet, etc.

Freethinker Style

20 coolest atheist T-shirts for sale on the web - Telegraph

No. Wrong. Just. No.

Warren Ellis : Your AAA WHAT THE F-BOMB IS THAT Moment For Today: I'm not going to include the picture of the parasite that eats the fish's tongue, then takes its place. If you follow the link it will be looking right at you. It's going to give me nightmares. You may not want to click the link.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Choose Wisely



Flickchart is either the best or worst thing to happen to making lists since ... well, since numbers.  The premise is simple: you make your list of favorite movies.  You do so by picking your favorite in a head to head match up.  The thing is, the match ups are sometimes surprisingly difficult.  That movie you loved and watched a dozen times in high school and can still quote from at length vs. that cool indie flick you caught a couple years back that got you thinking, deeply, about something you hadn't thought much about before -- which do you choose as your favorite?  They're totally different movies, different genres, maybe one's "art" and the other's not; but, the other's the one you and your friends saw together and use as a touchstone for shared memories.  One may be clearly better than the other in a critical sense but how do you separate your critical sense from your nostalgic fondness?  Should you even try?  The great thing is you have to choose one to move on.  The bad thing is you immediately get faced with another choice, then another, and before you know it hours have gone by and you're still clicking away.

Flickchart's database has been growing ... it used to pain me to see my list without The Maltese Falcon at the top because it just wasn't available ... and it's getting a little more social: you share match ups that intrigue you on Facebook now, as well as FriendFeed.  While there are social elements, the site is nicely designed in that they aren't in your face and you can rank to your heart's content without having to read how a bunch of idiots think The Dark Knight is the greatest movie ever made and anyone who doesn't think so obviously doesn't know anything about movies.  Yeah, the chuckleheads are there too but you can easily ignore them.  If you  score a beta invitation, try it out.  Then share your list with me. Update: You don't need an invitation any longer, they went live a couple days ago. So, do it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

He's Smart Enough

Senator Al Franken draws map of USA: And does a fine job of it. Sort of a random link after the speech last night, I know.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Hum the Jaws Theme Now

Great White Sightings Prompt Cape Cod Swim Ban - US News Briefs | Newser

Shared via AddThis

Downhill is a Little Dicey

Kevin Cyr’s Camper Bike:











I was first introduced to Kevin Cyr’s work through his contribution to 20×200, I’m a proud owner of his ice cream truck. But he’s taken his work to another level with this creation, a Camper Bike. He’s created a tiny mobile house, essentially, which has some of the most basic elements you’d need to survive. He’s also created a series of paintings around it as well, which are just as beautiful as ever.
I would love to know if he actually transformed the inside like the blueprint shows or if he only created the outside. There are no photos of the inside, so I’m not sure. Anyhow it’s a really great idea. I also love his Camper Kart, which is an even smaller version of this one using a shopping cart.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Pre-Holiday Link Dump

Clearing out the starred items in my Google Reader to hold us over through the long weekend. Happy Labor Day, y'all.
11 More Companies Flee Glenn Beck [News Hounds] - If Murdoch wants to keep putting these rantings out there, let's make sure he's paying for it.
Animator Emily Hubley Plays Volleyball in Her Living Room [Vulture] - Georgia's sister gets a little pub. For hardcore Yo La Tengo fans.
Long before Hideo and Ichiro, there was Masanori Murakami [Big League Stew] - A little baseball history/trivia.
"Crisis and Hope," Noam Chomsky [Boston Review] - Sobering reading.
Can Atheists Be Parents? [Time] - It's an article from before I was born. Still I feel like slapping the judge that said, "no."

I Often Dream of Trains

The Joy of Reading in the Subways of New York - NYTimes.com: This is the real reason I support public transportation. Sure, it's 'green' and all ... but there is nothing better than turning a crappy commute into a chance to read.

Art About Town

The metal does the talking - Lifestyles - News & Observer: Interesting article that'll prompt me to drive by and check it out. Wish a photo was included in the article though. Google Street View is probably a bit out of date and not exactly easy to make out.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Enter Monkey Man

Monkey-friendly tunes shed new light on evolutionary role of music - Times Online:
The idea that human musical appreciation stems from the same evolutionary root as the vocalisations that primates use to bond and alert others to danger is not new, but it has always been hard to test because monkeys do not generally respond to music.
When monkeys have been played music, from classical to hard rock, they generally prefer silence. The sole exception has come from one experiment in which monkeys appeared to be calmed down by listening to the heavy metal band Metallica.
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Now playing on YouTube: The Specials - Monkey Man
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Vlad's House on His Route

Paper carrier gets impaled on fence :: WRAL.com:
"On a scale from one to 10 – 10 being the worst pain – it was about a 10,' he said. 'Blood just kept running out of that the whole time I was there."
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Now playing on YouTube: The Fall - Everything Hurtz
via FoxyTunes

