Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Project Excitement

For the return of Project Runway. That was definitely my new show find last year.

And I'm totally into the update on last year's winner, Jay.

You're either in, or you're out.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Procrastination Post #2: The Origins of Procrastination and Some Drinking

I guess I never explained the title of this and the previous post. My grad school semester, for all intents and purposes, ends as of Wednesday. It's been a great semester and I'm in pretty good shape with my work that's due, but I am also a notorious procrastinator. Which leads me to my other story:

My school is in Austin (UT--er, hook 'em horns!) and my wife lives in Houston. Sara is much smarter than me, so she maneuvered me into taking salsa lessons. She says it's fun and romantic and all that, but I think the real reason is so that she wouldn't have to make the trip up to Austin twice a month. Very cagey, that Sara.

Anyway, I was down in H-bomb as usual and with finals looming, had many intricate plans for study. Well, the router needed to be moved away from the cable modem and my friend was playing out on Saturday night at my favorite Houston venue, Rudyards, and I really haven't been to a show in so long and it would only be for a couple of hours.... You get it.

It all turned out OK, however--a fact I know relieves my one or two readers out there. The band, the Yuppie Pricks, were quite good. I love sneering, '80s style American psychos mixed with some punk rock. And my friend is a great drummer, which is good because I don't like to lie to people and say I like what they do when I really think they are crap.

To wrap up this long masturba-story, I, like my old friend Miss Tanya, really enjoyed about three more Newcastles--one of the few beers that I can drink one after another--than I really should have. Got home at nearly 3 and had to catch a bus up to Austin for a key project meeting that afternoon. I made it and everything was cool. Especially since I had until 5:30 today for study--oops--and I'm sure I will be totally focused after class tonight and will get up really early tomorrow morning and open the book right away....

Procrastination Post #1 : On Things Dave Chappelle

Comedy Central announced that they are airing four shows worth of the skits that caused Dave Chappelle to run away for some spiritual quiet time in South Africa. While I am usually in favor of the artist deciding which of their material should be released, I have to say that I am very curious and excited to see if it's as bad as Dave thought or if he just broke under the pressure.

Don't get me wrong, I think I would have crumpled like a piece of tin foil under the weight of that $50 million deal that he got himself into. And I'm sure there are a lot of nuances to the story that we will never understand. I know a lot of people ask me why I left a job that on the outside seemed amazing, and no matter what I said I know some of them were just internally shaking their head in disbelief. That said, Charlie Murphy has gone on record saying he thought that the material is pretty strong.

So, instead of saying that I don't support the rights of artists, I will spin it with Karl Rove-ian self-serving sinister glee to say that the people should decide whether it is good or not. Give the people what they want, right?

Still love you, Dave. That ain't chocolate--that's doodie, baby!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

A Horror of Hoo-ers

Yesterday was a very whore-y day. The Norm McDonald, Artie Lange masterpiece Dirty Work was on, and as I was watching it I couldn't help but wonder, "Why??" If you haven't seen the film, it's classic Norm McDonald--trying to create humor through what most would consider tasteless language. And it works. Anyway, whores and the word "whore" play a major role in the film, but for some reason the film was edited in such a way that "whore" was never uttered in the film. It was edited out over and over again, to the point where it was just absurd. Anyone with a brain could easily figure out what they were saying, but the editor just kept cutting it and replacing it with, if I remember correctly, a woman's name or something. This seems to happen a lot in films that were made in the early to mid-90s when the algorithm for editing films was really complex--all films will be edited as if they will be shown on Saturday afternoon (as this one was), so no matter how ridiculous the movie becomes it will have NO ADULT CONTENT. Unless you can read lips. Or you enjoy playing the game of Figure Out the Missing Curse Word.

Later, as we walked to Rudyards for a beer, I was lamenting the fact that we had missed the Maxim Model Search night at the local sports bar. Sara was confused why I would want to a) go to a sports bar and b) want to have anything to do with a Maxim Model Search. To me it was pretty obvious--sports bar + pathetic model wannabees = a horrorshow of fun. In fact, the extrapolation was murder :: crows as horror :: whores. And who wouldn't want to see a horror of whores, afterall?

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Horror Flashback

When I was little--about six years old--I became obsessed with monster movies. Back then I watched the Saturday night creature feature religiously. Most of the films were from the '40s and starred Lon Chaney or Peter Cushing or Boris Karloff. Every once in a while, though, a more modern horror film would sneak through. Where the Wolfman was wrapped in the chaste morality of the time, these late '60s and early '70s films--especially the awesome Hammer Films--were gorier and sometimes had a sexual subtext that even came through on edited local television in Pueblo, CO. Christopher Lee as Dracula with his sexy vampiress sidekicks that give the film an eroticism that forever warped my little brain.

Tonight I saw a Portugese film, Tombs of the Blind Dead, from 1973. Compared to the horror films that further twisted my mind in the '80s and '90s, this zombie flick is pretty tame. But if you look beyond the the slow as molasses zombies and really, really stupid characters who kept stopping and staring, letting the speed-challenged zombies catch up to them, if you look past that the movie was pretty awesome. Why? Well, a Knights of Templar torture scene involving a "virgin" and blood drinking. And if that doesn't get you, how about a crazy morgue assistant who likes to torment frogs?

