Friday, December 28, 2007

"God is in the details. But there are no details anymore."

Rolling Stone | The Death of High Fidelity
David Bendeth, a producer who works with rock bands like Hawthorne Heights and Paramore, knows that the albums he makes are often played through tiny computer speakers by fans who are busy surfing the Internet. So he's not surprised when record labels ask the mastering engineers who work on his CDs to crank up the sound levels so high that even the soft parts sound loud.

Over the past decade and a half, a revolution in recording technology has changed the way albums are produced, mixed and mastered — almost always for the worse. "They make it loud to get [listeners'] attention," Bendeth says. Engineers do that by applying dynamic range compression, which reduces the difference between the loudest and softest sounds in a song. Like many of his peers, Bendeth believes that relying too much on this effect can obscure sonic detail, rob music of its emotional power and leave listeners with what engineers call ear fatigue. "I think most everything is mastered a little too loud," Bendeth says. "The industry decided that it's a volume contest."

Producers and engineers call this "the loudness war," and it has changed the way almost every new pop and rock album sounds. But volume isn't the only issue. Computer programs like Pro Tools, which let audio engineers manipulate sound the way a word processor edits text, make musicians sound unnaturally perfect. And today's listeners consume an increasing amount of music on MP3, which eliminates much of the data from the original CD file and can leave music sounding tinny or hollow. "With all the technical innovation, music sounds worse," says Steely Dan's Donald Fagen, who has made what are considered some of the best-sounding records of all time. "God is in the details. But there are no details anymore."
Ah, you young people. You don't remember.

Way back when FM radio first began to crawl out of its niche and into the mainstream, it sounded beautiful. Compared to the tinny crackle of AM, FM was clean, pure sound, with clear, dynamic highs and quiet lows -- and, almost unheard-of (so to speak) today, the occasional moment of true silence.

Today, I can't hear the difference between AM and FM. The sound I used to associate with FM one must now buy satellite radio to get. The conspicuous exception is public radio. I can't tell for sure if they are actually maintaining the same standards they always have, or have simply not drifted as far downwards, but compared to it, listening to other music stations is like being beaten with a blunt instrument.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The computer's down, so...

Whole Foods Market
Originally uploaded by JustJon.
Hartford Courant | Whole Foods Shows You Can Get Something For Nothing
It could not have happened at a worse time. A major snowstorm was howling outside. Whole Foods supermarket at Bishops Corner in West Hartford was jammed with shoppers anxious to get home for dinner.

Suddenly, the computer crashed. None of the cash registers could function. Ted Donoghue, the assistant manager running the store on the afternoon of Dec. 13, consulted associates and made a snap decision:

All customers passing through the registers would get their food for free until the computers were working again.

"It was clearly a snafu on our end, and it didn't seem right" to punish the customers by making them wait, Manager Kimberly Hall said.
(Heard it from The Consumerist.)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

What is Santa's favourite pizza?

Originally uploaded by BarryGardner.
Telegraph | Top ten worst Christmas cracker jokes ever
Hold onto your party crown and steady your port glass as we reveal the worst Christmas cracker jokes of all time.

What is Santa's favourite pizza?
One that's deep pan, crisp and even.
(Start singing "Good King Wenceslaus", you'll get it.)

Monday, December 24, 2007

How long before they blame this on Bush?

Originally uploaded by womenvote2020.
Reuters | Clinton urges Iowa voters to caucus on wrong day
DES MOINES (Reuters) - Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton may have shot herself in the foot trying to get Iowa voters to pledge support to her -- she is encouraging them to go caucus on January 14, 11 days too late.

At a rally featuring her husband, former U.S. President Bill Clinton on Saturday, campaign workers asked supporters to sign and mail cards that said "Yes! I'm an Iowan for Hillary" with their contact information as well as other supportive friends.

One small problem. In the upper right-hand corner of the card, it says "I, _____, pledge to support Hillary Clinton at my precinct caucus on January 14, 2008."

Unfortunately, that's 11 days too late. The Iowa caucuses are January 3 and organization is key to getting voters to go to the events and support their preferred candidate.
With this year's bouncing primaries and caucuses, can you really blame the poor schmo who got it wrong?

Friday, December 21, 2007

So when CAN I name him?

USA Today | Child cannot be named Friday
Italian judges forbade a couple from naming their son Friday, saying it would bring the child shame and ridicule to be named after the character in Robinson Crusoe.

"They thought that it recalled the figure of a savage, thus creating a sense of inferiority and failing to guarantee the boy the necessary decorum," the couple's lawyer, Paola Rossi, said Wednesday.

Mara and Roberto Germano, whose son was born on Sept. 3, 2006, had the boy named and baptized Venerdi, Italian for Friday.

Even though the boy was not born on a Friday — it was Sunday — his parents liked the name, said Rossi.
So what's his name?
What's his name?
Do you know the kid's name?
I should say I do.
Then what is it?
Can't you tell me today?
Of course I can.
Well, tell me the kid's name.
This IS Friday.
So tell me the kid's name.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

"Hark The Herald Angels Sing ...About Me"

Daily Mail | Mental health charity sparks outrage with spoof Christmas carols
A bad taste top ten of Christmas carols poking fun at mental illness has been slammed as "degrading" and "insensitive" after it was published with the backing of a social services department.

The booklet contains a list titled "Christmas Carols for the Mentally Disturbed".
  1. Schizophrenia - Do You Hear What I Hear?
  2. Multiple Personality Disorder - We Three Kings Disorientated Are
  3. Dementia - I Think I'll Be Home For Christmas
  4. Narcissistic - Hark The Herald Angels Sing About Me
  5. Manic - Deck the Halls and House and Lawn and Streets and Stores and Office and Town and Cars and Buses and Trucks and Trees and...
  6. Paranoid - Santa Claus is Coming to Town to Get Me
  7. Borderline Personality Disorder - Thoughts of Roasting on an Open Fire
  8. Personality Disorder - You Better Watch Out, I'm Gonna Cry, I'm Gonna Pout, Maybe I'll Tell You Why
  9. Attention Deficit Disorder - Silent Night, Holy, ooh look at the froggy - Can I have a chocolate? Why is France so far away?
  10. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells.
I'm trying to think of a good #11... Aha.
  • Alcoholism - Here We Come A-Wassailing

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It's... THEM!

