April 7, 2004

The Rest of the Web Today

YES, WHILE I WAS OUT along the coast in Big Sur earlier this week, getting in touch with William Blake and the Eternals, the world took little notice and continued to -- for the most part -- to decline. Here's a few noted short items. The "What I did on my Big Sur vacation" magnum opus isn't due until later.

NET NOTES

Spammers R' US: US tops junk mail list of shame - again
Who say's we can't make anything in the US any longer?

The US has once again topped a list of spam producing countries. One in three (35.7 per cent) of the spam messages intercepted by security firm Sophos's global network of spam traps between January and March 2005 came from the USA. South Korea, second in the chart, accounted for a further 25 per cent of junk messages, with third place China accounting for 9.7 per cent of spam email trapped by Sophos.
Take that, People's Capitalistic Republic of China! You've got mail!

Like Some Limitless Gas, This Footnoting Medium Expands to Fill Its Container
To underscore the extent to which blogging remains a series of footnotes to the news, here'sThe Annotated NY Times a new "aggregator" that tracks what blogs have said about the New York Times. The process is described as " These blog fragments are grouped by author or by topic to form virtual, distributed conversations that span multiple sites and that center around the coverage of news events as reported by the Times."

Am I the only one who finds the designation of various posts as "conversations" overly coy and damp? A "conversation" is something between two or more people within each others hearing. A sheaf of titles and the first sentence held under a link to the New York Times seems to be something else and something much weaker. Indeed, that something is more like a series of Letters to the Editor that don't go through the Editor but just sort of show up. You can find the back and forth of conversational interplay on various Forum boards, but blog posts don't seem to make that cut.

There's a lot of blather about concerning "conversations" of blogging being a rising power in the media world and a lot of it is true. But most of it is premature. Wake me when The New York Times starts to take its talking points and editorial positions from blogs. Until then, we'd best inure ourselves to being a medium of footnotes, pointers, and the white hot heat of uncaged opinions.

THE RISE AND FALL OF THE THIRD CULTURE

Close Shaves in the Graveyard of Divorce
How to get that perfect shave
Just in case, as a man, you are unclear about how to shave your face, this step-by-step article lays it all out for you. But why don't you know this? According to the author, "Shaving is one of those glorious male traditions that used to be passed down from father to son, but somewhere along the line, when shaving became more about cheap, disposable razors than a nice, precision-made metal tool in your hand, it became a brainless routine to rush through in the morning without even thinking about it."

Well, that makes for a certain amount of sense, but it also snakes neatly around the fact that a lot of "sons" no longer have a father around when it comes time to teach shaving. The endless thirst for divorce is at least as much to blame for clueless young men as anything else in this blighted culture. For the most part, men are relegated -- through arcane laws coupled with no-fault divorce -- to a check-writing mechanism for singled moms. Little wonder, when seeing your son calls for an "appointment" that generational shaving tips don't get passed down and instead get passed over to magazine writers shilling for expensive razor companies. Then again this may explain the plague of young men with perpetual three-day stubble on their face, but legs shaved as smooth as a baby's bottom.

Evil Overlord Affirmations: 100 Things to Think About During Your Immortal Reign
Who says that real-life lessons cannot be learned from video games? --->

If I am fighting with the hero atop a moving platform, have disarmed him, and am about to finish him off and he glances behind me and drops flat, I too will drop flat instead of quizzically turning around to find out what he saw.

I will not shoot at any of my enemies if they are standing in front of the crucial support beam to a heavy, dangerous, unbalanced structure.

I will not use any plan in which the final step is horribly complicated, e.g. "Align the 12 Stones of Power on the sacred altar then activate the medallion at the moment of total eclipse." Instead it will be more along the lines of "Push the button."

I will make sure that my doomsday device is up to code and properly grounded.

My vats of hazardous chemicals will be covered when not in use. Also, I will not construct walkways above them.

I will not design my Main Control Room so that every workstation is facing away from the door.

Humm, that last one reminds me that I need to turn my desk around even though, like the Taxidriver, I'm the only one here. It was probably my fatal mistake in the first place.

That's Not a Knife *This* is a Knife
Kevin Kelly (ex-Whole Earth Catalog, Wired, and other gigs.) always gives full measure at his Cool Tools page. The coolest of the tools are the ones Kelly uses himself. The latest is his pean to simple, cheap, and highly effective blades. [Warning: Leave this at home when you fly. You *do*not* want it showing up on the scanner. They're at Ace Hardwares everywhere.]