But the best thing for me was being taken back to when sex felt subversive in a horror movie. When showing a little boob was a transgressive act. Of course the sexual politics in this film were pretty f-ed up--I mean, come on, tearing the clothes off of the virgin and then riding around her nicking her with swords with close ups of a fake boob being slashed and blood gushing out followed later by a woman with lesbian tendancies getting raped by a smuggler and then kind of acting like nothing happened? I mean, I know this was '70s Portugal, but I'm pretty sure if a woman gets raped she might get upset--no matter how manly the smuggler's moustache. Strangely, though, that just added to the weird atmosphere that pervaded horror films--especially European horror films (Fulci, Argento, anyone?)--at that time.

The best part about the DVD, though, was in the Special Features section. There, they discussed how an American B-movie distributor tacked a prologue onto this film that, wildly, tried to tie it to the success of the Planet of the Apes! The extras revealed that this brilliantly insane schlock revision was called Revenge of the Planet Apes. So, instead of Templars, the zombies were apes that were somehow sent back in time to stop the humans before they ruined the earth. Let me tell you, that was one stretch and made the story of this film deliciously ridiculous. I couldn't imagine actually seeing it back then and not burning down the theater afterward.

So do I recommend Tombs of the Blind Dead? Of course I do. Some people talk about how this film is "important" and a "comment on the Franco regime" in Spain at the time, but to me this is just an insane, odd, classic zombie flick at its best.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Search for the Elusive Camel Toad

A friend posted this on a mailing list, and I couldn't resist. Thanks, Jen-O!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

More Monkey Awesomeness

I had to add this. Check out the Helping Hands logo from their website. I can't say enough about the middle icon.

Love the curly tail!

Li'l Buddy

I was in a little town outside of Austin on Thursday just hanging out, walking around looking at the old houses. I saw a guy in a wheelchair who looked like he was pretty challenged. You know how it is--you're pretty curious about what is going on with him but you don't want to stare and make it all awkward. So I ran my eyes over him without staring to take in as much info as possible that could be processed later. As I made the ocular sweep my eyes caught on something strange and furry. Was that a cat's tail wiggling on his shoulder? No! It turned out to be one of my favorite things in the world--a HELPER MONKEY! I know the concept of the helper monkey is pretty old news for most people, but how many have you actually seen in person?

The helper monkey doesn't really have a good rep in popular culture. Most recently one made an appearance in that deliciously wicked Malcolm in the Middle episode with the evil helper that holds Craig hostage. But it's George Romero who probably made the most memorable images of helper monkeys in the genius Monkey Shines. That monkey had a serious possessive side to her that was not pleasant for anyone involved. I don't know about you but I have never heard of real monkeys able to channel and embody their companion's rage. I did once have a girlfriend's cat try to smother me once, though. So if you know anything about helper monkey monsters please post your story in the comments field--I would love to hear it!

I always pictured the helper monkeys as being pretty large--maybe the size of a cat--but this one was tiny. It made me wonder how much help it could really give to this man. My only guess is that it they place the monkeys with the companion early so that they bond and can be trained to the companion's specific needs. This monkey was also wearing a teeny diaper, which made it all the more amazing to see.

Here's a little video introduction for those who have never heard about these helpful creatures: Gizmo & George

Today I dedicate this blog to you, little helper monkey. May you and your companion share many fruitful years together in picturesque Bastrop, TX!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Do Androids Dream of Electric Fish?

These are the coolest things I've seen since the creepy which one is the robot post. I read about it first on Slashdot. Robotic carp that aren't remote controlled and look very realistic in their movements. They're on display at the London Aquarium alongside real fish. Take a look at the BBC news story on them. But if you really want to see them swim, take a peek at their home site, Essex Robotics.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Hang on to Your Ego

This hilarious post by Miss Tanya made me go back to my international yoga bitch slapping.

The most humiliating moment I've ever had re: yoga was staying for a short time at an ashram in Rishikesh, India. Every morning and afternoon we would gather to do yoga (in addition to meditation and spiritual instruction). I am the first to admit that I don't do yoga enough to be very flexible at all and it isn't anything that I can even attempt to hide in a class. I just do my thing as well as I can and try not to be competitive (competitiveness is bad energy, dontchaknow).

One day the instructor came up to me as I was struggling to get my nose to my legs while in the lotus position. I was sweating and internally whimpering, kind of shocked that I could even get into the lotus position, and the instructor came off of his yoga dais to see how everyone was doing. Right away, he got a look on his face as if he were looking at a dog trying to do its own taxes. He really wanted to correct the dog, but he couldn't figure out why it even had a tax form let alone was getting the deductions wrong. Sitting next to me, the yogi folded himself over like a wallet then looked at me as if he had blinked instead of impressively showing off his flexibility.

Thank god we left soon thereafter because the ego I was trying to tame would have strangled him if he did that again.

The End.

Ask me later sometime to tell you about trying to shove a piece of rubber through the back of my mouth up into my nose to "floss" the connecting hole. That's a lovely tale.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Stinky la Bouche


You know how I know we're gay? Because we loved our little baby cat.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

This is Our President

By the way, this is during an active session at the U.N. His note reveals his deep thoughts on international diplomacy.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Look Into His Eyes

Are these the eyes of a Chief Justice?

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Katrina Brings Out Some Honest Reactions

You never hear people tell the truth in politics or on TV anymore. Politics is all about sticking to the message. Don't say anything off message or you will be shamed like Howard Dean was. TV is all about desperate, affluent white people or shoveling forward the politically expedient and patriotic news message of the moment. This state of media dialog could be called the new "politically correct." Just like the old, early-90s version it's about censoring what you are really thinking, now because of fear of other people's reaction caused by post-9/11 sensitivity--rechanneled into an unquestioning patriotism.

