Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
article at New Scientist
Friday, December 26, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Given a choice between being a Christian wearing a crown of thorns or a Pagan dancing around naked all day, I'll take a religion that's about life affirming, fun hot sex any day.
article at Fox News
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
At a TVA power plant that burns coal, 600 million gallons of ash, left over from the plant, were spilled into the Tennessee River, creating a spill forty times larger than the Exxon Valdez. The ash contains high levels of nasties like mercury and arsenic.
The Tennessee River, by the way, is the main water supply for Chattanooga and communities in Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama.
The story isn't getting any coverage in the national news.
blog post about the spill
article with links
From the Desk of Alma Montclair
Director of Administration and Finance
American Civil Liberties Union
At the ACLU, we know that challenges to civil liberties can arrive
from any quarter -- at any moment. And, we understand that, as
America's leading civil liberties organization, we've got
to be fully prepared to respond.
As Director of Administration and Finance, it's my job to make
sure that that preparation includes prudently managing our
organization's resources. So, as you and other ACLU supporters
expect, we've been carefully monitoring and responding to the
severe financial crisis enveloping America and its impact on our
ability to defend fundamental freedoms.
In the last couple of weeks, however, we've been hit hard in a
way that no one could forecast. You have, no doubt, heard about the
Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme in which investors have been horribly
defrauded of up to $50 billion. What you may not know is that two
foundations that have been incredibly generous and longstanding
supporters of our national security and reproductive freedom work have
been victimized by the Madoff scandal -- forced to close their doors
and terminate their grants.
That means that $850,000 in support we were counting on from these
foundations in 2009 simply won't exist. We're dealing with
that reality and remain committed to continuing our critical work in
these areas. But, as you can imagine, the year-end donations of you
and other ACLU supporters are now more important than ever.
Please help the ACLU meet critical civil liberties needs in early
2009. Please make a year-end donation now.
I have been lucky enough to work for the ACLU for the past 23 years.
Every day, I see firsthand just how far your donations go and just how
critical your support is to people who depend on the ACLU to help
protect their rights. We're there when no one else is willing or
able to be -- and that's because you're there for us.
We know that times are tough for everyone, and, for that reason, we
are even more appreciative of your support. With all we're going
through, we need you to be there for us now more than ever.
I can promise you this: Every dollar you send will be used carefully
and effectively to support vitally important work defending
people's fundamental freedoms.
Thanks so much for all you're doing.
Director of Administration and Finance
P.S. Thanks to our special year-end matching gift campaign, your
support will go even further at this critical time. Please make a gift
© ACLU, 125 Broad Street, 18th Floor New York, NY 10004
Studios, seeing good response, are deciding to be more adventurous and aim for the adult market. Perhaps we'll see more releases in the format, similar to the 3D craze that run its course in the 1980s.
article at NY Times
Monday, December 22, 2008
The movies is absolutely dreadful - even more dreadful after you find out how the movie ends, which A. O. Scott couldn't reveal in his review.
Want to know the ending? Read Scott's review, then click here.
It's not as devastating as what happened during the Great Depression, with both the economic tough times and the switch to sound films throwing millions of musicians out of work.
The last distributor of VHS tapes, providing discount titles to truck stops and chain stores like Family Dollar, is sending out their last batch of tapes at the end of the year.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
I can't think of any movie that shows one man going through such a living hell - a two hour "long dark night of the soul" that's only relieved in the last five minutes of the last reel. This is one super-depressing movie.
This commentator at the NY Times has summed it up as well as anyone.
commentary at NY Times
For $4,000, it's a specialized computer that can control cameras and video effects, letting one person run a live tv show feed, replacing a whole truck of equipment used in the past. It's making niche video programming more viable for sure.
blog post at Wired
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
blog post at Wired that explains the origins of the device
site about the a book on the device with video of the working replica
feature article at New Scientist on the device and how the ancient Greeks viewed technology
Only the New Yorker could use the phrase "atomic coitus" in a piece and get away with it.
article at New Yorker
In the standard historical accounts, the way that the bomb’s gun mechanism worked was by shooting a cylindrical “male” uranium projectile into a concave, stationary uranium target. This act of atomic coitus created a mass sufficient to produce a critical reaction. The mass of the projectile was said to be 38.5 kilograms, and the mass of the target was said to be 25.6 kilograms. But no matter how many times Coster-Mullen did the math the numbers never quite worked out in a way that allowed the projectile and the target to fit inside the gun barrel while remaining subcritical.
