Friday, December 30, 2011

Alice in Wonderland (1966) Jonathan Miller

I  watched the 1966 Jonathan Miller Alice in Wonderland this week.

Fascinating version. Miller did a "Wednesday Play" biopic on Charles Dodgson the previous year (included on the disc) in which hinted that the characters in the book (such as the dormouse) were not actually furry animals, but caricatures of other academics at Christ Church that Alice would have met and find funny. I've read The Annotated Alice, so I know most of the math jokes and so forth, but I didn't know the source of the characters. Miller didn't have much money but nevertheless persuaded half the greatest actors in Britain to be in the production - Sir John Gielgud, Sir Michael Redgrave, Peter Sellers, Leo McKern - and Peter Cook, channeling the Goon Show, as the Mad Hatter, along with Wilfrid Brambell (Steptoe) as a very camp White Rabbit. And Malcolm Muggeridge.

Miller aimed the production at adults - which led to the tabloids of the day assuming it was pr0n of some sort (it isn't) and portrayed Alice as a self-contained older girl, stiff and formal in the Victorian way, but with a biting superiority whenever she gets chance to snap at one of the little animals she meets after going through the tiny door.  None of the animals is in costume and some of the 'plot' is missing, so you have to know the book. Luckily I learned the book by heart when I was little and annoyingly completed all the poems she forgot to finish and carped about the missing bits - for instance, early in the book Giant Alice cries tears of frustration, which gives rise to a lake that almost drowns all the other characters. In this movie, you see her face glistening with tears and then a cut to her being the same size as the little animals and encouraging them to dry off.  They also cut Bill the Lizard's hilarious early part, but she still snatches his pencil from him when he's in the jury box, leaving him to write on his slate with his finger, so that's all right then. Some of the humor is missing, but a couple of times the actors add in funny (and quite Carrollian) lines of their own. The social satire is entirely elided, and even Alice's last line in Wonderland, "You're nothing but a pack of cards!" is cut, which means that the point of the story never quite makes it onto film.

The overall feel of the movie is psychedelic. However, it was made in 1966, which means that the Summer of Love was not yet here, Surrealistic Pillow (and White Rabbit) had not been released, and although Haight-Ashbury was winching its way into into our as-yet-unexpanded consciousness, I don't think Jonathan Miller ever spent much time there. This means that what resembles 'psychedelia' must have been in the air before everybody tuned in, turned on and dropped out with Leary in 1967. The transitions between the scenes that make this seem so very, very LSD-related must have been based on dream-logic, as in the book, not on Are-You-Experienced experiences on the part of Miller. [1] I've seen a couple of reviews that say this movie is dated, because of its sixties feel, but my belief is the sixties began to resemble the movie, rather than the movie drew on the sixties for its own look-and-feel. [2]

Alice - who is a child, and therefore should be seen and not heard - narrates most of the movie in her head. When she does speak, it's to put down one of the animals with a vicious remark. The Mad Hatter's Tea party is a venom-filled conversation between an angry Alice and (no slouch at insults himself) Peter Cook as the Mad Hatter, with occasional interjections of whimsy by the deeply drunk Dormouse.  The conversation between the Gryphon and the Mock Turtle is between two brilliant, non-animal-headed actors; old men reminiscing about their schooldays on a deserted very British pebble beach. It's a Last of the Summer Wine for mythical animals. The final court scene, where the Knave of Hearts is tried for stealing the tarts is a surreal tour de force, with Peter Sellers and Wilfred Brambell hamming it up, nothing being quite the right size (Alice being between one and two miles high at the time), and some of the theater boxes that line the walls of the courthouse appearing to be hotel rooms, with people shaving and washing up in them as they observe the scene. 

The DVD also includes a 1903 silent version of Alice, and a very interesting commentary track that has the feature, or possibly bug, that Jonathan Miller rabbits about whatever he wants to, so the explanations of each scene are given while other scenes are on screen...and at one point Miller says, 'And this is after Alice has got rid of her flamingo', when Alice wasn't carrying a flamingo previously. Miller seems to be able to see the animals in the scene even when his actual cinematography didn't include them. 

[1] Yes, I know the caterpillar in the book is sitting on a mushroom and smoking a hookah.
[2] I don't want to put anyone off seeing the movie by saying this, but if you look at the difference between Disney's Alice (1951) and Disney's It's a Small World After All (1964) you can see the quality of sixties-i-ness appears in the latter ride. Without having any singing dolls in it, this Alice has that atmosphere. A less obnoxious sixties-i-ness reference may be The Prisoner (1967) but that was after this version of Alice so I can't count it...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Kills Vogue video - Into the Unknown

Moody and atmospheric, the Kills explain how the music plays them rather than the other way round, and they're superstitious, filmed by an arty type.

It's described as "Six minutes for a rockumentary filmed in London by videomaker Giorgio Testi (under Marilena Borgna's supervision) that tells the moments before a concert of The Kills." The rest of the description seems to have been translated by Siri via Google from Italian through Greek into English but it sounds very cool if you don't think about the meanings too much. And the video is lovely.

Vogue Kills video.

Cooking a pie tonight.

Oh, and having said all that, don't get me started on the common American dish "Beef Shepherds' Pie". What on Earth (Terra) is a beef shepherd? Or are they ordinary shepherds who go cattle rustling whenever they feel the need for a pie coming on?


When I was a kid, the moon was called Luna. There were lunar expeditions and lunanauts, and the Russians had Lunokhod and so on and so forth. Since I moved to the US, I've noticed that most people call it "The Moon". I've even seen someone wonder on the internet why the Moon doesn't have a name. Today, I saw a piece in Universe Today about what if the Earth had two moons? Let's call the other one "Luna", the author writes, apparently unaware that the first one is already called Luna.

Worried, I checked Wikipedia. It says the moon's name is The Moon. I can find barely any mentions of lunanauts in Google (and my spellchecker doesn't recognize it) and although I see things like "lunar surface", Wikipedia says that's just the adjective from the Latin name of the Moon. 

I haven't been this disturbed since I learned that the word I learned for "fart" as a young kid - poop - didn't actually mean fart to anyone else, unless it was that day that I learned the lumpy vegetables I called turnips were actually rutabagas, and no-one else in the adult world was under the impression that they were turnips. 

So what happened? Did I switch timestreams or move to an alternate world or something? Did I go back in time and step on a butterfly? What am I going to find out next?

If it's that the sun's name isn't really Sol, I give in.  I know that Mars - it is still called Mars, right? - isn't called Ares, and I'm pretty sure the other famous one is called Venus and doesn't have a sekrit name only I know about. 