Here are three recent notable exceptions to the pattern:

The Mayor of New Orleans reveals some pretty harsh truths early on (click on the audio): BBC News covers the then live WWL-AM radio interview with Mayor Ray Nagin

Anderson Cooper freaks out at the pre-scripted, robotic Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu: CNN's Anderson Cooper

Kanye West gets some good punches in during the benefit concert last night. With Mike Meyers looking like he wants to go back to friendly Canada and Chris Tucker sticking to the script, Kanye says that George W Bush doesn't care about black people: Kanye West rocks the NBC Benefit Concert

Could these be the first cracks in the neo-PC armor? I love it!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

More Southern Sadness

I saw R.L. in NYC a few years ago. Must say I feel priviledged to have seen him play and owe a debt of thanks to Fat Possum for making him known to me.

From Billboard:

Blues Veteran R.L. Burnside Dies

By Chris Morris, L.A.

Blues veteran R.L. Burnside, who experienced a late career renaissance after being rediscovered by Fat Possum Records in the 1990s, died today in a Memphis hospital. He was 78. Fans wishing to make a donation can write the Freeland & Freeland Trust Account at P.O. Box 269, Oxford, MS 38655. All proceeds will benefit Burnside's widow, Alice Mae. Burnside is also survived by 12 children and numerous grandchildren.

Born in Oxford, Miss., on Nov. 21, 1926, Burnside worked as a farmer in nearby Coldwater, Miss. As a youth, he was exposed to the blues of such local masters as Fred McDowell and Joe Callicott and began playing in his late teens.

"I watched him," Burnside said of McDowell in a 1996 interview with Billboard. "We lived pretty close to him at one time. I watched him and picked up a lot of stuff from him (and guitarist) Ranie Barnett. They was guys that was all around, close. I watched them play, and I kinda put my style with it.'

In 1967, fife-and-drum bandleader Othar Turner led folklorist George Mitchell to Burnside, who recorded several performances released by Arhoolie Records in 1968. For many years thereafter, he performed regularly in local juke joints, including one run by bluesman (and future labelmate) Junior Kimbrough.

By the '70s, his notoriety had spread to the point that he toured in Europe and recorded for Swing Master in the Netherlands and Arion in France.

It wasn't until the '90s that Burnside gained fame in the U.S. He appeared in director Robert Mugge's 1991 documentary "Deep Blues" and on the 1992 Atlantic soundtrack album. He cut two acclaimed albums for Fat Possum; the records, "Bad Luck City" (1993) and "Too Bad Jim" (1994), were produced by writer Robert Palmer, whose 1981 book was the basis for Mugge's film. In 1996, he also recorded an album with underground rock act Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, "Ass Pocket of Whiskey" (Matador).

After 1999 heart surgery, Burnside kept his appearance schedule to a minimum, but continued to release music for Fat Possum, including last year's "A Bothered Mind," which debuted at No. 6 on Billboard's Top Blues Albums chart.

Ah, Crystal Meth, How Did We Ever Live Without You?

First, enjoy this story from Popbitch:

>> Bunny's too tight to mention <<
Sydney man loves rabbits to death

An Australian man has been arrested after
having sex with 18 rabbits. Sydney police have
charged Brendan McMahon, 36, with bestiality
and aggravated cruelty, after finding a pile
of sodomised rabbit corpses dumped in a lane
in The Rocks.

In his defence, McMahon claimed that he had sex
with the rabbits while high on crystal meth.
His lawyer unsuccessfully applied for bail,
stating that McMahon was willing to surrender
his passport and would undertake not to go
within 50 metres of a pet shop.

And then check out before/after glamor shots:
Got Meth?

So this is why I have to have all my vital information taken by the pharmacist when I want to buy some Nyquil!

Katrina Rant (A Series of Hopefully Only One Installment)

I've been talking to a few people about the Katrina aftermath. At the same time, I've been reading an essay by Neal Stephenson about operating systems that has one portion that seems appropriate to what is going on in the media in their Katrina coverage. Stephenson talks about how American culture has evolved from a command line culture to an GUI culture. What he is talking about--and I am definitely going to stretch it a bit here--is the fact that as our culture has become more information concentrated we have sought out and conditioned ourselves to provide shortcuts to everything from dealing with computers to learning (Kids can't learn the old way--they get too bored! Give them learning activities to make it fun!) to how we use entertainment as a surrogate for real experience. So when something like Katrina comes along, the media presents it to us as if it were The Day After Tomorrow or Volcano or something churned out of Hollywood. It isn't a real experience anymore, but a scripted event where the audience expects things to follow a certain path to an uplifting, if not happy, ending.

Obviously, conflict occurs when CNN or Fox can't get the kind of story it wants. The omens were bad for this fairytale scenario early on. Fox caught a New Orleans man walking his dog early on as the storm was approaching. When asked why he was still there, instead of some courageous words about standing tough, Shepard Smith got a little spicey NOLA response.

Since then, the coverage has veered from tragic to uplifting to violent. Sounds like good Hollywood fluff, right? Keep your eyes glued--what's going to happen next? But there are some subtextual things not being talked about as well.