The source of the error, Coster-Mullen recognized, was an assumption that every (male) researcher who studied the subject had made about the relation between projectile and target. These scholars had apparently been unable to conceive of an arrangement other than a “missionary position” bomb, in which a solid male projectile penetrated a vessel-like female target. But Coster-Mullen realized that a female-superior arrangement—in which a hollow projectile slammed down on top of a stationary cylinder of highly enriched uranium—yielded the correct size and mass.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Be sure to click through to experience the Sarah Palin Bratz...if you dare...
contest at SomethingAwful
Monday, December 15, 2008
A group of film preservationists, the Nitrate Film Interest Group, has set up a photo stream on Flickr consisting of frames and sequences from movies they're looking for information on. You can leave comments to help identify what the films might be.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
His sense of humor is drier than the Sahara. He was also born and raised in North Wilkesboro, NC, near my home town.
Here he is in a new series of web videos, a talk show called "Between Two Ferns".
guest Michael Cera of "Juno"
guest talk show host Jimmy Kimmel
guest John Hamm of "Mad Men"
Another comedian I find interesting is Daniel Kitson. There's a clip of his show "Stories for the Wobbly Hearted" on YouTube.
Friday, December 12, 2008
The US News and World report blog is reporting that former first cat Socks is near death, suffering from cancer.
I think the Republicans never did like the Clintons because they owned a cat.
By the way, my own cat wasn't named after the former First Cat.
blog entry at US News
I forgot it for many years until I ran into a game show site that mentioned it. Now, I've found a link to a streamed version of one of the only two surviving episodes from the series.
The Magnificent Marble Machine
The show ran on NBC for a few months and the producers hoped to capitalize on the pinball craze of the time. With the cheezy graphics and music and the massive pinball machine that seems to dwarf everyone on the show, it's a long strange trip back to the worst of the 70s.
Wondering if you're really representing all of the diversity in your office or workplace? Attach this simple list of options to various forms under the question "Gender?"
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Seems that someone got a book via interlibrary loan from Bob Jones University. It had a big sticker in it as a disclaimer. It's worth reading.
blogpost at urbzen
Historian Neil Harris stumbled upon something a few years back. Browsing through the stacks of the University Chicago Library, he found a mysterious relic of the past. Or perhaps something from a parallel universe.
"The Chicagoan" was that city's answer to "The New Yorker". He has out a new book about the lost magazine. You can see a gallery and covers here.
Ever wondered what it would be like to play back your dreams and experiences or look at someone else's wandering mind?
That day may be closer than you think. Japanese researchers have made some progress in reading your mind, or, at least, your brain waves.
So, when someone asks, "What were you thinking?!?", someday you can reply, "Here - let me play it back for you."
"You'd better watch out, get ready to cry, You'd better go hide, I'm telling you why 'cuz Santa Claus will take you to hell. He is your favorite idol, you worship at his feet, but when you stand before your God He won't help you take the heat. So get this fact straight: you're feeling God's hate, Santa's to blame for the economy's fate, Santa Claus will take you to hell."
Please, someone get these people some medication, pronto.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
In the press release, NPR noted that neither program acheived enough listeners or underwriting to continue production.
It's not surprising. I listened to "Day to Day" a few times and found it to be just more of the same talk and light news features that NPR listeners get on every other show that the network puts out these days. "Day to Day" was particularly bad since many of the stories were just repeats of material you could read at "Slate", which was a corporate partner in the show.
It's strange how public radio used to have interesting, diverse programming with new and engaging music, dramas once in a while, experimental docs, and other works that gave me a better understanding of the world.
Now, every show (except the long in the tooth "Car Talk" and "Prarie Home Companion") all sound like "All Things Considered".
I do enjoy my satellite radio.
*Her former husband who left her for another man
*being told to quit acid by Cary Grant
*shock therapy? "Loved it!"