Professor: "I'm sorry, Fry, but astronomers renamed Uranus in 2620 to end that stupid joke once and for all."
Fry: "Oh. What's it called now?"
Professor: "Urectum."

Monday, December 26, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Jean Genie - David Bowie on Top of the Pops, 3rd January 1973

The BBC, bless it, managed to lose the tapes of this particularly iconic performance. On the other hand, its relatively lax attitude to editors and cameramen taking home tapes have saved more than one precious show and this is a case in point. Fish-eye lens cameraman John Henshall took a tape home with him, and it surfaced recently. It was played last night, December 21st 2011, on BBC2's TOTP Christmas Show.

The BBC (bless its cotton socks, once again) showed it with the intro and ending missing and purple bubbles over the video explaining how lucky we were to be able to see this performance. Somehow ZiggyStardust TV managed to get hold of an unadulterated tape, and here it is.

[It's gone; this is the best I could do 10/2017]

I remember seeing this as a kid, one of the most exciting performances to date on the then still bland and nannyish British TV of the time. This was quite late on in Glam Rock, so a lot of glitter had passed under the bridge and the stakes were raised. Bowie's trick here was to bring on the least limp-wristed glam rock-out ever...even though, by the accidents of fate, The Sweet brought out an almost identical sounding Tobacco Road-influenced song at the same time - Blockbuster. But the aptly-named Sweet never could manage to muster quite the menace of Jean Genie, despite their reputation for playing heavy rock when the teenyboppers weren't looking.

Looking at Bowie again with a few more years experience, it's obvious that the man's a star and it seems quite likely he knew he was a star since first glancing in the mirror as a young boy. The comparison at the time was with Marc Bolan, who had a similar initial trajectory, but never broke through the cocaine-and-red-wine barrier to create new material when the teenage girls went on to something new.  I'd say Bowie's closest analog was Lady Gaga, who has leveraged sheer ambition into superstardom, but I'm not convinced that she has a clue how to write a pop song. David Bowie had more songwriting talent in his Ziggy Stardust haircut than most pop musicians have in their entire bodies during their entire career. Even though Jean Genie was based on an old riff, the lyrics pop and sparkle. The intro and outro are among the most exciting in popular music, and the band, miming away on their Marshall stacks, are not miming to the single track, but to a re-recording. And Bowie, while not exactly Sonny Terry, blasts a solo on the harmonica that leads wonderfully into Love Me Do for a couple of bars. (I wonder if the Beeb paid Macca for it?)

Also, you have to love Trevor Bolder's sideburns.

Blockbuster - The Sweet

Tobacco Road - The Nashville Teens

If you want to see the TOTP2 version, it's on YouTube as well, of course, until SOPA is passed and YouTube goes away.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Plucky comet survives sundive

For some reason the sight of comet Lovejoy surviving a trip to within 88,000 miles of the sun's photosphere makes me happy.  Discovery says that it resisted temperatures of a million degrees.  No wonder it got out of there fast.

Possibly, of course, whoever was on it got Marvin the Paranoid Android to pilot it away while they teleported somewhere else.

Monday, December 12, 2011

John Carter of Mars

I haven't read much Edgar Rice Burroughs. He's always been there, as part of the foundations, one of us, a science fiction fan. I think I've mostly read Tarzan, and missed out on the swashbuckling planet-winning ways of John Carter. John Carter debuted in 1912, making him a hundred years old.  Next year, 2012, the movie comes out.

Burroughs set his adventures on a dying planet Mars - the prominent dark 'canals' that can be inferred on the planet's surface encouraged many at the time to think that Mars had once held flowing water. In most cases, this seems to have led to the immediate thought that the planet was drying up, and therefore the inhabitants must be desperately holding on.  John Carter is transported to this planet, whereupon he has many adventures featuring jeweled, naked princesses and performs mighty deeds, due to his Earth-gravity-accustomed muscles, which propel him easily through the air on tiny Mars.

Hollywood has been making Tarzan films almost as long as he's been around, but seems to have waited until now to film John Carter, possibly because it's only now that we have the necessary CGI. I'd say that it was also that it's only now we could have films featuring naked princesses, but apparently the movie does not stay true to the book in that respect.

Here's the trailer, which looks exactly like a Star Wars prequel film. That's not necessarily good.

But wait - what is that music? Is it Kashmir, by Led Zeppelin?

Indeed it is.

If you can't wait for the movie, Project Gutenberg has the etext.  Beware, though, that if, like me, you thought that it was a good idea to set the action on Mars so that we could have action-adventure without bad-mouthing any actually existing races, Burroughs still manages to screw the pooch by setting the first few pages in the wild wild west, giving him plenty of chances to work in references to 'savage Apaches' and their torturing ways.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Alison Mosshart - Close Your Eyes

I'd never heard this track before.

Please to be ignoring the perv-over voice that introduces the track. Once Alison gets going, everything's all right again.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Still more rocker than rocking chair

At the gym yesterday I happened upon an insurance ad that made we want to throw up.

It featured a good-natured Dad type looking for health insurance. He's apparently ancient enough to need Medicare, although he looks 45.  While telling us how he can get insurance - by phoning 1 800 born2bwild or something - the ad shows him being interrupted by his granddaughter's all-girl band, who are butchering some tune or other faintly in the distance.

He strides into her bedroom and sternly demands she gives up her nice white Gibson SG, which she hands over, biting her lip. Taking it, he straps it on and rips into the guitar intro for Born to be Wild, which the rest of the band happily follow. Smiling grey-haired granny gets down and boogies in pseudo-arthritic fashion to the beat while the musicians do an amazingly life-like impression of the Archies' cartoon band, all wide blank smiles and poor sense of rhythm.

The message is clear. He may be in need of old-person's insurance, but inside him is that sixties rebel just waiting to bust out! He can teach the young whippersnappers all about rock'n'roll!

What made me want to puke wasn't the sight of grand-dad leaning back against one of the teenager's backs and rubbing against her in a lame imitation of rockin' free-spiritedness that came across as horrifyingly, painfully skeezy - though that was was quite an emetic - it was the company's clumsy and off-putting attempt to co-opt a group of people that it would have cheerfully spat at in 1967.

Easy Rider, the movie that brought Born to be Wild to the forefront of American consciousness in 1969, was about small-town hatred and fear of hippies, of freedom, of sex, of any variety of individuality. It portrayed the Japanese proverb that was paradoxically the foundation of middle-American values - the nail that stands out must be hammered down.