Mon souper de Fête...
Originally uploaded by viiny.
Spiegel | Seafood Escapes from German Supermarket
Lobsters in Germany took fate into their own claws and broke out of an Asian supermarket. They now face a brighter future in an animal home.

Dozens of lobsters destined to be boiled alive made a successful getaway from an Asian supermarket in the German city of Stuttgart in the early hours of Sunday morning, police said.

The clawed crustaceans, some of them up to 15 centimeters long, managed to crawl out of their crates, which had been poorly secured with wire mesh, then scurried across the floor of the supermarket and squeezed through the metal shutters covering the front of the store. The front door had been left open by mistake.

"The breakout was successful," Katrin Brandeis, spokeswoman for the Stuttgart police, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "Passers by alerted the police at 1:45 a.m. reporting a large number of the animals heading down the street."

The escape may have saved their lives. "These animals weren't ever going to be pets," Brandeis said. "Now they've been taken to an animal home. The supermarket hasn't got in touch with us."
"Taken to an animal home"? They're stolen property, not homeless.

At the risk of sounding insensitive, I feel I must point out that Lincoln didn't free any lobsters.

Hell, next they'll be voting and getting drivers' licenses.

*Looks closer at the story"

Ah. Germany. Wait. Lobsters got rights in Germany?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

But wait, there's more

What a deal!
Originally uploaded by peachtree5911.
I wonder how many green eggs they've sold since this promotion started.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Thursday, December 06, 2007

As long as it's on sale

Great for Ramadan, too! (Photo from Seth's Blog.)

In fact, there's only one black family in America.

How do you outrage library patrons? Well, you let them find King & King on your shelves, in which a lonely Prince finds and, ultimately, marries his Prince Charming. Because, of course, parents will just scoop up any old thing and start reading to their kids (well, at least they're reading to their kids) without checking it themselves first.

Or Pat Conroy's Prince of Tides and Beach Music. Because high school students shouldn't be exposed to books that feature violence, suicide and sex. (Parents, do you never check the reading lists your kids bring home? It's a wonder the teen suicide rate isn't double what it is, after they've read On the Beach and 1984. It's a rare assigned book that the protagonist actually lives through.)

And if it's not the books causing trouble, it's the computers, those vile silicon temptresses.

As long as we're in the library, we could check @ the Library,, Librarian Avengers, and The Society for Librarians Who Say Mo--... well, if language is an issue for you, you might think twice about that one.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Newton's Third Law

I'm detecting a pro-reproduction bias in the Daily Mail. See if you agree.

Daily Mail | Meet the women who won't have babies - because they're not eco friendly

At the age of 27 this young woman at the height of her reproductive years was sterilised to "protect the planet".

"Having children is selfish. It's all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet," says Toni [Vermelli], 35.

"Every person who is born uses more food, more water, more land, more fossil fuels, more trees and produces more rubbish, more pollution, more greenhouse gases, and adds to the problem of over-population."
I'm all for it when people with little to no parental inclinations decide not to reproduce. The "reporters," though, make no attempt to hide their disgust and horror. They barely manage not to chortle when the woman admits that she and her husband "have a much nicer lifestyle as a result of not having children," which they describe at some length.

Daily Mail | Woman told she'd had a miscarriage - then has triplets instead

When she was told she had suffered a miscarriage, Beverley Cunningham was devastated.

At the age of 40, she feared her last chance to have another baby had slipped away.

But only 24 hours later, after a scan to confirm the miscarriage, she and her husband Andrew were given the most incredible news.

Mrs Cunningham was still pregnant - with triplets.

At odds of nearly a million to one, she had conceived quads naturally, but had miscarried one of them at 12 weeks.
The story tries to present this as a feel-good story of a woman's triumph over a medical setback, having long-desired children despite the odds. The detail that these are children number five, six and seven glides by almost unnoticed.

But check the message board at for conjecture that one of these children is...evil.

(Newton's third law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.)

Monday, November 19, 2007

In the Eye of the Beholder

In the Eye of the Beholder
Originally uploaded by ixnay_.

Is there a proper way to load a dishwasher? Apparently.

Over time, this habit — establishing and maintaining eye contact — creates favorable situations and produces results. The eye-contact specialist gets talked to first, dealt with most promptly, and responded to most thoroughly. He's always first in line for a reason.

Most people (even many who work on the brain) assume that what you see is pretty much what your eye sees and reports to your brain. In fact, your brain adds very substantially to the report it gets from your eye, so that a lot of what you see is actually "made up" by the brain.

Friday, November 16, 2007

"Ha ha ha"?

Yahoo News (AFP) | Santas warned 'ho ho ho' offensive to women
SYDNEY (AFP) - Santas in Australia's largest city have been told not to use Father Christmas's traditional "ho ho ho" greeting because it may be offensive to women, it was reported Thursday.

Sydney's Santa Clauses have instead been instructed to say "ha ha ha" instead, the Daily Telegraph reported.

One disgruntled Santa told the newspaper a recruitment firm warned him not to use "ho ho ho" because it could frighten children and was too close to "ho", a US slang term for prostitute.

...A local spokesman for the US-based Westaff recruitment firm said it was "misleading" to say the company had banned Santa's traditional greeting and it was being left up to the discretion of the individual Santa himself.

Why not try the Woody Woodpecker laugh? There's a Santa with style.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Did you change your clocks?

the homeless tourist
Originally uploaded by workingsux.
Well, it could be worse.
Santa Rosa Press Democrat | Study ties time shift, pedestrian deaths
Fischbeck and Gerard conducted a preliminary study of seven years of federal traffic fatalities and calculated risk per mile walked for pedestrians. They found that per-mile risk jumps 186 percent from October to November, but then drops 21 percent in December.

They said the drop-off by December indicates the risk is caused by the trouble both drivers and pedestrians have adjusting when darkness suddenly comes an hour earlier.