Here's a quote from Jack Shafer, Slate's resident media crank/voice of reason:

But we aren't one united race, we aren't one united class, and Katrina didn't hit all folks equally. By failing to acknowledge upfront that black New Orleanians—and perhaps black Mississippians—suffered more from Katrina than whites, the TV talkers may escape potential accusations that they're racist. But by ignoring race and class, they boot the journalistic opportunity to bring attention to the disenfranchisement of a whole definable segment of the population. What I wouldn't pay to hear a Fox anchor ask, "Say, Bob, why are these African-Americans so poor to begin with?"
Lost in the Flood @ Slate

Boing Boing and others show how, depending on who is writing the captions, the "looters" can either be Jean Valjean or common thieves--and race definitely is a factor.
Black People Loot, White People Find @ Boing Boing

Our president's response, as with most issues that don't involve spreading his religion of democracy to those he deems in need of it, has been fairly vague. It was reported that he cut his vacation short because of Katrina, but all we get is the brilliant observation that it's going to be years before the areas affected can rebuild and that looting is bad.

Meanwhile, he's off playing guitar, still in some country boy bubble that prevents him from acting like a real leader. All the while the Superdome is starting to sound like Thunderdome--or maybe Iraq--if you take the news reports at face value. Or even if you don't. Either way it's interesting and sad to see how people react to survive when their basic necessities are taken away. (I don't want to diminish the horrible things that are going on in Louisiana, Mississippi, and the FLA, but parts of Iraq--including Baghdad--have been without stable water and electricity for over TWO YEARS now!)

To add to the frustrating "othering" that has gone on post-Katrina is the cynical throw away jab that I've heard from a few people--that "at least this happened in Red States." First of all, doesn't everyone know that this Red-Blue mentality is just the kind of thinking that people who want voters to be neatly categorized into boxes want you to spread? That way no issue is ever really discussed, it's just thrown into a Red or a Blue box so that Americans don't have to think beyond what's on TV tonight. Secondly, how callous are you that you would even make someone so different from you based on their voting habits that you can no longer see beyond your own political views to see them as human beings. On the other side of the political spectrum there was one group that claimed god was punishing NOLA for hosting a gay and lesbian gathering. Congratulations to those who revel in the Red states getting hit--you're in good company!

Enough ranting. Go back and watch CNN. Shed a tear on cue, and don't think about all that stuff that is going on underneath the coverage. It might ruin the ending.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Things I'm Digging Right Now (Proof of My Immaturity and My Age Pt. 1)

Love it that we still live in a world where, in California of all places, a "lost" waterfall can be found.
National Geographic

The childish robot obsession continues. (Thanks, T)
What's Your Robot Name?

As well as my endless obsession with zombies. (Thanks to Y-vonne)

Movies, always movies.
The Aristocrats: I love doody. And skull fuckery.
Wedding Crashers: Vince Vaughn is my hero. I know Miss Tanya disagrees about this film, but she is just wrong. Especially about Elf.

Why forget music?
Josef wrote about his top 5 rock records list. Don't take this as a critique of his list because J-Ro has some great, if sometimes snooty, taste. Here are 5 rock records I love, with the boring, cowardly, de rigeur caveat that the list is subject to change at any moment:
The Pretenders - The Pretenders
Flaming Lips - Clouds Taste Metallic
My Bloody Valentine - "You Made Me Realise" EP -or- Jesus and Mary Chain - Darklands
Husker Du - Flip Your Wig
Replacements - Let It Be

But don't you like any new shit?
Spoon - Gimme Fiction
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Brendan Benson - The Alternative to Love
The Ponys - Celebration Castle
Caribou - The Milk of Human Kindness

Final thing that makes me happy right now:
I got hitched!

Monday, August 01, 2005

Danger Danger

I have to say that I wasn't really sure about DJ Dangermouse. The Grey Album didn't really get me worked up beyond an amazing yet obvious concept. But the last Gorillaz album actually won me over. The beats were nerdalicious and quirky, a reaction to the racket that comes from the hip hop money machine clanking away. I'm really not the one to offer an in-depth analysis on this, but y'know.

Even with his success on Demon Days I was really nervous to hear that Dangermouse was teaming up with my hero MF Doom. After listening to a few tracks from here and here, however, I am officially a fan. While I'm not too sure about Brak rapping at the end of "The Mask," I am salivating waiting for The Mouse & the Mask to come out in October. And Ghostface the Iron Man teamed up with the Metal Faced Villain all wrapped up in an Adult Swim and Epitaph shell? I couldn't be happier.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Bush is a Douchebag

This phrase was on a bumpersticker seen yesterday. Forget being clever or subtle, just say it like it is. Artful putdowns are lost on the masses.

Is anyone else f-ing tired of how our president carefully crafts what he says so that he is never held accountable for anything? (c.f. "Mission Accomplished," Abu Grahib, compassionate conservatism, the "imminent threat" of Saddam Hussein, and so on and so on...) Bush was vague when the Plame leak first came out and now he has clarified his stance so that no one (important) will take the blame for the scandal. My favorite part of this article is the headline, since he's only partially reiterating anything. He is really revising so that he will have a semantic leg to stand on when he does absolutely nothing.

President Bush said Monday that if anyone in his administration committed a crime in connection with the public leak of the identity of an undercover CIA operative, that person will "no longer work in my administration." At the same time, Bush again sidestepped a question on the role of his top political adviser, Karl Rove, in the matter.

Bush Reiterates Firing Pledge on Leak Case

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Animals Redux

Strangely, I am totally in favor of humiliating cats by forcing them to wear Japanese-made costumes.

CATPRIN: Tailor for Cats

Those Amazing Animals

I'm on the fence about dressing your dog in little t-shirts, but I'm definitely not in favor of these perversions perpetrated on defenseless wild animals.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

For the Aged Britpop Fans Out There...