Anyway, that was then. Now that the ex-longhairs have money - and better yet, have chronic diseases to cash in on - cynical, calculated TV ads have been devised to woo them.

Of course,  there's something of the 100 Club Factor at play here. This refers to a London club which holds about 300, and to the people who claim to have seen the Sex Pistols there at their legendary gig in 1976 - a number which must be in the tens of thousands. Many of them actually believe they were there. In the same way, ninety-nine percent of people watching this ad did not grow their hair, smoke dope and ride Harleys to the Mardi Gras in 1969; they went to school while working tables in the evening, dreaming of graduating to a cushy job in plastics and obligingly obeying the media by hating hippies, who they were told were commie traitors who would seduce their sisters while somehow managing to be fags at the same time. The insurance company has calculated that they will nevertheless manage to identify with youthful grand-dad in this cynical and exploitative ad.

It's interesting to contemplate a Medicare-related insurance ad that really was targeted at older folks with a spark of actual counter-culturalism left in their osteopenic bones. Perhaps gramps could help his grand-daughter make a banner for Occupy Wall Street, or granny could teach her how to make Molotov cocktails for those days when unelected alter kockers like the loathsome Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the ironically named Health and Human Services, overrules the FDA and decrees unilaterally that young women should not be allowed access to emergency contraception. Y'know, like today. The first time ever the government has overruled the FDA doctors and scientists, and it just happens to be in the service of ensuring women cannot have control over their own bodies.  What a coincidence.

Where's my Harley?

The Craft Lab

On Saturday, I went to our local Ecology Center.

Now, I didn't know, before last week, that we had an Ecology Center. I live in Orange County, home of Nixon's  Western White House, and one of the most Republican spots known to man. Although there's always been a light sprinkling of surfers and bikers, the majority of the population look, act, spend and vote like they'd tar and feather any hippies who came around talking about that global warming or recycling nonsense.

The Orange County Register is the favored organ of these people. The rag'll tell you  it is a small government, small-L libertarian paper, but when it comes to covering actual living politicians, as opposed to Randian imaginary ones, it is  138% Republican. So it was a bit of a surprise to read on the Orange County Register's web page that there was a 'do' on at our local Ecology Center. The Craft Lab!

So on Saturday we  trooped off to the keeping-chickens-in-the-yard part of town (it's at least 250 yards from the center cross-roads of the city, so I guess ordinances are more relaxed way out there), and found a nice old wooden house set back fifty feet or so from the road, planted all around with demonstration local native plants.  (Local native plants seem to be mostly Century Plant, maguey, yucca, penstemon and Dudleya.) Apparently it's the oldest wooden structure in San Juan Capistrano, which is saying something as the Los Rios district is nearby. It's still surrounded by farmland. About half an acre of it, but farmland nevertheless.

STB and I had booked a whole day of handicraft workshops. We started off with Homemade Skincare, which was a revelation to both of us.  I had made cosmetics from an Edwardian book I found when I was about 12, and mostly found out that things you make of oatmeal and egg whites are very wholesome, but mold thinks so too. I'd never bothered since. I didn't have the heart to tell the workshop leader about it, since my pre-hippie book was very big on using spermaceti, which I suspect would be frowned upon by the Ecology Center. (To be honest, it was unobtainable back then as well.)

We made brown sugar skin scrub, which I'd never heard of. It's made by adding almond oil and a drop or two of essential oils to a mixture of brown sugar and turbinado sugar, which you would then use as an exfoliant. Not right there, in the ecology center, mind you, back home in a shower. The cheery demonstrator used such phrases as "Well, I don't need to explain this bit...I'm sure you're all used to working with essential oils!" We nodded dutifully, and so did the real Real Housewives of Orange County who were attending the workshop with us, although they were telling the truth and we were just lying.

After that it was off to the kitchen to make beeswax candles. For some reason I'd assumed that these would be those wrapped-honeycomb ear-candling type candles, but no! This involved melting real beeswax in a portable gasring double-boiler arrangement that would make OSHA cringe, and pouring it and wicking it (for votive or tea candles) and, later, a very relaxing session dipping our wicks, so to speak, in the wax to make the traditional tallow-candle shaped candles...except being beeswax they smelled heavenly instead of smelling of tallow. We now have a roomful of candles at home that we daren't light as our knowledge of the burn rate of pure beeswax is sadly lacking. I'll tell you who else liked the beeswax smell - the bees! They came flying in through the window to reclaim their wax, but we gamely kept it out of their greedy little mandibles.

We also learned how to make little journals out of paper with mulberry bark covers; holiday cards from magazine snippings and punches, rubber stamps and glue; and terrariums, where we all got chance to make our own and take it with us. At the terrarium-making class, a small boy with angelic curls asked an interesting question about the moss used as decoration/soil cover in the little bowls of succulents. "Why do they call it moss?"

At first I dismissed that as a daft question. ("Because it's moss, that's why!) But I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since. Either he was a very unusual young man, or kids today have a different approach to the world than we did. I assumed that words had been sort of handed down - not necessarily on stone tablets, and not necessarily by Adam naming everything, but at the very least, from proto-Indo-European. (Yes, I did know about all that at 12.) He seemed to assume that words are chosen for a reason, a sort of innate bow-wow theory, expanded to include moss, which doesn't say "Moss! Moss!" when you call it.  Possibly it's something to do with Xboxes or Facebook.

We also had  a vegetarian lunch made largely out of plants grown on the premises, supplemented by the produce from the farmer's market next door.

This was a fun day out (and a fungi out also, since we bought a box of grow-it-thissen oyster mushrooms from the store). Most of the center's folk seemed literally identical to the staff of the Whole Thing, a wholefood cafe and store in London I frequented in about 1980, not only in terms of granola quotient, but also in facial features, hairstyles and clothing choices. It may be that they are aliens or spirit guides who move on from windmills and solar kilns in one city to rain-water storage and composting in another whenever their disguises are revealed, or just maybe the vaguely counter-cultural in the west have chosen the same look and habits since approximately 1961. One day it could catch on with the rest of us.

Anyway, the next day I used the sugar scrub in the shower, and later my skin felt a little uncomfortable. I diagnosed a reaction to essential oils...whatever they are...but when I got home I discovered a four-inch scratch down my leg. Sugar is sharp. I guess I'm going back to the spermaceti and benzoin skin care.