The reverse happens in the morning when clocks are set back and daylight comes earlier. Pedestrian risk plummets, but there are fewer walkers then, too. The 13 lives saved at 6 a.m. don't offset the 37 lost at 6 p.m., the researchers found.

...The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety of Arlington, Va., in earlier studies found the switch from daylight saving time to standard time increased pedestrian deaths. Going to a year-round daylight saving time would save about 200 deaths a year, the institute calculated, said spokesman Russ Rader.
The answer to the number of lives, and the amount of money, that might be saved if we just leave the clocks the f**k alone awaits another study.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Fightin' ...what?

Cracked magazine is gone, I think, but the website lives on. Today they have a list of the World's Most Ridiculous Sports Team Names, which is pretty fertile ground for ridicule if you take any of them seriously.

My all-time favorite, the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs, is on their list -- although they considered it a runner-up in their "Non-Threatening Animals" category. Their winner: Japanese pro baseball's the Hiroshima Toyo Carp.

And you'd think "Non-Threatening Inanimate Objects", which includes the Scottsdale Community College Fighting Artichokes and the winning Teutopolis (H.S.) Wooden Shoes would have room for -- nay, be dominated by -- the Wichita State University Shockers and their mascot, Wushock (pictured). But, no, he's conspicuously absent.

I'm not a sports fan, and never have been, but I have a fondness for odd team mascots. Perhaps this is because at my high school, we were the Golden Tornadoes. And our colors were gold (duh) and maroon, which I always thought worked well together. That changed in my senior year, to Warhawks, but what high school senior is really interested in anything that happens at school any more?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I'm dreaming of a white Halloween

Tacky Christmas
Originally uploaded by ulla*.
You'll never guess what happened yesterday.

Well, that's a lie. You'll guess quite easily if you live in Kansas City. The lucky listeners of KCKC (Star 102.1) are now among the first in the nation to enjoy all-Christmas music, all the time.

Yes, on Halloween.

Crosstown rival Cuddle 98.1 wasted little time in doing the same, today, November 1.

Meanwhile, Walmart is making five of its "Black Friday" specials available tomorrow.

CORRECTION: The first radio station to flip their format to all-Christmas in 2007 was WNOU Indianapolis, who did the deed on October 8 to begin their "93 Days of Christmas". Incidentally, they're also getting their "contemporary hit" audience out of the habit of listening to them, since they're changing their call letters to WEXM and their format to all-talk effective January 9. But there's still a WNOU, since WYJX has bought the station's call letters, format, intellectual property, and as many of the existing staff as are willing to make the move. I really don't understand the radio industry.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

"The real world is really tough"

This year's "whiny college graduate unprepared for the job market" letter to the editor is in the Buffalo News.
Upon graduating, I was helplessly launched headfirst into the “real world,” equipped with a degree in history and $32,000 in student loans. Before ricocheting back home, I would learn two important lessons: 1) There are no well-paying — let alone paying — jobs for history majors. 2) The real world is really tough.
(That should be "there are no paying — let alone well-paying — jobs for history majors". That's how the "this, let alone that" structure is used: The first example is general, the second more specific. Otherwise it makes no sense. But then you're a history major, not a language major, aren't you?)
Desperate times called for desperate measures, and I had no intention of living in a society that was as unfair as this one. To seek a haven devoid of the ruthless 9-to-5 ebb and flow of contemporary America, I moved to Alaska.

As a liberal arts major, I dreamed of making a profound difference in people’s lives.
Doing what, exactly? What kind of life would you judge your history degree has prepared you for? What did you have in mind?
Instead, for a year, I lived in Coldfoot, a town north of the Arctic Circle that resembles a Soviet Gulag camp. My job as a tour guide for visitors...
This "Soviet Gulag camp" of a town has a tourism industry? Why, yes it does. It isn't the bustling metropolis Cicely is, but it has its charms -- apparently lost on Ken, here.

I've read this letter five or six times now, and it keeps getting funnier every time I read it. I just wish the paper had done a sidebar interview with his parents.

See also:

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Not that there's anything wrong with that

AP | J.K. Rowling outs Hogwarts character
Harry Potter fans, the rumors are true: Albus Dumbledore, master wizard and Headmaster of Hogwarts, is gay. J.K. Rowling, author of the mega-selling fantasy series that ended last summer, outed the beloved character Friday night while appearing before a full house at Carnegie Hall.

Tristan and Isolde. Merlin and Nimue. Dumbledore and Grindelwald.

Doesn't quite have the same mythic je ne se quoi, does it?

C'mon. Despite its phenomenal popularity, the Potter series is a children's book. Authority figures in children's books are almost completely sexless. The tragedy of the relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald works without introducing the "romance that was not meant to be" motif into it.

Argh. Every minute I spend thinking about this yields another wrongness.

"I'm Dumbledore's man."

"Is it love again?" said Voldemort, his snake's face jeering. "Dumbledore's favorite solution, love..."

"Severus Snape wasn't yours," said Harry. "Snape was Dumbledore's..."

Headmaster. AAARGGGHH!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Weekend Monitor

purple skies.
Originally uploaded by D.James.
Yike! My defibrillator is being recalled!

Don't jog during thunderstorms!

Hypothesis: The little picture of a gas pump next to your car's fuel indicator tells you which side of your car the gas tank is on. Can this possibly be true?

CNN Money: Over half of the $8 billion the IRS expected to pay out in phone tax refunds remains unclaimed.

Freakonomics: If the personal computer were being put on the market for the first time now, what would they call it?

Argh Ink: The secret to writing romance is understanding the Glittery HooHa.

CNN: Bonnie Raitt answers your questions about nuclear power.

Wise Bread: Cracking the infamous McDonald's Monopoly Game.

Baltimore Sun: Believe your noodly master, Hon.

Special section: Education

For class of S.F. high school juniors, WWII details are elusive

School District Halts Shakespeare Production: Official Cites 'Inappropriate' Content

A crossword puzzle assigned as a homework lesson for fifth-graders studying a book about the 19th-century South asked them to use a racial slur _ the N-word _ as an answer.