Which Creation Band Are You?

Exactly what I was hoping for...though My Bloody Valentine would have been appropriate as well.

You Are... The Jesus And Mary Chain. You are moody and unpredictable. You are the underdog who refuses to sink to the bottom. You have more talent than you ever really let anyone know. It almost seems as if you try and sabotage whatever good things may be going on in your life, and you often feel like you may be giving people a bit too much of yourself. Being in the spotlight is something you find to be rather uncomfortable though you secretly yearn to be loved by everyone. You lean toward things of a darker nature and are prone to self destructive tendencies. You struggle with happiness for the simple fact that you seem to be in love with your misery. You are a realist.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Progress is Not an Illusion, it Happens, But it is Slow and Invariably Disappointing

When people talk about progress there is often an underlying assumption that it is a natural thing and that we are ever plowing forward. Please enjoy these point-counter point arguments provided by Yahoo! News. They were one on top of the other in the Most Popular section. Enjoy.

Tiny Nation Aims to be 1st "Cyber-Island"
This tropical island off the east coast of Africa is best-known for its white-sand beaches, its designer clothing outlets and its spicy curries. But tiny Mauritius is about to stake a new claim to fame. By year's end, or soon afterward, it is expected to become the world's first nation with coast-to-coast wireless Internet coverage, the first country to become one big "hot spot."

Romanian Priest Unrepentant After Crucifixion of Nun
A Romanian Orthodox priest, facing charges for ordering the crucifixion of a young nun because she was "possessed by the devil," was unrepentant as he celebrated a funeral ceremony for his alleged victim.

And I throw this one in just because I love puppies:
Six-Legged Puppy Found in Malaysia
A puppy with six legs and two penises was found sleeping outside a Chinese temple in a Malaysian town, and devotees are treating the freak find as a good omen, a news report said Sunday.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Sick of Robots Yet?

This 'bot is one to make JF Sebastian proud.

Which One Is the Robot?

I wonder if she's a pleasure model.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Put on Your Robo Suit, We're Going Dancin'

I have nothing clever to say other than me want to go dancing with that beautiful pink ballroom robot while wearing a robot suit. The future will be one big electric boogaloo for everyone.

Robot Suit

Dancing Robot

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Doin' It For the Children

So ICANN came up with this brilliant plan: create a .xxx domain for all the porn sites. OK, makes it easier to get that shiteatingmidgetcumsluts.xxx address I've been pining for for all these years and finally make some cash in this internet game.

The only catch is they expect the digital smut peddlers to voluntarily move to this "internet red light district," as some idiots are calling it, but to also fork over $60 per year for the priviledge. Yeah, that's gonna work.

CNN: Stage set for '.xxx' Internet addresses

Friday, May 27, 2005


Hang out in someone's uterus, of course!


Like to see the crowds that will flock to this sighting.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Stream the New White Stripes

Update: It's baaaaaack. Now go get your Satan on.

White Stripes: Get Behind Me Satan

I guess you have to respect Jack and Meg for "making it" on their last release and then totally taking a u-turn on this album. Satellite radio has been playing the first track, "Blue Orchid," to death, and I really love it. Have to listen to the rest of the album a few more times, but I'm kinda digging the eclectic sounds. Don't worry, diehards, there are a few classic Stripes thrash-blues tracks ("Instinct Blues," for example) for those hipsters who like the old sound and haven't cast them aside for being sellouts. Oh, and Meg sings again, which is always nice.

Thanks to Scenestars for the hook up!

British Museum Gets Punk'd, Likes It

Banksy is an "art terrorist" who pulls cultural pranks by secreting his work into museums and performing stealth installations. The pieces don't get noticed for weeks at a time and then everyone has a big laugh. Love the play on the credibility that museums give art and artists.

Back in the '80s Jeffrey Vallance was an instructor at Otis-Parsons in LA, who I had met briefly, and he did a similar thing where he painted electrical outlet covers and installed them at LACMA. He then sent out invitations to his "opening" at the museum. It's all documented in that RE/Search book Pranks!.

Anyway, Banksy just put another piece in the British Museum, a fake artifact with a man pushing a shopping cart that is characterized as "early man venturing towards the out-of-town hunting grounds." I love it, the Beeb loves it, and the British Museum loves it. What's not to love?

Cave art hoax hits British Museum

Props to Carbongeek for finding it first.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Ever Feel Like You've Been Cheated?

I don't want to tell America "I told you so," but this memo that is still mostly absent from the U.S. media kind of reinforces the point that we are a bunch of gullible idiots.

Read the full memo here: The Sunday Times - Britain: The Secret Downing Street Memo

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Hasta la Vista, Menses

Scarborough Country gets scammed into believing that Arnold Schwarzenegger actually said, "If we get rid of the moon, women, those menstrual cycles are governed by the moon, will not get (pre-menstrual syndrome). They will stop bitching and whining." Thanks to Howard Stern we once again have proof that cable news networks are lazy asses who don't bother to check their facts.

Best outraged quote: "Hey, governor, way to make 50 percent of California's voting population turn frigid toward you."

Schwarzenegger Not Mad at the Moon

Friday, May 06, 2005

Number of the Beast Revised

What the hell is Iron Maiden going to do? My favorite part about this story is that the number of the beast has been "devalued" according to this religious site. As if it were a currency or perhaps a stock traded on the market. Either way, the beast doesn't pull as much clout as it used to.