Monday, December 05, 2011

HR speak

My HR department emailed a rudimentary Excel spreadsheet to us accompanied by partial explanation,

"Certainly we will continue to partner on issues as it arises, however, we can use this to capture pertinent data and utilize as a springboard."

I printed it out and it filled most of an 8.5" by 10" sheet of paper. I tried but I found it a bit lacking when I tried to use it as a springboard.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Mastermind on Led Zeppelin

As suggested by commenter Mike, here is a Mastermind round featuring questions on Led Zeppelin.

When I used to watch that programme, you were only allowed to be an expert in Cuneiform or Drill Head Technology of the 19th Century. And things like that.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

The whole street's lit up - lit up by Fairy Lamps!

When I first saw this video of Saks Fifth Avenue's Christmas lights, I assumed it was a fake. The illusions, particularly when the windows "open" and stars and lights appear "inside", are so real that I naturally assumed, as one does, that only very good CGI could possibly look that real.

However, seeing it again from a second, clearly genuine, viewpoint shows that it is a real light show.

It's not actually very Christmassy (or Holiday-y) and lacks plot, action and conflict, but apart from that it's breathtaking.

It reminded me what Lt. Commander Thomas Woodrooffe would have said.  Lt. Commander Woodrooffe is still justly famous for being asked by the BBC to narrate the spectacle of navy ships displaying a light show during a Fleet Review.  So drunk was he that all he could manage to get out was a series of slurred variations on "The whole fleet's lit up! It's lit up!" in a delighted mush-mouth mumble.  This performance was so striking that people still say his catch-phrase today, seventy-five years after he said it - because, yea verily, that was way back in 1937 (the Good Old Days).  Luckily it's been captured for posterity, unlike most of the gems the BBC produced in the analog era.

Elgar's Nimrod was not included in the original broadcast but it adds a nice Imperial touch, doesn't it?

Possibly the best bit is when the lights go out leaving him in darkness, and he says, in shocked surprise, "Itsh gone! The whole fleetsh gone!"

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Iconic Jimi Hendrix nite spot to close!

Horrors! One of the treasured - indeed fabled - eateries of my youth is to close.

The first (and, really, where it counts, the only) Harry Ramsden's fish and chip shop, in Guisely, Leeds, is set to close down. It's been open since 1928.  I only recall getting to visit it once or twice, and my memory of it is of a giant, neon-lit barn filled with red-faced Yorkshiremen, situated on top of a desolate moor where winds howled across cringing heather. It's possible my memory is faulty. The fish and chips were nice, though.

View Larger Map

Fish and chips are soul food to Yorkshire people (and many others, though regional variations like Deep Fried Mars Bars and chips, and Eel Pie and Mash with Green Liquor abound in those foreign lands). We had one in our town, of course, but Harry Ramsden's was a sort of Holy Grail of fish shops, unattainable (because kids don't have cars and Wuthering-Heights-Ville was off the beaten bus route), mirage-like and unique.

Anyway, Jimi Hendrix once ate there, after being shooed off stage by the Leeds constabulary during an allegedly over-the-fire-limit gig in Leeds, 12th March1967.  The BBC has an article on the Leeds Spring of Love:

The Troutbeck Hotel was the venue for Hendrix's historic gig, and it was dangerously over-full before the band even took to the stage. Reports suggest up to 900 fans squeezed in, a mere 700 people more than the place could accommodate! ...As the gig heated-up, Ilkley policeman Tom Chapman decided enough was enough and stopped the gig. One boy in blue versus nearly a thousand Blues fans was never going to end well - and Hendrix just kept on playing. What happens next is unclear - some say there was a 'riot', others say people just went on their way. For his part, Tom Chapman denies there was big trouble.

 The Jimi Hendrix Forum takes up the story:

"Later on that evening, a woman called Sheila Lilley was waiting to be served at Harry Ramsden’s famous fish shop. behind her in the line appeared none other than Jimi Hendrix dressed in psychadelic gear. He said to Sheila that he was sorry that the gig had to be cancelled after just one number. He signed her a photo. She still has it. Framed on the living room wall."

This is the most famous appearance of a legendary guitarist in a fish and chip shop, and that's probably it for Harry Ramsden's in general. But I feel I ought to include this picture of even more angelic legendary guitarist Paul Kossoff eating fish and chips with his dad, David Kossoff. It's from the Free Forever DVD. It's not Harry Ramsden's but it'll do.

Note that Dad David holds his knife properly while young Paul is a punk. Tch! Young people of today...well, young people of forty years ago... no manners.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Porcupine hogs corn on the cob

The cutest video ever...Teddy the Porcupine doesn't want to share his corn cob with his keeper. The unusual thing is he actually says so.

The YouTubeosphere seems divided on whether he's speaking Jawa or Ewok, but I think it's just plain old English.

A couple of years ago I decided my new band name would be the Talkupines. Teddy should be our lead vocalist.

The video is copyright 2011, Zooniversity LLC, at and

Nothing to see here, move on

What the Tea Party call the "Lamestream Media" is funny, isn't it? Here is this week's Time Magazine's worldwide covers from its own site.

(That might be a bit large but you get the point.)

The rest of the world sees a picture of revolution. The US gets a cute cartoon that almost imperceptibly suggests you ought to be anxious and worried. Is this just one of those things, a complete accident based on ditzy editors and deadlines and gormless motorcycle couriers or something, like on the TV? Or is it important that Americans be vaguely upset and apprehensive, while keeping them from any images that might remind them there is an alternative to "hanging on in quiet desperation"?

Bringing the battlefield to your door

Senators Demand the Military Lock Up American Citizens in a “Battlefield” They Define as Being Right Outside Your Window

...the Senate is gearing up for a vote on Monday or Tuesday that goes to the very heart of who we are as Americans. The Senate will be voting on a bill that will direct American military resources not at an enemy shooting at our military in a war zone, but at American citizens and other civilians far from any battlefield — even people in the United States itself.

The article does give a way to oppose the bill -by supporting the Udall amendment, which is a bit like agreeing to download malware because it promises to get rid of some other malware you already caught somewhere. It would be better if the bill simply didn't exist.

The Senate vote is this afternoon.

Anybody with that old, "If I'm not doing anything wrong, I have no need to worry," is fooling themselves. Dismantling Posse Comitatus isn't a joke.

More info.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Forty years gone

I managed to miss the 40th anniversary of Led Zeppelin IV (or whatever your personal pet name for that album may be).  It was released forty years ago, on November 8th, 1971.