College students having sex -- well, a little

Orestad Gymnasium, Denmark

What would you do if you found your child's elementary school teacher topless on MySpace? Knoxville News Sentinel; WATE; TransWorldNews; Web Site Traffic Marketing (if you want to see the pictures in question; they're much more modest than you might imagine). As of Monday, she's been cleared to return to class, since an investigation has so far been unable to show she did anything wrong. (She may not have posted the photos herself.)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Happy Sputnik Day!

Sputnik cup holder
Originally uploaded by m5.
Thanks, Ron, for reminding me of this landmark.

New York Times: It's difficult to recapture the sense of paranoia and self-doubt that Sputnik created in the U.S., but the New York Times' coverage of that week helps a bit.

Ron adds:

The ‘New York Times’: Spreading paranoia and self-doubt for fifty years! :) (At least.)

And counting.

New York Times: After all, the first step into space was an achievement that transcended politics.

Bwah hah hah, I say, and furthermore, chortle. Ron observes:

Tell that ‘un to Wernher von Braun. He probably could have put ‘Explorer 1’ up a coupla months before ‘Sputnik,’ except that Dwight Eisenhower insisted America’s first satellite go up on a ‘civilian’ booster.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Here, there, and everywhere

pink AK-47
Originally uploaded by pinkrifledotcom.
Gun Marketers Sez: "Pink Is For Girls." (Original story at Ananova.)

Yahoo News: Forty percent of Americans have never lived when there wasn't a Bush or a Clinton in the White House.

Reuters: Advertisers aiming to reach high-flyers with no alternative distraction will soon have a new method: adverts the size of three football pitches seen by plane passengers coming in to land.

...Paul Jenkins, managing director of Ad-Air, said the adverts would appear in "clutter-free environments and moments free of any other commercial messages."

He sounds like he thinks this is a good thing.

I wonder where they found otherwise-undeveloped five-acre plots close enough to major airports to bother. Specifically, I wonder where the proposed Atlanta ad is.

On the plus side, you can't see it while you're stranded on the tarmac.

Ridley Scott Has Finally Created the Blade Runner He Always Imagined.

Consumerist: DirecTV is making automated calls to their Do Not Call List subscribers, offering them the option to reverse their decision.

We initiated this recent do-not-call update campaign in order to make sure that information about our customers' preferences is up to date and accurately reflects our customers' wishes. We have found that a customer who at one time requested to be put on our internal do-not-call list may later decide that he or she would like to receive information from us about a variety of things.

Yeah, that's the ticket.

What is the Monkeysphere?

Jim Nabors, perhaps best known as his loveable, often-bumbling character Gomer Pyle from the hit CBS television show “Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.,” was promoted to Honorary Corporal in a sunset ceremony held at Fort DeRussy in Waikiki Sept. 25.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Action Alive Weekly Panorama

Quick, how much are the roses being advertised for? Look again. No, again. Welcome to The Most Deceptive Sign in LA.

The Telegraph: Everyone is breaking the rules and being creative about how to use English," said Rukmini Bhaya Nair, a professor of English at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi. "It is finally being claimed by Indians as their own, instead of a relic of the Raj."

The columnist Anjali Puri said pride in Indian English also stemmed from the success of writers such as Arundhati Roy, Vikram Seth and Salman Rushdie: "These writers have used English to portray Indian reality and it has given people the confidence to try out new words and play around with the language without being scared about whether they are correct."

So that's why I can't make sense of tech support. It's Salman Rushdie's fault. Boy, he's got a lot to answer for. "I am in well here and hope you are also in the same well." I wasn't when I called, but I suspect I will be soon.

How the "Pina Colada" song really ended.

The Boston Globe: This may look like a rerun, but it's actually a different reader so mortally offended by a different library book that she's checked out both copies and refuses to return them.

Both libraries have ordered replacements for the books Karkos took. Speers ordered two more copies because of an increase in requests for the book after the (Lewiston) Sun Journal published a letter from Karkos condemning the book.

Maybe the woman works for the publisher, and this is a marketing campaign?

National Review: Dan Rather alleges CBS shut him up to protect George W. Bush.

The Daily Mail: It has all the hallmarks of a 1950s B-movie - a remote location, mysterious lights in the sky, a crater that appeared from nowhere, and a disease that spread like the plague through locals. But this is no science fiction film. Officials in Peru yesterday revealed that 200 people had fallen sick after an object from space crashed into the south of the country over the weekend.

The reporter compares the incident to The Andromeda Strain, but it looks more like The Colour Out of Space to me.

Daily Cup of Tech: Yes, bad PowerPoint presentations are so ubiquitous that a stand-up comic can build a non-tech-audience-ready routine out of one.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sunday, September 16, 2007

On the Monitor Beacon

blue steel
Originally uploaded by klevo!.
DIY Life: "When my scissors get dull," says Anna Sattler, "I layer about 7 pieces of foil and cut through them, and the scissors are sharp once again." Does this really work?

Dragon*Con Podcasting - Podcasting in the Classroom: This panel featured three educators who are creating educational podcasts, and my wife who is skeptical that the thing can have any applications for, how shall I say it, neighborhoods that are less than affluent.

Montgomery Advertiser: The one about the teenager who was so offended at the sex scenes in a library book ("Sandpiper" by Ellen Whittlinger) that she's refusing to return it, so other teens won't be exposed to it. "'This book is sick,' said Pennington [the girl's grandmother]. 'I'm 50 years old, and I've raised 11 sets of kids and been through many a library, and I've never seen a book like this in a school library before.'"

Hm. If she's 50, and her granddaughter is 15, then she was 35 when her grandchild was born. Sounds to me like somebody in this family must not be as offended by the idea of teen sex as they let on. And how the heck does one raise "11 sets of kids" anyway?

The Telegraph: If you want to know the truth about good ol' barbecue, go to Britain, that's what I always say. I might never have known that "Kentucky is known for mutton" if I hadn't read it here.

Reuters: Two decades after a nude photo scandal helped cost a Miss America her title, Americans may be adopting a more ho-hum attitude toward people who bare it all for the cameras. This because the Disney company is prepared to forgive "High School Musical" star Vanessa Hudgens her indiscretions.