Number of the Beast Devalued to 616

Friday, April 29, 2005

Buy Crispin Glover's Fecal Matter

When I put "cultural detritus" in my profile I had no idea how gleefully right on it would be. And then I found Celebrity Skin. You can buy Mike Tyson's fecal matter, Conor Oberst's skin cells, and "bacteria" (what the hell?) from Vince Neil and DON RICKLES!!! Oh, and don't forget Norman Mailor's urine is only $15. Now you know what to get me for Xmas. Even though it's surely a joke (since the cart function doesn't work) it is my new favorite e-comm site.


Saturday, April 23, 2005

Hardcore Ants

Trap-building ants torture prey

A fierce species of Amazonian ant has been seen building elaborate traps on which hapless prey are stretched like medieval torture victims, before being slowly hacked to pieces.

Lesson: Do not fuck with ants in the Amazon.

Babelfish for the Eyes

I saw a link to this site from Gizmodo. Using Flickr.com--a site where you upload photos and provide a little basic metadata so that they can be searched--as a basis, some guy(s) calling themselves Flickr Hack had the idea that you could access the image database using your phone and use the search function to call up images for common words. That way when you are in Paris or Bangkok or wherever with your world phone you would have your own handy universal translator if you get into a bind. Want some dog food? Search dog food and you get pictures of dogs eating their food. Nice!

The obvious limitation lies in the metadata--because it is user generated--not really matching with the content. Searching "mango" gives you pictures of some cheesy looking club. But don't let me pointing out the limitations fool you, I think these guys are on to something...

Flickr Hacks' Visual Dictionary/Universal Translator

Friday, April 22, 2005

Get Ready to End up on the Planet of the Apes

Mice put in 'suspended animation'

Mice have been placed in a state of near suspended animation, raising the possibility that hibernation could one day be induced in humans.

If so, it might be possible to put astronauts into hibernation-like states for long-haul space flights - as often depicted in science fiction films.

In this case, suspended animation means the reversible cessation of all visible life processes in an organism.

Read the whole article here.

Cannibal Gets A Second Chance

...to be sentenced to even more time.

Who knew that you could even do that? Note to self, keep perverted desires to one's self. They are grounds for retrial.

Cannibal Faces Retrial on Murder Charge

BERLIN (Reuters) - A top German court ordered a cannibal to be retried Friday, saying his manslaughter conviction for killing and eating a willing victim was too lenient.

"The conviction only for manslaughter and not for murder does not stand up to legal review," the Federal Court of Justice said in a statement, upholding an appeal by prosecutors.

Armin Meiwes, 43, was sentenced to eight and a half years in January 2004 after a gory case that both fascinated and repulsed Germany and the world.

Meiwes admitted to killing a Berlin computer specialist, Bernd-Juergen B, he met via the Internet, but was spared a murder conviction as the victim had asked to be eaten in a startling case of sexual fetishism.

Prosecutors believed Meiwes should have been convicted of murder as he had killed to satisfy perverted desires. Meiwes' lawyer urged the lesser "killing on request," a form of illegal euthanasia that carries a maximum five year sentence.

All you need to know about cannibalism from CourtTV.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Oh, Onion, How I Love Thee

Fifth-Grade Science Paper Doesn't Hold Up to Peer Review

DECATUR, IL—A three-member panel of 10-year-old Michael Nogroski's fellow classmates at Nathaniel Macon Elementary School unanimously agreed Tuesday that his 327-word essay "Otters" did not meet the requirements for peer approval.

Nogroski presented his results before the entire fifth-grade science community Monday, in partial fulfillment of his seventh-period research project. According to the review panel, which convened in the lunchroom Tuesday, "Otters" was fundamentally flawed by Nogroski's failure to identify a significant research gap.

"When Mike said, 'Otters,' I almost puked," said 11-year-old peer examiner Lacey Swain, taking the lettuce out of her sandwich. "Why would you want to spend a whole page talking about otters?"

"It's probably only the dumbest topic in the history of the entire world," 10-year-old Duane LaMott added.

Members of the three-person panel had many concerns about Nogroski's work, foremost among them their belief that the fifth-grader did not substantiate his thesis. Two panel members even suggested that Nogroski's thesis was erroneous.

"Otters are not interesting!" 10-year-old peer examiner Jonathan Glass said.

"Otters are so boring, I fell asleep for a thousand years and woke up with a long beard covered in ice," LaMott said. "I had to defrost myself."
Fifth-Grade Science Paper Doesn't Stand Up To Peer Review

According to the examiners, Nogroski's second paragraph, which begins "Otters live in water," should have been followed by a description of the sea otter's natural habitat, rather than by a description of the world's largest full-grown otter and speculation as to what an otter that size could do to a sea lion.

"An otter could not kill a sea lion!" LaMott said. "I don't care how big it is—sea lions have gigantic claws."

"Nuh-uh," Swain said.

"Yes, sea lions do have gigantic claws," LaMott said. "If you don't believe me, look it up. Sea lions have very long claws. They would tear an otter to shreds in, like, two seconds. Seriously."

Panel members said Nogroski's work contained an alarming number of invalidated claims and irrelevant findings. They were particularly disconcerted by the figures in Nogroski's third paragraph, which begins "How do otters survive? Here are some facts about that."

"He didn't even say how they survive," Glass said. "He was just like, 'Otters are about one to 1.2 meters long. Otters' whiskers are about three inches long.'"