It was the first Led Zeppelin album I 'just missed' and bought after-the-fact.  I remember walking to my local record shop and placing a pre-order for Houses of the Holy, the fifth album. and talking with the record clerk there. "Not putting their name on the last album cost them a lot of sales," she said. When I looked skeptical, she added, "A lot of people just browse the stacks. If they don't see a name on the LP, they don't consider buying it."  Well, it certainly didn't do too badly, earning six time platinum in the UK and 23 times platinum in the US. (And only five of those sales have been me buying it in new formats every few years.)

The album has managed to gain a lot of notoriety one way or another. Do the words to Stairway to Heaven say Satanic things when played backwards? (No.) If you hold up the inner sleeve to a mirror, can you see a black dog looking back out at you? (Yes.) What do those four mysterious symbols mean? (Who cares in the 21st century, when Wikipedia will tell you something fans argued over and researched exhaustively for 30 years?) If you want to read about listening (and holding sleeves up to the mirror) I recommend Erik Davis' small but perfectly formed tome, which is titled with the four just let's call it Led Zeppelin IV.

Jimmy Page, who hasn't done much in twenty years, decided to come out of his shell this month and accompany his friend, Roy Harper, at Roy's 70th birthday concert. It's hard to imagine (Hats off to) Harper as a seventy year old, but as they say it beats the alternative.  Jimmy came out and played Same Old Rock with his friend, with that same skill and that wonderful tone he gets from his acoustic guitar.  You'll have to pardon a bit of political posturing at the beginning of this; it's the best filmed YouTube clip I could find.

This didn't involve any pissing on sheep, for which I'm sure the sheep are truly grateful.

Roy Harper with Jimmy Page - The Same Old Rock - Royal Festival Hall 05/11/2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Student Health and Safety update


UC Davis chancellor Katehi issues statement

Apparently the chancellor of UC Davis had the non-violent, non-resisting students pepper-sprayed because she was concerned about their health and safety!
Driven by our concern for the safety and health of the students involved in the protest, as well as other students on our campus, I made the decision not to allow encampments on the Quad during the weekend... 

Well, I never.

Crying like a fire in the sun

It's worth watching to the end, where the vicious assholes who had stood by while seated students were pepper-sprayed at point-blank range, are allowed to leave, and they do so, blinking in slight bafflement as they back away.

In a follow up article, we learn, in the new Health Speak that the anti-Occupiers have adopted (for they often say that demonstrations have to be broken up for health and safety reasons) that blasting chemical weapons into the the eyes and throats of non-resisting students stops them from being hurt by the police who are called in to deny them their First Amendment rights:
Charles J. Kelly, a former Baltimore Police Department lieutenant who wrote the department’s use of force guidelines, said pepper spray is a “compliance tool” that can be used on subjects who do not resist, and is preferable to simply lifting protesters.
“When you start picking up human bodies, you risk hurting them,” Kelly said. “Bodies don’t have handles on them.”
After reviewing the video, Kelly said he observed at least two cases of “active resistance” from protesters. In one instance, a woman pulls her arm back from an officer. In the second instance, a protester curls into a ball. Each of those actions could have warranted more force, including baton strikes and pressure-point techniques.
“What I’m looking at is fairly standard police procedure,” Kelly said. (From Chicago Sun Times.)
Is it, Charles? Is it standard police procedure to gas a bunch of youngsters sitting on the sidewalk? Curling into a ball "warrants more force", including "baton strikes"?

You know, it's probably true that it's standard.  Which is one more good reason to have a protest movement, isn't it?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Journal of Journeyman Research

Hilarious article here.

There was a book written a couple of years ago, called  Outliers, by Malcom Gladwell. It postulated that to become an expert – in anything – one needed 10,000 hours of practice. Gladwell didn't say that's all it took. He said that's how long it takes to internalize the procedures and reproduce them by instinct, whether your subject is flying a Navy jet or playing a violin.  This was an important book, or at least the blog posts picking it up and propagating its findings made it an important book. It meant that all those with ~500 hours under their belt, who had felt clumsy and stupid and considered giving up, suddenly had something to keep them going – the understanding that the fumbling eventually goes away and is replaced by instinctual understanding. It gave hope, in other words.
The twits who wrote the article above, David Z Hambrick and Elizabeth J Meinz, must have felt a little miffed that Gladwell appeared to say (if you were a poor reader) that any sorry specimen of hoi polloi could reach great heights if they practiced for 10,000 hours. This led them to research Sorry, Strivers: Talent Matters and get it published.
They strive manfully enough themselves to prove that it's actually IQ that makes you successful. They locate a paper that tells them, and us: 
The remarkable finding of their study is that, compared with the participants who were “only” in the 99.1 percentile for intellectual ability at age 12, those who were in the 99.9 percentile — the profoundly gifted — were between three and five times more likely

To what? Don't leave us in suspense!
to go on to earn a doctorate, secure a patent, publish an article in a scientific journal or publish a literary work.

Jiminy Crickets! That's amazing!

Wait, what?
earn a doctorate, secure a patent, publish an article in a scientific journal or publish a literary work

That’s all? Who cares?
They explain the results thus:
A high level of intellectual ability gives you an enormous real-world advantage.

Hahahahahaha! They think that a doctorate, a patent, a peer-reviewed article or a published literary work reveals "an enormous real world advantage"! I wonder if they've ever even seen the real world?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tell me why

I was listening to BBC World Service yesterday, and even they - et tu, Brute? - had someone on who just didn't know why the Occupy Wall Street protesters were protesting. He said it loudly and repeatedly over the course of ten minutes or so until I had to leave for an appointment. I saw it in three or four news articles yesterday as well. Oh why, oh why are you protesting? Why won't you tell us, sweetums? Just tell us and then we can all go back to being normal.

I think it's quite plain why they're protesting - and why I support them.  The whole "why are these inarticulate hippies protesting? Aren't they just jealous of others' success?" schtick is completely manufactured. They are complaining because laws over the past 20 to 30 years have been increasingly rigged so that money flows towards people who already have money. If you're young, you generally don't have any money (that you've earned, anyway) and there are stringent mechanisms in place to make sure you never get any. Well, just enough to buy an X-Box or an iPad or something, to keep you docile.

This cartoon sums it up very nicely. Unfortunately I can't read the signature. It looks like Hurwiti, but I can't find that easily in a Google search.