Sex and nudity are also more prevalent on television, especially cable stations. Last week's opening episode of the HBO drama "Tell Me You Love Me," contained at least half-a-dozen sex acts. Oh, yeah, let's talk about that...

The New York Observer: Is the scrotum the new cleavage?

...Throughout the hour, as bodies moved and eyefuls of flesh and bikini waxes flashed, it was still the sight of that erect penis being clinically manipulated into a graphic orgasm that prompted did-I-just-see-what-I-think-I-saw gapes from less action-packed couches nationwide.

“Europeans have a totally different attitude about it,” [Darren Star, executive producer of "Sex and the City"] added. “I think the fact that we haven’t seen it in this country before is why it is so shocking when we do see it.”

I told you a couple of weeks ago that I didn't want to hear about how much more sophisticated the Europeans are, now that we know that to be an utter lie.

In conclusion, YouTube presents: The Potter Puppet Pals in "The Mysterious Ticking Noise."

Monday, September 10, 2007

DPM Weekend Monitor

Originally uploaded by Ray Radlein.
Joshua Harrison (at right) is an old friend of ARTC's. He wasn't in our DragonCon show this year, but he kept busy. Even Kari Byron doesn't look too bored.

Wired magazine: "An IM Infatuation Turned to Romance. Then the Truth Came Out." Then it came out again.

CNN: Madeleine L'Engle dead at 88.

Beloit College: To the class of 2011, MTV has never featured music videos, they never “rolled down” a car window, and the first time they ever saw Jack Nicholson was in "Batman".

The Sun: David Schwimmer says he won't appear in a Friends reunion. "It was ten years ago — and it’s time to move on.” Schwimmer's math aside (the show's final episode aired in May 2004, a tad over three years ago), I think I speak for all of us when I say, "Promise?"

The Textbook League: Physicist Richard Feynman on how and why school textbooks suck. ("Suck" is a technical term too advanced to define here.)

WSJ: Men, do you find yourself limiting contact with kids for fear that you'll be accused of being a predator?

Overheard Everywhere:
Woman reading newspaper: I can't believe how illiterate kids are these days. It says here that when they were asked who Joan of Arc was, many of them said she was Noah's wife.
Girl: Who was she, Grandma?
Woman: She was the woman who grew her hair long and rode a horse naked.

Monday, August 27, 2007

DPM Weekend Update

Atlanta Hyatt Regency Lobby
Originally uploaded by disneymike.
This is the Atlanta Hyatt Regency, one of the host hotels for DragonCon, which is where I will be this coming weekend. If you're in the vicinity, you might drop by Friday night and watch the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company perform.

In other news...

How to deal with vagrants at conventions: As long as you're going to be in downtown Atlanta... On the other hand, anyone who should be traveling unsupervised should already know.

The lunar eclipse is tonight! Well, tomorrow morning in this time zone.

But the sign says $3.09: In Nebraska, gas stations sometimes advertise a lower price than they actually charge. "Under state law, the signs — which show in smaller print that the lower-priced gas is available only at certain pumps — are not illegal as long as gas is available at the lower price at even one pump."

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

But who owns them? "Mermaids have been performing at Weeki Wachee Springs for 60 years. The water district owns the land that Weeki Wachee Springs sits upon. As for who owns the mermaids, well, that is an interesting setup. There's a private company. But a few years ago its owner simply gave the company to the city of Weeki Wachee. (He got a tax break.) As for the "city," its population usually fluctuates somewhere between five and nine people, consisting of attraction employees." Isn't it enough that they're there?

Newscaster Emily Maitlis offends BBC viewers with flash of leg: No, really. I don't want to hear one more word about sophisticated Europeans smirking at America's puritanical attitudes about sex, you get me? Not one word.

And that's all we need to hear from Michael Vick, too: "Are you entering the plea of guilty to a conspiracy charge because you are in fact guilty?" Vick answered yes.

Friday, August 24, 2007

This is to enable mobile blogging from my mobile phone. Be afraid.

Monday, August 20, 2007

DPM Weekend Update with Dippy Bird

Drinking Bird
Originally uploaded by Private Ale.
Guerrilla librarianship: New blog Biologists Helping Bookstores features a crusading scientist called Ste who tries reorganising bookshop shelves to prevent pseudoscience featuring in the science categories.

Is This Man Cheating on His Wife?: Ric Hoogestraat sits at his computer with the blinds drawn, smoking a cigarette. While his wife, Sue, watches television in the living room, Mr. Hoogestraat chats online with what appears on the screen to be a tall, slim redhead. He's never met the woman outside of the computer world of Second Life... Their bond is so strong that three months ago, Mr. Hoogestraat asked Janet Spielman, the 38-year-old Canadian woman who controls the redhead, to become his virtual wife.

"What kind of moron would Tase an adult holding a baby?"

Heart attack victim saved by sales pitch: An elderly New Zealand man who suffered a heart attack at a hardware store was revived by a salesman who just happened to be demonstrating a defibrillator to store staff.

Wichita Man Left Stranded at Orlando Airport: A 72 year-old Wichita minister who traveled to Orlando earlier this week was left on a bench inside that city's airport for three days. Nobody realized that Kenneth Davis, the pastor at Wichita's Immanuel Outreach Center had suffered a stroke.

Two friends have dressed as a pantomime horse to climb the tallest mountain in Wales and England.

Toy tune offends mothers: The problem is how the digital voice singing the scale sounds with the combination Fa-Mi-Re-Mi. ..."She's like ‘fa, fa, fa,' and I was wondering why is she saying that?" Alexis Chacon said. "It was the toy. Then she says, ‘ra, ra, ra.' She's too small to learn those kinds of words. It's supposed to be Do-Re-Mi, and it's F-me-rape me." See also Consumerist. You laugh, but when's the last time you saw a toy typewriter?

Special "naked truth" section:

For those who hoped we'd see "Wash" again: [Alan] Tudyk is a familiar face to sci-fi fans for his role as Hoban "Wash" Washburne on the cult TV series "Firefly" and subsequent feature version, "Serenity." Tudyk has his most screen exposure in "Death at a Funeral": He spends about 90 percent of his screen time totally naked.

