Sunday, January 28, 2007

Scientifically Proven Blog

Toilets are important to airlines!
“…’Some people put anything down there: towels, spoons, glasses, diapers. They behave as if they were at home," said Frank Dohrmann, head of design support and cabin testing at Airbus's main German plant.

“To handle the waste produced by up to 800 passengers, Airbus designed plumbing capable of pumping sewage along the 60-metre length of an A380 in about two seconds….

“That equates to more than 100-kph (60-mph), which could be a sanitary speed record.”

Cream with that?
“British officials say police have cracked the murder-by-poison case of former spy Alexander Litvinenko, including the discovery of a ‘hot’ teapot at London's Millennium Hotel with an off-the-charts reading for Polonium-210, the radioactive material used in the killing.”

Headline of the week: Never give an iguana Viagra
Reuters: “Mozart, an iguana with an erection that has lasted for over a week, will have his penis amputated in the next couple of days.”

Headline Financial Times: Bush denies preparing attack against Iran
So. We’ll be invading Iran soon, I guess.

Whack him in the head. He’ll quit all right.
NYT: “Scientists studying stroke patients are reporting today that an injury to a specific part of the brain, near the ear, can instantly and permanently break a smoking habit. People with the injury who stopped smoking found that their bodies, as one man put it, ‘forgot the urge to smoke.’”

More science with that?
AP: “…Doctor Robert Bohannon, a Durham, North Carolina, molecular scientist, has …developed a way to add caffeine to baked goods, without the bitter taste of caffeine. Each piece of pastry is the equivalent of about two cups of coffee.”

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Boomer Blog

Tony Bennett, on Nancy Pelosi, in Salon:
“I think she is just the best thing that’s ever happened.”

Take that, sliced bread.

The Weather Channel’s hidden agenda, according to Melanie Morgan:
“The Weather Channel is launching a new website and broadband channel dedicated solely to global warming called ‘One Degree’ and has a weekly program called ‘The Climate Code,’ devoted almost entirely to liberal advocacy on climate matters.

“The network is running advertisements showcasing scared and confused Americans, including children and senior citizens, wondering about the coming apocalypse caused by global warming.”

Imagine that. Not scared and confused formerly burly strapping Nascar fans, but children and senior citizens. Stop The Weather Channel before it kills again.

From Reuters:
“British television star Jade Goody, accused at home and abroad of being a racist bully for her treatment of Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty, was evicted from the ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ show on Friday.”

But what would Orwell do?

One Boomer’s Admission
I hated the Chicago 7. Ditto Timothy Leary, William Burroughs, et al. The 60’s sucked, especially after the Beatles started taking acid.

Barrack Obama writes in his new book: “In the back and forth between Clinton and Gingrich, and in the elections of 2000 and 2004, I sometimes felt as if I were watching the psychodrama of the baby boom generation — a tale rooted in old grudges and revenge plots hatched on a handful of college campuses long ago — played out on the national stage.”

We’re not going to invade Iran. Probably not, anyway. As a last resort. Maybe. Well, okay. If you insist.

Why they hate us, part whatever
Christopher Hitchens in Slate, on Patrick Cockburn, who was describing the new Iraqi flag, introduced in 2004:

“It looked, he thought, like a beach umbrella: white with two parallel blue stripes, a yellow band, and a blue crescent. The blue stripes immediately reminded people in the street of the Israeli flag, and they were not mollified to be told that these supposedly represented the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Moreover, ‘hundreds of thousands of young Iraqi men had fought and died under the flag in the Iran-Iraq war. I had often seen it used as a shroud to cover their cheap wooden coffins.’ True, for the Kurds it was a flag representing massacre and oppression, but their solution was not to fly it and instead to display their own. But for much of the rest of the population, an arbitrary decision to scrap and replace the national emblem was profoundly hurtful and insulting and had been made, moreover, without any consultation. It then turned out that the unappealing new design was the result of nepotism: One member of the Paul Bremer-installed Iraqi Governing Council had called his brother, an artist living in London, and told him to dream up a fresh flag. Nothing has been heard of the new banner since 2004, but many Iraqi insurgent groups can and do now wave the old one with additional patriotic zest.”

Saddam Hussein’s botched and gruesome execution was an aberration. What? They did it AGAIN? Only a surge can put an end to this behavior!

"Extremely bitter men"
Great article by Sebastian Junger in the current VANITY FAIR (with Semi Moore on the cover), about MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta), a group of militants fed up with the embarrassment of oil riches in Nigeria, as poor Nigerians never see a drop of it. MEND is kidnapping oil workers, sabotaging pipelines, and like that: “Leave our land while you can or die in it,” warned a post-attack spokesman’s e-mail.

MEND’s spokesman calls himself Jomo Gbomo. He communicates with foreign journalists via e-mail. He told one: “We are not communists or even revolutionaries. We’re just extremely bitter men.”

Judge Judy
Makes more money than all the Supreme Court judges combined. Worth it? You bet.

American Idol
I have yet to watch this Amateur-Hour-On-Steroids, and have no plans to watch it in the future, but I understand that part of its appeal is the withering sarcasm leveled at losing contestants by the judges. I have heard snippets of songs by some of the winners. Perhaps some of this sarcasm could be sent their way. America needs to eliminate melisma from its musical fare, not encourage it!

The Compact
I am a subscriber to this relatively new group. The Compact of its name is a promise not to buy new stuff. Pretty basic concept, really. The Compact has generated a lot of media attention, mostly favorable. But if you actually read the posts to The Compact, there’s very little advice, tips, and information. It’s mainly personal confessions by people you don’t know, or really want to know, self-congratulation, and nasty flames. Stuff like this:

“I am also happy to say that yesterday, I resisted shopping, driving, and eating out; though, I was very tempted to get in the car and go thrift shopping.”