For the visually impaired, the cartoon shows protesters at Wall Street carrying banners that say things like:

End Corporate Welfare
Stop Corporate Control of Government
Banks Got Bailed Out We Got Sold Out
Bring Back Glass Steagall Act
Wall Street Bailout is socialism for the wealthy

... and so forth. The rich Monopoly board Rich Guy is leaning out of a window with a megaphone saying, "Say they don't know WHY they're protesting."  In front of the crowd, a pretty TV news blonde is smiling widely into a camera as she says, "...they don't really seem to know WHY they are protesting!"

It's a message the media seems to have taken to heart. I first saw this cartoon on October 26th. It's November 16th and the media are still pretending they can't figure it out.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Darth Maul returns...

My favorite Sith is back - in Clone Wars, starting in spring.

Teaser trailer from Lucasfilm here.

New modes of news

Looking at the news the last four days has been a depressing experience.  There was the failure of Phobos-Grunt, for instance, and the very real thought that eventually Phobos-Grunt will fall to earth, depositing 12 tonnes of Nitrogen Tetroxide and Hydrazine somewhere unguessable. That should be fun.

But I did notice a trend, and that was the trend of having non-humans read the news. I know we all love Siri - and we spent a good hour on Friday afternoon asking her what she was wearing and whether she was married (she did not reply in good humor to the inquiries) - but it's odd that non-humans have such a presence in the news. I assume that the volume of video is so high that not enough Emo layabouts in bedrooms can fill it up. 

Here, for instance, via Youdopia, cute critters discuss the banking crisis. 

They have a point. Obviously, news travels fast in the river delta of the Uncanny Valley.  But deeper in the upper tributaries of the valley, we learn of two automatons discussing the recently discovered outbreak of child-rape at Penn State. It's interesting to hear robots discuss this most disgustingly human failing, and even more interesting to see that they envision it as a tiger attacking a zebra in the  locker room showers. Can't say I've ever heard of NMATV, but I'll be tuning in to their droidcasters more often.

Interesting that JoePa, if that be he, is presented as Harry Potter. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Remembrance Day

Today was Remembrance Sunday. It inspires all kinds of thoughts about man's inhumanity to man, though today I think I saw more posts pitting dueling war poets against each other than actual memorials to the fallen. Eventually, someone gloomily remarked in a comment thread somewhere that war didn't seem to have been any better when it was fought by poets.

Quite so.

This site [link partially lost] has a number of photographs of what, exactly World War I did to the landscape in Europe. All those trenches, and bombs, and the eventual destruction of explosive caches literally pocked the landscape, so almost one hundred years later, the earth has not recovered.

Never mind that every plowing season, the land yields bones instead of rocks, but large stretches of it, as at Verdun, above,  is unplowable, ripped up by conflict.

The current American fad for using drones may be cowardly, and would almost certainly be illegal if the US wasn't the 400 pound gorilla at the UN, but I can quite see why a general may prefer to call a "surgical strike" instead of sending ten thousand men over the top to die, as repeatedly happened during WWI.  Literally millions died - it's unthinkable. Less than a hundred years ago, too. My grand-dad fought in that war.  He lived through it, and I don't remember him ever saying a word about it.  Not all the soldiers were poets.

Friday, November 11, 2011

On top of the world

No relation to this, of course, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers playing On Top Of The World.

The couple of little guitar breaks are Eric Clapton inventing modern electric guitar.  It was produced by Jimmy Page. There's a bit of difference between 1935 Mississippi Delta and 1965 London (to say the least) but given my own situation, I heard the Bluesbreakers first. This track, and the others at the same time - I'm Your Witchdoctor, Telephone Blues - will always be my touchstone tracks.

Sittin' on top of the world

The Mississipi Sheiks, Sittin' On Top of the World.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Nigel Tufnel Day, 11/11/11

Obviously, since the internets are what the interwebs are, the day 11/11/11 belongs to Nigel Tufnel, the Spın̈al Tap star whose amps went up to 11.

On being grilled if 11 was better than the normal 10, Nigel replied that it was "one louder", and no one can argue with that.

In view of his achievement, 11/11/11 has been declared to be International Nigel Tufnel day, and I don't see why this hero of rock shouldn't be honored this way.  The power of LA Weekly is behind us in this push (and I'm not referring to Big Bottom), so here we go.

Tell all your friends: Friday is Nigel Tufnel day.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Bon Voyage to a friend

A friend of mine is going back to the Philippines today. She's been in the US thirty or so years. She came here after college, married and settled down. When I interviewed her for a job thirteen years ago she told me solemnly she'd be going back home in five years.

She was with me for more than five years - I abandoned the job first. She stayed behind and eventually left to work for another firm. We kept in touch as she built up her personal business outside of work, at first just beautiful cakes of amazing artistry and complexity, and then later food of all kinds.

I'm sad to see her go, but so excited about her new life in her old home. When I met her last week she was bubbling over with excitement and plans. She remembered the five-year-commitment with a giggle and laughed regretfully that it had taken her so long to put her affairs in order and put her familial demons to rest.

Although she's a vegetarian as much as possible (and a serious student of Chinese philosophy and health) she cooks what people ask for and so she gave me a piece of chorizo to take home. My experience of chorizo hasn't been good - you see it in the supermarket case with an ingredients list that reads like the "remember to throw away" instructions to a slaughterhouse. Well, I cooked her chorizo according to her instructions* and it was one of the most sublime treats I've ever eaten. She gave me the "low salt" version and yet it burst with flavor. "Vodka and wine," she told me with a wink.

I don't think she drinks, either.

I asked her if she still spoke the language (it's not Tagalog, it's a more local one) and she said, "Yes - I still dream in it!" To dream in a language you haven't heard spoken in more than twenty years...that's a thinking point right there. She's going home, even though we're all told we can't go home again.

I'm sure I'm committing some sort of Orientalism, but I'm imagining figs throwing massive roots over the stonework around the yard, and servants bringing obscure pans as they are called for. Wait, no, I'm not imagining it, that's how it is, she said.

Au revoir, Marlenie-Beanie! I'll miss you.

*Crumble the chorizo into a shallow pan of boiling water. Let the water evaporate and then continue to toast until the sausage is lightly browned.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Walking the walk

It's odd to have to get older to appreciate the things we had when we were small.  But today I heard something  from the past that almost certainly influenced my biggest influence.

I love Tyrannosaurus Rex. And I love Beltane Walk.

It dominated my early youth. And now, courtesy of 106 FM, I hear Jimmy McCracklin's The Walk.