Follow-up: The Lush bath-products "Ask Me Why I'm Naked" promotion was actually international in scope, but in Victoria, CA, "only assistant manager Sahra MacLean went au naturel while handing out bars of Buffy Body Butter to slack-jawed tourists, flashing her backside to those who questioned whether she was 'really naked under there.'"

Nude virgins flee sex blaze: A teenage couple having sex for the first time were interrupted when candles set fire to the girl's attic bedroom and forced them to flee naked from her parents' house, German daily Bild reported today. The couple, both 18, were pictured naked in the paper among the burned wreckage of the attic. I'm trying to think of any set of circumstances in which I could believe that it would seem logical for the newspaper to suggest that the "kids" go back into the burned room, naked, to pose for these photographs -- or that the "kids" would say "Sure, let's go."

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The DPM Weekend Update with Dippy Bird

Dippy Bird
Originally uploaded by mrmoorey.
If this isn't a friendly audience, what is? Democratic presidential nominees sway helplessly in the breeze before the combined might of liberal bloggers at the Yearly Kos Convention.

Lookit them wild oats go: One in every 200 men alive today is a relative of Genghis Khan.

So, you're saying men can be librarians?

Do these pants make my butt look big? See for yourself with the dressing room buttcam.

The United Countries of Baseball.

Cinema of the Absurd: Can there ever really be too many films about clowns and gas chambers?

TV Legend Merv Griffin Dead At 82. See also a reminiscence by Mark Evanier for a glimpse of what Griffin was really like. Which is to say, pretty much the person you saw on the air. When being yourself has made you that rich, why bother to pretend?

It's a public library, right? I'm the public, right? Authorities say they have busted a serial book bandit who roamed Front Range libraries checking out thousands of books, tapes and DVDs and then selling many of them online.

Most detailed pictures of Earth ever seen: But, if I go outside with my cel phone and shoot the grass between my feet, won't it be more detailed than this?

Staff wear not enough packaging to protest too much packaging: Male and female staff at Lush in Watford's Harlequin shopping centre [and at Lincolnshire] stripped off to serve the public, wearing nothing but white aprons bearing the slogan "Ask me why I'm naked". The aim of the initiative was to highlight the overuse of packaging in the retail industry and to promote the environment. ("The store's naked campaign was part of a national effort, with similar events happening in 55 cities in the UK." There are stories from Cheltenham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Swindon, Wimbledon (2), Oxford, Bournemouth, and Cambridge.)

How does a Dippy Bird work?

Sunday, August 05, 2007

News, Weak

Apple iPhone 23
Originally uploaded by tychay.
Phone scalpers? A half-million iPhones sold in the first two days, but only 146,000 activations? Awfully pricey for a paperweight. "The difference is going to be what was sold on eBay or activations that didn't happen immediately." What a nice way of saying they were bought by speculators who intended to resell them at a profit, rather than activate them.

14 Numbers Your Cell Phone Can’t Live Without.

Full circle: New cans of Coca-Cola look a lot like old cans of Coca-Cola. No fake condensation droplets; no yellow and green accents; no drop shadows. What a wild, new, innovative idea.

Only Imperial Stormtroopers are so precise.

Attention Red Shirts: Don't beam down with the Captain. But if you can get him laid, your odds of survival improve.

And while I'm at Wikipedia, here are Wikipedia's Lamest Edit Wars.

How much trouble can you get into for goofing up a class picture?

Cheap kids' diversions: Recipes for flubber, goop, oobleck, play-doh and silly putty. Directions for folding paper airplanes. Free children's books to download.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

News, Weak

baggage carousel in Venice
Originally uploaded by estee loo.
Get your game face on: "Checking your luggage through to Venice’s Marco Polo Airport is always a bit of a gamble." I'm thinking all baggage carousels should have numbered panels.

God's Inbox. (Apparently, God uses a Mac.)

Don't make me turn this car around: Now that it's too late for me, Wise Bread offers tips on how to survive a road trip, and Open Travel Info has 29 tips on saving gas.

The Cincinnati Subway.

I can see my house from here: On the other hand, if this had happened to us while we were at the St. Louis Gateway Arch, we would have had a great excuse for calling in sick the next day. "Boss? You'll never guess where I am..."

The Superman Celebration in Metropolis, Illinois.

Another legendary newspaper dies: "American Media has decided to suspend publication of Weekly World News, both the print publication and the web site." Bob Greenberger has more

Everything should taste like bacon.

There's a Way, Said a Wise Old Man: David Wygant of Yahoo Personals offers ten tips to Charm a Woman. (And fifty comments suggest that these tips are, eh, flawed.) The Manchester Evening News reports that women lie, cheat and steal. "The favourite fib told by women was 'Of course you don't look fat'"...but "four out of ten (42%) would lie about contraception in order to get pregnant, in spite of the wishes of their partner".

The State of Sequoyah.

Can't remember where I read this: "According to a survey released Friday, the boom in mobiles and portable devices that store reams of personal information has created a generation incapable of memorizing simple things. A quarter of those polled said they couldn't remember their landline number, while two-thirds couldn't recall the birthdays of more than three friends or family members."

The Foot Mouse (Slipper Mouse) with Programmable Pedal: "It's more than a mouse. It's your stepping-stone to peak performance!"

Oh, and there was some book about a teenage wizard.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A Fortnight of News, Weak

Email in 1977
Originally uploaded by Avi_Abrams.
Started, the Clone Wars have: The first test-tube baby created from an egg matured in the laboratory and then frozen has been born in Canada, in a breakthrough offering hope to women with cancer and others unsuited to normal IVF treatment. The baby is doing well and another three women are pregnant by the same method, researchers told a medical meeting in Lyon, France, on Monday.

The Evil Prairie Dog: I cannot tell you why this five-second YouTube video is funny. But I have watched it a dozen times and, to quote BeetleJuice, "It keeps getting funnier every time I see it." (if you can't stand it any more, here is the original source.)