Thank you for sharing. Now shut up, and keep your eye on the road.

“We all come to a group like The Compact with very noble intentions: To reduce our footprint, help save the Earth, set a good example, learn to live without so many things. But each of us has different ideas about what this all means, no matter how many times we all try to define it. Each of us comes to the group with a different reality too. A different personal reality, and a different world view.”

And yet we are all special, because we bring our own bags to the grocery store.

"I truly feel sorry for those who have resorted to shoppying (sic) and Disney world (sic) in place of their own creative energy."

Sic’em, Mickey.

“We adopted our baby, and I guess that would fit with compacting values. We did try to conceive naturally with no success, so we were not motivated by environmental concerns.”

That’s getting a child second-hand, I suppose, which is sort of in keeping with The Compact, in a Maoist kind of way. Though I never really considered having a child as a form of shopping. But what do I know? I hate hippies.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


The Tear of the President
Just one itty bitty tear? That’s pathetic. Now, if we’d seen the President break down in great shoulder-heaving, breath-hitching sobs, that would have been news.

Sounds like a new laundry detergent, or a Japanese car, but no, it's a strategy!

I had a dream the other night, in which I was at a party, and Annette Funicello came over and introduced herself. We both drank decaffeinated beverages and chatted by the refrigerator. Small talk, really.

The long nightmare is nearly over. There are still twenty or so boxes to empty, the contents of which are a mystery. But we are still missing: the sharp knives, thirty or so six inch long shelf thingies, my daughter’s dinosaur collection, and my brain.

YouTube’s days on the pop culture radar screen are numbered. Saying that is as close to heresy as one can get these days, especially since the amount of money Google paid to buy it seems to have blinded us to what YouTube actually provides. Yes, it’s free, but how many videos of pets and grandmas falling down, flatulent babies, lonely teens lip-synching in their basements, viral marketing scams, Stephen Colbert clips, and amateur music videos can America really tolerate? I know our tolerance level is just tremendous, especially if focussed around free Internet content, but sooner or later, we will eventually want a story line, production values, actors… you know, kind of like television, or its 21st Century equivalent.

As of January 3, I found 7461 postings of Saddam Hussein’s sordid death on YouTube. It’s a pretty safe bet that any time somebody records an unusual event with his or her cell phone, the resulting footage is to Internet surfers as kibble to a puppy. Saddam on a rope? To puppies in the virtual world, that’s like canned tuna. Who can resist?

Of course the difference between Net surfers and, say, newspaper readers, cable television viewers, and pundits is that there is no troublesome tongue-clucking about whether this or that story is “suitable,” or “appropriate,” or whether videos of an execution should be shown at all, or whether they should be edited, or whether they should only be shown after prime time, when impressionable kids have gone to bed.

The Internet has none of these qualms. The Internet is qualm-free. The Internet has no wrinkles on its brow. The Internet does not think of the children. The Internet does not pander to tender sensibilities. The Internet does not ponder consequences. The Internet posts it all, and lets God sort it out.

Well, that’s okay. But I feel an obligation to point this out: the breezy acceptance of this footage has turned Saddam Hussein from murderous creep into hapless, semi-brave victim. It has given succor to his supporters. It has made his longtime enemies look like vengeful thugs. It has made the U.S. look like some kind of cut rate Pontius Pilate, on the high end, or bumbling behind-covering poll-chasing idiots, on the low.

All of this may be true in the long run. Saddam’s supporters may deserve succor. His longtime enemies may be¸in fact, vengeful thugs. And the U.S. may be, in fact, a pompous Pilate in a New World Order that we did not expect, request, or desire, an Order that will leave us in the dustbin of history with the rest of the clueless swaggerers.

But in the short run, call me a moral relativist, there’s a mighty big difference between some college kid posting his animations, a teenager making weird faces, New Years’ Greetings from people we don’t even know, pranks, jokes… and watching a man being humiliated and hanged. This is bear baiting. This is beyond voyeurism, it is a bold tiptoe into sadism. This is beyond creepy. This is the world’s first YouTube execution. It won’t be the last. But, I predict, and hope, there won’t be that many more.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

2007: gah!

Woman to little girl on AC Transit:
“You touched the bus. Now you’re gonna taste like bus.”

Ahmet Ertegun….
The Founder of Atlantic Records died after a head injury suffered at a Rolling Stones concert in October. He was 83. Man, what a guy.

Solomon Burke, the great soul singer….
Does an Ahmet Ertegun impression. It’s pretty good. Well, even if it’s not, who else does an Ahmet Ertegun impression?

Gerald Ford, R.I.P.
Now, I was never a fan of President Ford, but I didn’t hate him either. I guess that counts as some kind of legacy. But good Lord, given the sendoff for the guy, you’d have thought he was George frickin’ Washington. Nice guy. Liked to play golf.

James Brown…
It’s amazing the influence this guy had on American and world music. Unlike, say, President Ford. Who was a nice guy. Liked to play golf.

Saddam R.I.P.
Debating about when he was going to be hanged, debating about how much of his hanging should be shown on television, sneaking him to his hanging, keeping the time of his hanging secret, mocking him just before he was about to be hanged, executioners dressed like anonymous terrorists, video taken surreptitiously on a cell phone – the world’s first YouTube execution came off without a hitch, really, and the world has become that just much more creepy.