Knives are the original tool; everyone has one, and after 10,000 years there's endless variety. They are intensely personal, too. I've seen and tried many of the suggested knives I've received, and I've published a few of the more well-proven ones.

So, after many trials, here is the one I actually carry: it's a dollar plastic box cutter. There is no knife lighter weight, none cheaper, few as sharp, and not very many as quick. I can open it one handed in less than a second from the moment I reach for it. It is as fast as a sheath knife. Keeping its edge a razor is as easy as nicking off the tip. This plastic snap blade is as thin as a pen and so light that I carry in my pants pocket without even knowing it is there; no special holster needed, and it won't wear the pocket out. The cheaper the version of the box cutter the better. You don't want rugged metal ones, like those offered by respectable tool companies; they are bigger, heavier, costlier and no better. What you want is a cheap all-plastic made-in-China throw-away that should cost about a buck. Mine are Day-Glo orange for easy retrieval if I lay one down. It's cheap enough that I hide one in all the clothes I ordinarily wear. I'm not afraid to lose it, and yes, I keep it away from airports.

Unless of course, Kelly forgets he's hidden it in the clothes he ordinarily wears to the airport.


SANITY LICENSE SUSPENDED "You can only get pierced and tattooed so many times."
Whatever You Do, Don't Read This...
Okay, I admit upfront that I hate, actively hate, this sort of behavior in a raging, frothing, and utterly irrational way. I irrationally find it disgusting and deeply perverted. I know I should not care what other people do with their bodies. I've been told that over and over for decades. It has gotten so bad that I almost believe it. Then, when I happen to stumble upon the latest fad among the emotionally disabled of America, my loathing breaks out all over again. There is just something about having large fishhooks run through your flesh and then hanging from them and spinning about to the applause of your fellow morons that gets my goat. This does not mean that I'm going to deny them their right to this expression of their crippled selves, it only means I have an irrational impulse to attend one of these gatherings and sit down on them. After all, it is is *intensity* you're after, go for the gusto.

For such an off-beat practice, the convention is remarkably well-run, with sanitary precautions, surgical tools and almost military efficiency in preparing people for their suspension.

Some hang for a few minutes, others for an hour or more.

The biggest danger is cross-contamination, organizers said, due to so much open flesh and blood. Other dangers involve people passing out or suffering seizures, they said.

"The first couple of times, I didn't enjoy it," said Canadian Warren Hiller. "The first time I blacked out, and one time I was convulsing. But the third time I got better. I wasn't blacking out anymore."

It's not masochism, said Allen Falkner of Dallas, who has practiced suspension for 13 years.

"Suspension is not about pain, it's about getting past the pain."

Advocates say suspension has been practiced since ancient times in many societies.

"It's searching for answers, trying new things," Hiller said. "You can only get pierced and tattooed so many times."

Yes, I suppose you can, but perhaps the first piercing should be one that puts a hole directly through the head and just gets "past the pain" right away.

FUNERAL UPDATES: THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE BOGUS

The Shoes of the Man Who Stood in the Shoes of the Fisherman
Of all the myriad details coming out this week concerning the passing of Pope John Paul, I found this observation by Andrea Peyser touchingly telling:

Below the pope's rich garment, he did not wear golden slippers, but jaunty Italian leather loafers in a shade of burnished red. And off-white socks. Were those scuff marks on the shoe soles?

I understand that the pope, who spent his life moving among his people throughout the world, liked to walk in a regular guy's shoes. And so he did. To eternity.

Italian loafers and white socks. What a light, casual touch, but then he did have that about him always, didn't he?

Bill Clinton Keeps His Hold On the "It's All About Me" Crown
Why is it that Bill Clinton never fails to confirm your worst expectations:

En route to Rome, Clinton told reporters the pope "centralized authority in the papacy again and enforced a very conservative theological doctrine. There will be debates about that. The number of Catholics increased by 250 million on his watch. But the numbers of priests didn't. He's like all of us - he may have a mixed legacy."
Ah, yes, just your average mixed-legacy kinda guy. One suspects that a century from now John Paul II will still be seen as a towering figure, while Clinton will be merely a footnote, if he's lucky, and a footnote to his wife if he's not.

Meanwhile, Back at the Lesser Funerals of the Week Johnnie Cochran gives new meaning to the phrase, "A man is known by the mourners he keeps."
While hundreds of millions mourned across all continents and millions more flooded into Rome for the funeral of the Pope John Paul II, the now addled and non-stop cable coverage took a coffee break yesterday to glance at the departure of shyster Johnnie Cochran. What a sad, tawdry assemblage it was. Luminaries included wife-killer O.J. Simpson, child molester Michael Jackson, and race hustler Jesse Jackson. If Stevie Wonder hadn't promised to sing, it is doubtful that mourners would have reached the hundreds reported. All in all, his going out was heralded by a rogues' gallery of the guilty but acquitted. A fitting memorial indeed.