"I know!" Swain said. "It's like, 'Hey Mike, how do sea otters survive?' 'Dur. I'm Mike. Sea otters survive by being one meter long.'"

"Hey Mike," LaMott added. "What do sea otters eat? 'Dur, I'm Mike. Sea otters have whiskers that are three inches long. Also, I don't bathe and my jacket is acid-washed.'"

"His mom drives a Honda," Glass added.

The paper was criticized for failing to evince adequate literature review, failing to adhere to the pass-around style guidelines, and for being presented in "a chicken voice you could barely even hear because his teeth are so yellow."

"It's like, God, how hard is it?" Swain said. "You say what you are going to say, then you say it, then you say what you said. Mrs. Murchinson only explained it, like, a thousand times!"
Nogroski in the school library, where he will revisit his research.
Above: Nogroski in the school library, where he will revisit his research.

"His breath was so bad I can still smell it on my clothes," LaMott added.

"All he eats is bread and butter," Swain added. "Hello? That's disgusting."

While a work that does not gain peer approval often goes on to receive wider acceptance in the academic community, "Otters" has little hope of gaining approval from Nogroski's teacher Stella Murchinson.

"Oh, well, he tries," Murchinson said. "Michael comes from a single-parent household. From what I gather, his father is something of a—something of a—I don't exactly know—he drives railroads? He isn't exactly in the picture. I've spoken to his mother several times, and while she is well-meaning, she is busy and often harried, having spent the night before tending bar. She's a cocktail waitress. Well, from what I can gather, Michael isn't coming from the most stable home environment, and his work reflects that, I'm afraid. He isn't exactly reading at his level."

Although Nogroski's student aide, fourth-grader Samir Sriskandiraja, has encouraged him to resubmit a different paper on a peer-friendly topic like football or airplanes, Nogroski said he will revisit his research and present additional otters-related data Thursday.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Highschool Kids' Robot Kicks M.I.T.'s Ass

Somewhere a screenwriter is hatching a pitch that goes, "It's like Meatballs meets Revenge of the Nerds meets the Bad News Bears...or maybe it's just being randomly generated on a studio computer.

Four high school kids from western Phoenix and an underwater robot named Stinky beat out the nation's brightest students (including a team from M.I.T) in the 2004 Marine Advanced Technology Education Center Remotely Operated Vehicle Competition. It's a boost to their college hopes, which had been far from a sure thing due to financial disadvantages.

NPR story here.

Original Wired story here.

Today's Secret Sect Paranoia Website

I love the paranoid. They keep me going.


"Some acts of corporal mortification may be helpful in checking the desires of the flesh, such as fasting. However, in Opus Dei, especially for the numerary (celibate) members, all of the practices mentioned below are mandatory if one wishes to live the "Spirit of Opus Dei" fully. The "Spirit of Opus Dei" is the standard of living, as outlined by the Opus Dei directors, for which all truly dedicated Opus Dei members strive. Under the umbrella of the "Spirit of Opus Dei" hide many of the abuses in Opus Dei. The subtle control to conform to the norm is typical in groups which practice mind control; members are "guilted" into conforming, feeling that they must in order to follow "God's will" as it is outlined by the controlling group."

Friday, April 15, 2005

Robot Say, "Ah"

Robot that mimics speech:

The purpose of this research is to clarify a human vocal mechanism from engineering viewpoints by reproducing the vocal movement using a talking robot, and to create the dynamic model. This model will lead to the production of cellular phones that can compress data by transmitting human vocal movement instead of human voices. Furthermore, the model will lead to developing medical training devices for vocally challenged people and learning devices for foreign languages.

Check it:





It's in Japanese, so don't feel bad if you don't understand robospeak.

Thanks to carbongeek

Traveling on a Lightbeam

Optical computer made from frozen light

April 12, 2005

Scientists learn to process information with 'frozen light'

Scientists at Harvard University have shown how ultra-cold atoms can be used to freeze and control light to form the "core" – or central processing unit – of an optical computer. Optical computers would transport information ten times faster than traditional electronic devices, smashing the intrinsic speed limit of silicon technology.

This new research could be a major breakthrough in the quest to create super-fast computers that use light instead of electrons to process information. Professor Lene Hau is one of the world's foremost authorities on "slow light". Her research group became famous for slowing down light, which normally travels at 186,000 miles per second, to less than the speed of a bicycle.

Using the same apparatus, which contains a cloud of ultra-cold sodium atoms, they have even managed to freeze light altogether. Professor Hau says this could have applications in memory storage for a future generation of optical computers.

But Professor Hau's most recent research addresses the issue of optical computers head-on. She has calculated that ultra-cold atoms known as Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) can be used to perform "controlled coherent processing" with light. In ordinary matter, the amplitude and phase of a light pulse would be smeared out, and any information content would be destroyed. Hau's work on slow light, however, has proved experimentally that these attributes can be preserved in a BEC. Such a device might one day become the CPU of an optical computer.

Traditional electronic computers are advancing ever closer to their theoretical limits for size and speed. Some scientists believe that optical computing will one day unleash a new revolution in smaller and faster computers.

Professor Lene Hau is Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics & Professor of Physics at Harvard University.

Website: http://www.deas.harvard.edu/haulab/

Software Generates Scholarly Paper

Scientific Conference Falls for Gibberish Prank

By Greg Frost

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (Reuters) - A bunch of computer-generated gibberish masquerading as an academic paper has been accepted at a scientific conference in a victory for pranksters at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Jeremy Stribling said on Thursday that he and two fellow MIT graduate students questioned the standards of some academic conferences, so they wrote a computer program to generate research papers complete with nonsensical text, charts and diagrams.