The blog Planet All-Star has an open letter to NBC execs with some free advice. He makes some good points - reducing a "season" to thirteen episodes to avoid "padding" of series, having faith in creative talent, and even dropping Saturday and Sunday evening programming. But, I've got a bit of advice of my own.
One of the things that NBC and other networks fail to recognize is that they have a rich library of programming that would be interesting and relevant to viewers today. Think about it - they wouldn't be bringing back "Bionic Woman" or "Night Rider" as new series if the originals weren't fan favorites. So, as an experiment, why not pull shows out of your library on Saturday or Sunday nights for a whole evening each week of "Classic NBC".
The way I'd program it would be to have different shows each week, but program each block in a similar way, perhaps with more family-oriented or daytime shows at 7:00, some kind of drama at 8:00, a couple of sitcoms at 9:00, and a crime drama at 10:00. And I'd go back beyond the 80s to even include a dash of shows from the 50s and early 60s in the mix - for some, it would be nostalgia, for other viewers they'd be surprised at how campy some of the shows would be.
Sure, many of these shows are available on DVD format or even through streaming at various sites. But, for the casual viewer, looking to be entertained, they could tune in just for the convenience of having a block of old shows programmed for them. Heck, it would be cheap and probably do better in the ratings than offerings from the other networks.
The program was broadcast as a five-day-a-week serial and was based on scripts from the tv series using South African actors. At the time, television in the country wasn't well developed, but people got familiar with "The Avengers" through film exchanges, which rented 16mm films much like today's video stores. Radio drama was still a major art form in South Africa, so the tv show was turned into a radio show.
You can see more info on the show and download restored episodes here.
This web series looks more promising. The first video is funny and well written. The lead actor is really creates a character here and has a great sense of comic timing. So, let's meet Vincent, inventor. From California...
More videos are at the YouTube channel for the series.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
OTR enthusiast Vince Long obtained about 100 reel to reel tapes, many early Scotch paper-based tapes, that were recorded of network and local radio shows in the Billings, Montana area in the early 1950s. They're a fascinating look at local radio and what an average listener might have been tuned to at the time. The collection includes many shows not previously in circulation and include music, variety, news and sports shows. All are available in downloadable MP3 format.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Unlike the maker of the video, I just don't think it would be as much fun as a cat.
Robot pets are a big industry in Japan; they're seen as convenient companions for the elderly or in situations where there's not much space in small apartment buildings.
Here's two ads for a Japanese robot cat:
And a video that shows a robotic pet seal named Paro. There's also another video on YouTube showing it interacting with patients in a Japanese nursing home.
The centerpiece of the restaurants was an animatronic band, the Rock-A-Fire Explosion, designed by a company in Florida. The display, which would take up one whole side of the restaurant, was similar to the animatronic robot displays that Disney used in their theme parks.
As these displays have been removed from installations in recent years, a small group of enthusiasts have tried to preserve them. Chris Thrash owns one and does something a little more interesting with it.
Originally, the displays would put on shows of pop songs for kids; Thrash and other enthusiasts reprogram them to play current popular songs.
The videos are funny, but also admirable for the technical skill of the original designers of the Rock-A-Fire and for the new programmers. The Rock-A-Fire, by the way, was originally controlled by a four track reel to reel tape machine and later by VCRs or Apple II computers; those preserving and reprogramming the displays now use a modified Tivo.
First up is a video from YouTube showing what one of the original Rock-A-Fire shows looked like:
Here's a couple of reprogramming efforts. The first is Usher's "Love in This Club". Note: This song contains explicit lyrics that may be offensive to some viewers.
The second example I found is the Madonna/Justin Timberlake song, "4 Minutes". It's not quite as creatively programmed as the Usher track and doesn't use all of the characters in the display.
Each week, Chris Thrash takes bids from Internet viewers on what song they should program next. The funds from the auctions go towards upkeep and preservation of the Rock-A-Fire installation.
There's also several videos by Thrash and others located here:
I could see Chris Thrash's Rock-A-Fire Explosion being a musical guest on "Saturday Night Live" or as an opening act for The Gorillaz. (In fact, why not get them to perform Gorillaz songs like this?)