It makes me love Marc Bolan all the more.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Seminole Freak, the new San Onofre

The city of San Juan Capistrano issues me phone alerts if something is likely to trouble my peaceably tax-paying status. Verizon, for my convenience, transcribes them and emails them. So today I was warned of a local nuclear accident.
"The 3:00PM today. There will, this is an important message from the city of San wan Capistrano at approximately 3:00PM today. There was an ammonia release at the Seminole freak nuclear generating station from unit number three. At this time. There is no danger to the health and safety of the public. There has not been any radioactive material release. Another update will follow at5:30:00PM. This concludes this message" 
After a little while I actually got to hear it.  It turns out that Seminole Freak isn't a new nuclear generator in town, it's just how San Onofre (the tits nuclear plant) sounds to Mr. Verizon.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Some 'I'll bite yer legs off' moments in mythology

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, and sometimes fiction is stranger than other fiction. In this case, myth is weirder than the Monty Python version, which was weird enough.

As a kid I read every myth and legend I could get my hands on, except the British ones. For some reason Matter of Britain and / or Morte d'Artur just gave me hives. Possibly because it was positioned to me as a romance – doomed Art and Jennifer and their friend Lance and all their machinations. I read Lord of the Rings, of course, and loved it to an unnatural extent. And I loved Monty Python. Who else could think up the Black Knight, who fought on when all his limbs had been sliced away, threatening to bite our heroic ker-nig-h-t on the legs? Who could think up the Killer Bunny, the fluffy cave-dweller that dismembered the Grail seekers with its flying attack?

Recently I obtained from a second hand shop a rather dry tome called Nine Lives—Cats in Folklore, by Katharine M Briggs.  One story she details is from The Vulgate Merlin – of which I had never heard – as detailed by a Lady Wilde.  It concerns a killer cat.

Apparently, a fisherman had promised his next catch to God, but when he caught it, he thought it would be better to eat it himself. And so he promised the next catch to God, and you can guess what happened. And so, when he cast the net the third time, he drew out a coal-black kitten. Thinking it would make a good ratter (as you do) he took it home. It's not entirely explained why the cat was living underwater, but a rapid Google search to get me up to speed on Arthurian legend leads me to believe it was his kitten, and he had been feeding it on Sirens' milk. And feeding cats on Sirens' milk is apparently much like getting your Gremlin wet and/or feeding it after midnight.

Well, the Devil Cat caused so much damage that Merlin mentioned it to King Arthur as something he ought to be doing something about.  Merlin, the King and his knights set off to the Lake of Lausanne, where they found that all the people had fled, because no one would live there for fear of the kitty. 

Merlin showed him a deep cave with a wide mouth, set in the mountain.  And here I'm going to switch to Lady Wilde's actual words. Since Briggs quoted them and they are already on the internet at Library Ireland, I'm assuming they are out of copyright.
"And how shall the cat come out?" said the king.

"That shall ye see hastily," quoth Merlin; "but look you, be ready to defend, for anon he will assail you."

"Then draw ye all back," said the king, "for I will prove his power."

And when they withdrew, Merlin whistled loud, and the cat leaped out of the cave, thinking it was some wild beast, for he was hungry and fasting; and he ran boldly to the king, who was ready with his spear, and thought to smite him through the body. But the fiend seized the spear in his mouth and broke it in twain.

Then the king drew his sword, holding his shield also before him. And as the cat leaped at his throat, he struck him so fiercely that the creature fell to the ground; but soon was up again, and ran at the king so hard that his claws gripped through the hauberk to the flesh, and the red blood followed the claws.

Now the king was nigh falling to earth; but when he saw the red blood he was wonder-wrath, and with his sword in his right hand and his shield at his breast, he ran at the cat vigorously, who sat licking his claws, all wet with blood. But when he saw the king coming towards him, he leapt up to seize him by the throat, as before, and stuck his fore-feet so firmly in the shield that they stayed there; and the king smote him on the legs, so that he cut them off to the knees, and the cat fell to the ground.

Then the king ran at him with his sword; but the cat stood on his hind-legs and grinned with his teeth, and coveted the throat of the king, and the king tried to smite him on the head; but the cat strained his hinder feet and leaped at the king's breast, and fixed his teeth in the flesh, so that the blood streamed down from breast and shoulder.

Then the king struck him fiercely on the body, and the cat fell head downwards, but the feet stayed fixed in the hauberk. And the king smote them asunder, on which the cat fell to the ground, where she howled and brayed so loudly that it was heard through all the host, and she began to creep towards the cave; but the king stood between her and the cave, and when she tried to catch him with her teeth he struck her dead.

The cat's feet were still in the hauberk and the shield; and rather than get them out of the shield, they left them in as a trophy. But the feet left in the hauberk were put into a coffin and kept.

The Monty Python crew were well-versed in the classics - at least they went to the right university for it - so they may indeed have read the story of the Killer Cat. Their version is a little more hilarious, though.

I can't find a copy of The Vulgate Merlin on line, so I'll have to take Lady Wilde's word for it. Her book is ANCIENT LEGENDS, MYSTIC CHARMS, AND SUPERSTITIONS OF IRELAND WITH SKETCHES OF THE IRISH PAST, 1888

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Income inequality

So, when I say that income inequality is bad, why do I say that? If everyone gets a basic wage, who cares if someone gets more?

This TED talk explains how corrosive income inequality is. It's 16 minutes long, but it delivers the goods.

(Via More Words Deeper Hole)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Steppin' Razor

The Kills, playing Peter Tosh's Steppin' Razor acoustic.

And the Kills playing Steppin' Razor with just a tad of amplification.

I love this band.

The other part of the medley seems to be Willie Cobbs - or Bo Diddley - or whatever, but how come that murderous riff disappeared in the Kills version?

This T S McPhee version is the one I grew up with.

Occupy Wall Street

I'm not actually at Wall Street, and so I'm not technically Occupying Wall Street, but I just wanted to post that I am one of the 99%.

This website has more than thirty graphs that show why income inequality today is not just slightly higher than in previous eras, but radically different.  And it's not from Radical Marxist Instigator Weekly, it's from Business Insider. Every single chart shows we're not going through some readjustment or growth, but a change to a different way of life.

They ate all our money. They vacuumed it up. We don't have it. It went to banks. Then they claimed they were too big to fail, and got bailed out. They went on to pay outrageous bonuses on their non-existent profits.

Now I hear bankers on the radio explaining how our pensions and 401ks are unsustainable and we must expect them to be downsized. I heard them on BBC World Service today, in fact, explaining how our greediness must be curtailed.