Actually, there's one born every 0.3456 seconds: A half-million iPhones were sold the first weekend.

So who's looking at her lips?: Nina Conti is not just another pretty female ventriloquist. (Her father is Tom Conti, who appeared in, I think, every third movie filmed in the eighties.)

Next they'll be telling us a two-by-four isn't 2" by 4": Large sub sandwiches are the "must have" food of many super bowl parties. It's a no-brainer right, since most party sub sandwiches are sold in 3 foot sections, that's what you'd expect. But, overall, 7 of the 9 subs measured were short and none were exact.

Well, she apologized, so that makes it all right: Nobel Peace Prize winner Betty Williams apologized Thursday for saying she could kill President Bush, remarks that drew scorn from Bush loyalists and shook up the International Women's Peace Conference in Dallas. Questioned about her speech Thursday morning, Ms. Williams initially denied making the comment but reversed course after organizers confirmed the quote. In a speech before 1,000 people Wednesday, Ms. Williams said that violence is a choice and the push for peace takes hard work and commitment. "Right now, I could kill George Bush," she said. "No, I don't mean that. How could you nonviolently kill somebody? I would love to be able to do that." As she made her point, she chuckled and some members of the audience laughed.

Do libraries cost publishers sales? From If Public Libraries Didn’t Exist, Could You Start One Today? "Among writers, there is a very common lament: someone comes up to you at a book signing and says, 'Oh, I loved your book so much, I got it from the library and then told all my friends to go to the library too!' And the writer thinks, 'Gee, thanks, but why didn’t you buy it?'"

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Why I haven't been around lately

The better part of ten days of my life were consumed preparing for, en route to and from, or attending the Robert A. Heinlein Centennial celebration in Kansas City. (No, smart@$$, he wasn't there.) This process was made more awkward by being under doctor's orders not to lift anything heavier than ten pounds, due to having recently undergone the implantation of an Internal Cardiac Defibrillator.

Oh, fine, thanks. I plan to talk more about this on my LiveJournal page; I just thought you should know.

Sunday, July 01, 2007


Girls Kissing
Originally uploaded by .Ward.
WBKO, Bowling Green, KY: "A security camera captured two girls kissing... The dean of students said he saw two girls kissing. He checked the surveillance tape then shared what he saw with the parents of one of the girls. They then pulled her out of school, which then pulled the peninsula school district into a big controversy."

Wired Magazine: Despite the Web, Americans Remain Woefully Ill-Informed. "A new study from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press shows that Americans, on average, are less able to correctly answer questions about current events than they were in 1989." I'd have to see the actual study. I mean, this color-coded graphic is pretty, and the overall trends don't speak well of us, granted. But my eye zips straight to the one anomalous datum, which is unmentioned in the article itself: In 1989 only 14% or respondents could name the Speaker of the House, and in 2007 49% could. Given how often the media bludgeon us with the history-making aspects of the current occupant of that position, I guess the surprise really is that, even so, the number should be bigger.

American Chronicle: "Now here's a pickle of a predicament: I was stark naked at 6:15 in the morning with no house key and standing next to a locked rental in the garage of someone who was 2,000 miles away."

American Journalism Review: What the Mainstream Media Can Learn From Jon Stewart. "The stock-in-trade of 'The Daily Show' is hypocrisy, exposing hypocrisy. And nobody else has the guts to do it. They really know how to crystallize an issue on all sides, see the silliness everywhere." Of course, there's also the fact that Stewart can have his cake and eat it too: Most current students consider what he does to actually be journalism, but when Stewart does get facts wrong, he need only shrug and smirk, "This is a comedy show, what do you expect?"

Canoe: "The 2 1/2-kilometre barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border was designed to keep cars from illegally crossing into the United States. There's just one problem: It was accidentally built on Mexican soil. ...A routine aerial survey in March revealed that the barrier protrudes into Mexico by as much as two metres." Wow. Two whole meters. And we know how much the strict letter of the law matters to our guest workers from Mexico.

Neomeme: Nine Cool Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do With Wikipedia.

C|net News: One company has come up with a way for your new printer to lock-out third-party and remanufactured ink cartridges. Of course, it's intended to put a halt to pirated ink-tank technology, and would never be used to interfere with legitimate recycling business.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Originally uploaded by Thomas Hawk.
There are still a lot of things that you can do with a penny. Here are 83 of them.

If you're looking for another way to stand out from the crowd -- or if you're just indecisive -- here are 31 Different Ways To Lace Shoes.

Can the level of math education sink any lower?

Saturdays in August, on ABC: Four thought-provoking tales of present and future Earth are brought to life in "Masters of Science Fiction", an all-new anthology series featuring a stellar lineup of actors and directors, and narrated by acclaimed physicist Professor Stephen Hawking. (The width and breadth of the body of Robert Heinlein's work to choose from, and they decided to adapt "Jerry Was A Man"?)

You might think it would be safe enough to hike naked on the Appalachian Trail. You'd be wrong.

"Here are some tips for job seekers who meet with recruiters in Second Life...Tailor your avatar to the position you're applying for. It's not necessary to dress up in a suit - but if you are interviewing with an employer that has a conservative workplace culture, you probably don't want to show up as a troll or a mermaid." Here's another tip: Bwah-hah-hah! (See also Valleywag's reaction.)

US News and World Report: "The April release of Behind the Pay Gap by the American Association of University Women Education Foundation reported that one year after college graduation, women working full time earn just 80 percent as much as their male counterparts. The report noted that one potential reason for this difference is that female students are clustered in college majors tied to careers that lead to smaller paychecks."

Admit it, if you had an electronic bubble wrap toy, you'd play with it.

On my way to being a Cyborg

Originally uploaded by elbow donkey.
I don't wish to become one of those people who has nothing to talk about other than his own medical problems, but I thought you might like to know.

I'm scheduled to undergo the implantation of an Internal Cardiac Defibrillator (ICD) at Crawford Long on Wednesday, June 27. The full story is here.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


& tomorrow
Originally uploaded by Seidl.
If I told you that a senator called for an ambulance to have himself rushed to a television interview, I'll bet you'd assume it was one of ours. It's OK, though, President Bush was involved, so you can blame him if you want.