The trio submitted two of the randomly assembled papers to the World Multiconference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics (WMSCI), scheduled to be held July 10-13 in Orlando, Florida.

To their surprise, one of the papers -- "Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy" -- was accepted for presentation.

The prank recalled a 1996 hoax in which New York University physicist Alan Sokal succeeded in getting an entire paper with a mix of truths, falsehoods, non sequiturs and otherwise meaningless mumbo-jumbo published in the journal Social Text.

Stribling said he and his colleagues only learned about the Social Text affair after submitting their paper.

"Rooter" features such mind-bending gems as: "the model for our heuristic consists of four independent components: simulated annealing, active networks, flexible modalities, and the study of reinforcement learning" and "We implemented our scatter/gather I/O server in Simula-67, augmented with opportunistically pipelined extensions."

Stribling said the trio targeted WMSCI because it is notorious within the field of computer science for sending copious e-mails that solicit admissions to the conference.

"We were tired of the spam," Stribling told Reuters in a telephone interview, adding that his team wanted to challenge the standards of the conference's peer review process.

Nagib Callaos, a conference organizer, said the paper was one of a small number accepted on a "non-reviewed" basis -- meaning that reviewers had not yet given their feedback by the acceptance deadline.

"We thought that it might be unfair to refuse a paper that was not refused by any of its three selected reviewers," Callaos wrote in an e-mail. "The author of a non-reviewed paper has complete responsibility of the content of their paper."

However, Callaos said conference organizers were reviewing their acceptance procedures in light of the hoax. Asked whether he would disinvite the MIT students, he replied: "Bogus papers should not be included in the conference program."

Stribling said conference organizers had not yet formally rescinded their invitation to present the paper.

The students were soliciting cash donations so they could attend the conference and give what Stribling billed as a "randomly generated talk." So far, they have raised more than $2,000 over the Internet.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Wired News Mea Culpa

No Teeth in Toothing Craze

Dozens of news organizations, including Wired News, have been duped by pranksters claiming to be practitioners of "toothing" -- anonymous sexual encounters organized through Bluetooth devices.

Last year, in a story headlined Brits Going at It Tooth and Nail, Wired News reported that strangers in Britain were meeting up on commuter trains and other public places for clandestine sexual encounters. The liaisons were supposedly organized through messages broadcast via Bluetooth phones and handhelds.

However, one of those involved now says the story was an elaborate hoax. After first creating an online forum, the pranksters persuaded friends to fill the site with scores of salacious, but fictitious, stories.

It was from the contributors to this forum that Wired News found and interviewed -– by e-mail –- the subjects of the story.

The forum's internet service provider shortly took the site down for violating terms of service regarding sexual content.

From BBC Online

'Geek speak' confuses net users

Cartoon depicting the confusion over tech jargon
Terms like "phishing" only confuse people

The average home computer user is bamboozled by technology jargon which is used to warn people about the most serious security threats online.

Many are often left vulnerable because they have no idea what they are supposed to be protecting themselves against, a survey for AOL UK has found.

Confusing "geek speak" used by experts and media included "phishing", "rogue dialler", "Trojan" and "spyware".

Eighty-four percent did not know that phishing describes faked e-mail scams.

The most common phishing scam is one used to con people into handing over bank account details online.

A quarter said they knew what "spyware" was, although almost one in 10 of those thought it was a computer program that kept an eye on unfaithful partners.

"Some of the terms being bandied around are more suitable for a computer programmers' convention than for people who want to go online at home, " said Will Smith, AOL's net security expert.

"If internet users can't understand the language used to describe these risks, they are going to find it hard to protect themselves from being ripped off."

It is particuarly important that people know what threats there are to security online, and how they can easily protect themselves, as more people get high-speed net connections.

"Keylogging" is a particular threat that hit the headlines recently.

Computer criminals, who unsuccessfully attempted to steal money from Sumitomo Mitsui bank last month, used keylogging to record every key pressed on the bank's computers to get at sensitive passwords and other data.

Horse in my PC?

The "Do you speak geek?" report found that 83% people were worried about personal information getting into the wrong hands.

Yet, only 39% knew what a "Trojan" was when asked.

A Trojan is a malicious piece of software which installs itself on a person's computer without their knowledge.

One of the most common net security threats, it hides in the background and can trigger programs to run that steal personal information or details stored on that computer, for instance.

A surprising 16% had never heard of the term "spam" to describe unsolicited e-mail, even though 76% were worried about junk e-mails.

Twenty percent admitted they did not know what to do to protect themselves generally online.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Social Life of Information - Brown and Duguid

Of course it's easy to get foolishly romantic about the pleasures of the "simpler" times. Few people really want to abandon information technology. Hours spent in a bank line, when the ATM in the supermarket can do the job in seconds, have little charm. Lose your papers in a less-developed country and trudge, as locals have to do all the time, from line to line, from form to form, from office to office and you quickly realize that life without information technology, like life without modern sanitation, may seem simpler and even more "authentic," but for those who have to live it, it is not necessarily easier or more pleasant.

Even those people who continue to resist computers, faxes, email, personal digital assistants, let alone the Internet and the World Wide Web, can hardly avoid taking advantage of the embedded microchips and invisible processors that make phones easier to use, cars safer to drive, appliances more reliable, utilities more predictable, toys and games more enjoyable, and the trains run on time.