The Second Thing is to Carry On

Geek With (Lots of) Books: The First Step is to Admit You Have a Problem: I like this because I'm bad but not as bad as this guy. Did I mention my new Ikea bookcases are up and looking wonderful? A few things to tidy up and then I'll be flickring my new beauties.
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Now playing on YouTube: Lloyd Cole and the Commotions - Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken?
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Heinlein Homework

The Future of Reading - ‘Reading Workshop’ Approach Lets Students Pick the Books - Series - NYTimes.com: I would've loved to spend school time reading the Heinlein novels I was reading at home. I don't think I'd have been any worse off for it. But, I wonder if I'd been allowed to indulge and didn't have some of the classics assigned, how long it would've taken me to get to them? In some cases, I might've been better off getting to them late. If kids aren't picking up Mark Twain on their own, the schools better dang well be making sure they're getting their RDA.

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Now playing: The Toasters - Havana (This Gun for Hire)
via FoxyTunes

It All Comes Back to Buster Bars

ABOUT 241543903 | 241543903.com: My freezer is on the bottom. So, I don't stick my head in it. If this meme had been around a few years ago when I had a top freezer and was always looking to see if there was a bag of Buster Bars in there, then I could've taken part in this meme. Wait! We have a freezer in the garage. I could ... eh, what's the point? I know we don't have any Buster Bars.

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Now playing: Sloppy Seconds - Ice Cream Man
via FoxyTunes

Splenetic

Basics - Finally, the Spleen Gets Some Respect - NYTimes.com: I have been telling Mrs. C-Dog for years that the spleen is the most awesome and powerful of our internal organs, and the most misunderstood. Now, this article doesn't touch on the spleen's more amazing properties (its ability to travel around the body, its ability to take on the function of any other organ) or its propensity producing sudden sharp pains wherever in the body it might be but it is still provides valuable lessons for skeptics.

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Now playing: William Shatner - Spleen
via FoxyTunes

You La Tube

Yo La Tengo Pretty Into This YouTube Thing -- Vulture -- Entertainment & Culture Blog -- New York Magazine: Getting psyched for new Yo La Tengo. Big Day Coming: September 8 release date for Popular Songs.

Garden Yoda

12 weird sci-fi statues you can buy for your garden: "Your typical garden gnome might be good enough for some people, but not for those of us here at SCI FI Wire. We need something a little more exciting on our lawns, something that makes more of a statement, something a bit more ... well ... sci-fi!

Cement Yodas For Your Yard!

So when we saw the cement Yodas (above) that a savvy shopper spotted for sale this week in Raleigh, N.C., we realized just what we needed to liven up the yard. Here are some dinosaur, zombie and alien sculptures that will have you forgetting about bird baths forever."


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Now playing: Misfits - The Haunting
via FoxyTunes

Nessie

The Loch Ness Monster on Google Maps: "Nessie on Google Maps

UK tabloid The Sun claim to have found the Loch Ness monster in the satellite imagery of Google Maps and Google Earth. If you click on the image above you can have a close look at the image directly in Google Maps.

I don't want to influence your view about this but The Sun also claimed in February to have found Atlantis on Google Maps. They claimed the lines in the image below were the walls of the lost city.



Unfortunately for The Sun a Google spokeswoman later announced that the lines were the result of the sonar used by boats to map the ocean floor..."

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Now playing: Minor Threat - Filler
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Yes, They Did Laugh, With Good Reason

Music: Newswire:KRS-One writes 600 page hip-hop Bible; blueprint for rap religion:
Hip-hop legend KRS-One has never been afraid to court controversy and provoke strong reactions. Now the Boogie Down Productions legend has topped himself by writing The Gospel of Hip Hop: The First Instrument, a mammoth treatise on the spirituality of hip-hop he hopes will some day become a sacred text of a new hip-hop religion.
Laugh if you must, but people laughed at Joseph Smith and L. Ron Hubbard when they set up their own religions. They're still laughing, and pointing, and giggle-snorting so hard milk comes out their noses.

Not that the world needs another religion. Still, it's KRS-One. Takin' titles and breakin' idols.

Monday, August 24, 2009

60!

Modern Drunkard Magazine Online - Andre the Giant: Simply amazing.
Another time, in the ‘70s, Andre was holding court at a beach-front bar in the Carolinas, boozing it up with fellow wrestlers Blackjack Mulligan, Dick Murdoch, and the inimitable Ric Flair. They’d been drinking with gusto for hours when Flair goaded Mulligan and Murdoch into some slap-boxing with Andre, who had poured over 60 beers down his gullet. One of the two “accidentally” sucker-punched Andre. The Giant became enraged, grabbed both Mulligan (6’5”, 250 lbs.) and Murdoch (6’3”, 240 lbs.) and dragged them into the ocean, one in each hand, where he proceeded to hold them under water. Flair intervened, and Andre released the men, assuring them he was only playing around. Murdoch and Mulligan, who had nearly drowned, weren’t so sure, but neither messed with Andre the Giant again. They also picked up the tab.
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