Who owns the media?

Mark Evanier said:
Ray Stevens' ... most recent record was a thing called "The New Battle of New Orleans," which I haven't heard. A couple of folks have written me in the last hour to say that they have, and that it's wingnut claptrap with a racist edge. The lyrics to the song, which are posted over here, sure lead one to that viewpoint. It's amazing that someone could be from that area and write a song about Hurricane Katrina with zero sympathy for the victims.
It's amazing to me that anyone could read those lyrics and conclude that they are "racist wingnut claptrap." In order to accept that view, one would have to grant that any criticism of Jesse Jackson or Louis Farrakan is inherently racist. And in order to read the song as expressing "zero sympathy for the victims", one would have to believe that Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco are victims.

Jeff Bezos: We lose money on every unit we sell, but we make it up in volume.

It would appear that this writer can think of only one use for a "female" robot. Shouldn't feminists resent that? The Japanese designers' intent, as best I can determine from this one-note summary, is to create a machine that moves with something that might be called "grace". It's probably another approach at bridging the uncanny valley charted by Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori in 1970. The theory is, the more you humanize an object, the cuter people tend to think it is -- up to a point. But past that point, when something is close to human but clearly not human, we react with revulsion. Stuffed animals are cute, lifelike prosthetics are creepy. Monkeys are cute, zombies are horrific.

The Shatner Show: "Every artist has their muse. Leonardo was inspired by the ceiling in the great chapel. [Huh?] Michelangelo found his art in the Italian marble. Who am I to stand in the way of all these fine artists and artisans who want to use my lumpy, aging face for inspiration?"

Getting rid of noisy kids in one easy step: Lean toward their caregiver and softly say, "According to the terms of my parole, I'm not really supposed to be this close to children." The gentler and more friendly you are, the more dramatic the reaction when the meaning of the phrase sinks in.

"I'd like to smack the idiot who designed this intersection."

Now that USB drives (or flash drives, or thumb drives, or whatever you want to call 'em) are so ubiquitous, inexpensive, and small, we have to face facts: The cost of losing one is not the cost of replacing the drive, but the consequences of losing the data it contains.

Daily Show: 'Don't they know we're all recording this stuff?'

The truth about doctors. "For a new patient, I book it for 40 minutes. Some doctors make it ten. For a second visit, some make it five. If you’re an HMO doctor, the network will tell you to see, on average, a patient every seven minutes. HMOs tell us to see more patients; malpractice insurance tells us to take all the time we need."

Monday, June 11, 2007


Spa billboard (right) called racy and all wrong. (Chicago Tribune link requires free registration: Consumerist link doesn't.)

How I got out of writing an essay on H.G. Well's The Time Machine. "A humanities course should not be required for my B.Sc degree in Physics." (Wells' name and missing period after abbreviation as in original document.)

Origin of deja vu pinpointed.

Britons lose an amazing 885,000 mobile phone handsets each year - by accidentally dropping them into the toilet and flushing them away.

Audio compression is evil. (video)

HP: Digital cameras for fat people. (Remember Friends? Monica excuses her prom-era weight with "Well, you know, the camera adds ten pounds," and Chandler responds "How many did you have on you?")

Winnie Cooper is my hero. (Main page.)

A young clerk with no knowledge of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown allowed a tribute to victims slip into the classified ads page of a newspaper in southwest China.

With Powerpoint comes great responsibility. (video)

A physics teacher begs for his subject back. "I am a physics teacher. Or, at least I used to be. My subject is still called physics. My pupils will sit an exam and earn a GCSE in physics, but that exam doesn’t cover anything I recognize as physics."

Origin of deja vu pinpointed.

Monday, June 04, 2007


Midtown Skyline (Remix)
Originally uploaded by Lance McCord.
But first, some blatant self-promotion: I play the Army Air Force veteran in this week's ARTC Podcast, "Unaccustomed to Fear".

"Thousands of LiveJournal customers are rebelling against the company's recent decision to censor hundreds of sex-themed discussion groups, a broad swath that has led to the removal of literary critiques and fan-written fiction about Harry Potter." Do remember, though, that it's only a First Amendment issue if the government is suppressing it. Any private company has the right to limit how its resources are used. If this bothers you, buy your own domain and server: They're cheap enough. (Why, yes, I do own

The good news is, hybrid automobiles are beginning to sell. The bad news is, they're selling for the "wrong reasons". They aren't replacing those mean old SUVs, they're fashion statements, the third car in "two-car" households.

Turn off the TV and broadband for a week and family life goes completely to hell. (Spoilers: They cheat on days 2 and 6, and mostly sit around glaring at each other the rest of the week.) Perhaps the most amusing part of the article is the closing, Mother's Tips To Cut Screen Addiction, among them: "Take your children on holiday to countries where broadband has yet to make substantial inroads."

From VH1's Best Week Ever: This Video Contains All Of The Reasons Why Our Society Is Doomed. I've nothing to add to it. Try not to read the spoilerrific text in the entry and just click on the two-minute video.

I suppose that with Google Maps now offering street-level photographs, it's inevitable that someone would be creeped out by what they can see. Heck, I was creeped out the first time I saw my own front porch at (Gosh, I wish my house were prettier.) One woman was creeped out when she discovered she'd left her curtains open the day the Google van drove by, and the world can see her living room -- and her cat. But within a day or two this phenomenon was topped by 90 West Santa Clara St in San Jose, where you can see dead people. I'm sure you'd rather check out co-eds sunbathing at Stanford.

Speaking of which (sort of), signs of Spencer Tunick were spotted this weekend in Amsterdam.

Egypt: Fatwa allows breast-feeding among adults. This is a couple of weeks old. I've been holding on to it until I could wrap my head around it (so to speak), but the logic still makes me dizzy.

"We have to remember that while more women are showing more cleavage, you really have to use your breast power responsibly." With great hooters come great responsibility, as I'm sure Stan Lee would have said had Peter Parker been bitten by a radioactive Scarlett Johansson. (I think I just stumbled upon the plot for Spider-Man 4.)