I'm not greedy. I've paid into Social Security all my working life. To hear some lackey roar about how I feel "entitled" and I need to be disabused of the notion annoys me. They took our wage increases for the last thirty years, 401(k)s, they took our mortgages, they got a trillion dollar 'bail-out', and now they want our pensions and Social Security. No. Too much already.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Orange Claw Hammer

Never heard this before. Captain Beefheart in Dylan mode and Frank Zappa in Paul Simon mode, tackling a Beefheartesque folk song.

Hollis Brown must be turnin' in his grave.

Eyes of Providence

Jimmy Page, wearing a shirt with an eye-in-the-pyramid design on the back. (That's Bill Graham, the famous promoter, with him.)

This shirt also starred in The Song Remains the Same.

And here's Alison Mosshart. (Picture found on Tumblr, so no credit for it.)


Best buddies!

(That last one is Ross Halfin's, if you can't 
tell by the watermark.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

999, as it were.

How would tax burdens change if we were to go to Cain's SimCity 999 mix, you ask. Well, it would mean the rich paying so much less tax that you will get tired of scrolling down before you find out how much.

If your scroll finger is youthful and refreshed, try here.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Hidden kitty

Most of my acquaintances said it took them an instant to find the cat in this picture. I have to say it took me five minutes.

It is really there, and not at all hiding.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Guy on a buffalo

Two Americana greats, with accompanying video of the guy on the buffalo. I laffed.

Bears, Indians and Such

Orphans, Cougars and Whatnot

Go ask Alice--

Steve Simels of the awesome blog PowerPop found and posted this gem.

It's Grace Slick's original vocal track from White Rabbit, unaccompanied. It starts around thirty seconds in, after the introduction (which you can't hear) so be prepared for the silence.  Early in the morning, which this is, I can't read very well and I read this as being the 'uncompressed' vocal track and wondered vaguely how much compression there was in 1966, and whether that's something Jefferson Airplane would have indulged in.

Simels thinks Jefferson Airplane have a pre-echo of punk rock, but on this evidence I have to disagree. It sounds like 1966 - I can hear the icy purity of Sandy Denny (of Fairport Convention) but each line seems to end with a warm, Germanic inflection that reminds me of Nico. I can't tell if Slick is doing this on purpose, or if it her own style.

I know someone who can't listen to female vocals. Listening to this outpouring of power and dynamics, I have no idea why.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Kills: Kissy Kissy (Acoustic live)

I can't figure out a way to rip this video, so the best I can do is show it to everyone.

The Kills, singing Kissy Kissy on a rumpled bed somewhere in rock and roll ville.


Death Penalty

So, as long as your skin color isn't white, it's okay for Georgia to kill you on suspicion you're a bad guy. They don't need to *prove* it, because it's up to you to prove you are innocent. I know that's not what it says in the law, but that's what it said in this case. Websites have taken down the assertion, but they always leave a trace.

You shouldn't have to prove you are innocent. The law says they have to prove you are guilty. Maybe that seems like nitpicking, but in a couple of days they are going to kill Troy Davis because he couldn't prove he was innocent.

Could you "prove" your innocence if the weight of the state was thrown against you, some day when they needed a perp? I couldn't. I'd be hard pressed to prove what I did 24 hours ago yesterday, never mind a year ago.

It's not a good idea to give the state the right to kill you. They might not always use their powers for good.

Interwebz, health and privacy.

Google+ just went from private to beta...or so I'm told. I joyfully went over there to sign up with my real name...because they're big on real names...with my other email address. After about 30 screens I just gave up. It's not worth it. Why do they want to know all that stuff about me, and how do I keep it separate from anything else?

My company, a big health care firm, recently told me they were going to 'push' 'Gazelle' to my 'BlackBerry', a program that puts all my health records on line - for easier access, of course. And that was the same day I signed up for a $100 discount on my health care next year* if I filled in a questionnaire which I subsequently learned 'may' be shared with my insurance company. Am I really going to tell my employer and my health insurance company how much I drink, smoke, exercise and eat? I don't fucking think so. The tobacco questions were legally binding too, so I did answer them honestly. (I don't smoke, so it's easy to tell the truth.) Insurance companies drop you for any tiny thing they don't like. Why the hell should I tell them my eating habits for $100? My employer, you crazy.

I don't want my health records on line. I'm happy with them in big paper binders at my doctor's office. I trust my doctor (marginally). I don't want Google learning my real name and attempting to reconcile it with everything it finds on line (including Gazelle). It's bad enough it tracks this blog and this name everywhere. Watching my name pop up at the bottom of every news article I read because the comments sections is primed to accept my contribution is eerie enough. I've never signed up for Facebook and I never will. Employers now routinely ask for the Facebook name and password during job interviews. No fucking thanks. At least I can say with a straight face I don't got one.

You know, a couple of years ago, I insisted we get a static IP so I didn't have to convince the bank I was me every time I logged on. I think it's about time we went back to a dynamic one. Everyone I meet in real life knows who I am. You guys know who I am. I don't need Google following me around like a spaniel, or my company, or worse my health insurance, vacuuming up all the information I post on line.

*Health care this year - about $2000 from me and about $7000 from my company. Not exactly rock bottom as it is.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Scott Wade's dirty car pictures.

Writing art in dust on unwashed cars here.

The key is that he's not just creating an artwork, but the artwork changes over time, as dust settles and rain softens.


When I was a little kid, dinosaurs were totally cool.  After Jurassic Park, they were sick. But now I learn they are far beyond cool. They actually look like this.

Yes, they are giant furry man-eating chickens on acid with extreme prejudice.

It turns out that they've always had fluffy feathers, which is why they now have flight feathers. The crow or turkey vulture or parakeet watching you right now is a dinosaur. I kind of knew it by how they cocked their head when they looked at me, but now science has something to back that up.

Wired has a lovely article detailing the recent finds: dinosaur feathers in amber. The picture above is by Lida Xing as quoted in their article.

The Raconteurs, MI Fest, September 17th 2011

Alas I could not fly to the opposite side of the country to see the legendary Raconteurs in concert at MI Fest yesterday. But I've heard about five accounts of their show and the verdict was they ROCKED.

Here is a most extraordinary version of Your Blue Veins.

Does Jack really plant one on Dean Fertita as they leave the stage? With his wife watching from the other side too?

A less snoggy view of Your Blue Veins.

Broken Boy Soldier.

Consoler of the Lonely

It's great to see these guys back in action. I've never seen the Raconteurs but now I'm desperate to do so. Hope the informal tour continues.

Edit: Here's Level.

Little Jack is the coolest person ever.

Astounding stuff.


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