Hunter Thompson to Pollute Atmosphere One Last Time
Hunter Thompson's Remains To Be Shot Out Of Cannon

DENVER -- Hunter Thompson lived fast and loud. And the late gonzo journalist will make at least one more loud noise before he's done. Thompson's widow announced that his ashes will be shot out of a cannon mounted on a 53-foot sculpture on the grounds of his home in Colorado.

Anita Thompson said this was his wish. As she put it: "It's expensive, but worth every penny," adding, "He loved explosions."

A couple of decades and one bullet late, but who's counting?

ANALS OF HIGHER EDUCATION

Ipod Scam Halted @ Duke
Duke Modifies iPod Giveaway Program

Just in case you're a parent who still believes the hundreds of thousands you're shelling out for your kid's college education is being well spent...

Incoming freshmen at Duke University need not expect a new iPod from the North Carolina private school this fall. The university has decided to scale back its pilot project that provided iPods to all incoming freshman, and now only certain courses will be given the popular music player. Last year's offering cost the school $500,000. The purpose of the program, according to university officials, was to allow students to use them to record and playback lectures, as well as listen to language-training files.
Oh, yes, our feckless undergrads just can't wait to load up on playlists entitled "PsychoEconomics 101," "Do-It-Yourself Gender Reassignment," and "BeerBongs of Astronomic Proportions, The Survey."

A Cartload of Harvard Manure -- Economics Prof Unclear on Ownership of Sh*t
Harvard Economics Prof Charged in Manure Case
Ah, I love the smell of elite privilege in the morning.

BOSTON (Reuters) - A Harvard professor who specializes in environmental economics was arrested on suspicion of trying to steal a load of manure from a Massachusetts farm, a police officer said on Wednesday.

Professor Martin Weitzman was arrested near the town of Rockport on April 1, Rockport police officer Michael Marino said. Philip Casey, who manages a horse stable at the farm, had called police after finding Weitzman and his truck on the farm and stopped him from leaving, Marino said.

"He seemed a little befuddled standing there with a truck bed full of manure," Marino said. Weitzman then offered to pay for the manure on his truck, he said. Weitzman, whose research interests listed on a Harvard Web site include the economics of biodiversity and global warming, did not return calls seeking comment. Casey told the Gloucester Daily Times that manure thefts had been a long-standing problem.

Why he didn't ask his colleagues to just contribute their own droppings is beyond me. There's been more than enough at Harvard for years. And the deepest, darkest Harvard manure is, it would seem, free and without limit.

HUSTLER HAVEN

Kofi "Who Me?"Annan's Third Week of Blowing Smoke Up World's Arse Off to a Fine Start
In his continuing effort to take the heat off his own butt in the Oil-for-Food Scandal, Kofi Annan
the UN's chief global extortionist tried to call for a larger and even more abusive group to oversee and excuse human rights abuses. It wouldn't be like the old "commission" at all, it seems. Nope, the new global body would be, instead, a "council."

"The new human rights council must be a society of the committed. It must be more accountable and more representative," Annan said. "Ultimately it would produce more effective assistance and protections, and that is the yardstick by which we should be measured."
In this plan, Annan stuck to his general smoke-blowing methods of calling for more money and more bureaucracy. Citing the continuing genocide, which has not quite been called genocide, in the Sudan, Annan seemed to say that only his continuing insight and wisdom can stop the killing it has so far failed to stop or even hinder, and guide the sclerotic institution to a bright new day.

Calls for toppling the UN building in New York into the East River as the basis of a new fish habitat continued unabated. Not today, but a man can dream.

Posted by Vanderleun at April 7, 2004 1:05 PM
Bookmark and Share

Comments:

HOME

"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.
For the most part, men are relegated -- through arcane laws coupled with no-fault divorce -- to a check-writing mechanism for singled moms.

Tell it to the judge. Or rather, let the judge tell it to you.

Posted by: Allah at April 7, 2005 2:15 PM

Re: Anan and the U.N.
Didn't the French do the same thing with their government year after year? Reshuffle the parties but keep the same people in power?

No wonder the French love the U.N., birds of a feather and all of that.

Posted by: Rusticus at April 8, 2005 9:03 AM